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

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.[...]

Read the full article: