1991 Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act


January 30, 1991, Senator Ted Kennedy sponsored a bill and President George Bush, Sr. thought it would be a great idea to sign it into law. This legislation was an amendment to current immigration law which would include reform specifically designed for military personnel. The new legislation provided special immigration status for military personnel who had served honorably for twelve years. This status was to include spouses and children. For non-citizen military personnel who had not yet served twelve years, if they had committed to re-enlistment to cover a twelve year span, they and their family would have their status adjusted to permanent resident until such time as they completed their duty requirements. Then they would be eligible for naturalization.

What the gringa doesn’t understand, is why do they not qualify for naturalization within five years like other immigrants? Why would any immigrant want to serve in the military if it meant they would have to serve twelve years before qualifying for citizenship? They could just remain a civilian immigrant, renewing their visa, staying employed or enrolled in school, and qualify in five years as a civilian. After the evidence of statistics and senior officer testimony in 1968 affirmed the quality of service provided by immigrant military personnel, why would the U.S. government do anything that would deter immigrants from enlisting? As the gringa scratched her head over this one, it took quite a bit of digging around to discover what this legislation was really all about. Once I did, it finally met with my approval.

The 1968 legislation only provided for expedited naturalization for military personnel involved in hostilities. The Vietnam War and Cambodian Civil War both ended in 1975. Although the U.S. was involved in many military operations around the world after 1975, the country was not involved in an actual war until August 2, 1990, when the Persian Gulf War officially began as Operation Desert Shield. There was a gap of time where many non-citizen military personnel did not qualify for expedited naturalization because they were not involved in hostilities during the time of their enlistment. This legislation was to remedy that fact and honor those service men and women with the citizenship status they deserved.

Provision was also made for 2,000 immigrants annually from countries the U.S. had treaties with (not including their spouses and children) and 100 annually from countries the U.S. did not have treaties with (not counting their spouses and children). This inclusion of immigrants from countries the United States may or may not have had treaties with was important because, at the time of this bill’s passage, the Gulf War was still going on, although its conclusion was in sight. In fact, it was actually less than a month away. There would be foreign nationals who had assisted U.S. efforts and it would not be safe for them to remain in their countries of origin. They and their families would need to flee to a place of safety. The gringa is proud of the United States for considering these humanitarian needs as well as remaining loyal to those who served in such a capacity. These special immigrants were considered refugees, given permanent resident status and provided with resettlement appropriations.

The scope of this immigration reform bill was narrow and specifically designed with the non-citizen soldier in mind. Tweaking immigration law in such a way as this reflects upon a government that is much more aware of what really needs to be done for immigration reform than they let on. Oftentimes the nation’s politicians throw up their hands and act as if immigration reform is so complicated they can’t possibly put together a bill the majority of legislators will agree on. That’s a big, fat lie. If they stick to simple, narrow measures, tweaking details here and there, they can, over time, get much done. A little bit of progress is better than none. The citizens of the nation have to put pressure on government leaders on behalf of the non-citizen who does not have any real influence as a non-registered voter. The citizens who care must speak for them and demand meaningful immigration reform.

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1991_armed_forces_immigration_adjustment_act.html

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/102/s296

https://www.congress.gov/bill/102nd-congress/senate-bill/296

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87576.pdf

Photo credit: http://www.slideshare.net

1990 Immigration and Nationality Act – It’s The Lottery, Baby!


Let’s play the lottery and see who gets to enter the country! Yes, the 1990 Immigration and Nationality Act introduced a lottery program. But, don’t be fooled. Lottery is just a fun way of saying “quota”. Quota was a bad word in the history of United States immigration policies. I guess legislators thought this was a pretty slick maneuver.

November 29, 1990, President George Bush, Sr., spoke to the nation and made these points about the bill he signed into law:

  • He respected immigrants: “… the fundamental importance and historic contributions of immigrants to our country…”
  • He appreciated the need for family unity: “… our tradition of family reunification… support for the family as the essential unit of society…”
  • He acknowledged the economic benefit of the immigrant, “… immigration of skilled individuals to meet our economic needs… cultivation of a more competitive economy… encourage the immigration of exceptionally talented people, such as scientists, engineers, and educators… promote the initiation of new business… and the investment of foreign capital in our economy…”
  • He was honest about the “bad” element among immigrants: “… swift and effective punishment for drug-related and other violent crime… aliens who, by their violent criminal acts, forfeit their right to remain in this country… jeopardize the safety and well-being of every American resident… improves this Administration’s ability to secure the U.S. border…”

Annually, the Attorney General would review statistics that had been gathered for five years from all over the country. Nations would be designated as “High Admission” or “Low Admission”.  High admission countries had at least 50,000 immigrants that had become permanent residents. Immigrant hopefuls of these nationalities would not be permitted entry unless the “lottery” was unable to be fulfilled by immigrants from the “Low Admission” nations who received preference. The purpose of this was to achieve more ethnic diversity within the United States. The gringa supposes this seems okay on the surface. Let’s dig a little deeper and see how it all works out.

These were the regions that comprised the “High Admission” and “Low Admission” zones considered in the new visa lottery system: Africa; Asia; Europe; North America (Canada and Greenland); Oceania (the geographical area including Micronesia, Fiji, all Polynesia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Melanesia, and Australia); South America; Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean. In order for an immigrant hopeful to get a visa, not only do they have to come from a “Low Admission” country, but they also have to have a high school diploma and two years of work experience. If an immigrant hopeful was lucky enough to get a visa, their children and spouses were included. The United States considered family unity in this immigration reform policy and the gringa is happy ‘bout dat!

To get down to the specific numbers, America would issue about triple the number of visas than it did prior to the passage of this act. Most of these visas were issued to immigrants who were sponsored by employers. Guess what was required of these employers? They had to show documentation that they were unable to fill the position with an existing American citizen worker. Now, when will all these people stop griping about immigrants coming over here and stealing American jobs? It just ain’t so! Funny how the politicians know these laws exist to protect American jobs yet when an election year comes around some will campaign on headline grabbing, voter stimulating issues that are absolute lies, such as, “We’ve got to do something about immigration! Unemployment is so high and Joe Bob can’t get a job because those damn immigrants are pouring over the border and taking jobs away from good ol’ Americans!” Liar, liar, pants on fire. There are so many jobs that an humble immigrant is grateful to get paid to do that a spoiled American will turn their nose up at. That’s why most of these visas were issued!

For the first five years of this law, maximum limits were put in place. A total of 700,000 would be allowed in annually during this first five year period. Family based immigration was preferred so 465,000 visas were set aside for this type of immigrant. 55,000 visas were designated for spouses and aliens who had spouses or parents who had been legalized in the U.S. under the amnesty plan of 1986. 140,000 visas were set aside for skilled laborers to enter. 40,000 immigrants from “adversely affected” countries were given their own special group.

An example of “adversely affected” people would be the 1,000 displaced Tibetans who entered the country in 1991. On April 30, 1990, China announced the end of martial law in Tibet’s capital. For thirteen months Tibetans had suffered under military rule, harshly silenced and oppressed from any protest against the Chinese government. Military rule had existed in Tibet for decades but China cracked down in 1989 when Tibetans started getting too big for their britches and actually wanted a little freedom and independence, particularly in the area of practicing their religion, and began protesting in public. Too bad it was only 1,000 that made their way here. The gringa wishes all of them could have made it.

Did this immigration reform achieve its goal of creating more diversity in the American population? Prior to this bill, Asia and Latin America were the source nations for the majority of immigrants entering the United States. Under the provisions of this act, the American workforce was primarily supplied with Mexican and Filipino laborers. Indians, Canadians, Chinese and Africans made up the balance. Even today the Latin and Asian immigrants are the predominant ethnicities represented in the immigrant population. So it seems the goal of diversity wasn’t achieved. The most significant change was that fewer of these immigrants were poor.

However, the ethnic fabric of American medicine, science, education and sports was enriched as the result of this immigration reform. To keep these skilled workers in the country, deportation laws were relaxed as well as many stipulations that otherwise would have excluded an immigrant hopeful for qualifying for entry. One of these stipulations, which really seems to get xenophobes all worked up, is that the requirement to speak English was passed over. It makes no difference to the gringa. The gringa likes a challenge, especially a challenging conversation.

The ultimate culmination of the aftermath of this legislation is what we have today. For those who are not threatened by cultural and language differences of other people, the gringa being one those people, we shrug and say, “Who cares. Let ‘em stay as long as they’re minding their own business, working and caring for their family and community.” For the xenophobes, this is their worst nightmare. They have to suffer the indignity of pushing the number one button on their phones to select English. It’s all just so much more damn work and inconvenience that’s been created by these non-English speaking foreigners. It seems American government was socially evolving (except during campaign years when they regressed for the sake of garnering votes). Now the work is to help these hard-headed, scaredy-cat xenophobes evolve.

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1990_immigration_and_nationality_act.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/01/world/martial-law-ends-in-tibet-s-capital.html

http://immigrationinamerica.org/592-immigration-act-of-1990.html

http://cis.org/ImmigrationHistoryOverview

http://online.sfsu.edu/mcollier/AAS_write/aas%20essays/1990act.pdf

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=19117

Photo credit: www.tibetanreview.net

Sandra Bland, I’ve Been Thinking About You


At the 13:55 mark in the video, Sandra, you are off camera. You’ve been knocked to the ground by the State Trooper and a female officer. You tell them, among other things… “You knock my head in the ground and I got epilepsy.” The trooper says, “Good, good.” Sandra, the medical examiner said you died because of asphyxiation. Sandra, from one epileptic to another, I know that when an epileptic has a grand mal seizure, that person stops breathing. Many die from asphyxiation. I have had grand mal seizures. I have managed to survive them because I have never been alone when it has happened. I have always had loved ones who have acted quickly to get me the emergency care I need.

As of yet, there is no video of when they booked you into jail, Sandra. Right now, I don’t know what happened to you. And you were so close to me. Maybe just an hour from my doorstep. So far, the last time I saw you alive was when the female officer took you out of her car to pat you down. The only video about the jail, so far, is when they supposedly found you. When I watched that video, I started to cry. However, I didn’t let myself cry because of my epilepsy. If I get too emotionally wound up I could have a grand mal seizure. I was home alone when I watched that video. If I had a seizure alone, I could die. So, I didn’t let myself cry about the video of the jail where you lay dead. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to shed the tears for you I would have liked to.

As I watched that jail video, I noticed that the cell you were in was near a back exit door. They put you in a hallway with a door closing off the hallway from the other holding cells. The other holding cells could be seen by camera. Your cell could not. They left you all alone. Isolated. Unseen. Vulnerable. The most dangerous situation to be in for an epileptic. The only way they could have endangered you more was if they put you in a tub of water. It seemed the only way a passerby could see you was if they bent down to look in a little window at the bottom of your cell door.

This jail video made me think of many possibilities. At almost every jail, in any area where there is interaction between police officers and prisoners, there are video cameras recording all interactions. I’m sure, Sandra, the booking area at the jail you were taken to had video cameras. I would really like to see you alive and well at the booking desk. Until I do, I have to consider several possibilities.

One possibility, Sandra, is that you had a seizure en route to the jail. If you did, you would have thrashed around and kicked in the back of the patrol car. The officer may have thought you were just causing trouble. Sandra, I believe it is possible you may have died in the back of that female officer’s police car. I believe it is possible that you never went to the booking desk because you arrived at the jail dead. I believe it is possible they brought you in that back, secluded exit, unseen, and hid you away, all alone, disgracefully and disrespectfully, in that isolated cell. Sandra, I believe it’s possible. I will continue to believe it’s possible until I see you in a booking video.

Another possibility, if the police release a booking video proving you arrived alive and well at the jail, is that you had a seizure in that cell all alone. Law enforcement must have heard the same words I heard about your epilepsy on your arrest video. They know if they did not get you proper medical attention for your epilepsy, after telling them you had the disease, and had a seizure in custody, they would be held liable for your death. Sandra, it’s possible that if you had a seizure and died in that cell it only took minutes. It would have happened suddenly. You may have had no warning. When they found you dead, it’s possible they made up this story of you hanging yourself. I don’t believe you killed yourself.

When the medical examiner looked at your body, if you had died from a seizure, he would have found that you asphyxiated. That’s exactly what the medical examiner said. He said you died of asphyxiation. The only thing he failed to say, is why you died of asphyxiation.

Sandra, I don’t personally know you. I don’t really know if you had epilepsy or not. But, I do know crying out you have epilepsy is not something most people would think to do in a situation like yours. Most people go about their lives blissfully unaware of epilepsy. I think, Sandra, that you had a seizure and died. I think, Sandra, the stress from how you were treated triggered it. I think, Sandra, law enforcement failed to take care of you. I think, Sandra, you shouldn’t have died.

1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, a.k.a. the Simpson-Mazzoli Act


And what was going on in the United States in 1986 besides big hair, parachute pants, the Iran-Contra debacle of the Reagan administration, and Falco, the one hit wonder with “Rock Me Amadeus”? Well, Congress was getting together with President Reagan for his signature on the new immigration reform bill called the “Simpson-Mazzoli Act”. Considering this mammoth piece of legislative effort contains over 41,000 words, the gringa will stick to the facts that resulted in significant change for the immigrant and American society.

It is interesting to note that today’s “undocumented worker” was yesterday’s “illegal alien” and also was the “unauthorized alien” of the 80’s. These immigrants who were already present in the country in 1986 could apply and gain legal status according to certain guidelines:

  • Immigrants had to provide proof of residency and employment since January 1, 1982
  • Immigrants had to have a clean criminal record (a felony and/or 3+ misdemeanors got you the reject notice)
  • Immigrants had to provide proof of registering with Selective Service
  • Immigrants had to meet a minimal level of understanding of U.S. history, government and the English language or be enrolled in these courses of study (if you were 65 years old or older they let you slide on this requirement).
  • Immigrants must apply within 18 months of the passage of the bill

The bill also contained provisions of temporary resident travel so these new temporary resident aliens could legally return to their countries of origin and visit family and return to the United States. The gringa is proud of this particular provision and the humanitarian recognition by the United States of maintaining healthy family bonds and connections. The Attorney General also had the freedom to waive certain requirements if it was in the interest of family unity. The gringa is certain that the United States is on the right track here.

Once an immigrant became a lawful temporary U.S. resident, they were disqualified from federally funded public welfare for five years. The gringa is sure this provision was included to satisfy the xenophobes who just KNEW these folks only wanted to come to America in order to freeload! However, individual State programs that had National School Lunch programs, vocational education programs, Headstart programs, and their own health services, as well as Social Security benefits individuals may qualify for, were not prohibited.

Because this immigration reform legalized many workers, the bill outlawed the practice of any employer hiring an unauthorized alien. However, enforcement of this provision was to be deferred during agricultural seasonal services. Hey, when the country’s gotta eat, we should all just look away, right? The gringa then must ask, “What’s an immigrant hopeful to think?” I mean really, come on, think this one through with some common sense. If it was common knowledge within the immigrant community the U.S. law meant that you could enter undocumented and law enforcement would simply ignore you if you happened to arrive at the right time of the year, what would you do? If you are an opportunity deprived and economically oppressed individual, you choose the cheapest, shortest and quickest way to get into the land of opportunity. You enter during the agricultural harvest season when the nation puts out the welcome mat and simply stay. You keep your head down part of the year and walk around boldly the rest of the year. The United States is in no position to criticize immigrants for taking advantage of the law of the land! The nation can’t be willing to turn a blind eye when it’s convenient for their belly then turn around and point the finger and blame the immigrant and ask them, “What the hell are you doing here?!”

Migrant agricultural workers who entered the nation seasonally were considered separate from the unauthorized aliens who met the above conditions. The migrant workers had a different visa with different qualifying guidelines. For the xenophobes who complain that immigrants come to this country and steal American jobs, consider this requirement of migrant worker guidelines: “Requires an employer H-2A visa petition to certify that: (1) there are not enough local U.S. workers for the job; and (2) similarly employed U.S. workers’ wages and working conditions will not be adversely affected.” It seems that plenty of jobs are available in the agricultural industry but Americans refuse the opportunity. So, don’t be pointing the “Stealing American Jobs” finger at the immigrant. This provision put the American first only allowing immigrants to fill the position when Americans refused. Also, fearful xenophobes, consider President Reagan’s 1977 radio broadcast statement, ““It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do?” Way back then even the Gipper got it! Anti-immigration folks are recycling the same old arguments and, time after time, they are proven wrong.

One interesting stipulation regarding discrimination has the gringa scratching her head and tsk-tsking. The bill says it would be considered “unfair” for an employer to discriminate against an individual in hiring practices based on origin or citizenship. However, it would be considered NOT “unfair” if an employer preferred to hire a U.S. citizen or national rather than an equally qualified resident alien. The gringa asks, “Does not one of these statements negate the other?” Geniuses and Washington, the two do not go hand in hand. The gringa says, “Just one more law in favor of American laborers and protecting their right to work over the immigrant to use in an argument to shut up and shut down the anti-immigrant xenophobe crowd.” Mmph, take that!

For migrant workers, though, there was still an option to obtain residency status. During the 18 month registration period established by this bill, if they worked 90 days within one year in the agricultural industry they qualified for temporary residency and could travel between the U.S. and their country of origin. During the first five years of their new status, migrant workers are considered “eligible legalized aliens” and do have access to Federal assistance as well as state assistance for the first five years of their new status. Migrant workers were also entitled to legal assistance.

Cuban and Haitian entrants were granted permanent resident status if they arrived before January 1, 1982. This was because many of these immigrants were political refugees.

Considering the disaster of American children whose native mother was not married to an American G.I. and was left behind in Indochina in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and Cambodia conflict, the gringa is pleased to find that the U.S. was more socially evolved in 1986. Children qualified for status, benefits and privileges if even one parent obtains resident status, regardless of the marital position of the child’s parents.

All in all, close to 3 million immigrants were legalized. This is a significant chapter in American immigration history. However, according to the numbers, about 2 million unauthorized aliens were left running around America without proper “authorization”. Some of these didn’t qualify, so, everyone just assumed they would eventually get deported. Others would have qualified but didn’t know a thing about the program. No one really had a back up plan for this eventuality. The gringa is not surprised. I’m sure Reagan and Congress thought, “We’ve done enough. That headache can be for the next administration.” Yes, U.S. government, how the wheels turn.

Critics of this legislation called it “amnesty”.  The real definition of amnesty is “an official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offenses”. The gringa’s not sure that the term “amnesty” applies. Perhaps a better term for a path to citizenship would be “the right thing” or, maybe, “the smart thing” or, “humanity at its best”. Regardless of what you call it, there were plenty of critics then and now who considered it a big, fat failure because illegal immigrants poured into the country after its passage. The fantasy was, the gringa supposes, that politicians thought after the passage of this bill, somehow, by some miracle, there would never be another unauthorized alien that would enter the country. The gringa can only guess that perhaps they thought the immigrants that were here were the only ones that would ever want to be here and no other immigrants would arrive in the future. What a bunch of dummies.

The gringa thinks they should have expected immigrant hopefuls around the world to jump up and take notice and point their finger toward America, wide-eyed as they exclaimed, “DID YOU SEE THAT! THAT COULD BE ME!” And off they go, running as fast as their little foreign feet can carry them to the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave. With a path to citizenship laid out and easy to qualify for, of course hopefuls would hotfoot it across the border if given the chance.

The gringa thinks the problem was not with the legislation. The gringa thinks the problem was with the lack of preparedness. It should have been, sign the bill then yell, “Katie, bar the door!” They should have seen it coming! Big sillies! They needed to have a stronger presence on the border. Why didn’t they? Money, of course. Even though there was a provision to beef up border security by 50%, it seems they still didn’t spend enough money! Or, quite possibly, as often happens in bureaucracies, the money was mismanaged. All you xenophobes who are crying about border security, well, its gonna cost you. Are you willing to pay? That means taxes to fund it. Take a look at your paycheck stub. Are you still willing to pay?

Another reason illegals continued to flood into the country is because the framers just weren’t good planners. The bill was not a failure as critics claim when they point to the fact that illegal immigration was never eradicated, but actually increased. It’s because the bill didn’t go far enough. It never occurred to the framers of the legislation that the country might just continue to grow and need more laborers. Just like any good capitalist free market system ruled by supply and demand, the U.S. labor market demanded laborers and the nation’s southern neighbors were only too happy to supply them. And that is the very reason we need immigration reform now. Most of these people are here to work and raise their families and educate themselves and their children. They need to be able to come out of the shadows and live with security as proud American citizens.

For today’s critics of amnesty who treat it like it’s a dirty word, listen to the words of a wise humanitarian: “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally,” Ronald Reagan, in a 1984 televised debate with Walter Mondale. Former Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson’s opinion on amnesty? “Anybody who’s here illegally is going to be abused in some way, either financially [or] physically. They have no rights.” How do today’s Republicans feel about Obama’s efforts to bring about meaningful immigration reform? Well, just listen to what Mitch McConnell had to say: “…take amnesty off the table…”

So, then, what really happens with the issue of immigration reform? Politicians stick to their tried-and-true methods of old. When their voter base is raising hell, but the politician is too afraid to tackle the realities of legislation that affects the lives of millions of people, they worry more about getting re-elected. They don’t really care about the plight of an oppressed, unrepresented class of people who are not registered to vote. It is safer for the politician to stir up constituents with anger toward the immigrant so the voters won’t ask for immigration reform, but, rather, just scream for mass deportation. But, the politician doesn’t want to do that either. I mean, think about it. If cowardly politicians actually started deporting people, deportees may have loved ones in the community that DO vote. Politicians don’t want to risk losing that potential vote. If the politician treads the murky waters of immigration reform with legalization in mind, he alienates xenophobes, racists and labor unions from his voter base. If he goes hard line on immigration reform, he risks alienating the voters of ethnic groups who see members of their own national origin being rounded up and oppressed. What’s a vote-hungry, cowardly politician to do? He continues to stir up fear, because fear mongering directs everyone to the subject of border control. It’s much safer for the politician to support funding of border security than deal with millions of human beings. So, basically, the United States never sees meaningful immigration reform because the politicians are cowards.

The gringa remains hopeful that in Obama’s lame duck years he will deliver on immigration reform because he doesn’t give a hoot about pandering for a vote. He is in the strongest position to do the right thing. He has managed to deliver on some other controversial, hot button issues. The gringa still has faith and sits on the edge of her seat to see what happens. In closing, the gringa defers to the wise words of President Reagan who remained a friend to the immigrant to the very day he left office in 1989 when he said this: “I’ve spoken of a shining city all my political life but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here.”

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1986_immigration_reform_and_control_act.html

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d099:SN01200:@@@L&summ2=m&% 7CTOM:/bss/d099query.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/30/in-1986-congress-tried-to-solve-immigration-why-didnt-it-work/

http://asu.news21.com/archive/2009/the_first_immigration_amnesty/

http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/1986-amnesty/story?id=18971179

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/irca.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128303672

Photo credit:  www.fusion.net

Greedy GOP Hypocrites Sell Sacred Apache Land To Mining Company: What About ‘Religious Rights?’


Reblogging the following article:

GOP Senators chose profit over religious rights when they pushed through the sale of sacred Apache lands. Demonstrations in Washington aim to stop it.

via Greedy GOP Hypocrites Sell Sacred Apache Land To Mining Company: What About ‘Religious Rights?’.

GMO’s And The Power Of The Consumer


Over the past several months, I have engaged in discussions regarding GMO crops and food products. I am most definitely not a scientist so I will not write from that perspective. I will put in my two cents worth as a consumer. The first thing I will say is, “Consumers, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR POWER!” As a consumer, if you do not want to purchase and consume GMO products, that is your right as a consumer. If manufacturers of products containing GMOs do not want to label their products, do not be disheartened. If your local grocer does not stock many products that are labeled “certified non-GMO”, you have the power to change this!

I believe every consumer has the right to be an informed consumer and spend their money on exactly the type of product they desire. If a person is endeavoring to purchase food products to support an organic diet or simply wants to exercise their own personal preference not to consume GMO products, that is what living with freedom and liberty is all about.  The gringa is FOR the consumer.

That being said, dear readers, please remember that America is a capitalist society. Big GMO companies have the capital to pay for influence when it comes to legislative response when consumers are crying foul. It’s in the best interest for GMO industry profit to get Americans to buy their products that have been rejected by Europe. America is their only large market. They know labeling will lose sales so they will use whatever influence they have in Washington to avoid having to label their products.

More success may be found if consumers begin a letter writing and petition campaign on a grass roots level with local grocers to supply consumers with products that are certified NON-GMO. Consumers have to think from a capitalist perspective rather than a civil rights perspective on this one. The local grocer, if inundated with requests for Certified NON-GMO products, is more likely to respond than Congress, who very well may be in the back pocket of powerful GMO companies that have the means to fund special interest groups that can lobby Congress and also make sizable contributions to the campaign funds of politicians.

In a capitalist system, certain methods are more effective than others, especially if a person, or group, lacks the wealth that greases the wheels in a capitalist system. Take back your power. Write a letter and meet with your local grocer. Take all your friends with you. Then, drop the gringa a note and let me know how it went! I’m dying to know!

Please feel free to copy the following form letter. Mail or, better yet, hand deliver it to your local grocery manager. I assure you they will be willing to stock what they know the customer wants. They are in business to make money. Make many, many, many copies of this letter and share with your other non-GMO friends.

Be respectful in your efforts. Try not to “evangelize”. There are many American consumers who don’t give a hoot what they ingest. This is not about interfering with such a consumer’s right to ingest GMO food products. This is about the non-GMO consumer having the right to express to their food supplier the products they want. Just as you don’t want your food consumption rights interfered with, please don’t interfere in the rights of others. That being said, please share this letter with as many friends and grocers as you please. Happy Consumer Activism!

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a loyal grocery customer. As a customer, I would like to let you know that I appreciate the fact that you have a responsive customer service department. At this time, I would like to share some of my personal grocery needs in the hopes that you will stock these types of products that I would most earnestly purchase.

I am a conscientious consumer and have become aware of the controversy surrounding GMO food products. Considering that the GMO food industry has not responded favorably to consumers expressing their desire to know what they are consuming and label products that contain GMO ingredients, I look to another solution. I wholeheartedly support products that are labeled “certified non-GMO”. I understand that you, as a grocer, are in a retail business whose aim is to make money. I also understand these new “certified non-GMO” labels may increase the price of these foods as they have the new expense of registering these products and creating new labels. These higher prices may discourage you from stocking them in favor of a lower priced food that may possibly be a GMO food. I assure you that I most definitely will choose a certified “non-GMO” food over the same food product that is unlabeled. I will reject the unlabeled product due to the suspicion that it may be a GMO food.

I am aware that more than 20 European and Asian nations have banned or restricted GMO crop cultivation and/or imports. The scientists of these communities have concluded that their agricultural industries are unable to maintain crop purity and risk contamination by GMO crops. Upon their recommendations, their respective governments enacted legislation to ban or restrict GMOs. Because of this, United States companies that have invested heavily in GMO products now have only the American grocery market as their largest market place in which to generate a return for their investors. As a conscientious consumer, my loyalty lies with what is better for the environment, rather than what is better for the scientists and investors of the GMO industry. That is why I would be a loyal customer who would purchase the “certified non-GMO” products you would stock.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

 

You may wonder if this will really work. I assure you it will. I have personal experience in just such a thing. When my oldest son was a toddler he had some serious dietary allergies. There was a specific milk substitute that tasted great but was not on the shelves of our local Kroger. I asked the manager if he could get this product. Not only did he assure me that he would, but he asked me if there were any other products I was interested in. I then named off a few snacks and treats that I was trying to duplicate in my own kitchen because they did not stock them. He began to stock not just the items I requested, but many more products made by these same companies. He did all of that simply by the request of one, single customer.

The gringa believes that non-GMO consumers may very well be the next up and coming niche market that the food industry producers of non-GMO foods will eventually pounce upon. Non-GMO food producers are realizing consumers are willing to absorb the added cost of qualifying for the “certified non-GMO” label. I believe it will be found that, just as “organic”  and “gluten-free” became popular, profitable foodie trends, “certified non-GMO” will be the next foodie trend. There are plenty of consumers out there who don’t care one way or another what they eat, but there are niche markets that are very particular, very loyal, and willing to pay a premium to get exactly what they want. If GMO producers refuse to label their products, the gringa says, “Who cares!” I’ll just support another solution. The gringa will support non-GMO producers that proudly label their products. By supporting these products with your purchase, eventually, more companies will follow suit, jump on the bandwagon, and label their products “certified non-GMO” because they want your money, too.

In discussing the GMO issue, remember, it really is a consumer issue. When GMO supporters or scientists get hostile, remember, your criticism of their product threatens profits that are being demanded by investors. It also threatens funding of research that scientists may have invested a lifetime in. This threat creates a level of frustration that blinds them to the fact that the product they have developed was never guaranteed to be wanted by a consumer. This can sometimes result in a reaction that seems very arrogant and condescending because they do not understand that consumers are not obligated to want their product no matter how much science may prove it is superior. Such people need to be reminded that if consumers don’t want your product, the fault is not with the consumer.

Another thing GMO supporters forget, especially the scientists of this industry, is that there are plenty of people who do not trust the credibility of scientists in a country that operates as a capitalist model. Many people understand about corporate greed and corporate corruption and are suspicious. Especially when GMO’s have been rejected in Europe in countries that are non-capitalist models. That is the biggest elephant in the room when arguing with GMO supporters, the fact of GMO rejection by a large bloc of European and Asian countries. European and Asian scientists have done their own research and many have recommended rejection of GMOs to their respective governments who respected the wisdom of their scientists and acted accordingly.

When the European subject comes up, the GMO supporter may try to change the subject and make some claim that GMO product rejection is just silly because we’ve all been consuming them for decades anyway, we just didn’t know. The gringa is then reminded of many harmful drugs that were used for years and finally banned when cancers and the like showed up twenty or thirty years later. Also, the fact that consumers may have been consuming these products for years is irrelevant to putting the consumer’s mind at ease. In fact, a consumer who is already skeptical will probably only have their suspicions reinforced if they believe they have been eating corn on the cob for twenty years, erroneously believing it was the same, old corn on the cob grandma used to make and the scientific community never informed the public what they were doing. The reason suspicion becomes heightened is because the average person will think, “If it’s so great, why, then, hide your light under a bushel? What have you got to hide.”

The GMO supporter may also argue that the European ban is because of a few loud-mouth interest groups who have loads of money to gain by people joining their cause or logging on to their website. South Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, France, Madeira, and Switzerland have all banned or restricted GMO crops and/or imports. It is not anti-GMO rhetoric from a few individuals and companies that has this issue in the headlines. This issue is in the headlines because educated consumers are speaking out about legitimate concerns based on the rejection of GMO’s by many European countries whose testimony, reports and research contradict what America’s GMO industry claims.

These are technologically advanced, well educated nations with well respected scientific communities whose research resulted in the governments of these nations adopting legislation that effectively banned or restricted GMO crop cultivation and/or import. These scientific communities evidently do not agree with the science of American companies. As far as many informed consumers are concerned, the American scientific community is in the minority in their published opinions supporting and promoting GMOs when compared to the combined scientific communities of these twelve scientifically advanced European nations. And these twelve nations do not stand alone in their position on GMOs. The gringa has decided for reasons of space and word count to stop the list at these twelve.

Some GMO supporters will disrespect the scientists of these European and Asian nations by blaming environmental interest groups like Greenpeace for influencing the outlaw of GMO’s in these countries. They are not being honest at all. Below are just three examples illustrating what really motivated GMO bans:

  • GMOs were outlawed in Tasmania over a decade ago after genetically altered canola escaped from trial crops at secret sites around the state.
  • In 2006, a large part of the U.S. long-grain rice crop was contaminated by an experimental strain from Bayer CropScience , prompting import bans in Europe and Japan and sharply lowering market prices. The company agreed in court in 2011 to pay $750 million to growers as compensation.
  •  Preventing contamination by GMO crops motivated New Zealand to reject GMO’s. A government public statement regarding the premise for banning GMO’s is recorded as, “The  New Zealand economy relies on its agricultural purity…”
  • In 2008, in Germany, a “Council of Environmental Scholars weighed in on this debate, holding that a total avoidance of pollution from GM planting is technically not feasible. The Council sees the risks of GMOs as a threat not so much to human health as to the environment, citing the risks of contaminating natural areas and non-GM crops, dissemination through vertical and horizontal gene transfers, toxic effects on non-targeted organisms, and effects possibly resulting from changes in agricultural practices.” This quote is available in the United States Library of Congress. Germany does not want crop contamination and also does not want GMOs spreading like invasive weeds and taking over natural green areas, therefore, no GMO’s. This was the result of reports from their respected scientific community, not small interest group influence.

The gringa would never insult the scientific communities of these nations and diminish the contribution of their hard work by attributing to any environmental group as being the influential factor that motivated the decisions of their respective governments. These governments were responding to the will of the people, whose desire was to protect their own agricultural industry from GMO contamination. Their decisions were based on many hours of pain-staking research and were made in the best interest of their populations.

GMO companies, investors and scientists seem to be banging their fists on boardroom conference tables demanding a return on their investment. Now they are mad because their market is no longer global and the only market left to them, the American consumer, is rejecting their product. They are mad because rather than make the bank, they may only be left with dusty, unwanted products in dusty warehouses. If GMO supporters ever want to make the bank, they really need to rethink their marketing strategy because, so far, they have only pissed off their potential consumer market with bully tactics and arrogant, patronizing attitudes.

 

Sources:

http://naturalrevolution.org/list-countries-banned-genetically-modified-food/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-09/tasmania27s-gmo-ban-extended-indefinitely/5192112

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/japan-gmo-wheat-food-concerns_n_3357240.html

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/restrictions-on-gmos/germany.php

http://www.gefree.org.nz/

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/grocery-trip-change-congress-bans-gmo-labels/story?id=32665438

Photo credit: http://www.thinklean.net

 

 

 

Michelle Cardenas Interviewed by Global Printing Company


Printing Company Features Industry Innovators' Interviews

Michelle Cardenas Reveals Industry Insights for Printing Company 

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1982 Amerasian Immigration Act-The Baby Citizens Left Behind


Many soldiers fathered children in Indochina during the Vietnam War. Although immigration reform in 1975 addressed the refugee crisis of this region, these children were left out of specific consideration. The 1982 Amerasian Immigration Act sought to remedy this situation and provide preference in immigration admission policies for these children of United States citizens, whose mothers were not married to the U.S. G.I.’s. This legislation did not provide for the mother’s entry. She was required to release parental rights in order for the child to immigrate.

Eventually, the diversity of America’s population would be further enriched with the arrival of Amerasian children from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea. This humanitarian inspired legislation, although thoughtfully inspired, was also woefully deficient. Although the United States would definitely be a better place for these children to grow up in, the fact remains that they were separated from one parent in order to be reunited with another parent, simply because the parents were not married. Many of these parents desired to get married. For military personnel such as sailors, at that time in history, they could only marry with the consent of their captain. Often, consent was denied. Many of these children were born to Asian women and American servicemen who were in committed relationships yet could also be abruptly torn apart without a moment’s notice if a serviceman’s duty demanded redeployment. In these cases, the gringa believes the nation was terribly remiss in separating these families.

Many veterans of this conflict that were separated from loved ones by refusal of commanding officers to give consent to marry, or sudden redeployment, still have children and the mothers of their children in Asia with no contact with the American father in the States. Even today there are veterans and Asian women and Amerasian children who are searching for one another, searching for their families. Unfortunately, even if they find one another today, they would not be able to reunite under the conditions of this legislation. Although birthright to an American parent, regardless of geographical location of birth, guarantees a child the right to American citizenship, paternity certification documents must be filed before the child reaches the age of eighteen. The children left behind that were borne of this era of conflict and have survived, are now adults.

The gringa believes the U.S. failed to live up to its ideals in refusing these families to remain united. The gringa believes the U.S. failed to extend proper respect and appreciation for the servicemen who risked their lives for the nation and were then denied a marriage to a woman who was loved, and denied the serviceman the right to preserve his own family. Were these not rights the serviceman was defending and preserving in his very duty and service to country? What the hell, Congress of 1970’s and 1980’s? Where were your “pro-family, American freedom and American dream” minds? To the gringa this is so simple. You keep the family together. Period.

And as for the argument that some of these children were conceived by prostitutes, the gringa says, “So what?” It is estimated that over fifty thousand children in the Philippines alone were fathered by American servicemen in such a way. Does this mean a father would no want to be reunited with his own flesh and blood? Do these children deserve to be denied their rightful U.S. citizenship simply because their mother is a prostitute? Does the United States feel such a situation makes it okay to create a second-class citizen in these children? Does being the son or daughter of a prostitute disqualify a person from U.S. citizenship even if the father is a U.S. citizen? Show the gringa the law which says that is so. These children, by law, are United States citizens. Why the hell were they left behind? Why, with American blood coursing through their veins, are there any obstacles to them entering their own country and reuniting with their fathers?

As the conditions of post-war Indochina worsened when American troops left, many of these children suffered not only the loss of their American father, but many were also abandoned by their mothers. This is a tragedy that the United States had the power and, therefore, the moral obligation, to remedy, yet did not. Many of these orphans were further disadvantaged because of the stigma they suffered as the children of prostitutes. The gringa asks, “Why in the hell should any child bear any culpability for a parent’s career choice? Why should this be any factor at all in determining whether or not a child is socially acceptable? Why should this even be an issue to consider in allowing this child of a U.S. citizen to gain entry to the nation and reunite with a parent?” Even if a war veteran who fathered a child does not wish to reunite, why should any of this prevent a child who is legally a U.S. citizen from coming to their own, damn country? They are not even “immigrants”. They are CITIZENS! These children were U.S. citizens, helpless in their plight, and their country failed them.

The gringa is very disappointed how far this bill missed the mark considering that the prior two decades had shown such great promise in the humanitarian nature of immigration reform. Although the gringa is stirred to the point of anger because these innocent U.S. children were left behind, I must admit that the shortcoming of the nation was indicative of the social perspective at that time. Children born to parents that were not married were still stigmatized even on American soil. I suppose it is then only natural that the country did not regard children born to servicemen and women they were not married to as children who were legitimate citizens. That would account for why the amendment did not include specific wording for their inclusion. Not only were these children victims of war, they were victims of time.

After making such great strides in social progress, it seems the nation began to regress. Who in their right mind in this nation does not see that immigration reform is the most important humanitarian issue that affects so many people in the United States today? Why does Congress get together, year after year, and do nothing? Immigration reform is about human beings who not only want to come here and have a better life, immigration reform is often about coming here to find a long, lost loved one unwillingly ripped away from a person. Such inhumanity is a nasty stain on America. America is in need of redeeming itself. This can only be done with humanitarian inspired immigration reform that is long, long, overdue.

 

Sources:

http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1982_amerasian_immigration_act.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/opinion/the-forgotten-amerasians.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/03/world/asia/philippines-forgotten-children/

Photo credit:  www.blueskygallery.org