Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fire and ICE: The Return of Workplace Immigration Raids

Undocumented workers face a new level of insecurity under the Trump administration.

By David Bacon, The American Prospect
April 27, 2017
Capital & Main is an award-winning publication that reports from California on economic, political, and social issues. The American Prospect is co-publishing this piece.

At the end of February immigration agents descended on a handful of Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the suburbs of Jackson, Mississippi, and in nearby Meridian. Fifty-five immigrant cooks, dishwashers, servers and bussers were loaded into vans and taken to a detention center about 160 miles away in Jena, Louisiana.

Their arrests and subsequent treatment did more than provoke outrage among Jackson's immigrant rights activists. Labor advocates in California also took note of the incident, fearing that it marked the beginning of a new wave of immigrant raids and enforcement actions in workplaces. In response, California legislators have written a bill providing legal protections for workers, to keep the Mississippi experience from being duplicated in the Golden State.

Once the Mississippi restaurant workers had been arrested, they essentially fell off the radar screen for several days.[...]

Read the full article:

Tom Cat Bakery workers. Photo: Erik McGregor/Sipa via AP Images

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Hunger Strike at West Coast’s Largest Detention Center

Protesters support striking detainees. Photo: Tacoma Action Collective
Largely ignored by the mainstream media, hunger strikes are continuing among immigrant detainees at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington. Outside support for the detainees is being coordinated by a local group, NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC .

Hunger strike resumes at immigration detention center

By Keith Eldridge, KOMO News
April 25th 2017
TACOMA, Wash. -- A hunger strike has resumed with immigration detainees claiming the conditions inside remain deplorable. This comes as demonstrators take their actions to Tacoma City Hall to fight against any possible expansion of the facility.

The hunger strike resumed at noon Tuesday inside the walls of the Northwest Detention Center. The NWDC Resistance group says 40 detainees are refusing to eat to protest what they call a deterioration of the food and health care inside.

About 750 people ended their hunger strike recently after what they considered successful negotiations with GEO, the private company that runs the prison for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But Resistance members said the company went back on its word. NWDC Resistance member, Wendy Pantoja, said "Because they say GEO is lying about the conditions, the food is worse."[…]

Read the full article:

Press Release from NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC
For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2017
Maru Mora Villalpando, 206-251-6658
Wendy Pantoja, 253-468-5822

Detainees Begin Third Week on Hunger Strike because GEO Lied in Negotiations, Call on City of Tacoma to Address Worsening Conditions

What: Rally and testimony Calling for Revocation of GEO’s license to run NWDC
When: 4 pm Rally, 5:15 City Council Public Hearing
Where: Tacoma Municipal Building; City Council Chambers; 747 Market Street, First Floor; Tacoma, WA 98402

Tacoma, WA – People detained at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) have been hunger striking since April 10 to call attention to worsening nutrition and sanitation conditions. Their unmet demands included properly cleaned laundry, adequate medical care, reasonable commissary prices, raising the $1 per day prison wage, more nutritional cafeteria food, and contact visits "so parents can hug their children." The NWDC, which is located on a Superfund site, is the largest immigrant detention center on the West Coast, caging over 1,500 immigrants while awaiting civil deportation proceedings. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts with The GEO Group, a multinational private prison corporation, to run the facility. The abysmal conditions point to the ongoing danger the NWDC to the public health, safety and welfare of the individuals involved, as well as the community as a whole.

GEO Group representatives promised to improve food to meet basic nutritional standards after the first week on strike. Instead, the food has gotten worse and GEO has retaliated against hunger strikers. They believe that GEO and ICE retaliated against hunger strikers by transferring at least four hunger strikers to NORCOR corrections facility in Oregon. They announce that 40 men will go on hunger strike today, calling on GEO and ICE keep their promises.[...]

Read the full press release:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trump’s Attacks on Immigrants Are a Gift for Bad Bosses

Protecting the rights of the most vulnerable workers is about to get significantly harder—and that’s bad for all workers.

By Terri Gerstein, The Nation
April 24, 2017
Alexander Acosta seems well on his way to confirmation as secretary of labor, with a Senate vote likely to occur in the coming weeks. Although he’s less cartoonishly ill-suited for the position than many of Trump’s cabinet picks, it’s nearly inconceivable that Acosta will emerge as a strong advocate for working people, given his history and confirmation hearing testimony. He showed little discomfort with Trump’s pro-business, antiregulatory agenda, dodged a number of key questions, and stated, “We all work for the president and we all will ultimately follow his direction.” 

Frances Perkins, he’s not.  

With flaccid and ineffectual enforcement at the federal level, it will fall increasingly to state and city agencies to be the primary enforcers of the labor laws. Filling the federal vacuum will be difficult enough, but the Trump administration has not merely exited the stage. Instead, Trump’s actions in what may seem to be another arena—specifically, his attacks on immigrants—have made it infinitely harder for states and localities to protect workers’ rights.[...]

Read the full article:

Photo: Nicolas Enriquez/New York Daily News

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Trump Era Tests the True Power of Sanctuary Cities

By Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker  
April 18, 2017
Ever since Donald Trump became President, mayors and city council members in “sanctuary cities”—places where local law-enforcement officials limit their coöperation with immigration agents—have promised to resist the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants. The new Administration has responded with threats (to cut sanctuary cities’ funding), reprisals (like launching more raids in specific jurisdictions), and accusations (that these cities are making the country less safe). City leaders have, in turn, criticized immigration raids, and raised money to pay for the legal bills of residents who’ve been arrested. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ice) answers to the federal government, not to local officeholders, and as it continues to expand the scope and reach of its activity, the limits of city power are becoming increasingly clear.

Consider New York City, whose leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, are vocally pro-immigrant and anti-Trump. Lately, ice agents have been showing up at locations where the city is powerless to stop them: the courts. Since January, there have been seventeen reports of ice agents making arrests at courthouses in the city, compared to nineteen such reports made in the previous two years combined, according to the Immigrant Defense Project, a nonprofit legal-advocacy organization. In March, ice agents made an arrest at Kings County Family Court, something that advocates say had never happened before.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Excerpt: What Trump Doesn’t Get About MS-13

Donald Trump tweeted at 5:39 a.m. on April 18 that the spread of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) resulted from weak immigration enforcement under Obama. The gang is actually a homegrown product whose power and extent were increased by the policy of deporting aliens with criminal convictions under Bill Clinton—the same policy that Trump boasts about continuing now.

Here's what we say in The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, second edition, Chapter 8, “Are Immigrants a Threat?”:

…Deporting someone for a violent crime may actually make us less safe....[I]f the offender is truly a danger to others, deportation makes no sense. It simply takes offenders out of the parole system, and their criminal record may not follow them across the border. Whether they remain in their country of birth, go elsewhere, or return to the United States without permission, no one is monitoring them to ensure they don’t put someone else at risk….

Thousands of Central Americans were deported as “criminal aliens” after IIRIRA and AEDPA were enacted. Among them were youths who belonged to Mara Salvatrucha (known as MS-13), a Los Angeles-based street gang. Crime experts say the deportations made it possible for the U.S. gang to take root in Central America, especially in El Salvador, fueling criminal violence there. As a result of its connections in both Central America and the United States, MS-13 grew into a real force in the smuggling and distribution of drugs. In October 2012 the U.S. Treasury declared MS-13 a significant “transnational criminal organization” because of its “serious transnational criminal activities, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, assassinations, racketeering, blackmail, extortion, and immigration offenses.” MS-13 members now reportedly see deportations from the United States as a way to get “free rides” to other countries in order to expand the gang’s operations.

[We’re occasionally posting excerpts from the new edition of our book which seem relevant to the current situation. The updated and expanded edition is due out on May 22. You can pre-order here or from your favorite bookseller.]

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two Solidarity Actions: Support Juan Manuel Montes and Tacoma Hunger Strikers

ell Secretary Kelly: Bring DACA-Recipient Juan Back from Mexico!
On February 17, Juan Manuel Montes was walking to a taxi stand in his hometown in California
when he was approached by border officials and asked for his papers. Though Juan was legally authorized to live and work in America through the DACA program, he was deported to Mexico just hours later.

This is a direct consequence to Donald Trump's mass deportation agenda and the acts of an unaccountable agency. Juan Manuel must be reunited with his family in California as soon as possible. Join us in demanding Secretary Kelly take immediate action.[…]

Read and sign the petition:

Tacoma, WA: Support Hunger Strikers Fighting Worsening Detention Conditions Under Trump

By Anonymous Contributor, It’s Coming Down
April 19, 2017
A new group of immigrants have joined a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center, run by the private corporation GEO Group (GEO). In addition to the hunger strike, immigrants detained at NWDC are boycotting the company store (commissary) to protest unfair prices and lack of nutritional food.

On Tuesday, April 18, the women’s section of the Northwest Detention Center began a hunger strike to protest GEO and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to improve the conditions to meet basic living standards. This follows a protest that began on April 10, 2017 when up to 750 people spent a week on hunger strike. While GEO promised to change the food menu to meet basic nutritional needs and lower commissary prices, it has failed to do so.

Detention conditions have worsened under the Trump administration, triggering this latest strike. Trump has staffed his deportation force with openly anti-immigrant officials with links to white supremacist organizations, leaving people detained with little choice but to put their bodies on the line to fight for their basic dignity. Attorney General Jeff Session’s newly released memorandum calling for increased prosecutions of immigrants and their supporters, combined with a roll-out where he referred to immigrants as “filth,” highlights the continued need for local resistance to the federal deportation and detention dragnet.[…]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day Without Bread Update: Arrests, Protest, Signs of Solidarity

The April 21 protest in support of immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Queens brought four arrests and extensive coverage in New York media. Of the 31 workers threatened by ICE, 18 are continuing to fight for a full severance package and a commitment by the company not to cooperate with immigration authorities. A number of businesses honored the call for a “Day Without Bread,” posting the protest’s yellow sign in their windows. Among the shops in solidarity were Yemeni bodegas in Brooklyn that also honored the “Day Without Immigrants” in February.—TPOI editor

Protesters block delivery trucks. Photo:
Immigration Inquiry Draws Protest at Tom Cat Bakery

By Tejal Rao, New York Times
April 21, 2017
The protest over a Department of Homeland Security investigation that began in December and threatened the jobs of several immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, Queens, was meant to begin at 6 a.m. on Friday.

Photo: @WidadIndie
But at 3 a.m., a few protesters arrived at the factory and chained themselves to the bakery’s trucks, disrupting morning deliveries. Four people were arrested, the police said.

By 7, more than 100 people had gathered in the rain, carrying signs that read “No Human Is Illegal” and “Rise and Resist.” Members of a marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, played as a group of 100 people marched back and forth along 10th Street, chanting in both Spanish and English.[…]

Read the full article:

New York: Tom Cat Bakery Workers Hold "Day Without Bread" Protest

Democracy Now!
April 21, 2017
Photo: @WidadIndie
In New York City, immigrant workers at the Tom Cat Bakery are calling for a "day without bread," as about 18 workers face the loss of their jobs today after their employer demanded valid working papers. This morning, activists locked themselves to the underside of Tom Cat Bakery trucks, stalling delivery of bread while police worked to cut them out. Meanwhile, over 100 of the workers’ supporters rallied outside the bakery in solidarity with the workers. This is Tom Cat Bakery employee Osias Davila.

Osias Davila: "There are workers who have been here for 10 years, 18 years, and so it’s unjust that Tom Cat treats us this way, after we have given so much for the company to grow. It’s a very large business with a lot of production. So what we’re asking for at this time is that there is justice and that they stand up for their workers."

Read the full article:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

COMING SOON! The Politics of Immigration, Second Edition

The expanded and updated 2nd edition of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers is now available for pre-order (release date: May 22, 2017). Rigorously researched and loaded with citations, the book tackles complex concerns in a clear and accessible style. The Politics of Immigration is an antidote to today's immigrant-bashing politicians and pundits, and a valuable resource for anyone wanting to talk to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors about immigration.
Pre-order here or from your favorite bookseller. Sign up for our email list by sending the word “subscribe” to Check out our blog for news and updates, and our website for further resources. You can follow us on Twitter @Immigration_QA and find us on Facebook @ImmigrationQA.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Day Without Bread, April 21: Support NY Bakery Workers as They Fight “Silent Raids”

During the Obama administration employers and the government used the “silent raid” as a major
tool for intimidating undocumented workers. In this scenario a company notifies some of its employees that the government has found problems with their documents; if the workers can’t verify their legal status by a certain date, they lose their jobs. This tactic has led to the firing of thousands of immigrants—often from better-paying union jobs—driving them into substandard jobs in the underground economy.

Workers at the Tom Cat bakery in Queens are fighting back. Thirty-one of them have been threatened with firing on Friday, April 21, if they don’t produce documents, but instead of accepting this tactic the workers are calling for a citywide “Day Without Bread” on the date. The nonprofit organization Brandworkers is representing the workers, and several local restaurants have already agreed not to serve bread on April 21. Other supporters are demonstrating their solidarity by signing a petition and contributing to a relief fund for the workers.

The April 21 action will kick off with a rally outside the bakery from 6 am to 8 am.  The location is 43-05 10th Street in Long Island City, which is accessible from several subway lines. Yes, it’s early in the morning, and there’s a good chance of rain, but by turning out New Yorkers can help the bakery workers in their struggle—and build locally for the national Day Without Immigrants on May 1.

NYC Bakery Workers Plan Citywide ‘Day Without Bread’ to Protest Immigrant Firings
Can you imagine an entire day in New York City without bread?

By Simone Wilson, Patch Queens
April 19, 2017
LONG ISLAND CITY, QUEENS — We've endured a day without immigrants, a day without women and even a day without bodegas in the name of standing up to President Trump and his policies. But can we endure a day without bread?

Workers at New York’s oldest artisanal bakery who say they're facing immediate termination due to their immigration status are urging all "restaurants and consumers across the city to refrain from selling or eating bread" this Friday for what would be the city's first-ever “Day Without Bread.”

Tom Cat Bakery's management previously told workers at the Queens factory that the company was being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the protesters claim.

Now, “thirty-one workers, many of whom have been at the bakery for a decade or more, have been told they will be fired April 21 if they do not provide new employment documents,” according to a statement issued by Brandworkers, a nonprofit that is representing the workers.[...]

Read the full article:

Tom Cat Does Trump’s Dirty Work

By Danny Katch, Socialist Worker
March 23, 2017
WHEN PEOPLE talk about Donald Trump's anti-immigrant base, they usually aren't thinking of artisanal bakeries in New York City.

But when Tom Cat Bakery in Queens handed out letters to 30 employees on March 15 demanding that they show proof of legal status, it showed that the people who have the most to gain from Trump's crackdown aren't white factory workers in the Rustbelt, but bosses everywhere who want to keep their workers divided and afraid.

“I pay taxes, I work hard, I have a family. Last week, we received a letter asking us for documentation. We were only given 10 days [to submit the paperwork]. I think it's very unfair the way we're being treated. We've given so much to this company. The reason why the company is successful today is because of our hard work.”[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sign Educators’ and Unionists’ Pledges of Support for the May 1 “Day Without Immigrants”

Education workers and labor leaders are asking for signatures on pledges to back the planned protests by immigrant workers on May 1. The educators’ pledge calls for a moratorium at universities and colleges that day “halting business as usual…as an act of solidarity.” Reflecting current legal and contractual restraints on union actions, the union leaders give a vaguer recommendation “to participate in whatever way we can.”—TPOI editor
A Call to Action for Higher Education
The Higher Education Community in the United States

The following pledge is being circulated by students, staff, faculty, and administrators across the United States. In the face of a climate of increasing bigotry and violence, we call on the university community to engage in a moratorium on business as usual and take action in solidarity with the immigrant worker strike on May Day.

We face a moment of great uncertainty. Elements of the social safety net and basic rights provisions are being rescinded and amended more swiftly than they can be challenged through traditional legal and legislative interventions. Millions of immigrants live under daily threat of separation from their families and communities by intensified ICE raids.

Many of the attacks we face directly affect the university. The arts, humanities, and sciences face not only funding cuts but an assault on the concept of free inquiry itself. Climate change data is being removed from the public domain, university budgets are being held hostage by state governments and the threat of political retaliation by the federal government, white supremacists have been emboldened to commit hate crimes on our campuses, and basic facts have diminishing import in the national debate.

May Day 2017 will be a day of struggle against the Trump administration and the structural conditions under which it originated.[…]

Read and sign the full pledge:

Labor for Our Revolution Statement in Support of “A Day Without Immigrants”

Millions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, who lead hard working and
productive lives, are also union members.

Donald Trump launched his political campaign in 2015 with a racist attack on Mexican
immigrants, painting them as rapists and murderers. He made attacks on our Muslim sisters and brothers his political trademark -- even going so far as to propose a religious test for immigration. This kind of race baiting and immigrant bashing has a long history in our country – a consistent attempt by business elites to divide working class people in order to advance their pro-corporate agenda.

As leaders of the unions who supported Bernie Sanders for president, we refuse to go down that road of hatred, resentment and divisiveness. We will march and stand with our sister and brother immigrant workers against the terror tactics of the Trump administration.

We are a nation of immigrants. Every generation and every race and ethnic group has seen attempts to divide the working class based on race and ethnic origin. Together we say NO to the politics of division! We call on Trump and his supporters to end the attacks on immigrant workers!

On May 1, 2017 millions of immigrant workers will engage in public resistance to the Trump administration. In some places that resistance will include labor strikes and boycotts. Millions will march in cities and towns all across the country. We pledge to support these protests and will urge our organizations' leaders and members to participate in whatever way we can. Workers united, will never be defeated!

In Solidarity,

Larry Hanley, President,                                  Chris Shelton, President,
Amalgamated Transit Union                            Communications Workers of America

RoseAnn DeMoro, Executive Director,             Peter Knowlton, General President,
National Nurses United                                    United Electrical Workers

For more information, contact Labor for Our Revolution coordinator Rand Wilson or (617) 949-9720

Sign the pledge:

With the U.S. Working Class Under Attack… Unions Can Reclaim May Day in Solidarity with Immigrant Workers

Supporting the upcoming May 1 protests, strikes and other actions will clearly demonstrate that unions are ready to be a champion of the rising Latino demographic. Conversely, sitting on the sidelines will mark us as bystanders to racist repression.

By Peter Olney and Rand Wilson, Stansbury Forum
April 2, 2017
The buzz about a Day without Immigrants on May 1, 2017 is growing. Spanish radio is already churning with calls for strikes, rallies and demonstrations on May 1. This movement recalls the giant mobilizations of May 1, 2006 that occurred in response to proposed draconian anti-immigrant federal legislation called the Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill.

May Day has its historic origins in the nineteenth century struggle for the eight-hour day. In many cities on May Day in 2006, the marches and rallies proved to be the largest in history. Industries that relied on immigrant labor were paralyzed as millions of workers responded to the call for a Day without Latinos (also called the Great American Boycott). Labor participated unevenly in these rallies and mostly in places where the membership in service unions was predominately Latino. This year, in the turmoil surrounding the Trump Presidency, May 1 could be a great opportunity for the labor movement to flex its muscles and build its future.

Labor’s participation is important to the future of American politics.[..]

Read the full article:

1997: Farmworkers demonstrating, Salinas, CA. Photo: Robert Gumpert

Monday, April 17, 2017

ICE immigration arrests of noncriminals double under Trump

While Trump claims his immigration raids are targeting criminals, the biggest increase in ICE arrests since he took office is among immigrants without criminal records. The Washington Post notes concerns that in some cases ICE may be “arresting immigrants in retaliation for asserting their rights, such as two dairy worker advocates in Vermont, who have since been released on bond, and a community activist in New York, who is detained.”

By Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post
April 16, 2017
Immigration arrests rose 32.6 percent in the first weeks of the Trump administration, with newly empowered federal agents intensifying their pursuit of not just undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but also thousands of illegal immigrants who have been otherwise law-abiding.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, mostly convicted criminals, from January through mid-March, compared to 16,104 during the same period last year, according to statistics requested by The Washington Post.

Arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to 5,441, the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.[…]

Read the full article:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Resistance Continues: A Hunger Strike, a Caravan, and Plans for a National May 1 Action

Immigrant and labor organizers are hoping to mobilize a nationwide strike for immigrant rights on May 1 comparable to the massive “Day Without an Immigrant” on May 1, 2006, the largest national labor action in U.S. history. Clearly the “Day Without an Immigrant” in February of this year was much smaller than the 2006 mobilization, but organizers are hoping to bolster turnout with support from workers’ centers and union locals in the service sector. Meanwhile, local resistance goes on, including a new hunger strike at a detention center in Tacoma, Washington, and a “Caravan Against Fear” in California.—TPOI editor

On May 1, the US May See the Biggest Immigrant Strike Since 2006

By Adriana Cataño, Remezcla
April 7, 2017
On May 1 – a day known for labor organizing around the world – as many as an estimated 400,000 won’t show up to work across the United States. Immigrants’ rights groups, labor unions, and workers organizations are gearing up for what may become the biggest immigrant strike the country has seen in more than 10 years. Unlike other strikes, this one isn’t a protest against their employers. With the ongoing resistance to President Donald Trump, organized labor has taken the reins in order to show the current administration that the groups it’s vilifying and adversely affecting with its policies form the backbone of the US, according to Mic.

“The president is attacking our community,” Tomas Mejía, a member of the Service Employees International Union West’s executive board, told Labor Notes. “Immigrants have helped form this country, we’ve contributed to its beauty, but the president is attacking us as criminal.”

Earlier this year, immigrants staged a nationwide  Day Without Immigrants strike. But, unlike the May 1 strike – which already had 350,000 service workers vowing to join the protest by mid-March – the Day Without Immigrants strike came together in a shorter amount of time. And now, workers will take it to the next level.[...]

Read the full article:

For-Profit ICE Jail Faces Second Hunger Strike in Two Years

By Sam Knight, The District Sentinel
April 14, 2017
A hunger strike at a privately-run immigration detention facility in Tacoma, Washington entered its third day on Thursday.

More than 750 people are participating, according to supporters holding a demonstration at noon on Wednesday, in front of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). The rally is being held, in part, to see if the hunger strike will continue.

Prisoners began refusing meals at lunchtime on Monday, in protest over conditions at the privately-run prison. Specifically, they want speedier hearings, improved food and healthcare access, and lower prices at the prison's store.[...]

Read the full article:

Fighting Fear, Hundreds Join Border Caravan for Migrant Rights

By Laura Carlsen, Counterpunch
April 14, 2017
The Federal Building looms overhead like a threat as the protesters gather. Washington policies have brought them here to Sacramento, to push the state government to protect its citizens and communities from the anti-immigrant orders of the 45th president.

Union members, migrants, government officials and grassroots organizers—the categories often overlap—chant and march before stepping up to the mike to tell their stories and make their promises. Matching t-shirts read “Caravan Against Fear” with dates in April and a graphic of a child, her arms spread in a welcoming gesture, her face turned upward in hope.

It’s the launch of an unusual caravan for unusual times. One sign reads “Somos el pueblo. Respeta nuestra humanidad”—We are the people. Respect our humanity. Since when do the residents of an advanced democracy have to plead for respect for their humanity?

Apparently, since the election of Donald Trump.[...]

Read the full article:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Two Recent Studies Debunk Anti-Immigrant “Alternative Facts”

Among the right’s favorite talking points are claims that “illegals” are “swarming over the border” and “sanctuary cities” are “breeding crime.” The anti-immigrant forces never present evidence, for good reason: there isn’t any. But there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary, as two studies published this year demonstrate. Crime is actually lower in jurisdictions that limit cooperation with the federal deportation machine, according to research by the Center for American Progress, while a Brookings Institution report shows how demographic factors in sending nations have basically ended the 1970-2007 surge in undocumented immigration,

This doesn’t mean the studies are perfect. The Brookings report in particular has a strangely ahistorical approach to the push factors behind the recent immigration surge. The authors cite the Mexican economic crisis in the 1990s as a factor, but they don’t connect it with the effects of U.S.-inspired neoliberal efforts like NAFTA, which drove millions of Mexicans off the farm. In discussing Central American immigration the Brookings researchers ignore similar economic push factors and, strikingly, the wars of the 1980s, which forced hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to flee their homes. As for future immigration, the authors don’t mention the likely effect of global warming on the sending countries in this hemisphere.—TPOI editor

The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy

By Tom K. Wong, Center for American Progress
January 26, 2017
As the Trump administration begins to implement its immigration policy agenda, the issue of local assistance with federal immigration enforcement officials is back in the spotlight. So-called sanctuary jurisdictions are one focus of that debate. Sanctuary counties—as defined by this report—are counties that do not assist federal immigration enforcement officials by holding people in custody beyond their release date.1 Using an Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, dataset obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center,2 the analyses in this report provide new insights about how sanctuary counties perform across a range of social and economic indicators when compared to nonsanctuary counties.

To understand the effects of having a sanctuary policy, we statistically match counties based on a broad range of demographic characteristics and then compare sanctuary counties to nonsanctuary counties to better understand the effects that sanctuary policies have on a local jurisdiction.

The data are clear: Crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties. Moreover, economies are stronger in sanctuary counties—from higher median household income, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance to higher labor force participation, higher employment-to-population ratios, and lower unemployment.[...]

Read the full report:

Along the watchtower: The rise and fall of U.S. low-skilled immigration

By Gordon H. Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh, Brookings Institution
Thursday, March 23, 2017
In “Along the watchtower: The rise and fall of U.S. low-skilled immigration,” Gordon H. Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh of the University of California San Diego find immigration to the U.S. of young, low-skilled workers will continue to slow until it reverses in 2050, regardless of U.S. policy, thanks to weak labor-supply growth in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Instead, a bigger issue of concern for the Trump administration should be a growing number of aging, undocumented permanent residents, the authors argue. Over the course of the next 15 years, the authors calculate, the population of Latin American-born residents over age 40 in the U.S. will grow by 82 percent.

From the early 1980s to the mid-2000s, the U.S. experienced a huge wave of low-skilled immigration, due in part to several macroeconomic factors—such as high U.S. incomes, relatively stable U.S. GDP growth, and slow U.S. labor-supply growth—that made immigration attractive to young, low-skilled workers from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, the authors note.

However, around the time of the Great Recession, the undocumented population declined by an annual average of 160,000 individuals between 2007-2014. By 2015, 75 percent of low-skilled immigrants had resided in the U.S. for 11 or more years, while the share of the population aged 18 to 33 had dropped to 27 percent.[...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump Plan Would Curtail Protections for Detained Immigrants

The rules, known collectively as ICE’s national detention standards, were intended to prevent cases like that of Irene Bamenga, a Frenchwoman jailed in 2011 for overstaying her visa. She died of heart failure after her medicine was confiscated and requests for medical attention went unheeded.

By Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times
April 13, 2017
For more than 15 years, jails that hold immigrants facing deportation have had to follow a growing
Irene Bamenga
list of requirements:

Notify immigration officials if a detainee spends two weeks or longer in solitary confinement. Check on suicidal inmates every 15 minutes, and evaluate their mental health every day. Inform detainees, in languages they can understand, how to obtain medical care. In disciplinary hearings, provide a staff member who can advocate in English on the detainee’s behalf.

But as the Trump administration seeks to quickly find jail space for its crackdown on illegal immigration, it is moving to curtail these rules as a way to entice more sheriffs and local officials to make their correctional facilities available.[…]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sessions, Feere and Kirchner: The Rightwing Fringe Now Directs Immigration Policy

While the media remain focused on Syria and Russia, the Trump administration is signaling its intention to step up the repression of immigrants—and maybe their supporters as well.

Yesterday Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on federal prosecutors to increase the use of felony charges against people who entered without authorization, and to crack down on people “harboring” undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, two former staffers from far-right anti-immigrant groups have now been given influential positions in immigration enforcement: the Center for Immigration Studies’ Jon Feere has been named adviser to the acting ICE director, while FAIR’s Julie Kirchner will be Feere’s counterpart at CBP. (Previous reports indicated that Kirchner would be chief of staff at CBP.) FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies were both founded by “white nationalist” John Tanton.—TPOI editor

“F-ing Horrifying”: Sessions Outlines Immigration Crackdown in “Trump Era”

“The things they want us to do are so horrifying—they want to do harboring cases of three or more people,” the prosecutor continued. “So if you're illegal and you bring your family over, then you're harboring your kid and your wife, and you can go to jail.”

By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams
April 12, 2017
In “the Trump era,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it on Tuesday, immigration officials will undertake a harsh crackdown on undocumented migrants—a campaign one veteran federal prosecutor described as “fucking horrifying.”

In his speech at a border port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, “[t]he nation's top law enforcement official outlined a series of changes that he said mark the start of a new push to rid American cities and the border of what he described as ‘filth’ brought on by drug cartels and criminal organizations,” the Associated Press reported.

“This is a new era,” the immigration hardliner told Customs and Border Protection personnel. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.”[…]

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Hard-line anti-illegal immigration advocates hired at 2 federal agencies

Jon Feere. Photo: C-SPAN
By Maria Santana, CNN
April 12, 2017
(CNN)Two hard-line opponents of illegal immigration have obtained high-level advisory jobs at federal immigration agencies in the Department of Homeland Security.

Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, has been hired as an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan.
Julie Kirchner. Photo: Twitter
At Customs and Border Protection, Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an adviser to Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan.

The hiring of Feere and Kirchner at the federal agencies has alarmed immigrants' rights activists.[…]

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Deportation of African and Other Black Immigrants Is Quietly Increasing And No One Is Taking Note

In its “State of Black Immigrants 2016” report, co-authored with the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) found that Black immigrants are much more likely to be deported due to a criminal conviction than nationals from other regions of the world.

By David Love, Atlanta Black Star
March 20, 2017
Although often not covered in the media, the African immigrant community is facing mass
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
deportations in the era of Donald Trump. While the immigration debate in the U.S. is often framed in terms of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America on the one hand and the infamous Muslim travel ban on the other, the issue is more complicated. As the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency conducts its sweeps on immigrant communities, African people are among those who are being detained and deported. While deportations were in no short supply under the Obama administration, these deportations are expected to soar under Trump, whose immigration ban on six Muslim nations includes three African nations — Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Trump also is clamping down on refugees and asylum seekers.

According to data from the Department of Homeland Security, in 2015, ICE deported 1,293 African immigrants. Since the 2016 election, the ICE raids on Black immigrant communities have intensified.[…]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Can we overcome public ignorance about immigration?

A study published last year indicates that many people with anti-immigrant positions will change their attitudes if presented with facts about immigrants—such as immigrants’ share in the overall population, their incarceration rate, their employment rate, and their ability to speak English. This suggests that one major factor in anti-immigrant attitudes is the failure omedia to present an accurate picture of immigration. However, the study also indicates that the simple presentation of facts generally doesn’t change people’s preferences on immigration policy, as opposed to their attitudes toward immigrants. In other words, facts aren’t enough by themselves—suggesting that we need more engagement with people in the form of discussion, dialogue, and organizing.—TPOI editor
By Ilya Somin, Washington Post
April 6, 2017
Widespread political ignorance is a serious problem, and affects public opinion on many issues. Immigration figures prominently on the list of those issues. During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump effectively exploited public ignorance about the number of immigrants and their effect on the crime rate. Similar ignorance likely had an impact on the Brexit referendum in Britain. One of the most pernicious aspects of political ignorance is that many people, both right and left, tend to reject new information that conflicts with their preexisting views. Such “motivated reasoning” is particularly likely on emotionally charged issues, such as immigration. That reality makes it difficult to break through misinformation when it does arise. Even otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people tend to process new political information in a highly biased way.

But new research by economists Alexis Grigorieff, Christopher Roth, and Diego Ubfal suggests that combating public ignorance about immigration may not be as hopeless a task as it might seem.[…]

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

More CBP Abuse: Government Pays $1 Million for Hernández Beating Death

Luz Rojas, Anastasio Hernández´s mother. Photo: La Prensa (San Diego)
Border agents beat an undocumented immigrant to death. The U.S. is paying his family $1 million.
…[N]one of the agents involved have been fired or disciplined or “lost a dime of pay,” for a beating that broke five of Hernandez’s ribs, damaged his spine and ultimately killed him…

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post
March 28, 2017
Anastacio Hernandez’s final screams had drawn a crowd.

The undocumented immigrant yelped “ayúdame” and “no hice nada” — “help” and “I didn’t do anything” in Spanish — as more than a dozen U.S. Border Patrol agents clobbered him with batons and shocked him with a Taser again and again.

When the man was bloodied and unconscious, the Border Patrol agents turned their attention to a nearby pedestrian bridge, where shocked onlookers gawked and recorded with small cameras, a witness said.

“I heard someone passing say ‘la imigra,’” Ashley Young, one of the people holding a camera that night, told The Washington Post, using the Spanish phrase for immigration agents. “I looked around, and two officers were coming across the bridge to shoo people away, to make sure people would stop watching.”

The immigration agents were grabbing people’s cameras one by one, Young said, and asking, “What did you record? We’re going to delete it.”[…]

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Immigrant Workers Take Their Struggle to Trump Tower: NY, 4/8/17

Immigrant rights supporters in New York can help fight “silent raids” by marching today with bakery workers that immigration authorities have targeted. The demonstration starts at 1 pm, April 8, 2017, outside Trump Tower, at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in midtown Manhattan.
Foto: Cortesia
Tom Cat Bakery workers targeted by ICE to march in front of Trump Tower
Immigration officials have told the Queens bakery to fire dozens of unauthorized workers

By Rosa Goldensohn, Crain's New York Business
April 7, 2017
Immigrant food workers will march on Trump Tower Saturday to protest an immigration crackdown on Long Island City's Tom Cat Bakery, whose baguettes are served by top restaurants around the city.

Elected officials including Comptroller Scott Stringer will join unions and immigrant advocacy groups for an expected 1,000-person march in front of President Donald Trump's Manhattan home, led by 31 workers anticipating a mass firing. The Trump administration has set an April 21 deadline for them to produce work authorization papers.[…]

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Panaderos de Tom Cat protestarán frente a Torre Trump
Se espera un millar de personas este sábado en la Quinta avenida en Manhattan

Por Ana B. Nieto, El Diario-La Prensa
7 de Abril, 2017
No está previsto que el Presidente esté el sábado en su hogar en la Quinta avenida en Mahattan, pero quienes sí tratarán de llegarán lo más cerca que puedan hasta la Torre Trump serán los trabajadores de la panadería Tom Cat Bakery, quienes realizarán una demostración a la 1:00 p.m. para demanda al Gobierno que acabe con las acciones del departamento de Departamento de Seguridad Nacional , que amenazan con dejarles sin trabajo a 31 de ellos “y destrozar sus familias”.

Se espera que se den cita frente a la torre del presidente unas 1,000 personas, entre ellos líderes de organizaciones como New York Immigrant Coalition y Make The Road, además de sindicatos como Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Los manifestantes contarán también con la participación de oficiales electos como el contralor Scott Stringer.[…]

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A System Designed to Make People Disappear

“I’m going to suggest something I have never suggested to any working person: If you are part of this machine—if you are a guard, an agent, a janitor, or anything in between—quit. Walk off your job. Right now. You’ve got bills to pay? A family to support? I get it. So do the people who come here looking for a better existence. The system you are contributing to is preposterously evil.”

By Dan Canon, Slate
April 2, 2017
A couple of weeks ago, for the first time ever, I represented an undocumented worker in deportation proceedings. Or rather, I tried to. My attempts to navigate this system were not what I would call successful. Part of this may be due to the fact that, though I have been a practicing attorney for 10 years, this was my first go at immigration law. But another part of it—most of it, I’d venture—is due to the fact that the U.S. immigration system is designed to be opaque, confusing, and inequitable.

Under most circumstances, I would not wade into this kind of thing at all. I’m primarily a civil rights lawyer, and immigration is a highly specialized area of law with a unique set of risks awaiting unwary practitioners. I would not, for example, take someone’s bankruptcy case or file adoption papers. I would refer those to lawyers with experience in those areas. But the crisis of unrepresented detainees is too big and too pressing to leave to the few organizations and individual practitioners with expertise in immigration law.[...]

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Monday, April 3, 2017

ICE Update: Five Green Card Applicants Detained, Raids in Northwest, Government Defend Courthouse Arrests

“Why don’t they just get legal?” people ask. Well, one reason is that they might be arrested and deported when they go for their green card interviews. And  a domestic abuse victim now needs to think twice before applying for a protection order, since ICE agents are apparently free to make arrests in courthouses..—TPOI editor

Arrested while applying for a green card: US immigration experts fear policy shift
Multiple cases of people being arrested while seeking green cards marks a dramatic shift in immigration policy, say observers: ‘This is what we all feared’

By Susan Zalkind, The Guardian
April 1, 2017
Leandro Arriaga arrived at the immigration office with his US citizen wife and three-month-old daughter on Wednesday.

Their lawyer knew the meeting was a risk. Arriago, 43, who had come to the US from the Dominican Republic in 2000, did have an order of deportation out against him. But she had never had a client detained at a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) meeting before.

The arrest of Arriago and at least three other people in Massachusetts this week while they were applying for their green cards marks a dramatic shift in immigration policy, say attorneys and experts.[…]

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ICE arrests 84 people during 3-day sweep of Pacific Northwest

Sara Roth,
March 30, 2017
PORTLAND, Ore. – Eighty-four undocumented immigrants in Oregon and Washington were arrested during a three-day sweep, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday.

Sixty of the people arrested had criminal histories, ICE said. Twenty-four did not.

Not everyone who was arrested during the sweep had a criminal background. ICE said agents “frequently encounter additional suspects” and those people may also be arrested after a case-by-case evaluation.[…]

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Top U.S. officials defend courthouse arrests of undocumented immigrants in escalating feud with California justice

By Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post
March 31, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly fired back at California’s chief justice for criticizing the use of courthouses to arrest undocumented immigrants, writing in a letter released Friday that the practice was only necessary because the state was so uncooperative on immigration enforcement matters.

Responding to a missive from California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Sessions and Kelly wrote that the characterization of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers “stalking” undocumented immigrants at courthouses was “particularly troubling,” and that officers were within their rights to arrest undocumented immigrants in public places.

They blamed state and local officials for enacting “statutes and ordinances designed to specifically prohibit or hinder ICE from enforcing immigration law” and “denying requests by ICE officers and agents to enter prisons and jails to make arrests.” Such policies, they wrote, made it necessary for officers to arrest undocumented immigrants at courthouses.[…]

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Latest CBP Abuse: 11-Year Old Colombian Girl Rushed to Hospital During Detention in Boston

"Bad hombres"? CBP detained Colombian sisters for 36 hours, won't say why
Another example of the Border Patrol out of control. Two Colombian sisters—Laura Gómez, 11, and Dayana Gómez, 20—arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport the night of March 29 to visit their mother and stepfather. The sisters have Colombian and Spanish citizenship; as Spanish citizens they qualify for the visa waiver program, which allows them to stay in the U.S. for up to three months. Instead of admitting the Gómez sisters, CBP agents detained them for 36 hours, questioned them without an attorney present, and then deported them on March 31. During the ordeal, the younger sister had to be rushed to an emergency room because of severe stomach pains; she was then returned to Logan for further questioning. The CBP refuses to comment on the case, claiming privacy concerns. The CPB’s regional press officer for New England is Stephanie Malin,, 617-565-6006.

If this is how CBP agents treat middle-class children with European Union citizenship in Boston, we can imagine how they deal the with the poor Mexicans and Central Americans they detain in the relative obscurity of the southwestern border.—TPOI editor

Colombian Sisters, Including 11-Year-Old With Medical Condition, Detained at Logan Airport

By Michael Rosenfield, NBC Boston
March 30, 2017
Laura and Dayana Gomez flew from Colombia Wednesday night into Boston's Logan International Airport, but they couldn't get far. The sisters, who live in Colombia and traveled to Massachusetts to visit their mother and stepfather, have been detained and questioned since their arrival.

Their mother, who lives in Lowell, is extremely worried, and not just because of the lengthy detainment. Laura, who's just 11, was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital Thursday morning for severe stomach pains. She was then taken back to the airport, where the questioning has continued.

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11-Year-Old Girl And Her Sister, 20, Detained At Logan Airport Wednesday

By Fred Thys, WBUR News
March 31, 2017
The two young sisters, ages 11 and 20, who were detained by Customs and Border Protection agents at Boston's Logan Airport Wednesday after arriving from Panama, have been put on a flight back Friday morning, according to an attorney representing the younger sister.

The sisters, who are Spanish citizens, flew into Logan to visit their mother in Lowell. They are expected to fly on from Panama to Colombia, where their grandmother resides, the lawyer said.

Citing privacy laws, Customs and Border Protection have not said why the sisters were detained for two days or why they were put on a flight back to Panama.[…]

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Is ICE Targeting Undocumented Activists for Arrest? Organizers Speak Out After 11 Days in Jail

By Democracy Now!
March 31, 2017
Are immigration agents targeting undocumented organizers for their political work? That is the question many are asking after three prominent immigrant rights activists in Vermont were jailed by ICE in what local organizers are calling a clear case of political retaliation. We speak with Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios, who were freed Monday after spending 11 days in jail. Both are leaders of the group Migrant Justice. They were arrested by undercover ICE agents in Burlington, Vermont, earlier this month as they were leaving the Migrant Justice office. Balcazar, who is known as Kike, serves on Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s immigration task force, which was created to respond to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. A third activist with Migrant Justice, Cesar Alex Carrillo, remains jailed after he was arrested by ICE earlier. We also speak with immigration attorney Matt Cameron.[...]

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