Monday, April 21, 2014

A Little Girl Named Nohemi: Martyr of Migration

By Frontera NorteSur
April 7, 2014

On February 4, the grandparents of Jocelyn Nohemi Alvarez Quillay reluctantly saw the girl off from the family home in the province of Canar, Ecuador. Nohemi was embarking on a journey of thousands of miles to reunite with her parents, Jose Segundo Alvarez and Martha Violeta Quillay, who were reportedly living and working in New York City without papers.

By early March, Nohemi was sitting on the border of New Mexico within a stone’s throw of the United States. Only a few days later, on March 11, she was found hanging in a bathroom of a Ciudad Juarez children’s shelter.

Nohemi was 12 years old.

The still-unexplained death of an Ecuadoran child who was traveling across continents without the supervision of adult relatives has stirred public opinion while recasting scrutiny on a state justice system officials say has been reformed. [...]

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taking On the Fashion Industry

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
April 19, 2014

Tansy E. Hoskins. Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. Pluto Press, 2014. 254 pages.

To say that Tansy E. Hoskins' Stitched Up deconstructs the garment industry would be a misrepresentation. What the British activist and journalist does is more like a controlled demolition, using facts and footnotes to strip away the apparel trade's decorative exterior and then to dynamite the foundations.

Hoskins' polemic begins with the title. In British usage "to stitch up" is "to swindle, to overcharge exorbitantly," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and Hoskins' goal is to show the many ways that fashion swindles us all. Through its own media outlets and its billions of dollars in advertising, the industry creates a glittery illusion of beauty and sophistication. The reality is a $1.5 trillion industry as grimy and profit-driven as any, and the glossy pages of Vogue conceal a record of human and environmental damage we might expect from coal mining or oil drilling. [...]

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Washington detainees on hunger strike released from confinement after lawsuit

ACLU asks judge for injunction to halt US immigration agency's practice of placing detainees in solitary confinement

The Guardian (UK), from Associated Press
April 4, 2014

Lawyers who sued the federal government on behalf of about 20 immigrant hunger strikers at a Washington state detention facility say their clients have been released from solitary confinement.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington and Columbia Legal Services sued on behalf of the men, and said they were returned to the general population by Friday morning after six days in solitary confinement.

In the lawsuit filed this week, the lawyers said US immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) were unlawfully retaliating against the men for exercising their right to free speech.

The agency denied that and said the men had been intimidating others to join their hunger strike.

The hunger strikers were protesting US immigration law as well as the conditions at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. [...]

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Monday, March 31, 2014

How Change Happens: The Immigration Uprising

By David Bacon, Truthout
March 27, 2014 

With Congress gridlocked and unable to pass even the deeply flawed comprehensive immigration reform, activists around the country are successfully challenging the injustices inherent in US immigration policy and enforcement.

Two weeks ago, hundreds of people inside the Tacoma (Washington) Detention Center launched a hunger strike against its private operator, GEO Group, demanding better conditions and a moratorium on deportations. Activists, who have held vigils outside the center for years, now gather every day to support those inside. A week later the strike spread to a GEO facility in Texas. According to Maru Mora Villapando of Latino Advocacy in Tacoma, in both locations the company has isolated the strikers and in Tacoma threatened to force-feed them.

This is only the most dramatic action of a wave of activity around the country, in which community and labor activists, and now deportees themselves, have refused to endure increased immigration enforcement quietly. They are mostly young, deriving much of their inspiration from the Dreamers who forced the administration two years ago to begin providing legal status to some of those who otherwise would be deported. These activists refuse to wait for Congress to enact its immigration reform proposals. In fact, many reject those proposals as fatally compromised. Instead, they're organizing actions on the ground to win rights and equality. [...]

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The ACLU’s Border Checkpoint

By Frontera NorteSur
March 21, 2014

Driving on 1-25 north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, motorists are forced to detour through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint set up to enforce immigration and drug laws. Often, a friendly agent will ask the vehicle occupant (s) to affirm U.S. citizenship status before sending the traveler on his or her way. Occasionally, agents will simply peer into a car and wave travelers on without first asking questions.

Officers can also ask more detailed questions, inquiring about the motorist’s background and comings and goings. Other times, drivers are asked to pull over for a vehicle search that might include a go-over by a dope-sniffing dog.
On Wednesday, March 19, travelers heading north on 1-25 encountered another checkpoint for the first time ever: the “Know your Rights Checkpoint” organized by the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Positioned just north of the official government checkpoint about 30 minutes from Las Cruces, staff from the ACLU’s New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights, supported by community volunteers, greeted motorists at a scenic rest stop.

Under the New Mexico sun, the group hoisted signs, urged passerby to report alleged abuses and displayed literature at a table. [...]

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chicago March Sets the Stage for 90 Days Of Direct Action

*Demand the President Use His Authority to Stop the Deportations: “The road to legislation leads through the gate at the White House.”
*Begins National Petition and Action Campaign
*Congressman Gutierrez and Elvira Arellano Join Forces Again as the Human Rights Leader Returns to the Struggle in the U.S.

From Sanctuary National
March 29, 2014

Congressman Luis Gutierrez joined with Familia Latina Unida co-founder Elvira Arellano on Thursday, March 27th, in a homecoming for the now famous human rights leader. Yet the two veterans of the immigration struggle were not looking backwards. They joined with a delegation of over 300 Pastors and another 1500 community leaders outside the Federal Building to set a clear demand for the movement for the next 90 days.

“First, we want the President to use his executive authority to extend the deferments he gave the dreamers to their parents and the parents of U.S. citizen children while Congress remains paralyzed by politics.

Second, we want the President to extend emergency parole status to deported parents with U.S. citizen or dreamer children who are under threat of kidnapping and extortion so that they can return in safety to the U.S. while they pursue requests for asylum.

Gutierrez explained his recent negotiations with the President. “The president has asked for 90 days to see if the Republican Congress will finally act. If not, he has committed to the use of bold executive authority.”

Familia Latina Unida Co-Chair Emma Lozano joined Elvira Arellano in calling for 90 days of action. “We must stand against every single deportation and we must stand with every single family that has been separated to reunite them. We must organize mass civil disobedience. We must march and march and march until the streets are filled with our millions.

“We have been promised before – and we have lived with broken promises. This time we must build such a movement that this promise will be respected – and kept in full!”

The popular Congressman explained that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has a list of legally sanctioned executive orders. We will check them off one by one, beginning with the extension of the deferments with work permits to the families. While the Congressman held high hopes for Presidential action if the Congress remains paralyzed, Arellano and Lozano remain convinced that only sustained action around the specific demands could finally bring relief to millions of families. “We have suffered two million deportations. Our children are suffering. We must sand up with one voice as one united community.”

What is clear now is that the road to passing legislation leads through the White House door of executive action. The threat of executive action is the only hope of bringing the congress to act. The reality of executive action is the only way reactionary members of the Republican caucus can be brought to the table.

“We have wasted too much time knocking at the door of Republican Congressmen. Our unified vote convinced Republican Party leaders that their party can never win the White House unless they pass immigration reform, but they cannot act without rank and file Republicans. Those rank and file Republicans will never act to pass immigration reform as long as the President is deporting 1100 people a day – as long as the President is doing what they want.

“We will focus our demand on the White House and build a national base of support for executive action in the next 90 days. That is the challenge we must meet – the challenge we will meet,” said Lozano. Congressman Gutierrez committed to be with those who marched for Presidential action – “wherever or whenever.”

Arellano spoke with passion about the families – and the children - still held in detention on the border as they tried to find safety for their U.S. citizen children from life and death threats in Mexico. Lozano asked how it was possible that the safety of Latino children could be met with such indifference by the U.S. government. “If these were anglo children under threat of kidnapping and murder in some country in the middle east this nation would call out the army. Our Latino children just don’t get the same respect from this government.”

Speaker after speaker criticized the Obama administration for the assault on the Latino family and accused the President of treating Latino families as “disposables” in the political battles between Democrats and Republicans.

“The President has the opportunity to redeem himself, to redeem his broken promises. It is up to us to hold him to his word this time.”

Pastors pointed to Elvira Arellano’s seemingly miraculous return as cause for new hope in the movement in Chicago. Yet even as the Chicago leaders celebrated their unity and determination, the Pope met with President Obama, led by the call of a young girl seeking to free her father from deportation. With the Pope’s intervention, her father was returned to his family.

“This day marks a real turning point in our struggle,” said one march participant. “Our faith leaders are walking with us now.”

After the rally in Federal Plaza, the pastors led the march to ICE headquarters where over fifty religious leaders and elected officials planted themselves in front of the doors, shutting down the offices until they were arrested. United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck, among those arrested, called on all people of faith to stand with the immigrants in this life and death fight for justice and for human dignity.

“We are united now in our demand on the President to use his executive authority – from the grassroots to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, from the storefront churches to the bishops,” said Lozano. We have 90 days to make our case with power and with the full participation of our community. It’s in our hands.”

See also: Sally Dyck, Methodist Bishop, Arrested At Chicago Immigration Reform Rally

Friday, March 21, 2014

From Tacoma to Texas, Hunger Strikers Challenge Private Immigration Detention Centers

By Candice Bernd, Truthout
March 20, 2014

A hunger strike at a private GEO Group immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington, has spread to another GEO facility in Texas after President Obama called for a review of immigration-enforcement policies last week. But will private prison lobbying ensure beds at these facilities stay filled?

Adelina Cáceres doesn't understand why her husband, David Vásquez, who is a documented resident, remains detained at the privately run Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas, as a result of a prior charge he already served time for years ago.

"Why do they call him a criminal?" Cáceres asked as she sobbed during a phone interview with Truthout. "He already paid for it. He made a big payment. He was in jail, and he paid for that problem. He was in jail for almost a month. ... And now the law is making him go back and pay again. Why?" she asked. She continued to weep as she explained how she is struggling to feed her three children and pay the bills since Vásquez has been detained. [...]

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