Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jane Guskin on "The Politics of Immigration" at the James Connolly

VIDEO: Jane Guskin discusses recent immigration reform proposals on February 15, 2013, at the James Connolly Forum in Troy, New York.The forum was held at the Oakwood Community Center and co-sponsored by the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. Guskin was introduced by moderator Jackie Hayes, a graduate student at University at Albany SUNY and an activist with New York Students Rising.

Related links:

Immigration reform proposals:
Dignity Campaign
ACLU Framework for Immigration Reform
AFL-CIO's "Unity Framework"
United We Dream Core Principles of Immigration Reform
"Gang of 8" Senate "Bipartisan Framework for Immigration Reform"

New York State Youth Leadership Council

Prerna Lal, "Thoughts About the 'Gang of 8' Immigration Plan"
Kandace Vallejo, "Immigration Reform for My Mom"
David Bacon, "The Dignity Campaign's Alternative Vision for Immigration Reform"
Luis Fernandez and Joel Olson, "To Live, Love, and Work Anywhere You Please: Arizona and the Struggle for Locomotion"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Profiting From Human Misery

By Chris Hedges, TruthDig
February 17, 2013

Marela, an undocumented immigrant in her 40s, stood outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, N.J., on a chilly afternoon last week. She was there with a group of protesters who appear at the facility’s gates every year on Ash Wednesday to decry the nation’s immigration policy and conditions inside the center. She was there, she said, because of her friend Evelyn Obey.

Obey, 40, a Guatemalan and the single mother of a 12-year-old and a 6-year-old, was picked up in an immigration raid as she and nine other undocumented workers walked out of an office building they cleaned in Newark, N.J. Her two children instantly lost their only parent. She languished in detention. Another family took in the children, who never saw their mother again. Obey died in jail in 2010 from, according to the sign Villar had hung on her neck, “pulmonary thromboembolism, chronic bronchiolitis and emphysema and remote cardiac Ischemic Damage.’” [...]

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Legal, civil rights groups urge a halt to Operation Streamline

James Stiven, a retired U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of California, said Operation Streamline programs put extra pressure on courts and attorneys. But they have “no particular deterrent effect” on immigrants.

By Connor Radnovich, Cronkite News
February 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – Programs that fast-track illegal immigrants through the federal courts are costly, constitutionally questionable and are overburdening courts and should be done away with, civil rights and legal groups said Thursday.

The groups urged that Operation Streamline, which has been in place since 2005, should not be part of any comprehensive immigration reform package.

“The costs to the immigrants themselves, the family members they have in the United States as well as in Mexico, and any potential employers aside, we have to consider that the cost to our taxpayers in making Operation Streamline is absolutely prohibitive and hard to justify in these poor economic times,” said Heather Williams, first assistant federal public defender for Arizona. [...]

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five myths about the immigration ‘line’

By Daniel M. Kowalski, The Washington Post
Februrary 1, 2013

Daniel M. Kowalski is a senior fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism and the editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin. He practices citizenship and visa law in Austin at the Fowler Law Firm.

The “line” of people seeking American citizenship or legal status has become an integral part of our immigration debate. In a speech Tuesday, President Obama said that undocumented immigrants should go to “the back of the line” behind those who are going through the process legally. The immigration reform blueprint presented a day earlierby a group of senators contained the same requirement. But misinformation about this line abounds. [...]

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Let's Stop Making Migration a Crime

By David Bacon, Truthout
February 15, 2013

David Bacon argues that instead of immigration reform that includes guest worker programs and more enforcement, we need to change the free trade programs that cause migration and stop making it a crime for the undocumented to work.

We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the US, and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work. While proposals from Congress and the administration have started the debate over the need for change in our immigration policy, they are not only too limited and ignore the global nature of migration, they actually will make the problem of criminalization much worse. We need a better alternative. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Immigration Dialogue 2/15/13 in Troy NY

The Politics of Immigration
A Dialogue with Jane Guskin
at the James Connolly Forum
Co-Sponsored by The Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Friday, February 15, 2013, at 7:00pm
Oakwood Community Center
313 Tenth Street, Troy, New York 12180
Donation of $5 requested, $2 unemployed and students
more information: 518 505 0948

Directions: Exit 9E off 787 Collar City Bridge for Rte 7, on left at 2nd light between 9th and 10th Sts.
Parking on left on 9th St., Old Fire station building parking lot left on 10th Use the door facing Hoosick St.

Jane Guskin is co-author with David Wilson of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, published in July 2007 by Monthly Review Press. Guskin and Wilson are also co-editors, since 1990, of Weekly News Update on the Americas, a summary of Latin American news. In addition, Guskin edited Immigration News Briefs, a bulletin covering immigration-related news, from 1998 through 2008. In 1997 Guskin and Wilson helped found the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants, an all-volunteer group mobilizing against workplace raids. From April 2002 to April 2004, they worked to free their colleague and friend, Farouk Abdel-Muhti, from immigration detention.

Guskin is co-director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, a grassroots foundation supporting nonviolent action for social justice, where she has worked since 1993. She lives in New York City.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wage Theft Across Borders

By Frontera NorteSur, Grassroots Press
February 8, 2013

As discussion mounted over the issue of an expanded guestworker system in an immigration reform package, a company connected to former Secretary of State Colin Powell found itself in hot water in connection with the employment of Mexican workers in the U.S.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh recently ordered that Silicon Valley-based Bloom Energy Corporation fork out nearly $64,000 in back pay and damages to 14 workers from Chihuahua, Mexico, who were transported to California to refurbish power generators.

The court decision stemmed from a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) probe that found the workers were paid in Mexican pesos the U.S. equivalent of $2.66 per hour, or a wage that is more typical of foreign-owned maquiladora plants in Mexico dedicated to manufacturing products for export.

Read the full article:

Download a new report on the abuse of guest workers, "The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse":

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Dignity Campaign’s Alternative Vision for Immigration Reform

"...[W]hen we look at Obama’s principles, or the CIR bills of the last decade, we think not just about our need for legalization, but that we’ll have another twenty-five years of enforcement and more guest workers."

By David Bacon, The Nation
February 6, 2013

For some immigrant rights organizations, President Obama’s principles for comprehensive immigration reform sound familiar. “The idea of the three-part tradeoff, that is, that we get some legalization in trade for guest worker programs and increased immigration enforcement, has been around for a long time,” says Lillian Galedo, executive director of Filipino Advocates for Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. “We need a new alternative, based on much more progressive ideas. I don’t think the Dignity Campaign is the only alternative, but it’s an effort to get us to talk about what we actually want, not just what politicians in Washington tell us is politically possible or necessary.”

The Dignity Campaign is a loose network of more than forty immigrant rights and community organizations, unions and churches that has crafted an immigration reform proposal based on “human, labor and civil rights for all.” [...]

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

DREAMers Outline Immigration Reform Principles

Core Principles For Immigration Reform
Direct and Straightforward Roadmap To Citizenship
By United We Dream
February 6, 2013

Because of the integral role that 11 million undocumented immigrants play in the economy, culture, and communities of the United States, we must reform our immigration system to create a fair and reasonable pathway to citizenship for members of our community. This includes DREAMers, individuals who came to the U.S. as children, our parents, families, friends, and neighbors. This inclusive approach is the only solution consistent with our nation’s values of fairness and equality and the only one that will get the job done. [...]

Read the full statement:

Group of Young Immigrants Seeks a Direct Path to Citizenship for All, Regardless of Age
By Julia Preston, New York Times
February 6, 2013

A national organization of young immigrants said Wednesday that it would press for a “direct and straightforward” seven-year pathway to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, and would not support measures that only offered citizenship to young people brought to the United States as children. [...]

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Trust Obama?/No le tengo mucha confianza a Obama

No le tengo mucha confianza a Obama
Por Elvira Arellano, El Diario-La Prensa (NY)
5 Febrero, 2013

El presidente Barack Obama y la dirigencia demócrata en el Senado nos dicen que ya van por la reforma migratoria, a todo vapor. ¿Debemos confiar en ellos?

Antes que nada quisiera aclarar mi parcialidad. Antes de que entrara en el santuario, Obama me prometió introducir un proyecto de ley particular cubriendo mi caso, y por supuesto no me cumplió. Luego incumplió su promesa a toda la comunidad latina. Sin embargo, yo insté a toda la comunidad latina a que votara por él, pues el congresista Luis V. Gutiérrez lo presionó y al fin, justamente antes de las elecciones hizo unas cuantas cosas para ayudar a los soñadores y a algunas familias amenazadas por la separación. Pero de verdad, no le tengo mucha confianza. [...]

Lea el artículo:

Trust Obama?
By Elvira Arellano, El Diario-La Prensa (NY)
February 5, 2013

President Obama and the Democratic Leaders in the Senate say they are going all out for immigration reform. Should we trust them?

First let me disclose my own bias. Obama promised to introduce a private bill on my behalf right before I went into sanctuary – and of course he broke his promise. Then he broke his promise to the entire Latino community. I urged people to vote for him because Congressman Gutierrez had forced him to take some actions for the dreamers and for a few of the families facing separation right before the election. But I don’t really trust him.

The question for the undocumented and their families is “who will be included in legalization?” Under President Obama, Homeland Security is trying as I write this column to deport Gabino Sanchez in South Carolina because he has several tickets for driving without a license. Will the President and the Democratic Leadership fight for Gabino Sanchez to be included in new legislation? If they will – if we can trust them to – then why are they still trying to deport Gabino now? He clearly has the executive authority to stop that deportation.

Right after the election, Homeland Security returned to its old policy of enforcement – including workplace raids. That does not inspire trust. In any new legislation “the devil is in the details”. Every person who applies for provisional legal status, the first step in the proposed legalization process, must go through a background check. That is the point at which the whole thing could break down for us and I just don’t trust the President and the Democratic Leadership to negotiate for us. Let me give you some other examples.

If you got stopped at the border the first time you tried to cross you were fingerprinted and have an “expedited deportation” on your record. Currently, Homeland Security deports you. In the new legislation, will you be included?

If you were deported and then returned to your U.S. citizen and children, fulfilling your responsibility to your family, will you be allowed to legalize? If you were charged with using a false social security number to work, will you be allowed to legalize?

If you were deported, like me, will you be allowed to return?

If you had one DUI or other minor misdemeanor conviction, will you be allowed to legalize?

The new bill could make it so hard to legalize that millions will be afraid to register and the whole program could fail. The Democrats have made “the road to citizenship” their red line in the sand. They want the votes. Citizenship should and will come -but the issue we are concerned with is inclusion: who will be included?

Can we trust the advocacy organizations to listen to the undocumented and their families? They have often sold us out to get their funding from the government. Keep the pressure on them.

Can we trust Obama and the Democrats? Let the President stop the deportation of the people he says he wants to legalize. Until then, keep the pressure on them. Legalization para todos!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Harvest of Empire" on YouTube

90 minutes, released in September 2012
Directed by Peter Getzels and Eduardo López; based on Juan González’s 2000 book of the same name

This is an important effort to start what labor activist and Black Commentator editor Bill Fletcher, Jr., once called “the discussion that is not happening”—the discussion of the root causes of the wave of unauthorized immigration to the United States since the 1960s.

Focusing on six Latin American countries--Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua—the directors use archival footage and interviews to show how U.S. support for brutal dictators like Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo spurred immigration; how economic exploitation by U.S. companies and their desire for cheap labor in this country brought people here from Puerto Rico and Mexico; how the devastating U.S.-sponsored wars in Central America drove hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in the United States in the 1980s; and how the “free trade” policies embodied in NAFTA and similar agreements brought millions more from the region over the past three decades.

Watch the trailer:

Buy a DVD:

Host a screening:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Immigration, yes. Indentured serfdom, no

The dark side of immigration reform: A new "guest worker program" that's as close as we may get to modern slavery

By Michael Lind, Salon
January 29, 2013

The outlines of a bipartisan plan for immigration reform have been announced by a group of senators. While most of its provisions are reasonable — a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants, increased skilled immigration and increased law enforcement — one provision stinks to high heaven and should be rejected by Americans of left, right and center. That provision is a massive, special-interest-driven expansion of indentured servitude in the United States, in the form of a new “guest-worker program.” (President Obama, while hailing the plan in general on Tuesday, has not weighed in on the specifics of the guest-worker program.)

Indentured servitude or contract labor, like slavery, is a form of unfree labor. Unfortunately, the U.S., having abolished slavery, still has pockets of indentured servant labor. [...]

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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Senate Immigration Plan Isn't Terrible—It's Just Unworkable

The Gang of Eight's framework isn't all terrible—it's just unworkable. It places conditions it's unlikely to meet, and then further compounds the problem by putting a veto in the hands of people who are likely to oppose the plan even if those conditions were met.

By Adam Serwer, Mother Jones
January 28, 2013

The bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" released their framework for comprehensive immigration reform today. As expected, the plan includes increased enforcement and a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already in the United States. It also contains several tripwires that, if triggered, could destroy the entire effort. The Gang of Eight includes Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

The plan includes a path to citizenship, which excludes those with criminal backgrounds and those who have committed crimes since entering the United States. Undocumented immigrants would have to register with the government and go through a background check, and would be allowed to stay under "probationary legal status," after which they would have to "go to the back of the line" before eventually qualifying for citizenship. They will not be eligible for federal benefits during their probationary legal status.

Interestingly, the plan makes the path to citizenship easier for two groups of immigrants: those eligible for the DREAM Act (young people brought to the US as children who are prepared to go to college or join the military) and agricultural workers. A cynical person might point out that in doing so, the plan goes out of its way to help the most sympathetic immigrants, and those most essential to powerful business interests. Or, as the plan puts it, workers who "who commit to the long term stability of our nation's agricultural industries." [...]

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why this Round of Immigration Reform is Not So Different

By Gerald Lenoir and Cathi Tactaquin, Black Alliance for Just Alliance
January 25, 2013

Pramila Jayapal’s article titled, “Why this Round of Immigration Reform is Different” in ColorLines Magazine overlooks some critical factors in the struggle for fair and just immigration reform. It is certainly the case that the immigrant rights movement is stronger today than it was during the last round of the congressional debate, as Jayapal points out. She is also right that the show of force at the ballot box by immigrant voters and their allies helped to catapult immigration reform to the top of the political agenda for both Democrats and Republicans.

But does this bipartisan change of heart in Congress mean that we can expect a bill that will meet the needs and aspirations of the 11 million undocumented immigrants now residing in the United States? Not! Although the Republican Party lost the election, their conservative ideology still holds tremendous sway over both parties and in the public psyche. [...]

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Will Immigration Reform Address H-2 Guestworker Recruiter Violations?

By Mike Elk, Working in These Times
January 22, 2013

With President Obama vowing to push immigration reform, guest worker advocates want to ensure that the H-2 visa program—which grants temporary or seasonal U.S. visas to foreign workers in sectors such as agriculture—is on the agenda. All too often, advocates say, guest workers are forced by third-party recruiters to pay illegal recruitment fees, sometimes without receiving a job in return.

Hoping to jumpstart a conversation on these exploitative practices, the migrant-rights organization Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM) released a report on Thursday titled “Recruitment Revealed” that surveyed 220 guest workers from Mexico about guest-work recruiting abuses. CDM also unveiled a “Yelp-like” new online tracking tool that will allow guest workers to write reviews of the recruiters and their practices. [...]

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Read the report: