Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton Cries Crocodile Tears for Latin American Immigrants

By Meleiza Figueroa, Truthdig
February 19, 2016

At first glance, Thursday seemed like a banner day for Hillary Clinton’s “minority firewall.” Several respected leaders of Latinx organizations offered their enthusiastic support for the Democratic presidential candidate, while at the same time—Beyoncé-style—her campaign dropped a new, emotionally charged ad into the Nevada market two days before the state’s crucial caucus event. In the ad, a 10-year-old Latina girl expresses fear for her parents, who have just received a letter of deportation. Clinton urges her to be “brave” and let Clinton do “all the worrying”; the candidate chokes up as she tells the child, “I’m going to do everything I can so you won’t be scared.”

Though the ad was obviously meant to be warm and inspiring, it chilled me to the bone. I grew up in Los Angeles—the great Latinx-majority metropolis I once heard described as “the northernmost city in Latin America”—as the child of immigrants, and I have been a witness to the great transformations wrought by the dynamics of immigration over the last few decades. And I cannot reconcile Clinton’s newfound role as “worrier-in-chief” for immigrants in the U.S. with what I know about the policies she has supported for that vast region south of our border where many immigrants to the United States (especially those lacking legal permission) come from.[...]

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

B&H Photo Updates: More Workers Unionize, Government Files Discrimination Suit

Workers at B&H Photo’s Manhattan Warehouse Vote to Unionize
By Claire Voon, Hyperallergic
February 23, 2016

This morning, workers in the basement warehouse of B&H Photo Video‘s flagship store in Manhattan voted 46–14 to unionize, hoping to give themselves a voice in a work environment that many have described as hazardous and abusive. Their decision to organize with the United Steelworkers — North America’s largest industrial labor union — occurs three weeks after a group of B&H employees picketed outside the store, announcing their intention to join a campaign launched by around 200 others stationed at the electronics merchandiser’s two Brooklyn warehouses.

“After this victory, what is coming is respect, fair treatment for all workers, and a decent salary,” B&H worker Benicio Najera said in a statement. As Hyperallergic previously reported, the pro-union employees, who largely comprise a Hispanic community, have described years of discrimination based on their race from managers, the majority of whom are Hasidic Jews. Such complaints range from brief incidents of name calling to disparities in wages. Workers have also described dangerous workplace conditions that threaten their personal safety. This month, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed a number of violations in both of the company’s Brooklyn warehouses, fining B&H $32,000.[...]

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B&H Sued by Labor Department for Discrimination
By Samuel Lieberman, New York Magazine
February 26, 2016

The Department of Labor filed an administrative lawsuit on Wednesday accusing B&H, the New York electronics retailer, of discrimination against Hispanic, black, female, and Asian employees at its warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The suit accuses the company — its official name is B&H Foto & Electronics Corporation — of forcing Hispanic warehouse workers to use separate and filthy restrooms. It further charges that B&H also failed to provide designated changing rooms for women, and that employees used “racist remarks, degrading comments and harassment” against Hispanic workers at the Navy Yard warehouse.[...]

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

At Mexico-U.S. border, Pope Francis decries suffering of migrants

By Philip Pullella, Reuters
February 18, 2016

Pope Francis on Wednesday railed against immigration policies that force many underground and into the hands of drug gangs and human smugglers, praying at Mexico’s border with the United States in what was once one of the world’s deadliest cities.

He walked up a ramp lined with flowers to a cross erected in Ciudad Juarez in memory of migrants who have perished trying to reach the United States just a stone’s throw away.

There he blessed three small crosses which will be sent to the dioceses of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Shoes of migrants who died were laid beside them.

Overlooking the Rio Grande that separates the two countries, it was the closest the pope came to the U.S. border during his six-day visit to Mexico.[...]

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ICE Agents Lure Undocumented Immigrant Out of a Church Using Fake Text Messages

By Jack Jenkins and Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress
February 17, 2016

An undocumented immigrant was reportedly lured out of a church with fake text messages before being apprehended by federal agents last month, an unsettling incident that is raising questions about the often manipulative tactics used by immigration officials.

“This incident can only undermine local efforts to build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities, and make immigrants concerned about going not only to church but also schools, hospitals, and other public places where they might now fear arrest,” Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told ThinkProgress.

According to Chicago radio station WBEZ, Reynold Garcia, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, entered the Christian Pentecostal Center in Schaumburg, Illinois one morning in early January. He and several others had gathered at the house of worship to pray for comfort, as agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had raided Garcia’s house the day before while he was away, taking his wife and two children with them.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton is dead wrong about Bernie Sanders’ immigration record

Last week, Clinton slammed Sanders for voting against reform in 2007. But there was a very good reason he did.

By Daniel Denvir, Salon
February 12, 2016

In last week’s battle over the meaning of the word “progressive,” Hillary Clinton charged that Bernie Sanders had fallen short in failing to back immigration reform in 2007.

“I don’t think it was progressive to vote against Ted Kennedy’s immigration reform,” Clinton said, after slamming Sanders for his past opposition to the Brady Bill. She repeated this line of attack last night.

The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers called this “a solid answer by Clinton.” If so, that’s largely because many don’t understand the substance or politics of guest worker programs. Many immigrant rights groups have long opposed guest worker programs, and for good reason. They are geared toward maximizing exploitation and minimizing protection of immigrant workers.[...]

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Alliance for Prosperity: Solution to the Central American Migrant Crisis or Déjà Vu?

By Jeff Abbott, Truthout
February 13, 2016

This year Guatemala inaugurated a new president: Jimmy Morales, a former comedian known for a racist television show in which he regularly performed in blackface and mocked Guatemala's indigenous populations. Morales, who took office on January 14, had positioned himself as a political outsider who was able to ride the wave of popular discontent to the office. But before his inauguration, Morales was paid a special visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden, whose late arrival disrupted the events planned for the day. Biden privately met with the new president in an upscale hotel in Guatemala's wealthy Zone 10. Guatemala's daily newspaper reports that the two discussed the importance of Washington's latest plan to curb northern migration, the Alliance for Prosperity.

A month prior, the US Senate passed the controversial Alliance for Prosperity Plan as part of the 2016 budget on December 18, 2015, in a vote of 66 to 33. The plan includes $750 million to improve governance, strengthen security and promote the economic integration of the northern triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In late 2015, Mexico and Nicaragua were both added to the plan, with each country receiving nearly $120 million of the funds made available to secure their borders.[...]

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

North Carolina High Schoolers Could Be Deported to “Certain Death”, Despite Teacher and School Board Opposition

Global Voices
February 13, 2016

On the night of Thursday February 11, 2016, the administration of Durham Public Schools in North Carolina unanimously passed a resolution condemning the arrests and intended deportations of its students. Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has targeted Riverside High School, which has the highest proportion of Latino students in the Durham public school system (23%), as well as other high schools in the area, with at least six young people already being held in detention out of state.

One of the recent ICE victims is high schooler Wildin David Guillén-Acosta, who was arrested in front of his home as he was leaving for class on January 28. The new DHS guidelines announced over the New Year's holidays are specifically aimed at the large numbers of Central American children who made their way across the Mexican-U.S. border over the last two years. During this time, increased Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gang youth recruitment, extortion and murders have been reported. Young Central American immigrants, often fleeing from extreme levels of violence in their homeland, are recruitment targets for these notorious gangs. Wildin, who was a minor when he left Honduras in 2014, escaped their net — but that hasn't stopped ICE from arresting him.[...]

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Monday, February 15, 2016

The US Has Its Own Refugee Crisis—One We Created, and Now Must Solve

We know how to help children fleeing violence in Central America. Instead, we’re raiding communities and deporting families.

By Elizabeth Holtzman, The Nation
February 11, 2016

As the coauthor, with Senator Ted Kennedy, of the Refugee Act of 1980, I am dismayed at the US government’s iron-fisted response to the refugee crisis on our southwest border. In the last couple of years, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and women with their children have crossed our border with Mexico. Coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the so-called Northern Triangle, these people are primarily fleeing horrific gang violence—violence similar to that found in war zones. In fact, Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world, with El Salvador not far behind. Failed government institutions, hollowed out by decades of civil war, cannot or will not address this violence—or the unremitting poverty that underlies it.

The US Department of Homeland Security has responded to this crisis mostly with harsh measures intended to deter future inflows.[...]

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Friday, February 12, 2016

The Case Against the “Humanitarian Border”

How the Border Patrol’s humanitarian rhetoric only furthers the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

By Jill M. Williams, NACLA Report on the Americas
December 22, 2015

For unauthorized migrants, more restrictive and militarized border enforcement regimes worldwide have made transnational migration an increasingly deadly endeavor. The International Organization for Migration estimates that since the early 1990s, over six thousand migrants have died in the borderlands where the United States and Mexico meet, while over 22,000 people have perished in the Mediterranean Sea.

In response, assemblages of NGOs and governmental agencies have emerged in many border regions to mitigate the physical consequences of border enforcement. From military-assisted policing and surveillance efforts to migrant reception and aid centers, these efforts are loosely grouped under the umbrella term “humanitarian interventions.” Each provides a different level of assistance and opens or closes different legal avenues for the migrants involved.

Political scientist William Walters has referred to the proliferation of migrant aid and services in the borderlands as the emergence of the “humanitarian border”[...]

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Immigration Reform 2016: Bernie Sanders Staffer Becomes First Undocumented Immigrant Lawyer in NY

By Abigail Adams, International Business Times
February 3, 2016

Cesar Vargas is having a big week. First the prominent immigration activist and Latino outreach strategist for Sen. Bernie Sanders helped his candidate nearly tie Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, and then, on Wednesday, he officially became the first undocumented immigrant to hold a law license in New York.

After Vargas announced his good news Tuesday, many immigration activists celebrated the achievement on social media. The Dream Act Coalition, a pro-immigration reform group that Vargas co-founded, posted on Facebook and Twitter to congratulate their former leader and spread word of a celebration for Vargas in Staten Island, where he grew up.

Vargas, who has lived in the United States since he was 5 years old and is now safe to stay in the country thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, passed the New York state bar exam in 2011.[...]

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Deportation Nation: A Timeline Of Immigrant Criminalization

[The Deportation Nation website provides a powerful interactive overview of U.S. deportation history and policies.--TPOI editors]

The United States is not just a nation of immigrants, it is also a nation of deportation.

This timeline shows how the U.S. immigration system became focused on enforcement and criminalization. Click to watch videos and learn how the Founding Fathers allotted power to decide who can enter, and who will be deported. Context is key to understanding the “deportation delirium” that has led to a record number of removals under the Obama administration.

Click here to view the deportation timeline:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"This Man Will Almost Certainly Die"

Dozens of men have died in disturbing circumstances in privatized, immigrant-only prisons. The Bureau of Prisons itself says there’s a problem. And yet the privatization scheme continues.

By Seth Freed, The Nation
January 28, 2016

Where Claudio Fagardo-Saucedo grew up, on the colonial streets of the Mexican city of Durango, migrating to the United States was almost a rite of passage. It was following the stream of departures from Durango in the 1980s that the lanky young man left his family and traveled north. His mother, Julieta Saucedo Salazar, heard that he’d found jobs working as a laborer in Los Angeles. But they soon lost touch. “We did not know much about him, really,” his younger sister told me.

Fagardo-Saucedo worked, his jobs sometimes taking him out of California, and occasionally he got into trouble—once for “possession for sale” of cocaine, another time for stealing jewelry. Every seven or eight years, his mother recalled, he’d return to her house—but never by choice. “They caught him all the time for being illegal,” Julieta said. She always hoped her wandering son might stay, get to know the family again, but he never did. “He would be here a month, and then he’d go again.”

? In the summer of 2003, immigration agents detained Fagardo-Saucedo on his way back to California, but this time the Border Patrol referred him to federal prosecutors, who charged him with “illegal re-entry,” or returning to the United States after deportation. He served nearly five years before being sent back to Mexico. Again, he tried to return. Early one morning in August of 2008, Fagardo-Saucedo triggered an infrared sensor as he and two others ran across the border near Tijuana. He pleaded guilty in a US District Court to another “illegal re-entry” charge. The judge sentenced him to four years in federal prison.

When Fagardo-Saucedo arrived at Reeves, a prison complex in rural West Texas, he entered a little-known segment of the federal prison system. Over the previous decade, elected officials and federal agencies had quietly recast the relationship between criminal justice and immigration enforcement. These changes have done as much to bloat the federal prison population as the War on Drugs; they have also helped make Latinos the largest racial or ethnic group sentenced to federal custody.[...]

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Beyond Deportation: Fixing a Broken Immigration System

By David Bacon, American Prospect
January 27, 2016

The Obama administration's self-contradictory stance on deportation perpetuates a long tradition of U.S. immigration policies that ignore the root causes of migration.

When President Obama appointed Dollie Gee to the U.S. District Court in 2010, he undoubtedly didn't expect her to mount a frontal challenge to his administration's detention and deportation policies. But five years after her elevation as the first Chinese American woman on the federal bench, Gee ruled last summer that holding Central American women and children in private detention lockups was illegal.

Gee didn’t mince words. She called the detentions "deplorable." And she denounced as "fear-mongering" the claim by Homeland Security lawyers that the detentions would discourage more people from leaving Central America.

Her angry tone shouldn't have come as a surprise. Gee's father was an immigrant engineer and her mother a garment worker in a Los Angeles sweatshop. After law school, as a young lawyer, Gee sued employers for discrimination and then worked for the Teamsters Union, helping workers and immigrants win representation elections. For Chinese Americans, today’s detentions contain ugly echoes of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which led to the brutal detention of thousands of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay 128 years ago.[...]

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

AP Investigation: Feds' failures imperil migrant children

By Garance Burke, Associated Press
January 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Without enough beds to house the record numbers of young arrivals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered its safety standards during border surges in the last three years to swiftly move children out of government shelters and into sponsors' homes. The procedures were increasingly relaxed as the number of young migrants rose in response to spiraling gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to emails, agency memos and operations manuals obtained by AP, some under the Freedom of Information Act.

First, the government stopped fingerprinting most adults seeking to claim the children. In April 2014, the agency stopped requiring original copies of birth certificates to prove most sponsors' identities. The next month, it decided not to complete forms that request sponsors' personal and identifying information before sending many of the children to sponsors' homes. Then, it eliminated FBI criminal history checks for many sponsors.

Since the rule changes, the AP has identified more than two dozen children who were placed with sponsors who subjected them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, or severe abuse and neglect.

"This is clearly the tip of the iceberg," said Jacqueline Bhabha, research director at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. "We would never release domestic children to private settings with as little scrutiny."[...]

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Petition: Stop denying our children their right to a birth certificate

To: Texas Department of State Health Services
From: Marco Malagon, Princeton, Texas
Date: January 25, 2016

Last August, my wife and I were thrilled to become parents. As a proud a father, I am committed to making sure my child has more opportunities than I did growing up. But soon after his birth I found out that because I am undocumented, the state of Texas would deny my son – a U.S. citizen – his birth certificate.

And it’s not just my family: across Texas parents are struggling to get documentation for their children.

Sign to demand that the Texas Department of State Health Services stop denying birth certificates to children of undocumented parents.

Without a birth certificate, these children won’t be able to access basic services guaranteed to U.S. citizens. They can’t be enrolled in school and their parents can’t authorize medical staff to treat them in an emergency. This practice is designed to punish undocumented parents and make it harder for their children to access services they have a right to.

After much pushing I got lucky at the clerk’s office and they finally found a workaround for me to obtain the document. But many offices in Texas are not helping people in my situation; a friend of mine has a one year-old baby who still has no birth certificate. She’s worried about whether she’ll be able to enroll her child in daycare or how she will get health care for her baby.

This practice discriminates against US Citizen children and is unacceptable. The Constitution says that children born in the U.S. are granted full citizenship; it’s not up to Texas to deny that right.

Please sign my petition and demand that the Texas DSHS stop denying children of undocumented parents their right to fully-documented citizenship.

Sign the petition: