Town Hall on Immigration Law

UNM Law Professor Margaret Montoya recently moderated a town hall on immigration law. The featured speaker was Thomas Saenz, president and general council for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Panelists included NM State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, Marcela Diaz of Somos un Pueblo Unido, and David Urias of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan.

Saenz started off with a statement against SB 1070, noting that “our status as an independent nation is tied to immigration.” He added that one of the grievances colonists had against Great Britain’s King George was that he discouraged immigration to the colonies. So, immigration has been a topic since the US was a colony.

Saenz said that the federal government set a “uniform rule of naturalization.” The constitution assigns rule about associations with foreign countries and therefore only the feds can regulate immigration.

“To be a single united nation we have to recognize teh federal status of establishing, defining and enacting immigration policy,” he said.

We face a constitutional crisis, Saenz said, because too many officials — such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer – have publicly made clear their intention to defy federal law regarding immigration. SB 1070 charges Arizona law enforcement to determine legal status when faced with “reasonable suspicion” about a person’s documents or status.

This is a burden on state and local law enforcement because they don’t have the training provided to federal law enforcement. It also means that every contact with a citizen — whether a possible criminal, witness or victim — requires them to verify immigration status. They are “mandated” to engage in racial profiling. It makes it a crime to be undocumented in Arizona and permits law enforcement to arrest anyone viewed as a possible undocumented immigrant to be arrested.

“Brown vs. the Board of Education is assaulted by SB 1070,” he said.

The Bill of Rights is assaulted by SB 1070, as well. Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, directly contradicts the Supreme Court under amendment fourteen, which states that public school enrollment cannot be denied based on immigration status.

“He wants to charge immigrants tuition to public schools,” Saenz said.

SB 1070 also attempts to regulate employment by making it illegal to solicit work. It violates the immigrants’ right to free speech. “This violates two centuries of constitutional law,” Saenz said.

“There is supremacy of the constitution. Federal law overrides state law as an obstacle,” he said.

He also wants to change the right to citizenship – make it difficult for undocumented parents to get citizenship papers for children born in Arizona. “This creates a class of stateless people in the world,” Saenz said.

This isn’t the first time a governor has defied federal law. We can recall Alabama Gov. George Wallace,  best known for his Southern populist, pro-segregation attitudes during America’s desegregation period.  He defied policy set by the constitution and the Supreme Court to wipe out desegregation.

Such acts earn people like Brewer and Wallace the title of “nullifiers,” Saenz said. “They nullify policy made by the Supreme Court. They seek to nullify principles of our constitution, whether it’s with regard to amendments established 28 years ago or the constitution itself, which has been around for 223 years. They seek to push us back to a time when we were not a single, unified nation,” he said.

He added that they are repeat offender “unconstitutionals” in their attempts to change longstanding U.S. principles.

Only in coming together across the nation can we avert this crisis. As a country we must come together to battle against the constitutional assault taking place in Arizona, he said.

Pretty good food for thought, I’m thinking. I agreed with him completely, as did Richard Schaefer, UNM Communication & Journalism associate professor, and a co-founder of the Cross-Border Issues Group.

Marcela Diaz, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, spoke a great deal about immigration enforcement’s impact on families, which is what her organization is engaged in. She said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) already has a presence in many jails — including in the Prisoner Transport Center here in Albuquerque — and that U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano plans to have ICE in all jails by 2013. Between 60 and 70 percent of undocumented persons in jail have no criminal record and another small portion have only small crimes.

Diaz said that under the guise of the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which is supposed to focus on identifying criminal aliens to ensure that they are not released into the community by securing a final order of removal — deportation — prior to the termination of their sentence. The ICE website says that “identification and processing of incarcerated criminal aliens prior to release reduces the overall cost and burden to the federal government as the number of aliens detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), upon expiration of sentence will be minimized.” What is being played out is that everyone who is arrested is fingerprinted and if a person’s fingerprints are in the system, there is an assumed criminal guilt and they are deported.

It may reduce federal costs, but Diaz pointed out that counties pick up the cost for longer detentions. She said, “Santa Fe kicked ICE out of the jail and Taos is trying to. Community members in Roswell are combating it and there is resistance in Portales, as well.”

Diaz spoke about 287(g) programs. The ICE website states, “The 287(g) program, one of ICE’s top partnership initiatives, allows a state and local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions. The 287(g) program has emerged as one of the agency’s most successful and popular partnership initiatives as more state and local leaders have come to understand how a shared approach to immigration enforcement can benefit their communities.”

Given what Saenz said about level of training and racial profiling that occurs when immigration enforcement is put into the hands of state and local agencies, I don’t think this is a particularly good partnership for communities. In fact, Diaz said that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio no longer has street level 287(g) powers although the program still exists in the jail.

Diaz said there is no 287(g) street enforcement in Albuquerque, either, but as I stated earlier, it is in the Prisoner Transport Center and the Metropolitan Detention Center, the local jail.

NM State Rep. Moe Maestas reminded everyone that securing borders is impossible, because “the history of mankind is immigration.” He said that there would be 25,000 proceedings per year in federal court to address the issue. “The federal judiciary would have to be doubled.”

He added that stepped up enforcement efforts are counter productive to public safety. “The police aren’t fighting crimes, and victims and witnesses become distrustful of law enforcement. Therefore, the public is less safe,” Maestas said.

Given the failure of tough immigration enforcement efforts to curb crime and their drain on scarce resources, Maestas says that the NM Senate must have “meaningful dialog” around these issues. He knows that driver licenses for undocumented workers, lottery scholarships for undocumented students, wage protection laws and policing will all be topics for discussion in the State Legislature come January.

Thomas Saenz called immigration a “wedge” issue. “It and tax are two policy issues that people don’t understand.” He added that many don’t understand why immigrants don’t “wait in line” for legal citizenship. “What they don’t get is that the line to citizenship can take 2 – 20 years depending upon a person’s country of origin.” It’s discriminatory.

Saenz called for a “full court press” on the DREAM Act, which offers a pathway to citizenship for those who graduate from college or serve in the military. Saenze noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture on the DREAM Act amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill. “We need federal laws that reflect the constitution. Our national values say we don’t punish a child for what his parents did. Public education benefits the general public, not just those receiving the education. We have a belief that those students will go on to higher education and contribute to our economy.”

By denying the DREAM Act, Saenz said, “We’re saying we value public education so little that we’re going to punish you and the general public.”

He encouraged all to let them know in Washington that supporting the DREAM Act is in all our best interest.


MRN Moving into Neurosystems Engineering

One of the more interesting developments on campus this year is the growth and change at The Mind Research Network.

Technically MRN is an independent non-profit entity, located in Pete and Nancy Domenici Hall on the UNM north campus.  However, work at MRN is closely entwined with the university community; it hosts professors, many of whom hold dual appointments in UNM departments such as electrical and computer engineering, and is a laboratory in which 20 graduate students work with researchers.  There are also more than 100 undergraduate students currently volunteer at MRN; these students work with a principal investigator throughout the academic year.

Last spring MRN hosted the “Domenici Neuroscience Symposium on Neuroscience for National Security”  in Washington.  The purpose was to raise the profile of MRN in Washington D.C. and to let the public know that MRN is now doing research in neurosystems engineering in addition to its research into brain disorders.  MRN drew a number of speakers from industry and research entities and showcased MRN researchers in a variety of areas.

UNM worked with MRN to produce audio recordings of the conference.  Here’s a great chance to hear about everything from the latest research in Traumatic Brain Injury to new training techniques that may allow soldiers to quickly identify threats.  Just putting together the audio lectures was a fascinating experience.  It made me want to learn more about work at MRN.

Neuroscience for National Security

Normally this kind of research is done by individuals at various institutions.  MRN is trying to concentrate a group of researchers working in neurosystems engineering.

Financially, things are going well at MRN.  The non-profit corporation has over $75 million in active awards, about $10 million in pending grants, and several active applications for grants in progress.  Research collaboration with organizations like MRN is what makes UNM a more interesting place to be and lots of fun to write about.

UNM Participates in World Voice Day

The UNM Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences participated in World Voice Day on April 16. It’s a day otolaryngologists – ear, nose and throat doctors – and other voice health professionals worldwide encourage people of all ages to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has sponsored the U.S. observance of World Voice Day since its inception in 2002.

World Voice Day 2010 had the theme, “Love Your Voice,” to remind people of the value and significance of vocal health in everyday life. The human voice holds emotional power and can elicit many feelings. Voice problems can arise from overuse or misuse, cancer, infection or injury. “We remind people that our voices require care to keep them healthy,” said Phyllis Palmer, associate professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences.

I went for the screening, not so much because I love the sound of my own voice, but because my voice changed following neck surgery two years ago. Since then, my voice is raspier, I have trouble projecting, I get spasms in my neck and I had to give up singing in church choir.

The screening involved a Vocal Behaviors Checklist, which asked about everything from alcohol and caffeine consumption – they dry out the vocal cords – to prolonged voice use, environmental irritants, and my favorite, “singing in an abusive manner.”

Another questionnaire reveals evidence of physiological, social and personal problems associated with voice issues. Apparently, my raspier voice hasn’t made me less vocal or minimized my socializing or willingness to talk, but it has impeded the ability for others to hear and understand me in noisy settings, I have to strain to project and sometimes have to repeat myself.

Then we got done to the nitty gritty. I had to say, “1, 2, 3eeeee,” holding the “e” as long as I could. Then I had to read a passage, sustain “s” and “z” sounds, all of which I completed with relative “eeeease.” Then I had to sustain the “ah” sound. I couldn’t hold it for anywhere near the duration of the previous sounds, and the raspy nature of my voice was revealed.

I had to sing “Happy Birthday,” in as high a pitch as possible. I sang it to Dr. Palmer, who doesn’t want to be a year older. My voice didn’t crack. I credit my choir director, David Ziems, with teaching me great breathing techniques that got me through that exercise.

Finally, I had to say “ah, ah, ah,” as many times as I could in 5 seconds. No problem. I met the average for a person of my age, which I won’t reveal here.

Dr. Palmer gave me a sheet with daily warm up exercises. I think those might help in particular with the spasms in my neck muscles. She told me that she thinks I can benefit from voice therapy, but before engaging in it, she wants me to go to an ENT for a “laryngeal visualization,” which means they’ll put a camera down my throat to look at my larynx to make sure there is nothing structurally wrong with it that could be exacerbated by therapy. I made an appointment with my primary care doctor to get the referral. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back in choir by fall!

Here are 10 simple but important tips on how to show your voice the affection it deserves:

Embrace hydration. Moisture is good for the voice, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated.

Kiss but don’t yell. Yelling or screaming is always bad for the voice, as it puts a lot of stress on the delicate lining of your vocal cords.

Hug a microphone when speaking in public. When you are called upon for public speaking, particularly in a large room or outdoors, use a microphone. The amplification allows you to speak at conversational pitch, yet reach the entire audience.

Warm up your voice by saying a few sweet nothings. Warming up the voice is not just for singers; it helps the speaking voice too. Doing simple things like lip or, tongue trills, or gliding up and down your range on different vowels, will help warm up your voice.

Always clear the air, but don’t clear your throat. Clearing your throat is like slapping or slamming the vocal cords together. Instead of clearing your throat, take a small sip of water or swallow to quench the urge.

Go ahead and look hot, but never smoke. Likely the single worst thing you can do for your voice is to smoke. It causes permanent damage to the vocal cord tissues and is the number 1 risk factor for cancer of the larynx (voice box).

Know what you’re feeling. When you are in a place with loud background noise, you don’t realize how loudly you may be talking. Pay attention to how your throat feels in these situations, because it will often feel raw or irritated before you notice the vocal strain you are causing.

Think good breath support, not just heavy breathing. Breath flow is the power source for voice. Don’t let your breath support run down before refilling your lungs and refueling your voice.

Be a good listener. If you hear your voice becoming hoarse when you are sick, be sure to rest it as much as possible. Pushing the voice when you have laryngitis can lead to more serious vocal problems.

Check it out. If your voice is persistently hoarse or not working well, be sure to seek evaluation by an otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon (ear, nose, and throat physician).

James P. Cramer Roundtable Discussion, UNM School of Architecture and Planning

(Crossposted at Carolyn’s Blog)

“While you can’t afford to be in denial about the recession, you don’t want to fully participate in it, either,” reminds DesignIntelligence Founding EditorJames P. Cramer. Cramer co-chairs the Design Futures Council, an interdisciplinary network of design, product, and construction leaders who explore global trends and challenges.

Cramer visited the UNM School of Architecture and Planning recently to lead a discussion around the theme “What Does the Future Look Like and What Are We Going to Do about It?” for  architects, planners and others. Roger Schluntz, dean of the school, invited local professionals from his Council for Design and Planning Excellence to participate.

“Short-term constructive paranoia is for the long-term good,” Cramer said. He indicated that architects and others will have to work harder in the next 10 years than the last 10 years. “Think of it,” he said, “The Yellow Pages, video stores, film cameras, checks, analog televisions and ash trees (because of the borer), have disappeared.”

Continue reading

We’re Almost Legit!

Sorry things have been so quiet around here y’all, but we’re busy working on finally integrating the UNM Underground blog into the new UNM News Hub (prototype is available here).  Of course this means we won’t be “Officially Unofficial” anymore, but we plan on cranking the production line back into shape once we’re over there!

In the meantime, let’s go Lobos! #3 seed in the East!

– Benson

Weathering the economic storm

The economic crisis could threaten the security of the tenure system, according to an article on Inside Higher Education today, “Layoffs Without ‘Financial Exigency.’” The article names two universities – Florida State and Clark Atlanta– that have already made or plan to make substantial cuts among tenured faculty, and policy changes in other university systems that may make it easier to lay off tenured professors.

Other colleges have made headlines over the past two years for planned faculty layoffs, including Arizona State, the University of California system, Florida State and Virginia Commonwealth. Others established mandatory furloughs.

UNM has been hit hard by the recession as well. While the hiring pause and other belt-tightening measures have helped stave off deeper cuts, many staff and faculty struggle to keep units running smoothly with less support.

Still, protecting the university’s academic mission has remained a top priority. Not only is UNM not laying off faculty, we’re growing it. As of this writing, 29 tenure or tenure-track faculty positions were posted on UNMJobs. In a faculty retirement incentive program under development, reserving those lines for tenure-track hiring has been a key point.

Of course, that things could be worse doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better.

While budget decisions may need to be made quickly, they should also be made strategically, avoiding quick fixes in favor those that will strengthen – or at least not damage – the long-term success of the university and its ability to serve students, patients and the community.

Submit your budget suggestions to the president’s cost containment Web site.

Water Utility Authority Deseves Credit for Thinking Ahead

It could have been a PR nightmare, but the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority prevented that from happening.  The Water Utility Authority was planning to close part of University Blvd. southbound early this week for construction, but after checking with the University decided to delay the closure until after the 14-thousand fans expected to pack the pit for the TCU game on Wednesday night cleared the area.

That means southbound University between Hazeldine and Basehart Road will narrow to a single lane on Thursday.  The construction is only supposed to last for one day.

Thanks to the Water Utility Authority for thinking ahead, and not trapping Lobo fans in a supersize traffic snarl.

Virtualizing a Supercomputer

Patrick Bridges, associate professor in the UNM Computer Sciences Department has completed an interesting experiment in collaboration with Peter Dinda, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University and his graduate student Jack Lange.  Their experiment was conducted on the Sandia National Labs supercomputer “Red Storm” and they are finding a way to make it easier for researchers to work with supercomputers.

Here’s a link to the UNM story.

Ellingboe Enchants Keller Crowd

I’ve known Brad Ellingboe for several years.  I’ve publicized the awards he’s received as a composer. I’ve pushed to garner some recognition for CDs his choirs have produced. I’ve watched him transform into a fundraiser so his students can travel to perform for national audiences, raise money to create a children’s opera, or help the university recognize 100 years of chorus at UNM.  He’s passionate about music, yes, but more so about students.

I knew he was a composer because year after year I publicized his ASCAP awards — he’s well-known as a composer and arranger of choral music.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers selects recipients based upon the “unique prestige value of each writer’s catalog of original compositions, as well as recent performances…” Brad was always on their radar, providing a catalog of works that was difficult to overlook. The choir at my church often performed his arrangements, and I enjoyed each one.

Brad is never anxious for personal recognition, but his accomplishments garner attention. What he did want, however, was for the arts to get some of the attention directed to athletics and others on campus. “We win all our concerts,” he tells me with a grin.

We moved from casual colleagues to friends as we chatted over coffee, talking about UNM and Santa Fe political situations.

Brad has been in UNM’s College of Fine Arts since 1985, where he is professor of music and director of choral activities. His duties include directing choirs, teaching private voice lessons and graduate choral conducting.

And yet I still hadn’t his voice raised in song. He said that he decided to perform solo in celebration of 25 years at UNM. Celebrating in this manner, he noted, was equivalent to “sticking a fork in my eye.” That’s Brad.

Brad occasionally brings by comp tickets after I’ve done some publicity work. In this case, it was for the UNM Concert Choir to have the funds to travel to Denver to perform for the prestigious American Choral Directors Association conference next month.

I got the tickets, but not much info, just Brad, bass-baritone, performing with Louise Bass, piano, and assisted by David Schepps, cello, and John Clark, piano.

I called my mom and we knew that it would be a rare opportunity to hear Brad sing. I’d seen him with a baton, heard him speak – always glibly into a microphone, but never heard him sing.

OK, I’m an idiot…we were a bit late, so we missed a bit, including Mozart’s “Per questa bella mano, K. 612,” and four numbers from Don Quichotte, a French libretto based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

I felt like the ship had departed without us, but we quickly got on board.  Next stop, Germany, where Brad shared “Vier ernste Gesänge,” or “Four Serious Songs,” by Johannes Brahms. I haven’t studied French or Italian (that Mozart number, mentioned above, was in Italian, not Mozart’s native language, German), but I’ve studied a bit of German. I’ve been to Germany and to Austria…and Brad took me there again, sailing on his notes, on his words.

Brahms’ songs are based on Biblical references, primarily Ecclesiastes and Corinthians. He eloquently and lyrically sang of “dust to dust,” and “the tears of the oppressed,” but I wasn’t truly understanding the German until “O Tod, o Tod, wie bitter bist du.” “Oh death, oh death. how bitter you are…”

But the Brahms number that caught me was from Corinthians because it was the same passage that was to be part of the service at my church this morning, but 2 Corinthians was read by mistake, but everyone knows this one…it’s read at weddings: “And now abides faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” To read the words, to hear the words is inspiring, but to hear them in song is divine. To hear Brad sing them…heavenly.

Brad moved to music that lives in his heart: The works of Edvard Grieg. Our ship landed in Norway. Brad once told me that he speaks a second language that is useless in New Mexico: Norwegian. Maybe it doesn’t come in handy too much here, but it is part of his heritage, he’s a Grieg scholar and even conducted Grieg’s work at Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall! The words flowed from his tongue, the music was a part of him. It didn’t matter if the audience knew what the words meant because the music spoke their intent.

Finally, Brad finished with some American favorites. We’d traveled to Europe and back. Now, instead of  landing on foreign soil, we were in a piano bar. The piano didn’t have the tinny sound of a cheap instrument pounded upon by many trying to “make it.” The air wasn’t thick with smoke and the clink of bar glasses didn’t punctuate the music, but I was in a bar. Where’s my rum and coke?? He could be Sinatra, or Johnny Mathis, for a moment maybe we were attending a Broadway debut.

When he finished, when the last note of “My Favorite Year” floated to the ceiling of Keller Hall, the audience rose to their feet. Brad and Clark, his pianist for the American songs, took their bows and exited the stage. They returned to the crowd’s delight. Their encore was Willie Nelson’s “You’re Always on my Mind.” He did Willie proud…and he wasn’t even stoned.

Brad’s wife Karen was sitting behind me. He sang that song for her. As we put on our coats to leave, she dabbed her eye with a tissue. Like the audience, even she wasn’t immune to the sentiment he offers through song.

UNM Anthropologist on National Geographic Channel

E. James Dixon Anthropology Professor and Director of the  Maxwell   Museum, Dr. James Dixon, is conducting exciting research exploring glaciers in Alaska to discover ancient frozen artifacts.  Some of his research was filmed last summer in Alaska and at the Maxwell for a segment of National Geographic Television’s “Naked Science: Surviving Ancient Alaska”.  The show will premier on national television on January 28, 2010, at 10 PM eastern standard time.  For an advanced video preview and photos go to: