Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Byzantine World of Immigration Detention

By William Fisher, Inter Press Service
July 22, 2009

NEW YORK, Jul 22 (IPS) - Duarnis Perez, a native of the Dominican Republic, became a U.S. citizen at 15 when his mother was naturalised. But he didn't know that meant he was also a citizen. He thought he was an illegal immigrant, and so did the authorities.

He was deported and subsequently arrested trying to sneak back into the U.S. from Canada. Perez spent almost five years in prison for unlawful reentry. But when he was released in 2004, an official of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) reviewed his file and told him he had been a citizen all along. [...]

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Racist Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

By Kirk Semple, New York Times
July 24, 2009

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection. [...]

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Arizona activist faces death threat

by Demetria Martinez, NCR Today
July 15, 2009

Isabel Garcia, a Tucson, Ariz., attorney whose work on behalf of immigrants has earned her international acclaim, has received a death threat from an individual claiming to offer a half million dollars to anyone who might assassinate her.

Written in broken Spanish, the threat arrived by e-mail at the offices of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, or the Human Rights Coalition, in June. Garcia is the co-chair of the organization, which monitors the growing militarization of the border, tracks border patrol abuses, and promotes community education about rights when encountering law enforcement officials. [...]

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Report Says Immigration Agents Broke Laws and Agency Rules in Home Raids

By Nina Bernstein, New York TimesAdd Video
July 21, 2009

Armed federal immigration agents have illegally pushed and shoved their way into homes in New York and New Jersey in hundreds of predawn raids that violated their own agency rules as well as the Constitution, according to a study to be released on Wednesday by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The study by the school’s Immigration Justice Law Clinic, backed by several law enforcement experts including Nassau County’s police commissioner, found a widespread pattern of misconduct by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement after analyzing 700 arrest reports obtained from the agency through Freedom of Information lawsuits. [...]

Read the full article:

For the text of the report:

For internal ICE memos

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NY area events 7/25-8/1

1. SAT 7/25 & SAT 8/1: Last 2 Performances of “Las Escenas de la Cruz.”

There are only two more performances of this powerful play by NYC immigrant youths about their own and their friends’ experiences coming to the US and living and working here. Make sure you don't miss out on a unique experience--order your tickets now.

--Saturday July 25, 1 pm
--Saturday August 1, 7 pm

At Dorothy Streslin Theater, 312 W 36th St, Manhattan
(A/C/E to 34th St-Penn Station)

Tickets: 866-811-4111 and
More information: &

* * *

2. SUN 7/26: "Enemy Alien" screening, punk benefit in NJ

[Politics of Immigration co-author Jane Guskin is playing with two of the bands.]

Punk for Economic Justice
Sunday July 26, 2009

Ke Chu=Cha
Public Disturbance

PLUS: a preview screening of "Enemy Alien," a 70-minute documentary about the struggle to free Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti from immigration detention:

Doors open at 3:30 pm
(film to start promptly at 3:30pm, followed by brief Q&A/discussion, then the bands)
8 Park St. (downstairs)
Montclair, NJ (see directions below)

$6-10 suggested donation at the door goes to help Palestinian rights activist and radio producer Sharin Chiorazzo battle a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Sharin has worked for many years to support Palestinian rights and further the cause of peace in the Middle East. Sharin produced and hosted the "Live from Palestine" segment on WBAI, and helped win the release in April 2004 of her close friend and colleague, New York Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti, from immigration detention. At the time of Farouk's death on July 21, 2004, he and Sharin were engaged to be married. Sharin has a young daughter, Nadia.

You can contribute to Sharin's medical expenses by donating at the show or by making a check payable to either "Farouk Fund" or "Sharin Chiorazzo," note "healthcare" on the memo line and mailing it to Sharin Chiorazzo, 267 Mattix Run, Galloway, NJ 08205. (Donations are not tax-deductible.)

Directions to the screening and show:

By car take the Garden State Parkway South to the Watchung Ave. Exit (151). Take a right at the light after the toll. Follow to the end (under train trestle). Take a left (Park Ave.) Follow 2 miles to 8 Park (just before Bloomfield Ave).

By bus (from Newark Penn Station): use NJ Transit Trip Planner:

For more information, email Greg at info (at) or call 201-803-7574
See show flier at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Remittances to Mexico Drop as Some Migrants in the USA get Money from Home

Frontera NorteSur
July 17, 2009

For decades, money sent home by Mexicans laboring in the United States has been a key pillar of the Mexican economy. Now, scattered reports are surfacing of Mexicans sending money to support relatives in the United States hard hit by the economic crisis north of the border. Latinos, especially immigrants, are suffering a disproportionate share of the joblessness that is officially rising to engulf close to 10 percent of the overall US population.

According to Chihuahua state tourism department official Demetrio Sotomayor Cuellar, a 21 percent decrease over last year in the number of "paisanos" (Mexican immigrants traveling home for visits) crossing the Chihuahua border from June 26 to July 14 led officials to investigate the visitor drop. In the course of the probe, Sotomayor said, officials ran across unusual reports in the hands of Mexico's Interior Ministry.

Much to their surprise, officials learned that some Mexicans were financially sustaining migrant relatives. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Immigrant Drama: “Maybe You Have to Yell a Little”

By David L. Wilson (co-author, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers)
July 16, 2009

Something truly original is coming to the New York theater scene this week. In a small West Side playhouse a dozen immigrant youths will give the world premiere on Friday of a bilingual one-act play they have created from their own experiences and those of their friends.

“Las Escenas de la Cruz/Scenes From the Cross” follows a group of young people on their journey from Mexico to New York, cutting back and forth between their grueling days and nights in the desert and the dramas and disappointments they face once they get here.

The play grew out of the iDoTheater project of iPOWER , a New York-based nonprofit that helps immigrant youths expand their skills and talents.

Daniel Carlton, a professional actor and playwright, has worked with the cast over the past year to develop the eight-scene script out of a series of improvisations. The result is a rare opportunity to hear from the people who have largely been excluded from the immigration debate in the mainstream media—the immigrants themselves.

Giving immigrants a voice was the iDoTheater project’s goal from the time it started two years ago, according to one of the founding members, who came here from Mexico’s Puebla state when he was thirteen. “We wanted to create a group to tell our own stories,” he says. The collective produced two brief plays previously; “Las Escenas” is the group’s first large-scale effort.

Most of the cast members are from Latin America; one was born in China. Many of the people they know have made the dangerous crossing into the United States that provides much of the play’s action; more than 4,000 people have died in the attempt during the past fifteen years. Like the play’s characters, most of the actors came here with dreams of greater opportunities in El Norte and instead found labor exploitation, broken promises, disrupted families, and threats from criminal gangs.

The young actors aren’t always polished, but they more than make up for their lack of experience with a deeply felt emotion and, sometimes, surprising humor.

“The hardest part is just getting them together for rehearsals,” says the energetic and talented Carlton, who coaches the cast in a very New York mixture of Spanish and English. Like many teens in the city, the actors in “Las Escenas” have to juggle schedules that include low-wage jobs and classes in high schools and community colleges. Carlton and the cast held the rehearsals and script writing sessions in whatever spaces they could find: in classrooms at The Door, a downtown youth project, in local restaurants, and, when the weather was good, in city parks.

For the youth from Puebla the result was worth the effort. He hopes that seeing the play will be “good for the others…for the people who don’t face the risks” of immigrant life.

Asked if he thinks “Las Escenas” will help non-immigrants see the point of view of the people who cross the border, another cast member says he’s not sure. “But if you don’t tell them, they won’t hear you. Maybe you have to yell a little.”

The play is part of this year’s Midtown International Theatre Festival. Performances will held be at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at 312 West 36th Street in Manhattan on Friday, July 17 at 7 pm (sold out); Saturday, July 18 at 3 pm; Sunday, July 19 at 4 pm; Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 pm; Saturday, July 25 at 1 pm; and Saturday, August 1 at 7 pm. Tickets are available from 886-811-4111 or

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Haiti: Deportees from U.S. Face Culture Shock, Retain Hope

By Michael Deibert, Inter Press Service
July 8, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jul 8, 2009 (IPS) - In the shadow of the Eglise Sainte Claire in the Petite Place Cazeau neighbourhood of Haiti’s bustling capital, Frantz Saintil is visiting his daughter and reflecting on the more than two decades he spent abroad before finding himself back in his native country of Haiti seven years ago.

"It didn’t take me long to become very Americanised," says Saintil, 34, who left Haiti for Canada and eventually the United States with his family when he was six years old.

"I like baseball and apple pie and everything American. I didn’t want to be identified as Haitian and discriminated against. I didn’t understand their way of dress, their musical preferences. I was more into rock, some R&B, country music. I didn’t identify with them at all." [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For and about immigrants in the New York area this week

New Yorkers have lots of opportunities to find out more about the reality of immigration this week: a documentary Wednesday about longtime Brooklyn resident RoxRoy Salmon, the opening Friday of a play written and performed by immigrant youths and based on their experience, and an ongoing exhibit of art by and about immigrants.

From the NY Activist Calendar, July 11, 2009:

Through 2/12 FRI – Exhibit: Travelling Immigrants Art Exhibit 2009. An opportunity for immigrant artists to respond artistically to this time in history in which immigrants are being persecuted & deprived of their rights. Info: 201-344-9856.
--Through 7/24 FRI: At Rio II Gallery, B’way Housing Communities, 583 Riverside Dr (corner 135th St, 1 to 137th St-City College). No children. Info: 212-568-2030, x208.
--7/26 SUN, 2 pm-8/7 FRI: At Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center, 2785 Frederick Douglass Blvd (near 148th St, A/C, B/D to 145th St). Info: 212-862-ARTS (2787).
--11/13 FRI, 7 pm-12/13 SUN: At South Ocean Art Gallery, Unitarian Universalist Church, 228 South Ocean Ave, Freeport, NY.
--1/31 SUN, 2 pm-2/12 FRI: At Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts, 20 3rd Ave, Long Branch, NJ. Info: 732-263-1121.

7/15 WED, 7 pm – Film/discussion: “RoxRoy.” W/filmmaker Zach Fox. The everyday life of a family is shaken by an ongoing deportation case. At 1st Presbyterian Church, 12 W 12th St, 5th Ave (N/Q/R/W, 4/5/6, L to Union Square, F/V to 14th St). Sponsors: 1st Presbyterian Church, New Sanctuary Movement. Info: 212-995-0844,

7/17 FRI-8/1 SAT – Performance: “Las Escenas de la Cruz.” Powerful play by NYC immigrant youths about their own & their friends’ experiences coming to US & living & working here. Part of Midtown Int’l Theatre Festival. Eng/Sp. Times: 7/17 FRI, 7 pm (sold out); 7/18 SAT, 3 pm; 7/19 SUN, 4 pm; 7/21 TUE, 6:30 pm; 7/25 SAT, 1 pm; 8/1 SAT, 7 pm. At Dorothy Streslin Theater, 312 W 36th St (A/C/E to 34th St-Penn Station). Sponsor: Ipower IdoTheater. Info: & &

Monday, July 13, 2009

Napolitano Drops No-Match But Boosts E-Verify

Department of Homeland Security Press Release:

Secretary Napolitano Strengthens Employment Verification with Administration's Commitment to E-Verify

Release Date: July 8, 2009
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today strengthened employment eligibility verification by announcing the Administration’s support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization. The declaration came as Secretary Napolitano announced the Department's intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system.

“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Requiring those who seek federal contracts to use this system will create a more reliable and legal workforce. The rule complements our Department’s continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities. As Senator Schumer and others have recognized, we need to continue to work to improve E-Verify, and we will.”

E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.

The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. After a careful review, the Administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards Government-wide starting on September 8, 2009.

On average, one thousand employers sign up for E-Verify each week, totaling more than 134,000 employers representing more than half a million locations nationwide. Westat, an independent research firm, found that 96.9 percent of all queries run through E-Verify are automatically confirmed work-authorized within 24 hours. The figure is based on statistics gathered from October through December 2008. Since October 1, 2008, E-Verify has processed more than six million queries. In an April 2009 American Customer Satisfaction Index Survey of over a thousand E-Verify participants, E-Verify scored 83 out of a possible 100 points—well above the latest federal government satisfaction index of 69 percent.

In addition to expanding participation, DHS continues to enhance E-Verify in order to guard against errors, enforce compliance, promote proper usage, and enhance security. Recent E-Verify advancements include new processes to reduce typographical errors and new features to reduce initial mismatches. In May 2008, DHS added access to naturalization database records which increased the program’s ability to automatically verify naturalized citizens’ status, reducing citizenship-related mismatches by 39 percent.

Additionally, in February 2009, the agency incorporated Department of State passport data in the E-Verify process to reduce mismatches among foreign-born citizens. Other initiatives underway will bring further improvements to Federal database accuracy; add new tools to prevent fraud, misuse, and discrimination; strengthen training, monitoring, and compliance; and enhance privacy protections.

DHS will be proposing a new regulation rescinding the 2007 No-Match Rule, which was blocked by court order shortly after issuance and has never taken effect. That rule established procedures that employers could follow if they receive SSA No-Match letters or notices from DHS that call into question work eligibility information provided by employees. These notices most often inform an employer many months or even a year later that an employee’s name and Social Security Number provided for a W-2 earnings report do not match SSA records—often due to typographical errors or unreported name changes. E-Verify addresses data inaccuracies that can result in No-Match letters in a more timely manner and provides a more robust tool for identifying unauthorized individuals and combating illegal employment.

As Governor of Arizona, Secretary Napolitano signed legislation mandating all employers in the State use E-Verify. Implementation of this legislation has received high marks from employers across Arizona and the USCIS Ombudsman (in a December 2008 report).

For more information on E-Verify, visit

See also:
Government to Require Verification of Workers
By Julie Preston, New York Times
July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

While Supporters Held Vigil, Brooklyn Father Ordered Deported

“Don't put me in exile!” says RoxRoy Salmon

by New Sanctuary Movement of New York City
July 7, 2009

New York City--As supporters prayed and sang outside 26 Federal Plaza, Brooklyn father and community leader RoxRoy Salmon was ordered deported following a half-hour court hearing. The order of deportation was inevitable: Because of two decades-old drug convictions for which Salmon had served no jail time, the immigration judge hearing his case had no discretion to consider the impact on his US citizen children in her ruling. At any time, ICE could detain and deport Salmon, separating him from his minor children, infant granddaughter, and wife, who is currently ill. All are US citizens, and depend on him for support.

Dozens of Salmon’s supporters, including religious leaders and their congregants as well as community members from all over New York, waited for over four hours while Mr. Salmon, his children and his attorney attended the hearing. They were accompanied by several leaders from the First Presbyterian Church. Dozens more vigiled outside, many dressed in t-shirts reading “First Presbyterian Church Supports RoxRoy Salmon.” The group kept a prayer vigil, spoke to passersby, and shared in songs and chants from various traditions. As the morning wore on, Jim Reagan from the St. Joseph House Catholic Worker invited the group to use the wait to remember the thousands of immigrants who face waits like this every day, many of them behind bars.

As he exited the building, RoxRoy was visibly shaken but spoke strongly to the gathered crowd. “I'm asking Congressman [Ed] Towns and Senator [Charles] Schumer to please save me and my family and other families that are in the same situation,” he said. “Because we have children — here are my children — we need to stay together. Don't put me in exile!”

Salmon’s attorney, Wanyong Austin, Esq., is seeking “deferred action,” which if accepted, would grant him temporary relief from deportation. After the hearing, Austin went to the office of ICE Field Office Director Chris Shanahan to deliver a 5-inch thick application for deferred action. It included letters from Salmon’s Congressman, Edolphus Towns, who represents the 10th Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as dozens of statements of support from faith leaders, and a petition signed by over 1,200 community members. Salmon qualifies for deferred action consideration as an extraordinary case due to his family responsibilities, his standing in the community and the circumstances of his convictions, which resulted from guilty plea bargains that Salmon agreed to on the advice of his attorney at the time. Only Shanahan has the power to allow Salmon temporary freedom to remain in the US, close to his family, loved ones, and community. Field Office Director Shanahan can be reached at 212-264-2413.

“RoxRoy is really putting his neck out there in this struggle,” said Pastor Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church, a founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition. “He knows full well that he might be risking his own case by taking this public stand. But every day he makes moral choices that look to the broader picture.”

Salmon is especially advocating for the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR182), introduced by Bronx Congressman José Serrano, it would allow immigration judges to take into account the best interests of US citizen children, like Salmon’s, in deportation cases. Two immigrant rights groups, Families for Freedom and the NY New Sanctuary Coalition, are urging Congress to support HR182 immediately, and incorporate issues of judicial discretion into ongoing discussions on comprehensive immigration reform.

To prayerfully reflect and consider further action in support of Salmon, First Presbyterian Church is holding a Vigil and worship service on Wednesday, July 8th at 6:30 PM. Salmon’s supporters will also attend an ongoing vigil being held outside the ICE detention center at 201 Varick Street on Friday, July 10th, 7 PM (at W Houston St, 1 to Houston St, C/E to Spring St, A, B/D/F/V to W 4th St). In addition, First Presbyterian Church will be screening a documentary film about Salmon and his family on July 15th at 7 PM, followed by a discussion with director Zach Fox.


For more information:

Update, July 17, 2009
For a troll attack on this press release--along with some responses--go to:

For more coverage:
Immigration laws are breaking families apart, deporting too many parents with US-born children

Broken Immigration System Breaks Up A Jamerican Family

Monday, July 6, 2009

NYC, July 7: Rally to Support Roxroy Salmon

NYC Unites to Help Immigrant Dad Remain with his Family of U.S. Citizens

WHAT: Roxroy Salmon, a Brooklyn father and community activist, faces his final hearing in immigration court on Tuesday morning. Supporters will rally in front of the immigration building at 26 Federal Plaza in a public display of solidarity to help keep Mr. Salmon in New York, where he can continue to care for his children and provide for his family.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 from 8am – 10:30am

WHERE: 26 Federal Plaza, (Broadway side) New York, NY
Take the R/W to City Hall, the 1/2/3, A/C, E, J/M/Z to Chambers St, the 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, or the N/Q to Canal St).

Ray Salmon, Roxroy’s brother, a U.S. citizen fighting to keep his brother here
Religious leaders from the New Sanctuary Coalition
Members of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York
Members and Staff of Families for Freedom … and MORE!

The Roxroy Salmon Defense Committee is composed of representatives from: The New Sanctuary Movement of New York City, The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, Families for Freedom

For more information:

Read media coverage of Roxroy Salmon's case:

BACKGROUND: Religious and community leaders in New York City are speaking out in support of Roxroy Salmon, a 52-year-old Jamaican national who has lived in the US for over 30 years and is now facing deportation. A father and grandfather, he is at risk of deportation because of our unjust and punitive immigration system. Decades ago, Roxroy was pressured to plead guilty to two minor drug-related offenses. Although he was never required to serve a day in jail, these convictions may tear his family apart. Roxroy is the primary caregiver for his US citizen children and infant grandchild and a great support to his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease; she too is a citizen. “I live and breathe for my children," he says. “It is my greatest honor. I teach them 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.” His daughter, Nyasha Salmon, 16, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, explains that her father has always been an enduring presence in her life. “When asked to define the word father, I can say that the best definition is ‘Roxroy Salmon.’”

Through two years of community events and vigils leading up to this hearing, Mr. Salmon has garnered strong support from Representative Edolphus (Ed) Towns of the 10th District of New York and over 1,000 congregants of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, and has collected 1,200 petition signatures from New York residents.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Immigration and the Coup in Honduras

Working people in the United States understand the effects of outsourcing industrial work to other countries, and they know about the pressure undocumented workers put on the wages of the native born. What they don't know is how these phenomena are linked to U.S. foreign policy.

It's Not about Zelaya
by David L. Wilson, MRzine
July 4, 2009

Manuel "Mel" Zelaya is a rancher and business owner who wears large cowboy hats and, in November 2005, was elected president of Honduras, an impoverished Central American country with a population of 7.5 million. On June 28 of this year the Honduran military, backed by the country's elite, removed Zelaya from power. He instantly became a focus of attention for the U.S. media -- his statements were examined, and his appearances at the United Nations and regional meetings were dutifully covered. Most media depicted him as a major "leftist strongman" seeking to extend his term of office in the style of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. [...]

Read the full article: