Thursday, July 31, 2008

Voices From Detention: A Report on Human Rights Violations in the Northwest Detention Center

by Pramila Jayapal
July 15, 2008

We released our report today. Voices From Detention: A Report on Human Rights Violations in the Northwest Detention Center details the many abuses of international human rights law and Constitutional protections at the detention center in Tacoma.

I have been doing this work enough that I didn't expect to be emotional—and certainly I never have been when at the podium at a press conference.

But as I listened to the young woman who had to speak by speaker phone because she was so afraid of deportation; as I read excerpts from the report describing how immigrants are treated like animals; as I spoke of the abuses, such as a hood put over the head of a mentally ill detainee; or of pregnant women being denied medical care; or detainees refused use of the bathroom so they were forced to defecate in their seats on an airplane, I could not help the emotion that came.

I believe America is so much better than this. And I believe that most Americans, if they knew what was happening in their name at our detention centers across the country, they would stop this injustice. Most Americans want people to be treated fairly and humanely.

Join the growing chorus of our voices calling for change. Please read our report here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our people’s labor struggle in the U.S.

La Labor de Nuestro Pueblo Indocumentado en EE.UU
By Flor Crisóstomo, June 25, 2008

...We the undocumented emigrants are the objects of all types of abuse by our employers. The employer’s financial power creates the base of our exploitation. On the other hand these broken laws permits this cycle of abuse....

...Nosotros los emigrantes indocumentados, somos los objetos de todo tipo de abusos por parte de nuestros empleadores. El abuso del poder de dinero que tienen es la base de nuestra explotación; por el otro lado estas leyes rotas permiten este ciclo de abuso....

Read the full article:’s-labor-struggle-in-the-us/

[Flor Crisóstomo is a Mexican immigrant who is resisting inside Adalberto Church in Humbolt Park, in Chicago, Illinois. Flor Crisóstomo es una inmigrante mexicana que resiste en la iglesia Adalberto en el barrio de Humbolt Park, en Chicago, Illinois.]

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 27: 1,000 March in Postville

Many residents appeared largely supportive of the workers. Cindy Moser, 53, from nearby Elkader, said her daughter and son-in-law were marching while she watched her two grandchildren. "If they want to come and work here I say fine," Moser said. "We all saw the effect of this. My grandson, he told me, 'Grandma, they took my friends away.' I hope this stops."

1,000 rally against immigration raid in N.E. Iowa town
By Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press

Iowa Rally Protests Raid and Conditions at Plant
By Julia Preston, New York Times
July 28, 2008

Marcha contra redada en Iowa: Exigen frenar arresto de indocumentados
Univision Online y Agencias
28 de Julio de 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

They Work Here, They Live Here, They Stay Here!

French Immigrants Strike for the Right To Work
--And Win
By Marie Kennedy and Chris Tilly, Dollars and Sense
July 20, 2008

France has an estimated half-million undocumented immigrants (8% of the population, compared to 4% in the United States), including many from France's former colonies in Africa. The sans-papiers (literally, "without papers"), as the French call them, lead a shadowy existence, much like their U.S. counterparts. And as U.S. immigrants did in 2006 with rousing mass demonstrations, the French undocumented have recently taken a dramatic step out of the shadows. But the sans-papiers did it in a particularly French way: hundreds of them occupied their workplaces.

Read the full article:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Economics of Immigration: Chicago, July 26-August 2

Jane Guskin, co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, will be speaking and facilitating at The Center for Popular Economics' 28th Summer Institute, July 26-August 2, 2008, at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois.

Special Track: Economics of Immigration & Migration
Co-sponsored by Chicago Jobs with Justice, ICIRR (Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights) and CAAAELII (Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European & Latino Immigrants of Illinois) and the Department of Economics/Program in Social Justice Studies at Roosevelt University

Sunday July 27th
7-9 PM: Plenary - Immigration: Myths & Realities, at Faiman Lounge
Jane Guskin, co-author, The Politics of Immigration
Phil Hutchings, Black Alliance for a Just Immigration, Oakland
Esther Lopez, US Food and Commercial Workers

Monday July 28th
3:30-5 PM: Workshop 3 - Immigration Dialogue Part 1 Room 440 - Jane Guskin, co-author of The Politics of Immigration

Thursday July 31st
1:30-3 PM : Workshop 2 - Immigration Dialogue Part 2 Room 434 Jane Guskin, co-author, Politics of Immigration

For more information or registration form, please visit the CPE website:
or contact : programs@populareconomics, phone (413) 545-0743

Two New Articles by the Authors of "The Politics of Immigration"

[These two op-eds appeared on the website July 20-21. If you think they will be useful, please feel free to repost or reprint them. We only ask that you give credit to MRzine and include the URL. Thanks.]

Union-busting by Any Other Name...

If this had happened in another country, many of us would condemn it as an effort by an authoritarian regime to smash a unionization drive. But it happened in Postville, Iowa, so we call the massive May 12 raid by the U.S. government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant a "workplace enforcement operation."

by David L. Wilson, MRzine
July 20, 2008

The huge meatpacking plant had been cited by government agencies for numerous violations of environmental and labor laws and for "acts of inhumane slaughter" of animals. New inquiries were under way into allegations of wage violations and the illegal employment of minors. A large national union was trying to organize the factory's 970 workers. But all this was put on hold the morning of May 12, 2008. [...]

Read the full article:

Tears of Rage, Tears of Hope

Then there's Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a friend and colleague... Farouk would be 60 now, but he died four years ago today--on July 21, 2004, his 100th day of freedom after two years in immigration detention.... [H]is entire detention was a farce, since the government already knew Farouk was a man without a country who couldn't be deported.

by Jane Guskin, MRzine
July 21, 2008

Nurses see everything in a day's work. But at the maternity ward of Nashville General Hospital, nurses caring for an immigrant woman in labor broke down and cried when the sheriff's deputy guarding the woman refused to remove the shackles chaining her leg to the bed. The undocumented woman was detained by local authorities because of a cooperation agreement between the county sheriff's department and the immigration enforcement agency, ICE. [...]

Read the full article:

INB 7/20/08: Raids Protested in Rhode Island, Colorado

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 17 - July 20, 2008

1. Rhode Island Court Raids Protested
2. Colorado Concrete Company 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; 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 July 15 at 5pm, 50 agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 12 detectives from the Rhode Island state police simultaneously raided all six of the state's courthouses, arresting 31 immigrants employed as maintenance workers by two contractors hired by the state. Those arrested were 16 women and 15 men, immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico. [Providence Journal 7/17/08] [...]

Read the full INB:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nativism in America: Yesterday and Today

By Mark R. Day, La Prensa (San Diego)
May 30, 2008

When the struggle over illegal immigration from Mexico began to heat up two years ago, a San Diego television reporter asked a middle-aged woman at a protest rally for her comments. "When these illegals come here it's like they won the lottery," she said angrily. "They drop babies all over the place. Then they go back and bring in another bunch. They murder, they rape, they steal. They hurt us."

These harsh comments, laden with racial stereotypes, evoke the term nativism, a peculiarly American phenomenon with a long, sordid history. "Nativism as a habit of mind illuminates darkly some of the large contours of the American past," wrote historian John Higham. "It has mirrored our anxieties and marked out the boundaries of our tolerance." [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Taking a bite out of immigration policy

Rinku Sen, East Valley Tribune (Phoenix)
July 1, 2008

On this July 4, I will be eating hot dogs. While I was trying to fit in as an Indian immigrant child throughout the 1970s, they represented the quintessential American food. I begged my mother to let me have them for dinner every night instead of chicken curry and rice. She nixed the hot dogs but sometimes allowed spaghetti and meatballs — straight from a can.

Hot dogs were “invented” by German immigrants, serving their traditional sausages in the hustling streets of the new world, and spaghetti, everyone knows, came from Italy. If I had been celebrating Independence Day 150 years ago, however, neither would have been on the menu. In those days, Germans and Italians weren’t considered Americans, or even white. When they fought over the most lucrative street corner for food vendors in the 1880s, the press called the incidents “race riots.” [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Citizens should protest harassment of immigrants

By Allison Mountz,
Thursday, July 03, 2008

Things to consider on Independence Day, on your way to market or mall:

On a recent Saturday morning, I was holding a sign at the busy Park Street intersection where cars travel to Carousel mall, the Regional Market and the Regional Transportation Center. A driver honked to catch my attention and then held up his middle finger. As he shouted something indecipherable, I noticed two young girls watching from the back seat and wondered what they must be thinking. The man seemed angry, and I was too.

My anger is what prompted me to stand on that corner in the first place. The CNY Detainment Task Force has been organizing rallies outside of the bus and train station. We are protesting the poor treatment of immigrants in our community. Our goal is to call attention to the practices of federal Border Patrol authorities, who without warning, board buses and trains, roam the station (including the restrooms), and quiz persons of color and those whose names appear "foreign." [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Right to Stay Home -- Derecho de no Migrar

"Migration is part of aspect of state policies that expel people. Creating an alternative to that requires political power. There's no way to avoid that."

David Bacon, New America Media
July 09, 2008

JUXTLAHUACA, OAXACA, MEXICO -– For almost half a century, migration has been the main fact of social life in hundreds of indigenous towns spread through the hills of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s poorest states. That’s made the conditions and rights of migrants the central concern for communities like Santiago de Juxtlahuaca.

Today the right to travel to seek work is a matter of survival. But this June in Juxtlahuaca, in the heart of Oaxaca’s Mixteca region, dozens of farmers left their fields, and women weavers their looms, to talk about another right, the right to stay home. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, July 14, 2008

INB 7/13/08: 23-Year-Old Dies in Detention; ICE Agent Sentenced

Fleury did not learn of her son's death until several days later. "No one from immigration or jail called me when my son died," said Fleury. Fleury said the family found out because a chaplain called Joseph's girlfriend, who then called his family. A letter from ICE stating that Joseph had suffered a seizure came a week later.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 16 - July 13, 2008

1. 23-Year-Old Dies in Detention
2. ICE Agent Sentenced for Sexual Assault
3. Texas Port Company 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; 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 June 20, West Palm Beach resident Valery Joseph died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, Florida. The 23-year-old Haitian immigrant had been living in the US since he was eight, said his mother, Jacqueline Fleury. At a news conference in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood on July 8, the day Joseph would have turned 24, US Rep. Kendrick Meek joined Joseph's family members and immigrant rights advocates in calling for an independent investigation into what Meek called Joseph's "untimely death." [...]

Read the full INB:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interpreting the Largest ICE Raid in U.S. History: A Personal Account

Erik Camayd-Freixas, Ph.D
New America Media, July 11, 2008

Editor's Note: A Spanish-language interpreter in Postville, Iowa battled with his own ethical decisions about how to stay neutral during the largest single-site raid in U.S. history. He says nothing could have prepared him for the prospect of helping our government put hundreds of innocent people in jail.

POSTVILLE, Iowa -- On Monday, May 12, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., in an operation involving some 900 agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a raid of Agriprocessors, Inc., the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant located in the town of Postville, Iowa. The raid – officials boasted – was “the largest single-site operation of its kind in American history.” At that same hour, 26 federally certified interpreters from all over the country were en route to the small neighboring city of Waterloo, Iowa, having no idea what their mission was. [...]

Read the full article:

Also at:

An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants
By Julia Preston, New York Times
July 11, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa — In 23 years as a certified Spanish interpreter for federal courts, Erik Camayd-Freixas has spoken up in criminal trials many times, but the words he uttered were rarely his own.

Then he was summoned here by court officials to translate in the hearings for nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers arrested in a raid on May 12 at a meatpacking plant. Since then, Mr. Camayd-Freixas, a professor of Spanish at Florida International University, has taken the unusual step of breaking the code of confidentiality among legal interpreters about their work. [...]

Read the full article:

A note from Dr. Camayd-Frexais:

“My new friends from Postville involved in the relief effort inform me that they are still dealing with a very tough humanitarian crisis. So, please, if you have any opportunity for fundraising, this is the address where donations can be sent:

St. Bridget’s Hispanic Ministry Fund
c/o Sister Mary McCauley
PO Box 369
Postville, Iowa 52162″

Amalia Anderson, Project Director, Main Street Project, adds that you can also donate at the Lutheran Disaster Relief website:
Go to "donate" and choose Postville from the pull-down menu.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Guantanamization of Immigrant Detention

Roberto Lovato, from his blog, Of América
June 18, 2008

Imran Ahmad (a pseudonym), a 29 year-old Pakistani computer scientist who can see the Statue of Liberty from his studio apartment in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, says he no longer believes in the symbol of freedom cast in copper. "Freedom is relative. It depends on things like where you're from and what you look like" says Ahmad. He reached this conclusion, he says, because of what happened to him as a orange-uniformed detainee held for more than 3 years in numerous federal detention facilities: the denial of habeas corpus (his constitutional right to plead his case before a judge), facing growling dogs, watching friends languish and die while in custody, the "subtle torture" of living for months in a tiny, windowless white room while a nearby TV set blared American Idol or "24."

After a fellow detainee died under mysterious circumstances, which were covered up by detention facility authorities, Ahmad says he was threatened with lines like "We don't want you to tell or speak to anyone about this" and "We have cameras and people [detainees] who are watching you, monitoring you." Though Ahmad was released, he is still in deportation proceedings.[...]

Read the full article:

Monday, July 7, 2008

INB 7/5/08: Raid at Maryland Painting Company

Attorney Liza Zamd also said a four-year-old girl saw ICE agents handcuff her father and force him to kneel in their home while they searched for two workers from the painting company who live there. Zamd said the girl's father is a US citizen and wasn't charged.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 15 - July 5, 2008

1. Raid at Maryland Painting Company
2. Supervisors Arrested in Postville, Houston
3. Nearly 500 Arrested in Anti-Gang Raids
4. Al-Arian Indicted for Non-Cooperation

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 June 30 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, about 75 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents joined 50 county police officers in raiding the offices of Annapolis Painting Services Inc. and 15 single-family homes that authorities said were owned by the company and rented to employees. Agents arrested 50 or 51 workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nigeria and Panama on administrative immigration violations. Five women, including one who is pregnant, were allowed to remain free on humanitarian release pending removal proceedings because they are sole caregivers. The other 10 women and 35 or 36 men were detained. The company has more than 100 employees, county police said. [Baltimore Sun 7/1/08; Washington Post 7/1/08; (Capital Gazette Newspapers) 7/2/08 from AP] [...]

Read the full INB:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Spain, Like U.S., Grapples With Immigration

A 2007 report by the Council of Europe, an organization of European states, concluded that the Spanish program may have had a small “pull effect” but called it a “positive experience from which many European states can learn.”

By Jason DeParle, New York Times
June 10, 2008

MADRID — With the United States riven by calls to legalize millions of illegal immigrants, Americans might consider the possible effects by looking at southern Europe, where illegal immigration has abounded and so have forgiveness plans.

In the last two decades, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece have run at least 15 legalization programs, including a Spanish effort three years ago that was among the Continent’s largest. With little domestic opposition, Spain legalized nearly 600,000 of the African, Latin American and eastern European workers who helped power its economy and brought this once insular land the strengths and strains of diversity. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What part of "worker exploitation" don't you understand?

by Austin Guest, on Sirotablog
June 2, 2008

If you're like me, you've had it up to here with the refrain of "what part of illegal don't you understand" from right-wingers trying to use the immigration debate to distract hard-working Americans from the structural reasons behind their ongoing economic woes.

Rather than running scared from this simple-minded chorus of xenophobia, it's high time progressives stood up and called a spade a spade. Allowing immigration status to be used as an excuse to exploit workers is not only morally wrong, it's bad for other workers. [...]

Read the full article:
Also available at: