Friday, August 28, 2009

Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?

Time Magazine,8599,1918941,00.html


Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009


Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?


By Tim Padgett with Dolly Mascareñas / Oaxaca


Can the U.S. government take a woman's baby from her because she doesn't speak English? That's the latest question to arise in the hothouse debate over illegal immigration, as an undocumented woman from impoverished rural Mexico who speaks only an obscure indigenous language fights in a Mississippi court to regain custody of her infant daughter. […]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

David Bacon: "People of the Harvest" Documentary Photography at the Asian Resource Center in Oakland Aug-Sept 2009

People of the Harvest

Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California




A Photography Exhibition by David Bacon




August through September, 2009

Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm

Reception: Thursday, August 27, 6pm


Asian Resource Gallery

310 Eighth Street at Harrison

Oakland Chinatown


People of the Harvest is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, that documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photographs. The photographs in People of the Harvest were taken in 2009.


Its no accident the state of Oaxaca is one of the main starting points for the current stream of Mexican migrants coming to the United States. Extreme poverty encompasses 75 percent of its 3.4 million residents. Thousands of indigenous people leave Oaxacas hillside villages for the United States every year, not only for economic reasons but also because a repressive political system thwarts the kind of economic development that could lift incomes in the poorest rural areas. Lack of development pushes people off the land. The majority of Oaxacans are indigenous people-that is, they belong to communities and ethnic groups that existed long before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. They speak 23 different languages. Migration is a necessity, not a choice, explains Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez, a teacher in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in Oaxacas rural Mixteca region. In California, indigenous migrants have become the majority of people working in the fields in many areas, whose settlements are dispersed in an indigenous diaspora. This movement of people has created transnational communities, bound together by shared culture and language, and the social organizations people bring with them from place to place.


People of the Harvest documents the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities. It focuses on social movements in indigenous communities and how indigenous culture helps communities survive and enjoy life. The project's purpose is to win public support for policies helping those communities to achieve social and political rights and better economic conditions. The communities documented in this show are locacted in Arvin, Taft, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno, Greenfield, Watsonville and Marysville. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos and Purépechas.


The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions.


The project is a partnership between David Bacon, documentary photographer and journalist (The Children of NAFTA, UC Press, 2004, Communities Without Border, Cornell/ILR Press, 2006, and Illegal People - How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Beacon Press, 2008), California Rural Legal Assistance, especially its Indigenous Farm Worker Project, and the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB). Special thanks to Rick Mines and the Indigenous Farmworker Study, funded by the California Endowment, who made the documentation in People of the Harvest possible.




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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Immigrant Rights News - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Immigrant Rights News – Tuesday, August 18, 2009


PLEASE NOTE: If this is the first time you are receiving IRN, please reply with “Subscribe” to continue receiving the IRN news digest and other information and analyses from NNIRR.

Apologies for duplicates!

Thank you.


1. New York Times: Officials Say Detainee Fatalities Were Missed

2. Austin American-Statesman: Charges on border police surging

3. San Francisco Chronicle: New sanctuary proposal on protecting youths

4. Bangor Daily News: Ordeal at the border: Blueberry rakers — Micmacs from New Brunswick — complain about aggressive stops by U.S. Customs. Was it racial profiling?

5. Los Angeles Times: Immigration official says agents will no longer have to meet quotas



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New York Times


August 18, 2009

Officials Say Detainee Fatalities Were Missed


More than one in 10 deaths in immigration detention in the last six years have been overlooked and were omitted from an official list of detainee fatalities issued to Congress in March, the Obama administration said Monday.

The administration added 10 previously unreported deaths to the official roster and disclosed an 11th, which occurred Friday: that of Huluf Guangule Negusse, a 24-year-old Ethiopian. Mr. Negusse died from the effects of an Aug. 3 suicide attempt in the Wakulla County correctional facility near Tallahassee, Fla.

What Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials call “the death roster” stands at 104 since October 2003, up from the 90 that were on the list the agency gave to Congress this spring.

his month, the Obama administration announced a plan to revamp the detention system. […]


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Austin American-Statesman




AP: Charges on border police surging



Monday, August 10, 2009


McALLEN Corruption along the U.S.-Mexico border takes many forms.

It can start as small as a smuggler's $50 gift to the child of a federal agent and then escalate into out-and-out bribes. "Everyone does it," the agent, now in prison, recalled telling himself.

In other situations, sheriffs grab thousands of dollars from drug dealers.

And in a few instances, traffickers place members in the applicant pool for sensitive border protection jobs.

An Associated Press investigation has found that U.S. law enforcement officers who work on the border are being charged with criminal corruption in numbers not seen before as drug and immigrant smugglers use money and sex to buy protection and internal investigators crack down.

Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, interviews with sentenced agents and a review of court records, the AP tallied corruption-related convictions against more than 80 enforcement officials at all levels — federal, state and local — since 2007, shortly after Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on the cartels that peddle up to $39 billion in drugs in the United States each year. […]


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San Francisco Chronicle


New sanctuary proposal on protecting youths


Marisa Lagos,John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writers

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


A San Francisco supervisor's proposed legislation would make it more difficult for officials to hand over undocumented youths suspected of crimes to federal immigration authorities, a policy that, if approved, could have far-reaching impacts.

The proposed law would require that juvenile suspects be convicted of a felony before San Francisco officials contact federal immigration authorities - unless the suspect is charged as an adult.

Currently, immigration authorities are contacted at the time of a felony arrest - a change implemented last year by Mayor Gavin Newsom after the city's sanctuary city policy made national headlines. Newsom's change angered many in the city's immigrant community.

Supporters of Supervisor David Campos' proposed amendment to the 1989 sanctuary city ordinance say most juveniles arrested on suspicion of a felony later see those charges dropped to a lesser offense in court. They also argue that youths should be treated differently than adults and make the case that police would gain greater trust if the threat of splitting up families is removed. […]


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Bangor Daily News


Ordeal at the border

Blueberry rakers — Micmacs from New Brunswick — complain about aggressive stops by U.S. Customs. Was it racial profiling?


By Sharon Kiley Mack

BDN Staff


TOWNSHIP 25, Maine — Hundreds of blueberry rakers traveling from Canada into Maine at the Calais border crossing during the past week were stopped, searched and questioned by U.S. Customs officials, something many said hasn’t happened to them in more than 40 years.

The rakers on their way to Maine’s blueberry fields were Micmacs, one of the First Nations groups of aboriginal peoples of northeastern Canada. Many said this week they believe they were stopped because they are Micmacs.

At the blueberry-harvesting areas north of Columbia Falls on Tuesday, many said their vehicles were searched by customs officials and dogs and that their paperwork was scrutinized. They carry First Nations status cards that serve as identification. The cards should enable them to cross the border under recently implemented Department of Homeland Security regulations.

Some of the Micmacs said they were held up for as long as three hours. Many reported that border agents frightened them with an aggressive attitude.

Several people who did not want to be identified reported that flour for their traditional fry bread was confiscated and at least two vehicles were damaged during searches. One, a pickup truck belonging to John Augustine, was damaged when a search dog trying to climb onto the back of the truck badly scratched the paint on the tailgate. Augustine said he was given a damage claim form and instructed to get estimates for repairs and submit appropriate paperwork. […]


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Los Angeles Times,0,3416020.story


Immigration official says agents will no longer have to meet quotas

Teams of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were expected to increase the number of annual arrests in the controversial 'fugitive operations' program, according to memos.


By Anna Gorman

August 18, 2009


The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday in Los Angeles that he has ended quotas on a controversial program designed to go after illegal immigrants with outstanding deportation orders.


John Morton, a career prosecutor who took over as assistant secretary of Homeland Security in May, said during a meeting with reporters that he planned to make more changes soon. The "fugitive operations" program, he said, should do what it was created to do -- target absconders who have already had their day in court.


"The fugitive operations program needs to focus first and foremost on people who have knowingly flouted an immigration removal order and within that category, obviously, we will focus first on criminals," he said.


Beginning in 2003, the immigration agency dispatched teams around the country to arrest and deport immigrants who had criminal records, who had ignored deportation orders or who had been deported and illegally reentered the United States.


Between March 1, 2003, and April 30, 2009, fugitive operations teams made more than 12,300 arrests in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. […]



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DHS Announces 11 Previously Unreported Deaths In Immigration Detention

E-New Park Forest

DHS Announces 11 Previously Unreported Deaths In Immigration Detention

Monday, 17 August 2009 23:16 Press Release Latest National News

NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--August 17, 2009. Prompted by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking previously unreleased documents related to the deaths of immigration detainees in U.S. custody, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials today revealed 11 deaths that have occurred at detention facilities since 2004 that the government had previously failed to publicly disclose.

In April, in response to the ACLU lawsuit which was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), DHS officials released what they called a comprehensive list of all deaths in detention that included a total of 90 individuals. With today's announcement, the government has now admitted to a total of 104 in-custody deaths since fiscal year 2003.

"Today's announcement confirms our very worst fears," said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. "For too long, the system of detaining immigration detainees has been devoid of transparency and accountability. This forces us to question even further whether there are still more deaths that somehow have gone unaccounted for."

The ACLU sued DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in June 2008 for failing to turn over thousands of public documents in their possession relating to the deaths of immigration detainees held in U.S. custody. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after repeated failures by DHS officials to release those documents in response to requests by the ACLU for critical information about the deaths of dozens of people in immigration detention.

In a FOIA request submitted by the ACLU to DHS in 2007, the ACLU sought information about whether ICE – or any independent monitoring agency – adequately tracks deaths of immigration detainees, who are often housed in county jails around the country alongside criminal detainees, or in one of numerous immigration detention facilities managed by private prison companies.

OIG reports to Congress prior to the ACLU's FOIA request contained only vague and sporadic references to investigations into these deaths. Additionally, the reports provided little useful information that would assure the public that meaningful investigations are conducted into each death and that steps are being taken to guarantee that detainees receive necessary medical services before it is too late.

Deficient medical care is believed to be a leading cause of death in immigration detention, and is the number one complaint the ACLU has received from ICE detainees. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2007 against the San Diego Correctional Facility (SDCF), an ICE facility run by Corrections Corporations of America, Inc. (CCA), the country's largest for-profit correctional services provider. In its lawsuit, the ACLU challenges flawed medical care policies and the denial of needed treatment by ICE and the Division of Immigration Health Services which has led to suffering and even death of detainees at SDCF.

Attorneys working on ACLU's FOIA litigation include David Shapiro of the ACLU National Prison Project, Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, New York-based attorneys Benjamin R. Walker and Margaret K. Winterkorn-Meikle and Washington-based attorneys Margaret K. Pfeiffer and Lee Ann Anderson McCall.

Additional information about the ACLU National Prison Project is available online at:


Monday, August 17, 2009

Immigrant Rights News - Monday, August 17, 2009

Immigrant Rights News – Monday, August 17, 2009


1. New America Media: The Other Town Halls: Labor Unions Sell Members on Immigration Reform

2. Arizona Daily Star: Death sought for 3 in Arivaca case

3. USA Today: More lawmakers tackle rise of wage-theft complaints

4. AlterNet: Immigrant Detainees Staging Hunger Strikes to Protest Deplorable Confinement



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New America Media


The Other Town Halls


Labor Unions Sell Members on Immigration Reform

New America Media, News Report, Elena Shore, Posted: Aug 17, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO -- As U.S. senators hold town hall meetings across the country to sell Americans on health care reform, another series of town hall meetings is taking place. The stakes are just as high and tensions run just as deep.

The issue is immigration reform. Representatives of the two largest national labor organizations in the country, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, are trying to sell their local union members on a joint statement calling for immigration reform. But not everyone is buying it.

They made the hardest sell in San Francisco. […]


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Arizona Daily Star


Death sought for 3 in Arivaca case


Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.14.2009


Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against the three people accused of killing a man and his 9-year-old daughter on May 30 in Arivaca.


Deputy Pima County Attorneys Rick Unklesbay and Kellie Johnson filed a notice of their intent this week in the cases against Shawna Forde, Jason E. Bush and Albert R. Gaxiola.


The three are accused of breaking into the home of Raul Junior Flores and his wife, and killing Flores and his daughter, Brisenia. Flores'wife was shot three times but survived and, in an exchange of gunfire captured on a recording of her 911 call, managed to hit Bush and injure him slightly, according to Pima County Sheriff's Department investigators.


The prosecutors listed six legal bases for seeking the death penalty. […]



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USA Today


More lawmakers tackle rise of wage-theft complaints


By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY


Agustin Gonzalez became a casualty of the real-estate bust in 2007 when he lost his construction job in the Florida Keys.

Since then, he says, he has become another kind of casualty: a victim of wage theft.

Gonzalez now works as a day laborer in the Miami area, waiting on street corners or in front of Home Depot for pickup jobs. He says he has been cheated of pay three times, including twice this year on landscaping and construction jobs that cost him at least $2,600.

"I feel like a slave," says Gonzalez, 38, who entered the USA from Panama in 2006 on a work visa that has expired. "I feel like day laborers are just here to be used without respect."

As the economy falters, lawmakers are taking action on the increase of wage-theft complaints. […]


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Immigrant Detainees Staging Hunger Strikes to Protest Deplorable Confinement


By Aura Bogado, AlterNet

Posted on August 7, 2009


When more than 60 prisoners at the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile, LA, began a hunger strike last week, in protest of the facility's deplorable conditions, guards at the immigrant detention center placed at least six of them in solitary confinement for 60 days. The planned 72-hour strike was the fifth of its kind in one month at the facility, whose parent company, LCS Corrections Services, holds a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to manage the detention center.


Last week, the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, along with other human rights and civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging her to address the mounting complaints at the detention center. "Over the past one month this center has become a symbol of all of our national concerns about ICE's widespread failure to ensure its facilities … meet ICE's own minimum detention standards," wrote Saket Soni, Executive Director for the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. Detainees, he wrote, are "risking their own health to call attention to ICE's violation if its own minimum standards and to demand permanent improvements."


This move came one day after the Obama administration issued its own letter on July 27, 2009, in response to a federal court petition, stating its refusal to create lawfully enforceable rules for immigration detention. […]


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Friday, August 14, 2009

Immigrant Rights News - Friday, August 14, 2009

Immigrant Rights News – Friday, August 14, 2009


1. Washington Post: Obama Vows to Focus on Borders.But Immigration Action Won't Come Until 2010

2. American-Statesman: T. Don Hutto detention center united diverse group in protest. Group's efforts helped lead to an overhaul of nation's immigrant detention policies.

3. Los Angeles Times: Arizona immigration debate at heart of littering case

4. New York Times: Napolitano Focuses on Immigration Enforcement



<><><> 1


Washington Post


Obama Vows to Focus on Borders

But Immigration Action Won't Come Until 2010


By Cheryl W. Thompson and William Booth

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Aug. 10 -- President Obama, attending a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, said Monday that his administration will pursue a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. immigration system this year but that no action on legislation will happen before 2010. […]

The president said he expects draft legislation and sponsors by the end of the year, but no action until 2010 because of more pressing issues, including health-care reform, energy legislation and financial regulatory changes. […]


<><><> 2


American-Statesman (Austin )


T. Don Hutto detention center united diverse group in protest

Group's efforts helped lead to an overhaul of nation's immigrant detention policies.



Thursday, August 13, 2009


When she first set foot in the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention center in Taylor shortly after it opened in 2006, Frances Valdez was not prepared for what she saw behind the former medium-security prison's razor-wire-ringed perimeter. There were children inside. Infants in prison-like uniforms, and pregnant women.

"It was shocking," Valdez said. […]

Last week, three years and three months after the Hutto detention center opened, the Obama administration announced it will stop holding families there as it looks for alternatives to prison cells for some immigration law violators as part of an overhaul of the nation's immigration detention system.


<><><> 3


Los Angeles Times,0,4654306.story


Arizona immigration debate at heart of littering case

The heated issue inflames a court case, in which an Arizona man is convicted for leaving water jugs for migrants in the desert.


By Ashley Powers

August 13, 2009

Reporting from Las Vegas

Walt Staton wanted to help people, and his tool was a water jug. On the morning of Dec. 4, he and three others drove southwest from Tucson, to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which tens of thousands of illegal immigrants traverse each year.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the plastic jugs he left for the immigrants endanger wildlife, and this week Staton was sentenced in federal court in Tucson on a charge of littering. He was given one year of unsupervised probation and ordered to spend 300 hours picking up trash. […]


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New York Times


August 12, 2009


Napolitano Focuses on Immigration Enforcement



EL PASO — A day after President Obama announced that legislation to overhaul immigration laws would have to wait until next year, the secretary of homeland security played down the need for change in a speech here and took a tough stance on enforcing current immigration laws. […]

But Ms. Napolitano argued that the Obama administration had changed Mr. Bush’s programs in critical ways, such as putting an emphasis on deporting criminals and holding more employers responsible for hiring illegal workers.

“But border security will not itself stop illegal entrants into our country,” Ms. Napolitano said. “Our border strategy must be combined with better enforcement of the immigration laws within the United States.” […]


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