Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Immigration’s Border-Enforcement Myth

Border art: image from JR, the artist
In truth, undocumented migration is not an aberration of “normal” immigration. It is the inevitable result of any general policy of immigration restriction.

By Mae Ngai, New York Times
January 28, 2018
Congress has about another month before Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation (and which President Trump terminated in September), officially comes to an end. It remains to be seen whether Congress will legalize these so-called Dreamers, and what concessions will be made in return. But this much is certain: Any deal will include appropriations for enhanced border enforcement.

We’ve been here before. The last major immigration reform bill, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, legalized nearly three million undocumented immigrants in exchange for increased enforcement along the United States-Mexico border.[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, January 29, 2018

“Ravi Ragbir Is Coming Home—for Now.”

Update, 1/30/18: Today's Democracy Now! features an excellent discussion with Ravi Ragbir, his wife Amy Gottlieb, and his lead attorney, Alina Dax. Watch at:
and https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/30/ravi_ragbir_of_the_new_sanctuary

Ravi Ragbir Was Freed by the Movement He Helped Build
While it was a judge who ordered Ragbir released, it was immigration rights activists who brought him home.

By Jake Offenhartz, The Nation
January 29, 2018
Ravi Ragbir is coming home—for now. 

On Monday, United States District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the “the government has acted wrongly” and with “unnecessary cruelty” in detaining the well-known immigrant advocate during a routine check-in earlier this month, and ordered his immediate release from a correctional facility in Orange County, New York. Noting that, “there is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye,” Forrest repeatedly condemned the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s actions. “This abrupt and by all accounts unnecessary detention, a step in the direction of deportation, was wrong,” she declared.[…]

Read the full article:

Activist Entitled to ‘Freedom to Say Goodbye,’ Judge Rules

By Liz Robbins, New York Times
January 29, 2018
In an impassioned rebuke of the Trump administration’s immigration practices, a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan Monday ordered the immediate release of the immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir, calling his abrupt detention on Jan. 11 unconstitutional and cruel.

Mr. Ragbir, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who has been ordered to leave the country by immigration officials, should have been entitled to “the freedom to say goodbye,” as Judge Katherine B. Forrest, of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, put it in her opinion.[…]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 28, 2018

TPS Termination: What It Means for Haitians and Hondurans

\The media focus on Trump’s DACA termination shouldn’t distract us from the ongoing threat to  more than 400,000 immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). So far, the administration has announced end dates for Haitian, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, and Sudanese TPS recipients, and Hondurans are afraid they’ll be next. Haitian groups are trying to get public attention for the suffering the policy will inflict on survivors of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. Hondurans, meanwhile, are watching the violent suppression of protests as a U.S.-backed president takes office; international observers refused to certify his highly questionable election last November.—TPOI editor

Maica’s Story

By Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees
To Whom It May Concern:  My name is Maica and I immigrated from Haiti after the deadlyearthquake in 2010. There I was buried under a building for six days and was presumed dead. My eleven year old little brother and my aunt died right next to me, and both decomposed on top of me during the six days that I was there. When they finally unearthed me, although my little brother had died, I managed to survive. After battling an infection that couldn’t be treated, I had to have both of my legs amputated. Luckily I was flown to New York where I was hospitalized for many months and had many, many surgeries.

Here, I was helped by many strangers who became my family over the years. I was blessed enough to get a scholarship to a lovely prestigious high school. I was able to graduate and go to college. Over the years, I was helped by the Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR), an organization that responds to the needs of Haitian refugees and immigrants, for which I am a volunteer. During my schooling, I volunteered for several other organizations such as The Epiphany Soup Kitchen, Surgeons of Hope and Methodist Hospital. I was also able to work at my high school’s summer camp, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Then I attended nursing school for three years where I got my Associate in Nursing Sciences.[…]

Read the full statement:

Amid fierce protest, Honduras inaugurates a president accused of stealing the election

Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, at least 30 people were killed, 232 wounded and 1,085 detained, according to the Committee of the Families of the Disappeared in Honduras, a human rights group.

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
January 27, 2018
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was sworn in for a second term Saturday amid violent clashes between police and protesters who insist Hernandez was not legitimately elected.

Soldiers and riot police fired tear gas and set up barricades to block thousands of demonstrators from marching to Tegucigalpa's National Stadium, where Hernandez was presented with the blue-and-white sash of office in an elaborate morning ceremony.[…]

Read the full article:
Juan Orlando Hernandez inauguration in Honduras. Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Legislators Question Detentions of Immigrant Activists

Press conference, New York Federal Building. Photo: Murad Awawdeh
A number of local politicians held a press conference in front of the Federal Building in Lower Manhattan today focusing on the detention of immigrant rights activists such as New York residents Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir. So far, thirty-three members of Congress have signed on to a letter questioning the detentions, and speakers were often quite passionate: Rep. Yvette Clarke denounced the building behind her as “the headquarters of the Gestapo of the United States of America.” In response to reporters’ questions, several members of Congress spoke out against New York police actions supporting federal immigration agents; they said local politicians are meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss the issue.

Still, the Congress members were vague about how much they might be willing to compromise with Republican hardliners to get legal status for DACA recipients—although Rep. Nydia Velázquez did dismiss the White House’s new immigration proposal as “a ransom note” using the Dreamers as “hostages.” There was no discussion of the administration’s termination of TPS programs or of strategies for longterm immigration reform. So we’ll have to wait and see how well the politicians’ actions match their rhetoric.—TPOI editor

Statement: Velázquez, Crowley Call on ICE to End Targeting of Immigrant Activists

By Justice for Ravi
January 27, 2018
(New York, New York) —Flanked by community leaders and immigration rights activists, Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and members of the New York City Congressional delegation called today for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to discuss the agency’s recent targeting of immigrant activists for detainment and deportation.

Outside of local ICE headquarters, the Members of Congress highlighted four cases of community leaders who were recently detained after speaking out against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.  This includes Ravi Ragbir, a prominent New York City activist, who was detained by ICE in January.[…]

Read the full article:
Read the letter:
Watch a video of the press conference:

Ragbir Report

By Tequila Minsky, The Villager
January 25, 2018
After being detained during a routine check-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office
Ravi Ragbir. Photo: Tequila Minsky
  at Broadway and Worth St. on Jan. 11, immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir was promptly flown down to the Krome Detention Center in Miami. There, Ragbir, the executive director of the Judson Church-based New Sanctuary Coalition, was poised to be deported back to Trinidad. Ragbir’s lawyers quickly filed an appeal to block his deportation and also return him to the New York area.  In Miami detention, Ragbir spent Martin Luther King Day with fellow immigrant activist and New Sanctuary Coalition co-founder Jean Montrevil, who was deported to Haiti the following day.[…]

Read the full article:

Friday, January 26, 2018

What Part of “Illegal” Doesn’t Donald Trump Understand?

Could Trump get perp-walked out of 1600 Pennsylvani Avenue?
Poor Stephen Miller. On January 25 he finally got to present his full anti-immigrant program as the nonnegotiable position of the U.S. executive branch—and suddenly his spot in the limelight was stolen by a New York Times report that yes, Donald Trump really had tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. People like Miller love the word “illegal,” at least when applied to people with dark skin. They fail to notice the irony that they are working for a man whose whole career has been based on breaking or circumventing laws—a career that started with violations of anti-discrimination laws and may end with an effort to get around the special counsel statute. So if 11 million people should be deported for “unlawful presence” in the U.S., what should we do about Donald Trump’s unlawful presence in the White House?—TPOI editor

The immigration deal Trump’s White House is floating, explained
1.8 million immigrants could ultimately get access to citizenship — but the White House wants big cuts to family-based immigration in return.

By Dara Lind, Vox
January 25, 2018
The Trump administration is finally playing ball on immigration.

On Wednesday, it announced it would release a “framework” for a bill it hoped to see pass Congress. On Thursday, details of that framework leaked to several news outlets, including NBC and the Daily Beast.

Those reports say that the administration is willing to allow 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children to become legal residents and ultimately apply for US citizenship — including the 690,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as others who would have been eligible for DACA but did not apply — in exchange for a $25 billion fund for its wall on the US/Mexico border; reallocating slots currently given to immigrants via the diversity visa lottery on the basis of “merit”; and preventing people from sponsoring their parents, adult children, or siblings to immigrate to the US.[…]

Read the full article:

Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

By Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, New York Times
January 25, 2018
WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.[…]

Read the full article:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

More on the Immigration Police State

Two-thirds of the population lives in the government's 100-mile border zone. Graphic: ACLU
Border Patrol Checking Papers of Greyhound Passengers in Florida
Most Americans are unaware that two-thirds of the U.S. population – about 200 million people – live within the 100-mile border zone where Border Patrol is authorized to conduct enforcement operations, according to the ACLU.

By Anna Núñez, America's Voice
January 24, 2018
A video of Border Patrol agents boarding a Greyhound bus asking people to show them their papers has garnered over 2.5 million views on Facebook according to the Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC).

Last Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents boarded a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale to question passengers about their immigration papers. “They asked for documentation and it had to be specifically U.S. identification or a passport with a stamp of entrance,” passenger Raquel Quesada told a local CBS affiliate.

