Saturday, March 31, 2018

Politics of Immigration Newsletter #5: Dialogues, Blog Posts, and the Gun-Immigration Connection

Dear friends,

On March 15 we facilitated an interesting and informative workshop at Northern Manhattan’s Word Up Community Bookshop. The session included a presentation on the sanctuary that the neighborhood’s Holyrood Episcopal Church has provided for Amanda Morales Guerra and her children since August 2017, and a discussion about ways to answer the sometimes uncomfortable questions people have about immigration. Many thanks to Word Up for giving us this opportunity! The bookstore is a valuable local resource for people who live in the New York area, sponsoring cultural and political events in both Spanish and English; read more about it here and here. And you can pick up a copy of The Politics of Immigration there while supporting an independent bookseller.

New Yorkers who want to show support for Amanda Morales Guerra can attend a vigil held each Friday beginning at 4:30 pm at 181st Street and Fort Washington Avenue in Northern Manhattan.
Suffolk County Community College invited us to facilitate two immigration discussions on March 22, but the event had to be cancelled because of the snowstorm that closed the college for two days. The sponsors are hoping to reschedule for later for this semester.
Jane will be facilitating a daytime class and an evening event in Champaign-Urbana, IL, on April 5 and then attending the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago from April 6 to April 8. David expects to be in the DC area for an event sometime this spring. If you’re interested in connecting with us in any of these areas, please write us at

Finally, with the renewed focus on gun violence in the United States, it’s important to remember that the U.S. arms industry also profits from gun violence in Mexico and Central America, and that this is major force driving unauthorized immigration here. Two of the blog posts below link to articles about this connection, including the role of a former head of the Border Patrol in transforming the NRA from an organization promoting gun safety to what it is today.

Some recent blog posts:
Gun Control Is an Immigration Issue: A Note on the NRA, March 27, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gun Control Is an Immigration Issue: A Note on the NRA

And let’s not forget that the current NRA was created by a "law-abiding citizen" who gunned a Mexican teen down in cold blood and later headed the Border Patrol as it carried out the mass deportations of “Operation Wetback.”—TPOI editor
Harlon Carter in 1984. Photo: Michael Evans/National Portrait Gallery
The man responsible for the modern NRA killed a Hispanic teenager, before becoming a border agent
Harlon Carter led the evolution from sporting advocacy to political juggernaut

By Laura Smith, Timeline
July 6, 2017
In 1931, on the Laredo, Texas side of the arid U.S.-Mexico border, a teenage boy named Harlon Carter came home from school to find his mother upset. Three Hispanic boys had been loitering in front of the house. The family’s car had been stolen a few weeks before, and she thought these boys might know something about it. Racial tensions ran high in this part of the country. The newly-minted Border Patrol was operating in what historian Kelly Lytle Hernández’s Migra! refers to as “a sanctuary of violence.” A few years earlier, the Border Patrol — Carter’s father was an officer — had determined that Laredo was mostly inhabited by Mexican immigrants and had undertaken a “full-scale house cleaning.”

The elder Carter was at work and likely wouldn’t be home for hours, so the son picked up his shotgun and walked out the door….

Read the full article:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Gun Control Is an Immigration Issue

Image: Voice of America
A March 22 New Yorker piece by Jonathan Blitzer makes a connection most corporate media have steadfastly refused to make—the one between loose U.S. gun laws and unauthorized immigration to the United States.

Trump and his rightwing scriptwriters routinely stoke hysteria about the violence they claim comes from the more than 260,000 unaccompanied minors that sought asylum here from 2012 to 2017. But these migrants are themselves fleeing violence in Central America, and that violence is largely fueled by weapons smuggled from the United States. By ensuring easy access to guns here, the U.S. arms industry and its propagandists in the NRA contribute to deaths in places like Honduras just as they do in our own country. “The violence crosses from here, in the U.S., to Central America,” one asylum seeker told Blizter. “It’s the opposite of what the politicians say. Gangs and guns—those all go south.”

Violent deaths in Mexico and Central America are in fact a big business for U.S. gun makers. “Some 2.2 percent of all U.S. gun sales are made to smuggling rings that take firearms to Mexico,” the Miami Herald reported in March 2013, citing a study by University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute and the San Janeiro-based Igarape Institute. An average of about 253,000 weapons bought in the United States were being taken south each year, the report found, representing $127.2 million in annual sales for the U.S. arms industry.

Photo: AR/Jim Cole
This trade in deadly weapons helps explain why so many gun shops are located near the border with Mexico, and why politicians in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have made sure their states have few restrictions on gun sales. “Of the 51,300 retail gun shops in the United States that hold federal licenses, some 6,700 of them are concentrated in the four U.S. states that border Mexico,” Miami Herald reporter Tim Johnson wrote, citing one of the report’s authors. “On average, there are more than three gun dealers for every mile of the 1,970-mile border between the countries.”

And small arms smuggled from the United States aren’t the only contribution our arms industry makes to the violence south of the border. U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011 showed that drug cartels in Mexico, Colombia, and Central America had obtained quantities of military-grade weapons—hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, anti-personnel mines—from Central American military stockpiles. “At least 90 percent of military-origin weapons (such as grenades and light anti-tank weapons)” seized by security agents in Mexico “are traced to Central American military stocks,” according to one of the cables. Some of these weapons—and probably many or most—were manufactured in the United States and supplied to corrupt rightwing Central American regimes by the U.S. government.

It is “illuminating,” the Mexican daily La Jornada wrote after the December 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, “that the society of the neighboring country, shocked by the nearly 30 murders carried out [in Newtown], isn’t able to react, on the other hand, to the tens of thousands of homicides committed in Mexico in the past six years with arms sold in the United States. Washington demands that Mexican authorities monitor and block the passage of illegal drugs to the north of the common border, but until now hasn’t shown the political will to proceed in the same way with the firearms, including high-caliber weapons, that proliferate in the Mexican market.”

Mexico and most Central American countries have strict gun control laws, and the populations there don’t seem to mind the restrictions. A September 2016 poll of 1,100 Mexicans showed 60 percent of respondents opposing even possession of firearms at home, which is allowed under current Mexican law. Young immigrants who come here from Central America apparently have similar views. A New Yorker article describes a group of about twenty students and teachers from DC’s Cardozo high school participating in last Saturday’s March for Our Lives. Most were from Central America. One held a sign reading “No necesitas una pistola para sentirte poderoso” on one side, with an English translation on the other side: “You don’t need a gun to feel powerful.”—TPOI editor

Thursday, March 22, 2018

UPDATE: Immigration Dialogue at Suffolk County Community College Postponed

UPDATE, 3/21/18: Suffolk Council Community College will be closed on March 22 due to today's snowstorm. We're hoping to reschedule the dialogue for later in the spring.

Delve into tough questions about immigration with the authors of The Politics of Immigration. 
Why are people in other countries leaving their homes and coming here? What does it mean to be “illegal”? How do immigration raids, prisons, and border walls impact communities? Who suff­ers and who profits from our current system – and what would happen if we transformed it?

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 9:30 am - 10:45 am
Montauk Point Room, Babylon Student Center,
Suffolk County Community College
Free and open to the public

Sponsored by Office of Campus Activities, Student Leadership Development, and Foreign Languages and ESL For information, call 631-451-4117. You can email the authors at

The event is part of “Suffolk Responds: Fight Ignorance, Not Immigrants,” a week-long series of programs at Su­ffolk County Community College to learn how recent decisions concerning immigration policies impact our neighbors, and how you can make a diff­erence, including:
The Impact of Rescinding TPS on Suffolk County
Suff­olk County Legislator Monica Martinez discusses the impact of rescinding Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Monday, March 19, 2018 • 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm,
Mildred Green Room, Babylon Student Center, Ammerman Campus, Selden
Pursuing the Dream
Immigrants share their stories of coming to the U nited States and their fears and hopes for the future. Speaker: France Dufoo. Tuesday, March 20, 2018 • 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm, Montaukett Learning Resource Center, Room 108, Eastern Campus, Riverhead
Know Your Rights: Due Process for TPS Holders and Undocumented People
Irma Solis of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) will explain individual’s rights when TPS holders and undocumented individuals come in contact with police or immigration enforcement officers in New York State. Wednesday, March 21, 2018 • 11:00 am - 12:15 pm, Sagtikos Arts and Sciences Building, Room 259/260, Michael J. Grant Campus, Brentwood
Film Viewing and Discussion
A film viewing and discussion of the award-winning film “Documented,” which follows Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. Wednesday, March 21, 2018 • 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Mildred Green Room, Babylon Student Center, Ammerman Campus, Selden
We Are United: Rapid Response Training
Our immigrant neighbors are living in terror due to unjust deportations. It is time for people of goodwill to do something to help them. This training will provide an overview of what is happening to our immigrant friends on Long Island and what you can do to support and end deportations.
Speakers: Victoria Daza and Dick Koubek, Long Island Jobs for Justice, Friday, March 23, 2018 • 10:30 am - 1:30 pm, Mildred Green Room, Babylon Student Center, Ammerman Campus, Selden

Monday, March 19, 2018

ICE/CBP Abuse Update: Targeting Immigrants, Damage Control on Viral Video

Activist Alejandra Pablos. Photo: Pablos' Facebook 
Immigration Advocates Warn ICE Is Retaliating For Activism

By John Burnett, NPR
March 16, 2018
Activists across the country say they are being targeted by federal immigration authorities for speaking out at protests and accusing the government of heavy-handed tactics.

The Trump administration has warned that anyone in the country illegally could be arrested and deported under tough new enforcement rules. And federal officials deny allegations of retaliation.[...]

Read the full article:
Read how to support the No More Deaths volunteers:

Immigrant rights activist ‘targeted’ and detained by ICE during routine check-in in Arizona
ICE says that they do not target individuals for making speaking out against the agency

By Clark Mindock, The Independent
March 8, 2018
An undocumented immigrant rights organiser has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in what activists say is the latest example of the Trump administration targeting vocal members of the immigrant rights movement.

Alejandra Pablos, 32, was detained early Thursday morning during a routine check-in with ICE officials, just months after she was arrested by immigration officials at what has been described as a peaceful immigration protest outside of an ICE field office in Virginia.[...]

Read the full article:
Sign a petition for Alejandra Pablos’ release

This Mother Was Arrested in Front of Her Screaming Daughters. But She Hasn't Been Charged With a Crime.
Advocates say smuggling accusations are increasingly being used as a pretext for immigration arrests because the Trump administration has made it a priority to deport accused smugglers. But the accusations rarely get heard in a criminal court.

By Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News
March 18, 2018
A day after the video of her being detained by Border Patrol had more than 9 million views, Perla Morales-Luna sat in an ICE detention center accused of being part of a criminal smuggling organization.[...]

Read the full article:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Administrative Incarceration: The Paradox of Immigration Detention

According to the Supreme Court, immigration detention cannot legally be classified as punishment: to punish immigrants for simply being in the country unlawfully would be unconstitutional.… Yet the conditions that immigrants face in detention are similar – if not worse – to conditions in penal incarceration systems.

By Elizabeth Bird, ImmigrationProfBlog
March 12, 2018
In 2017, over 320,000 immigrants were placed in detention in the United States, awaiting determination of their immigration status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can detain anyone who is suspected of being deportable and is deemed to be likely to abscond. This includes a range of noncitizens: individuals who have crossed the border without documentation, have overstayed their visa, or legal residents who have committed certain crimes. According to the government, immigration detention is an administrative procedure. Legally, immigration detention is not punishment, but in practice, it looks a lot like penal incarceration. Furthermore, the non-punitive nature of immigration detention results in fewer protections for immigrants than would be afforded to criminal defendants.[…]

Read the full article:

Protesters support striking detainees, April 2017. Photo: Tacoma Action Collective

Thursday, March 15, 2018

NYC, 3/15/18: Dialogue in a Time of Crisis

Join us for a participatory workshop on immigrant rights by the authors of The Politics of Immigration, as well as an information session and update on the sanctuary at Holyrood Episcopal Church, where AmandaMorales Guerra and her children have been housed since August 2017.

Thursday, March 15, 2018, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
Free admission; $5 suggested donation

We don't want our family members, friends, and neighbors hauled away and deported. Many of us are
actively working to defend community members from deportation, like Ravi Ragbir, leader of the NYC New Sanctuary Coalition, and Amanda Morales Guerra, who has been in sanctuary at Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights since August.
But do we really understand the system we are fighting against? Do we have the tools to respond effectively to tough questions from family members, co-workers, and others who don't share our views? For example:
  • Why do so many people come here “illegally”? Why don't they just wait in line?
  • If someone committed a crime in this country, why shouldn't they be deported?
  • Don't unauthorized immigrants push down wages for everyone?
  • Can we really afford to have so many immigrants here?
  • Isn't our current immigration system color-blind?
  • What would an alternative system look like, and how do we get there?
Bring your questions and thoughts to this participatory workshop facilitated by Jane Guskin and David Wilson, authors of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (Monthly Review Press 2017). Together we will strengthen our skills and deepen our understanding to engage more effectively in dialogue around immigration issues.

The sanctuary information session will be led by Renee Colwell, volunteer coordinator at Holyrood Episcopal Church, who will share with neighbors how they can help.

Word Up:      347-688-4456,            

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Interesting Stats on Immigration, Crime and E-Verify

According to Alex Nowrasteh, an analyst at the right-libertarian Cato Institute, crime statistics from Texas show that immigrants there, both documented and undocumented, have lower conviction and arrest rates than the native-born. In a separate post, he cites a paper suggesting that implementation of E-Verify in Arizona has led to higher rates of criminal activity by undocumented immigrants. —TPOI editor
Criminal Immigrants in Texas: Illegal Immigrant Conviction and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sexual Assault, Larceny, and Other Crimes

By Alex Nowrasteh, Cato Institute
February 26, 2018
President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deport most illegal immigrants who encounter law enforcement, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to withhold federal funds from local police departments that do not cooperate with DHS in that effort.1 Underlying both actions is the belief that illegal immigrants are a significant source of crime.2 This brief uses Texas Department of Public Safety data to measure the conviction and arrest rates of illegal immigrants by crime. In Texas in 2015, the criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans. Moreover, the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans. This result holds for most crimes.[…]

Read the full article:

E-Verify Could Have Increased Crime in Arizona

By Alex Nowrasteh, Cato Institute
February 28, 2018
Illegal immigrants who can’t work are more likely to commit crimes in order to support themselves, according to a superb new paper by Matthew Freedman, Emily Owens, and Sarah Bohn that is forthcoming in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.  They examined administrative data from Bexar County, Texas and found an increase in felony charges filed against residents who were most likely to be illegal immigrants after the Immigration Reform and Control Act made it unlawful for illegal immigrants to work in the United States.[…]

Read the full article:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Activist Ravi Ragbir urges West Village churchgoers to help immigrants facing deportation

“So how can you help?…This is where I’m going to start challenging you. You can create a space where you can help someone. You can make a phone call. You can write a letter. You can tweet. You can just talk to someone about a fact, about what they are saying wrong. Talk to someone when they are saying propaganda.”

Ravi Ragbir. Photo: Tequila Minsky
By Edgar Sandoval and Reuven Blau, New York Daily News
March 4, 2018
Immigration rights activist Ravi Ragbir — who is being threatened with deportation — urged churchgoers Sunday to speak up against the anti-immigration wave sweeping the country.

“There are many people with green cards who are facing deportation,” he told a packed Judson Memorial Church in the West Village.[…]

Read the full article: