Saturday, January 31, 2015

The US Immigration Battle Intensifies

By David Bacon, Equal Times
January 28, 2015

In an escalating dispute with President Barack Obama, Republican members of the United States House of Representatives have passed a bill which will cut any funding to the Department of Homeland Security for suspending the deportation of undocumented people.

In December the President ordered the department, beginning this spring, to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants with US-born children (who are thus US citizens).

A previous Obama order suspended the deportation of young people without documents, brought to the US as children.

The Republican bill would rescind both orders.

A new, Republican-dominated Congress took office in January. Congress must fund the department by 27 February or it could shut down.[...]

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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Israel-Mexico Border: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Are Up-Armoring the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Todd Miller and Gabriel M. Schivone, NACLA
January 27, 2014

This article is published in partnership with TomDispatch.

It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology—the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.

Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.[...]

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trade, Violence & Migration: Honduras

The U.S. government spent $3.7 billion on deportations last year. The entire Honduran government budget is $4.4 billion.

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
January 15, 2015

Monday, I attended a briefing at the U.S. Capitol by Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, both of whom were part of a fact-finding mission to Honduras this past November. It turns out that the Catholic Church and the AFL-CIO are just about the only two organized groups in the U.S. who even discuss the root causes of immigration, and what can be done in both countries to improve the lives of our citizens.

“What I saw continues to shock me,” said Cohen, and he has seen a lot of poverty and cruelty over the years. He spoke with evident passion as he described the conditions of violence and impoverishment that the group witnessed. “For working people, it couldn’t be more distressing,” he said.[...]

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No Alternative: Ankle Monitors Expand the Reach of Immigration Detention

ICE's "Alternatives to Detention" program has subjected almost 20,000 immigrants to wearing electronic "shackles" throughout their deportation proceedings.

By Kyle Barron and Cinthya Santos Briones, NACLA
January 6, 2015

A month after having left her community of Roatán, on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Adriana Colón arrived to the United States with her seven-year-old son José. She comes from one of the 54 Garífuna Honduran communities of indigenous and African descent living throughout Central America. Like many single mothers from the Garífuna community, she is part of a recent wave of migration that has left, fleeing the devastating sea of violence and marginalization that has swept through her country in recent decades. Presently, many Garífuna communities in Honduras are now facing a territorial crisis some see as the result of “Charter Cities” or tourist development that has come ashore in recent times, displacing people from their ancestral land through political and business pressure.

As soon as she arrived in New York City, Colón had an order to report to the Immigration Enforcement and Customs (ICE) building in downtown Manhattan. Colón walked with uncertainty into the looming 41-story building, past bulking DHS agents with rifles and body armor. “When I reported in, I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen to me,” explained Colón. Once in front of immigration officials, they placed an electronic monitor around her ankle for the misdemeanor of crossing the U.S. border without inspection. This ankle monitor program is increasingly seen as one that extends the surveillance and restriction of movement already established in immigration detention centers directly to people’s homes.[...]

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Republicans Plot an Immigration Fight

With a deadline looming next month, the GOP will find out if its new power is enough to undo President Obama's executive actions.

By Russell Berman, The Atlantic
January 8, 2015

Republicans won't have to wait long to find out exactly how much power their new Senate majority gives them in Washington.

Keeping a promise they made at the end of last year, party leaders want to use a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security to stop President Obama from carrying out his plans to unilaterally shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. "I said we’d fight it tooth and nail when he had our new majorities in the House and Senate, and I meant it," Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Thursday.

Recall that Boehner and Mitch McConnell, now the Senate majority leader, decided in the fall to put off an immediate clash with the president after he announced his intention to bypass Congress and overhaul parts of the immigration system himself. Rather than risk a government shutdown in December, they shook off complaints from conservatives and passed the $1.1 trillion "cromnibus," funding the entire government with the exception of DHS through September. Money for Homeland Security runs out in late February, offering the GOP majority its first deadline—and what it hopes will be its first leverage point—of the new Congress.

The question now is what Republicans will do and how far they'll get.[...]

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Interview: What Do The New Immigration Rules Mean?

By Julia Kann, Labor Notes
December 18, 2014

Immigrant rights activists are assessing the new presidential executive order and what’s next in the fight for immigrant rights. Photo: Light Brigading, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Responding to years of pressure from immigrant activists, President Obama took executive action on November 20 (see box below for details). We interviewed two activists about the executive order and what’s next in the fight for immigrant rights.

Arianna Salgado is a Chicago-based immigrant and education activist and member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League.

Guillermo Perez is the President of the Pittsburgh Labor Council on Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), a member activist in the steelworkers union (USW) local 3657, and a member of the Labor Notes policy committee.[...]

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Viewpoint: Concerns about Obama's Immigration Announcement

By David Bacon, Labor Notes
January 5, 2015

I think your interview left out important concerns that many immigrant rights and labor activists have about Obama’s announcement. I’ll attach the Dignity Campaign statement that outlines some of them, and a statement by Maru Mora Villapando, the organizer of the hunger strikes at the Tacoma detention center, that outlines others.

One factual note. Both your question about I-9 audits and the two answers were inadvertently misleading. The vast majority of people (tens of thousands at least) fired as a result of audits are fired at the demand of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), not as a result of employer retaliation. A large percentage, perhaps even a majority, are union members. Getting unions to defend them against government enforcement has been very difficult, as you know.

There will continue to be at least 7 million undocumented workers in the U.S., even if every one of the people qualified for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) applies for and receives it, which is very unlikely. To date, less than half of the people qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), for instance, have applied for and received it.[...]

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

CBP Drones are Dubious Achievers: Homeland Security Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, January 6, 2015
For Information Contact: Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

CBP Drones are Dubious Achievers

After spending eight years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has yet to prove the value of its Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) program while drastically understating the costs, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG). Based on its findings, OIG recommends that CBP abandon plans to spend $443 million more on additional aircraft and put those funds to better use.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations,” the OIG’s second audit of the program since 2012, found the effort by CBP’s Office of Air and Marine (OAM) still has no reliable method of measuring its performance and that its impact in stemming illegal immigration has been minimal.[...]

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

‘I felt like a piece of trash’ – Life inside America’s food processing plants

A new book offers a damning insight into conditions for low-paid, non-union, immigrant workers helping to feed our huge appetite for cheap meat

Ted Genoways, The Guardian
December 20, 2014

Maria Lopez will never forget that day. It was 2004, the middle of an ordinary shift on the line at Hormel Foods – a sprawling brick-and-concrete complex on the southern edge of Fremont, Nebraska. The worker beside her fed pork shoulders one after another into a spinning saw, just as he did every other day of the week, while Lopez gathered and bagged the trimmed fat to go into Spam. The pace of work had always been steady, but the speed of the line had jumped recently – from 1,000 pigs per hour to more than 1,100 – and Lopez was having trouble keeping up.

As her co-worker reached for another shoulder, Lopez rushed to clear the cutting area, and her fingers slipped toward the saw blade. She snatched her hand back but too late. Her index finger dangled by a flap of skin, the bone cut clean through. She screamed as blood spurted and covered her workstation.

When Lopez returned to Hormel two months later, her finger surgically reattached but still splinted, she claims to have discovered a stomach-turning truth: that while she sprinted to the nurse’s station and was taken to the local hospital, while she waited, finger wrapped, in the emergency room for the surgeon to drive in from Omaha, the cut line at Hormel continued to run.[...]

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Migrant Deaths and Displacement Soar in 2014

By Frontera NorteSur
December 18, 2014

Celebrated every December 18, International Migrants Day is an occasion to honor the contributions of immigrants across the globe. For 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had sobering news.

According to the Geneva-based organization, nearly 5,000 migrants perished worldwide while attempting to reach their promised lands. The fatal toll was more than double 2013’s number, jumping from 2,778 deaths to 4,868 deaths. The OIM identified the Mediterranean Sea, where more than 3,000 migrants perished trying to cross the body of water that separates Europe from Africa and Asia, as the deadliest route.

In second and third place, respectively, were the Bay of Bengal (540 deaths) and the U.S.-Mexico border (307 deaths). The IOM did not specify on which side of the U.S.-Mexico line the reported deaths occurred. Since many migrants remain disappeared, the death toll is likely an undercount.[...]

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