Friday, February 12, 2016

The Case Against the “Humanitarian Border”

How the Border Patrol’s humanitarian rhetoric only furthers the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

By Jill M. Williams, NACLA Report on the Americas
December 22, 2015

For unauthorized migrants, more restrictive and militarized border enforcement regimes worldwide have made transnational migration an increasingly deadly endeavor. The International Organization for Migration estimates that since the early 1990s, over six thousand migrants have died in the borderlands where the United States and Mexico meet, while over 22,000 people have perished in the Mediterranean Sea.

In response, assemblages of NGOs and governmental agencies have emerged in many border regions to mitigate the physical consequences of border enforcement. From military-assisted policing and surveillance efforts to migrant reception and aid centers, these efforts are loosely grouped under the umbrella term “humanitarian interventions.” Each provides a different level of assistance and opens or closes different legal avenues for the migrants involved.

Political scientist William Walters has referred to the proliferation of migrant aid and services in the borderlands as the emergence of the “humanitarian border”[...]

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Immigration Reform 2016: Bernie Sanders Staffer Becomes First Undocumented Immigrant Lawyer in NY

By Abigail Adams, International Business Times
February 3, 2016

Cesar Vargas is having a big week. First the prominent immigration activist and Latino outreach strategist for Sen. Bernie Sanders helped his candidate nearly tie Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, and then, on Wednesday, he officially became the first undocumented immigrant to hold a law license in New York.

After Vargas announced his good news Tuesday, many immigration activists celebrated the achievement on social media. The Dream Act Coalition, a pro-immigration reform group that Vargas co-founded, posted on Facebook and Twitter to congratulate their former leader and spread word of a celebration for Vargas in Staten Island, where he grew up.

Vargas, who has lived in the United States since he was 5 years old and is now safe to stay in the country thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, passed the New York state bar exam in 2011.[...]

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Deportation Nation: A Timeline Of Immigrant Criminalization

[The Deportation Nation website provides a powerful interactive overview of U.S. deportation history and policies.--TPOI editors]

The United States is not just a nation of immigrants, it is also a nation of deportation.

This timeline shows how the U.S. immigration system became focused on enforcement and criminalization. Click to watch videos and learn how the Founding Fathers allotted power to decide who can enter, and who will be deported. Context is key to understanding the “deportation delirium” that has led to a record number of removals under the Obama administration.

Click here to view the deportation timeline:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"This Man Will Almost Certainly Die"

Dozens of men have died in disturbing circumstances in privatized, immigrant-only prisons. The Bureau of Prisons itself says there’s a problem. And yet the privatization scheme continues.

By Seth Freed, The Nation
January 28, 2016

Where Claudio Fagardo-Saucedo grew up, on the colonial streets of the Mexican city of Durango, migrating to the United States was almost a rite of passage. It was following the stream of departures from Durango in the 1980s that the lanky young man left his family and traveled north. His mother, Julieta Saucedo Salazar, heard that he’d found jobs working as a laborer in Los Angeles. But they soon lost touch. “We did not know much about him, really,” his younger sister told me.

Fagardo-Saucedo worked, his jobs sometimes taking him out of California, and occasionally he got into trouble—once for “possession for sale” of cocaine, another time for stealing jewelry. Every seven or eight years, his mother recalled, he’d return to her house—but never by choice. “They caught him all the time for being illegal,” Julieta said. She always hoped her wandering son might stay, get to know the family again, but he never did. “He would be here a month, and then he’d go again.”

? In the summer of 2003, immigration agents detained Fagardo-Saucedo on his way back to California, but this time the Border Patrol referred him to federal prosecutors, who charged him with “illegal re-entry,” or returning to the United States after deportation. He served nearly five years before being sent back to Mexico. Again, he tried to return. Early one morning in August of 2008, Fagardo-Saucedo triggered an infrared sensor as he and two others ran across the border near Tijuana. He pleaded guilty in a US District Court to another “illegal re-entry” charge. The judge sentenced him to four years in federal prison.

When Fagardo-Saucedo arrived at Reeves, a prison complex in rural West Texas, he entered a little-known segment of the federal prison system. Over the previous decade, elected officials and federal agencies had quietly recast the relationship between criminal justice and immigration enforcement. These changes have done as much to bloat the federal prison population as the War on Drugs; they have also helped make Latinos the largest racial or ethnic group sentenced to federal custody.[...]

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Beyond Deportation: Fixing a Broken Immigration System

By David Bacon, American Prospect
January 27, 2016

The Obama administration's self-contradictory stance on deportation perpetuates a long tradition of U.S. immigration policies that ignore the root causes of migration.

When President Obama appointed Dollie Gee to the U.S. District Court in 2010, he undoubtedly didn't expect her to mount a frontal challenge to his administration's detention and deportation policies. But five years after her elevation as the first Chinese American woman on the federal bench, Gee ruled last summer that holding Central American women and children in private detention lockups was illegal.

Gee didn’t mince words. She called the detentions "deplorable." And she denounced as "fear-mongering" the claim by Homeland Security lawyers that the detentions would discourage more people from leaving Central America.

Her angry tone shouldn't have come as a surprise. Gee's father was an immigrant engineer and her mother a garment worker in a Los Angeles sweatshop. After law school, as a young lawyer, Gee sued employers for discrimination and then worked for the Teamsters Union, helping workers and immigrants win representation elections. For Chinese Americans, today’s detentions contain ugly echoes of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which led to the brutal detention of thousands of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay 128 years ago.[...]

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

AP Investigation: Feds' failures imperil migrant children

By Garance Burke, Associated Press
January 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Without enough beds to house the record numbers of young arrivals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered its safety standards during border surges in the last three years to swiftly move children out of government shelters and into sponsors' homes. The procedures were increasingly relaxed as the number of young migrants rose in response to spiraling gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to emails, agency memos and operations manuals obtained by AP, some under the Freedom of Information Act.

First, the government stopped fingerprinting most adults seeking to claim the children. In April 2014, the agency stopped requiring original copies of birth certificates to prove most sponsors' identities. The next month, it decided not to complete forms that request sponsors' personal and identifying information before sending many of the children to sponsors' homes. Then, it eliminated FBI criminal history checks for many sponsors.

Since the rule changes, the AP has identified more than two dozen children who were placed with sponsors who subjected them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, or severe abuse and neglect.

"This is clearly the tip of the iceberg," said Jacqueline Bhabha, research director at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. "We would never release domestic children to private settings with as little scrutiny."[...]

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Petition: Stop denying our children their right to a birth certificate

To: Texas Department of State Health Services
From: Marco Malagon, Princeton, Texas
Date: January 25, 2016

Last August, my wife and I were thrilled to become parents. As a proud a father, I am committed to making sure my child has more opportunities than I did growing up. But soon after his birth I found out that because I am undocumented, the state of Texas would deny my son – a U.S. citizen – his birth certificate.

And it’s not just my family: across Texas parents are struggling to get documentation for their children.

Sign to demand that the Texas Department of State Health Services stop denying birth certificates to children of undocumented parents.

Without a birth certificate, these children won’t be able to access basic services guaranteed to U.S. citizens. They can’t be enrolled in school and their parents can’t authorize medical staff to treat them in an emergency. This practice is designed to punish undocumented parents and make it harder for their children to access services they have a right to.

After much pushing I got lucky at the clerk’s office and they finally found a workaround for me to obtain the document. But many offices in Texas are not helping people in my situation; a friend of mine has a one year-old baby who still has no birth certificate. She’s worried about whether she’ll be able to enroll her child in daycare or how she will get health care for her baby.

This practice discriminates against US Citizen children and is unacceptable. The Constitution says that children born in the U.S. are granted full citizenship; it’s not up to Texas to deny that right.

Please sign my petition and demand that the Texas DSHS stop denying children of undocumented parents their right to fully-documented citizenship.

Sign the petition: