Friday, December 5, 2014

The Case for Reparations (to Undocumented Workers)

The math usually used to make the case that undocumented migrants are a net loss to the United States is fairly simple: subtract the cost of the public services they use from the taxes they pay. What’s missing from the calculations is the value that their labor contributes to the US economy, a good part of which is uncompensated.

By Greg Grandin, The Nation
December 1, 2014

Where, outside of a marginalized left, are today’s equivalent of the antebellum radical Republicans, “ready and willing to destroy” the coercive deportation regime? Where are the absolutists, who would brook no compromise, who would rather see the republic ripped apart than tolerate an immigration system that denies equal rights to millions upon millions of people; that brutalizes families, generates thousands upon thousands of desert deaths, and breeds sexual terror, be it on the journey here, in the factory and field, or in the closed quarters of the home, where women workers have limited protections and where fear trumps whatever slim recourse to the law they might have (that is, when the law itself isn’t the rapist)? Where is the equal of William Lloyd Garrison, capable of both analytically dissecting and morally condemning public policy that compels migration (through trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA) and then denies the humanity of the migrants once they get here; a regime that relies on a carceral, militarized state for its perpetuation? In the 1840s, radical constitutionalists like Alvan Stewart cut through procedural objections against executive action by arguing that the principle of universal equality is found in the common law of the United States and in the due-process clause of the Constitution. Where are those legal insurgents today insisting that forcing millions of people to live like serfs enthralled to their lord-employers is illegal? That the constitution doesn’t just authorize Barack Obama to limit some deportations—it authorizes him to strike the whole damn regime down. Who are today’s dissenting intellectuals with the comparable influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who after the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act urged collective resistance against the law?

We certainly have their opposite. The opponents of even the mildest program of immigration reform are as passionate in their denunciations and comprehensive in their analysis as John Calhoun was in his day when he said that slavery didn’t contradict but rather made republican liberty possible. Whenever a Democrat merely hints at a comparison between slavery then and undocumented migration now, they pounce, such as when Nancy Pelosi, referring to Obama’s recent executive action limiting some deportations, said that “the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.” [...]

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Statement of Power: The NYSYLC's Response to Obama's Immigration Announcement

New York Student Youth Leadership Council
November 24, 2014

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the executive steps he plans on taking to address flaws within our immigration system. Among other changes, his plan includes expansive border enforcement initiatives, expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the creation of Deferred Action for Parents. President Obama’s executive order will impact the lives of many undocumented immigrants across the country, including our members and ourselves.

We acknowledge that some undocumented immigrants may benefit from President Obama’s executive order. Unfortunately, this action is long overdue and nowhere near enough to address an inhumane immigration system. We want to be clear that we see President Obama’s priority enforcement policy as directly targeting Muslim communities and black communities. We also want to acknowledge that by excluding groups like undocumented youth who arrived after the age of 16, unaccompanied minors, undocumented parents of DACA recipients, undocumented siblings of US citizens, deported immigrants and deported parents of US citizens, recently arrived immigrants, previously and currently incarcerated undocumented immigrants, agricultural workers, those who are currently pregnant, and undocumented LGBTIQ immigrants, our government sees them as targets. We will not celebrate policies that are intended to pit immigrant communities against each other. We are accustomed to the colonizer’s tricks and will not fall for them. Instead, we renew our commitment to fighting alongside each other.

We demand an immediate moratorium on all deportations and a reform to our country’s detention centers. We are committed to fighting for a just society in which every single human being is treated with respect. We are particularly aware that certain undocumented immigrants are more vulnerable than others due to policies and laws that directly target those communities. Therefore, we will be vigilant and organize to protect those made most vulnerable as enforcement priorities. We urge the American public to educate themselves on how much it costs to detain human beings and to not fall for the myths that politicians propagate to establish climates of fear.

We hope to live in a world where our worth as human beings is not measured by something as arbitrary as papers. The fight for immigrant rights has been entirely led by directly impacted communities. It’s our work as directly impacted individuals that has enabled this small shift in action. Nothing will be enough to erase the years of degradation and dehumanization that our families have faced. It’s imperative that we rise up and challenge our brutal and inhumane immigration system both at a national and local level. We deserve better. Our families deserve better. We are here to fight for substantive and not superficial change and hope you will join us in the battle.


The NYSYLC is the first undocumented youth led, membership led, organization that empowers immigrant youth to drop the fear and challenge the broken immigration system through leadership development, grassroots organizing, educational advancement, and a safe space for self-expression.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Obama Administration’s November 2014 Immigration Initiatives: Questions and Answers

By Kate M. Manuel, Congressional Research Service
November 24, 2014

The Congressional Research Service's 23-page discussion of the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced on Nov. 20, 2014.

Download the PDF:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Poll finds support for Obama's executive action on immigration

By David McCabe, The Hill
November 24, 2014

Voters are very supportive of President Obama’s executive order on immigration, according to a new poll from an organization aligned with Democrats.

Sixty-seven percent of voters said that they had a favorable opinion of the plan when it was described to them, and 28 percent had an unfavorable view in the poll conducted by Hart Research Associates for Americans United for Change, a liberal group.

The results of the poll vary by party affiliation.

An overwhelming 91 percent of Democrats favored the plan as it was described to them, as did 67 percent of independent voters.

Fifty-one percent of Republicans did not favor the plan.

Hart conducted the poll on Nov. 19-20, so much of the response came before Obama’s announcement on the night of Nov. 20. However, details about Obama’s actions had been trickling out.[...]

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Read the poll (PDF):

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How The Immigrant Rights Movement Got Obama To Save Millions From Deportations

A battle raged among allies, publicly and behind the scenes, to shift focus from a legislative overhaul strategy to making the idea of executive action inevitable. This is how it happened.

By Adrian Carrasquillo, BuzzFeed
November 22, 2014

President Obama’s executive actions to give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants have been framed as a president choosing to be confrontational and daring. But the real story is different: Obama was forced to do this.

The path to the executive actions didn’t start in Washington — it started at a rec center in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The president was there, at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center, named for the flight attendant who first told U.S. authorities the country was under attack on 9/11, to deliver a routine speech, pushing Republicans on immigration one last time before Thanksgiving.

As is usual, White House officials invited a range of people to the event, including a number of undocumented immigrants who received temporary legal status under Obama’s 2012 executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate and a DACA recipient, was invited to the event — then randomly selected to stand behind Obama in the typically diverse backdrop that accompanies a presidential speech.

And in that moment a nervous Hong decided to interrupt Obama and yell something off-message: The president had the power to stop the deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.[...]

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Obama immigration plan means for US economy

Obama's new immigration orders could boost labor income by $6.8 billion, helping to generate 160,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in additional tax revenues, say economists. But immigration reform by Congress would do more.

By Josh Boak, Associated Press
November 22, 2014

[Note: The article's claims for the benefits of guest worker programs are very questionable.--The Politics of Immigration]

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's expansive executive action on immigration is good for the U.S. economy — just not as good as partnering with Congress on broader reforms.

Announced Thursday, the executive order would prevent the deportation of about 4 million parents and guardians who lack the same legal status as their children. By gaining work permits, they will likely command higher wages, move more easily between jobs and boost government tax revenues, according to multiple economic analyses.

"This is focused on people who are already in the economy today, who are contributing mightily but are basically operating in the shadows," said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Their economic potential is being held back." [...]

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Media Release: Immigrant Rights Activists Converge On Georgia Immigrant Prison, Then School Of The Americas

For immediate release
November 22, 2014
Anton Flores, 706-302-9661,
Arturo Viscarra, SOA Watch, 617-820-3008,
Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch 202-425-5128,

Activists Protest One of Largest US Immigrant Prisons, Caravan to Fort Benning, Home of the School of the Americas

5 Human Rights Activists Arrested

On Saturday, November 22, hundreds of human rights defenders converged in the remote town of Lumpkin, Georgia, whose largest employer is the Corrections Corporation of America at the Stewart Detention Center. Stewart is one of the largest immigrant prisons in the US, currently warehousing 1,800 men for profit. These detainees' only “crime” was to flee the economic and political violence in their home countries, violence created by US policies and training like at the SOA/WHINSEC.

In the wake of President Obama’s announcement about his executive actions in regards to immigration, the activists marched 1.7 miles from central Lumpkin to the Stewart Detention Center. At a vigil in front of the prison, the activists demanded the release of the immigrants who are imprisoned at Stewart, an immediate end to mass deportations, and the closure of the Stewart Detention Center. Five activists were arrested for their nonviolent civil disobedience at the gates of Stewart: longtime union activist Maureen Fitzsimmos of Michigan; Rebecca Kanner, former SOA Watch prisoner of conscience from Michigan; Anton Flores, the vigil organizer from the Alterna community and the Georgia Detention Watch coalition; Jason McGaughey, of Washington, DC; and Kevin Caron of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. Bail was set at $25,000 for Anton Flores, and $1,000 for each of the others, but the SOA Watch Legal Collective negotiated bonds down to $250 each.[...]

Read the full press release: