Friday, November 22, 2013

All Over the World, Migrants Demand the Right to Stay at Home

A global consensus is emerging on immigration policy–and the U.S. isn’t heeding it.

By David Bacon, In These Times
October 30, 2013

Such voices here in the U.S. and abroad deserve a greater audience. If there is no effort to examine the impact of trade agreements, or to look at the danger of the growth of new international guest worker programs, a decade from now, the world we live in will be one we will hardly recognize.

The United States has become home to a large number of people born outside its borders—there were some 40 million as of 2010, according to various estimates. That was up from approximately 20 million in 1990.

The immigration debate in the United States usually treats the migration of people into this country as something unique. But it is not. The United Nations estimates that 232 million people worldwide live outside the countries where they were born—3.2 percent of the world's population. In 2000 it was 175 million, and in 1990, 154 million. The number of cross-border migrants has grown by 78 million people in just over 20 years—enough to fill 20 cities the size of Los Angeles. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Torture of Children

By Elvira Arellano, Centro Sin Fronteras
October 30, 2013

What would drive a ten year old child to want to take his own life? What cruelty? It is happening – and they are not victims of bullies among their classmates. These bullies are fully grown.

Every day the T.V. commentators suggest that the politicians in Washington DC are acting childishly – shutting down the government as if they are pouting because they can’t get their way. They suggest that the politicians should act like adults instead of children.

I don’t agree. Those who say this must not have children, especially children that have suffered. I think the politicians should act more like children. [...]

Read the full article:

La Tortura de Niños
Por Elvira Arellano
30 de octubre, 2013

¿Cuál sería el motivo que impulsa a un niño de 10 años a que se suicide? ¿Qué nivel de crueldad? Pero sucede, y no me refiero a las víctimas de matones entre sus compañeros de clase. Los matones en cuestión son adultos.

Todos los días oímos en la televisión de que los políticos en Washington actúen en una forma infantil—cerrando el gobierno como niños cuando no logran conseguir lo que desean. Los locutores sugieren que los políticos deben portarse como adultos y no como niños.

No estoy de acuerdo con eso. Quienes dicen eso probablemente no tienen hijos, y sobre todo niños que han sufrido. En mi opinión, los políticos deben portarse más como niños y menos como adultos. [...]

Lea el artículo completo:!topic/sanctuarymovement/jY7zSbqepic

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New York must stand up for immigrant workers rebuilding Sandy-hit areas

Contractors are exploiting immigrant workers, and it's time for the city to protect their rights

By Ligia Guallpa and Jessica Acee, AlJazeera
October 29, 2013

Hurricane Sandy struck fast and furious, and when the waters receded it became clear just how much money and people power it would take to put New York City back together.

As the cleanup began, another reality became clear. Immigrant construction workers, especially day laborers, who became first responders after the hurricane were operating as an underclass in an under-regulated construction industry. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obama renews immigration call, but ignores deportation crisis

By Richard Trumka, People's World
October 24 2013

The following is a statement released by the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, on President Barack Obama's speech, calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.

Today millions of immigrants received needed reassurance from the president that despite chaos in Washington, immigration reform can get done. We commend President Obama for renewing his commitment to passing immigration reform this year and urging Republicans in the House to act quickly. As pointed out by the president our current system, which allows businesses that exploit workers through wage theft, lack of benefits and intimidation, is unfair to all workers and unfair to responsible businesses that play by the rules. Republicans who support business should be able to get behind this. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Queens 'Carwasheros' Strike to Demand Owner Recognize Union

By Stephanie West,  Labor Press
October 29, 2013

New York, NY – Workers at Off-Broadway Car Wash in Queens walked off the job today to demand that the owner recognize the union. The owner has been ducking the efforts of the National Labor Relations Board to set up an election despite a government subpoena being issued.

The “carwasheros” left their posts at 42-08 80th St. in Elmhurst, at 8:30 a.m., soon after clergy, elected officials, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), community supporters and advocates from New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York held a press conference denouncing the owner for ignoring federal regulators. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Growing Clash Between Immigrant Rights Activists and Washington Power Brokers

Political heavyweights and local activists are moving in opposite directions. Their visions of the kind of changes needed in immigration law are fundamentally different.

By David Bacon, Truthout
October 23, 2013

This fall, when Congress couldn't pass immigration reform bills - even ones deeply unpopular among many immigrants themselves - one of the most important responses came from Oaxaca. In the capital of this southern Mexican state, a representative of a Silicon Valley union sat down with a state agency and an organization of indigenous migrants and signed an agreement for mutual cooperation.

All three groups pledged to work to protect the rights of Oaxacans who have migrated to the US. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Calls For Immigration Reform Ramp Up, But What Fuels Migration to U.S.?

The Real News Network
October 28, 13

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Immigration reform is back in the spotlight in Washington. President Obama renewed calls for Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration advocates are expected to carry out actions this week as well, to push for congressional action.

Now joining us to discuss why people are even coming to the United States to begin with is Peter Watt. He teaches Latin American studies at the University of Sheffield, and he is coauthor of the book Drug War Mexico: Politics, Violence and Neoliberalism in the New Narcoeconomy.[...]

View the video (with transcript):

Monday, November 4, 2013

Indigenous Migrants Organize

By Frontera NorteSur
October 27, 2013

The presence of migrant voices in the Mexican political landscape continues to expand. In the southern border state of Chiapas, returning migrants from Mayan indigenous communities have organized a new association to fight for two rights they say are fundamental: the right to freely migrate without violence and the right to stay home.

Meeting in San Cristobal de las Casas this month, representatives of 35 communities held the first assembly of the Chiapas Coalition of Indigenous Migrants (Cimich). Persons deported or voluntarily returned from the United States were instrumental in forming the new group. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rallying for Detained Dreamers

By Voices of NY, Via NYCity News Service
October 21, 2013

Friends and relatives of detained Dreamers rallied in front of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s New York office in hopes of getting her support, reports NYCity NewsService‘s Jonathan Moffie.

Those still in detention are part of 34 undocumented immigrants known as the Dream 30 who were raised in the U.S. and left to Mexico, whether through their own accord or deportation, before President Obama unveiled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Unable to see a future in Mexico, they came back to the U.S. through the port of entry at Laredo, Texas and sought humanitarian parole to be able to stay in the country. [..,]

Read full article, with video:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Viewpoint: Immigration Bill’s New Bracero Program Will Hurt Farmworkers

David Bacon, Labor Notes
October 3, 2013

This Saturday immigrant rights groups will rally in many cities to demand immigration reform. Some are asking the House of Representatives to pass a bill similar to the one passed by the Senate in June (S. 744). The Republican leadership in the House has refused to hold such a vote.

There is no question that we need immigration reform. Eleven million people have no legal status. Four hundred thousand are deported every year. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been fired because they’re undocumented. But as we push for reform, we need to look closely at what’s actually on the table. We need a reality check.[...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Immigrants strap themselves to wheels of deportation buses

By Joe Bernick, People's World
October 14, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. - Frustrated by lack of action on immigration reform in Congress, Tucson immigrant rights activists took matters into their own hands Oct. 11. A dozen protesters locked themselves to the wheels of two deportation buses full of detainees headed to Operation Streamline at a federal courthouse in downtown Tucson where six additional activists had chained themselves to the entrance to protest the proceeding they say is criminalizing immigrants and destroying core principles of the justice system.

By blocking a freeway exit with two vehicles the protesters slowed two Border Patrol prison buses to a stop as they came off the freeway. A dozen activists ran out and chained themselves to the front wheels of the buses full of detainees while supporters cautioned the drivers not to proceed. It took the police four hours to cut through the "dragon sleeve" cylinders and make arrests.[...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Return of the Nicaraguan Revolution

This was something that US commentators failed to understand about Nicaragua. There had been a real revolution. It wasn’t a seizure of power by a little band of Marxists; it was tens or hundreds of thousands of people like these women organizing themselves and their neighbors.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
October 22, 2013

Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is back in the news, at least in New York City.

On September 23 The New York Times ran a front-page article on the decades-old Nicaragua solidarity activism of Bill de Blasio, now the frontrunner in New York’s November 5 mayoral election. Some two dozen other articles quickly appeared in the local and national press, most of them recycling old perspectives on the thousands of us who, like de Blasio, traveled to Nicaragua in the 1980s to demonstrate our opposition to the Reagan and Bush administrations’ efforts to overthrow that country’s government.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Migrant Deaths Heighten Calls for Action

By Frontera NorteSur
October 5, 2013

The deaths of at least 133 African migrants off the coast of Italy last week spurred some international leaders to call for changes in global migrant policies. The tragedy occurred after a ship carrying Eritrean, Ghanaian and Somali migrants caught fire, capsized and sank October 2 near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

Possibly hundreds of passengers from the ill-fated ship are still unaccounted for in Mediterranean waters that have claimed the lives of migrants in previous maritime accidents.

Pope Francis condemned the calamity, calling the mass deaths a “shame” and linking it to an “inhuman” world economic crisis that is symptomatic of the “great lack of respect for man.” In calling for prayers for the victims, the pontiff urged united action to stave off similar tragedies. “Only a decisive collaboration of all can help to prevent them,” he said. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Undocumented and Unprotected

By Elvira Arellano, La Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras
October 8, 2013

We have long said that the U.S. immigration law – and President Obama’s administration – are punishing the least culpable and the most vulnerable for a system of undocumented labor which the entire nation participated in and benefitted from. Millions of people did not just suddenly decide to pick up a few of their belongings and cross the desert in search of the American Dream. In fact the “American Nightmare” of NAFTA and other policies cost millions of people their jobs in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was a forced migration. The border was left open and the word went out from employers to “bring your people here”. The government collected our taxes without blinking an eye. Banks lent us money – at high interest rates. It was a system of undocumented labor! We took care of their children. We cooked and served their food. Yet only the undocumented are targeted for penalties.

We did not create the system. We just tried to survive in it. [...]

Read the full article:

Sin papeles y sin protección

Por Elvira Arellano, La Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras
8 de octubre, 2013

Durante mucho tiempo hemos estado diciendo que las leyes migratorias de los Estados Unidos—y la política migratoria de la administración del presidente Obama—castigan a los que menos culpa tienen y quienes son los más vulnerables en un sistema de mano de obra indocumentada de la cual la nación entera sacó beneficios y en la cual la nación entera participó. No es cierto que, de repente, millones de personas decidieron hacer sus maletas con sus pocas pertenencias y luego cruzar el desierto en busca del sueño americano. De hecho la “pesadilla americana” del TLCAN y otras políticas estadounidenses les costaron sus puestos de trabajo a millones de personas en México, Centroamérica y la región caribeña. Fue una migración forzada. Se dejó abierta la frontera y los patrones norteamericanos hicieron correr la palabra “vengan acá con su gente”. El gobierno recolectó nuestros impuestos sin decir nada. Los bancos nos prestaron dinero con intereses elevados. ¡Todo esto ha sido un sistema de mano de obra indocumentada! Cuidamos a sus niños y preparamos sus comidas, pero solo los indocumentados son blanco de castigo.

Nosotros no inventamos este sistema. Lo único que hemos hecho es intentar sobrevivir dentro de él. [...]

Lea el artículo completo:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Implacable" War Against Migrants

Review of The Immigrant War, Vittorio Longhi, Policy Press, 2013

By David Bacon, Truthout
September 30, 2013

The immigration debate in the United States almost always treats the migration of people into this country as something unique. It is not. The World Bank estimates the total number of people worldwide living outside the countries where they were born at 213,316,418 in 2010. A decade earlier, it was 178,050,184, and a decade before that, 155,209,721

The number of people who have become cross-border migrants has increased by about 58 million people in 20 years. To be sure, the United States has become home to a large number - 42,813,281 in 2010, up from 23,251,026 two decades earlier. This increase coincided, by no accident, with the period in which the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, and neoliberal economic reforms were implemented in countries that have been the sources of migration to the United States.

Nevertheless, looking at the ways migration has affected other countries, and especially at the experiences of migrants themselves, it is clear that US exceptionalism - the idea that this country is somehow unique and different from the rest of the world - has no basis in fact.[...]

Read the full review:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dominicans Protest Move to Revoke Haitians of Citizenship

By Zaira Cortes, El Diario La Prensa
October 2, 2013

Translated by Emily Leavitt, Voices of NY

Community leaders in Washington Heights condemned a decision by the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court, which would strip citizenship from thousands of children of Haitian immigrants born in the Dominican Republic.

Organizations in northern Manhattan said the ruling, which cannot be appealed, violates the most basic human rights. They described it as xenophobic and “civil genocide.” [...]

Read the full article:

Read the original:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Let’s be Honest: CHIP Political Commentary

By Gabriel Camacho, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) blog
September 25, 2013

Clarity and directness is the best way to communicate, so let’s give it a try.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is dead. Many leftwing immigrant activists and analysts have been putting this view out for a while, but for political, ideological, and racists reasons these perspectives have been ignored in the mainstream immigrant advocacy movement.

This conclusion is justified when we take an overview of possible legislative scenarios. Each scenario has its proponents and detractors, but what is important for our work is their likelihood to materialize. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Digital Release of Made in L.A.!

By Made in L.A.
September 24, 2013

This week, Made in L.A. makes its Digital Premiere in celebration of Latino/a Heritage Month! YOU CAN WATCH IT NOW ON: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Microsoft Xbox, and Vimeo On Demand. And it will soon be available on Google/YouTube, Sony Playstation, SundanceNow, and Vudu. The Vimeo launch is especially exciting because it makes the film available worldwide and includes a Q&A with the filmmakers and Lupe, one of the protagonists, as a special feature!

We are excited that the digital release will bring Made in L.A. to new and diverse audiences and that it will greatly increase access to the film. We truly hope that it will touch their hearts and foster greater understanding of the struggles that immigrant workers face in this country.

Made in L.A. is making its digital premiere through the Sundance Institute's #Artist Services program, which provides Institute-supported artists with opportunities for self-distribution, marketing and financing solutions for their work.

Made in L.A. is an Emmy award-winning feature documentary that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer. In intimate verite style, Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience. Compelling, humorous, deeply human, Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

"A rousing true story of solidarity, perseverance and triumph"

"An excellent documentary...about basic human dignity"

"A valuable and moving film -and entertaining as well- ... precious...a document of an experience."

"A moving documentary...the power of activism becomes clearer"

"Sí, Se puede"

"Heartrending and inspiring"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

WNU Supplement: Nicaragua Solidarity Back in the News

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Special Supplement, September 30, 2013

1. NYC Mayoral Frontrunner Was Nicaragua Activist: NY Times
2. The Right Reacts: Anti-Semitism and the “Marxist Playbook”
3. “Purely and Nobly American”: Times Writers
4. Solidarity Activists Deconstruct the Media Coverage
5. Who Were the Real Anti-Semites?

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. NYC Mayoral Frontrunner Was Nicaragua Activist: NY Times
On Sept. 23 the New York Times ran a 2,000-word front-page article by reporter Javier Hernandez about New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s work in solidarity with Nicaragua during the late 1980s and early 1990s. De Blasio, the Democratic candidate and the current frontrunner in the Nov. 5 election, has spoken a number of times about his activist past, but the Times article was the first lengthy treatment of the subject. It highlighted his work with Quest for Peace--a program of the Quixote Center, a faith-based Maryland social justice organization--and with the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York (NSN). The NSN was formed in 1985 as a coalition of local Nicaragua solidarity groups and sister city projects; its only activity now is the sponsorship of the Weekly News Update on the Americas.

Although the facts in the article were generally accurate, the tone revived the dismissive attitude toward solidarity activism that was common in US mainstream media during the 1980s, when the US government was sponsoring a war of attrition in which rightwing fighters known as “contras” tried to wear down support for Nicaragua’s ruling party, the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Hernandez described the young de Blasio as “scruffy,” characterized the Quixote Center by its offices “filled with homegrown squash and peace posters,” and referred to the NSN as “a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists.” [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

In blow to immigration reform, House `gang of seven’ bill looks dead

By Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, Washington Post
September 20, 2013

In a blow to the hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, the bipartisan House “gang of seven” plan is probably dead, and almost certainly won’t be introduced this fall as promised, a top Democrat on the “gang” acknowledges.

“It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” Dem Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. “The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”[...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sakuma Berry Workers Need Your Help NOW!

Dignity Campaign, September 18, 2013

The workers at Sakuma Berry Farms north of Seattle are on strike - the fourth strike against the company this season. The company has gone back on its promises of wage increases, and fired Ramon Torres, the leader of the workers' organization, Familias Unidas para la Justicia. Boycott picketlines have gone up at the company's processing plant, and in front of stores in Seattle. Now the company may be moving security guards into the labor camp where the strikers live.

The workers need your help now.

Call Sakuma Farms, and tell them:

Sit down and negotiate with the workers.

Rehire Ramon Torres.

Stop harassing workers in the labor camp.

Guarantee the jobs of the striking workers, this season and next.

Sakuma sells a lot of strawberries for Haagen Dasz ice cream, which is owned by Nestle Foods. Call Nestle, and tell them they are in violation of their principles of social responsibility. They need to tell Sakuma Farms the same thing - sit down with the workers.

Sakuma Farms berries are sold under the Driscoll label. Driscoll needs to do the same thing - to tell Sakuma Farms to sit down and talk.

Workers need your help NOW! If you can only make one call, please make this one.

Sakuma Brothers Farms

If you can make three more, call Haagen Dasz and Driscoll.

Diane McIntyre, media contact for Nestle Foods

Haagen Dasz


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Subcontractor Servitude

Guest workers...offer something hiring a local worker does not: subservience.

By Jennifer Gordon, New York Times
September 1, 2013

THE words “guest workers” and “strike” are not often seen together. Yet twice this summer, members of a group of more than 150 Jamaican guest workers who clean luxury Florida hotels and condos walked off the job. The workers came to the United States in April anticipating a summer of hard work and decent earnings to send home. Instead, they encountered the black hole of labor subcontracting.

Labor-recruitment firms brought the workers from Jamaica to the Florida Panhandle. Cleaning contractors hired them and then leased them out to scrub toilets and sweep sand from floors for vacation property companies.

By the time the workers first went on strike, in June, they had much to protest. [...]

Read the full article:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Erik Camayd-Freixas' book on the U.S. immigration reform

By Glady Matthews, Translation and Interpretation in America
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In the United States, immigration of documented or undocumented individuals underlies the provision of interpreting services for persons who have limited proficiency in English. On May 12, 2008, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency carried out a raid on a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, that resulted on the arrest and deportation of 389 undocumented non-national workers. This raid was to be a pilot operation, a model, for future raids. As a court interpreter and human being, I cannot help to consider the Postville raid as a shameful episode in the treatment of immigrants in this country.

Erik Camayd-Freixas is a Federally-certified interpreter who witnessed firsthand these events. He has just released a book -- US Immigration Reform and Its Global Impact: Lessons from the Postville Raid – which presents an insider’s view of the raid. He chose to speak up and comment on the events he witnessed as an interpreter. This post is a way for me to support Erik’s efforts to address a very contentious topic. [...]

Read the full post:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Transgender Immigrants Detail Detention Abuse

By Cristina Loboguerrero, El Diario La Prensa
August 29, 2013
Translated by Emily Leavitt, Voices of NY

Transgender individuals face a double whammy when it comes to being jailed in immigration detention centers, not only for being undocumented but also because their gender identity isn’t officially defined within the prison system, according to victims and activists.

“I don’t wish it on anybody, it’s like dying while you’re still alive,” said María, 32, a Mexican transgender woman who came to live in New York 10 years ago, fleeing the persecution that she suffered in Mexico City. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Immigration activists arrested at detention center protests as movement grows nationally

Laurie Smolenski, Waging Nonviolence
August 26, 2013

Ten immigrant justice activists, including one elderly nun, were arrested in New York City on Thursday in protest of the unprecedented detentions and deportations under the Obama administration. They also condemned the U.S. House of Representatives for its lack of action in passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would include a clear path to citizenship for the 11 million people living in the United States without U.S. residency papers.

Several faith leaders led a “Jericho walk” to the Varick Street Detention Center in Lower Manhattan, where people being detained are held for processing before they are transferred. The marchers arrived cloaked in white and singing freedom hymns. Others who were unable to risk arrest because of their immigration status amassed along the sidewalk, carrying signs, chanting and singing. The 10 activists spoke out against detentions, as well as the particular challenges for LGBT detainees, before the crowd coalesced in the street, effectively blocking the entrance to the detention center. Police gave warnings before the protesters, who included faith leaders and an academic, were handcuffed and taken away in a police vehicle. [...]

Read the full article:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who Really Benefits From Sweatshops?

"[L]abor costs typically constitute 1-3 percent for a garment produced in the developing world." -- Zahid Hussain

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
Sept. 12, 2013

Consumers are ultimately the ones responsible for dangerous conditions in garment assembly plants in the Global South, Hong Kong-based business executive Bruce Rockowitz told the New York Times recently. The problem is that improved safety would raise the price of clothing, according to Rockowitz, who heads Li & Fung Limited, a sourcing company that hooks up retailers like Macy's and Kohl's with suppliers in low-wage countries like Bangladesh. "So far," he said, "consumers have just not been willing to accept higher costs."

Rockowitz isn't alone in blaming consumers in Europe and the United States for sweatshop conditions in the apparel industry. The idea pervades popular culture.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Right to Stay Home, a new book by David Bacon

How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration
by David Bacon

Beacon Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Hardcover: 978-0-8070-0161-5; E-book: 978-0-8070-0162-2

More than 25 years since the last major revision of national immigration policy, comprehensive reform is now being debated in Congress. Eleven million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. hope it will lead to legal status, but many fear it will also increase the criminalization of migrant status and vastly expand "guest worker" contract labor programs.

Now, in The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration, investigative reporter David Bacon exposes the way globalization and U.S. policy fuel the forces that drive Mexican migrants across the border. Through painstaking analysis and the voices of migrants themselves, Bacon reveals that the decision to come to the U.S. is rarely voluntary. Instead, the poverty that displaces indigenous communities across Mexico is the brutal consequence of globalization, as local economies crumble from the impact of trade agreements like NAFTA and economic reforms benefitting large corporations. Placing issues of displacement and human rights at the center of the U.S. immigration debate, Bacon examines the ways U.S. policy has criminalized migrants once they've been driven across the border.

Bacon scrutinizes one of the most controversial pieces of U.S. immigration policy, vastly expanded in current legislation: guest worker visas. These visas grant the right to stay in the United States while working, but, he shows, lead to a corrupt system of recruitment and low wages, and the massive violation of labor and human rights.. Examining the roots of current systems in the Bracero Program, Bacon explains: "No employer brings guest workers into the country to pay more than absolutely necessary." Despite these impacts, though, every major immigration reform bill proposed over the past decade has called for the expansion of guest worker programs-including the legislation currently on the table.

The book, however, also documents a reality that Bacon asserts should reframe the immigration debate in the U.S. Indigenous Mexican communities that have been devastated by poverty and forced migration have organized a powerful new movement they call "the right to stay home." He traces the development of this movement, which seeks political democracy and economic development, in the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, and presents the voices of its most eloquent advocates. By looking at the roots of migration, U.S. policy can help to create a viable future in migrant-sending communities, while integrating and protecting the rights of immigrant families in the United States.

Bacon investigates a series of factors, generated by increasingly rapid globalization as well as U.S. policy toward immigration and Mexico's economy, that have made it impossible for countless Mexicans to survive at home, including:

* Low wages and rural poverty: Bacon explains that high-paying jobs are evaporating across Mexico, replaced by low-paying ones: 95 percent of the jobs created in Mexico in 2010 pay around $10 a day, he notes, and 53 million Mexicans (half of the country's population) lives in poverty. Since 2006, less than one third of those needing work have been able to find it. Bacon explains that waves of Mexico's economic reforms decontrolled prices and ended consumer subsidies, creating favorable conditions for corporate investment but increasing poverty, especially in rural and indigenous communities.

* The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): Bacon shows that NAFTA, introduced in 1994, crippled Mexico's economic sovereignty and steered its national policy toward export-based economic development, favoring large corporations producing for export. At the same time, massive imports devastated local Mexican economies, especially in farming, displacing millions of people. Since 1994, the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. rose from 4.6 to over 12 million - 11% of its population.

* Tilting the Playing Field Against Workers: Industries expanding in Mexico because of NAFTA and corporate economic reforms, especially mining, have created hazardous conditions. One 2006 coal mine explosion in Coahuila killed 65 miners. When copper miners struck against levels of dust that cause silicosis, the Mexican government and one of the world's largest mining companies cooperated to bust their union. The book analyzes three of the sharpest government anti-labor campaigns - the labor law reform, the firing of 44,000 electrical workers, and attacks on the miners. Bacon show that this systematic suppression of labor rights in Mexico is a significant cause of migration to the U.S.

Bacon underscores that Mexican migrants, once forced from their native lands, are then criminalized after they settle in the U.S - caught between two nations where they are denied basic rights. He traces the rise in criminalization of immigrants under President George W. Bush, especially the enormous spread of factory raids. Bacon then documents the continued criminalization of immigrants during President Barack Obama's first term in office, leading to the deportation of almost 400,000 people per year and the massive expansion of detention centers. The book focusses attention on one of the least visible parts of the administration's enforcement policy -- predatory I-9 audits and mass firings - the so-called "invisible raids." It documents as well the rise of new enforcement programs, like Secure Communities, that draw local law authorities into the hunt for immigrants, and the notorious "Operation Streamline" court in Tucson.

Bacon does more than highlight abuses, however. He draws a connection between the increase in enforcement and the increase in guest worker programs, intended, in the words of former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, "close the back door and open the front door." This connection, Bacon says, is the driver of much of current U.S. immigration policy.

Bacon says human rights,rather then criminalization or contract labor programs, should be the central issue in immigrant policy, a conclusion drawn from migrants' own words and experiences. In their narratives throughout the book, they envision a world in which migrating for work and survival isn't a forced necessity-a world where, instead, they have the "right to stay home." At the same time, they envision a world in which their rights as migrants are protected. "Migrants are human beings first, and their desire for community is as strong as the need to labor," Bacon writes. "Rather than reduce migrants to a factor of production, or a commodity to be exported and imported, migration policy must acknowledge migrants as human beings and address their dignity and human rights."

Award-winning photojournalist and author David Bacon spent twenty years as a labor organizer. For the last two decades he has been a reporter and documentary photographer, and a longtime radio host. His previous books include The Children of NAFTA, Communities Without Borders, and Illegal People (Beacon, 2008). He is an associate editor at Pacific News Service and writes for TruthOut, the Nation, the American Prospect, the Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. As an immigrant rights activist he helped organize the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network. He belongs to the Pacific Media Workers Guild/CWA.

"David Bacon is the conscience of American journalism, an extraordinary social documentarian in the rugged humanist tradition of Dorothea Lange, Carey McWilliams and Ernesto Galarza."
-- Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and No One is Illegal

"Bacon's book... will help readers gain a significantly more sophisticated understanding of the context and on-the-ground reality of undocumented migrants in the U.S."
- Publishers Weekly

"Combining evocative personal narratives with penetrating geopolitical analysis, this compelling study vividly reveals the devastating effects on Mexico of the global class war of the past decades, and their impact on the United States. Perhaps the most striking demand of the victims is "the right to not migrate," the right to live with dignity and hope, bitterly attacked under the neoliberal version of globalization."
- Noam Chomsky

"Americans mostly think of immigration in terms of its impact on the U.S., and progressives mostly think of the rights of immigrants when they are in the U.S. David Bacon's work reminds us that migration has a profound impact on the places migrants leave from, just as surely as it does on the places they go to. He argues persuasively that the right NOT to migrate cannot be divorced from the immigrant rights. The heart of David Bacon's whole body of work is in human stories, and this book validates its ideas with vivid testimony, in their own words, from those most affected."
-- John W. Wilhelm, President Emeritus, UNITEHERE!

"A must read for organizers,immigrant advocates,policy wonks and citizens who care about our history and values as a nation. This book puts a human face on the immigration debate, it's impact on people on both sides of the border, and the indispensable elements of real comprehensive immigration reform -- our understanding of how, why, who got us into this mess, and what we need to do to fix it."
- Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, and former vice-president of the United Farm Workers

Speaking schedule
David Bacon speaks about The Right to Stay Home and the need for human and labor rights in U.S. immigration policy.

September 10, 7 PM
Books Inc., Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA

September 14, 6 PM
UU Church of Concord, 274 Pleasant St., Concord, NH
with the American Friends Service Committee

September 16, 7 PM
Jamaica Plain Forum, First Church JP, 6 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA

September 17, 6-8 PM
Graduate Center of CUNY at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies

September 18, 5 PM
NYU CLACS, 53 Washington Square South, Fl. 4W, New York, NY
with North American Congress on Latin America

September 20, 12 PM
AFL-CIO, 815 16th St., N.W. Washington, D.C

September 26, 7:30 PM
Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth Street, Oakland, California
With Isabel Garcia and Maru Mora Villapando, benefit for KPFA-FM

October 12, 10 AM
Watsonville Council Chambers, Watsonville, CA
Immigration forum with Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Democratic Dialogue Comm.

October 23, 7 PM
University of Detroit Mercy, Life Sciences 113, Detroit, MI

October 24, 2:45 PM
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
North American Labor Hisstory Conference

October 26, 7 PM
Hilton Garden Inn, Emeryville, CA
Convention, Democratic Socialists of America

November 7
Rice University, Houston, TX


Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

For more articles and images, see

Friday, August 30, 2013

NYC 'Washeros' Stand With Arizona Workers; Urge Obama to Act

By Joe Maniscalco, NY Labor Press
August 22, 2013

Queens, NY - Workers and supporters at the Jomar Car Wash in Flushing called on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to move on meaningful immigration reform following a weekend sweep in Phoenix, Arizona, in which federal agents rounded up some 300 people. (Watch Video)

“We need immigration reform passed this year,” said Antonio Alarcon, a youth organizer with Make the Road New York. “We’re tired of seeing people being deported for no reason. They’re innocent people. They’re just workers looking for a better future for their children.”

One of those workers looking for a better future is Jomar Car Wash worker Patricio Santiago. The Mexican emigre and father said that while an immigration reform package is bandied about in Congress, families like his continue to suffer daily in multiple ways.

“We saw our brothers in Arizona suffered a raid, but that’s just one of the problems to which we are exposed,” the 13-year resident said. [...]

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Latinos Slam ICE Immigration Raid on Arizona Car Wash Company, Compare It to Arpaio's

The Huffington Post
August 20, 2013

Latino groups are condemning ICE’s Saturday raid targeting an Arizona car wash chain for hiring undocumented immigrants, likening the operation to raids conducted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

A 78-count indictment unsealed Monday morning charges 14 of the company’s managers and supervisors with knowlingly hiring undocumented workers, identity theft, immigration document fraud and false statements. ICE officials say they took aim at the Danny’s Family Car Wash management for criminal acts, rather than the company’s undocumented workers.

But many immigrant rights groups don’t think the distinction makes the federal operation much different from Arpaio’s.

“In Arizona, it’s hard to tell the difference between Arpaio and Obama,” Carlos Garcia, an organizer with the immigrant advocacy group Puente, said in a statement. [...]

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

War on the Border

By Todd Miller, New York Times
August 17, 2013

Three generations of Loews have worked the family’s 63 acres in Amado, Ariz. In the last 20 years, the Loew family harvested thousands of pounds of onions, garlic and pumpkins without incident. So Stewart Loew, 44, who was born and raised on the farm, was surprised when he went to irrigate his fields one night and found himself surrounded by federal agents.

Pointing to the fires about 200 feet away that Mr. Loew lit to keep warm while he irrigated his fields, one of the agents slogged out of the ankle deep water in the irrigation ditch and asked Mr. Loew what he was doing.

“I’m irrigating, dude,” said Mr. Loew, who was in his pajamas. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t ‘dude’ me, I’m a federal officer,” the Border Patrol agent said, and demanded Mr. Loew’s identification. [...]

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Standoff in the strawberry fields

By David Bacon, AlJazeera America
August 19, 2013

In July, Washington berry pickers went on strike. A week after their return, farm owners brought in H2A guest workers

BURLINGTON, Wash. — Over a tense two-week period in July, at the peak of the summer harvest season, almost 250 workers at the $6.1 million Sakuma Brothers strawberry and blueberry farm — one of the largest in Washington state — went on strike twice. Workers fought with the farm’s owners over wages, overtime pay, alleged racist treatment and conditions in their housing camp. They won concessions but lost on most of their monetary demands. With few resources left, they returned to the fields.

Sakuma Brothers Farms could afford to play hardball because it had an ace in the hole: It had been certified to bring 160 new workers from Mexico under the restrictive H2A guest-worker program. And the lower wages mandated for guest workers under U.S. immigration law proved to be the limit not just for the H2A workers but also for all the other pickers at the company. [...]

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Arizona mural dramatizes killings by border agents

By Joe Bernick, People's World
August 13, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. -- "Border Patrol Impunity Must End!" and "Mother Demands Justice" were the themes of a press conference and protest at the unveiling of a large public mural in downtown Tucson commemorating the murder of a Mexican teen.

Guadalupe Guerrero, mother of Carlos LaMadrid, was informed Friday, Aug. 9, that the murderer of her son, border patrol agent Lucas Tidwell, will not face any criminal charges for the broad daylight shooting death of 19-year-old Carlos on March 21, 2011. [...]

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Grocery Boycott Resumes in Brooklyn

By David L. Wilson, Grassroots Solidarity
August 14, 2013

“Welcome back,” community organizer Lucas Sánchez called out to some 35 demonstrators in front of a small supermarket in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood the afternoon of August 10. “It’s as if we never left,” he added with a smile.

The Saturday rally, announced just two days before, marked the resumption of a consumer boycott at the Golden Farm grocery store in support of Latino produce workers currently in negotiations with the shop’s owner, Sonny Kim. Kensington residents and local labor rights activists started the boycott one year earlier, in August 2012, but suspended it last March at the urging of the workers’ union, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, in the hope that this would advance the contract talks. [...]

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Also at:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Migrants and Migrant Rights Organizations Denounce Punitive Reform and Vow to Continue Organizing

By Laura Carlsen, Americas Program
August 12, 2013

The United States has always had mixed feelings about its immigrants.

The country and its people take pride in their history as a “nation of immigrants”, and celebrate the diversity and bold spirits of pioneers who came from other countries in search of freedom and prosperity.

But many of those immigrants, in fact, faced bitter discrimination and violence in the new land. Africans forced over as slaves, the 19-century waves of poor Irish and Italians, Japanese during World War II and Muslims after 9-11—all suffered the sting of anti-immigrant sentiment.

That ambivalence has surfaced again as Congress grapples with how to fix the “broken” immigration system. [...]

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit

By Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
August 10, 2013

LIKE most construction workers who come to see Patricia Zavala, the two dozen men who crowded into her office in Austin, Tex., one afternoon in March had a complaint.

The workers, most of them Honduran immigrants, had jobs applying stucco to the exterior of a 17-story luxury student residence. It was difficult, dangerous work, but that was to be expected. What upset them was that for the previous two weeks their crew leader had not paid them; each was owed about $1,000.

Ms. Zavala, the workplace justice coordinator at the Workers Defense Project, listened to their stories and then spent a month failing to persuade the contractors to pay the back wages. So Ms. Zavala, 27, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant, turned to what she calls the nuclear option: the workers filed a lien on the building site. [...]

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nine Things You Don’t Know About the Dream 9

By Aura Bogado Share, ColorLines
August 5, 2013

There’s been a lot of hype, hope, rumors and misinformation about the Dream 9 since they crossed the southern border two weeks ago. Here are some facts you might not know about the nine activists being held at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, which is privately owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.

1. The Dream 9 crossed into the U.S. legally.

During a visit with the Dream 9’s Marco Saavedra on Sunday, he said he was surprised to learn that people assume that what they did is illegal. It’s not. Entering into the U.S. from another country and asking for humanitarian parole or asylum at a port of entry is perfectly sound in the eyes of the law. Saavedra said the current immigration policy automatically attaches the illusion that everything—and everyone—that exists on or near the Mexico-U.S. border is somehow illegal. [...]

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Monday, August 12, 2013

"Enemy Alien" Screening: NYC, Sunday, Aug. 18

A project of Life Or Liberty Productions,
Produced and Directed by KONRAD ADERER (2011, 82 minutes)

WHEN: Sunday August 18, 2013 1:15 pm
WHERE: Community Church NY, Gallery Room 28 East 35th St. btwn Park & Madison Aves.
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated

RESISTANCE CINEMA concludes its summer season with an intriguing film by a local NYC based filmmaker. Enemy Alien begins with the quest of a Japanese American filmmaker, Konrad, to document the underside of the patriotic fervor comparing the attacks of September 11, 2001 and Pearl Harbor: the post-9/11 detentions of Muslims and internment of Japanese Americans. Finding these aftermaths to be not only historically resonant but linked by immigration policy, he soon finds his own life transformed by this theme as he becomes involved in the fight to free immigration detainee Farouk Abdel-Muhti. [...]

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Viva la Huelga! The Agricultural Strike at Sakuma Brothers Farms and the Tradition of Oaxacan Resistance

By Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, MRzine
July 25, 2013

Strike Heats Up as Over 200 Immigrant Workers Are Threatened with Mass Firing

July 24, 2013

As workers walked past fields of strawberries and blueberries into a negotiation meeting this morning with Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc. management, they were told to accept management's terms or lose their jobs. This threat comes amidst a heated strike of over 200 immigrant farm workers at the Burlington, WA farm which is just north of Seattle. It is the second strike the workers initiated in the last two weeks over a list of demands over wages, dignity, and respect.

The strike started after the firing of farm worker Federico Lopez on July 10th. Lopez and his coworkers believed he was targeted for bringing up grievances with his superiors. Some of the workers were listening to an interview of Rosalinda Guillen on a Spanish-language radio show on a local radio station. They decided that they wanted her to assist them with their struggle at Sakuma Brothers Farms. [...]

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mexican nationals, the 'Dream 9,' take a step toward asylum

By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times
August 6, 2013

PHOENIX — Young immigrants known as the “Dream 9” will get the chance to argue their case for asylum before an immigration judge, potentially setting a precedent that would inspire other Mexican nationals to make similar claims for asylum in the U.S, immigration experts said Tuesday.

The five women and four men, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, staged an unconventional and risky protest last month at the U.S.-Mexico border to spotlight the thousands of people deported under the Obama administration.

When the so-called Dream 9 — named for the Dream Act, which would provide them a path to legalization — attempted to reenter the U.S. at the Nogales, Ariz., port of entry, they were arrested. They have been in federal custody ever since. [...]

Read the full article:,0,4843883.story

Monday, August 5, 2013

What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like

By David Bacon, The Progressive
July 27, 2013

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious last weekend in Fresno. At a meeting about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House. It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible. Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights.

Rufino Dominguez, who now works for the Oaxacan state government, describes what Maceda knows from experience: “NAFTA forced the price of corn so low it's not economically possible to plant a crop anymore. We come to the U.S. to work because there's no alternative.” [...]

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

United States Deported Over 13,000 Unaccompanied Mexican Minors Last Year

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress
July 25, 2013

On Tuesday, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) released a report confirming that 13,454 unaccompanied Mexican minors under the age of 18 were deported from the U.S. in 2012, according to Animal Politico.

Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 6,548 accompanied and 24,481 unaccompanied children, a total that includes Mexican minors. The rate of border-crossing minors tripled since 2008 to the point that in 2012, unaccompanied minors comprised 79 percent of all juvenile border crossers. [...]

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Inside Boehner's Strategy to Slow Walk Immigration to the Finish Line

House leaders put off immigration votes until after August recess, seeing delay as the best way to pass reform.

By Chris Frates, National Journal
July 30, 2013

House Republicans head home for the August break having done little to pass immigration reform, falling well short of Speaker John Boehner’s goal of voting on legislation before next week’s monthlong recess begins. But far from a failure of leadership, top House Republicans are casting the inaction as a tactical play designed to boost reform’s chances.

Keeping immigration on the back-burner helps avoid a recess filled with angry town-hall meetings reminiscent of the heated August 2009 protests where the backlash against health care reform coalesced. Doing nothing also starves Democrats of a target, Republicans argue.

“August was a central part of our discussions. People don’t want to go home and get screamed at,” a House GOP leadership aide said. [...]

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Friday, August 2, 2013

DREAM 9: ‘A Girl Hanged Herself Here’

By Aura Bogado, ColorLines
August 1, 2013

When the Dream 9 entered the Eloy Detention Center last week in Florence, Arizona, they planned to start organizing. That effort has now grown into a hunger strike protesting the conditions in one of the most notorious immigrant detention centers in the country—and a deportation machine that continues to remove more than 1,000 people per day out of the United States.

Shortly after arriving at Eloy, the Dream 9 say their phone use was unfairly restricted. In protest, they began a hunger strike—but six were placed in solitary confinement for their decision to do so. Most are back in the general population, but two remain. At the time of publication, 24-year-old Lulu Martinez and 22-year-old Maria Peniche have spent 104 out of the last 108 hours in complete isolation. Mohammad Abdollahi works with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), which organized the action that resulted in the Dream 9’s detention, and he remains in steady contact with the nine. He says that when Martinez and Peniche are brought out of their individual cells and into the yard once a day, they are shackled and interact only with guards.[...]

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Denied Visa, Woman in DR Struggles to Visit Injured Husband

By José Acosta, El Diario-La Prensa
July 25, 2013

Translated by Emily Leavitt for Voices of New York

Luis Alberto Rodríguez, a 34-year-old Dominican immigrant, is clinging to life at a Brooklyn hospital after having fallen victim to an armed robbery.

His wife, Marilia Bautista, is moving heaven and earth trying to obtain humanitarian parole which would allow her to come from the Dominican Republic to care for Rodríguez in this grave situation. The couple has been married for three years. [...]

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Hot and Crusty film featured in the New York Times

By Laura Gottesdiener, Waging Nonviolence
July 16, 2013

As the debate over immigration reform continues in Washington, the victory of one group of mostly unauthorized workers is now in the national spotlight — demonstrating a direct-action path that unauthorized workers across the country could adopt to win rights both at work and in broader society.

Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears’ film “The Hand that Feeds” — featured today in the New York Times Op-Docs series — chronicles the year-long struggle of Mahoma López and his co-workers at Hot and Crusty, a bakery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. [...]

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Watch the NY Times documentary:

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Creating a Military-Industrial-Immigration Complex

By Todd Miller, Border Wars, NACLA
July 16, 2013

This article first appeared on on July 11, 2013.

The first thing I did at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix this March was climb the brown “explosion-resistant” tower, 30 feet high and 10 feet wide, directly in the center of the spacious room that holds this annual trade show. From a platform where, assumedly, a border guard would stand, you could take in the constellation of small booths offering the surveillance industry’s finest products, including a staggering multitude of ways to monitor, chase, capture, or even kill people, thanks to modernistic arrays of cameras and sensors, up-armored jeeps, the latest in guns, and even surveillance balloons.

Although at the time, headlines in the Southwest emphasized potential cuts to future border-security budgets thanks to Congress’s “sequester,” the vast Phoenix Convention Center hall—where the defense and security industries strut their stuff for law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—told quite a different story. Clearly, the expanding global industry of border security wasn’t about to go anywhere. [...]

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

'DREAM 9' supporters call for humanitarian parole (with video)

Steve Palm-Houser, Examiner
July 27, 2013

As nine deported immigration reform activists remain in custody at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona this week, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) has been organizing vigils around the country to call for humanitarian parole for the detainees — known as the "DREAM 9" in social media — which would give them temporary legal residence status.

The DREAM 9 were taken into custody on Monday when they attempted to re-enter the United States at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry. Three of the detainees — Lizbeth Mateo, Marco Saavedra and Lulu Martinez — self-deported last week and re-entered the U.S. with the other six in order to test the Obama administration's policy on deported immigrants. [...]

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Immigration Bill’s Supporters Call on Business Groups to Pressure G.O.P.

“The business community is solidly behind this — small business, large business, the chamber, the Business Roundtable, you name it, they’re all solidly in.” --Senator John McCain

By Jonatha Weisman and Ashley Parker, New York Times
July 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — With political momentum behind an immigration overhaul flagging, advocates are counting on business groups to turn up the pressure on skeptical House Republicans who are much less susceptible to that lobby than they have been in the past.
Enlarge This Image

The changed dynamic illustrates the difficulty of guiding immigration legislation through the House as well as the challenge for business interests to reassert their influence before a more ideological brand of Congressional Republican.[...]

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Outrage Follows Migrant Deaths in Arizona

by Frontera NorteSur
July 15, 2013

The deaths of three young men in the Arizona desert last month have prompted Mexican non-governmental organizations to renew demands for actions and changes from the Mexican and U.S. governments. In a statement signed by scores of human rights, migrant, labor, civic, and faith-based organizations, the groups demanded meaningful policy shifts at a time when current U.S. legislative proposals for tighter security amount to a “virtual state of war on the border.”

The call followed the June deaths of the Plutarco de Jesus brothers in Maricopa County, Arizona. According to the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain, a longtime advocacy organization based in Tlapa, Guerrero, 24-year-old Inocencio Plutarco de Jesus was working as a farm laborer in Sonora when he invited his younger brothers, 18-year-old Macario and 15-year-old Humberto, to accompany him to the U.S. The brothers were from Cuanacaxtitlan, Guerrero, a small indigenous community in the Costa Chica region of the southern state.[...]

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Immigration reform threatened in the House

By Emile Scheper, People's World
July 10, 2013

This week, immigration reform advocates face some of their biggest hurdles ever as the 435 members of the House of Representatives become the focus of the legislative action on immigration reform.

The right wing, in the wake of Senate passage of a bi-partisan bill, is pushing to kill immigration reform in the House - not by voting down the Senate bill but by ignoring that bill and instead introducing a variety of piecemeal measures. These measures are primarily designed to turn the clock back on reform with harsh border-control schemes and to avoid creation of a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented now in the country. [...]

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Los Infiltradores

How three young undocumented activists risked everything to expose the injustices of immigrant detention—and invented a new form of protest.

By Michael May, The American Prospect
June 21, 2013

When Marco Saavedra was arrested for the first time, during a September 2011 protest against U.S. immigration policy in Charlotte, North Carolina, he thought he was prepared. It was what he’d come to do. Still, he was taking a risk. Saavedra is undocumented, and he was aware that the Charlotte police had an agreement with the federal government, under what’s known as the 287(g) program, that gave them the power to apprehend illegal immigrants and turn them over for deportation. Saavedra, who was then 21, had known dozens of undocumented activists who’d been arrested without being deported. But as he was sitting, handcuffed, in a gray-brick holding cell at the county jail, it was hard to suppress the fear. He’d felt it most of his life, since his parents brought him from rural Mexico to New York City when he was three; growing up, he’d done all he could to make sure that even his closest friends didn’t know his status.

“The euphoria of the protest, the chanting in the street, was gone,” he says. “It was lonely and desolate. They took us out one by one to process us. And one of the others came back with paperwork indicating they planned to send him to an immigration detention center in Georgia. I panicked for a moment.” [...]

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Names emerge from shadows of 1948 crash

Jaime Ramirez's grandfather and uncle were aboard the DC-3 that crashed near Coalinga in 1948.
28 Mexican citizens being flown to their homeland perished in a fireball over Central California. Woody Guthrie's poetry protested their anonymity. Who were they?

By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
July 9, 2013

Jaime Ramirez stood in front of an oak tree, jagged and black from a plane crashing into it all those years ago. He removed his white cowboy hat, closed his eyes and whispered, "Abuelo, Tio, estoy aqui." ("Grandfather, Uncle, I am here.")

Nearby, Tim Z. Hernandez, who had feared this moment might never happen, leaned down and sprinkled tobacco and sage. When the writer first came to this hushed place, looking into a 65-year-old mystery, he had felt he was intruding. Each time he returned, he always left a small offering. He could hear the Woody Guthrie song "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos" playing in his head:

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,

A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,

Who are all those friends, all scattered like dry leaves? [...]

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Dignity Campaign Opposes S. 744

From the Dignity Campaign
July 11, 2013

Dignity is Not for Sale; No Compromises on Human Rights

The many grassroots organizations across the U.S. who stand behind the Dignity Campaign ( have worked tirelessly for immigration reform based on human, civil and worker's rights of immigrants, especially those who are undocumented. Senate Bill 744 is not the immigration reform we seek. S. 744 is a corporate boondoggle that will be a civil rights disaster for immigrant communities.

This bill holds the limited legalization program hostage to the further advancement of the security state, by doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, and spending an incredible $50 billion to build a double wall on the US/Mexico border, and deploy more drones and other tools of electronic warfare in border communities. S.744's beneficiaries are a very narrow class of elite contractors in the "security" and surveillance industries (like Bechtel), privatized prison corporations (like Geo Corporation), and corporate-scale agriculture, and technology giants striving to keep wages as low as possible through the expansion of guest worker programs. S. 744 accomplishes this by moving away from family-based immigration to an employment-based system.[...]

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Immigration Reform: The View From Below

By David L. Wilson, Upside Down World
July 8, 2013

Washington’s latest effort at comprehensive immigration reform, S.744, sailed through the Senate on June 27 by a vote of 68 to 32. The “historic session” followed weeks of heavy media coverage. We learned about the maneuvers of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight; about the counter-moves of the Tea Party faction; about the various deals cooked up by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the defense contractors, and the magnates of Silicon Valley. We learned about what all the major players thought about border security, the path to citizenship, the need for immigrants “to wait their turn in line,” and the importance of “fixing a broken system.” And now the media coverage is moving on to the legislative deal making in the House of Representatives.

As usual, the one thing the media aren’t covering is what the immigrants themselves think about immigration reform.

This was a central issue at a meeting that some 40 to 45 activists--some of them visiting New York from Mexico and Central America--held in the basement of a mid-Manhattan church on the evening of May 23.[...]

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Best Part of DOMA's Repeal: Its Impact on Immigration Reform

By Charlene Obernauer, Huffington Post
June 29, 2013

The day that the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed will be a moment that many of us in the GLBT community will remember for the rest of our lives. I'll remember where I was when I heard the news, driving in my car to work, listening while a local radio station took comments from listeners about DOMA's repeal. I didn't call in; I just continued to drive, smiling, with tears slowly streaming down my face. While I'll certainly benefit from this change in policy, for bi-national GLBT couples, DOMA's repeal not only legalizes their relationships, but also makes them able to legally live in the same country together. Even immigration reform would not have had this impact on GLBT immigrants.

Early on in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, the GLBT community -- particularly the 40,000 same sex bi-national couples living in the U.S. -- were told not to expect much from the bill. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican Senator from Florida known for his strong support for immigration reform, said that he would walk away from his signature issue if GLBT couples were included. For the GOP in the Senate, GLBT rights were a non-starter. And they won: in the final bill that passed the U.S. Senate on June 27th, GLBT bi-national couples were deliberately excluded.

However, a day before the immigration reform vote, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. [...]

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Senate Immigration Bill Dashes Hopes for Fair, Just Reform

'Border surge' approval further threatens border communities, migrant safety and well-being

Press Release, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
June 28, 2013

(Oakland, CA) With the Senate’s passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, the Board of Directors and members of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights voiced their disappointment and concern with the dramatic escalation of border enforcement negotiated to secure support from conservative Republican senators hostile to the legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Executive Director, Catherine Tactaquin, commented, “The Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill yesterday. We had hoped the bill would have been historic for upholding the human rights of immigrants, for providing fair and equitable access to visas, protecting their rights as workers, fueling resources to process the long backlog of pending family visa applicants, and ending flawed and punitive immigration enforcement policies at the border and in the interior. “ She continued, “Unfortunately, S. 744 was not that bill. This is not the kind of legislation and deal-making that we can support nor encourage.”[...]

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

With DOMA Dead, LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform Becomes Moot Point

Sen. Patrick Leahy announced that he will not seek a vote on his immigration amendment that would have allowed married gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their foreign-born spouse for citizenship.

By Sunnivie Brydum, The Advocate
June 28, 2013

When the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday, it cleared the way for married same-sex couples to access a litany of federal benefits, including tax breaks and military spousal benefits.

But many gay and lesbian couples with a partner who was born outside the U.S. were most excited to discover that the death of DOMA means they can finally sponsor their foreign-born spouse for citizenship.[...]

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Friday, June 28, 2013

US employers will control immigration: Getting in and getting on

The proposed immigration reforms in the US seem mostly intended to supply cheap and docile guest workers for short-term use by employers, rather than full US citizens.

By Benoît Bréville, Le Monde Diplomatique
July 2013

The US right has harboured two opposing views on immigration for decades. Either foreign workers are a threat, taking American jobs, living on social welfare and challenging public security; or they are virtuous, hard workers who will do jobs Americans now don’t want, determined entrepreneurs who arrive penniless in the US and start up their own businesses. Are they a burden on the nation or an asset to the economy? The conservatives want to protect “American values”, while the neoliberals advocate more open borders to stimulate growth.

Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2012, urged illegal immigrants to “self-deport” back home — if not, the authorities would do it for them. This did not endear him to the millions of Latinos in the US waiting for a relative to be made legal: he won only 27% of their votes, compared with Barack Obama’s 71% (1).

“It’s really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on healthcare, if they think you want to deport their grandmother,” said Florida senator and Tea Party star Marco Rubio just after the election.[...]

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Video: "Obama, Tear Down This Wall"

Images of border militarization over Obama's recent speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Produced by Laura Carlsen and Murphy Woodhouse of the Americas Program. Original photography by Murphy Woodhouse, Paul Ingram and Sean Arce. Sketch of Operation Streamline by Lawrence Gipe.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweatshops Don't Just Happen - They're a Policy

We see the result of these policies in the more than two million Mexicans who now work in maquiladoras assembling goods for the US market, the more than three million Bangladeshis who sew apparel for European and US retailers, and the millions more across the globe who either work in sweatshops or cross borders "illegally" to find jobs in the richer nations.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
June 25, 2013

On May 5, The New York Times dedicated its "Sunday Dialogue" feature to letters about the factory collapse in Bangladesh that had killed more than 1,100 garment workers a week and a half earlier. The "dialogue" started with a letter from University of Michigan business school professor Jerry Davis, who apportioned blame for the disaster to "the owners of the building and the factories it contained, to the government of Bangladesh, to the retailers who sold the clothing," and to us. Through "[o]ur willingness to buy garments sewn under dangerous conditions," he wrote, we "create the demand that underwrites these tragedies."

There's a striking omission in Prof. Davis' list - the people whose policies make the sweatshop economy possible.[...]

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The Fast Against the Firings

By David Bacon, In These Times
June 19, 2013

OAKLAND, CALIF.--Even though the full Senate is debating the immigration reform bill S. 744, labor and community activists in northern California charge that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of the federal Department of Homeland Security continues to require local employers to fire hundreds of workers, saying they have no immigration papers. In protest, dozens of Bay Area immigrant workers and their supporters went without food last week in a 72-hour hunger strike to draw attention to hundreds of these firings.

The Obama administration, which strongly supports S. 744, calls the proposal “commonsense immigration reform.” The fasters charged, however, there is no common sense in firing workers while Congress debates the bill.

The bill’s supporters tout the provisional legal status it would give some undocumented workers, like those currently being fired. But workers who are now losing their jobs in these workplace enforcement actions will not be rehired even if thebill passes, critics charge. Further, the job losses will push fired workers into poverty, below the income requirement that the bill imposes to qualify for legalization.[...]

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Recruitment Abuses Emerge in Immigration Reform Debate

By Michelle Chen, In These Times
June 12, 2013

Archiel Buagas thought she was doing everything right. The young Filipina nurse secured a special work visa to come to the United States and arranged a job at a New York nursing home with the help of a recruiting agency. Things started to feel wrong when they refused to give her a copy of her contract. She and the other nurses in her group soon found themselves working frantically to care for 30 to 60 patients per shift, without regular breaks, and she was soon driven to exhaustion by the indecent pay and relentless stress.

“I was so scared of going to work that before my shift," she later testified to labor advocates. "I would be crying, I’d be [vomiting] because of anxiety and nervousness. I would have diarrhea.... [T]he only thing that made me sleep was the fact that I’m so tired .... I wanted to go home.”

Buagas learned the hard way that her path to American prosperity would be fraught with betrayal. It wasn’t because she didn’t have the right papers, it was because her papers offered her no protection against an industry that preys on the hopes of migrants seeking a better life abroad.[...]

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Danilo, “Vermont Human Rights Hero” and Immigrant Rights Organizer Facing Deportation on July 5th

June 15, 2013

Please sign the petition here:

Daniel Alejandro Lopez Santiago, (A089-088-623) known as ‘Danilo’ by his friends, is a farm worker and leader with the Vermont community group, Migrant Justice. In 2011, just three weeks after leading the first ever migrant farm worker press conference and rally at the Vermont state house, Danilo was placed in deportation proceedings.

Danilo was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for speeding, and the police officer questioned him about his immigration status, and proceeded to call Border Patrol and place him in removal proceedings.

He was released after community organizing, and continued to stay involved. Just one month after his detention, Danilo led a successful meeting with Governor Peter Shumlin to create a new state policy that prohibits the use of state resources for immigration enforcement. The VT Human Rights Commission investigated the police stop, and found that Danilo was unlawfully discriminated against in violation of Vermont’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act.

For this, and his continued activism, Danilo was recognized as the “Vermont Human Rights Hero” of 2011 by the Vermont Workers’ Center at a conference of hundreds of community leaders at the University of Vermont.

Throughout his organizing he has continued to fight his deportation case in court, and has continued to fight for immigrant and farm workers rights, including leading the successful campaign for equal access to Vermont Driver’s Licenses.

However, he has lost his immigration case in court, and his request for prosecutorial discretion has been denied. Danilo was told he must leave the country by July 5, 2013. Please help us tell immigration that Danilo should be able to remain in the country, and continue to be a civil rights leader in Vermont.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Latino voters oppose excessive enforcement and punitive measures in immigration reform

By Matt Barreto, Latino Decisions
June 11, 2013

A new poll from and Latino Decisions finds that Latino voters firmly oppose excessive enforcement, border security, and punitive measures as part of comprehensive immigration reform. The survey of 500 Latino registered voters asked opinions on a wide range of specific policy measures that have been debated in Congress and finds overall that 81% of Latino voters reject the notion of “border-security-first” approach. [Webinar slide deck here] Instead, Latinos prefer to see a path to citizenship unfold simultaneously with any border security measures. Further, Latinos are firmly opposed to increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdowns against immigrants. When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the number of immigrants detained 73% of Latino voters said no. When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the frequency of workplace raids 66% of Latino voters said no. Full topline results are posted here.[...]

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Dirty Dishes: The Laundry Workers Center Aims to Make Another Workplace Cleaner

By Sarah Jaffe, In These Times
June 7, 2013

A handful of workers outside an apartment building in the Murray Hill neighborhood of midtown Manhattan passed out flyers under the watchful eyes of the door guard. The flyers were addressed to residents of the building, informing them that their neighbors, the owners of upscale deli chain and catering company Dishes, “are profiting from years of unpaid wages and numerous workplace violations.”

Two of the men handing out flyers on this particular evening, June 4, had been fired from Dishes' 45th Street location—one after complaining that his wages were being slashed in retaliation for a wage-and-hour lawsuit he had filed, and the other after lobbying for the first worker’s reinstatement.

Until recently, both were happy employees who had been with the company for more than a decade. They took pride in their cooking skills and had—or thought they had—a good relationship with their boss, the restaurant's owner, Moshe Mallul, who lives at the Murray Hill apartment complex.[...]

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arizona Border Deaths Detailed

By Frontera NorteSur
June 7, 2013

As the hottest time of year descends on the borderland, a new report sheds fresh light on the mass deaths of migrants crossing the deadly Sonora-Arizona desert. Co-authored by the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME), the study examines the deaths of 2,238 migrants in the Tucson area between 1990 and 2012.

The researchers document the dramatic rise in border crossing deaths beginning in 1990, when the bodies of 8 undocumented migrants were recovered, and culminating in 2012, when 171 migrant deaths were recorded. With 225 migrant deaths registered in the zone examined, 2010 was rated the deadliest year. [...]

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Read the report;