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).[...]

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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."[...]

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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.”[...]

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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.[...]

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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.[...]

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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.[...]

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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.” [...]

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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.

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