Wednesday, February 06, 2013 9:44 AM
This article originally appeared at WagingNonviolence.net.
word my mother told me about this country I believed,” said Janna Hakim, a
Palestinian-American college student from Brooklyn, with unwavering confidence
under the vaulted ceilings of Judson Memorial Church
in Manhattan on
Monday. Then, Hakim continued, “she was ripped away from me and my siblings.”
Her mother had been living in the United States for over 20 years
before she was taken from their apartment at 6:00 a.m. during the holy month of
was one of many immigrants who spoke on the devastating impact of U.S.
immigration policy on Monday. She was joined by immigrant activists and
advocates who announced the formation of a statewide coalition called New
Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform. The group includes immigrant youth and
families, workers and labor organizers, civic and faith leaders and community
groups. They came to make their demands for comprehensive immigration reform
heard and to amplify a call for action leading up to a nationwide mobilization
to be held on April 10 in Washington,
According to Jacki Esposito, Director
of Immigration Advocacy of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), “The mass
mobilization will be the culmination of hard work, legislative advocacy and
mobilization of immigration communities. Today is the start of a relentless
campaign to pass immigration reform in 2013.” That same day, a bipartisan group
of senators released their plan for a comprehensive immigration reform bill;
the following day, in a major policy speech, President Obama publicly unveiled
his own plan for reform.
continued to speak of the hardship her family has undergone since her mother
was deported. She and sister have become the caretakers for their younger
siblings, all of whom are citizens. Their mother has since been permanently
barred from the United
feel like America is my
home,” said Michelle Aucapina, a 15-year-old undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. She
was detained when she and her younger brother Henry attempted to cross the
border by themselves in 2010. She added, “I want to study, graduate, seize the
opportunities this country offers me and prove to my parents that it was worth
all they have done for me.” Now, she and Henry face deportation orders.
Antonio Livio, proudly wearing an orange T-shirt with the name of his immigrant
rights organization, La Fuente, spoke of crossing the desert, a journey that
took him three months. Fifteen years later, Livio is calling on reform, he
said, “so that I can achieve my dream of being seen as ‘legal’ in this nation.”
Church has a history of serving immigrants
and refugees — from its inception amidst an Italian immigrant community to
taking in Central American refugees during the 1980s — making it a fitting
place for New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform to announce their campaign
strategy. The event was held in coordination with the Fair Immigration Reform
Movement (FIRM), a national coalition of grassroots organizations in the fight
for immigration reform. On Monday, FIRM held a press conference in Washington, D.C.,
with similar events and “echo actions” occurring around the country.
is organizing the April 10 mobilization, in which groups from all over the
country will coalesce to make the voices of immigrant families heard. This
marks the foundation of a renewed push for immigration reform that underscores
the gravity of the issue by elevating the daily struggle that immigrant
families face merely to remain intact. FIRM’s new campaign, “Keeping Families
Together,” places everyday families at the forefront of the fight to demand a
clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a reduction in the
backlogs of immigration cases that keep families apart, due process for all
immigrants and an end to mass deportations.
Coates, who is the lead organizer at Make the Road New York and who works
closely with FIRM, said of the campaign in an interview, “FIRM has a long
history of fighting for immigration reform and has built credibility and a
voice over the years. It’s a strong vehicle that is accountable to many
organizations who work with immigrants on the ground, as well as [having] a
great deal of capacity to work in Washington.”
emphasizes the strength that immigrants, particularly the undocumented, gain
from sharing their stories. “Participation in grassroots organizations,
speaking to press and generally getting involved is very helpful — it supports
people’s cases for being in this country and their confidence. It is the best
way to build power.”
has launched a website
where immigrant families can share how the immigration system has affected them
through pictures and posts — poignant tales of living in the shadows. The
campaign will also tour country this year; along the way, families will be able
tell and record their stories at vigils and rallies, which will later be
presented to their lawmakers.
we want to talk about family unity, we have to put families on the forefront
and develop mechanisms for them to share,” explains Coates. “We need people who
are directly affected by this issue to stand up and say what they want. If you
don’t speak for yourself, someone else will speak for you.”
advocates are largely pushing reform on moral and humanitarian grounds,
lawmakers cannot deny that immigration is becoming a defining political issue
for 2013. Latino and other immigrant voters came to the polls in unprecedented
numbers during the 2012 presidential election, shifting our political landscape
and sending a resounding message that immigrants will no longer be silenced.
asked why this campaign’s efforts will impact change in a manner fundamentally
different than past reform efforts, Esposito said, “This is a perfect storm.”
She cited a committed White House as well as the power that is building in
immigrant communities, which has prompted policymakers on both sides of the
aisle — and even conservative commentators — to show support.
his second inaugural address, Obama cited the lack of progress on immigration
reform as the greatest failure of his first term, and he reaffirmed his
commitment to repairing the immigration system. His promise comes as a slap in
the face to many, since under Obama approximately 400,000 immigrants per year
were deported for the past two years — more than under any previous
administration. The number of individuals detained by Immigration and Customs
Enforcement has doubled in the last five years. The U.S.-Mexico border has been
become militarized to a degree that was unfathomable under previous
administrations. And at least 11 million individuals in this country remain
than ever is at stake, and immigrant communities are becoming increasingly
unified, organized and outspoken. The coming months will be defining for them.
At the close of the event at Judson
Joel Ponder, a young Panamanian community organizer with Queens Community House
reflected on the calls for immigration reform by his fellow coalition members,
many of whom have lost loved ones to deportation. “We need reform now,” he
said, “or it will be too late.”
Image by Laurie
Friday, September 21, 2012 3:48 PM
Last Saturday, Hispanic
Heritage Month officially began. For 25 years, the Library of Congress, the
Smithsonian, and a host of other museums and groups have celebrated Hispanic and
Latino contributions to American history and culture. But this year’s
celebrations are especially bittersweet, says Jose Miguel Leyva in the Progressive, when we consider the realities
immigrants continue to face. After years of soaring rhetoric and patient
activism, Latinos are “still being
taken for granted by politicians of both parties.” The Obama administration
in particular, despite inclusive language and a recent much-touted executive
order, has pursued some of the most draconian immigration policies in decades,
Leyva says. Most young immigrants lacking papers will be ineligible for
“deferred action,” as well as Obamacare. “Latinos deserve substantive actions,”
says Leyva, “not the hollow promises of politicians trying to curry favor with
us at election time.”
Want to protect voting
an app for that, says Maegan E. Ortiz in Colorlines. Pennsylvania’s
voter ID law might
well be toast, but laws in other states could still disenfranchise millions
of voters. That’s why minority communities across the country are using
social media to register, inform, and support as many voters as possible
between now and November, says Ortiz. Campaigns like Native Vote use Facebook
and webinars to boost Native Americans’ typically low turnout, while Nuestra
Elección! aims to target eligible Spanish-speakers and
curb voter suppression.
Despite the unprecedented
drop in immigration from Mexico
since 2000, deportations have reached an all-time high. A new report from the
Department Homeland Security shows that last year, the government deported nearly
400,000 undocumented immigrants, says Common
Dreams. According to ICE records, that number has been growing
quickly in recent years, up from 291,000 in 2007.
Video: author Junot
Diaz on immigrant rights and why Americans are still in a state of denial
about the contributions of undocumented immigrants. “We should be able to
recognize as a community the people who do the heavy lifting, and stop
afflicting them,” Diaz says. “Our contributions have to be honored.”
On May Day 2006, millions
of undocumented protesters breathed new life into an old, largely forgotten
holiday. That day, the Day Without
Immigrants, the streets of dozens of U.S. cities erupted with marches
and actions as immigrants called for humane laws and treatment and raised
awareness of their importance to American society. The 2006 actions, which
marked a turning point in the immigrant rights movement, also signaled a new
chapter in labor history. Since then, May Day has begun to approach its
historical significance among American workers, from the 2008 West
Coast port shutdown to this year’s mass
demonstrations in support of Occupy and workers’ rights. Not to mention the
one million immigrant rights activists who took to the streets on May Day
Immigrants and workers are
natural allies, say Ana Avendaño and Charlie Fanning in Dissent, and they’re now coming together in a big way.
While some of the most high profile immigration activism in recent years has
centered on the DREAM Act, many activists are now embracing a broader set of
goals, and using organized labor to make them a reality. From the CLEAN Carwash
Campaign in Los Angeles
Papers No Fear, immigration activists are increasingly seeing workplaces as
battlegrounds and unions as natural partners. What’s more, these alliances have
expanded their scope to questions of community organizing and social justice, and
in some ways resemble a burgeoning social movement, say Avendaño and Fanning. “This kind of grassroots mobilization holds much promise for those who dream
of a more democratic future,” they say.
Bertron, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, June 08, 2009 3:33 PM
is a digest of spoon-fed inspiration curated by our favorite editors, journalists, artists, and visionaries. Today's guest is Noemi Martinez of the zine and blog Hermana, Resist and of the organization Speak! Radical Women of Color Media Justice Collective.
Maegan "Mamita Mala" Ortiz pointed me in the direction of The Sanctuary, Building Bridges & Breaking Down Walls. Anyone interested or working in/with immigration, (im)migrant rights and civil rights should be turned on to this. 100% pro-migrant, my kind of place.
Vivir Latino keeps me grounded on what's going on in the land of Latino politics and entertainment, often with that tongue-in-cheek attitude I love.
In zine talk, I'm very excited about Alex Wrekk's second edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution, and must soon get this in my grubby hands. I'd already been doing zines when it came out years ago, but the sheer wealth of info contained, makes me, well, giddy. When I was tabling with my "traveling zine library" of a couple of hundred zines packed into suitcases, I told zine newbies that Stolen Sharpie Revolution was *the* zine bible. Alex makes buttons, with that small distro feeling we all love and miss.
I'm in between rented houses, as usual, and half my things are packed including books, posters and suitcases full of zines. But I get by on easily digestible but thought provoking zines with copious amounts of radical love from brokenbeautiful press, Nadia, letter writing, and Raven's Eye (whose posts remind me of radical love that doesn't make it into books).
Bio: Noemi Martinez describes herself as "a Chicana/Boriqua writer & activist spiller of truths and secrets living in the militarized borderland of deep South Texas." She writes the zine Hermana, Resist and blogs at hermanaresist.com. She's a member of the Speak! Radical Women of Color Media Justice Collective. Being vegan in the land of cabrito and fajitas was not challenging enough, so she organizes Mujerfest, Homenaje a Nuestras Muertas, and Valley Voices against Violence. She's also a "single mami to two kick ass future alternative media makers." You can also find her work on Twitter at @5secondpoems
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 2:52 PM
Thousands of inmates in three Phoenix-area jails are on lockdown—an attempt to force an end to a two-week old hunger strike among mostly immigrant detainees who have not yet been convicted of any crime.
Valeria Fernandez, a reporter for Inter Press Service, writes:
The Maricopa County jail system, administered by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, holds about 9,000 inmates, 70 percent of whom are pre-trial detainees.
The country’s self-proclaimed "toughest" sheriff is famous for housing prisoners in tents, giving them pink underwear and feeding them what he claims are 30-cent meals. But he’s recently been in the spotlight of a national uproar over his tactics to crack down on illegal immigration by conducting traffic stops and raiding businesses.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is currently under investigation by the federal Justice Department over allegations of racial profiling and civil rights violations. It is also the subject of a 30-year-old lawsuit over jail conditions, including the quality of the food.
Family and supporters of the striking detainees have been holding candlelight vigils outside the jails.
Source: Inter Press Service
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:42 PM
When Dan Millis stumbled upon the dead body of 14-year-old Salvadoran migrant Josseline Hernandez Quinteros, he was just doing what he does: leaving water on behalf of the organization "No More Deaths" for immigrants crossing the Arizona desert. "The only safe way for migrants to cross through these militarized zones is on foot,” Millis told ColorLines. “They’re taking superhuman, 100-mile hikes.”
The water is a simple but profound gesture. In the eyes of at least one Fish and Wildlife officer, however, it's littering. Or so says the $175 ticket issued to Millis two days after he discovered the corpse of the young girl, when he was on yet another water drop.
A federal judge ruled against the litterer, but offered no punishment. "Last summer," writes Julianne Ong Hing, No More Deaths volunteers "had face-to-face contact with 580 migrants, giving them food, water or medical attention. It’s a statistic ... that does not count the untold numbers who empty the canisters of water and supplies left along the trail by humanitarian aid groups every night."
, licensed under
Friday, February 08, 2008 2:08 PM
The word “sanctuary” is a common epithet thrown around Republican circles in the presidential primaries. The idea of harboring undocumented immigrants in “sanctuary cities” was fodder for attack in many Republican debates. The New Sanctuary Movement is turning the idea of sanctuary around, defying current immigration laws, and using churches throughout the United States to offer refuge to undocumented immigrants. According to its website, the organization offers protection to immigrants facing deportation “whose legal cases clearly reveal the contradictions and moral injustice of our current immigration system while working to support legislation that would change their situation.”
Although the churches are unable to offer legal protection to undocumented immigrants, Sasha Abramsky of the Nation writes, “the cloak of religious authority, the aura of sacred space, does seem to provide a moral protection, making government agencies that much more reluctant to go after people facing deportation.” Abramsky reports that faith-based groups in California, New York, Illinois, Arizona, and Washington are joining the movement and working to interject a human-rights angle into the often callous debate.
The goals of the New Sanctuary Movement may be laudable, but some progressives take issue with the organization’s methods. Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University's School of Law is quoted in the piece saying that the effect of the New Sanctuary Movement is “more symbolic than meaningful” adding that the churches may violate the separation between church and state.
Image by Fred, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:48 AM
Surviving the cold Chicago winters can be tough for anyone. For the more than half a million Mexican-Americans living in the Windy City, and the many more in the metro area, the frigid weather can be brutal. Instead of packing their bags and leaving for warmer climates, the Mexican immigrant population has managed to bring a bit of Mexico with them: by building a hill to enshrine an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the grounds of a Chicago-area Catholic children’s home.
According to Willard F. Jabusch, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago writing in Commonweal (subscription required), more than 7,000 people now attend Mass each Sunday at the shrine. On the recent feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the site drew many more—despite the bitterly cold December weather. Jabusch writes that the site’s popularity highlights the community’s resilience: “Racism, border guards, and fences have not kept out the newest wave of immigrants. Nor will their spiritual passion and zeal be suppressed.”
Tuesday, December 04, 2007 5:02 PM
The town of Manassas in northern Virginia has become a flashpoint in the US immigration debate. In July of 2007, Prince William County, where Manassas is located, passed a law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. Police officers in the county are now required to check immigration papers when they stop suspected illegal immigrants for other crimes. Immigrant rights advocates cried foul, saying the laws required racial profiling. Anti-immigration activists continued their fight for the right not to have to press “one” for English and “two” for Spanish.
Four young documentary filmmakers are chronicling the debate in what they’re calling an “Interactive Documentary” posted on YouTube. Bypassing the usual lag time between filming and releasing, filmmakers are releasing the documentary in segments, encouraging interaction between the Manassas community and the internet community at large.
Although the films are not without bias, they give near-equal time to both immigration and anti-immigration advocates. The filmmakers aim to explore “alternatives to the intense polarization that is hindering progress on the immigration issue.”
You can watch one of the films below, or you can watch them all in order by visiting the website youtube.com/user/9500Liberty
For more information on the US immigration debate, read Putting a Stop to Slave Labor from the March/April issue of Utne Reader.
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