Press Room

February

Distritos Escolares se Preparan para lo Peor
Araceli Martinez Ortega, February 14, 2012
La Opinion

SACRAMENTO, California.— La mayoría de los distritos escolares de California están a toda prisa alistando sus presupuestos, preparándose para lo peor porque no sabrán hasta noviembre si los votantes aprobarán una iniciativa de aumento de impuestos que les permitiría evitar recortes masivos.

El problema es que si esa iniciativa falla, ni los legisladores ni el gobernador Jerry Brown tienen un plan B para evitar reducciones al gasto de las escuelas por 4,800 millones de dólares, el equivalente a tres semanas del ciclo escolar.

Por eso entidades como el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Angeles (LAUSD), el segundo más grande de la nación, considerará hoy durante la reunión semanal de su Junta Escolar, la eliminación de su División de Programas de Educación para Adultos; el programa de Inglés como Segunda Lengua (ESL), y otros programas como preparación para la ciudadanía y cursos generales de educación. Eso sin contar que se planea enviar avisos de despido a 1,500 maestros y otros trabajadores de las escuelas.

Mónica Carazo, portavoz de LAUSD, dijo que si los votantes no aprueban la iniciativa de aumento de impuestos del gobernador, el distrito tendrá que hacer recortes al menos por 550 millones de dólares.

"Por eso es que tenemos que comenzar a ver de dónde vamos a recortar", señaló.

Según la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes (CHIRLA), los programas que quiere cortar LAUSD sirven a 28% de los estudiantes y representan sólo el 2% de su presupuesto total.

En un comunicado, la directora ejecutiva de CHIRLA Angélica Salas dijo que la organización se opone a la eliminación de la División de Educación para Adultos porque representa una tabla de salvación para las comunidades inmigrantes y de bajos ingresos y un apoyo para la recuperación económica de la región.

"La propuesta de LAUSD no tiene visión del futuro y es inoportuna. Creemos que el LAUSD tiene liderazgo y sabe cómo presentar alternativas menos desastrosas que además muestren cuidado y preocupación por las comunidades más impactadas", indicó Salas.

En los últimos años, la educación pública ha sufrido recortes por 17,000 millones de dólares. En su propuesta presupuestal para el 2011-12, el gobernador Brown presentó como única opción para evitar más reducciones su iniciativa de impuestos de noviembre. Aún siendo aprobados dichos ingresos llegarían muy tarde para los distritos que inician clases en agosto y septiembre, por lo que estos han sido aconsejados de hacer planes para una reducción de 370 dólares por estudiante, en caso de que la medida no pase.

"Los distritos escolares están en un dilema. ¿Basan sus presupuestos y decisiones de personal en el peor escenario, o en la esperanza de que pase la iniciativa del gobernador, lo que podría llevarlos a la insolvencia?," cuestionó Crystal Brown, presidenta de la campaña Eduquemos a Nuestro Estado y madre de tres hijos que asisten a las escuelas públicas en San Francisco.

"La única alternativa que tienen los distritos escolares es despedir maestros o reducir más el ciclo escolar, eso sin contar con que tenemos salones de clase con más de 40 alumnos, se ha reducido el transporte escolar y se han cortado programas de arte, música, bibliotecas", lamentó Brown.

Read more:  La Opinion

History of Bigotry for for Radio Hosts who Called Whitney Houston "Crack Hoe"
Jorge Rivas, February 17, 2012
ColorLines.com

 

On Friday, KFI radio hosts John & Ken apologized for referring to Whitney Houston as a “crack hoe.” John Chester Kobylt and Kenneth Robertson Chiampou host “The John and Ken Show,” on KFI AM 640 in Southern California. Their show is the nation’s most listened to local talk radio program.

“It’s like, ‘Ah Jesus … here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do?” the radio DJs said on Saturday’s show. They went on to say Houston was “cracked out for 20 years.”

“We made a mistake, and we accept the station’s decision. We used language that was inappropriate, and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston,” John Kobylt said in a statement published on their website.

KFI AM 640, a Clear Channel Communications radio station, has suspended the hosts until February 27, 2012.

John & Ken, as the duo are recognized professionally, have a long history of controversial comments.

“They blame us [immigrants] for all that is wrong in education, all that is wrong in the economy, all that is wrong with security in this country,” Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition told Univision last year after John & Ken broadcasted the cell phone number of a communications associate working with CHIRLA, an immigrants rights coalition.

In 2006, John & Ken started a campaign that resulted in hundreds of toilet brushes in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office after the mayor said immigrants “come here to work: We clean your toilets. We clean your hotels. We build your houses.”

Most recently, on a CHIRLA and the communications associate who’s contact information was shared by John & Ken issued a statement this morning. It’s published in it’s entirety below:

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles applauds KFI’s decision to temporarily suspend John & Ken for, once again, spreading insults and hate. Their distasteful, inappropriate and offensive diatribes know no bounds. We call on KFI to consider suspending these two traffickers of hate indefinitely. We also call on KTLA TV 5 to remove this objectionable pair from the station’s daily programming. Multicultural Los Angeles deserves better than John and Ken.

Read more:  Color Lines

Press Statement regarding the John and Ken suspension today:

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles applauds KFI’s decision to temporarily suspend John & Ken for, once again, spreading insults and hate.  Their distasteful, inappropriate and offensive diatribes know no bounds.  We call on KFI to consider suspending these two traffickers of hate indefinitely.  We also call on KTLA TV 5 to remove this objectionable pair from the station's daily programming.  Multicultural Los Angeles deserves better than John and Ken.

Attorneys call for protection of parents in school abuse case
by Sam Allen, February 9, 2012
Los Angeles Times
 
A local immigrant rights group has called on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide protections for undocumented parents whose children were allegedly victimized in the Miramonte Elementary School teacher abuse scandal.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles asked for the sheriff to assure the parents that their immigration status will not be affected if they go to authorities with claims of abuse.

“Families are not speaking up because they are scared of being deported,” attorney Jessica Dominguez said at a news conference Thursday morning.

Dominguez also urged Sheriff Lee Baca to assign a detective to the case “who is very familiar with certifications of U-Visas.” If approved, these documents give victims legal status for up to four years.

The news conference also featured a father of a Miramonte student allegedly abused by teacher Mark Berndt. The father, who was identified only by his first name, Raymundo, said he did not go to authorities initially because he was afraid of being deported.

Dominguez and another attorney, Gregory Owen, said they are representing eight victims from the school and have already filed three claims against the Los Angeles Unified School District for negligence.

The lawyers also distributed photos Berndt allegedly took of their clients along with pictures where he posed with them, and photocopies of notes he wrote them.

“These kids are severely damaged,” Owen said. “They’re going to need care for the rest of their lives.”

Angelica Salas, CHIRLA’s executive director, said the organization would help defend any of the parents involved in the case.

“Like many Angelenos, we have witnessed the horrible details of what happened at Miramonte unfold from afar,” Salas said. “We are here to offer support for these families and let them know that CHIRLA and many other Latino and civil rights organizations will work arduously to ensure that there is sensitivity on the issues of immigration status throughout this investigation.”

Berndt has been charged with nearly two dozen lewd conduct counts against children, and another teacher, Martin Bernard Springer, has been charged with three counts. The cases are unrelated.

Read more:  Los Angeles Times

Undocumented Miramonte Parents Fearful of Coming Forward
Lawyers of undocumented Miramonte Elementary School parents say they are afraid to come forward with allegations for fear they'll be deported
Jason Kandel, February 9, 2012
NBC 4

An attorney representing undocumented families of children allegedly abused by a Miramonte Elementary School teacher sought an assurance on Thursday from LA County Sheriff Lee Baca that the families will not be turned over to immigration authorities.

The news came during a press conference at the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles where lawyers announced they are filing complaints against the Los Angeles Unified School District in the Miramonte School scandal.

“Most of these families represent a lot of families out there who would not speak to authorities because of their immigration status,” said attorney Jessica Dominguez, who is representing eight Miramonte families. “How sad is that, that families are not speaking up because they’re afraid of getting deported?”

A father whose daughter was allegedly abused by former teacher Mark Berndt spoke to the press, but said he would not speak to authorities because he’s afraid of being deported.


He said he had panic attacks that sent him to the hospital emergency room. He challenges other parents to come forward.He spoke through a Spanish interpreter, gave only his first name, Raymundo, and hid his face under a hoodie.

He said he knows two families whose children have allegedly been victimized but who won’t come forward because they’re fearful they could be deported.

Miramonte sits in a largely Latino district in L.A.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Baca is not interested in a family's status. He mailed letters on Monday to Miramonte parents assuring them of that.

"He's made it crystal clear that he is not interested in whether they are documented or not," Whitmore said. "It is not relevant to him in this investigation."

Earlier Thursday, students, accompanied by parents, returned to classrooms at Miramonte after a two-day shutdown and the removal of the school's entire staff.

The unprecedented actions were taken after the arrests of two teachers in connection with committing lewd acts involving children at the school.

Berndt, 61, of Torrance, who had been a Miramonte teacher for 30 years, faces two dozen counts of sexually molesting 23 boys and girls between 2005 and 2010, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Berndt, a third grade teacher, was removed from the school campus in 2010 when the allegations arose.

He retired before his termination by the district was finalized.

Martin Bernard Springer, 49, faces three felony counts of lewd acts on a child. He was removed from the school and terminated.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy called for an investigation into whether the school maintained a “culture of silence” that could have allowed the teachers to carry out their alleged crimes.

Two lawyers earlier this week announced they were filing court complaints against the school district.

Read more:  NBC 4 Los Angeles

Depriving Immigrants of "Child Tax Credit"
by Jorge-Mario Cabrera, Patch.com, February 2012

Eliberto bought his four-year old boy a tricycle last year. This year, with the tax refund he will receive, he would like to get his older son a toe-pedaled, mini fire engine truck. His two-year old boy will settle for a considerable amount of Pampers, Gerber puree, and two sets of new outfits. 

Come next year, Eliberto and his wife Sonia once again will file their income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). But they will receive nothing in return from Uncle Sam if the U.S. Congress approves a proposal to tax the children of the poor.

Eliberto’s two sons are U.S.-born.

The money that the couple gets from the IRS’sChild Tax Credit program—the only one they qualify for—is spent almost entirely on their children, said Eliberto, who did not provide a last name to protect his family. The Van Nuys resident earns about $20,000 a year through full-time employment and says that every two weeks approximately $154 disappear from his already small paycheck to pay federal and state taxes.

Squeezing Child Tax Credit

Eliberto and Sonia are really worried. Talk of Congress moving forward with a proposal to restrict the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit refund only to taxpayers who have a Social Security number will impact their family budget and that of more than 2 million working families who pay income and payroll taxes. Hard-working families and low-income families reportedly pay more than $9 billion in payroll taxes each year. Eliberto pays $5,544 in taxes every year but receives $2,000 in return as part of the ACTC program.

“If I don’t get that little bit of help for my children, it will affect what I buy for them,” he said. “With that money I buy food, clothing, diapers, medications, and if I have any left over, a couple of toys.” He added: “They are getting older and now they ask me to get them little things to play.”

Anti-Immigrant Bias

Republicans in the House came up with this anti-immigrant and anti-family scheme as a way to pay for the extension of the payroll tax cut. If this exorbitant tax hike is imposed, the working poor, Latinos, immigrants and the neighborhoods they live in will suffer. This monstrosity of a proposal will have the most devastating impact on children: It is estimated that up to 5.5 million children, including 4 million who are U.S.-born citizens, will have this safety net yanked from under their feet overnight.

Eliberto does not understand the political maneuvering pushing this bill forward. He worries, though, that in addition to his family, lots of middle-class families and mom-and-pop businesses that serve our communities will be seriously affected because, as he puts it, “we will not be shopping there for a while.”

Negative Impact on Local Business

He is right. Studies have shown that every dollar received by low-income and moderate-income families has a 1.5 to 2 times multiplier effect in terms of its impact on local economies. Based on Eliberto’s wish list, most of this year’s ACTC refund will be spent in local stores and shops.

The irony is that while Congress has been consistently unable or unwilling to serve the American people by adjusting our immigration laws, they are willing to hurt the general public by making a point about immigration through this proposal.

Dumb Economics

Perhaps we will save a lot of money by denying eligibility to ITIN taxpayers for ACTC, you may be thinking. The savings barely compute. The bill is estimated to save $9.6 billion in more than 10 years—a period during which these same taxpayers will contribute $90 billion to the federal coffers.

I get that Congress must find ways to pay for the payroll benefits it will likely extend. I get that something has got to give. But to take this life-saving financial assistance away from the hands of taxpayers who are barely getting by is reprehensible. More than 60 percent of families using the refundable CTC earn less than $25,000 per year. According to a 2009 report, the ACTC credits protected approximately 1.3 million children from falling into poverty.

Seeing is Believing

Those are the numbers. The real impact can only be felt when you meet families like Eliberto’s, which do what they must to protect and feed their children but also do their best to comply with their civic duty—including paying taxes and filing returns.

“I have thought about not filing my returns,” says Eliberto. “But I know that it is my responsibility and I want to help this country get stronger so that my family has a future here.” 

Latinos Hardest Hit

Eliberto’s family is of course Latino. The bill in question will hit the Latino community hardest because80 percent of those impacted are Latino families. Of the estimated 15 million children living in povertyin the U.S., 40 percent are Latino children. Eliberto asks me why Congress is attacking his family. His children can be heard playing in the background—and I have no real answer for him. 

So far, Congress has failed to address why it is necessary to target a vulnerable population such as the 4 million U.S.-born children and their undocumented parents. Saving estimates pale in comparison to the robust contribution low-income families make to our economy in payroll taxes each and every year. 

Blaming Immigrants

In this politicized environment—in which just about everything is the fault of immigrants—we must caution members of Congress to thread carefully and not overreach. As members of the general public, we must ask our national leadership why this Herod-like persecution of children is necessary.  

Many of us may be against granting some benefits to undocumented workers, even if they pay their fair share of income and payroll taxes, but few of us will have the heart to keep Eliberto’s U.S.-born sons from getting a mini fire engine truck, the Gerber puree, and a supply of Pampers.

For more information, please visit www.chirla.org, the National Immigration Law Center or the National Council of La Raza.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera is the director of communications at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Read more:  EagleRockPatch.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2012

Guardians of the Most Vulnerable

Attorneys representing families in the Miramonte School sex scandal call for swift and coordinated assistance to victims, written assurances by Sheriff Baca that undocumented victims will not be deported through Secure Communities program, and a culture of collective vigilance to prevent these crimes from happening again

Los Angeles – Just a couple of days before a completely different set of teachers and administrators was to begin a new chapter at Miramonte Elementary School, the first lawsuits were filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of eight children and their families who were victimized by the sex scandal that has attracted international attention.  The laws firms of Owen, Patterson & Owen and The Law Office of Jessica Dominguez, with support from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a human rights organization based in Los Angeles, announced this Thursday their intent to seek protections and assistance for the most vulnerable in this case of despicable violations of sacred trust and responsibility.  The most salient concern for these advocate attorneys and CHIRLA is the children who were victimized by the inability of the LAUSD staff to appropriately protect them from harm and their families, many who are immigrants and fearful of immigration retaliation.  The following are statements from Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive Director; Jessica Dominguez, immigration attorney; and, Gregory James Owen, attorney at Owen, Patterson & Owen.

Angelica Salas:  “We are all touched and moved by what has taken place at Miramonte School.  We pray for the families and the children who have been directly affected.  Nothing is more despicable than violating a child’s trust and in this case it appears that some adults and the institution may not have given a damn about protecting the sacred bond between a school, a teacher, and a child, family, and community. 

We join today two brilliant and honest lawyers who will tend to the legal rights of these children and their families.  We also call on Sheriff Baca to immediately offer in writing guarantees that his department will not take any action against any of the parents or children who seek support and may also be unauthorized immigrants.  The Sheriff’s enthusiastic support of the so-called “Secure Communities” program is troubling and may hinder progress in this investigation unless he goes to extreme measures to inform the community they have nothing to fear.  Our collective efforts must be predicated on keeping our children and our community free from fear and accessing the services and help they will most certainly need for a long time to come.”

Jessica Dominguez, Esq.:  “I am heartbroken by what has happened at Miramonte Elementary School. I am appalled by the lack of oversight at this institution of learning and the disregard these precious children experienced under the care of so-called responsible adults.  No community deserves to be taken for granted and left alone to fend the wolves on its own. 

I am a mother of two sons and throughout my legal career I have focused on helping families do the right thing, respect and collaborate with institutions, and fight for their rights.  I have never felt more of the need to protect children and their families as I have in this case.  The fear to speak and to denounce their terrible experience mars every one of their actions and words.  No one’s immigration status should subject them to a life of pain and suffering.  We are a better nation than that and we should help these children and their families, doing whatever we need to do, begin their journey to healing.”

Gregory James Owen, Esq.:  “The very young and the very old are the most vulnerable members of our society. There are and always have been perverted individuals who live among us who, for their own sadistic reasons, choose to violate these innocents that are unable to protect themselves--our children. We as a society are the guardians of our children. In an ideal world, they grow up in kind and nurturing environments. When we learn that our precious children have been abused by a trusted adviser, teacher, or friend--someone like Mark Berndt or Martin Springer--our mission must be two-fold:

We must first root out the abusers and punish them to the extent allowed by our society with the intent to prevent future acts which serve to injure our children. If an institution such as the Catholic church or  LAUSD could have prevented this, we must take immediate action in order to change the system. Then, after the perpetrators have been put behind bars, our most important work begins.

It is our experience that the beautiful children who have had their innocence stolen by the deviant acts of these perpetrators will never be the same. They will never completely heal. They will always know in the back of their minds that they have been tainted in some way. It is our collective duty to do everything in our power to help these children to recapture the innocence that was wrongfully taken from them.”

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January

Soon the California State legislature may get a chance to vote on the TRUST Act, a bill limiting the extent to which local police and immigration officials will enforce ICE's "holds" on undocumented immigrants.  Thus far, local police have voluntarely collaborated with the flawed program resulting in thousands of deportations of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record.  Although "S-Comm" is suppossed to focus its resources on catching "criminal elements", 60-70% of all those detained under this program are not a threat to the community.  In this newsreport, CHIRLA argues why S-Comm should be ended and why it hurts the community.  Video courtesy of Univision network evening news.  Click on video image below.

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2012                   

Congressman Rivera:  Die to Dream in America
ARMS Act is a Frankenstein of a proposal that has little to do with the American Dream

Los Angeles— Inspired by Monday’s Republican candidate debates in Florida, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, filed a bill that would give young people who serve in the military — not college students — a path to U.S. citizenship.  Rivera is quoted in the Miami Herald as stating:  “If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America.”  The proposal is called the Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act — the ARMS Act. The following is a statement from Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a regional human and immigrant rights organization based in Los Angeles with national impact.

“Yesterday, Congressman David Rivera (R-Miami) introduced a bill that in essence will bastardize the spirit of the federal DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act we support is a real opportunity for undocumented students brought by their parents to the United States as children to adjust their status if they attend college or serve in the military.  Rivera’s proposal is a clear and timed political bow to insincere pronouncements on the campaign trail that call only for the legalization of young people who serve in the military.

The military-only version of the DREAM Act proposed by Rep. Rivera is an insult to every American who believes hard work pays off and leads to a life of choices that may include higher education or the armed forces.  Since when is attending college and moving up the social ladder not part of the American Dream?  A bright, talented student seeking to better contribute to the only nation he calls home should have more choices than taking arms.  Rep. Rivera would not dare ask otherwise of anyone else; why does he treat these Americans-in-waiting differently?”

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Para Difusión Inmediata: 27 de enero 2012

Congresista Rivera: Morir para Soñar en EE.UU.
Propuesta de ley es un Frankenstein poco que ver con el Sueño Americano

Los Angeles—Inspirado quizá por los debates de pre-candidatos republicanos en la Florida, el Representante David Rivera, R-Miami, ha presentado una propuesta que otorgaría a jóvenes que presten servicio en la militar –no a estudiantes de colegio—un camino a la ciudadanía.  Rivera le dijo al Miami Herald: “Si alguien está disspuesto a morir por América, entonces claramente que merece una oportunidad de vivir en América”.  La propuesta se llama el Acta de Ajuste de Residencia por Servicio Militar – el ARMS Act (por sus siglas en inglés).  El siguiente comentario es por Angélica Salas, directora ejecutiva de la Coalición pro Derechos Humanos del Inmigrante en Los Angeles (CHIRLA por sus siglas en inglés), un organismo regional sin fines de lucro con sede en Los Angeles y con impacto nacional.

“Ayer, el Congresista David Rivera (R-Miami) presentó una propuesta de ley que corrompe el espíritu del Acta federal de Sueños (DREAM Act).  El Acta de Sueños que nosotros apoyamos representa una oportunidad seria para los estudiantes indocumentados que fueron traídos de niños a EE.UU. de ajustar su estado migratorio asistiendo a la universidad o sirviendo en la militar.  La propuesta de Rivera es un hueso político en apoyo a pronunciamientos deshonestos dados a conocer en el transcurso de esta campaña presidencial.

La propuesta del Congresista Rivera es un insulto a todo estadounidense que valora el trabajo arduo y las oportunidades que conllevan al éxito, entre las que están una educación universitaria o el servicio militar.  ¿Desde cuándo asistir al colegio o subir de estrato social no son parte del Sueño Americano?  Un estudiante talentoso y dedicado que busca contribuir mucho más al único país que conoce como su hogar debería tener más opciones que tomar las armas.  El Sr. Rivera no se atrevería a imponer esa limitación a nadie más; ¿por qué entonces quiere tratar a estos futuros estadounidenses de manera diferente”?

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Reactions by CHIRLA members on President Obama's third State of the Union Address. How did he address immigration reform? Did his economic plan include the integration of immigrants as a vibrant sector of our economic engine? Video courtesy of KMEX-TV 34 Univision Los Angeles.

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