Mark Lauritsen introduced himself and each member of the panel. Each panel member (Mark, Krysten, Adam, Andrea and Art) shared their background and their support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to be passed at the Federal level. Mark provided his background in the Meatpacking industry, the value of the migrant/guest workers and his opposition to exploitive employers. These employers are responsible for low wages and working conditions and they must be stopped. From his experience he knows how inhumane ICE raids are and how many citizens were racially profiled through these raids. He cited examples including the Swift raids and a raid where a citizen friend of his was racially profiled during a raid. He and the other panelists shared their views on the need for the passage of CIR. Each panel also cited the need to stop sb1070, a bill that will racially profile Latino citizens and criminalize friends and family members.
Rep Sinema, Andrea Nill and Adam Luna cited studies that indicated the revenue/sales taxes paid by undocumented workers which is far greater than the costs some nativist groups suggest they impose. They also cited studies which indicate these workers create jobs. Mark Lauritsen referenced the impact the ICE Raids had on Postville, Iowa and how these raids bankrupted the town.
Andrea Nill, a very knowledgeable young woman, connected the dots to identify who is behind sb1070 and the "ANTI" movement -- The John Tanton Network including CIS (research arm), FAIR (legal arm) and NumbersUSA (grassroots arm) and their FEAR Agenda. While they attempt to be mainstream, in reality they are extremists identified by the ADL and SPLC as Hate Groups.
The most impressive panel member was Sacramento Sheriff Art Venegas who is now retired, and is the Project Director for the "Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative (LEEI)." From their website, the groups mission: "The Law Enforcement Engagement initiative (LEEI) was created to advance the dialogue towards common-sense immigration reform among policing professionals and for their voice of reason to be heard throughout America. The Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative works with professional law enforcement organizations and individual policing executives to educate the American people and its elected leaders on the real effects of a broken immigration system and its threat to our national security." Law enforcement from across the country have joined together in this group and have gone to Washington asking the Attorney General Eric Holder, the President and his Administration to stop sb1070 and clone laws being presented in other states. They request the Federal Government be responsible for enforcing and reforming Immigration laws.
Sheriff Venegas provided much needed details to the audience as to why sb1070 should not be passed. He asked all attendees to read the bill in detail and understand the implications. He explained the verbiage of the bill including "may" vs "shall" was very intentional and will ultimately result in racial profiling. He explained that beyond the racial profiling aspects of the bill, he also said friends and families will be criminalized and how citizens with an agenda are prompted to report those they "suspect" are illegal immigrants to police and if the police do not come, they can sue the police. (my long time viewers are familiar with these impacts of sb1070 since I've written about them so often). Sheriff Venegas also said sb1070 will force law enforcement to become immigration officers versus focusing on keeping the peace in their communities. Additionally, it is critical that law enforcement have eyes and ears in the community, and with the passage of sb1070, the undocumented will live in fear of the police and never assist law enforcement identify felonious criminals because they will live in fear of deportation. Additionally, the intent of the bill is Mass Deportation. The cost of Mass Deportation of 12M people plus their children has been calculated to be $20K per person, totalling $2.6 Trillion dollars!
Sheriff Venegas also talked about the need for all of us, from each Progressive group, from bloggers to activists to business to clergy -- from all ethnicities -- we must unite and become involved. We must read and understand the impact of sb1070. We must understand the negative impacts to our communities. We must get involved. Bloggers must blog so all of our viewers understand the bill, the costs and the ultimate detrimental impacts to the community. We must unite and support CIR being passed at the Federal level.
Afterwards, I spoke to the Sheriff's wife who was sitting close to me. I said I was impressed by her husband's words. I let her know I was already involved, studied the issues and write about them on my blog. Her husband joined us and I said I agreed with him. We needed many more people just like him so people understand the issues. He asked for and I provided him my blog address. He gave me his card and I promised to visit his website, which I have now placed on my blogroll. I invited him to be a "Guest Voz" here and hopefully he will be writing a blog for us very soon.
Note to viewers: Some might think only Latinos were in the audience for this panel. However, this was not the case. In fact, the majority of people in the audience were non-Latinos.