The Hispanic Conservative The Hispanic Conservative on Wisconsin Politics and More! Wed, 24 May 2017 09:46:04 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Steve King, a man who defends the master race When it comes to the issue of immigration, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) always seems to be the headline of the story. Last week, King touched off a firestorm over a tweet supporting Dutch politician Geert Wilders, saying, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.”

The plain reading of King’s tweet is truly awful, but it won him the praises of former KKK wizard David Duke and “Alt-Right” founder Richard Spencer were very encouraged by King’s progress as a nationalist. Spencer took to Twitter saying,

“Steve King is getting at a root [of] nationalism, a nationalism in the real sense of the word, and I’m very proud of him for doing that. One thing I would tell Steve King, just don’t cuck. What you said is true. You spoke, or tweeted, from the heart. Don’t apologize.“

Though King certainly didn’t apologize, he did “cuck” (to use Spencer’s term for liberal appeasement). He told the Washington Times that his tweet wasn’t about race, but cultural assimilation.

“Any culture that doesn’t care enough about itself to reproduce itself shall become extinct,” King said. Today’s immigrants, he explained, no longer assimilate like they used to because about 25 years ago we began to “worship at the altar of multiculturalism,” which he says encourages our differences, not national unity.

On “New Day” with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, King was asked whether he saw Muslim Americans, Italian-Americans and German-Americans as equals. They were equal in the eyes of God and the law, King answered, but not equal in their productive capacities. "Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will. That’s just a statistical fact,” King concluded.

Though King didn’t specify which ethnic groups were superior in their productive capacities, he has answered this question before. In a panel discussion on MSNBC, the first night of the Republican Convention, Esquire’s Charlie Pierce criticized Republicans for a convention that seemed to be mostly “old, loud, and unhappy white people.” King bristled at the accusation.

"This old ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie.” King retorted. “I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"

In short, instead of defending the Republican Party from a liberal criticism, King chose to defend the white race.

While King’s view of the ethnic pecking order seems a bit out of time, it certainly wasn’t at the turn of the 20th century. Congressman Albert Johnson, who authored the infamous Immigration Act of 1924, drafted his bill with the central aim of preserving “racial homogeneity” in the United States. Thusly, the bill banned Asian and Arab immigration; and, in an effort to decrease the admission of Jews fleeing persecution, the bill severely restricted immigration from South-Eastern Europe.

In support of his bill, Johnson claimed,

“Our capacity to maintain our cherished institutions stands diluted by a stream of alien blood with all of its inherited misconceptions respecting the relationships of the governing power to the governed.”

His coauthor in the Senate, Senator David Reed, was more candid. He argued that they needed the bill to become law to “maintain the racial preponderance of the basic strain of our people and thereby stabilize the ethnic composition of the population.”

King’s theory of superior ethnic productivity isn’t dissimilar to the worldview of Johnson and Reed. In fact, ethnic productivity forms the ideological foundation of the Johnson/Reed immigration policy of 1924.

They wanted legislation that invited the most “assimilable” or productive immigrants in the world, so they wrote a bill would let in the same percentage of nationalities already present in the United States based on the 1890 U.S. Census. They argued, just as King does now, that some groups are more assimilable or contribute more to our civilization. For this reason, their bill limited immigration to “white inhabitants.”

There will always be a debate on whether immigrants assimilate appropriately. Sociologists try to define generational assimilation with metrics like “changes in socio-economic status,” “language acquisition,” and “intermarrying rates,” but the truest test of assimilation is an American history book. It may not be the answer people are looking for, but it’s tried and true.

Patterns of assimilation generally look like this: the first generation struggles with the challenges of a new culture. The second generation adapts to the new culture while retaining many of their heritage. And the third generation forgets much of the first generation’s heritage while assimilating fully into the dominant culture.

In the 1750s, Benjamin Franklin was distressed by the apparent failure of Germans to assimilate. He wrote in his journal, “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.“

It was a bold prediction for sure (harsh language and all), but it was disproven by the time Franklin’s children had children. Similar charges were made against the Irish.

In 1847, a massive wave of Irish immigrants, fleeing a potato famine, flooded Boston, increasing its total population by 30 percent in one year. The Irish were easily the poorest, weakest, sickliest, and most wretched immigrants to hit the shores of the United States. Their predicament was so bad that the newspaper accounts, which had graphically chronicled their plight, referred to them as “creatures.” Yet, as time has shown us, they Irish remain one of the greatest examples of successful assimilation in American history.

We should keep our history close. When we hear the statements of elected leaders that openly theorize about ethnic superiority, or suggest that immigrant babies threaten the future of our civilization, we should hold them to account for what they practice – which is bigotry.

It was someone else’s babies that formed our American colonies, fought foreign powers for our independence, and forged a Constitution like no other. The United States is the greatest nation on earth not in spite of our immigration, but because of it. As the saying goes, history may not repeat, but it certainly rhymes; and it’s up to us to learn what it means.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) National Latino News Sat, 01 Apr 2017 03:25:28 +0000
GOP should pass immigration reform urgently Last week, the Supreme Court was deadlocked, 4-4 on President Obama's executive action on immigration, reverting the matter to the lower court's ruling declaring it illegal. Conservatives are hailing this as a check against Obama's executive overreach and a victory. Speaker Ryan said, "It's a win for Congress, and it's a win in our fight to restore the separation of powers. Presidents don't write laws - Congress writes laws."

Paul Ryan is right, Obama's executive actions overstepped his authority. Immigration laws are Congress's responsibility. But he shouldn't stop there. The ruling provides Republicans in Congress an opportunity to start their much needed reboot with Hispanics.

Hillary Clinton will win the White House (I made the case for that here) and the Democrats will likely take back the Senate majority and together appoint Scalia's replacement to the Supreme Court. An additional liberal Justice would tip the scale, rendering the executive immigration action legal. Also, the Democratic Senate may pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that is unacceptable to conservatives, leaving the dwindling Republican majority House to fight it, digging our hole deeper with Latinos.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The Republican Growth and Opportunity Project that was commissioned in 2012 after Romney's loss said that Republicans "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.” Comprehensive immigration reform was attempted in 2013, with the "Gang of Eight" when the Democrats had the Senate. Now that Republicans have the majority in both chambers, and with those majorities, the White House and Supreme Court in such jeopardy, they have a small window to send a more conservative comprehensive immigration bill to the President's desk.

With plummeting Hispanic favorability numbers for the Republican standard bearer, this could be just what the doctor ordered to start fighting back towards relevance with Latinos. Republicans would get to take credit for passing something of major importance to the Hispanic community. Rather than just be a few Republicans who jumped onto the Democrat's immigration reform band wagon like in 2013, it would be Republicans who crafted the bill and led the effort to get it passed. Obama, desperate for some positive legacy, would certainly sign it.

With that accomplishment under our belts, we could take the Republican message to the Hispanic community with credibility. Our proposals that are popular with Latinos such as school choice could finally be heard without immigration reform hanging over our heads.

Paul Ryan's plan calls for four sequential steps: secure the border, implement entry/exit visa tracking and E-verify, reform legal immigration by emphasizing guest-worker programs and high-tech visas and finally bringing the undocumented immigrants that are already here out of the shadows. To do that, he proposes a long probationary period with a "one-strike policy" before they are eligible to apply for a green card at the back of the line. "They must come forward, admit guilt, submit to a criminal-background check, pay back taxes and fines, and learn English and civics. They must prove they have a job, and they cannot receive any federal benefits."

This plan is great, it deals with the undocumented immigrants in a reasonable way that the President would sign. But in all candor, we don't have time for it to be four sequential bills. We don't have time to wait for one step to be completed before implementing the next. The White House and likely the Senate will be run by Democrats in January. These four measures need to be in one comprehensive bill and passed as soon as possible. It is imperative that immigration reform is a Republican led effort.

Now, that would make inroads towards getting serious about Hispanic community outreach from the GOP, but they can do even more to get the ball rolling for 2020. If Republican leadership could just realize and accept that Trump will not win (even if he could, it's probably better for the country that he doesn't), then they could with freedom rescind their quasi-endorsement/support of Trump. Hearing Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin explaining the difference between his “support” of Trump and an “endorsement” was actually kind of pathetic to listen to. The sooner GOP leadership disavows Trump unequivocally and passes comprehensive immigration reform, the sooner they can set their sights on winning in 2020, this time by carrying at least 40% of the Latino vote. Time is running out. Will we save ourselves or follow Trump off of the cliff?

]]> (Jordan Morales) National Latino News Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:03:35 +0000
A post-mortem of Leon's English Only policy When asked to explain his policy, Ron Schneider, the owner of Leon’s, said it’s “strictly business.” He said only a few of his employees speak Spanish, and there is no guarantee they will be working where customers’ orders are taken. The policy was meant to speed up sales.

Since the story went national, Schneider has been under a torrent of scrutiny, including accusations of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia. The incident underscores just how quickly things can escalate when it comes to the politics of language. For some, English-only policies are just common sense. If you’re in America and want to be successful, being proficient at English is your best bet. But instituting English-only policies almost always create more problems than they solve.

The regulation of language in America has a long and contentious history. During WWI, for example, anti-German hysteria reached its apex with some states passing laws that prohibited the teaching of all foreign language, even Latin, in high-schools and some Universities. Other states went as far as to ban the use of foreign language in public, including church services and conversations over the telephone.

So, the central question at play here is whether Schneider’s policy was just to streamline his business operations, or was it an ugly vestige of the past, a type of linguistic nationalism?

Though Schneider said his policy was about speeding up sales, it’s doubtful his business had benefited from the policy. Leon’s is located in a heavily Latino area where Spanish fluency is not uncommon. Prohibiting bilingual employees from using their skillset to complete transactions just doesn’t make sense.

In a previous interview, perhaps in the heat of the moment, Schneider told a local news outlet that a country “not on the same page” with respect to language would “erode and descend into a third world status.”

It’s easy to see a remark like this and doubt whether Schneider’s policy is just about running an efficient business. We don’t know his politics, his views on immigration, or whether he believes immigrants are assimilating. What we do know is that Schneider’s outlook on multilingualism in America is one of pessimism.

While I’m not particularly ecstatic about Schneider’s policy, it didn’t warrant the political pile on he had received by the press and liberal interest groups.

Consider Voces de la Frontera and their puppet-on-a-string State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa. After the story went public, each played a role fanning the flames of controversy.

“Tears came to my eyes,” Zamarripa told a Fox 6 reporter about Leon’s English-only policy. “We need to celebrate our diversity, we are the most diverse part of the state.”

In the spirit of celebrating that diversity, Zamarripa put out a press statement suggesting that Leon’s Latino patrons would, or perhaps should, take their business to other vendors “until Mr. Schneider honors this kind of loyal support from his customers instead of rejecting it with divisive rhetoric and policy.”

Here’s a question. When was the last time Rep. Zamarripa actually helped to bridge an ethnic divide rather than deepen it?

While LULAC took an aggressive tact by calling for a federal investigation into Leon’s policy, they at least made efforts to meet with Mr. Schneider to work out their differences. And when Schneider made changes to Leon’s policy, LULAC put out a public statement commending him for it.

But such grace was beneath Zamarripa. Upon learning that Leon’s changed their policy, she told WTMJ 12 News that Mr. Schneider appeared to be “backpeddling” and that “the damage had already been done.” What damage would that be? Are we to believe that people are losing sleep over custard cones and shakes? The damage Zamarripa envisions is about as real as the tears that came to her eyes.

And then there is Voces de la Frontera, a labor advocacy group that advocates for illegal immigrants – unless they decide that union organizing is more important than helping immigrants like they did in the Palermo’s Pizza fiasco. Voces said they planned to protest Leon’s because they wanted Schneider to change his policy and “be more welcoming.”

As luck would have it, that’s exactly what Schneider did, but Voces held their protest anyway. What they were protesting is not entirely certain, but it made even less sense than blocking traffic in Washington D.C. on the off-chance that it moves Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

For sure, English-only policies have a complicated history, a truth for which Mr. Schneider has a newfound understanding. And as long as ethnic tensions and divisions continue to exist in America, there will be troublemakers who profit from them.

Darryl Morin, President of LULAC, summed it up best:

"In a time when it seems there are so many interested in creating division and trying to signal strength and stature at the cost of good governance in the community, we're very pleased that we were able to resolve this issue in an amicable manner.”

Take note Rep. Zamarripa. Good governance is not about piggybacking onto controversies in a swash of self-promotion. It’s about resolving problems amicably. There is no better way to celebrate diversity than that.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) National Latino News Fri, 17 Jun 2016 05:33:30 +0000
You're not a real minority unless you're a Democrat There is a Latina politician making quite a name for herself, but she’s not from Wisconsin.

Illinois State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Auroa) didn't take well to Republican criticism of her Charter School bill, which would have eliminated the need for a state charter school commission.

Chapa LaVia appealed to the “local control” argument saying school boards should have the final say on charter schools in their districts. However, she veered down an unexpected path when she took a cheap shot at Republicans in the chamber for not having minority Representatives.

Chapa LaVia seemed to remember that the Republican chamber had at least some minority representation, although she unfortunately referred to him (Rep. John Anthony) as a “half.” Apparently, biracial minorities don't make the cut, or may be just half the cut. Sorry Barack, you're just a half.

According to CNS news, Chapa LaVia apologized for her remarks calling them inappropriate.

Rep. Anthony (the half minority) issued a response:

"As a black Republican, I recognize this is not the first time that race has been used in debate in a legislative forum, nor sadly is it likely to be the last. Our reaction should always be to condemn the use of race as a tool to divide Americans from each other; and instead recommit ourselves to debating public policy differences on their merits; and never on racial, ethnic, or purely partisan grounds.”



]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) National Latino News Sun, 13 Apr 2014 06:00:00 +0000
NLRB ruling unveils a house of cards Wednesday’s ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) delivered a major setback to Voces de la Frontera’s (VDLF) five-month caustic campaign against Palermo’s Pizza. Voces de la Frontera, a union-centric advocacy group, alleged the pizza company used an ICE audit to stymy worker efforts to unionize. Early on, Chris Dresselhuys, spokesperson for Palermo’s Pizza, said allegations of union busting were manufactured by Voces and that efforts to organize a union materialized only after Voces learned of the ICE audit.

The NLRB ruling appears to support Dresselhuys’ claim. Irv Gottschalk, regional director of the NLRB, said, “The claim [made by Voces] was that all of this was really in retaliation for union activity. And my conclusion is the evidence didn’t show that.”

On May 27, 2012, Palermo’s legal counsel notified VDLF of the ICE audit and asked for help getting the proper documentation of their employees in order. The news left Christine Neumann-Ortiz scrambling -- not to help employees with documentation -- but to collect signatures for a union petition.

On May 29 (two days later), Neumann-Ortiz filed a petition to unionize with the NLRB. Maria Monreal-Cameron, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told El Conquistador that she was approached by undocumented workers and was specifically told they would keep their jobs if a Palermo’s union were formed.

The timing of the Neumann-Ortiz’ petition and the filing of Unfair Labor Practice charges suggests she knew of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) between the U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor affirming that ICE would have to “de-conflict itself” from an audit if the company in question had an ongoing labor dispute.

A timeline of events shown below indicate that within three days of filing Unfair Labor Practice charges, Palermo’s received a “stay of action” letter by the Deputy Chief Counsel of ICE, which effectively halted the ICE’s audit.

May 27 - Palermo’s Pizza contacts Voces de la Frontera for help and notifies them of an ICE audit.

May 29 - Christine Neumann-Ortiz files unionization petition on behalf of the Palermo’s Workers Union.

May 31 - Palermo’s receives notification of the petition to unionize.

June 4 - Palermo’s Workers Union files an “Unfair Labor Practice charge” against Palermo’s (officially creating an ongoing labor dispute)

June 7 - ICE notifies Palermo’s of a stay of further action regarding its Notice of Suspect Documents.

In an email to El Conquistador Newspaper, ICE said that their policy is intended to prevent parties from using ICE to interfere with ongoing labor disputes “without regard to whether a workforce is or is not unionized.” In other words, the Memorandum of Understanding between Homeland Security and the Department of Labor prevents companies from using ICE as a tool to thwart union organizing, but does little to prevent groups like Voces de la Frontera from filing Unfair Labor Practice charges to thwart an ICE investigation.

Media Coverage

With regard to media coverage, it should be noted that the NLRB delayed Tuesday’s ruling to Wednesday - a day before Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Prominent talk radio personalities at 620 and 1130 AM that had followed the Palermo’s story closely were off for the holidays. Most mainstream media outlets ran stories reflecting a major win for Palermo’s Pizza, clearing them of union busting charges.

WISN12’s headline read, “Labor Board supports Palermo’s decision to fire workers over immigration issues.” The Business Journal’s headline read, “Palermo Villa: NLB decision ‘vindicates’ company.” Fox6Now’s headline read, “NLRB dismisses claims filed by Voces de la Frontera against Palermo’s.” And Channel’s headline read, “Federal officials side with Palermo’s in labor dispute.”

The only coverage that seemed to drizzle on Palermo’s parade came from Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her report appeared to assign more space to debunked and dismissed worker complaints than to the implications of the of the NLRB ruling.

It’s no small matter that the overarching claim used to fuel a nationwide boycott of their products by the country’s largest umbrella union organization has been wholly dismissed by the NLRB. The story here should be about a company’s ultimate vindication from undeserved attacks. Space dedicated to rehash old talking points used ad nauseam by affected former workers is unnecessary and arguably diversionary.

Media ignores sentiment among Latinos

As the controversy percolated between Palermo’s and Voces, leaders in the Hispanic community weren't slow to choose sides. Voces began to court Hispanic politicians quickly, but understandably some were reticent about taking a public stand. State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa felt a connection with the affected workers and wrote a passionate op-ed saying in part,

“The ways things are going now, Palermo’s will be known across the country as the immigrant run pizza business that started small and achieved the American Dream -- only to exploit their workers doing so, while sticking it to the taxpayers.

And Palermo’s will be infamous as the factory where scores of immigrants wanting to better their lives - like its owners, the Falluccas, not long ago -- were fired under bogus anti-immigrant pretenses, and got away with it.”

In a new statement sent out by Zamarripa, she says she’s happy to hear some of the workers will get their jobs back, but will “withhold further comment until I have read the full written decision by the NLRB upon its release.” This should have been Zamarripa’s course of action before writing her condemnatory piece. It’s understandable to sympathize with workers fired during tough economic times, but swinging blunt political instruments at Palermo’s wasn’t the answer.

Although the Hispanic community was generally supportive of Palermo’s Pizza, the lack of support they received from Milwaukee leaders like Mayor Tom Barrett, Representative Josh Zepnick, County Supervisor Peggy Romo-West, and Madam Chair Marina Dimitrijevic is frustrating.

When asked last month whether Zepnick would support a national boycott of Palermo’s products, he responded, “I’ll have to answer that question in January when they become a part of my district.” That’s like a president-elect refusing to accept help from a transition team because he hasn’t been sworn into office.

Palermo’s Pizza is an important player in Zepnick’s newly drawn Assembly District. He should be building bridges, not coauthoring a letter that blame them of illegal activity. When I asked Zepnick if he had evidence to support his allegation, he said he presumed the NLRB wouldn’t be investigating charges if there weren’t legitimate worker concerns. Wrong answer.

I don’t doubt that Zepnick wants to do good for his community. My advice to him is not firing a gun before pulling it from the holster. If politicians want to take any lead, it should be from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele who, upon request, released this statement:

“I'm obviously very happy for the Falluca family and Palermo's getting the vindication they deserve. What is disappointing is that so much of the information that supports the Palermo's case has been available from the start and yet that didn't seem to matter too much to the people and organization leading the charge against them. Why? Because they were apparently more interested in appearing to champion a righteous cause than getting their facts right. If we want to build the kind of world class business climate and create the jobs I know we can here in the County, all of us in public office have to be passionate about getting there.”

It’s understandable why some advocate for Palermo’s Pizza to relocate their business to districts more receptive and appreciative of values associated with increased job creation, property tax revenue, and community involvement. Instead, our political leaders should reevaluate what’s important for and in our communities.

Although Milwaukee’s unemployment rate is gradually improving, failing to support good businesses that lead the way in employment compensation and community involvement is not just an economic mistake; when deliberate, it’s moral ineptitude.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Wisconsin Latino News Sun, 25 Nov 2012 06:00:00 +0000
Voces de la Frontera asks Parishes to replenish strike fund using offering plates

In an email sent to nearly a dozen parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Voces de la Frontera asks congregations to open not only their hearts, but their pocketbooks.

This struggle is not political, this struggle is about immigrant workers and families that are fighting for their rights after years of abuse,” said Kathleen Shea, New Sanctuary Movement Coordinator for Voces de la Frontera.

“How can you help,” Shea asks?

You could allow a Voces representative to introduce a Palermo’s striker to your place of worship and make a 3-5 minute presentation at the end of mass about their story and explain the reasons why they are on strike.  We would also ask if you can offer a second collection for the strike fund (Emphasis mine). In case that is not possible, then could you allow the workers and a Voces/NSM representative to ask for donations at the time when people leave, ” Shea proposes.

The dispute between Palermo’s Pizza and Voces de la Frontera arose shortly after ICE had notified the company that 89 employees needed additional documentation to maintain workplace eligibility.  At the behest of Maria Monreal-Camerson, President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin, Palermo's had reached out to Voces presuming they had the resources and inclination to help their employees get proper documentation.

Instead of coordinating with Palermo's, Voces did some coordinating of their own.  They used the ICE audit to scare workers into signing a petition to organize a union -- some workers had believed it would get them their jobs back.  Ultimately, in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, Palermo’s was compelled to fire nearly ninety employees for failing to verify workplace eligibility.

There seems to be a disagreement among unionists of whether the Palermo's issue is one of immigration or union busting. State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, who has taken a lead role supporting former Palermo’s workers on strike, said in a phone interview Monday night that the issue of Palermo’s isn’t one of immigration, but of preserving the constitutionally protected rights to organize.

Zamarripa said, “Palermo’s is trying to turn this into an immigration fight. That’s why I feel the need to be more resolute.”  Her effort to steer the Palermo’s issue from a focus on immigration to worker rights was made clear in the recent interview. She believes that Palermo’s is using immigration as a fear tactic to intimidate workers. What’s less clear; however, is why Voces’s email now steers the issue from collective bargaining back to immigration.


According to Voces’ website, their Sanctuary Movement aims to unite “a growing number of faith groups behind a stance of conscience - to defend immigrant families from being torn apart by deportations.”

Certainly, a good question to ask is why Voces’ Sanctuary Movement Coordinator - whose job is to deal specifically with families torn apart by deportations - is reaching out to local parishes for support IF the former Palermo’s workers on strike weren't at risk of being undocumented? Is this a tacit admission by Voces that Palermo’s did what they were supposed to do?

Voces’ outreach to Milwaukee parishes appears to be strategic. They understand that the Catholic Church is more sympathetic to illegal immigration than they are to collective bargaining. Catholic Social Teaching states that sovereign nations have a right to protect their borders and enforce their laws for the sake of the common good. But the U.S. Catholic Bishops clarified this stance in 2003 saying that when persons [immigrants] cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves or their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere to survive.

It is this spiritual sensibility that provides Voces greater access to sympathetic parishes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Hispanics are the least likely to join a labor union of all ethnic groups in the United States. So, emphasizing the right to collectively bargain at Hispanic parishes wouldn’t be as compelling as recasting the Palermo’s narrative into a bitter immigration fight.

I’ve reached out to the Milwaukee Archdiocese for a statement on Voces’ recent outreach efforts. Julia Wolf, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said she was unaware of the emails until I had brought them to her attention.  She's also unaware of any parishes that have granted Voces’ request.

Wolf elaborated, “Pastors, from time to time, allow various organizations to make presentations and request donations.” Wolf continued, “I know in my parish they have spoken to the congregation. Pastors make these decisions in light of Church teaching and knowledge of their parish.” Wolf went on to say that the Archbishop, as far as she knows, is unaware of the issue.

Typically, an Archdiocese allows parishes the flexibility to work with organizations under the guidance of Church teachings and the makeup of their congregation. But why did Voces choose parishioners of poor Latino neighborhoods to raise funds instead of tapping the deep pockets of labor unions? Didn’t the AFL-CIO team up with Voces in a national boycott of Palermo’s pizzas?

Although Voces has not returned multiple calls, Palermo’s spokesperson Chris Dresselhuys had this to say:

“After exploiting former Palermo’s workers, it is regrettable that Voces de la Frontera is now trying to exploit the Catholic Church. As part of a brazen fundraising scheme, Voces de la Frontera has repeated false claims about working conditions and pay rates at Palermo’s that have already been publicly debunked.”

Dresselhuys also disputes Voces’s claim to the parishes that most Palermo’s workers do not earn more than minimum wage. Dresselhuys said the average starting wage for a production employee at Palermo’s is $12.90 per hour, which includes a comprehensive benefits package of health, vision, and dental insurance, time off, and a company-sponsored retirement plan.

Certainly, Milwaukee parishes have the right to fundraise for any group they choose in accordance with the guidance of the Church’s teachings. In the same vein, Catholic parishioners also have the right to report to the media if their parishes decide to finance a Voces de la Frontera strike fund. If your parish participates in funding these efforts, you can send tips to

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Wisconsin Latino News Tue, 30 Oct 2012 06:00:00 +0000
Hispanics be Forewarned The Democratic Party, on behalf of the liberal movement in America, is currently gearing up for a full-court press to woo Hispanics into the party.  The methods they will use are empty promises and exaggerated interest.

As a member of a group that was the recent object of liberalism’s short-lived affections, I can say from experience that they intend to recruit you into the philosophy of liberalism and absorb your power into the Democratic Party. Their single goal is a more powerful progressive movement; if Hispanics and others are helped along the way that’s fine, if they are hurt, the greater good of the movement is far more important.

If you volunteer to place yourselves under their umbrella, you will become a de facto advocate of all of liberalism’s tenets.  As you transfer Hispanic political power to the Democrats, you will in actuality be putting your power in the service of liberalism, not Hispanic interests. The result will be more prevalent liberalism, not improvement in the lives of Hispanics. Notice their tepid response to Fast an Furious.

They care about getting elected, and they will promise whatever it takes to make that happen.  When they get what they want they will be on to the next group.

The track record of liberalism speaks for itself; the method is to sweet talk groups that have political power and hijack that power for the purposes of the movement.  Notice that feminist, civil rights, environmental, and public advocacy groups are now more about liberalism than they are about their original cause; they’ve been absorbed by liberalism.

The liberals will court you by feigning empathy. Their hearts will apparently bleed for you. They will tell you that the lot of Hispanics is unfair and that you and they share a common threat- conservatives.  They will say that they care so much about you, that if you give them your votes, they will selflessly work in your interest. All the while they will be selling you the philosophy of liberalism in tiny pieces.

They will promise not to judge you, no matter how high your teenage dropout rate is or how high the illegitimacy or illiteracy rates get; they will tell you it’s not your fault, it’s because of white racism.  They will not judge you because staying on your good side is in their self-interest, not because it is in your best interest.

They will say that you don’t have the right to discipline your children as you see fit, they will say that neither do the schools because your children have rights. This will result in unruly children and later unruly young adults which will result in unruly neighborhoods. People and businesses who can afford to will leave.

Like a Casanova who can never live up to his heat of the moment promises of love and fidelity, it is not in the nature of liberalism to deliver on its promises. The pillars of liberalism- collectivism, relativism, socialism, humanism, and class envy, unavoidably lead to the same end: crime, poverty, over-reaching government, weak families, substandard schools, and suppressed commerce.

If you doubt me look at the Black community. Liberals have been smooth talking us for decades, and we’ve been handing them election victories like clockwork. They promise the moon every election cycle, but look at what it’s gotten us. They have not delivered on a single promise they made to us; we’re worse off by the year.
They will do the same to Hispanics.

Consider the state of America’s largest inner-cities. Liberals have had full control for decades and have implemented all of their improvements and fixes- and look at the shape they are in.

Look at what they have done to unions.  In exchange for access to the votes of the rank and file and more importantly to millions of dollars in yearly union campaign contributions, the unions have wound up with ever-dwindling numbers and having their campaign funds be the exclusive property of the Democratic party and thereby the liberal movement.

Consider Jewish people, the liberals seduced them by condemning anti-Semitism.  Many Jewish people repaid the favor by being solidly behind democrats and liberalism,  but now that they are in the fold liberals disregard the problems of Jews, like a playboy who has moved on to his next conquest. They defend virtually every adversary of the Jews and they are consistently anti-Israel. The only reliable supporters Jews have are conservatives, yet they receive little support.

Hispanics- liberals only dish raw deals, and they’re after you.  Learn from those of us who found out what they are about the hard way.
In all cases, the liberals get their money and their power; they absorb legitimate movements and use their resources for their own ends like the Borg on Star Trek.

They will tell you that you should not be proud of America. They will say that America has yet to atone for its past sins which include, but are not limited to imperialism, racism, and xenophobia. They will implore you to empower them to change America into a country worthy of praise.

They want you to distrust the police, the very people who will protect you. They will tell you that America does not like you and you need them to protect you, as if you are unable to succeed on your own merit.  What will that teach your kids? It will teach them that their own spirit, intellect, and ambition are insufficient.

Liberals think that just because you are Hispanic you are against enforcing America’s borders. It’s as if they think you’re all here illegally and therefore don’t respect the rule of law. They think all they have to do to gain the trust of any Hispanic is to waive the amnesty flag in front of them.  Are America’s laws about sneaking into our country any different from any other country’s?  They are only using this issue to get you to trust them.  They don’t care about the plight of Hispanic immigrants any more than they care about the plight of Black kids stuck in failing schools.  What really matters is that Hispanics become a solid and permanent voting bloc for the liberals just as Blacks, Jews, unions, academia, environmentalists, civil rights groups,  the media, and the poor have become.  Any fallout from that end is considered collateral damage.

When pop culture glorifies irresponsibility and violence and your children imitate it, the liberals will defend corrosive music and movies as crucial expressions of free speech even as their messages drain the life blood from your communities. They will say that the racist depictions of Latino life are accurate reflections of real life.  Get ready for a round of latinosploitation films that will cement our culture’s image of Hispanics as being downtrodden victims of the system, just as blacksploitation films still shape black’s public image in a negative way today.

Want proof? What comes to your mind when you think of the average depiction of the Latino experience in American movies? It’s probably a run down, crime-infested neighborhood where bandana wearing, gang-affiliated young Latinos with ties to Mexican drug cartels drive around in 30 year old sedans looking for rivals to shoot.

Hispanics- please don’t make the same mistakes that Blacks, Jews, feminists, unions and others have made. Do not throw your support behind liberalism and do not accept their philosophy.  Capitalism and individualism are the real paths to prosperity. Personal responsibility and personal freedom will help to unbridle the potential that Hispanics and all humans have.  Don’t believe the liberal hype. Look at what liberalism has caused in Europe, South America, and here in The U.S.A.  People from all over the world come here for the opportunities that conservative values offer. Don’t let them tell you that even though this country attracts millions of people, that you need them to radically change this country into something worthwhile.

America will be weaker if Hispanics buy into the community-crushing policies of liberalism. Don’t do it.


Chris Bell is a freelance writer

]]> (Chris Bell) National Latino News Sat, 27 Oct 2012 18:29:39 +0000
Democratic legislators distance themselves from anti-Palermo's letter

In an effort to support worker rights, nine Democratic legislators from the Milwaukee had signed onto a letter that pitted them against Palermo’s Pizza. That’s par for the course, right? No, not really. The tone of the letter may have been more toxic than expected.

A section of the letter -- one that makes a direct allegation against Palermo’s Pizza for union busting -- has some of the nine Democrats wondering whether it was the same letter they had signed. The section in question reads:

“It is with that backdrop that we witness the struggles of the Palermo workers on strike against Palermo Pizza this summer. They went on strike in June after the company began terminating employees for engaging in the legally protected activity of organizing unions.” (Emphasis mine)

Although the letter contained hyper-partisan language, that sentence changed everything. “If there is no evidence they [Palermo’s workers] were fired for organizing a union, then I don’t support that statement,” said State Representative Jason Fields in a phone interview. Fields further intimated he was informed about the contents of the letter by staffers, but didn’t remember a specific allegation being made against Palermo’s.

Although Rep. Field’s office had viewed the letter, Senator Lena Taylor wasn’t sure whether her office had actually seen the letter and is now investigating how her name ended up on the document.

Taylor said, “At this juncture, there are some conflicting points and I prefer to have all the facts. It was not my understanding that they were fired because they were trying to form a union.”  Taylor elaborated, “Palermo’s has been a good corporate citizen. When they first reached out to the Hispanic community, they looked to be supportive of their employees.”

Fields offered similar support saying, “I don’t see a reason to boycott a company providing jobs if their products are not actually harming the community.” Both Representative Fields and Senator Taylor oppose a boycott against Palermo’s Pizza.

At least one Democrat stood behind the rancor of the letter. “I truly believe that Palermo’s is trying to turn this around, saying they fired these people because they were undocumented,” said State Representative Christine Sinicki of the 20th Assembly District.

When asked whether she had read the letter in full, she said, “I glanced over it.” Sinicki is a true believer. “I won’t buy them,” she said when asked whether she supported the boycott of Palermo's pizzas. I pushed further, “But do you support a national boycott of their products though they don’t present a health hazard to the community?” She answered unwaveringly “I support the boycott.”

Sinicki seemed sure Palermo’s was pulling a fast one on its workers; so I asked about her sources. “My information comes from the workers on the picket line,” she answered. Without prompting, she added, “I’ve had no contact with that Voces de la Frontera group.”

"Then who wrote the letter,” I asked?  Sinicki said that State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa had "generated" the letter.  "She was the lead person on the issue,” Sinicki stated.

This wasn't what Zamarripa told me during an El Conquistador interview a few weeks back.  I asked her specifically whether she believed Palermo’s had fired their employees for attempting to organize a union. She wouldn’t commit to the allegation, but said, “What I believe is that Palermo’s fired their workers prematurely. The investigation should have played itself out.”

The audit of Palermo’s Pizza that began in February of 2011 suddenly came to a halt with a cryptic one-sentence letter issued by ICE on June 7, 2012, informing Palermo’s, “At this time, ICE will stay further action regarding its Notice of Suspect Documents.”

Zamarripa argues that since ICE had suspended its investigation, it couldn’t be definitively determined that affected employees were undocumented. Zamarripa believes that the “stay letter” had neutralized any employee information learned during the year-long ICE audit.

But this line of thought has a big problem.  It is contradicted by Section 274A(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Section 274A(2) of the INA makes it unlawful for an employer to continue the employment of an alien “knowing” that the alien is, or has become, unauthorized for employment.

In a standard Notice of Suspect Documents letter from ICE, it defines “knowing” as not just actual knowledge, but knowledge which may be “fairly inferred through a notice of certain facts and circumstances” that would lead a person, “through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about an individual’s unlawful employment status.”

Defining knowledge this broadly makes it impossible for Palermo’s Pizza to not know they had 89 (later determined to be 87) unauthorized workers at their plant. It’s a problem because once you’ve gained knowledge that identifies employees as unauthorized to work, no letter suspending an audit can make a company un-gain that knowledge. To do so would put the company at risk for escalating civil and criminal charges.

To confirm our understanding of section 274A(2) of the INA, El Conquistador spoke with Deputy Chief Counsel of the ICE office in Chicago about the mysterious stay letter he had written to Palermo’s. I asked whether the “stay letter” had trumped the section 274A(2) of the INA. He referred us to his public affairs officer for further information.

El Conquistador called Gail Montenegro, ICE’s Chicago public affairs officer, multiple times over a period of several days. She did not return our calls, but looked me up on the web and sent me a scripted response addressing questions I did not ask.

I returned her email asking a pointed question about whether previous ICE letters could qualify as what Section 274A(2) of INS refers to as a “notice of certain facts and circumstances upon which knowledge of unlawful employment status can be fairly inferred?”

ICE’s official response? “Aaron, ICE has no comment beyond the statement previously provided.”

Certainly, a clarification about how a specific immigration law applies to Palermo’s would tilt the balances to Palermo’s in its dispute with Voces de la Frontera. It would also derail Zamarripa’s argument that the stay letter from ICE should have averted mass terminations at Palermo’s.

As it stands, the signatures of nine Democratic State Legislators appear on a letter brandishing allegations against Palermo’s Pizza. I reached three of the nine legislators. Representative Zamarripa did not return multiple calls to her cell phone.

State Senator Spencer Coggs also did not return multiple calls made to his office. Coggs’ senatorial staff said they had delivered my message to him between his Milwaukee meetings as city treasurer. I tried reaching him at the Milwaukee treasurer’s office, but a staffer said he was “indisposed.” I asked whether his unavailability had anything to do with trying to juggle his State Senate and City Treasurer jobs at the same time. Perhaps he was too busy trying to be half a State Senator and half a City Treasurer that he didn’t have the time to read the letter.

Representative Sandy Pasch’s office staff returned my call saying she was aware of my inquiry, that they were looking into the document, and that they would get back to me the following day.

Clearly, some Democratic lawmakers were misled into believing they were signing onto a letter they didn’t support. Palermo’s issued a response to the letter saying, "It hurts all of Milwaukee when pubic officials needlessly interject a partisan element into an immigration issue."

I will continue to report as the story develops.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Wisconsin Latino News Thu, 25 Oct 2012 06:00:00 +0000
Voces de la Frontera butts heads with Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Voces de la Frontera (VDLF), a Milwaukee-based immigrant rights group, has taken an aggressive public relations battle to the doorstep of Palermo’s Pizza for what they’ve alleged to be “union busting.” Of course, Palermo’s Pizza denies the allegation.  Recent firings, they point out, were the result of an audit initiated by ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) in February of 2011.

A few weeks ago -- and with little media coverage -- the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin (HCCW) weighed into the dispute siding with Palermo’s Pizza -- while also being critical of Voces de la Frontera.  Maria Monreal-Cameron, President of HCCW, recently wrote an op-ed for Milwaukee BizTimes making a point of fact that Palermo's is a "valued employer" and the "type of company we [the Hispanic community] should be putting up on a pedestal.”

What we know

On February 17, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alerted Palermo’s Pizza that they would initiate an audit in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The following month, the company provided DHS with the I-9s of all 394 employees.

On May 10, 2012, Palermo’s is informed that the employment eligibility of 89 employees could not be verified. May 30, ICE sent an official “Notice of Suspect Documents” informing them that suspected employees needed to “present valid identification and employment eligibility documentation” or be subject to escalating civil and criminal penalties.

On May 29, 2012, Palermo’s notifies 89 employees what was required by ICE, but not before reaching out to Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. Chris Dresselhuys, spokesperson for Palermo’s Pizza, told El Conquistador that in their naiveté, they believed Voces to have the necessary resources and resolve to help their employees get proper documentation. While Neumann-Ortiz was agreeing to help Palermo’s Pizza, she was also meeting with employees to file a petition to organize a workers’ union. (Two days after notified by Palermo’s, Neumann-Ortiz filed a request with the NLRB for a union election.

On June 8th, in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, Palermo’s Pizza terminated eighty-seven tenured employees whose workplace eligibility could not be verified by ICE.

What Voces says

Voces de la Frontera has a different take. They allege that Palermo’s Pizza used the ICE audit as a tactic to interfere with the formation of a labor union. Neumann-Ortiz refers to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor, indicating that an employer cannot use ICE to interfere with an ongoing labor dispute.

Seeking to “de-conflict itself,” ICE sends Palermo’s a letter on June 7, 2012 (a day before Palermo’s terminated its employees), stating, “At this time, ICE will stay further action regarding its Notice of Suspect Documents.”

Neumann-Ortiz the letter as ICE suspending its audit. She argues; therefore, that all affected employees should be reinstated and a Palermo’s union should be recognized as a legitimate bargaining unit.

Voces isn’t alone in their advocacy. State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, the only Latina in the state legislature, has put some muscle and political will behind Voces and the affected workers they represent. In a phone interview with El Conquistador, Zamarripa said that suspending the audit left legitimate questions about who was and wasn’t undocumented. She believes that Palermo’s fired its workers prematurely and should have let the investigation play itself out.

Enters the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

On September 11, 2012, Monreal-Cameron invited Neumann-Ortiz to her office “as a common courtesy” to offer Christine a heads-up on her op-ed.  Christine wasn’t amused.

“You can’t do this to us, you have to stand behind us. We are members!” plead a frustrated Neumann-Ortiz. “Who are you to tell me what position I’m supposed to take,” bristled Monreal-Cameron.  To be sure, sometimes local disputes will have saber-rattling, but there were other issues Monreal-Cameron questioned -- like promising undocumented workers they could get their jobs back if they helped organize a union.  “You have no right to say that,” charged Monreal-Cameron, “To say that if you join the union, you’re in.” Christine disagreed saying, “They have some rights.”

Although Monreal-Cameron explained in no uncertain terms she wouldn’t yank the op-ed, it didn’t deter Neumann-Ortiz from reaching members of the HCCW board to pressure Maria internally. A position paper by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that's supportive of Palermo’s Pizza was clearly not something Neumann-Ortiz wanted in the media.  But board members of the HCCW stood their ground; Monreal-Cameron published her op-ed a few weeks later in the Milwaukee BizTimes and also El Conquistador Newspaper.  The mainstream media largely ignored it.

Our Conclusion

The central issue of whether Palermo’s Pizza should or should not have fired employees rests solely on U.S. immigration law, not a cryptic one-sentence letter from an ICE official who refuses to clarify what it meant.

In a May 30 letter sent to Palermo’s, ICE made clear that 89 employees were “considered by ICE to be unauthorized to work in the United States.” Two employees appealed the decision, submitted additional documentation, and were cleared by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) as lawful to work in the United States.

Rep. Zamarripa has argued that a letter of stay by ICE had suspended the audit; therefore, she reasoned, it is unclear exactly who undocumented. Although she means well, we believe her conclusion is false.

Section 274A(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) makes it unlawful for an employer to continue the employment of an alien “knowing” that the alien is, or has become, unauthorized for employment. In a standard "Notice of Suspect Documents" letter from ICE, it defines “knowing” as not just actual knowledge, but "knowledge which may be fairly inferred through a notice of certain facts and circumstances that would lead a person, through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about an individual’s unlawful employment status.”

El Conquistador asked ICE Public Affairs official Gail Montenegro if a previous letter by ICE -- sent to an employer showing which employees they considered unauthorized to work in the United States -- would qualify as “a notice of certain facts and circumstances.”

Their response? “ICE has no comment beyond the statement previously provided,”  I also spoke to Deputy Chief Counsel John H. Gountanis over the phone (He's the same ICE official who sent that “letter of stay” to Palermo’s Pizza suspending the audit). He also punted on whether a company should or could use a prior letter from ICE as a fair inference of the facts about a worker's ineligibility.  It's important to emphasize that an employer doesn't need actual knowledge, but rather a fair inference through a notice of certain facts.  Arguably, that notice of facts could be a prior letter from ICE.

When it comes to figuring out whether their actions comply with U.S. Immigration Law, we suspect that Palermo’s Pizza is on their own. They will get no help by ICE officials to clarify what a cryptic one-sentence letter means nor how it relates to existing immigration law.  That's pretty lousy considering that Palermo's lost 25% of their skilled workforce because of an audit ICE started.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) Wisconsin Latino News Fri, 12 Oct 2012 04:40:47 +0000
November will come down to Latino voters It’s no surprise that the economy is expected to take center stage in this year’s presidential election. Unemployment is up, job creation is down, and the malaise we’ve dubbed an “economic recovery” is now in it’s third year. Incumbency is difficult in downturn economies, so President Obama will have to make a compelling case why he deserves more time to make good on promises given in 2008.

A recent poll from Fox News shows only 42% of likely voters approve of the way Obama has handled the economy. The problem, though, is that only 44% trust that Mitt Romney is equal to the task. This suggests that either Romney has not built a case that his private sector experience makes him the clear choice on the economy or that he hasn't effectively sniped Obama’s three-year record of anemic economic growth.

Another issue likely to intensify in months to come is immigration. With nine out of ten Latinos supporting the Dream Act, expect Democrats will nenew an effort to brand it as a part of their national platform.

Obama’s 2008 victory was made partly possible by Latino voters in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida. To keep his job, the president must win in those states, especially in Florida.  A problem, however, is that Romney’s campaign thinks a strong and steady economic message to Latinos will sooth their anxieties about hard line immigration rhetoric. This is risky. The Romney campaign says they need to capture at least 38% of the Latino vote to win in November; thus, Obama’s lead over Romney among Latinos 63% to 28% is a real problem.

The Romney/Ryan ticket might have to walk an inevitable tightrope between a pragmatic immigration policy and appeasing a fringe-right that's quick to label as amnesty any policy that doesn’t enforce immediate deportation. Making the issue even murkier is a segment of undocumented immigrants - around 1.5 million people - brought to the U.S. as children.  What do we do with them? 

The Dream Act, predicated on the axiom that people should not be punished for choices they didn’t or couldn’t make, attempts to address these “dreamers” by removing the specter of deportation while also providing them an opportunity to be a productive part of American society.

Republican leaders point to polls indicating that immigration reform, as the Hispanic community is concerned, places fourth among top issues like the economy, healthcare, and education. What the polls don’t indicate is that immigration is a gateway issue for Latinos.

Both parties claim a better approach to improving the economy, healthcare, and education. But just as the salesman whose pitch personally insults his customer’s family, Republicans should also be concerned that their ideas might not get a full hearing as long as Republicans continue to use harsh immigration rhetoric.

Finally, some pundits believe that Romney’s likability could be a problem. Likability for some, unfortunately, has more to do with presentation than character. It’s about personality and persona, who you are and what you project.

Many are asking, what role does likability play in a presidential election? Historical analysis of past elections by the Hoover Institute suggests that personal likability has little predictive value on presidential elections. Jimmy Carter had the highest likability value of any president from 1952 to 2000, but lost to Ronald Reagan because his job approval numbers hovered the ocean floor.

But wasn’t Reagan a charismatic candidate? Not according to Analyst Morris Fiorina who argued the Ronald Reagan of 1980 was not the same Reagan of 1984 or the Reagan mourned by the nation in 2004. In 1980, his likability was the lowest of all the Republican candidates. Americans saw him as uninformed, reckless, and prone to gaffes.

Despite being a peach of a guy personally, Carter’s job performance record outweighed his likability rating. There is no guarantee that Obama’s likability - despite a recent convention bounce for Romney - gives him an edge on November 6.

To win, Romney needs to convince the public that he’s the man to grow the economy and to do what George W. Bush couldn’t, to unify his party behind a pragmatic approach to immigration reform.

]]> (Aaron M. Rodriguez) National Latino News Mon, 03 Sep 2012 06:00:00 +0000