Saturday, April 13, 2019

A Progressive U.S. Policy Must Extend Beyond Open Borders

Opening the borders is a realistic policy proposal, but we need to view it as inseparable from the broader progressive agenda.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
April 13, 2019
Two recent articles — by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times and Khury Petersen-Smith in Foreign Policy In Focus — make the case that U.S. progressives need to embrace open borders as a policy. Petersen-Smith adds that they should support it “without apology.”

It would certainly seem natural for leftists to support the right to migrate. After all, the socialist movement’s historic slogan has been “Workers of all lands unite,” and its anthem is “The Internationale.” But in the past few years, a number of people on the left have come out against the concept.[…]

Read the full article:
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Monday, April 8, 2019

Two New Articles on Open Borders

Scare stories about “open borders” get published a lot; some even claim to be from the left. Here are two recent articles that make actual progressive arguments for open borders.

Brianna Rennix’s “The Case for Opening Our Borders” is generally excellent, but it’s mostly about sensible immigration reform proposals the Democrats might be persuaded to adopt. Actually opening borders requires more: looking at migration’s root causes and their relation to US policies affecting neighboring countries. Suzy Lee’s piece makes the important point that support for immigrant rights is crucial for all working-class organizing, contrary to the restrictionist ideas of labor bureaucrats in the Gompers model. But she seems to miss the fact that a major source of downward pressure on the wages of native-born workers is anti-immigrant measures like raids and employer sanctions—measures that, ironically, are sold to workers as a way to reduce immigration.
Photo: No More Deaths
The Case for Opening Our Borders
Democrats cannot have it both ways. If you oppose jailing and exiling people for crossing an invisible line, you must be in favor of significantly opening our borders. Fortunately, that’s fine.

By Brianna Rennix, In These Times
March 21, 2019
Democrats and Republicans have long forged a de facto policy consensus on immigration. Yes, Democrats condemn Trump’s wall and his family separation policy, but they pivot to talk about security and control in ways indistinguishable from GOP talking points.

On January 3, their first day in power, House Democrats passed a spending bill that included$1.3 billion in new border fencing, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) touted as “smart, effective border security.” […]

Read the full article:

The Case for Open Borders
…[A] call for open borders based on appeals to morality and liberal values will not attract workers motivated by economic concerns. This essay shows the possibility of a strategy calling for open borders and immigrant rights based on workers’ material interests, not just moral pleas.

By Suzy Lee, Catalyst
Winter 2019
The politics of immigration poses one of the most important challenges to the US left today. While the public discourse, with demands for a wall or the panic over a migrant caravan, may be hyperbolic, it only sharpens venerable themes that have structured the debate for a half-century: a nativist movement that sees immigration as a cultural and economic threat, set against an immigrants’ rights movement that argues for a more inclusive and liberal orientation.[...]

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Ignore the Evidence: the “Invasion” Story, Continued

The Hype. Montage: BBC
Unauthorized immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is now the lowest it’s been in the past 25 years, Center for Migration Studies (CMS) demographer Robert Ewing wrote in February, citing reports from the CMS and the Pew Research Center. The current undocumented population is estimated at 10.7 million, down more than a million since 2010.

We might expect this finding to appear in a few headlines, especially at a time when President Trump has declared a national emergency on the basis of a supposed security crisis at the southwestern border. Instead, the U.S. media went with headlines like “February had highest total of undocumented immigrants crossing U.S. border in 12 years.” Some of the articles did note that even with the one-month increase, border apprehensions remain dramatically lower than they were in 2000, but this was unlikely to offset the effect of the headlines.

And few noted a point made by University of Illinois at Chicago Latin American and Latino Studies professor Adam Goodman in a twitter thread: many of the undocumented immigrants were asylum seekers that government agents turned away at ports of entry, “forcing them to (a) wait in precarious conditions and in violation of domestic and international law, or (b) or cross the border without authorization.”

“By inflating apprehension statistics,” Goodman goes on, “officials simultaneously (a) create the notion of a surge or invasion at the border, (b) call attention to the need for additional funding, and (c) celebrate DHS's ‘accomplishments.’” The administration then releases the “inflated statistics with hope that mainstream media outlets will pick them up, in turn reinforcing [the administration’s] desired political narrative.” If the media take the bait, the government sends out “inflammatory email blasts citing media reports of the inflated statistics [it] circulated as evidence of a CRISIS AT THE BORDER that constitutes a national emergency.”

Unfortunately, there’s an ongoing problem with the corporate media allowing the White House to create hysteria about asylum seekers at the border—despite Trump’s routine assistance that the “fake news” media are mistreating him. In reality, Trump owes a lot to the media outlets: all the way through the 2016 they failed to push back on repeated claims by all the GOP candidates about a wave of unauthorized immigration that had actually ended in 2008.

The Reality. Graph from Center for Migration Studies
Meanwhile, Trump shows no sign of toning down his anti-immigrant hate speech even after an Australian white supremacist murdered 49 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques. The killer had justified the massacre as a way “to show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands.” At the White House the next day the U.S. president echoed this rhetoric: “People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is,” he said, referring to unauthorized migrants crossing the southwest border.

Trump also discounted the dangers posed by violent white supremacists. “I think it’s a small group of people,” announced the white-supremacist-in-chief.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Students, the Sixties, and How to ‘Fail Better’

By David L. Wilson, MR Online
March 13, 2019
You Say You Want a Revolution: SDS, PL, and Adventures in Building a Worker-Student Alliance, Edited by John F. Levin and Earl Silbar (San Francisco: 1741 Press, 2019), 364 pages, $18.95.

In pop culture versions of 1960s activism, student radicals are often depicted as spoiled upper-class kids rebelling against their privileged parents, engaging in random acts of violence, and despising the nation’s wage-earning majority. In reality, the 100,000 or so youths in the student movement were largely drawn from the lower middle class, and some from the working class; their parents were frequently in general agreement with their children’s politics; the period’s radical activism was much more about leafleting, petitioning, and tabling than about confrontations with the police; and far from rejecting the country’s workers, a significant part of the movement considered finding ways to approach this class a central political issue.

You Say You Want a Revolution: SDS, PL, and Adventures in Building a Worker-Student Alliance is a useful introduction to the actual experience of many or most of the student activists a half-century ago.[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

“Resistance at Tule Lake”: Screenings 3/10/19 and 3/28/19

On February 19 communities across the country honor the 77th anniversary of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. Here's a note from Konrad Aderer, who created Resistance at Tule Lake, a documentary covering little-known aspects of the incarceration. We’re also including information on two screenings of the film next month and on ways people can use it for education and organizing.—TPOI editor

Since our official release for home and educational purchase in October, we have sought to keep pushing the boundaries of who knows about and engages with the history of Japanese American resistance. So far, more than a dozen universities and libraries have purchased Resistance at Tule Lake, including three University of California campuses! We are continuing our educational outreach so that this film is available in many more of the approximately 600 Asian and Asian American Studies departments in the U.S.

This will require continued work and creativity through 2019 and beyond. We can still use your help in bringing Resistance at Tule Lake to a wider audience. Please take a few moments to write a review on Amazon and Netflix, or iTunes.—Konrad Aderer

Screening at Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Resistance at Tule Lake Film screening

Sunday, March 10 at 2:00pm

 388 Ninth St. Suite 290
Oakland, CA

Director and educators to present film at National Council
on Public History conference
“Teaching about World War II-Era Detention and Prison Centers:
A Screening of Resistance at Tule Lake”
with director Konrad Aderer, and educators Cathlin Goulding and Freda Lin

Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 3:30pm
 Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, Connecticut

Visit us at! For further information, inquiries and screening requests, contact director-producer Konrad Aderer at

Monday, January 28, 2019

Why don’t the media fact-check “amnesty” claims?

"The practice of citing conservative agitators is often characterized as “bothsidesism,” but here the news outlets only presented one side—the one on the far right—without even a hint that the claims might not have a factual basis."

By David L. Wilson and Jane Guskin, MR Online
January 28, 2019

On January 20 Donald Trump actually said something accurate about immigration.

Anti-immigrant pundits like Ann Coulter were attacking the president because he appeared to be offering to extend DACA protection for three years. They took to the airwaves and social media to denounce any DACA extension as an “amnesty.” “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer,” Trump tweeted back, and for once he was right.[…]

Read the full article:

Photo: David Bacon

Saturday, January 26, 2019

NYC Immigration Events, 1/28/19, 2/1/19 and 2/2/19

Support for Ravi Ragbir: Press Conference and Jericho Walk

Monday, January. 28, 2019, 9 am
Immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir has been scheduled to report to ICE on Monday. Ravi cannot be deported because he continues to have stays of removal from the Federal District Court of New Jersey and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But instead of cancelling this report date, as ICE has done in the past, ICE has changed it from a deportation date into a “check in.” 
ICE aggressively targets New York community members, and during the government shutdown continued spending its resources on requiring Ravi and countless others to check in. But we know the power of community. In the spirit of New Sanctuary’s accompaniment program, the Ravi Defense Committee asks that we all join in accompanying Ravi and in a Jericho Walk, starting at 9:30am.
Two Screenings of “Undeterred”
New York will be hosting two screenings of Undeterred, a documentary about community resistance in the rural border town of Arivaca, Arizona. Undeterred is an intimate and unique portrait of how residents in a small rural community, caught in the cross-hairs of geo-political forces, have mobilized to demand human rights and to provide aid to injured, oft times dying migrants funneled across a wilderness desert.
Friday, February 1, 2019, 5:45 pm
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center, Theater 101

Doors open at 5:30 pm. There will be a panel discussion at 7 pm following the screening. Featured will be filmmaker Eva Lewis and community organizer Carlota Wray. Both Eva and Carlota volunteer with People Helping People (PHP), an Arivaca-based community organization that provides crisis relief and advocates for border demilitarization.

Saturday, February 2, 2019, 5 pm
The People's Forum

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Families For Freedom: “Divide and Conquer”

Families For Freedom Newsletter
January 19, 2019
In a recent address regarding the border wall at the beginning of this month, Donald Trump made an attempt to pit American minorities against immigrants. Most likely reading words written by Stephen Miller, the President directed his demonization of black and brown non-citizens to black and brown citizens: “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.” This calculated artifice wants to continue the marginalization of the most oppressed in this country.

The argument has two goals: first, to bait the general public into hardening or developing inherently anti-black and brown views on immigration; the second is to limit the power of oppressed people by hindering their ability to form a collective front.[…]

To read more, subscribe here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement

[Immigrant rights supporters should never forget that immigrants aren’t just victims: they are also subjects, actors in their own lives and communities. Here Elizabeth Oglesby, a professor of Latin American studies, describes some of the achievements by immigrant labor activists in the 1980s and 1990s. This phenomenon isn’t new. Immigrants were often leaders of struggles in the past, as with the Uprising of the 20,000 in New York more than a century ago, and immigrant labor organizes continues now in efforts like the Fight for $15. Important coverage of some of these struggles is available from journalist David Bacon at his blog, The Reality Check.—TPOI editor]

By Elizabeth Oglesby, The Conversation
January 18, 2019
In the United States’ heated national debate about immigration, two views predominate about Central American migrants: President Donald Trump portrays them as a national security threat, while others respond that they are refugees from violence.

Little is said about the substantial contributions that Central Americans have made to U.S. society over the past 30 years.[…]

Read the full article:

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January 14: Radio Interview With Politics of Immigration Co-Authors

The Politics of Immigration’s co-authors talk with Building Bridges hosts Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash on NYC's WBAI from 7 to 7:30 pm EST, Monday, January 14, 2019. Topics include what's new under Trump, what's the same, and what we can do about it.

Listen NYC area: WBAI, 99.5 FM
Listen online:

Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report           
Twitter: @bbridgesradio