Saturday, February 21, 2009

Haitians Facing Deportation Look to Obama for Help

Now Haitian advocates are wondering if the Obama era will bring in fair immigration reform or just more of the same.

by Desiree Evans, Facing South
February 20, 2009

The United States is set to deport more than 30,000 Haitians to their impoverished homeland, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced this week. A protest in response to the decision has been planned for Saturday, Feb. 21 in Broward County, Florida. Haitian activists and immigrants are calling for a halt to the arrests and a suspension of the deportations.

Deportation orders have been processed for 30,299 Haitians and they are starting to be implemented. Hundreds of Haitians have been put in camps awaiting the return home, while others have been put under a form of house arrest and are being monitored with electronic ankle bracelets, the AFP reported.

As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti's troubles significantly increased with the passage of four deadly back-to-back storms last fall -- Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike -- that killed more than 800 persons and worsened the nation's food crisis. [...]

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sheriff Joe--6,500 Signatures to Go

From America's Voice
February 19, 2009

Dear Friend --

We all know Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves the spotlight.

Well, now he's got plenty of it: the spotlight of Rep. John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee. They want Sheriff Joe investigated by the Department of Justice for his appalling, unjust law enforcement tactics-- just like the 3,500 of you who've already signed our petition!

With your help, we can finally get Sheriff Joe the attention he really deserves. We're counting on your help to get 10,000 signatures to Attorney General Holder to investigate Sheriff Joe by the first week of March.

Sign the petition now:

On Friday the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, saying:

"We write today concerning allegations of misconduct on the part of Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio that we believe merit federal investigation and action."

It's obvious that Arpaio's latest publicity stunt crosses the line. On February 4th, he rounded up hundreds of immigrant detainees and forced them to march, shackled, through Phoenix to a segregated "tent city" surrounded by electric fencing in the Arizona desert.

Thousands of you have already signed our letter to the Attorney General, calling for an investigation into Joe's abuse of power. Thousands have denounced Joe's blatant racial profiling and civil rights violations. But with this week's big news from the Judiciary Committee, and with major events being organized across the country to protest Arpaio, we believe it's time to do more.

Help us get to 10,000 signatures to Attorney General Holder by the first week of March.

Sign the petition to investigate Joe now:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama's Immigration Conundrum

Don't expect this mess to be cleaned up soon, especially with Secretary Napolitano sounding like a hard-liner.... The detention centers were built with a bipartisan stamp of approval, with Democrats as well as Republicans supporting their expansion.

By Bill Boyarsky, Truthdig
February 10, 2009

One of the worst messes facing the Obama administration is the disgraceful state of the federal government's immigration detention centers.

There are 350 of these centers around the country, housing almost 30,000 men, women and even children waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to decide whether or not they will be deported. Some have been in custody for years. The centers are overcrowded. Newspapers and academic and civil liberties studies tell of physically and mentally ill inmates being denied help. [...]

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is the NY Times Starting to Get the Message?

Helping Workers in Hard Times
Editorial, New York Times

February 14, 2009

Immigration hard-liners have wasted no time harnessing their dreams of mass expulsion to the recession. The avalanche of lost jobs and grim national mood cry out for the laying of blame, and restrictionist groups are angrily pointing the finger at illegal immigrants. Workers without papers have already been accused of causing leprosy, crime waves, environmental ruin, global warming and the decline of Western civilization, so tying them to a bad economy seems only natural.

But maybe we should think this through. [...]

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Real Economics of Immigration Reform

By ignoring the role of immigration policy in our economic situation, Americans are actually hurting themselves

by: Cristina Jimenez, The American Prospect
February 12, 2009
Shortly after the November election, a few congressional offices privately acknowledged that it would be smart for the Obama administration to try to include pro-immigration provisions in the upcoming stimulus package. Some policy staffers were reading studies and hearing testimonies about how hardworking immigrants drive productivity and job creation across many different sectors of the economy. But as the stimulus bill gets finalized in conference this week and heads to Obama's desk for a signature, immigration will be debated only in the narrow terms of E-verify, the Bush-mandated system that all businesses benefiting from the stimulus may be required to use to verify the immigration status of their employees.

What more can we expect? After all, immigration reform is a tougher sell in a recession. That's the blunt observation Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib recently offered: "Pushing any kind of immigration reform, particularly one that includes a path toward legalization, is a lot harder in an environment in which Americans are losing jobs." [...]

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Also available at:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Wall of Boeing to Benefit From Stimulus?

Handful of Firms Benefit in Senate Bill
by Cam Simpson and Brody Mullins, Wall Street Journal
February 11, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The stimulus package the Senate approved Tuesday may technically be free of "earmarks," but it nonetheless includes several provisions that would likely benefit only a handful of specific corporations.... One example: The Senate added $200 million for a "virtual fence" along the nation's Southwestern border, a project headed by Chicago-based Boeing Co. The bill directs that stimulus money for the program be spent by the end of September 2010. [...]

