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tv   Martine Kalaw Illegal Among Us  CSPAN  January 22, 2019 7:13am-8:02am EST

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this week, journalist stephanie lamb reports a living in poverty while working as a maid.
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>> look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for many of the authors in the near future on booktv on c-span2. >> hello, welcome to loyalty books. thanks for coming out tonight. we are delighted welcome everyone here, we are looking forward to opening a bookstore in 2019 and in the meantime grateful for you joining us for the holidays and this amazing event for "illegal among us: a stateless woman's quest for citizenship," martine kalaw. we are delighted to have abby cruz here in conversation. i'm the owner and i will do a brief intro and let you know how the events will go. we will enjoy a reading and then have these incredible women in conversation with each other followed by a q and a from you all if you would speak
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clearly because we are being filmed and we want the room to hear you. if you have a question i emphasize questions and not speeches so please resist that urge willing inside of you. after a q and a we will proceed with the book signing. if you've not purchased your book we have them here for your convenience, your local independent bookstore. we are obviously excited to have someone who grew up here in silver springs sharing our story with us today but there is really a more topical book than "illegal among us: a stateless woman's quest for citizenship" and we are delighted to dive into this, and martine kalaw is a community advocate speaker and writer for the washington post. on her undocumented immigrants struggle in america. the full title which is important to understand,
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"illegal among us: a stateless woman's quest for citizenship," a personal family journey and the steps she took and joining her in conversation is abby cruz, a white house reporter. a graduate of philadelphia high school for girls, she loves philadelphia and covering the city desk, recently moved to dc and we are happy to have her here. she is investigating local news and as of july she worked for the philadelphia and white house reporter, selected her to cover the administration so godspeed. thank you for taking time to join us. please join me in welcoming martine kalaw and abby cruz. [applause] >> i want to start this event a little differently. would you mind reading from
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your book. >> absolutely not. the selection i selected, i will read from the first chapter, i can introduce the audience to the story. this first chapter, the subsection of the first chapter is called betrayal. when i buried my mother i also buried my memories of her mistreatment to honor her but one day in a law office in buffalo, new york i was asked by my attorney to betray her to win my freedom in the land of the free. how audacious of him to even suggest. this immigration hearing needed to be the final because i was running out of stamina and coping mechanisms. how long can i maintain the charade of being a normal american girl. john james, my lawyer, assured
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me everything would go smoothly. august 9, 2004, date approached, today's appointment was an actual hearing rather than an appointment. it meant i could testify and present my witnesses on my behalf. why don't you come into my office for a second, john james commanded the morning of my hearing interrupting my reverie. what is wrong? in my office. i went. i knew john well enough to distinguish between his condescension and concern. he had a plane face which offered him a little distinction, the kind of face you could look at 4 hours but you wouldn't be able to confirm in a police lineup. his bulk was the only thing that stood out, i can imagine running at this man who had control over my life, trying to figure out where i knew him from. listen, he said, sitting at his desk, almost hovering over me as my sweaty palms collapsed the chair.
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nothing drawn. you alluded to the fact your mom was abusive, did she ever hit you? my eyes widened and panic rushed over me. please don't let this conversation go where i think it is headed. he may ask a follow-up question but my mind was elsewhere. i noticed how plain his office was for a lawyer and wondered if it was because he didn't make enough money is a pro bono attorney. shouldn't he have photos of supreme court judges on his wall or something? his scattering of law books, i expected to see more of them. his desk was covered in paperwork like all the lawyers i had seen on television, the carpeting should have been nicer but instead was dingy. i couldn't lie to my lawyer so i confessed, yes, i said with my head hello in tears streaming down my face as if i had just fled guilty awaiting my sentencing. she didn't just hit me, she used to beat the shit- out of
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me but i wanted to be my overnight accusations. if he asks for this i talk about my mother's verbal assault that pushed me to the brink of death? no, i couldn't. this wasn't how the day was supposed to play out. this entire piece was supposed to be built against my and emily and not my mom. my mom's running was melanie louise which sounds better in french, my mom's native language, most americans just called her louise. the prefix means sister and it is a sign of respect when speaking to an older sister. i must've heard sisters refer to her that way as a toddler and started to do the same. i never referred to her as mom in all the years she was alive. >> actually, i picked out my favorite section from the book and wanted to share it with audiences.
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it is a snippet on page 134. i needed her life to be over with once and for all. all those past it was either attempts were for amateurs. i couldn't trust taking the pill because of working the past and couldn't get my hands on anything, should i hang myself? i needed to figure out a way to do this so nobody would find me for days. the reason i picked that snippet is because a lot of times, we go through tough times in our lives, people fight depression and think suicide is the answer but here you are, you are the author of the book. how did you manage to stay positive? >> mental health is a serious topic and i wrote about it because it is so taboo and i felt in the context of immigration it is important to talk about it because not
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enough people are. how do i stay positive? on the best of days i stay positive because i thought about the fact that i have overcome so much and so if i overcome so much, i didn't believe the rest of the story would have a non-happy endings so that -- other days i stayed positive because i believed if i could just get through, i could share my story and it would help other people. on the worst of days i have to admit i couldn't stay positive. i didn't have any hope but that is why i talk about the importance of having community and people invest in me. it was other people who pulled me up when i could not pull myself up. in that section that you read i think later readers will
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decipher that it took a friend, someone in my community who helped to pull me out of that funk because it was very dark me. >> you used the word illegal instead of undocumented. illegal can come off disrespectful. we attach it to the word illegal alien. what made you risk it all and use the word illegal instead of undocumented and what are your thoughts about illegal immigration as it stands with the administration now trump has his plans? >> that is a packed, loaded question. the first i knew the term illegal was very controversial but decided i needed to be a little more, i would say, audacious and how i presented the story. originally it is because when i
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was telling my undocumented immigrant story i was considered illegally but the euphemism of undocumented didn't exist in 2005. 2006 is when it was introduced. for me i wanted to reclaim this derogatory term that was used against me so it doesn't have the same power people are trying to make it have and lastly undocumented is a better term because no human is truly illegal but the people trying to influence this conversation could care less. they are using the term illegal so that is the reason why. in terms of immigration, so many facets of it. what is going on on the borders, the president and his cabinet are considering shutting down the government so he can get funding for a wall.
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what is going on with the caravan and daca and temporary protected status, 300,000 individuals have the relief programs revoked so there are so many facets. one area i focus on is the dreamers who i call the silent dreamers. these are the people who are undocumented immigrants so they came here at the age of 6 years old who don't qualify for daca. i would have been one of those people was the reason i'm a us citizen today is by a fluke. 2.9 million people, that are in my situation, are in a situation i would have been in. either in those courts, for years after years struggling or
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in hiding or sitting in a detention facility. those are the people i really speak up for because they are the individuals that are not represented in this conversation. every aspect and every element of the immigrant conversation is important but we each have to tackle one aspect of it. that is the aspect i am tackling in the immigration court because i spent 7 years in immigration court. >> when you are going through this you decided to keep it secret. people, your friends, no one really knew. what advice would you give someone who is currently illegal among us. >> great question. in terms of advice, i wanted to put in the book, it is color-coded but i created a maze just to show how my journey, it is a toss of the
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dice, it shows how arbitrary the immigration process is. there is no prescription one can give. i can see if you do this it will guarantee this outcome or if i guarantee that it will happen. it is so arbitrary and so defective. i wouldn't feel right saying making recommendations how to approach the process, one thing i do is talk about what skills, strengthening yourself through the process regardless of the outcome. what i talk about is the importance of community. i teach courses on building networks. we hear about networking and the importance of it but as in a document it immigrant it is important because these end up
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being your communities and advocates. people who stand up for you and support you and maneuvering through the process who come to your hearings, who are a shoulder to cry on. all these things, who vouch for you quite honestly when you're trying to navigate through the process so one of the things i would say and i encourage other and documented immigrants i mentor is find different communities and showcase your strength. outside being undocumented you are human being, you have strength, you have been able to survive for a reason. to showcase those skills and allow people to invest in you because they are committed for the long-term. another thing i talk about that is important is being able to challenge, navigate through the
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legal system and feeling like you are empowered to ask lawyers the right questions. i spoke and interacted with a lot of in and -- indictment is immigrants who are terrified. whatever their attorney says is the end all be all and they feel they don't have the power to ask questions but it is the same thing is going to a doctor and that is important and i also encourage, these are things that work for me. this is how i survived the 7 years of deportation proceedings and being undocumented, the third thing i encourage is some people call it having not like a sponsor but someone who can support you emotionally.
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another term would be technical assistance, someone going with you to court who is your liaison between you and your attorney, there are moments you are so emotional and you may not be able to process what your attorney is saying and some people english is not their first language so they can't process everything coming at them. having a friend, someone you can trust who can retain that information and relay it back to you later always helps. i can't tell you how important that is. i do that for people right now. that helps me. there are days i was traumatized going to that court room. i was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder so imagine children in these courtrooms by themselves, how damaging that is if i myself was going through that. having a friend, don't have to know anything about immigration
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but having someone accompany you is really important and makes a difference. >> i don't want to give away the book too much but in the book, at 13, 15 you lost your mom. you were on your own and later on in life, you are living in the city, you get a message from your father that he has been looking for you this entire time he is in africa and you have siblings, you didn't know any of this information. why do you think your mom picked you? she left so many out of mind but picked you to come to america. >> in the book, i lay out my thought process of why my mom brought me there but for practical terms i think it is because i was youngest, i came
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to the us when i was 4 years old. she couldn't leave her child behind, least likely to be able to fend for myself in zambia or the congo. that is one of the reasons. >> what do you think is the biggest case, or look at it positive, the biggest successful. was it you finally being able to go to your country or being an american citizen? >> good question. i would say, i wouldn't necessarily focus on the revenge part but focusing on the success part. it is interesting because being a us citizen, going from being a stateless individual without a passport, without a country, without a home, to having us citizenship and being able to travel whenever i want and
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having access to a passport, being able to vote. all these things i consider privileges for me. it is not a right that i could assume. it is definitely a privilege so i don't want to minimize that. however, i've spoken to other undocumented immigrants who have been on this journey and when they get their permanent residency status or what have you, when you get that card or stamp of approval thing, you are allowed to be here, we recognize you. it doesn't give you the freedom you have been seeking. at the same time i have these freedoms, i am still a woman and there's a lot of challenges we face in america by virtue of gender. i'm still a black woman.
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people are still going to profile me in certain ways. i will never have that freedom i imagine in my mind as a result of my citizenship. for me it was a result, there was a result of the journey, going back to zambia and connecting with my biological father and discovering my identity. that was bigger to me than any form of citizenship so that answers your question. for me it was going to my other home. what i also discovered when i went home to zambia was the us was always my home. the intersection of being american, zambian, and congolese, in spite of the fact that i embraced all those three identifiers, i'm always going
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to have people who challenge me whether i am american enough or zambian enough. that is the next phase of my journey. >> host: we are in dc. the white house is not far from us. if you had the opportunity to speak to donald trump, what would you say to him? >> there are a lot of things i would say. the first question i would ask is what do you want? do you want all immigrants to leave? is that what you want? what is that going to look like? when does it end? what is the ultimate goal? you can really see and envision, i don't know that he's clear on what the ultimate goal is. a lot of it is a bunch of rhetoric and he is trying to feed into certain ideas and
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influences, and spouting a bunch of inconsistent, the facts are incorrect rhetoric's. what is your ultimate goal? do you want them all to leave? we have to bring milania with us. ultimately, on that, to pay you back on that, i would want to engage in conversation to find a solution. and william bar, taking sessions and as i mentioned, an area that i think is important for me and has to be reshaped, completely broken. i don't know that everyone, the average person, knows that there are 750,000 ending immigration cases, 54 immigration courts in the
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country, and basically each immigration judge gets 1000 cases a year. that is the first thing. secondly, they are given quotas. that is the second piece and the third thing is i learned this information fairly recently after appearing in an iteration -- immigration court, some of these judges are recently appointed. there is the growth in position and careers, these attorneys are not necessarily immigration so you can take a real estate lawyer and a.them to be an immigration judge and give them a quote and they have 1000 cases, that is scary and to think about as we talk about unprotected status, we talk
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about individuals applying for asylum and talk about daca recipients, all these individuals will most likely end up in the court system. and it didn't fall under the attorney general, it should be structured like every other court in the judicial system. that is one of the things i want to discuss with him. >> what is next for martine kalaw? >> that would be one thing. i want to push for a change in restructuring, that is near and dear, that is the first thing. secondly, i would like to build
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out support organization or my own organization that supports immigrants in a couple ways, providing them with mental health counseling, secondly, providing legal assistance, and to support them in their journey, thirdly, supporting undocumented immigrant youth, and create some funding their education. i have a lot of aspirations as you can imagine. the last piece is being able to continue to help others support others in telling their stories. the reason i published this book as i got tired of everyone else telling our story. we are more than just numbers. that is it.
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>> i will give to the audience for q and a. does anyone have questions for myself or martine kalaw? >> you got citizenship as a fluke. how does that happen? >> the question was i got my citizenship, it was a fluke, the question was how did that happen? my case was remanded to the board of immigration appeals, it was remanded to them twice. courts that are slow, and review cases so the chances of having them, sending my case to them twice and the first time they sent it back to the immigration judge in buffalo, look at the case again and immigration judge in buffalo
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said no, i want -- the attorney general, and abortive immigration appeal. grant permanent residency. i'm told by so many attorneys, that is a fluke. the board of immigration doesn't have to look at cases let alone a 6 page response. as to why i deserve to be an american and permanent resident status. that doesn't happen. certainly things i said to
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enhance the probability of that happening but at the end of the day it was a fluke. >> what is the most aggressive thing you heard? >> a great question. what was the most significant thing i learned about coming to america? i think for me, not just coming to america but being at the intersection, living as an american and going back to zambia and identity is what you make of it. in america, where am i from all the time, all of time. it never fails, doesn't matter what community or race, people are always asking me where i am from.
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going back to zambia i got the same question. where are you from? you can't be from zambia. what i realize is it is the journey you have within yourself to find out who you are, and where your homes are. >> the undocumented versus myself. i guess i am curious as to how you go about finding motivation to tell a story and what made you think it is a story that people want to hear. and a similarly managed trip.
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>> that is boring. this is pretty established, in an established publishing house. nobody wants to hear about immigration. we need more people to tell stories quite honestly. i had a conversation with my best friend, forget about motivation, don't let motivation keep from doing what you want to do, let's be motivated. it is about survival, i need you to hear this story. i started writing this story 14 years ago when i was going through the darkest moments of my life. i would come home from court
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and i would write and i was so angry that i just wrote, i didn't know what else to do. i was in a detention facility. and many people don't. i wanted people to know that i existed. that was my first reason for writing. i wanted people to know that i existed in america. i was here at one point. if nothing else, the support -- to know that i existed. that is the first thing. secondly, this is happening in america. he is the least threatening person i can imagine. i wanted people to know. that is why i started writing. i published it, i got tired,
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you've got politicians, policy advisers and all these people that study immigration. economists, they are studying it, reading it. the media is sharing. we should tell our own stories. that is why i decided to publish it. it is not meant for everyone. it targets a certain group, a certain audience, to tell our stories, so we are able to connect with a wider audience. >> immigration -- it is very polarizing and you are a public figure in the immigration space, how do you talk about
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the great response, in terms of how to illustrate how polarizing the topic is, how people respond? >> i have been on some radio interviews. illegal immigrants raping and killing, really? that is ignorant. i would assume anyone educated, to ask those types of questions. it is alarming and jarring, the questions i get. for the most part, being more public, the audience has been receptive when it is in person. in terms of social media i get
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the previous message and i get scared. i do worry, is going to hurt me? and going to do something. on my youtube channel, the first video i posted, and benefited from daca, i got into some really disgusting responses how i should have died on my way here to america and all of us immigrants are bad people. you can look at those things and dismiss them and say it is just ignorance but it is also scary to think people are saying those things. you just don't know if people are capable of reacting. if given the opportunity.
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overall, i would say someone motivated to keep going and sharing my story. i have apprehensions about my safety quite honestly. >> other questions? i will end on this question. you said there's a difference between helping someone and investing, people invested in you which is why you became so successful. can you explain the difference between helping and investing and how does it help? >> i finished talking about investing versus helping, and for me, i define it as someone is helping you, they see a cherry. if one time i give this to you and it is just monetary and there's nothing wrong with that but it is short-term.
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if someone needs short-term assistance help is great. there is a way to reposition your mind and reframe it and investing and when you want communities of people. when you want to be invested in you and that journey, it doesn't just become about you but it becomes about them. you and that person. my whole life was about people investing in me. from the first person, we are not so far from georgia avenue when i was working in my aunt's consignment shop at 16 years old. she took me out of school. in that moment, in came a stranger who decided something needed to be done. there was something wrong with the situation and she decided she was going to connect me with a group of other
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individuals who decided to invest in me and to this day i am connected with these people. if it helped it would be a matter of get her to boarding school and let's go our merry way and hope life works out for her. investment looks like this judge, there's not immigration judge but this judge, he and his wife are part of my wife. they paid my way through boarding school. that was years ago. they have a book event for me in charlottesville, virginia, in a month. that is what investing looks like. it means i am with you for this entire journey. you are not alone. i'm not going to abandon you and it is not just about money, it is about you are growing, i am growing as a person. that is what it looked like. >> other questions? i want --
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>> i am curious. it is something i think about myself. what are the introductions you find? your daily struggle. as a woman. what are the contradictions you find? here you are with all the opportunities, intersections -- how to navigate? sort of emotional sort of impact? >> i became a us citizen in 2012. it took a good three or four years to come out of my identity crisis. for a long time i like who am i?
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this woman who is struggling, i was always this undocumented immigrant. how do i define myself? one of the contradictions, i talk about intersection because it is so true for most of us. i'm here to support the cause because i know it so well, so deeply, but some others may not feel like i am deserving of being part of that anymore because i am not in it anymore. there are times of guilt. like is it okay that i am speaking on behalf of other undocumented immigrants who are still going through it when i don't have to? when i'm not? that is my biggest challenge sometimes. i can say i feel we need more voices in this conversation and that is the reason we are still having this conversation and it is only getting worse.
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we are not allowing more voices and more perspectives to engage in this discourse. we need those individuals to come out of it to be part of this conversation because they are the ones who can talk about, look at the potential that undocumented immigrants have. look at the contribution. we are not angry, divisive people, just wanting to contribute to our economy and society etc.. that is why i keep going. i hope and feel strongly that we should allow more people to be part of this conversation. that is one of the biggest contradictions i keep hearing on a daily basis quite honestly. >> final remarks. okay. >> for me, there is so much going on in this book, your personal narrative, your ptsd,
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i learned so much about stories in the news, it is going on longer and it is coming to a head. who is the audience for your book, your most eager to pick up your book? >> great question. i think -- definitely individuals who are going through it, that is important. i would be remiss if i said it was just them. it is just as important for someone who works at corporations to read these stories, to read my story and they look at this woman. had someone not invested in her, she wouldn't have ended up where she is. these individuals have the financial influence to make changes, to invest in other undocumented immigrants, those are the individuals i think of as important.
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and i would say immigrants, undocumented immigrants. and the cloud, to make changes. these individuals have deep pockets. >> thank you very much, thank you, martine kalaw. [applause] >> thank you all again for coming. we are going to move to our book signing. if you want to grab a copy at the register, thank you again. give one final round of applause to martine kalaw. >> have a good night, everybody. thank you for coming.
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[inaudible conversations] >> live february 3rd, super bowl sunday at noon eastern, author and sportswriter dave siren is our guest on booktv's in-depth. author of many books including what's my name, full, history of sports in the united states, game over, how politics has turned the sports world upside down. and his most recent, jim brown, last man standing. >> i love sports and that's why we have to fight for sports. we need to reclaim them. we need to take sports back. if we are going to do so what we need is to know our history. that is our greatest ammunition in this fight. we need to know our history of the f leads, the sportswriters and the fans who have stood up to the machine. if for no other reason than knowing this history allows us to look at the world and see struggles can affect every aspect of life in the system. even the ivory tower known as sports.
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>> join our 3 hour conversation with dave siren with your tweets and email questions on february 3rd at noon eastern on booktv's in-depth on c-span2. >> over the past 20 years, booktv has covered thousands of author events and book festivals. here is a portion of the reason program. >> i'm in georgia right now. that is the epicenter of voter suppression. >> what happens with voter suppression, voter purges, is again, you are seeing a systematic calling of the electorate. the national voter registration act, what we call the motor voter law which was put in place to try to open up voter registration. it has a clause in there about the maintenance of the voter rolls which sounds reasonable
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and logical. folks die, they should be on voter rolls. folks move they shouldn't be on the voter rolls. no one is arguing with that. it is the waiters and cemented is where it does its damage. so we have had these really aggressive secretaries of state like john houston out of ohio, ryan kemp out of georgia. what they have done is they used not voting regularly as the means to wipe folks off of the voter rolls. minorities don't vote regularly. poor people don't vote regularly, students don't vote regularly. you take those three groups and wipe them off of voter rolls coming in georgia, kemp has removed 1.5 million voters. >> you can watch this and any of our programs in their entirety. type the other's name in the search bar at the top of the page.
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>> booktv is television for serious readers. all weekend every weekend. join us again next saturday beginning at 8:00 eastern for the best in nonfiction books. .. >> the heritage foundation hold an event to argue government intervention to bring about economic equality is unjust. watch live at 11 a.m. eastern on
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c-span2, online at and on the free c-span radio app. legal affairs correspondent talks about her career covering the supreme court with longtime commentator and radio talkshow host bill press. live coverage at 7 p.m. eastern on c-span2, also on our website and radio app. >> ucla's black alumni association posted a conversation with activist and author angela davis and rapper common. they shared insights from the personal experiences in activism. >> this is a packed room. welcome everybody. thanks for joining us. [applause] >> you probably save that applause because we certainly have some people to be on stage with me tonight that the desert only applause but a standing ovation i would say.


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