Friday, October 30, 2015

Report: ICE ‘complicit’ in hiding violations at detention centers

Inspections of immigrant detention centers often facilitate good ratings despite alleged rights violations, report says

By Renee Lewis, AlJazeera America
October 21, 2015

Inspections of immigrant detention centers overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are ineffective and often facilitate favorable ratings at centers with reported human rights abuses, according to a report released Wednesday by rights advocacy groups.

Detention center inspections matter because they generate ratings that determine whether ICE continues using taxpayer dollars to fund public and private entities that detain immigrants, the report said.

“The failures of the inspection system ... really do make ICE complicit in obscuring human rights violations in detention facilities,” said Claudia Valenzuela, the director of detention at the National Immigrant Justice Center, which published the report with the Detention Watch Network (DWN).
Inspections of immigrant detention centers overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are ineffective and often facilitate favorable ratings at centers with reported human rights abuses, according to a report released Wednesday by rights advocacy groups.

Detention center inspections matter because they generate ratings that determine whether ICE continues using taxpayer dollars to fund public and private entities that detain immigrants, the report said.

“The failures of the inspection system ... really do make ICE complicit in obscuring human rights violations in detention facilities,” said Claudia Valenzuela, the director of detention at the National Immigrant Justice Center, which published the report with the Detention Watch Network (DWN).[...]

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Hunger Strike You Haven’t Heard About

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, Think Progress
October 21, 2015

Bangladeshi asylum seekers ended a week-long hunger strike at the El Paso Processing Center in Texas this week after they protested their potential deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The strikers began to eat on Tuesday after ICE brought in the Bangladeshi Consul General to pressure the group to break their strike, according to the Bangladesh-based outlet News Next BD.

The hunger strike began on the morning of October 14, when 54 South Asian asylum seekers from Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan refused food and water at the El Paso detention center. Five days later, another 14 Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants began a solidarity hunger strike at the Lasalle Detention Center in Louisiana. It’s unclear whether non-Bangladeshi detainees have ended their strike at both facilities.

All of the men on hunger strike were approved for their credible fear findings, a preliminary step in the asylum review process. The ICE agency established policies in 2010 stating that asylum seekers who pass their credible fear interview should be automatically considered for parole from detention. Nonetheless, some of the hunger strikers have been held in immigration detention anywhere between nine months and two years, even though the average detention time hovers around 31 days.[...]

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dump Trump Gains Momentum

Movement to Get Saturday Night Live to Dump Trump Gains Momentum

By Dennis Romero, LA Weekly
October 16, 2015

Latino groups are turning up the volume on efforts to get NBC's Saturday Night Live to drop Donald Trump as the scheduled host Nov. 7.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, an umbrella group representing 40 of the largest Latino organizations in the nation, including the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the L.A.-based National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), is preparing to send a letter to NBC today urging the network to reconsider the controversial booking, according to multiple people involved with the nonprofit.

In the meantime, Alex Nogales, president of the NHMC, told us he's trying to get longtime SNL producer Lorne Michaels on the phone in order to express the Latino community's frustration over the Trump booking. "They told me he was not going to talk," Nogales said.[...]

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Part of “Illegal” They Don’t Understand: Book Review

By David L. Wilson, Monthly Review
October 2015

Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal (Boston: Beacon Press, 2014), 256 pages, $16, paperback.

Anyone who really wants to understand U.S. immigration policy needs to read the brief history of the U.S.-Mexico border in Aviva Chomsky’s often-brilliant new book on immigration.1

Politicians constantly tell us we have lost control of the border. In fact, as Undocumented demonstrates, never in the 166 years since the border was established by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo has it been so tightly controlled as it is now. For nearly half its history it was exactly the thing immigration opponents say they fear most—an open border. The first serious restrictions did not come until a head tax and a literacy requirement were imposed in 1917, and even then there was an exemption for Mexican workers, the people most likely to enter the country from the south. The creation of the Border Patrol in 1924 was mainly a Prohibition Era measure to keep alcohol out.

Far from trying to control the border, U.S. businesses and politicians were trying to get people to cross it.[...]

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Three Years Ago, These Chicago Workers Took Over a Window Factory. Today, They're Thriving

When Republic Windows and Doors closed down without giving workers notice, the issue drew national attention. Since then, they’ve turned the factory into a worker-owned co-op—where they hold the power.

By Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine
October 9, 2015

Back in the day, factory workers at the Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors were simply told what to do. That wasn’t unusual. Workers might have seen ways to improve the production process, but at Republic their supervisor wasn’t interested, said former employee Armando Robles.

“Whatever the bosses want, we do it. We’d say, ‘Look, this is a better way,’ and they say, ‘No, we say you have to do it this way.’ Even when they make a mistake, they just continue,” Robles explained.

Things are very different today. Employees of what is now called New Era Windows and Doors are also the owners. And their ideas matter. Any of them can propose improvements, and if they can convince a majority of their co-workers, things can change quickly.[...]

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Monday, October 19, 2015

US government deporting Central American migrants to their deaths

Guardian investigation into consequences of Obama’s migration crackdown reveals US deportees have been murdered shortly after return to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with study saying as many as 83 killed since 2014

By Sibylla Brodzinsky and Ed Pilkington, The Guardian
October 12, 2015

The US government is deporting undocumented immigrants back to Central America to face the imminent threat of violence, with several individuals being murdered just days or months after their return, a Guardian investigation has found.

The Guardian has confirmed three separate cases of Honduran men who have been gunned down shortly after being deported by the US government. Each was murdered in their hometowns, soon after their return – one just a few days after he was expelled from the US.

Immigration experts believe that the Guardian’s findings represent just the tip of the iceberg. A forthcoming academic study based on local newspaper reports has identified as many as 83 US deportees who have been murdered on their return to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras since January 2014.[...]

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Photo retailer B&H faces unwanted exposure over worker safety

Employees report injuries, abuse, long hours at the company's New York City warehouses

By Laura Gottesdiener, Aljazeera America
October 12, 2015

NEW YORK — At night, when Oscar Orellana arrives home after his 13-hour shifts in the warehouse of B&H Photo Video, a national electronics retailer, he is often in such pain, he can barely lift his 2-year-old daughter.

“He can’t bend at all,” said one of his older daughters, Odalys. “My sisters want to play hide and seek, or tag, but he can’t because his back is really injured.”

In 2014, Orellana fell from the top of an eight-foot-high pallet in the warehouse and severely injured his upper spine. He says he never received any training on how to operate the forklift he was instructed to use to unload the inventory. He was never even provided a hard hat, he says.

That’s why on Sunday, Orellana joined nearly 200 of his co-workers in publicly denouncing B&H Photo Video, the largest non-chain photo store in the United States, with more than a quarter of a billion dollars in annual revenue and a lengthy history of alleged discrimination and workplace safety complaints.[...]

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

U.S. and Dominican Immigration Policies: Is There a Difference?

By David L. Wilson, Upside Down World
October 16, 2015

Texas officials have now found a way to circumvent the long-established understanding that children born in the United States are automatically U.S. citizens.

Over the past year some state officials have been refusing to provide copies of Texas-born children’s birth certificates to their undocumented parents. The Texas bureaucrats don’t try to deny that the children are citizens; instead, they simply demand that the parents produce certain types of identification documents—-documents which many unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and Central America are unable to obtain. The result is that the kids are being denied their rights as U.S. citizens—-including, in some cases, the right to enroll in kindergarten—-and may end up stateless.

This subterfuge must sound familiar to many Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. The current threat by the Dominican Republic to expel tens of thousands of Dominican-born Haitian descendants evolved over the past decade out of an unofficial practice very much like the one in Texas.[...]

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Toys ‘R’ Us Brings Temporary Foreign Workers to U.S. to Move Jobs Overseas

The Toys “R” Us employees in New Jersey, many of whom had been at the company more than a decade, were laid off.

By Julia Preston, New York Times
September 29, 2015

WAYNE, N.J. — When Congress designed temporary work visa programs, the idea was to bring in foreigners with specialized, hard-to-find skills who would help American companies grow, creating jobs to expand the economy. Now, though, some companies are bringing in workers on those visas to help move jobs out of the country.

For four weeks this spring, a young woman from India on a temporary visa sat elbow to elbow with an American accountant in a snug cubicle at the headquarters of Toys “R” Us here. The woman, an employee of a giant outsourcing company in India hired by Toys “R” Us, studied and recorded the accountant’s every keystroke, taking screen shots of her computer and detailed notes on how she issued payments for toys sold in the company’s megastores.

“She just pulled up a chair in front of my computer,” said the accountant, 49, who had worked for the company for more than 15 years. “She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies’ room.”[...]

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Unnecessary Measures

Public and native lands advocates say McCain’s proposed legislation gives Border Patrol unrestricted access that is unnecessary and detrimental

By María Inés Taracena, Tucson Weekly
August 27, 2015

Nellie David is concerned for the Native American youth growing up in what she sees as an increasingly militarized Tohono O'odham Nation.

These days, a walk or drive around her hometown of Ajo almost always leads to being questioned by U.S. Border Patrol agents roaming the tribal land. David remembers the time she and two friends were surrounded by a handful of Border Patrol trucks in a remote area of the reservation merely over their presence there. Another example is a recent evening when she took her dog on a walk in the desert, and "all of the sudden a helicopter comes up and gets really close to me, checking us out," she says.

"The rez (reservation) is surrounded by checkpoints," says David, who currently lives in Tucson, while finishing law school at the UA. "We are indigenous people, and for them to ask, 'Where are you from? Where are you going?' It's like, 'who are you?'"

When she heard about a border security bill that U.S. Sen. John McCain recently introduced—which would waive laws on all federal public land within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and essentially grant law enforcement immediate access to every corner of the borderlands—she says she thought the bill is going to make things worse. Most law enforcement, already, has no respect for things such as burial grounds and other places on the reservation that are considered sacred, she says. How much more freedom can they get, she wonders.[...]

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In 1965, A Conservative Tried To Keep America White. His Plan Backfired

By Tom Gjelten, NPR
October 3, 2015

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a new immigration law that would change the face of the nation. But that dramatic impact, ironically, was in good part the result of a major miscalculation by those who actually wanted to limit the bill's effect.

The Immigration and Nationality Act, signed at the foot of the Statue of Liberty on Oct. 3, 1965, abolished the national origin quota system, under which immigrants were chosen on the basis of their race and ancestry. The quotas set aside tens of thousands of visas each year for immigrants from Northern and Western Europe, while many countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East were allocated barely 100 slots each. It was a blatantly discriminatory system.

Under the new law, immigrants were to be selected on the basis of their family connections in the United States and the skills and training they could offer, with all nationalities treated more or less equally.[...]

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Agent Indicted in 2012 Border Killing

U.S. Border Patrol agent indicted in fatal 2012 shooting of teenager along Arizona-Mexico border.

By Astrid Galvan, Associated Press
September 24, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Federal authorities have charged a U.S. Border Patrol agent who killed a Mexican teenager in a cross-border shooting with second-degree murder.

Luis Parra, the attorney for the mother of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, told The Associated Press that a federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted agent Lonnie Swartz.

"The Elena Rodriguez Family is grateful to the DOJ (Department of Justice) for this first step in the pursuit of justice, and remain steadfast in their resolve to seek full transparency from the U.S. Border Patrol on behalf of Jose Antonio," Parra said.

Sean Chapman, Swartz's attorney, did not respond to a late call seeking comment. He told The Arizona Daily Star that he expects his client to plead not guilty at an Oct. 9 arraignment. The U.S. Attorney's Office also has not responded to a request for comment.[...]

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Sanders Hires Arturo Carmona of for Latino Outreach

By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News
October 2, 2015

Democrat Bernie Sanders, who still faces a long road for recognition and support in the Latino community, has hired a Latino Outreach director for the campaign.

Sanders, a Vermont senator, hired Arturo Carmona, executive director of, a Latino advocacy group based in Los Angeles. Carmona also will serve as Southwest political director. The group, which is largely an online group, is considered more left than other more established Latino organizations.

As an activist on civil rights, Carmona, 37, said he never saw himself joining a political campaign, but "when I saw the political campaign and Sen. Sanders calling for a political revolution and people from all walks of life joining this movement, I said 'Hey, this is something I've seen that can make a difference.' I decided to join because I see a great need," he said. [...]

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