Sunday, July 31, 2016

Texas, facing a lawsuit, makes it easier for U.S.-born children of immigrants to get birth certificates

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
June 25, 2016

Last year, a group of Central American and Mexican immigrant parents sued Texas in federal court, claiming that the state had denied their children birth certificates and access to vital services.

Now, Texas officials have agreed to expand the list of documents that allow immigrant parents who entered the country illegally to obtain birth certificates for their U.S.-born children. The parents’ lawsuit has now been stayed pending enforcement of the new policy during the next nine months.

“It is a victory absolutely for all of the U.S. citizen children who are born here in Texas to undocumented parents. I think they are going to get all their benefits to which they are entitled,” said lead attorney Jennifer Harbury of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc., which represented the children. “We have a great deal of work to do in the transition state. But I think in the end, we’re going to get a better system out of it.”[...]

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

The worst I've seen – trauma expert lifts lid on 'atrocity' of Australia's detention regime

Exclusive: In his 43-year career, Paul Stevenson has worked in the aftermath of the Bali bombings and the Boxing Day tsunami but says nothing he witnessed was as bad as the treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus

By Ben Doherty and David Marr, The Guardian
June 19, 2016

“In my entire career of 43 years I have never seen more atrocity than I have seen in the incarcerated situations of Manus Island and Nauru.”

Paul Stevenson has had a life in trauma. The psychologist and traumatologist has spent 40 years helping people make sense of their lives in the aftermath of disaster, of terrorist attacks, bombings and mass murders, of landslides, fires and tsunamis.

He’s written a book about his experiences, Postcards from Ground Zero, and for his efforts in assisting the victims of the Bali bombings, the Australian government pinned an Order of Australia Medal to his chest.

Now, he says, it is the Australian government deliberately inflicting upon people the worst trauma he has ever seen.[...]

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Offshore detention whistleblower loses job after condemning 'atrocity' of camps

After psychologist Paul Stevenson tells the Guardian conditions on Nauru and Manus Island are ‘demoralising’ and ‘desperate’, his contract is cancelled

By Ben Doherty, The Guardian
June 21, 2016

The trauma specialist who condemned the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia’s offshore detention regime as the worst “atrocity” he has seen has had his contract to work on Nauru terminated.

Psychologist Paul Stevenson, whom the Australian government awarded an Order of Australia for his work counselling victims of the Bali bombings, had undertaken 14 deployments to Nauru and to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. He was due to return to Nauru on Thursday.

But after he spoke publicly to the Guardian about his experiences working within Australia’s offshore detention regime – describing conditions in the camps as “demoralising … and desperate” – he was told his contract had been summarily cancelled.[...]

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Undocumented in the age of Donald Trump

The shrill campaign trail populism of Donald Trump has revived the issue of illegal immigration. Lars Gesing reports from Denver, Colorado, how understanding life as an undocumented could help fix the issue.

By Lars Gesing, Deutsche Welle
July 19, 2016

With every step little Cristian Solano took, a flash of light interrupted the old sewer canal's damp darkness. At age three, Cristian was just little enough to be the only one walking among the group of Mexican emigres who crawled behind him. The shoes shone a light on the path to what they were sure would be a bright future in the United States of America.

I met Cristian, now 24, in Denver in early May, almost a year after a man named Donald Trump escalatored onto the Republican presidential primary stage with tirades against undocumented immigrants particularly from Mexico as well as obscure plans to build a 2000-mile (3219-kilometer) wall along the southern border.

The consensus is that neither the Great Wall of Trump nor rounding up and deporting the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants - of which only about half are from Mexico - is practically or fiscally feasible. Deporting 11 million people alone, so the conservative projection goes, will cost taxpayers $400 billion (362 billion euros). And 72 percent of Americans actually favor a right to stay for the undocumented.[...]

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Monday, July 25, 2016

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard

By Shane Bauer, Mother Jones
July/August 2016

Chapter 1: "Inmates Run This Bitch"

Have you ever had a riot?" I ask a recruiter from a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

"The last riot we had was two years ago," he says over the phone.

"Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!" says a woman's voice, cutting in. "We got rid of them."

"When can you start?" the man asks.

I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation's 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it's nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it's usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren't subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?[...]

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

"No Touching": Peering Through the Iron Bars of the US-Mexico Border, Families Struggle to Connect

By David Bacon, Truthout
July 4, 2016

It took two days on the bus for Catalina Cespedes and her husband Teodolo Torres to get from their hometown in Puebla -- Santa Monica Cohetzala -- to Tijuana. On a bright Sunday in May they went to the beach at Playas de Tijuana. There the wall separating Mexico from the United States plunges down a steep hillside and levels off at the Parque de Amistad, or Friendship Park, before crossing the sand and heading out into the Pacific surf.

