Saturday, April 24, 2010

Excerpt of President Obama's Speech

"Government has a responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders and set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. And under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership at the Department of Homeland Security, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ve strengthened security at our borders, ports and airports and we will continue to do so, because America’s borders must be secure. That’s part of what these young people here today stand for.

Businesses have a responsibility to obey the law and not undermine American workers, especially when so many Americans are out of work. Many businesses work to comply with the law every day. But for those that don’t -- those that ignore the law and exploit and abuse vulnerable workers and try to gain an unfair advantage over all the businesses that do follow the law -- we will hold them accountable.

And people who are in America illegally have a responsibility -- to pay their back taxes and admit responsibility for breaking the law, pay a penalty, learn English, pass criminal background checks, and get right with the law -- or face removal -- before they can get in line and eventually earn their citizenship.

So responsibility. Accountability. Common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. I thank Secretary Napolitano for helping to lead our efforts, both on and off Capitol Hill. And I thank Senators Schumer and Graham for working with us to forge a bipartisan consensus on a framework for moving forward, and I welcome the commitment of House and Senate Democratic leaders to take action.

I’ll continue to consult with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and I would note that 11 current Republican Senators voted to pass immigration reform four years ago. I’m hopeful that they will join with Democrats in doing so again so we can make the progress the American people deserve.

Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."

whole speech here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I almost moved to Arizona a few weeks ago. A job offer had been made and it involved relocation to Phoenix. I was given one month to make my decision. Talked to a lot of people, did research and thought about consequences. It was a good opportunity, "how many times do you get offered an engineering job" said my friend Beleza.

good point.

Yet, this is the heart of Arpaio Territory we're talking about, and it's seething with anti immigrant sentiment.

With a heavy heart i turned the offer down.

Flash forward to now, the anti-immigrant bill, known as SB 1070, has cleared legislative hurdles and is on its was to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.

SB 1070 makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status.

The bill essentially makes Arizona an apartheid state, where it will be ok for police to ask a brown "illegal" looking man or woman for their papers. I won't even delve into how a person goes about looking "illegal" (although target seemed to have their own opinion on the matter), but SB 1070 opens the gateway to legalized racial profiling.

As Alessandra Soler Meetze, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona put it:
"A lot of U.S. citizens are going to be swept up in the application of this law for something as simple as having an accent and leaving their wallet at home."
Religious Groups are coming out against the legislation, the Associated Press reports that:
The head of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese has condemned a proposed Arizona crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it encourages people to turn on each other in Nazi- and Soviet-style repression.
We've already seen U.S. Citizens being detained and even deported in the continuing ICE raids that keep separating families. Yet in Arizona this is on the verge of becoming common practice, and where is the Obama administration on this? quietly looking the other way. Once again, change you can believe in.

Prerna, Co founder of and a blogger at, suggests that the passing of SB 1070 might not be such a bad thing after all. She argues that such an insane law would (and is) energize the pro immigrant movement much in the way prop 8 energized the LGBT community.

If history is any lesson, we can look at the huge latino backlash in California when Prop 187 was passed by then Republican Governor Pete Wilson. The law was declared unconstitutional and shot down, but the damage had been done, and the Immigrant community effectively managed to turn California into a blue state.

The Unites States cannot have 50 different immigration laws, the San Francisco Chronicle puts it best:
If there was any doubt about the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform, Arizona's politicians are putting it to rest.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The (mini) Hangover

***DISCLAIMER: The following events describe an unlikely week in which i re-lived my 21st year of life, the events are not representative of my everyday with caution***

I turned 28 this past week.

Past birthdays I tend to stay home, relax and reflect on what the passing year has brought. Ever since 25 it seems that each new year reminds me of how time is passing me by.

Friday night as i lay in bed reading, and being annoyed at my younger sister for flaking on me, i decided that this year would be different. After all it was a First Fridays night, where all the downtown Art galleries open up and have shows and music and booze. And so the adventure began.

I got up, took off the PJs and walked out to my favorite Gallery Anno Domini, there i met up with my friend Monica, her boyfriend (Rene) and her friend Stephani. Also ran into my friends Dara and Jenna. Inside the gallery i flashed my passport and grabbed an IPA which i slowly drank while watching the art on display.

I must now disclose a somewhat shameful fact...I am a lightweight. After finishing this IPA i must say I was a bit buzzed. Needless to say that memory starts to fade a bit after this point.

Reconstructed from scrambled flash backs are the events of the night. Cinnabar, Scotch on the rocks, PBR beers, some dood hitting on Stephani and her telling him i was her BF so he would leave her alone, said dood dogging me and then drunkenly hugging me saying "its ok man its ok". Waking up on the couch in my living room with everyone else passed out on the floor.

