Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ICE in NYC Courtrooms: “Secret Police” Nab Alleged Gang Members in Brooklyn

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents continue to detain immigrants in New York City courthouses. Go here for an earlier report.—TPOI editor

ICE Agents Make Arrests at Brooklyn Courthouse

Democracy Now!
September 15, 2017
In New York City, plainclothes ICE agents arrested four undocumented immigrants at a Brooklyn
Photo: Cameron Mease/Brooklyn Defender Services
criminal court building Thursday morning, in an unusual move targeting a courthouse for immigration enforcement. An ICE spokesperson later confirmed the arrests, saying the four men were suspected of gang activity. ICE policy prevents officers from making arrests at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals and places of worship, without approval from supervisors. Courthouses are not included on the list, but the practice is unusual and has been criticized by prosecutors, police and defense attorneys.

This is Katherine Poor of the Legal Aid Society: "It makes people very scared when they hear things like this happening, because they are told by the court that they have to return for their court dates. That’s something that they are ordered to do, and if they don’t do it, a warrant can be issued for their arrest. On the other hand, if people hear that there is ICE coming into the courthouse, if there’s ICE coming outside of the courthouse, and they have fear for their own immigration situation, that puts people in a very, very difficult position."

New York is a sanctuary city.

Watch the day’s headlines:

Secret Police
ICE agents dressed in plainclothes staked out a courthouse in Brooklyn and refused to identify themselves.

By Leon Neyfakh, Slate
September 15, 2017
Cameron Mease, a senior staff attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services, was walking in downtown Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday morning when he saw a group of six or seven men shove someone against a fence, put him in handcuffs, and drag him into an unmarked van. The men were dressed in jeans and T-shirts. Given their behavior and attire, a passerby would’ve had good reason to think he’d just witnessed a kidnapping.

But Mease had seen such scenes unfold before, and he was pretty sure he knew what he’d just seen. He believed these were plainclothes agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that they’d come to the Brooklyn courthouse to take someone into custody who they knew would be there for a court date.[…]

Read the full article:

Federal Immigration Officials Will Continue Nabbing Suspects at New York Courthouses to Subvert Sanctuary City Status

By Linley Sanders, Newsweek
September 15, 2017
Federal immigration officers in New York doubled-down on arresting undocumented immigrants as they make appearances at courthouses this week—a decision that the local district attorney says is an "outrageous" tactic that "sends a chilling effect" and "undermines public safety."

Defying New York's status as a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers aggressively snatched four men outside a criminal court building in Brooklyn on Thursday.

“This was the most visible they’ve ever been,” Scott Hechinger, an attorney with the Brooklyn Defender Service, which provides legal representation to individuals who cannot afford a lawyer, told Newsweek. “It’s the most brazen that we’ve seen them be.”[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Labor Unions Are Stepping Up to Fight Deportations

Organized labor is finding creative ways to protect immigrant members and families vulnerable in the Trump era.

By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
September 12, 2018
Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum. 

Vivares, 29, was detained for deportation. That’s when Burgos’ union sprang into action.

Prepared for Vivares’ detention, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ gathered for a rally outside the ICE office that afternoon, demanding his release. Union leadership appealed to New York’s congressional delegation, enlisting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) to reach out to ICE leadership. The union president even disseminated the name and phone number for the ICE officer handling Vivares’ deportation and urged allies to call him directly.[…]

Read the full article:

The national organization Mijente is offering new “defend your rights” materials:
A new "know your rights" booklet from Mijente

Monday, September 18, 2017

DACA Update #3: Will There Be a Deal, and What Would It Look Like?

DACA supporters march in San Francisco. Photo: David Bacon
President Trump had dinner with Democratic Congressional leaders Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA) the evening of September 13. Afterwards the two Democrats issued a statement saying they’d made a deal with Trump to protect the nearly 800,000 young immigrants currently enrolled in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration is terminating as of next March. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Schumer and Pelosi wrote.

As has been usual with this administration, the next day the president contradicted himself several times, but in the end it appeared that Trump and the Democrats had at least made, as Republican senator John Cornyn (TX) put it, “a deal to make a deal.” So passage of a new law to protect young undocumented immigrants is possible, although far from certain.

What Would Be Traded Off?
To steer such a law through Congress the Democrats would need to make compromises in order to get enough Republicans legislators on board.

On September 14 the National Review published an article outlining a mainstream Republican negotiating position for possible talks. The author, National Review deputy managing editor Robert VerBruggen, isn’t especially interested in increased border security. Instead, he wants Republicans to push for an expansion of the E-Verify program, through which employers use an online connection to government data bases to check the legal status of new hires. Making E-Verify mandatory for all private employers should be non-negotiable, VerBruggen writes. And he insists that if DACA recipients are given access to legal status or citizenship, they should be barred from applying for green cards for their parents. Finally, he wants changes to legal immigration, moving away from the current priority for family unification toward greater emphasis on bringing in highly skilled workers. (Although he doesn’t mention it, this would not only add valuable technical workers to the U.S. work pool—it would also lure them away from other countries that might be economic rivals.)

How much of this would the Democrats accept? Many of them already back mandatory E-Verify. It’s true that Chuck Schumer has objections to the program—but only because he wants something tougher. In a 2010 Washington Post op-ed, he and Republican senator Lindsey Graham (SC) called for a biometric Social Security card. “Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person's identity and immigration status,” Schumer and Graham explained. “Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.”

Will the Democrats Cave?
The Democrats don’t actually have a good record on helping youthful immigrants like the DACA recipients.

Proposals to legislate legalization for childhood arrivals began with the bipartisan DREAM Act in 2001, but the bill stalled in Congress for years. From 2009 to 2011 the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency; they could have passed the bill then, but didn’t. Pressed by the “Dreamers”—young immigrant activists supporting the DREAM Act—in June 2010, Schumer claimed that passing the bill would hurt the chances for passing comprehensive immigration reform later. The Democrats finally brought the DREAM Act up for a vote in December 2010. It passed the House, but the Senate never voted. Supporters couldn’t come up with the 60 votes necessary to block a filibuster by opponents. Three Republicans backed the bill, but it was opposed by five Democrats: Max Baucus and John Tester (MT), Kay Hagan (NC), Ben Nelson (NE), and Mark Pryor of (AR).
Photo: National Immigrant Youth Alliance/The Dream Is Now
Will Trump’s Base Desert Him?
Schumer and Pelosi's claim that Trump was making a deal with them stirred outrage among some of Trump’s loudest supporters. “Breitbart News called the president ‘Amnesty Don,’” Politico reported. “Commentator Ann Coulter mused about impeaching Trump. And hard-line immigration hawks in Congress like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called the contours of the deal an ‘irreparable’ betrayal of Trump's base.”

But it’s not clear that the far right was really breaking with Trump. It seems more likely that people like Coulter are temporarily distancing themselves from the president while stirring up their backers to help push for strong anti-immigrant measures in any potential legislative compromise. A New York Times op-ed by Eric Cantor, a former House majority leader for the Republicans, suggests the latter course. “It is well past time for Republicans to stand up to those on the right who are quick to denounce any sensible solution as amnesty,” he wrote, “and for Democrats to stand up to those on the left who rail against any meaningful steps toward border security and immigration enforcement.”

In other words, the Republicans can hold back the Breitbart types if the Democrats agree to hold back pro-immigrant activists.

(People might wonder why Cantor and Breitbart News see “amnesty” as a pejorative term. This is a reference to the last major legalization of undocumented immigrants, in 1986, which was widely referred to as an "amnesty." Ever since then the right has claimed that the 1986 legalization caused the sharp increase in unauthorized immigration during the 1990s. But there’s no evidence for the claim. Asked to produce evidence, rightwingers generally refuse to answer; an effort to cite the argument in a 2015 lawsuit was laughed out of court. So “amnesty” as used by Cantor and Breitbart is simply a far-right fantasy like “death panels” and the threat of Sharia law. Nevertheless, media like the New York Times still let it be employed in this sense.)

What Do the Dreamers Say?
While reporting extensively on the reactions of pundits and politicians, the media haven’t said much about the views of the people actually affected—the DACA recipients themselves.

One exception was NPR’s Morning Edition on September 15. NPR correspondent Richard Gonzales reported on interviews with Dreamers:  “[T]hey don't want a deal that would, let’s say, implement the E-Verify system, which requires employers to check the legal status of people they hire. To the Dreamers, that’s just another way of increasing the threat of deportation to their undocumented parents. And they also don’t want a deal in which their DACA status is a tradeoff for enhanced border security. That, they say, would further what they consider the militarization of the border.” (Even in this otherwise excellent report, Morning Edition host Mary Louise Kelly persisted in using in the far right’s sense of “amnesty” as a pejorative term.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Complaints: Border officers engaged in pattern of 'egregious' abuse against minors

In December 2014, the ACLU requested the full investigative files on complaints filed by minors “in order to shed light on longstanding allegations of abusive treatment of children by Border Patrol.” A year ago, after filing suit, the ACLU began to receive thousands of pages of documents from the case files of 408 complaints filed from early 2009 through mid-2015…

By John Carlos Frey and Brian Epstein, ABC News
September 14, 2017
Jahveel Ocampo. Photo: ABC News
In December of 2009, 15-year old high school student Jahveel Ocampo, her boyfriend and a few of his family members decided to drive east from Encinitas, California, up into the mountains to see the first big snowfall of winter.

They pulled over to a rest stop to use the bathroom and were suddenly blocked by an unmarked truck. A man in a dark blue jacket shouted from the vehicle, Ocampo would say later, directing her and her boyfriend to get out of the car with their hands up.

Ocampo says she had no idea what was happening – until the man asked her where she was born. When she replied, “Tijuana,” she says the man demanded to know whether she was an “illegal.”

He slapped handcuffs on her and her boyfriend and within minutes they were surrounded by several Border Patrol vehicles. Ocampo was separated from her boyfriend, loaded into the back of a car and driven away.[…]

Read the full article:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why do we still have employer sanctions?

The AFL-CIO was one of the main supporters of employer sanctions back in 1986. It only took 13 years for the labor federation to learn its lesson: in February 2000 it officially called for the elimination of the policy.

By David L. Wilson, MR Online
September 13, 2017
It’s now more than three decades since Congress created employer sanctions, a feature of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act that imposes fines on employers who hire undocumented workers. The measure’s proponents said the sanctions would slow unauthorized immigration by removing the “job magnet” thought to be drawing migrants to the United States. The House Education and Labor Committee wrote at the time that by reducing the number of undocumented workers the measure would limit “the depressing effect on working conditions caused by their employment.”

If that was the goal, employer sanctions have been a spectacular failure.[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Don’t Punish the Dreamers—Punish the Corporations Driving Forced Migration

By David Bacon, Working In These Times
September 11, 2017
The "dreamers," young recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—are the true children of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). More than anyone, they have paid the price for the agreement. Yet they are the ones punished by the administration of
Photo: David  Bacon
President Donald Trump, as it takes away their legal status, ability to work and right to live in this country without fear of arrest or deportation. At the same time, those responsible for the fact they grew up in the United States walk away unpunished—and even better off.

I’m not talking about their parents. It's common for liberal politicians—and even Trump himself, on occasion—to say these young people shouldn't be punished for the "crimes" of their parents, who brought their children with them when they crossed the border without papers. But parents aren't criminals any more than their children are. They chose survival over hunger, and sought to keep their families together and give them a future.

The perpetrators of the "crime" are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive. The "crime" was NAFTA.[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Island Teamster's deportation is a wakeup call: Unions must protect their immigrant members

"We deserve our share of the blame for not doing more to engage our members on issues of racial justice and immigrant rights in recent decades. When we fail to talk to our members about these issues, bigotry festers."

By George Miranda, New York Daily News
September 9, 2017
Hundreds of immigrants are being deported every day, and have been for years, but the impact hits home when it happens to one of your own.

Over the last two weeks, my union, the Teamsters, watched as one of our long-serving members was taken from his family and deported. The experience was a wakeup call that deportation can happen to any of our immigrant members or neighbors.

In just 13 days, the family that Teamster member Eber Garcia Vasquez labored to build and support over three decades was ripped apart.[…]

Read the full article:
Teamsters Local 813 member Eber Garcia Vasquez