Since the beginning, La Voz de Kentucky has been fully involved in the struggle for immigrants' rights, and as a result we have learned about the great contribution many organizations have made to promote the ideal of an inclusive, democratic society, with the same opportunities for all of its members.
The work of the Kentucky Coalition for Immigrants' Rights, the Office of Immigrant Solidarity and Information, and Progressive Immigration Compact of Kentucky, among others, have been worthy of respect and recognition. No one else has joined in with such honor, integrity and sacrifice as its volunteers, organizers and activists who have poured themselves completely into their struggle for immigration reform.
Along the same lines, the continual efforts to influence the political system by advocating directly to local and state legislators, and to congressmen and senators is more than valid and deserves full recognition.
In this sense, we applaud their efforts to be involved in the conversation with legislators like Sen. Mitch McConnell, former Rep. Ben Chandler and now Sen. Rand Paul.
The so-called community gathering with Paul on May 24 at the downtown Lexington Public Library was a magnificent opportunity to establish and deepen the conversation with members from across the community.
The main question stems from the decision of Paul's personnel to prohibit any media from entering, and the decision of the organizers to accept this requirement. Paul staffers told us later that they never intended the event to be public.
Different media outlets have expressed that his Senate office told forum organizers at the last minute that he wanted the press barred from the event.
In solidarity with other members of the local press, including a free-lance photographer for the Herald-Leader, we decided to leave the premises.
Why? Because we believe that what was announced as a community gathering never actually was what it claimed to be.
Those who knew in advance about the possibility of making this event happen never bothered to contact us in time to be able to spread the word to the whole community.
As a result, the community representation was reduced to a weak stream of voices, instead of a broad spectrum that would have enriched such a discussion.
Anyway, what's up with all these politicians who lately want to interact with Latinos but have to do it behind closed doors? The event with Chandler and our community back in November exhibited the same dynamic.
Yes, we believe in establishing conversations with legislators, but not on these terms. Could it be that what these politicians are promoting behind closed doors allows them not to have to defend these same promises in public?
If we speak of legalization with dignity, we're talking about a transparent debate, a democratic exercise in which the exchange of ideas and debate are open and constructive because all of the members of the society — including the media — are an integral part.
We cannot keep allowing these politicians to limit our right to information. Without a free press, there is no democracy, and the pro-immigrant struggle should be democratic and transparent in its structure and practice.
A version of this commentary was published in the May 31 issue of La Voz de Kentucky.
At issue: May 25 Herald-Leader article, "Paul to push for changes in proposal; issue should be reviewed every five years, senator tells local forum"
May 25 Herald-Leader article, "Paul to push for changes in proposal; issue should be reviewed every five years, senator tells local forum"