Read the full article:

See also:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

When Xenophobia Meets Homophobia

The killing of Jose Sucuzhañay...challenges Latino/a and LGBT leaders to build a broad-based vision for social justice that acknowledges the linkages between various communities and struggles.

by Marisol LeBrón,
February 2, 2009

An ugly blame game ensued after the passing of California’s Proposition 8, which restricted the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. With exit polls reporting 70 percent of Blacks and 53 percent of Latinos/as supporting the ban on gay marriage, many white members of the LGBT community blamed people of color for the ban’s success.

The December issue of gay news magazine The Advocate stepped into the fray. The cover of the issue provocatively announced, “Gay is the New Black.” Although the cover story's author, Michael Joseph Gross, dismissed blaming Black voters as a "false conclusion" and a "terrible mistake," comments posted to the site took him to task for other reasons. Most comments strongly disagreed with Gross' Black/gay comparison, but many others asked why communities of color and queer communities are still considered mutually exclusive in the mainstream LGBT rights movement. [...]

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Homeland Security Colony

by Tom Barry, Border Lines
January 29, 2009

Dee Torres sees history in the making in the West Texas borderlands. The elementary school teacher wants to be part of the history of the borderlands, and wants her grandchildren to remember these times.

Torres, a resident since a child of the border town of Ft. Hancock, is taking photos of the construction of the new border wall rising along the Rio Grande in this desolate stretch of West Texas. Construction crews are hurriedly completing the last major portion of the 670 miles of border fencing authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

“I am taking photos of the wall for my grandchildren,” she says. “They will be able to say that they were here when this wall was built, and one day they will surely see it torn down – just like the Berlin Wall!” [...]

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Una Carta Desde el Santuario/A Letter from Sanctuary

Por Flor Crisóstomo
29 de enero, 2009

On January 29, 2008, immigrant Flor Crisóstomo took sanctuary in the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago [see "Chicago immigration activist marks year in church" ]. This is her statement, in Spanish and English, on the one-year anniversary of her stay in the church.

Sr. Presidente Obama, he observado su maravillosa campaña y el poder de sus primeros días en la presidencia. He escuchado cuidadosamente a su discurso inaugural, y noté la fuente de fe que se reflejó en sus palabras. Todos reconocemos el tremendo reto que encara a esta nación y al mundo, y a usted también.

Quisiera agregar una sola cosa a todo lo que usted nos ha dicho. Es el lamento de los que sufren, en todos lugares y en todas épocas: "Justicia postergada es justicia negada." Y a eso agregaría yo las palabras del Dr. Martin Luther King, las que usted mismo utilizó en su discurso: "La altísima urgencia de 'ahora mismo.'"

Sr. Presidente, usted se ha comprometido a remediar las leyes rotas de inmigración y terminar la política de "enforcement only" (pura represión). También nos prometió una renegociación del Tratado de Libre Comercio (NAFTA), y promover el desarrollo económico de México. ¿PERO CUANTO TIEMPO TENEMOS QUE ESPERAR?

El "cambio" significa que no tenemos que andar por los mismos senderos de antes. La legalización de los indocumentados no puede postergarse. Se están deshaciendo a miles de familias, las mismas familias que constituyen el motor de recuperación económica de la comunidad latina. Pequeños negocios están fracasando y muchas familias están perdiendo sus casas por razón de las leyes descompuestas en materia de inmigración.

Nadie desea más que se acabe el sistema de mano de obra indocumentada que los mismos indocumentados. Es este el sistema que a mi me dejaba desprotegida de la explotación como obrera y sin posibilidades de visitar a mis hijos en México. Con la legalización, podemos tener verificación para empleo y leyes puestas en vigor sin destruir las vidas de las familias y la economí­a de la comunidad latina.

Los temas de seguridad en la frontera y una manera legal y justa por la cual los inmigrantes pueden venir acá para trabajar deben considerarse como parte de la renegociación del TLCAN (NAFTA). Es el TLCAN que ha eliminado a millones de plazos de trabajo en la agricultura en México, con el resultado de que millones de mexicanos hemos abandonado nuestros pueblos para buscar trabajo aquí en el norte para apoyar a sus familias. Una frontera no es solo una línea en la arena, es una relación entre dos países.

Sr. Presidente, hoy le exijo que separe los temas de legalización y verificación a un lado, y de la renegociación de seguridad de la frontera y el TLCAN/NAFTA y entrada de obreros nuevos en el otro. Conviene separar a estos temas, pero no a las familias, y apruebe la legalización y verificación ahora para acabar con la pesadilla.

Y no se olvide, que "justicia postergada es justicia negada."

Sr. Presidente Obama, elementos en el Congreso pretenden insertar por enmienda la verificación electrónica al proyecto de ley de recuperación económica. ¿Está usted dispuesto de conceder otro acto de "enforcement" sin legalización? Le ruego que no acepte tal enmienda.

Es otra muestra más de porque no podemos esperar para una reforma migratoria y porque debe ser parte de la agenda de los primeros 100 días de su administración.

¡Justicia postergada es justicia negada!

by Flor Crisóstomo
January 29, 2009

President Obama, I have observed your wonderful campaign and the strength of your first few days in office. I listened carefully to your inaugural speech and I took note of the foundation of faith reflected in your words. All of us recognize the challenges that face this nation and the world and the challenges you must face.

I would only want to add one thing to all the things you have said. It is the cry of those who suffer everywhere throughout all time. It is this: "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied." And I would add to it the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, the words you yourself used in announcing your candidacy, "The Highest Urgency of Now."

President Obama, you have promised to fix the broken law and end the policy of enforcement only. You have promised to renegotiate NAFTA and promote development in Mexico. HOW LONG MUST WE WAIT ?

"Change" means we do not have to follow the same paths that were followed before. Legalization cannot wait. Families are being torn apart, families which are also the economic engine of the recovery in the Latino community. Small businesses are failing and homes are being foreclosed upon because of broken immigration law.

No one wants to end the system of undocumented labor more than the undocumented. That system left me unprotected from exploitation as a worker and unable to visit my children in Mexico. With legalization, we can also have employment verification and enforcement without destroying the lives of families and the economy of the Latino community.

The issues of border security and a legal and just way for workers to come here to work should be considered as part of a renegotiation of NAFTA. It is NAFTA that destroyed millions of agricultural jobs in Mexico and caused mllions to come here to find work to support their families. A border is not a line in the sand--it is a relationship between countries.

President Obama, today I ask you to separate the issues of legalization and verification on the one hand and NAFTA, border security and new workers on the other. Separate the issues, not the families--and pass legalization and verification now to end the nightmare!

And Remember, Justice delayed is justice denied !

President Obama, the Congress is trying to attach electronic verification on the economic recovery bill. Will you give in to yet another act of enforcement without legalization?

This is another example of why we cannot wait on immigration reform and why it must be on the agenda in the first 100 days.

Justice delayed is justice denied!

[Below is an addendum in English]

President Obama, there are 101 teams seeking out nearly 500,000 people like me who have committed no crime but who have not obeyed an order of deportation because they have no work to go back to to support their families and because they have U.S. citizen family here. Will you stop these 101 teams from destroying our lives? Couldn't they be put to better use in really defending the security of the United States from real criminals?
This is an example of why we have asked that you place a moratorium on raids, deportations and separation of families NOW!


I have been here in this little church for one year. I have spoken with thousands of visitors who came to support me and to learn the truth about the immigration issue. I have spent hours and days in fasting and prayer.

I made this commitment before My God to put in my grain of sand, to do my part to Make America See that 12 million people would not self-deport because of the policies that the U.S. and Mexican governments have adopted which have destroyed the economies of our pueblos. We did not create the system of free trade and undocumented labor whose bitter fruit is the separation of families. We have only tried to survive within it.

I miss my children. Their tears break my heart. Yet I have asked my mother and my children what I should do. They live in a little town that is almost deserted. They like others have no money for school clothes and supplies. I have done this for my people but most of all for them so that they could have the life I didn't have.

My family has told me to continue--until there is some victory for all of us, the light in the darkness, some way out of this terrible situation. So today I ask my God to give me strength and courage to continue. Here I am and here I will stay until this government fixes the broken law.

President Obama, I pray that you see the "Highest Urgency of Now!" I pray you see us and our children in our millions, a nation caught between two nations and that you say with us that "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

West Texas Uprising: News and Urgent Action

Immigrant Prisoners Stage Uprising in Texas
by Frontera NorteSur Staff

February 2, 2009

Details are still sketchy of an inmate uprising at a privately-operated federal detention facility in West Texas last Saturday. Reports in the U.S. and Mexican press suggest the revolt, involving hundreds prisoners at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Tex., erupted after complaints of poor medical treatment went unheeded.

Initial accounts report the uprising spanned two days, with inmates setting fires and possibly even seizing guards’ radio communication equipment. An unidentified Reeves County official earlier told El Diario de El Paso the situation was “dangerous” inside the facility managed by the Geo Group. [...]

Read the full article:

For coverage of a December uprising at the same facility:

Urgent Action: Call for Just Treatment and Accountability in Reeves Detention Facility; Support Immigrant Detainees' Rights

Urgent Action Request – Call & Fax to Support Prisoners Rights & Demands
from National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

For information on how to support the detainees:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Shift Toward Worker Power? The Time is Ripe to Tip the System, Now

This could be a moment for a power shift--from workers being weak to being strong--but only if people force government to kick in on the workers' side.

by Allan Nairn, News and Comment
January 29, 2009

In bad situations, people lower their standards for what it is that constitutes good news.

There's a very sick man with a withered arm, but it hasn't been amputated, contrary to what a garbled, and panic-inducing, report had indicated.

Similarly, a boy has been coughing for three months, but a TB test says it isn't TB.

Saying this, the parent, on a cell phone from the Burma border can be heard shivering in the rare cold, even though the family has just invested in a blanket -- their second, which is now handy, since for three nights they've been sleeping in the forest to dodge police who (in a case of bad good news) aren't seeking bribes, but are instead seeking to catch people and -- word has it -- ship them to Naypyidaw (the capital) for one year's bondage labor.

The question always is, bad compared to what? One person's dump is another's home hearth. [...]

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