Thursday, June 30, 2016

“Cruel and unjust”: The war on drugs snares immigrant for pot, breaking a Virginia family in two

Garfield Kenault Lawrence has been deported and separated from his family because of minor pot convictions

By Daniel Denvir,
Monday, June 13, 2016

In September 2011, Melissa Lawrence was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and working as a waitress when she got the call. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had detained her partner, Garfield Kenault Lawrence. That he had arrived at age 11 and was a lawful permanent resident didn’t matter because Kenault had been convicted of small-time marijuana offenses. In January 2013, he was deported to Jamaica after more than a year in detention.

“Everybody thought I was just American,” says Kenault, now 31, speaking from Jamaica. “I came to America in fifth grade.”

By Kenault’s account, he was an everyday American pot smoker. But Lawrence was railroaded by immigration officials who misinterpreted federal law, says his lawyer, caught up in President Obama’s expansive campaign to deport drug offenders en masse. Lawrence’s deportation marked the first time he had set foot in Jamaica since age 15.[...]

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moving Beyond Bernie Sanders' "Political Revolution"

Just as the Sanders campaign didn't arise in a vacuum, there's no reason to expect it will leave a vacuum behind it.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
June 29, 2016

It's been an astonishing year for the US left. Issues that mainstream politicians would have declared "off the table" just 12 months ago -- free public higher education, universal health care, the $15 minimum wage, a national ban on fracking -- are now acceptable topics for public discussion. A US politician who declared himself a socialist won more than 12 million votes, and even dared to advocate equitable treatment for Palestinians.

Bernie Sanders' campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has accomplished more than most of us could have imagined a year ago. But what happens now that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are almost certain to be our "choices" in the fall?[...]

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2 Valedictorians in Texas Declare Undocumented Status, and Outrage Ensues

By Katie Rogers, New York Times
June 10, 2016

Mayte Lara Ibarra delivered a valedictory speech at the David Crockett High School graduation last week in Austin, Tex.
When Mayte Lara Ibarra, the valedictorian of her high school’s graduating class, revealed her plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin on a scholarship, she did what any graduate would do: She shared her excitement on social media.

Ms. Lara also declared, proudly, that she is undocumented.

“Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” she wrote in a tweet posted last week, hours after she gave her valedictory speech to fellow graduates at David Crockett High School in Austin.

In an era where the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, has vowed to build a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants and many Latinos are rushing to seek citizenship to vote against him, others are finding ways to raise their voices or step out of the shadows.

Ms. Lara, whose path to the United States was not immediately clear and who didn’t mention her undocumented status in her speech, chose instead to talk about AP tests, proms and pep rallies. But on the same day, a few hours north in McKinney, Tex., another valedictorian, Larissa Martinez, did.[...]

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A crisis we can solve: Denying health care to undocumented immigrants is immoral, unjust and un-American

Sickness does not pick and choose based on immigration status — at least California is aware of this

By David Dayen,
June 15, 2016

Two Latino men are stricken with similar gunshot wounds by the shooter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Both are rushed to local emergency rooms and treated for their injuries. Both require additional physical therapy, rehabilitation, mental counseling, and perhaps additional surgeries to be restored to full health.

Both make the same amount of money, but only one can afford the additional mcedical bills after the tragedy. That’s because one of the Latino men had health insurance coverage, and one doesn’t. The man with coverage is considered a U.S. citizen, and the man who doesn’t is an undocumented immigrant. And that fact sets them on two different courses as a result of Omar Mateen’s hail of bullets.

This is the current law of the land in 49 states. Undocumented immigrants cannot access health insurance coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, even if they can pay for it entirely with their own money. They can purchase directly through an insurance carrier, but with the advent of Obamacare those options have dried up and become more expensive. There aren’t many forms of discrimination left against particular classes of people for purchasing goods and services. You can’t stop someone from eating at a lunch counter or drinking from a water fountain. But you can stop someone from buying health insurance coverage to afford medical care, simply because of where they were born.[...]

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Monday, June 27, 2016

'Minutemen' co-founder Simcox convicted of child molestation

By David Schwartz, Reuters, via Tucson Sentinel
June 8, 2016

An Arizona jury on Wednesday convicted the co-founder of a border militia group of molesting a 5-year-old girl but acquitted him of more serious sex charges, court officials said.

Christopher Allen Simcox, who co-founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in 2005, was found guilty of two felony counts of child molestation and one felony count of providing obscene material to a minor by the Maricopa County Superior Court jury.

Simcox, 55, was cleared of three felony counts of sexual conduct with a 6-year-old girl, charges that carried mandatory sentences of life in prison.[...]

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Zika scare: Donald Trump’s wall is no match for a mosquito

Zika proves that excluding undocumented immigrants from health coverage puts the entire nation’s health at risk

By Bob Hennelly,
May 31, 2016

For several years now I have been convinced that we are a profoundly stuck nation, hence my Twitter handle “stucknation.” By stuck, I mean that our nation is so hopelessly divided as to a course of collective action that we just can’t move. We remain a large mammal, stranded in a rushing stream and the switches of time, swatting away Zika infected mosquitos, as the water rises.

Our “democracy’” is on the verge of producing two choices for president most voters can’t stand. The candidates only path to victory is through hyping the fear that the potential election of their opponent prompts in the electorate. This scorched earth campaign will consume hundreds of millions of dollars in a nation where 22 percent of the children live in poverty and so many millions of children in the world at large lack access to basic health care, safe water and basic sanitation.

It is beyond obscene.

We can’t even agree on which direction gets us to higher ground or if we should even bother to head there. Yet, the time has come when our national paralysis is making us vulnerable to something potentially catastrophic in the form of a possible epidemic that could start in the population of the undocumented population of immigrants and the millions of other uninsured people that call the U.S. home.

Nowhere is our stuckness more manifest than in our debate over immigration and public health. With 11 million undocumented immigrants already living here, just by their very proximity to us and our families, their well-being and health is intimately linked to ours. Forget politics. It’s just biology.[...]

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Study Reveals Just How Brutal Meat and Poultry Work Is for Workers

By Elizabeth Grossman, In These Times
May 26, 2016

The meat and poultry industry remains exceptionally dangerous, despite a decline in reported injuries and illnesses over the past 10 years, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Further, says the report, the injury and illness rates reflected in Department of Labor numbers are significantly underreported. As a result, these figures do not fully represent what is actually happening within this industry that employs about 526,000—including many recent immigrants and noncitizens. The report also found evidence of workers being denied proper medical treatment on the job and that they often fail to report injuries for fear it will cost them their jobs.

Released Wednesday by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), the report notes that working conditions in the industry have not improved substantially since the GAO examined the industry in 2005. Workers in poultry and meat processing plants, says the report, “continue to face the hazardous conditions the GAO cited in 2005, including tasks associated with musculoskeletal disorders, exposure to chemicals and pathogens and traumatic injuries from machines and tools.”[...]

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Friday, June 24, 2016

No Alternative but to Keep Working, Part One: Aging in the Fields

Collecting Social Security benefits is not possible, because people with no legal immigration status (an estimated 11 million people in the U.S.) can't even apply for a Social Security card. In order to work they have to give an employer a Social Security number they've invented or that belongs to someone else. Payments are deducted from their paychecks, but these workers never become eligible for the benefits the contributions are supposed to provide.

By David Bacon, The Reality Check
May 31, 2016

As soon as Anastasia Flores' children were old enough, she brought them with her to work in the fields. "Ever since 1994 I've always worked by myself, until my children could also work," she recalls. "In Washington, I picked cucumbers, and in Santa Maria here I worked picking strawberries and tomatoes. In Washington, they allowed people to take their children to work with them, and to leave them at the end of the row with the older children taking care of the younger ones."

She didn't think bringing her children to work was unusual. It's the way she had grown up herself. Today she's is in her mid 50s, getting to the age when she will no longer be able to work. Just as she once depended on the labor of the kids for her family's survival, she will still depend on them to survive as she gets old. Without their help, she will have nothing.[...]

Read the full article:

The Reality Check
Capital and Main
New America Media

President Obama: Act on the Supreme Court's Decision Now!

June 23, 2016

The Supreme Court just split 4-4 on one of the biggest cases for immigrant communities in U.S. history. The Supreme Court just split 4-4 on one of the biggest cases for immigrant communities in U.S. history. Reactionary governors and federal judges have held up relief for immigrant communities for far too long.

Our work and fight-back is not over. Now, more than ever, we need to renew our commitment to justice until all immigrants receive the dignity and justice we deserve.[...]

Read the full statement:

Following Supreme Court Split, Immigrant Communities Vow to Keep Fighting for Families

By the National Immigration Law Center
June 23, 2016

Juan Gastelum,, 213-375-3149

WASHINGTON — Having reached an impasse, the U.S. Supreme Court has voted 4-4 in one of the most consequential immigration cases in recent history, United States v. Texas. The High Court’s failure to fall one way or another in the case leaves in place a lower court decision that blocks the Obama administration’s deferred action immigration initiatives known as DAPA and the expansion of DACA from being implemented.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The stakes in United States v. Texas could not have been higher: Millions have watched, and waited, for the Supreme Court to affirm the president’s authority to inject some common sense into our immigration system. Today, the eight justices failed to act, and countless families will suffer as a consequence. U.S. citizen children like Sophie Cruz will continue to live in daily fear that their mom or dad won’t be there one day to kiss them goodnight. And immigrant entrepreneurs like Cris Mercado won’t be able to reach their full potential.

“Immigrants and allies fought for and won these significant policy victories, which would have brought much-needed emotional and economic stability to millions of our community members, and we will not sit back.[...]

Read the full statement:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trump on Immigrants and Health Care Costs: Just Plain Wrong

By Leah Zallman and Steffie Woolhandler, Common Dreams
May 27, 2016

Throughout the primary season, leading Republican presidential candidates vied over who could bash immigrants the hardest. And they were promising more than border walls. Donald Trump is the most extreme immigrant-blamer; according to his website, “Providing healthcare to illegal immigrants costs us some $11 billion annually. If we were to simply enforce the current immigration laws and restrict the unbridled granting of visas to this country, we could relieve healthcare cost pressures on state and local governments.”

As with many of Trump’s claims, this one is wrong. But unlike some of his other falsehoods, the media has left this one unchallenged. Trump’s $11 billion figure comes from an obviously biased study that’s based on outlandish assumptions.[...]

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Civil Disobedience is Survival": Ireri Carrasco Sues Obama Admin for Denying Her DACA over Protests

Democracy Now!
May 27, 2016

In Chicago, a migrant justice activist is suing the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to renew her DACA protection because of her activism. Twenty-nine-year-old Ireri Unzueta Carrasco received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status in 2013. DACA is the Obama administration’s program shielding some undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children from deportation if they meet certain conditions. Even though Unzueta Carrasco says she met those conditions, the Department of Homeland Security denied her DACA renewal because of her participation in acts of civil disobedience aimed at pressuring the Obama administration to halt its record deportations. We’re joined by Ireri Unzueta Carrasco.[...]

Watch the interview or read the transcript: