Monday, April 24, 2017

The Trump Era Tests the True Power of Sanctuary Cities

By Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker  
April 18, 2017
Ever since Donald Trump became President, mayors and city council members in “sanctuary cities”—places where local law-enforcement officials limit their co√∂peration with immigration agents—have promised to resist the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants. The new Administration has responded with threats (to cut sanctuary cities’ funding), reprisals (like launching more raids in specific jurisdictions), and accusations (that these cities are making the country less safe). City leaders have, in turn, criticized immigration raids, and raised money to pay for the legal bills of residents who’ve been arrested. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ice) answers to the federal government, not to local officeholders, and as it continues to expand the scope and reach of its activity, the limits of city power are becoming increasingly clear.

Consider New York City, whose leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, are vocally pro-immigrant and anti-Trump. Lately, ice agents have been showing up at locations where the city is powerless to stop them: the courts. Since January, there have been seventeen reports of ice agents making arrests at courthouses in the city, compared to nineteen such reports made in the previous two years combined, according to the Immigrant Defense Project, a nonprofit legal-advocacy organization. In March, ice agents made an arrest at Kings County Family Court, something that advocates say had never happened before.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Excerpt: What Trump Doesn’t Get About MS-13

Donald Trump tweeted at 5:39 a.m. on April 18 that the spread of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) resulted from weak immigration enforcement under Obama. The gang is actually a homegrown product whose power and extent were increased by the policy of deporting aliens with criminal convictions under Bill Clinton—the same policy that Trump boasts about continuing now.

Here's what we say in The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, second edition, Chapter 8, “Are Immigrants a Threat?”:

…Deporting someone for a violent crime may actually make us less safe....[I]f the offender is truly a danger to others, deportation makes no sense. It simply takes offenders out of the parole system, and their criminal record may not follow them across the border. Whether they remain in their country of birth, go elsewhere, or return to the United States without permission, no one is monitoring them to ensure they don’t put someone else at risk….

Thousands of Central Americans were deported as “criminal aliens” after IIRIRA and AEDPA were enacted. Among them were youths who belonged to Mara Salvatrucha (known as MS-13), a Los Angeles-based street gang. Crime experts say the deportations made it possible for the U.S. gang to take root in Central America, especially in El Salvador, fueling criminal violence there. As a result of its connections in both Central America and the United States, MS-13 grew into a real force in the smuggling and distribution of drugs. In October 2012 the U.S. Treasury declared MS-13 a significant “transnational criminal organization” because of its “serious transnational criminal activities, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, assassinations, racketeering, blackmail, extortion, and immigration offenses.” MS-13 members now reportedly see deportations from the United States as a way to get “free rides” to other countries in order to expand the gang’s operations.

[We’re occasionally posting excerpts from the new edition of our book which seem relevant to the current situation. The updated and expanded edition is due out on May 22. You can pre-order here or from your favorite bookseller.]

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two Solidarity Actions: Support Juan Manuel Montes and Tacoma Hunger Strikers

ell Secretary Kelly: Bring DACA-Recipient Juan Back from Mexico!
On February 17, Juan Manuel Montes was walking to a taxi stand in his hometown in California
when he was approached by border officials and asked for his papers. Though Juan was legally authorized to live and work in America through the DACA program, he was deported to Mexico just hours later.

This is a direct consequence to Donald Trump's mass deportation agenda and the acts of an unaccountable agency. Juan Manuel must be reunited with his family in California as soon as possible. Join us in demanding Secretary Kelly take immediate action.[…]

Read and sign the petition:

Tacoma, WA: Support Hunger Strikers Fighting Worsening Detention Conditions Under Trump

By Anonymous Contributor, It’s Coming Down
April 19, 2017
A new group of immigrants have joined a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center, run by the private corporation GEO Group (GEO). In addition to the hunger strike, immigrants detained at NWDC are boycotting the company store (commissary) to protest unfair prices and lack of nutritional food.

On Tuesday, April 18, the women’s section of the Northwest Detention Center began a hunger strike to protest GEO and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to improve the conditions to meet basic living standards. This follows a protest that began on April 10, 2017 when up to 750 people spent a week on hunger strike. While GEO promised to change the food menu to meet basic nutritional needs and lower commissary prices, it has failed to do so.

