Labor Day Immigration Rally

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Immigration Rallies took place on Labor Day across the country and at the Arizona State Capitol aimed at putting the pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform and register Hispanic voters. Join Horizonte for a discussion with Evelyn Cruz, ASU Associate Clinical Professor and Director, Immigration Clinic on the rally that took place and about the national effort from the community for immigration reform.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to Horizonte. This week immigrant advocates rallied here in Phoenix and in cities across the country to push for immigration reform. We'll talk about the rally and the ongoing immigration debate. Also, the latest in the Mexico presidential election. An official winner has been declared but what kind of political climate will the new president face in the country's future? In Horizonte sounds of cultura, an exhibit displaying the tradition of handmade grave marker memorials in the southwest. These stories coming up next on Horizonte.

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José Cárdenas:
On Labor day, more than 1,000 immigrant advocates gathered at the state capital to push for immigration reform and also encouraged Hispanics to register to vote and cast their ballots in November. There were also about 50 counter protestors that showed up at the rally. They carried signs to demonstrate their objection to undocumented immigrants living in the United States . Organizers had hoped for a bigger turnout similar to the march back in April but still called the rally a success.

Hector Yturralde:
I think the message is getting across. I think that we brought attention to our march on April 10. Today is going to be more of an informative type of rally where we give out political information on candidates and on propositions on the November ballot. So we are asking people to come out, listen to some speakers, listen to the music. Pick up some information and register if you haven't registered to vote yet and I think that's very important.

Timothy Schwartz:
This is wrong. This system is broken. We're telling our city officials, fix our problem. Don't have any more of these rallies. Deny them the right to march because they're here illegally.

José Cárdenas:
Joining me to talk about the rally and the national effort for immigration reform is Arizona Republic columnist Richard Ruelas, also here is Evelyn Cruz, ASU Professor, Clinical Professor of Law, Director with the Immigration Law and Policy Clinic at the ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

Richard Ruelas:
She has a much better title than mine.

José Cárdenas:
It is a longer title than yours, Richard.

Richard Ruelas:
Wow. Yeah.

José Cárdenas:
But yours is distinguished as well. Tell us about the rally. We noted in the intro that the numbers weren't the same as before, but they weren't intended to be that large, were they?

Richard Ruelas:
They intended them to be slightly larger. They wanted about 10,000. That's what they were talking as a maximum.

José Cárdenas:
But nowhere near the 100,000, 200,000.

Richard Ruelas:
It was not intended to be and nowhere going to be near that number. I think the republic reported 2,000. I thought that was generous. The associate the press had 1,000. I would have said more, closer to 750 or 900. It was just a smaller version of the rally. Some speeches, some music, and a chance to sort of come together. It seemed the more organized people were, the 50 or so counter protesters who made themselves very loud, very angry with bullhorns, their passion was very much in evidence and I think part of their passion is fueled I think by misinformation. The man we showed was looking for city officials to fix the problem. Well, city officials really can't fix this problem. And I think that's going to be a problem as we cycle through this election cycle.

José Cárdenas:
Randy Pullen would disagree with you.

Richard Ruelas:
Well, true.

José Cárdenas:
Are you suggesting though that the low turnout even against the 10,000 they announced as their desired goal is attributed to some lack of organization among the groups pulling this together?

Richard Ruelas:
I don't know whether it's lack of organization so much as lack of a rallying point. At the time of the first, particularly the first march, the second march which sort of built on that, there was that sense n Brenner bill. There was that House Bill in congress that was going to make mere presence in this country a felony. That had just passed the house and most political observers knew it was not going to go anywhere. It was not going to pass the senate but at the time it was a pretty scary bill and it got this community, which is used to being in the shadows and not coming out in public got them to come out. And this time, the bill is nebulous. Its future is uncertain. There wasn't that drive of they're now going to make us criminals just for being in the country.

José Cárdenas:
Professor Cruz and I am going to leave it at professor rather than try and redo your whole title again, but this was part of a national effort. There were certain cities that were supposed to hold these rallies. What can you tell us about the national coordination?

Evelyn Cruz:
Correct. And the numbers were similar in other cities. Even in Los Angeles who had had quite a turnout back in March, had a very low turnout this time around. It also happened in Chicago which was a bit more organized than it was down in L.A. or in Phoenix . But there was pockets throughout the nation that came out and reminded people about that issue that had been dormant during the summer.

José Cárdenas:
Now, what the organizer said was that a different focus for these rallies was that these were intended to focus on voter registration and mobilizing Hispanics to become active voters. Do you think they succeeded in that?

Evelyn Cruz:
I think that they brought the issue back to the front. I don't know what percentage of people will turn around and then go ahead and register and vote in the upcoming election. But I think that their having done it produces a better result than if they had not done anything at all. I don't think that the fact there was a smaller number turnout will eventually impact on their ability to demonstrate, a yes, we are still in here, we are still organized and we are still talking.

Richard Ruelas:
My time out there, the little bit it, it was sort of dying by the time I was out there but from walking around and talking to people it seemed like a festive atmosphere. I didn't see a lot of pamphlets or even a place to register to vote. It seemed more of again a repeat of that first rally that we want to be here and sort of show ourselves in numbers.

José Cárdenas:
Well there were many observers who have expressed concern this is just going to generate a backlash and certainly while their numbers were small, the counter protestors seemed to be much more demonstrative in expressing their opinions. Some of it quite frankly hateful messages. What do you take from it?

Richard Ruelas:
Well, again, we've seen this. And we are going to head into an election season that's going to be dominated by this issue. One of the reasons why congress hasn't acted on it yet is because we are facing mid term elections and no one from the house wanted to be seen voting for what he saw as this senate bill that looked like it would be a guest worker amnesty type of thing. So we want to be tough on the border this election season is the mantra. I get the feeling anyone who believes they are voting for a congressman who is going to be tough on the boarder is going to be disappointed because once they get back in congress we will see the only reasonable solution to this problem is some sort of guest worker program. Some sort of version of amnesty or something that deals with the 12 million that are here. But for now, it plays really well to that crowd. And their passion is simple and easily expressed and they are not going anywhere either.

José Cárdenas:
Some of the messages as I indicated were really hateful. So you have people who are concerned about immigration, want something done, who don't want to be considered racist. And I am sure they had some concerns about the tone of the comments that were being made.

Richard Ruelas:
Yeah, although I imagine I mean, if John McCain is being considered now a traitor Republican for proposing a sensible immigration bill, if you are running for office or if you feel in the public sphere a little more reason in the debate, your voice is being shouted down by people like senator Jack Harper who was out there calling it the million moocher march, although his numbers were way off. And I'm not sure about the moocher part either. Russell Pearce, we have lost semblance of rationality in this debate. Again, if they are asking for the city to solve this problem, Randy Pullen may disagree, that's not where it's going to be. If they are asking for a wall to seal up the border, well, that's not going to happen any time soon either. But we have passed the point where rational discourse on this is going to be very difficult until after the November elections.

José Cárdenas:
Professor Cruz, from this start, the organizers of these marches have said that a goal, if not the primary goal is to mobilize the Latino voters. Has there been any indication they are having success in that regard?

Evelyn Cruz:
Well, the A.P. ran a poll and they said the numbers of people who had registered to vote had not had a significant increase due to these marches. However, those numbers are not the only ones we need to look at. We also need to look at a number of people who are applying for naturalization who are eligible to so and previously not done it.

José Cárdenas:
Has there been an increase in those numbers?

Evelyn Cruz:
They have not run those numbers and those are numbers that should be run to see if whether there's an impact on that. There's also, of course, the number we saw a lot of movement, youth, from schools, and so on and the question is, will those young adults, once they become a voting age, go ahead and continue their fervor and go and vote. So, those are two groups --

José Cárdenas:
Do you think we will see an impact on the upcoming elections because of this mobilization?

Evelyn Cruz:
I think that the -- if there is an impact it will come from voters who are already registered who have a concern about how the debate is being handled. I think that that would be the group that would wake up and have a -- an impact on the issue.

José Cárdenas:
Richard, 15 seconds. Is there going to be immigration reform this year?

Richard Ruelas:
No. Unless they squeeze it in December. It's going to be after the elections, after a new congress is seated and after the president who is going to be a lame duck gets to use this and there's no reason now not to solve the problem. Business will want it solved.

José Cárdenas:
Richard Ruelas, Professor Cruz, thank you for joining us on Horizonte.

José Cárdenas:
In Horizonte Sounds of Cultura, the southwest culture has changed over time but there are traditions that still exist. A local exhibit focuses on one of those traditions, the hand made grave markers as art and the stories behind them. Let's take a look at some of the images.

José Cárdenas:
Descanse en Paz, the art of handmade grave markers in the southwest is on display at the Mesa Southwest Museum until September 17.

José Cárdenas:
After two months of disputed elections, Felipe Calderon became president-elect of Mexico on Tuesday. The unanimous decision by the federal electoral tribunal awarded Calderon the presidency by 233,831 votes out of 41.6 million cast in the July 2 elections. Margin of .56%. The ruling cannot be appealed. The court had found evidence of problems in the election but not enough to annul the results. His rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said he won't recognize the new government and vows to block Calderon from taking office in December. Joining me to talk about the latest on the election and what to expect next is Luis Ramirez. He is president of Ramirez advisers international and also on the board of directors for the Arizona-Mexico commission and the border trade alliance. Also here is Roberto Sanchez, vice president of corporate development for title management agency and also the former state of Sonora representative for Arizona . Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on Horizonte. Roberto, you are also a supporter of Lopez Obrador.

Roberto Sanchez:
yes.

José Cárdenas:
Let's start by talking about exactly what happened this week in terms of the electoral process.

Roberto Sanchez:
Well, the court gave their final decision. The court came after reviewing it for a month, month and a half, reviewing everything that had happened, seeing all the evidence. Not only did they take the evidence that had been submitted, but they also went back and from the beginning of the campaign, and they started to look and they didn't find enough evidence to be able. They researched 10% of whatever they had, like they opened because --

José Cárdenas:
Talking about the ballots?

Roberto Sanchez:
of the ballots. Lopez Obrador wanted vote by vote count to be opened, every single ballot. What happened was that the court took 10% sample and they didn't find enough evidence for them to be able to continue opening more ballots.

José Cárdenas:
I understand, they found some problems but not enough to make a difference.

Roberto Sanchez:
Not enough to make a difference. Not enough to make a difference for them to continue to open it. So they just, and they gave the final result, what the law permits them to be able to do.

José Cárdenas:
They took the full amount of time permitted by law. Right? Could they have decided earlier?

Roberto Sanchez:
Absolutely. They could have done it first day. They could have done it week afterwards. But they decided to take, I don't know if it was because of political strategy or what was behind, but they actually they took all the time allowed.

José Cárdenas:
Luis, what happens next? We've got a president elect. Just procedurally what happens before Felipe Calderon assumes power?

Luis Ramirez:
Well between now and then essentially is the president-elect putting together his team. Selecting his cabinet members, and starting putting a transition team together. Working with the outgoing president and making sure the transition is as smooth as possible. And, of course, the president, the current president would leave office November 30 and December 1, by law, is when the president-elect would become the president of the united states of Mexico .

José Cárdenas:
Roberto, you issued a very thoughtful analysis of what you think happened with the Obrador campaign. Tell us in terms of just why you think they lost. As I understand, your conclusion was that the tribunal was correct, there wasn't enough evidence of fraud to overturn the results. What happened given that Obrador was such a heavy favorite going into the election and he polls just a few days before, showed him leading?

Roberto Sanchez:
Well, at the end, he lost control of what -- he's human and he lost control of what it was that he wanted to do. He started and actually he had a lot of supportive people he started to say, let's count vote by vote. Once he started, there was even people from the opposite party saying, let's count vote by vote so we don't have a doubt.

José Cárdenas:
Before we get to that how did he even get this close? He was predicted to be the winner by a huge margin.

Roberto Sanchez:
He made a lot of -- he made himself, he got a lot of enemies. He started to gather enemies to different groups. One of his friends, Carlos Slim, the third richest man in the world, he denied being his friend. Even though he was his friend, he denied being his friend. He wanted to separate from himself because he didn't want the people to think that he was associated with people with money. He wanted to be humble and say, I am a people's people. I am part of this. He started to commit mistakes. Esther Gordillo from the P.R.I., when the P.R.I. Decided not have her anymore she went and said I controlled the union of the teachers. I have 8 million votes.

José Cárdenas:
She went to Lopez Obrador?

Roberto Sanchez:
She went to Lopez Obrador and Lopez Obrador decided to announce it publicly that she came to offer him votes. And what he did, he got her ridiculous. What she ended up turning around going to Felipe Calderon saying here are my votes. Those were 4 million votes actually that because they say half of the union of for teachers voted. And it's a union of 8 million teachers.

Luis Ramirez:
But one issue that jumps in there you can't focus on what Lopez Obrador did and his mistakes, but also you saw a transition in Felipe Calderon from when he started, you know, the election process, he was one type of candidate. He seemed very stand-offish. He seemed, a lot of people, say he was walking around with his nose up and that he was the candidate. You saw a transition, somewhat of a transformation to a more personable type of candidate. Felipe Calderon, now the president-elect, even when you see him up on the podium he seems more relaxed. So there was a transition also. There was some things that were being done right by the other parties. Therefore they were able to make it a much closer fight than was anticipated in the beginning.

Roberto Sanchez:
And they had to adjust. They have to adjust to all of them. Not only did even Roberto Madrazo change his tone after the first debate.

José Cárdenas:
This was the precandidate?

Roberto Sanchez:
The precandidate. One of the things that hurt Lopez Obrador was him not going for the first debate. He gave complete authority to Felipe Calderon to show off and say this is the person I am. You have Lopez Obrador trying to set the tone. I am not going to go with television. I'm not going to do…certain things.

José Cárdenas:
The national television--

Roberto Sanchez:
The national television that were going to be involved with the media. He said, I don't need the media, so he started to change his strategies but it was too late by that time. Now, we have to give Felipe Calderon's -- I have to applaud him what they did because it wasn't a campaign of who is the best choice. It was who is the worst for the country. They were not trying to say --

José Cárdenas:
And they painted Obrador pretty negatively.

Roberto Sanchez:
Yeah, they painted Obrador like you, this is the leftist, this is a communist. He is going to finish the country. Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, so they were doing, it wasn't about, this is the message. This is what I can do for the country. But look at the type of person that you are electing so it was a very dirty campaign.

José Cárdenas:
Now, Roberto, you talk about the mistakes that Obrador made, Lopez Obrador made. During the campaign, you suggest that he's made additional mistakes post. In terms of the way he's handled this whole process. Why don't you give us some details.

Roberto Sanchez:
Well, one of them was a few weeks ago he decided to, him and his people decided to go against the church. And they went on a Sunday, there was being, there was a mass going on. And just people walked in and started to disrespect what the mass was saying so he got the Catholic Church against him. He got the intellectuals against him once he decided to go and put all his people to reform and start camping there.

José Cárdenas:
We are talking about some pretty prominent individuals who had supported him in the campaign.

Roberto Sanchez:
Yeah, absolutely. Even now the new mayor of Mexico City is saying, hey, now you have until this time to pick up. They already won so I really, you need to shape --

Luis Ramirez:
He is the P.R.D. elect.

Roberto Sanchez:
P.R.D.elect, supporter. Part of Lopez Obrador.

José Cárdenas:
There were other things you think he was perfectly within his rights to do. The massive protest, shutting down parts of Mexico City . You think those were legitimate tactics?

Roberto Sanchez:
he was trying do everything he could. He was trying, at the end, he was shooting at anything, let's see what hits. Was that a strategy? Yes, it was. Other people saw it bad. And -- but why wasn't the people, the government, why isn't, why aren't they allowing him, first of all? Because they were scared of him. They didn't want to.

José Cárdenas:
Luis, your take on the legitimacy of his tactics and what the consequences were.

Luis Ramirez:
I think they are definitely questionable. Yes, there is freedom of speech in Mexico and the democratic process has proven to be one of the cleanest in probably Mexican history of elections and at the same time that the P.R.D. is saying we do not recognize the election results for president, we recognize every other election where we did wean win a seat, whether it's the mayor or position of the mayor.

José Cárdenas:
They did fairly well in congressional elections.

Luis Ramirez:
Both in the chamber of deputies as well as in the senate. The mayor of Mexico city is a PRD candidate. He is the mayor-elect. They really can't have it both ways. They can't say, listen, the election was bad and we're contesting it. Only for one, one guy but for every other office where we did win, yes, it worked perfectly.

José Cárdenas:
The party, the supporters of Lopez Obrador prevented the president from giving his state of the union speech in the normal locale.

Luis Ramirez:
And I think that -- how far Lopez Obrador has taken his antics of demonstrating his dissatisfaction with the results I think are questionable. I don't think they're -- are they bordering on legal versus illegal? Anything that interferes with a constitutional responsibility for the president should be looked at from a legal perspective. Is he violating the law and prohibiting the entrance?

José Cárdenas:
What options are there?

Roberto Sanchez:
That had nothing to do. Because it's obvious we, Lopez Obrador does not have majority. The person that they name and the P.R.D, Manny Gonzalez, has nothing, nothing to do with Lopez Obrador. He is not even part of the team. He is part of the team of norriega. So between them, there has nothing to do. Why did the P.R.D. Went up there? Because from the very --

José Cárdenas:
taking over the die I can't say.

Roberto Sanchez:
taking over the dias and not allowing them. What the Mexican constitution says is that the first political force that wins, it's going to be first one to take, to be the president of congress. Speaker of the house. And the second political force is the force that actually answers the speech of the president. Well, in this case, in congress, the second political force is the P.R.D. Now, president fox got afraid and said, how is the P.R.D. Going to answer? What are they going to answer to me? So they did a strategy and they leave the third heal force, P.R.I., the president of congress and they gave it to the P.R.I. And the P.A.N was the second political force. To answer the state of the union.

José Cárdenas:
The tactics by the current --

Roberto Sanchez:
Yes.

José Cárdenas:
look, they also threatened to disrupt the inauguration. Do you think that's going to happen?

Roberto Sanchez:
I don't think they will. I really do not think they will. Because they said they were not going to take their post. Congress, once they gave them the constitution -- like the tells them that you are now a winner, they took it and they didn't say, o. No, I don't want to be a senator or a congressman. So I don't think they will. So matter of fact, I believe that the P.R.D. Is starting to back off from what Lopez Obrador is saying.

José Cárdenas:
Luis, what options does Felipe Calderon have if there are continued efforts to shut down the government? Lopez Obrador says he will create his own parallel government. Is it the use of force? Or how does he deal with this situation right now?

Luis Ramirez:
I hope it doesn't lead to the use of force. Whatever happens I hope it maintains a peaceful demonstration. People holding up signs, blocking streets, if you want, but that it maintains a level of peaceful reaction or action by the citizenship. I am concerned for, for example, and we talked about December 1, taking office of the new president, but September 15, coming up and eight days, or nine days, Lopez Obrador is saying that he is going to hold a major rally at the zocalo where he is going to declare himself the president or his own president.

José Cárdenas:
we have to wait and see if that happens because we are out of time here but thank you, both, thank you for joining us today. If you would like a transcript of tonight's show or would like to learn about future topics, please log on to our website at www.azpbs.org. And click on Horizonte. That's our show for tonight. We hope you will join us next Thursday. I'm José Cárdenas and for all of us here at Horizonte, have a good evening.

Richard Ruelas: Columnist, Arizona Republic;

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