Wednesday, December 31, 2008

INB 12/28/08: Texas Detainees Protest; Raids in Idaho, Georgia, Indiana

On Dec. 7 about 80 people took part in a vigil at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to support the arrested workers and protest the raid. The vigil was organized by Idaho Community Action Network and Catholic Charities of Idaho.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 30 - December 28, 2008

1. Texas: Detainees Protest Death, Seize Hostages
2. Idaho Raid Protested
3. Georgia Poultry Plant Raided
4. Indiana Oil Refinery Raided

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; weeklynewsupdate [at]; INB is distributed free via email; contact immigrationnewsbriefs [at] to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

On Dec. 12, some 1,300 federal prisoners staged an uprising at the privately run Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas, to demand better medical treatment after a detainee died at the facility, allegedly of natural causes. The Reeves County Detention Center has been run since 2003 by the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, under contract with the federal government. The medium security prison holds more than 2,400 people, mainly inmates detained for immigration law violations. The uprising took place after the detainee's body was removed from the prison, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper John Barton told the Pecos Enterprise. The prisoners set a fire in an exercise room at the facility and were evacuated to an outdoor yard, where they took two prison recreation workers hostage. The newspaper reported that firefighters had to extinguish bonfires inmates had set to keep warm overnight. [...]

Read the full INB at:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Will the Border Wall Stand?

by Kent Paterson, Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
December 26, 2008

As the Bush Administration enters its final weeks, pressure is building to halt construction of the Department of Homeland Security’s unfinished US-Mexico border wall. The controversial project, which was originally slated to be completed by December 31 of this year, is the target of reinvigorated opposition from border residents, elected officials, indigenous communities, human rights activists, and environmentalists.

Buoyed by changes coming to Washington, border wall opponents are stepping up their lobbying of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team to ensure the fencing is halted and even reversed. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Immigration Activists Battle Harsh Laws Across U.S.

by Marcelo Ballvé, New America Media
December 22, 2008

Editor's Note: Realizing that the immigration wars have trickled down into state legislatures and even county boards, those who advocate for immigrants have begun weaving together coalitions to have their voices heard. These groups may include business, civil rights, labor or faith-based organizations. New America Media contributing editor Marcelo Ballvé is based in New York.

JACKSON, Miss. -- Ever since the harshest immigration law in the country went into effect in this state July 1st, activists on the ground have mobilized a diverse coalition-- including civil rights, church and labor leaders-- to build opposition to it. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Leaning on Jail, City of Immigrants Fills Cells With Its Own

Mr. Canté, whose time in detention cost federal taxpayers about $10,000, was part of what many call an “immigrant gold rush” that turned the private prison industry from bust to boom.

by Nina Bernstein, New York Times
December 26, 2009

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Few in this threadbare little mill town gave much thought to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the maximum-security jail beside the public ball fields at the edge of town. Even when it expanded and added barbed wire, Wyatt was just the backdrop for Little League games, its name stitched on the caps of the team it sponsored.

Then people began to disappear: the leader of a prayer group at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church; the father of a second grader at the public charter school; a woman who mopped floors in a Providence courthouse. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Caution: NAFTA at Work

"In the U.S., in contrast, authorities chose not to pursue full economic integration, instead negotiating terms that were exploitive of Mexico and protective of the U.S. And since the signing of NAFTA, migration from Mexico to its northern neighbor has continued unabated as efforts to increase border enforcement have backfired, encouraging Mexican migrants in the U.S. to remain and actually increasing net undocumented migration."

How Europe's trade model could solve America's immigration problem
by Douglas Massey, Miller McCune
March 04, 2008

Consider this scenario: A group of wealthy nations with well-established democracies is linked in a successful economic union that has dramatically increased trade, commerce and living standards. To the south, a much poorer nation is undergoing a transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule, at the same time moving to open its formerly closed economy to international investment and exchange. As part of its broader transformation, the southern nation asks to join the economic union to its north. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Immigrant and African American Workers Unite and Win

"Lou Dobbs keeps turning up every night, you know, 'Immigrant workers are taking jobs away from white workers and black workers.' But the labor movement brings them together. Because when they organize, they find their common issues -- arbitrary supervisor power, the idea that the employer is not giving you notice, taking the money in their own pocket. That’s where workers come together."

Before Sit-In, Workers Beat Racial Tensions
by Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio
December 17, 2008

A sit-in by laid-off employees of a Chicago window company this month sparked international attention. Republic Windows and Doors had closed with only a few days’ notice and blamed a bank that had received billions of federal bailout dollars. The employees were members of a union, the United Electrical Workers. They fought for a severance payment and became symbols for hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers facing layoffs. Their efforts required overcoming long-standing racial tensions in their ranks. We sat down with two of those workers to hear how they did it. [...]

Read the full report:

Unions Come to Smithfield
By David Bacon, The American Prospect
December 17, 2008

When immigration agents raided Smithfield Food's huge North Carolina slaughterhouse two years ago, union organizer Eduardo Peña compared the impact to a "nuclear bomb." The day after, people were so scared that most of the plant's 5,000 employees didn't show up for work. The lines where they kill and cut apart 32,000 hogs every day were motionless. "Workers think it's happening because people were getting organized," said Vargas at the time.

Yet on Dec. 11, 2008, when the votes were counted in the same packing plant, 2,041 workers had voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), while just 1,879 had voted against it. That stunning reversal set off celebrations in house trailers and ramshackle homes in Tarheel, Red Springs, St. Pauls, and all the tiny working-class towns spread from Fayetteville down to the South Carolina border.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Immigration Reform Trapped in Political Dualism

Roberto Lovato, New America Media
December 02, 2008

Editor’s Note: Obama’s appointments to positions that would affect immigration policy have drawn praise from advocates. But NAM contributor Roberto Lovato sees contradictory messages in the team being assembled.

Recent talk about "immigration reform" coming from Washington inspires some hope, some fear and lots of reminders about what I call "political-dualism": the ability of a President or political party to simultaneously communicate opposing policies while delivering either no new policies or exceptionally bad ones.

As the Obama Administration prepares to take the reins of the massive and massively inefficient and broken immigration system, it is important to have clarity about the incontrovertible need to overcome the political dualism that created our immigration mess in the first place.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bad Apples? The "Illegal People" Controversy

A Few Bad Apples...Or a Rotten System?
Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus
December 12, 2008

Since President-elect Barack Obama promised to deal with immigration reform in the early part of his presidency, the nation began gearing up for another round in what has been one of the most contentious issues of our time. Faced with a vociferous anti-immigrant right wing, failed reform attempts in Congress, and the human tragedy of criminal raids against immigrants, it's crucial that we get it right this time. The immediate challenge is to build a broad-based movement to pass a fair and humane reform that grants all workers and their families equal rights and protections under the law.

David Bacon's book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants provides essential tools to envision and fight for this reform. [...]

Read the full article:

Review: Illegal People
Mary Bauer, Foreign Policy in Focus
December 10, 2008

Michele Wucker's review of David Bacon's excellent book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants, misses the mark. Wucker is put off by Bacon's supposed emphasis on "bad apple" employers. In fact, Bacon's book argues compellingly that the problem with the American immigration system isn't bad-apple employers (although there are certainly many of them); the problem is structural. And Bacon's book shows that it's a structure the United States has created that leads directly to the abuses Bacon highlights. Reading this book as merely a condemnation of bad corporations misses the real insights the book has to offer. [...]

Read the full article:

Review: Broken Immigration System
Michele Wucker, Foreign Policy in Focus
September 25, 2008

Immigration reform advocates still disagree over the Senate's failed 2007 attempt to push through legislation that would have provided a path to legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Unions and big business had briefly allied in supporting a legalization program combined with an increase in visas. But the partnership collapsed after an ill-begotten attempt to secure the bill's passage, which added so many noxious provisions that it lost many of its supporters while failing to win over implacable opponents.
David Bacon's new book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press), suggests that no reform was better than the half-hearted measure that crashed and burned. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anti-Immigrant Fervor Translates to Terror for Women

by Melissa Nalani Ross, On The Issues Magazine
Fall 2008

In my work on civil and human rights, especially with immigrant populations, I was contacted recently about a woman without documentation who worked at a fruit stand in the northeast. A male customer approached her and asked if she had any waitressing experience, as he needed servers at his restaurant. Seeing this as an opportunity to make a little more money to support herself and her family, the woman agreed to stop by the establishment for an interview. When she arrived, instead of sitting down and discussing a job opportunity, the woman was met by a group of men who took turns raping her. They then told her that if she went to the authorities, they would have her deported.

Too afraid to go to the police out of fear of being separated from her family and livelihood, she will be left in isolation, with no recourse, no justice and no security. Her tale will not be covered by the mainstream media. The men who raped her will never be brought to justice. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

U.S. Refugee in Mexico/Refugiada Estadounidense en México

U.S. Refugee in Mexico
Elvira Arellano, El Diario-La Prensa (NY)
December 3, 2008

Last week we welcomed Crystal Dillman, the widow of Luis Martinez, to Mexico. Martinez was murdered by a group of white youths in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, earlier this year – just because he was a Latino. His wife Crystal, an anglo, courageously stood up and demanded justice, her stand has made her a target of threats, intimidation by local police and hostility from neighbors. She has brought their children to make her home with Martinez’s family in Mexico.

Evidently, racism in the United States did not die with the election of Barack Obama! Racism attaches itself to a people based not only on their skin color but based on their country of origin. When the United States and Europe viewed Africa as a place they had the right to dominate and exploit, then Africans were treated as less than human in the United States. The long and much to be admired struggle of African Americans has begun to overcome these attitudes – especially as their numbers, unity and political strength grew. And we must remember the contribution of African Americans in ending U.S. support for apartheid.

When Crystal Dillman spoke out after the murder of her husband she correctly identified the source of the hatred against him as the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hysteria in nearby Hazleton Pennsylvania, in the national campaign against legalization and in the media campaign of men like CNN’s Lou Dobbs. In fact, hate crimes against Latinos have risen by 40% since 2005.

Crystal Dillman was welcomed in Mexico at an international conference dealing with migrant issues which drew representatives from the United States, Mexico and Central America. Conference participants reflected that long standing U.S. domination of Latin America, going back to the Monroe Doctrine, is at the root of racism against Latinos. The military conquest and acquisition of northern Mexico – now the states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and Colorado – the colonization of Puerto Rico, the constant interventions in Central America and the Caribbean testify to this history of arrogance. Historically, racism in the U.S. has two legs: the institution of slavery and the domination of Latin America.

The conference, which welcomed and gave shelter to Crystal Dillman, pledged a coordinated program to support the demand for legalization in the United States and especially a moratorium on the separation of families. There will be coordinated actions in the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean on December 18th, the international day for the migrants, January 21st, the day after Barack Obama’s inauguration, March 8th, international women’s day, and May 1st, the day of the workers.

We are from many nations, but we are one people joined by our struggle for respect and the right to keep our families together. As Latinos are joining to support the struggle for legalization of the undocumented the increasingly powerful Latino community will also become a voice for justice and respect throughout Latin America.

Refugiada Estadounidense en México

La semana pasada dimos la bienvenida en México a Crystal Dillman, la viuda de Luis Eduardo Ramírez. Ramírez quien fue asesinado brutalmente por un grupo de jóvenes de raza blanca en Shenandoah, Pennsylvania por odio racial. Su esposa Cristal, una anglosajona, se expresó con valentía para exigir justicia. La posición que ella ha tomado la ha convertido en un blanco de amenazas, intimidación por la policía local, y la hostilidad de sus vecinos. Ha llevado a sus tres hijos con ella para vivir con los parientes de su finado esposo en México.

¡Tal como parece, el racismo en los Estados Unidos no murió cuando se eligió a Barack Obama! Cuando los Estados Unidos y Europa veían a África como un lugar al cual ellos tenían el derecho de dominar y explotar, el resultado fue un trato a los africanos como algo debajo de ser seres humanos. La lucha larga y admirable de los afro-norteamericanos ha empezado a modificar esas actitudes, sobretodo como iban creciendo sus números, unidad y fuerza política. Y no debemos olvidar como los afro-norteamericanos contribuyeron al fin de ‘apartheid’ en África del Sur.
Cuando Cristal Dillman se expresó después del asesinato de su esposo, ella identificó bien la fuente del odio en su contra, como la histeria anti-latina que se había fomentado en el vecino pueblo de Hazleton, Pennsylvania, en la campaña nacional en contra de la legalización de los indocumentados, y en las campañas mediáticas de personajes como Lou Dobbs de CNN-TV. De hecho, los crímenes de odio en contra de los latinos ha subido por 40% desde 2005.

A Cristal Dillman se le dio la bienvenida en México en una conferencia internacional sobre asuntos de migración que atrajo representantes de los Estados Unidos, México y Centroamérica. Los participantes en la conferencia reflejaron que el largo dominio de América Latina, comenzado con la ‘Doctrina Monroe’, queda a la raíz del racismo en contra de los latinos. La conquista militar del norte de México, abarcando los actuales estados estadounidenses de California, Texas, Arizona, Nuevo México y Colorado, la colonización de Puerto Rico, las repetidas intromisiones norteamericanas en Centroamérica y las Antillas – todas estas cosas son evidencia de esta historia de arrogancia. Históricamente, el racismo en los Estados Unidos tiene dos soportes: La institución de la esclavitud y la dominación de América Latina.

La conferencia en la cual le dimos la bienvenida y albergue a Cristal Dillman, se comprometió con un programa coordinado para apoyar la demanda para una legalización en los Estados Unidos y sobretodo una moratoria sobre la deportación y separación de familias. Habrá acciones coordinadas en los Estados Unidos, México, Centroamérica y el Caribe el 18 de diciembre (Día Internacional de los migrantes), el 21 de enero (día después de la inauguración del presidente Obama), el 8 de marzo (Día Internacional de la Mujer migrante) y 1 de mayo, día de los trabajadores migrantes.

Somos de muchas naciones pero un sólo pueblo unido por nuestra lucha Pro-respeto y el derecho de mantener intactas a nuestras familias. Como los latinos se juntan para apoyar la lucha a favor de la legalización, la comunidad latina también se convierte en una poderosa voz a favor de la justicia y respeto a nuestros migrantes en toda América.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mexico's Immigration Problem Also a "Red Flag" at Home

Unless Mexico, the United States, and Central American countries form an effective regional wmployment strategy that includes a review of trade polices that lead to displacement, the human rights crisis for immigrants will continue to go from bad to worse.

by Laura Carlsen, Americas Updater
December 3, 2008

In the first two years of the Felipe Calderon administration, Mexico has become a focal point in the violation of the human rights of immigrants even as it criticizes the treatment of Mexican migrants in the United States. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante states the problem in no uncertain terms: "We are responsible for violations of the rights of Central Americans passing through Mexico, the same or worse as those of Mexicans in the United States."

The analogy between the treatment of Central Americans by the Mexican government and Mexicans by the U.S. government is particularly relevant. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chicago: Immigrant Workers Set an Example

Victory at Republic!
Lee Sustar, Socialist Worker
December 11, 2008

WITH A unanimous vote, workers at the Republic Windows & Doors plant in Chicago ended their six-day factory occupation late on December 10 after Bank of America and other lenders agreed to fund about $2 million in severance and vacation pay as well as health insurance.

"Everybody feels great," said a tired but beaming Armando Robles, president of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) Local 1110. [...]

Read the full article:

Raising the stakes at Republic
Lee Sustar and Nicole Colson, Socialist Worker
December 9, 2008

[...] According to labor organizer and journalist Jorge Mújica, immigrants rights activists supported the Republic workers not only because they are mostly Latino immigrants, but because they are literally fighting the same institutions. [...]

Read the full article:

Chicago Workers to Rest of Country: 'Don’t Let It Die'
David Bacon, New America Media
December 11, 2008

Chicago worker Raul Flores’s job is gone, but he’s still there. "I've got a family to support, so I've got to do whatever it takes," he says. "The economic situation is not good, but I can't just wait for something to happen to me."

That puts Flores in the same boat as millions of other U.S. workers. Last month alone 533,000 workers lost their jobs, the highest figure in 34 years.[...]

Read the full article:

The Immigrant Story That Wasn't: Laid Off Republic Windows Employees Just Regular Working Stiffs
Esther J. Cepeda, Huffington Post

December 9, 2008

I am absolutely stunned that the peaceful sit in at the Republic Windows and Doors factory and warehouse has not been stuck in the ghetto of "immigrant story" by our local and national media.

Indeed, most outlets here and nationally have so far ignored the fact that the workers are mostly brown-eyed and brown-skinned. Just months ago the three hundred laid-off workers who were let go without notice -- and without their owed pay -- would have all been ignored, and reviled, because they were, as I so often heard, "just more protesting immigrants." [...]

Read the full article:

South Florida Community Demands Investigation Into ICE Misconduct

Community Demands Investigation Into ICE Misconduct

For Immediate release 12/10/08

Jonathan Fried, WeCount!: 305-281-9377
Cheryl Little, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center: (305) 573-1106, ext. 1001

A November 19 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Operation in Homestead was supposed to be a simple operation to crack down on a human smuggling and sex trafficking ring. But to the residents of Homestead, it was much more than that.

"They knocked the door to our room down. There were three agents who barged in to the room. They threw my husband to the floor and one of them stuck a gun to my head. He told me not to move. He said if I moved, the situation would be worse. They kicked my husband in the head. His head was swollen when they took him out of the room," said a woman after ICE agents stormed her home and took all its residents, although none of them had anything to do with the trafficking investigation. The woman said her four-year-old daughter, who witnessed the attack, is traumatized.

According to official ICE news release, 4 human trafficking suspects were arrested in the raid, while 9 victims of trafficking were rescued in the operation that took place in Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.

But in a press conference yesterday, several community groups called for an investigation of ICE abuses in the raids in Homestead, stating that at least half a dozen immigrants were beaten, and the large majority of persons detained had nothing to do with the trafficking investigation.

"We're here to discuss the human impact of the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Homestead on November 19," said Jonathan Fried, executive director of WeCount!, a community based organization in Homestead.

"We applaud law enforcement actions against human trafficking. But we are disturbed that the large majority of persons detained in Homestead that day had nothing to do with any human trafficking investigation. We're even more disturbed at the abuse that occurred during the raids, especially the beatings of innocent immigrant victims."

In a complaint sent to R. Alexander Acosta, the US Attorney that helped ICE secure warrants for the raid from a Federal Judge, community members highlighted what they considered some of the most egregious examples of ICE misconduct including:

* Detaining over 70 people mostly unrelated to the trafficking investigation and misleading the public in their official release (ICE claimed it only detained 4 people).

* At least half a dozen persons detained were beaten by ICE agents; officials at the Broward Transitional Center, where some of them are being held, where so concerned that they called for an official inquiry into their injuries.

* Several accounts of ICE agents pointing guns to residents heads, even in front of children, using excessive force in executing search warrants, and using racial profiling to detain bystanders.

The community leaders at the press conference asked elected officials, community leaders, and concerned citizens to join them in pressing for a meaningful investigation into the allegations of misconduct. "The sum actions of these raids, meant to protect victims of trafficking, have victimized many in the Homestead community and created a climate of fear and mistrust," stated the complaint sent to the US Attorney's office, echoing the general feeling of the residents in attendance at the press conference.


News coverage:

Miami Herald, "Federal agents accused of roughing up immigrants during Homestead raid"

Sun-Sentinel, "Agents Accused of Abuse During Sex Slave Sting"

New York Times, "Tactics Used in US Raids Draw Claims of Brutality"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dec. 11 Radio Interview on Asylum

Thursday, December 11, 2008
5:30 pm

A discusion on US asylum policies with:
Jane Guskin, Co-author, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
and Fred Boehrer, Capital District New Sanctuary Movement

"Capitol Report"
WRPI, 91.5 FM
Troy, NY
Live streaming:

(This is the second of several live interviews on the second Thursday of the month.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Change Immigrants and Labor Can Believe In

A new administration that has raised such high expectations should look for new ideas in the areas of immigration reform and trade policy, not recycle the bad ones of the last few years.

By David Bacon, The Nation
November 26, 2008

Since 2001 the Bush administration has deported more than a million people--including 349,041 individuals in the fiscal year ending just prior to the election. It has resurrected the discredited community sweeps and factory raids of earlier eras, and started sending waves of migrants to privately run jails for crimes like inventing a Social Security number to get a job. Every day in Tucson seventy young people, including many teenagers, are brought before a federal judge in heavy chains and sentenced to prison because they walked across the border.

It's no wonder that Latinos, Asians and other communities with large immigrant populations voted for Barack Obama by huge margins. People want and expect a change. Ending the administration's failed program of raids, jail time and deportations is at the top of the list. National demonstrations have called for a moratorium on raids since the summer, and one big reason why Los Angeles turned out so heavily for Obama was the anti-raid encampment and hunger strike in the Placita Olvera, which electrified the city. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Philanthropists Fuel Anti-Immigrant Bigotry

By Eric Ward,
November 24, 2008

When well-known philanthropists give money to national anti-immigrant groups it gives a new twist to the axiom “throwing good money after bad.” The result is increased discrimination and violence against immigrants and their families.

Controversial anti-immigrant leader John Tanton used to brag that from 1983 until 1986 famed financial leader and philanthropist Warren Buffet made yearly gifts of $90,000 to his organization, U.S. Inc. While Buffet is thought of as a man who donates selflessly to the public good he is also remembered as supporting bigotry.

Buffet, having attended several of John Tanton’s events, raises the question of if he was in the room when Tanton mused that “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion? … Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down?” Tanton used Buffet’s support to grow the modern day anti-immigrant movement which has torn communities and working families apart. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Financial Crisis Hits the Immigration Debate

by David L. Wilson, MRzine
November 30, 2008

Part of the right wing routinely blames undocumented immigrants for just about everything. On September 24, nine days after the financial meltdown started in earnest, the National Review Web site carried an article by columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin blaming "illegals" for the crisis and the subsequent bailout of the banks. "The Mother of All Bailouts has many fathers," she wrote. "But there's one giant paternal elephant in the room that has slipped notice: how illegal immigration, crime-enabling banks, and open-borders Bush policies fueled the mortgage crisis."

Malkin's pieces often read like parodies of conservative punditry, and there's something distinctly comical about the idea that a few undocumented homeowners caused a multi-trillion dollar financial crisis. Less than a month after Malkin's article was posted, the Wall Street Journal showed that in fact mortgages bought by out-of-status immigrants have performed rather well. But the Malkin diatribe is a useful indication of how the immigration debate is likely to change over the next months. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, December 1, 2008

INB 11/30/08: Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 29 - November 30, 2008

1. Another South Dakota Dairy Raided
2. Raids Protested in Minnesota, Michigan
3. More "Fugitive" Raids: Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, PA, DE, NJ, NY
4. New Indictment in Agriprocessors Case
5. South Carolina Poultry Workers Plead Guilty

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

On Nov. 21, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested five Latin American immigrant workers at a dairy farm near Hamlin County, South Dakota. According to officials from ICE and the Hamlin County Sheriff's office, four of the five workers face criminal identity theft charges for using social security numbers that were not their own to get jobs at the farm. The fifth worker, a woman, was taken into ICE custody on administrative immigration violations. Sheriff Dan Mack said the investigation began when the people tried to register vehicles with false Social Security numbers. [KELOLAND TV (Sioux Falls, SD) 11/24/08; AP 11/27/08 with info from the Watertown Public Opinion] The latest raid came less than a month after an Oct. 29 operation in which ICE agents arrested 27 people at several dairy farms in northeastern South Dakota [see INB 11/2/08].

Read the full INB:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Should NPR Run Funding Credits from the Department of Homeland Security?

[Since November 10, National Public Radio news programs have been running what are in effect paid ads for the controversial E-Verify program. Complaints from outraged listeners caused NPR to address the issue in a column.]

by Alicia C. Shepard, NPR Ombudsman
November 25, 2008

“Support for NPR comes from NPR stations, and the Department of Homeland Security, offering E-Verify, confirming the legal working status of new hires. At D-H-S dot gov slash E-Verify.”

Whenever NPR's Talk of the Nation dips into the topic of immigration, the national call-in show's telephone board lights up like a Christmas tree.

Immigration is an especially hot-button topic. So it's not surprising that when NPR began running a funding credit on Nov. 10 for the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify program, my office heard from listeners and a few concerned public radio station managers. [...]

Read the full article, with readers' comments:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Owed Back Pay, Guest Workers Comb the Past

[As the employer associations promote new guest worker programs, veterans of the old 1942-1964 bracero program are still seeking justice for past abuses.]

By Randal C. Archibold, New York Times
November 24, 2008

FRESNO, Calif. — Here comes Abraham Franco now, 86 years old, skin leathery and bronzed from decades of work in the fields, slowly bending his small but sturdy frame into a metal chair at a faux wood office table at the Mexican Consulate here.

He still could not quite believe the news: Decades after working as a bracero, as thousands of Mexican guest farm workers were called in a program from 1942 to 1964, the Mexican government had recently agreed to a one-time payment, $3,500, of long overdue withheld wages.

The braceros are fading fast, some pushing or over 90, and are ever reliant on family and friends to get by. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hunger Strikers Seek New Immigrant Rights Movement

By Kenneth Kim, Alternet
November 5, 2008

Editor's Note: Today marks the last day of a three-week hunger strike by immigrant rights protesters who hoped to re-energize the movement. Kenneth Kim is a Los Angeles-based reporter for New America Media.

LOS ANGELES -- As discussions on immigration reform disappeared from the presidential election campaigns, immigrant rights protesters have completed the third week of their hunger strike to re-energize the movement that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets in 2006.

Earlier this week, about 50 people camped out on the south side of La Placita Olvera in downtown Los Angeles, the historic heart of the Latino community, where traditional foods, vibrant Latino music and tourists are always abundant.

These days, dozens of tents dot the plaza. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Immigration Reform in 2009?

Frontera NorteSur News Report
November 18, 2008

Will Barack Obama’s historic election victory give new impetus to immigration reform in the United States? Analysts and political observers in the United States and Mexico have mixed assessments. Auguring against a quick fix are the economic crisis and the Iraq war, both of which the president-elect promises to prioritize early on his administration.

Speaking on Univision Spanish-language television network shortly after Obama’s victory, Chicago City Councilman Billy Ocasio said he did not think immigration reform would be possible within the first 100 days of the new administration, but he proposed the suspension of ICE raids and mass deportations until a solution to the question of illegal immigration could be further analyzed. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Both Sides of Immigration Debate Retrench

by Tom Barry, TransBorder Project
November 14, 2008

Editor's note: This is the introductory article in a three-part series on the post-election debate on immigration reform. For more analysis of how pro- and anti-immigration forces are framing the issue after the election, see Identity Politics and the Latino Payback on Immigration and Anti-Immigration Forces Ready to Challenge Obama.

The two sides of the immigration debate—immigration restrictionists and immigrant advocates—are reframing their messages in the wake of the Democrats' sweeping electoral victory. Restrictionists argue that legalization cannot take place during an economic crisis when U.S. citizens need jobs. Advocates argue that the new administration owes the Latino community that helped elect him a comprehensive immigration reform. [...]

Read the full article:

Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project of the Americas Policy Program at the Center for International Policy. He blogs at

Monday, November 24, 2008

How ALIPAC Supports "Legal Immigrants"

Most anti-immigrant groups claim they aren't opposed to immigrants--only to "illegal immigrants." One group is actually named "Americans for Legal Immigration," or ALIPAC.

ALIPAC demonstrated its support for legal immigration by helping defeat a Florida ballot initiative on November 4. The initiative would have eliminated an 82-year-old racist provision in the Florida Constitution originally aimed at all people from Asia, including legal residents. The ALIPAC website carried a posting from a member who said the provision should be left standing because "‘illegal aliens’ should not have ‘rights’ like U.S. citizens have. The only right they should have is deportation!"

According to the New York Times, "The group’s president, William Gheen, did not respond to e-mail messages seeking comment but Enos Schera, 81, who posted the message, said that he was '1,000 percent' satisfied that the law remained in place."

In Florida, an Initiative Intended to End Bias Is Killed
by Damien Cave, New York Times
November 5, 2008

MIAMI — An obscure ballot initiative in Florida intended to end a legacy of bias against Asian-Americans was defeated Tuesday, apparently because voters incorrectly assumed it would prevent illegal immigrants from owning property.

Had it passed, the initiative, known as Amendment No. 1, would have removed from the state’s Constitution language adopted in 1926 allowing the Legislature to prohibit foreigners who were barred from citizenship — Asian-Americans at the time — from owning land. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

INB 11/22/08: Iowa Restaurants Raided; Colorado Tax Raids

Pastor Steven Bechtold of the Butler United Methodist Church said two of the people arrested in the New Jersey "gang raids"--a man and a woman--are members of his congregation. "Both people are active church attenders who come to worship every week," Bechtold said. "They are active in our Bible study group. They volunteer around the church--sometimes it's doing outside lawn work, washing dishes for dinners. We had very positive experiences."

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 28 - November 22, 2008

1. Chinese Restaurants Raided in Iowa
2. Colorado: Local Raids Target Tax Filers
3. Border Patrol Raids Vermont Worksite
4. NJ: 33 Arrested in "Gang" Raids
5. "Gang" Raids in California, Wisconsin
6. Raided Massachusetts Firm Settles Wage Suit
7. McDonald's Franchise Managers Sentenced
8. Long Island Youths Charged in Killing of Immigrant
9. WA: Detention Guards Hired Without Background Checks

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

On Nov. 18, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested four workers in raids on Peony Chinese Restaurants in Vinton and Toledo, Iowa. The same family owns both restaurants. Two men from Mexico were arrested at the Toledo restaurant; one man from Mexico and one from China were arrested at the Vinton restaurant. All four face administrative immigration violations for being in the country illegally, said ICE spokesperson Tim Counts from the ICE office in Minneapolis. A hearing has not yet been scheduled before a federal immigration judge to determine whether the men will be deported. Counts said the enforcement actions were part of an ongoing investigation. "A 'raid' denotes something random or chaotic--this is neither," said Counts. [...]

Read the full INB:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise for Fourth Year in a Row

Hatewatch/Southern Poverty Law Center
October 29, 2008

Hate crimes targeting Latinos increased again in 2007, capping a 40% rise in the four years since 2003, according to FBI statistics released earlier this week.

As anti-immigrant propaganda has increased on both the margins and in the mainstream of society — where pundits and politicians have routinely vilified undocumented Latino immigrants with a series of defamatory falsehoods — hate violence has risen against perceived “illegal aliens.” Each year since 2003, the number of FBI-reported anti-Latino hate crime incidents has risen (see table, below), even as a swelling nativist movement has become larger and more vitriolic.

Read the full report:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Plattsburgh, NY Immigration Forum, Nov. 20

Discussion on Immigration
The discussion, led by David Wilson, co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, will look at sanctuary, legalization, guest worker programs, raids, deportations and future legislation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
7 p.m.
HawkinsHall, Room 153B
101 Broad Street
SUNY Plattsburgh
Plattsburgh, NY

Sponsored by SUNY Plattsburgh's Latin American Studies Department
For information, contact the Latin American Studies Department at 518-564-2395

Book Review: The Politics of Immigration

By Tony Pecinovsky, Political Affairs
November 17, 2008

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
By Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson
Published by Monthly Review Press, 2007.

Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson have written an important book on immigrants and immigration policy. Though short, The Politics of Immigration packs quit a punch. Its clear, concise language and easy-to-read format makes it a must have for activists, academics and ordinary working class people interested in immigration. [...]

Read the full review:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

INB 11/16/08: Raids Protested in Ohio; Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 27 - November 16, 2008

1. Raids Protested in Ohio
2. Iowa Meat Plant Raided Again
3. Election Week Raid in Florida
4. NJ: Detainee Escapes, Others Moved

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

On Oct. 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two workers at the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Oberlin, Ohio. Two employees of the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Fremont and one employee of Casa Fiesta in Ashland were also taken into custody on Oct. 30, said ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly. It was the second raid at the local restaurant chain in less than 100 days; on July 23 ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican workers at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants in northern Ohio, including five workers at the restaurant in Oberlin. The Fremont and Ashland restaurants were also among those raided on July 23 [see INB 8/10/08].

On Nov. 8, about 50 people held a candlelight vigil at Tappan Square in Oberlin to protest the latest raid; about 100 people attended a similar vigil in Oberlin following the July raid. La Alianza Latina, a nonprofit student group at Oberlin College, plans to form a rapid response team to stage peaceful protests and provide legal observation when raids happen, said the group's secretary, Cindy Camacho. "People...should not have to be afraid in the place where they live and work," said Camacho. [...]

Read the full INB:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why We Shut ICE Down for a Day

Young Protesters See Activism Extending Past the Elections
by Sagnicthe Salazar, Florencia Garcia, Min Lee & Eming Piansay
YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia
November 04, 2008

Editor's Note – Ahead of the Nov. 4 election, with all eyes on the presidential race, hundreds of young people amassed in front of the Homeland Security offices in downtown San Francisco in what some say is the first in a series of civil disobedience style protests to stop ICE raids against immigrants. Sagnicthe Salazar, 21, is a Bay Area based organizer , student, and educator. Florencia Garcia, is a San Francisco based photographer. Min Lee is an editor at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

SAN FRANCISCO – Last week hundreds of youth, families and organizers from over 10 different cities in the Bay Area gathered at the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in San Francisco to demand an end to ICE raids, to demand that all detention centers be shut down and to demand real sanctuary cities.

For that day the community prevented ICE from breaking into our homes, and terrorizing our people. Crowds of young and old, black, white, Asian and Raza gathered around the police blockade chanting, speaking and singing in the rain. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Local Immigration Dialogue Raises Questions-–and Answers

By Elana Gordon, Dos Mundos (Kansas City)
November 6, 2008

“They don’t pay taxes.”
“Why don’t they come the right way?”
“They’re taking jobs away.”

These are sentiments that frequently come up in conversations about immigration, according to a recent community forum at Guadalupe Centers Inc (GCI) in Kansas City, Mo. But New York-based author and activist Jane Guskin said that such statements only serve to heighten the discrimination and hatred toward immigrants in the United States.

Whatever an individual or organization’s view might be about immigration, “the issue is too complex to address in a simple sound bite or message. I’d like to see more people getting into dialogues and having conversations,” she explained. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, November 10, 2008

NYC, Nov. 12: "Enemy Alien" Screening


Enemy Alien
The Fight to Free Palestinian Activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti

Dir. Konrad Aderer 70 mins documentary work-in-progress
Discussion with Konrad Aderer, Sharin Chiorazzo, Jane Guskin, Shane Kadidal, Joanne Macri, David Wilson

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
7:00 pm
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street
New York, NY
(between Bank and Bethune Streets; take the A/C/E/L to 14th Street and 8th Avenue, or the 1/2/3 to 14th Street and 7th Ave)

Enemy Alien, a first-person documentary, offers a gripping inside view of the fight to free Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a gentle but indomitable Palestinian-born human rights activist whose politically charged detention was followed around the world. Told through the eyes of the filmmaker, the grandson of Japanese Americans interned during World War II, this documentary takes on unprecedented intimacy and historical resonance. As the filmmaker becomes personally involved in the story, Farouk organizes protests with his fellow detainees. Resistance brings consequences – though not charged with any crime, Farouk is beaten and locked in solitary confinement, and his American-born son Tarek is arrested in a counterterrorism investigation into the documentary itself.

This event will be the first public screening of Enemy Alien, and a fundraiser to raise crucial support for the completion and distribution of this documentary. Food and drinks will be served and contributions requested (which are not included in the Brecht admission).

Konrad Aderer's work as a documentary producer has focused on immigrants targeted by post-9/11 policies. His 2005 short Rising Up: The Alams screened internationally and in the U.S. at venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York Museum of Modern Art's Documentary Fortnight. Konrad freelances as a field producer, videographer and editor.

Shayana Kadidal, Farouk's lead attorney, is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Attorney Joanne Macri is the director of the Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association.

Sharin Chiorazzo, Farouk's fiancee, is a teacher of Middle Eastern history and a longtime activist for Palestinian rights; for several years she hosted "Live from Palestine" at WBAI-FM.

Jane Guskin and David Wilson worked with the Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti; they are the authors of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (Monthly Review, 2007)

Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

For more information:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Radio Interviews in November and Beyond

Wednesday, November 5, 2008,
9 pm
Radio interview with Jane Guskin, co-author, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
and Dave Grosser, Boston Radical Education Project

"What's Left"
Hosted by Linda Pinkow and Sofia Jarrin

WMBR, 88.1 FM
Cambridge, MA
Live streaming:
Archived for two weeks

(The Boston Radical Education Project is sponsoring a discussion with co-author David Wilson in Cambridge at 7 pm on Saturday, November 8. For more information, go to: )

* * *
Thursday, November 13, 2008
5:30 pm
Radio Interview with Jane Guskin and David Wilson, Authors, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
and Fred Boehrer, Capital District New Sanctuary Movement

"Capitol Report"
WRPI, 91.5 FMTroy, NY
Live streaming:

(This will be the first of several live interviews on the second Thursday of the month.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did Undocumented Immigrants Fuel the Mortgage Crisis?

The Wall Street Journal reports that undocumented immigrants have a good record with their mortgages, as measured by homes bought with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). "Less than 5% of Bank of Bartlett's ITIN loans are delinquent. Nationally, for loans more than 90 days in arrears, ITIN mortgages had a delinquency rate of about 0.5% last year, compared with 9.3% for subprime mortgages, according to independent estimates." Ironically, a little more than a month ago, the National Review ran an article by rabid anti-immigrant columnist Michelle Malkin about "how illegal immigration, crime-enabling banks, and open-borders Bush policies fueled the mortgage crisis."

Mortgage Prospects Dim for Illegal Immigrants
By Miriam Jordan, The Wall Street Journal
October 22, 2008

Jose Luis Hernandez rose from vegetable chopper to sous chef at an exclusive New York restaurant -- and saved $100,000 along the way. Recently, the illegal immigrant from Mexico contacted real-estate agents in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he currently rents an apartment.

'I wanted to use my money as a down payment on a house,' says Mr. Hernandez, 32 years old. In doing so, he sought to join thousands of undocumented workers who in recent years have purchased homes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, instead of aSocial Security number. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't give Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants; it issues ITINs, which enable them to open bank accounts and report their income to the government for tax purposes.

But Mr. Hernandez quickly learned that things have changed. He says he was told that, 'unfortunately, if you don't have a Social Security number, you cannot buy property.'

Dubbed ITIN mortgages, the loans that made homeownership a reality for thousands of undocumented workers have withered -- although not because they underperformed. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, November 3, 2008

INB 11/2/08: Youth March in San Francisco; Indian Workers Arrested

"It is an outrage that workers who courageously came forward at great personal risk to cooperate with the Department of Justice in a federal trafficking investigation were targeted by ICE and then denied access to their own legal counsel," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 26 - November 2, 2008

1. Youth March in San Francisco
2. Indian Workers Arrested in North Dakota
3. South Dakota Dairy Farms Raided
4. Construction Raid in Alabama

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

Hundreds of high school and college students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area skipped class on Halloween morning, Oct. 31, to participate in a youth-led "Stop the Raids" protest against immigration enforcement in downtown San Francisco. Transit officials shut down the Fruitvale and Coliseum BART stations in Oakland and the Richmond BART station after hundreds of East Bay students entered the stations and boarded trains to San Francisco without paying. Officials kept the stations closed for more than an hour. Some BART trains bound for San Francisco were delayed at the West Oakland station by protesters who held doors open and demanded that the Fruitvale station be reopened, passengers and BART officials said. Three people were detained at the Richmond station. [San Francisco Chronicle 11/1/08] [...]

Read the full INB:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Legal Immigrants Next Target of Anti-Immigration Groups

by Tom Barry, TransBorder Project
October 17, 2008

The leading anti-immigration groups don't specially target illegal immigrants. For the restrictionist groups Federation for American Immigration Reform, Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA, the country's 11-12 million illegal immigrants are simply low-hanging fruit. Their long-range goal is to rid the nation of most all immigrants—both illegal and legal.

See complete article at:

Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project of the Americas Policy Program at the Center for International Policy. He blogs at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Talks in Kansas City focus on immigration

by Tony Pecinovsky, People's Weekly World
October 28, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - "We cannot talk about immigration without talking about racism," said Jane Guskin, co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, to a packed audience at the Guadeloupe Community Center here October 23.

As part of a nation-wide tour to promote community dialog on immigration issues, Guskin challenged KC area participants to analyze their own experiences and question stereotypes that lead to racist depictions of immigrants. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stop the Raids in the First 100 Days

Silence on Immigration
by David Bacon, Foreign Policy in Focus
October 23, 2008

The first of the 388 workers arrested in the immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, were deported in mid-October, having spent five months in federal prison. Their crime? Giving a bad Social Security number to the company to get hired. Among them will be a young man who had his eyes covered with duct tape by a supervisor on the line, who then beat him with a meathook. The supervisor is still on the job.

The Postville raid was one of the many recent immigration operations leading to criminal charges and deportations for thousands of people. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls this "closing the back door. " Meanwhile, his department seeks to "open the front door" by establishing new guest-worker programs, called "close to slavery" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Something is clearly wrong with the priorities of immigration enforcement. Hungry and desperate workers go to jail and get deported. The government protects employers and seeks to turn a family-based immigration system into a managed labor supply for business. Yet national political campaigns say less and less about it. Immigrant Latino and Asian communities feel increasingly afraid and frustrated. Politicians want their votes, but avoid talking about the rising wave of arrests, imprisonment, and deportations. [...]

Read the full article:

Photographer and journalist David Bacon is the author of Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ohioans Believe Illegal Immigrants Should Stay

Conservative media on cable television, talk radio and the Internet fueled opposition to legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States...On the other hand, the liberal media spent little time promoting its position.

By Sheila McLaughlin, The Cincinnati Enquirer
October 25, 2008

Let illegal immigrants stay here.

That's what 56 percent of Ohioans said in a poll conducted this month by the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research -- and people polled in Southwest Ohio topped that figure.

In this corner of the state, 60 percent said they favored a government policy that allowed undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and become U.S. citizens if they met unspecified requirements in a certain timeframe.

That puts Ohioans in sync with the rest of the nation, according to a Gallup Poll last year, said Eric Rademacher, the institute's interim co-director.

Read the full article:

The Closing of the American Border

Q&A with Edward Alden
Sandip Roy, New America Media

Oct 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: The war on terror has come home to America. But when did the war on terror morph into a war on illegal immigration? Today it is much harder for a terrorist to enter the United States than it used to be, but according to Edward Alden, it's also much harder for everyone else. Edward Alden is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11. Alden was interviewed by New America Media editor Sandip Roy.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government seemed to put forth a unified stance on the need to combat terror. But you say in your book that there was actually a fierce internal fight between two groups--you call them The Cops versus The Technocrats. Who are they?

Indeed, this fight began the very night of 9/11. Jim Ziegler, who was the head of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the time, was strongly opposed to what the Ashcroft Justice Department did after 9/11, which was to use immigration laws aggressively as a counter-terrorism tool, to hold people on immigration violations if they believed they had even the slightest connection to terrorism. [...]

Read the full interview:

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Part of Legal Immigration Don't You Understand?

Reason magazine, working with the National Foundation for American Policy, has put together a two-page chart explaining what happens when immigrants try to "wait their turn in line."

Here are three different versions of the chart.

Reason's PDF version:

Reason's JPG version:

The National Foundation for American Policy's PDF version:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Boston Area Immigration Workshop, Nov. 8

The Politics of Immigration
A workshop on countering the right and developing pro-immigrant analysis

With David Wilson, co-author of The Politics of Immigration, Questions and Answers (Monthly Review Press, 2007; copies will be available for purchase)

Saturday, November 8, 2008
7 pm
The Democracy Center
45 Mt Auburn St, Harvard Sq
Cambridge, MA

Presented by the Boston Radical Education Project
(617) 491-2876;

Have you heard an anti-immigrant argument that you feel is wrong, but need the facts to contest? (For example: "Immigrants are a drain on social services.") Do you have your own fear or concern about the issue? (For example: "Are the lowest-paid US-born workers really hurt by immigration?") Bring your concerns to this upcoming dialogue and we'll work together to develop effective responses using facts, reasoning and personal experiences.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

INB 10/21/08: South Carolina Poultry Plant Raided

On Oct. 12, about 65 people marched more than three miles from the Mills Manufacturing plant in Woodfin, North Carolina, to downtown Asheville to protest an Aug. 12 ICE raid at the parachute manufacturing plant and the impending deportation of the 57 workers arrested there. Speakers blasted what they said was overzealous or selective law enforcement by local sheriffs, particularly Van Duncan in Buncombe and Rick Davis in Henderson.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 25 - October 21, 2008

1. South Carolina Poultry Plant Raided
2. Immigrant Rights Marches in North Carolina and Beyond
3. Protected Status Renewed for Central Americans, Urged for Haitians

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at

On Oct. 7, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents executed a federal criminal search warrant at the House of Raeford's Columbia Farms poultry processing plant in Greenville, South Carolina, arresting 11 workers on criminal charges and 320 workers on administrative immigration charges. [ICE News Release 10/9/08] About 100 ICE agents raided the plant during shift change. ICE officials kept the workers inside the plant for most of the morning as they sought to determine how many were present in the US without permission. [AP 10/7/08; Charlotte Observer 10/8/08] [...]

Read the full INB:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Winning the Fight of Our Lives: Immigrant Rights and Prison-IndustrialComplex

By Subhash Kateel, Left Turn
October 1, 2008

If the immigrant rights movement doesn't understand raids, detention, and deportation in the context of the greater prison-industrial complex, and organize accordingly, we will lose the fight of our lives - a fight we can and must win.

During the immigration debates and protests of 2006-2007, a small but significant chorus of organizations - those working with families facing deportation - spoke out strongly against many of the immigration reform legislative proposals. What many in the beltway where calling "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" (CIR) wasn't comprehensive enough to fix the detention and deportation system that had eaten up and spit out almost two million people and destroyed nearly as many families. Instead, the grand bargain for reform was to allow for stricter immigration enforcement in exchange for a normalized status for some undocumented immigrant workers.

In the limited scope of those debates, the primary contention was whether that normalized status would lead to green cards (legalization) or not for those immigrant guest workers. It seemed the folks in the beltway, some dear friends of ours, felt the need to concede the anti-immigrant forces' thirst for more enforcement in order to obtain some semblance of legalization. However, it seemed the survivors of immigration enforcement - families facing deportation and families affected by the deaths and militarization of the border - were being made into sacrificial lambs for an elusive blessing of legalization riddled with unwanted curses.

Our intentions weren't based solely on self-interest. Fighting for justice for our brothers and sisters that died in detention, for our children that had lost parents to deportation, and for our families whose sole income provider suffered the desert terrain alongside the border wasn't a trivial struggle. But like our colleagues backing CIR, we were also fighting for the future of immigrant communities.

Emerging apartheid
At that time, I wrote in Left Turn about the fight of our lives. Back then, my colleagues and I had highlighted to our friends in the immigrant rights movement that we were witnessing the emergence of immigrant apartheid in the US. A system was developing that would systematically criminalize and attack immigrants' lives as people of color and working people. This emerging apartheid would use the criminal justice-, prison-, and deportation systems - and any other system - at its disposal to make lives of immigrants - both legal and undocumented - as hard as possible. What we would see, whether we won reform or not, would be more arrests, more raids, more detentions, and more deportations. In sum, more destruction of our communities.

Many people in the mainstream of the immigrant rights movement thought that we were blowing things out of proportion. Some mocked our characterization of what was happening to immigrants as "apartheid." Some allies had labeled our work against deportation, detention, and the excesses of the criminal justice system as "boutique issues" - sexy, but not as substantive as the fight for legalization. Others were far too enchanted with portraying immigrants as hardworking and law-abiding. They saw nothing wrong with focusing the ire of immigration enforcement on the "bad" immigrants nor saw anything cynical about alluding to rights as something that "good" immigrants deserve.

They sure as hell weren't going to sacrifice a potential win just to benefit the "bad" immigrants, namely - those in the deportation- and criminal justice systems. We would keep insisting, in vain it seemed, that this fight had to be about more than just green cards in an era where green cards were losing their significance. It also had to be about more than the "good" immigrants in an era where the "good" immigrants could easily be recast as "bad."

We were speaking from experience. We had seen how the FBI had taken a young hardworking legal immigrant and pizza deliverer named Anser Mahmood and recast him, first, as a suspected terrorist. When that didn't work, the small financial assistance he gave to immigrant friends was defined as "alien smuggling," making him a criminal alien and mandatorily deportable to Pakistan, despite the pleas from his own upstate New York neighbors and over a dozen members of Congress. We had seen US Army veteran and legal immigrant Warren Joseph's post traumatic stress from the first Gulf War cause him to run afoul of the law and into an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center for three years, facing deportation to Trinidad. We had seen post-September 11 raids tear apart the lives of over 1500 working families from South Asia and the Middle East under the guise of the "war on terror."

The anti-immigrant far Right (and not-so-far Right) had no such illusions of a difference between "good" and "bad" immigrants. They talked openly about a "war of attrition" against immigrants. Late night pundits like Pat Buchanan talked candidly and favorably about going after all unwanted immigrants under the guise of going after the "worst." Those of us that had worked with families facing deportation for the past decade understood this strategy.

Movement miscalculation
A major miscalculation of some of the immigrant rights movement was the assessment that the immigration system was attacking only immigrants and to legalization not to be confused with actual legalization - they would be fine. This ignores the fact that the value of a green card had diminished since the passage of 1996 so-called reforms. It also ignores the fact that many of the aforementioned immigrants still lead their lives as low-income immigrants of color.

Many of our friends in the immigrant rights movement simply couldn't see that the forces creating apartheid against immigrants were also attacking the ideas and institutions of immigrants - those that allowed them to rise above subsistence (in some cases flourish) -as much as they where attacking immigrants and their status. In the process immigrants - and the ideas and institutions of their everyday lives - were being criminalized. This criminalization had become far easier in a period marked by "wars" on drugs, "wars" on terror, and other "wars" meant to have an elusive target and a beginning with no end.

Some of us had the blessing of knowing elders that fought for civil rights, and those who carried the struggle beyond civil rights, to the Black liberation movement. Historical reflection impressed something upon us. Just maybe, for all the rhetorical linkages that the immigrant rights movement drew with the Civil Rights movement, we failed to see what happened in the Black community after the peak of the Civil Rights movement.

The victories of integration were followed by an explosion in the prison system and mass incarceration in the Black community. Communities that survived poll tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses to preserve their right to vote were processed through the criminal justice system only to be disenfranchised again. The vibrant businesses and civic associations that endured decades of Jim Crow would be replaced by extreme capital flight and a criminalized informal sector - a criminalized political economy. What the Civil Rights struggle forced the government to give back to Black folks through the narrative of its "best" (Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, etc.) the government would later take by pushing narratives of the Black community at its "worst."

Open eyes
Hindsight is only 20/20 when our eyes are open. The difference between that period and this period is that the clues of what was next for the Black community were not as readily available to our Freedom Fighters of that era. President Nixon's crime strategy, as he articulated behind closed doors, was to direct the criminal justice system primarily at the Black community without publicly saying so. This only became public knowledge after one of Nixon's closest aides' personal experiences with the prison system exposed him to its evils.

By comparison, the blueprint criminalizing immigrants was made readily available to the public. The much-touted and hated Sensenbrenner-King bill of 2005-2006, which passed the House of Representatives, left little encrypted in its desire for wholesale criminalization of immigrant communities. Even earlier, plans like the quickly-recanted "PATRIOT Act II," crafted in 2002 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, proposed to criminalize the very way immigrants made their livings and lived their lives.

During the Civil Rights movement, there was a whole chorus of Freedom Fighters that cried that the struggle couldn't just be about integration. The expansion of the prison-industrial complex in the Black community and its subsequent "wars" (on drugs, for example) was that era's tragic "We told you so." In 2006, many of us were screaming, "This can't just be about green cards!" The expansion of ICE raids was our tragic "We told you so."

On May 12, 2008, ICE agents arrested 389 workers during a raid at the Agriprocessors Inc meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa. Within weeks, nearly 300 mostly-Latino workers were criminally charged by federal prosecutors with crimes ranging from identity theft to illegal entry. Where a typical ICE raid would result in mostly administrative immigration charges, these workers were railroaded through federal criminal court receiving up to six month sentences in federal prison. In dramatic fashion, ICE instantly made this group of immigrant workers criminal aliens - the "bad" immigrants.

We felt no satisfaction when government tactics confirmed our worst fears. No one wants to be right or prophetic when predicting the destruction of our communities. However, we were taken by surprise by the response from the previously conservative mainstream of our movement. People that would have never been open to understanding the injustices of the criminal justice system and the deportation process saw clearly the need to tackle these systems with a newfound vigor. Over and over again, we would see new voices in immigrant communities come out and say, "Let us fight for legalization, but let us fight for more than legalization." Organizers and activists that have rarely spoken publicly about a family member's incarceration or deportation are coming forward. Old adversaries are talking about strategies to tackle the deportation system.

Movement blueprint
Predicting the emergence of immigrant apartheid is far easier than identifying how a movement can defeat it. But individuals and organizers around the country are developing the blueprint for how we may begin to win.

1) We must make this bigger than green cards. We are fighting for the future of our communities. We cannot act like the path to legalization is a path flowing with milk and honey. It is a necessary step in a path towards a greater vision of social justice.

2) We must focus on building power in immigrant communities. Organizers such as Juan Pablo Chávez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition have instructed us at great length on the need to organize rather than mobilize. We cannot be a movement of mobilizations and talking heads. We must build real leaders in real communities to bring about real change.

3) We must organize in immigrant communities most directly impacted. We must stop talking about "good" and "bad" immigrants and build with those most affected. This is the only way to build a movement with more depth. Families that have survived the prison-industrial complex are not sob stories and charity cases; they are individuals that have survived one of the most sophisticated systems this society has for marginalizing someone. Their knowledge and determination makes our movement stronger. New organizations such as Deported Diaspora in Boston, new organizers such as Luisanna Santibanez in Austin, Texas, and older yet formidable organizations such as Homies Unidos in Los Angeles, and Families For Freedom in New York continue to dedicate their time to building in the most impacted communities. More efforts like this have to be incubated and supported.

4) We must build the capacity of grassroots organizations to create the solutions to their own problems. Policies in the beltway must be grounded in the wisdom and intellect of communities on the ground. But that can only happen when immigrant communities develop the faith and the capacity to create those solutions. Otherwise, solutions in the beltway will be made for immigrants, not by immigrants.

5) We must identify the ideas and institutions in immigrant communities that we need to protect, and protect them vigorously. The things that enable a detainee to represent himself and win his freedom, or enable an immigrant family to survive the desert and support family on two continents are the same things that will enable us to build real alternatives to the world we live in today. When we forsake what our communities have already built, we forsake our real power.

6) We must confront the Department of Homeland Security more directly. From Hurricane Katrina, to the ICE raids, to corrupt agents along the border, the Department of Homeland Security has survived numerous investigations and audits only see its budget increase even more. If we don't find more creative and strategic ways to confront ICE, we will see even more destruction of our communities and have no one else to blame.

Recently, I spoke with a family friend, a young Caribbean woman whose husband was detained by ICE. Nearly everyone had told her that her husband would be deported. Despite this, through her persistence, he was released a month after being detained. On the way home from picking him up she told me "I said my prayers and knew if I fought hard enough, I would see us together again." With that spirit, I know that if we fight smart and fight hard, our communities, our families, and our loved ones will win this fight.

Subhash Kateel is the co-founder and former co-director of Families For Freedom in New York. He is currently a Soros Justice Fellow working with families facing deportation through the Florida Immigrant Coalition. He lives in Miami, but misses his friends and family in Brooklyn and Michigan.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Profit of Detention

Private $21 Million Facility Would Speed Process, Investor Says

By Josh White and Nick Miroff, Washington Post

October 5, 2008

FARMVILLE, Va. -- A clearing in the woods between this small town's water treatment plant and a metal salvage yard soon will be transformed into what could become the largest immigration detention facility in the mid-Atlantic region, a $21 million project fueled by the aggressive policies some Virginia localities have adopted toward identifying illegal immigrants and handing them over to the federal government.

The 1,040-bed facility will be unique not only because it will dwarf many of Virginia's jails but also because it is a private venture aimed at capitalizing on the massive influx of detainees into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement system over the past year. A small group of Richmond investors looks to reap millions of dollars in profit by building what has been described as the "mid-Atlantic hub" for ICE operations in a town just three hours south of the nation's capital. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Death on Terminal Island

Over four years, 74 people have died while being held by immigration officials. Victoria Arellano was one.

By Ben Ehrenreich, Los Angeles Magazine
September 2008

Strangely nearly everyone agrees that Victoria Arellano seemed happy. She was locked up on Terminal Island, a place as somber as its name, but her fellow inmates remember her almost as a source of light. She was "muy alegre," says Oscar Santander, who goes by Diana, and who was incarcerated with Arellano at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. Eugene Peba, who was also in custody there, describes her as "very jovial." Walter Ayala became her closest friend. She was "muy contenta," he says, "muy feliz," or at least she appeared to be. "This was a very jolly person," says Clement Lukyamuzi. It makes Edward Bush throw his hands in the air. "How happy can you be over there? I cried all the time!" [...]

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shame on Us: The U.S. War on Unarmed Working Mothers

By Bill Quigley, CounterPunch
September 26, 2008

Is this what our nation has come to? War against unarmed working mothers? Have we no shame?

Dozens of petite young mothers gathered this week in the parking lot outside the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Mississippi. Each wore a long dress or pants to hide their electronic ankle bracelets. Lift up a pants leg and you can see the black plastic band and monitor which is the size of a pack of cigarettes. Most wore sandals. Several were obviously pregnant.

From the outside the building looked like any office park. But a blue Homeland Security flag waved right next to the red white and blue out in front. Inside, the mothers were being interviewed and readied for deportation. The crime these mothers are charged with? Not guns, not drugs, not spying. Working to put food on the table for their families and not being citizens of the U.S. [...]

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NYC Immigration Dialogue on Oct. 26

A dialogue on immigration with David Wilson, co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers

Sunday, October 26, 2008
3 pm
At the AJ Muste Memorial Institute
339 Lafayette Street, buzzer #11
New York, NY

(northeast corner with Bleecker Street, take the 6 train to Bleecker St or the D/F to Broadway-Lafayette).

Sponsored by the Socialist Party-USA (NYC)
Free and open to the public.
For more information: 718-869-2279, or

Have you heard an anti-immigrant argument that you feel is wrong, but need the facts to contest? (For example: "Immigrants are a drain on social services.") Do you have your own fear or concern about the issue? (For example: "Are the lowest-paid US-born workers really hurt by immigration?") Bring your concerns to this upcoming dialogue and we'll work together to develop effective responses using facts, reasoning and personal experiences.

Kansas City Area Events Oct. 22-23 with Jane Guskin

The Politics of Immigration co-author Jane Guskin will be in the Kansas City area Oct. 22-23, 2008 for the following events:

The University of Kansas Latino/a Studies Minor presents:
A Panel Discussion with author Jane Guskin on Latinos, Immigration, Politics, and Legislation

Wednesday Oct. 22, 2008
5:30 pm - 7 pm
Big 12 Room, Kansas Union 5th floor

The University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045

As we approach the 2008 presidential elections, media attention is on the potential swing vote represented by Latino/a voters and on the possible impact that the immigration issue could have on the national elections. Join us for a panel discussion with guest speaker, author Jane Guskin, addressing "Immigration Dialogue: A Strategy for Confronting Anti-Immigrant Myths and Misconceptions."

The panel will also feature KU experts on immigration policy, politics, and legislation: Christina Bejarano on "Insights into Latino/a Political Behavior in the United States"; Tanya Golash-Boza on "The Immigration Industrial Complex: The Connection between theProfit Potential and Immigration Policies Destined to Fail"; and Gary Reich on "One Nation, Fifty Immigration Policies? The New State Activism in Immigration Policy." Questions and discussion will follow panel presentation.

For further information contact: Marta Caminero-Santangelo, KU Department of English, (785) 843-2394

* * *

A dialogue on immigration with Jane Guskin,co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers

Thursday, October 23, 2008
7 pm
Guadalupe Center, Inc.
1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez
Kansas City, MO

Sponsored by The Cross Border Network, The American Immigration Lawyers Association, The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas & Western Missouri, MEChA-UMKC, El Centro, Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates, Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement

Free and open to the public.
For more information: 816-835-4745,

Have you heard an anti-immigrant argument that you feel is wrong, but need the facts to contest? (For example: "Immigrants are a drain on social services.") Do you have your own fear or concern about the issue? (For example: "Are the lowest-paid US-born workers really hurt by immigration?") Bring your concerns to this upcoming dialogue and we'll work together to develop effective responses using facts, reasoning and personal experiences.