Monday, June 29, 2009

Criminals Because We Worked

The company says Agustiano's Social Security number is no good. That accusation, and the mass firings based on it, has put these 254 workers, mostly women, at the epicenter of the national debate over the nation's immigration laws.

By David Bacon, Truthout
June 20, 2009

Vernon, California --The production lines at Overhill Farms move very quickly. Every day, for 18 years, Bohemia Agustiano stood in front of the "banda" for eight or nine hours, putting pieces of frozen chicken, rice and vegetables onto plates as they passed in a blur before her. Making the same motions over and over for such a long time, her feet in one place on the concrete floor, had its price. Pains began shooting through her hands and wrists, up her arms to her shoulders.

Complaining also had a price, however. "I was reluctant to say anything because of my need," she says. "I have four children. So I preferred to stay hurt, and take pills for it, than to go out on disability." Finally, though, it got too much. She couldn't sleep without pain constantly waking her, and she was moving through a haze of exhaustion. So, she went to the company doctor. [...]

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Secret Courts Exploit Immigrants

By Jacqueline Stevens, The Nation
June 16, 2009

You don't need to go to Iran or North Korea to find secret courts. They're alive and well right here in the United States. On March 26, 2009, I was denied access to immigration courts in Eloy and Florence, Arizona, even though a federal regulation states, "All hearings, other than exclusion hearings, shall be open to the public" with a narrow range of exceptions--none of which were cited as a reason for excluding me.

I'd heard horror stories about mass hearings and the humiliation of detainees by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys and judges, and I wanted to see for myself. But a guard told me only family members or attorneys could be admitted. An attorney in the lobby affirmed the legality of my request and invited me to attend his hearing. After waiting forty-five minutes and missing his hearing, I was told by the head of security to go to my car and call Eloy's ICE office. That's when I learned that detention centers across the country were restricting public access to immigration courts. [...]

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Solving the Immigration Problem Means Addressing the Realities of Corporate Globalization

By Douglas Massey, Boston Review (via Alternet)
May 28, 2009

This article is a response to Joseph H. Carens's Case for Amnesty, and part of a New Democracy Forum on immigration.

Joseph Carens has advanced a strong moral argument in favor of amnesty for irregular migrants in the United States. I agree with the need for some kind of legalization program and share his ethical concerns. The current immigration crisis, however, stems from deeper U.S. policy failures that must be addressed, or the problem of undocumented migration will simply recreate itself.

The core of the U.S. immigration dilemma is Mexico. Of the roughly eleven million people in the United States with undocumented status, about 60 percent -- some 6.5 million people -- come from Mexico. The next closest case is El Salvador, with around 570,000 undocumented migrants, followed by Guatemala at 400,000; the numbers drop off rapidly from there. If we deal effectively with migration from Mexico, other immigration problems become small by comparison and much easier to resolve. [...]

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Count of Arizona Recovered Remains Exceeds 100 Halfway Through the Month of June

For Immediate Release
June 19, 2009
Contact: Kat Rodriguez: 520.770.1373

Arizona--The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2008 has exceeded 100 halfway through the month of June, reports the Coalición de Derechos Humanos. 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. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of May, 95 human remains were recovered-this figure does not reflect any June numbers, which will include the recent rollover that resulted in the deaths of at least 8 individuals in Sonoita, and the body of a man recovered in Douglas earlier this month.

The count of 95 includes fifty-eight (58) males, eight (8) females, and a staggering twenty-nine (29) individuals of unknown gender (31% of the total). The numbers also reflect fifty-two (52) individuals of unknown identity, approximately 55% of the total remains recovered. The remains of 88 individuals had been recovered by the end of May at the same time last fiscal year.

"What is extremely disturbing is the alarming increase in the number of recovered remains of undetermined gender," says Kat Rodriguez of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos. "Last fiscal year, at the same time, there had been a total of five remains of undetermined gender recovered-nineteen the entire fiscal year; this year, there have been at least 29."

"Unknown gender" indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, which is costly, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult.

The dramatic increase in unknown gender cases is a clear indicator of what happens as border enforcement strategies push migrants out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and the likelihood of death more certain. This "Funnel Effect," which has been documented by the University of Arizona's Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing of traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The real extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.

"It is unconscionable that we continue policies we know are directly resulting in horrific deaths," continues Rodriguez. "We must demand an end to the killing fields that the Southwest border region has become. The current administration must show leadership in ending the costly militarization of the border and interior that has lined the pockets of the military-prison industry at the expense of real human security."

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website: This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.

Coalición de Derechos Humanos

P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702
Tel: 520.770.1373
Fax: 520.770.7455

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Deporting Fathers in the Name of Homeland Security

By Joseph Nevins, New America Media, Commentary
June 21, 2009

As families celebrate Father’s Day, consider the case of Roxroy Salmon. The father of four U.S.-born children, Salmon has lived in the United States for more than 30 years. Yet the Department of Homeland Security now threatens to deport him to Jamaica, a country where he has not resided for decades, due to minor drug convictions from more than 19 years ago for which he served no time. This would effectively deny his children their father by permanently exiling him from his family and their common homeland.

Salmon’s story is hardly exceptional. Each year the federal government deports tens of thousands of non-citizens, many of them with U.S. citizen children, to countries to which they often have tenuous ties. By doing this, the federal government seriously injures children and families, and produces large numbers of a particular type of refugee. [...]

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It is also on Common Dreams:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Immigration Reform: What's Labor Up To?

By Tiffany Ten Eyck, Labor Notes
June 2009

Labor has reached a common position on immigration reform, but does it give away too much even before legislative horse-trading has begun?

Labor Notes’ Tiffany Ten Eyck interviewed longtime Bay Area immigrant rights activist David Bacon about the new joint position on immigration recently released by the AFL-CIO and Change to Win. Bacon argues that the new stance is inconsistent—some parts contradict other parts. He believes the resolution is based on the CTW view: that in order to get any form of legal change for immigrants through Congress, unions must ally with employers. That means supporting a guest worker program, which employers favor. It wasn’t always like this. What happened? [...]

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Annual Children’s Vigil Celebrates NY’s Support of American Kids, Immigrant Families

Honor Father’s Day by Calling for Passage of the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 182)

WHAT: On the eve of Father’s Day, Families for Freedom’s Youth Committee will be holding its annual Children’s Vigil to raise awareness about American kids whose families are ripped apart due to the federal government’s draconian deportation policies. The year’s Vigil will celebrate the overwhelming support New York has shown for this bill and pay special tribute to immigrant dads fighting to stay with their families. Youth will follow the Vigil by holding a street corner speak-out to educate the community about what they can do to help win passage of this legislation.

WHY: As President Obama sets his sights on immigration reform, American kids and their immigrant families want him to know that New Yorkers’ priority is to keep our families together. The Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 182) is the only bill currently in Congress that unties the hands of immigration judges to consider the best interests of U.S. citizen children during deportation proceedings. In the past fiscal year, nearly 350,000 people were deported leaving behind thousands of American kids who need their moms and dads. The Vigil will be a celebration of the hundreds of New Yorkers who have lobbied, called, written, and visited Congress to help get this legislation reintroduced and cosponsored in 2009!

WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 11am-1pm

WHERE: Union Square Park, South (E. 14th St, across from Whole Foods Market)

WHO: Youth Organizers from Families for Freedom, Immigrant Organizer and father, Roxroy Salmon and his children, Representatives from: Congressman Jose Serrano’s Office, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s Office, State Senator Jose Serrano’s Office, New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Office, and MORE! Religious leaders and congregants from the NYC New Sanctuary Coalition , Community Organizations: the American Friends Service Committee, Children’s Defense Fund, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and many more organizations!

For more on the Roxroy case:
Politics and Popcorn
News Articles on Roxroy Salmon

Unions and Migrant Workers Coalesce from Coast to Coast

By Peter Costantini, Inter Press Service
June 14, 2009

Up the Pacific Coast from California to Washington, through theheartland in Texas and Illinois, and over to the Atlantic Seaboard in New Jersey and New York, local trade unions and mainly immigrantworkers centres are experimenting with new modes of cooperation.

In some places the form has been an organisational alliance through the local labour council. In others, they are joining forces on ad hoc projects that give both groups traction on common goals.[...]

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Murder suspects tied to supremacists

Two accused in Arivaca killings have racist links
By Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star
June 16, 2009

The accused ringleader and triggerman in the May 30 double murder in Arivaca are linked to white supremacist groups, police and family members said.

Accused ringleader Shawna Forde told her family in recent months that she had begun recruiting members of the Aryan Nations and that she planned to begin robbing drug-cartel leaders, her brother Merrill Metzger said Monday in a telephone interview from Redding, Calif. [...]

Forde, 41, who has lived primarily in Everett, Wash., was the executive director of Minutemen American Defense, and she had named Bush the "operations director" for the group's border-watch activities along the Arizona-Mexico border. [...]

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Speaking English a Requirement for Motherhood?

Reunite Cirila Baltazar Cruz with her Baby
By Cindy Von Quednow, RaceWire (the ColorLines blog)

June 14, 2009

In Pascagoula, Mississippi, in November 2008, Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to a baby girl. Soon after, her daughter was taken away from her because she could not communicate with the hospital attendants.

Far away from her native Oaxaca, Mexico, she did not understand the Puerto Rican interpreter assigned to her. Cirila speaks Chatino, an indigenous Mexican language spoken by about 50,000 people. A social worker called in by hospital authorities deemed the new mother negligent and unfit to raise the baby, stating as reasons that she was an “illegal immigrant” and that she did not speak English. [...]

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See also:
Immigrant fights to keep baby girl

Monday, June 1, 2009

Photos from a Bronx Labor Rally: Boycott Stella D'Oro Now!

Coverage from Daily Kos of the May 30 march in solidarity with strikers at the Stella D'oro plant in the Bronx. The 136 workers, mostly immigrant women, have held out for nine months against the Wall Street private equity firm that took over the biscuit and cookie company in 2006.

Go to:!

Some earlier coverage of the strike:
Boycott Stella D’oro
May 11: Striking NYC Stella D’Oro workers rally in CT
Broken Dreams and Cookie Crumbs