Open Letter to President Barack Obama

July 21, 2009 at

Los Angeles, California. United States. January 21, 2009.

Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D. C. 20500

Issue: A comprehensive, just and humane legalization for all immigrant workers

Mr. President:

The members of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB) respectfully address you as immigrant workers who live and work in the United States of America and also as indigenous peoples who decided to stay in our hometowns in Mexico, but who have strong links with our relatives that have migrated.

The FIOB is an indigenous organization with membership on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Our mission is to contribute to the development and self determination of the indigenous communities, both the ones that have migrated and the ones in the hometown communities. We also work in both countries in defense of the human rights, with justice and gender equality.

The FIOB struggles to be a strong, proactive, and self sufficient organization, both in the sending communities and the destinations where we establish our new homes.

For more than 17 years, we have worked in the State of California where we support our indigenous brothers and sisters that come to this country from Mexico and Central America. We provide them with information that helps them to integrate into this society and to successfully face the new laws and cultural challenges such as the language, customs, way of life and philosophy which are different from our culture and traditions.

We are sending this letter to congratulate you for becoming the new President of the United States of America. Many members of FIOB also contributed with our “granito de arena” to the past electoral victory. We wish the best for you to accomplish your presidential duties.

We know that this nation faces great challenges and urgent matters that need to be solved at national and international levels. Nonetheless, we urge you to consider the following:

That you take immediate executive action on the following:

1. To stop the ICE raids in immigrant communities throughout the country and to declare a moratorium on them until the different levels of the government agree on a comprehensive, just and humane immigration reform.

2. To overturn the decision made by the former administration which canceled the rights of the migrant workers who were in the process of acquiring their legal status but due to errors made by the immigration consultants lost their right to appeal.

3. We ask for a humane solution in the case of Flor Crisóstomo, who lives in a Sanctuary in Chicago. She represents thousands of immigrant workers who don’t deserve to be deported and have the right to live with freedom in this country.

4. To stop the emission of the “no-match letters” sent to employers requiring them to fire workers whose Social Security Number does not match their identities through a process of electronic verification.

5. Implementation of new policies in the Homeland Security Department that promote a culture of professionalism, with respect to the rights and dignity of all migrants and our families.

6. To stop the construction of the fence in the Mexico-USA border that was begun after the economic recession. The wall has not being able to deter the people from crossing, but on the contrary, in 2008 approximately one-thousand undocumented people have died.

7. To refuse the entry to the United States of all Mexican officials at the local, state and federal levels who have been accused of repression and violations of human rights as in the case of the governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, who faced a popular social movement against him in 2006.

8. To make sure that the funds aimed at the Plan Merida are not spent against social movements, indigenous organizations, unions or other progressive forces that stand for civil rights, and to guarantee that this funding goes to fight organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico.

Long term issues:

1. In the two first years of your first term, to work along with the US Congress to agree on a comprehensive, just and humane immigration bill, based on family values as a way to solve the serious problems that immigrants suffer in this country.

2. “NO” to the Guest Worker Program, Bracero Program, or any other proposal of this kind unless it guarantees the respect of human, labor and the full rights and benefits of the immigrants, as well as the rest of the American workers.

3. To eliminate sanctions to those employers hiring undocumented people as a desperate measure to face the current economic recession. In the last 20 years this enforcement has not been effective.

4. The United States should recognize and sign international treaties such as the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and Independent Countries.

5. The Unites States must recognize and sign the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, among other international laws that protect the Universal Rights.

6. We ask you, President Obama, to fulfill your campaign proposals regarding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because in the 14 years of its implementation, it has failed to accomplish its goals. Specifically, we ask that respect for the workers’ human and labor rights be guaranteed, the protection of the environment and the right to the free circulation of people in the countries involved.

We will pay close attention to the measures that your administration will adopt. We hope that the change you mentioned so many times during your campaign will be implemented and that the achievements of your important work will also benefit all of us who work and live in this great country, the United States of America. We highlight the issues stated above in regards to a migration policy that reflects a concern for human values.

“For the Respect of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples”

Dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado
General Coordinator

Odilia Romero-Hernandez
Women Issues Coordinator

José González
California State Coordinator

Nayamín Martínez-Cossio
Women Coordinator in California

Jesús Estrada-Velasco
Regional Coordinador in Santa Barbara

Galdino Estevez
Fresno Coordinator

Juan Santiago
Madera Coordinador

Lorenzo Oropeza
Regional Coordinator in Santa Rosa

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