"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

March 06, 2006

Charlie Ara is a longtime resident of Southern California. He is a decades-long liberal activist who has always kept himself at the forefront of progressive politics in America. He was at MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech. His involvement in local politics and the grassroots activist movement is second-to-none. I have known Charlie for about two years and have been deeply moved and inspired by his actions and words of reason, justice and righteousness. As the dean of our local Democratic Club, his words command our attention and rightly deserve our respect. Recently he submitted a letter-to-the-editor of our local weekly newspaper about a very hot local issue and gave me permission to it reprint here:

This morning I attended the Cerritos Optimist Club's annual Oratorical Contest at the Sheraton. In addition to a delicious meal with parents, teachers and fellow Optimists, I heard the excellent inspirational speeches of seven students from the A.B.C. School District.

As I listened, I noticed that all seven students had dark black hair. I reflected that all were either immigrants or the children of immigrants and that the future of our country will be enriched with their contributions and talents.

To me, the Oratorical Contest was a teaching moment for all the adults present. It was an opportunity to reflect on the immigration debate now raging in the United States.

I do not know if each of these students or their parents are documented or undocumented. However, this was on my mind as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee takes up a series of proposed immigration reforms.

At the present time there exists an hysterical anti-immigration Sentiment sweeping even Cerritos as evidenced by the Cerritos Republican Club inviting Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, to address their club.

Recently, Cardinal Roger Mahony spoke out against this hysteria. He framed the immigration debate in moral and ethical terms. He suggested that the Judeo-Christian Tradition welcomed the immigrant.

Yes, some reforms are needed. As we say in our Optimist Creed ... to spend so much time on our own self improvement that we have no time to be critical of others...

The Minutemen type would have it to be a felon to help an undocumented immigrant. The priest, rabbi, iman, minister, etc would have to have everyone show their papers before entering a House of Worship.

What are we coming to as a country? What can we do about the mean Spirited hysteria? As we are all immigrants or children of immigrants (except for native Americans) why can't we find ways to deal with our problems without being mean-spirited?

What are some considerations for reforming immigration. Here are some Ideas being considered: 1) visas for family members of migrants to reduce what can be decades-long waits to reunify 2) a guest worker program with a path to permanent residency 3) legalization of undocumented migrants 4) better legal process to guarantee immigrants rights, and 5) economic development in poor countries to reduce the need to migrate.

Yes, let's debate the issue of immigration but let us do it with a sense of justice, fairness and concern for all our fellow human beings on planet earth.

Charlie Ara, Cerritos resident.

Readers, the Progressive Movement is not dead. It's just not reported in the press. Let's keep spreading the word through our actions as bloggers, letter-writers and demonstrators. Let's keep reporting about those motivating grassroots leaders (like Charlie) in our own locales, rather than just reprinting verbatim the over-posted opinions and rants of Atrios, Huffington, Chomsky, Soto, Kos, and so on.

Let's get local and vocal!

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