Sunday, May 29, 2016

On the Mexico border, a surge of migrants ahead of a possible ‘Trump Wall’

By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post
May 26, 2016

MCALLEN, Texas: To save time, Adriana Zavala would take a shortcut down an empty lane on the way to school, until the afternoon last September when the tattooed Salvadoran gangsters blocked her way.

The threats she began receiving that day — sell our drugs to your classmates or we’ll rape you — propelled the teenager, her father and 13-year-old sister to begin a five-month odyssey from El Salvador that has ended, for now, in this Texas town. They are among thousands of migrants arriving at the US border in what authorities fear could be another surge of Central American families.

“In my country, they’re going to kill me. And I can’t die right now. There are so many things I want to do,” said Zavala, a 17-year-old who wants to be a chef and take singing classes.

On the US campaign trail, illegal immigration is a hot-button topic, with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, vowing to build a 1,000-mile border wall. But along this stretch of Texas border, where migrants climb over and walk around existing fencing, such proposed solutions tend to draw scorn, even from Trump fans. And the politician’s tough talk, people here say, might actually be attracting more migrants.[...]

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Revolt of the ‘Chapulines’: After Strike, Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers Vote To Unionize

By David Bacon, In These Times
May 25, 2016

Sometimes they call themselves chapulines.

It's a Oaxacan inside joke. Chapulines are small insects, like grasshoppers. When they're toasted with lime and garlic, they're a delicacy that's as much a part of Oaxacan indigenous culture as mezcal or big tlayuda tortillas.

One worker standing in line in the edge of a San Joaquin Valley blueberry field laughed at the name. "We're very humble, like chapulines, and there are a lot of us, like we're all piled up together on a plate." Another reason he liked the similarity was the color: a plate of chapulines is reddish brown. Pointing down the line of workers, he gestured: "Look at all the t-shirts."

Hundreds of workers had lined up in two long rows in the pre-dawn darkness, ready to vote in a union election last Saturday morning. So many were wearing red t-shirts emblazoned with the black eagle of the United Farm Workers that the few people without them stood out conspicuously.

As the sun came up, the lines slowly moved toward the ballot boxes, and workers began to vote.

By 11:00 a.m., it was over. Blueberry pickers in their red t-shirts poured out of the rows of bushes, and then gathered in a semicircle to watch an agent of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board make the count.

As he announced it, 347 to 68 in favor of the union, the cheering started. The chapulines had won.

Workers may make jokes about their indigenous identity, but a far less pleasant reality led to their decision to organize a union.[...]

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Faith Groups Create Emergency Hotline for Immigrants to Call During a Deportation Raid

By Jack Jenkins, ThinkProgress
May 25, 2016

Nineteen faith groups in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are setting up an emergency hotline to help undocumented immigrants who need help during a deportation raid, hoping to shed light on the federal government’s renewed effort to forcibly remove people from the country.

Organizers of the program, which is being called “Sanctuary in the Streets,” say they are responding to news that the federal government will launch a new wave of deportation raids in May and June. The congregations — all which participate in what is being called the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) — say they will form teams of volunteers to provide rapid respond support in the event of a hotline call, training them to rush to the site of the raid, hold a prayer vigil, film the event, and comfort the family.

“The goal … is to be in solidarity for the families being raided, and shine a light on what ICE is doing and apply pressure to encourage them to stop doing raids,” said Peter Pedemonti, a representative of the NSM in Philadelphia.[...]

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Migration as Reparations

Instead of a “surge” in deportations, the U.S. government should be paying off its imperial debt to Central America.

By Joseph Nevins, NACLA Report on the Americas
May 24, 2016

On May 12, Reuters revealed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is poised to undertake a 30-day “surge” in deportations. The label for the operation suggests a military-like endeavor—the stated goal of which is to arrest and deport hundreds of single adults, mothers, and children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who arrived after January 1, 2014, have been ordered to leave the country, yet remain in the United States without authorization. According to Reuters, it will constitute “the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year.”

Reports of the looming surge have led to protests, with many asserting that the would-be targets of the operation are in fact refugees, as defined by international law. They are individuals who have a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” and can’t rely on their national governments for protection. As such, the critics (who range from immigrant rights advocates to Bernie Sanders to mainstream Democrats) argue that the women and children from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” who are said to be in the United States ”illegally” have a right to stay—even if only temporarily.

While this argument certainly has merit, their critique of Obama administration policy accepts the narrow international definition of who is and isn’t “deserving” of asylum. The result is that the criticism can only bear fruit to the extent that U.S. authorities accept and acknowledge that the humans they prey upon are under extraordinary threat in their countries of birth.[...]

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Women and Children First: Homeland Security Targets "Family Units" for Deportation in May and June

By Danica Jorden, Z Communications via Truthout
May 17, 2016

After January's raids that tore teens from their families and plucked them off buses on their way to school, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is about to embark on a renewed quest to arrest and deport Central Americans who applied for refugee status in the United States in the summer of 2014. According to sources reported by Reuters on May 12, 2016, and confirmed by DHS a day later, the agency is sending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents out on a second wave of raids against immigrants, this time with the specific aim of apprehending and imprisoning Central American women and their children, or "family units" and unaccompanied minors.

An article by Julia Edwards published by Reuters on Thursday referred to internal papers that were revealed to the news agency concerning the upcoming operation. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day 'surge' of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States, the document seen by Reuters said. The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age, the document said. Two sources confirmed the details of the plan."

Despite assurances by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson that "we will offer vulnerable populations in Central America an alternate and legal path to safety in the United States," the impending actions seem to be anything but.[...]

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Obama’s Cruel Decision to Resume Mass Deportations

By Dan Kovalik, Huffington Post
May 16, 2016

According to NPR, “U.S. immigration officials are planning to detain and deport immigrants who were part of the surge of Central Americans who crossed into the U.S. illegally over the past two years . . . .” And, lest one believe, as the Office of Homeland Security is claiming, that this has anything to do with national security, “immigration agents are mainly targeting young mothers with small children, and unaccompanied youths who turned 18 after they entered the U.S.” This deportation will be carried out through “‘a months-long series of raids in May and June.’”

Sending mothers and young children back to countries from which they are fleeing violence is immoral and cruel as Pope Francis has recently emphasized. It is also illegal, as the U.S. is required under international law, for example under Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to accept such refugees who are fleeing from persecution in their home counties. And, when one considers the U.S.’s role in creating the conditions of persecution these refugees are fleeing, the immoral and criminal nature of Obama’s planned course of action is crystal clear.

Put quite simply, the U.S. owes these refugees a home in light of the fact that the U.S. has mercilessly destroyed their home countries over the past century or so. Let’s take the case of Guatemala for starters, where the U.S. supported a series of brutal military dictatorships after overthrowing its democratically-elected President back in 1954.[...]

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

ICE-FREE NYC Condemns The Raids // ICE-FREE NYC Condena A Las Redadas

May 13, 2016

Yesterday Reuters reported on a new surge of immigration raids “a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children…The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.”

We know from experience that these immigration raids are facilitated by the NYPD, most recently in the Bronx where Homeland Security Investigations (a division of ICE) led a raid against “gang members” on the early morning of March 27, 2016.

This is why ICE-FREE NYC stands in unyielding solidarity with our all migrant and non-citizen communities resisting the continued war against our Diasporas. Please sign and share our petition to Mayor De Blasio demanding a NYC free of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Stay tuned to future actions and collaborations through our Facebook and Twitter.[...]

Read the ICE-FREE NYC statement:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NYC, 5/18/16: Salvadoran professor on US-sponsored militarization in Central America

Dangerous Journeys: How US-sponsored militarization in Central America in fueling a human rights crisis

Join us for a conversation with Moisés Gómez, professor and researcher at the Central American University
Wednesday, May 18th at 7pm
At The Base
1302 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11221

For more information:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is it an Immigration Detention Facility or a Child-Care Center?

In the latest fight over whether detaining migrant children is illegal, a Texas judge has blocked the state from issuing a child-care license to an immigration detention center.

J. Weston Phippen, The Atlantic
May 6, 2016

The largest immigration detention center in the United States has a gym with Zumba classes, a beauty salon, playgrounds, and a school for kids. It also has barracks-style housing and the tall chainlink fencing of a prison.

The U.S. has three family detention centers, used to hold migrant children and their mothers as they apply for asylum, and the two largest are in Texas. One is in Dilley, the other in Karnes. They’re both dusty towns between San Antonio and the Mexican border, and together they have about 3,500 beds.

The facilities have been at the center of a legal fight in Texas courts this week. The issue is whether one of these centers could or should be considered a child-care facility. The Obama administration has tried to get Texas to grant its Karnes County Residential Center a child-care license, arguing that the designation would serve in the best interest of immigrant children, who are held there as they’re screened for asylum. But immigration advocates hope to shut down the centers, which they view as prisons––or at the very least, they want the children released. This strange-sounding struggle over a label is about legal semantics, but it’s also about how the U.S. chooses and is allowed to treat migrant children.[...]

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

El Nuevo Triángulo de Poder/The New Triangle of Power

El Nuevo Triángulo de Poder
Por Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
28 de Abril, 2016
(English Version follows below)

A menudo el triángulo aparece como un símbolo místico en la cultura indígena mesoamericana, por ejemplo en las pirámides. El triángulo simboliza el balance, la armonía, y la unidad de distintas fuerzas, además del poder que surge de tal unidad.

Actualmente se está surgiendo un nuevo triángulo en el movimiento popular. Este triángulo tiene tres componentes: Un movimiento en contra del encarcelamiento masivo, un movimiento en contra de las deportaciones masivas, y un movimiento en contra del prejuicio en contra de los musulmanes. El crecimiento de la unidad de estos tres movimientos está unificando las comunidades latinoamericanas, afronorteamericanas, caribeñas, asiáticas, y medio orientales en los Estados Unidos. La unificación de la consciencia de que “ningún ser humano es ilegal” con la consciencia de que “las vidas afroamericanas importan” está produciendo una dinámica muy poderosa especialmente entre la juventud de nuestras dos comunidades. Los ataques en contra de los musulmanes se ha revelado como un movimiento en contra de gente de color, y por lo tanto, activistas musulmanes se han integrado también en la consciencia de los nuevos movimientos.

En el pasado estos tres movimientos no estaban siempre unidos. Nos temíamos unos a los otros. Hubo celos y sospechas.[...]

The New Triangle of Power
By Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
April 28, 2016

The Triangle appears often in mystery symbols of the indigenous (Mesoamerican) culture, for instance in the Pyramids. The triangle is a symbol of the balance, harmony and unity of different forces – and the power that comes from that unity.

Today, there is a new triangle forming deep in the movement of the people: a triangle of three movements – a movement against mass incarceration, a movement against mass deportation and a movement against Islamaphobia. The growing unity and collaboration of these three movements are bringing together the African American, Latino/Latin American, Caribbean, Asian and Middle Eastern communities in the U.S. The growing together of the Black and Brown Lives Matter consciousness and the “No Human Being is Illegal” consciousness is producing something very powerful, especially among the young people of our community. The attack on Muslims has been exposed as movement against people of color and Muslim activists have become part of the culture of the new movements.

These three movements were not always joined. We feared each other. We were jealous and suspicious of each other.[...]

Lea el artículo completo/read the full article:!topic/sanctuarymovement/3tlCptQGIkw

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bill Clinton’s shameful legacy on immigration: “Terrible” laws he signed “rip apart” families and authorize unjust detention, Human Rights Watch says

Rights group says 1996 laws created a system of mass detention and abuse for refugees and migrants

By Ben Norton,
April 27, 2016

Clinton-era immigration laws “have subjected hundreds of thousands of people to arbitrary detention, fast-track deportations and family separation,” Human Rights Watch says in a new report.

The rights group says two 1996 immigration laws signed by President Bill Clinton have created a system in which refugees and migrants face detention and fast-track deportation without adequate consideration from U.S. authorities.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the U.S. Congress to repeal provisions in these two laws.

President Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, or AEDPA, in 1996. Human Rights Watch says the legislation “greatly expanded the grounds for detaining and deporting immigrants, including long-term legal residents,” authorizing for the first time fast-track deportation procedures, which are now frequently used in the U.S.[...]

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hope vs. horror: Realities of U.S. immigration and foreign policy

By Yennifer Mateo and Joshua LeClair, People's World
April 25, 2016

LUMPKIN, GA - From April 5-9, People's World accompanied a local faith based advocacy group to visit immigrants being held at Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. What we witnessed is criminal.

U.S. actions drive immigration

Before I delve into details of the trip, let's review a few things about the realities of immigrants in the U.S.

We cannot even begin a conversation about immigration without first addressing why people leave their home countries and begin a dangerous and often deadly journey to the U.S. We must first start with understanding how U.S. foreign policy and imperialism have been the root of many of the conflicts, economic insecurity, forced relocations and even genocides in much of the developing world. Let's start with what I know about my home country, the Dominican Republic.

On April 28th, 1965, 405 U.S. Marines landed in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, to support the U.S. backed military dictatorship in their fight against the Constitutionalists and revolutionary forces; a dictatorship responsible for over 50,000 murders including the Parsley Massacre and the disappearing of numerous political and union activists. To this day, U.S. and Canadian businesses through economic and political means, continue to make it nearly impossible for the Dominican people to make a life for themselves and determine their own political destiny. Please go here for a more detailed history of U.S. involvement in the Dominican Republic.[...]

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

When we mourn the passing of Prince but not 500 migrants, we have to ask: have we lost all sense of perspective?

Could not one of those dead children among the five hundred souls on the sinking Mediterranean boat become a ‘superstar’?

By Robert Fisk, The Independent
April 24, 2016

Has something gone adrift within the moral compass of our ‘news’ reporting? In the past week, 64 Afghans have been killed in the largest bomb to have exploded in Kabul in 15 years. At least 340 were wounded. The Taliban set off their explosives at the very wall of the ‘elite’ security force – watch out for that word ‘elite’ – which was supposed to protect the capital. Whole families were annihilated. No autopsies for them. Local television showed an entire family – a mother and father and three children blown to pieces in a millisecond – while the city’s ambulance service reported that its entire fleet (a miserable 15 vehicles) were mobilised for the rescue effort. One ambulance was so packed with wounded that the back doors came off their hinges.

Now Afghanistan is the country to which we and our EU partners are happily returning refugees on the grounds that Kabul and its surrounding provinces are “safe”. It is, of course, a lie – as flagrant and potentially as bloody as the infamous weapons of mass destruction we claimed were in Iraq in 2003. By then, we had already promised the Afghans – in 2001 – that we wouldn’t let them down. We wouldn’t forget them as we did after the Soviet war. A Blair promise, of course, and thus worthless.[...]

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