Thursday, December 31, 2009

Emergency Rally, 1/1/10: "Stop Taking Our Parents Away"

(from NYC New Sanctuary Movement)

Kids to Immigration: 2010 New Year's Resolution--Stop Taking Our Parents Away

Children of detained immigrant leader Jean Montrevil demand his release and support youth from across the country demanding an end to deportations.

WHAT: On December 30th, ICE detained for deportation to Haiti Jean Montrevil a green card holding immigrant since 1986, father of four U.S. citizen children and renowned immigrant rights activist. In solidarity with immigrant youth in Florida who are ringing in the new year by walking to DC and parents who are embarking on an indefinite fast, Jean’s children will demand their father be released and that the laws change so families are no longer torn apart. Religious leaders and community members will begin fasting and other forms of resistance until the children’s demands are met.

WHO: Jani Montrevil (wife of detained immigrant leader Jean Montrevil)
Janiah Montrevil (Jean Montrevil’s 11 year old daughter)
50 additional children of affected immigrants and concerned community members
Rev. Robert B. Coleman, Interim Chief Program Minister, The Riverside Church
Rev. Giovanny Sanchez, Senior Minister, Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit--and more!

WHEN: Friday, January 1st at 11:30am (press arrive at noon)

WHERE: Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square South New York, NY 10012Trains B/D/F/V/A/C/E to West 4th Street

Please bring your children and outreach to your faith community or organization!
If you'd like to join in the fast, please send the following information to Rachel at or (646) 395-2925:
-your name
-your affiliation (faith community or organization)
-how long you intend to fast
-and why.

Recent Media Coverage
Democracy Now!:

Video of Jean reporting to an ICE check-in:

Visit our website at for photos from last night's vigil, a letter from Jean's wife, and more.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NYC Immigrant Advocates: Stop Deportation of Activist Jean Montrevil

Greencard-holding Father of Four and Immigrant Rights Leader Ripped from Family and Detained for Deportation during Holidays

(Press release from NYC New Sanctuary Movement)

December 30, 2009--Despite being a legal immigrant in the United States since 1986, and despite being the husband of a U.S. citizen and father of four U.S. citizen children, Jean Montrevil, a long time community leader and activist, was detained for deportation to Haiti this morning. Mr. Montrevil was attending a regular check in when he was detained by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Montrevil is facing deportation for a 20-year old conviction, for which he has long since served his sentence; he has never broken any law since.

Mr. Montrevil is a leader in a variety of immigrant rights groups including Families for Freedom and the NYC New Sanctuary Movement (NY NSC) and Detention Watch Network. In his fight for justice on behalf of all immigrants, Mr. Montrevil has gained the support of U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velasquez, and also by NY State Senator Thomas K. Duane and NY State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.

The NYC New Sanctuary Coalition has called an emergency vigil for 6 p.m. tonight outside the Varick Street ICE Detention Center (Varick and Houston Streets), which will end with a procession to Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, for a 6:30 p.m. service to demand that Mr. Montrevil be released and that ICE stops separating our families and communities. Mr. Montrevil’s wife and children will be present at the service, as well as his many community supporters.

Rev. Michael Ellick, one of Mr. Montrevil’s pastors at Judson Memorial Church, stated: “It is outrageous that ICE is trying to tear this good man from his children at this holiday season. We will not rest until Jean is released and returned to his family and until immigration agents stops tearing our families and communities apart.”

Mr. Montrevil recently applied to be granted “deferred action” on his deportation order. Such deferral is within the discretion of the NYC ICE Director of Detention and Removal Operations, Christopher Shanahan. He was detained today before even receiving a response.

Deportations to Haiti are especially controversial, since that nation suffers from economic, political, and weather-related crises that make it hard to absorb deportees. Haiti’s president has formally requested the United States to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians, as has been granted to immigrants from other chaotic nations, but Pres. Obama has so far not supported that request.

For photos, videos, and more information on Jean:

Getting Tough on Exploitation

by Amy Traub, The Nation
November 17, 2009

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration would seek legal status for 12 million undocumented immigrants in early 2010. Hard-right tea party organizers reportedly switched gears immediately to denounce the move. Congressman Lamar Smith found it "ironic" that Napolitano framed the push for comprehensive immigration reform as a way to improve the economy. But Napolitano is absolutely right: reforming the nation's immigration laws to bring millions of people already participating in our economy out of the shadows would boost tax revenue, lift the economy and protect working Americans from the unfair labor market competition they now face. The biggest problem is that Congress may be dangerously slow to act: even the much-needed extension of unemployment benefits took the Senate months to approve.

While legislators drag their feet, the Obama administration can act quickly on its own to stop the erosion of middle-class jobs. Directing his agencies to enforce the nation's existing labor and employment laws more vigorously, while halting the enforcement of broken, economically harmful immigration laws is one powerful way to do it. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ICE Agents' Ruse Operations

by Jacqueline Stevens, The Nation
December 17, 2009

Guatemalans in the Boston area are seeing spies infiltrating factories, buses with tinted windows taking away unidentifiable co-workers, and men with guns grabbing their neighbors. For these survivors of state violence, it's a traumatic reminder of the very thing they thought they had left behind. Twenty-six-year-old Julia, arrested in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid, said, "If they are taking children away and everything, then for me, that's a second war." She told her story in interviews with Professors Brinton Lykes and Dan Kanstroom of Boston College's Post-Deportation Human Rights Project.

Thirteen of the fifteen Guatemalans in the town of Chimaltenango who had organized a group on behalf of loved ones picked up by ICE in the US could not locate them. These Guatemalans, in meetings with Lykes and Kanstroom, also spontaneously brought up the decades-long civil war that ended in 1996, during which 200,000 were killed and thousands vanished. A woman who lost her son and husband in the war and who was desperate to find her grandson asked the two professors, "Are they being disappeared?" [...]

Read the full article:

See also the same author's "America's Secret ICE Castles," and read the comment from a former detainee.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On Religion: Trying to Build Bonds With Immigrant Stories

by Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times
December 25, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif.--On the last Sunday before Christmas, from an altar flanked by Advent candles and potted poinsettias, the Rev. Clarence L. Johnson preached to the Mills Grove Christian Church about the Nativity. A precise and measured man, Mr. Johnson departed just once from his typewritten text.

In the midst of recounting a certain birth in ancient Judea, the minister placed his gaze a dozen rows back into the congregation and rested it on a dark-haired woman in a patterned blouse. He called her by name, Luz, and then he went back into his sermon, to words he had surely chosen with her in mind. [...]

Read the full article:

For more on Luz Dominguez, whose case is mentioned in the article, see David Bacon's Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants; for a review, see "The Immigration System: Maybe Not So Broken."

The important work of two immigrant rights organization is also discussed, East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Report: Nativism Is Anti-American Workers

Of the 87 politicians graded 'A' by FAIR, 68% voted against increasing the minimum wage, 83% voted against extending unemployment compensation, 93% voted against equal pay for women, 94% voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, 82% voted against providing parental leave for federal employees.

by Prerna Lal,
December 10, 2009

Today America's Voice Online released a report titled "The Anti-Worker Truth about the Anti-Immigrant Lobby" and held a teleconference with experts regarding the recent anti-immigrant exploitation of economic woes to scapegoat immigrant workers.

The report analyzes the voting records of 87 politicians in the 110th Congress on labor issues who received an A from the anti-immigrant hate-group FAIR. It proves in clear terms that politicians who blame immigrants for unemployment do not hold the best interest for American workers. [...]

Read the full article:

For more on the anti-immigrant right's claim to support U.S. workers, see:
Why They Hate Immigrant Workers, and Why We Love Them

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dear Santa: What Part of Illegal Don't You Understand?

Dear Mr. Santa Claus,

This is an open letter from William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, Jim Gilchrist founder of The Minuteman Project, Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE, Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, the members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, and most Republicans, along with some Democrats, in the U.S. Senate.

We have just received word from the North Pole that you have been delivering presents to the United States all of these years without adhering to the proper legal immigration procedures. We ask you, Mr. Claus, the same question we ask of all illegal aliens in America, "What part of ILLEGAL don't you understand?" [...]

Read the full letter:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Arrested for Working: ICE Raids Newburgh, NY Airport

New York State Community Groups condemn recent raid at Stewart Airport
December 22, 2009

Milan Bhatt: 845-331-6615
Betsy Palmieri: 914-977-3295

The Workers' Rights Law Center of NY and Hudson Valley Community Coalition strongly condemn the recent raid at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY. In the early hours of December 17th, in the midst of the holiday season, over a dozen workers of Empire Warehouse Solutions were swept away and detained in the Orange County Jail, a facility that recently entered into a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The whereabouts of several workers are still unknown. Immigrant and worker advocates are well-aware of the disturbing trend of mass workplace raids in states such as Iowa and Mississippi and increasing cooperation nationwide between local law enforcement and immigration authorities. The sting at Stewart Airport could not have set a more dangerous precedent for New York, a state with one of the country’s highest immigrant populations and one that has historically been a leader in protecting their rights.

Low-wage immigrant workers in New York, already vulnerable to wage exploitation and other abuse, will now face heightened fear when showing up to work. Last Thursday’s raid also ripped apart entire families in the region, many of whom were comprised of U.S. Citizens. Advocates throughout the region and state reject any new policy by ICE in New York that accelerates the detention and deportation of hard-working immigrant populations. Those who have been devastated by this raid are our neighbors-the fabric of our communities and the driving force in many sectors of our local economy. They deserve to be treated fairly and humanely. As Congress last week has once again taken up the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, it is critical that New York continue to model pro-immigrant policies, not practices that punish hard-working communities for political gain.

Also posted on the Diginity & Due Process Blog .

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Holiday Shopping Time, While the Peace of the Graveyard Marches On

And if it makes you uncomfortable to read this while you would prefer to think about your last-minute Christmas shopping, that's fine, as long as your discomfort leads you to action.

by Jane Guskin, Huffington Post
December 21, 2009

In Colombia there is an expression: la paz del cementerio - the peace of the graveyard.

This is the kind of peace that powerful forces enjoy when everyone who resists them is dead and buried.

Colombia's government and its military and paramilitary forces have spent decades working diligently for this kind of peace. The country is so intent on achieving it that its even dispensed with the graveyard. According to Senator Gloria Inés Ramírez, more than half a million people have been forcibly disappeared in Colombia in the past 33 years.... Of the cases investigated so far, fewer than 2,500 bodies have been located, mostly in mass graves.[...]

Read the full article:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Call for Immigration Reform With Human Rights for Immigrants

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2009
Colin Rajah 510-465-1984 ext. 306
Laura Rivas 510-465-1984 ext. 304

On International Migrants Day, December 18:
U.S. Immigrant Rights Groups Call for Immigration Refor That Recognizes Dignity and Human Rights of Immigrants

(Oakland, CA) Immigrant rights groups urged today, International Migrants Day (December 18) that the U.S. government adopts immigration policy reforms and practices that recognize and respect the dignity and human rights of all immigrants, regardless of status. The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) commended Rep. Luis Gutierrez for introducing landmark legislation in the House of Representatives to reform immigration policiesthis week but also called for an end to existing policies and programs that criminalize and abuse immigrant communities. [...]

Read the full press release:

ACLU: Workers and Same-Sex Couples Need Protection in CIR

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Unveiled
Bill Addresses Longstanding Problems in Immigration Enforcement Practices but Fails to Protect Workers and Same-Sex Couples

December 16, 2009
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312;

WASHINGTON – Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), along with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, introduced late Tuesday HR 4321, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP), legislation that takes major strides toward repairing America’s broken immigration system. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly supports responsible reforms to U.S. immigration policy and calls on Congress to ensure that any legislation protects the civil rights, civil liberties and human rights of everyone in the United States, regardless of his or her immigration status. [...]

Read the full press release:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Immigration Bill Is Introduced in House

by Randal C. Archibold, New York Times
December 15, 2009

The on-again, off-again drive to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws moved back to Congress on Tuesday with the introduction of legislation that would open a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants.

The bill, introduced by Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, was seen as the opening volley in what Democrats and Republicans expect to be a hard-fought battle. President Obama has pledged to take up the issue early next year; efforts to overhaul the laws during George W. Bush’s presidency failed despite the backing of Mr. Bush and some Republicans. [...]

Read the full article:

For a downloadable summary of the bill:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

America's Secret ICE Castles

by Jacqueline Stevens, The Nation
December 16, 2009 (January 4, 2010 edition)

"If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International's Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report "Jailed Without Justice" and said in an interview, "It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn't believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren't anything wrong."

Pendergraph knew that ICE could disappear people, because he knew that in addition to the publicly listed field offices and detention sites, ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants--nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag. [...]

Read the full article:

Alleged Police Cover-Up Adds Shocking Angle to the Racist Murder of Luis Ramirez

by Joshua Holland, AlterNet
December 16, 2009

It was always difficult to comprehend how a jury could find the young Pennsylvania men who brutally murdered Luis Ramirez -- a Mexican immigrant and father of two young children -- during the hot summer months of 2008 not guilty. The six young men surrounded Ramirez, shouted racial slurs at him and beat him to death.

If federal charges bear out, the result should come as little surprise; justice was apparently not served in the case. As attorney Patrick Young writes, many in the community would have had you believe "that the racial epithets hurled at Ramirez did not make this killing a hate crime.

"They also expect you to see no unfairness in the fact that the initial investigation into the crime was carried out by the partner of a cop who was sleeping with the mother of the young man accused of killing Ramirez. Or that the first person arrested in the incident was a Latino who tried to come to Ramirez's rescue." [...]

Read the full article:

See also:
Federal Charges Are Filed in Killing of Immigrant
by SeanN D. Hamill, New York Times
December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mass Firings--The New Face of Immigration Raids

"President Obama is responsible for putting us in this situation," she charges angrily. "This is worse than an immigration raid. They want to keep us from working at all."

by David Bacon, The Progressive
December 2009/January 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA (12/10/09) -- Ana Contreras would have been a competitor for the national tai kwon do championship team this year. She's 14. For six years she's gone to practice instead of birthday parties, giving up the friendships most teenagers live for. Then two months ago disaster struck. Her mother Dolores lost her job. The money for classes was gone, and not just that.

"I only bought clothes for her once a year, when my tax refund check came," Dolores Contreras explains. "Now she needs shoes, and I had to tell her we didn't have any money. I stopped the cable and the internet she needs for school. When my cell phone contract is up next month, I'll stop that too. I've never had enough money for a car, and now we've gone three months without paying the light bill."

Contreras shares her misery with eighteen hundred other families. All lost their jobs when their employer, American Apparel, fired them for lacking immigration status. [...]

Read the full article:;action=read&id=366

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Immigrant Laundry Workers on Strike in MA

Centro Presente Stands in Solidarity with Striking Immigrant Workers

Somerville, MA, Dec. 11 - Over 400 immigrant workers of Angelica Textile Services in Somerville initiated a strike on Thursday, December 10th at 11:00 am. A national corporation, Angelica provides laundry and linen services to area hospitals and healthcare facilities through its Somerville facilities located across the street from the offices of Centro Presente on Inner Belt Road in East Somerville.

The strikers had been working without a contract since December 1st. Negotiations between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1445, representing the workers, and the company stalled on the provision of a living wage and improved benefits, including parental leave and affordable healthcare. Of the 450 workers, mostly immigrants, only 23 did not join the strike on the first day.

Beginning at 6:00 a.m. the strike continued into the frigid evening until midnight and resumes today at 6:00 am. Centro Presente will maintain its doors open to the workers for the entire time period to provide a respite from the frigid temperatures. The staff of Centro Presente have also literally stood with the workers on the picket line.

Today, Friday December 11th there will be a larger rally at 11:00 a.m. in front of the offices of Angelica at 30 Inner Belt Road at noon, come and show support for these brave workers as they fight for Justice!

Patricia MontesExecutive Director
Centro Presente17 Inner Belt Road
Somerville,MA 02143

617-629 47 31 Ext. 211

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feds Tighten Guest Worker Departures

Immigration News from Frontera NorteSur (FNS)
December 11, 2009

In a pilot project, the Department of Homeland Security’s US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started requiring foreign guest workers to leave behind identifying information at two Arizona ports of entry. Launched December 8, the new exit system applies to holders of H-2A and H-2B visas.

According to a CBP press release, the pilot program kicked off this week at the San Luis and Douglas ports of entry bordering the Mexican state of Sonora. Under the federal requirements, departing guest workers will stop at a kiosk to scan their visas and fingerprints and return their 1-94 arrival/departure forms. Instructions for completing the process will be in both Spanish and English.

“The goal is to ensure that temporary workers comply with the requirement to leave the country when their work authorization expires,” the CBP stated. “The program will also help secure US borders more effectively and streamline existing guest worker programs.”

As of this week, any foreign guest worker in the H-2A and H-2B programs and admitted entry to the US at San Luis or Douglas will also have to leave the country at the same location.

The Arizona pilot program came as the CBP reported that more than 205,000 H-2A and more than 58,000 H-2B visa admissions were granted during Fiscal Year 2009. Compared to earlier statistics cited in a newsletter published at the University of California at Davis, H-2A admissions of temporary agricultural workers were up significantly in 2009.

According to UC Davis’ Rural Migration News, in Fiscal Year 2008 there were 173,100 H-2A admissions, mostly of Mexican nationals. In FY 2007, 87,300 H-2A admissions were registered, while 46,400 were counted for FY 2006.

On the other hand, H-2B visas, which are granted to workers in fields such as gardening, landscaping and tree planting, experienced a drop off in 2009. Rural Migration News earlier reported 110,000 H-2B visa admissions in FY 2008 and 155,000 in FY 2007.

Sources: US Customs and Border Protection, December 10, 2009. PressRelease.
Rural Migration News, April 2009.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University Las Cruces,New Mexico
For a free electronic subscription email:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rethinking Trade Policy for Development: Lessons From Mexico Under NAFTA

“There is increasing international recognition that trade policy in the Western Hemisphere should be overhauled,” conclude the authors, based on this comprehensive review of Mexico’s economic performance under NAFTA. “Now is the time for the U.S., Canadian, Mexican, and other developing country governments to take a fresh look at NAFTA’s experience and shape trade and development policies to better meet the needs of their people in a manner that respects the right to development, job creation, and the environment.”

By Eduardo Zepeda, Timothy Wise, and Kevin Gallagher, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
December 2009

Mexico’s disappointing experience with NAFTA underscores the need to reform trade agreements between the United States and developing countries.

Despite an increase in trade, foreign investment, and productivity since NAFTA took effect in 1994, Mexico has been disappointed by slow economic growth and weak job creation. In addition, recession in the United States is hitting Mexico particularly hard, given its dependence on its northern neighbor. [...]

Read the full article:
Read the report:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NYC, 12/13/09: "Farmingville" screening

Resistance Cinema, in collaboration with the New Sanctuary Movement, presents:

Farmingville (2004, 78 minutes)

Produced and Directed by Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval, Camino Bluff Productions Inc. & CatTails LLC.

Special guest speaker: Janis Roshuevel, Director of Families For Freedom

When: Sunday December 13, 2009 1pm
Where: Community Church of NY Assembly Hall, 40 East 35th Street, New York, NY (between Madison & Park Avenues, 6 train to 33rd Street & Park Avenue, D/F/N/Q/R to 34th Street-Herald Square)
Admission: Free, donations appreciated

Light refreshments will be served

Explore the issue of immigration in film and discussion

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, "Farmingvile" is a provocative, complex, and emotionally charged look into the ongoing nationwide controversy surrounding a suburban community, its ever-expanding population of undocumented immigrants, and the shocking hate-based attempted murders of two Mexican day laborers.

Janis Roshuevel will speak on:
"Everyone Is Responsible for Immigrant Justice"

Families For Freedom
Founded in September 2002, Families For Freedom is a New York-based multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation. We are immigrant prisoners (detainees), former immigrant prisoners, their loved ones, or individuals at risk of deportation. We come from dozens of countries, across continents. FFF seeks to repeal the laws that are tearing apart our homes and neighborhoods; and to build the power of immigrant communities as communities of color, to provide a guiding voice in the growing movement for immigrant rights as human rights.

Information: 718-843-0515, &

Paraguay named "illegal immigrant" to consular post

by Pedro Servin, Associated Press
December 2, 2009

ASUNCION, Paraguay — Paraguay named an undocumented U.S. immigrant to run its consulate in New York, discovering his illegal status only when the man returned home to get his diplomatic papers and was denied a U.S. visa.

Paraguay's foreign ministry acknowledged Wednesday that it was a mistake to name Augusto Noguera as the consulate's "first official," but said President Fernando Lugo annulled the decision as soon as he was informed of the U.S. Embassy's visa denial.

Vice Foreign Minister Manuel Maria Caceres told The Associated Press that the decision to name Noguera as a diplomat Sept. 21 was made in good faith since the ministry didn't know of his legal status in New York. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Arrests of illegal immigrants along border drop 25%

By Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times
November 25, 2009

Reporting from San Diego - Arrests of illegal immigrants along the California-Mexico border declined 25% this year as a weak economy and bolstered enforcement efforts appear to be discouraging treks north, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Tuesday.

The downward trend is evident across the Southwest border as apprehensions fell to levels not seen since the early 1970s. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested 556,000 people last year, 152,200 of them in California, according to statistics released for the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30. [...]

Read the full article:,0,5713070.story

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"ICED Out": an important new report from the AFL-CIO

Report: Unbalanced Immigration Enforcement Hurts All Workers’ Rights
by James Parks, AFL-CIO Blog

October 27, 2009

Some of the Indian workers from the Signal International shipyard, who rallied in front of the White House in 2008, were singled out for investigation by immigration officials.

When Josue Diaz, an immigrant worker and his co-workers protested the inhumane and illegal working conditions at a construction site in Texas, their employer called local police and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. But the law enforcement officials didn’t enforce the workers’ rights or penalize the employer. They arrested the workers. [...]

Read the full article:

Read the full report:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Immigration Detention System Lapses Detailed

by Nina Bernstein, New York Times
December 2, 2009

Growing numbers of noncitizens, including legal immigrants, are held unnecessarily and transferred heedlessly in an expensive immigration detention system that denies many of them basic fairness, a bipartisan study group and a human rights organization concluded in reports released jointly on Wednesday.

Confirmation of some of their critical conclusions came separately from the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, in an investigation that found detainee transfers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement were so haphazard that some detainees arrived at a new detention center without having been served a notice of why they were being held, or despite a high probability of being granted bond, or with pending criminal prosecutions or arrest warrants in the previous jurisdiction. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Should We Defend Undocumented Workers?

by David Bacon, truthout
November 23, 2009

One winter morning in 1996, Border Patrol agents charged into a Los Angeles street-corner clinic where 40 day laborers had lined up to be tested for AIDS. One worker, Omar Sierra, had just taken his seat, and a nurse had inserted the needle for drawing the blood. As agents of the migra ran across the street and sidewalk, Sierra jumped up, tore off the tourniquet, pulled the needle out of his vein and ran.

Sierra escaped and made it home. Shaken by his experience and determined never to forget his friends who were deported, he wrote a song.

I'm going to sing you a story, friends
that will make you cry,
how one day in front of K-Mart
the migra came down on us,
sent by the sheriff
of this very same place [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, November 27, 2009

NYC, Dec. 1: Immigration Reform Discussion

Immigration Reform 2010: On the Agenda or Falling Behind?

A discussion featuring:

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America’s Voice
Marc Rosenblum, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute
Theodore Ruthizer, Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and Lecturer-in-Law, Columbia University
David R. Ayón, Senior Research Associate at The Center of the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University

Moderated by:
Julia Preston, National Immigration Correspondent, The New York Times

Sponsored by: LASA & The Migration Working Group

Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: 15th Floor, Room 1501

Columbia University International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lou Dobbs Comes Out for Legalization

Dobbs Reaches Out to Latinos, With Politics in Mind
by Peter Wallsten, Wall Street Journal
November 25, 2009

Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, pondering a future in politics, is trying to wipe away his image as an enemy of Latino immigrants by positioning himself as a champion of that fast-growing ethnic bloc.

Mr. Dobbs, who left the network last week, has said in recent days that he is considering a third-party run for a New Jersey Senate seat in 2012, or possibly for president. Polls show voters unhappy with both parties, and strategists believe Mr. Dobbs could tap populist anger over economy issues just as Ross Perot did in the 1990s.

First, though, Mr. Dobbs is working to repair what a spokesman conceded is a glaring flaw: His reputation for antipathy toward Latino immigrants. In a little-noticed interview Friday, Mr. Dobbs told Spanish-language network Telemundo he now supports a plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers, a stance he long lambasted as an unfair "amnesty." [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anti-Immigrant 'Tea Party' Confronted in St. Paul

By Staff, Fight Back! News
November 15, 2009

St. Paul, MN - On November 14, immigrant rights activists in the Twin Cities confronted a "tea party" rally of about 40 right wing anti-immigrant extremists at the Minnesota State Capitol. The anti-immigrant "tea party against amnesty" was in opposition to immigration reform legislation that may be introduced soon in the U.S. Congress, which might provide legalization for some undocumented immigrants. The tea party organizers oppose any legalization and instead support repressive mass deportations of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The anti-immigrant extremists gathered to hear speakers and held signs with messages such as "If You Are Illegal Go Home" and "Pack Their Sack and Send Them Back."

However their message did not go unopposed. They were confronted by about 30 immigrant rights activists standing up for legalization and full equality for all regardless of immigration status. [...]

Read the full article:


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mexican Layoffs, U.S. Immigration: The Missing Link

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
November 22, 2009

On the night of October 10, Mexican police and soldiers occupied installations of Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LFC), the publicly owned electric company that provided power to Mexico City and the surrounding states. A few minutes later, center-right Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa decreed the company's liquidation, merging it with the national power company, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The liquidation meant layoffs for most of the LFC's 44,000 active employees and possibly the destruction of their union, the 95-year-old Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME).

President Calderón's move provoked fierce controversies and massive demonstrations in Mexico, but there was little reaction in the U.S. media, except in business publications.

The LFC liquidation will end "[b]loated payrolls, inherited jobs and massive pension benefits," Investor's Business Daily reported. "The union is howling, but the shutdown is one of the best things to happen to Mexico." [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

White House Plan on Immigration Includes Legal Status

by Julia Preston, New York Times
November 13, 2009

The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Friday.

In her first major speech on the overhaul, Ms. Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration — with health care, energy and other major issues crowding its agenda — would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after midterm elections next November.

Laying out the administration’s bottom line, Ms. Napolitano said officials would argue for a “three-legged stool” that includes tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who hire them and a streamlined system for legal immigration, as well as a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status.” [...]

Read the full article:

Napolitano's "three-legged stool" is similar to the "three pillars" Tamar Jacoby outlined in a New York presentation last spring, except that Jacoby made it clear that the "most important" of the three pillars was a guest worker program:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1,200 janitors fired in 'quiet' immigration raid

by Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio
November 9, 2009

Minneapolis — One of the largest immigration crackdowns under the Obama administration to date took place in the Twin Cities last month, when 1,200 undocumented janitors were fired from their jobs, according to immigration lawyers.

The janitors worked for ABM, a San Francisco-based contract company that cleans many downtown office towers in the Twin Cities.

The Obama administration has shifted away from the dramatic workplace raids that were a hallmark of the Bush administration's enforcement strategy. Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security says it is putting pressure on employers who break the law. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Dallas, Tickets for Not Speaking English

New York Times from Associated Press
October 24, 2009

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas police officers have improperly cited drivers for not being able to speak English 38 times in the past three years, Chief David Kunkle said Friday.
The discovery came after a woman was pulled over earlier this month for making an illegal U-turn and was given a ticket for being a “non-English-speaking driver.”

Chief Kunkle said the citations were disappointing for Dallas, a city where Hispanics make up 44 percent of the more than one million residents and where many other residents are Southeast Asian refugees.

“I was, I guess, surprised and stunned,” the chief said of the ticketing. “We are a very diverse community.” [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Obama’s Dirty War On Immigrants

by Shamus Cooke, Upside Down World
October 26, 2009

Under Bush, immigrant communities lived in a constant state of fear. “Homeland Security” agents terrorized citizens and workers alike, arresting anyone who appeared Latino or lacked ID. Families were separated, children left parentless, property abandoned, and long-lasting relationships severed.

This scenario has changed only slightly under Obama, and some say for the worst. Obama’s campaign promise of undoing Bush’s immigration strategy was, like nearly every other promise he’s made, a blatant lie. Instead, he’s adopted the “enforcement first” immigration approach: John McCain’s campaign platform which Obama once mocked. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Young Immigrant Women: Pick Your Poison

by Prerna Lal, Immigrant Rights
October 26, 2009

Immigrant women migrating to the United States now have the option to choose between either Gardasil or Cervarix for their required vaccination against sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).

The vaccine is mandatory for women 15 to 26 entering the U.S. as part of their immigrant application process. It does little to prevent HPV and uses young immigrant women as guinea pigs for experimenting vaccines without incurring the expense of clinical trials. The burden of cost falls squarely on immigrant women and neither vaccines are covered by most insurance companies. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Death in Texas: Profits, poverty, and immigration converge

Galindo’s father broke down, "We don’t understand how there can be so little humanity. . . . It was so cruel, and he died sick and afraid."

by Tom Barry, Boston Review
November/December 2009

County Clerk Dianne Florez noticed it first. Plumes of smoke were rising outside the small West Texas town of Pecos. “The prison is burning again,” she announced.

About a month and a half before, on December 12, 2008, inmates had rioted to protest the death of one of their own, Jesus Manuel Galindo, 32. When Galindo’s body was removed from the prison in what looked to them like a large black trash bag, they set fire to the recreational center and occupied the exercise yard overnight. Using smuggled cell phones, they told worried family members and the media about poor medical care in the prison and described the treatment of Galindo, who had been in solitary confinement since mid-November. During that time, fellow inmates and his mother, who called the prison nearly every day, had warned authorities that Galindo needed daily medication for epilepsy and was suffering from severe seizures in the “security housing unit,” which the inmates call the “hole.” [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Immigrant activist leaves sanctuary after nearly two years

by Pepe Lozano, People's Weekly World
October 20, 2009

CHICAGO - Flor Crisostomo is a well-known immigrant rights activist here who spent nearly two years in sanctuary at the Adalberto United Methodist Church on the city's northwest side. In a prepared statement released Oct. 19, Crisostomo announced she has left the church in order to begin the next phase in her struggle for immigration reform and the rights of indigenous communities.

In a written letter Crisostomo said, "I am writing today to inform my supporters and all undocumented people concerned with this struggle that I am no longer in sanctuary, but have moved to a different location."

She continues, "The decision to move was prompted by my realization that after two years my sanctuary had begun to lose its political effectiveness for the immigrant rights movement." [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ICE Program Under Fire

by Jessica Weisberg, The Nation
October 14, 2009

A white bus pulled into Mariposa Port, the corridor between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico; and its passengers, mostly men, filed out of the vehicle and walked along the edge of the southbound highway. They had just been deported. Down the road, inside a plywood shack with a sign hanging in the doorway that reads "for migrants," Jesuit priests and few volunteers serve a warm dinner every evening at 5.

On a recent night, a hundred people came to eat; they squeezed around three long tables. Among them was a young man with gold streaks in his hair and thick black eyeliner that had smeared on his cheekbones. He went by the name Perla and explained that local police started questioning him outside a gay bar in Phoenix. They asked to see his identification card, and when he showed them one from Mexico they took him into the station. He was deported a month later. Perla attended both middle and high school in Phoenix and was anxious to get back. He tried but was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers while trudging through the Arizona desert. He planned to try again, he said, but next time he would pay a coyote, a professional smuggler. His hands trembled as he slowly picked at his dinner.

At the next table sat Jorge, a lanky 23-year-old who had been living in California and working in construction. He was driving home from a job when local police pulled him over for a broken tail light and checked his immigration status. "I had a clean record. I paid taxes," said Jorge, who had been living in the United States for ten years. "They only pulled me over because they saw a Latino." [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, October 26, 2009

What's the Border Fence Good for? Subsidizing Mexican Scrap Metal Entrepreneurs

by Yasha Levine, AlterNet
September 28, 2009

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a depressing audit of the US-Mexico border fence we’ve been trying to put up for the past three years. The report caused about 8 hours of pretend outrage and was promptly forgotten. It found that we’d already shoveled $2.4 billion to half-seal 600 miles of the border since 2005 (we still have about 100 to 200 miles to go) and we would need to spend an additional $6.5 billion over the next 20 years just plugging up holes punched in the fencing.

The Christian Science Monitor:

So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair. . . . Despite the price tag of maintaining the border fence, authorities have not found a way to determine whether it is helping to halt illegal immigration, the GAO report says.

The only semi-relevant stats we got are the number of illegal border border-crossers being caught by the US Border Patrol, which has dropped by 25 percent in recent times. But that doesn’t tell us much. “No one knows whether the decrease in crossers is due to the recession keeping people home, the thousands of new border patrol agents or the more than 600 miles of new border fence that has been built,” says NPR. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Indigenous Rights Speaker in Long Island, Oct. 27-30

Ana Maria Garcia Arreola, an indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico will be speaking at five Long Island venues next week. This tour is organized by Witness for Peace and the Hagedorn Foundation, in partnership with the many local organizations that are hosting Ana Maria all over Long Island. Below is the tour schedule. Please circulate widely.

For more information, go to:

1) Panel: “The Immigrant Experience Today,” sponsored/hosted by Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare, Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Student Activities Center Auditorium, Stony Brook University. Panelists are Ana María García Arreola, indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico, “Why We Migrate: Stories of Mexico’s Displaced, “ Heidi Beirich, Southern Poverty Law Center, “Climate of Fear: Latino Immigrants in Suffolk County, NY,” and Jaya Vasandani, Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, “Constitution on ICE: A Report on Immigration Home Raid Operations.”

2) Ana María García Arreola, indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico: “Why We Migrate: Stories of Mexico’s Displaced,” sponsored/hosted by Adelphi University’s Center for Social Innovation, Tuesday, October 27, 3-4:30 p.m., Adelphi University Campbell Lounge, Center for Recreation and Sport.

3) Ana María García Arreola, indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico: “Why We Migrate: Stories of Mexico’s Displaced,” sponsored/hosted by Long Island Teachers for Human Rights, Jobs with Justice-Long Island, and Long Island Wins, Wednesday, October 28, 3:30-5 p.m, Greenhouse in basement of Student Center, Hofstra University.

4) Ana María García Arreola, indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico: “Why We Migrate: Stories of Mexico’s Displaced,” sponsored/hosted by Shinnecock Tribal Council, OLA of Eastern Long Island, and Eastern Long Island NAACP, Wednesday, October 28, 7-9 p.m, Southampton High School Auditorium, 141 Narrow Lane, Southampton.

5) Ana María García Arreola, indigenous rights activist from Oaxaca, Mexico: “Why We Migrate: Stories of Mexico’s Displaced,” sponsored/hosted by the Social Justice Committee—Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock and Reach Out America, Friday, October 30, 7:30 p.m., Social Hall, UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset.

New Report Documents Trail of Human Rights Violations Against Immigrants

"Guilty by Immigration Status" assails troubling rise in racial profiling, immigrant detentions that undermine promise of reform

Oakland, CA , October 6, 2009: A new report reveals that immigration policing is causing a disturbing pattern of abuses and human rights violations that threaten the livelihood and safety of entire families, workers and communities. Guilty by Immigration Status: A report on U.S. violations of the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities in 2008 calls for restoring due process and suspending detentions and deportations, and urges a thorough investigation into immigration enforcement practices.

The report was produced by HURRICANE, the Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network, an initiative of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR).

Guilty by Immigration Status details how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built up over the last eight years an "immigration control regime," whose goal is to deport everyone who can be deported. According to the report, DHS is almost exclusively promoting the criminalization of immigration status to detain and deport persons, often for minor offenses.

Catherine Tactaquin, NNIRR director, spoke to the urgent need to address the numerous problems revealed in the report: "Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Luis Gutierrez have each said they will soon announce their proposals for key immigration reforms. But unless the components of this regime are halted and dismantled, the long-held promise of immigration reform -- the lifting of millions of immigrant workers and their families out of a life of fear and exploitation -- will be severely undermined."

Record Number Jailed Solely for Immigration Status
Guilty by Immigration Status describes how DHS, along with other police, public officials and agencies, routinely trumped the civil rights and constitutional protections of a person in order to question, detain and/or jail them solely based on their actual or perceived immigration status. The report also shows that such DHS detentions are taking place in record numbers, along with the relentless militarizing and policing of the immigrant and border communities.

Laura Rivas, coordinator of the HURRICANE initiative, said, "ICE police is unaccountable for the brutal treatment they exact on people for alleged immigration offenses. We have the case of Mr. Rebhy Abdel-Malak, an Egyptian; ICE agents beat him in an Atlanta cell and forced him to sign away his rights in order to deport him. ICE agents forced a pen into his hands and made him sign a document as they sat on him!

"In Sacramento, California, ICE stormed into the home of the Sarabia family, arresting a mother and, without a warrant, her son. ICE deported them literally overnight and dumped them in the streets of Tijuana like so much refuse, without letting the family know of there whereabouts." She added, "Hundreds of persons are dying on the border, where the border control strategy deliberately funnels migrants into the desert and puts border communities under siege. It's a deadly crossing for migrants because of the extreme weather and being hunted by vigilantes."

Guilty by Immigration Status is the second annual report of HURRICANE. The findings are drawn from 141 stories of human rights abuse reported and documented by HURRICANE members and partners, including 25 interviews offering first-hand testimony from immigrant workers, families and community members directly affected by immigration enforcement policies and practices in 2008. The HURRICANE report also tracked 118 incidents of ICE immigration enforcement operations or high profile raids through extensive documentation from newspaper articles, scholarly journals, advocate reports, and interviews with affected persons, along with reporting by community groups and other institutions. [See links below to read the report and the chronologies of human rights abuses and ICE raids.]

According to Ms. Rivas, "The Sarabia and Abdel-Malak families are not isolated cases. We believe the Department of Homeland Security must be held accountable and the abuses investigated. DHS is putting the rights and lives of immigrant and refugee members of our communities at risk.

"The first step to ending this crisis is restoring due process rights and other constitutional protections. President Obama must suspend all detentions and deportations so that those who have violated rights and committed abuses are held accountable. Fair and humane immigration reforms can be achieved, but only by revitalizing our country's commitment to justice and equality for all persons, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status."

Read Guilty by Immigration Status at

Read the 2008 100 Stories Chronology of Abuses at

Read the 2008 chronology of ICE enforcement operations, or raids, at

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Border Deaths Are Increasing

Rise Is Despite Fewer Crossers, U.S. and Mexican Groups Say
by Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post
September 30, 2009

Despite a 50 percent drop over the past two years in the number of people caught illegally entering the United States from Mexico, the number of those who died while trying to cross the border increased this year and is the highest since 2006, according to new U.S. data and a study by human rights groups in both countries.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Mexico's human rights agency allege that consistently high numbers of border deaths -- hovering around 350 to 500 a year, depending on which government's figures are used -- are a predictable but largely unrecognized result of border security policies.

"Border deaths have increased despite the economic downturn, fewer migrant crossers, and a steady drop in apprehensions," Mexico's National Human Rights Commission and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California say in a report set for release Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. The rising fatality rates "signal an escalating humanitarian crisis that is not going away and requires more effective governmental responses," the groups say.

Read the full article:

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Great Wall of Boeing Revisited

Scathing Report on Border Security Is Issued
by Randal C. Archibold, New York Times
September 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES — Government auditors reported Thursday that the effort to secure the Mexican border with technology and fences has fallen years behind schedule, will cost billions of dollars extra in maintenance costs and has no clear means of gauging whether illegal crossings have been curtailed.

Mark Borkowski, who directs the Secure Border Initiative for the Department of Homeland Security, stood by the program as “transformational,” but did not challenge the findings. “We are as frustrated as anybody is” with the setbacks, Mr. Borkowski said in an interview. [...]

Read the full article:

Editorial: Border Fantasies
New York Times
September 21, 2009

Members of Congress who voted for the Southwest border fence as the fix for illegal immigration professed shock — shock at the news that the project is running years behind, and billions of dollars ahead, of the Bush administration’s early, rosy projections.

Auditors reported last week that the high-tech, 28-mile “virtual” section of the fence was running a mere seven years behind this month’s planned opening. Initially, designers talked of using off-the-shelf technology for the radar, cameras and other sensors, but problems cropped up. (Imagine, discovering that cameras tremble in rough weather.) “I’m trying to figure out why this is so difficult,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas. “These are basically cameras on a pole.” [...]

Read the full editorial:

According to both the article and the editorial, the US General Accountability Office says it could cost $6.5 billion to maintain the fence over the next 20 years. Actually, this is an estimate from a contractor. For an estimate from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, see:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Troubled "E-Verify" Program Highlights Dysfunctional Immigration System

by Michelle Chen, In These Times
September 14, 2009

Even before they became the paper tiger in the healthcare reform circus, undocumented immigrants were Washington's favorite boogeyman in the politics surrounding the federal stimulus.

To quell paranoia about Americans' hard-earned tax dollars getting misspent, the Obama administration is requiring federal contractors to use the E-verify system for screening workers' immigration status. The new mandate was drawn up by the Bush administration, but never implemented until now.

The controversial program, which lets employers cross-check workers through Social Security Administration and Homeland Security databases, will be imposed on about 169,000 contractors and subcontractors under the plan. But E-verify has attracted criticism over the years as ineffective, discriminatory, and threatening to workers' rights.

So much for combating waste, fraud and abuse. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Equality Is Never Having To Say You Are Sorry

by Jean Pfaelzer, The Globalist
September 7, 2009

In celebrating Labor Day, the United States honors the struggle for honorable working conditions. In this two-part series, Jean Pfaelzer — author of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans — discusses the cruel irony of a nation apologizing for past immigrant abuses at the same time as it perpetrates new ones.

As the United States observes Labor Day this year on September 7, apologies for labor abuses, anti-labor violence, and slavery are flowing in from states like Maryland, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, California and New Jersey.

On a national level, the U. S. Senate has also just apologized for slavery.

For instance, California has passed a resolution “deeply regretting” 150 years of violence against Chinese Americans. Adding to the momentum for recognition and regret, in late August 2009, California Assemblymen Mike Eng and Kevin de Leon called for a “Day of Inclusion” to mark December 17, 1943.

On that day, the United States finally repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It was the first U.S. law that banned immigration by race. [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Undocumented Immigrants and Health Care

by Emile Schepers, Political Affairs
September 13, 2009

The way the issue of undocumented immigrants has been wielded as a weapon in the health care debate is an indicator of how far this country has backslid on the immigration issue since the giant immigrants’ rights marches of 2006 and 2007. All we hear and see is the Republicans claiming that undocumented immigrants will, too, be covered by the Democrats’ health insurance plans, and the Democrats responding that, no, they will not be covered.

Who is standing up for sick immigrant workers and their families?

There is an unstated subtext of agreement on both sides that undocumented immigrants do not deserve, and should not have, health insurance. Even some progressive commentators, eager to defend the Obama administration’s health care reform from the attacks of the paranoid ultra-right, get a little too enthusiastic in their celebration of the fact that sick undocumented immigrants won’t be covered unless they somehow have the money to pay for private insurance out of their own pockets.

They talk and write as if not covering the undocumented were a self-evidently a good thing. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mejia-Reyes Deportation Delayed

Novato couple to testify at son's hearing,
Oct. 22
by Ronnie Cohen, Pacific Sun (Marin County)
October 13, 2009

A Novato couple facing deportation to their native Guatemala will be allowed to stay in California until the end of the month so they can testify at their 18-year-old son's deportation hearing on Oct. 22. The attorney for Elida Perez and Salvador "Sam" Mejia-Reyes said immigration officials agreed to extend the deportation date until Nov. 2 for the couple, who have lived in Marin County for 17 years. But the attorney, Marc Van Der Hout, said the couple's best hope for being able to remain in the U.S. with their American-born 13-year-old and 4-year-old daughters was shattered when Senator Dianne Feinstein declined to write a so-called private bill to spare them deportation to the country they fled during a civil war in 1992. "We are still going to continue to make all efforts to keep the family here," Van Der Hout said. The only road open to Perez and Mejia-Reyes, however, appears to be the one back to Guatemala.

Novato family fights deportation
by Jim Welte, Contra Costa Times
October 11, 2009

The parents of a family of five are facing deportation on Tuesday. On Thursday they stand in their Novato home. Left to right are Elida Perez, Gilbert Mejia-Perez, 18, Helen Mejia-Perez, 13, Dulce Mejia-Perez, 4, and Salvador Mejia. As a boy, Gilbert Mejia-Perez of Novato went to work with his father Salvador, a carpenter. He learned the tools of the trade, but as Mejia-Perez got older, he developed higher aspirations. Instead of helping to build and remodel homes, he wanted to design them himself. Now 18 and in his first semester at Santa Rosa Junior College, Mejia-Perez is on his way to fulfilling his dream.

But barring an unforeseen reversal from immigration officials, Mejia-Perez will be pursuing that dream in Guatemala, the country he left with his parents when he was 1 year old.

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sign the Petition for Ibrahim Parlak

Speaking up for Ibrahim
by Citizens for Ibrahim, South Bend Tribune
October 6, 2009

The organization Citizens for Ibrahim is collecting signatures for a petition that asks President Barack Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder to drop deportation proceedings against Ibrahim Parlak.

The group first said it hoped to collect 1,000 names in 100 days. But that was too easy. It got that many names in the first week. So it has upped the target to 2,000 names. We think the new goal, too, will be readily achieved. To sign, go to the Web site

Word of Parlak's dilemma has spread far and wide. The federal government once gave Parlak asylum after he was imprisoned and tortured in Turkey for separatist activities. But in the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been bent on deporting him. Most recently, he lost an appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is contemplating his next move. [...]

Read the full article:

Free Ibrahim
by Geoffrey R. Stone, Huffington Post
October 4, 2009

Ibrahim Parlak is a Kurd who was born and raised in southeastern Turkey. As a young man, he became active in the Kurdish human rights movement both in Turkey and Europe. He was arrested in Turkey in 1988 and held incommunicado and tortured repeatedly in three different Turkish police stations.

He was then tried and convicted of "separatist activities" by one of the notorious Turkish security courts. After serving a sixteen-month sentence, he was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1992 on the ground that he had "established a well-founded fear of persecution" if he were to return to Turkey. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Denuncia ‘guerra sucia’ de migra

Activista chileno: quieren deportarme por pasado de izquierdas en dictadura

Por Carmen Alarcón, El Diario-La Prensa (NY)
9 de septiembre, 2009

Nueva York — La sorpresa que recibió el chileno Víctor Toro Ramírez fue un documento del gobierno estadounidense interfiriendo en su caso por los nexos políticos de éste hace 36 años en Chile.

Toro, de 65 años, quien fue arrestado por agentes de inmigración a bordo de un tren de Amtrak en Rochester, Nueva York, en julio del 2007, y enfrenta una orden de deportación, está luchando por lograr asilo político.

Sin embargo, las razones políticas por las que fue perseguido en Chile durante la dictadura de Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) son las mismas que hoy están utilizando en su contra. [...]

Lea el artículo entero:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Disorder on the Border: Trashing the Law in the Name of Immigration Deterrence

By Randall Amster, CommonDreams
September 8, 2009

In two recent criminal cases in the United States, defendants received similar sentences for very different sorts of actions. In the first, a young man was convicted of negligent homicide for texting while driving and killing two scientists in the process. The New York Times reported [1] on the case and the sentence meted out to the young man:

"He pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent homicide, but his record will be cleared if he fulfills the sentence imposed by the judge. It included 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, and a requirement that he read Les Misérables to learn, like the book's character Jean Valjean, how to make a contribution to society."

In the second case, another young man received a sentence of 300 hours of community service, one year of probation, and a one-year ban from a large swath of land on the U.S.-Mexico border. His crime? Leaving jugs of water in the desert for would-be border crossers, in an attempt to help prevent deaths. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Case by case, activists fight deportations

Immigrant students benefiting from blitz

By Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe
September 7, 2009

A few months ago, Herta Llusho was just another college student. Then the government ordered her deported, and Llusho became an Internet celebrity almost overnight.

An army of supporters - including more than 2,800 Facebook fans, and counting - quickly launched a campaign on her behalf, and the 20-year-old immigrant from Albania recently won a three-month reprieve to remain in the United States. Now, she has become so popular that a stranger in Michigan recently spotted her in a restaurant and said, “Hey, you’re the girl that they’ve been talking about.’’

The bespectacled honor student is the third young person in the past few weeks to successfully delay deportation amid extraordinary public campaigns that combined grass-roots organizing with online social networking. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NYC, 9/9: Press Conference--Echoes of the Dirty War; Anti-Immigrant Agenda Hits New York

New Documents in the Victor Toro Case

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has started a defamation campaign against Victor Toro and Chile's Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR). DHS has submitted a series of documents which seek to defame Victor Toro and MIR. The documents have been submitted to the US federal immigration court which presides over the case of Victor Toro, who is facing deportation proceedings and is scheduled for a final hearing on January 11, 2010.

There appears to be a strategy on the part of DHS which consists of using the US immigration laws to persecute progressive people throughout the United States. Recently, a former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Pol Brennan, was deported despite having lived over 25 years in the United States.

In response to this strategy of the US government, there will be a press conference during which copies of the documents submitted against Victor Toro will be distributed. In addition to Victor Toro, those present will include:

Ramsey Clark, Former Attorney General of the United States
Professor J. Patrice McSherry, author of the book Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America
Carlos Moreno, Esq., Victor Toro’s Attorney
Labor Leaders and political activists will also be present.

Date: September 9, 2009
Time: 11:00 am
Place: International Action Center
55 West 17th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY
Between 5th & 6th Avenues
(212) 633-6646

* * *

Conferencia de Prensa
Ecos de la Guerra Sucia
Agenda Anti-Inmigrante Llega a New York
Nuevos Documentos en Caso Victor Toro

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de Los Estados Unidos(DHS) ha lanzado una campana en contra del historico ex preso politico chileno, Victor Toro, y del Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). La campana ha sido presentada como parte del procedimiento que se le sigue a Victor Toro en la corte federal de inmigracion de Manhattan y que tendra una audiencia final el 11 de Enero del proximo ano.

El character agresivo y defamatorio de los documentos presentados contra Victor Toro y el MIR ha causado gran preocupacion en la comunidad inmigrante y los grupos progresistas de todos el pais. Parece haber una agenda de disenada a usar las leyes de inmigracion para perseguir a personas progresistas como Victor Toro. Recientemente, un ex-miembro del Ejercito Republicano Irlandes (IRA), Pol Brennan, fue deportado a pesar de haber vivido mas de 25 anos en los Estados Unidos.

En respuesta a este estrategia del gobierno se llevara a cabo una conferencia de prensa en la que se distribuiran copias de los documentos presentados contra Victor Toro y en la que participaran, ademas de Victor Toro:

Ramsey Clark, Ex-Procurador General de los Estados Unidos
Profesora J. Patrice McSherry, autora del libro Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America
Carlos Moreno, Esq., Abogado de Victor Toro
Ademas reprentantes sindicales y activistas politicos.

Fecha: Septiembre 9, 2009
Hora: 11:00 am
Lugar: International Action Center
55 West 17th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY
Entre 5ta y 6ta Avenidas
(212) 633-6646

Monday, September 7, 2009

Health Care Debate Revives Immigration Battle

By Julia Preston, New York Times
September 5, 2009

The Obama administration took an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws off its legislative agenda this year, but the prickly issue of public benefits for illegal immigrants has resurfaced in the health care debate.

During the summer recess, members of Congress faced persistent questions from constituents worried that health care changes could leave taxpayers footing medical bills for illegal immigrants. President Obama has not been able to extinguish the doubts despite giving repeated assurances that illegal immigrants would be excluded from any subsidized benefits under proposals before Congress. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, September 4, 2009

183 Remains Recovered in Arizona

Five Weeks Left in the Fiscal Year, the Count Has Already Reached Last Year’s Total

For Immediate Release
August 28, 2009
Contact: Kat Rodriguez: 520.770.1373

Arizona— The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2008 has reached 183 three weeks into the month of August. With five weeks left in the fiscal year, the count has already reached the fiscal year total for 2007-08. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of July, 162 human remains were recovered—this figure does not reflect any of the 21 remains recovered through August 24th.

The compilation of data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of irresponsible U.S. border and immigration policies. The count of 183 includes 121 males, 27 females, and 34 individuals of unknown gender (19% of the total). The number includes 98 individuals of unknown identity, which is approximately 54% of the total recovered. The identification of at least 29 of the unknown individuals is hampered by the fact that only skeletal remains were recovered. The remains of 168 individuals had been recovered at the same time last fiscal year. [...]

Read the full press release:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Woman facing deportation remains at Simi church

By Jacky Guerrero and Tom Kisken, Ventura County (CA) Star
August 23, 2009

Two years ago today, an illegal immigrant threatened with deportation found sanctuary at a tiny church in Simi Valley. The news is there is no news.

A deadlock that once involved television cameras, city officials who wrote to the Department of Homeland Security, and protesters with bullhorns continues, although few people pay attention.

A 31-year-old woman from Oxnard named Liliana, accused of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen during a failed attempt to enter the country a decade ago, remains on church property 730 days after she arrived with her then-5-month-old son. She stayed there when her uncle died and when her father was in the hospital with prostate cancer, fearful leaving even for a few hours could mean deportation.

As they have from the beginning, immigration authorities say only that they have the right to arrest lawbreakers at what they call appropriate times and places. They have made no visible effort to contact Liliana.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says

By Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
September 1, 2009

Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week. [...]

According to the study, 39 percent of those surveyed were illegal immigrants, 31 percent legal immigrants and 30 percent native-born Americans. [...]

Read the full article:

Read the study:

Join the Effort to End the 287(g) Program

This week, 521 organizations from around the country -- civil rights, criminal justice, community and immigrant rights organizations – joined together to send a letter to President Obama urging him to terminate the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) widely criticized 287(g) program, which relinquishes the authority to enforce civil federal immigration law to local enforcement and corrections officials.

Please add your voice to this demand by sending President Obama an e-mail in support of the demand to terminate the 287(g) program and to restore fundamental fairness for all in our immigration enforcement policy. Your e-mail also will be sent to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and your US Senator and Congressperson.

Go to:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NYC, 8/26: Support Victor Toro

[Espanol abajo]

Come Out in Support of Victor Toro!!
Protest ICE & Department of Homeland Security
Demand Political Asylum for Toro, No to Deportation

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Noon–3 pm
26 Federal Plaza
Corner of Worth & Lafayette
New York City

Victor Toro is a Chilean activist in the Bronx who fought against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Toro is one of tens of thousands of immigrants who are racially profiled and targeted for deportation unjustly and unfairly.

If Toro is deported back to his homeland he not only faces repression but the possibility of death as the repressive forces trained by Pinochet still operate in Chile.

Join the Victor Toro Defense Committee & the May 1st Coalition in demanding political asylum for Victor Toro.

For more information call 718.292.6137 or email * * * Salgan en

* * *
Apoyo de Victor Toro!!
Demandamos Asilo Político Ahora
No a la Deportación de Victor!

Miércoles, 26 de Agosto, 2009
12 pm –3 pm
26 Federal Plaza
Esquina de Worth & Lafayette
Ciudad de Nueva York

Unanse con el Comité de Victor Toro y la Coalicion Primero de Mayo para demandar asilo político para Victor

Para más información llame al 718.292.6137 o envíe email a

Monday, August 24, 2009

White House moves to placate immigration reform advocates

A surprise appearance by President Obama at a meeting this week helps pacify some, but calls for action rather than oratory continue.

By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
August 22, 2009

Immigrant rights activists said Friday that a White House meeting this week to reaffirm support for immigration reform -- featuring a surprise appearance by President Obama -- had helped mollify growing frustration over what some perceived as backpedaling on reform promises.

But many said that action will be needed to keep the faith among immigrants and their supporters, particularly Latinos who turned out in record numbers to help elect Obama last year. [...]

Read the full article:,0,5487785.story

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update on Herta Llusho--Aug. 19

The immigration authorities have granted Herta Llusho an order of supervision until November 9, 2009. This means they still intend to deport her but won't attempt to do it until November, giving her and her supporters more time to push for deferred action.

Below is a posting from today's SEIU action site:

Tell DHS and ICE: Do Not Deport Herta!

Number of letters sent: 2,772
Goal: 5,000
We are 55% of the way to sending 5,000 letters

ICE has granted Herta an order of supervision until November 9, 2009, but she is still facing deportation.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Herta will still have to report back to ICE on November 9th, and that’s not good enough

DHS and ICE need to grant Herta deferred action on her deportation.

Help us reach our goal of 5,000 letters by the end of the week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Update on RoxRoy's Case--Aug. 18

Update, 1 pm, August 18, 2009

As of 8 am this morning, the Department of Homeland Security had turned down numerous requests for RoxRoy Salmon's deportation to be deferred. It is not clear at this point what the government's next move will be, and we may not know for some time. We will pass on new information as we receive it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

URGENT: Keep RoxRoy and Herta Where They Belong--in the U.S.

This week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to spend our tax money deporting longtime New York resident RoxRoy Salmon and 19-year-old Michigan student Herta Llusho.

The reason is legislation that the politicians pushed through Congress in 1996 to convince their constituents that they were "tough on crime and illegal immigration."

Salmon's problem with the immigration code comes from drug charges brought against him in 1979 and 1989. Although he maintained his innocence, his legal representatives advised him to cop the pleas, a common practice among young men of color in New York City; he never served a day in prison. Llusho was brought to the United States by her family when she was 11; the family has spent the past seven years trying unsuccessfully to get legal status for her. Before 1996, immigration judges could exercise discretion in cases like these; now they have no choice but to order deportation.

It is outrageous for people to be exiled from their homes, families and communities because of Kafkaesque provisions in the immigration laws. It is doubly outrageous with people like these. RoxRoy Salmon is a mainstay of his community in Brooklyn, while Herta Llusho is an excellent student working hard to become an electrical engineer. They are just the sort of people we want to have here with us in the United States. Their communities understand this and have shown it with an outpouring of support.

Salmon and Llusho have no more legal options through the courts, but the immigration authorities can still defer their deportations and give Congress members time to act, either through private legislation or, better, by finally reforming our whole surreal immigration system. President Obama came into office promising change. So far, his administration has followed George Bush's deportation policies, even though he admits we need a better system. Ideally, the administration should declare a moratorium on deportations until new laws are passed, but at the very least, the authorities need to delay the removal of people like Salmon and Llusho.

Below are action suggestions from Salmon and Llusho's supporters. We urge you to join us in working to keep them where they belong--at home in Brooklyn and at school in Detroit.

Jane Guskin
David L. Wilson


RoxRoy Salmon is a Brooklyn father and community activist resisting deportation so that he can remain with his US citizen family. RoxRoy has been ordered to report for deportation this Tuesday morning, August 18, 2009. For the past week his family, defense team, and lawyer have been working with people of influence to delay or halt this process. Although several options are still open, we are very worried because as of today we still have no guarantee that RoxRoy will be safe when he reports.

We urgently need your help to ensure that he is neither deported nor detained on Tuesday!

Take action for RoxRoy:

(1) Participate in a one-day national fast:
For four months, RoxRoy's supporters held a rolling fast as he fought to avoid an order of deportation. Now it is time to join together for one large unison fast. Please join us from sunup to sundown on Monday for this powerful expression of solidarity. You can report your fasting on RoxRoy's blog, , and we encourage you to testify to your motives for joining this action, and your commitment and love for Roxroy and his family.

(2) Draft an emergency fax for Monday:
If we hear nothing by early afternoon on Monday, we will send urgent alert faxes to people in government that have the power to keep RoxRoy and his family together. Please draft a letter based on the template at and check at 2 PM on Monday to see whether the faxes are needed, and where they should be sent.

(3) Spread the word:
Join Roxroy's facebook page, and tell others to do so as well. This will demonstrate visible community support in this critical hour. You can reach it here: . Once you join, you can also invite your friends to join as well.

Read more about RoxRoy:

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Herta Llusho is a 19-year-old Michigan resident who is studying electrical engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy. She writes: "I was born in Albania and was brought to the United States when I was 11 years old. With the help and support of my family, I have struggled through more than seven years of legal proceedings to find a way to stay in this country legally. Despite our best efforts, on August 19, I will be removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from the only place I know as my home. I will be sent back to a country that has become a foreign place to me. I don't even speak Albanian well anymore. My only hope of staying here is for as many people as possible to ask DHS to delay my deportation until the DREAM Act is passed."

Take Action for Herta:

1) Join the facebook group for immediate updates:

2) Sign petition, which will be hand-delivered to targets:

3) Use SEIU Click to Call Action Tool to call DHS:

4) Call Senator Carl Levin at (202) 224-6221.
Urge him to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.

5) Call Senator Stabenow at (202) 224-4822.
Urge her to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.

6) Call Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick at (202) 225-2261.
Urge her to a) introduce private bill for Herta, and b) write letter to DHS asking them to stop Herta's deportation.

Read more about Herta and watch her video: