David's Daily, Day Journal Of A Freelance Reporter, 10/20/2008
1,000,000 Signs Of Hope, Latino Immigrant Rights Activists Stage 27 Days Of Hunger For Immigration Reform
In March of 1908, my own grandfather, Alexander Laurent Frater, descended down the ramp of a tramp steamer ship, his wife, and three children in tow, among them, my own Father, Alexander Lewis Frater, aged two. Other children would follow, but not after a long and arduous journey. Arriving at the Ellis Island processing center, workers casually inspected the arrivals, and marked their shoulder garment with marks, such as a large “X” which indicated the person would need a detailed medical examination. The people with marks would be separated from their families, and processed differently. My grandfathers children had “X's” on their shoulders, and he wiped them off before they got to the next processing station. My grandfather was a skilled man, having gone to a very reputable trade academy in Budapest, for four years. He had been highly trained to be a master machinist. He also, had been required to join a trade association, be accepted, and serve an apprenticeship of no less than five years. He had his diploma, his trade association papers, and his certificate of having become a journeyman, and having served his five years apprenticeship with him. However, in New York, in 1908, there was no World Wide Web, verifying a diploma written in Hungarian was difficult, expensive, and very time consuming. As a result, not a single machine shop in New York would hire my Grandfather at a skilled tradesman level of work and pay. The only job he could find, was as an ice delivery man, delivering ice to the hundreds of thousands of brick tenement apartment buildings of New York. He worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week, for pennies. He was a middle aged skilled craftsman, not accustomed to being a beast of burden, hauling 50;b blocks of freezing ice, on his back, up and down the dark stairways of the New York tenement buildings. But he did it, because he had no choice.
My grandfather became very dissatisfied with his work, very quickly, and soon, struck out on his own. He borrowed a few dollars from some relatives, purchased a small wooden hand cart, a small light proof walk in tent, a folding table, some photographic supplies, and had a simple sign painted in many languages, which said; “Welcome To America. This is a day in destiny ! Take a family photograph. One framed photograph, developed while you wait, $1.00”.... And he loaded those things up on his cart, along with some food, blankets, a pillow, and his prized possession, his tri-pod wooden box camera and flash pan light flash.
He went back to Ellis Island, set up his tent, which was his mobile developing studio, his camera, and his sign, on an Easel, and waited for customers as they filed by coming off the ships, on their way to the processing center. The customers came, by the hundreds, and within a year, my grandfather had a photo shop in New York, where he took photographs of people, in his studio, developed and framed the photographs there, and also sold cameras and photographic equipment. Within 5 years, Alexander Laurent Frater, owned the building the photographic business was in. Within ten years, he moved his family and his business to Cleveland, Ohio, and purchased an entire square block of downtown Cleveland, for cash.
This is the promise to the immigrants coming to America. The promise of justice, the promise of prosperity, the promise of being able to work hard, and prosper, as a result of your own efforts, and to do so in safety, for not only yourself and your family, but your work enterprise as well.
This promise has been broken for the most recent immigrants to the United States. They seem to be no longer welcome on our shores or in our cities anymore. Instead of being welcomed, they are hunted, their families are torn apart, their adults tried as criminals for the dubious “crime” of being street vendors on the streets of Los Angeles. Street vending is something my own grandfather did, and he was very successful at it ! They are smuggled into this country by Americans, for their cheap labor, forced to work 12 hour days, and 6 days a week, under dangerous and dank working conditions, just like my grandfather in 1908. They are crowded into overpriced dinky, ancient and falling down brick tenement buildings, forced to pay outrageous rents for substandard housing. And when their employer is done with them, the INS is called, and they are abused again, having their belongings tossed out onto the streets, their screaming children ripped from the arms and placed into the of their helpless mothers, and placed into the custody of the Department Of Children;s Services, their property and cars seized, the adults arrested as criminals.
THIS MUST END.
This is NOT HUMANE treatment of fellow human beings, especially when it is being done with the tax dollars of of Americans who pride themselves on Justice and Liberty for All.
This is why there is an encampment set up on the Placitio De Olivera, the historical park set up at the entrance to the Olivera Street Historical Monument. Some 40 tents are there, with some 100 persons, most of whom are on a 27 day fast, refusing food for 21 days prior to the November elections of this country. It is a time honored and time tested protest method, fasting for change. Many non-violent pacifist activists have done this, from Mahatma Ghandi, to Ceaser Chavez, and many, many others. Today, these people go hungry, in the hopes that we will listen, that we will hear, that this country, this land, must accept with open arms any who desire to be here, help them, shield them, protect them, NOT ABUSE THEM.
At the base of the Statue Of Liberty, in the Harbor outside New York, these words are cast into the bronze plaque.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
How far modern America has drifted from that humanitarian message, how selfish, self centered, abusive and heartless this nation has become, and all, under the shadow of those words and the statue to which those words are attached.
The base purpose, of this encampment, is to gather 1,000,000 signatures, signatures of supporters who will pledge support for immigration reform, not only in California, but all across the United States. The purpose of this effort is to build a base, an activism base, of 1,000,000 persons from which to build a massive and overpowering reform movement. It is working, they are gaining support, and in this one reporters opinion, they will prevail as well.
Many organizations are involved in this movement already, among them, IDEPSCA, The Institute of Popular Education In California, RISE, Resist Injustice Stand for Equality, HU, Homies Unidos, HMTRG, The Hermandad Mexicano Transnational Rights Group, CWOA, The Catholic Workers Of America, and many others, as well as associations with many labor organizations, the list is almost ENDLESS.
This event is officially being sponsored by, “Fast For Your Future”, in conjunction with RISE. Persons may visit their websites at, http://www.fastforyourfuture.com
Additionally, a YouTube video is available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/therisemovement
Lastly, the rise movement, can also be contacted by phone at, (310) 703-3046 or by email at; firstname.lastname@example.org
In my interview, with Samuel Pullen, who is an organizer of this event, we discussed in some detail some of the historical points relevant to this unfortunate situation here in the south western states of the United States. Most particularly, the states of Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Oregon, all of which had been originally part of Mexico, prior to the treaty of 1848 between Mexico, and the United States, following the defeat of Generalisimo De Santa Ana, during the Texas Rebellion
What is interesting to note, historically, is that, according to this treaty, between the United States, and Mexico, is that Mexican citizens holding property, in territories annexed to the United States, by the treaty of 1848, were given an option, to retain citizenship of Mexico, and yet reside in the United States under a premise of a permanent visa status. They were not forced to leave, nor were they forced to become citizens of the United States, they could reside here, under a permanent visa status. They also, were not required to pay taxes to the United States, or to the states of the United States of their residence. There were no limitations specified by this treaty, so, by extrapolation, one can determine, that this status of a Mexican citizen, residing within the jurisdiction of these territories now held by the United States, under a status of blanket permanent resident visa, could, grant to their children, these same conditions. Furthermore, the treaty did not specify anything at all, about the workers of those land holders, the farmers, their families, the cow hands, etc... It is clear, that these large ranchos continued to exist for many generations, and indeed, some are still in existence today. Since, to no ones knowledge, this treaty was never nullified, it is by presumption still in effect. Those workers, were, obviously granted permanent visa rights as well, by the same blanket ruling of the treaty that extended that status to the Mexican national property holders.
What this basically means, is that, by the treaty of 1848, everything, absolutely everything, the INS has done to these immigrants is a direct violation of the treaty of 1848 between Mexico, and United States, and is, illegal.
Think about that one the next time you're in that polling booth.
David Lee Frater, Reporter At Large, Le Pueblo De Los Angeles, Los Angeles California
Love First, Love Always, Love ONLY
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- Aloha -
David Lee Frater