Passengers were shocked that their citizenship would be questioned and proof of citizenship was being asked during a routine trip between Florida cities. FLIC shared a video on Twitter (provided by an anonymous passenger) of a Jamaican woman in her 60s, later identified as “Beverly,” who was removed from the bus by Border Patrol agents. She had come to the country legally with a visitor’s visa and had just met her granddaughter for the first time, said her daughter-in-law in a posted statement by FLIC. Additional video here and here shows the grandmother being detained by CBP.[…]

Read the full article:

Against ICE’s Aggressive Targeting of Immigrant Rights Activists

By Justice for Ravi
January 24, 2018
Community Organizations Across the U.S. Join Together To Condemn the Recent Actions of ICE and Demand the Department of Homeland Security Reverse the Agency’s Unlawful Operations

New York, NY:  Over 1,800 community organizations, immigrant rights groups, faith-based organizations, immigrant rights lawyers, professors, and community supporters from 50 states have submitted a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen condemning the targeting of leaders in the movement for immigrant rights in the United States. The letter calls for the immediate release of Ravi Ragbir and Eliseo Jurado Fernandez from immigration detention, the return of Jean Montrevil from Haiti, and a halt to the effort to deport Maru Mora-Villalpando, all immigrant rights leaders who have been targeted for deportation in recent weeks.[…]

Read the full posting”

Read the letter:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Racist Immigration Policies Didn’t Start With Trump

These two articles detail the ways in which racism has always been a crucial element in U.S. immigration policy. Paul A. Kramer’s New York Times op-ed is especially noteworthy for asking “to what extent are the countries of the global north implicated in forces that prevent people in the global south from surviving and thriving where they are” and “[i]n what ways do restrictive immigration policies heighten the exploitation of workers”—questions rarely brought up in the corporate media. And he emphasizes that ruling elites exploit racial divisioins in the population to maintain their own power.—TPOI editor  

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Racism Represents an American Tradition

By Paul A. Kramer, New York Times
January 22, 2018
President Trump has inspired widespread outrage and disgust with his crude, racist disparagement of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations and the predominantly black and brown immigrants from these places.

As horrifying as this remark was, his groundbreaking transparency provides an opportunity. Racism has long fueled United States immigration exclusions and restrictions, but these days it’s rare to hear rhetoric that openly reflects this reality, providing us a chance to delve into its roots and implications.[…]

Read the full article:

In 1920, Jews, Italians, Irish and Greeks Were the People From ‘Shithole’ Countries

By Alan Singer, HuffPost
January 15, 2018
Last week Donald Trump called for blocking immigrants from “shithole” countries, setting off a
wave of domestic and international condemnation. Despite reports by eyewitnesses including Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, Trump denied insulting Haitians, Central Americans, and Africans. He also repeatedly denies that he is a racist. Representative Mia Love, a Republican and the only Haitian American in Congress, accepted the truth of the reports, called Trump’s behavior unacceptable, and demanded an apology.[…]

Read the full article:

Activists—and Even Some Pundits—React to #SchumerSellout

It’s not the first time the Democrats have failed the Dreamers. In 2009-2010 the party controlled the Congress and the White House, but supposed “master strategist” Chuck Schumer held off on promoting the DREAM Act in the hopes of getting a comprehensive immigration reform. That didn’t work. The Democrats finally held a vote on the bill in December, but the effort flopped when five Democratic senators nixed it. So there’s a reason immigrant youths don't trust the Democrats.—TPOI editor
United We Dream’s Cristina Jiménez. Photo: Reed Saxon/AP
Liberals livid after deal to end shutdown
Activist groups were angry at how the negotiations turned out, with some calling it '#SchumerSellout.'

By Elana Schor, Politico
January 22, 2018
Liberal activists are furious with Democratic senators after most of them agreed to reopen the federal government without a firm path to shielding young immigrants from deportation.

As the third day of the shutdown dawned, liberal advocates and immigration groups fired off a joint statement blasting as “unacceptable” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer merely to hold a vote on immigration — with no promises for action from the House or White House — in exchange for Democratic votes to reopen the government. But three hours later, Democratic senators agreed to just those terms — sparking anger on the left.[…]

Read the full article:

Senate Democrats’ Vote to End Shutdown Infuriates Some on the Left

By Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, New York Times
January 22, 2018
WASHINGTON — The decision by Senate Democrats to end the government shutdown on Monday in exchange for a promised immigration vote enraged liberals, who accused the lawmakers of betrayal and threatened to mount primaries against some of the Democrats who voted yes.

Regardless of what happens in the Senate, progressive and immigrant advocacy groups said House Republican leaders will never take up a bill that would offer legal status to young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children without excruciating concessions on other immigration issues. They accused Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and moderate Democratic senators of capitulating to protect senators up for re-election in November in Republican-leaning states.[…]

Read the full article:

Schumer Sells Out the Resistance

By Michelle Goldberg, New York Times
January 22, 2018
This weekend, more than one million people took to the streets nationwide for the first anniversary of the Women’s March. Though not nearly as big as the protests a year ago, it was still a larger public manifestation than anything the Tea Party ever managed. And though the demonstration was meant as a rebuke to Donald Trump, one central demand was that Congress stand up for the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country as children. They now face deportation because Trump has moved to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program protecting them.

