Tag Archives: citizenship

Open Letter to the Immigrant Rights Movement: Our Families Can’t Wait

 

Immigration Reform Leaders Arrested 1

Immigration Reform Leaders Arrested 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am cross-posting this letter, which was initiated by DRM Action Coalition, and signed by over 80 immigrant youth leaders. You can probably still sign on here in solidarity.

Buzzfeed has the story. I disagree with the false binary setup in the Buzzfeed headline, but the letter is worth a read.

Open Letter to the Immigrant Rights Movement: Our Families Can’t Wait

Dear Friends and Allies in the Immigrant Rights Movement,

We are writing this letter to open a dialogue about the direction and strategy of the immigration reform campaign in the New Year. For us, this is not a question of ideology, but our own and our families’ lives. We hope that this letter will agitate your thinking and that we can move together in a new direction in 2014.

First, we want to recognize the collective work of our movement last year. From lobbying members of Congress, to infiltrating detention centers, to stopping individual deportations, we have each done our part to make this movement stronger and to advance the rights of the immigrant community. We want to thank you, every person and organization, that has dedicated themselves to this cause.

Despite all the hard work that we did last year, we cannot ignore that we did not win a legislative policy change. In the same year we lived through close to 370,000 undocumented immigrants being deported by the Obama administration. We saw toddlers carry signs asking for their parents to be released from detention; we saw families taken in the middle of the night after a simple knock at the door; we saw ICE taking parents while working, and then labeling them as felons. Their only crime was to work to provide food for their family. As leaders, we need to have the humility to reassess our strategy and make changes when something is not working.

How did we get to this point where we haven’t passed immigration reform? Entering 2013, we felt confident. We were all on a high from the 2012 elections. We were sure that the Tea Party’s defeats, including Mitt Romney’s loss due to his “self deportation” stance, would finally move the Republican Party to act on immigration legislation. Like you, we, DREAMers, undocumented youth-led and parent-led organizations, remember feeling confident that we could achieve immigration reform with a path to citizenship for all eleven million undocumented immigrants.

While the Senate immigration bill was not perfect, we were hopeful that its passage meant we were halfway there and that a bipartisan deal was taking shape in Congress. The logic at the time was that passing the Senate Bill would increase momentum to pass it in the House. This, however, did not happen.

Looking for a way to keep the pressure, a number of organizations asked Democrat leadership to introduce H.R. 15 in the House with the hopes that it would pressure Speaker Boehner to allow a vote or introduce his own legislation. While we thank these organizations for doing what they thought was right at the time, unfortunately, it was a miscalculation. Speaker Boehner refused to bring the Senate bill to the floor, and no Republican had the courage to introduce their own bills. Despite all of our efforts, we didn’t have the power to get the Speaker to bring up the Senate bill.

Democrat leadership, meanwhile, has established hard lines like “citizenship or nothing,” making it politically impossible for both parties to come to the table on a real solution. Blaming Republicans for killing CIR became good propaganda for the Democratic Party, and alienated the few Republicans who were interested in moving legislation forward.

At the end of the year, as Congressmen went home for recess, we were left with nothing for our families. What could we tell the people in deportation who kept calling us, even on Christmas Eve? Tens of thousands of parents across the country spent their Christmas behind bars in cold jail cells in detention centers, the hopes of immigration reform fading from their hearts. Tens of thousands of peoples tried to make the best of Christmas, but couldn’t really smile because a loved one was missing. People like the Zuniga family, whose son Joel was deported. Joel’s mom Marypaz said the food didn’t taste the same and she didn’t feel like putting up Christmas lights this year. People like Naira, who’s husband Ardany was deported in the middle of the night the week before Christmas. While a group of us held vigil outside of Florence detention center, ICE snuck Ardany out the back to deport him. Naira was left with her 2 year old son and newborn daughter, fighting back the tears so that the children could enjoy Christmas morning.

Lupita Arreola, Erika’s mother, Mario Montoya, Reyna’s father, Mario Andrade and Hareth’s father are all still in deportation proceedings. How many more will it take before we stop this? How many more families will be torn apart? How many more children traumatized?

We don’t know what’s going to happen in 2014, but we know that the status quo is unbearable. We cannot stand by and watch another 2 million people get deported while we try to pass an ideal immigration reform.

As people who are directly affected, we ask you to revisit your strategy:

1. Focus on a practical legislative solution for immediate relief for families, even if it doesn’t include a special path to citizenship. Our families and communities need relief now, not ideological hard lines.
2. Allow bills that are already amenable to citizenship for Dreamers and legalization for parents without blocking existing citizenship channels. We will not accept a proposal that blocks, bans or bars citizenship.
3. Use our power and political capital to call on Democrats and the President to expand administrative relief and stop unjust deportations. NDLON has already laid out what this could look like http://goo.gl/DZjaeN
4. Focus on advancing substantive policy this year, not on advancing the electoral efforts of the Democratic Party. Let go of HR 15 and SB 744 and focus on winnable pieces of legislation in the House. No, we will not take ‘just anything.’ We want to see the Republicans proposals on the table and then we will decide if its good for our community or not.

As undocumented advocates, we do want citizenship rights. We believe that this is our country, and our family’s home. We do want to be able to vote and voice our opinions. We cannot, however, wait for that to happen while our families are being persecuted. Walking away with nothing is not an option for us; “citizenship-or-nothing” is not an option. We can’t ask our communities to wait for “citizenship” while we see our mothers, our fathers and our children being taken from our homes by immigration. We can’t wait while we see our families being taken into detention centers for months and even years while our children are being traumatized.

Through this letter we are asking that you stand with us. Fight with us for immediate relief for our families. Let’s together hold President Obama accountable for every deported parent. Let’s find a way to work with both parties to find an immediate solution, even if it’s a solution that doesn’t include a “special” pathway to citizenship.

Together lets achieve a level of peace for our families and our communities, a peace that will allow us to live free from persecution, that will allow us to live, work, travel like a human being. We want our mothers to see their parents, to be able to hug them and not arrive to visit their grave. We want to be able to drive without the panic of seeing a police officer in our rearview mirror. We want to be able to live knowing that we will come home and see our children at the end of the day.

Once we achieve this level of relief/stability, there is no question that we will keep fighting for more- for what rightly belongs to our families. Our families are not conformist. Our mothers crossed borders, risked their lives for something better. We need to survive but will never settle, we will always fight for the betterment of our families.

Sincerely,

Jose Patiño, Dreamer, Dream is Now
Erika Andiola, Dreamer & Co-Director, Dream Action Coalition
Cesar Vargas, Dreamer & Co-Director, Dream Action Coalition
Yadira Garcia, Dreamer & Co-Founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition
Reyna Montoya, Dreamer, Father is in deportation
Maria Castro, Fighting for Undocumented Mother
Ola Kaso, Dreamer, The Dream is Now
Alejandro Morales, DREAMer, The Dream is Now
Dulce Matuz, President/Chair of Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
Prerna Lal, Board Director, Immigration Equality
Tania Unzueta, Undocumented Organizer
Giancarlo Tello, DREAMer, New Jersey Dream Act Coalition
Marco A. Malagon, President/Co-Founder, North Texas Dream Team
Jesus Iñiguez, Undocumented & Unafraid, DreamersAdrift.com
Sagar Patagundi, Undocumented & Co-Founder Kentucky Dream Coalition
Irvin Camacho, Executive Director, Arkansas Natural Dreamers
Juan Deoses, Undocumented Organizer, New Mexico Dreamers In Action
Julio Zuniga, Dreamer, deported Dreamer brother
Hareth Andrade, Virginia Dreamer, Father in Deportation Proceedings
Lucy Allain
Guadalupe Arreola, Undocumented Mother, President – Arizona Original Dreamers
Alejandra Saucedo, DREAMers’ Moms National Network
Rosario Reyes, Undocumented Parent, Arizona Original Dreamers
Raul Leon, Undocumented Father in deportation, Arizona Original Dreamers
Mario Montoya, AZ Dreamer Dad, Parents and Youth in Action
Juana Torres Paura, Original Dreamers Moms
Rocio Andiola, Undocumented Parent, Arizona Orginal Dreamers
Diana Duran, Undocumented Mother, Arizona Original Dreamers
Maria de los Angeles Diaz Ochoa, Undocumented Parent, Arizona Original Dreamers
Alma Vega, Arizona Original Dreamers
Yanet Rodriguez, Dreamer, Arizona Original Dreamers
Fatima Ramirez, Dreamer, Arizona Original Dreamers
Rossy Sandoval, AZ Dreamer Mom, Parents and Youth in Action
Rocio Duran, Undocumented Mother, Arizona Original Dreamers
Claudia Rodriguez, Undocumented Mother, Arizona Original Dreamers
Carmen Irene, Padres y Jóvenes en Acción
Eva Maria, DREAMers’ Moms Virginia
Delia Patiño, Dreamer Mom
Maria Campos, DREAMers Moms USA
Carolina Canizales, Undocumented Dreamer
Celso Mireles, DACAmented Dreamer & Co-Founder of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
Ileana Salinas, DACAmented & AZ Worker Rights Center
Sigifredo Pizana, Dreamer
Lily Marín
William Palacios, Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
Nora Hernandez, Undocumented Community Organizer, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos
Alan Salinas, Operations Manager, Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
Isaias Vasquez, Dreamer
Excy Guardado, University Student, Dreamers of Virginia
Ivan Godinez Reyes, Dream Act OK Tulsa
Lizardo Buleje, DACAmented
Belen Sisa, Dreamer
Pedro Gutierrez Santaman
Juana Pinyol, Undocumented/Board Member, Hudson Valley Community Coalition
Adriana Garcia, DREAMer & Community Organizer, Team Awesome
Hina Naveed, Dreamer, Staten Island DREAM Coalition
Francisco Luna, UndocuQueer, Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project
Erick Garcia, Undocumented & Technology Director, DREAM Action Coalition
Bibiana Vazquez, DREAMer, Arizona Dream Act Coalition
Viridiana Hernandez, Undocumented Community Organizer/Co-Founder of Team Awesome Arizona
Ignacio Frias, DACAmented
Ana Aguayo, Dreamer/Interim Executive Director, Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center
Ana Patiño, Dreamer
Camila Quariwarmi Munayki, Writer, Artist Painter, Activist
Alex Aldana, Movement Organizer and Jota Strategist, East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition, San Francisco Undocuworkforce
Ramiro Luna, DREAMer & Veteran Activist, North Texas DREAM Team
Jessica Rubio, Undocumented Community Organizer, Team Awesome
Yovany Diaz, Activist, Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance
Carla Chavarria, Dreamer/Business Owner, IDREAM
Ernestor De La Rosa, DREAMer & Community Organizer, Sunflower Community Action
Francisco Salcido, DREAMer & Community Organizer
Lilly Romo, Undocumented, Phoenix DREAMers
Alina Cortes, Military DREAMer, DREAM Army
Aldo Gonzalez, Organizer, Team Awesome
Cairo Mendes, Organizer/Dreamer, Student Immigrant Movement
Carlos Vargas, DREAMer, Staten Island Dream Coalition
Yajaira Saavedra, New York City
Maxima Guerrero, AZ Dreamer
Abraham Ponce, Online Coordinator, NTDT
Jesus Gutierrez, Voces of Norristown
Alfredo Garcia, President, Council for Minority Student Affairs
Lenka Mendoza, Coordinadora, Dreamers Families in Aciton & Dreamers Moms USA
Carlos Zuniga, DACAmented
Ruben Castilla Herrera, Organizer, Ohio Action Circle
Jenny Derksen from Ohio
Yuridia Arreola, Volunteer, Team Awesome
Ainee Athar, Undocumented Youth
Jorge Salazar, Dreamer Organizer
The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
The Arkansas Natural DREAMers
DREAM Army
DREAM Bar Association
Peter Lin-Marcus, Supporter/Ally
Ang Sherpa, friend is in deportation
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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration

Community Voices: “The Reality Is My Family Cannot Afford An All Or Nothing Hardline on Citizenship”

This week, Jose Patino of “The Dream is Now” fame wrote great article on “What the undocumented community needs out of immigration reform” which raised a lot of eyebrows.  Friend of this blog, Cesar Vargas, Founder of DRM Action, reiterated that undocumented youth leaders are loyal to their communities, and not beholden to either party. Around the same time, the National Immigration Law Center released an excellent report, outlining how the President can use his executive powers to stop deportations.

After having a public fallout with certain undocumented leaders, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of the strongest advocates for immigration reform, has actually adopted their views on deportation. In a Fusion interview, he states:

“Democrats think all they need to do is to simply blame Republicans. You know what? We control the White House and we control the deportation apparatus,” he said. “We have a responsibility to act.”

Certainly, we can do more. While we await immigration reform, Santiago Leco’s recent infiltration of El Paso Detention Center, combined with a Fusion investigation, has revealed that ICE had detained at least 13 pregnant women, contrary to its own policy:

The agency’s policy says that detaining pregnant or nursing women is low on their priority list. The directive states that resources should be spent on locking up people whose cases are top priority, like those who have formerly broken immigration laws, are threats to public safety, or have been convicted of crimes.

Similarly, contrary to its own policy, the U.S. continues to detain asylum seekers, even after they have been granted credible fear.This week, a law firm contacted me about helping out with one of their clients who is currently detained in Georgia after fleeing Honduras for his life. Homeland Security agents detained Mr. Paz and his wife after they crossed the Texan border in late October 2013. The two fled Honduras after being threatened by the gang members who killed two of their adult children in 2013. Mr. Paz, who is 60 years old, applied for asylum and passed the credible fear interview, but the Department of Homeland Security is refusing to release him from custody. Instead, they have him locked up at Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, hundreds of miles away from his family. Please sign his petition here.

The U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with immigration issues. Thousands of African refugees to Israel joined in a peaceful protest this week against Israel’s denial of their refugee status and their continued detention. The New Yorker has more background on this issue.

A very dear friend of this blog, Attorney Madeline Stano, showed up in federal court this week to prevent discriminatory pesticide practices that allow predominantly Latino children to be exposed to high levels of harmful chemicals in California. Thanks Stano!

The polar votex came for me so I am back in the Bay Area, California. On that note, the EBIYC – East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition is now accepting scholarship applications. The due date is Monday, February 17. So check it out!

Photo Credit: greensefa

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Filed under Community Voices, Human Rights, Immigration

Warning: If You Were Born on a Military Base, You Might Be Deportable!

The US Constitution states that a US citizen can’t be deported unless he has committed treason or terrorism. Not one part of the US Government is looking into my case of a US citizen being deported. I was sent back to England where I have no family and had to live in the streets until I was able to get into a Hostel a few weeks later. I signed a wavier for deportation under great direst because they told me I would be deported anyway. I didn’t think a US Federal agent would lie or not do his job.

-Kevin Dale Cartee, Deported U.S. Citizen

Something is seriously wrong when a country deports its own citizens either through error or some misguided attempt to enforce immigration laws.

Meet Kevin Dale Cartee. He recently got deported back to the United Kingdom. Why? He happened to be born to a U.S. citizen and military officer on an army base.

Kevin holds a Citizen Born Abroad of a US Citizen certificate (DS-1359). But the United States could care less. Everyone from the officials at ICE to the office of Senator Chambliss were less interested in hearing his story and investigating his claims than simply deporting him back to where he was born.

In an email correspondence, Kevin describes his immigration nightmare:

I was pick up by (ICE) immigration on 14th FEB 2007 from Telfair State Prison in Georgia and taken to the Atlanta county jail where (ICE) leases part of the jail for immigration and kept there until they sent me to south Georgia to a private facility, which held only people for immigration. I stayed there a while until I was sent to Gadsden Alabama county jail and from there I was picked up and taken back to Atlanta, Georgia to be put on a plane and sent back to England. That was on the 19th of July 2007. The only officer I can remember is Agent Jeremy Blankly who was a federal officer with (ICE) who said he checked everywhere he could and there was no record of me at all ever being let into the USA legally.

The officer either lied or did not do a thorough-enough job. It turns out that Kevin Dale Cartee was a citizen of the United States by virtue of the fact that his father was a U.S. citizen serving in the USAF and shortly after Kevin was born on a U.S. military base, his Dad had filed a citizens born abroad certificate. It would have taken only a phone call to the Department of State to confirm this fact and prevent this wrongful deportation.

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Speaking Out – Gay and Undocumented (Part 2)

My parents brought me here without a choice and basically rejected me for being gay… I didn’t know how I was going to survive.

-Ben

With the endless bickering and politics of organizing hanging like a sword over my head, I feel quite jaded and unenthusiastic about life on most days.  And when I get emails from students like Ben, it pumps much-needed adrenaline back into my body. I need to refer us back to why I started blogging in the first place: to tell our stories, to make sure that our narratives would not be lost to history or remain unwritten, get buried in a few scenes of a screenplay as an afterthought or appear at 3am in the morning where people are fast asleep.

Several months ago, I had called out students to fill out a survey for us concerning their gay and undocumented status. I do realize here that queer theory–for the most part–is supposed to liberate us from essentialism but without a preliminary conversation about our unique lives and shared experiences, there is no way to move forward.

The movement for immigration reform–permeated in heterosexuality–has to incorporate queer voices and politics, and not just from ‘Immigration Equality‘, which mainly advocates for gay American citizens without really questioning the problems with the conception of ‘citizenship’ — a construction imbued in routine violence. It’s great to cherry-pick model minority students like Tam Tran (and I find her completely adorable so no offense) to appeal to the mainstream, but it leaves me wondering whether there really is space for students who are more marginalized, less privileged and not exactly ‘model minority.’

With that said, let me waste no time and give this space to Ben–an (ex) undocumented student of Hispanic descent studying Architecture. This is his story.

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Foucault on Geography and Population

“One might wonder, as a conceit or a hypothesis, whether geographical knowledge doesn’t carry within itself the circle of the frontier, whether this be a national, departmental or cantonal frontier; and hence, whether one shouldn’t add to the figures of internment you have indicated–that of the madmen, the criminal, the patient, the proletariat–the national internment of the citizen-soldier. Wouldn’t we have here a space of confinement which is both infinitely vaster and less hermetic”

Foucault: That’s a very appealing notion. And the inmate, in your view, would be a national man? Because the geographical discourse which justifies frontiers is that of nationalism?”

(Questions on Geography, Power/Knowledge)

I think the question can be seen assuming and also leading us towards a carceral archipelago–how a punitive system is physically dispersed and yet covers the entirety of society. One of the topics I really want to cover on this blog in the near future is Foucault’s concept of the ‘apparatuses of security’ and how they are applicable to our society. In liberal societies and the liberal international order, we are led to believe that our ‘freedoms’ require ‘apparatuses of security.’ As Foucault states, “Freedom is nothing else but the correlative of apparatuses of security.”

Stemming from this is my concern about the ‘archipelago of detention,’ especially concerning the increasing confinement of mobility regarding migrant bodies–bodies that are constructed and labeled as ‘criminal.’

Foucault also lays out a population/people distinction in Security, Territory and Population that is worthy of further exploration. Population has two meanings — one denotes a group of subjects with rights or subjects to a sovereign etc. but the one we are interested in is population as a process that needs regulation and management, a process that correlates with the awareness of the ‘public’ and maybe even the sharp binaries of citizen/non-citizen. Now, while Foucault poses the question of the ‘inmate’ as the “national man” and that is true since borders, citizenship and nationality are all confinements, I do want to focus on the (bi)(trans)(multi)-national Others as inmates, both literally and figuratively. And I don’t think we can leave economics out of the picture.

This post here – Documenting the ‘birth’ of illegal immigration, while not perfect, serves as a start and historical background in terms of the United States context.

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Filed under Immigration, Political Theory, Racism

Under-reported Immigration News Brief – 1

This is my very first attempt at doing an immigration news round-up of sorts. It’s inspired by the rocking Citizen Orange/American Humanity (woo!) but instead of linking pro-migrant blogs together, I will be digging for immigration news and opinions not reported widely, sometimes more global in perspective (who doesn’t tire of American politics?) and posting them at the end of a weekend. Let me know how I am doing or to just quit. Lol.

Oh, and the new look will stay for a while. Hope everyone likes it.

1. OPINION OF THE WEEK: International Herald Tribune Opinion article on “Facing America’s great immigration panic,” June 4, 2008. This is one of the best opinion pieces I have read in the past few weeks and represents a lot of views on the pro-migrant network.

Someday, the United States will recognize the true cost of its war on illegal immigration. We don’t mean dollars, though those are being squandered by the billions. The true cost is to the national identity: the sense of who we are and what we value. It will hit us once the enforcement fever breaks, when we look at what has been done and no longer recognize the country that did it.

A nation of immigrants is holding another nation of immigrants in bondage, exploiting its labor while ignoring its suffering, condemning its lawlessness while sealing off a path to living lawfully. The evidence is all around that something pragmatic and welcoming at the American core has been eclipsed.

An escalating campaign of raids in homes and workplaces has spread indiscriminate terror among millions of people who pose no threat.

After the largest raid ever last month – at a meat-packing plant in Iowa – hundreds of people were swiftly force-fed through the legal system and sent to prison. Civil-rights lawyers complained, futilely, that workers had been treated more as a presumptive criminal gang than as potentially exploited workers who deserved a fair hearing. The company that harnessed their desperation, like so many others, has faced no charges.

Immigrants in detention languish without lawyers and decent medical care even when they are mortally ill. Lawmakers are struggling to impose standards and oversight on a system deficient in both. Counties and towns with spare jail cells are lining up for federal contracts as prosecutions fill the system to bursting.

This is not about forcing people to go home and come back the right way. Ellis Island is closed. Legal paths are clogged or do not exist.

Some backlogs are so long that they are measured in decades. A bill to fix the system died a year ago this month. The current strategy, embraced by Republicans and some Democrats, is to force millions into fear and poverty.

There are few national figures standing firm against restrictionism. Senator Edward Kennedy has bravely done so for four decades, but his Senate colleagues who are running for president seem by comparison to be in hiding. John McCain supported sensible reform, but whenever he mentions it, his party starts braying and he leaves the room. Hillary Rodham Clinton has lost her voice on this issue more than once. Barack Obama might someday test his vision of a new politics against restrictionist hatred, but he has not yet done so. The public’s moderation on immigration reform, confirmed in poll after poll, begs the candidates to confront the issue with courage and a plan. But they have been vague when they should be forceful and unflinching.

The restrictionist message refuses to recognize that illegality is not an identity; it is a status that can be mended by making reparations and resuming a lawful life. Unless the nation contains its enforcement compulsion, illegal immigrants will remain forever ”Them” and never ”Us.”

Every time America has singled out a group of newly arrived immigrants for unjust punishment, the shame has echoed through history. Think of the Chinese and Irish, Catholics and Americans of Japanese ancestry. Children someday will study the Great Immigration Panic of this century, which hurt countless lives and mocked the nation’s most deeply held values.

2. ICE RAIDS – More to INS raids than reported

[   ] GO45828513.pdf          20-May-2008 08:25   8.4M
[   ] GO45829513.pdf          20-May-2008 08:30  11.1M

These are the two files referred to in the following report. Right click and save target as.


Source: Modesto Bee, June 2

Violations of due process for more than 300 arrested illegal immigrants, who were hustled through detention camps, jails and jury-rigged courts before they could talk to reporters, pale before INS investigators’ allegations of repeated, long-term violations and abuse by company owners, who are reportedly major contributors to the Republican Party. The company was supplying false Social Security numbers and other documentation to workers, then paying them below minimum wage in a conspiracy of silence. Read the full extent of investigators’ findings in the search warrants posted at www.kpvlradio.com/pdf_files. If it had not been for the tireless pursuit of this story by Jeff Abbas, formerly with KUOP and KRVR radio locally and now managing KPVL in Postville, Iowa, this egregious violation of human rights would not have come to light.

3. DETENTION: On the immigrant detention front, ACLU was able to stop the overcrowding of a San Diego Correctional Facility for immigrant detainees.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2007, addressed the practice of long-term overcrowding at the San Diego facility. When the lawsuit was filed, more than 650 immigration detainees at the facility were living three-to-a-cell – resulting in one of them having to sleep on a plastic slab on the floor by the toilet. Additional detainees slept on bunk beds in the recreation area, driving the population of some housing units to more than 50 percent over design capacity.

After the ACLU appeared in the case, DHS transferred more than 100 immigration detainees out of the facility, resulting in an end to triple-celling.

Today’s agreement, if approved by the court, will help ensure that the population at SDCF will not again exceed capacity by requiring CCA to demonstrate three times between now and January of 2009 that it is keeping the facility’s population within design capacity.

A full copy of the proposed settlement is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/35530lgl20080604.html

A copy of the complaint, Kiniti v. Wagner is available online at: www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/28128lgl20070124.html

Congressional Testimonies on Detainee Medical Care, June 4

Of particular interest was the Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy Director National Immigrant Justice Center. She lays out the problems with proper access to health care for immigrant detainees, their rights under U.S. and International Law and shows how the ICE Detention Standard on Health Care falls far short of these laws. You can read all the testimonies here.

4. POSITIVE IMMIGRATION NEWS: At a time when states in the deep abyss of the South are implementing xenophobic anti-immigration laws, and counties are clamoring to reverse the supposed ‘tide’ or ‘tsunami’ of undocumented migrants, we have a report out of Mercer County, New Jersey that has a welcoming attitude to all immigrants.

Nearly 30 percent of the foreign-born residents living in Mercer County are believed to be in the country illegally, according to a report due to be released Monday.
The undocumented workers cannot obtain New Jersey drivers’ licenses, are far less likely to have access to health care and are often afraid to seek help from police when they are victimized by criminals.
But, rather than sounding an alarm, the report finds the undocumented workers are part of an influx of immigrants who are enhancing the region’s economy and broadening its culture.
The 25-page document, titled “The Faces of Immigration in Mercer County,” points instead to a need for more comprehensive English language instruction and a welcoming attitude in communities…

5. KEEP ON DREAMing – What is up for undocumented students around the United States? As South Carolina shuts its door on undocumented students in higher education, groups are still fighting to prevent NC students from undergoing the same ordeal. Here is an excerpt of a published opinion from Durham Literacy Center in North Carolina, with some useful information and statistics:

First, this is a practical matter for our state; we need as many skilled workers as we can get. The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research recently released a report warning that state community colleges will need to graduate thousands more students by 2016 to stave off a predicted worker shortage. The report, noting that immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in our state’s economy, speculates that immigrants may be the solution to this shortage.

Latinos are already making major contributions to North Carolina’s economy; the Kenan-Flagler Business School reported in January 2006 that Latinos were contributing more than $9 billion annually to the state’s economy through taxes, purchases and labor (the contribution is expected to rise to $18 billion by 2009).

At the moment, only a handful of degree-seeking students at the community colleges are undocumented (112 out of 300,000), and they are helping fund their classmates’ educations by paying out-of-state tuition rates (over $2,000 more than the actual cost of their education).

These students, many brought to the United States as young children, have attended primary and secondary schools in North Carolina for most of their lives and are likely to remain and work in the state. By allowing them to pursue higher education, the state can benefit from students who are bilingual and bicultural, and who will eventually fill crucial gaps in our workforce.

Beyond the tangible benefits for our state, open access to higher education is fundamentally a question of human rights. As The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, everyone has the right to education. Article 26 of the declaration decrees: “Technical and professional education shall be made generally available, and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” We have wonderful public institutions of higher education in our state, and they will only be strengthened by a more diverse student body…

6. FARMWORKER SHORTAGE – Heads-up — EVERYONE who has lost their jobs due to undocumented farm workers in California, we have a severe shortage of seasonal farm-workers and are “on the brink of disaster.” Please consider applying for the position. You can earn $150 in a few days, says the President of Honduras.

Summit organizer Manuel Cunha Jr., president of the Nisei Farmers League, told the Central American visitors that Easton was typical of the small Valley communities that depend on agriculture _ and farmworkers _ for their livelihood.
But Valley growers increasingly have trouble finding enough skilled farmworkers to tend and harvest strawberries, oranges and other labor-intensive crops, Cunha said. Permanent U.S. residents generally won’t do the work because it’s hard and seasonal, he said.
Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said he’ll do what he can to make it easier for his citizens to get permission to work in Valley fields. But he and others at the Western Agriculture Labor Summit acknowledged that all the countries must work together.
“We know there is a great shortage of farm labor in California and the southern United States,” he said, speaking through a translator. “We really do hope this meeting can contribute to finding a solution to this problem.”
“We are on the brink of disaster,” said David Jackson, owner of Family Tree Farms in Reedley. “Ninety to 95 percent of our workers are undocumented.
The Valley needs 180,000 seasonal workers every year, Cunha said.
Zelaya said Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala each have the potential of supplying 30,000 to 50,000 temporary workers to the United States. What is needed, participants agreed, is a system under which the workers can come to the United States legally, with a minimum of red tape, to work during peak harvest seasons and then return home.”

Hasn’t the Congress rejected proposals for AgJobs over and over? Why are we blaming farms for employing undocumented workers when we won’t implement a program to provide them with workers?

7. MIGRANT-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX – Boeing has received the latest contract to build a virtual border fence…Did I not call this one a while ago?

The U.S. government has decided to award Boeing contracts for the construction of two sections of a high-tech fence to be built along the border with Mexico in Arizona, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

The two fence sections would be an “operational configuration” of a much-criticized 28-mile (45-km) section of “virtual fence” built by Boeing and tested earlier, Chertoff told a news conference.

He said the fence would include fixed towers, with radar sensors, remote control cameras, ground sensors and software linking border agents to give them a “common operating picture” of the areas they are enforcing.

Chertoff dismissed earlier reports of deep trouble with the test section, which had been delayed by several months due to technical problems, including communications and software glitches and fuzzy video images.

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Videos – U.S. Immigrant Detention System Under Scrutiny

60 minutes report
Part 1

Part 2

The Real News

NYTimes – The Death of Boubacar Bah

Sexual Assault at Immigrant Detention Centers

U.S. citizens sue U.S. government for illegal detention

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