Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Illusion of Immigrant Criminality: Getting the Numbers Wrong

by David L. Wilson, Extra!
September/October 2008

Immigrants aren't a crime problem. "The foreign-born commit considerably fewer crimes than the native-born," as President Herbert Hoover's National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement concluded in 1931 (National Lawyers Guild Quarterly, 10/39; Immigration Policy Center, Spring/07). While noncitizens now make up more than 8 percent of the U.S. population, the available evidence indicates that they account for no more than 6 or 7 percent of the people incarcerated for crimes in the United States, less than 170,000 of the 2.3 million inmates currently in our federal, state and local penal systems--not including some 30,000 immigrants in administrative detention on any given day awaiting deportation. (Politics of Immigration, 4/2/08, 5/7/08).

Why, then, do so many people believe in the myth of immigrant criminality?

One reason is the mainstream media's habit of giving inflated estimates for the number of immigrants in prison. [...]

Read the full article:

Note: One of the people discussed in the article is Indiana University economist Eric Rasmusen, who was quoted in Time magazine last year as saying that undocumented immigrants commit 21 percent of crimes in the United States. Prof. Rasmusen is back this month with another astonishing claim. He signed on to the Cato Institute's January 28 full-page ad against using job creation and infrastructure maintenance to revive the economy. "Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth," the ad assures us, as if that wasn't what we've been doing for the past 30 years.

For more on Prof. Rasmusen and the immigrant prison population:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Good News from Nashville: Diversity Not Uniformity

Linguist Geoffrey Pullum wrote that "making English the official language of the United States of America is about as urgently called for as making hotdogs the official food at baseball games."

Tom Barry, TransBorder Project
January 23, 2009

"Nashville listened to its leaders—the governor, the mayor, and a vast coalition of churches, businesses, and universities—and defeated an English-only measure by nearly 10,000 votes in Thursday's special election." That's the report from the Tennesseanthe day after the city referendum on an amendment that would have made Nashville the largest city in the nation with an "official English" law.

With financial and logistical support from the Arlington, VA-based ProEnglish, Nashville councilman Eric Crafton founded Nashville English First to spearhead a charter amendment that would have obligated the city government to conduct all government business in English. While the main case for the English-only measure was that it would save the city in translation costs, the issue of identity set the tone of the debate. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Costs of Crackdowns

Raids that target undocumented workers increasingly traumatize families left behind.

by Christopher Munsey, Monitor on Psychology
October 2008, Volume 39, No. 9

The growing number of workplace immigration raids is taking a toll on families — particularly those with young children — and psychologists are needed to help them cope with the trauma of abrupt separations, said a panel of psychologists at APA's Annual Convention.

At a session on the impact of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on families and immigrant communities, psychologists shared their own experiences in addressing families' resulting mental health needs. [...]

Read the full article at:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why They Hate Immigrant Workers, and Why We Love Them

Many of the organizing victories of the past two decades have been spearheaded by immigrant workers, from the great Justice for Janitors campaigns in Los Angeles and other urban areas to little victories in local restaurants and corner greengrocer stores.

by David L. Wilson, MRzine
January 26, 2009

On Tuesday, December 9, the anti-immigrant lobbyists at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) held a press conference in downtown Washington, DC to promote their "Immigration Reform Agenda for the 111th Congress."

The press conference followed the new line that groups like FAIR have adopted since the financial crisis broke out last September. Undocumented immigrants "played an important role" in the crisis, FAIR president Dan Stein insisted. "[T]he recent economic downturn" has made the "fiscal cost of immigration . . . even more burdensome to the American taxpayer," FAIR's handout announced, warning that Congress needs to "take special care to protect the American worker by restricting the amount of cheap, foreign labor that is allowed to compete with U.S. workers." [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Contract Awards Increase for All 10 Top DHS Vendors

Boeing got $617,213,996 in contracts for its "virtual fence" on the border during fiscal 2008.

By Jacob Goodwin, Government Security News
January 16th, 2009

The roster of leading suppliers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during fiscal year 2008 seems to have solidified, with seven of the Top 10 companies from last year's list re-appearing on this year's Top 10 list as well.

The corporate faces may be familiar, but their sales successes seem to have swelled in FY2008, with total revenues received by each of the Top 10 positions showing a marked increase over the amount of money the same position took in during the previous year. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

NAFTA Boosted Mexican Immigration: Study

World War 4 Report
January 24, 2009

The largest surge ever in legal and unauthorized Mexican migration to the US began after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, according to sociologist James W. Russell, who studied migration patterns between 1910 and 2008 for his new book, Class and Race Formation in North America (University of Toronto Press, 2009).

In 1990, before NAFTA went into effect, 13.6% of Mexican-origin persons in the three countries of North America—the US, Mexico and Canada—lived in the United States. By 2000, after the entry into force of NAFTA, that percentage jumped to 17.5—the largest ever ten-year increase. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Immigration Reform Debate Must Regain a Moral Compass

If we have learned anything from the civil rights struggle we are about to commemorate on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, it is that sometimes we have to go against what pundits and pollsters say and simply do what is right.

Roberto Lovato, New America Media
January 15, 2009

NEW YORK — The buzz filling Blackberrys, busy halls and spacious deal-making rooms in Washington appears to signal that spring arrived early this year for immigrants. In the last week alone, several prominent figures—outgoing President Bush, incoming President Obama, Mexican President Calderón, Los Angeles Cardinal Mahoney, to name a few—have discussed the possibility of comprehensive immigration reform. And, as in the previous failed attempts at reform in 2006 and 2007, legalization for the more than 12 million undocumented among us occupies the center of forums, speeches and other public statements of Democratic and civic leaders in the beltway. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama Must Embrace Immigrants to Reform Economy

By Jessica Acee, Imagine 2050
January 19, 2009

The American Economy will never recover if workers are robbed of their wages. When workers suffer from wage theft, the economy feels it too. According to Kim Bobo, founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, in her new book Wage Theft in America, between two and three million workers are paid less than the minimum wage. More than three million are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors; many are not paid overtime or paid at all. Offenders range from huge corporations like Wal-Mart to small sub-contractors in the residential construction sector. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants

Allowing state residents who can pass the requisite driving tests and present valid IDs to obtain licenses is sound public policy that will lead to safer, better and insured drivers.

By Amy Gottlieb and Deborah Jacobs,
January 9, 2009

RUMORS ARE FLYING in New Jersey that Governor Corzine's blue ribbon advisory panel on immigrant policy will soon recommend that the governor support so-called "Driving Privilege Cards" for undocumented immigrants in the state.

Even without an actual recommendation or report, the media and public response has been overwhelmingly negative, bringing back memories of the backlash against N.Y. Gov. Elliot Spitzer when our neighbor state recognized the benefits of ensuring that all state residents have access to drivers' licenses. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Criminalizing Immigration: Two Views

Q&A: Erik Camayd Freixas
By Julianne Ong Hing, ColorLines
January/February 2009

The federal court interpreter gives an insider’s account of the justice system after one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history.

Read the article:

Push on Immigration Crimes Is Said to Shift Focus
By Solomon Moore, New York Times
January 11, 2009

...Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system....

Read the full article:
See also:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

INB 1/17/09: Uprising Quelled in Arizona Prison; Fugitive Raids in Dallas, Miami

Jonathan Fried, executive director of the Homestead-based community group WeCount!, said a Guatemalan woman saw agents beat her husband and throw him on the floor in front of their four-year-old daughter.

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 12, No. 1 - January 17, 2009

1. Uprising Quelled in Arizona Prison
2. Fugitive Raids in Dallas, Miami; ICE Abuses Protested
3. Pallet Company IFCO Settles Criminal Case
4. Restaurant Owners Sentenced in Kentucky, DC5. Attorney General Limits Appeals

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 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 Dec. 31, immigration detainees jailed in the South Special Housing Unit at Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona, began throwing furniture at prison staff and causing property damage in the unit, according to a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) press release cited in a local news report. At the time of the incident, there were approximately 34 detainees assigned to the Special Housing Unit. According to the news report, staff used chemical agents against the detainees to force them back into their cells. Jail officials placed the entire facility on lockdown status, meaning that detainees were restricted to their cells until further notice. [...]

Read the full INB:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Grassroots Vision for U.S. Immigration Policy—and Beyond

Now is the time to act. The status quo has shifted, and people are energized and open to new ideas.

by Jane Guskin and David Wilson, NACLA Report on the Americas
January-February 2009

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the situation for immigrants in the United States has turned increasingly insecure. Every week hundreds of immigrants are arrested in raids on their homes and workplaces. Hundreds more are arrested on the street by local police for the crime of “living while Latino” and often handed over to the immigration agency for deportation. People are detained, deported, faced with impossible choices, and then blamed for it all. Children are separated from their parents or jailed in special “family” detention centers. Workers are exploited and abused on the job, stripped of their rights to organize, then punished with federal prison sentences for complying with their employers’ demands for fake IDs. Young people who don’t remember the country where they were born are denied any options to legalize their status and are stuck without a future—as high school graduates unable to attend college, or as college graduates forced into low-wage, off-the-books labor.[...]

Read the full article:

Reasons for Immigration Reform's Failure

The well-funded, well-established, and self-assured national leaders of the immigrant-rights movement are not given to self-reflection or self-criticism despite decades of failure.

by Tom Barry, Border Lines
January 14, 2009

Liberal immigration reform failed in the Bush administration for many reasons.

The leading immigrant-rights organizations that directed the grassroots and policy advocacy campaigns for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) during Bush's second term stress two external and two internal factors in CIR's defeat.

These organizations grouped together in the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR), which disbanded last year.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

La Bendición de las Familias

La Bendición de las Familias
por Elvira Arellano, El Diario-La Prensa
14 de enero, 2009

La semana pasada les escribí sobre el Día de los Reyes, instando a la gente en Nueva York a que participaran en el foro familiar en la iglesia La Sinagoga con el congresista Luis Gutiérrez. La expectativa de dicho encuentro fue que ciudadanos norteamericanos con uno o más miembros indocumentados en sus familias se presentaron para que la agrupación de congresistas latinos pueda llevar sus casos al nuevo presidente, Barack Obama. Otra expectativa fue que los fieles de Nueva York y sus pastores podrían abrazar a estas familias con su amor y apoyo.

Me dio mucho gusto enterarme que el encuentro fue un tremendo éxito, y de que cuatro congresistas asistieron, además de cientos de cleros y más que 2,000 personas. Al principio pensé: ¡Que bendición para las familias y para los indocumentados tener tanto apoyo como los latinos se unieron para exigir una moratoria sobre las redadas y separación de familias!

Siempre celebramos el día en que los tres Reyes vinieron a dar honor al niño Jesús. También queda escrito que después de que se fueron, María y José y su milagroso hijo tuvieron que marcharse como inmigrantes a Egipto para salvarle la vida de la criatura de los asesinos que el rey Herodes, con su rabia y odio, mandó a matarlo. El 6 de enero, a mí me invitaron a la Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel de Atitalaquía en el estado de Hidalgo, México, para ser testigo a inaugurar un nuevo albergue para inmigrantes, que se llama “La Casa de los Pobres”.

La Casa de los Pobres fue establecida para dar albergue y comida a mucha gente muy necesitada que pasan por este pueblo, como a muchos otros pueblos mexicanos. Algunos vienen de regreso sin nada tras ser deportados de los Estados Unidos, mientras que otros vienen desde el sur, sostenidos sólo por sus sueños. Es un intento lindo y generoso. En el día de la inauguración, unas 500 personas de distintas iglesias vinieron y el obispo empezó a dar su bendición. Un sacerdote lo interrumpió en forma cortés para contar lo que había sucedido el día anterior.

Como pintaban las paredes y preparando el lugar para la ceremonia, vieron a un matrimonio afuera. Tenían las caras flacas y se veían cansados, y la mujer estaba cansada. Eran emigrantes, buscando un trabajo para criar a su hijo que pronto iba a nacer. Los trabajadores en la casa los invitaron a entrar, les dieron albergue y comida y les invitaron a quedarse a descansar, a pesar de que la “Casa” todavía no estaba abierta en forma oficial. Cuando los dos jóvenes intentaron darle las gracias al sacerdote respondió que no, “son ustedes que nos han bendecido con su presencia”. Y así fue que, interrumpiendo al obispo, el sacerdote explicó que la Casa de los Pobres ya había recibido su bendición un día antes, por una familia muy parecida a la de María y José.

Creo que los ciudadanos norteamericanos que tienen la seguridad de tener sus papeles, que salieron el sábado pasado para defender a las familias bajo el peligro de ser separadas, también fueron benditos por ellos. Pues cuando protegemos a nuestro hermano, cuando nos unimos para nuestro pueblo y su derecho de vivir como manda Dios, entonces estamos entre los benditos también.

The Blessing of the Families
by Elvira Arellano, El Diario-La Prensa
January 14, 2009

Last week I wrote on the day of the three kings urging people in New York to participate in the family unity forum at La Iglesia de Sinagoga with Congressman Luis Gutierrez. It was the hope of this meeting that U.S. citizens with an undocumented member of their family would come forward so that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus could bring their cases to President Elect Barack Obama. It was also the hope of that meeting that the faithful of New York and their Pastors would surround these families with love and support.

I was so happy to hear that the meeting was a great success and that four Congress members were in attendance, hundreds of pastors and over 2,000 people! At first I thought, what a blessing for the families and for the undocumented to have such support as Latinos united to demand a moratorium on the raids and deportations and to stop separating families.

We often celebrate the day in which the three kings come to honor the baby Jesus. It is also written that after they left, Mary and Joseph and their newborn miracle child had to go as migrants to Egypt to save the life of that child from Herod's murderous rage and hatred. On January 6th, I was invited to the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel de Atitalaquia in the state of Hidalgo to help inaugurate a new house for immigrants called "La Casa de los Pobres."

La Casa de los Pobres was established to give shelter and food to the many who come through this pueblo, as with so many of our pueblos, who are in such great need. Some coming back from the United States with nothing after deportations, some coming from the south with only dreams to sustain them. It is a beautiful effort.

On the day of the inauguration about 500 people from different churches came and the Bishop began to give a blessing. A priest interrupted him, politely, and told him what had happened the day before.

As they were painting the walls and preparing the place for this ceremony they saw a young couple outside. Their faces were thin and tired and the woman was pregnant. They were migrants, searching for a place in which they could find work and raise their soon-to-be-born child.

The workers in the house invited them in, gave them shelter and food and invited them to stay although the Casa was not yet officially opened. When the young couple tried to thank the father, he replied, no, you have blessed us with your presence. And so it was that, interrupting the Bishop, the father explained that the Casa del los Pobres had already been blessed the day before, blessed by a family like Mary and Joseph.

I believe that the U.S. citizens, those with the security of papers, that came out last Saturday to defend the families that are facing separation were also blessed by them. For when we are "our brother's keeper", when we stand together for our people and our right to live the way God intended us to live, then we ourselves are truly blessed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Northwest Tour: David Bacon on "Illegal People"

Northwest tour schedule
David Bacon speaking on his book Illegal People--How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

Tuesday, January 20
6 -9 pm
Congregational Church of Lincoln City
1760 NW 25th St.
Lincoln City, OR

Thursday, January 22
6:30 pm
Central Oregon Community College
Hitchcock Auditorium, Pioneer Hall
Bend, OR

Friday, January 23
10 am-11:20 am
International School of the Cascades
Redmond, OR

6:30 pm
Jobs with Justice
UA Local 290 Training Center
Redmond, OR

Saturday, January 24
7 to 9 pm
University of Oregon Law School, Agate & 15th, Rm 110
Eugene, OR
hosted by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics

Monday, January 26
Western Washington UniversityCommunications Facility 110
Bellingham, WA
sponsored by Fairhaven College and Associated Students Social Issues

Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship1708 T StreetBellingham, WA

Tuesday, January 27
University of Washington
Tacoma, WA

Kings Books
218 St. Helens Ave
Tacoma, WA

Wednesday, January 28
University of Washington
Bridges Labor CenterSeattle, WA

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
615 Second Ave., #400
Seattle, WA

7:30 pm
Elliott Bay Books
101 S. Main St.
Seattle, WA

Thursday, January 29
Evergreen State College Labor Center
SEM II-B1105
Olympia, WA

Friday, January 30
12-2pmPortland State University
Portland, OR

University of Portland
St. Mary's Student Center Lounge
5000 N. Willamette Blvd
Portland, OR

Saturday, January 31
Cross Border Labor Organizing Committee
Portland, OR

Jobs with Justice - Financial Crisis Forum
Portland, OR

Sunday, February 1
Western Oregon University
ITC 211 (Information Technology Building, right in the middle of campus)
345 N. Monmouth Ave
Monmouth, OR

Corvallis Public Library
645 NW Monroe
Corvallis, OR

Monday, February 2
Medford Public Library
205 S CentralMedford, OR
sponsored by Ashland Peace House, University of Oregon, and UNETE immigrants rights organization
For articles and images on immigration, see
From Beacon Press: Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants
See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US: "Communities Without Borders" (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)