By Contributor on September 21, 2012

By Jose Miguel Leyva

This year marks the 25th annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, but we’re still being taken for granted by politicians of both parties.

Despite campaign promises four years ago, the Obama administration has done little to ensure the kind of sweeping reforms the Latino community was led to expect.

During the first three years of his administration, President Obama deported 1.1 million immigrants. That’s way more than President George W. Bush deported in his first three years in office, and more than any president in his first term since the 1950s.

In a last minute effort to engender goodwill, Obama signed a directive last June to pass the DREAM Act by executive order. His order allowed some undocumented immigrants who came here when they were very little to stay in the country for a few more years so long as they’re going to college or entering the U.S. military and have had no run-ins with the law.

The Pew Research Center estimated that less than 40 percent of immigrants under age 30 would even potentially become eligible to benefit from the new rules around deportation. Many will be deemed ineligible simply for lacking a high school or GED diploma.

And we now find out that even young people who are allowed to stay in this country will not be offered insurance under Obama’s health care program because his administration axed them out of it.

It isn’t just the undocumented being targeted for deportation, either. Thousands of U.S. military veterans are fighting deportation, sometimes for decades-old misdemeanors that are suddenly being used to justify banishment from the homes they’ve fought to protect. One Texas family mourned the death this summer of its 55-year-old patriarch, who had been deported for an old misdemeanor record. This man, Manuel Castano, lost access to the Veterans Affairs medical treatments he needed for lupus. Nine months later, he died.

Obama has made no move towards correcting these kinds of wrongs, leaving many more families in limbo.

Latinos still favor the president today, but only because Mitt Romney has taken an even harsher approach on immigration. To the extent that he addresses Latinos, he is simply trying to cut into the Democrats’ base.

With so much posturing on both sides of the campaign aisle, it is easy to overlook the fact that Latinos are not simply props.

Hispanic Heritage Month should be a celebration of our place in this country, yet we must spend more time defending that place now than any other time of year. The month should prompt real discussions about the problems facing Latino communities. This is the time we should be addressing poverty, education and social reform.

Latinos deserve substantive actions, not the hollow promises of politicians trying to curry favor with us at election time.

Jose Miguel Leyva is a freelance writer and journalist living in El Paso, Texas. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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