Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Risky New Push for Immigration Legislation

Advocates of legalization have crafted a plan that could alienate businesses and key Republicans, including Sen. John McCain. But it is designed to lure a powerful new ally--organized labor.

by Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times
March 27, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- With their prospects in Congress sinking along with the economy, liberal advocates of giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship are launching a risky strategy to push lawmakers and the White House to take up their cause.

They are devising a proposal in which millions of undocumented workers would be legalized now, while the number of foreign workers allowed to enter the country would be examined by a new independent commission, and probably reduced.

Read the full article:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Anti-illegal immigrant groups launch Mexico tourism boycott

"I think people have enough sense and information to know to not pay attention to this," Mexican Consul Carlos Rodríguez y Quezada said.

by Cindy Carcamo, The Orange County Register
March 20, 2009

A coalition of anti-illegal immigrant advocates with a goal of halting American tourism to Mexico are distributing fliers along the San Ysidro border that accuse the country of being aggressive and hostile to the United States and disrespectful of its laws.

Americans United to Halt Tourism in Mexico – formed by Minutemen groups across the country and local groups such as Huntington Beach-based California Coalition for Immigration Reform – is urging Americans bound for sun and fun south of the border to instead visit the U.S. Southwest.

"Do not give your tourist dollars to Mexico!" the fliers say. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Border’s “Agent Orange” Controversy

by Frontera NorteSur, Newspaper Tree (El Paso)
March 21, 2009

With the clock ticking, a growing network of activists on both sides of the border are lobbying high officials to prevent aerial spraying of chemicals meant to destroy Carrizo cane between the southern Rio Grande twin cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.

In the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed vast tracts of land with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange as part of a counter-insurgency strategy aimed at removing forest cover for Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. Although the toxic dioxin released by Agent Orange was later blamed by US veterans’ groups and Vietnamese officials for illnesses and diseases that struck thousands of former US soldiers and upwards of four million Vietnamese citizens, the US Supreme Court recently refused to consider a case by pursued by Vietnamese plaintiffs against the manufacturers of Agent Orange.

Four decades later, on the US-Mexico border, the US Border Patrol intends to employ a chemical herbicide in order to eradicate stands of the Carrizo cane, an invasive plant that grows as tall as 30 feet and provides convenient cover for undocumented border crossers and smugglers. The variety of Carrizo cane that is common in the Laredo-Del Rio borderlands is from the region of Valencia, Spain. [...]

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indentured Servants, Circa 2009

By Barbara Koeppel, Consortiumnews.com
March 18, 2009

The immigration imbroglio is the gorilla in the room that won’t go away.

Feeding on this and last years’ gigantic job losses and fear of more to come, anti-immigrant anger is exploding across the U.S. Thus, Nativists like Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio are nudged to over-the-top nastiness: Just a month ago, he proudly paraded his villains (aka illegals) through the streets of Phoenix before deporting them.

In fact, since 1882, when the U.S. passed its first anti-immigrant laws — at that time, against Chinese workers — Nativists have played the same xenophobia card: With fundamentalist fervor, they fire up those with fragile incomes to fear immigrants, legal or otherwise. Lately, local governments have passed punishing laws against undocumented workers, while enforcement agencies ratchet up raids on factories and farms.

At the same time, Chambers of Commerce insist foreign guest workers are vital to U.S. businesses. Heeding the call, politicians promise the guests will figure in any new immigration plan. Details, however, are absent. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Support immigrant activist Victor Toro: NYC, Mar. 25

Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 8:30 am

Protest: Against ICE and DHS
In support of Victor Toro and millions of undocumented immigrants

Protesta: Contra de la Migra
En apoyo de Victor Toro y millones de inmigrantes indocumentados

At 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY
(corner of Worth & Lafayette)
Information: Tel:718-292-6137, 212-631-7555, 212-561-1744
lapena2006@hotmail.com, MrnCrls@aol.com, may1@leftshift.org

Victor Toro is a citizen and national of Chile who was jailed and tortured there because of his opposition to the illegitimate Pinochet government (1973-1990). For more than 23 years, Victor and his wife Nieves Ayress (also a survivor of torture by the Pinochet regime) have been living in New York City and engaging in activism in the South Bronx, where they founded Vamos a La Peña, a nonprofit community organization that has served as a space for free expression and people's power for undocumented workers and other disenfranchised community members. On July 6, 2007,Victor Toro was arrested by US Border Patrol, an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, while on board an Amtrak train in Rochester, New York. He was released on bond on July 9 and is now seeking political asylum with the help of his legal team. His wife Nieves is a US citizen; their daughter, Rosita Toro, is a legal permanent resident.

Victor Toro es un chileno quien fue encarcelado y torturado en ese pais por su oposicion al gobierno ilegitimo del dictador Pinochet (1973-1990). Durante mas de 23 años, Victor y su esposa Nieves Ayress (tambien sobreviviente de torturas bajo el regimen de Pinochet) han estado viviendo en la ciudad de Nueva York e involucrados en la lucha social en el Sur del Bronx, donde fundaron Vamos a La Peña, una organizacion comunitaria sin fines de lucro que ha sirvido como espacio de libre expresion y poder popular para los trabajadores indocumentados y otra gente marginada de esa comunidad. El pasado 6 de julio, 2007, Victor Toro fue arrestado por la Patrulla Fronteriza, agencia del Departamento de "Seguridad de Patria" de EEUU, mientras viajaba en un tren de Amtrak pasando por la ciudad deRochester, New York. Fue liberado bajo fianza el 9 de julio y ahora busca asilo politico con ayuda de su equipo legal. Su esposa Nieves es ciudadana estadounidense; su hija, Rosita Toro, es residente permanente legal.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Migracorridos": Another Failed Anti-Immigration Campaign

The agency has been careful to keep its imprint off the album afraid Mexican audiences would disregard the songs if they knew who was behind it.

Marisol LeBrón, NACLA Update
March 17, 2009

For centuries, Mexican narrative folk ballads, known as corridos, have chronicled the exploits of outlaws and rebels. Countless corridos have told the tribulations of smugglers trying to get their contraband across the border. And in recent decades, with the boom of the drug trade in Mexico, the songs have increasingly turned to stories about the narcotrafficking. But these "narco corridos" existed long before the rise of today's drug cartels.

It's strange, then, that the U.S. Border Patrol would be promoting a genre so infused with anti-authoritarian sentiment. But that's exactly what the law enforcement agency is doing, even releasing its own album of corridos. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New CIS Study: Easy Answers and Half-Baked Solutions

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies claims workplace raids raise wages at meatpacking plants. The union has a different opinion.

by Amber Sparks (UFCW), Immigration Impact
March 19, 2009

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies is a perfect illustration of the misinterpretation and manipulation of data to reach a totally biased and flawed conclusion-and clearly demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about the history of the meatpacking industry.

Immigrants worldwide have been essential in strengthening the U.S. meatpacking industry, by organizing around increased wages and improved industry standards. But during the ‘80’s, something happened. Consolidation, mergers, and company-induced strikes helped drive down wages for meatpackers. During the strikes, companies aggressively recruited strike breakers-not immigrants but individuals who came from the decimated farm industry-to cross the picket lines. [...]

Read the full article:

See also:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Most Immigrants in Detention Did Not Have Criminal Record, Reports AP

The detainee buildup began in the mid 1990s, long before the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Since 2003, though, Congress has doubled to $1.7 billion the amount dedicated to imprisoning immigrants, as furor over "criminal aliens" intertwined with post-9/11 fears and anti-immigrant political rhetoric.

Michelle Roberts, Huffington Post
March 15, 2009

America's detention system for immigrants has mushroomed in the last decade, a costly building boom that was supposed to sweep up criminals and ensure that undocumented immigrants were quickly shown the door.

Instead, an Associated Press computer analysis of every person being held on a recent Sunday night shows that most did not have a criminal record and many were not about to leave the country _ voluntarily or via deportation.

An official Immigration and Customs Enforcement database, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed a U.S. detainee population of exactly 32,000 on the evening of Jan. 25. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Join the Fast to Support Roxroy Salmon!

from Janis Rosheuvel, Director, Families for Freedom

Who is Roxroy Salmon?

Roxroy Salmon is a national of Jamaica who has lived in the United States for the past thirty years. He came to the U.S. with his father when he was a young man to seek a good education and to accomplish his goals. He has four beautiful children that were born in the U.S. He also has a daughter who was born in Jamaica. He adores all of his children. He lives with three of his children: Natasha, an 18 year old who attends Long Island University for legal studies, Nyasia, a 15 year old studying design at her high school and Elijah, a 12 year old in middle school. Roxroy is an organizer at Families for Freedom and a member of the New Sanctuary Coalition. Because of minor drug convictions from over 20 years ago, he is facing removal proceedings. He believes that everyone deserves their human right to stay with their families. He is working hard to pass legislation that would keep his family together: HR 182, the Child Citizen Protection Act (CCPA). This bill, if passed, would allow immigration judges the power to use their discretion in Roxroy’s case, allowing them to stop his deportation.In Roxroy's own words: "I live and breathe for my children. It is my greatest honor. I teach my children decency and moral values because I was brought up that way. I teach them to be good human beings: to love God, themselves and their neighbors. I just can’t bear the thought of being away from my family - most of all my children and grandchildren, my brothers and sisters and my mother.”Fast to Stop Deportation!

At least one individual or organization will be fasting each day from March 8, 2009 to June 2, 2009, an act that is meant to remind us of Roxroy’s struggle to keep his family safe and together as he faces deportation. As we fast, we remember our families, friends and colleagues as they face similar struggles to stay in the United States with their loved ones. Please join us! Fast for a day sometime between today and June 2, 2009 and then jot down your thoughts on this blog! Check the Fast blog (htt p://justiceisfreedom.wordpress.com/) to see the dates (in red) that have already been signed up for; dates shown in white are wide open!

General Instructions for the Fast:

1. Choose at least one day between March 8, 2009 and June 2, 2009 to fast. We encourage people to fast for more than one day. Please keep in mind that you do not have to fast over consecutive days. If you belong to an organization, you can encourage your organization to fast together.

2. To sign up, send an e-mail neildiamondrulz@hotmail.com and either tell us what day you’d like to fast, or let us pick a date for you!

3. Fast in whatever way makes sense for you. Some people may fast only during daylight hours, others only drink water, others do not take in anything at all. Please take your personal health needs into account.

4. During your day(s) of fast, please keep in mind the immigrant families who are facing deportation, especially Roxroy’s family.

5. Lastly, come to http://justiceisfreedom.wordpress.com/ and post your reflections from your Fast day(s) on the discussion board. (If you have a WordPress account, contact an administrator and we’ll authorize you to post. If you don’t, e-mail your post and we’ll put it up for you.) Please express yourself freely, but be respectful of the community space.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Will the Economic Meltdown Push Fixing a Broken Immigration System to the Back Burner?

In his recent address to Congress, Barack Obama didn't mention immigration once -- what does it mean for the prospects for reform?

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
March 13, 2009

On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama promised to make comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) "a top priority in my first year as president."

Stressing the importance of "finally bring[ing] undocumented immigrants out of the shadows," Obama laid out the basic framework of the deal that died twice in Congress in recent years: "they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line," he said. "That's how we'll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That's how we'll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst."

But in his recent address to Congress, immigration was nowhere to be found in the 6,134-word speech. [...]

Read the full article at:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reforming U.S. Immigration: Economic Stimulus Through Legalization

by Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, Class Action
March 3, 2009

This paper makes three critical arguments on how to view the imperative of achieving justice for immigrants with the national priority of passing a national economic stimulus bill. It is our view that both priorities are complementary and merit immediate enactment by Congress and President Obama.

I.) Legalization of the nation’s undocumented workers is now an economic necessity, as well as a moral and civil rights imperative. Legalization increases short-term incomes, job creating consumption and net tax revenues in the low wage segments of the labor market, as well as sets the long-term foundation for an expanding middle class and a more sustainable economic recovery. The experience of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) is very instructive in this regard, producing both wage and consumption gains, and enhanced tax-revenue collection in the midst of a recession of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as well as decades of very high rates of educational, home and small business investments by newly legalized families. If Congress and President Obama legalized the current 10-12 million undocumented persons in the U.S. an economic stimulus of $30-36 billion in personal income, 750,000-900,000 new jobs, and $4.5 to $5.4 billion in net tax revenue would result!

II.) Movement now towards legalization and naturalization of the roughly twenty million legal permanent residents and undocumented persons would create local and state regional mini-booms in civic engagement. Furthermore, enabling civic participation of these previously excluded groups will substantially intensify public support for an inclusive and humane tenor with regard to immigration reform as well as public policies aimed at providing support to low income and socially disadvantaged socioeconomic profiles.

III.) The national security outcome desired by Washington, D.C. of declining undocumented migration is attainable under existing law and there is no need for further legislation expanding security-related provisions related to undocumented migration. Indeed, we must begin to recognize that the current approach is very costly (in money, rights and lives), and increasingly yielding diminishing returns. Massive security-related expenditure growth now yields lower numbers of apprehensions as migration from Mexico to the US (both undocumented and legal) has been dropping due to security measures, the climate of repression in immigrant communities, and the declining regional economy. The unintended consequences of further pursuing the current enforcement only approach include generating a vulnerable underground economy and maintaining an artificially low wage floor, actually encouraging the demand for vulnerable undocumented workers.

This paper was commissioned by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) in compliance with the Omnibus Immigration Reform resolution #4.02 approved by the September 2006 National Latino Congreso.01/23/09

For full paper (PDF):

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Workers Without Borders

By Jennifer Gordon, New York Times op-ed
March 9, 2009

Americans are hardly in the mood to welcome new immigrants. The last thing we need, the reasoning goes, is more competition for increasingly scarce jobs. But the need for immigration reform is more urgent than ever. The current system hurts wages and working conditions — for everyone.

Today, millions of undocumented immigrants accept whatever wage is offered. They don’t protest out of fear of being fired or deported. A few hundred thousand guest workers, brought in for seasonal and agricultural jobs, know that asserting their rights could result in a swift flight home. This system traps migrants in bad jobs and ends up lowering wages all around.

Read the full op-ed:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Amnesty NOW: How and Why

by Jane Guskin, Huffington Post
March 4, 2009

Most analysts agree that the chances of immigration reform in the first year or two of Obama's administration are extremely slim. We can't expect politicians and policymakers to take action. The change we want to see has to come from below.

read full blog post:

"Immigration Rights Revival": NYC, Mar. 7-8

[If you're in the New York area, you shouldn't miss two special events this weekend on immigration detention, organized by performance artist and Green Party candidate for mayor of New York City Reverend Billy (aka Bill Talen).]

This coming weekend Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping will perform in front of two detention center sites on Saturday March 7th, followed by a big show honoring New York City Immigrants on Sunday March 8th.

Detention Center Tour
Saturday March 7 at 12 Noon
201 Varick Street (between W. Houston and King St., 1 train to Varick Street)

The Choir and Reverend Billy will perform, and immigration rights advocates will update us their efforts to eliminate the centers and make immigration enforcement transparent. From The Varick Street Center we will cross the river and perform at the notorious for-profit detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Transportation available; please RSVP
<stopshoppingchoir@earthlink.net> or call 347-693-8857

Sunday March 8 at 2:00 PM
Sunday Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues, A/C/E train to 14th Street)

Reverend Billy and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir Revival, 40 voices singing great new songs and special guests who will speak to us about their experiences inside the detention facilities.

Tickets are available at the door $12.

Special complimentary tickets available to Immigrants and their families and advocates
<stopshoppingchoir@earthlink.net> or call 347-693-8857

Sunday we are collecting underwear for the women in immigration detention facilities who are NOT given any underwear and spend months in these jails with only the one pair of underwear they were wearing when seized by Immigration Police. So bring a pair of new panties. See: http://www.lidereslatinos.org/


Amigos, El Reverendo Billy y El Coro de Gospel "La Vida Despues de Comprar" les complace invitarlos a nuestro concierto en El Highline Ballroom el 8 de Marzo un show dedicado a los inmigrantes y a los trabajadores en las comunidades que luchan por sus derechos!

Tenemos un número de billetes gratuitos disponibles para los inmigrantes, sus familias y defensores, por favor email <stopshoppingchoir@earthlink.net> o llámenos a 347-693-8857

El Reverendo Billy y El Coro de Gospel
"La Vida Despues de Domingo, 8 de Marzo
El Highline Ballroom
431 Calle 16 Oeste (entre 9 y 10 de la avenida)

Show: 2:00 PM
Puertas abiertas al público a la 1:00 PM

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Immigration Detention Reform Moves to Front Burner

Immigration Detention Reform Moves to Front Burner

New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato
Posted: Feb 02, 2009

Editor’s Note: The recent death of an immigrant in a detention center, and a flurry of upcoming reports about conditions in detention center will likely make detention reform one of the first immigration issues the Obama administration will have to contend with writes NAM contributor Roberto Lovato.

Guantanamo Bay isn’t the only prison crisis that President Barack Obama will have to deal with. There’s another crisis growing - in the many immigration detention centers carpeting the interior of the country. Long ignored by policymakers because the combination of immigration and prison reform is politically lethal, calls for major restructuring of the immigration detention system may soon become unavoidable. The death of German immigrant Guido Newbrough in a Virginia detention center has again pushed the issue to the front burner, helped along by incessant calls for change from advocates like Gil Velazquez.

"I went through that system. I was there. I could have died too,” says Velazquez upon hearing of Newbrough’s death. Velazquez, a recently released immigrant detainee from Oaxaca, Mexico who now lives in Richmond, Virginia, is looking for action from Washington. "I wish I could speak to Mr. Obama. I would tell him 'They (immigration authorities) jail so many people and they don't know what they're doing. They have no right to let people die,'" said Velazquez.


read full article at: