Sunday, May 24, 2009

"H-2 Worker" Available on DVD

"'H-2 Worker' is that rare hybrid that succeeds as both film and advocacy. The documentary's look and form is smooth and sophisticated ... it solidly frames issues about the economy, employment and the treatment of workers who seem just steps away from slavery.”--New York Times

The award-winning "H-2 Worker" is available for the first time ever on DVD. The film won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Best Cinematography Award at Sundance Film Festival and was selected as the U.S. representative during the prestigious Critics Week at Cannes Film Festival. From acclaimed director Stephanie Black ("Life and Debt," "Africa Unite"), this hard-hitting documentary is still a timely exposé of the abuse and exploitation that characterizes temporary agricultural guest worker employment in the United States.

Each year, from World War II through the mid-1990s, over 10,000 Caribbean men were granted temporary guestwork (“H-2”) visas to cut sugar cane in Florida—a task so brutal Americans refused to do it. Spending six months near Lake Okeechobee, the men were housed in overcrowded barracks, denied adequate treatment for frequent on-the-job injuries, and paid less than minimum wage. Faced with deportation and soaring unemployment in their home countries, workers had little recourse but to silently accept these deplorable conditions. The scandal of the H-2 program began in 1942 when U.S, Sugar Corporation was indicted for peonage of black American workers. In 1943 the first West Indian cane cutters were brought in. Filmed clandestinely, "H-2 Worker" exposes this travesty of justice, which remained a well-kept secret for decades.

"H-2 Worker" is beautifully shot by Maryse Alberti ("The Wrestler") and seamlessly edited by the late John Mullen. Originally released in 1990, today "H-2 Worker" provides an invaluable resource to understanding current debate over expanded guest worker provisions of immigration legislation. In January 2009, Bush administration regulations went into effect making it easier to hire foreign workers and reduce worker protection under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. While Florida's sugar cane cutters have been replaced by mechanical harvesters, guest worker programs have expanded in agriculture, hotel, restaurant, forestry, and other industries. "H-2 Worker" illuminates how our foreign worker program continues to benefit employers at the expense of vulnerable, underpaid workers.

About the DVD
The DVD includes an 18 minute video update made in 2009 about the present expansion of H-2A and H-2B guestworker programs in the U.S. The documentary highlights the fundamental flaws in the H-2 programs to be addressed as Congress debates current immigration reform--an invaluable educational tool for learning about the history of the guestworker program and present day discourse.

Special Features:
• Filmmaker Audio Commentary
• More Than Luck Short Film
• Life and Debt Trailer
• Spanish Subtitles

"H-2 Worker" Trailer
"H-2 Worker" Website

Order the DVD for Educational Use
"H-2 Worker" DVD 70 Min + Extras Color 4:3 Stereo Audio

Licensed for public performance. Social Sciences, Labor, Economics, Agriculture, Immigration, Film, Caribbean Studies.
$250 (plus $4.95 for 2-day priority shipping)

To order "H-2 Worker" for educational use, please send a check for $254.95 toValley Filmworks, Inc. 135 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013

To ensure prompt delivery, please send confirmation of your order to

For additional questions or comments, please email or call (212) 925-6528

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News Articles on Roxroy Salmon

Jamaican National, Roxroy Salmon, Seeks Discretionary Relief from Deportation
By Donna Lamb, Greenwich Village Gazette
January 31, 2009

Undeterred by the bone chilling weather, on Jan. 27, about thirty religious leaders congregants and community activists gathered in front of 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan to urge Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office Director, Christopher Shanahan, to grant Roxroy Salmon (above with grandson Elijah) discretionary relief from deportation.

For Roxroy Salmon, a 52-year-old Brooklyn father and grandfather, is facing removal proceedings back to Jamaica because of minor drug convictions from over 20 years ago – never mind the fact that he went on to live an exemplary life in this country for the past thirty years while raising his four US-born citizen children. [...]

Read the full article:

Jamaican fights to stay with his kids in a country he calls home
By Karen Yi, Caribbean Net News
December 4, 2008

NEW YORK, USA: For 30 years he has called America his home. The place where his four children were born and raised. The land where his family and friends reside. The country that still embraces his dreams of a better future. And now, for Jamaican immigrant Roxroy Salmon, the idea of “home” could change. Salmon faces deportation, as immigration officials and community advocates debate whether he belongs here, or back in Jamaica.

Since 2007, Salmon, 52, has been fighting to stay in this country and remain with his family. “I deserve the right, like any other man to be in this country,” says Salmon, who has four children, all American citizens along with an American citizen common-law wife. He has been here for 30 years. [...]

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Deportation hitting home for family of Jamaican immigrant
By Sam Marques, Marisa Sylvester, Princess Weeks, New York Daily News
July 22nd 2008

Twelve-year-old Elijah Salmon could lose his father Tuesday.

Roxroy Salmon, Elijah's father, will be in U.S. Immigration Court to hear whether he will be deported back to his homeland, Jamaica.

If that happens, he will leave behind Elijah, his daughters Natasha, 18, and Nyasia, 15, and his 4-month-old granddaughter, London.

"I don't want my father to be deported," said Elijah. "I don't think that's right that he can be taken away from me."

Elijah's situation is not exceptional. An increasing number of children have been separated from their parents due to controversial national immigration policies. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NYC New Sanctuary Events Through July 7 & Appeal for Roxroy Salmon

at the New School Graduate Film Festival
Tuesday, May 26, at 7:00 pm
The New School Tishman Auditorium, Johnson/Kaplan Hall, 66 W. 12th Street, Manhattan
Come see Zach Fox's short film about sanctuary dad RoxRoy Salmon and his fight to stay with his family. Both RoxRoy and Zach will be part of the panel discussion that follows. Admission is free.

*ALL are welcome - newcomers, old-timers, family, and friends! Let's get to know the community we're growing! Mark your calendar. More details coming soon...

Saturday, June 20, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Union Square Park, at East 14th St., Manhattan
Come out and stand with children whose parents face deportation, and the elected officials and religious leaders who support them. Say YES to considering the well-being of U.S.-citizen children before deporting their parents.

Tuesday, July 7th, 8am-10am
In front of the ICE building - 26 Federal Plaza, Manhattan
Be there!

How We Can Support Roxroy as July 7th Court Date Looms

The immigration case of our sanctuary dad, Roxroy Salmon, is reaching a critical phase. Roxroy`s final court appearance is scheduled for July 7th and is likely to result in an Order of Removal, separating him from his wife, four children and grandchild. Now is the time to build support so that Roxroy can stay with his family in the only home he has known for over 30 years, New York.

Current immigration law does not give the judge discretion in Roxroy`s case, so Roxroy's defense team needs to persuade Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant deferred action, under which Roxroy would receive an order of deportation but ICE would agree to delay acting on that order.

The key to this strategy is public pressure on ICE Field Director Christopher Shanahan: if we make him aware of how mobilized and steadfast our support of Roxroy and his family is, he may approve deferred action in this case:

-Our petition campaign (thanks to everyone who signed!) has been the first phase in this strategy. If you haven't already, invite your community members to sign RoxRoy's petition, which can be downloaded at
The final deadline is next Tuesday, 5/26!

-Our fasting continues through July 7th. See to join.

-We are now pursuing press articles, blogs and links to list-serves as ways of getting Mr. Shanahan's attention. If you have contacts or suggestions that might help in this effort, please contact Rita Rochford at

-We need everyone to plan to be present on July 7th at 8am, when we will gather outside 26 Federal Plaza for a rally, and will remain outside the building until Roxroy's case has been heard (probably before 10 A.M.). Unless there is another adjournment, the judge will most likely issue an Order of Removal, after which ICE agents may either allow Roxroy to leave on his own, place him on supervision (which could be intensive, a punitive system involving an electronic ankle bracelet and thrice weekly check-ins), or process him for detention on the spot. By being present on July 7th, and witnessing in accordance with our religious traditions, we can help prevent such an injustice.

For more about the court date, please contact David Wilson at

For more information on RoxRoy, see

*** Fast to Stop Deportation! (March 8 - July 7):

239 Thompson StreetNew York, New York 10012
phone (new!) #646 395 2925
fax #212 995 0844

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Two Actions to Defend Immigrants--UPDATED

"Shut Down ICE!"
30 Arrested in Civil Disobedience at Bloomington [MN] Facility

by"Frowner," Twin Cities Indymedia
May 6, 2009

There's a signless pinkish building at the corner of American and Metro in Bloomington Minnesota. Like US immigration policy, this building is hidden in plain sight--visible to immigrants and their allies but ignored by the rest of the nation. This is the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, anondescript place where deportees are held on the last night before they're driven to the airport and sent away. Sometimes they leave behind families and children; sometimes they return to countries they last saw while still too young to remember. One woman left her autistic and medically vulnerable son.

"My father would never get to see me graduate high school," said Nick Espinosa, one of the activists who spoke at today's action in front of the ICE facility. Espinosa's father came to the US at the age of 18. Despite years of ordinary employment and participation in society, he was taken away by immigration agents in front of his family. ICE "sees immigration as a statistic," said Espinosa. "Immigration has a human face." [...]

Read the full article:

Stop the Deportation at UC-Berkeley!
Free Jesus Gutierrez, Make UCB a sanctuary campus

May 7, 2009

ICE's outrageous on-campus kidnapping last week of Jesús Gutiérrez, an immigrant food-service worker at UC-Berkeley's Clark Kerr Campus, can be reversed, and it is an opportunity to make UC-Berkeley the nation's firstsanctuary campus.

(Picture of Jesus Gutierrez: )


1. INVITE ALL YOUR FRIENDS to join the Facebook Group to free the UC-Berkeley food services worker Jesús Gutiérrez. Include note of how important this is! Go to the Group page and "Invite" everyone you know!

2. PRINT OUT THESE FLYERS and pass them out or post them up to spread theword!Flyer: Poster:

3. POST A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT on the "Wall" of this Group Page. Students and activists have contacted us with support from as far as Rhode Island and Florida. All letters will be forwarded or faxed to UC-Berkeley and/orread out at the demonstrations if you'd like.

For more information, see: ICE kidnaps UC Berkeley employee

UPDATE: University of California Police Department, not ICE, arrested immigrant campus worker

Protesters Challenge Immigrant's Recent Arrest
by Leah Greenbaum, The Daily Californian
May 8, 2009

An immigrant rights group held a rally on Upper Sproul Plaza yesterday in support of an undocumented Clark Kerr dining commons worker who was arrested on the job last week.

UCPD officers arrested Jesus Gutierrez after receiving a report from a southern California police department indicating Gutierrez had allegedly used a stolen social security number, said UCPD Lt. Doug Wing. [...]

Read the full article:

See also:

Friday, May 8, 2009

ICE and Human Rights: Two More Case Histories

After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children
by Ginger Thompson, New York Times
April 22, 2009

CARTHAGE, Mo. — When immigration agents raided a poultry processing plant near here two years ago, they had no idea a little American boy named Carlos would be swept up in the operation.

One of the 136 illegal immigrants detained in the raid was Carlos’s mother, Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan. A year and a half after she went to jail, a county court terminated Ms. Bail’s rights to her child on grounds of abandonment. Carlos, now 2, was adopted by a local couple. [...]

Read the full article:

Mentally Ill and in Immigration Limbo
by Nine Bernstein, New York Times

May 3, 2009

Twice the immigration judge asked the woman’s name. Twice she gave it: Xiu Ping Jiang. But he chided her, a Chinese New Yorker, for answering his question before the court interpreter had translated it into Mandarin.

Patrick Andrade for The New York TimesMs. Jiang’s sisters, Yun, left, and Yu, who both live in New York, have been fighting to have her freed and have watched her condition deteriorate in jail. “I’m afraid my sister will commit suicide in the detention,” said Yun, who said Ms. Jiang was too ill to recognize her when she visited in February. “Ma’am, we’re going to do this one more time, and then I’m going to treat you as though you were not here,” the immigration judge, Rex J. Ford, warned the woman last year at her first hearing in Pompano Beach, Fla. He threatened to issue an order of deportation that would say she had failed to show up.

She was a waitress with no criminal record, no lawyer and a history of attempted suicide. Her reply to the judge’s threat, captured by the court transcript, was in imperfect English. “Sir, I not — cannot go home,” she said, referring to China, which her family says she fled in 1995 after being forcibly sterilized at 20. “If I die, I die America.” [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Postville Fallout: Dismissal of Guilty Pleas Is Sought for Immigrants

by Julia Preston, New York Times
May 5, 2009

The immigration lawyers’ national bar association called on the Justice Department on Tuesday to consider dismissing the guilty pleas of nearly 300 illegal immigrant workers arrested in a meatpacking plant raid in Iowa last year, one day after the Supreme Court rejected a statute that prosecutors used to pressure them.

In its decision Monday, the court ruled that to win convictions for identity theft, prosecutors had to show that illegal immigrants knew that false identification documents they presented to employers actually belonged to another real person.

A Federal District Court in Iowa saw immediate fallout on Tuesday from the Supreme Court’s decision, as prosecutors dropped one charge against a human resources manager from the meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Feds Wrongly Deport Citizen Living in North Carolina

Believing Mark Lyttle was Mexican, they launched him from a Wayne County prison on an odyssey across Latin America

By Kristin Collins, News and Observer
April 30, 2009

Mark Lyttle expected to return home after serving a few months in prison for inappropriately touching a woman's backside.

Instead, he says, the U.S. government deported him to Mexico, Mexican officials deported him to Honduras, and Honduras deported him to Guatemala - even though he is a North Carolina-born U.S. citizen who speaks no Spanish.

U.S. immigration officials confirmed this week that they wrongly deported Lyttle, 31, who his family says is mentally ill and suffers from mild retardation, in December after finding him in a North Carolina prison. He and his lawyer say he spent four months bouncing among Latin American prisons and homeless shelters before ending up this month at a U.S. embassy in Guatemala, where officials confirmed his citizenship. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Raids, Rights, or Guest Workers? Two articles on immigration reform

Rights, Not Raids
by Bill Ong Hing & David Bacon, The Nation
April 29, 2009 (May 18, 2009 edition)

When the Obama administration reiterated recently that it will make an immigration reform proposal this year, hopes rose among millions of immigrant families for the "change we can believe in." That was followed by a new immigration position embraced by both the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win unions, rejecting the expansion of guest worker programs, which some unions had supported.

As it prepares a reform package, the administration should look seriously at why the deals created over the past several years failed, and consider alternatives. Beltway groups are again proposing employment visas for future (post-recession, presumably) labor shortages and continued imprisonment of the undocumented in detention centers, which they deem "necessary in some cases." Most disturbing, after years of the Bush raids, is the continued emphasis on enforcement against workers.

We need a reality check. [...]

Read the full article:

Obama, Labor Battle Looming on Immigration
by Daniel González and Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic

April 29, 2009

Twice under George W. Bush's administration, fierce objections to legalizing illegal immigrants killed comprehensive immigration reform.

Now, as the Obama administration prepares to tackle the divisive issue, battle lines are being drawn again, this time over how the United States lets foreign workers enter the country. [...]

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