bloggin' all things brownsville

Thursday, July 3, 2008

'DHS Walking on Thin Ice'

"If you are reading this, I encourage you to ask yourself what more you would be doing on this issue if you had no fear." - John Moore

John Moore, pictured above and contributor to the Web site Nonviolent Migration: Opening Borders Through Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, submitted the following comment. Moore is an English teacher at Raul A. Besteiro Middle School who participates in the Teach for America and Americorps programs. Moore begins law school in the fall at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study immigration law. Moore is a veteran of the U.S. Army who was previously stationed in El Paso, Texas.


Congress has mandated DHS to build 370 miles of fencing before 12/31/2008. Congress has not stipulated which 370 miles, nor has Congress burdened the City of Brownsville with the deadline. The onus is on DHS to get it done on time, not on Brownsville.

I truly believe that if we put up the hardest fight, DHS will go somewhere else. And if they don't, DHS will be held responsible, not us. Judge Hanen said this week, "I'm not going to hold DHS in contempt, but..." and we all know what that means. DHS was a hair's breadth away from being held in contempt and they are still walking on thin ice.

From the top to the bottom, this fight takes individual courage in whatever sphere of influence we have. Judge Hanen is holding DHS responsible for it's lawlessness (quite a growth since his first rulings), which takes courage. The city commission voted to table the issue, which takes courage. It takes courage for homeowners along the levee to tell the city commission about their homes and families, like the woman from La Moria. And if I can laugh at myself a bit, sometimes it takes courage to walk past the "Beware of Dog" sign in search of a signature on the Texas Border Coalition Affidavit (I was bit by a dog last year and haven't been the same since). If you are reading this, I encourage you to ask yourself what more you would be doing on this issue if you had no fear. And that's only fair, since it takes courage for the monolingual Ohio native who was raised by racist parents to accept the fact that their new dark-skinned, Spanish-speaking neighbors aren't there to do any harm, even if they did overstay a visa or swim across the river (despite what DHS and CNN tells them).

I commend the commissioners for allowing public comments prior to voting (regardless of the issue or your position, that is a huge win for democracy), and for tabling the issue even though powerful, monied interests were pushing them hard to make this deal with DHS.

-John Moore


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Judge Hanen is holding DHS responsible for it's lawlessness"

Let me first admit to being a total obsessive nutcase about this, but it's not it's. It's its.

Come on, Mr. Moore. You're obviously a highly-educated guy, or you wouldn't have been recruited by TFA. Your thoughts are powerful, but they're potentially undermined by sloppy writing.

Ms. Manners

Thursday, July 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thursday, July 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

john moore, thank you for the eloquence in your writting.
i admire you for taking a stand againT ANY GOLIATH THAT wants to abuse power.

Mr. Chertoff is abusing the power that we entrusted him and the precident.

there are 3 ways anyone can sin:
by though, by action and by omition, and the people that do nothing are as guilty FOR NOT TAKING A STAND!!

jHoN mOoRe I aDmiRe You, and tank you on behalf of the lady that was crying because she was affraid to loose her home and the govt was only going to reimburse her for land with NO REGARDS TO THE VALUE OF HER HOME....
aGaIn MaNy ThAnKs
p.s. ms. maners left some mistaker for the total obSesSiVe NuTcAsES :b

Thursday, July 03, 2008  
Blogger BobbyWC said...

I help adults prepare for the grammar part of the Compass Test - it is a college placement test. I have had several students who cannot see the grammatical mistakes in the sentence because when they read the sentence they automatically read it with the correction. Their brain automatically puts in the correction so they do not see the mistake.

I know the difference between its and it's (it is). I just do not always see it because when I read for substance my brain automatically makes all of the corrections.

The clerk of a late Surpeme Court Justice told the story at the justice's funeral that he was nearly fired when he complained the justice's grammar and structure was so bad he could not understand the substance of what the justice was trying to communicate in his draft opinion. the clerk went on to say that the justice told him that if he could not read through the form and understand the substance then he was probably not qualified to clerk at the Supreme Court.

The mind processes information differenly for different people. When I type my mind is on part D while I am still typing part A. My first two edits are for substance. By the third round I all see is substance. When I read my own work I never see words or commas, I see substance. It is how my brain works. I am a lousy editor of my own work.

I will make a deal with Ms. Manners - I will not judge you for reading commas instead of substance, and you will not judge me for reading substance instead of commas.

John - when you get to law school -you will quickly learn Supreme Court Justices, before computer based grammar checks, were notorious for their bad writing. Some of the greatest minds on the court were comma challenged.

John when dealing with certain clients, opposing counsel, and judges you will learn trying to reason with obsessive compulsives, who are bipolar and rolled up on the floor with a tipped over glass of cheap scotch is the definition of futility.

Do not mind the grammar and structure of the great minds who have served on the supreme court - they did not mind - they cared about getting to the higher intellectual challenges of the day - like substantive due process, and liberty - something the ms manners of the world never think about because they are stuck on its or it's.

Oh, the movie Hancock is pretty good - again it has the one male butt scene which is the standard for the summer

Bobby WC

Thursday, July 03, 2008  
Anonymous John Mooore said...

Ms. Manners,

Thanks for the correction. Unfortunately, I was too busy skipping school back when I was supposed to be learning the difference between its and it's. By the time I got serious, I was in college, and they just don't teach this stuff in college--they expect you to know it already. And although I do know the difference, because I didn't learn it in the proper place and time, I have to willfuly remember that rule when typing. If I don't slow down to think about how it goes, I have a 50/50 shot. I want to be a better writer, I really do, but like Bobby WC, my mind is usually well past my writing and I'm just trying to keep up before I forget what I was thinking.

And as long as we're on the subject of grammar, can we all make a pledge never to say "illegals?" Illegal is an adjective, not a noun, and adjectives can't be made plural (in English). The more important point, of course, is that by calling someone an adjective, we also dehumanize them. I haven't heard it around here, but I think not letting people use the non-word "illegals" without correcting them is really a simple way that we can lead angry discussions back towards civility and reintroduce the human into inhumane discourse. That is really what our new heroine from La Moria did that all the eloquence in the world could not. So let's do our best to make sure that people like her are neither silenced nor forgotten.

Thursday, July 03, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Moore WHEN is the new City Commissioners meeting?

Friday, July 04, 2008  
Anonymous Ala Bama said...

Unfotunatley Mr. Moore and the other Anti-wall protesters are wrong. When the feds decide they are going to take land, they typically don't back down. So we can do one of two things, deal or no deal. If we deal they may uphold their end of the bargain and reinforce the ley then maybe give us our land back when we are ready to develope. No deal- they take our land, erect an 18 foot fence and never give it back. Mr. Moore, I want to ask you and the rest of the activists this: If you all force the commissioners to fight through threats of voting them out of office and the DHS comes in and takes our land and builds a hideous fence, will you and all the others who went to that City Commission meeting go to the next one and accept responcibility for your threats to them and your actions, or will you find another reason to blame them?

Saturday, July 05, 2008  
Blogger BobbyWC said...

This is not why I came to post - but to the above poster - your argument is old and familiar - it is always the argument of those who seek surrender - better to surrender on friendly terms than be defeated. I think the Japanese and Germans did a lot better under the terms of total defeat than they would have done under surrender. Judge Hanen will hold them to a movable wall as the worse thing which can happen to Brownsville.

WHY I AM POSTING: today on CSPAN I saw an interview of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. )Harvard Law) If this is all I knew about the man, I would say - kind of nice and kind of cool - what a puzzle when compared to his opinions.

ANYWAY - Scalia joked about how his dad, a professor or Romance languages, would take his opinions and correct the grammer.

Just something worth noting.

BObby WC

Saturday, July 05, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 Ala Bama...
The elected (by the people) saw ALL the people NOT WILLING TO MAKE A DEAL.
What more does the commission WANT.
I STILL SAY if any one of the commisioners has conflict of interest (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) THEN THEY SHOULD ABSTAIN from voting.

Some Commissioners MIGHT presently as attys BE WORKING WITH THE FEDS/DHS, some Comissioners might be EMPLOYESS OF dhs/FED Employees per se, and some commissioners might have conflit of interests, THEY THEY WITH ALL INTERGRITY SHOULD ABSTAIN FROM VOTING....

Saturday, July 05, 2008  
Anonymous John Moore said...


I have a friend from Alabama. She has been arrested 54 times, starting at age 7, for refusing to give up her seat in the white section of the public bus.

If you think that ordinary people are helpless to the power of government, then you've already lost. Government is helpless to the power of ordinary people when they act selflessly, collectively, and with principle.

Saturday, July 05, 2008  
Blogger The Merovingian said...

John Moore said...

Government is helpless to the power of ordinary people when they act selflessly, collectively, and with principle.



Sunday, July 06, 2008  
Blogger Kurgan said...


Off topic, but Germany? Maybe.

Japan? BW, they made out like bandits.


Sunday, July 06, 2008  
Blogger Randy said...

An alternative: instead of building a temporary or a permanent wall, how about bringing down 1000 border patrol. They could form a human wall. They would have to stay on the levees, follow the rules (no patrolling in Sunrise Mall), but they would be allowed to hire undocumented poor women as maids and childcare workers (like everyone else around here does). Of course, after the change of government in January 2009, they would have to move to Buffalo New York to fight terrorists coming from Canada.

Sunday, July 06, 2008  
Anonymous John Moore said...

The cheapest and easiest way to secure the border is to make it easier to come across it legally.
The current Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke, appointed by Republican President George Bush, has said that our economy demands dramatically higher levels of immigration if we are to maintain Social Security. Based on the relatively low number of young people in the United States, the huge number of retirees on the horizon, and longer life expectancy, we are faced with three choices (assuming we want to save the time of life we call retirement). First, we could increase the retirement age from 65 to 75 or even 80, thus decreasing the number of people who get to retire and the number of years that the fortunate receive retirement. Second, we could cut the ammount retirees receive, but it would have to be a drastic cut (more than half). Or the third option--and this is all according to our nation's chief economist, is to triple or quadruple the level of legal immigration. Now it is important to note that Bernanke didn't recommend increasing the level of legal immigration; he said that given the political climate, that wasn't realistic. No, he was arguing for some combination of the other two options. But from a purely number's point of view, we need a dramatic increase in legal immigration. That's because our aging demographics require more workers now, not 20 years from now, and producing a worker now is not something a mother and father can do, but an immigrant can.

Coincidentally, the levels Bernanke says would be ideal if the political climate allowed it (meaning if we weren't so racist and xenephobic), is right about where we'd be if we just allowed all those illegal immigrants to be legal immigrants. Our laws make them illegal, we need them to be legal, why don't we just change our laws?

The last Fed chief, Alan Greenspan, appointed by another Republican President, Ronald Regan, also said we needed to stop making immigrants illegal, that we need them in our regular labor market, and that we would eventually find ourselves in a real tight place economically. Well, that was ten years ago, and here we are. Now what?

So what does that have to do with border security? Well, the easiest way to find a needle in a haystack is to remove the hay. If we let those who are here to help us come out from "under the bridge," to quote our local funny man (he can't be serious, can he?? I think he's Brownsville's version of Stephen Colbert), and cross through legal channels, then Border Patrol can actually do it's job in keeping us safe. If the only people who can't cross at a port of entry are murders and drug dealers, then the only ones who would cross illegally would be murders and drug dealers. (Immagine being a BP officer, knowing that every illegal crosser was not just breaking the law, but was dangerous and wanted to do us harm. Now imagine that there were 90% less crossers. Isn't this the job you want to have as a BP officer?) Whatever our criteria, if we exclude it, then the pool of illegal crossers will include people who fail to meet that criteria. Right now, with a 15 year backlog on visas from Mexico, we have people who can't wait 15 years crossing illegally. If we changed that to a 15 week process, with a guarantee approval for those who meet a basic set of criteria, then we dramatically reduce the number of illegal crossers, thus dramatically increasing the effectiveness of the Border Patrol agents we already have.

People need to stop thinking with the either/or mentality and adopt the both/and mentality of multiculturalism. Just as Mayor Ahumada said that he isn't forced to make a choice between his U.S. father and his Mexican mother, we are not forced to choose between liberty and security. That is why Benjamin Franklin said those that would sacrifice the first for the second will have neither--because you cannot have the second without the first. They are not at odds with each other, they are dependent on each other.

Monday, July 07, 2008  
Blogger BobbyWC said...

I am very disappointed in the GRAMMAR police. I thought I would have some fun, but I guess not.

Monday, July 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Moore, any relationship to Col. Moore??

Monday, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Kurgan said...


Mr. Moore is correct in his assertion that we need to revisit how we lok at legal and illegal immigration.

There is little hope that our current policy, wall or no wall, will work. It never has, so why do we think it will somehow now?

99.9% of the people coming accross illegally want to do two things: work and take the earnings back to Mexico.

The trap they are in is: how exactly does someone looking for work prove economic solvency when applying for their visa?

If we currently grant approximately 600K H-2B visa's now, why can't we start the expansion to the 6 million a year we need?


Monday, July 07, 2008  
Anonymous Matthew said...

Brother John, and all who have added to this public discussion - THANK YOU.

I know this is a stressful time for us all, as DHS ratchets up the pressure and the City Commissioner's deliberate over a tough decision which will affect Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley, la frontera entera, and the entire U.S., not to mention the world. I applaud all of you continuing to oppose the injustice of a border wall; do not give up hope.

That said, I also want to encourage everyone to keep portraying a positive message. If our resistance is not positive, if our publicity is not respectful and focused and nonviolent, then the focus will be on our negativity and our methods rather than on the injustice of a border wall through people's homes and lives. If we do not stay united and show DHS, our city leadership, and the entire nation that we are unified against a border wall, then we appear to be simply some people squabbling and fighting petty battles in a place far away. However, if we can stay together and remain positive now, at the breaking point, when the pressure is fiercest and the odds seem overwhelming, if we can stay true to the Truth and resist in love, then we can still rally the nation behind our just cause.

It is my prayer that we may remain strong as we hold on to the Truth in love. Every single one of you, and the Valley we call home, are in my thoughts and prayers in this hot July.

Monday, July 07, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...


I accidentally rejected you comment where you said you were of no relation to Col. Moore.


Monday, July 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moore is an English teacher at Raul A. Besteiro Middle School - So we should forgive his grammar?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of us are AttYies, some of us are writters, and some of us are bloggers.
We are human, and one of the commandments is to help your fellow man, constructive critizism is accepted, but we are human never the less.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which commandment?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


and here

but what about the wall??

Saturday, July 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points by John and Bobby. As a native of Brownsville now living in the Houston area, it is great to see that there are still people willing to fight against injustices and do it in a civil manner in my hometown. To go back to John's point about immigration being vital to the economy....the people that come from Mexico looking to send money back home still spend considerably amounts of money while here paying rent and spending money on gas, groceries and utilities. Also, a lot of them use a "bought/borrowed" social security number so they can work. Yes, they somehow manage to file their income taxes and maybe collect some refund money...but that means that they were paying income taxes on their earnings just like the rest of us and the US government was able to use their money interest free. More importantly, but a point that is often overlooked, many of these people pay social security taxes on these "bought/borrowed" numbers that they never cash in as many end up returning back to Mexico after they have built a comfortable living in Mexico. So they add to our social security funds without burdening them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008  

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