Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Immigrants on ICE: Obama Plan Still Leaves Many Worried

“Over the past year we’ve seen a real uptick in home raids and probation arrests,” said Wellek.

By Alina Mogilyanskaya, The Indypendent
December 16, 2014

On the evening of November 20, some 200 immigrants and advocates gathered in SEIU Local 32BJ’s Chelsea headquarters to watch President Obama announce his much-anticipated executive action on immigration in prime time. The media had been called in, pizza and beverages had been bought and American flags and art supplies had been set out. As Obama spoke, some of the children in the room made signs with messages about immigration. A pair hanging on the wall read, “Gracias, Señor Presidente.”

After Obama finished describing his offer to provide temporary relief from deportation for some 4 million of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants — so long as they “get right with the law” — he proclaimed, “We were strangers once too.” The line prompted scattered applause from the crowd, but the mood was uncertain.

It reflected the ambiguous nature of Obama’s reforms. He is extending temporary relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children that have been in the United States for at least five years, as well as to an expanded set of childhood arrivals not covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program of 2012. But the gesture excludes more than 6 million undocumented people, and leaves them — along with more than 13 million green card holders and countless future immigrants — even more vulnerable to the vagaries of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[...]

Read the full article:

Monday, December 29, 2014

ACLU sues Obama administration for detaining asylum seekers as intimidation tactic

December 16, 2014
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's policy of locking up asylum-seeking mothers and children to intimidate others from coming to the United States.

The case was brought on behalf of mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States for safety. Each has been found by an immigration officer or judge to have a "credible fear" of persecution, meaning there is a "significant possibility" they will be granted asylum.

Yet, instead of releasing these families as they await their asylum hearings, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has typically done, the agency now categorically detains and denies their release on bond or other conditions. The Obama administration adopted this policy — "an aggressive deterrence strategy" — following this summer's increase in mothers and children coming to the United States.

"Locking up families and depriving them of their liberty in order to scare others from seeking refuge in the U.S. is inhumane and illegal," said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "The government should not be using these mothers and their children as pawns. They have already been through devastating experiences, and imprisoning them for weeks or months while they await their asylum hearings is unnecessary and traumatizing."[...]

Read the full press release:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Immigration Enforcement: A Tool To Silence Workers?

Steven Wishnia, Dissent NewsWire
December 11, 2014

Last April, Ramon Mendez, a Mexican-born roofer in Los Angeles, complained to the Department of Labor that the contractor he worked for had stiffed him out of $12,000 he’d earned.

“Within a few days, immigration officers showed up at his house and put in a deportation order,” says Cliff Smith, business manager of Roofers and Waterproofers Local 36 in Los Angeles. But Mendez was on the street nearby and saw them coming. He escaped, and with union, community, and political support, was able to make a deal. He turned himself in to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and as he had no criminal background and the agency has a policy of staying neutral in labor disputes, he was given an “order of supervision” and later a work permit. However, says Smith, “vindictive ICE officials are requiring him to wear an ankle bracelet, making it difficult to hold steady employment to provide for his wife and four children.”

Local 36 has no proof that the accused contractor reported Mendez to ICE, but the timing was definitely suspicious, Smith adds. The union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details on his case.

How employers use immigration laws against workers who speak out on the job is a complex, murky world. It’s not as black-and-white as it was under George W. Bush, when massive ICE raids often coincided with union campaigns—such as the 2008 raid at Agriprocessors, a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa that the United Food and Commercial Workers was trying to organize, where 389 people were arrested and 270 jailed for using Social Security numbers that weren’t their own.

The Obama administration doesn’t do that kind of raid. Instead, it has preferred what some call “silent raids” or “desktop raids.” It has quadrupled the number of audits of workplaces’ I-9 “employment eligibility verification” forms, to about 2,000 a year, according to a 2013 report by the National Employment Law Project.

“It’s not guys in black fatigues now,” says Mike Henneberry of UFCW Local 5 in California. “It’s bureaucrats on computers getting people fired.”[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Immigration Action Gets Mixed Response, But Legal Pathway Still Popular

Rise in Hispanic Support of Obama on Immigration

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
December 11, 2014

The public is divided over President Obama’s recent executive action that expands the number of undocumented immigrants permitted to stay and work in the U.S. At the same time, Americans continue to broadly support a pathway to legal status for people in this country illegally.

About as many disapprove (50%) as approve (46%) of Obama’s action, which could make up to 4 million people newly eligible for deportation relief. Roughly eight-in-ten Republicans (82%) disapprove of the executive action and about seven-in-ten Democrats (71%) approve of it, with very strong attitudes on both sides.

Seven-in-Ten Continue to Support Path to Legal Status for Undocumented

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults, finds that 70% say there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, if they meet certain requirements. Most of those who support legal status think there should be a way for unauthorized immigrants to become citizens (43% overall), while 24% say the path should only include permanent residency. These opinions are little changed from October.[...]

Read the full article:

Read the report:

For an earlier poll, go to:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Report: U.S. often keeping deportees' money, IDs

By Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic
December 10, 2014

PHOENIX — U.S. authorities often needlessly endanger deportees by sending them back across the border into Mexico without returning their money, IDs, cellphones, medicine and other belongings, a human-rights groups charges in a report released Wednesday.

No More Deaths, an Arizona-based group that runs a project to help deportees recover their property, said that through surveys of deportees and documenting 1,481 requests for help since 2011, it found that deportees are dispossessed three ways:

• Often, the Border Patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement simply fail to return money and belongings taken from migrants when they're apprehended. No More Deaths attributed this in part to a failure to coordinate between the agencies, and in part to Border Patrol and ICE practices that the group said conflict with the agencies'own regulations and policies.

• When money is returned, deportees often are given checks or debit cards that either can't be used or cashed in Mexico or that require exorbitant international fees to do so.

• Sometimes, agents or officers steal money. No More Deaths' report listed nine cases in which deportees and witnesses said their money was taken and kept by Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, U.S. Marshall's Service employees, or state or local officers or deputies.[...]

Read the full article:

Download or read the report:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Living nightmare for detained immigrants in Georgia

By Azadeh N. Shahshahani, The Hill
November 22, 2014

Reports are mounting of a living nightmare in Lumpkin, Georgia, at Stewart, a 1,750-bed detention facility housing immigrants facing potential deportation.

According to multiple interviews with detained immigrants at Stewart, they are dealing with maggots in food, improper medical care, sweltering temperatures, and in many cases no communication with staff due to no translators on site. The Corrections Corporation of America operates the facility for profit, adding fuel to an already roaring fire of opposition.

While President Obama’s expanded deportation relief is a welcome move—the truth is that without addressing immigration detention, immigrants will continue to suffer horrifying conditions in detention centers.[...]

Read the full article:

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Case for Reparations (to Undocumented Workers)

The math usually used to make the case that undocumented migrants are a net loss to the United States is fairly simple: subtract the cost of the public services they use from the taxes they pay. What’s missing from the calculations is the value that their labor contributes to the US economy, a good part of which is uncompensated.

By Greg Grandin, The Nation
December 1, 2014

Where, outside of a marginalized left, are today’s equivalent of the antebellum radical Republicans, “ready and willing to destroy” the coercive deportation regime? Where are the absolutists, who would brook no compromise, who would rather see the republic ripped apart than tolerate an immigration system that denies equal rights to millions upon millions of people; that brutalizes families, generates thousands upon thousands of desert deaths, and breeds sexual terror, be it on the journey here, in the factory and field, or in the closed quarters of the home, where women workers have limited protections and where fear trumps whatever slim recourse to the law they might have (that is, when the law itself isn’t the rapist)? Where is the equal of William Lloyd Garrison, capable of both analytically dissecting and morally condemning public policy that compels migration (through trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA) and then denies the humanity of the migrants once they get here; a regime that relies on a carceral, militarized state for its perpetuation? In the 1840s, radical constitutionalists like Alvan Stewart cut through procedural objections against executive action by arguing that the principle of universal equality is found in the common law of the United States and in the due-process clause of the Constitution. Where are those legal insurgents today insisting that forcing millions of people to live like serfs enthralled to their lord-employers is illegal? That the constitution doesn’t just authorize Barack Obama to limit some deportations—it authorizes him to strike the whole damn regime down. Who are today’s dissenting intellectuals with the comparable influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who after the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act urged collective resistance against the law?

We certainly have their opposite. The opponents of even the mildest program of immigration reform are as passionate in their denunciations and comprehensive in their analysis as John Calhoun was in his day when he said that slavery didn’t contradict but rather made republican liberty possible. Whenever a Democrat merely hints at a comparison between slavery then and undocumented migration now, they pounce, such as when Nancy Pelosi, referring to Obama’s recent executive action limiting some deportations, said that “the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.” [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Statement of Power: The NYSYLC's Response to Obama's Immigration Announcement

New York Student Youth Leadership Council
November 24, 2014

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the executive steps he plans on taking to address flaws within our immigration system. Among other changes, his plan includes expansive border enforcement initiatives, expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the creation of Deferred Action for Parents. President Obama’s executive order will impact the lives of many undocumented immigrants across the country, including our members and ourselves.

We acknowledge that some undocumented immigrants may benefit from President Obama’s executive order. Unfortunately, this action is long overdue and nowhere near enough to address an inhumane immigration system. We want to be clear that we see President Obama’s priority enforcement policy as directly targeting Muslim communities and black communities. We also want to acknowledge that by excluding groups like undocumented youth who arrived after the age of 16, unaccompanied minors, undocumented parents of DACA recipients, undocumented siblings of US citizens, deported immigrants and deported parents of US citizens, recently arrived immigrants, previously and currently incarcerated undocumented immigrants, agricultural workers, those who are currently pregnant, and undocumented LGBTIQ immigrants, our government sees them as targets. We will not celebrate policies that are intended to pit immigrant communities against each other. We are accustomed to the colonizer’s tricks and will not fall for them. Instead, we renew our commitment to fighting alongside each other.

We demand an immediate moratorium on all deportations and a reform to our country’s detention centers. We are committed to fighting for a just society in which every single human being is treated with respect. We are particularly aware that certain undocumented immigrants are more vulnerable than others due to policies and laws that directly target those communities. Therefore, we will be vigilant and organize to protect those made most vulnerable as enforcement priorities. We urge the American public to educate themselves on how much it costs to detain human beings and to not fall for the myths that politicians propagate to establish climates of fear.

We hope to live in a world where our worth as human beings is not measured by something as arbitrary as papers. The fight for immigrant rights has been entirely led by directly impacted communities. It’s our work as directly impacted individuals that has enabled this small shift in action. Nothing will be enough to erase the years of degradation and dehumanization that our families have faced. It’s imperative that we rise up and challenge our brutal and inhumane immigration system both at a national and local level. We deserve better. Our families deserve better. We are here to fight for substantive and not superficial change and hope you will join us in the battle.


The NYSYLC is the first undocumented youth led, membership led, organization that empowers immigrant youth to drop the fear and challenge the broken immigration system through leadership development, grassroots organizing, educational advancement, and a safe space for self-expression.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Obama Administration’s November 2014 Immigration Initiatives: Questions and Answers

By Kate M. Manuel, Congressional Research Service
November 24, 2014

The Congressional Research Service's 23-page discussion of the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced on Nov. 20, 2014.

Download the PDF:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Poll finds support for Obama's executive action on immigration

By David McCabe, The Hill
November 24, 2014

Voters are very supportive of President Obama’s executive order on immigration, according to a new poll from an organization aligned with Democrats.

Sixty-seven percent of voters said that they had a favorable opinion of the plan when it was described to them, and 28 percent had an unfavorable view in the poll conducted by Hart Research Associates for Americans United for Change, a liberal group.

The results of the poll vary by party affiliation.

An overwhelming 91 percent of Democrats favored the plan as it was described to them, as did 67 percent of independent voters.

Fifty-one percent of Republicans did not favor the plan.

Hart conducted the poll on Nov. 19-20, so much of the response came before Obama’s announcement on the night of Nov. 20. However, details about Obama’s actions had been trickling out.[...]

Read the full article:

Read the poll (PDF):

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How The Immigrant Rights Movement Got Obama To Save Millions From Deportations

A battle raged among allies, publicly and behind the scenes, to shift focus from a legislative overhaul strategy to making the idea of executive action inevitable. This is how it happened.

By Adrian Carrasquillo, BuzzFeed
November 22, 2014

President Obama’s executive actions to give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants have been framed as a president choosing to be confrontational and daring. But the real story is different: Obama was forced to do this.

The path to the executive actions didn’t start in Washington — it started at a rec center in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The president was there, at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center, named for the flight attendant who first told U.S. authorities the country was under attack on 9/11, to deliver a routine speech, pushing Republicans on immigration one last time before Thanksgiving.

As is usual, White House officials invited a range of people to the event, including a number of undocumented immigrants who received temporary legal status under Obama’s 2012 executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate and a DACA recipient, was invited to the event — then randomly selected to stand behind Obama in the typically diverse backdrop that accompanies a presidential speech.

And in that moment a nervous Hong decided to interrupt Obama and yell something off-message: The president had the power to stop the deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Obama immigration plan means for US economy

Obama's new immigration orders could boost labor income by $6.8 billion, helping to generate 160,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in additional tax revenues, say economists. But immigration reform by Congress would do more.

By Josh Boak, Associated Press
November 22, 2014

[Note: The article's claims for the benefits of guest worker programs are very questionable.--The Politics of Immigration]

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's expansive executive action on immigration is good for the U.S. economy — just not as good as partnering with Congress on broader reforms.

Announced Thursday, the executive order would prevent the deportation of about 4 million parents and guardians who lack the same legal status as their children. By gaining work permits, they will likely command higher wages, move more easily between jobs and boost government tax revenues, according to multiple economic analyses.

"This is focused on people who are already in the economy today, who are contributing mightily but are basically operating in the shadows," said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Their economic potential is being held back." [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Media Release: Immigrant Rights Activists Converge On Georgia Immigrant Prison, Then School Of The Americas

For immediate release
November 22, 2014
Anton Flores, 706-302-9661, anton@alternacommunity.com
Arturo Viscarra, SOA Watch, 617-820-3008, arturo@soaw.org
Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch 202-425-5128, hvoss@soaw.org

Activists Protest One of Largest US Immigrant Prisons, Caravan to Fort Benning, Home of the School of the Americas

5 Human Rights Activists Arrested

On Saturday, November 22, hundreds of human rights defenders converged in the remote town of Lumpkin, Georgia, whose largest employer is the Corrections Corporation of America at the Stewart Detention Center. Stewart is one of the largest immigrant prisons in the US, currently warehousing 1,800 men for profit. These detainees' only “crime” was to flee the economic and political violence in their home countries, violence created by US policies and training like at the SOA/WHINSEC.

In the wake of President Obama’s announcement about his executive actions in regards to immigration, the activists marched 1.7 miles from central Lumpkin to the Stewart Detention Center. At a vigil in front of the prison, the activists demanded the release of the immigrants who are imprisoned at Stewart, an immediate end to mass deportations, and the closure of the Stewart Detention Center. Five activists were arrested for their nonviolent civil disobedience at the gates of Stewart: longtime union activist Maureen Fitzsimmos of Michigan; Rebecca Kanner, former SOA Watch prisoner of conscience from Michigan; Anton Flores, the vigil organizer from the Alterna community and the Georgia Detention Watch coalition; Jason McGaughey, of Washington, DC; and Kevin Caron of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. Bail was set at $25,000 for Anton Flores, and $1,000 for each of the others, but the SOA Watch Legal Collective negotiated bonds down to $250 each.[...]

Read the full press release:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Obama’s Action Marks Historic Victory for Immigrant Rights, But Activists Warn of a Long Way to Go

Democracy Now!
November 21, 2014

In a prime-time speech Thursday night, President Obama outlined his plan to take executive action granting temporary legal status to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, protecting them from deportation. Under the plan, undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will be allowed to temporarily remain in the country and work legally if they have lived in the United States for at least five years and pass a background check. But the new plan will not provide relief to the parents of undocumented children, even those who qualified for deferred action in 2012. The executive order will also not provide undocumented immigrants any formal, lasting legal status. Many will receive work permits, which will give them Social Security numbers and the ability to work under their own names. But they will have to reapply after three years. We get analysis from Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González, who watched the speech with a large group of undocumented immigrants Thursday night. We are also joined from Seattle by a family team of activists: Maru Mora Villalpando, an activist and undocumented immigrant with the group Latino Advocacy, and her daughter, Josefina Mora, a U.S. citizen.[...]

Read the full transcript or watch the program segment:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grassroots Groups React to President’s Executive Action on Immigration

For immediate release
November 20, 2014
Contact: B. Loewe, NDLON, 773.791.4668, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank" style="color: #1155cc;">bloewe@ndlon.org

Grassroots Groups React to President’s Executive Action on Immigration

In reaction to the President’s executive action on immigration, immigrant rights leaders issued the following statements:

Maris Franco, Lead Organizer of the #Not1More Campaign for NDLON, “If today is defining, it’s is in the breakthrough of directly impacted communities and grassroots organizations to change the conversation, propose new strategies, and show we can win. We took risks, confronted fear and demanded that our leaders do the same. By following suit, President Obama’s decision brings the possibility of shifting course on immigration, and correcting injustices that have held our country back. With this executive action, we must seek to defend it, implement it with expedience and fairness and most importantly seek to expand it more people, and continue to build immigration policy that is inclusive and just.” [...]

Read the full press release:

Dignity Campaign Response to the Administration's Announcement on Relief From Deportation

Dignity Campaign
November 20, 2014

We welcome the administration's willingness to finally respond to the grassroots movement of marches, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and hunger strikes organized by communities around the country. For six years this movement has demanded an end to the administration's policy of mass deportations.

Relief from deportation for four to five million of the eleven million people who lack legal immigration status is a step in the right direction. But it is only a step. Deportation relief is a stopgap measure. We need permanent solutions so that those receiving deferred status are not vulnerable to a possible Republican administration and Congress that can easily reverse it, putting in danger those people who have come forward.

The plan, however, leaves millions of the other undocumented subject to deportation and to the vastly increased enforcement apparatus this administration and Congress have put in place and plan to continue. We call on activists to continue to fight for the right of all people to real legal status, beyond deferred deportation for some.

We reject the trade-off the administration is making, in increasing enforcement and labor programs as a price our communities must pay for deportation relief for some. More enforcement on the U.S. Mexico border will mean even more people will die trying to cross, and greater violations of civil and human rights in border communities. We need to demilitarize the border, not to increase its militarization. The U.S. already spends more money on immigration enforcement, including the notorious Operation Streamline kangaroo courts, than all other federal law enforcement programs combined. It is inexcusable to spend even more.

The announcement that the administration will end the Secure Communities program, opposed by advocates, and even several state governments, is another good step, but only a small one. It leaves in place the 287g program that is the root of local enforcement collaborations with ICE. Even worse, the administration plans to expand the number of privately run prisons for immigrants, and the number of people held in them.

Silicon Valley tech titans have been pushing for more labor programs and work visas to maximize profits by keeping wages to tech workers down. By giving this industry access to more work visas and tying labor programs to deportation relief, the administration is taking a step towards lower wages and undermining the rights of all workers.

The administration has announced it will work with Republicans on negotiating more free trade deals, like the Trans Pacific Partnership. Two decades of experience with NAFTA tells us that these deals drive people into poverty, leading to more displacement and global migration, while US jobs are eliminated. We need to end these trade arrangements as part of a sensible immigration policy. We must change U.S. immigration law and trade policy to deal with the basic causes of migration, and to guarantee the human, civil and labor rights of migrants and all working people.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ICE-FREE NYC Campaign: Detainer ban at Rikers is a step forward, but Mayor de Blasio must lead in completely ridding New York of ICE

Posted on October 15, 2014

For interviews with ICE-Free NYC please contact:
Monica Novoa monica@familiesforfreedom.org

Message to New York City:

“Stop all collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and create a safe immigration legacy New Yorkers can be proud of.”

NEW YORK, October 15, 2014 — Members of the ICE-FREE NYC campaign welcome the proposed city council policy to end Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) presence and collaboration at Rikers Island Prison. Campaign member organization Families for Freedom is scheduled to give testimony at today’s city council hearing about the proposed legislation. We commend those who have championed this demand while we express concern about ICE’s continued presence in the City. We believe all New Yorkers have the right to remain together with their families and in their communities – citizens and noncitizens alike. While the change at Rikers is welcome, Mayor de Blasio can and must do more to protect all immigrants throughout New York.

It’s a step forward that under this proposed policy detainers will no longer be honored in NYC for the foreseeable future. But detainers are only one of the many ways that local police currently facilitate the deportation of New Yorkers. The mechanisms that facilitate ICE presence in our communities beyond the halls of Rikers Island would remain intact. For example, under this legislation city agencies are still permitted to share certain key personal information about individuals with ICE and DHS. Data sharing is especially of concern in regard to people who have been previously convicted, recently released and on probation, and information sharing remains unacceptable. And while we are heartened that ICE will not be allowed to maintain an office space at Rikers, there is nothing in the bill to prevent immigration agents from coming into the jail to look for people to deport.[...]

Read the full press release:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contratados: A Yelp To Help Migrant Workers Fight Fraud

A storytelling tool built by MIT's Center for Civic Media is the backbone of the site, which helps protect migrant workers from fraud and abuse.

By Steven Melendez, Fast Company
October 9, 2014

Every year, more than 100,000 Mexican migrant workers are recruited to travel to the United States on temporary employment visas (and many more arrive unofficially). They find themselves with little ability to research whether promised wages and working conditions will actually be delivered. In some cases, fake job recruiters even collect application fees from prospective workers, only to disappear without a trace.

“These prospective migrant workers have a great necessity to get work in the U.S.,” says Sarah Farr, a project coordinator with Centro de los Derechos del Migrante or CDM. “There’s really no information available to them that allows them to verify if this is a real job offer or not.”

To help level the playing field, CDM created Contratados, a platform launched last week to let migrant workers share Yelp-style ratings and reviews of their experiences with different recruiters and employers.

The idea evolved out of a Facebook page run by a fraudulent recruitment agency. The agency had been routed out, but scam victims reappropriated the comments section to share information about their experiences with other employers and recruiting agencies.

“This Facebook page had since been abandoned by whoever had been administrating it and had since been used as a community bulletin board where workers were sharing information,” says Farr.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Not-So-Good News about the Border Crisis

The Obama administration is making it harder for Central Americans to get refugee status.

By Emily Schwartz Greco, OtherWords
October 8, 2014

Did you notice that all that fuss over those Central American kids who were crossing the U.S. border alone suddenly died down?

As recently as June, more than 10,000 children fleeing unchecked gang violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala made it here over the course of a month. Then, a major security crackdown in Mexico slowed the pace of their arrivals down to about 3,000 in August — the lowest rate since January and about the same as the pace of arrivals last year. It’s what passes for “normal” in this sad situation.

Customs and Border Protection chief Gil Kerlikowske calls this decrease “good news.” He’s only right if you believe that putting a problem out of sight and out of mind constitutes solving it.[...]

Read the full article:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Migrant Women, Children Allege Harsh Conditions, Sexual Assault at For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail

"Democracy Now!"
October 8, 2014

Broadcasting from San Antonio, we look at a new family detention center just south of the city that holds more than 500 immigrant women and their children as they await deportation. The for-profit Karnes County Residential Center is owned by the GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the United States. Many women imprisoned at the Karnes facility have accused guards of sexually assaulting them. A federal complaint filed last week says guards are promising the women help with their immigration cases in return for sexual favors. Many of the detainees came to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But the Obama administration says it is detaining them in order to discourage more migrants from coming. We hear from one of the facility’s few detainees to be released since a wave of migrants arrived in August, an El Salvador national who came with her 7-year-old daughter, who suffers from brain cancer. We also speak to Javier Maldonado, an immigration attorney involved in the detainees’ case alleging sexual assault and poor conditions, and Cristina Parker, the immigration projects coordinator for Grassroots Leadership and co-author of their new report, "For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families." [...]

Watch the program or read the transcript:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tribunal Takes Up Mexico's Migrant 'Hell'

By David Bacon, The Progressive
October 8, 2014

Photos of the trains known as "La Bestia" (“the beast”) have become famous around the world, showing young migrants crowded on top of boxcars, riding the rails from the Guatemala border to near the United States. It's a slow train, but many boys and girls have lost arms and legs trying to get on or off, and wind up living in limbo in the Casas de Migrantes—the hostels run by the Catholic Church and other migrant rights activists throughout Mexico.

Last week, as judges heard testimony on migration at the Permanent People's Tribunal in Mexico City, interior secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told the press that the speed of the trains would be doubled.

Osorio Chong said Mexico would require the companies operating the trains—a partnership between mining giant Grupo Mexico and the U.S. corporation Kansas Southern—to hike their speed to make it harder for the migrants.

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Who Profits From Plans to Lock Up More Immigrant Families? Private Prison Companies

By Zoë Carpenter, The Nation
September 30, 2014

Last week, the federal government announced that it will detain as many as 2,400 women and children on property in Dilley, Texas, that is currently used as a “man camp” for oilfield workers. The new facility will be the largest family detention center in the country, and the third to open since the number of children and families crossing the US-Mexico border shot up early in the summer. Since then, the number of minors caught at the border has fallen back below last year’s levels.

Human rights groups are alarmed that the administration is nevertheless planning to double the number of people in family detention. The controversial practice of locking up women and their children, many of whom are awaiting asylum hearings, had been all but abandoned before this year. Calls for closing the two other centers opened this summer in Texas and New Mexico have intensified in recent weeks due to reports of “deplorable” conditions.[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Are Central American Kids the New Boat People?

By Bill Frelick, Politico
August 13, 2014

The humanitarian crisis of undocumented Central American children may have faded from the headlines, but the problem has not gone away—not least because Congress failed to pass a bill addressing the issue before it left for the August recess. Both President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have floated proposals to process the kids in their home countries and admit a set number to the United States as refugees or with some other humanitarian status. Senator McCain also proposes to quickly deport child asylum seekers who arrive irregularly.

The White House pointed to in-country processing from Vietnam and Haiti in the 1980s and ‘90s as models. But Vietnam and Haiti, in fact, are models for how not to process refugees. These programs demonstrated how in-country processing can be a pretext for blocking access to asylum for people with immediate needs to flee persecution and who can’t wait in the orderly departure line or take the chance of returning to the country they fled. The programs turned basic refugee principles on their head.[...]

Read more the full article:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Covering Up for Walmart: The Mexico Scandal

Walmart’s various scandals would be an ideal vehicle for raising popular consciousness about capitalist realities if labor organizers, anti-sweatshop activists, human rights workers, and alternative media united around a coordinated campaign focusing on the retailer’s repeated abuses.

By David L. Wilson, WIN Magazine
Summer 2014

[This article appeared in an issue of the War Resisters League magazine focusing on whistle-blowers.]

Early in 2004 a lawyer at Walmart de México, Sergio Cicero Zapata, was passed over for a promotion. Upset by the slight and concerned that he might be held liable for some of the company’s activities, he resigned that September. One year later, he decided to come clean. He sent an email to Maritza Munich, the general counsel for Walmart International, offering to meet with her to discuss “irregularities” at the Mexican subsidiary that he said had been authorized “at the highest levels.”

Munich promptly launched an internal investigation. After interviewing Cicero and studying company documents, Munich’s investigators determined that Walmart de México had spent millions on bribes to speed up building permits for its stores, often circumventing zoning and environmental regulations.[...]

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

DHS Argues It Has Evidence That Locking Up Immigrant Families Deters Migration. One Problem: It’s So Wrong.

By Eunice Lee, ACLU Blog of Rights
September 26, 2014

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to claim both the incredible and the disgraceful: that Central American mothers and children fleeing danger pose a "national security" threat to the United States and must be locked away.

Relying on a decade-old decision of former Attorney General John Ashcroft called "Matter of D-J-," DHS says immigrant families seeking asylum must be imprisoned and denied bond to send a "deterrent" message to others. But the agency isn't content with hiding behind that Bush-era decision: It wants scientific backing, too.

Citing a report out of Vanderbilt University, DHS claims its policy of detaining immigrant families as "deterrence" is supported empirically by painstaking research. The study, according to DHS's reading, demonstrates that if released, women and their young children would supposedly become part of an "active migration network," encouraging others to flood across the Southwest border.

But guess what? The report's own authors vehemently disagree.[...]

Read the full article:

Monday, September 29, 2014

President Obama's Broken Promise on Undocumented Migrants

By David Bacon, Equal Times
September 17, 2014

US President Barack Obama recently announced that he will not take any action to suspend the deportation of undocumented migrants until after the November election.

On 6 September 2014, a White House official told the New York Times: “Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the President believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.”

The President has been under pressure from Latino and Asian communities as well as unions to stop the wave of deportations that have totalled more than two million people during his administration, or about 400,000 per year.

He has made repeated promises to provide provisional legal status to some portion of the 11 million people living undocumented in the US.

The latest was a promise this spring that he would act on his own if Congress didn’t pass immigration reform legislation by the end of the summer.

Pressure from conservative Democrats campaigning against right-wing Republicans convinced him to abandon that pledge.[...]

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Secrecy continues to shroud killings by border agents

By Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic
September 14, 2014

PHOENIX — Six months after promising greater transparency and accountability when its agents use deadly force, Customs and Border Protection continues to struggle to deliver on both counts.

Since 2004, Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers have killed at least 46 people, including at least 15 Americans, while on duty.

On Friday, CBP's acting internal affairs chief, Mark Alan Morgan, in response to a question from The Arizona Republic, told reporters he was unaware of any agent or officer having been disciplined or terminated in any of those deaths.

A CBP spokesman said the agency couldn't immediately confirm or deny Morgan's statement. But, James Wong, who retired in 2011 as CBP's assistant deputy commissioner for internal affairs, separately confirmed to The Republic that none of the 20 agents or officers who killed people while on duty from 2008 through 2011 was disciplined internally or terminated.

Those cases include unarmed teens who were shot in the back by agents as they fled, agents shooting through the border fence into Mexico, and two in which unarmed men died after agents severely beat them, repeatedly pepper-sprayed them, or shocked them multiple times with stun guns.[...]

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Study: Deportations don’t lead to lower crime rates

By Kirk Semple,  New York Times
September 3, 2014

Six years after the federal government opened an immigration enforcement program intended to improve public safety, deporting hundreds of thousands of people, many of them convicted criminals, a new study has concluded that the program has had “no observable effect on the overall crime rate.”
The finding “calls into question the long-standing assumption that deporting noncitizens who commit crimes is an effective crime-control strategy,” said the study, conducted by two law professors at the University of Chicago and New York University.

The analysis, scheduled for publication in the November issue of The Journal of Law and Economics, a journal for peer-reviewed research, coincides with the Obama administration’s internal review of the program, known as Secure Communities. Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary, has suggested that he might overhaul the program, saying it needs “a fresh start.” [...]

Read the full article:

The paper is available at:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Immigration Reform Has to Go Hand-in-Hand With Stronger Labor Rights

...Maybe Washington fears immigration reform not only because it might damage their electoral prospects but because it might set in motion a process of social reckoning. Just imagine if the country’s most dispossessed workers finally got a chance to stand up and lay claim to what they’re owed. Instead of seeing the law as a force of oppression, they’d wield it as a tool for seeking justice....

By Michelle Chen, The Nation
September 8, 2014

This weekend, President Obama again pushed away the issue of immigration. Despite growing pressure to take executive action to curtail deportations, Obama again swept the lives of millions of immigrants off this fall’s agenda—enraging advocacy groups by heeding his party’s fears of angering right-wing voters before key mid-term elections.

But while politicians dismiss immigration as a third rail, they cruelly ignore the fact that another major election issue, the economic woes plaguing workers, is also an immigration issue. [...]

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

16 Reasons Why Opening Our Borders Makes More Sense Than Militarizing Them

By Roque Planas, Huffington Post
September 2, 2014

What would happen if the United States suddenly stopped building walls and instead flung open its borders, not unlike the European Union has done among the member countries of the common market? Conservatives malign the notion and liberals, even radical ones, haven't exactly embraced the "open borders" concept.

But the idea isn't as radical as it may seem. For most of its history, the United States has had, for all practical purposes, open borders, according to University of San Francisco law professor Bill Hing.

"Really, the United States was an open-border situation, worldwide, up through the early 1900s -- except for Asians," Hing told The Huffington Post. "There were Asian-exclusion laws. But if you put that aside, it was open borders for the rest of the world." [...]

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Helping Young Migrants Navigate Immigration Court

By Nancy Ayala, Voices of NY
August 25, 2014

For the thousands of recently arrived Central American migrant children now in New York, avoiding deportation begins when the juveniles show up for their first immigration hearing in federal court.

“It’s a very complicated law and no pro se or unrepresented child should be asked to try to navigate the complexity of at least three or four agencies in courts [without a lawyer],” Lenni Benson, director of the nonprofit Safe Passage Project and a professor of law at New York Law School, told Voices of NY.

On Friday, August 22, Safe Passage Project offered a two-hour evening training session, “Getting Started Representing Child Migrants,” in an auditorium at the New York Law School, where the pro bono advocacy group is based. [...]

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tomgram: Aviva Chomsky, What's at Stake in the Border Debate

By Aviva Chomsky, TomDispatch
August 24, 2014

The militarization of the police has been underway since 9/11, but only in the aftermath of the six-shot killing of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, with photos of streets in a St. Louis suburb that looked like occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, has the fact of it, the shock of it, seemed to hit home widely. Congressional representatives are now proposing bills to stop the Pentagon from giving the latest in war equipment to local police forces. The president even interrupted his golfing vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to return to Washington, in part for “briefings” on the ongoing crisis in Ferguson. So militarization is finally a major story.

And that’s no small thing. On the other hand, the news from Ferguson can’t begin to catch the full process of militarization this society has been undergoing or the way America’s distant wars are coming home. We have, at least, a fine book by Radley Balko on how the police have been militarized. Unfortunately, on the subject of the militarization of the country, there is none. And yet from armed soldiers in railway stations to the mass surveillance of Americans, from the endless celebration of our “warriors” to the domestic use of drones, this country has been undergoing a significant process of militarization (and, if there were such a word, national securitization). [...]

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Five Children Murdered After They Were Deported Back To Honduras

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, Think Progress
August 19, 2014

Between five and ten migrant children have been killed since February after the United States deported them back to Honduras, a morgue director told the Los Angeles Times. Lawmakers have yet to come up with best practices to deal with the waves of unaccompanied children apprehended by Border Patrol agents, but some politicians refute claims that children are fleeing violence and are opting instead to fund legislation that would fast-track their deportations.

San Pedro Sula morgue director Hector Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that his morgue has taken in 42 dead children since February. According to an interview with relatives by the LA Times, one teenager was shot dead hours after getting deported. [...]

Read the full story:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Judy Ancel: Never mind the border — President Obama should visit Honduras

By Judy Ancel, Kansas City Star
Auguest 5, 2014

After a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently, President Barack Obama said that politics, not philosophy, divided him from Republicans on how to respond to the mounting numbers of children fleeing Central America and Mexico.

Both men want more border patrol and quicker processing for expulsion. Obama calls the situation a humanitarian crisis, but his solution is to “humanely” deport the kids back to the disaster areas from whence they came.

Neither Republicans nor Obama ask why the kids come. Instead, Obama smugly blames their parents saying, “I’ve asked parents across Central America not to put their children in harm’s way in this fashion. [...]

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Friday, September 5, 2014

How US Intelligence Distorted Its Own Data on Child Migration

The claim that the child migrants came because of DACA and the possibility of immigration reform has met with a vigorous response.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
September 4, 2014

On July 14 the Tea Party-oriented website Breitbart.com published what it said was a leaked July 7 document from the US government's El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) assessing the recent increase in unauthorized immigration by unaccompanied minors and adults with young children.

Entitled "Misperceptions of US Policy Key Driver in Central American Migrant Surge," the EPIC report seemed intended to contradict claims by immigrants and human rights workers that violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are the main forces behind the rise in border crossings. Citing interviews with 230 Central Americans detained at the Texas border, the report blamed the current influx on "misperceptions of recent US immigration policies," notably the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum, President Obama's program suspending deportations for many young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.[...]

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Creciendo con la Verdad/Growing Up With Truth

Creciendo con la Verdad
Por Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
14 de Agosto, 2014

(English version follows below)

Esta semana en Chicago pudimos reunificar un muchacho hondureño de 14 años de edad con su familia. Hizo el larguísimo viaje desde Honduras a la frontera de los Estados Unidos en Tejas donde lo detuvieron durante semanas hasta ser transportado a Waukegan, Illinois con su familia. En nuestra iglesia su familia se paró con el delante de la prensa, y luego, acompañado por sus abogados, el muchacho compareció en la corte de inmigración donde se le concedió un plazo breve para formular su caso para recibir una visa humanitaria.

Tuvo la buena fortuna de contar con los servicios de un abogado. En demasiados casos, estos jóvenes carecen de representación legal. En demasiados casos los están devolviendo, separados de nuevo de sus familias aquí.

La historia de esta muchacha es como muchísimos que hemos oído.[...]

Lea el artículo:

Growing Up With Truth
By Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
August 14, 2014

This week in Chicago, we reunited a fourteen year old boy from Honduras with his family. He had made the long journey from Honduras to the U.S. border in Texas where he was held for weeks before being transported to Waukegan, Illinois, with his family. His family stood with him before the press in our church and then, with his lawyers, he appeared in immigration court and received a short continuance to prepare a case for a humanitarian visa.

He was fortunate to have an attorney. Too many of these children do not have representation. Too many are just being sent back – separated again from their family members here.

The boy’s story is one we have heard over and over again.[...]

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Debunking the myths about immigration: Ronald Reagan, Central America and everything Ted Cruz doesn’t understand

By Adam Gaffney, Salon.com
August 2, 2014

There seems to be a general consensus that we should be addressing not only the symptoms, but also the “root causes” of rising emigration from Central America. But what are they? On the right, the influx of children from the region is said to be the predictable result of our allegedly lenient immigration policy; mass deportation, therefore, is supposedly the obvious solution. “[I]mmediately deport these families, these children,” demands Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, in “plane loads,” specifies Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Closer to the center, the causes of immigration from the region are typically said to be rising gang violence, the drug trade and the drug war and – to a lesser extent – poverty.

With the exception of our immigration policy, it’s obvious these factors are playing a major role in encouraging emigration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But if we are to speak of true “root causes,” we have to look deeper still: first, to the gross inequality from which these social maladies arise, and second, to the political forces that have maintained and enforced this economic status quo, decade after decade. The implications of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” for the developed world have been much discussed, but the meaning of inequality for poor countries is no less: The crisis of Central American immigration, I would argue, is a crisis of inequality, tragically manifested.[...]

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Child Migrants Testify Before Congress: Video

Meeting on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children, C-Span
July 29, 2014

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus convened a meeting to hear about humanitarian concerns surrounding the flood of unaccompanied Central American immigrant children crossing the Mexico border into the U.S. Three children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador described the violence they experienced in Central America, their treatment at U.S. immigration facilities, and their hope for a better life in the U.S. Representatives of organizations involved in the safety and care of refugees also testified.

Watch the video:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Survey: Nearly 7-in-10 Americans See Unaccompanied Children at Border as Refugees, Not Illegal Immigrants

By Monthly Religion News Surveys
July 29, 2014

Roughly half (49%) of Americans report hearing a lot about the growing numbers of children arriving in the United States from Central America, while 31% report only hearing a little, and 20% report hearing nothing at all.

More than one-third (36%) of Americans view the number of children now coming from Central America as a crisis, while 43% see the situation as a serious problem but not a crisis. About 1-in-5 (19%) say the situation is a minor problem.

A majority (69%) of Americans say that children arriving from Central America should be treated as refugees and allowed to stay in the U.S. if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home countries. In contrast, 27% say that children arriving from Central America should be treated as illegal immigrants and deported back to their home countries.[...]

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth

By Veronica Escobar, New York Times
July 25, 2014

EL PASO — TO hear the national news media tell the story, you would think my city, El Paso, and others along the Texas-Mexico border were being overrun by children — tens of thousands of them, some with their mothers, arriving from Central America in recent months, exploiting an immigration loophole to avoid deportation and putting a fatal strain on border state resources.

There’s no denying the impact of this latest immigration wave or the need for more resources. But there’s no crisis. Local communities like mine have done an amazing job of assisting these migrants.

Rather, the myth of a “crisis” is being used by politicians to justify ever-tighter restrictions on immigration, play to anti-immigrant voters in the fall elections and ignore the reasons so many children are coming here in the first place.[...]

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Massive Rights Violations Charged at New Mexico Detention Facility

By Frontera Norte Sur
July 24, 2014

After touring a New Mexico detention facility housing Central American refugees, immigrant advocates and lawyers have charged the Obama Administration with violating due process rights.

In a July 24 telephonic press conference hosted by the National Immigration Law Center, representatives of an advocates’ group that were allowed to conduct a short visit July 22 of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLTEC) in Artesia, New Mexico, where hundreds of Central American women and children are being held, detailed a laundry list of grievances.

In comments to reporters, advocates said women and children were held in crowded conditions; not adequately informed of their due process rights or given timely access to legal counsel, as per U.S. refugee law; hustled through deportation proceedings; and forced to read complex forms in English. Additionally, serious concerns were raised about the physical and emotional health of children and their mothers. [...]

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Honduran Girl’s Struggle to Get to NYC

By Alexandra Ochoa, El Diario La Prensa
July 23, 2014
Translated by Ana Maria Rodriguez for Voices of NY

At age 10, Katherine Rodríguez had already lived the odyssey of her life. For two weeks, she and her mother had to travel across three countries by land, from the time they left her home in Choluteca, Honduras, until they got to New York City. Now, the girl hopes that authorities will approve the adoption process and that her mother can stay as a refugee so that they can make the Big Apple their new home.

Katherine does not talk much but listens carefully when Ana Rosa Martinez, 41, describes the journey that she and her daughter made. The girl smiles when she says she wanted to come because people told her New York was “very nice” and nods when her mother says she risked traveling with Katherine so her daughter could have a better future and go to school.[...]

Read the full article:

Read the original:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blowback on the Border: America’s Child Refugee Crisis

Decades of short-sighted, inhumane U.S. policies have brought a child refugee crisis to America's door.

By Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus
July 18, 2014

After three years of relative silence, the U.S. press has finally “discovered” the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors piling up on the U.S. border. Although the coverage often began with moving stories of the hardships these young migrants faced, it soon turned ugly. For right-wing pundits and politicians, the “humanitarian crisis” has become a crackdown on kids.

The dominant narrative has been that foolish parents, perhaps duped by scheming criminal bands, are sending hapless children north to take advantage of loopholes in U.S. immigration practices.

This is just plain wrong. On every count. [...]

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Here's How The U.S. Sparked A Refugee Crisis On The Border, In 8 Simple Steps

By Roque Planas and Ryan Grim, Huffington Post
July 18, 2014

The 57,000 children from Central America who have streamed across the U.S.-Mexico border this year were driven in large part by the United States itself. While Democrats and Republicans have been pointing fingers at each other, in reality the current wave of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has its roots in six decades of U.S. policies carried out by members of both parties.

Since the 1950s, the U.S. has sown violence and instability in Central America. Decades of Cold War gamesmanship, together with the relentless global war on drugs, have left a legacy of chaos and brutality in these countries. In many parts of the region, civil society has given way to lawlessness. It's these conditions the children are escaping.[...]

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rendir Cuentas/Accountability

Por Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
22 de julio, 2014
(English Version Follows)

Mirando hacia el este, vemos que casi 300 personas fallecieron en el derrumbe del avión malasiano. El presidente Obama ha insistido que se lleve a cabo una investigación y sugerido que el presidente Putin sea el responsable de la tragedia.Dijo Obama “Rusia entrenó a los separatistas y les proporcionó armas….debe haber un rendimiento de cuentas”.

Tal vez Putin piensa que Europa oriental es su patio trasero donde puede hacer lo que le hace la gana.

Ahora bien, tomaremos una mirada hacia el sur. Sabemos que hay miles de niños hondureños detenidos en la frontera, niños que se dirigieron al norte por razón de la pobreza y la violencia que existen en sus propios países. ¿Quién debe rendir cuentas por lo sucedido a ellos? [...]

Lea el artículo:

By Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
July 22, 2014

As we look to the east, nearly 300 people were killed when the Malaysian airliner was shot down. President Obama demanded that there be an investigation and strongly suggested that President Putin of Russia was responsible. “Russia trained the separatists. Russia armed them.” President Obama said, “There must be accountability.”

President Putin evidently thinks that the Ukraine is “in the Russian backyard” and he can do what he wants there.

Now, look to the south for a moment. We know that thousands of Honduran children are being held in detention at the border, children who came north because of the poverty and violence in their home country. Who is accountable for what has happened to them?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Surge of Central American Children Roils U.S. Immigration Debate

Obama Job Rating Steady, No Change in Economic Views

By 57% to 38%, people younger than 30 favor sticking with current law even if that means the children may stay in the U.S. for a long time.

By Pew Research Center
July 16, 2014

As the president and Congress struggle over how to deal with the influx of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America across the U.S.-Mexican border, a new survey finds that the public favors a shift in U.S. policy to expedite the legal processing of the children.US border influx response

President Obama gets very low ratings for his handling of the issue. Just 28% of the public approves of the way he is handling the surge of children from Central America, while twice as many (56%) disapprove. That is one of the lowest ratings for his handling of any issue since he became president. But Obama’s overall job rating is virtually unchanged from April: 44% approve of his job performance while 49% disapprove.

And as was the case in January, neither party has a significant edge when it comes to dealing with immigration; 42% say the Republican Party could do a better job on the issue while 40% say the Democratic Party. [...]

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pope Francis: End the ‘racist and xenophobic’ approach to migrants along U.S.-Mexico border

Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
July 15, 2014

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Tuesday (July 15) waded into the controversy of the wave of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling for an end to racism against migrants and pushing the U.S. to offer greater protection for young children entering the country illegally.

“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically,” the pope said in a message sent to a global conference in Mexico.

“Many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.” [...]

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Children Are "The Enemy"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio
July 13, 2014

Dowload the commentary:

I’ve been watching for days now, as media reports display the growing hatreds at the arrival of Central American children across the Mexican-U.S. border.

American voices crackle with bile as they begin the drumbeat for their immediate deportation.

Vile names are called against them, and they are described as “invaders”, “sick”, and “dirty”.

In truth, they are refugees from want and war, almost all the result of U.S. interventions in Central America, in support of murderous military governments and the mindless drug war.

These are the grandchildren of NAFTA, the economic policy which leached wealth from Mexico and its neighbors, for U.S. corporate greed.

That said, this antipathy shown toward children is deeply disturbing.

It reminds me of the era of World War II, when a bill was submitted in Congress to allow the entry of thousands of German-Jewish children. The Wagner-Rogers bill would’ve saved 20,000 kids living in Germany, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed it - and the bill quickly died.

Actually, many American elites opposed it, including Roosevelt’s cousin, Laura Delano Houghtelling, and wife of the U.S. Immigration commission, who argued: “…20,000 charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”

Such crude racism portrays the ugliness of Americans, and the day will come when we will look back at how these children are treated today - and we will not feel pride.

This frenzy, this political and social fear whipped up by petty, ambitious politicians will yet pass.

But left behind will be our shame, at how a nation that claims so much greatness, can be both so small - and so cruel.

© ’14 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Monday, July 21, 2014

Illegals and gangsters and Ebola, oh my!

5 conservative immigration myths of the moment, made sane

As lawmakers seek a solution to the border crisis, the hysterics have reached a new level. We separate punditry from reality

By Megan Carpentier, Kayla Epstein, Lauren Gambino, Nadja Popovich and Matt Sullivan
The Guardian
July 15, 2014

Just when you thought Washington was out to do something, the yellers pull you back in. Bipartisan legislation from Texas lawmakers is set to be introduced any moment now, in an effort (albeit a broad one) to answer President Obama's call for "an urgent humanitarian situation" to the migrant crisis on the US border with Central America, and Republicans are reportedly interested in providing half of the emergency funding he has requested.

Yet this seems like the moment when so many immigration conspiracies – pumped for weeks by conservative websites, talk-radio hosts and Fox News – are just now ratcheting up. Somewhere (hint: national television), Dick Cheney is talking about "integrity" on the border.

From secret plots and diseases to the truth about Tuesday's new protests and life back in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, here is some sanity – with charts. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All They Will Call You Will Be Detainees

By Steve Rendall, Fairness and Accuracy in Media
July 14, 2014

One of corporate journalism's bad habits is framing international stories on the premise that news is what happens to the US. There is no better recent example of this than the story of tens of thousands of children fleeing Central America for refuge in other countries, including, but not limited to, the US. With some exceptions, this story is covered as the US's "border crisis," and the latest installment in our supposed immigration debate, with the children little more than nameless symbols of a troubled policy.

The framing of the refugee crisis as a domestic political story can be read in the headlines: "Obama, on Texas Trip, Will Face Immigration Critics" (New York Times, 7/10/14); "Obama Hardens Tone on Border" (Washington Post, 7/8/14); "In Border Crisis, Obama Is Accused of 'Lawlessness' for Following Law" (Washington Post, 7/9/14).[...]

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Poverty, violence fuel exodus of youths from Honduras to U.S.

By Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News
July 12, 2014

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Twelve-year-old Maynor Serrano points to the rows of houses where his friends and neighbors used to live. All are gone — many fleeing to the U.S.

Two of his friends were killed as 10-year-olds, their bodies chopped to pieces in a suspected gang vendetta.
He saw homes reduced to crumbling wrecks, their walls pockmarked with bullet holes. Entire neighborhoods were abandoned in hours — the result of monstrous gang violence.

Some houses became casas locas, crazy homes, for torturing families in this macabre city, which has the highest homicide rate in the world. Daily newspapers are filled with graphic photographs of bodies.

Like many, Maynor Serrano yearns to escape to the U.S., where he has relatives.

“It’s tough to live without hope,” he said. “If it’s not there, you go look for it.” [...]

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Locked, loaded and loony: Rick Perry and Sean Hannity are on Mexican border patrol

Tweeted by Sean Hannity

By Yael T. Abouhalkahthe, Kansas City Star
July 10, 2014

In a developing story Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Fox News anchor Sean Hannity are armed and ready to protect America’s border with Mexico.

Hannity tweeted out photos showing himself with the governor, with weapons and enough ammunition to shoot plenty of kids who dare to step across the border and cross into the United States.

Or that’s certainly the loony possibility that Hannity and Perry seem to imply.[...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Un Niño los Dirigirá/A Child Shall Lead Them

Esta nación niega aceptar que la mayoría no llegan buscando el “sueño americano” sino por razón de que la pesadilla americana ha hecho a sus países de origen.

This nation refuses to admit that most are not coming because of the American Dream but because of what the American Nightmare has done to their countries.

Por Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
10 de julio, 2014
(English Version Follows Below)

Mientras que escribo esta columna, el Presidente Obama se dirige a Tejas para reunirse con líderes religiosos sobre el tema de los niños que han llegado a la frontera, y siguen llegando. Pensándolo bien, este fenómeno no debe verse como una cosa inusual, los líderes de una nación poderosa respondiendo al sufrimiento de los niños.

De hecho la fe cristiana comenzó como un llamamiento por parte de los discípulos para que hubiera arrepentimiento por haber matado un hombre inocente, Jesucristo de Nazaret. Los discípulos les dijeron a sus dirigentes religiosos que “la piedra que han botado se convertirá en la piedra angular” de la religión. El mismo Jesucristo elevó a los niños al decir que quienes desean entrar al reino del Dios deben volverse como los niños pequeños.

Desde el comienzo son los niños que han cambiado los corazones de esta nación en el tema de la inmigración.[...]

Lea el artículo:

By Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
July 10, 2014

As I write this column, the President of the United States is traveling to Texas to meet with religious leaders about the children who have come to the border – and are still coming. If you think about it, this is really not unexpected, this phenomenon of the leaders of a powerful nation responding to the suffering of children.
In fact, the faith of Christianity began as a call by the disciples of Jesus to repent for the killing of an innocent man, Jesus of Nazareth. The disciples told their religious rulers that “the stone you have thrown away will become the cornerstone” of religion.”

Jesus himself raised up the children saying that those who would enter the Kingdom of God must become like these little children.

From the beginning, it is the children that have changed the hearts of this nation on the issue of immigration.[...]

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Arranging Housing for Child Migrants in Phoenix

[This is a message from Neighborhood Ministries looking for people in Phoenix who can help house and care for child migrants. Please forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you need more information, please contact: Michele Rudy, micheledianerudy@gmail.com ]


As you may well be aware, there has been a recent surge of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. For a 2-minute introduction to the crisis, follow this link: http://vox.com/e/5648118 . You can also find a more detailed overview of the situation attached. As the crisis unfolds, community organizations from around Phoenix are stepping up to provide safe temporary housing and education for children as they are being processed.

A coalition headed by Neighborhood Ministries called REFUGIO PHOENIX is preparing to receive children on August 15. Before then, we need to find 25-40 beds and staff up a holistic care team (positions listed below) for these children to be well looked after.

This is where you come in. If you are (or know of anyone who is) interested in HOUSING a child/children, OR WORKING with these children on a full -time basis, WE NEED YOU.

Please look through the attached Housing Information [see "Refugio Phoenix Housing Information" below]. Consider some of the questions posed.

No. 1 Requirement: Bilingual - English/Spanish.
There will be competitive remuneration.

Staff Positions:
Host Program Director – primarily recruiting and training families
Host Program Coordinator – Manages actual placements
Case Workers (number is dictated by the number of placements) – all follow-up, correspondence, court dealings, etc with host families and children. Hopefully with background in social work.
Medical/Nursing professional
Mental Health professional
Administrative staff

We hope to have more detailed job descriptions soon.

Other miscellaneous staffers may also be required - we'll keep you posted.

Action: Email refugiophoenix@gmail.com with a cover letter and resume.

If you are not able to participate in the housing/staffing efforts, any donations that you can offer to Refugio Phoenix will be greatly appreciated and well used.

Action: Funds can be donated to Neighborhood Ministries and designated to Refugio Phoenix. More information to come.

Please note that this effort is a work in progress. For those interested, information will continue to come from Refugio Phoenix as they know it. If you do have questions, please let me know and I will do my best to find out an answer.

Refugio Phoenix Housing Information

Basic Information:

1. Children will be 12 or under OR older sibling of young child OR young (under 18) mother with baby
2. Child will stay 30-45 days, replaced by next child (hopefully with respite for families between)
3. Many children will come in sibling groups – need to indicate how many beds are available in the home
4. Stipend per child will be available
5. Children will begin arriving August 15

Preliminary Questions:

1. Is at least one adult in your household bilingual in English and Spanish?
2. Can you attend two trainings this month? One four hour training with Urban Strategies staff and one four hour webinar training
3. Are you willing to transport child daily to Neighborhood Ministries in downtown Phoenix? – M-F (should be a school day schedule)
4. Does at least one adult in your household have legal status?
5. Can you make a 1 year commitment? (we hope that families will have respite between children)
6. Do you have a background in foster care or having non-family members live in your house?
7. Do you have a personal story that connects you to the story of these children?
8. How close are you to the ground in terms of understanding the situation these kids came from?
9. Do you have past trauma history? Where are you in the process of working through this?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Report Helps Explain Why Central American Children Are Leaving Their Home Countries

By Guillermo Cantor, Immigration Impact
July 1, 2014

Ever since President Barack Obama described the record number of minors traveling alone and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as an “urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response,” the debate about how to address the unaccompanied migrant children has become increasingly heated, especially about the reasons leading them to come here. News reports and congressional hearings have covered various arguments to explain the reasons behind these children’s journeys. Unfortunately, what becomes clear is that many of those arguments are not backed by any factual evidence, and, what is even worse, some are intentionally aimed at derailing the eventual overhaul of our broken immigration system.

In an attempt to help fill the knowledge gap, the American Immigration Council is releasing a study today that was conducted by Elizabeth Kennedy, a Fulbright Fellow currently doing research in El Salvador on child and youth migrants returned from Mexico and the United States. Based on evidence obtained through 322 interviews with children recently returned to El Salvador, as well as conversations with journalists and local, regional, and government officials, this report sheds light on some of the structural conditions that compel minors to migrate to the United States or other countries in the region. [...]

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Friday, July 11, 2014

The legacy children of the Honduran coup

Many of the youths crossing the US border are fleeing a country torn apart by coup supported by US government

By Dan Beeton, Al Jazeera America
June 28, 2014

Prior to its 2009 coup d’état, five years ago on June 28, Honduras rarely made headlines in the U.S. Since the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, however, the Central American nation has received a lot of bad press. It is in the spotlight again for the recent surge of unaccompanied Honduran minors crossing U.S. borders. Of the 47,000 children apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol since October, 28 percent, or more than 13,000, came from Honduras. This is a whopping 1,272 percent increase over the number apprehended on the border in 2009.

A source at Honduras’ National Human Rights Commission told the media that at least one person per day comes to the commission hoping to get asylum overseas, due to violence and poverty — both of which are increasingly out of control.

The surge in the number of children fleeing the country says a lot about what has happened in Honduras since the coup. First, the military takeover, which was supported by the Obama administration, broke Honduras’ already weak institutions. Second, with rampant corruption and police impunity, crime has spiraled out of control. Third, state security forces have engaged in a bloody campaign of political and social persecution, killing people who opposed the coup, campesinos, indigenous protesters and others. Journalists are routinely threatened; many are murdered. Honduran generals, politicians and their friends in the media have openly condemned and slandered human rights workers. Authorities have leveled bogus charges at some of Honduras’ most well-known and respected rights defenders and journalists in an effort to discredit them. [...]

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guatemalan Quiché Youth Tells of Arduous Journey

By Zaira Cortés, El Diario/La Prensa
June 30, 2014
Translated by Karina Casiano from Spanish

Fear, hunger, muggings and confinement were only some of the circumstances endured by teenager Rubén Mach as he traveled from La Ceiba, in Guatemala, to Brooklyn.

The 17 year old, who belongs to the indigenous Quiché ethnicity, lost his father and lived in poverty with his mother and two sisters. Fed up with his meager living conditions, he said goodbye to his family in the early hours of March 23, promising them that their lives would improve.

Mach said his prayers and began a risky journey which began by crossing into Mexican soil. [...]

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Murrieta immigrant detainee protests keep growing

"We are not racists or bigots," said Murrieta resident William Satmary, who added that local governments don't have the capacity to handle the new arrivals.

Image credit: Angelo Falcón

By James Barragan and Matt Hansen, The Los Angeles Times
July 5, 2014

The standoff over the housing of immigrant detainees in Murrieta grew Friday as protesters on both sides of the issue stood their ground.

Hundreds of people gathered on the road to the federal processing facility, anticipating another convoy of vehicles containing immigrants who had crossed the border in Texas. A boisterous crowd of protesters turned back three busloads of migrants on Tuesday.

The number of protesters swelled Friday despite the summer heat, the Fourth of July holiday and a police strategy that mostly kept the groups apart and away from the processing center. [...]

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tea Party and Border Patrol Spin the Story of Children in Detention

By David Bacon, CounterPunch
June 26,2014

Journalist Laura Carlsen, writing from Mexico City, has published on the Americas Program website an important article about the way the U.S. media covers the migration of children to the U.S. – Child Migrants and Media Half-Truths. Carlsen raises key questions – the cause of the displacement that leads to migration, and the way the story of migrating children is used for political purposes in the debate over immigration policy.

The story of children in detention is being manipulated by the Border Patrol and the Tea Party to kill any possibility that moderate Republicans will introduce any reform bill with legalization, to attack Obama’s executive action for the Dreamers (and any possibility he might expand it – the demand of many immigrant rights advocates), and to push for more resources for enforcement, the Border Patrol and expanded detention facilities. [...]

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Immigration and U.S. Policy: Making the Connections

By David L. Wilson, NACLA Report
Summer 2014

David Bacon’s The Right to Stay Home explores how the United States pushes free trade agreements such as NAFTA that drive so many Mexicans out of their home countries. In response, more Mexican activists today are advocating for the right to not migrate.

The article is available at: