Monday, October 31, 2016

If Immigration Can’t Be Stopped, Maybe It Can Be Managed

[A new report supports efforts to expand guest worker programs. Backers include former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo and other apologists for neoliberal labor policies.--TPOI]

By Eduardo Porter, New York Times
October 25, 2016

At its peak in the 1950s, the Bracero Program provided more than 400,000 temporary work visas to Mexican laborers. Credit Frank Q. Brown/Los Angeles Times
Can anything be done about illegal immigration?

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to end illegal immigration — to build a supposedly impregnable wall — is a fake solution. For all intents and purposes, the wall is already there: a fence across large stretches of the southwestern border complemented by drones, sensors and a small army of agents.

It has already failed. The federal government spent more than $200 billion in the last 20 years on immigration enforcement. And the population of unauthorized immigrants swelled to 11 million over the period.

Maybe the answer, instead, lies in another direction. Rather than building a bigger wall, it consists of opening a door in the wall we have. The best way to stop illegal immigration may be for Mexico and the United States to create a legal path for low-skill Mexicans seeking work in the United States.

“When I hear ‘Secure the border,’ I think that’s great, but it’s not the solution,” said Carlos Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under President George W. Bush. “We need laws that enable us to get the immigrant workers we need for the economy to work and do it in a legal way that doesn’t require employers to resort to a black market."[...]

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Latino Immigrants Are Changing the Politics of … Nebraska!

Organizing in Omaha and small towns with meatpacking plants is altering politics in this reddest of states.

David Bacon, The American Prospect
October 21, 2016

Sixty miles south of the Arizona border, the devastation from a toxic spill has led to an epochal battle between a transnational mining conglomerate and an alliance of miners and farmers.

If the winds of political change are starting to blow in Nebraska, the center of the storm is a third-floor office on 24th Street in South Omaha. There, huge maps of eight targeted precincts in Ward 4 line the walls of the Heartland Workers Center (HWC), covered in red dots for all the people organizers have spoken with over the past six months. Little stickers highlight the key issues in each neighborhood.

Every afternoon on weekdays, and all day on weekends, a row of reconditioned iPhones sits on a table next to clipboards holding signup lists and Spanish-language voter-education brochures. Rain or shine, young Latino organizers climb the stairs to pick up their packets and then fan out into the streets.

This is not an old-fashioned paper-based effort, though. Derek Ramirez, HWC’s data cruncher, has loaded voter information derived from the Voter Activation Network database onto the iPhones. This allows precinct walkers to know house by house whom they’re talking to, and to immediately input the information they receive—updating the office’s database in real time.[...]

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

AFL-CIO to help more Latina working women organize

By Larry Rubin, People's World
October 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — While Donald Trump continues to excoriate immigrants from South and Central America, the AFL-CIO is ramping up programs to help them unionize and gain political power.

A forum recently held here highlighted what the labor movement will be doing to provide Latina working women with the tools they need to win better standards of living and security for the future.

The key, the panelists agreed, is to encourage self-empowerment.

“Latina empowerment is important because nobody but us can tell our stories,” Montserrat Garibay of Texas’ EducationAustin said. EducationAustion is a local affiliated with both the NEA and the AFT.

Aside from Garibay, speaking at the packed AFL-CIO Las Trabajadoras forum here were Diana Ramirez of DC’s Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), Monica Ramirez of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and Dora Cervantes, secretary treasurer of the Machinists union.[...]

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Friday, October 28, 2016

‘The Wall Is a Fantasy’

A week in the borderlands with migrants and guards.

By Declan Walsh, New York Times
October 14, 2016

NOGALES, Mexico — A few hundred feet from the American border, José Manuel Talavera contemplated his challenge with the focus, if not quite the physique, of an Olympic high jumper. A stocky coffee farmer from Honduras, he was fresh off La Bestia, or the Beast — the freight train network used by migrants to cross Mexico. Now he was preparing to vault into the United States, for the third time.

His options, both of which involved days of trekking through searing deserts, were unappealing: pay thousands of dollars to a guide, or carry a rucksack filled with drugs for a cartel.

Mr. Talavera shrugged. He did not see himself as a factor in America’s presidential election, even though he had a vague idea about Donald J. Trump and his threats to build a “beautiful, impenetrable wall.” It seemed silly: Was the border not already walled? He knew how hard it was to cross. The first time, a Mexican drug cartel kidnapped him and took all his money. On the second attempt he made it to America only to be captured, detained for two months and put on a plane back to Honduras. It was his first flight. “One month to get there, four hours to go back,” Mr. Talavera recalled with a smile. “At least the ticket was free.”[...]

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Harvesting freedom and sowing resistance: Migrant workers in Canada demand permanent immigration status

These workers are at the mercy of their employer. In other words, it is indentured labour, giving this program the disrepute of being akin to "modern day slavery."

By Binish Ahmed Navjeet Sidhu,
October 13, 2016

A historic caravan of migrant agricultural workers completed a 1,500 kilometre journey to Ottawa to deliver a clear and pointed message to members of Parliament -- "We want permanent immigration status now!"

The caravan launched on Sept. 3 in Leamington, Ontario (Canada's tomato capital) has made stops to cities and towns across southern Ontario. Workers have been sharing not only their demands, but personal stories of exploitation and injustice under Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), a federal program now in its 50th year.[...]

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Immigrants and Supporters Shut Down George Washington Bridge, declaring #SomosVisible

For Immediate Release

Press Contact: Mahoma López, co-director of Laundry Workers Center

Immigrants and supporters shut down the upper level of the George Washington Bridge for 45 minutes during this morning’s rush hour, declaring “Somos visible”, or “We are visible”.

Organized by Laundry Workers Center, the non-violent protest called for the ”right of every member of our communities to be visible.”

Protesters chained themselves together on inbound upper level of bridge, unfurling a banner reading "Resist, Organized, Act Up!" New Jersey police arrested 10 non-violent protesters.

“The immigrant community is tired of being in the shadows.” said Laundry Workers Center co-director Mahoma López. “For many years we are here, we contribute, we pay taxes, we build this country, but in the end, we don’t have the right to participate in the decisions at the local and national levels.”

“We demand the right to vote and take part in the decisions in our communities.”

In a written statement, Laundry Workers Center wrote “We are one with Mother Earth and with all oppressed people in the shadows. We making our struggles, our pain and our power visible.”

A rally is planned this evening at 6pm, in Union Square. More information is available here:

Follow #SomosVisible on Twitter.

Berry Pickers’ Win Could Result in Better Conditions for Many Farmworkers

Farmworkers at Washington’s Sakuma Brothers farms have voted to join what could be the first union for Driscoll's berry pickers in the nation.

By Elizabeth Grossman, Civil Eats
October 10, 2016

For over three years, the workers at Sakuma Brothers farms in Burlington, Washington have been calling for a boycott. The farm supplies strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and more to Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor in the world, and over the years, the workers have complained of inconsistent, piecemeal wages (that dipped below minimum wage), poor housing conditions, and the absence of paid break time.

Now, the workers have reached an important milestone: In September, they voted to be represented by Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), the first farmworker union led by workers who are indigenous to Central America. And they’ve called off the boycott for now. “This win ushers in a new era for farmworker justice internationally,” said FUJ in a statement.[...]

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Help "Resistance at Tule Lake" Reach the Finish Line!

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE is nearing the finish line! This groundbreaking documentary, which tells the long-suppressed story of Japanese Americans who protested their incarceration, is being produced for public television and educational distribution. Now more than ever, in an election year where pro-"internment" rhetoric has once again become publicly acceptable, these marginalized experiences need to be brought into the light.

We need YOUR help to make this possible. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help us with the costs of:

  • Archival media, including never-before-seen photographs & rare home video color footage taken within Tule Lake
  • Outreach & public engagement, including the creation of educational support materials

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE is a crucial update to previous documentaries on the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Even before the completion of the film, we have received numerous requests to show the film and held a sold out preview screening at San Jose's J-Town Film Fest. We are currently submitting the project to film festivals and are planning to publicly premiere the film in February 2017, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that authorized the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans.

We hope you'll consider making a much-needed, tax-deductible gift to support RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE. All contributors will receive a Special Thanks credit on the film. Funders at the $100 level or higher will receive an early edition DVD of the documentary.

Donate Now!

Resistance at Tule Lake trailer

For further information or inquiries, contact director-producer Konrad Aderer at

Sunday, October 23, 2016

20 Years Ago Today, This Terrible Law Set the Foundation for Mass Detention and Deportation

As we fight the fatally flawed criminal justice system, we can't forget the immigrants criminalized by a law that turns 20 today: the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

By Alisa Wellek, Angie Junck and Paromita Shah, ColorLines
September 30, 2016

From job applications to the voting booth, we live in a society that treats criminal convictions as a stigma that never fades.

Yes, we have seen some positive shifts in attitudes around criminal justice reform: Bill and Hillary Clinton now repudiate the “tough on crime” laws they supported (and in Bill’s case, signed) in the 1990s. The Department of Justice no longer uses the “unnecessarily disparaging” terms “felon” and “convict” to describe released prisoners. President Obama has commuted more prison sentences than the previous nine presidents combined. Politicians from both parties concede that a lot of drug sentences are way too harsh.

But as we move culturally and politically to address reform solutions, we need to ensure that the fight for justice and fairness for all really means for all. That means we need to fight for a vast population that is too often left out of proposed solutions: immigrants with convictions.[...]

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: New Report Shows that Despite Advances, Black Immigrants Still Suffer Racial Disparities

September 29, 2016
Contact: Carl Lipscombe, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Tel: 347-410-5312


Two-Part Report Reveals New Information about Growing Segment of Black Community

New York, NY (September 29, 2016) — Today the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), along with New York University Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic released a trailblazing two-part report on the experience of Black immigrants in the U.S. The State of Black Immigrants. sheds light on the unique issues facing the over 3.7 million immigrants in the U.S. from Africa, the Caribbean, Afro-Latino countries, and elsewhere, due in large part to their race.

“As this report shows, Black immigrants encounter major social and economic challenges in the U.S. because of systemic racism,” says Opal Tometi, BAJI’s Executive Director and a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.

Notable findings in the report include:

  • The number of undocumented Black immigrants in the U.S. increased by nearly 50% from 389,000 in 2000 to 602,000 in 2013
  • Despite high educational attainment, nearly 1 in 5 Black immigrants live below the poverty line.
  • Black immigrants have the highest unemployment rates amongst all immigrant groups.
  • More than one out of every five non-citizens facing deportation on criminal grounds before the Executive Office of Immigration Review is Black.
  • Black immigrants are more likely to be detained and deported for criminal convictions than other immigrant groups.
  • Black immigrants in removal proceedings for a criminal conviction often have lived in the U.S. for a long time and established strong community ties; many are apprehended and placed in deportation proceedings long after the triggering criminal conviction occurred.

Part I of the report provides recently updated demographic data on immigration status, country of origin, geographic location within the U.S., educational attainment, household income, labor force participation, and eligibility for forms of immigration relief for Black immigrants. Part II focuses on the impact of mass criminalization on Black immigrants providing newly released data on detention and deportation rates for Black immigrants.

The report’s release coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, one of two laws passed in 1996 that expanded the grounds for deportation to include over 20 criminal and noncriminal offenses. According to the report, these laws have overwhelmingly impacted Black immigrants, who tend to live in communities that are subject to over policing and controversial practices such as “stop-and-frisk” and “broken windows policing.”

Some of BAJI’s policy recommendations include: removing convictions as a grounds for deportation and/or exclusion from the U.S., including aggravated felonies and drug offenses; expanding executive action programs that provide relief for Black immigrants; restoring judicial discretion and due process for all individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice and immigration systems; and eliminating the criminal bars to programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

According to Carl Lipscombe, BAJI’s Policy Manager and a co-author of the report, “Unfortunately, research on Black immigrants is scant because the government does not maintain data on immigrants based on race. But this report shows that racial injustices are pervasive within the immigration system. We urge the government to improve race-based tracking and expand the overall body of research available on Black immigrants.”

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is a racial justice and migrants’ rights organization that organizes, advocates, and raises public awareness around issues impacting African Americans and Black immigrants. Learn more about us at


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Friday, October 21, 2016

What Does Immigration Actually Cost Us?

The report suggests that immigration is not a clear-cut issue in which one side is right and the other wrong, but that there are both costs and benefits.

By Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times
September 29, 2016

Last week, as soon as the National Academy of Sciences issued “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration,” its 509-page report, interest groups on the left and right immediately claimed vindication.

“National Academy of Sciences Study Confirms Immigrants Benefit America,” America’s Voice, a liberal advocacy group, declared from the pro-immigration side. Frank Sharry, the group’s executive director, issued a statement assessing the study:

On the fringes of the immigration debate, you have Donald Trump and his small band of nativists peddling fears and falsehoods. For those of us who inhabit a fact-driven reality, you have a growing body of credible research demonstrating the benefits of immigrants and the burdens of following Trump’s radical proposals.

Conservatives calling for more restrictions on immigration read the same report but had a very different interpretation. “National Academy of Sciences Study of Immigration: Workers and Taxpayers Lose, Businesses Benefit,” the Center for Immigration Studies wrote.[...]

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Activists on Both Sides of US-Mexico Border Converge Against US State Violence

By Steve Pavey, Truthout
October 8, 2016

After holding an annual vigil for 25 years at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, the human rights group SOA Watch is moving its convergence to the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico. Activists throughout the US and Mexico have gathered on both sides of the US-Mexico border for an October 7-10 Border Convergence to highlight and protest US state policies linked to the root causes of migration, as well as to multiple levels of violence against migrants and more broadly, against Black and Latinx people.

People from Latin America continue to be forced to flee from US-trained repressive security forces, only to be confronted with a militarized border, racist immigration laws and the xenophobic rhetoric we see escalating during this election cycle. Black and Brown bodies in the US continue to be targeted, criminalized and systematically imprisoned and killed in the same way. We can no longer separate these issues and this weekend we have gathered to say "enough!"[...]

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Once Millones de Preguntas/Eleven Million Questions

Once Millones de Preguntas
Por Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
27 de septiembre, 2016

(English Version follows below)

El martes comenzaron los debates entre Hillary Clinton y Donald Trump. En el debate no hubo ni una sola pregunta sobre las políticas de los dos candidatos sobre la inmigración, o lo que proponen hacer con los once millones de indocumentados y sus familias que viven en este país. No obstante son muchas las cosas que deben preguntarse al respecto. En particular, yo tengo 11 millones de preguntas que le quisiera poner al Sr. Trump.

Para empezar, una pregunta personal. Mi hijo, un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos, desea saber si a su madre le van a permitir permanecer en los Estados Unidos mientras que él termina sus estudios de secundaria y se preparar a ingresar en la universidad. Mi hijo ha estado prestado mucha atención al Sr. Trump y le inspiran dudas lo dicho por el empresario sobre si los “bebes de ancla” vayan a perder su ciudadanía y su derecho de vivir en este país.[...]

Eleven Million Questions
By Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
September 27, 2016

The debates started on Tuesday between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There were no questions at that debate about the candidates immigration policy or their positions on the undocumented and their families living in this country. There are many questions on these subjects, however, that should be asked. To be specific, I have eleven million questions for Donald J Trump.
First, a personal question: my U.S. citizen son wants to know if his mother will be allowed to stay in this country as he finishes High School and prepares for college. He has been listening closely to Mr. Trump and he wonders about Trump’s statement that “anchor babies” should be forced to leave the country, losing their citizenship. [...]

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Friday, October 7, 2016

My mother and Trump’s border: America has been through this “extreme vetting” before

My mother's 1953 experience with immigration detainment shows how dangerous McCarthy-like thinking can be

By Ariel Dorfman,
September 25, 2016

Donald Trump, reacting to the recent terror attacks, called on the government and law enforcement to fight, McCarthy-like, the “cancer from within.” He then went on to exclaim: “How they came into the country in the first place is beyond me.” Obviously, he believes that these and thousands of other possible (and according to him, inevitable) assailants did not undergo the “extreme vetting” that he proposed as indispensable to keep Muslim terrorists and those advocating Sharia law from entering the United States. Whether this prospective weeding out of aliens antagonistic to American values at the border would bolster our security is doubtful.

A long time ago my mother, Fanny Zelicovich Dorfman, who, alas, has not been alive for some 20 years, fell afoul of a system of interrogation similar to the one the Republican candidate wishes to put into place. Her story might provide a sober perspective on the pitfalls and traps that such examinations entail.

Though Fanny would later recount her detention by immigration officials lightheartedly, as was her wont when tragedies descended upon the family (and they were many), there was nothing amusing about the episode when it occurred.

My sister and I found out about my mother’s mishap when, on the last day of our stay at Camp Tevya in Massachusetts — it must have been some time in late July or maybe August 1953 — my parents did not turn up to retrieve us. Instead, my father had asked some nearby friends in Boston to take care of us while he sorted out the mess my mother found herself in.[...]

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

In building boom, immigrant workers face exploitation

By Beth Healy and Megan Woolhouse, Boston Globe
September 18, 2016

Luis Mayancela was 15 years old when he fell from the roof of a house in Portland, Maine, where he was helping fasten shingles. He tumbled two stories, severely breaking his leg.

“I couldn’t breathe, much less talk,” recalled Mayancela, an Ecuadoran who took the job in 2013 to help support his family. “It’s pain you don’t forget.”

He is one of thousands of immigrants, many undocumented, helping meet the demand for workers in the region’s booming construction industry. They haul slabs of sheetrock and climb rooftops and dusty scaffolds, doing often dangerous work for contractors seeking cheap labor.

A Globe investigation found that these workers, eager for a paycheck, are often paid below the prevailing wage and illegally, in cash. They are also the most likely to be subjected to unsafe work conditions, without insurance to cover medical bills or lost pay if they get hurt. And the unscrupulous contractors who employ them are too seldom caught and penalized.[...]

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New CEPR Paper Questions Effectiveness of US-Funded Anticrime Programs in Central America

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Press Release
September 7, 2016

Finds Study Doesn’t Show that Areas Subject to Treatment in CARSI Programs Have Better Results

En Español

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Washington, DC – A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) questions the findings of one of the only studies to measure the impact of Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) anticrime programs. The CEPR paper, “Have US-Funded CARSI Programs Reduced Crime and Violence in Central America?” by David Rosnick, Alexander Main, and Laura Jung, examines data collected during a Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) study and subjects them to a number of statistical tests. CEPR finds problems with the methodology used and that the study cannot support the conclusion that the areas subject to treatment in the CARSI programs showed better results than those areas that were not.

“Unfortunately, the study does not demonstrate a correlation between anticrime treatment and actual crime reduction outcomes,” Rosnick, an economist and computer scientist, said. “This is especially important considering ongoing congressional debates over funding support to Honduras and other countries, and the prevalence of crime in pushing people to flee the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.”

The study by the Vanderbilt University-based LAPOP is, to date, the only publicly accessible impact assessment of programs carried out under CARSI, a US government initiative that has received over a billion dollars in US funding. The CEPR paper attempts to evaluate the success of USAID-funded anticrime programs in Central America under CARSI, and identifies major problems with the LAPOP study, namely, the nonrandomness of the selection of treatment versus control areas and how the differences in initial conditions, as well as differences in results between treatment and control areas, have been interpreted. The paper notes that in the case of reported robberies, if the areas subject to treatment have an elevated level of reported robberies in the year prior to treatment, it is possible that there is some reversion to normal levels over the next year. The LAPOP methodology does not differentiate between effective treatment and, for example, an unrelated decline in reported robberies in a treated area following a year with an abnormally high number of reported robberies.

The CEPR paper finds that, given these faults with the methodology used, the study cannot support the conclusion that the areas subject to treatment in the CARSI programs showed better results than those areas that were not. The paper notes that in some treatment areas, “Statistically, the possibility that intervention had no effect on reported robberies cannot be ruled out.”

“Hopefully more studies will be undertaken to examine how effectively US taxpayer dollars are being used to address very serious issues of crime in Central America,” Rosnick said. “Unfortunately, the only publicly accessible assessment available so far offers very little that’s useful for making such an evaluation.”


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