Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bay Area Events June 10 with Jane Guskin

The Politics of Immigration co-author Jane Guskin will be in the Bay Area June 7-10, 2008 for the following events:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marcos Gutierrez radio interview with "The Politics of Immigration" co-author Jane Guskin
on KIQI am 1010 San Francisco and KATD am 990 Sacramento

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Dialogue on Immigration
with "The Politics of Immigration" co-author Jane Guskin
Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
Phone: 510-595-7417

For more information or to set up a dialogue in your area, contact

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NC governor vows to combat mistreatment of immigrant poultry workers

In a six-part series, the Observer reported that House of Raeford, an N.C. poultry company with seven processing plants in the Carolinas, has masked the extent of injuries behind its plant walls. Employees say the company has ignored, intimidated or fired workers who were hurt on the job. Illegal immigrants also told the Observer it was easy to get a job at House of Raeford and that they were less likely to question working conditions for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.

By Ames Alexander, The Charlotte Observer (NC)
April 18, 2008

Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday decried the mistreatment of immigrant workers described in recent Observer stories about the poultry industry, saying he'll make sure N.C. regulators have the resources and authority to combat it.

'It's just horrible,' he said during a 40-minute interview Thursday.'This cannot be allowed to continue regardless of what budget situations are.' [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, May 16, 2008

One Raid at a Time: How Immigrant Crackdowns Build the National Security State

By Roberto Lovato, The Public Eye Magazine
Spring 2008, Vol. 23, No. 1

[...] Contrary to the electoral logic prevailing in "pro-immigrant" and mainstream media explanations of the current buildup of the(anti)immigrant government bureaucracy, ICE's war on immigrants is not solely, nor even primarily about shoring up support for the Republicans and other prowar political and economic interests as most analysts and activists would have us believe. A look at precedents for this kind of government anti-immigrant action yields the conclusion that using immigrants to build up government policing and military capabilities is, in fact, a standard practice of the art of statecraft. The historical record provides ample evidence of how national security experts, politicians, elected officials, bureaucrats and other managers of the state have used immigrants and anti-immigrant sentiments and policies as a way of normalizing and advancing militarization within the borders of the United States (the"homeland").

At a time when the mortgage and banking crises make obvious that the American Dream is dying for most, a time in which even its illusion is hardly tenable as revealed in polls that found that less than 18 percent of the U.S. population believes it is living the "AmericanDream," the state needs many reasons to reassert control over an increasingly unruly populace by putting more ICE agents and other gun-wielding government agents among the citizenry. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

INB 5/14/08: May Day Roundup; Raids Continue

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 10 - May 14, 2008

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

In this issue:
May Day Roundup; Raids Continue

1. Northeast: NY, NJ, CT, RI, MA, NH, PA
2. DC and Southeast: DC, VA, NC, GA, FL
3. Midwest: IL, WI, IN, MI, MN
4. Texas, Southwest & Rockies: TX, NM, AZ, CO, NV
5. Pacific Coast: Port Strike, CA, OR, WA

6. Raid at Texas Landscaping Business
7. Raid at Arkansas Airport
8. Raids at Bay Area Restaurants, Homes
9. Restaurants Raided in Hawai'i
10. Virginia Construction Site Raided

May Day demonstrations for immigrant and worker rights took place in at least 220 cities in 32 states on May 1, 2008. [CIMAC (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer, A.C.) 5/5/08 published in] The largest action appeared to be in Milwaukee, where some 30,000 marched, although crowd estimates at Chicago's march ranged from 15,000 to 50,000. In Los Angeles, the reported turnout was anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000.

The mainstream media ran fairly favorable coverage of the marches, noting their energetic spirit despite lower turnout. Compared to previous years, the media also paid more attention to the way in which the immigrant marches have become an annual tradition and are bringing the May Day labor holiday--International Workers' Day--back to the US, where the tradition started in the 1880s.

Many of this year's protests were focused on stopping the immigration raids, especially workplace raids, which have increased steadily since 2006. Yet the raids continued, both before and after May Day, with at least 170 workers arrested in workplace raids in Texas, Arkansas, California, Hawai'i and Virginia between Apr. 25 and May 5.

"[W]hen there is so much repression against immigrants and their families, the real story is how so many people overcame their fear and marched in 200 cities," noted Gladys Vega of the Chelsea Collaborative, which organized a May Day march in Chelsea, Massachusetts. [Article by Roberto Lovato, Of América, posted on Alternet 5/2/08] [...]

Read the full report:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Medicaid: Are You an American? Prove It

A citizenship rule costs states millions but nets few illegals.

By Barbara Basler, AARP Bulletin
March 2008

Bernice Todd's Choctaw family roots are sunk deep in the soil of Oklahoma, a state whose very name is Choctaw for "red people." But in the middle of a debilitating battle with cancer, Todd, a 39-year-old who cleans homes at a trailer park and baby-sits for a living, lost her state Medicaid health care coverage because, although she's a Native American, she could not prove she is a U.S. citizen.

While Todd's case is rich in irony, she is one of tens of thousands of Americans who are falling victim to a new federal rule—aimed at keeping illegal immigrants off the Medicaid rolls—requiring that recipients prove their citizenship and identity with documents many don't have. [...]

Read the full article:

So What About Those Immigrants in Federal Prisons?

by David Wilson
Co-author, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers

Anti-immigrant forces frequently claim immigrants make up 30 percent of the approximately 200,000 people in the federal prison system, and then use this dramatic number to imply that immigration is a major source of crime in the United States. (See for example "Lou Dobbs Tonight," April 1, 2006, David Leonhardt's criticism in the New York Times, May 30, 2007, and Lou Dobbs' attempts to defend himself on "Democracy Now," December 4, 2007. The actual number is between 26 and 27 percent, according to the Bureau of Prisons. For example, the bureau's website showed 52,788 noncitizen inmates in the system as of Nov. 24, 2007, which is 26.4 percent of federal prisoners. See below for the Nov. 24, 2007 data.)

People rarely stop to ask why immigration opponents cite the statistics for federal prisons rather than those for state and local prisons. After all, the federal system accounts for less than 10 percent of the nation's 2.3 million prisoners, and federal prisoners are much less likely to have been convicted of violent crimes than state inmates--about 9.4 percent of federal convicts were in prison for crimes of violence in 2006, compared to 52.1 percent in state prisons. (See the Justice Department's 2006 report.)

The reason the anti-immigrant forces prefer federal prison statistics is that in fact immigrants make up a low proportion of the state and local prison populations. Immigrants are actually less likely to be incarcerated than people who were born in the United States.

The largest prison population is in the state systems, which held about 1.37 million inmates as of June 2006, according to the US Department of Justice. This included 57,725 noncitizens, a little more than 4.2 percent of the total, even though noncitizens make up almost nine percent of the general population--suggesting that US citizens are twice as likely as immigrants to be imprisoned in state systems.

The situation is probably about the same for local jails, although we have no reliable statistics. If we make a very rough estimate based on the Department of Justice's State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), we could guess that some 25,000 undocumented immigrants are in the local jails at any given time, along with a similar number of documented immigrants. (See my blog entry for April 2, 2008.) This would give us some 50,000 noncitizen inmates out of a local prison population of about 766,000, or 6.5 percent. Even this number, which is probably too high, is again significantly less than noncitizens' share in the general population.

If we combine these numbers for federal, state, and local prison populations, on any given day in 2006 and 2007 noncitizens would account for 7.3 percent of the inmate population at most--about 160,500 inmates out of 2.2 million.

There is an obvious reason, incidentally, for the disproportionate number of immigrants in federal prisons: immigrants are much more likely to be charged with the types of offenses that get people put in federal prisons, notably the offenses that involve border violations, like drug smuggling, gun-running and, of course, violations of the immigration laws. As of November 2007, 53.6 percent of federal inmates were incarcerated for drug offenses; 14.6 percent for crimes relating to weapons, explosives and arson; and 10.4 percent for immigration offenses. But the anti-immigrant forces don't want to talk about this--they just want a statistic that appears to prove that immigrants are more criminal than the native-born.

Quick Facts About the Bureau of Prisons
[This page on the Bureau of Prisons website is updated regularly; the following figures came from the site as of Saturday, 24 November 2007]

Inmate Population
Total population: 199,840
Total sentenced population: 181,848
Inmates in BOP facilities: 166,694
Inmates in privately-managed secure facilities (1): 21,249
Inmates in other contract facilities (2): 11,897
1. Includes inmates housed in privately-managed secure facilities under contract with the BOP or with a state or local government that has an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the BOP.
2. Includes inmates housed in community corrections centers, home confinement, jail/short-term detention, contract juveniles, and long-term boarders.

Inmates By Race
White: 112,748 (56.4 %)
Black: 80,232 (40.1 %)
Native American: 3,492 (1.7 %)
Asian: 3,368 (1.7 %)

Hispanic: 62,473 (31.3 %)
Inmate Age
Average Inmate Age: 38

United States: 147,052 (73.6 %)
Mexico: 33,830 (16.9 %)
Colombia: 3,095 (1.5 %)
Cuba: 1,651 (0.8 %)
Dominican Republic: 3,135 (1.6 %)
Other/Unknown: 11,077 (5.5 %)

Types of Offenses
Drug Offenses: 98,622 (53.6 %)
Weapons, Explosives, Arson: 26,870 (14.6 %)
Immigration: 19,233 (10.4 %)
Robbery: 9,333 (5.1 %)
Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses: 6,783 (3.7 %)
Extortion, Fraud, Bribery: 8,172 (4.4 %)
Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses: 5,589 (3.0 %)
Miscellaneous: 2,069 (1.1 %)
Sex Offenses: 4,997 (2.7 %)
Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement: 1,006 (0.5 %) Courts or Corrections: 742 (0.4 %)
Continuing Criminal Enterprise: 563 (0.3 %)
National Security: 96 (0.1 %)

* Data calculated for those with offense-specific information available.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Frontera NorteSur News: The Political Winds of May

The Political Winds of May
The Frontera NorteSur News (New Mexico State University), May 4, 2008

The turnouts might have been much smaller than in 2006 when perhaps millions participated in the Great American Boycott, but pro-immigrant and pro-labor actions yesterday still underscored how International Worker’s Day is making a comeback in US political life. In dozens of communities across the US, immigrant advocates and their allies organized diverse actions.

Activists demanded that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) stop raiding workplaces and deporting undocumented workers, and they urged the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes workers without papers.

'We sent a letter to President Bush asking for a moratorium on the (ICE) raids while the future of our 12 million brothers and sisters is resolved,' said Tedoro Aguiluz, executive director of Houston’s Central American Resource Center.

Large marches drawing thousands were held in Los Angeles and Chicago, while smaller protests took place in Seattle, Tucson, Milwaukee, Miami, Houston, and Washington, D.C., where activists picketed the Supreme Court and the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties. In El Paso, Texas, immigrant advocates staged a short hunger strike and a march, while in Albuquerque, New Mexico, community members braved the chilly winds to attend a 'family day' celebration convened by the Center for Equality and Rights. At least 30 US cities witnessed a May Day event. Unlike 2007, when Los Angeles police attacked demonstrators and journalists at a May Day rally, this year’s demonstration in California’s largest city proceeded peacefully.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a group of 9 women held a creative protest in front of the Santa Fe Hilton, where they were formerly employed as housekeepers. Taping their mouths shut with messages like 'Fired' and 'No rights,' the women charged that they were unfairly dismissed because of worker complaints over hazardous and abusive labor conditions last March. The action by Latina and immigrant workers was supported the non-profit Somos Un Pueblo Unido organization and the Service Employees International Union.

In a phone interview with Frontera Norte Sur, Marcela Diaz, executive director for Somos, said the women approached her group for help after their firings. Complaining of being forced to clean with dangerous chemicals, the former housekeepers told Diaz and the media they were expected to clean 23 rooms during shifts averaging less than 7 hours each.

According to Diaz, the women averaged $9.50-10.50 per hour in a city known for its California-level cost of living The housekeepers’ wages put them just slightly above Santa Fe’s minimum wage of $9.50 per hour, which was achieved after a long struggle by Somos and other living wage advocates.

Diaz said the workers chose May 1 for their public protest to express 'solidarity with workers around the world.' Locally, the former Hilton employees 'felt that Santa Fe should know that Hilton workers are treated that way, and that they are the backbone of the tourist economy in Santa Fe,' she added.

Billed as a renovated, smoke-free hotel situated amid the marvels of culture and history, the Santa Fe Hilton advertises off-season rooms for between $159 and $209 per night. Quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Michael Newbrand, Santa Fe Hilton manager, maintained that the company held 'our employees’ safety and satisfaction in the highest regard and encourages workers to effectively alert management of issues that may affect or have affected their work environment.' Newbrand, however, did not address specific complaints by his ex-workers.

Diaz said her organization has assisted the onetime Hilton employees in filing complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, Employment Equal Opportunity Commission and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Elsewhere, elected officials and other community leaders attended or endorsed different May 1 events. In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa contended that stepped-up ICE raids not only threatened the livelihoods of 500,000 people employed in the food and other industries, but jeopardized the broader economy as well. Villaraigosa’s stance was shared by Samuel Garrison, vice-president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

'The raids are terrorizing the workers, and they are worrying businessmen. I think that it is going to cause many businesses to think twice before coming to Los Angeles,' Garrison said.

Though May Day 2008 was barely a blip in the US English-language media, it clearly had an impact on the political scene. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both released statements in favor of immigration reform. Clinton pledged to present a legislative initiative within '100 days of my administration,' while Obama committed to working for a comprehensive immigration law overhaul that would bring 'order and compassion to a system that is broken.' Republican presidential candidate John McCain had no immediate comment on the day’s events.

In an election year, political power was on the minds of May 1 organizers. 'Besides demonstrating on this day, we are in a permanent campaign to have the people vote in November,' said Emma Lozano of the May 1 International Coalition in Chicago. 'May 1 is another step. I estimate we brought together 10,000 people in Chicago, but in November millions of us will march to the polls. I can be sure of this.' For his part, Juan Jose Gutierrez of Latino Movement USA said activists are aiming to get the immigrant legalization issue onto the plank of the Democratic Party at this year’s convention scheduled for Denver, Colorado.

Growing out of a 1886 Chicago strike and the police killing of workers, May Day was purposely downplayed for political reasons in the United States. Instead, the official Labor Day holiday was designated in September. But the 2006 revival of International Worker’s Day as an international day of mass action by the immigrant rights movement set in motion a new political dynamic in the US that’s now touching other sectors.

In another May 1 event that was largely glossed over by the US mass media, 25,000 West Coast longshoremen conducted day-long work stoppages at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle, or 'border-to-border' as one radio host described it, to protest the war in Iraq. Two years ago, business at West Coast docks was disrupted by truckers who refused deliveries to show their support for the surging immigrant rights movement at the time. Many of the participating truckers were immigrants.

Jack Heyman, an official with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that sponsored the work stoppage in defiance of an arbitrator’s ruling, said on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now program that college students, teachers, truck drivers, postal workers and others in New York, North Carolina and California held small, quiet activities in support of the dock workers. But the 'most stunning act of solidarity' came from Iraqi dock workers who also shut down ports, Heyman said. 'We’re hoping that these kinds of actions will resonate with other unions and workers,' he said.

Santa Fe activist Diaz said smaller events commemorating May Day have taken place for years, but she credited the pro-immigrant movement for pumping new life into an international commemoration that, ironically, began in the US. 'It has gotten more attention lately because of the immigrant rights movement…I hope we continue to bring light to it,' Diaz said.