The energy of the progressive grass roots should be seen as a valuable resource for Democrats. If Donald Trump’s election taught us anything beyond the salience of white nationalism among our fellow citizens, it’s that passion matters, and that people respond when they see a leader who is willing to champion them even when it’s risky. That’s why it was so infuriating to see the Senate Democratic leadership sell the Dreamers out.[…]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

‘Dreamers’ could give US economy – and even American workers – a boost

Here’s new research supporting our contention that most native-born people in the U.S. would benefit from the passage of the DREAM Act. How would it affect the DREAM Act fight in Congress now if there was more distribution of this sort of material?—TPOI editor
Rally in support of DACA. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Amy Hsin, The Conversation
January 19, 2018
Earlier this month, hopes were high that a bipartisan deal could be reached to resolve the fate of the “Dreamers,” the millions of undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Those hopes all but vanished on Jan. 11 as President Donald Trump aligned himself with hard-line anti-immigration advocates within the GOP and struck down bipartisan attempts to reach a resolution.

As we enter the final hours before a potential government shutdown, many Democrats are insisting that any short-term funding agreement must include a resolution for Dreamers.

One of the arguments advanced by those who oppose giving them citizenship is that doing so would hurt native-born workers and be a drain on the U.S. economy. My own research shows the exact opposite is true.[…]

Read the full article:

Download the research paper:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The immigration debate at the center of the government shutdown, explained

This article from Vox gives a pretty clear idea of how the immigration impasse is playing out in Washington. The Democratic politicians are generally willing to give away a lot—too much, most activists would say—to get some protection for DACA recipients. The Republicans, by contrast, are very divided. Some Republican legislators are willing to compromise, some are not, and their president is constantly changing his positions—and doesn’t understand those positions. (As the Daily Show noted, Trump may think the diversity visa involves an actual, physical lottery drawing!)

Meanwhile, back in the real world, DACA and TPS recipients are left in a limbo that’s painful for themselves, their families, and their communities.—TPOI editor

By Tara Golshan and Dara Lind, Vox
January 20, 2018
President Donald Trump sits at the center of the fight to re-open the federal government, and it’s posing a major problem.

“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor on the first day of the government shutdown.

Republicans and Democrats are stuck in a standoff over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration has promised to fully sunset by March 5. Frustrated with Trump’s unwillingness to accept a bipartisan proposal to address the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients in legal limbo, Democratic — and some Republican — senators voted against the short-term spending bill on Friday to force a sense of urgency over immigration negotiations. The conversation about reopening the government has become hopelessly entangled with the conversation about what to do on immigration.[…]

Read the full article:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Inside ICE’s Police State

More and more evidence is accumulating: ICE is using its policing powers in an effort to shut down resistance to the immigration system. So far, the effort seems to be backfiring. As the repression intensifies, the resistance seems to keep on growing. One example: nearly 600 people turned out in the cold at Washington Square on MLK Day for a Jericho walk sponsored by the New Sanctuary Coalition; this came four days after ICE detained the organization’s executive director, Ravi Ragbir. We can expect still more grassroots activism as political class inaction continues in DC.—TPOI editor

I Stood Up to ICE, and Now They’re Trying to Deport Me
With the letter delivered to my house, ICE has officially made the leap from a law enforcement agency to a political repression agency.
Photo courtesy of Maru Mora Villalpando
By Maru Mora Villalpando, Yes! Magazine
January 17, 2018
When I imagined U.S. immigration authorities coming for me, I never thought it would be by certified mail. And yet this is how it happened—a few days before Christmas, a knock on my door led to the delivery of a letter, informing me that I was being placed in deportation proceedings.

My daughter, who opened the letter, started to cry. I immediately saw this for what it was: their way of trying to intimidate me. I felt a mix of emotions, but mostly I felt angry.[…]

Read the full article:

No Sanctuary: As ICE Targets Immigrant Rights Activists for Deportation, Suspicious Vehicles Outside Churches Stoke Surveillance Fears

By Nick Pinto, The Intercept
January 19, 2018
When word came down from the upper floors of Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was taking custody of Ravidath Ragbir and intended to deport him, hundreds of his supporters, standing outside on the cold sidewalk, raised up their hands to the monolithic building and screamed.

Ragbir had entered the building willingly, on his own steam, accompanied by his wife and family, his legal team, and a handful of elected officials. Now, his friends outside learned, Ravi — as everyone knows him — wouldn’t be coming back to them. They had planned for this possibility even as they hoped it wouldn’t come, but the plans soon gave way to a spontaneous gesture of resistance. As the ambulance carrying a handcuffed Ragbir — he had briefly fainted when he was taken into custody — pulled out of the Federal Plaza garage, supporters attempted to stop its progress. Friends, colleagues, clergy, and city council members put their bodies in front of the vehicle, blocking it with their lives.[…]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ICE Targets Activists—Take Action!

New Yorkers arrested as ICE detains Ravi Ragbir. Joana Toro /VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images
There can now be little doubt that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is targeting immigration activists and their families for detention and deportation. Today's Democracy Now! program, linked to below, devoted much of its time to coverage of these cases. We are also providing links to other coverage.

It’s important to stay informed, but it’s just as important to act. New Yorkers can support Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir on Thursday, January 18, by coming out for one or both of two actions, and everyone can support Washington state activist Maru Mora-Villalpando by signing a petition:
We’ll try to update you as we learn about other support actions.—TPOI editor

NYC Immigration Activist Jean Montrevil Speaks Out After Deportation to Haiti: “My Heart Is Broken”

By Democracy Now!
January 17, 2018
On Tuesday, immigrant rights leader Jean Montrevil was deported to Haiti after residing in the United States for over three decades. He came to the U.S. from Haiti with a green card in 1986 at the age of 17. During the height of the crack epidemic, he was convicted of possession of cocaine and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He served that time. Upon his release, he married a U.S. citizen, had four children, became a successful small businessman, as well as an immigrant rights activist. He has had no further interaction with the criminal justice system. Joining us from Haiti is Jean Montrevil, who was deported to Haiti on Tuesday. We are also joined by Jani Cauthen, Jean’s former wife and the mother of three of his children.[…]

View this and subsequent segments, or read the transcripts, starting here:

ICE tracks down immigrant who spoke to media in SW Washington: ‘You are the one from the newspaper’
After talking to The Seattle Times about his girlfriend’s arrest by immigration officials, a Pacific County man was detained himself. He said an agent told him it was because of what had been written.

By Nina Shapiro, Seattle Times
December 3, 2017
A man who recounted his longtime girlfriend’s arrest in a Seattle Times story about ramped-up immigration enforcement in Pacific County last month has now been detained, and says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents told him the arrest was because he was in the newspaper.[…]

Read the full article:

Husband of Peruvian woman taking sanctuary at Boulder church detained by ICE

By John Bear and Jenn Fields, Denver Post
January 11, 2018
When Ingrid Encalada Latorre’s husband, Eliseo Jurado, stopped by a Westminster Safeway on Thursday to pick up some items for his 9-year-old stepson, Bryant, and 2-year-old son, Anibal, she didn’t anticipate that six agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement would snatch him.

“This is an attack on me,” Encalada Latorre said through an interpreter inside the Boulder Unitarian Universalist Church, where she has taken sanctuary for less than a month to avoid deportation to her native Peru.[…]

Read the full article:

What Deportation Really Means

When Deportation Is a Death Sentence
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. may face violence and murder in their home countries. What happens when they are forced to return?

Laura S. Photo: Carolyn Drake / Magnum/New Yorker
By Sarah Stillman, New Yorker
January 9, 2018 (posted)
On June 9, 2009, just after 2 a.m., Laura S. left the restaurant where she waitressed, i
Pharr, Texas, and drove off in her white Chevy. She was in an unusually hopeful mood. Her twenty-third birthday was nine days away, and she and her nineteen-year-old cousin, Elizabeth, had been discussing party plans at the restaurant. They’d decided to have coolers of beer, a professional d.j., and dancing after Laura put her three sons to bed. Now they were heading home, and giving two of Laura’s friends a ride, with a quick detour for hamburgers. Elizabeth said that, as they neared the highway, a cop flashed his lights at them. The officer, Nazario Solis III, claimed that Laura had been driving between lanes and asked to see her license and proof of insurance.

Laura had neither. She’d lived in the United States undocumented her whole adult life.

“Do you have your residence card?” Solis asked.

“No,” Laura said, glancing anxiously at her cousin and her friends. Solis questioned them, too. Only Elizabeth had a visa, which she fished out of her purse. Solis directed the others to get out of the car. “I’m calling Border Patrol,” he said—an unusual move, at the time, for a small-town cop in South Texas.[…]

Read the full article:

What the Salvadorans Being Kicked Out by Trump Face Back Home

By Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker
January 9, 2018
Patty is a thirty-eight-year-old Salvadoran mother of two who has lived in the United States, on Long Island, since 1998. Her father was killed during El Salvador’s civil war, in the nineteen-eighties, and her mother fled to the U.S. to seek asylum as a refugee. Patty had initially thought that she would be eligible for residency in the U.S. through her mother, but that didn’t work out. “I never understood what happened with my papers,” she told me Monday night, when we spoke by phone. “But then there was another option.” In 2001, after a string of earthquakes had struck El Salvador, Patty was among the thousands of Salvadorans who qualified for temporary protected status, or T.P.S., a federal designation that allowed her to live and work legally in the U.S. She has renewed her T.P.S. status every eighteen months for the last seventeen years. During that time, she got married; had her two sons, who are U.S. citizens; went to community college; and found a job as a secretary at a financial-services firm.

On Monday morning, the Trump Administration announced its decision to cancel T.P.S. for Salvadorans.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Humans, “Aliens,” and “Shithole Countries”

There is no evidence that Donald Trump has ever in his life performed a single selfless act, let alone any act of heroism. Probably he wouldn’t be able even to imagine the nobility of character I witnessed among Port-au-Prince residents after the earthquake, and among “alien” activists like Ravi and Jean here in New York.

By David L. Wilson, MR Online
January 14, 2018
Exactly eight years ago, on January 12, 2010, I happened to be in Port-au-Prince when a major earthquake struck southern Haiti, killing tens or hundreds of thousands of people.

That night and in the five days that followed I saw a few Haitians acting selfishly, but mostly I watched and interviewed people trying to help each other, many of them digging through rubble with hand tools or bare fingers, sometimes endangering themselves in attempts to rescue friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.[…]

Read the full article:
Miami commemoration of the 2010 earthquake. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NYC, 1/15/18: Stand Up for Immigrants and Against Racism

1. Stand With Us on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
as we proclaim “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights”. Ravi Ragbir, Jean Montreveil, and others have been unjustly detained. Join us Monday as we stand together and demand their immediate release.
New Sanctuary Colation's Ravi Ragbir

Monday, January 15, 2018
12pm: Jericho Walk, Washington Square Park, NYC
1pm: Press Conference, Judson Memorial Church, NYC
Information: New Sanctuary Coalition

Earlier events at Judson Church:
9am: Breakfast at Judson Memorial Church, NYC
10am : MLK Service with Ruby Sales,Judson Memorial Church, NYC

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., faith leaders, elected officials, and immigration and legal advocates will come together to condemn the institutional oppression of marginalized communities and hold a "Jericho Walk" in Washington Square Park, around Ai Wei Wei's “Arch” migration sculpture. A press conference will be held following the vigil to call for Mr. Montrevil and Mr. Ragbir’s release, and to honor the 18 people who were arrested putting their bodies on the line in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience in defense of Mr. Ragbir.

In the face of Trump’s unprecedented assault on immigrant communities and blatant racism, the fight for the rights and dignity of immigrants is more important than ever. Trump’s recent disparaging remarks about Caribbean and African countries, like Mr. Ragbir and Mr. Montrevil’s homelands of Trinidad and Haiti, respectively, highlight the critical need for continued resistance and unity.

Speakers: New York City Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez, who were among the 18 people arrested in an act of civil disobedience during Thursday’s solidarity vigil; Rev. Kaji Douša, whose grandfather stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial; Rev. Donna Schaper, civil rights leader and senior minister at Judson Memorial Church; Alina Das, Professor at New York School of Law and legal counsel to Ravi Ragbir; and loved ones of Jean and Ravi.

2. Rally Against Racism: Stand Up for Haiti and Africa
Haitian workers rally, Port-au-Prince, 2012. Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action
Monday, January 15, 2018
2:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Information: 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East https://www.facebook.com/events/780877325431513

President Trump's racism was on display yet again this week with his hateful comments about Haitian and African immigrants. We will not let bigotry divide us, and we will welcome and defend all immigrants! WE ARE AMERICA!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Not Passing a Clean Dream Act Would Hurt Taxpayers

Immigrant rights march in Los Angeles, 2016. Photo: Molly Adams
Immigrants aren't just economic factors; they're human beings -- in the case of the Dreamers, human beings who have been members of our society for most of their lives. But even in the Republicans' own terms, the Dream Act would be a big win for the great majority of us.

By David L. Wilson, Truthout
January 12, 2018
This month is almost certain to bring a major confrontation in Congress over the fate of the nearly 700,000 young immigrants who are losing the protection from deportation that they had under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, now slated to end on March 5.

Immigrant rights activists are demanding that Congress safeguard DACA recipients by finally passing some version of the Dream Act, legislation first proposed in 2001 that would provide legal status for about 2 million immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors. The Republican leadership in Congress, on the other hand, insists that to get any relief for DACA recipients, Democratic legislators must agree to increases in immigration enforcement and a tightening of restrictions on authorized immigration. President Trump tweeted on December 29 that "there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc."[…]

Read the full article:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump Targets NY Immigrant Rights Activists

The administration is now taking aim at a faith-based New York activist coalition. This morning ICE detained the New Sanctuary Coalition's executive director, Ravi Ragbir, during his scheduled check-in at the federal building in Manhattan. This followed the January 3 detention of another New Sanctuary activist, Jean Montrevil. The message was clear: the Trump regime is cracking down on the resistance.

At least 400 people gathered outside the federal building starting at 9 am today to show support for Ragbir as he attended his appointment inside. Supporters marched silently for more than an hour and then, at 10:30 held hands for a few moments, forming a chain around the building. When word came out that the activist was being detained and removed from the ICE office, the crowd rushed to the driveway leading into the building’s garage. A number of protesters attempted to block the vehicle carrying Ragbir out; the first attempts were beside the building on Duane Street and then continued for several blocks down Broadway, trying up traffic for about twenty minutes.
Duane Street: protesters surround vehicle carrying Ravi Ragbir
New York City police arrested a total of 18 demonstrators, mostly on Broadway in full view of City Hall; New York claims to be a “sanctuary city,” but its police persist in helping ICE agents carry out their detentions. Arrestees included two City Council members, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, along with Rev. Micah Bucey, Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz, and other faith leaders. BuzzFeed News posted footage of the protests; among other police violations, the tape shows Jumaane Williams wincing in pain from tight wrist restraints.

As activists protested in Lower Manhattan, Trump was meeting with lawmakers in the White House to discuss immigration issues. During the gathering, the president reportedly described immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as “people from shithole countries.” According to sources familiar with the meeting, Trump added: ““Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” As Jonathan Katz, formerly the AP correspondent in Haiti, pointed out, Trump’s remark came one day before the eighth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that killed tens or even hundreds of thousands of people, including Haitian-American citizens, in southern Haiti.

The New Sanctuary Coalition is asking for phone calls to legislators and government officials demanding Ragbir’s release.—TPOI editor

ICE detains immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir, prompting Manhattan protests
Ragbir displays his handcuffs
 By Nicole Brown and Lauren Cook, AM New York
January 11, 2018
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center on the Lower West Side Thursday, chanting "ICE out now" and demanding to know the whereabouts of a prominent immigrant rights leader, just hours after two city councilmen were arrested during a similar protest in Foley Square.

City councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams were among 18 people who were arrested during the Foley Square protest sparked by the arrest of Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of faith-based immigrant rights group New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. Ragbir was detained when he showed up for a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, organizers of the rally said.[…]

Read the full article:

Immigration activist Jean Montrevil detained

By Tequila Minsky, Caribbean Life
January 11, 2018
With the piercing sounds of sirens and traffic, immigration activists, local politicians, and clergy braved bitter weather at the prayer vigil and rally protesting the detention of Jean Montrevil.

Montrevil was picked up during his lunch break — van transport entrepreneur — outside his home near Far Rockaway. He was on a deportation order.

Demonstrators prayed and then spoke. They held placards that read: “Free Jean Montrevil Now and Let Haitians Stay.”[...]

Read the full article:

The New Sanctuary Coalition Requests Phone Calls to Support Ravi Ragbir

The New Sanctuary Coalition’s executive director was detained today when he made his regularly scheduled check-in visit to ICE offices at the New York federal building. The coalition is requesting phone calls to support Ravi.—TPOI editor

Ravi Ragbir
By New Sanctuary Coalition
January 11, 2018
Please, make phone calls NOW to ICE and to your elected officials to demand Ravi’s freedom. Click here for a PDF with names, numbers and instruction for making these calls. When you make these phone calls, please be respectful, not confrontational.


CALL the following:
NYC ICE Field Office Director: 212-238-4530
NYC ICE Field Office: 212-264-4213
ICE Office of Policy: 202-732-4292


Locate Your Elected Officials:

Varick ICE officers (212) 863-3401 extension
D.O. Berndt 3525
D.O. Attanasio 3569
D.O. So 3536 D.O. Folajaiye 3452
D.O. Kow 3582
D.O. Williams 3540
D.O. De Leon 3447
D.O. Syed 3566
D.O. Shnider 3456
D.O. Paoli 3586 Supervising
D.O. 212-863-3438

Script: “Hello, my name is ___, and I am requesting that ICE release my brother Ravi Ragbir, A Number: 044-248-862. Ravi was detained today in New York City. I respectfully ask you to release him from detention and grant him a new stay of removal. Thank you.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NYC, 1/10/18 and 1/11/18: Two Important Actions

Rally for a Clean DREAM Act at Sen. Schumer's Office
Join the New York Immigration Coalition and our partners outside New York Senator Chuck Schumer's office to demand he take strong action to pass a clean DREAM Act!

Wednesday, January 10,  5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Congress failed to pass a clean DREAM Act in 2017. 
Thousands of young immigrants have already lost their status and thousands more will lose their protection in 2018. 
We need a clean DREAM Act NOW!

Co-sponsors (list in formation): Asian American Federation, Arab American Association of New York, Chayya Community Development Corporation, CUNY DREAMers, Indivisible Nation BK, MASA, New York DREAMers, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, New York State Immigrant Action Fund, SUNY DREAMers, 32BJ SEIU

Solidarity Vigil Against Deportation at Foley Square
Arrests by ICE have escalated in the past few months.  One of the New Sanctuary Coalition co-founders, Jean Montrevil, was arrested and detained by ICE outside his home this past week. New Sanctuary Coalition may be a target. The executive director, Ravi Ragbir, has his check in this Thursday January 11th at 9 am.

Thursday, January 11, 2018, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

New Sanctuary Coalition's Ravi Ragbir
New York City families deserve dignity and respect. Each day, dozens of New Yorkers facing deportation must check-in with ICE Officers at 26 Federal Plaza. When they enter the building, they don’t know if they will be able to see their families again. Now more than ever it is important to show solidarity in the face of policies that threaten our communities.

Join us for a Jericho Walk to stand with individuals and families facing deportation. This interfaith act of solidarity will bring together advocates and supporters to show immigrants that they are not alone.

At 9 am, we will begin the Jericho Walk, circling the building in silence and thoughtful prayer. Though we walk in silence, our actions speak to the injustices that our communities face.

Sponsoring organizations: American Friends Service Committee, Brooklyn Defender Services, Center for Constitutional Rights, Detention Watch Network, Immigrant Defense Project, LatinoJustice, Make the Road New York, MinKwon Center for Community Action, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Project, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, UnLocal, Inc. and a growing list of others!

Please invite others to attend via Facebook: http://bit.ly/jan11vigil-facebook

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DACA and TPS: Trump Plans to Push 1 Million More Into the Shadows

Trump rants about Salvadoran gangs. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
On January 9 the administration announced that it was terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for some quarter million Salvadorans. Along with the termination of DACA and most other TPS programs, this will end protection from deportation for a total of about 1 million immigrants. Few of them will be able or willing to return to their countries of origin. The undocumented population in the U.S. has remained stable at around 11 million for a decade; now the White House, which regularly denounces “illegals,” actually seems to be working to increase the number. Maybe we should ask why.—TPOI editor

Trump’s attacks on humanitarian immigration just became a full-blown war
He’s trying to force 260,000 immigrants to return to El Salvador after decades in the United States.

By Dara Lind, Vox
January 9, 2018
On Monday, the Trump administration announced that it was stripping approximately 260,500 Salvadoran immigrants — who’ve been in the US for at least 17 years, since a 2001 earthquake — of temporary legal status as of July 2019.

It’s the latest, and most significant, blow in the administration’s fight against Temporary Protected Status, an immigration program that lets the government allow immigrants to stay in the US and work legally after their home countries are struck by natural disasters or war.[…]

Read the full article:

Ending Salvadorans' protected immigration status will exacerbate problems Trump aimed to fix
[T]he termination of TPS for Salvadorans likely will cause a significant humanitarian and economic impact for cities such as Washington, D.C., Miami and Los Angeles.

By Geoff Thale and Elyssa Pachico, The Hill
January 8, 2018
It is no secret that protection offered by the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program to Salvadorans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans lasted beyond “temporary,” extending over many years. Under TPS, migrants unable to return to their home countries because of war, natural disasters or other “extraordinary” conditions can live and work in the United States. The U.S. government granted TPS to Salvadorans in 2001, following two devastating earthquakes in the Central American country, and because of violence and instability in subsequent years, continued to approve extensions to the program.[…]

Read the full article:

Save the Salvadorans
So long as our immigration system is built on contortions of logic like these, it will be vulnerable to Trump-style cruelty that’s then justified on the basis of common-sense law enforcement.

David Leonhardt, New York Times
January 9, 2018
The roughly 200,000 Salvadorans whom the Trump administration is subjecting to deportation are deeply ensconced in American society.

They have lived here for at least 17 years. Together, they have about 190,000 children who were born in the United States. The immigrants “work in a wide array of jobs, from defense contractors to school cafeteria workers, commercial office cleaners and restaurant owners,” Maria Sacchetti of The Washington Post writes.[…]

Read the full article:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Excerpt: What Are “Chain Migration” and the “Visa Lottery”?

On December 29 President Trump tweeted that “there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc.” As usual, he had no idea what he was tweeting about, but there’s a lot of confusion about these terms in the general public—especially about “chain migration,” which is now misused to describe what was previously known as “family reunification,” “family-based immigration,” or the “family preference visa.”

Here's what we say in The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, second edition, Chapter 4, “Why Can’t They Just ‘Get Legal?’”:

Can’t immigrants bring their extended families here?
If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can generally apply to bring your “immediate relatives”—spouses, parents or unmarried children under twenty-one—here as permanent residents, although there are plenty of hoops to jump through, and it’s not always quick or easy. For other types of “family preferences,” an even more complex set of rules lays out “priority” categories and annual caps based on the family relationship and country of origin. Waiting times of ten to twenty years are not uncommon. In February 2015 the government was still processing family visa applications from as far back as August 1991. While they wait, applicants are disqualified from visiting the United States because they have shown “immigrant intent” by applying for immigrant visas.

Some conservatives now object to the “family preference” system, but it was actually introduced into the 1965 Immigration Act as a concession to conservative politicians who wanted to keep Asians and Africans out of the United States. Family preferences would mean “there will not be, comparatively, many Asians or Africans entering the country,” Representative Emmanuel Celler, a liberal New York Democrat who cosponsored the 1965 law, said in Congress during the final debate on the bill, “Since the people of Africa and Asia have very few relatives here, comparatively few could immigrate from those countries because they have no family ties to the U.S.”

What about the work visa and the “visa lottery”?
The government can also issue up to 140,000 immigrant visas a year for five categories of workers, and each of these has its own numerical limitations. The categories include professionals, people with special skills, and cultural or sports figures. There are openings for religious workers, former U.S. government employees, and investors, but only 5,000 visas can be issued to unskilled workers.

In 1986, Congress created a temporary category of “diversity” visas to bolster immigration from Europe, which had slowed thanks to a growing European economy. The Immigration Act of 1990 made the program permanent starting in 1995. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, often called the “visa lottery,” allocates 50,000 immigrant visas to different parts of the world under a formula favoring regions that have sent relatively few immigrants in the previous five years. Natives of countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States during the past five years are disqualified from participating in the lottery.

[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.]