Saturday, November 15, 2014

Native Legislator Ponka-We Victors Turns Tables at Immigration Hearing in Kansas

Ponka-We Victors on Illigal Immigrants 

Ponka-We Victors on Illigal Immigrants

 This has gone viral.  As it should. We, too, in Texas have to fight back every legislative session attempts to repeal HB 1403, Texas' tuition-waiver legislation passed in 2001 with Rick Perry as governor.  Here's a bit of legislative history.

HB 1403 was passed as a workforce development bill and ours was the first state in the nation to pass this legislation. California followed suit with AB 540, and now there are at least 17 states nationwide that have provisions that allow for in-state tuition rates for undocumented, immigrant youth. This effort is mirrored at the national level with he Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors—better known as the DREAM Act.  Authored by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, the federal DREAM Act was subsequently first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001.

House Bill 1403 (or the "Texas DREAM Act") was signed into law on June 16, 2001 effective immediately.  So far our community has successfully mobilized against right-wing attempts to abolish it in Texas.  Every session nevertheless presents a new set of challenges.

A quote by Civil Rights leader Cesar Chavez is applicable here that actually helps to explain the animus against the DREAM Act:
César Chávez
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.

Cesar Chavez
Address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Nov. 9, 1984

The story here also illustrates the power of pointed, honest rhetoric. Happy Saturday, friends.



 Native Legislator Ponka-We Victors Turns Tables at Immigration Hearing in Kansas

A remark about immigration made by a Native State Representative at a hearing in the Kansas House of Representatives has attracted the attention of major media -- and yet to many Natives, it's merely the plainest of facts.

The hearing concerned the legality of offering children of illegal immigrants to pay the in-state tuition rate to attend universities and community colleges in Kansas. The Legislature was seeking to overturn a statute that has been on the books for nearly a decade -- a Topeka Capital-Journal story described the effort as an "annual attempt." 

Ponka-We Victors (D-Wichita), a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and the Tohono O'odham Nation, and the only American Indian in the Kansas State Legislature, offered her reading of the situation to Kris Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State.

"I think it’s funny Mr. Kobach, because when you mention illegal immigrant, I think of all of you," Victors said, prompting cheers from the gallery, described by the Capital-Journal as "heavily pro-immigrant." Rep. Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe) the chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, felt moved to tell the room, "Please don't do that."

The encounter takes on added significance when one considers the man Victors was addressing. Kris Kobach is known around the country as an anti-immigration hawk, and had a hand in such controversial measures as Arizona's SB 1070. As Mother Jones puts it, "if there's a controversial new anti-immigration law that's captured national attention, chances are that it has Kris Kobach's imprimatur."

The moment was encapsulated with the image below (note that it borrows the upraised hand and feather from Idle No More posters) which has been heavily shared on social media:


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