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Posts Tagged ‘raids’

TAKE ACTION: Thank Rep. Pelosi for Supporting Immigration Reform, Ending Raids

In legislation on March 26, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a strong stance against immigration raids and for humane, comprehensive immigration reform. Standing with hundreds of families in San Francisco’s Mission District, Pelosi made it clear as she has not before that she will make immigration reform a priority in the House.

Please thank Nancy Pelosi for her statements about immigration reform. Urge her to continue to use her leadership role in the House to ensure that Congress passes just and humane comprehensive immigration reform this year. Without her support, Congress will likely be unable to pass a bill which prevents the separation of families, creates a path to legal status for undocumented workers, protects workers rights, and respects due process and human rights for all persons.

Already, people who oppose such immigration reform are criticizing her for her statements. Your words of support can help her continue to be a leader for comprehensive immigration reform.

UFCW Says New CIS Report Demonstrates Complete Lack of Knowledge

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm

A recent Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)–an independent “think tank” that promotes restricting immigration and has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a nativist group–report claims that harsh immigration enforcement tactics, like the raids on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in 2006, have contributed to a rise in wages and improved working conditions.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) refutes this claim, stating that the report has flaws in both the manipulation of its data and its historical analysis of the meatpacking industry.

Read the press release below.

For Immediate Release: Media Contact:
March 19, 2009 Scott Frotman 202-466-1537

NEW CIS STUDY DEMONSTRATES A COMPLETE LACK OF
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MEATPACKING INDUSTRY

UFCW cites serious flaws in group’s analysis of historical industry data and finds its conclusion about Swift raids absurd

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest meatpacking and processing union in North America, released the following statement today in response to serious flaws in a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) regarding immigration enforcement efforts at meatpacking facilities:

“Mark Twain once noted, ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.’ This new report by the Center for Immigration Studies is a case study in the misinterpretation and manipulation of data to reach a totally biased and flawed conclusion.

“The report demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about the history of the meatpacking industry. Throughout history, immigrants from across the globe have helped strengthen the U.S. meatpacking industry by organizing around increased wages and improved industry standards.

“During the 1980’s, consolidation, mergers and company induced strikes helped drive down wages. Employers forced workers onto the streets to fight unacceptable concessions.. During the strikes, companies aggressively recruited strike breakers—who were not immigrants but individuals who came from the decimated farm industry—to cross the picket lines. Many of these workers soon realized that the jobs were too difficult, particularly at the wages companies were offering, and they left the industry. But the damage was done. Ever since that time, the UFCW has been fighting to rebuild wages and standards for these jobs.

“In the case of Swift, the UFCW had negotiated wage increases prior to the raid. This fact disproves CIS’ central argument that wages and benefits increased as a result of a change in workforce at the plant.

“In addition to these historical inaccuracies, the CIS report fails to address the devastating impact that the Swift raid had on thousands of workers –both immigrant and native born. In the aftermath of the raid, the UFCW documented numerous examples of racial profiling, U.S. citizens harassed and detained by armed agents and a sheer disregard for the constitutional rights of
workers.

“The UFCW filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these raids and formed a commission to examine the ramification of ICE raids, including Swift. A report documenting the commission’s findings will be made public in the next few months.

“The raids at Swift, and across the country, have done nothing to protect workers or to raise standards in our industries. They have done nothing to address our broken immigration system.. They have been a complete travesty of justice.

“If our immigration system is going to work for the benefit and betterment of our nation it is critical that our laws are upheld. That applies to both immigrant workers and government agents. If the last eight years have shown us anything, it is that enforcement-only strategies do not work. Yes, we need enforcement, but to truly reform our immigration system, we need to
address trade relationships, workforce needs, family unification, legalization, workers’ rights and living standards, and 12 million undocumented individuals suspended on the edge of hope. And we need to do it in a comprehensive manner.

“The enforcement-only stance routinely endorsed by CIS is a short-sighted view that fails to take into account our larger national interest. It is as if they worked backwards on this report. They started from their rigid immigration stance and tried to make the facts fit their view. The problem is that it doesn’t add up. It is basically 16 pages of unproductive scapegoating, cherry picked quotes, and historical misinterpretations.

“The irony is that if you take an objective look at the data being presented, free of the author’s slanted view, it makes a pretty clear and compelling case for comprehensive immigration reform.

“There is the saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Well, you can seek out a respected journalist to write a report for the Center for Immigration Studies, but at the end of the day you end up with the same old, tired, anti-immigrant extremist drivel.”

# # #

The UFCW represents 1..3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. UFCW members also work in the health care, garment, chemical, distillery and retail industries.

To read more about CIS’s flawed analysis, see Immigration Impact- New CIS Study: Easy Answers and Half-Baked Solutions

-or-

Immigration Policy Center- Press Release: CIS Report Gets Diagnosis Right, Cure Wrong

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 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

Cocktails and Criticism: Deepak Bhargava Responds to the Bellingham Raid

In enforcement on February 27, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Yesterday, Deepak Bhargava wrote a moving response to the Bellingham raid on the Center for Community Change’s blog.

Bhargava wrote first of his opportunity to meet with President Obama last week during a cocktail reception for progressive leaders at the Whitehouse. He was pleased at that time with the response he received from Obama regarding comprehensive immigration reform.

Like most of us, however, he was disappointed when he received a call 10 pm on Tuesday night–just as Obama’s address to the nation was finishing–that the first worksite raid under the Obama administration had taken place.

And also like most of us, he was pleased by the quick response of Secretary Napolitano and the Whitehouse to call for an investigation of the raid and publicly state that such enforcement tactics are not the Obama administration’s immigration strategy.

What I would most like to point to you all, however, is the part of the blog where Bhargava asks “What lessons might we draw from this whole experience?”

He responds:

First, we are not agents of the Obama Administration – or any other politician. Our highest commitment as progressives is to the most vulnerable people in our society, and being progressive means nothing at all if it doesn’t mean standing up for and with them. Second, we shouldn’t expect to get change that we don’t help to make happen. To paraphrase Frederick Douglas, there is not progress without agitation. Third, if we take the view that the Administration is potentially an ally – rather than reflexively assuming bad intent — and we are clear and specific about what we want to see happen, we can in fact make real progress by working together. I am heartened by what this Administration has gotten done for low-income people in an incredibly short period of time through the recovery bill and SCHIP legislation – and the speed of their response to our concerns about this tragic raid further confirms their sincere commitment to change.

I am also heartened that the President is leading a national conversation on shared responsibility and shared sacrifice – two critical elements of the community values that are at the center of all the work to which we community organizers are passionately committed.

So, maybe cocktails and criticism – in the context of a respectful and real relationship that grows and develops over time — can go together and deliver results.

I think these are important lessons for us all to consider as we move forward in our work for a more just and equitable society. The campaign is over and now it is time for us to create the change that we believe in.


More Posts on the Bellingham Raid

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Hopeful After Meeting with Napolitano

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm

After a meeting with DHS Secretary Napolitano, The Hill reports that Hispanic lawmakers are hopeful that she will end workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enfocrement (ICE).

Yesterday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress (CHC) held a closed door meeting with Secretary Napolitano. According to members of the CHC, she raised the issue of the Bellingham riad on her own accord and said that she had “grave concerns” over what happened.

Congressman and CHC Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutierrez said the meeting was “very, very constructive. We’re happy….We shared with her our concerns about the raid. She shared with us that she had grave concerns about the manner in which it was carried out and that it’s under evaluation. I think the most important words were that she had ‘grave concerns.'”

The CHC is made up of Hispanic members of Congress who work to advance national and international issues that have an impact on policies related to the Hispanic community. The CHC pushes for comprehensive immigration reform and, right now, they are also focused on scaling back intimidating and agressive enforcement tactics impletmented under the Bush administration.

More Posts on the Bellingham Raid

*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.