Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Queens Residents Block ICE Agents in Spontaneous Protest

ICE agents apparently aren't welcome in New York City. They detained a Guyanese man in Queens’ Richmond Hill neighborhood on May 30 as he was heading to Kew Gardens for a court appearance, but the man’s wife and dozens of bystanders kept the agents from taking him away. New York police officers eventually arrived to help the besieged feds. The incident raises two questions: how many of these spontaneous protests are taking place around the country but going unreported, and why did the NYPD violate its stated policy by aiding the ICE agents?—TPOI editor
The NYPD comes to the aid of stymied ICE agents. Photo: NBC New York
SEE IT: Federal immigration agents forced to call for backup after residents attempt to stop arrest in Queens

“[The ICE agents] didn’t even look her way. They didn’t care. This is what Trump is doing.”

By Elizabeth Keogh and Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News
May 31, 2017
A woman kneeled in front of federal immigration agents and prayed Tuesday as they walked her brother — accused of burglary and reentering the country illegally — to an unmarked car in Queens.

Tensions were high around 10 a.m. on 112th St. near 101st Ave. in Richmond Hill. More than 30 residents were shouting and trying desperately to keep the feds from arresting Hardat Sampat, who is from Guyana.[...]

Read the full article and watch the video:

Dozens of Residents Try to Stop ICE Arrest in Queens: Reports

By NBC New York
May 30, 2017
Dozens of residents banded together Tuesday to try to stop federal immigration agents from arresting an undocumented man wanted by police for burglary, according to reports.
The neighbors gathered on 112th Street in Richmond Hill as ICE agents were arresting 35-year-old Hardat Sampat. [...]

Read the full article and watch the video:

ICE calls for NYPD backup while taking person into custody

By Aliza Chasan, WPIX-TV
May 30, 2017
RICHMOND HILL, Queens — Police officers with the NYPD were called to assist federal immigration agents in Queens Tuesday morning, an NYPD spokesperson said.

A large crowd gathered around 10 a.m. when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were trying to take someone into custody, police said.[...]

Read the full article: 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Immigrant Rights in 2017: Crisis and Opportunity

Saturday, June 3,2017, 5:20pm-7:10pm
Room 1.73 at John Jay College, 59th St and 10th Ave, New York City

Racism, xenophobia, and immigrant-bashing are not new, but many people seem to be more aware of the deportation regime under the Trump administration. Does this provide an opportunity to shift public opinion on immigration? Can a sense of crisis mobilize solidarity? What strategies are organizers using to defend immigrant communities and push for real change? What challenges do we face?

Moderator: Angy Rivera, co-director, NY State Youth Leadership Council

  • Lupe Ambrosio, co-director, NY State Youth Leadership Council
  • Ravi Ragbir, New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC
  • Aly Wane, Syracuse Peace Council, Undocublack Network and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
  • Jane Guskin, co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
Updated for 2017: The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (2nd edition) from Monthly Review Press. For more information: email

 About the speakers:
 Angy Rivera is a co-director at the New York State Youth Leadership Council. In 2010 she created Ask Angy, an award-winning undocumented immigrant advice column. She and her family are the subject of Mikaela Shwer’s documentary No le Digas a Nadie (Don't Tell Anyone), which aired on PBS in 2015. Follow her journey on twitter at @AskAngy.

Guadalupe Ambrosio is a co-director at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first and only undocumented youth-led organization in New York State. Born in Mexico City and raised in the Bronx, Ambrosio sees her role as to moving forward the NYSYLC’s mission of empowering undocumented youth to create the change they want and deserve. Follow her on Instagram @ambrosiolupe.
Ravi Ragbir is a NYC immigrant rights activist who has helped hundreds of people as an organizer and now as the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York. He works directly with those who are facing deportation to empower them to struggle to remain in the US. Ravi has first-hand knowledge of the deportation system because he is facing removal himself and is fighting to remain here with his family, friends and supporters.
Aly Wane is an undocumented organizer out of Syracuse, NY. He has worked with many groups, including the American Friends Service Committee of Chicago and the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse. He is a member of the Syracuse Peace Council, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and the UndocuBlack Network. His Facebook page is 
Jane Guskin is co-author with David L. Wilson of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (2nd edition, Monthly Review Press 2017). She has written on immigration and related topics for Truthout, Huffington Post, and other publications. She is a program manager at the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and will be a PhD candidate in sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY) this fall.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Excerpt: How Does Trump Budget Attack Immigrants’ Citizen Children?

On May 23 the Trump administration unveiled a more detailed version of its budget proposal. The New York Times noted that in addition to increasing funding for the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants,
 [t]he proposal also calls for new steps to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving tax credits, including adding a new requirement that those claiming the child tax credit provide a verifiable Social Security Number valid for employment, and tightening current rules that mandate that a Social Security number be furnished to claim the earned-income tax credit….
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney claims that it's wrong “to give the earned-income tax credit, which is designed to help folks who work, to give it to somebody who is in the country and working illegally. That’s just not fair.” Whether it's fair or not, under current law undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for the earned-income credit. But what about the child tax credit? This is only for citizen children or children with legal residence, not for the parents. In other words, the administration is planning to punish citizen children for having parents who are undocumented.

We explain the child tax credit in Chapter 6, “Do immigrants pay taxes” and “Do immigrants collect welfare?”

The Social Security Administration estimated in 2013 that about 44 percent of this country’s 8.1 million out-of-status workers were employed in the formal economy, working “on the books,” generally using false Social Security numbers (SSN) or an individual tax identification number (ITIN). These workers paid federal, state, and local taxes the same way citizens and immigrants with legal status did, and Social Security and Medicare payments were deducted from their paychecks…..

Some out-of-status immigrants do seek benefits for their U.S.-born children, who are entitled to the same services as other U.S. citizens. For example, undocumented immigrants who file their federal income taxes are eligible, under the same rules as other taxpayers, for credits for their dependent children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. These child tax credits are capped at $1,000 per child, and if the total amount of the credits is greater than what the taxpayer owes, the government may refund the difference.

This is a benefit for the children, not the immigrant parent, and it’s lower than benefits in many European child allowance programs, which often pay more than $100 a month per child. Some politicians attacked the program after a 2011 Treasury Department investigation found that $4.2 billion had been paid out to accounts of unauthorized immigrants, but tax experts noted that the only real problem was with some fraud by a small number of taxpayers and tax preparers, not with the credit itself.

[We’re occasionally posting excerpts from the new edition of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers. You can order here or from your favorite bookseller.]

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Congressional Rightwingers Push Anti-Immigrant Wish List

Tea Partier Labrador. (Kyle Mills/Lewiston Tribune)
From the Immigration Action Bulletin
Number 15    May 19, 2017

Welcome to the “Anti-Immigrant Wish List” edition of the Bulletin.

Last week, with the country's attention distracted by presidential chaos, Republicans in the U.S.
House of Representatives moved forward on the most sweeping package of federal anti-immigrant legislation in decades.

The heart of this cruel and costly legislation is the Davis-Oliver Act (HR 2431), a $23-billion dollar anti-immigrant wish list introduced by Idaho Tea Partier Raul Labrador. It is flanked by two supporting bills (HR 2406 and 2407) and championed by every prominent nativist organization in the county.  

In its current form, the 185-page, 616-section bill contains just about every extreme right wing immigration enforcement proposal you can imagine--and more. [...]

Read this issue of the bulletin:

Subscribe to the bulletin or read other issues:

Friday, May 26, 2017

It’s Out Now!

The second edition of our book is now ready for shipment, and it's hard to imagine a better time for a concise guide to the realities of the United States' immigration system. Despite its many difficulties--the Russia investigation, the steady stream of "alternative facts" from the White House, the growing resistance to its agenda of cutbacks for the poor and tax breaks for the rich--the administration continues to push ahead with its plans to spend billions on repressing immigrants and their families. We need to know the facts if we're going to fight back.

This is the official May 25 announcement from Monthly Review Press:

New! The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers

And you can order here:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ACLU Takes Legal Action to Restore DACA Protections for Dreamer in Georgia

Trump administration arbitrarily revoked DACA status of Jessica Colotl

By American Civil Liberties Union
May 23, 2017
Jessica Colotl, Photo: Democracy Now!
NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, and Kuck Immigration Partners LLC took legal action today to restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections to DREAMer Jessica Colotl.

The Trump administration suddenly and arbitrarily revoked Colotl’s DACA status, even though immigration authorities had granted her DACA twice previously and there has been no change in her circumstances. In denying the request to renew her DACA status and work permit, the U.S. government is stripping Colotl’s authorization to live and work in the United States.

“Jessica is exactly the kind of ‘absolutely incredible kid’ that President Trump has said should not be targeted by immigration authorities, and DHS had repeatedly recognized this by granting her DACA again and again,” said Katrina Eiland, staff attorney for the ACLU. “She is still the same exemplary person who has called the U.S. home for almost 20 years. The government has violated the law by doing a total about-face in this case when nothing has changed.”[…]

Read the full article:

Additional coverage
7 Years After Arrest and Outcry, Young Woman Again Faces Deportation

Trump Administration Revokes DACA for DREAMer Jessica Colotl

The seven-year saga of one undocumented student in Georgia

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Haitian TPS redesignation: Is it being held hostage to discrimination and xenophobia within the Trump administration?

“As a leader in the UndocuBlack Network, an organization comprised of and advocating for currently and previously undocumented Black immigrants, I find USCIS’s investigation very troubling, even criminal — but not surprising.”

By Patrice S. Lawrence, Medium
May 18, 2017
Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s process for deciding whether to redesignate Haiti as a country whose nationals living in the United States remain eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) should be a simple one.

TPS is a form of humanitarian relief made available to nationals of certain countries where there are conditions that, according to a definition that appears on many websites, “prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”

Haiti was designated as such a country in 2010. Twelve other countries are also similarly designated. However, each country’s designation must be renewed every 18 months for its nationals to remain eligible for TPS. If Haiti’s designation is to be renewed, Secretary Kelly must announce the decision around May 23, 2017, 60 days prior to the current designation’s expiration.[…]

Read the full article:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Action Kit for Haitian TPS – May 19

ACTION ALERT! The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is calling for activists to telephone Homeland Security today, May 19, and demand that the government not go ahead with its plan to end TPS for Haitians. We're reposting BAJI’s alert below, along with links.

BAJI created a simple action kit to help you call DHS and tag them on social media asking them to tell Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to extend TPS.  Click here to access the toolkit, which has contact phone numbers, a sample script and social media posts for you to take action today.

A few facts:

·                            Communities living in Florida, New York, and New Jersey will be hit especially hard, as these are home to most of the  U.S. Haitian diaspora.
·                            Most Haitians with TPS have lived in the U.S. for 7-15 years, they have families here and contribute to their communities and Haiti’s recovery by working with authorized work permits.
·                            In addition to the devastating 2010 Earthquake, Haiti has been hit by a cholera epidemic leaving nearly 1 million people sick and just last October a category 4 hurricane hit the island.
·                            Under no circumstances are the conditions in Haiti stable enough to receive deportees safely.
·                            Deporting Haitians with TPS would also hurt the U.S., costing an estimated $469 million dollars  according to a new report:

Advocates across the country are working hard to convince key decision makers that extending TPS is the right thing to do. Join BAJI now and let the Haitian community know that they are not alone! Let’s stand together and fight for one another.

                                 CLICK HERE for the action toolkit!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Presentations: David Bacon’s “In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte”

David Bacon’s new book, In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte, came out on May 1. Published by the University of California Press and Colegio de la Frontera Norte, the book is “an intensive look at farm workers, documenting work life, living conditions, culture and migration through over 300 photographs and many narratives of workers themselves, in both English and Spanish.”

David is a photographer and journalist with years of experience covering labor and immigration developments. He'll be giving book talks in the coming weeks in Los Angeles and Davis.  For more information, go to The Reality Check, David’s blog,
TPOI editor

“David Bacon renews and updates the progressive documentary tradition with these extraordinary, carefully chosen portraits of farmworkers, their families and communities.”
Mike Davis, distinguished professor, sociologist and urban theorist, University of California, Riverside

Los Angeles, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
1-3 PM, Chicano Studies Research Center, 144 Haines Hall
5:30-8 PM, UCLA Downtown Labor Center
675 S. Park View St.

Davis, Thursday, June 1, 2017
7-9 PM, Art Annex Room 107 (Technological Studies Building)
UC Davis Main Campus

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book announcement: The Politics of Immigration, 2nd Edition

By Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson
Monthly Review Press 

Publication date: May 22, 2017
372 pages | $24, paper

“Brilliantly interrogates this urgent subject that defines our time. This concise volume—ideal for students and the general public—presents a wealth of data in lively and engaging prose that ultimately explores who is an American and what is America. Read this book now!”
—Ron Hayduk, San Francisco State University

Praise for the first edition of The Politics of Immigration:

“We desperately need to put aside false information about immigrants, to see them as we see ourselves with honesty and compassion. This book gives powerful meaning to the slogan ‘No Human Being is Illegal.’ I hope it will be widely read.”
Howard Zinn, author, A People’s History of the United States

Immigration has been the subject of furious debates in the United States for decades. On one side, politicians and the media talk about aliens and criminals, with calls to “deport them all.” On the other side, some advocates idealize immigrants and gloss over problems associated with immigration. But what does it mean to be “illegal”? How do immigration raids, prisons, and border walls impact communities? Who suffers and who profits from our current system—and what would happen if we transformed it?

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers goes beyond soundbites to tackle these concerns in straightforward language and an accessible question-and-answer format. For immigrants and supporters, the book is a useful tool to confront stereotypes and disinformation. For those who are undecided about immigration, it lays out the facts and clear reasoning they need to develop an informed opinion. Ideal for classroom use, this updated and expanded edition provides a succinct overview of U.S. immigration history, policy, and practice, with detailed notes guiding readers toward further exploration.

to order, contact: Monthly Review Press,
t: (212) 691-2555 | email:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

White House Seeks Pretext for Deporting Haitians

The 2010 earthquake. Photo: Tequila Minsky/NY Times
Some 50,000 Haitians have been able to live legally in the United States since 2010 under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a special immigration status granted after a massive earthquake struck southern Haiti that year. The Trump administration plans to end TPS for Haitians starting in 2018, and now it’s looking for an excuse. Since there’s no evidence that conditions have improved in Haiti—which would provide a rationale for terminating TPS—the Department of Homeland Security is turning to classic racist and xenophobic stereotypes. Department employees have been instructed to look for evidence that Haitians covered by TPS are committing crimes and/or living on welfare.

Ironically, some Haitian Americans supported Donald Trump during his 2016 election. Now they seem surprised that his rightwing administration wants to deport African-descended immigrants.—TPOI editor

AP Exclusive: US digs for evidence of Haiti immigrant crimes

Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press
May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — As the Trump administration weighs extending humanitarian protections for thousands of Haitian immigrants, officials are digging for unusual information: How many have been convicted of crimes.

Internal emails obtained by The Associated Press show a top immigration official wanted not only crime data on Haitians who are protected from deportation under the Temporary Protected Status program, but also how many were receiving public benefits. Such immigrants aren’t eligible for welfare benefits.

Roughly 50,000 Haitians have been allowed to live in the U.S. under the program in the aftermath of a 2010 earthquake, and the questions about misdeeds among them comes at a critical moment. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly must decide soon whether to continue protecting the group from deportation.[…]

Read the full article:

A Harrowing Turning Point for Haitian Immigrants

By Edwidge Danticat, New Yorker
May 12, 2017
D.—he asked that I not use his name—moved to the United States from Haiti with his parents in 2001, when he was nine years old. They travelled from Port-au-Prince on tourist visas, and then stayed beyond the authorized time period because of political instability in Haiti. D. attended school in Miami.

In high school he played football and had a 4.1 G.P.A. He completed all of his coursework, including all the Advanced Placement classes offered at his school, by the end of his junior year, and graduated in the top three per cent of his class. He applied and was accepted to Florida Memorial University in 2009, hoping to study engineering, but because he was undocumented he did not qualify for the full-ride scholarship he was offered. He tried other schools, including the local community college, but did not qualify for loans or in-state tuition. Instead, D. saved up for a paralegal-certificate course by working as a parking attendant at a Miami Beach hotel during the day, then at the hotel’s front desk at night. He studied and wrote papers during his night shifts. “It was like having two and a half jobs,” he told me recently. “I was only sleeping every other day. People kept telling me, ‘You’re so bright, why aren’t you in college?’ They didn’t realize that I wanted more than anything to go to college. I just didn’t have the opportunity.”[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother’s Day in an ICE Detention Center

“I thought that entering this country, which had always been my dream, was always going to be an unforgettable day.... It was. But it was the saddest and ugliest day I could have imagined.”

By Sharon Lerner, The Intercept
May 14, 2017
The woman arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border with her daughter in late April. “From what I had heard about the U.S., it was supposed to be a country that practices showing love to their fellow man. But what I have experienced with my daughter was horrible,” she wrote a few days later, after she was transferred from Border Patrol custody to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

An official took me who humiliated me, throwing all of my things into the trash, even the medicines of my daughter and the food that, with much work, I had brought. When I walked in to give my declaration the officials laughed at me because I arrived wet and with mud up to my abdomen. I asked them to please allow me to change my daughter’s clothes, but they wouldn’t let me. … We were still wet with mud. My sadness was that my daughter was shaking from the cold, wet and thirsty. But they would not give us water or food.

The letter was one of 22 I received from women who had crossed into the United States in recent weeks and were awaiting asylum hearings at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.[…]

Read the full article:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

“Politics of Immigration” News: Excerpts, Dialogues, and a Chronology

The second edition of The Politics of Immigration is due out in a little more than a week, but we’ve already started facilitating events and making additions to our blog and our website.

We’re now occasionally posting excerpts from the book which seem especially relevant to breaking news stories. The postings so far have dealt with “What Trump Doesn’t Get About MS-13,” “How Much Would Trump’s Wall Really Cost?” and “What’s Up With the Kushners and the EB-5 Visa?

We’ve also just facilitated our first two immigration dialogues for the Trump era. These were both held on May 10 at Bard High School Early College Manhattan, where the students organized a teach-in around the theme of “civic engagement.” We’ve facilitated about three dozen dialogues and other events since the publication of the first edition, and we look forward to doing many more in the coming months. Please contact us if you’re interested in hosting one.

Today we’ve enhanced the website with the new edition’s “Immigration and the Law: A Chronology.” In addition to the material in the book, the web version has hyperlinks to the texts of the laws and court decisions. We can also update it as new legal issues arise, and we can make improvements and add material. We welcome comments from readers who feel that something should be added or that we’ve got something wrong. Write us at

And if you’re going to Left Forum in New York the weekend of June 2, be sure to check out our panel, “Immigrant Rights in 2017: Crisis and Opportunity?” More information to follow.

Immigrants at Ellis Island, 1902

Saturday, May 13, 2017

AFL-CIO Issues Toolkit on Workplace Raids

The AFL-CIO has produced a useful toolkit to help workers and union officials prepare for immigration raids at the workplace and for I-9 “silent raids.” As the authors point out, the two types of raid have a way of happening when a company’s workers are organizing; technically the government is committed to holding back in these cases, but the reality is often different. Note: the toolkit describes conventional, strictly legal approaches to resisting the raids, not more the militant responses we see with groups like the Tom Cat Bakery workers.--TPOI editor.

We Will Defend and Resist
AFL-CIO, May 9, 2017
Too often, workplace raids and audits are used as cover to suppress the rights of working people who speak up for safe, just and dignified working conditions. Below are many of the materials and tools we developed to prepare for, and resist, the unjust workplace raids and audits that undermine the rights of all workers.


I. Introduction
II. Frequently Asked Questions About I-9 Audits
III. What Are the Steps in an I-9 Audit?
IV. What Happens if an I-9 Audit Occurs While Workers Are Exercising Their Rights?
V. Guidance on the I-9 Process for Organizers and Advocates
VI. Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Raids
VII. Preparing for a Possible Workplace Raid
VIII. Guidance on Social Security Administration "No-Match" Letters
IX. Sample Union Contract Language on Immigration Protections
X. Appendices
XI. Special Thanks

Read selections from the toolkit online:
Order the full toolkit:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Recommendation: The Immigration Action Bulletin

Since late January Aaron Bobrow-Strain, an associate professor at Whitman College in Washington state, has been circulating a weekly bulletin with a roundup of immigration news,  action alerts, and background on immigration issues. The Immigration Action Bulletin has provided useful information and in-depth analysis on a host of important issues, including the “So-Called Border Security Order,” the “Invention of Illegal Immigration,” and “How Current and Proposed Immigration Enforcement Policies Undermine Public Safety and Encourage Criminals.”  It already has nearly 700 subscribers, and we strongly recommend it to Politics of Immigration readers. You can subscribe here. See the brief excerpt below.

Immigration Action Bulletin
Number 14, May 7, 2017

Welcome to the “Immigration Detention 101” edition of the Bulletin.

The detainees of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington, are on hunger strike. Again. Their demands are basic and unadorned: better food and hygiene; an end to the $1-a-day labor program; and a solution for procedural backlogs that leave some detainees incarcerated for years awaiting the outcome of their legal cases.  For compelling video testimonies from within the NWDC hunger strike movement, click here.

While conducting research on the use of psychotropic drugs on immigrant detainees, Andrea Berg met Noemi, a 56-year-old pastor who spent almost a year at the NWDC.  Noemi ended up detained after fleeing her home town in Guerrero, Mexico, to seek asylum in the United States.  In Mexico, Noemi and her husbanded had founded an anti-gang youth program.  The work had a profound impact in kids in their home town, but angered local criminals.  Threats, intimidation, and the failure of the Mexican state to protect Noemi and her husband, left them no choice but to flee to the United States.

“If it wasn’t for the violence, the killings, I would stay there,” Noemi told Andrea.[…] 

Read online or subscribe to the bulletin:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Excerpt: What’s Up With the Kushners and the EB-5 Visa?

Over the weekend of May 5 Nicole Kushner Meyer—the sister of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner—was in Beijing seeking Chinese investors for one of the Kushner family’s real estate projects. Meyer made sure the wealthy attendees noticed the Kushners’ connection to the White House and emphasized that investing in the project, a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, could win them the EB-5 visa, which allows rich foreigners to buy themselves green cards. The Kushner gambit brought media attention to the little-known program, a feature of the immigration system that President Trump seems not to have criticized. But the program’s been around for nearly three decades and has been tainted with corruption from the start. Here’s a description in The Politics of Immigration, Chapter 4, “Yacht People.”

Manhattan, an EB-5 “high unemployment area.” Photo: Shutterstock
The Immigration Reform Act, signed by President George H. W. Bush on November 29, 1990, created a new category of visa for millionaire investors. Up to 10,000 immigrant visas a year were made available under the EB-5 category to anyone investing $1 million into a U.S. business and creating at least ten jobs for U.S. citizens. The investment can be smaller—$500,000—if made in rural or “high unemployment areas.”

“We’ve done a great job on boat people,” Harold Ezell, former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) western regional commissioner, said in 1991. “I see no problem with a few yacht people.” After leaving his INS post in 1989, Ezell began marketing investor visas to wealthy foreigners. Ezell was one of a number of government officials who pushed for the investor visa program, then left for the private sector to reap profits from it, as revealed in a February 2000 Baltimore Sun exposé.

Those profits were boosted when INS deputy general counsel Paul Virtue issued legal opinions in 1993 and 1995 loosening the rules for the investor visas. The controversial rules were reversed in late 1997, and the scandal led the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general to launch an investigation in 1998 into the “appearance of impropriety” in the behavior of high-level government employees. The investigation concluded that Virtue had arranged special access to key agency officials for a private company, American Immigration Services (AIS). The Inspector General’s office closed the case without taking further action in October 1999, and its report was kept secret.

The program started off slowly but grew each year, from 179 visas issued in 2005 to over 3,000 in 2012. In 2014 the number of visas issued reached the 10,000 maximum for the first time, with 9,128 of them going to Chinese nationals. One favorite “high unemployment area” has been Manhattan’s West Side, where some 1,200 Chinese millionaires have invested in the $20 billion Hudson Yards project. The Atlantic noted in 2015 that the project actually “is on the edge of one of the richest neighborhoods in the country.”

[We’re occasionally posting excerpts from the new edition of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, which is due out on May 22. You can pre-order here or from your favorite bookseller.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Crime and Punishment at the Border

Most news coverage of unauthorized border crossing operates on the assumption that the act is obviously a crime and always has been. Actually, it didn’t become a crime until 1929. UCLA history professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez explains how the law came about and the role of racism in its creation. Technically the maximum punishment for a first-time crossing “without inspection” is six months in jail; a New York Times feature reminds us that for thousands of people the attempt to cross the border has resulted in a death sentence.—TPOI editor

How crossing the US-Mexico border became a crime

By Kelly Lytle Hernandez, The Conversation
April 30, 2017
It was not always a crime to enter the United States without authorization.

In fact, for most of American history, immigrants could enter the United States without official permission and not fear criminal prosecution by the federal government.

That changed in 1929. On its surface, Congress’ new prohibitions on informal border crossings simply modernized the U.S. immigration system by compelling all immigrants to apply for entry. However, in my new book “City of Inmates,” I detail how Congress outlawed border crossings with the specific intent of criminalizing, prosecuting and imprisoning Mexican immigrants.[…]

Read the full article:

A Path to America, Marked by More and More Bodies

By Manny Fernandez, New York Times
May 4, 2017
SAN MARCOS, TEX. — Case 0435 died more than a mile from the nearest road, with an unscuffed MacGregor baseball in his backpack. Case 0469 was found with a bracelet, a simple green ribbon tied in a knot. Case 0519 carried Psalms and Revelation, torn from a Spanish Bible. Case 0377 kept a single grain of rice inside a hollow cross. One side of the grain read Sara, and the other read Rigo.

The belongings are part of a border-crossers’ morgue at a Texas State University lab here — an inventoried collection of more than 2,000 objects and 212 bodies, the vast majority unidentified.

All 212 were undocumented immigrants who died in Texas trying to evade Border Patrol checkpoints by walking across the rugged terrain. Most died from dehydration, heatstroke or hypothermia. Even as the number of people caught trying to illegally enter the United States from Mexico has dropped in recent months, the bodies remain a constant, grim backdrop to the national debate over immigration.[...]

Read the full article:

Photo: George Etheredge/New York Times


Monday, May 8, 2017

Five Big Questions for the Future of the Immigrant Rights Movement

Moving forward, this movement will have big problems to tackle, and many questions loom large. Our next steps should respond to these key tasks and questions…

By Marisa Franco, Truthout
May 2, 2017
Heightening immigration enforcement has been one of the campaign promises on which President Trump has acted most aggressively in his first 100 days. As a result, May 1 -- which has long been a day to elevate workers and immigrant rights struggles -- was definitely circled on movement organizers' calendar this year. Yesterday, thousands marched, bringing memories of the tidal wave of immigrant rights mobilizations that occurred on May Day in 2006. Perhaps when the final tallies come in, this year's numbers will fall short of 2006. However, May Day 2017 proved that the immigrant rights movement has changed considerably.

First, the immigrant rights movement has become more militant. This year's May Day actions spanned from mass marches to banner drops and, in some places, acts of civil disobedience, disruption and direct action. Today's immigrant rights movement is authentically intergenerational and unapologetic about challenging the old conceptions of who immigrants are. It is more visibly queer and trans and is looking to explicitly connect resistance against deportations to resistance against policing and mass incarceration.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

George Takei: Internment, America’s Great Mistake

If this seems a practice only of years long past, consider that today we need merely replace “Japanese-Americans” with “Muslims” for the parallels to emerge.

By George Takei, New York Times
April 28, 2017
Every year since the late 1960s, on the last Saturday in April, there has been a pilgrimage to a place called Manzanar in California, where one of 10 United States internment camps once stood. The annual journeys began as a way to remember those Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated during World War II and to mark a dark chapter in our history. The pilgrimage includes elderly original internees and their families, as well as neighbors of the site, schoolchildren and, since Sept. 11, American Muslims, who see parallels between what once happened and today.

Manzanar is the best known of the camps, because it often made the news during the war owing to unrest, strikes and even shooting deaths. At its peak, the camp held over 10,000 Japanese-Americans inside its barbed wire. Most hailed from Los Angeles, some 230 miles to the south. A vast majority were also American citizens, held without charge or trial for years, for the crime of looking like the people who had bombed Pearl Harbor.[...]

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George Takei spent part of his childhood in the Tule Lake internment camp, the subject of Konrad Aderer’s new documentary, Resistance at Tule Lake. For more information, go to, or

Brad and George Takei with "Resistance at Tule Lake" director Konrad Aderer 

Friday, May 5, 2017

May 1: "Politics of Immigration" Authors Interviewed at Immigrant Workers March

Click here to hear Mitchel Cohen's report for WBAI radio / Pacifica from the Immigrant Workers' Rights march on MayDay in New York City! (12 minutes)
Washington Square, May 1, 2017

MayDay 2017 saw a resurgence of working class marches and protests around the world. Here in New York City, WBAI/Pacifica radio's Mitchel Cohen joined a march of immigrant workers, who paraded through the west Village. Mitchel interviewed Diana Marino from Brandworkers, who has been unionizing the mostly immigrant workforce in the baking industry at Amy's Bread.

Mitchel Cohen also caught up with David L. Wilson and Jane Guskin during the march, whose newly revised book, The Politics of Immigration:Questions and Answers, will be published by Monthly Review later this month.

Click here to hear Mitchel Cohen's 1st report of several from the Philadelphia courtroom where political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys had argued a new appeal of his case. This first report consists of an interview with former political prisoner Tarik Haskins, and is as poignant as it is powerful.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Exploitation and Abuse at the Chicken Plant

This important article breaks two mainstream media taboos: it shows how immigration status enables corporation to super-exploit workers, and it mentions one of the ways in which Washington’s foreign policy pushed millions of undocumented immigrants—so-called “illegals”—into the United States.

“Case Farms,” ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell writes, “has built its business by recruiting some of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants, who endure harsh and at times illegal conditions that few Americans would put up with. When these workers have fought for higher pay and better conditions, the company has used their immigration status to get rid of vocal workers, avoid paying for injuries, and quash dissent.” And where did the company find these vulnerable workers? From among the thousands of Guatemalans “fleeing a campaign of violence carried out by the Guatemalan military. More than two hundred thousand people, most of them Mayan, were killed or forcibly disappeared in the conflict…Through the years, the United States had supported Guatemala’s dictators with money, weapons, intelligence, and training. Amid the worst of the violence, President Reagan, after meeting with General Efraín Ríos Montt, told the press that he believed the regime had ‘been getting a bum rap.’”—TPOI editor

By Michael Grabell, New Yorker
May 8, 2017
By late afternoon, the smell from the Case Farms chicken plant in Canton, Ohio, is like a pungent fog, drifting over a highway lined with dollar stores and auto-parts shops. When the stink is at its ripest, it means that the day’s hundred and eighty thousand chickens have been slaughtered, drained of blood, stripped of feathers, and carved into pieces—and it’s time for workers like Osiel López Pérez to clean up. On April 7, 2015, Osiel put on bulky rubber boots and a white hard hat, and trained a pressurized hose on the plant’s stainless-steel machines, blasting off the leftover grease, meat, and blood.[...]

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

General Strike May 1 Roundup: Links to Various Articles

B&H Workers Protest. Photo: Scott Heins/Gothamist
According to news reports, thousands of immigrants and their supporters marked the 
“Day Without Immigrants” on May 1 with rallies, marches, and job actions in some forty U.S. cities. The protests in New York were almost certainly the largest since 2006 but not as large as the massive marches that year. New York’s 2017 protests were different in two other ways: in a higher level of participation by native-born supporters, and in a focus on ongoing struggles of local workers—at the Tom Cat Bakery, for example, and B&H Photo.

It is unclear whether employers will be firing workers who took the day off without permission, as happened in some places during the February actions. At least two groups of affected workers—in Michigan and on Long Island—are resisting by filing charges against their employers with the National Labor Relations Board.—TPOI editor

Thousands of Immigrants to March in May Day Protests Across the U.S.

Tom K. Wong, a professor of political science at University of California, San Diego, said the Trump administration's focus on immigration is generating more support for immigrant rights advocates. "Every pivot back to the issue of immigration gives the immigrant rights movement another opportunity to make its best pitch to the public," he said.

Amy Taxin and Steve Peoples, AP via Time
May 1, 2017
(NEW YORK) — Several hundred teachers picketed outside Philadelphia schools early Monday as thousands more immigrants and union members across the United States prepared a series of strikes, boycotts and marches to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.[…]

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Latino Immigrants, Workers Rally on May Day for ‘Day Without Immigrants’

By Marissa Armas, NBC News Latino
May 1, 2017
Thousands of Latino immigrants, activists, workers and allies took to the streets on Monday to join in on the national "Day Without Immigrants" strike. People in more than 40 cities across the country marched and protested in what organizers said is a response to President Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies.[…]

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B&H Photo Workers Strike on May Day to Protest Their Jobs Moving to New Jersey

By Emma Whitford, The Gothamist
May 1, 2017
Hundreds of warehouse workers employed by the electronics and photography company B&H Photo Video launched a one-day strike Monday, May Day, demanding that their employer roll back a plan to relocate roughly 330 Brooklyn jobs in Bushwick and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to a new facility in New Jersey.[...]

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Workers: Firm fired us after ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest

By Víctor Manuel Ramos, Newsday
April 18, 2017
Some immigrant workers on Long Island said the protest in February dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants” turned into days without jobs, after a Melville distribution and warehousing company fired them for missing work.[…]

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Workers Fired After ‘Day Without Immigrants’ Protest Stand Up to Ex-Bosses
About 20 Michigan employees have taken their case to the National Labor Review Board
By Kate Abbey-Lambertz, Huffington Post
May 2, 2017
About 20 former employees of a Michigan manufacturing company have banded together to dispute their firing, which occurred one day after they participated in national “day without immigrants” protests.

The employees, almost all of whom are Latina women, were fired in February from EZ Industrial Solutions in Chesterfield, Michigan. They filed a charge with the National Labor Review Board later that month, the Detroit Free Press first reported Sunday.[…]

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Who Is a ‘Criminal’?

Exile from one’s home is historically considered one of the worst punishments the state could employ; it was, after all, one of the traditional Greek and Roman punishments for murder, their alternative to the death penalty.

By Jason Stanley, New York Times
May 1, 2017
It was the spring of 1936. My grandmother, Ilse Stanley, had just returned from a theater tour that had kept her away from Berlin for almost the whole winter, only to discover a city in which “more and more friends were missing.” Soon after, a cousin arrived at her home. The Gestapo, her cousin told her, had taken her husband away to a concentration camp. In her 1957 book, “The Unforgotten,” my grandmother describes asking her cousin about the reasons for her husband’s arrest. Her answer:

“Because he was a criminal with a record. He had paid two fines in court: one for speeding and one for some other traffic fine. They said they finally wanted to do what the court had missed doing all these years: to get rid of all Jews with criminal records. A traffic fine — a criminal record!”[…]

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