Monday, October 29, 2018

Deep Dive Into Immigration, Part 1: Mae Ngai on the History of Immigration

Please join us for an important and timely exploration into our immigration laws and how they have been applied over the years, the role immigration has played in our country, and the reality of immigration today.

Monday, October 29, 2018, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
At Forest Hills Public Library
(718) 268-7934
E F M R to 71/Continental Ave.
LIRR | Q23 Q60 Q64

Mae Ngai, a national authority on the history of immigration and professor at Columbia University, will kick off our three-week series on immigration.

Sponsor: Let's Talk Democracy

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Immigrant Rights: Dialogue in a Time of Crisis/ Los Derechos de los Migrantes

 A participatory workshop [Español abajo]

Friday, November 2, 2018, 6:30 pm
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

Bring your questions and thoughts about immigration to this participatory workshop facilitated by Jane Guskin and David Wilson, authors of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers.  Together we will strengthen our skills to engage more effectively in productive dialogue when people ask questions such as:

·        Why do so many people come here “illegally”? Why don't they just wait in line?
·        If someone committed a crime in this country, why shouldn't they be deported?
·        Don't unauthorized immigrants push down wages for everyone?
·        Can we really afford to have so many immigrants here?

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (Second Edition)
“The Politics of Immigration brilliantly interrogates this urgent subject that defines our time.”
—Ron Hayduk, San Francisco State University

(Event organized by Southwest Brooklyn Lutheran Council sub-committee)

Dialogo y taller participativo en medio de esta crisis

 Viernes, Noviembre 2, @ 6:30 pm
 Iglesia Luterana del Buen Pastor
7420 4th Avenue, Soul Café, Brooklyn, NY  11209

Comunidad, traigan sus inquietudes, preocupaciones y participen en este taller facilitado por  Jane Guskin y David Wilson, escritores del libro Las politicas Migratorias: Preguntas y Respuestas. A través de este taller fortaleceremos de una manera más efectiva nuestras habilidades, conocimientos y diálogos cuando se nos pregunte:

  • Por qué viene migra gente a los Estados Unidos de manera ilegal? Por qué no se forman y esperan su turno?
  • Sí alguien ha cometido un crimen en este país -Estados Unidos-, por qué no deberían ser deportados?
  • Cómo los inmigrantes sin autorización de empleo afectan negativamente el salario de los demás trabajadores? 
  • Es sustentable para nuestra economia tener tantos inmigrantes con nosotros?

 The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (Second Edition)
Las Politicas Migratorias brillantemente da contestacion a interrogaciones de suma relevancia en nuestro tiempo” —Ron Hayduk, San Francisco State University
Mas información:
(Evento organizado por el comite del Consejo de Iglesias del Suroeste de Brooklyn)

For more on immigration dialogues:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Deep Dive Into Immigration, Parts 2 and 3: With Jane Guskin and David Wilson

Please join us for an important and timely exploration into our immigration laws and how they have been applied over the years, the role immigration has played in our country, and the reality of immigration today.

Forest Hills Public Library
(718) 268-7934
E F M R to 71/Continental Ave.
LIRR | Q23 Q60 Q64

Thursday, November 8, 2018, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Getting at the Roots - Jane Guskin and David Wilson, authors of The Politics of Immigration, will discuss immigration today, including the global, political, and economic forces that shape migration; the racial and political implications of U.S. immigration law, policy, and practice; and related issues.

Thursday, November 15, 2018, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
The Money Question - Jane Guskin and David Wilson continue the immigration discussion with an examination of the relationship of immigrants to jobs and the economy.

Sponsor: Let's Talk Democracy

For more on immigration dialogues:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October 10: Immigration Dialogue at Suffolk County Community College

Delve into tough questions about immigration with the authors of The Politics of Immigration.

Why are people in other countries leaving their homes and coming here? What does it mean to be “illegal”? How do immigration raids, prisons, and border walls impact communities? Who suff­ers and who profits from our current system – and what would happen if we transformed it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
I-115, Islip Arts Building
Suffolk County Community College
A program of the Suffolk County Community College Undocumented Student Task Force, sponsored by Office of Campus Activities, Student Leadership Development, and Foreign Languages and ESL

For information, call 631-451-4117 or the Center for Social Justice and Human Understanding,
Email the authors at

For more on immigration dialogues:

Saturday, October 6, 2018

WashPo “Migration ‘Crisis’” Piece Could Use Some Context

In a September 30 article, the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) covers a visit to Central America by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) head Kevin McAleenan. Miroff reports that border apprehensions of migrant families along the southwest border increased by 38 percent in August over the month before; he also notes that the number of Guatemalan families apprehended in fiscal 2018 is nearly double the number from the previous fiscal year.

Miroff is an excellent reporter who has broken a number of stories, notably on the child separation policy. But in common with most of the corporate media, his reporting often lacks context.

“Trump erupted earlier this year when border arrests skyrocketed,” he writes. It’s true that there was a major increase in asylum seeker arrests, but terms like “skyrocketed” reinforce the impression that alien hordes are pouring across the border. The rise in these arrests actually turns out to be a blip if we view it historically. Even with the new arrests, border apprehensions remain—and have remained for a decade—at their lowest level since before the majority of the current U.S. population was born.

Migration crisis? Washington Office on Latin America, from Border Patrol
The article also discusses push factors in Central America’s Northern Triangle, and warns that “[n]ew instability and political polarization in Guatemala could make things worse in the coming year” because of actions by corruption-prone President Jimmy Morales. “American officials have been hesitant to criticize Morales,” Miroff writes. He doesn’t mention that “American officials” have in fact backed every corrupt regime in Guatemala at least since a CIA-backed coup in 1954.

The biggest push factor in Guatemala appears to be poverty and malnutrition in the western highlands, a “crisis…exacerbated by consecutive years of drought and meager harvests.” There’s no mention of the serious possibility that global warming is behind the drought in Guatemala. Ironically, just two days earlier the Washington Post noted that the Trump administration has now admitted that, in the words of scientist Michael MacCracken, “human activities are going to lead to [a] rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it.”

All this context could have been added in a few words, with links. Its absence will lead less informed readers to assume that the flight of Central Americans from their own countries is “not our problem.” 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Great Reporting on Devin Nunes’s Family Farm, But the Analysis Falls Short

On September 30 Esquire posted a fascinating article by reporter Ryan Lizza about the Iowa farm
operated by the family of California Congress member Devin Nunes, a major Trump supporter. The family quietly moved most of its California dairy operations to this farm, located in the small town of Sibley, more than a decade ago. Lizza wondered why they had been so careful to avoid publicity about the move, so he went to Sibley to investigate.

His investigation quickly turned into something out of the old hardboiled detective genre, with sources suddenly clamming up and mysterious vehicles tailing Lizza as he drove around town. Eventually the mystery was solved: dairy farmers and others in the area seemed to be heavily dependent on undocumented labor to carry out their operations. Lizza was unable to establish anything about the Nunes family’s farm, but the presumption is that they too relied on unauthorized workers.

Rep. Nunes himself appears to be a moderate on immigration issues, but he’s been an important enabler of the Trump regime, which is committed to a ferocious anti-immigrant agenda. Sibley farmers seem to maintain a similar duality: they disagree with Trump and their Congress member, white supremacist Steve King, about immigration policy, yet they vote overwhelmingly for these men. “There is massive political hypocrisy at the center of this: Trump’s and King’s rural-farm supporters embrace anti-immigrant politicians while employing undocumented immigrants,” Lizza writes.

Lizza’s reporting is great, but his analysis isn’t especially deep. He notes that Iowa’s dairy farmers use undocumented labor to save money—“workers start at fourteen or fifteen dollars an hour, the first farmer said. If dairies had to use legal labor, they would likely have to raise that to eighteen or twenty dollars”—but he doesn’t explore how “illegality” forces these workers to accept lower wages. And he fails to ask who ultimately benefits from the exploitation of undocumented farm workers.

Following the Money

It’s actually not the farmers, Lizza notes: “many dairies wouldn’t survive” if they had to pay authorized workers. In other words, the farmers underpay their workforce because they are being squeezed by the large food processing and distribution corporations, which pocket the extra profits. So an obvious question would be whether these corporations or their CEOs make contributions to anti-immigrant politicians like Trump and King. Unfortunately, Lizza doesn’t raise this.

He also seems uninformed about guest worker programs. As Iowa’s farmers see it, the best option is bringing in H-2A workers; farmers can exploit these laborers just as easily as the current undocumented force but without the risk of fines or jail sentences for violating immigration law. However, dairy farming requires year-round employees, while the current H-2A programs only allow seasonal hiring. The farmers want to remove this limitation.

Lizza dismisses the idea as “a fantasy in the current environment; Trump, King, and their allies describe such policies as ‘amnesty.’” Apparently Lizza hasn’t been paying attention. It’s true that King opposes the H-2A expansion, but Trump’s all for it. “Guest workers, don’t we agree?” he ranted at an April rally. “We have to have them.”