Saturday, was recovery day. But it was Rene's Birthday celebration that night, so I once again braced myself. Dinner was at a Bar and Grill called Brittania Arms. I recall this place because not so long ago the bouncer did not accept my passport and told me i could not get in.

But we found a loop hole...go in at 6pm while it is a restaurant, and stay until 10 then get your hand stamped...and so it was...i beat the system!

This bar was bumping, but i had decided not to drink that night as i had an interview with a reporter in the morning. Unfortunately Rene and Co. didn't get the memo (insert alcoholic induced haze here).

Sunday I woke, did the interview and got some rest. 10 pm bed time.

Finally on Tuesday (Birthday day eve), a few of my friends took me out for food and drinks. A fatal combination of PBR, Patron, Whiskey and Blue moon. It is weird going out to drink at a dive bar in the middle of the week. Aside from no one, we were the only ones there.

The actual birthday was much more laid back. i got the day off from work. Got a some good birthday wishes, and a nice phone call. I had lunch with my father, hung out with my buddy Tony, had dinner with my sisters and then had a date that night.

I never partied/drank/ect much when i was younger, and most certainly not for consecutive days. The resulting hangover and exhaustion from these events are a testament to how I am most definitely not made for a rockstar (or even rockstar groupie) life style.

Nevertheless it was nice to let go and have some fun for a bit.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Yesterday passes me by with out a second thought
i feel it slipping through my veins
in every moment.
Please just hold my hand and don't let me go.
Another year is leaving me tonight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Employment Visa

Three weeks ago i was offered a job. It was a junior test engineer position. The owner of the company was willing to sponsor me for a visa. He told me to do the research on the necessary steps. Thanks to some good people i was referred to an immigration attorney that specializes in employment visas.

I went to her SF offices, and braced myself. I don't like getting my hopes up. Have done that too much in the past.

As i sat in her office waiting room i let myself daydream, of how maybe, just maybe this surreal life would soon be over. I thought of how it would be to not have it nagging in the back of my mind, that thought " no tienes papeles". Of how it seems so impossible, still after 21 years, to fully wrap my mind around the idea of how i don't "belong" or exist in my own home.

Then the day dream really took off, with thoughts of finally helping my aging parents pay off their debts, of getting a drivers license, of traveling, of being able to live with out fear, of the feeling of normality.

The appointment lasted 30 minutes. Essentially this it what it came down to: The company can submit an application to sponsor me, but the wait is 8 years, during which time i would remain undocumented. The cost is in the tens of thousands. So, if i wanted to do this i would be 36 by the time that i would be able to work for the employer that sponsored me.

I've always had this naive idea that a company could sponsor you for a visa. I remember i spent the entire summer of 2008 applying to every single company in the silicon valley, thinking that maybe one company would sponsor me. Now i had the company willing to sponsor me and the system failed me.

The attorney told me that this sponsorship process was actually not designed to provide legalization to out of status immigrants, but rather those with student or H1B visas. I thanked her, and told her i appreciated her time. She did not charge me for the visit.

As i was walking out of her office she said "Gabriel, how old are you?"

28, I replied.

"have you thought about getting married?"


My aunt slapped my hand as i reached for a slice of the Hawaiian pizza on the coffee table in the living room. Es para tu papa, she said. I sat there, holding my hand, anxious and eying the slice, not really thinking where exactly my father had been for the past 3 days.

We had just arrived from Mexico, my mother, sister and I, brought through the border with a tourist visa and by car through San Diego, and a brief stop in LA. Now we were sleeping on the floor of my Aunt's two bedroom San Jose apartment which she shared with four other people.

My father had stayed behind.

A few hours after the hand incident, pizza now cold, there was a knock on the door and my uncle showed up with my father. Torn pants, muddied shoes, unshaven and exhausted my father walked over and hugged us. I'll always remember the excitement, relief, the joy that filled the small apartment that night.

It would not be until years later that i would learn what he had been through in those three days.

My father and I have always shared a strong bond, one of trust and companionship. He's always been a good father, attentive to his family, always putting us before anything. Although he is older than me by 35 years ( he is 63) he has maintained a youthful spirit, joking and being there when I've needed him most. He's always been more of a friend than an authority.

The kind of man I aspire to be.

Now that so much time has passed, i often times remember that night when he was reunited with us. How tired he must have been, the fear, anxiety and the terrible weight he must have felt of being parted from his family.

I've had many moments of doubt, of anger, of frustration. Much more so in these recent weeks, where i tend to disappear from the world. Times where i just want to get up and walk away. times where i just want to say fuck it and leave.

Then i think of what my family has gone through. How many sacrifices have been made, and are yet to be made. I think of the joy my father had when he was reunited with us, and how tired and sad his eyes look now.

That's when I realize I can't walk away.