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Archive for the ‘community impact’ Category

Last Week: In Our Community (Mar. 16-23)

In community impact on March 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday, March 16 through Monday, March 23.

Stop the Raids
In his blog “God’s Politics,” evangelical leader and activist Jim Wallis tells people that ending immigration raids is a matter of conscious.

End Immigration Raids, Cardinal Tells President
On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George called on President Barack Obama to end immigration raids and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He said, “We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day.”

A Slippery Place in the U.S. Workforce
This article talks about the experiences of immigrants in Morristown, a small factory town in east TN, in light of the economic crisis. Covering the historical demographic changes of the area, to the anti-immigrants struggles spurred by ESL classes in the education system, to disparate access to career centers and additional job training, this article provides insight into how immigration can affect communities and the economy as a whole.

Martinez Heats Up Immigration Debate
Florida Senator Mel Martinez began heating up the debate over comprehensive immigration reform last week. A leading Republican voice for CIR, Martinez wants to get CIR done fast as he has plans to retire at the end of his term. He also seems to believe that other republicans have begun to see immigration as a human rights issue.

Immigration Agency Is Criticized Over Healthcare
After another death in immigration detention was reported last week, Human Rights Watch and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center have stepped up their critique of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigrant detention practices. The groups argue that deaths and other forms of substandard treatment are the result of “unskilled or indifferent staff, overcrowding, bureaucracy, language barriers and limited services available to detainees.”

The Competition for Low-Wage Jobs
This week the NY Times blog Room for Debate discusses how the current economic crisis affects both legal and undocumented immigrants. The blog brings together six differing perspectives, ranging from labor economists, anti-immigrant activists, migration policy experts, day laborer, and employment activists.

Ana’s Choice: Can Congress reform immigration law to make it more humane?
This article is a summary of larger piece published in the Winter 2009 issue of Ms. Magazine. It provides one of many feminist perspectives on immigration, focusing on family unity and a pathway to legal status.

Migrant Workers Sending Less Money to Latin America
This Wall Street Journal article discusses the decline in remittances being sent to Latin America due to the economic recession. Many Latin American countries depend on remittances sent from the U.S., Europe, and Japan and are likely to be hard-hit with this decline.

Cities and Counties Rely on U.S. Immigrant Detention Fees
These days, most local governments are having to cut their budgets. But many local law enforcement agencies have found a new source of income–immigrant detention. This article talks about how many South California jails are nearly able to pay for the entire cost of running their facility off of the income they make on housing immigrant detainees.

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact on March 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday March 9 through Monday March 16.

I try and keep the number of annotated articles that I highlight down, but there is too much good stuff out there.

VIDEO: Clips from the CHC Family Unity Tour in Los Angeles

This clip documents one of many stops the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has made over the last month to listen to stories about family separation and to campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

Deportation Fears in Morris County Hamper Efforts to Probe Domestic Abuse

The local police department in Morris County is currently trying to reach out to members of the Latino community who are victims of domestic violence. Morris County, however, has a 287(g) agreement which allows local police to act as federal immigration agents. Because of this agreement, victims of domestic violence fear coming forward about domestic abuse for fear of deportation.

Immigrants Face Long Detention, Few Rights: Many detainees spend months or years in U.S. detention centers
A computer analysis conducted by the Associated Press shows that most people being held in immigrant detention centers have no criminal record. And while ICE says that the average stay in detention is about 31 days, AP’s analysis shows that most are held much longer than that, and with few rights.

Where Education and Assimilation Collide

This NY Times article explores how even schools which have overcome great divisions caused by histories of segregation and oppression are facing a new challenge–how to properly integrate non-native English speakers into the education system. Taking a close look at the educational, social, and political climate of Prince William County, this article uncovers the struggles many communities face in trying to carry out a just education system in a climate where schools lack funding and are forced to “teach to the test.”

As Clocks Wind Down, Liberians Wait and Pray

Annie Yonly has lived in the United States since 1985. She’s a registered nurse, owner of two houses, and mother of U.S. citizen children. According to census data, she’s even lived in MN longer than 25% of Minnesota’s population. But each year she wonders whether she’ll have to return to a country which she fled nearly 25 years ago during the outbreak of civil war. This year, she’s worrying more than ever. Two weeks before Liberian Temporary Protected Status is set to expire, there is still no word from the Obama administration as to whether it will be extended.

Many Congresspersons are also working to stay deportation for Liberians in coodination with the Liberian government. To read the press release, click here.

Priest’s Video Contradicts Police Report
A local priest who became concerned about increased reports of systemic racial profiling, intimidation, and discrimination in his small town East Haven was arrested after videotaping the actions of police in a local convenient store. The police report states that the officer arrested the priest because he saw a “unknown shiny, silver object” in the priest’s hand and felt threatened. However, the video that was recovered from policy custody by the priest’s lawyers shows that the police knew the priest only had a camera and was documenting their actions.

Immigrants Didn’t Cause Your Problems
This opinion piece offers what the author calls a “tough love” message to people who blame undocumented immigrants for the current economic crisis.

In a City Filled With Lawyers, Many Immigrants Fighting Deportation Go It Alone

Manhanttan has one of the highest concentrations of lawyers in the world. Yet hundreds of New York’s immigrant residents are currently in detention without legal representation. Robert Katzmann, a federal judge on the Second Court Circuit, is organizing and educating lawyers to work on immigrant cases.

Widows Face Deportation Under Immigration Law
Current U.S. immigration law requires that widows be deported if their citizen spouse dies before their immigration application is approved. As this article states, “Immigration officials maintain they are simply enforcing the law, but some advocates say it’s a cruel injustice to spouses who were following U.S. immigration law and suffered the loss of a husband or wife.”

Interactive Map: Immigration Explorer
This interactive map put together by the NY Times allows you to see how each county in the United States has been affected by immigration over the last century.

Room for Debate Blog: A new series on immigration
The NY Times Room for Debate Blog has started a new series on immigration. Each Sunday readers and specialists will discuss various immigration topics. This week, it focused teaching English to speakers of other languages in the public school system.

Workers Without Borders
This NY Times opinion piece explores a different way to address immigration–a transnational labor union. By focusing on labor enforcement rather than immigration enforcement, this author argues that we could have a system which would meet the need for migrants in our economy and also ensure that employer exploitation of immigrants does not undercut wages for other workers.

Family’s Tragedy Shows Why Immigration Reform Is Needed

This article tells the story of Sandra Zabaleta, an undocumented worker from Guatamala, who currently faces the trauma of burying her husband, being deported, and having to choose between leaving her son in foster care or taking him with her back to Guatamala where she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to make enough money to support them both.

Operation Panty: Donate Women’s Underwear for Women in ICE Detention
As I’ve blogged about before, immigrants held in detention are given uniforms, but not underwear. It is not seen as a necessity. So many women wear the same underwear for days or even weeks while they wait for family to send them extra pairs. This blog has started a campaign to get underwear for female detainees.

More immigration articles:
The National Imperative to Imprison Immigrants for Profit

Congresswoman Calls for Humane Treatment of Immigration Detainees

Why Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio Must Go–And Soon

Hard Return: Rise in Fast-Track Deportations Raises Concerns

Failing Families: Immigration Enforcement Policies Unfairly Hurt Many Children Who Are Citizens

U.S. Urged to Bar Local Police on Immigration

Keep the border patrol ON THE BORDER

In community impact, enforcement on March 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm

The Port Townsend Peace Movement (which includes many dedicated Quakers and FCNL supporters) has made a documentary about the activities of the Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula. The full documentary is a powerful representation about how immigration enforcement can tear apart and instill fear in our communities.

Check out the trailer:

For more information, see www.bpfree.org

In particular, if you live on the Olympic Peninsula and have had a direct personal experience with the Border Patrol, Border Patrol Free Zone is collecting information and facts on all Border Patrol activities to document abuse and other civil liberties violations. Please document your story here.

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact on March 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday March 2 through Monday March 9.

Pelosi: End Raids Splitting Immigrant Families
On Saturday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined hundreds of families in the Mission District of San Francisco to call for an end to raids which tear apart families. To the crowd she said, “Taking parents from their children…that’s un-American.” She also called for comprehensive immigration reform as the solution to the broad immigration problems in the United States.

Revisions Could Prompt Arpaio’s ICE-Program Exit
After the Congressional hearing on the 287(g) program last week, Sheriff Joe Arpaio issued a statement saying that he would withdraw from the program if the federal government tried to implement oversight and regulations that would limit him to only arresting immigrants with serious criminal records. Arpaio has consistently been accused of using racial profiling as a means to identify undocumented immigrants, a frequent problem with the 287(g) program that regulations are meant to deter. Yet Arpaio states, “I like it [the program] the way it is now.”

U.S. Must Shield Its Child Citizens
Does the United States support intentionally orphaning the children of non-criminal immigrants? This article explores the fears and struggles of the some 3.1 million citizen children in the United States who have at least one undocumented parents. As the law stands now, judges to not have judicial discretion in cases where initiating removal proceedings would separate families or perhaps even orphan children. Immigrant families are then left with the choice to either bring their citizen children to a country where they will have fewer opportunities, or leave them in the care of the foster system. The Child Citizen Protection Act recently introduced to Congress would change this.

GAO Report- DHS: Organizational Structure, Spending, and Staffing for Health Care Provided to Immigrant Detainees
This GAO report examines the quality of health care provided to immigrants detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Overall, they found that the provision of health care was not uniform across all ICE facilities and there was a lack of data concerning organizational structure and oversight, spending, and staffing.

Who’s Running Immigration?
This NY Times editorial asks who is in charge of immigration under the current administration? Despite the fact that President Obama campaigned on comprehensive immigration reform and said that raids “terrorized” communities, a number of recent events have demonstrated that the new administration is so far maintaining the status quo as they prepare for immigration reform.

Many Immigrants Still Till the Land of Opportunity
This article tells the story of immigrants who make their living tending gardens in the United States. It provides an interesting perspective into the life of many immigrants in the United States.

Last Week: In Our Community

In community impact, enforcement on March 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday February 23- Monday March 2.

Given that I’ve posted a number of updates on the Bellingham raid (to access these updates click here, here, here, or here), I’ll just include a list of news articles without annotations.

Bellingham Raid
Immigration Officials Raid Bellingham Plant
28 Illegal Immigrants Arrested in Bellingham Raid
Obama Administration Conducts First Immigration Raid in Bellingham
Raid on Illegals Dismays Obama Backers

Officials, Advocates Question Immigration Raid
Bellingham Immigration Raid Raises Protests
Napolitano Orders Review of WA Raid

Concerns Arise Over Fast-Track Deportation Program
This article focuses on the federal government’s increasing practice of deporting immigrants without a hearing. Attorneys, advocates, and judges all have concerns about this practice because many immigrants are deported without knowing their rights or the future consequences of their deportation.

Obama Can’t Afford to Ignore Immigration
This International Herald Tribune article argues that even in the midst of recession, Obama can’t afford to set back immigration reform. The author argues that to come out of the recession, the U.S. needs to boost service, construction, and agricultural industries.

Haitians Look for Shift in Immigration Policy
Haitian immigrants are looking to the Obama administration for a reversal of the Bush administration’s resumed deportations to Haiti. After deadly mudslides and hurricanes hit Haiti last year, the Haitian government requested that the U.S. offer “temporary protected status” to Haitians living in the U.S. The Bush administration halted deportations while they reviewed the request, which they later denied. Many Haitians now fear being torn apart from their U.S. families. Protests against U.S. policy towards Haitians also took place last week.

Liberians in Limbo
Since they were granted temporary protected status (TPS) in 1991 after fleeing civil war, Liberian refugees have been making a life, and a community, in the United States. Now, eighteen years later, thousands of Liberian refugees are being forced to voluntarily leave the U.S. or face mass deportation on March 31. This article discusses the history and politics of the “TPS” category, which is in desparate need of reform.

U.S Immigration Policies Brings Global Shame on Us
This article discusses the global media attention–and shame–garnered by Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s tactics in handling immigration. Next to news articles abroad on President Obama’s speech before Congress were articles talking about the “inhumane,” “discriminatory,” and “humiliating” treatment of immigrant detainees in the United States.

ICE Program Shifts Immigration Costs, Abuses
“We can make a person disappear,” an ICE official said. This article discusses the problematic programs of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has extraordinary powers under civil immigration law.

Immigration Not Local Police Duty
This editorial discusses how the 287(g) program–a program which gives grant funds to local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration laws–does little to reduce crime, the program’s orginial selling point.

Other news articles:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee- ADC Requests DHS Civil Liberties Investigation of Operation Frontline

Atlanta Journal Constitution- Immigration Rally Focuses on Families

Immigration Impact- Obama Assures Mexican President He’s Committed to Immigration Reform

Associated Press- Calderon: US Should Fix Economy, Then Immigration

The Washington Post Magizine- A College Student Fights Deportation

Seattle PI- Washington Activists Fights Immigrant Detention Center

AP Texas News- Deported Infant Case Back in Court

San Francisco Chronicle- Court Takes Case on Rights of Immigrant Defendents

*UPDATE* While the President Addressed the Nation

In community impact, enforcement on February 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm

While testifying before Congress yesterday, Secretary Napolitano vowed that she would “get to the bottom” of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in Bellingham, Washington. As the Washington Times reported, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official stated that “the secretary is not happy and this is not her policy.”

In further developments, Whitehouse spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Washington Times that “these raids are not a long term solution.” I was also pleased to hear him say that “The president believes we must respect due process and our best values as we enforce the law. The real answer to our broken immigration system is to fix it. The president has said that we will start the immigration reform debate this year, and this continues to be the plan.”

This is one of the first statements from the Whitehouse signaling that they plan to follow through with their campaign promise of pursuing comprehensive immigration reform during the first year in office.

It appears that Obama does still get it. But we need to make sure that his “getting it” turns into actual policy.

TAKE ACTION TODAY
Ask your Congressperson to contact President Obama and Secretary Napolitano and encourage them to stop the raids.

While the President Addressed the Nation

In community impact on February 25, 2009 at 5:32 pm
[POST UPDATED] For the latest update on the Bellingham raid, click HERE.

Last night President Obama addressed the joint chambers of Congress laying out his administration’s priorities for the next year. The entire speech focused on the economy, but emphasized energy, healthcare, and education as the top three areas of focus–all issues that I strongly support.

I was disappointed, however, that President Obama failed to mention immigration even once during his address.

I was even more disappointed that on a day when he calls for the U.S. to take responsibility for its future once more, for its people to join in rebuilding their country, the first worksite raid of the Obama administration took place in Bellingham, Washington.

In their usual militarized and heavy-handed fashion (including the helicopter), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided Yamato Engine Specialists arresting 28 undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

As it appears now, they are attempting to charge these individuals with identity fraud, which–unlike “unlawful presence” or “entry without inspection” –is a criminal offense. This is the same tactic ICE piloted in Postville, Iowa last summer, a tactic that’s legality is currently being reviewed by the U.S Supreme Court.

But the first worksite raid of the Obama administration is especially disappointing given that during the campaign last summer Obama said:

“When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn’t working, and we need to change it.”

At that moment back in July, he seemed to get it. Yet the raid that took place yesterday was no different, three mothers with young children were among those arrested.

And I can’t say that Obama doesn’t get it now. As I posted last week, when he was on the radio show El Piolín por la mañana, Obama clearly spoke of the need for immigration reform precisely in light of the current state of the economy.

I think he does get it. But as his address to the nation last night showed, it is not currently a priority of the Obama administration. This is problematic for two reasons:

  1. Without reform, raids like that the one that took place yesterday in Bellingham will continue to terrorize our communities, tearing mothers from their children, separating families, placing hardworking members of our communities in detention centers with inadequate standards, and even placing further strain on local economies.
  2. By not prioritizing humane immigration reform, immigration will continue to be a divisive issue used to derail critical initiatives of the administration like healthcare and education.

As we’ve seen in congressional debates over SCHIP and the Recovery Act, immigration has been an issue which almost causes their failure. What will happen in a debate over universal healthcare if we have not already rectified the status of undocumented immigratants? What about education when hardline anti-immigrant advocates say they don’t want money going to schools if it will fund ESL programs?

How will we move forward in what is best for our country without finding a way to include and recognize core members of our communities?

I wish Obama would answer that. Even President Bush left the Whitehouse saying one of his biggest regrets was that he did not push for immigration reform first, before social security reform. I don’t want the Obama administration to leave with such regrets. I want change.

But I can say that I am left hopeful by the continued and growing efforts of communities around the country to speak out on the issue of immigration. As we saw last week, over 150 communities nationwide held prayer vigils calling for Congress to act on humane immigration reform. And in April, another national grassroots effort will take place in the form of “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” in-district visits with Congresspeople.

May theirs be the winds of change that move us forward.

abUSed: The Postville Raid

In community impact, enforcement on February 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm
“…the desperate need for immigration reform needs a face, and that face might well be in Postville, Iowa.”

~One of the many articles written about Postville

On May 12, 2008, Postville, Iowa experienced one of the most heavily armed and militarized immigration raids in U.S. history. 389 undocumented meatpacking workers were arrested and chained while working at Agriprocessors, Inc by 900 armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
In less than 4 days, over 3/4 of those arrested were fast-tracked through the U.S. legal system where, as one of the certified interpreters brought in to translate these cases testified, “defendants whose words he translated…did not understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived.” The defendants were allowed little time with their legal counsel–if any–and many did not understand why they were in criminal court.

Unlike previous raids were ICE apprehended undocumented immigrants to be deported, in Postville they were trying a new tactic: charging as many people as they could with criminal offenses. They then used these criminal charges–many of which carried a mandatory two-year sentencing–to persuade people to plead guilty to lesser immigration charges, spend 5 months in detention, and deportation.

While the legality of this ICE tactic is currently be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the devastation the Postville raid has had on the community is still evident. Families have become dependent on churches and other social services for food and shelter. The economy is tanking. U.S. citizen children are left in the foster care system or exiled to a country they have never seen. Restaurants who served the Agriprocessors workers have been forced to shut down. The company itself cut the jobs of even more workers and filed bankruptcy.

As I heard many faith groups and individuals who went to Postville to offer humanitarian relief after the raids say, the Postville raid created a natural disaster zone, only it was manmade.

abUSED: The Postville Raid is a documentary by acclaimed director Luis Argueta capturing the stories and effects of the Postville Raid. Even this short, 8 minute trailer gives a face to current, unjust enforcement practices and the dire need for comprehensive immigration reform in our country.

I encourage everyone to watch it and use the full documentary once it comes out as a educational tool for your communities.

For more information on the continued devastation in Postville, see this Times article that I included in my February 2nd news update.

Prayer, Renewal, Action

In community impact on February 20, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Throughout this week, over 150 communities nationwide have joined together to pray for humane immigration reform in the 111th Congress.

In a campaign sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (of which we–FCNL–are members), participants in these vigils are calling for:

1. Protection for immigrants and their families
2. Empowerment of the faith community to advocate on behalf of immigrants
3. Moral courage for Congress to take the necessary leadership to see that humane comprehensive immigration reform is passed

prayer-vigils-1

As my colleague with the United Methodist Church, Bill Mefford, said: “This tremendous response by people of faith is due to seeing the devastation of raids on immigrant families and local communities and the need for Congress to have the moral courage to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.”

Bishop Carcaño, who was in town last week for the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s press conference launching the Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform, followed by saying that “prayer is a powerful, fundamental aspect of our faith. When nothing else has changed hearts and changed minds in the past, prayer has been that changing factor. I believe in the power of prayer.”

And seeing the impact and coverage these vigils have brought to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the last week, I’d be inclined to believe her. Not even 3/4 of the vigils have taken place, but here is a hint at what sort of impact they’re having:

TV Coverage
Good Morning Arizona Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC15 News at 5 am Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
12 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
ABC 15 News at 10 pm Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]
3 TV News at 9 Sunday Phoenix, AZ [Updated 2/23/2009]

News 10 NBC Today Rochester, NY
News 10 NBC Today at Eleven Rochester, NY
Fox 4 at 9 pm Kansas City, MO
NBC 17 News at 6 Raleigh- Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at 5 Raleigh-Durnam, NC
Fox 4 at 12 Noon Kansas City, MO
WRAL TV News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
ABC 11 Eyewitness News at Noon Raleigh-Durnam, NC
News 8 Update Dallas, TX
Channel 2 Action News Atlanta, GA
CBS Atlanta News at 11 Atlanta, GA

News Coverage
Newsday: Prayer Vigil Focuses on Immigration Reform [Updated 2/23/2009]

Ashville Citizen Times: Immigration Vigil Focuses on Reform
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Jackson Clarion Ledger: Immigration Prayer Vigil Set for Carthage
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Waterloo Courier- A Prayer from Postville: Vigil Urges Reform of Immigration Laws
[Updated 2/23/2009]

Iowa Independent: Calls for Immigration Reform Continue in Postville [Updated 2/23/2009]

Decorah Journal: Renewed Hope [Updated 2/23/2009]

Bradenton Herald: Church to Hold Vigil for Migrants [Updated 2/23/2009]

Waco Tribune: Local News Briefs [Updated 2/23/2009]

El Diario La Prensa: Oran por reforma migratoria [Updated 2/23/2009]

Dallas Morning News: From Dallas church, people pray for ‘humane and just’ immigration reform

Idaho Press Tribune: Vigil will focus on immigration

Aurora Sentinel: Faith calls together crowd for immigration vigil

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Interfaith church vigil calls for immigration reform

WHEC News: Immigration reform prayer service

ABC 11 News: Immigration supporters pray for change

North Carolina News Network: Prayer For An End To Immigration Raids

Raleigh News & Observer: Prayer vigil focuses on immigration

WRAL News: Raleigh joins national vigil for immigration reform

Omaha World Herald: Bishops take on immigrant policies

Virginian Pilot: Religious group to host immigration talk in Va. Beach

Alter Net: Religious Leaders Help Shape Immigration Debate

Christian Post: Faith Leaders Re-Ignite Immigration Debate

The Hill: Immigration reform advocates push forward in tough economy

Decorah Journal: Postville prayer vigil Thursday

MSNBC: Immigration reform prayer service

Jersey Journal: Immigration vigil tonight

Catholic News Agency: Nebraska bishops use input from laity to tackle immigration reform

Columbus Telegram: Bishops urge care with immigrants

Cary News: Cary immigration reform group holds training session

Great Falls Tribune: Immigration bill targets illegal workers

San Diego Union Tribune: Bilingual workshop set to help with immigration

Annapolis Capital: Immigrants march to protest Va. county’s policies