Monday, July 30, 2012

Fight Over Immigrant Firings

By Steven Greenhouse and Steven Yaccino, New York Times
July 27, 2012

MILWAUKEE — On May 27, about 150 workers from Palermo’s Pizza factory here, representing three-fourths of its production workers, met to sign a petition saying they wanted to unionize. They say they gave the petition to management two days later.

Around the same time, Palermo’s delivered letters to 89 immigrant workers, asking them to provide documentation verifying that they had the right to work in the United States. Ten days later, almost all of them were fired.

Labor organizers assert that Palermo’s, one of the nation’s largest producers of frozen pizza, was trying to snuff out a unionization drive in its infancy. [...]

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Report Details the Growth of For-Profit Federal Detention

July 19, 2012 (The Sentencing Project)

Dollars and Detainees: The Growth of For-Profit Detention details how harsher immigration enforcement and legislation led to a 59 percent increase in the number of detainees being held by the federal government between 2002 and 2011. It specifically examines how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) have increasingly relied on private companies to detain these individuals, as well as the complex network of facilities that house federal detainees, and the failings of private detention.

Among the report's major findings:

• Between 2002 and 2011 the number of privately held ICE detainees increased by 208 percent, while the number of USMS detainees held in private facilities grew by 355 percent.

• In 2011, 45 percent of ICE detainees and 30 percent of USMS detainees were held by private companies.

• Federal detainees are held in a complex network of facilities in which information on where individuals are being held, and by whom is often unavailable or incomplete.

• The private detention industry is dominated by the same companies that are regularly criticized for their management of private prisons.

• Concerns raised in the context of private prisons, including unsatisfactory levels of service, negative political and policy implications, and questionable economic effects, apply equally to private detention.

The full report can be found here:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lesbian couple sue to stop deportation

Associated Press,
July 12, 2012

Santa Ana--A lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in California seeking to solve their immigration problems and put a stop to the deportation of same-sex spouses.

The suit - which seeks class-action status - was filed on behalf of Philippines citizen Jane DeLeon, who was sponsored for a green card by her employer but can't get a waiver she needs to obtain residency here because the U.S. government doesn't recognize her three-year marriage to her American spouse.

The case is one of several challenges brought by same-sex couples - some of them facing immigration troubles - over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages. [...]

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tucson Freedom Summer, Or 5 Ways to Fight Back Against An Unjust Law

By Julianne Hing, ColorLines
July 11 2012

Arizona’s ethnic studies ban may have shut down Tucson’s Mexican American Studies classes. But this summer in the southern Arizona city, class is in session. Educators are holding weekend community forums to educate the city about the now-banned ethnic studies courses.

It’s just one component of what’s being called the Tucson Freedom Summer, a month of events geared toward engaging Tucson to fight back against the law and revive the program it targeted. The idea for a month of civic engagement and community awareness activities was borne out of the need to keep the fight alive. Tucson Unified shut down the Mexican American Studies program in January, and since then, the resistance has been multi-pronged and endlessly creative. But as educators remain embroiled in a legal fight to challenge HB 2281, the community needed to come together to find other ways to resist. [...]

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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Union Grows in Brooklyn: Kensington Grocery Store Workers Inspire Community Allies

A 24 hour boycott helped draw attention to workers rights at Golden Farms in South Brooklyn.

By Brian Pickett, The Indypendent (New York)
June 29, 2012

Over the past few weeks a small group of us from the Kensington neighborhood in Brooklyn have been turning out once again at the Golden Farm grocery store to support local workers fighting for a union contract. Many of us shop at the store, or used to shop there until we heard about the way the owner was treating his employees. The flyers we pass out have a simple message- we live in the community, and we want “quality jobs” in our neighborhood and “justice for all workers.” For years workers at the store have been grossly underpaid ($400 for a 70-plus hour work week) and receive no sick days or other benefits. Over the past year there have been periodic swells of community support, most notably in April when there was a week of action co-organized by NY Communities for Change that culminated with a successful 24 hr. boycott during which the store lost an estimated 60-70% of its usual business. [...]

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Arizona needs a movement to repeal SB 1070

Just this week, Raul Castro, a 95-year-old former Arizona governor and once the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, was stopped, harassed and made to sit out in the 105 degree heat for an entire hour while he was being "checked" by Border Patrol. He was just a passenger in a car, but he is brown.

By Joe Bernick, People's World
June 29 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. - Was Monday's Supreme Court decision on Arizona's racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070 a victory for working people?

The decision has engendered lots of commentary in the media and among elected officials. [...]

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Border Patrol Turns Back US Citizens

Woman fights to assert citizenship
By Madeline Buckley, The Brownsville Herald
June 02, 2012

Though she was born in Weslaco in 1982, Brenda Vazquez swore to a Customs and Border Protection officer that she was born in Mexico and is not a U.S. citizen.

Desperate for the end of what she says was hours of intense questioning at a Brownsville international bridge, she signed a statement denying her citizenship.

A petition filed in federal court last week states that Vazquez made the false statement on Feb. 19 after seven hours of intimidation from a Customs and Border Protection officer. [...]

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Complaints rise over border-crossing interrogations
Lynn Brezosky, Houston Chronicle
July 9, 2012

MATAMOROS, Mexico - Sitting in a Matamoros restaurant on a recent afternoon, Brenda Vasquez recounted the day she says she was forced to sign away her U.S. citizenship. Even though she lives and works in Mexico, Vasquez says she was born in the Rio Grande Valley and, until February, was allowed to cross the border with her birth certificate, a Social Security card and a Texas ID - all confiscated by federal agents after what she describes as an abusive interrogation that lasted for hours.

Vasquez is suing Customs and Border Protection Port Director Michael Freeman, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the CBP agent who she says bullied her into signing a false statement and who is also named in a scathing ACLU complaint of similar incidents. [...]

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Arizona Immigration Law Ruling May Mean Boon For Private Prison Business

By Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post
June 25, 2012

As the Supreme Court upheld a central provision of Arizona's controversial immigration law on Monday -– a requirement for law enforcement to check the legal status of suspected undocumented immigrants -- a powerful corporate lobby may stand to benefit: the private prison industry.

For-profit prison companies including Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group Inc. have capitalized on the immigration crackdown over the past decade, now controlling nearly half of the nation's vast immigrant detention system. Both companies have more than doubled revenues from the business of detaining immigrants since 2005, collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. [...]

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Workers Take On Wal-Mart in Lower Manhattan

Immigrants who want to work here can come without authorization and be subjected to the harsh anti-immigrant enforcement measures exemplified by Joe Arpaio, the publicity-seeking sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County; or they can come “legally” as guest workers to serve at the pleasure of whatever company holds their contract.

By David L. Wilson, NYC Indymedia
July 5, 2012

Four Mexican guest workers came to New York the last weekend in June to hold a 24-hour hunger strike protesting labor practices by suppliers for the retail giant Wal-Mart.

About 20 supporters turned out for a small rally the morning of Saturday, June 30, in a semi-public park beside a luxury apartment building on Spruce Street, a few blocks from City Hall. The four Mexicans—who were employed at CJ’s Seafood, a Wal-Mart supplier in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, through the government’s H-2B temporary worker program—chose the site because Wal-Mart board member Michelle Burns lives there. [...]

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