Saturday, July 21, 2007

Social Programs to Combat Gangs Seen as More Effective Than Police

Area Officials Advocate Mix of Prevention and Enforcement

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007; B03
When it comes to fighting gangs, there's the New York City approach, and there's the Los Angeles approach, according to the Justice Policy Institute. And one statistic dramatizes the difference:
Two years ago, Los Angeles police reported 11,402 gang-related crimes; New York police, 520.
In a report being issued today, "Gang Wars," the Washington-based institute says it found overwhelming evidence that cities such as New York and suburbs and rural areas that use extensive social resources -- job training, mentoring, after-school activities, recreational programs -- make significant dents in gang violence. Areas that rely heavily on police enforcement, such as Los Angeles, have far less impact.
The institute analyzed dozens of academic reports on combating gangs and conducted research on the best ways to reduce gang violence. The report does not discuss gangs in the Washington area or its suburbs, partly because extensive investigations have not been performed in the region.
"Nobody we talked to thought that D.C. had a real gang problem," said Kevin Pranis, one of the report's authors. "Which is good news."
Institute officials say they hope the report will persuade legislators, in Washington and across the country, to allocate more money to proven social programs that target illegal gang behavior and less for large-scale arrest-and-imprison initiatives that often show short-term gains but make gang problems worse.
Officials in the District and its suburbs often stress the importance of both prevention and enforcement. In 2003, then-D.C. police chief Charles H. Ramsey launched the Gang Intervention Partnership Unit, working with schools, neighborhood groups and resident activists to reduce violence.
An independent report issued last year, looking at the unit's effects on the city's Latino population, gave a resounding endorsement: The number of Latino gang-related homicides in the city dropped from 21 between 1999 and 2003 to zero between 2003 and 2006.
"Suppression [enforcement] alone, that doesn't work," said Sgt. Juan Aguilar of the D.C. police. "That's only a Band-Aid. You've got to get to the root of the problem. It's social."
Similar sentiments were expressed by officials in Arlington and Fairfax counties, who said their police departments work closely with a variety of social service providers. In 2005, after a spate of gang violence in Northern Virginia, Fairfax launched a Coordinating Council on Gang Prevention and required several county service providers to participate.
Last year, Arlington launched its "Attention to Prevention" initiative to provide mentoring, leadership training and tutoring for youths. Police spokesman John Lisle said, "It's clear to us, to reduce the impact of gangs, it's not just a matter of locking people up."
The Justice Policy Institute describes itself as a think tank dedicated to ending society's reliance on incarceration and promoting effective solutions to social problems.
Statistics show that youth crime in the United States is at its lowest levels in 30 years and that gangs are responsible for a relatively small share of crime. In addition, according to a national Justice Department survey of police departments, gang membership declined from 850,000 in 1996 to 760,000 in 2004.
But occasional outbursts of violence prompt the media and politicians to seek immediate answers, said the report's authors, Pranis and Judith Greene.
"And it's more about politics than it is about serious efforts to do something," Greene said yesterday. "It's frustrating to see officials come forward with money for mass arrests, when the money is so sorely needed in programs that are tried and true and can really work."
In New York, the use of social programs to prevent gangs started in the 1950s, and the programs have continued to receive funding throughout the cycles of gang activity, the new report says. Street-level social workers, gang intervention programs and job training have been used for decades. "New York really doesn't have a chronic gang problem," said Greene, a New York resident.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, "retains the dubious honor of being the gang capital of the world," the report says. A 25-year anti-gang effort has cost taxpayers billions of dollars but has resulted in six times as many gangs and twice the number of gang members, because Los Angeles has not adequately funded social programs, the report says.
"There are very little services," said Luis J. Rodriguez, a former Los Angeles gang member who is a member of that city's Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development. He said the city has 61 gang intervention workers to handle about 40,000 gang members.
"We need substantial, root-based work, ways for people to get out of gangs," Rodriguez said. "But there are no jobs, rehabilitation or treatment, and schools and services do not work with gang kids."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Justice for Immigrants ACTION ALERT


Background. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) will be offering the DREAM Act as an amendment to H.R. 1585, the Department of Defense authorization bill, sometime this week. The DREAM Act would provide a path to permanent residence for young men and women brought to the country as undocumented children if they graduate high school and enter college or military service. This would help tens of thousands of minors who otherwise would have no future for themselves in America.

U.S. Bishops' Position. The U.S. Catholic bishops have long advocated for legal status for minors who entered the country as undocumented children. They do not know the country in which they were born and these children have lived the majority of their lives in the United States, attending American schools. Our nation should invest in these talented young persons for the future.

Message to Senators. Please vote in FAVOR of the Durbin-Hagel-Lugar DREAM Act amendment to H.R. 1585, the Department of Defense authorization bill.

Contact your Senators at 202-224-3121 as soon as possible and go to for a list of talking points or to send a letter through the interactive section of our website.

Thank You,

The Justice for Immigrants Campaign

Dream Act

Talking Points:
The DREAM Act would:

? Provide a six-year path to residence and eventual citizenship to individuals brought to the U.S. as children at least five years ago.
? The DREAM Act is not an "amnesty," as opponents will say, because its beneficiaries were brought to the U.S. as undocumented children.
? The DREAM Act is good policy because it encourages these minors to remain in school or serve in the military and would allow them to contribute their talents to our nation in the years ahead.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Immigration Movement Should Learn from Civil Rights Movement

New America Media, News Analysis + Commentary, Toni Holness and Rich Stolz, Posted: Jul 12, 2007

Editor’s Note: Immigration reform suffered a major defeat in the Senate recently but some immigration rights advocates are looking to the civil rights movement for hope and inspiration. Immigration Matters regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates. Toni Holness is with the Center for Community Change and Rich Stolz is with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

As the immigrant rights movement struggles and encounters the political maneuvering of the U.S. Congress, the civil rights movement, its history and lessons, figures prominently. Perhaps the first and most important lesson of the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is the length of time it took for that movement to win a resounding legislative victory – it took a decade after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This clearly proves that endurance matters. The African-American civil rights movement survived, and continues to this day. It also birthed a number of progressive movements, including today’s immigrant rights movement.

This year the immigrant rights movement has already experienced a gut wrenching debate that included a number of painful concessions and the defeat – at least for now – of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate. Over forty years ago activists and lawmakers rallied around an issue just as hotly debated as today’s comprehensive immigration reform: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As is the case in any legislation in Congress, ultimately there will be compromise, and enactment can only be assured through a bi-partisan agreement among Republicans and Democrats. Against this pragmatic backdrop, the civil rights movement brought its grassroots power, and the moral authority of its cause illustrated by the leadership of the faith community. These tactics safeguarded the bill’s eventual journey through the House and Senate.

Similar to 1964, America is home to a largely disenfranchised population whose dreams of integration, education and self-sustainability are being negotiated by distant lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Recent immigration enforcement raids underscore that the policing force of the government targets these vulnerable communities and their children. Back then, state and local police aimed their force at children who dared to enter whites-only establishments. Unsurprisingly, today’s targeted population is also, generally speaking, an economically disadvantaged one led by minority communities.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in voting, employment, and public services; it was a landmark bill that would change the nation for future generations. The fight then is reminiscent of the reforms that today’s movement hopes to secure for immigrants – undocumented and documented alike. The political maneuvering of that era is also strikingly familiar to the maneuvering facing immigrant rights activists today – it raises the question, “How can a bill needed by so many survive the obstacle course created for it by a vocal and angry minority in Congress?”

The 1964 bill, endorsed by then-President Johnson, overcame a number of obstacles on its way through both the House and Senate in the last few months before its enactment. Initially introduced in the House Judiciary Committee, the bill was later referred to the House Rules Committee whose chairman, Representative Judge Smith, D-Virg., threatened to deny it a hearing. Fortunately, a bipartisan coalition of representatives, including a conservative Midwesterner, Clarence Brown, R-Ohio, was able to challenge the authority of Chairman Smith. But to avoid a showdown that he would lose, Smith finally allowed the bill to pass through the Rules Committee.

On the House floor, rabbis, priests and other religious leaders made a public statement of the faith community’s support for the bill and became moral watchdogs, reminding representatives that they would be held accountable for their role in the debate. Despite overwhelming support for the bill, Smith made a final attempt to prevent the bill from passing. Knowing that the bill’s supporters had not yet established a unified opinion regarding women’s rights, he amended the bill to include making employment discrimination based on sex illegal. Although jolted by this amendment, the bill’s supporters defiantly accepted it and the bill passed through the House on Feb. 10, 1964 with a 290 to 130 vote.

In the Senate, the bill faced opposition from Southern Democrats. To compensate for this loss in support, the bill’s proponents appealed to Republican senators. Also recognizing that Southerners dominated the Judiciary Committee, the Senate voted to place the bill on the Senate calendar, instead of referring it to the Judiciary Committee. Hubert Humphrey D-Minn., who was managing the bill, looked to Sen. Dirksen, R-Ill., to garner the remaining 20 Republican votes that were needed to get the bill passed. To entice Dirksen’s support for the bill, Humphrey compromised on a single issue; they agreed that the government would only sue in cases involving a pattern or practice of discrimination.

Toward the beginning of the 1964 debate, Sen. Dirksen, in an attempt to rally support for the Act, declared, "I come of immigrant German stock. My mother stood on Ellis Island as a child of 17, with a tag around her neck directing that she be sent to Pekin, Illinois. Our family had opportunities in Illinois, and the essence of what we're trying to do in the civil rights bill is to see that others have opportunities in this country." Today these words resonate with the many undocumented immigrants whose plight will be determined by Congress’s decisions.

When the Senate debate began, the Southerners—led by Richard Russell, D-Georgia, staged their expected filibusters, a familiar tactic they had used to weaken previous civil rights bills. With the recommendation of then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, the bill’s advocates were determined to outlast the Southern filibuster, and they did. On June 10, 1964, sixty Senators voted to shut off debate and on June 19 the Senate passed the civil rights bill with a 73-27 vote. On July 2, 1964, the House-Senate conference committee voted to accept the Senate version of the bill. During that same day President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the East Room of the White House.

Today, Congress faces an important test. Despite the Senate's failure to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform and the angry anti-immigrant and nativist posturing that dominated the debate, Congress has an obligation to take up this issue once more. To fail to make progress on any bill this year represents a victory for America at its worst. Forty years from today, which politicians will be remembered for their courage, and which will be remembered for obstructing a movement towards justice? Millions of immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members should not have to wait. What matters most now is that despite our losses in the Senate, the immigrant rights movement will continue, and that in this case as in the past, justice will prevail.

Monday, July 09, 2007

books on central america

Thanks to everyone who sent recommendations and syllabi for an
introductory course on Central America

General history:

A Brief History of Central America by Hector Perez-Brignoli

Inside the Volcano by Frederick Weaver

Central America: A Nation Divided by Ralph Lee Woodward

Tommie Sue Montgomery �Revolution in El Salvador�

Jeffery M. Paige �Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of
Democracy in Central America�

Political Economy/ Inequality

Between Earthquakes and Volcanos by Carlos Vilas

Land, Power, and Poverty: Agrarian Transforamtion and Political
Conflict in Central America by Charles Brockett

Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion and Change by
John Booth, et al

Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in
Hondurasa nd the US by John Soluri

Don't be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart by Elvia

Panama's Poor: Victims, Agents, and History Makers by Gloria Rudolf


The El Mozote Massacre by Leigh Binford

One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta

Blood of Brothers by Stephen Kinzer

Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in
Guatemala by Daniel Wilkinson

Paradise in Ashes by Beatriz Manz


Seeing Indians: A Study of Race, Nation, and Power in El Salvador by
Virginia Tilley

Shipwrecked Identities: Navigating Race on Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast
by Baron Pineda

Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an Afro-Nicaraguan
Community by Edmund Gordon

Mas Que un Indio: Racial Ambivalence and Neoliberal Multiculturalism in
Guatemala by Charles Hale

A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala by
Diane Nelson

I Won't Stay Indian, I'll Keep Studying: Race, Place, and
Discrimination in a Costa Rican High School by Karen Stocker

Ethnicity at Work by Philippe Bourgois

Gender in Post-Revolutionary Central America

After the Revolution: Gender and Democracy in El Salvador, Nicaragua
and Guatemala by Ilja Luciak

After Revolution: Mapping Gender and Cultural Politics in Neoliberal
Nicaragua by Florence Babb

Life is Hard by Roger Lancaster

>From Revolution to the Maquiladora: Gender, Labor, and Globalization
by Jennfer Bickham-Mendez

Hear My Testimony" Maria Teresa Tula Human Rights Activist of El
Salvador by Lynn Stephen

Country under my Skin by Giocconda Belli


N. Hamilton and N. Stoltz Chinchilla, Seeking Community:
Salvadorans and Guatemalan in Los Angeles

Beth Baker Cristales, Salvadoran Migration to Southern

Cecilia Menjivar, Fragmented Ties: Salvadoran Immigrant Networks in
America, California, 2000

Sarah Mahler, American Dreaming: Immigrant Life on the
Margins, Princeton, 1995

Susan Bibler Coutin, Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran
Immigrants' Struggle for U.S. Residency

Terry A. Repak, Waiting on Washington: Central American
Workers in the Nation's Capital

Jacqueline Maria Hagan, Deciding to Be Legal: A Maya
Community in Houston

Nancy J. Wellmeier, Ritual Identity and the Mayan Diaspora,
Garland Publishers, 1998.

Allan Burns, Maya in Exile: Guatemalans in Florida, Temple,

Norita Vlach, The Flight of the Quetzal: Guatemalan
Refugee Families in the United States

Andrew Morrison and Rachel A. May, Escape from Terror:
Violence and Migration in Post-Revolutionary Guatemala

Dianne Walta Hart, Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant's
Story, Scholarly Resources, 1997

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Domestica: Immigrant Workers
Cleaning and Caring in the Shadow of Affluence. U of California Press,

The Tattooed Soldier by Hector Tobar

Voices from Exile by Victory Montejo

Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America by Walter has an "expiration date" in that it's a 1993 book, but
it's very good and thorough.

On Nicaragua, we've just reissued Stephen Kinzer's Blood of Brothers
(available from Harvard University Press). Also, by the same author,
Bitter Fruit, also available from Harvard University Press-on Guatemala.
Both books are written in journalistic style, although academically
substantial, and work very well with undergraduates.

The most wonderful read is:

The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War by Greg

Disappeared, A Journalist Silenced, by June Erlick

Edelman, Marc. Peasants Against Globalization: Rural Social Movements
in Costa Rica. Stanford University Press, 1999.

Green, Linda. Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala.
Columbia University Press, 1999.

Lauria-Santiago, Aldo, and Aviva Chomsky, eds. Identity and Struggle
at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central
America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Duke University Press, 1998.

Robinson, William I. Transnational Conflicts: Central America, Social
Change, and Globalization. Verso, 2003, chaps. 3-5.

Nick Cullathers. Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its
Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954

Well-received. Primary source documents are the basis of
this book,

Epica. Ten Plagues of Globalization

Students with little or no background found this helpful.
Others found it too simple.

Juan Gonzalez. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

A good study of recent immigrants.

Other novels/stories ... Jacinta Escudos, "Pequeña biografía de un
indeseable" is very pointed short story about the life of contemporary
street criminal in urban Ctrl Am; it may be available in transl. Sergio
Ramirez has good short stories on imperialism, political repression, and
such in his collection in English Charles Atlas También Muere ("To
Jackie with All Our Heart" is a particularly good choice on elite

Claribel Alegría has novels & testimonial lit on the 1930s and 1980s
uprisings/wars in El Salv (in English) -- Ashes from Izalco and They'll
Never Catch Me Alive are well-known. For colonial snapshots in fiction,
I like Tatiana Lobo's Assault on Paradise (much, much more nuanced
than the title suggests). For a sexual/political romp through the last 30
years in Nicaragua, you can't get a much better read than Gioconda
Belli's The Country Under My Skin, her memoir of the Nica Rev.

Women and Guerrilla Movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba
(2002, Penn State University Press)

Feminism and the Legacy of Revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas
(2004, Ohio Univerity Press)

Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right (co-edited with Victoria
Gonzalez, 2001, Penn State) 6 of the 10 chapters are on Nicaragua, El
Salvador and/or Guatemala

Gould, Jeffrey L. To Lead as Equals: Rural Protest and Political
Consciousness in Chinandega, Nicaragua, 1912-1979. Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1990.

Gould, Jeffrey L. To Die in This Way: Nicaraguan Indians and the Myth
of Mestizaje, 1880-1965. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

Dore, Elizabeth. Myths of Modernity: Peonage and Patriarchy in
Nicaragua. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. [Also, Dore has a number of
excellent articles on gender and class in late-19th century Nicaragua
that might be good to use instead of her monograph. See, in particular,
Dore, Elizabeth. "Patriarchy from Above, Patriarchy from Below: Debt
Peonage on Nicaraguan Coffee Estates, 1870-1930." In The Global Coffee
Economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989, edited by William
Gervace Clarence-Smith and Steven Topik, 209-35. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003.]

Schroeder, Michael J. "Horse Thieves to Rebels to Dogs: Political Gang
Violence and the State in the Western Segovias, Nicaragua, in the Time
of Sandino, 1926-1934." Journal of Latin American Studies 28 (1996):

Schroeder, Michael J. "The Sandino Rebellion Revisited: Civil War,
Imperialism, Popular Nationalism, and State Formation Muddied Up Together
in the Segovias of Nicaragua, 1926-1934." In Close Encounters of Empire:
Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations, edited
by Gilbert M. Joseph, Catherine C. LeGrand, and Ricardo D. Salvatore,
208-68. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

Gobat, Michel. Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua Under U.S.
Imperial Rule. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Hooker, Juliet. "'Beloved Enemies': Race and Official Mestizo
Nationalism in Nicaragua." Latin American Research Review 40, no. 3 (October
2005): 14-39.

Charlip, Julie A. Cultivating Coffee: The Farmers of Carazo, Nicaragua,
1880-1930. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003.