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Tag: "immigration"

How Can We Respond to the Renewed Muslim Ban?

[ 85 ] July 13, 2017 |

I want to build on my post from Tuesday about how no one is even talking about the renewed Muslim ban, as well as Dan’s post from yesterday expanding on it to discuss Trump’s plan for mass deportations.

The initial response to the Muslim ban was amazing. As these things go, the seeming spontaneous actions by hundreds if not thousands of people to go to airports and disrupt the Muslim ban in fact was created by the hard work of grassroots organizers preparing for these sorts of issues and actions. The majority of people who showed up of course had no idea who these people were and they went out of outrage, but also because they heard other people were going. That’s where the organizing comes in. Their friends wouldn’t have gone if organizers hadn’t started that process, etc.

The secondary response to the Muslim ban was for liberals to give record amounts of money to the ACLU. From one angle, this makes sense. The legal teams fighting the Muslim ban in the courts had early victories and ultimately, one hopes that the American legal system would rule this as unconstitutional as it obviously is.

On the other hand, we know now that this probably isn’t going to work because of the Supreme Court. So where does that leave us? Donating to the ACLU is useful. It is not useful enough. It also gives the overwhelmingly upper middle class white liberal donors to the ACLU a bit of a pass in doing anything else.

Ultimately, the legal strategy and donations are good, but they have to be backed up with protest politics. As many said at the time, including the lawyers fighting the Muslim ban, the protests in the airports did a world of good, giving judges the shot in the arm they needed to stand up to Trump at that early moment when no one really knew if anyone would stand up to him. Without the protests, the stays on the Muslim ban might not have happened at all.

If the Supreme Court is not going to throw out the ban, what will you do?

I was discussing my post with an organizing friend of mine. She works in New York, with many of the immigrant-led organizations doing the grassroots work that meant so much during the JFK occupation. These are barebones organizations, holding the funding together by a thread. These are the groups we should be funding. The ACLU has plenty of access to money. We need to move our money around more effectively to people who add to the legal strategy through the equally important direct action strategy.

My friend noted that as this was all going on, she was desperately trying to get people to donate to a much broader set of organizations than the ACLU. She was using her Twitter feed to publicize all these other groups. It didn’t really work and she is very frustrated by it. I think the question for me is how to connect your everyday liberal to these organizations. When I think of who donates in situations like this, I think of professors. And I think of many commenters on this blog. I think that some of the problem is that there are a not small number of liberals who are openly uncomfortable with protest politics. In the aftermath of the courts intervening in the Muslim ban, some LGM commenters asserted the protests had nothing to do with it. This was of course absurd and countered by the very legal people working on the issue. But it gets at the feeling some have. This is a problem. Personally, I think a bigger problem is more that most donating liberals simply don’t know who they should give to, don’t know how to know, and aren’t going to do the work to find out. The ACLU is a nice safe organization. It does good work. It’s an easy donation without having to think about it too much.

But it’s not also not sufficient, as we are seeing. Donating to the ACLU is not an excuse not to be active and outraged at the betrayal of American values from this administration and its racist base. More is needed.

So my question to you is, what do you think a next step would be? If I was to promote grassroots organizations on this site, would you consider giving to them instead or in addition to big groups like the ACLU? How else will we reignite outrage over the Muslim ban? What do you recommend?


#Resist Mass Deportation

[ 33 ] July 12, 2017 |

Apropos Erik’s post from yesterday, DHS Secretary John Kelley met with the leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. At least by some accounts, the content of the meeting are deeply troubling. Indeed, Rep. Gutiérrez issued an alarmed press release afterwards, which I reproduce in its entirety.

I think we have to prepare for the worst and get ready to fight mass deportation.  We showed up at airports to fight the Muslim and Refugee Ban and now DREAMers and people who have lived here legally for decades with TPS are in imminent danger.

Secretary Kelly determines the future of TPS and basically told us he is not sure if he will extend it for hundreds of thousands of people. He also said that the future of DACA is up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, America’s leading advocate against immigration, so Kelly was basically telling us DACA is facing a death sentence.  They actually want to take millions of people who are documented – with our own government – make them undocumented, and then go after them and their families.

So, I fear for anybody currently with DACA or TPS.

This was a wake-up call that Trump, Sessions and Kelly are serious about mass deportation and are anxious to get started.  It is a call to action for people who oppose mass deportation and turning the documented into undocumented so that they can be deported.

