Saturday, September 30, 2017

Trump News: DACA Trade-Off Proposals, Dreamer Data Not Protected, Wrong-Headed Gang Policy

This is what the White House wants in exchange for saving Dreamers from deportation

By Anita Kumar, McClatchy DC Bureau
September 26, 2017
WASHINGTON The White House is expected to ask Congress to approve a Republican wish list of
immigration policies as part of a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of young people brought into the country illegally as children, known as Dreamers, according to a preliminary document obtained by McClatchy.

Talking points written by the president’s Domestic Policy Council and given to some members of the conservative Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill include a dozen proposals grouped into three broad areas — border security, interior enforcement and merit-based immigration.[…]

Read the full article:

DHS Chief Can’t Promise She Won’t Hand Over Dreamer Data to ICE

By Sam Sacks, The District Sentinel
September 27, 2017 
The acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday that sensitive information about Dreamers could soon be handed over to federal deportation forces.

Under questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said she could not guarantee a promise made by the Obama administration to those who registered with the DACA program—known as Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals.[…]

Read the full article:

The Wrong Way to Fight Gangs

Trump's MS-13 rant. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
By Lauren Markham, New York Times
September 28, 2017
Oakland, Calif. — Young migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador come to this country fleeing violence and lives that are often dictated by savage gangs. It’s expensive to get here. They often arrive with thousands of dollars of high-interest debt and little or no English skills. And they face an administration that insists that they are gangsters bringing bloodshed and gang warfare to American cities.

In fact, these young people are often fleeing gangs. And the challenges they face in the United States make them particularly vulnerable for recruitment into the same violent gangs they left home to escape.[…]

Read the full article:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Join WFP, SOA Watch, COPINH & More at the Border Encuentro Nov. 10-12!

September 28, 2017
This year, from November 10-12, Witness for Peace staff, along with human rights activists, torture survivors, anti-war veterans, students, families, union workers, artists, and educators will converge in Eloy-Tucson-Ambos Nogales for the SOA Watch Border EncuentroRegister for the Encuentro HERE!

We hope you'll join us and our partners SOA Watch for three days of vigils, workshops, rallies (including at the Mexico-US border), music, and other collaboration to deepen the resistance against US-led militarism and other harmful policies throughout the Western Hemisphere.

WFP will be hosting a happy hour, to connect with our teams from around Latin America, meet our grassroots organizers from across the US, and learn more about our work on both sides of the border.  Join us on Saturday, November 11th from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Quality Hotel Americana in Nogales, Arizona: 639 N Grand Ave, Nogales, AZ, 85621.

Here's just one of the speakers (a partner of both WFP & SOAW) who'll present at the Encuentro:

Since 2014, Gaspar Sánchez has served on COPINH's leadership team as the Sexual Diversity & Rights Equality Coordinator. COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) is the first Indigenous organization in Latin America to establish LGBTQI+ issues as a pillar of its work. Gaspar is a popular educator who works to shape the next generation of young Indigenous leadership, and serves as a spiritual guide for the Lenca people in their collective efforts to recuperate historical memory through the processes of life, land defense, and ancestral practices. Gaspar has represented COPINH all over the world: from Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil, to the United States and the United Nations. He will be on tour throughout the US this fall--including with WFP in the Great Lakes, Midwest, and New England regions.

See you at the border in November!

In solidarity,
Witness for Peace

Thursday, September 28, 2017

ICE arrests hundreds of immigrants in 'sanctuary cities'

Talia Inlender, a senior staff attorney at Public Counsel, which advocates for immigrants, criticized the focus on sanctuary cities. “It’s clearly a political move that is not actually geared toward public safety,” she said.

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
September 17, 2017
Immigration officials on Thursday announced hundreds of arrests in an operation targeting communities where police and elected officials have refused to fully cooperate on enforcing federal immigration laws.

ICE said it arrested 167 people in and around Los Angeles, a region in which several cities and counties have been tagged by justice officials as being so-called sanctuaries — a loosely defined term used to describe local governments that restrict police from assisting immigration authorities identify and detain people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Arrests were also made in San Francisco and San Jose. Overall, ICE said it arrested nearly 500 people across the country over the last few days.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Arellano: Pelosi Sorprendida/ Pelosi Surprised

Pelosi Sorprendida

Photo: Lea Suzuki, Associated Press
Por Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
21 de Septiembre, 2017 
(English version follows below)
La congresista y lideresa de la bancada del Partido Demócrata en la Cámara de Representantes, Nancy Pelosi, se manifestó realmente sorprendida cuando un grupo de soñadores se apoderaron de su conferencia de prensa.  Los manifestantes exigieron que Pelosi y los Demócratas dejen de utilizar a los soñadores como una ficha en el juego de pactar un acuerdo con Trump que daría amparo a los soñadores a cambio de sacrificar sus propios padres y madres y los demás 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados en este país.

Esta reacción no debe haber sorprendida la congresista.  La propuesta ley DREAM durante años ha sido usado por muchos demócratas y algunos republicanos para esquivar la demanda popular de poner alto a la deportación de las familias. Durante años hemos escuchado a los demócratas decir que los soñadores no violaron las leyes migratorias a propósito, pues eran demasiado jóvenes cuando sus padres cruzaron la frontera, pero sus madres y padres sí.[...]

Lea el artículo completo:

Pelosi Surprised

By Elvira Arellano, Sanctuary Movement
September 21, 2017
Congresswoman and Leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, looked genuinely surprised when a group of dreamers took over her press conference. They demanded that Pelosi and the Democrats stop using the dreamers as a bargaining chip in a deal with Trump that would win security for the dreamers but seal the fate of their parents and the eleven million undocumented.

The Congresswoman should not have been surprised. The Dream Act has long been used by many Democrats – and some Republicans – to sidestep the popular demand to stop the deportations of the families. For years we heard Democrats say that “the dreamers, unlike their parents, did not “knowingly” cross the border because they were too young when their parents brought them.”[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Miscellaneous News: Detention Center Lawsuit, Suppressed Refugee Report, World Citizenship Poll

Victory for Immigrant Hunger Strikers: Lawsuit Challenges Slave Wages at Private Jail

By Mike Ludwig, Truthout
NWDC protest. Photo: Thomas Soerenes/The News Tribune/AP
September 22, 2017
For three years now, incarcerated immigrants have staged hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest conditions at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigration jail in Tacoma, Washington, run by a private prison company that pays detainees as little as $1 a day to work in the jail.

"This week folks were offered chips or a soup for several nights of waxing the floors, so not even $1 [per] day," one person incarcerated in the jail recently reported to NWDC Resistance, an immigrant-led group fighting to end the deportation and detention of immigrants.

Five hunger strikes have been held so far this year, with participants and whistleblowers facing solitary confinement, threats of forced feeding and other forms of retaliation from prison authorities, according to NWDC Resistance.

Their efforts paid off on Wednesday when Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit against GEO Group, a massive private prison firm that runs the Northwest Detention Center under a federal contract.[…]

Read the full article:
For earlier coverage of the Northwest Detention Center, go to:

Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Somini Sengupta, New York Times
September 18, 2017
WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.
Photo: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises concerns about terrorism.[…]

Read the full article:
World Citizenship Is More Popular Than You Might Think

A poll of more than 20,000 people in 18 countries, conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service from December 2015 through April 2016, found that 51 percent of respondents saw themselves more as global citizens than as citizens of their own countries.

By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network
September 17, 2017
Has nationalism captured the hearts and minds of the world’s people?

It certainly seems to have emerged as a powerful force in recent years. Trumpeting their alleged national superiority and hatred of foreigners, political parties on the far right have made their biggest political advances since the 1930s. After the far right’s startling success, in June 2016, in getting a majority of British voters to endorse Brexit―British withdrawal from the European Union (EU)―even mainstream conservative parties began to adopt a chauvinist approach. Using her Conservative Party conference to rally support for leaving the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared contemptuously: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.”[…]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ICE in NYC Courtrooms: “Secret Police” Nab Alleged Gang Members in Brooklyn

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents continue to detain immigrants in New York City courthouses. Go here for an earlier report.—TPOI editor

ICE Agents Make Arrests at Brooklyn Courthouse

Democracy Now!
September 15, 2017
In New York City, plainclothes ICE agents arrested four undocumented immigrants at a Brooklyn
Photo: Cameron Mease/Brooklyn Defender Services
criminal court building Thursday morning, in an unusual move targeting a courthouse for immigration enforcement. An ICE spokesperson later confirmed the arrests, saying the four men were suspected of gang activity. ICE policy prevents officers from making arrests at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals and places of worship, without approval from supervisors. Courthouses are not included on the list, but the practice is unusual and has been criticized by prosecutors, police and defense attorneys.

This is Katherine Poor of the Legal Aid Society: "It makes people very scared when they hear things like this happening, because they are told by the court that they have to return for their court dates. That’s something that they are ordered to do, and if they don’t do it, a warrant can be issued for their arrest. On the other hand, if people hear that there is ICE coming into the courthouse, if there’s ICE coming outside of the courthouse, and they have fear for their own immigration situation, that puts people in a very, very difficult position."

New York is a sanctuary city.

Watch the day’s headlines:

Secret Police
ICE agents dressed in plainclothes staked out a courthouse in Brooklyn and refused to identify themselves.

By Leon Neyfakh, Slate
September 15, 2017
Cameron Mease, a senior staff attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services, was walking in downtown Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday morning when he saw a group of six or seven men shove someone against a fence, put him in handcuffs, and drag him into an unmarked van. The men were dressed in jeans and T-shirts. Given their behavior and attire, a passerby would’ve had good reason to think he’d just witnessed a kidnapping.

But Mease had seen such scenes unfold before, and he was pretty sure he knew what he’d just seen. He believed these were plainclothes agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that they’d come to the Brooklyn courthouse to take someone into custody who they knew would be there for a court date.[…]

Read the full article:

Federal Immigration Officials Will Continue Nabbing Suspects at New York Courthouses to Subvert Sanctuary City Status

By Linley Sanders, Newsweek
September 15, 2017
Federal immigration officers in New York doubled-down on arresting undocumented immigrants as they make appearances at courthouses this week—a decision that the local district attorney says is an "outrageous" tactic that "sends a chilling effect" and "undermines public safety."

Defying New York's status as a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers aggressively snatched four men outside a criminal court building in Brooklyn on Thursday.

“This was the most visible they’ve ever been,” Scott Hechinger, an attorney with the Brooklyn Defender Service, which provides legal representation to individuals who cannot afford a lawyer, told Newsweek. “It’s the most brazen that we’ve seen them be.”[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Labor Unions Are Stepping Up to Fight Deportations

Organized labor is finding creative ways to protect immigrant members and families vulnerable in the Trump era.

By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
September 12, 2018
Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum. 

Vivares, 29, was detained for deportation. That’s when Burgos’ union sprang into action.

Prepared for Vivares’ detention, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ gathered for a rally outside the ICE office that afternoon, demanding his release. Union leadership appealed to New York’s congressional delegation, enlisting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) to reach out to ICE leadership. The union president even disseminated the name and phone number for the ICE officer handling Vivares’ deportation and urged allies to call him directly.[…]

Read the full article:

The national organization Mijente is offering new “defend your rights” materials:
A new "know your rights" booklet from Mijente

Monday, September 18, 2017

DACA Update #3: Will There Be a Deal, and What Would It Look Like?

DACA supporters march in San Francisco. Photo: David Bacon
President Trump had dinner with Democratic Congressional leaders Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA) the evening of September 13. Afterwards the two Democrats issued a statement saying they’d made a deal with Trump to protect the nearly 800,000 young immigrants currently enrolled in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration is terminating as of next March. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Schumer and Pelosi wrote.

As has been usual with this administration, the next day the president contradicted himself several times, but in the end it appeared that Trump and the Democrats had at least made, as Republican senator John Cornyn (TX) put it, “a deal to make a deal.” So passage of a new law to protect young undocumented immigrants is possible, although far from certain.

What Would Be Traded Off?
To steer such a law through Congress the Democrats would need to make compromises in order to get enough Republicans legislators on board.

On September 14 the National Review published an article outlining a mainstream Republican negotiating position for possible talks. The author, National Review deputy managing editor Robert VerBruggen, isn’t especially interested in increased border security. Instead, he wants Republicans to push for an expansion of the E-Verify program, through which employers use an online connection to government data bases to check the legal status of new hires. Making E-Verify mandatory for all private employers should be non-negotiable, VerBruggen writes. And he insists that if DACA recipients are given access to legal status or citizenship, they should be barred from applying for green cards for their parents. Finally, he wants changes to legal immigration, moving away from the current priority for family unification toward greater emphasis on bringing in highly skilled workers. (Although he doesn’t mention it, this would not only add valuable technical workers to the U.S. work pool—it would also lure them away from other countries that might be economic rivals.)

How much of this would the Democrats accept? Many of them already back mandatory E-Verify. It’s true that Chuck Schumer has objections to the program—but only because he wants something tougher. In a 2010 Washington Post op-ed, he and Republican senator Lindsey Graham (SC) called for a biometric Social Security card. “Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person's identity and immigration status,” Schumer and Graham explained. “Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.”

Will the Democrats Cave?
The Democrats don’t actually have a good record on helping youthful immigrants like the DACA recipients.

Proposals to legislate legalization for childhood arrivals began with the bipartisan DREAM Act in 2001, but the bill stalled in Congress for years. From 2009 to 2011 the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency; they could have passed the bill then, but didn’t. Pressed by the “Dreamers”—young immigrant activists supporting the DREAM Act—in June 2010, Schumer claimed that passing the bill would hurt the chances for passing comprehensive immigration reform later. The Democrats finally brought the DREAM Act up for a vote in December 2010. It passed the House, but the Senate never voted. Supporters couldn’t come up with the 60 votes necessary to block a filibuster by opponents. Three Republicans backed the bill, but it was opposed by five Democrats: Max Baucus and John Tester (MT), Kay Hagan (NC), Ben Nelson (NE), and Mark Pryor of (AR).
Photo: National Immigrant Youth Alliance/The Dream Is Now
Will Trump’s Base Desert Him?
Schumer and Pelosi's claim that Trump was making a deal with them stirred outrage among some of Trump’s loudest supporters. “Breitbart News called the president ‘Amnesty Don,’” Politico reported. “Commentator Ann Coulter mused about impeaching Trump. And hard-line immigration hawks in Congress like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called the contours of the deal an ‘irreparable’ betrayal of Trump's base.”

But it’s not clear that the far right was really breaking with Trump. It seems more likely that people like Coulter are temporarily distancing themselves from the president while stirring up their backers to help push for strong anti-immigrant measures in any potential legislative compromise. A New York Times op-ed by Eric Cantor, a former House majority leader for the Republicans, suggests the latter course. “It is well past time for Republicans to stand up to those on the right who are quick to denounce any sensible solution as amnesty,” he wrote, “and for Democrats to stand up to those on the left who rail against any meaningful steps toward border security and immigration enforcement.”

In other words, the Republicans can hold back the Breitbart types if the Democrats agree to hold back pro-immigrant activists.

(People might wonder why Cantor and Breitbart News see “amnesty” as a pejorative term. This is a reference to the last major legalization of undocumented immigrants, in 1986, which was widely referred to as an "amnesty." Ever since then the right has claimed that the 1986 legalization caused the sharp increase in unauthorized immigration during the 1990s. But there’s no evidence for the claim. Asked to produce evidence, rightwingers generally refuse to answer; an effort to cite the argument in a 2015 lawsuit was laughed out of court. So “amnesty” as used by Cantor and Breitbart is simply a far-right fantasy like “death panels” and the threat of Sharia law. Nevertheless, media like the New York Times still let it be employed in this sense.)

What Do the Dreamers Say?
While reporting extensively on the reactions of pundits and politicians, the media haven’t said much about the views of the people actually affected—the DACA recipients themselves.

One exception was NPR’s Morning Edition on September 15. NPR correspondent Richard Gonzales reported on interviews with Dreamers:  “[T]hey don't want a deal that would, let’s say, implement the E-Verify system, which requires employers to check the legal status of people they hire. To the Dreamers, that’s just another way of increasing the threat of deportation to their undocumented parents. And they also don’t want a deal in which their DACA status is a tradeoff for enhanced border security. That, they say, would further what they consider the militarization of the border.” (Even in this otherwise excellent report, Morning Edition host Mary Louise Kelly persisted in using in the far right’s sense of “amnesty” as a pejorative term.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Complaints: Border officers engaged in pattern of 'egregious' abuse against minors

In December 2014, the ACLU requested the full investigative files on complaints filed by minors “in order to shed light on longstanding allegations of abusive treatment of children by Border Patrol.” A year ago, after filing suit, the ACLU began to receive thousands of pages of documents from the case files of 408 complaints filed from early 2009 through mid-2015…

By John Carlos Frey and Brian Epstein, ABC News
September 14, 2017
Jahveel Ocampo. Photo: ABC News
In December of 2009, 15-year old high school student Jahveel Ocampo, her boyfriend and a few of his family members decided to drive east from Encinitas, California, up into the mountains to see the first big snowfall of winter.

They pulled over to a rest stop to use the bathroom and were suddenly blocked by an unmarked truck. A man in a dark blue jacket shouted from the vehicle, Ocampo would say later, directing her and her boyfriend to get out of the car with their hands up.

Ocampo says she had no idea what was happening – until the man asked her where she was born. When she replied, “Tijuana,” she says the man demanded to know whether she was an “illegal.”

He slapped handcuffs on her and her boyfriend and within minutes they were surrounded by several Border Patrol vehicles. Ocampo was separated from her boyfriend, loaded into the back of a car and driven away.[…]

Read the full article:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why do we still have employer sanctions?

The AFL-CIO was one of the main supporters of employer sanctions back in 1986. It only took 13 years for the labor federation to learn its lesson: in February 2000 it officially called for the elimination of the policy.

By David L. Wilson, MR Online
September 13, 2017
It’s now more than three decades since Congress created employer sanctions, a feature of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act that imposes fines on employers who hire undocumented workers. The measure’s proponents said the sanctions would slow unauthorized immigration by removing the “job magnet” thought to be drawing migrants to the United States. The House Education and Labor Committee wrote at the time that by reducing the number of undocumented workers the measure would limit “the depressing effect on working conditions caused by their employment.”

If that was the goal, employer sanctions have been a spectacular failure.[…]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Don’t Punish the Dreamers—Punish the Corporations Driving Forced Migration

By David Bacon, Working In These Times
September 11, 2017
The "dreamers," young recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—are the true children of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). More than anyone, they have paid the price for the agreement. Yet they are the ones punished by the administration of
Photo: David  Bacon
President Donald Trump, as it takes away their legal status, ability to work and right to live in this country without fear of arrest or deportation. At the same time, those responsible for the fact they grew up in the United States walk away unpunished—and even better off.

I’m not talking about their parents. It's common for liberal politicians—and even Trump himself, on occasion—to say these young people shouldn't be punished for the "crimes" of their parents, who brought their children with them when they crossed the border without papers. But parents aren't criminals any more than their children are. They chose survival over hunger, and sought to keep their families together and give them a future.

The perpetrators of the "crime" are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive. The "crime" was NAFTA.[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Island Teamster's deportation is a wakeup call: Unions must protect their immigrant members

"We deserve our share of the blame for not doing more to engage our members on issues of racial justice and immigrant rights in recent decades. When we fail to talk to our members about these issues, bigotry festers."

By George Miranda, New York Daily News
September 9, 2017
Hundreds of immigrants are being deported every day, and have been for years, but the impact hits home when it happens to one of your own.

Over the last two weeks, my union, the Teamsters, watched as one of our long-serving members was taken from his family and deported. The experience was a wakeup call that deportation can happen to any of our immigrant members or neighbors.

In just 13 days, the family that Teamster member Eber Garcia Vasquez labored to build and support over three decades was ripped apart.[…]

Read the full article:
Teamsters Local 813 member Eber Garcia Vasquez

Saturday, September 9, 2017

ICE Plans, Then Postpones, “Largest Operation" in Its History

On September 7 NBC News reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning to carry out “Operation Mega,” a nationwide series of raids in the middle of the month targeting 8,400 immigrants. Soon afterwards, ICE announced it was cancelling the raids in response to major hurricanes hitting the U.S.—although some speculate that the real reason was the fact that the plan had been leaked. Was this a cancellation or a postponement? Why was ICE planning the escalation? How do mass raids fit in with Trump’s claim that DACA recipients don’t need to worry? And are we ready to resist?—TPOI editor
Milwaukee Protest, February 2017. Photo: The Progressive
Homeland Security Cancels Massive Roundups of Undocumented Immigrants

By Julia Ainsley and Andrew Blankstein, NBC News
September 7, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security had planned nationwide raids to target 8,400 undocumented immigrants later this month, according to three law enforcement officials and an internal document that described the plan as "the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE," an acronym for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But after NBC News reported the plans late Thursday, the agency issued a statement saying it had cancelled nationwide enforcement actions due to Hurricane Irma and the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.[…]

Read the full article:

Austin Immigrant Advocates Demand ICE Release Details on Planned 'Mega Raid'
Reports leaked earlier the immigration enforcement agency plans to root out up to 10,000 undocumented residents; advocates wants specifics.

By Tony Cantu, Downtown Austin Patch
September 8, 2017
AUSTIN, TX — Immigrant advocates in Austin are demanding that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials disclose details of the agency's planned "mega-raid" designed to ensnare members of undocumented communities nationwide for deportation.
On Thursday, details emerged about the agency's "Operation Mega" initiative targeting up to 10,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide. Sources suggested the operation would intentionally target anyone in the country currently undocumented.

Now, Austin immigrant advocates are calling on ICE to release documents revealing the scope of the operation.[…]

Read the full article:

Trump Plans Massive Raids on Immigrant Communities Starting Mid-September
Horrific Plan to Target 6,000 - 10,000 for Mass Deportation is Part of Escalating Attacks on Immigrants

By Detention Watch Network
September 7, 2017
Washington, DC — Detention Watch Network (DWN), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream (UWD) and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) condemn Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) plan to conduct a nationwide immigration enforcement operation from mid- to late-September. Multiple sources within and close to ICE have shared information with advocates about the operation, which ICE is calling “Operation Mega.”   In addition to apprehending targeted individuals prioritized in the president’s January 25 Executive Order, ICE agents will apprehend undocumented or otherwise removable individuals encountered during the operation, per ICE policy under the Trump administration. These raids are intended to be historic in size, targeting between 6,000 and 10,000 immigrants.

Operation Mega is part of a wholesale and escalating attack on all immigrants. In the wake of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program on Tuesday, it is clear that this administration will not exercise restraint in enacting an anti-immigrant and white supremacist agenda. In fact, earlier this year, Trump’s top immigration agent declared that “no population is off the table.”[…]

Read the full statement:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Immigrant Workers: Important “Dirty Laundry” Piece, Update on Tom Cat Bakery Campaign

Dirty Laundry: An Investigation

By Annie Hylton, Dissent
Summer 2017
Drying and ironing press at an industrial laundry facility (xtrekx / Shutterstock)
It was before 6 a.m. on January 5, 2011 when Marlyn Gonzalez drove through darkness and freezing cold into the parking lot of the commercial laundry where she worked in Southampton, New York. After she dropped off her mother, who also worked at Suffolk Laundry, and parked her car, Gonzalez was surprised to find her manager, Rajindra Singh, waiting for her in the lot. When she tried to get out of her car, Singh blocked her. He put his hand on Gonzalez’s knee, running it all the way up to what she called her “intimate parts” and told her that he wanted “to touch [her] pussy.”

Gonzalez got away from Singh by telling him she had a boyfriend. She got to her workstation at the laundry and began feeding sheets into a machine. “I was shaking. I was very nervous. I felt my blood boiling,” she described in a later testimony.

This incident, which Marlyn Gonzalez recounted to me in an interview, was part of a lawsuit brought in 2012 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), suing Suffolk Laundry Services for a sexually hostile work environment and for retaliation by management against all eight plaintiffs when they complained. Suffolk denied both charges.[…]

Read the full article:

Tom Cat Workers Rally to Launch Next Phase of Campaign

August 29, 2017
Tom Cat workers. Photo: Erik McGregor/Sipa via AP Images
Tom Cat workers resisting the company's collaboration with a Trump administration ICE audit are ready to launch the next phase of their campaign and they need you to stand with them. Workers are demanding that Tom Cat a) pay dignified severance so they can rebuild their lives and b) adopt an immigrant worker protection policy for those who remain, which will serve as a model to other employers in the Trump-era.

The rally, hosted by Brandworkers, Immigrant Worker Justice, and the Food Chain Workers Alliance, will be held Thursday, September 7, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm. Meet up at 51st Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan.

More information:
More on the Tom Cat Bakery workers:          

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DACA Update #2: What Sessions Said, What It Means, Prospects for Resistance, and Sessions’ Problem With Mere Facts

As expected, the Trump Administration announced on September 5 that it was rescinding the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with a six-month delay before the cancellation takes full effect. President Trump dodged making the announcement himself; he stuck Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the job. And later in the day Trump seemed to contradict the announcement with a tweet threatening to “revisit” the issue in six months if Congress fails to put together some sort of DACA replacement. What that meant was anybody’s guess.

What does it mean for DACA Recipients?
Sessions’ official announcement was vague, but the administration clarified some points during the day. No new DACA applications will be accepted, but people who have already applied can expect their applications to be processed in the usual way. Current recipients whose two-year deferrals and work authorizations are set to expire before March 6, 2018, can apply to renew their deferrals and work authorizations, but they must do so before October 5. Current recipients whose deferrals expire on or after March 6 are simply out of luck.

In public pronouncements the White House tried to make its approach sound humane, but a talking points memo the administration circulated in Congress on September 5 had this chilling remark: “The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States—including proactively seeking travel documentation—or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.”

According to the memo, the total number of DACA recipients as of September 4 was 689,821, somewhat lower than estimates in the media of about 800,000.

What Can We Expect from Congress?
“Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!” Trump tweeted, implying that Congress now had six months to find some legislative solution for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came here as children. In other words, he was calling for some version of the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that has been kicking around on Capitol Hill since 2001. It’s true that the DREAM Act has bipartisan support, and the latest version might well pass Congress if there was a straight up-and-down vote. But various observers note that this hasn’t happened in the past 16 years—and the current session of Congress has had a lot of trouble passing anything.

Some Republicans will be pushing for a divide-and-conquer strategy: they’ll back the DREAM Act in exchange for an agreement to fund Trump’s border wall. But the Dreamers themselves seem to have no patience for this sort of horse trading. “I’m not going to step on top of my community to get ahead,” a DACA recipient protesting outside the White House told The Daily Beast on September 5.

DACA protest at White House, September 5
What Is the Resistance Doing?
Sessions’ September 5 announcement sparked protests that day, including civil disobedience and arrests, throughout the country. But what will the long-term response be?

Several legal organizations have already started to challenge the DACA cancellation in court, and at least three state government seem ready to mount their own challenges. These would be unlikely to overturn the White House’s decision, but they could delay implementation, just as the right wing’s challenges to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) tied the program up in court until Obama’s successor could repeal it. Meanwhile, a number of organizations are gearing up to pressure Congress with online petitions calling for passage of the DREAM Act.

Some of the organizations we can expect to lead efforts to protect DACA recipients include Mijente, Moviemiento Cosecha, Presente and United We Dream,

What Are the Prospects for Resistance?
DACA recipients and their friends and families add up to a substantial part of the population, and young Dreamers have been especially forceful in the past as activists. Add to this their potential appeal to native-born citizens. A Morning Consult/Politico national tracking poll from August 31 to September 3 showed 58 percent of respondents supporting a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, while another 18 percent felt the immigrant youths should be allowed to become legal residents but not citizens. Only 15 percent wanted them deported. In other words, like the ObamaCare “repeal and replace” effort, the DACA cancellation is only popular with Trump’s hardcore base—and is extremely unpopular with the great majority of the population.

One way to build on this potential support among the native born would be to confront economic issues—especially the one often misrepresented as “they take our jobs.” Although much anti-immigrant feeling is simply racist and xenophobic, a good deal comes from native-born workers who find their own wages held down because of lower pay for undocumented immigrants. As a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) blog post puts it, “The reasonable fear unauthorized workers feel keeps them docile and quiet, which in turn diminishes the bargaining power of Americans who work alongside unauthorized workers.” The corollary, rarely mentioned in the media, is that providing authorization for undocumented workers raises their pay and puts upward pressure on the pay of other workers in the same fields.

A 2016 survey found that after receiving DACA protection, including work authorization, recipients found their wages increasing by 42 percent on average. Other factors probably contributed to the wage increase, but the main factor was certainly the DACA work authorization. So what happens when DACA recipients are forced back into low-paying jobs in the informal economy? “Ending DACA and forcing these young workers out of the formal, regulated labor market, thus making them easily exploitable will not help American workers,” the EPI blog concludes. “[I]t will do the opposite.”

Did Sessions Lie, or Is He Just Clueless?
A little more than two hours after Sessions’ September 5 briefing, Vox posted an article entitled “4 lies Jeff Sessions told to justify ending DACA.” One of these was his claim that DACA “among other things contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border with humanitarian consequences,” a reference to an uptick in asylum seekers from three Central American countries in the spring of 2014.

It is well known that the principal cause for the uptick was a sharp increase in crime in the three countries, but did DACA have anything to do with it? The Vox article said there was “a lot of disagreement” on this but indicated that the increase in asylum seekers was mostly due to “increasing violence and worsening economic conditions in Central American countries.” PolitiFact found Sessions’ claim “mostly false.” Actually, it’s completely false.

Sessions was repeating disinformation perpetrated by the right wing—including an office of the Border Patrol—in the summer of 2014, disinformation that was never sufficiently debunked by the corporate media. A leaked Border Patrol report about interviews agents conducted with asylum seekers one day in May 2014 attributed the uptick to “misrepresentations” about DACA. But someone also leaked the original report about the interviews. This report showed clearly that any “pull” factor from the United States for the uptick was  the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), not DACA.

Sessions probably wasn’t aware of any of this. He—or whoever wrote his statement—simply didn’t know the facts and couldn’t be bothered to find out what they were.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Immigration activists are about to put “everything on the line" for DACA

Activists have spent weeks coming up with emergency plans in case Trump eliminates or cripple DACA, which would make 800,000 young immigrants vulnerable to deportation. They’re now setting those plans into motion.

February student protest. Photo: Christopher Occhicone/NY Times
By Jeff Stein, Vox
September 4, 2017
Monica Camacho-Perez’s parents abandoned their home and family in Mexico and brought her to the US when she was 7 years old.

Starting Tuesday, she will camp outside the US Capitol and fast for four straight days in the hope that doing so will help convince lawmakers to allow her to stay.

“I can’t let my father’s sacrifice go to waste,” said Camacho-Perez, 23, in an interview. “I have to fight to protect everything my parents fought to give me.”[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, September 4, 2017

DACA Update: Trump’s Ready to Cancel. Are We Ready to Stop Him?

Multiple sources report that President Trump on September 5 will probably announce the cancellation of the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to take effect after a delay of six months. No one seems sure what the six-month delay means; Vox’s Dara Lind analyzes the many different possibilities and what they would mean for DACA recipients.  Meanwhile, Trump would be sticking Republicans in Congress with a hot potato. Many of them want to pass some version of the old DREAM Act, in effect granting legal status to the current DACA recipients. Other Republican legislators are hoping to make a deal with Democrats to combine a DREAM Act with funding for Trump’s border wall. And still others just want to deport as many DACA recipients as possible and drive the rest into the shadows.

Complicating the GOP’s problems, the media are reporting that one of the victims of Hurricane Harvey was a DACA recipient. Alonso Guillén had volunteered with a group trying to help flood victims but drowned the night of August 29 during a rescue attempt. The Border Patrol reportedly turned back his mother, who lives in Mexico, when she tried to enter the U.S. to attend Guillén’s funeral.

A number of groups are working on responses to Trump. Several petitions calling for the defense of DACA are already in circulation. Others are warning supporters not to fall into the trap of defending immigrant youths by blaming their parents for entering the country without authorization.
Movimiento Cosecha has announced a nonviolent protest to “shut down Trump Tower” in New York on September 5 if the president goes ahead with the cancellation announcement. The protest would include “multiple direct actions, school walkouts, Trump Tower occupations, street shutdowns, mass rallies,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

When: Tuesday, September 5 at 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Where: Trump Tower, 725 5th Ave, New York, New York 10022

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Border wall contractor once paid $3 million to settle federal fraud investigation

By Josh Meyer, Politico
September 1, 2017
One of the four companies picked by the Trump administration this week for its Mexico border wall prototype paid more than $3 million to settle a Justice Department criminal investigation into whether it defrauded the U.S. government through its participation in a federal “mentor-protégé” program to help disadvantaged small business contractors, records show.

The firm, Caddell Construction Company Inc., a major commercial and industrial federal government construction contractor based in Montgomery, Alabama, did not admit wrongdoing in the 2012 case.

But it entered into a nonprosecution arrangement in which it agreed to pay $2 million and to provide unspecified cooperation with the federal government for two years, Justice Department filings and news releases show. It paid the rest of the money in what appears to be a related case, according to those documents and information contained in the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent and nonpartisan group.[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Book Excerpt: What in the World Is DACA?

February protest in Seattle. Photo: Ted S. Warren AP
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is very much in the news this week. President Trump is expected to make an announcement about the program on September 5. Nine rightwing state attorney generals are planning to proceed with a lawsuit against DACA on the same day (a tenth attorney general, Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery III, pulled out of the suit on September 1). Meanwhile, Republican politicians are pushing Trump not to end the popular program. And DACA beneficiaries and their supporters have already started protesting any effort to cut the program back. But what is DACA? How did it come about? And why are DACA recipients called “Dreamers”?

Here's what we say in The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, second edition, Chapter 10, “Is ‘Deferred Action’ an amnesty program?” (Note: the last official number we had for DACA recipients was 665,000 in 2015, but the figure has reportedly grown to nearly 800,000 now.)

In June 2012 President Barack Obama issued an executive order granting “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) to undocumented young people who arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthdays. The move came after a decade of unsuccessful campaigning for the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which would have provided undocumented youth with a path to citizenship. DACA provides no such path, but allows beneficiaries to avoid deportation and obtain a work permit for a renewable two-year period. The applicant must have been under the age of thirty-one on June 15, 2012; have lived here continuously since at least June 15, 2007; and be in school, have graduated high school, or have served in the military. […]

According to various estimates, some 1.2 million people were eligible for the original DACA program, although as of March 31, 2015, only 665,000 people had their petitions approved. […]

[Executive orders like DACA] would benefit millions of people, but they wouldn’t be amnesties. An actual amnesty would be permanent and would have to be authorized by Congress. Deferred action is simply a directive from the president for immigration officials to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” by not deporting certain people. This is a long-established practice in both criminal and immigration law where the government chooses not to proceed with a case, often because of attenuating circumstances. The president can decide to extend the policies after the three-year limit, but can also simply end them, putting the beneficiaries back in an “illegal” state, where they are subject to arrest, detention, and deportation.

[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. For more information on DACA, search here.]

Friday, September 1, 2017

L.A. Father Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez Released On Bond After Six Months In ICE Custody

By Julia Wick, LAist
August 30, 2017
Update [5:50 p.m.]: According to a family spokesperson, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was released from Adelanto Detention Center at approximately 5:20 p.m. and has been reunited with his family.

ICE arrested Avelica-Gonzales in February as his family watched.
After six months in the custody of federal immigration authorities, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was granted bond during a hearing on Wednesday morning and is expected to be released tonight. Avelica-Gonzalez, who is originally from Mexico, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while dropping his daughters off at school in February. A video of the arrest filmed by his sobbing, then-13-year-old daughter went viral, bringing widespread attention to his case.[…]

Read the full article:

Texas’s Virulently Anti-Immigrant SB 4 Was Just Blocked by a Federal Judge

The nation’s harshest law targeting sanctuary cities won’t go into effect—for now.

By Julianne Hing, The Nation
August 31, 2017
Immigrants won a major victory Wednesday night when a federal judge blocked Texas’s SB 4, the nation’s harshest anti–sanctuary cities state law, from being implemented. In his 94-page order, US District Judge Orlando Garcia issued a preliminary injunction of key parts of the law, preventing them from going into effect while the legal challenge winds its way through the courts. As the worst of Harvey was bearing down on Texas this week, fears about the coming implementation of SB 4 fed undocumented immigrants’ apprehension about seeking help during the storm. On Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pledged to personally represent any person who was turned over to immigration authorities while seeking help during Harvey. “I and others will be the first ones to stand with you,” Turner said. “I don’t care what your status is. I do not want you to run the risk of losing your life or a family member because you’re concerned about SB 4 or anything else.” Despite his assurances, rumors that the City would check people’s immigration statuses at shelters continued to spread, and the City had to repeatedly quash them.[…]

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