Sunday, January 31, 2010

Helping Haiti: Our Dollars Aren't Enough

by David L. Wilson

On January 14, two days after the Port-au-Prince earthquake, I finally got a chance to look over my email, courtesy of a small Haitian NGO in a quiet, relatively undamaged neighborhood in the south of the city. After reading and answering personal messages, I noticed that a lot of my mail consisted of appeals for earthquake relief. Some messages were from people asking me to recommend ways to donate to grassroots Haitian groups.

I was moved to see how many people were eager to help, and I certainly knew how desperately Haiti needed help. Although I was in no position then to make up a list of recommendations, by the next day my colleague Jane Guskin had posted some good information. I strongly encourage people to donate to these and many other Haiti-based organizations.

At same time, I got a funny feeling reading all these notes and appeals. I found myself wondering if people would think that their dollars were enough, that making a donation meant they didn't need to do any more to help. Because if that was the case, I thought it would almost be better not to contribute to the relief effort. [...]

Read the full article on World War 4 Report:
or Monthly Review's MRZine:

Cheating NYC Workers Out of the Pay They Earn

by Alex DiBranco,
January 29, 2010

A just-released study out of the National Employment Law Project finds gross violations of minimum wage and other labor laws in New York City, with immigrant populations particularly vulnerable to abuse. Their disturbing findings reveal that a solid majority of low-wage workers suffer from some kind of wage theft.

The report, "Working Without Laws: A Survey of Employment and Labor Law Violations in New York City," found that 21% of low wage workers were paid less than the legal (already low) minimum. This breaks down into violations for 11% of U.S.-born workers, 21% of authorized immigrants, and 35% of undocumented immigrants. Latino workers had the highest rates of wage abuse, with women being taken advantage of slightly more often than men. [...]

Read the full article:

Download the report:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Should Climate Activists Support Limits on Immigration?

by Ian Angus and Simon Butler, MRZine
January 25, 2010

Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime, and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect "our way of life" from alien influences.

Today, some environmentalists go farther, arguing that sharp cuts in immigration are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. However sincere and well-meaning such activists may be, their arguments are wrong and dangerous, and should be rejected by the climate emergency movement. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hunger Strike Spreads; Haitian Immigrant Activist Freed
by Jane Guskin
Huffington Post

On January 17 a group of immigrant rights activists in Florida suspended a hunger strike -- the Fast for Our Families -- which they began on New Year's Day. "After watching the suffering of our Haitian brothers and sisters, and seeing the determination of the Department of Homeland Security to ignore the voices of immigrant families fighting to stay together, we must continue our struggle in a different way," they wrote in their blog. Three of the fasters had been hospitalized during the 17-day protest. [...]

Read the full article here:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day Three in Port-au-Prince: "A difficult situation"

David L. Wilson of Weekly News Update on the Americas was in Port-au-Prince with a delegation when the Jan. 12 earthquake struck the city. Because of limited electricity and internet access, he was unable to send this report out until after he got back to New York the morning of Jan. 18.:

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Wednesday night, January 13, the second night after a giant earthquake shattered this city, was filled with strange sounds.

At one point a hundred or more people rushed along the Avenue Henri Christophe in front of the Hotel Oloffson in the southwestern part of the city. They were shouting in Creole: "Dlo! dlo!" ("Water! Water!") and claiming, improbably, that a tsunami was coming from the hills to the southeast. Later a vehicle stopped at the intersection by the hotel so a man could make an announcement over a booming loudspeaker. Apparently he was looking for volunteers for something; a few young men climbed on to the back of his vehicle. All I understood was the phrase "gen yon sitiyasyon difisil," repeated over and over—literally, "there's a difficult situation." [...]

Read the full article at World War 4 Report:
or MRZine:
* * *

Friday, Jan. 22, NYC: Press Conference on Haiti


For more information, contact Marty Goodman Phone: (646) 898-7328 E-mail:

WHAT: Press conference including an eyewitness to the earthquake.
WHEN: Friday, January 22 at 12:00 p.m. (Noon). Rally at 4 pm at same location.
WHERE: Outside the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, 140 East 45th Street, Manhattan (between 3rd Avenue and Lexington)
Contact:Tel: 646-898-7328 or

On Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12 noon, the Haiti Emergency Committee will hold a press conference in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, at 140 E. 45th St. The press conference will feature members of the newly formed Haiti Emergency Committee and a member of a delegation who has just returned to the U.S. from the ravaged Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as other speakers.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are feared dead under the rubble following the January 12th earthquake. Haiti needs robust Emergency Assistance. The first 48 hours in the aftermath of the earthquake were very critical. Right from the first few moments after the earthquake, the Haitian people have been digging people out with their bare hands and household tools, with no assistance from the U.S. government.

People throughout the world are striving to support the Haitian people any way they can. Yet, the U.S. military has taken total control of the ports and the main airport in Port-Au-Prince (as well as throughout the country) and is refusing to allow cargo planes from different countries such as Turkey, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, and from such crucial non-profit agencies as Doctors Without Borders, to bring urgently needed medical supplies, water, food, and medicine to the people in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere.

For days, US and UN officials on the ground stopped volunteers from distributing supplies to the people in the hardest hit places. There is a real Humanitarian crisis in Haiti and the US/UN must stop preventing the aid from reaching the people. This is mass genocide.

Haitians living in Port-au-Prince did the best they could in mobilizing themselves and their scant resources to deal collectively with their situation. Yet as occurred during the Katrina aftermath, the US media has portrayed the people as animals, looters and criminals, providing the rationale for the US government to send over 11,000 heavily armed troops into Haiti and seizing control of the airport, ports and facilities. But the media's portrayal is not true. It is NOT what is happening on the ground in Haiti. The US/UN officials and military personnel must stop preventing the distribution of aid provided by other countries and by not-for-profit agencies from around the globe.

The United States, instead of providing the immediate aid necessary in the first critical hours, mobilized an arsenal of military hardware and personnel with at least 11,000 soldiers to militarily occupy Port-au-Prince and the rest of Haiti, adding to the 9,000-strong UN military force in the country. The Haitian people need humanitarian assistance – water, medicine, medical supplies, healthcare workers -- not a military arsenal. The Haiti Emergency Committee says NO to this military deployment in Haiti. We oppose the occupation of Haiti.
We demand:

1) Let the aid get through to Haiti! Stop preventing the Haitian People from organizing their own relief efforts. Stop U.S. Military interference with international rescue & humanitarian aid. Yes to solidarity, No to militarization.
2) Stop denying Humanitarian entry into the US for Haitians whose lives are at risk.
3) END U.S./U.N. occupation of Haiti.
4) Stop the cruel and unjust IMF/World Bank/USAID structural adjustment program in Haiti.5) Cancel Haiti's debt to foreign banks, countries and to the International Monetary Fund.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 2 in Port-au-Prince: "Young Men with Crowbars"

by David L. Wilson

[The author was in Port-au-Prince with a delegation when the January 12 earthquake struck the city. Because of limited electricity and internet connection, he was unable to send this report out until he got back to New York the morning of January 18. For an earlier report, see "Singing and Praying at Night in Port-au-Prince."]

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan. 15 -- I finally saw uniformed Haitian police on the street here at about 9 am two days ago, on Wednesday, more than 16 hours after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the Haitian capital.

I'd gone out with photojournalist Tequila Minsky to survey damaged neighborhoods and the wrecked National Palace, and we'd just gone a few blocks back towards our hotel when Tequila spotted the agents. Four were sitting on chairs in front of a small building; another seemed to be getting something out of a patrol car.

Read the full article on Monthly Review's MRZine:
or World War 4 Report:


Thursday, Jan. 21: NYC Area Haiti Teach-In

We Are Haiti: A Teach In on the Crisis
Thursday, January 21, 2010
7:30pm - 10:00pm
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street (Between Bank and Bethune)

Ray Laforest, a Haitian American labor leader
Christian Lemoine, a Haitian American activist
David L. Wilson, a US based activist who was present during the Haiti earthquake

While the earthquake in Haiti has revealed the faultlines of United
States intervention in the country since its founding in 1804, the
relief efforts led by grassroots activists and organizations have
opened up new political space for a lasting international solidarity
with the Haitian people at their time of need.

Join us for an emergency teach in on the Haitian crisis as we hear
first hand accounts of the earthquake, relief efforts, US policy and
the prospects for a new solidarity movement with the people of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wake Up--It's Happening NOW: A New Immigrant Revolution Takes Shape

by Jane Guskin

On January 1, five residents of South Florida stopped eating in a protest action. They are demanding that the Obama administration take measures now to put an end to the deportations that are separating families--at least until Congress can provide more permanent relief by fixing our harsh immigration laws. [...]

Read full post at:
Huffington Post:
or Monthly Review's MRZine:

ALSO, David L. Wilson was on a delegation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti when the earthquake took place there on Tuesday, January 12. He has had limited internet access but managed to file this report yesterday, written the previous evening:

Singing and Praying at Night in Port-au-Prince
by David L. Wilson

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan. 13 -- Several hundred people had gathered to sing, clap, and pray in an intersection here by 9 o'clock last night, a little more than four hours after an earthquake had devastated much of the Haitian capital. Another group was singing a block away, on the other side of the Hotel Oloffson, where I was camping out. [...]

Read the full article on World War 4 Report:
or Monthly Review's MRZine:

These links are posted together with links to other alternative news sources on Haiti and quake relief efforts at:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Immigrant Rights Movement Escalates To Protect Communities

For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Postings // Please Forward

Press Contacts:
Andrea Black (Detention Watch Network) 520-240-3726
Sarahi Uribe (National Day Laborer Organizing Network) 202-285-9673

Immigrant Rights Movement Escalates To Protect Communities

A Telephonic Briefing about direct actions taking place across the country

What: Telephonic briefing to highlight escalated tactics taking place in the month of January to demand that DHS and Janet Napolitano halt enforcement, detention and deportation practices that violate human rights and dignity.

Call-in Number: 1-270-400-2000; Password: 897655

Who: Trail of Dreams, Families For Freedom, Fast For Our Families, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Detention Watch Network, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the New York New Sanctuary Coalition, Puente, Students Working for Equal Rights

When: Monday, January 11th at 3pm EST

The immigrant rights movement has mounted a series of demonstrations to call for immediate action to protect communities and families, raising the stakes on what individuals and organizations are willing to do to bring change and justice to their communities now.

Right now immigrants and their supporters are fasting indefinitely in Florida and across the country, students are marching over a 1,000 miles to Washington DC, terrorized communities are organizing a massive march in Maricopa County, Arizona, and clergy and community activists have been arrested in acts of civil disobedience in New York to free Jean Montrevil, an immigrant rights leader.

These actions share a common goal: immigrant rights groups are moving hard and fast to pressure Napolitano and DHS to respect the rights of immigrants and people of color, and stop destroying communities and separating families with immigration raids, detention and deportations.

Janet Napolitano does not need Congress to stop Sheriff Arpaio from targeting Latinos in Maricopa county. She does not need Congress to free Jean Montrevil and allow him to remain with his four U.S. citizen children, nor does she need Congress to suspend the deportations that tear apart communities and families. All that needs to change is the will of Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security to respect fundamental due process and human rights.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

TODAY Thursday 1/7/10 lunchtime press conference: bring Jean home to his family!

LUNCHTIME PRESS CONFERENCE 12:30pm Outside Varick Street Detention Center 201 Varick Street, at Houston in Manhattan, NYC (1 Train to Houston)

Why? Because of the ongoing urgency of ICE's REFUSAL to get the facts straight about Jean, we MUST go back. With our allies at our side, we're going to speak loudly and clearly and keep ESCALATING THE PRESSURE.

ALSO: Sign the petition:

Read an article about the Tuesday's protest:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Update, 1/5/10: Immigrant Rights Movement Escalates!

Detained Haitian Immigrant Leader Jean Montrevil Joins Fast for Our Families as 8 NY Clergy Arrested Fighting Separation of Families

Press release, January 5, 2010
Fast for Our Families/Miami,
New Sanctuary Coalition/New York,
Families For Freedom/New York,

New York, NY/Miami, Fl – Jean Montrevil, a NYC immigrant rights activist and father of four announced yesterday that he was officially joining in solidarity with the Fast for Our Families, a group of 5 community members in South Florida who took their last meal on New Year’s Eve. The Fast for Our Families and Montrevil are both asking the Obama Administration to stop separating immigrants from their American families. In support of all immigrant families facing separation, 8 clergy were arrested at a protest outside of New York’s Varick Street Detention Center today while protesting Montrevil’s detention.

Two days before New Year’s 2010, Homeland Security shocked New Yorkers when the agency detained community leader Jean Montrevil. On New Year's Day, five individuals, some affected directly by deportation, similarly shocked many around the country by entering St. Ann’s Catholic Mission in Naranja, Florida (a suburb of Miami) and announcing that they would consume only liquids “until President Obama hears the voices of families separated by deportation,” according to Faster Jonathan Fried, the grandson of Jewish immigrants.

“The Fasters in Miami are fighting to keep families together, my husband and me are fighting to keep families together, so we will fight together!” exclaimed Jani Montrevil, Jean’s wife, US Citizen and mother of his US-born children. Fried, who has been fasting at the church since Friday was excited to hear the news. “It is great to know that this movement to keep our families together is spreading across the country,” he said.

More are expected to join the Fast for Our Families this week. Solidarity actions are being planned in Texas and are ongoing in New Hampshire. Meanwhile prominent clergy and elected leaders are calling on the feds to return Montrevil to his wife Jani, an African-American school teacher, and his four US-born children.

On her arrest today, the Rev. Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church, where Montrevil worships, stated: “I am being arrested because it is a moral outrage that our government would do this to such a great man and father (Montrevil). And these immigration laws that destroy families contradict the values we should uphold as a society. They need to change now.”

See also:
SoHo Detention Rally Ends In 10 Arrests - NY1 News
10 Arrested at Protest Over Detention of Immigration Reform Advocate - Village Voice blog

Monday, January 4, 2010

Montrevil Joins 60 Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike in York, PA

Clergy and Politicians Demand Haitian Immigrant's Immediate Release and Immigration Reform;
Action at 201 Varick Street, New York City, Tuesday, January 5, 2010, at 12:30pm

Press release from Families for Freedom and New Sanctuary Movement-NYC

New York, NY – Two days before New Year’s 2010, Homeland Security shocked New Yorkers when the agency detained community leader Jean Montrevil. Now held in Pennsylvania’s York County Prison, Montrevil is beginning a hunger strike. “I am fasting side by side with nearly 60 other detainees to take a stand against this horrific deportation and detention system that is tearing families apart,” Montrevil reports.

Meanwhile prominent clergy and elected leaders are calling on the feds to return Montrevil to his wife Janay, an African-American school teacher, and his four US-born children. “Jean represents all that is right about our nation and wrong with the deportation system,” says Rev. Bob Coleman of the historic Riverside Church. “He made a mistake. He paid his time. He represents a restored life. Who benefits by stripping him of his legal status?” Rev. Coleman is a leader of New York’s New Sanctuary Movement, a faith-based coalition for immigration reform that Montrevil himself co-founded in 2007.

Montrevil entered the U.S. from Haiti in 1986 as a legal permanent resident. Homeland Security is trying to delegalize him for a 1989 drug conviction, for which Montrevil served 11 years. He has kept an exemplary record ever since. He became a national spokesperson for the Child Citizen Protection Act, a House proposal that would bring due process into the deportation system by allowing immigration judges to consider the best interests of American children before deporting a parent. The proposal is part of Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s recently introduced bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act (H.R. 4321).

“Our son keeps calling Jean’s cell phone, hoping daddy will pick up. He asks me, `Why are they pretending daddy is bad, so he will go back to Haiti?’” says Mrs. Montrevil. “Jean made mistakes before we started building a family together. Homeland Security wants to turn me into a single mother.” The couple’s 6-year-old son Jasiah also suffers from severe asthma, which has been aggravated since his father was detained.

Since Montrevil’s detention on December 30, hundreds of supporters from across the country have called David Venturella, Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Detention and Removal Operations, urging Montrevil’s release and suspension of his deportation. “Contrary to the claims of ICE leadership that the agency will be transparent and accountable in its mplementation of immigration laws, it has not responded to Montrevil or his attorney Joshua Bardavid," says Andrea Black, director of the Detention Watch Network. “There is no excuse for their silence.”

Elected leaders supporting Montrevil include: U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velasquez (both cosponsors of the H.R. 4321), NY State Senator Thomas K. Duane, NY State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

“Jean has been nothing less than an inspiration. His work on behalf of immigrants being torn from their families across the country has been prophetic. On Tuesday at 12:30 pm, I will join other people of faith at 201 Varick Street, the detention center in New York, and demand that ICE respond to us. We will no longer accept silence as an answer,” adds the Rev. Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church, where Montrevil worships.

Families For Freedom
3 West 29th Street #1030 New York Ny 10001 646.290.5551
Tel, 800.895.4454 Fax

New Sanctuary Coalition Of New York City
239 Thompson Street, New York, New York, 10012
Tel. 646-395-2925

See also:
NYC Immigrant Advocates: Stop Deportation of Activist Jean Montrevil
Emergency Rally, 1/1/10: "Stop Taking Our Parents Away"

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Deal for Immigrants in 2010?

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
January 1, 2010

Congress is almost certain to consider some sort of reform to the immigration system in 2010; when it does, we can expect a repeat of the "tea bag" resistance we saw at last summer's town halls on healthcare reform. The healthcare precedent "bodes badly" for immigration, Marc R. Rosenblum, a senior policy analyst at the DC-based Migration Policy Institute, told a forum at Columbia University in New York City the evening of December 1.

Unfortunately, the discussion that night indicated that progressives are planning to follow the same scenario we followed in the struggle for healthcare: we propose legislation that falls short of what we need, the right wing then whittles it down, and in the end we are told we have to be responsible and accept half a loaf -- or a good deal less than half. [...]

Read the full article: