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February 29, 1980 Vol. 72, No. 4 PUBLISHER, RONNIE DUGGER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1980 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate, MANAGING EDITOR Linda Rocawkh ASSOCIATE EDITOR Eric Hartman PRODUCTION MANAGER Beth Epstein ASSISTANT EDITOR: Bob Sindermann Jr. STAFF ASSISTANTS; Lorraine Atherton, Jeannette Garrett, Dave Heiser, Donna Ng, Anne Norman, Martha Owen, Karen White, Harris Worcester CONTRIBUTORS: Thomas D. Bleich, Ave Bonar, Bette Breathed, War ren Burnett, Bob Clare, Jo Clifton, Bruce Cory, Keith Dannemiller, Jetty; Danziger, Chandler Davidson, John Henry Faulk, David Guarino, Roy? Hamric, Doug Harlan, Dan Heard, Jack Hopper, Dan Hubig, Molly Ivins, Susan Lee, Tim Mahoney, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, .Hans,: Peter Otto, Alan Pogue, Lois Rankin, Ray Reece, Susan Reid, Laura Richardson, Andrew Saidalia, Ben Sargent, John Spragens Jr., Patti Sweeney, Sheila R. Taylor, Vicki Vaughan, Lawrence Walsh, Eje Wray, Ralph Yarborough A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as :we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own consciences, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal offree voices. BUSINESS MANAGER Cliff Olofson The Texas Observer Editorial and Business Office 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Publisher’s Office P.O. Box 6570, San Antonio, Texas 78209 Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. 75g prepaid. One year, $15; two years, $28; three years, $40. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilmed by MCA, 1620 Hawkins Avenue, Box 10, Sanford, N.C. 27330. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. No change The following articles originally appeared in the January 1980 issue of Justice Department Watch, a publication of the Committee for Public Justice, inc. We have assembled them here because the information is valuable and because, as Ronnie Dugger points out in his introduction, nothing has changed for undocumented workers and aliens in this country, whatever the administration. –Eds. San Antonio Were Dickens alive and writing among us in the United States, he would be less likely to be wandering nights among the American poor in Brooklyn or Detroit than he would to be -spending his time in the detention camps for illegal aliens along our southern border, or mingling with them rising in northern Mexico or dictatorial Haiti, clustering densely in Florida, following the migrant trails, or lost in the big cities. Progressives give so much time to the “forgotten Americans,” they almost entirely forget the forgotten non-Americans, the poor and the persecuted people of other nations who batter their way into the United States. Worse, many a worker fearing wage competition and many a jingoist fearing the “alien hordes” promote hostility toward them. Pick up the story any year, it’s the same. In 1954, for instance, the newspapers were full of the news of “the wetback flood,” that is, the half million Mexicans a year who were slipping across the Mexico-U.S. border. That summer I went to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to learn what I could about them. When they found work, they worked for dimes an hour. They lived in shacks, huts, or in the open. Once or twice a week, tucked in the corners of the Valley newspapers, one saw the items about Mexicans of unknown identity who, having failed to ford or swim the river, washed ashore and drowned. Mexicans teemed behind the high wire fences of the detention camp at McAllen, waiting to be shipped back into Mexico by boat and in boxcars. One night I watched a load of them warming themselves around fires between two waiting freight trains, men, women, children, singing songs together softly. When President Carter appointed a well-known MexicanAmerican activist in liberal Texas politics, Leonel Castillo, to be commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, hopes rose that there might be some improvement in the lives of these lost people. As comptroller of the city of Houston, Castillo had campaigned for mass transit while proving himself as a good administrator; running for chairman of the Texas Democratic Party he had received 40 percent of the state convention’s votes. Entering upon his duties with INS, he advocated protecting the rights of illegal aliens in the course of enforcing the law; he wanted to crack doWnon the “coyotes” who work the aliens and then have them deported to avoid pay ing them their wages; he supported amnesty for illegals who have worked productively in the country for a number of years; and he intended, above all, to help write “a new national immigration policy.” Castillo’s experiences as commissioner, here reviewed, show that the plight of the undocumented aliens will not be substantially improved until humanist concern about them is enforced from the White House downward. Defeated recently for mayor of Houston, Castillo now finds himself telling reporters that the legal rights of Iranians in the U.S. should be observed. Nothing has changed. Ronnie Dugger 2 FEBRUARY 29, 1980