Detention conditions have worsened under the Trump administration, triggering this latest strike. Trump has staffed his deportation force with openly anti-immigrant officials with links to white supremacist organizations, leaving people detained with little choice but to put their bodies on the line to fight for their basic dignity. Attorney General Jeff Session’s newly released memorandum calling for increased prosecutions of immigrants and their supporters, combined with a roll-out where he referred to immigrants as “filth,” highlights the continued need for local resistance to the federal deportation and detention dragnet.[…]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day Without Bread Update: Arrests, Protest, Signs of Solidarity

The April 21 protest in support of immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Queens brought four arrests and extensive coverage in New York media. Of the 31 workers threatened by ICE, 18 are continuing to fight for a full severance package and a commitment by the company not to cooperate with immigration authorities. A number of businesses honored the call for a “Day Without Bread,” posting the protest’s yellow sign in their windows. Among the shops in solidarity were Yemeni bodegas in Brooklyn that also honored the “Day Without Immigrants” in February.—TPOI editor

Protesters block delivery trucks. Photo:
Immigration Inquiry Draws Protest at Tom Cat Bakery

By Tejal Rao, New York Times
April 21, 2017
The protest over a Department of Homeland Security investigation that began in December and threatened the jobs of several immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, Queens, was meant to begin at 6 a.m. on Friday.

Photo: @WidadIndie
But at 3 a.m., a few protesters arrived at the factory and chained themselves to the bakery’s trucks, disrupting morning deliveries. Four people were arrested, the police said.

By 7, more than 100 people had gathered in the rain, carrying signs that read “No Human Is Illegal” and “Rise and Resist.” Members of a marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, played as a group of 100 people marched back and forth along 10th Street, chanting in both Spanish and English.[…]

Read the full article:

New York: Tom Cat Bakery Workers Hold "Day Without Bread" Protest

Democracy Now!
April 21, 2017
Photo: @WidadIndie
In New York City, immigrant workers at the Tom Cat Bakery are calling for a "day without bread," as about 18 workers face the loss of their jobs today after their employer demanded valid working papers. This morning, activists locked themselves to the underside of Tom Cat Bakery trucks, stalling delivery of bread while police worked to cut them out. Meanwhile, over 100 of the workers’ supporters rallied outside the bakery in solidarity with the workers. This is Tom Cat Bakery employee Osias Davila.

Osias Davila: "There are workers who have been here for 10 years, 18 years, and so it’s unjust that Tom Cat treats us this way, after we have given so much for the company to grow. It’s a very large business with a lot of production. So what we’re asking for at this time is that there is justice and that they stand up for their workers."

Read the full article:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

COMING SOON! The Politics of Immigration, Second Edition

The expanded and updated 2nd edition of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers is now available for pre-order (release date: May 22, 2017). Rigorously researched and loaded with citations, the book tackles complex concerns in a clear and accessible style. The Politics of Immigration is an antidote to today's immigrant-bashing politicians and pundits, and a valuable resource for anyone wanting to talk to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors about immigration.
Pre-order here or from your favorite bookseller. Sign up for our email list by sending the word “subscribe” to Check out our blog for news and updates, and our website for further resources. You can follow us on Twitter @Immigration_QA and find us on Facebook @ImmigrationQA.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Day Without Bread, April 21: Support NY Bakery Workers as They Fight “Silent Raids”

During the Obama administration employers and the government used the “silent raid” as a major
tool for intimidating undocumented workers. In this scenario a company notifies some of its employees that the government has found problems with their documents; if the workers can’t verify their legal status by a certain date, they lose their jobs. This tactic has led to the firing of thousands of immigrants—often from better-paying union jobs—driving them into substandard jobs in the underground economy.

Workers at the Tom Cat bakery in Queens are fighting back. Thirty-one of them have been threatened with firing on Friday, April 21, if they don’t produce documents, but instead of accepting this tactic the workers are calling for a citywide “Day Without Bread” on the date. The nonprofit organization Brandworkers is representing the workers, and several local restaurants have already agreed not to serve bread on April 21. Other supporters are demonstrating their solidarity by signing a petition and contributing to a relief fund for the workers.

The April 21 action will kick off with a rally outside the bakery from 6 am to 8 am.  The location is 43-05 10th Street in Long Island City, which is accessible from several subway lines. Yes, it’s early in the morning, and there’s a good chance of rain, but by turning out New Yorkers can help the bakery workers in their struggle—and build locally for the national Day Without Immigrants on May 1.

NYC Bakery Workers Plan Citywide ‘Day Without Bread’ to Protest Immigrant Firings
Can you imagine an entire day in New York City without bread?

By Simone Wilson, Patch Queens
April 19, 2017
LONG ISLAND CITY, QUEENS — We've endured a day without immigrants, a day without women and even a day without bodegas in the name of standing up to President Trump and his policies. But can we endure a day without bread?

Workers at New York’s oldest artisanal bakery who say they're facing immediate termination due to their immigration status are urging all "restaurants and consumers across the city to refrain from selling or eating bread" this Friday for what would be the city's first-ever “Day Without Bread.”

Tom Cat Bakery's management previously told workers at the Queens factory that the company was being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the protesters claim.

Now, “thirty-one workers, many of whom have been at the bakery for a decade or more, have been told they will be fired April 21 if they do not provide new employment documents,” according to a statement issued by Brandworkers, a nonprofit that is representing the workers.[...]

Read the full article:

Tom Cat Does Trump’s Dirty Work

By Danny Katch, Socialist Worker
March 23, 2017
WHEN PEOPLE talk about Donald Trump's anti-immigrant base, they usually aren't thinking of artisanal bakeries in New York City.

But when Tom Cat Bakery in Queens handed out letters to 30 employees on March 15 demanding that they show proof of legal status, it showed that the people who have the most to gain from Trump's crackdown aren't white factory workers in the Rustbelt, but bosses everywhere who want to keep their workers divided and afraid.

“I pay taxes, I work hard, I have a family. Last week, we received a letter asking us for documentation. We were only given 10 days [to submit the paperwork]. I think it's very unfair the way we're being treated. We've given so much to this company. The reason why the company is successful today is because of our hard work.”[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sign Educators’ and Unionists’ Pledges of Support for the May 1 “Day Without Immigrants”

Education workers and labor leaders are asking for signatures on pledges to back the planned protests by immigrant workers on May 1. The educators’ pledge calls for a moratorium at universities and colleges that day “halting business as usual…as an act of solidarity.” Reflecting current legal and contractual restraints on union actions, the union leaders give a vaguer recommendation “to participate in whatever way we can.”—TPOI editor
A Call to Action for Higher Education
The Higher Education Community in the United States

The following pledge is being circulated by students, staff, faculty, and administrators across the United States. In the face of a climate of increasing bigotry and violence, we call on the university community to engage in a moratorium on business as usual and take action in solidarity with the immigrant worker strike on May Day.

We face a moment of great uncertainty. Elements of the social safety net and basic rights provisions are being rescinded and amended more swiftly than they can be challenged through traditional legal and legislative interventions. Millions of immigrants live under daily threat of separation from their families and communities by intensified ICE raids.

Many of the attacks we face directly affect the university. The arts, humanities, and sciences face not only funding cuts but an assault on the concept of free inquiry itself. Climate change data is being removed from the public domain, university budgets are being held hostage by state governments and the threat of political retaliation by the federal government, white supremacists have been emboldened to commit hate crimes on our campuses, and basic facts have diminishing import in the national debate.

May Day 2017 will be a day of struggle against the Trump administration and the structural conditions under which it originated.[…]

Read and sign the full pledge:

Labor for Our Revolution Statement in Support of “A Day Without Immigrants”

Millions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, who lead hard working and
productive lives, are also union members.

Donald Trump launched his political campaign in 2015 with a racist attack on Mexican
immigrants, painting them as rapists and murderers. He made attacks on our Muslim sisters and brothers his political trademark -- even going so far as to propose a religious test for immigration. This kind of race baiting and immigrant bashing has a long history in our country – a consistent attempt by business elites to divide working class people in order to advance their pro-corporate agenda.

As leaders of the unions who supported Bernie Sanders for president, we refuse to go down that road of hatred, resentment and divisiveness. We will march and stand with our sister and brother immigrant workers against the terror tactics of the Trump administration.

We are a nation of immigrants. Every generation and every race and ethnic group has seen attempts to divide the working class based on race and ethnic origin. Together we say NO to the politics of division! We call on Trump and his supporters to end the attacks on immigrant workers!

On May 1, 2017 millions of immigrant workers will engage in public resistance to the Trump administration. In some places that resistance will include labor strikes and boycotts. Millions will march in cities and towns all across the country. We pledge to support these protests and will urge our organizations' leaders and members to participate in whatever way we can. Workers united, will never be defeated!

In Solidarity,

Larry Hanley, President,                                  Chris Shelton, President,
Amalgamated Transit Union                            Communications Workers of America

RoseAnn DeMoro, Executive Director,             Peter Knowlton, General President,
National Nurses United                                    United Electrical Workers

For more information, contact Labor for Our Revolution coordinator Rand Wilson or (617) 949-9720

Sign the pledge: