Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:08 PM
“Officials Say The Darnedest Things” blogs quotes from politicians with just enough context to make you roll your eyes.
The Atlantic Wire counts four reasons why Obama is probably hand-wringing over his reelection chances.
Horacio Castellanos Moya on what it’s like to be a writer in exile.
“The discussion page for the article on ‘Toilet Paper Orientation’ is 2x longer than that for the Iraq War.” That nugget comes from a wastefully informative infographic that presents everything you never needed to know about the different ways to hang your toilet paper. Let us ask, Over or under?
Bookforum ponders what the Bestseller List would look like if authors could only make the list once in their careers.
GOOD magazine examines The Eternal Shame of Your First Online Handle. Was yours worse than “Fink Ployd” or “principalrichardbelding”?
Jorge may have earned a PhD in the United States, but he’s still an illegal immigrant with a bleak job outlook.
It’s Poop Week at the birding and conservation blog 10,000 Birds. Boy, is it ever.
What are you doing this summer? Please come to Washington and help stop a massive oil pipeline, say Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry and other green leaders.
Fukushima who? Nuclear power supporters get back to business as usual.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:29 PM
Are you an Iowan who professes an unshakable love for the sweet corn that comes from your local farmstand? A Mainer who can’t live without your state’s legendary blueberries? A Californian who considers the silky-fleshed avocados plucked from your backyard tree unparalleled? The flavors closest to home are often the ones closest to our hearts.
This summer, vacant lots across South Philadelphia are coming to life with the produce of Asia, reports Ariela Rose in Grid, as refuges from Bhutan and Burma (aka Myanmar) seek to bring the foods of their homelands to their new American state.
Through a project called Growing Home, the empty lots have been converted into five community gardens featuring 72 beds that are tended by 70 different Nepalese and Burmese clans, according to the South Philly Review. There, the refugees have sown seeds that call up a connection to their native soil—bok choy and mizuna, hot peppers and eggplant, fragrant Thai basil and spicy Burmese mint.
“Many of the seeds…used were carried by the refugees, safely sewn into their clothing as they made their journey to the United States,” says Rose in Grid, highlighting the deep reverence these immigrants have for their relationship with farming.
The refugees from Bhutan—ethnic Nepalis—and the refugees from Burma—ethnic minorities—experienced severe discrimination in their home countries and spent years in refugee camps before arriving in America. When Philadelphia’s Nationalities Service Center and the Refugee Social Services Department asked them what would make the difficult transition here easier, a place to work the soil was at the top of the list.
Although garden manager Adam Forbes has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground, he wants the gardens to be a place where refugees can support one another, utilize their farming skills, and develop a sense of community in a strange land.
The feeling of community is quickly building, and both the refugees and Forbes are benefitting. He writes on the Growing Home blog:
At least 30–40 people come out every day to water, hang out, eat some snacks, harvest greens, etc. With our picnic tables now in place the gardens have become a real hang out. We have been having informal English lessons, eating mangoes, sharing recipes, drinking tea, and much more…. My Nepali is getting much better and I am learning a few Burmese words each week.
Sources: Grid, South Philly Review, Growing Home
Image by tonrulkens, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, October 01, 2010 11:34 AM
News coverage on the influx of immigrants from Mexico seems perpetually concerned with the border crossers who succeed in bypassing that invisible line. But what about those who fail? Working for Mother Jones, photographer Matt Nager visited a small town in Arizona to compile a beautiful but haunting photo essay on the process of identifying the hundreds of nameless, desiccated bodies that turn up in desert border zones every year.
Source: Mother Jones
Thursday, August 05, 2010 10:14 AM
Though Arizona’s SB 1070 went into effect without its most controversial provisions, the legislation’s stated intent—attrition through enforcement—is nevertheless gaining traction among anti-immigrant legislators across the nation. In the wake of the law’s enactment, other states are coming out in support of Arizona, some developing policy modeled after SB 1070. Others even hope to alter the U.S. constitution to deny “birthright citizenship” to children of undocumented immigrants.
Arizona stands firm against injunction
After federal judge Susan Bolton blocked numerous elements of SB 1070, Arizona governor Jan Brewer wasted no time and swiftly filed an appeal against the injunction.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for his part, has assured the public that he intends to continue enforcing state and federal immigration laws through “crime sweeps” and immigration status checks. After Arizona’s 287(g) agreement expired last year, effectively stripping local law enforcement of the right to detain individuals on suspicion of their immigration status, Arpaio similarly refused to comply, brazenly maintaining his immigration enforcement campaign.
Jamilah King of ColorLines reports that on the day that SB 1070 went into effect, Arpaio and hundreds of deputies arrested 50 protesters before completing their 17th immigration raid. Those arrested included clergy, journalists, and attorneys. Local civil rights leader Salvador Reza – a particularly outspoken critic of Arpaio’s contentious enforcement tactics, was also taken into custody, as was former state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez.
No citizenship to “anchor babies”
Meanwhile, Arizona legislators are taking anti-immigrant sentiment to a new level and coming out in favor of potentially repealing the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
At the Washington Independent, Elise Foley reports that Arizona senators Jon Kyl and John McCain are the latest to join the radical faction of Republican Party politicians calling for congressional hearings to reconsider the amendment. McCain’s new position is particularly curious given his historical support of comprehensive immigration reform, and past advocacy of deportees’ American children.
McCain’s about-face may be prompted by the impending election and, in particular, the considerable popularity of his Republican opponent J. D. Hayworth, who is running on a firm anti-immigrant platform.
Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive argues that the Republican focus on birthright citizenship is a malicious attempt to visit the sins of the father onto the children. Rothschild also calls attention to the fact that a whopping 94 Republicans in the House support the extremist effort.
SB 1070 paves the way
Arizona has long been a testing ground for anti-immigrant measures in the U.S. and SB 1070 is no exception. Now that the new law has gained traction, other states are following suit.
At Talking Points Memo, Christina Bellantoni reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion stating that Virginia law enforcement, including state park personnel, have the same authority to investigate immigration status as Arizona police officers.
Written as an advisory letter to state Delegate Bob Marshall, the opinion has garnered intense opposition – in part because Virginia considers official opinions of the attorney general to be laws. Cuccinelli reinforced his opinion by filing an amicus brief to stand in solidarity with Arizona in its fight against the federal government.
He’s not alone, either. Going back to the Washington Independent Foley reports that three other attorney generals and nine states have filed amicus briefs in support of Arizona’s new immigration law.
Who profits when immigrants go to jail?
While SB 1070 is argued in the courts and debated in the media, Yana Kuchinoff at Truthout reminds us that 300,000 immigrants are languishing in detention centers under notoriously poor conditions. More than 100 deaths have been reported in immigration detention since 2003, sparking investigations by Human Rights Watch, Detention Watch, and even the Department of Homeland Security.
Moreover, private companies contracted to handle the rising number of detentions are making a fortune on the nation’s broken immigration system. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private immigration detainer in the country, has made record profits since 2003 by billing the federal government an estimated $11 million per month and cutting costs at the expense of detainees’ health and well-being. Telecommunications companies like EverCom are also profiting from detention, charging immigrants in detention as much as $17.34 for a 15-minute phone call.
The irony of our dysfunctional immigration system, Kuchinoff concludes, is that the people who end up spending the most time in detention, are those with the strongest claims for staying in the U.S.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by
The Media Consortium
. It is free to reprint. Visit
for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on
. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out
. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
Image by PuenteAZ, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, July 29, 2010 11:28 AM
Yesterday, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Bolton struck down many of the most controversial provisions in Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, including the section requiring police to ask anyone they suspect of being undocumented for proof of citizenship. It’s a small victory. Today, a modified version of the bill goes into effect.
Although Bolton’s decision weakened the state law, several problematic provisions remain in place, including one that allows Arizona residents to sue local police for not enforcing SB 1070, as well as one that makes it a crime to knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant under any circumstance, even in an emergency. ColorLines has a good breakdown of pending lawsuits against SB 1070.
How 287 (g) paved the way for SB 1070
As GritTV’s Laura Flanders explains, both supporters and opponents of SB 1070 agree that the feds laid the groundwork for such stringent enforcement measures. Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act made it possible to contract law enforcement to arrest immigrants on suspicion. Arizona’s then-Governor Janet Napolitano was the first to sign up for the program, and the biggest federal contract was given to none other than infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County.
The passage of SB 1070 made it clear that the federal government had created a monster. It remains to be seen what will happen next, but fully striking down SB 1070 may have to take a backseat to revisiting the precedent set by 287 G.
Record enforcement under Obama
Conservatives have continuously attacked President Barack Obama and his administration for being weak on immigration, failing to enforce laws, or to secure the border. But, as Elize Foley explains for the Iowa Independent, immigration enforcement is at an all time high.
It’s estimated that the number of deportations this year will increase by nearly 10 percent over 2008’s total under the Bush administration. In addition, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been auditing companies business? at a rate about four times higher than in 2008. What’s more, rates of illegal immigration have actually fallen in recent years. But with an economic crisis caused by so many of conservatives’ closest allies, it seems that immigrants are the only remaining scapegoats.
Obama polling poorly among Latinos
A new poll conducted by Univision and the AP shows Latino support for Obama and Democrats is slipping, as ColorLines reports. Obama currently has a 57 percent approval rating among Latinos. That figure has dropped significantly from 70 percent in January.
Latinos have been hit especially hard by the unemployment crisis, which could in part account for the drop. Nearly half of those polled reported that they or a family member had lost a job since September, compared to 30 percent for all Americans.
Additionally, the poll found that Obama’s approval rating was closely related to the way he dealt with SB 1070. The poll also found a pronounced split among Latinos based on language. Obama’s approval rating decreased by 21 points among Spanish-speaking Latinos since January, and only 5 points for English-speaking Latinos. As Daisy Hernandez writes, the message for the Obama administration is that “It's probably time...to take a cue from California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman and start working on those Spanish ads.”
Fighting hunger in Arizona's immigrant communities
Public News Service reports that two “Hunger Fellows” will begin efforts to increase awareness and participation in the food stamp program among Arizona's Hispanic and Latino communities this coming fall. Enrollment in the food stamp program in Arizona has risen steadily in recent years, with over one million receiving benefits and growing. Many Spanish-speaking Arizonans are hesitant to seek them out, even though they are eligible. The apprehension is exacerbated by the harsh anti-immigrant sentiment prevalent in the state. According to Arizona Community Action Association director Cynthia Zwick:
"The political environment right now has created some barriers to application for food stamps for families that are eligible, people who are legal residents...The bottom line, really, is that families who are eligible have access to those benefits."
Suns are shining
Finally, in more SB 1070 protest news: The Phoenix Suns basketball team have taken a stand against Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 by wearing “Los Suns” jerseys and vocalizing their opposition. National Radio Project has the story.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by
The Media Consortium
. It is free to reprint. Visit
for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on
. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out
. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 1:10 PM
The Arizona Republic has posted the full text of the new Arizona immigration law with notes from a University of Arizona law professor. It’s not very long and the presentation is very reader-friendly.
“If you read it yourself,” writes Marian Wang over at ProPublica, “you’ll have done better than several top Obama administration officials who’ve expressed disagreement with the law.”
Source: Arizona Republic, ProPublica
Monday, May 24, 2010 11:40 AM
Earlier this year, the Texas Board of Education went all “we’re the deciders” on U.S. history textbooks, demanding a decisively conservative slant on certain aspects of our nation’s history. More recently, Arizona went all “stuff white people don’t like” on Latino immigrants. The good people over at We Are Respectable Negroes have taken these gestures at face value and turned the implications of Texas and Arizona’s decisions into a Tea Party timeline: What Would U.S. History Look Like If It Were Written By Texas and Arizona? The sarcasm is kind of obvious awesome:
1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.
Source: We Are Respectable Negroes
Image by Tony the Misfit, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 2:34 PM
From New America Media, a report on the courageous activism of immigrant students in Arizona:
Dressed in blue graduation caps and gowns, four students were arrested Monday evening at Sen. John McCain’s office as they called for passage of legislation to assist immigrant students wanting to attend U.S. colleges.
Tucson police arrested and booked the youth on trespassing charges, but they were released after several hours. Federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued an order for them to appear in court.
“We’re putting ourselves on the line, for people we really believe in,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, 24, an undocumented immigrant from Iran, who was arrested. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mo., and is the co-founder of DreamActivists.Org.
“This is not about us,” he said. “This is about the hundreds of thousands of young people who have the same dream, and we want to provide them with the same opportunity.”
The protestors were calling on McCain to support the Dream Act, a bill that would allow youth who enter the country illegally before age 16 to legalize their status by continuing to pursue higher education or enrolling in the military.
Source: New America Media
Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:33 AM
Activists demanding federal intervention to defend immigrant rights in Arizona have launched an art campaign, encouraging artists looking to channel their outrage to submit poster designs. A gallery is up at the Alto Arizona website. Here are a few samples:
By Melanie Cervantes
By Joel Garcia
By Jon Garza
Source: Just Seeds
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 2:38 PM
Over at the Bitch blogs, Jessica Yee has a short burst of analysis on the fight over Arizona immigration law. Here's the nugget that caught my attention:
What's been happening in Arizona is horrific on so many levels to so many people and communities – but it has really had me reflecting. When do certain issues get considered "feminist" and when do they not? And when do they require a real feminist response in action?
There have been several excellent female responses to the situation in Arizona by way of intersecting the impacts to women and children, sexuality, and even religion (read all of the amazing stuff the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is posting here), yet so much of the mainstream media we've been hearing is of course way too predictably patriarchal in nature; people making excuses for enacting racist legislation, utilizing fear-based tactics to legitimize white supremacy to "protect" the women and children, etc., etc.
So here I am responding to it and asking you frankly: Does an issue have to have an identified or presenting woman involved to truly be considered feminist? When abortion rights are threatened, we're out in the masses online and offline to protect them repeatedly, blog post after Facebook link, clinic defense after pro-choice club initiation, without question–and we certainly come together on it even if we disagree on tactics.
Image by Fibonacci Blue, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 4:35 PM
A sobering analysis of the uproar over racism and the new Arizona immigration law from Daisy Hernández at Colorlines:
We don’t yell racism when Obama’s administration deports hundreds of thousands of men and women and even teenagers. We didn’t say anything of race in 2008 when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, then Arizona’s governor, signed a law forcing employers to verify every employees’ social security number. We barely mentioned racism in the nineties when federal officials decided to beef up border patrol and force migrants to travel the Arizona desert, where they would either die or be easier to catch in the sweltering heat.
But put it on paper that race will explicitly be one reason why the cop is pulling over brown folks and we’re all screaming “racist!”
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 2:46 PM
Mexico's ambassador to the United States is covering all the bases and broadcasting the Mexican government's new travel advisory over Twitter. Just what destination is he warning against? You guessed it.
And sheesh, I can't be the only one with this song going through my head this week...
(Thanks, Minnesota Independent.)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 4:05 PM
The Texas Observer’s Melissa del Bosque has been doing some excellent reporting on the many broken pieces of our immigration system, and she has another must-read report in the current issue of the Austin-based biweekly. In “Point of No Return,” del Bosque investigates the astounding lack of legal representation among immigrants in detention: More than 80 percent of immigrant detainees do not have a lawyer.
This is due, in many cases, to poverty, but also to the transfer-happy officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who frequently shuffle detainees to rural facilities far from their homes and families. “On average, 52 percent of ICE detainees—whether legal residents or illegal immigrants—are transferred at least once before they are released or deported,” del Bosque writes. She interviews one man, Rama Carty, who spent time in seven detention facilities over the course of 21 months.
Like Carty, many detainees in Texas have been relocated from urban areas in the Northeast, where detention beds are scarcer. This brings them under the sway of the 5th U.S. circuit court of Appeals, which has earned a reputation as the most conservative in the nation regarding immigration rulings—a conveyor-belt to deportation. (See “Pleading With the Fifth.”) Since most detention facilities are in Southern states like Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, ICE is sending an increasing number of detainees to the 5th circuit. When they arrive at these largely rural facilities, far from home, they find few immigration lawyers available or willing to help.
For more on the subject, read “Jailing the American Dream,” Tom Barry’s in-depth investigation into the private-prison companies profiting from immigrant detention centers. Originally published in Boston Review, the piece ran in our March-April issue.
Congratulations to The Texas Observer, which is nominated for a 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage.
Source: The Texas Observer
Monday, March 01, 2010 5:26 PM
Dairy farms in the eastern United States are not immune to the problems described in “The Dark Side of Dairies,” the High Country News article excerpted in the March-April Utne Reader. Just like their counterparts in the West, many eastern dairies are financially strapped, rely on the labor of illegal immigrant workers, and have unsafe working conditions, Barry Estabrook reports in a blog post at The Atlantic.
Estabrook, a former dairy worker himself, writes about the death last December of José Obeth Santiz Cruz, a young Mexican man, after he was caught in a manure conveyor at the Vermont farm where he worked. Because Santiz Cruz didn’t have documentation, it took officials more than a week to determine his identity and where he came from. Writes Estabrook:
Vermont likes to promote itself as a verdant, wholesome state with picturesque black and white Holsteins grazing on hillside pastures. But the postcard image hides an ugly truth. Santiz Cruz was one of 1,500 to 2,000 immigrant workers, most lacking legal papers, who toil invisibly behind the scenes in the Vermont’s beleaguered dairy industry, working 80-hour weeks and living in total isolation, often sleeping in the very barns with the cows they tend.
“Vermont’s dairy farms depend on migrant workers,” said Brendan O’Neill, coordinator of the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project. “But there is no dignity in performing important work for that amount of time and having to hide yourself, never seeing the light of day. These people live and work in the shadows.”
The Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project helped raise money to take Santiz Cruz’s body back to his hometown, San Isidro, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. If there’s doubt in anyone’s mind that Santiz Cruz’s death was a deeply tragic loss, the Solidarity Project’s description of his mother’s reaction ought to erase it:
“He is the fourth son I’ve lost,” she explained, wiping tears from her face. “Two from diarrhea and one died at birth. He went so far and suffered so much getting there only to come home in a box.”
Santiz Cruz’s mother, father, and sisters explained that José Obeth was forced to migrate, as so many others are in his community, because his family couldn’t sustain themselves without outside income to supplement their Tojolabal agricultural community.
“It took José 20 days to cross the desert, he barely ate. He arrived to Vermont much thinner than he’d left San Isidro and in a lot of debt. It took him 6 months to find work once in Vermont,” shared Zoyla.
The independent news website Vtdigger.org (“nitty, gritty in-depth news for Vermont”) reports that the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration will not investigate Santiz Cruz’s death because the farm where he worked employed fewer than 10 workers, and the agency has jurisdiction to probe cases only on dairy farms with 11 or more workers. VOSHA, Vtdigger notes, is the only government agency with the authority to investigate the case.
Source: The Atlantic, Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project, Vtdigger.org
Image by www.bluewaikiki.com, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, February 05, 2010 8:45 AM
In Jailing the American Dream, reprinted in our March-April 2010 issue, investigative reporter and policy analyst Tom Barry documents the collision of profits, poverty, and injustice in America’s borderland prisons. In this episode of the UtneCast, Barry talks about his quest and the obstacles along the way.
Download the podcast at the UtneCast blog, on iTunes, or stream it here:
Tom Barry Interview
Monday, January 04, 2010 11:25 AM
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are effectively making immigrants disappear. ICE is “confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices,” The Nation reports, “many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants--nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag.” The author, Jacqueline Stevens, uncovered a partial list of the sites, including one near the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport and another near the Chelsea piers in Manhattan. The sites have no often have no beds, no showers, and are free of any transparency and accountability of the regular justice system. A description of one of these sites, the Los Angeles subfield office called B-18, by director of Immigrant Rights for the ACLU by Ahilan Arulanantham, seems more fitting for a Latin American military junta than a US immigration detention center:
"You actually walk down the sidewalk and into an underground parking lot. Then you turn right, open a big door and voilà, you're in a detention center," Arulanantham explained. Without knowing where you were going, he said, "it's not clear to me how anyone would find it. What this breeds, not surprisingly, is a whole host of problems concerning access to phones, relatives and counsel."
Source: The Nation
Friday, October 09, 2009 5:42 PM
The U.S. dairy system has shifted westward, and often it doesn’t look pretty: Instead of bucolic heartland pastures dotted with grazing cows, picture huge pens or sprawling open-air sheds where the animals are fed a high-protein, shipped-in diet and milked through metal crossbars. Conditions for workers in these big dairies are often little better than they are for the cows, as Rebecca Clarren makes chillingly clear in “The Dark Side of Dairies” in the August 31, 2009, High Country News.
Eighteen Western dairy workers died from 2003 to 2009, Clarren writes, “killed in tractor accidents, suffocated by falling hay bales, crushed by charging cows and bulls and asphyxiated by gases from manure lagoons and corn silage. Others survived but lost limbs or received concussions and spent days in the hospital.”
The majority of the West’s 50,000 dairy workers are immigrants, many of them living illegally in the United States. Dairy labor laws are lax to start with, and the workers’ tenuous status makes them especially vulnerable to egregious labor abuses, which Clarren vividly documents.
The story is enough to make you want to go organic and local, buying dairy products that come from a family-scale farm instead of a distant megadairy. If you do, check out the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Dairy Report and Scorecard to find one that treats its cows, its workers, and its land with respect.
Sources: High Country News, The Cornucopia Institute
Friday, July 10, 2009 10:12 AM
We’ve heard isolated stories of federal officials interfering with activist groups along the border, as in the case of No More Deaths volunteer Dan Millis, who was ticketed for littering after leaving a canister of water for migrants crossing the desert. Unfortunately, it seems these incidents are part of a broader crackdown against activists by a variety of federal agencies, a disturbing pattern brought to light in an excellent piece by Tim Vanderpool for the Tucson Weekly.
“Officially, migrant deaths here [in the desert south of Arivaca, Arizona] each year number in the hundreds. Humanitarians who hike this country call those numbers bullshit,” Vanderpool writes. “They say the desert is haunted by thousands of unfound dead people.”
And in the last year or so, as Vanderpool documents, activists with several groups who provide water, food, and other supplies for migrants have noticed increasing interference with their work from "federal agencies ranging from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management to the Border Patrol."
This crackdown could keep untold numbers of migrants from completing their journeys. Julianne Ong Hing wrote in a recent issue of ColorLines that last summer, volunteers from just one of these organizations, No More Deaths, "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."
Sources: Tucson Weekly, ColorLines
Image by benketaro, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, June 18, 2009 11:27 AM
Immigration hearings in the United States are federally mandated to be open to the public, with very few exceptions. When the Nation’s Jacqueline Stevens tried to attend two hearings, however, she was repeatedly denied entry, and not because of the exceptions. Stevens, an associate professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, reports “The immigration courts at Florence [Arizona] are either closed to the entire public or are screening for ICE critics. Both actions are illegal.”
Experts interviewed by Stevens agree that barring observers from the courts increases the chance of exploitation and could prevent people from getting a fair hearing. Mary Naftzger, a member of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition who frequently attends immigration hearings, told Stevens, “We have feedback from lawyers who say the judges are more respectful when court watchers are there.”
Source: The Nation
Thursday, April 09, 2009 12:03 PM
Politicians and immigration officials have tried to keep Mexico separate from the United States, but as Stephen Henighan writes for Geist, “the border inspires the creative evolution of forms of life that could not exist either in a purely American or a purely Mexican context.” Henighan’s examination of the California-Mexico border reveals a separation of the rich and the poor, rather than of Mexico and the United States. He concludes:
Along this selective frontier, two cultures are merging in a way that consolidates the social stratification common to both. Cultures may blend as globalization proceeds, but the poor and the rich will continue to make separate crossings.
Friday, March 06, 2009 1:54 PM
Driving to work can be dangerous for Latinos in Chicago. Latinos are being pulled over and having their cars searched at disproportionate rates to the rest of the population, according to research by the Chicago Reporter. This alleged racial profiling would be reprehensible under normal circumstances, but with increasing cooperation between local police and immigration officials, routine traffic stops are spiraling into deportations, leading to greater mistrust between Latinos and police.
“State and local law governments collaborating with the federal government [in immigration matters] is very troubling,” Adam Schwartz of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois told the Chicago Reporter. “It leads directly to racial profiling. We think it drives a wedge between communities. It’s a horrible social policy.”
The Chicago police department may have more nefarious motivations for detaining immigrants, Zane Seipler told the Chicago Reporter. For every undocumented immigrant they detain at the McHenry County Jail, the county is paid $85 per day. Seipler alleges that traffic stops and arrests started going up after this policy was put in place. After Seipler requested an investigation, he was fired for violating rules. He’s currently suing for wrongful termination and a violation of the Civil Rights Act, though police say his allegations are without merit.
One possible solution to the racial profiling is to offer everyone, including undocumented immigrants, drivers certificates. In theory, certificates would take the immigration aspect out of traffic stops, fostering greater trust and cooperation between the police and immigrants.
A similar program has been implemented with some success in New Haven, Connecticut, according to Governing magazine. In spite of the pitched political conflicts surrounding immigration, Governing reports that the “Elm City ID Card” has “boosted immigrants' use of the public libraries and made them more comfortable about talking to the police.” Some say it’s helped immigrants feel more a part of the community, too.
, licensed under
Sources: Chicago Reporter, Governing
Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:12 PM
Thousands of Africans have flocked to China in recent years, seeking to tap into the country’s meteoric economic rise. With the United States and Europe stifling immigration, many Africans see China as a more promising alternative. That’s beginning to change, Tom Mackenzie and Mitch Moxley write for Global Post, as the global economic downturn is hurting business and Chinese immigration officials have begun cracking down on African immigrants.
The epicenter of this tension may be the city of Guangzhou, China, where an area filled with African markets known as “Little Africa,” or “Chocolate City” has become the target for immigration raids. According to Evan Osnos in the New Yorker, local newspapers have estimated that there are some 10,000 immigrants in the city known to police as “Triple Illegal Persons,” who entered, live, and work illegally. Osnos profiles one such immigrant, a Nigerian business man he calls Joseph Nwaosu, as he navigates the culture of commerce, religion, and illegality.
Sources: Global Post, the New Yorker
Image by Eric Chan, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, February 13, 2009 10:03 AM
Utne Reader librarian Danielle Maestretti shares the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what’s landing in our library each week in 'Shelf Life.'
Utne’s library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,300 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, or newsstands.
Featured in this week's episode:
- The "Jobless in America" feature in the February 23 issue of The Nation
- Dollars &Sense on "The New Political Economy of Immigration"
- The Texas Observer on Janet Napolitano and the border fence
- "Entertaining in the Recession" from Houston's My Table (not available online)
-Alpacas. That's right, Alpacas. From Radish
Sources: The Nation, Dollars & Sense, The Texas Observer, My Table, Radish
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 4:06 PM
With the weight of the world (thankfully) off his shoulders in less than a week, George Bush will need something other than clearing brush to keep himself busy. What’s an out of favor, ex-president to do? Foreign Policy has a few suggestions for ways Bush can contribute to the world and brush a little dirt off his reputation:
1. Keep freedom on the march in corners of the globe where they still like him, like Kosovo and Georgia.
2. Devote himself to immigration reform and convince doubters that immigration makes good economic sense.
3. Create a Bush brand of humanitarianism by helping “development wonks” and “church folk” work together.
4. Push the U.S. to help “save Sudan.”
5. Instead of spreading freedom to the world, how about baseball? Bush could replace Bud Selig as commissioner of the major league and perhaps use the position to help mend U.S.-Cuban relations. As Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating writes, "If a ping-pong match helped break the ice between China and the United States 38 years ago, perhaps a baseball game could start the ball rolling to open up relations between Cuba and the United States."
Friday, September 19, 2008 1:25 PM
Philadelphia’s new double-covered two.one.five magazine is a hodgepodge of local events and issues that stretch much further than the borders of Pennsylvania. Paging through one side of volume 1.3 (not yet available online) you’ll find a daring swimsuit spread and tips on executing the perfect road trip. Flip it around and you’ll get lost in a captivating nine-part section of immigration narratives. Echoing with national relevance, the essays meander through the diverse experiences of new Americans' dreams and realities.
These are people who have waited years, sometimes decades, to call the United States their home. One now-permanent resident offers up a humorous account detailing the process of obtaining a work permit through the green card lottery. Though armed with a bachelor’s degree and a job offer from a magazine in New York, it still took “11 years, three lawyers, four instances of being fingerprinted, 23 interviews with immigration officers at 14 different U.S. ports of entry, one near deportation, almost $13,000 in legal fees and 38 two-by-two-inch recent, forward facing photographs in which I am not wearing sunglasses or headgear of any kind” for the Canadian-passport toting American-hopeful to obtain the right to live in the United States.
From an entirely different vantage point, Tara Nurin shares the view from her seat at a stadium packed with immigrant soccer players gathered for the weekly marathon of games. She writes:
This is their reward. This one communal gathering of the Imperial Azteca soccer league that counts 600 dedicated players—some of whom drive up to two hours each way in order to play—is almost as sacred as church. Inside the arena, these mostly Latino immigrants, hailing largely from Mexico, can leave behind their concerns over money and their low-paying, labor-intensive jobs to partake in their home country’s most glorious international athletic obsession, and to share a slap on the back, a handmade taco and a sense of community with their fellow countrymen. This comforting simulation of Mexico protects them from what can be a discomforting reality outside.
From feeling homesick to battling language barriers, these stories revolve around much more than what was left behind: They paint an extraordinary portrait of life after immigrating, in a country whose media largely represent immigrants in a negative light. Beautifully and candidly written by various new American residents, from Burmese to Russian to Iraqi, these diverse narratives share the experience of our growing country and highlight just what it means to be an American.
Friday, August 22, 2008 1:57 PM
Last week’s New York Times detailed the tragic case of Hiu Lui Ng, a New Yorker of 17 years who died a grisly death after his cancer and fractured spine went insistently undiagnosed at a detainment center in Rhode Island. This week, the paper followed up with a similar story of a detainee who crossed paths and cells with Ng; Marino De Los Santos lived to tell his tale (and file a lawsuit). The July issue of KoreAm recounts the cases of two women—one who died in custody, the other still ailing there—and their thwarted attempts to receive proper care. And in an extensive investigation back in May, the Washington Post weaved the narratives of several detainees—many who died, some who survived abysmal care—into a withering dissection of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureaucracy fatally unequipped to meet the post-9/11 demands hastily placed upon it.
In the past five years, the Post found, 83 detainees have died in custody or soon after being released. Thirty of those deaths, according to analysis and expert reviews arranged by the Post, may have been caused by the actions, or inaction, of medical staff. “The detainees have less access to lawyers than convicted murderers in maximum-security prisons and some have fewer comforts than al-Qaeda terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” the Post’s Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein wrote.
I’ve often wondered at the unwitting and anodyne adoption of the word “detainee” in the years since September 11, 2001—its easy migration from referring to “terrorists out to kill us” to aspiring immigrants and asylum seekers swept up in the bowels of a frightened, misguided bureaucratic reflex. “Detainee,” it seems, is meant to delineate someone outside the criminal justice system per se, someone whose case awaits judicial review. “It’s not like we’re throwing folks, in prison, see; they’re going to detainment centers.” The words roll of the tongue and the conscience.
But as the dismal state of medical affairs at the publicly and privately run “detainment” facilities shows, it’s time to start calling things by their right names. Perhaps if people “detained” because of paperwork glitches (which played a crucial role in Ng’s situation) or people denied proper medical care because of software errors (see Yusif Osman’s case in the Washington Post) were reported as being sent to “death houses” or “disease centers,” our linguistic faculties might be triggered into focus, and with them our moral compass.
Saturday, June 07, 2008 5:53 PM
Over the past few years, as the immigration debate has heated up, a lot of so-called “mainstream” folks have shown up on television and radio stations to espouse anti-immigration perspectives. When their organizational affiliation shows up on the bottom of the screen, it probably doesn’t sound overtly racist: the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and so forth. But as a group of experts discussed at the “Standing Up Against Hate Speech” panel at the National Conference for Media Reform, a teeny bit of digging reveals that many of these talking heads have close ties to hate groups (FAIR was, in fact, recently classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center). But in spite of this, they’re invited back to the airwaves again and again, spreading false information and drumming up fears that immigrants carry diseases, fill our prisons, and drain the economy.
These “commentators” are not experts—they’re extremists. “If the mainstream media was doing its job,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, “we wouldn’t see them.” Here’s a quick list of resources to keep track of reality vs. rhetoric, hate group vs. think-tank:
* Truth in Immigration, created by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
* Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center
* The Anti-Defamation League’s section on Immigration Reports and Resources
* The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 10:33 AM
Anyone familiar with the labyrinthine U.S. immigration system would agree that children shouldn’t be expected to navigate it alone. Yet 8,000 children “without parents or papers” are apprehended by U.S. immigration officials each year, reports the University of Chicago Magazine, and they often must figure out forms that confound adults and attend hearings without their parents or sometimes even a lawyer.
To help these children, University of Chicago Law School lecturer Maria Woltjen started the Immigrant Child Advocacy Project (ICAP) in 2003. Advocates are usually attorneys or law students, and in addition to comforting children, they receive training from experts in immigration law, human trafficking, adolescent trauma, and childhood development.
Unfortunately, ICAP remains the only organization of its kind in the country. A similar organization is badly needed in the Southwest, Woltjen suggests, because of the influx of children from Central America. (Thanks to cheap airfare in the last few decades, children also arrive from as far away as Eastern Europe, South Asia, Africa, and the Far East.) A bill sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act, would guarantee every child an advocate, who could also accompany the child to immigration hearings. Whether fleeing from abusive families or war-torn countries, or brought by smugglers who profit from their labor, children who arrive alone and undocumented would doubtless benefit from advocates’ help, both emotional and legal.
Image by Ian Boggs, licensed under Creative Commons.
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