Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 24, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Fighting Hispanic stereotypes


  • As immigration issues impact Hispanics legal and illegal, local Hispanic Republicans are developing a commercial they hope will fight Hispanic stereotypes. Creators of the "I Am A Proud American" Web site and commercial, Bettina Nave and Max Fose, join Michael Grant to talk about their campaign.
Guests:
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona attorney general


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, millions of veterans have their personal information stolen, in what is the second biggest theft of personal data ever. We'll talk to Arizona's attorney general about that. Then, a conversation with former senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley on the pitfalls of politics. And "I Am A Proud American." It's a website that tries to alter stereotypes people have about Hispanics, and encourages Latinos to register and vote, and become politically involved. Hear from one of the creators of the website who says she hopes the site is perceived as edgy and controversial all this next on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, thank you for joining us. I'm Michael Grant. The U.S. senate voted today to stop floor debates over immigration legislation and allow a bill to go for a vote in the next couple of days. The measure is expected to now move swiftly through the senate floor and then begin the arduous negotiations with the House of Representatives. The bill calls for tougher border patrol and a possible passage to citizenship for thousands of undocumented immigrants. Also this evening---the first wave of about 800 National Guard soldiers will head to the U.S.-Mexico border next week. The head of the national guard---lieutenant general Steven Blum, told lawmakers today 200 soldiers are preparing to go to each of the four border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. This is the first stage of president bush's plan to send up to 6 thousand National Guard members to support the border patrol. The personal data of 26.5 million veterans was stolen during a home burglary in suburban Maryland early this month. The information included social security numbers and birth dates of veterans released since 1975. Veteran's affairs took two weeks to notify the FBI, and lawmakers are up in arms about the theft. Here now to talk about the theft and what affected veterans can do now is Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard. You know, Terry, when I heard this story over the weekend, it just doesn't seem to hang together real well. The person wasn't supposed to take this data home.

Terry Goddard:
You certainly hope not.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. This is a huge mass of data. You wonder what the heck they needed this huge mass for.

Terry Goddard:
26.5 million names why. In the world would anybody take home the entire database from the V.A.?

Michael Grant:
And then of course with all of these other questions, you get a burglary and the data ends up stolen. It's just a bizarre story.

Terry Goddard:
Well, it is. And you wonder if we've got even part of the story. They wait to make the disclosure, don't even tell the FBI for two weeks, then they make it and people immediately come back and say, well, you've waited this long. Why are you telling the thief what he's got? Which unfortunately is one of the by pods. But I believe they felt they couldn't wait any longer, because if identity theft started happening to veterans myself included. I'm in that database -- and 600,000 Arizonans are in that database. So we've got a lot at risk in this particular issue. And if in fact it started happening the V.A. Had even greater liability than they did from the possibility of tipping off the thief.

Michael Grant:
You have got all the information you need here really to crack somebody's identity.

Terry Goddard:
Unfortunately you do. The only thing missing from the information they've given us is the addresses of these individuals. But once you get their social security number and their full name, their date of birth, you have pretty much the keys to financial information. So we have to advice -- we are advising that the A.G.'s office, any veterans that call and certainly through this medium, we have no evidence, first, I should say, that anybody has used this information yet. But I think it means the entire veteran population, all 26.5 million of us, need to be particularly careful. Look at your credit card statements, bank statements as soon as they come in, look for unauthorized charges. If you haven't already gotten your annual credit report, which you're entitled to free, order one up. Even if you got one a month or two ago think seriously about -- you have to pay for it, but think seriously about calling the credit reporting agencies and asking for a new one. Because that will show you whether there's any new activity in your accounts.

Michael Grant:
Are there also some additional pro-active steps? We've obviously done a lot of things on identity theft. It seems to me that -- I seem to recall a system where you can call each one of the credit bureaus and ask for some sort of a special alert to be placed on your account.

Terry Goddard:
Yes. In fact you only have to call one and they'll notify the other two. So if you think you're in any kind of trouble you can put what they call a fraud alert. It's a 90-day free service that they will -- so you call experion, transunion or the other name I now forget but one -- the other three all the information is on ag.gov has all the. Information to protect your identity. But in short call one of the credit reporting agencies and put on this fraud alert which is just 90-days and it goes away. Or if you have been the victim of identity theft there's a different kind of alert you can put on which lasts for seven years. But there has to be a police report that accompanies that. You have to be a victim. It's not a pro-active thing you can do. The last part that has been debated in the Arizona legislature is something called a security freeze. Now, only 12 states have it. Arizona is not one of them. But I hope that this emergency causes the legislature in the last days of the session to pull that back off floor and seriously think about giving all Arizona citizens the ability to put a freeze on your credit. Now, that means you can't get credit because you can't get your credit report. You try to buy a car as soon as they call the credit-reporting agency they'll tell you, I'm sorry. There is no credit going to be offered to you because there's a freeze on your report. But it means a thief can't do it, either. And for many people that's a very convenient and acceptable option.

Michael Grant:
Well, and I suppose that depending upon what your circumstances were, if you can look confidently and say, well, no, I'm not buying a new car or house.

Terry Goddard:
Right. And especially seniors, I think that, kind of credit freeze would be a very viable option if they're concerned ability identity theft.

Michael Grant:
Veteran's administration says that they held off notifying the FBI and making this public because they were concerned that thieves might not know what they would have.

Terry Goddard:
The thieves -- I've got my suspicions but I don't go that far. Why wouldn't you report to the police authorities as soon as you knew there was an extra problem involving 26.5 million Americans? There's also a security risk here. Some of these people still have active clearances. Some of these people are still consultants to the armed services. The two-week delay is scandalous. That is something that I don't think should have ever happened. They should have been on the phone immediately regardless of how bad it made them look. Then you've got to look at how the U.S. government is handling digital security. Because this is just one there have been other breaches. I think it's beyond ironic that it's the federal government that still puts your social security number on your Medicare card and your military identification. Everybody else, state of Arizona and just about everyone else I know of has systematically taken that social security number off and yet the U.S. government hasn't got the message yet.

Michael Grant:
Arizona attorney general Terri Goddard, let's hope for the best.

Michael Grant:
Former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley has a lot to say about the current political climate. He was in town recently for the W.P. Carey School of Business. Larry Lemmons poke with Bradley at the Biltmore about his time in the senate and his presidential run.

Larry Lemons:
Let's talk about the senate. How would you compare the senate today with the way it was during your tenure?

Bill Bradley:
Well, my impression of the senate has changed. It began to change toward the end of my career in the senate. When I came to the senate was a very kalejal institution. There were frequent bipartisan majorities. There were freak issues on the finance committee, which is all the taxes and healthcare, for example, that you would have republicans and democrats joining together on one side and republicans and democrats joining together on the other side. And now it's much more party line. It's much meaner. Money plays a much bigger role. And it's unfortunate. Because that means the extremes of both parties determine the agenda. And that means the most of the things that people care about in this country -- health, education, pensions, jobs -- don't really get addressed because the extremes are more interested in their issues, whether it's abortion, gay rights, guns, whatever, right? Because that activates their base. And I think that that's unfortunate. I think the senate has change inside that way.

Larry Lemons:
To what do you attribute the change?

Bill Bradley:
I think it's attributable to a number of things. One is the amount of money that's in politics today and the people have to constantly raise money and therefore they become not behold but at least they give an audience to people that before wouldn't have really heard -- really wouldn't have heard people. I think that -- there's a kind of -- when a politician is not really not as skilled as he or she should be, then the only thing they can do is party line. And if you want to know what I really attribute to polarization to is to the way we do our congressional redistricting in this country. Out of 435 congressmen there are about 50 seats that are not safe seats. And when you are in a district that is 60-40 republican or democrat you don't care what the other side says. You're worried about a primary challenge, which means you have to be the most extreme position possible to please the major players in the primary race. If you're in the 52-48 district you got to figure out whether the other side, republican or democrat, really wants and how do I build something that I get re-elected because I convey myself as a moderate. And because of the redistricting, most of the people don't care if they're viewed as extremist because they know they're not going to get a primary challenge if they're extremist. They'll be there. Of course they made their commitments to get the nomination. The general election in everything but 50 seats in this country is an afterthought. I think that plus money and the need to raise money constantly and from more and more special interests in this country contributed to the polarization of our political process that is not serving the vast majority of Americans. How many times have you heard people say in this country in the last several years, why don't they quit yelling at each other and get something done for me, you know? And people are right.

Larry Lemons:
Well, you talk about the polarization of the political parties and all the money involved and the lobbyists that are involved in that as well. You had always been a champion of the working people. How do you bring the focus of the political process back on to the people?

Bill Bradley:
Well, I think that you have to realize there's power in numbers. And people have to believe again that they can achieve their objectives through the political process. I mean, in 1996 and in 2000, Clinton's re-election, Bush's first election, less than 50\% of the people in America voted. Now, the majority of people who didn't vote were young, poor and minority. And if you don't vote, then naturally you're not going to get policies that are going to help you because politicians don't pay attention to people who don't vote. They only pay attention to people who vote since people who vote are upper-level income, relatively those who don't vote, then the concerns of the vast majority of people in this country don't get the attention they should otherwise get. The first thing you can do is vote, right? The second thing you can do is make sure that you have your voice heard. And take responsibility for some of the things in your own life, whether it's your lifestyle, healthier lifestyle reduces healthcare costs for everybody, whether it's your pension, saving a little money each week will help, whether it's the problem of our ridiculous consumption of oil in this country. You know? Making some basic choices about the car you drive, your hot water plan in your home, et cetera. You can be a part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.

Larry Lemons:
I'd like to talk about your presidential run.

Bill Bradley:
Oh, yes. I remember that.

Larry Lemons:
What did you take away from that?

Bill Bradley:
Well, the first thing I took away was the remarkable quality of the American people. And the trust that they bestow on one who is running for president of the United States. Even if you were at my level, which means I didn't get the nomination. But you saw in people's eyes their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their trust that you could help solve the problem. Second thing that American people are basically good. There's tremendous goodness in the American people, in individual acts toward each other in our communities, for example. And generally the American people do the right thing if their leaders will tell them what the facts are, tell them the truth. And I took away from that that more politicians have to speak from their core convictions. I mean, I used to have a line in my stump speech that I must have given 10,000 times is I say the premise of my campaign is you can tell people exactly what you believe and win. I don't know if that was true. Maybe it was me. I think it was me. I think it is true. I think I was just not the best messenger.

Michael Grant:
As the immigration issue continues to unfold nationally here in Arizona, republican political marketing experts have decided to take the immigration debate to the web. The "I am a proud American" website was created to encourage Hispanics to become politically active and registered voters. It also provides a forum for individuals to share their experiences and thoughts about the immigration issue. And that's not all. The website will soon have commercials specifically created to crush Hispanic stereotypes. Joining us tonight to talk about this new campaign is Bettina Nava, one of the developers of the "I am a proud American" website. Also here is Angie Kiselyk, one of the many local individuals who have posted her testimony on the site.

Michael Grant:
Welcome to you both.

Thank you for having us.

Michael Grant:
Now, Bettina, you had been quoted as saying the website could be edgy and controversial. Why did you say that?

Bettina Nava:
I think with this immigration debate which is one of the reasons that helped push this endeavor, we really wanted an unconventional way to reach out to people and talk to them about a very complex issue, and particularly young people. So with that I think that you've really got to have a new and interesting approach rather than visceral and volatile conversations.

Michael Grant:
How is it edgy and controversial?

Bettina Nava:
I can give you several examples. One is a conversation, a commercial that will be coming out where a young man is having a conversation with his parents. And the way that story board and dialogue is written; you believe that it's a conversation about steering their son away from gangs. And this conversation continues. And at the end of the commercial the young man is putting on his dress uniform. He's a marine. And so I think the dialogue -- it takes you off guard. The whole point is really the value added of many Latinos and the contribution that we're making in our neighborhoods.

Michael Grant:
What stereotypes are we trying to blow up? I mean, what stereotypes exist, do you think?

Bettina Nava:
I can tell you again several. But one is, you know, I marched with the 100,000 people, 150,000 people a few months ago and listened to people yell out, go back to your country. What I wanted to say was, I'm an American citizen. And I march here today because of the human element of really caring about individuals and understanding that they want to share in the American dream. And at the same time, yes, we need to protect our borders. But those sorts of stereotypes, everybody who looks like me is not necessarily here illegally. You can't judge my occupation by the way I look. You can't look at me and say, well, she automatically speaks Spanish. Which, by the way I don't. sorry, mom and dad. So really, and hopefully we take it further to different segments. We simply focused on this because it was what Max Fose and I knew. He's my partner in put this is together. We caused people to look at the stereotypes and look inward.

Michael Grant:
But a fair number of the people that were participating in that march were in fact illegal immigrants.

Bettina Nava:
Sure.

Michael Grant:
I mean is it possible that they were targeting go back to your country to the fair percentage of those people that were in that march?

Bettina Nava:
Sure. Absolutely. I'm sure there was. But I think the point is it's sort of a really esoteric question. What is an American? What does it mean to be an American? Is it a certain look or language that you speak? Is it an occupation that you hold? I mean, I think we really need to understand that our society is so much more complex now. And we need to respect that and not be afraid of the dialogue that -- what it means to be an American is a very difficult thing to define.

Michael Grant:
Well, Angie, let's pull you into the conversation. You have tracked to the website, right?

Angie Kiselyk:
Yes. I have a personal vested interest in the immigration issue. And I used to come to work every day talking about this issue. So my boss mentioned this website. I went on the website and I thought, wow. This is a great place for people from all different backgrounds to come. It's a non-threatening forum. They can discuss all types of aspects of the issue. And I contributed to that as well. So it's a great website for everyone.

Michael Grant:
And we've thrown up; there is your story, submitted by Angie Gilbert.

Angie Kiselyk:
Okay.

Michael Grant:
What points did you want to make in it? Don't give us a blow by blow but what points did you most want to communicate?

Angie Kiselyk:
Basically my husband, the personal interest I have, my husband is undocumented. He came across an illegal, he of got a visa and it had expired. It touches so many people in so many different ways. Not just the person that has come across recently, but the person that's been here for a long time. It touches lives. It touches families. It's such a complicated issue. And so the website just allows one to express any aspect of that issue, whether it is their story of their parents or their own personal story.

Michael Grant:
How many contributors are there, Bettina, like Angie?

Bettina Nava:
We've had 40,000 hits and I don't know the exact number of people that we actually had signed up but its several thousand now. And it's wonderful. There's a dialogue going back and forth and I think it's meaningful and informative and we're getting to know each other. And we don't agree. Most of us don't agree on every aspect and that's okay. It's really about having a format to have a conversation that really brings to light our differences and our commonalities.

Michael Grant:
Angie, we were talking about we went on the air. I was kind of surprised. I always thought that -- I knew it wasn't automatic. But I thought that if a foreign national married an American citizen that pretty much just kind of took care of the process.

Angie Kiselyk:
It doesn't. We are married in the church but not sanctioned by the state. We were advised by several different lawyers to do that. Because even though I am a citizen and he is not, if we were to get married by the state and then apply for a spousal visa, I could have a bar, a hold put on this visa for up to 10-years. And so we're thinking about having a family. And that fear of, you know, it just -- it isn't worth 10-years. So we're waiting, crossing fingers for the law to change.

Michael Grant:
I was going to say; needless to say you're spending a lot of time with c-span, watching the U.S. senate proceedings?

Angie Kiselyk:
Absolutely; A lot of time.

Michael Grant:
Bettina, obviously one of the problems for the Hispanic community generally has been a lack of political involvement. I'm not telling you anything new. The numbers don't translate to political power. Why is that?

Bettina Nava:
I think it's just with any new immigrant group, you know, learning to come to a new country, assimilate, become educated, learn how to become involved. And you have so many people that are undocumented. I'm also praying -- hope springs eternal -- with the legislation in the senate and house in congress, you know. I think that people haven't known where to go. Where do you turn? And when you're living in the shadows, how do you have any rights and how do you become involved in your neighborhood?

Michael Grant:
But even with second, third, fourth generation Hispanics, the voter registration and voter turnout is low.

Bettina Nava:
Still generally a new immigrant class. I mean, even if you're third or fourth. And I think it's the third generation is where you find that most people become involved. And that's what this website is designed to do, particularly young people. What we're trying to do is inspire them to look inward. I'm hoping they're going to look inward. Because they can sit here and be victims, which I've done and said, that's really unfair. We were treated unfairly. Or we can say, how do I view myself? Am I a leader? Am I civically involved and am I an activist? Hopefully this will help cultivate some of that either encourage people to vote and use simple mechanisms to access their community, whether it's writing a letter to the editor. We have a site that links people to registering to vote. So yes, traditionally there hasn't been involvement but again I think it's because it's a new process for many of us.

Michael Grant:
Yes. And I take it we're almost out of time but I take it links on the website that for example might take you to the secretary of state website?

Bettina Nava:
Exactly what it does.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Bettina Nava, thank you very much for joining us. Angie Kiselyk…our thanks to you as well.

Angie Kiselyk:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
If you would like a transcript of tonight's show or would like to see what future topics would be on the program log on to our website as azPBS.org. Scroll down to the middle of the page and click on Horizon.

Mike Sauceda:
The U.S. Supreme Court is a little more than a month from ending its current session. It's been an interesting session. As a new chief justice took the helm on the court and another new justice was named. The court has also decided some big cases but still has many left on the docket. The Supreme Court update Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
And after Horizon, stay tuned for Horizonte for an interview with retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Arizona Supreme Court chief justice Ruth McGregor. Thank you very much for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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