Archive for Monday, April 10, 2006

Hispanic leader advocates balance in immigration reform

KU graduate Janet Murguia leads national rights group

April 10, 2006


When Janet Murguia left Lawrence to lead one of the nation's largest Hispanic rights groups, the illegal immigration issue was on the national back burner.

But Murguia, who served as Kansas University's executive vice chancellor between 2001 and 2003 before becoming president of the National Council of La Raza - the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States - knew a debate was brewing.

"Well, yes, I think it was inevitable," she said. "The demographics alone, I think, were pointing to a trend that this would be an increasingly important issue, and that the Hispanic community would be increasingly influential. : If you looked at the numbers, you could see this coming."

Murguia's national profile has risen considerably in recent weeks, as she has appeared on several television shows to proclaim the benefits of immigration. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants; two of her siblings are now federal judges. And she holds three degrees - including a law degree - from KU.

She spoke with the Journal-World by phone from Washington, D.C. Some excerpts:

Journal-World: Do you want to see any changes to immigration law, or is the status quo just fine?

Murguia: Absolutely (we) need to have changes in the immigration laws right now. Our immigration system is broken, we're in a crisis right now, and I think in light of the 9-11 incidents, we recognize there has to be enhanced border protections and security measures. So we recognize that's the reality and that's important. Everyone, including the Hispanic community, wants to make sure our borders our secure.

But what we need to do is make sure (when) we reform the immigration that it's comprehensive reform, that it's balanced. What I mean by that is we have to deal practically with the immigrants who are already here and with the future flow of immigrants. There we need guest worker provisions and provisions that would allow for some path to permanent citizenship if we're going to deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner.

J-W: There are many folks who say that immigration is fine, as long as it's done legally - and that's why they object to the bill that allows illegal immigrants who are already here to get on the path to citizenship. Why should they be allowed that right?

Murguia: We can see from the statistics that a lot of these immigrants have been here for years now. They're deeply rooted in different communities all across this country, they've been making contributions to this country on an economic level and on other levels. These are folks who have been paying taxes, who have been doing very difficult, back-breaking work that is sustaining, for instance, the economy in western Kansas and other parts like that.

J-W: Your own parents emigrated from Mexico and they had several children who are comfortable and successful in both the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking worlds. But in recent rallies we've seen many protesters waving Mexican flags - so there are concerns that the standards of assimilation now are different than they were a generation or two ago. What do you think about that?

Murguia: I just disagree with that. I think that, yeah, some people are waving Mexican flags, but I don't think it's as many as we see highlighted on TV every night. I think there are a lot of American flags as part of these demonstrations. And I think they more or less reflect a sense of pride, of cultural pride, but not necessarily a sense of loyalty.

J-W: The debate in some cases seems to have become intensely personal. You were on Lou Dobbs' CNN show a few weeks ago and he was pointing his finger in your face. Is that the worst it's become? Is that typical the reaction?

Murguia: I wish that were the worst it gets. The fact of the matter is, I get e-mails and letters every day telling me - I'm an American, I was born in this country, I graduated from the great University of Kansas - to go back to where I came from, to go back to Mexico, to go home. They're very mean-spirited e-mails and letters I get every day.

J-W: You talk about those mean-spirited letters. I'm curious: How much of this debate do you think is rooted in legitimate security fears, and how much of it is rooted in racism?

Murguia: I think it's both. I try to downplay it. : I understand it can be a wedge that can divide this country. I want to make sure we do everything we can to unite this country around its wonderful history, principles, traditions and values, as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants..


KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

I saw Lou debate Murguia,it was fair and true.Americans are paying more for their being here--in health care,social security,and education.Our lifetime of contributions attribute to but a few years of theirs and it is breaking the bank. Americans would work the jobs that $8.00 an hour would pay and make it feasible to provide for a United States citizen--if someone else would quit doing it for $6 and making the businessman rich. The billions it is costing us does not make it a racial issue----it makes it a common sense one.

chcnurse 11 years, 11 months ago

I once was a proud American, proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Tears welled up when I sang our national anthem. Our American flag hung outside my door every day. I was proud to be an American, a citizen of this nation that was founded with the blood sweat and tears of our forefathers and with the grief of our mothers whose sons and daughters paid the ultimate price. I was proud of what we stood for, a government of the people for the people and by the people, a nation that rejoiced in freedom and where anything was possible with hard work and determination.

Now , I feel a great sense of loss and sorrow. Our government is now a government of big business and power. Yes it is good for big business to outsource middle class jobs. And yes, we do love lower priced goods that foreign imports provide. How are we going to pay for cheap goods when we, the middle class, no longer have decent paying jobs ? How can we remain a sovereign nation if our boarders remain unsecured, when our interests are being sold off to foreign investors and it is on longer important to speak our language?

Yes, Saddam was and is a very bad man and dictator, but who are we to invade a nation without absolute proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction? Without the invitation of the Iraqi people who are we to overthrow a government? I would send my daughter or son to Iraq if I thought we were wanted. We are not wanted! Our misguided government has only succeeded in the destabilization of the middle east and earned the disdain of the rest of the world. Did we speak up while the genocide of Rwanda was occurring? Citizens were begging for our help and we did nothing. If there was an outcry I did not hear it. I am embarrassed to be an American.

I grieve for the great nation that I knew and loved, for the way of life we once had. My greatest fear is that my grandchildren will not grieve. How can you grieve for what you do not know you have lost. Shame on us, we the American people, for allowing this to happen. It's time for us to stand up and take our country back Buy American made products if you can still find them. If you can not find them make them! The job you save may be your own. Stand up and make a great noise. Talk to anyone that will listen. Write to your senators and congressmen and vote vote vote.

Cynthia Singh Lake Wales, FL

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

This anger against illegal aliens has been brewing for a long time. While living in southern California a decade ago, I saw the ill effects first hand. Many feel that we are experiencing the mexicanization of America. Many also feel that our government is selling us down the river for their political gain.

These organized demonstrations are only serving to make US citizens more aware of the masses of illegals, and I venture to say that it will backfire on those who are here in our country without legal status. It is galling to see these hundreds of thousands demanding "rights", sucking up social services for free that I pay for, yet at the same time would have to finance for myself should the need arise. They are filling our prisons (25% of the population), bringing diseases that were thought to be eliminated in our country, and endangering our property values by overpopulating housing.

Go ahead and have your "Boycott America" day. The US citizens might just have their own day of protest.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

For those who believe we don't need the labor and contributions of new immigrants, I wish we could vote -- vote at Wal-Mart, with a piggy-bank coffee-can -- $1 PER ITEM extra to cast a vote saying 'Yes, I'm willing to pay more for every good and service I consume.' My guess is that the 'No' vote would be a landslide.

What is it about some people - always needing a scapegoat?

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Isaythis 11 years, 11 months ago

This is crazy it is just a legal way for the white man to control the hispanic, why? cause they took this land from the Native American and the white man does not want it taken from them; cause, they are about to out number them. This is what i say, they say the terrist are crossing the same way so they figure kill two birds with one stone stop the terrist for coming in that way and stop the mexican from being the #1 nationality in the white man counrty. Now does that make more sense to all of ya! BOY AREN'T THE FARMERS GOING TO BE MAD IF THEY HAVE TO PICK IN THERE OWN FIELDS!

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

Ponder this then, for the paltry wages a illegal will work in the fields here,that there is not one who for the right price would blow something up for a terrorist group??? Not one man out of 12 million?? The government could bank the purchase of automated equipment to pick those crops(yes they have the technology)......if they were smart congressmen.

Bruce Bertsch 11 years, 11 months ago

Amazing that no one considers the cost to the economy if we deport 12 million residents. Really, would we be having this discussion of the immigrants were from Canada?

The US has never in its history had secure borders. "Secure Borders" is a strawman argument used by the "9/11 changed everything" group to make us all afraid of our own shadows.

bankboy119 11 years, 11 months ago

"Amazing that no one considers the cost to the economy if we deport 12 million residents."

I heard an economist on NPR quoted as saying that the average cost per pound of produce would go up about $.20.

staff04 11 years, 11 months ago

I heard from a group of farmers that we would lose 50% of the fruit and vegetable supply in the United States.

bankboy119 11 years, 11 months ago


If that were the case, then those farmers who are in cotton right now, and getting it completely subsidized by the government, could go into produce farming and make more money. Good thing that they could too, because the US is facing international backlash because of the stupidity of our cotton subsidies.

chzypoof1 11 years, 11 months ago

I am all for LEGAL immigration to this country. Illegal is wrong. How many countries out there allow illegals to suck up their healthcare like we do. I actually saw a quote in here about them "paying taxes". When? They don't pay taxes, we do. We live here legally.

My grandfather came here from Cuba. Legally. He pays taxes, and he's a citizen. I don't pay his way, HE does. Deport them all, and let them apply for citizenship.

WHY can't we take back our own country. It's ours. Not theirs. Just cuz their here, doesn't mean they can stay.

james bush 11 years, 11 months ago

Penalize the crooked businesses who hire illegals and the illegals will go home when they are no longer rewarded.

assistant1234 11 years, 11 months ago

If deporting illegals would hurt the farming industry, why don't we secure our borders and then raise the number of unskilled labor that we allow in on temporary work visas? For all the whining and griping that the illegal lobbyists do, there is a reasonable solution using the exisitng immigration laws and legislation. They just want to keep getting a "free lunch" courtesy of the American taxpayer. In the case of Mexico, our lax enforcement allows their government to put off needed reforms to revitalize their economy, because hey, why change when we can encourage our citizens to earn money in los estados unidos tax free! (And yes, it is tax free; show me an illegal who pays income tax.) Plus free health care and education! Mexico is sitting on some of the world's most valuable natural resources, but they won't do the work to change their infrastructure because its so much easier to mooch off of us.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm always amazed at the number of persons who insist that they are in favor of legal immigration - just opposed to illegal immigration. Well...problems with legal immigration are what cause illegal immigration.

For legal immigration of low-skill labor to meet demand, the issuance of "green cards" would have to double at least. That's hundreds of thousands of persons EXTRA PER YEAR IN PERPETUITY.

What's also interesting is that for high-skill labor (mostly computer programmers and such), despite businesses willing in advance to offer jobs to applicants, the number of visas (so called H1B visas) issued remains a small fraction of the total number of applications. When Congress speaks of increasing these, they usually mean by a few ten thousands when in fact several hundred thousand are necessary.

Reality is fairly straightforward: if there's no job open then there's no "illegal" immigrant to fill it. The number of immigrants rises and falls in direct connection to the labor needs of the U.S.

The average immigration 'opponent' just doesn't want immigration. They either want temporary guest workers (no rights, no pay, no future - like in France) or no one at all.

Todd 11 years, 11 months ago

Illegal immigrants do pay taxes. Sales and property taxes cannot be avoided like income tax. Remember, most low income people in this country don't pay federal/state income taxes.

chzypoof1 11 years, 11 months ago

They may pay sales tax, but they are still working illegaly. They are breaking the law. Being that it's our country, and we pay for their healthcare, and other expenses, that's enough.

If these people were of a different race, this would be a different argument. If they were of a race that is stereotyped as a terrorist, you would be ready to fight for the border.

This is our country. Our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed for this country. Illegal aliens don't server in the armed forces. Let us protect what our forefathers protected for so many years.

james bush 11 years, 11 months ago

Pat Buchanan will stop this crap when we elect a 3rd party president in 2008.

I used to think I was moderate. OMG, now see what these elitist politicians have driven me too.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

It occurs to me as I watch thousands of illegals/illegal supporters marching around the country today, how impressionable they are. Maybe there is a massive underground support system instructing them not to burn the USA flag, or carry the flag of Mexico while making their demands. They could just as easily be persuaded to torch some of our buildings, vote for the Soros party, or nuke our cities. Since most of these illegals are low skilled and/or uneducated, perhaps their critical thinking skills are a bit retarded.

Why aren't they marching in the streets of Mexico City demanding that Fox provide them with jobs and decent living conditions? That is the root of the problem. But, if they did that, they would probably be shot dead.

curiosos_husband 11 years, 11 months ago

A friend had to drive to the plant in Neb. to go package raw chicken today, to cover for the Mexican workers supporting the walkout. Yes, I need to mention the workers volunteered to work on Saturday to cover for Monday, but that didn't make up for it, so everyone else needed to come in and work on the line.That's not your everyday work story.

james bush 11 years, 11 months ago

All those rallying today are potential dem voters! Viva Clinton and labor union; down with the independent anglo.

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

THANK YOU Cheezy POOF(1:59),I am not being sarcastic--this is a TRUE American and you can include his whole family. Is it too much to ask? I am sick of telling senior americans that their states are bankrupt on medicaid and medical assistance so they go without, I am sick of telling parents that they need to get a better job to support their families because there is few. And I am sick of those who say we would starve-we will not.Just do what we do ----abide by the laws of this country.Afterall, we abide by yours when there.We cannot work in Mexico,we cannot get citizenship to Mexico and we go to jail there if USA citizens break the law...for a very long time. It is not a racist issue,it is sensible and just,so whats the problem with doing it the right way?

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

I do note that thousands appear to have left work today to demonstate (ironically, probably protected by the National Labor Relations Act).

In Garden City, which doesn't even have 30,000 people on a good day, there were 3,000 protesters.

Various beefpackers report much reduced production. One - in Ark City - even closed.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

So, I guess we are starting to get an idea of who the employers of illegals are...

james bush 11 years, 11 months ago

By 2008 we will have had 20 years of Bushes and Clintons. Can't the dems or repubs find somebody else? I heard today that Reagan "pardoned" 2.5 million illegal aliens in his term. Now there's 12 million more!? Who in hell is minding the store?

Mike Ford 11 years, 11 months ago

Let's see, until 1848, most everything west of kansas was owned by Mexico. Mexico was Indigenous as is North America. Both Mexico and North America were colonized by Europeans. There were over 700 native languages here and probably more than that to the South. Spanish is not the native language as English is not the native language here. I'm multilingual.

I grew up speakng english and then learned my tribal language. I've spoke it for six years now, in spite of colonization.

Mexico is 30% pure Native, 40% mixed spanish-native, 10% african-native, 10% african, and 10% European Spanish. Who runs Mexico? the European Spanish minority.

The people coming here are hard working people, who are marginalized as much in Mexico as they are here. Mexico's land ownership system is as or more screwed up than the United States. A Native tribe like the Yaqui were forced to move to Phoenix, Arizona, where they've been recognized as a tribe since 1978. Mexico is about assimilization just like the U.S. Just like the U.S., the ones pushing assimilation are the ones whose ancestors weren't from here to begin with. I find it laughable that descendants of colonizers complain about people coming back to claim their lands. What goes around comes around.

coolmom 11 years, 11 months ago

just for grins spend your next vacation sneaking into another country. have children there using their healthcare and dont pay. demand equal rights, social services and then parade through the streets carring the american flag generally without valid id or insurance...send your children to their schools and send a good portion of any money you make back to youer previous country. how far do you think you would get? jail? death? except for here where you can tell everyone you are here illigally and demand your rights...i dont get it. a guest worker program...yes. ability for some to try and get citizenship...yes. coddling someone here

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

"While it is true that the United States acquired a large amount of territory from Mexico as one of the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it is often forgotten that the U.S. paid Mexico $15 million for this land, that the land held less than 1% of Mexico's population, that Mexico exercised very little actual control over it, and that some of its citizens were actually in favor of either British or American rule." And this was after some Mexicans fought to keep the territories under American rule. Just because you change your mind now does not make it right, and those who fly our flag upside down really need to go. Better yet say we will give unconditional amnesty to any illegal immigrants up to the 12 million number---not one person more not one person less---I say let the illegals give us the names of those 12 million. How different it would be to let your own countrymen to decide,therefore, you could not accuse the USA of being false and unjust.My fear (and from the protests) is that right now it could very well be above 20 million or so,and we are picking up the tab. As you say what goes around. Now let the illegals chose among themselves,makes it a little different because you know and I know that not all will be able to stay.

Downtoearth 11 years, 11 months ago



james bush 11 years, 11 months ago

Now I get it. USA is nothing but imperialistic..AGAIN! European.... English, Italian, Dutch, Irish, German...marauders took the continent, or part of it, from the indigenous populace and now it's over. Now it's time that the natives reclaim the land. Europeans should all go back to where they came from. Oops, forgot the Africans. They will all have to go back too. Somehow I think this model of how things should become won't work. Guess I'll have to rethink it!!! Maybe some liberal arts or religious or women's studies KU metriculants can figure it all out.

It's getting more and more difficult to be optimistic about.... ANYTHING?! Guess that was a topic from a few days ago.

Isaythis 11 years, 11 months ago

O.K. lets talk about our military its spreed thin now and most of these people will join the military. Recruitment is down, just think how many well join the military and we all know that we need more to join.

Isaythis 11 years, 11 months ago


KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

Every American Congressman needs to get a bus,go to a rally and load it with anyone without a green card. Its a law,what is so hard about keeping the law? If they had done their job from the beginning in 1986 the problem would not have escalated anyway. Ready for a new American party? I am.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

"We can still have all the cheap labor and inexpensive goods we want, but we must make sure those who provide those goods and services are here having followed the prescribed lawful procedures."

Great! When do we start prescribing the lawful procedures?

We've been waiting...and waiting....and waiting....

Dysfunctional immigration law is THE CAUSE of undocumented aliens.

coolmom 11 years, 11 months ago

this country was founded on law and yes freedom. the people who are claiming that by virtue of sneaking here and raising kids here or working here they should be allowed to stay without penalty....if you can decide which laws to follow then so can everyone else huh? sounds insulting to the people who came through ellis island legally and helped make this country great legally.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

coolmom -

Hispanics have almost never come through Ellis Island. That's primarily because: (a) immigration from Latin America was never regulated until the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965, which was, (b) about the time the U.S. stopped limiting immigration to "whites only".

The U.S. was founded on law. Whether it was founded on freedom requires footnotes. Legality does not equate to justice, rules do make morality, and might does not make right.

kcwarpony 11 years, 11 months ago

"sounds insulting to the people who came through ellis island legally and helped make this country great legally."

Ellis Island was 1892 to 1954. What do you think of those who came before 1892?

nonimbyks 11 years, 11 months ago

Are there really jobs Americans won't do? If the Illegals become citizens, then they need to be replaced by MORE illegal people. Nobody ever called me to see if I was not interested in cleaning, gardening, or picking vegies. After all the BS in the retail world, i'd rellish working something else, but there are ILLEGAL folks doing the work now!

The stupidity of doing nothing leads to the erosion of the constitution as it stands now and a nation without a border is not a nation.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

ljreader - "I heard an analyst say that if farm worker's wages were raised by 40%- a wage Americans could work for- it would increase the average grocery bill by only $10 a year, not by $10 per tomato."

I would have thought that the slightest amount of common sense would have lead a slug to question this further. I take it that you have never employed anyone.

If you increased the wages of only the grocery store workers by 40% your bill would increase $10 per week! Labor is THE BIGGEST cost for everything short of diamond rings (where it is second). For services, it is the majority of the cost.

Jeez, I realize the average person has trouble with math but come on!

coolmom 11 years, 11 months ago

no you are right....everyone who can sneak their way into this country should do it. by land, by air and by sea. freedom for everyone open the borders sounds like the perfect answer. jamesaust and warpony are you ready to put your money where your mouth is? open your homes, your healthcare, your jobs, jails and streets to even more people we cant regulate? have you thought about the ramifications? i think this country was founded on great people from everywhere i just want some caution on who crosses our borders and how much that costs.

kcwarpony 11 years, 11 months ago

Hey coolmom, I only asked you a simple question. You're the one who brought up Ellis Island. I had never stated an opinion one way or the other on this issue.

"this country was founded on law and yes freedom. the people who are claiming that by virtue of sneaking here and raising kids here or working here they should be allowed to stay without penalty"

Sounds like the first group of boat people, a.k.a Mayflower immigrants and I don't recall there being any paperwork they had to fill out.

You need to remember, MY people have been fighting illegal immigration since 1492.

coolmom 11 years, 11 months ago

my people are everyone in the u.s regardless of race. i just want whats best for them the ellis island comment was to try to explain my desire for legalities to be followed as several friends have become citizens and i was honored to attend those ceremonies i think it is unfair for illegal people regardless of race to assume they are owed anything. if there is such pride for their homeland why not try to make things better there? why not take to the streets to insist the u.s help more in this endevor? some of my people were here before the mayflower to so greetings brother.....

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