Upon questioning, Sec. Kelly made it clear he does not understand how his agency works or how the Congress works.  He stood by his past remarks that Congress should change the law if we don’t like it, as if Democrats have not been fighting Republican obstruction for years, and asking for a vote on immigration reform, the DREAM Act and other legislation.  Sec. Kelly says it is up to Congress, but his party is the obstacle standing in the way of a modern immigration system.

Sec. Kelly said he could not help people and their American citizen children who have no criminal record and are being deported, as if he doesn’t understand that he has the power under current law to spare people through his prosecutorial discretion.  I told him straight up that he could prevent the August deportation of Francisca Lino – the wife of a U.S. citizen and mother of U.S. citizen children in Chicago – just by picking up the phone and he seemed not to know he has that power.

He either does not understand his authority under current law or was stonewalling or doing a very convincing job of playing dumb – or maybe some combination of the three.  He is playing along with Trump’s agenda to deport millions and pretending to not understand his powers to do something about it.  ‘Just following orders’ is not a valid defense, especially when you have the power to prevent a tragedy for millions of American citizens and their families.

Trump, Sessions and Kelly want to take 800,000 DREAMers with DACA and hundreds of thousands with TPS who are registered with the government and in compliance with the law and make them into criminals, felons, and deportees in the next few months.  Anyone with a conscience who thinks legal immigration is an integral part of who we are as a country just got called to action.

In the context of the arbitrary and capricious implementation of Trump’s stripped-down Muslim Ban, Erik’s remarked that “This is grotesque. It is a violation of everything that can be good about this nation. That we are now acquiescing in this sort of thing happening without barely a peep of daily protest I find greatly dispiriting.” A number of commentators pointed out the basic problem: the wave of protests had both a highly visible trigger—the sudden implementation of the ban—and placed significant numbers of travelers in immediate peril. While the revocation of DACA or TPS might provoke a similar response, the scenario of a slow-motion, uncertain, and decentralized ramping up of deportations is not ideal for mass mobilization.

The kind of mobilization we saw early in the Trump Administration brought together heterogeneous crows who, by and large, were not linked together. This kind of thing—which we also after the September 11 attacks—tends to prove ephemeral. The best way to sustain mobilization is to engage in organizational politics—join activist groups, recruit members, help link together different existing organizations. This requires more work than being on Facebook or Twitter, but its the real stuff of popular political action.

The Muslim Ban is Back and No One Seems to Care

[ 50 ] July 11, 2017 |

The protests against Trump’s Muslim ban were a critical moment in the early days of this administration, demonstrating that a mass of Americans would stand up for values of inclusion. Unfortunately, with the Supreme Court at least temporarily (and probably permanently) allowing for the Muslim ban to continue, the protests about it have faded away. It’s barely on the radar screen. Meanwhile, this is happening.

An Iranian cancer researcher traveling to the U.S. to work as a visiting scholar at Boston Children’s Hospital has been detained with his wife and three children at Boston Logan International Airport.

The researcher, Mohsen Dehnavi, holds a visiting work visa that was issued in May. His detainment comes just two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could largely enforce an executive order that would ban people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. But the court also ruled that the ban couldn’t apply to visitors who already held valid visas.

Dehnavi was traveling to the U.S. on a J-1 visa, which is issued to researchers and other academics who are participating in visiting scholar programs. The hospital said Dehnavi, his wife, and three children — ages 6, 3, and 7 months — will likely be sent back to Iran on Tuesday. It’s not clear why Dehnavi and his family are being detained, the hospital said.

Mohammad Rashidian, a Boston Children’s Hospital researcher and friend of Dehnavi’s, said airport officials told him that family would need to travel back to Iran and speak to the State Department to complete additional paperwork to be allowed into the U.S.

“I don’t really know what the source of the problem is,” said Rashidian, who was supposed to pick the family up from the airport on Monday afternoon. Dehnavi texted him to say they he and his family had arrived and were waiting in line to have their visas checked. Rashidian hasn’t heard from them since.

“They were so worried,” he said.

This is grotesque. It is a violation of everything that can be good about this nation. That we are now acquiescing in this sort of thing happening without barely a peep of daily protest I find greatly dispiriting.

How Many Kids Grew the Food You Ate Today?

[ 16 ] July 10, 2017 |

I certainly understand that everyone is paying attention to the nightly treason of Uday and Qusay Trump, but it’s at least worth noting that the Trump Department of Labor will do absolutely nothing about the kids working in North Carolina fields to pick your food, except possibly deport them to their deaths.

Every year, North Carolina relies on roughly 80,000 farmworkers to harvest tobacco, sweet potatoes, Christmas trees, fruit, cucumbers and vegetables. They also work on hog and poultry farms and in factories, greenhouses and nurseries. Some advocacy groups put that number closer to 150,000.

These workers, mostly Latino migrants and immigrants, make up an invisible workforce that puts food on dinner tables and props up the state’s economy. Agriculture contributes $84 billion annually to North Carolina’s economy and comprises more than 17 percent of the state’s income, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

They receive little pay, and the work is hot, thankless and sometimes dangerous and unsanitary. The government and some tobacco companies have made improvements, but some say little change has trickled down.

Some of these immigrant workers are children, although no one knows for sure how many.

Most industries won’t hire workers under 14 and establish specific time restrictions for youth, but under federal labor laws children 12 and older can work in agriculture without a work permit for an unlimited number of hours outside of school with permission from a parent.

If their parent is employed on a farm or gives them permission, kids under 12 can work in nonhazardous jobs on farms exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage. Children aged 10 or 11 can work in short-season crops under specific waivers granted by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Employers who violate child labor laws could be forced to pay up to $10,000 to the U.S. Department of Labor for each underage employee. But not all farmers follow the rules and may never be caught, depending on whether their farm is inspected and oftentimes whether their fields are visible to drivers.

“You can barely spot us, because we’re really small and short,” Castillo said. “There’s still a lot of 7-, 12-, 13-year-olds working. I don’t think it’s ever going to change.”

Pretty awful. Some of the problem lies with the fascists in the North Carolina legislature. But it’s not as if the Obama administration really addressed this issue either.

Labor Notes

[ 5 ] July 7, 2017 |

Because of being so immersed in the horribleness of daily politics, I haven’t really been doing enough labor blogging of late. This is bad on my part and I need to get back to it. Here’s a few stories to help catch everyone up.

1) With so much tech work being outsourced to India, it’s really promising for all tech workers that Indians are starting to demand unions.

2) Trump may have friends in Bangkok as the Thai prime minister is forced to backtrack on a huge deportation campaign based on a new migrant labor law.

3) When we think about undocumented workers from Latin America, we almost reflexively assume they are Latinos who speak Spanish. But that is very often not the case. They are frequently indigenous people who do not speak Spanish. This leads to a whole set of unique issues, some of which replicate racism within Latin America and others that stem from the white American assumption that everyone must speak Spanish. Around these intertwined issues of race, indigeneity, and labor exploitation, indigenous Oaxacan migrants in Washington have started their own union in the agricultural industry.

4) Despite successful Republican and corporate kidnapping of the word “freedom,” unions are what provide workers freedom, not employers.

5) The run of the Iron Stache, Randy Bryce, a member of the Ironworkers, against Paul Ryan could be interesting and will get a lot of grassroots support.

6) Would you go see a play written by Mark Rylance about the Homestead Strike? I know I would!

Today in American Fascist Ethnic Cleansing

[ 50 ] June 12, 2017 |

Which story about the fascists in ICE do you like better? The one where they took a member of the Painters’ Union who showed up for a job on a military base without knowing he would be deported? Or the kid they picked up right before his senior prom? Or the targeting of Iraqi Christians to be deported, probably to their death?

As I have said before, ICE is a fascist agency staffed by white supremacists who are loving the Trump administration. These people were horrible under Obama too and they resisted him very strongly. But now they are totally unleashed to engage in the ethnic cleansing they dream of. If you know an ICE agent personally, you should rebuke that person and shun them until they quit. That is the only way to deal with such terrible people in the face of a government that will do nothing to stop their racist actions.

How’s Our Ethnic Cleansing Program Going?

[ 32 ] June 5, 2017 |

Fascist ICE agents are the best.

Early last Monday morning, Oscar Millan’s longtime partner called him from a Boston hospital, weepy with relief.

Their son, Oscar Matias, had been born two weeks earlier with a serious condition that prevented food from traveling from his stomach to his small intestine. But that morning, he’d undergone a successful surgery to repair it, and a second was scheduled for early June. Millan told his partner, Evanice Escudero, that he’d be by to pick them up in a couple of hours, after checking in on a landscaping job he had to do that day.

But Millan, a 37-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant, never made it to the hospital.

As he drove to the job site, he was picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who were looking for him near his home in Framingham, Massachusetts, about 20 miles outside of Boston. In 2008, an immigration judge had ordered Millan deported after a failed asylum claim, but Millan had stayed in the country with his family until he recently pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. An ICE spokesman said Millan’s arrest was prompted by both the deportation order and the conviction.

At the hospital, Escudero began to panic. “I was calling him over and over again but he wasn’t picking up and I didn’t know why,” Escudero said in an interview in Spanish. “I didn’t know what was going on until Oscar’s mother came to pick me up at around 11 or noon.”

After the arrest, ICE agents had gone to Millan and Escudero’s house and explained to his mother what had happened.

The move to detain Millan is a sign that the Trump administration is delivering on its promise to strictly follow longstanding immigration laws to maximize its ability to deport people living unlawfully in the United States.

Making America Great Again is definitely predicated on making sure that sick babies don’t have fathers around. Meanwhile, deportations are going to be great for Haiti.

Watson Saint Fleur is 12 but he’s never attended a day of school. He’s toiled in hardship doing household chores and peddling plastic bags of drinking water along city streets noisy with motorbikes and trucks.

He’s one of Haiti’s “restaveks,” a term to describe children whose poor parents hand them over to others in hopes they’ll have opportunities to escape a dead-end life or at least get more food. It’s a practice deeply ingrained in Haiti, where families frequently have numerous kids despite crushing poverty.

For many, that better life never arrives. Many are exploited as domestic servants in households only slightly better off, working long hours in exchange for food and a spot to sleep on a shack’s floor. An untold number endure regular beatings, are deprived of an education and are victims of sexual abuse. And their numbers have been growing sharply as urban slums expand and poverty in the countryside deepens.

Studies indicate the population of child domestic workers rose from some 172,000 in 2002 to roughly 286,000 in 2014 — four years after an earthquake flattened much of Port-au-Prince and outlying areas, killing as many as 300,000 and leaving some 1.5 million people homeless.

Now child advocates in the hemisphere’s poorest country are bracing for yet another increase of youngsters like Watson driven into unpaid servitude.

The Trump administration is weighing an end to a humanitarian program that has protected nearly 60,000 Haitians from deportation since that earthquake — a “temporary protected status” based on the assumption their homeland could not absorb them following the disaster. If the program known as TPS is not extended, people could be sent back to Haiti starting in January.

Such mass deportation would cut off remittances that keep many Haitian families fed in a country where deep poverty is the primary force behind the restavek practice.

“There’s no doubt an end to TPS will create far more restaveks,” said prominent Haitian child advocate Gertrude Sejour.

The winning continues for everyone. At least Dear Leader can tweet at the London mayor while ignoring the white terrorist murder of two people in Portland and one in Maryland.

Today in American Fascism

[ 123 ] May 29, 2017 |

Of course the fascist war against immigrants continues on Decoration Day. In Texas, pro-immigrant protestors held a rally inside the state capital. Now I don’t want to alarm you, but some Texas legislators are really racist. Such as this guy.

A Texas Republican reportedly threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on Monday, Democrats said.

Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, reportedly made the comment “in the direction of” Representative Poncho Nevárez during a dispute that began when Rinaldi told two Hispanic lawmakers that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Senate Bill 4 protesters at the Capitol.

“There was a subsequent exchange between my brother Poncho and Representative Rinaldi and there was a threat made from Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleague’s heads,” Representative Justin Rodriguez told reporters after the incident. “That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”

Rinaldi told Representative Ramon Romero Jr. on the House floor that the hundreds of protesters who were chanting in the gallery were a “disgrace,” Romero told the Observer.

“Fuck them, I called ICE,” Rinaldi said, according to Romero.

Romero said that prompted Representative Cesar Blanco to tell Rinaldi that Italian immigrants “are just like us,” and Rinaldi responded, “Yeah, but we love our country.”

“He saw a bunch of people who look Latino, and he assumed they’re undocumented,” Romero told the Observer. “So how can he say SB 4 won’t lead to racial profiling?”

A white supremacist from the Dallas suburbs? No! Oh, but I’m sure the Republicans who control the Texas legislature, the racists elected to leading state government positions, and the voters of Irving will totally see that this violent racist asshole is punished. Right? SB-4 is the Texas bill to punish sanctuary cities.

Meanwhile, there’s America’s fascist shock troops, the ethnic cleansing organization known as ICE.

Guadalupe Plascencia said she was alarmed when a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy asked her to sign papers related to her immigration status.

The 59-year-old hairdresser from San Bernardino had spent the night of March 29 in jail because of a decade-old bench warrant related to her alleged failure to appear as a witness in a court case. During her night in jail, Plascencia said a deputy asked her to sign documents acknowledging that officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had inquired about her.

“Why?” Plascencia asked. “I’m an American citizen.”

Confused and scared, Plascencia did as she was asked, assuring herself that the entire ordeal was a mistake that would soon be cleared up.

But as she tried to leave the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Plascencia said she was met by immigration enforcement agents, handcuffed and placed in the back of a van. Plascencia would spend the rest of the day in ICE custody, fearful that she would be deported despite becoming an American citizen some 20 years ago, following an amnesty program initiated by President Ronald Reagan.

“I felt helpless, like I was no one,” she said in a recent interview. “Here, they talk about rights … in that moment, I realized, we don’t have rights.”

Plascencia was eventually released after her daughter showed ICE agents her passport. But now she has taken the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the federal immigration agency and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in a case that raises issues of how an American citizen wound up in the custody of immigration enforcement agents.

Whoops! This citizen could have easily been deported, especially given the decreasing access to legal counsel those unfortunate enough to be picked up by ICE are receiving. But hey, she had an accent. Must be illegal! Get her!

At least our president showed great leadership over the white supremacist murders in Portland….

ICE: America’s Fascist Agency

[ 56 ] May 25, 2017 |

Yesterday, ICE agents ate at a restaurant in Michigan. They then detained 3 of the workers, although it’s not even clear why as they were all released. Presumably they had accents and thus must be here without documentation. There is a term for this sort of behavior. That term is fascism. Below is footage of what these ICE agents did.

ICE is a fascist agency. It needs to be destroyed. These agents are reprehensible people who act in ways that would have made the SS proud.

Too Much Winning

[ 35 ] April 25, 2017 |


Trump and Sessions’ fascism once again halted by the courts.

A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared sanctuary jurisdictions cause “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” The city and county argued the president’s order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.

Of course given that Neil “Murderer of Disabled Black Arkansas Prisoners” Gorsuch is now on the Supreme Court, I don’t know how optimistic I am in the long term, but all this seriously slows down the horror of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his attempt to impose the race relations of 1931 on the entire country.

America’s Funnyman

[ 63 ] April 23, 2017 |


When he takes a break from dropping his ridiculously awesome sense of humor that mere mortals would call racism, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is continuing his reign of terror against undocumented people. Here’s some stories from scared people in Rhode Island.

The Haitian immigrant sits in a reporter’s car, parked on a side street, his eyes scanning for police or federal agents. Dreading potential arrest and deportation, “Joseph” says this is only the third time he’s ventured from his basement hideaway since before President Donald Trump took office.

A slender 35-year-old with wide cheekbones and close-cropped hair, Joseph remains secluded with his girlfriend and their infant in a two-room concrete basement. They’ve taped blackout cloth over the one tiny window. They speak in low tones. They watch television with the volume off and captions on. They hope the baby’s cries don’t attract attention. His aunt, who owns the house, attends to their needs.

Through an interpreter, Joseph says that “because of the problem with Donald Trump, they are putting everybody in the same boat,” lumping all undocumented immigrants with those who have committed crimes. He hopes that Trump “may change his mind, and allow [undocumented] people to stay if they have no criminal record.”

If he doesn’t, Joseph says, “Only God knows” what will happen to his family.

Joseph is one of several undocumented immigrants The Journal interviewed who are living under self-imposed home confinement because of the Trump administration’s executive orders that appear to put many of the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk. The Journal has granted them anonymity because of their fears. Joseph is being interviewed in the car so the reporter will not know where he lives.

Just another hilarious joke by that comedic genius from Alabama!

Much of the response on the left to Trump has been heartening, with protests ranging from the Women’s March to the JFK protest to yesterday’s Science March. But I have to say that the lack of attention paid to the approximately 11 million people in this country who are being terrorized by Sessions and his fascist strikeforce that is ICE is upsetting. These are the single biggest targets of Trump and yet this doesn’t concern liberals and the left as much as other, less immediate issues. As I believe we can be mad about many things at once, I don’t think we have to sacrifice the anger at the administration anti-science policies in order to also be, say, setting up an underground railroad to get people to Canada or a network where local people can create flash protests whenever the fascists arrest an undocumented person. We can do a lot more on these issues than we are doing.

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

[ 309 ] April 7, 2017 |


I know we are surrounded by low information voters and said voters are not too bright or interested. Alas, such is the majority of the population. But this story of a woman who voted for Trump despite being married to an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and whose husband has now been deported is just so beyond anything I can handle right now. What does one even do with this story?

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