Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Judge Refers Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for Criminal Prosecution

By Fernanda Santos, New York Times
August 19, 2016

PHOENIX — A federal judge on Friday referred Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his second-in-command for criminal prosecution, finding that they ignored and misrepresented to subordinates court orders designed to keep the sheriff’s office from racially profiling Latinos.

In making the referral to the United States attorney’s office for criminal contempt charges, Judge G. Murray Snow of Federal District Court in Phoenix delivered the sharpest rebuke against Mr. Arpaio, who as the long-serving sheriff in Maricopa County made a name for himself as an unrelenting pursuer of undocumented immigrants.

Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan “have a history of obfuscation and subversion of this court’s orders that is as old as this case,” Judge Snow wrote in his order.[...]

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Photos Offer Glimpse Inside Arizona Border Detention Centers

By Fernanda Santos, New York Times
August 18, 2016

PHOENIX — In June 2015, legal and civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit in Federal District Court in Tucson accusing the Border Patrol of holding migrants in dirty and crowded cells at stations in southeastern Arizona, after they were caught illegally entering the United States.

Late Wednesday, still images from surveillance video at the stations, offering a glimpse inside the cells, were publicly released. The videos were part of the evidence filed with the court during the discovery process and unsealed by Judge David C. Bury last week.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of migrants by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Some photographs show migrants lying shoulder to shoulder on bare concrete floors while neighboring cells are empty, sleeping pads stacked against walls. In one image, a man drinks from a gallon jug, apparently the only source of water for all the detainees in his cell. In another, men sleep against a toilet stall.[...]

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Immigrant Family Detention Center Made For-Profit Prison Company $1 Billion in No-Bid Deal

By Sam Knight, District Sentinel, via Truthout
August 16, 2016

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) used an existing contract with a private prison company to reach a separate deal with the firm, without having to publicly solicit bids for a new detention center.

ICE and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) agreed on the four-year, $1 billion no-bid deal in 2014, to rapidly implement an Obama administration initiative designed to deter the arrival of asylum seekers from Central America.

The terms of the agreement were reported on Monday in an investigation published by The Washington Post.

The paper said that the deal was hastily struck after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson determined that the US "could cut down the surge [of migration] only by demonstrating that asylum seekers wouldn't receive leniency."[...]

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

La Barrera del Perfeccionismo/The Perfection Barrier

La barrera del perfeccionismo

Por Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
13 de agosto, 2016

(English Version follows below)

Me dio gusto ver que hubo una gimnasta latina que representó a la selección estadounidense en las olimpiadas. También me encantó ver que Donald Trump va perdiendo apoyo según los sondeos de intención de voto, y que hasta dirigentes del partido republicano lo están rechazando. Sí, estamos logrando cambiar las cosas.

Hace 20 años, las familias indocumentadas latinas contábamos con poquísimos aliados. El congresista Gutiérrez introdujo un proyecto de ley que hubiera legalizado a los indocumentados en el Congreso, y prácticamente nadie del partido demócrata – y mucho menos del partido republicano—lo apoyaba. Actualmente cuesta esfuerzo hallar un político del partido demócrata que no apoya nuestras luchas. ¿Cuáles son los factores detrás de esta transformación?

Hemos obligado a esta nación vernos, nos hicimos muchos y logramos la unidad. Millones de familias comunes y corrientes luchaban para sobrevivir en el medio de hostilidad, de la dificultad de criar sus familias a base del salario mínimo o menos. Nosotros registramos la cifra más elevada de trabajadores heridos en el contexto del trabajo. Nos hacían muchas trampas. Tuvimos que vivir bajo una amenaza constante de ser deportados. Pero no nos dimos por vencidos.[...]

The Perfection Barrier

By Elvira Arellano, Familias Unidas
August 13, 2016

I was pleased to see the first Latina gymnast representing the U.S. in the Olympics. I was also pleased to see Donald Trump dropping in the polls, rejected even by leaders of the Republican Party. Yes we are making change.

Twenty years ago, undocumented Latino families had few allies. Congressman Gutierrez introduced a legalization bill in the Congress and had almost no democrats – much less Republicans – step forward to support his effort. Now it is hard to find a democrat who does not embrace our cause. What has brought about the change?

We made this nation see us, we became many and we were unified. Millions of ordinary families struggled to survive in the midst of hostility, raising children on minimum wages or less than minimum wages. We had the highest rate of injuries on the job. We were often cheated. And we lived with the constant threat of deportation. Yet we persevered.[...]

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chicago alderman Rosa, community, activists denounce ICE raids on day laborers

By Michelle Zacarias and Earchiel Johnson, People's World
August 10 2016

CHICAGO -- Activists, community residents and laborers gathered on the corner of Milwaukee and Belmont in the heavily Latino neighborhood of West Avondale August 9 to denounce the recent increase in ICE raids taking place on the north west side of the city. Government agents had raided a neighborhood location where immigrant workers gather on Friday August 5 at around noon, forcing a group of laborers to to submit to illegal searches and mobile fingerprint scanners.

Aristides Banegas was one of the laborers who came face to face with ICE agents that day. He recalled details of the incident. He said that in the 23 years he's been living in the U.S., the last couple of years have exposed the type of energy and effort being directed at targeting immigrant communities. [Ed. note: Mr. Banegas' remarks are translated from Spanish.] "I came to this country for a better life and for change, and not to be mistreated." [...]

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Escape to New York

Many Central American immigrants seeking legal help are fleeing organized crime in their own countries.

By Francisco Goldman, New Yorker
August 9, 2016

I fiirst learned of Central American Legal Assistance in the fall of 2009, from a letter mailed to my Brooklyn address that I read months after it was posted, having just returned from a long summer in Mexico. The letter was written by Betsy Plum, a cala caseworker, and described the situation of a Guatemalan woman living in the metropolitan area who was in deportation proceedings while also seeking political asylum. In Guatemala, the woman had discovered that her romantic partner had been involved with men previously linked to the 1998 murder of the Guatemalan bishop and human-rights activist Monsignor Juan José Gerardi Conedera; in a 2001 trial, some of those men were sentenced to prison for that crime. The woman had unwittingly, though at close hand, overheard a conversation implicating at least two of them, including her partner, in a prison murder. (One of the men, Byron Lima Oliva, was murdered in prison, on July 18th of this year.)

Plum’s letter, which shared only some of what her client knew, included names that would only be known to somebody familiar with the small, dangerous circle of convicted and alleged co-conspirators linked to the bishop’s murder and other criminal activities—a mix of military men and civilians, some involved in arms and drug trafficking, some in and some out of prison, and one extremely powerful politician long suspected by some investigators of being the group’s secret leader and protector. Alarmed by what she’d discovered about her partner’s deepening entanglement with this group, the Guatemalan woman had sought to leave him. Months later, she was kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly raped. A relative whom she was suspected of having told about what she’d witnessed was murdered. Through a subterfuge, she managed to escape her imprisonment and fled to the United States, where for a few years she lived the hidden life of an undocumented migrant, until she was detained by U.S. authorities.[...]

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

9 Critical Points on Anti-Blackness, Immigration and Why Latinxs Must Shut It Down Too

Immigrant rights leaders in the U.S. show how to concretely build solidarity between the immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter movements.

By Raul Alcaraz-Ochoa, Jorge Gutierrez, Alan Pelaez, and Deborah Alemu, TeleSUR
August 7, 2016

An Open Letter to the Immigrant Rights Movement:

In light of the brutal murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Delrawn Smalls Dempsey, Alva Braziel, Joyce Quaweay, Skye Mockabee and Korryn Gaines, anti-Blackness, patriarchy and transphobia need to profoundly and urgently be addressed within immigrant rights organizing, now more than ever. Although non-Black Latinx solidarity with Black lives has increased and grown, there is still a lot of work to be done.

How do Latinxs and the immigrant rights movement navigate anti-Blackness? First of all what is anti-Blackness?

“Anti-Blackness is not simply the racist actions of a white man with a grudge nor is it only a structure of racist discrimination—anti-blackness is the paradigm that binds blackness and death together so much so that one cannot think of one without the other," according to Nicholas Brady in the Progressive.[...]

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Women Day Laborers Are Tired of Waiting for Work, and for Justice

In Brooklyn, a new study shows that women face an underground labor market fraught with hidden risks.

By Michelle Chen, The Nation
August 5, 2016

During the mid-20th century, black women lined up on sad corners of New York known as the Bronx Slave Market, waiting for white “madams” to pluck impoverished housemaids from the so-called “paper-bag brigade.” These desperate domestics would work virtually any job for a day, for any wage.

Today the image of the immigrant day laborer is often associated with Latino construction workers. But on some streets, women still gather, and like their forebears, they face an underground labor market fraught with hidden risks.

A new study by Brooklyn-based Worker’s Justice Project (WJP) and Cornell’s Worker Institue, reveals surprising details about the many overlooked women in day labor. Working marginal, casual jobs with little regulatory protection, they hustle from gig to gig, typically for as little pay or as many hours the boss wants.

Researchers surveyed a sample of about 80 women day laborers who congregate at a well-trafficked informal hiring site in Brooklyn. They generally work up to 20 about hours a week, earning on average less than $900 per month. Their wages fall well short of what the women require to cover basic needs, though most are primary income earners for their families.[...]

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

US Border Patrol to Pay Woman for Illegal Cavity Searches

"We definitely think this is part of a broader pattern of abuse that happens at the border. It’s over-militarized and there are some agents working there who act as if they are above the law."

By TeleSUR
August 2, 2016

A Mexican-American has been awarded US$475,000 for traumatic cavity searches carried out by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in December 2012, according to a statement by the ACLU, which represented her.

The woman, who is simply known as “Jane Doe” had received a settlement of US$1.1 million in 2014 from the hospital that, under CBP orders, had allegedly performed more invasive cavity searches.

Described as a middle-aged, married woman from Lovington, New Mexico, the U.S. citizen was returning from a routine trip to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico where she was visiting a close friend. While crossing on foot at the El Paso, Texas border, she was stopped for a random search by the CBP.

Edgar Saldivar, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, told Fusion that after a drug-sniffing dog jumped on her, she was searched, but nothing was found.

She was then sent to a secondary inspection site, “where they did more invasive searches in her private areas, but did not find anything,” according to Saldivar.

Finally, not satisfied with the results, “they took her to the hospital for more extensive examinations,” Saldivar said.[...]

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Impact of Investigative Journalism on U.S. Immigration Detention Reform

An important paper by the New York Times reporter who has exposed many of the abuses in the immigration detention system

By Nina Bernstein, Global Detention Project
July 26, 2016

Abstract: A reporter for the New York Times who has written extensively about immigration detention policies in the United States and elsewhere assesses the limits that investigative journalism faces in spurring detention reforms. The paper argues that while journalism occupies a privileged place in a democracy because it helps hold government to account, in practice it operates at a far messier intersection between the politics of reform and the contingencies and conventions of even the most robust news operation. The author focuses her analysis on the relationship between investigative journalism and the early efforts of the Barack Obama administration to overhaul immigration detention by creating “a truly civil detention system.” Today, the U.S. detention system is larger than ever, abuses remain endemic, and the government has massively expanded its capacity to lock up mothers and children in “family residential centres.”

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

U.S. to Admit More Central American Refugees

Only 600 people from Central America have entered the United States as refugees since the influx began, officials said, including 267 children under the program created for minors with parents living in the United States who are citizens or legal immigrants.

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times
July 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday announced a substantial expansion of a program to admit Central American refugees to the United States, conceding that its efforts to protect migrants fleeing dangerous conditions had left too many people with no recourse.

The administration said it would broaden an initiative that currently lets unaccompanied Central American children enter the United States as refugees, allowing their entire families to qualify, including siblings older than 21, parents and other relatives who act as caregivers.

It is unclear how many refugees might be eligible, but during its two years, the program for children has drawn 9,500 applicants, which could eventually grow to many times that with the broader criteria. [...]

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lessons in Activism: Middle School Students Advocate for Syrian Refugees

By Carolina Drake, Truthout
July 28, 2016

On the last day before spring break at Manhattan Country School, a progressive school in New York City, the 7th and 8th graders were busy at work with their activism campaign, "Build Bridges, Not Borders." In one classroom, a group of students gathered near the phone, waiting for their turn to call Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to encourage the resettlement of Syrian refugees in New York. In another room, students practiced their talking points and arguments in anticipation of their lobbying trip to Washington, DC, where they would ask congressional representatives to oppose bills that would block the refugee resettlement process and sign a resolution that would condemn hateful rhetoric against Muslims in the United States.

Groups of students rotated through the various classrooms until they arrived at a mock refugee screening process. Here, teachers pretended to be interrogators and security agents as they took the students through the nine steps asylum seekers have to go through before they even enter the United States, and explaining that there are more steps after that and that it takes an average of 18-24 months to complete the process. The idea was to refute the common argument that a "terrorist" or ISIS member may come into the country disguised as a Syrian refugee, and to help the students understand what refugees who are escaping war and violence have to go through as they attempt to resettle.

This is not a standard curriculum course, but it is part of what 7th and 8th graders learn in a school committed to activism and social justice.[...]

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Monday, August 1, 2016

US and Mexico's mass deportations have fueled humanitarian crisis, report says

Tide of vulnerable people fleeing violence in Central America preyed upon by criminals and corrupt officials in part due to inadequate asylum procedures

By Nina Lakhani, The Guardian
July 27, 2016

Mass deportations and inadequate asylum procedures in Mexico and the US have fueled a humanitarian crisis where desperate Central Americans seeking refuge from rampant violence are routinely preyed upon by criminal gangs and corrupt officials, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

The tide of people fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – three of the five most dangerous countries in the world – continues apace despite beefed-up border control measures implemented after Barack Obama declared the 2014 surge in undocumented migrants a humanitarian crisis. Last year, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000.

In order to avoid detection, vulnerable people – who include increasing numbers of women and unaccompanied children – are forced to pay higher fees to smugglers, crooked officials, and kidnappers, and use riskier, more isolated routes through Mexico, according to the report Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration. Once deported, many simply try again rather than face hunger and violence at home, creating a revolving door of vulnerable migrants and refugees.[...]

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