Sunday, February 29, 2004

Benicio Del Toro

The best performance for a supporting actor was not rewarded with an Oscar tonight. Benicio Del Toro was simply amazing in 21 Grams.

Tim Robbins' message to abuse victims helped to mitigate the disappointment.

Turmoil in Venezuela

Two killed and dozens hurt in Venezuela demonstrations.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Hispanic Vote

The National Council of La Raza has released a report (PDF) on the State of Hispanic America. According the NCLR website, the report:

identifies, discusses, and offers policy recommendations on eight key issues: education, health, employment, counterterrorism policies, criminal justice, farmworkers, homeownership, and immigration.

LULAC v. Brown

LULAC takes Rep. Corrine Brown to task for making a statement that borders on the racist.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Uprisings in Latin America

The New York Times editors argue for greater stability in the region.

Learning Disabled

News from my home state:

If you are an African- American or Hispanic male in a predominantly white public school in Pennsylvania, there's a good chance you have been labeled as "learning disabled." That is the major finding of a recent analysis conducted for The Commonwealth Foundation on the role of race in assigning special education disability labels to students in Pennsylvania public schools.

Latino Pundit

Thanks to Latino Pundit for the link to HispaniCon on his very nice and informative site.


The Dominican Republic is in the midst of a terrible economic crisis and looking forward to elections in the near future. Victor Canto of the Wall Street Journal says:

The challenge for Dominican leaders is to free themselves from the harmful ideology that holds that income redistribution and the nanny state can make people better off. To stop the flow of Dominicans throwing themselves into the dangerous waters of Mona Passage, the winner of the next election will have to change the country's economic direction. Unfortunately, none of the candidates is signaling a willingness to break from the past.

Access to the article requires subscription.

Torrents of Humanity

According to the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger:

President Bush... entered the floodtide of labor migrations and came under attack from all sides. Some "conservatives" hate his proposed work permits for illegal migrants, while from liberals and nationalists come cries about "outsourcing" jobs overseas. "Stop!" yell his critics, who believe that if we "enforce our laws," the cross-border traffic in labor will, well, stop. But the global migration of human labor, on which there is little organized data, is perhaps the most powerful force on the globe today.

Cuba Travel

The Bush administration has announced greater restrictions for travel to Cuba.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Modern Day Slavery

CNN is reporting:

Human traffickers bring thousands of people into the United States each year and Florida is believed to be one of the top three destinations, along with New York and Texas, according to the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University...

The center's report emphasized that not all victims of human trafficking are illegal immigrants. Many enter the United States legally but because of their poverty or inability to speak English are exploited by traffickers.

Racist Mexican?

From the Miami Herald:

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown verbally attacked a top Bush administration official during a briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday, calling the President's policy on the beleaguered nation "racist" and his representatives "a bunch of white men."

Her outburst was directed at Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Noriega, a Mexican-American, is the State Department's top official for Latin America...

Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants...

After her comments about white men, Noriega said he would "relay that to (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and (national security adviser) Condoleezza Rice the next time I run into them," participants said. Powell and Rice are black.

I wonder what the consequences of this outburst will be for Rep. Brown.

Latino Graduation Rates in NY

This is scary:

Less than a third of Latino students in New York earned a high school diploma in four years, the worst showing of any state, compared with more than half of all Latino students in the nation as a whole.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

No surge in illegal immigration

Brandon Crocker of The American Spectator takes issue with recent stories (including one referenced below) that President Bush's guest worker proposal has led to a surge of illegal immigrants hoping for a general amnesty. Crocker reviews apprehension numbers along the Mexican border for the past four years and finds there has been a small increase from last year:

January 2001: 125,000

January 2002: 79,793

January 2003: 86,925

January 2004: 92,634

His conclusion is that:

...some people may be lured to cross the border illegally thinking that Bush's proposal is, or will lead to, a general amnesty... But any such activity will likely be minor and, more importantly, temporary. Arguing that we should shelve a potentially helpful program on the basis that it might lead to a minor temporary increase in illegal immigration is no argument at all.

Linda Chavez on The Passion

Linda Chavez thinks that Mel Gibson "got it right."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Are Nativists Racists?

From Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan:

Conservative nativists are up in arms about the president's new immigration bill, which would give legal "guest worker" status to some eight million illegal immigrants, after charging them a fine, and offer them a chance to become permanent residents. The issue with conservatives is not so much economic as cultural. When you scratch the surface of those who propose more punitive methods for ridding the country of illegals, you might find a tad of racism.

A subscription is required to access this very interesting article.

Brooks v. Huntington

New York Times columnist David Brooks rebuts the argument by professor Samuel Huntington that non-assimilated immigrants (especially from Mexico) present a threat to American unity:

In their book, "Remaking the American Mainstream," Richard Alba of SUNY-Albany and Victor Nee of Cornell point out that though there are some border neighborhoods where immigrants are slow to learn English, Mexicans nationwide know they must learn it to get ahead. By the third generation, 60 percent of Mexican-American children speak only English at home.

Nor is it true that Mexican immigrants are scuttling along the bottom of the economic ladder. An analysis of 2000 census data by the USC urban planner Dowell Myers suggests that Latinos are quite adept at climbing out of poverty. Sixty-eight percent of those who have been in this country 30 years own their own homes.

Monday, February 23, 2004

English Language Learners

This is from a press release issued by U.S. English:

On Thursday, the Department of Education announced new regulations permitting the test results of ELLs in their first year in U.S. public schools to be excluded when judging a school’s performance. The move came amid growing criticism that the measure was placing test results above the more important issue of teaching English to immigrant children.

Immigrants and the Middle Class

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

The immigration debate has long been the loudest in California, the destination of nearly one-third of foreign newcomers in the past 30 years. Where are they now? A study just out from the University of Southern California supplies an answer: in the middle class.

By looking at Census data going back to the 1960s, Dowell Myers and his team of demographers tracked the progress immigrants are making in the Golden State. They found that after about 10 years immigrants begin closing the economic gap with native-born Americans.

GOP Split on Immigration

From the LA Times:

An uproar over illegal immigration roiled the state Republican convention on Saturday as party leaders struggled to keep the rank and file united behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush.

Hundreds of GOP loyalists booed the president at a rally where U.S. Senate hopeful Howard Kaloogian and his allies denounced Bush's plan to give temporary legal status to undocumented workers.

Immigrants and TV

From the International Herald Tribune:

Immigrants who came to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s often used television to learn American idioms and mores - baseball alone was a master teacher - so some scholars worry now that the availability of international channels makes it too easy for immigrants to continue to cling to their homelands.

This is another barrier to assimilation and integration, which are essential for immigrants to achieve success in our adopted country.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Remittances as collateral

From the Miami Herald (via

International economists are about to launch a plan that could help lift millions of Latin Americans out of poverty: using the $30 billion a year in remittances from migrant workers in the United States as collateral to allow relatives in the region to buy homes or start small businesses.

Aliens Seeking Amnesty

From the Washington Times:

The number of illegal aliens caught crossing into the United States increased dramatically just days after President Bush proposed a guest-worker program that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants now in this country, according to the union that represents the Border Patrol's 9,000 field agents.

The National Border Patrol Council said apprehension totals increased threefold in the San Diego area alone, adding that the vast majority of aliens detained along the border told arresting agents that they had come to the United States seeking amnesty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Three Cuban Dancers Get Asylum

Three ballet dancers touring the U.S. with the national ballet company of Cuba defected and are not on their way to dancing in Cincinati.

Noncitizen Influence on Elections

From the Atlantic Monthly Magazine:

Should a vote in Los Angeles count more than a vote in Montana? That's one question raised by an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by researchers at the Center for Immigration Studies, which finds that nine congressional seats would have been allotted to different states in 2000 had noncitizens (including illegal aliens) been excluded from the counts Congress uses to allocate seats. For example, according to the CIS, California, home to 5.4 million noncitizens, would have six fewer representatives if citizens alone had been counted when the 435 seats in the House were divvied up. The practice of counting noncitizens when making apportionment decisions doesn't just tend to exaggerate the political influence of states with high immigrant populations; it also has a striking effect on the clout of individual voters. Consider California's Thirty-first District, in Los Angeles, where 43 percent of the residents are noncitizens and cannot vote. Because each House district is required to have an equal number of residents, rather than citizens, far fewer votes are required to win an election there—34,000 in 2002, compared with an average of nearly 100,000 in the districts of the four states that lost a seat in the 2000 reapportionment.

The CIS study can be found here.

White-Only Scholarship

WKYT in Kentucky is running this story:

Bristol, Rhode Island-AP -- A student group in Rhode Island says it's protesting affirmative action -- but others say it's fueling racism with a scholarship for whites only.

The group, College Republicans of Roger Williams University, is advertising the 250-dollar scholarship. To get it, the group requires an essay on "why you are proud of your white heritage" and a photo to -- quote -- "confirm whiteness."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

It's all in the details

From a column appearing in the American Spectator regarding the President's Immigration plan:

Few difficult problems have perfect solutions, and any guest worker program is bound to have failings. But instead of running from Bush's proposal, conservative lawmakers should be rolling up their sleeves to work on the all-important details. Surely, there are likely to be pitfalls, but conservatives who are advocating writing off Bush for his program to "throw open our borders" have not given this proposal a fair hearing. It is one of the best practicable suggestions for getting better control of our borders to come along in years.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Al-Qaeda in Latin America

According to a report from WorldNetDaily, Pentagon officials have confirmed that Al-Qaeda is using human smuggling rings to bring operatives into the U.S. from Latin America:

Anti-terrorism experts say extremist cells tied to Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida network are operating in Argentina, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay. Although cooperation between al-Qaida and Hezbollah has been known for some time, the two groups have formed a much closer relationship since al-Qaida was evicted from its base in Afghanistan...

Of growing concern to some U.S. officials is the way the terrorists south of the border might use lax immigration standards to slip into the U.S. Some 6 million people of Muslim descent live in Latin America and there are reports that many indigenous people are converting to Islam.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Hearings on Immigration Plan

The Washington Times has a report on the hearings before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration. Apparently, quite a few GOP senators are adding their support to the president's plan.

Fewer Hispanic Democrats

A research report (in PDF) by HispanTelligence (R) reveals that "the Democratic Party is losing some of its footing with the Hispanic electorate in a shift that could be pivotal for over twenty states in November's presidential election." Also,

A decreasing majority of registered Hispanic voters in 2003 called themselves Democrats (39.8 percent, with 24.9 percent registering as Republican and 35 percent registering as Independent).

Growing Political Power

The number of Hispanic representatives in Washington D.C. is growing:

The number of Hispanics in Congress has been doubling every decade since the 1960s, according to Hispanic Link, up to the current high of 24. At the same time, the first Hispanic political families are beginning to appear in Congress: Linda Sanchez is the sister of Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Mario Diaz-Balart's brother Lincoln has been representing Miami in Congress for the past 10 years.

Still, those 24 lawmakers only account for 5.5 percent of the House of Representatives, while Hispanics make up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population. 12.5 percent of the 435-member House would be 54. There are no Hispanics in the Senate.

(Ed. note: this article seems dated, but the numbers quoted are still the same)

Free Trade

According to William Krist of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, for trade liberalization to work, everybody has to take the plunge together:

Developed countries must reduce subsidies together: If the US agreed to eliminate subsidies in a bilateral agreement, Europe would flood US markets with subsidized products. To take the free-market plunge, everyone must jump in at the same time.

Bilateral agreements divide the world economically and politically. The least-developed countries, with their small markets, are not considered valuable trade partners and are generally excluded from bilateral negotiations. And yet, lesser-developed countries are the ones most desperately in need of improved access to other markets. Also, US trade rules for bilateral agreements differ from the EU's in many ways, which can limit the benefits for countries that belong to several trade blocs.

Only a successful multilateral agreement can free trade for all countries and simplify trade rules across the globe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Mexican Fans Taunt American Team

Today's New York Times carries a report from Jalisco, Mexico on the Mexican Team's crushing 4-0 victory over the U.S. in the match that eliminated the U.S. from the 2004 Olympics in soccer,

In the 26th minute, the throng began chanting "Osama! Osama!" at the Americans, but they appeared inured to such taunting and eager for a game of beautiful desperation in an attempt to reach the Olympics...

"Soccer is our national sport," Carlos Placencia, 21, a publicist, said. "We cannot let the Americans beat us at our game."

Diego Gonzáles, 23, a graphic designer, said it would be important for the collective Mexican self-assurance to defeat the bigger, richer country to the north.

"This game is a way to show them that we can win," Gonzáles said. "It doesn't matter if it is the United States or another country. We need to show what Mexicans are made of."

Both Placencia and Gonzáles said that anti-American chants of "Osama! Osama!" were meant in large part as a joke, even if a tasteless one.

"We make fun of everything," Gonzáles said. More seriously, he added: "We think the United States exaggerated its reaction about terrorism and security measures. We criticize the reasons why America goes to war."

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Salsa is the Answer

Mariel Garza of the Los Angeles Daily News looks at the Salsa scene in California, and sees the cure to many of the country's ills:

...the most socially important aspect of the salsa dance is this: Nowhere else in this city can you find the regular and easy co-mingling of people from all backgrounds. Where a lawyer and a busboy become equals in step with a song. This is not a Latino-only endeavor. The salsa nights are a sea of brown, white, black, yellow. Salsa crosses cultural, economic and age boundaries. And no one thinks twice about it.

Salsa alone might not be able to save the world. But it's a heck of a lot more fun than a cultural sensitivity training seminar.

Post-Castro Cuba

Mary Anastasia O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal discusses the future of Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro, and it is very sobering,

Cuba, once prosperous, is now desperately poor, and one of Castro's legacies is the destruction of the whole framework of civil society. Gone are the entrepreneurs of Spanish-immigrant culture. Gone are the vibrant business groups, labor federations and professional societies. Gone are the engines of wealth, like a profitable sugar industry. The regime has trashed the island's environment and badly damaged its human capital. Cuba now ranks among the world's top five nations in suicides per capita. Even psychologically healthy Cubans are burdened by years of indoctrination, with its bias against individual responsibility and risk-taking.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Nicolas Vaca

A tension that has been obvious to many for a long time is finally being discussed.

Call it the myth of a rainbow coalition, or the newest elephant in America's living room. Either way, Bay Area attorney Nicolas Vaca wants a frank discussion on the latest taboo subject in the race milieu -- the growing tension between Latinos and blacks.

Long presumed to be aligned on issues of civil rights and economic opportunity, Latinos and blacks in fact are locked in a ``zero-sum'' struggle for jobs and educational resources, and they're more likely to form political coalitions with whites than with each other, Vaca contends in his new book, ``The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict Between Blacks and Latinos and What It Means For America.''

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Transparency in Admission Preferences

Stuart Taylor, Jr. of National Journal suggests that state colleges and universities should disclose more information about all of their preferential admission programs (legacy, race, etc.) so as to inform the voting public about who benefits from the programs and what effect the preferences have on academic standards.

The news media typically give a misleadingly benign aura to racial preferences by portraying them, inaccurately, as boosts for the underprivileged and by obscuring the way they operate as double standards that discriminate systematically against whites and Asians and in favor of less-academically-qualified applicants who are, in many cases, more affluent.

Most Americans don't realize that the racial preferences at the University of Michigan Law School, upheld by the Supreme Court last June in Grutter v. Bollinger, are worth more than 1 full point of college GPA -- catapulting black and Hispanic applicants with just-below-B averages over otherwise similar whites and Asians with straight A's. Or that the average SAT scores of the preferentially admitted black students at most elite colleges are 150 to 200 points below the average white and Asian scores. Or that this SAT gap understates the academic gap, because black students do less well in college, on average, than do white and Asian classmates with the same SAT scores. Or that most recipients of racial preferences, unlike most legacies, end up in the bottom third of their classes and have far higher dropout rates than other groups. Or that, according to a study of 28 highly selective colleges by two leading supporters of preferences, some 85 percent of preferentially admitted minorities are from middle- and upper-class families.

Link via

Mexico's Southern Border

The Economist Magazine discusses an issue that is often ignored, neglected or forgotten when debating the immigration dilemma, namely, Mexico's porous border with Guatemala:

The area is seen by American and Mexican officials as a new frontier in the war against terror. Fresh resources have gone into policing it. That has drawn attention to the underlying problems of a very porous frontier, and the policies (or lack of them) that have created a rising human toll in an otherwise obscure backwater.

Last year Mexico deported 147,000 illegal immigrants in all, some 20% more than in 2002. Over 90% came from just three Central American countries (Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua), almost all of whom are likely to have entered through the southern border. In Tapachula, immigration officials concede that the higher figure represents not their success in stemming the flow, but evidence that more are making the journey.

Fukuyama on Assimilation

The always-insightful Francis Fukuyama discusses the issue of assimilation and integration of immigrants while looking at how Europe and America handle the new arrivals.

It is in this context that we should evaluate President Bush's recent proposal to grant illegal aliens work permits. Many Americans dislike the policy because it rewards breaking the law. This is all true; we should indeed use our newly invigorated controls over foreign nationals to channel future immigrants into strictly legal channels. But since we are not about to expel the nearly seven million people potentially eligible for this program, we need to consider what policies would lead to their most rapid integration into mainstream American society. For the vast majority of illegal aliens, the law they broke on entering the country is likely to be the only important one they will ever violate, and the sooner they can normalize their status, the faster their children are likely to participate fully in American life.

Castro and Chavez

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has an interesting article on the chummy relationship between Cuba and Venezuela. This combination is a threat to democracy in Latin America:

Over the past three years, Cuba has run up a massive debt of $752 million for oil shipped by Venezuela's state oil company, according to people close to the company and internal documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Though Venezuelan officials deny that Cuba is falling behind, people familiar with the matter say the debt is piling up and that the government has made little effort to collect. This makes the shipments a crucial subsidy that is helping keep the island nation's economy afloat as it struggles with the impact of endemic mismanagement, declining sugar sales and longstanding U.S. sanctions.

While the subsidy doesn't approach what the Soviets were doling out to Cuba at the height of the Cold War, it underlines the growing strategic alliance between Venezuela's Mr. Chávez, a populist former coup plotter elected in 1998, and Cuba's Mr. Castro. At a time of rising anti-American and anti-free-trade sentiments, U.S. officials fear that the combination of Venezuela's oil billions and Mr. Castro's well-honed political skills could cause trouble for the U.S. throughout a restless Latin America.