Sunday is the day for families to meet through the border wall. The couple had come to see their daughter, Florita Galvez.

Florita had arrived that day in San Ysidro, the border town a half-hour south of San Diego. Then she went out to the Border Field State Park, by the ocean, two miles west of town. From the parking lot at the park entrance it was a 20-minute walk down a dirt road to the section of the wall next to the Parque de Amistad.[...]

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Immigrant laborers have a new tool to fight back against rampant wage theft in the US

By Kate Groetzinger and Frida Garza, Quartz
June 30, 2016

Omar Trinidad immigrated to the US from Mexico nine years ago and started working as a jornalero, as day laborers are known in Spanish, in New York City. Six years ago, he worked at a job site for a week, with the promise that he would be paid when the work was complete. But when Friday came, his employer disappeared.

“I felt bad because I didn’t know what to do,” he says. “I said, ‘Okay, how do I report this?’”

Wage theft happens to at least one out of five day laborers each month, according to Maria Figueroa, a professor at the Cornell University-School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Cal Soto, a coordinator at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), says each of the 45 workers’ centers affiliated with the group across the US reports at least 10 instances of wage theft each week.

Today, Trinidad is helping create a tool that he hopes will reduce those numbers. He is working with Cornell, NDLON, and a New York City-based artist named Sol Aramendi to develop a mobile phone app called Jornalero.[...]

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Friday, July 22, 2016

An Atlanta Campaign Demands Immigration Reform, End to Policies of Deportation and Detention

A coalition of local community organizations have launched an ICE Free Zones campaign.

By Paul McLennan, Azadeh Shahshahani, and Adelina Nicholls, AlterNet
June 16, 2016

On June 15, coordinated actions were held across the world including in Atlanta, seeking justice for Berta Caceres, an indigenous human rights and environmental justice activist who was assassinated in Honduras on March 3. Several of those charged with her murder have ties to the Honduran military, including at least one high-ranking officer who reportedly was trained by U.S. Rangers.

At the Atlanta action, we also drew attention to the recent ICE raids that have targeted women and children fleeing horrific persecution, rape, murder, and torture in Central American countries such as Honduras, who were seeking a safe haven in this country. Caceres' assassination was only the latest example of this systematic, patriarchal violence, in part facilitated by U.S. government policies and decades of intervention in the region.

The actions of the Obama administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement combined with the racist rhetoric coming from Republican Party candidates are responsible for generating fear and anxiety in our immigrant and refugee communities. This is only gearing up in the wake of the horrific Orlando attack with attempts to scapegoat Muslim communities.[...]

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Activists Build a Wall for Trump in Cleveland

Anti-Trump Activists Form a Human Wall Outside the RNC

Pro-immigrant groups and other progressive protesters rebuke the Republican nominee.

By Joshua Alvarez, In These Times
July 20, 2016

CLEVELAND—The morning after Donald J. Trump officially became the Republican candidate for President of the United States on a platform promising a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, activists in Cleveland, Ohio built a wall of their own.

About 150 protestors arrived in Public Square and distributed canvas tarps painted with bricks and fencing, with the words “Wall Off Trump.” The canvas, which stretched 2,000 feet, was cut into both long chunks and individual ponchos that participants draped over themselves.

From the square they marched, chanting and singing, to the convention, surrounded by a swarm of media that threatened to outnumber the activists themselves. Upon arriving near the barricaded entrance to the convention, they stretched out into a single file line and held hands or linked arms and formed a painted human wall that stretched down the block.[...]

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July 20 Updates from #WallOffTrump Protest at the RNC

By Mijente
July 20, 2016

In response to Trump’s insults, threats and his promises of mass deportation and building a border wall to separate neighbors, communities are travelling to Cleveland to give him a wall of their own.

“If Trump is set on building a wall. We’re going to give it to him,” explains Marisa Franco, director of Mijente. “But we’ll be walling off his hate. We won’t go quietly as he campaigns to put us back in the closet, back across the border, or to the back of the bus.”

Eva Cardenas of the Ruckus Society added, “Standing with front-line communities to create a line of defense against Trump’s hate and racism is all of our responsibility. We’re not just sending a message against Trump, we’re calling on everyone to stand up and take responsibility for the future of this country.”[...]

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Five Immigration Actions Obama Should Take Before Leaving Office

By Carl Lipscombe, Truthout
June 23, 2016

Comprehensive immigration reform has failed. Millions of immigrants have been deported. President Obama's executive action programs are in limbo.

As President Obama enters his final six months in office, his legacy on immigration has yet to be determined. Will he go down as the savior who stretched the limits of his power to provide relief for millions of Dreamers? Or as the Trojan Horse who rode in promising hope and change while opening the door to raids on immigrant families, communities and record deportations?

If President Obama wants to rescue his immigration legacy while shedding the lame duck president stereotype, he should take bold, decisive action on immigration. Here are some ideas:

1. Take a stand against the 1996 laws that criminalized millions of immigrants.

Over the last year the Obama administration has taken stands against the war on drugs and the war on crime, acknowledging both as failed policies that overwhelmingly impacted communities of color. In fact, just last fall the administration announced the release of 6,000 prisoners who were convicted of drug offenses. Unfortunately, the administration has yet to speak out against the impact of these same failed policies on immigrants. As a result of two laws enacted in 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), immigrants convicted of certain criminal offenses were deemed mandatorily deportable.[...]

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Before Orlando, Omar Mateen Worked for Human Rights Abusers

G4S, where Omar Mateen worked as a security guard, profits from both U.S. border militarization and the Israeli occupation.

By Phyllis Bennis, Foreign Policy in Focus 
June 13, 2016

How do we even talk about the horrific killings in Orlando, which left at least 50 LGBTQ revelers dead and more than 50 more injured in the middle of pride month? First we mourn. Then we rage. Then we hug our loved ones, especially our LGBTQ friends, comrades, and family members.

Then we look again, and we see the horror — that this murderer was licensed to carry guns and had no trouble buying incredibly powerful military-style weapons. So casually. So legally. So common, across our country. That’s when we start to rage again.

More troubling still, Omar Mateen worked for a company that was perpetrating systemic violence against vulnerable people long before he took up arms against his LGBTQ neighbors. For nine years Mateen worked for G4S Security, a British-based corporation that contracts with the U.S. and Israeli governments for work that often violates human rights on a massive scale.

G4S, which brags about having 600 staffers on the southern border, has contracts with U.S. immigration authorities to detain and deport people back to Mexico, as well as to run private juvenile detention facilities.[...]

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Report: Aggressive Immigration Enforcement Quotas Also Used to Detain Mothers and Their Children

By Center for Constitutional Rights
June 16, 2016


Practice of Guaranteed Minimums, 93 Percent for Private Companies, Found Far More Prevalent Than Initially Thought

June 16, 2016, Washington, D.C. and New York – Today, Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a new report that reveals for the first time that mothers and their children are jailed under guaranteed minimum bed contracts for local jails. The report shows the extent to which ICE grants financial benefits to private and public entities that detain immigrants through government contracts requiring ICE to pay for a set number of beds at detention facilities, rendering immigrants, including children and families, a source of profit for contractors.

“While the Obama administration continues to support the use of aggressive raids to unconstitutionally detain and deport immigrants, our report exposes the extent to which local lockup quotas incentivize the incarceration of immigrants and fuel ICE to pursue punitive and unjust enforcement practices,” said Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network. “The costs of detention are two-fold: moral and financial. American taxpayers are paying over $2 billion a year to tear apart hundreds of thousands of families across the country.”

The widespread use of local lockup quotas throughout the immigration detention system was exposed in DWN and CCR’s report, Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet, in June 2015. Since then, the government has released additional documents that shed light on the continued use of local lockup quotas, covering at least 24 detention facility contracts. Today’s report updates the earlier one with new information, including uncovering a local quota at Essex County Detention Facility in New Jersey where just this week Luis Alonso Fino Martinez died for yet to be determined reasons.[...]

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Download the rerpot:,%20CCR.pdf

Friday, July 1, 2016

Growing temp industry shuts out black workers, exploits Latinos

“Whether it’s low-wage Hispanic workers or low-wage African American workers, each of them are trying to make a decent living, and they’re being pitted against each other,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the Memphis office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

By Will Evans, The Chicago Reporter
June 8, 2016

The code word for black workers caught Rosa Ceja by surprise.

She was working for a temp agency in spring 2014, supervising workers at a big brick packaging plant northwest of Chicago. Crews of minimum-wage temp workers in hairnets boxed consumer products such as adult diapers and energy drinks in shifts around the clock.

She knew the company wanted only men for some jobs and only women for others. And she knew those codes: “heavies” for men, “lights” for women.

But when Ceja asked the recruiting office to send more heavies, she was told there were only “guapos” available. She was confused. “Guapo” means “good-looking” in Spanish. “I'm like, ‘Who cares if he's cute?’ ” Ceja remembers saying.

Guapo, her fellow recruiters told her, meant a black worker. Black people didn’t want to work hard or get their hands dirty, they explained, so they were called the pretty ones. Latinos, the “feos” or ugly ones, were what the company wanted.[...]

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