Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland” Is a MUST WATCH

EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels asked noted immigration rights activist and HuffPost contributor Juan Escalante to submit a review about “Borderland,” a new series premiering Sunday April 13 on Al Jazeera America. Yeah, we know that our founder works for AJAM, but we kindly remind people that LR is a collective of many voices here. Juan’s voice is one of many here. Now, on to Juan’s review.

In a world where self-serving media is becoming the norm, there are few programs available for consumption that actually challenge our political positions. Those of us who passionately follow an issue on a regular basis are subject to the single story coverage that news networks decide to present to us, presented with its own tone and agenda built in—designed for viewers to consume and reinforce their political beliefs on a regular basis.

But what happens when you throw this model out, and instead present a program that is grounded in reality? One that mixes opinions, provides arguments for both sides of the issue and upholds objectivity above all?

Enter “Borderland” from Al Jazeera America.

The short series, scheduled for release this Sunday April 13, follows six individuals who have strong opinions on the hot button issues of immigration reform in the United States. The group, composed of three supporters and three opponents, is a very interesting mix of individuals – as all of them represent a different dimension within the complex issue of immigration.

You have your immigrant supporters: A gentleman from Washington State, who being a card-carrying Republican, recognizes the need for immigrant labor. An artist from New York, who does not believe that there should be any borders in the world, as well as a recently naturalized immigration Activist from Florida.

However, there are also those who disagree. Within the group there is a 9/11 survivor from Las Vegas who would “call the INS in a heartbeat” should she find out that an undocumented immigrant was living in her community. There is a veteran from Illinois, who through his radio show tries to inform the country about the “invasion” occurring in our country. Lastly, there is the President of a Young Republican club from Arkansas, a young woman who also works in Arkansas’ state senate.

If by now you are thinking that this will be your average debate show where participants duke it out with their views and prepared talking points, then let me tell you one thing—it’s not.

“Borderland” sends these six individuals to the epicenter of the immigration debate: Arizona and the neighboring border region. Having not been to the border, and yet having strong opinions about illegal immigration, all participants begin the show at a morgue near the Arizona/Mexico border where they are exposed to an undeniable reality that is often taken for granted when talking about the United States southwestern border.

Death.

After the initial shock, all six participants are then introduced to families who live alongside the border. A community of ranchers depicts how illegal immigration is impacting their business and way of life, reinforcing the beliefs of half of the participants, but also challenging some of the preconceived notions of the immigrant supporters.

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The episode progresses in this manner, putting all six participants out of their elements in situations that are often uncomfortable: participating in water drops for to aid border crossers, touring the border and seeing how violence was brought upon tragedy to local communities. All is wrapped up by a narrator who provides facts, figures and history relating back to how the border got to where it is today. At one point, the narrator even reminds us about U.S. policy in Central America 30 years ago. Every action has a consequence.

There are plenty of eyebrow-raising instances in Borderland, as participants often voice their disagreements and complaints to one another. Sparks flew as I heard some of the arguments from both sides – highlighting the importance that while a lot of us have polarized opinions on the subject, many haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the immigration issue. And if this is coming from an online immigration activist, what could be said about those who just take their “facts and figures” at face value from certain immigrant groups.

Bottom line, Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland” is a show unlike no other. It is presented in a format familiar to today’s audience, but backed with real information and grounded in real life experiences from those who are directly affected by what goes on at the border.

I encourage both sides of the immigration debate to take a look at this show. The series is set to premiere on Sunday, April 13 on Al Jazeera America. For more, visit the show’s official site.

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Juan Escalante is an undocumented immigrant, studying for his Masters in Public Administration Candidate at Florida State University. You can follow Juan on Twitter @JuanSaaa.

Democrats Continue to Get Played by Republicans in Immigration Debate

Let’s be real for a second: the Republican Party does not care about comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). With all the promises and principles made this year, in the end, every indication from the GOP leadership confirms that it shows no desire to progress on CIR and all the tweets, Facebook posts, newspaper articles, columns and calls to pressure the GOP have gone (and will go) nowhere.

When you deal with a party that is so out of touch with the American people on immigration, the only solution is to vote them out. We get that, as much as certain critics (specifically, a trolling national radio host from DC who continues to misrepresent our views on Twitter) think we do not.

Nonetheless, the constant blaming on just one party has done very little. The GOP is setting itself up for failure because they don’t believe that the growing demographic (read: read U.S. Latino vote) in the electorate will have any impact on them. As a short-term strategy, the GOP is right. It might do very well in 2014 mid-term elections (Latino turnout is still not strong), but Republicans’ long-term goals are already in jeopardy. All because of its failure to see how much of a heart-string issue immigration is to U.S. Latino voters.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

Take the case of yesterday’s House vote on the ENFORCE Act, another symbolic attempt to ignore the immigration issue. According to the fabulous Elise Foley of the HuffPost, “The ENFORCE Act, which passed 233 to 181, isn’t about immigration exclusively. Instead, it goes after Obama for alleged overreach on a variety of issues, including Obamacare, education and drug laws. The bill would allow Congress to sue the executive branch for allegedly failing to enforce the law, and it could lead to the dismantling of a key policy protecting some undocumented immigrants.”

Then there is this from Foley’s piece:

“We have seen a pattern: President Obama circumvents Congress when he doesn’t get his way,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on the House floor in support of the bill. “But the Constitution does not confer upon the president the executive authority to disregard the separation of powers and rewrite acts of Congress based on his policy preferences.”

Before everyone begins to say, “I told you so,” let’s pause for a second and remind people a few things:

  1. The current Republican-controlled House doesn’t care about immigration. All the screaming and pressure in the world won’t change that fact. People who really think they know about immigration believe that if Latino activists focused solely on the GOP, all would change. FYI, that was the strategy in 2013, and so far it hasn’t. Like we always tell those who come after us for daring to raise the issue that Democrats are at fault as well: The Republicans don’t care about immigration. They won’t act on it. They aren’t listening. What will you do now? Wait until November, or speak out against 1,100 deportations a day while you wait until November? There’s a reason why you see hunger strikes in Washington state and #BringThemHome actions on the Tijuana-San Diego border.
  2. The ENFORCE Act is going nowhere. Last night, this is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Instead of voting to fix our broken immigration system as the Senate did in June, House Republicans today voted to prevent the President from fixing the problems that are within his constitutional authority to solve. These irresponsible Republican bills are dead on arrival in the Senate. I strongly support the President’s decision to protect DREAMers from deportation. Republicans should try solving problems for a change instead of blocking progress for our nation and making life more difficult for the immigrant community.”
  3. The White House knows the ENFORCE Act is a sham as well. From Jay Carney: ”It is, in my view, in our view, pretty amazing that today House Republicans went in the opposite direction by passing legislation targeting the deferred action for childhood arrivals policy that removed the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children, known as Dreamers.” Carney also questioned whether Republicans even care. They don’t.

So yes, Reid and the White House understand that any push to dismantle DACA would be dumb on the GOP end, and every rational U.S. Latino voter who favors CIR understands that as well. But here is where the Democratic leadership is still vulnerable: They continue to allow the GOP to control the immigration narrative. They would rather react to Republican silliness and blame the GOP, than truly lead and express the views of their constituents.

And to be honest, that needs to stop, and if there is one thing that represents our view, it is this tweet (a quote from Jorge Ramos, which by the way, got some RT love late last night):

Here’s to all the “radicals” who think like us.

So where do we go next? Signs of a passive Democratic approach look like they are changing, and it’s about time they do. Last night, Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo wrote an article about how the Hispanic Congressional Caucus (HCC) is finally taking a stand against the Administration’s pathetic deportation record and also calling Republicans out:

The new language presented at the immigration task force meeting Wednesday asks the president not to deport anyone who would qualify for Senate Bill 744 — the immigration bill — and explicitly mentions expanding deferred action where the first one only hinted at using prosecutorial discretion to slow deportations, a source with knowledge of the updated resolution said.

The idea is that Republicans like Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham voted to make these undocumented immigrants eventual citizens. “People who they’re saying should be citizens tomorrow, should not be deported today,” the source said.

 “People who they’re saying should be citizens tomorrow, should not be deported today.” 

It is an “all-in” moment that would at least show that in the end, the GOP’s interest in CIR was minimal. Such a move by the HCC also aligns with other Democratic senators who are calling for the President to take bolder action on deportations. A little backbone goes a long way.

With this push by Democrats happening, it gives the White House a huge opportunity to make up for its past immigration transgressions. The political cynics in us already sense that all this new messaging by Democrats is the pretext of a move by the President to expand the DACA program to include family members of DREAMers and even very low-priority individuals. The statistics prove that this country oversees a “deportation machine,” and a move towards more deportation relief would be favored by U.S. Latino voters. Such a move would “rally the base,” and with the President’s approval ratings at a record low, a repeat of a DACA-like announcement (remember the boost he got before the 2012 election?) makes sense if the White House is serious about having Democrats so well in the mid-terms. Right now, the truth is, U.S. Latinos are just not that “into you,” Mr. President, when it comes to immigration. It’s really hard to for many U.S. Latino voters to step in line when real stories of families being separated are happening every day.

Because in the end, this isn’t about Beltway politics or election strategies, this is about real human voices and real human stories. Those voices and stories can’t wait until November elections, and they won’t. Our critics will call us “emotional” when we bring that up. We say to them, “This is what our community tells us every day. And we’re listening.” By actually listening and seeing what our world is telling us, change will occur, and if that is not the type of thinking that is conducive to DC, maybe that’s a good thing.

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#Not1More.

BTW, that national radio host whose online behavior two nights ago was quote unbecoming? He has apologized.

Also interesting that all this talk has sent a signal to the President, who appears to finally be listening.

A Chat with Juan, an Undocumented Immigrant Worker (and a DREAMer)

Recently, I met a a young man, about 23 years old or so, and he was doing construction work on our bathroom.

Juan shared that he was here “sin papeles,” which translated means “without papers,” aka undocumented. Juan is one of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Juan spoke with me about immigration, life, work, and the opportunities that many take for granted in the United States. At one point during our conversation, Juan even said to me, “I want to become the superintendent for one of these buildings.”

How many people do you know that have such a clearly defined goal? He’s not “stealing” our jobs, he’s not trying to hurt anyone. He wants to continue to earn an honest living, provide for his family and advance his career. Just like you and I do. Why would anyone have a problem with Juan achieving his personal goals? His success doesn’t hurt you in any way.

Juan told me that he has been here a long time—he pays his taxes, he works very hard, (as I witnessed myself) and he’s an honest citizen of this society, albeit an undocumented one. Juan said that he has been offered stolen social security numbers, and stolen identities to get over on the system. However, he refused to take part of these schemes. He wants to do things the right way.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

As Juan continued to share, he began describing some of his frustrations with the current immigration system. He expressed how he works very long days, full time, overtime, and much more. He said that he always pays his taxes on time, and that he even has to pay more money to Uncle Sam at the end of every year. He stated that he does everything necessary to live by the laws of the U.S. He believes that the only thing he’s done “wrong” in the eyes of the government, is that he entered this country with his parents as a child without any legal documentation. He passionately told me that he is proud to have been raised here: living in America is all he knows, this is his way of life. I feel calling him anything other than American is just not right.

Here are some other points Juan made in respect to pursuing the American dream as an undocumented immigrant in this country.

  • Juan hasn’t seen his extended family for decades. He cannot leave this country at all to visit his family because he won’t be able to get back in.
  • Juan pays taxes using a special number that he was given. However, for all of these years that he has been working, none of them will apply towards his social security. He also mentioned that he has never received one cent back for his taxes. In fact, he often owes the government more money at the end of each year.
  • Juan said that his bosses abused him in terms of the hours he worked, withholding owed pay, and other employment violations. However; since he is undocumented, he cannot complain to anyone about it.
  • Juan stated that he was paid a quarter of what the job is worth. He said that not only is he better at the job than his documented colleagues; he manages and teaches them what to do while being paid less than them.
  • Juan pointed out how he observes so many people in this country that are here legally, with so many opportunities available to them, yet they do nothing positive with their lives. Instead of thriving in this land, they choose to lead lives of crime and destroy their communities. Meanwhile, he’s thinking of how far he could go if he had those same opportunities.

It was very informative for me to get this personal and deep insight into the life of a person in this situation. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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6c7b36e3dbc384b78dc831884d4fe595Angel Rodriguez is the publisher of NYCTalking.com, a page that “covers current affairs, business reviews, fashion advice, opinion and commentary, along with random musings from time to time.” Angel is a Bronx boricua, poet, rapper, and a US Air Force vet. You can follow him on Twitter @arodomus

Meet the Latest “Criminal” Who Got Deported During Christmas: A Dad With Five Kids Born Here

This one is for all the neo-nativists out there, every one of you who talk about how those “damn illegals” are taking over this country and they are just a bunch of lawbreakers who no consideration for anything.

Today Tresa Baldas of The Detroit Free Press wrote about Marco Gonzalez, an undocumented father of five kids (all born in the USA, by the way) who was deported to Guatemala just a few days before Christmas. Before you start saying “tough crap,” a few things you should know about Gonzales, who is 42 years old and has lived in this country for 20 years.

family 1

Here is what Baldas wrote:

According to court documents and Michigan United, an immigrant advocacy group, Gonzalez arrived in Florida in 1993 after fleeing captivity from rebel forces who had abducted him while he was working in the fields with his father. They placed a sack over his head, held him captive for months in the mountains and put him in a cave for three days — hands bound to feet — when he tried to escape, records show.

This is additional information from a petition that called for Gonzalez to not be deported before he left:

Marco Gonzalez fled Guatemala in 1993 after being tortured and press-ganged by guerilla fighters, and eventually made his way to Detroit.  He has five US Citizen children, ages 8 – 14, all of whom would be forced to stay in the United States on public assistance in the event of Mr. Gonzalez’s deportation.  Mr. Gonzalez currently works as a pool-builder, and is fixing up two houses in Southwest Detroit.  He faces deportation on December 30th.

Mr. Gonzalez’s youth in Guatemala was harrowing.  During the civil war, he was repeatedly held by force by anti-government forces.  When he refused to fight with them, he was tortured and imprisoned in a cave for months.  Mr. Gonzalez eventually escaped, and was able to claim asylum in the US.  The insurgents are still active as criminal gangs in Mr. Gonzalez’s home area, and often take violent revenge on returning refugees who did not support their cause during the war.

Mr. Gonzalez has had a green card for almost two decades.  [NOTE: LR emphasis]

The proximate cause of his deportation is two bad checks he wrote in Florida in 1997 after his employer had refused to pay his wages for five months of work at a bakery.  Mr. Gonzalez’s lawyer advised him to plead guilty because the charge was so minor, but did not inform him that doing so would cause him to lose is green card.

This practice was recently declared illegal by the US Supreme Court in the landmark Padilla case.

Baldas then added this:

Gonzalez ultimately did escape and fled to the U.S., where he sought asylum. Immigration authorities believed his testimony, records show, but his asylum case languished in the court for years while he built a life for his children and Guatemalan wife, whom he met and married here.

In 2011, an immigration judge denied him asylum, concluding Guatemala had become a more peaceful country and that it was safe for Gonzalez to return. The case remains on appeal.

And so on and so on. Baldas’ piece is a must read.

You can say whatever you like, but cases like Gonzalez’s are common in Immigration America. The system is messed up, and families are being separated every day during a time of record deportations.

Yet, instead we get a court saying this about Gonzalez in 2013, “Gonzalez was found to be removable to Guatemala for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude.” Because of a bad check from 1997.

We guess humanity is not a requisite of the U.S. government.

#Not1More

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Bloomberg Businessweek: Deportations Drop 10% in 2013, First Decline in Over 10 Years

In an article that will resonate with followers of the nation’s immigration debate, Bloomberg Businessweek reported today that the “Obama administration has cut back on deporting undocumented immigrants, with forced departures on track to drop more than 10 percent, the first annual decline in more than a decade.”

According to official Department of Homeland Security statistics for fiscal year 2012, “ICE removed 409,849 individuals. Ninety-six percent of these removals fell into one of ICE’s enforcement priorities, a record high.” According to Businessweek, fiscal year 2013 will report the removal of 343,020 people (Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013).

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The newest data comes at a time when the Obama administration has been facing rather public pressure from activists to fellow Democratic leaders —including recent comments by Nancy Pelosi— to stop a record number of deportations, causing many to point to U.S. Latinos’ waning support for Obama.

As Businessweek states:

The drop, which comes as Obama faces growing criticism from Hispanics over deportations, is a result of a new policy of focusing limited enforcement resources “on public safety, national security and border security,” ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said. “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.”

All this comes at time when the promise of comprehensive immigration reform might happen in 2014, even though most political observers felt that a new reform bill would be approved this year.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), one of the president’s most vocal critics on immigration, assured Businessweek that the pressure to lower deportations will continue: “[Obama's] going to continue to be confronted. You can’t say you’re going to protect the undocumented and give them a pathway to citizenship, and then deport them in unprecedented numbers.”

The big question for the Administration now rests on whether the president will be seen as being too “soft” on immigration enforcement with Republicans, even though a recent poll shows that 63% of Americans “supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.”

If the rhetoric of an email Latino Rebels received tonight from an anti-immigrant group is any indication, the immigration reform battle is becoming one big Catch-22 for the Administration. Here is an excerpt:

We are fast approaching what promises to be the year of “comprehensive immigration reform.” In the manner of the “Affordable Care Act,” it will not be comprehensive nor will it reform immigration.

All sorts of new trends have emerged in the American Southwest to address the fact that federal immigration law does not really apply to those who arrived here illegally from Mexico or Latin America. In-state tuition discounts at public universities are now customarily extended to those without citizenship – in effect, privileging the foreign national over the U.S.-citizen student from out of state who helps subsidize the cost. Cities establish sanctuary zones that protect illegal immigrants from the enforcement of federal immigration laws – and the taxpayer picks up the additional tab in social services. Imagine what might happen should a city declare in similar fashion that it was exempt from enforcing federal gun-control laws.

Another trend is the effort to end penalties for past use of multiple Social Security numbers. Many who crossed the border illegally adopted various – and thus fraudulent – identities and acquired numerous Social Security numbers. When they later obtained green cards or citizenship, their poly-personas were found out. But isn’t it discriminatory to count such illegal behavior against the job applicant, if such criteria apply disproportionately to a particular ethnic group?

In other words, there is an effort to make the idea of immigration law per se mostly irrelevant, and instead to focus only on the immigrant in terms of his ethnic makeup and place of origin. Otherwise, who would oppose simply closing the border? Many Latinos, of course, would object should Kenyans, Slovakians, and Koreans be coming by boat by the thousands and landing illegally on the coast near San Diego. Like other Americans, they would probably demand enforcement of common-sense federal immigration law.

Dreamer Santiago García Infiltrates El Paso Immigration Detention Center (VIDEO)

This was shared by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance this afternoon:

santiago

Santiago: “I see when no one is watching, immigration does whatever they want.”

The Obama Administration says that Dreamers and other low-priority immigrants aren’t getting deported. Well, we proved that they’re lying. Santiago, a Dreamer from North Carolina, is now detained inside El Paso Processing Center.

Video is here:

NIYA is asking for a full review of the El Paso center.

Immigration Reform and the Lies “Pro” Migrant Nonprofits Use to Gain Support

The government shutdown lasted longer than expected and not only did it place our dysfunctional democracy on display – but it invited troubling political theater into the immigration debate.  It’s not well understood in the mainstream, but the ongoing showcase presented by the world of advocates and nonprofits promotes a comprehensive immigration bill and applauds bipartisan compromises that have a harmful impact on migrants and our human rights movement. These advocates ignore the devastation this bill threatens and instead, they frame it as “common sense reform.”

Why are trusted advocates reinforcing the President’s narrative that he is helpless in making humanitarian interventions in a system that sits squarely under the executive branch? The people’s history will show record that while grassroots leadership called for a stop to continued apprehensions, detention and deportations, non-profits in favor of “comprehensive immigration reform” under the banner of  Reform Immigration for America, Alliance for Citizenship, America’s Voice and others demanded the government open up to have a vote on the bill currently in the House. As an undocumented immigrant I am familiar with the solutions discussed within our community and I want you to know there is a difference between the human rights we want and the inhumane reforms people ask for in our name.

Luis Serrano (CREDIT: Steve Pavey)

Luis Serrano (CREDIT: Steve Pavey)

The strategies coming from our organic leadership are about defending and gaining human rights, often locally, and promoting truth and political education that address real root issues. It is this leadership that works to stop deportations and pushes policies like the Trust Act in California and local bills that allow for people without papers to drive with licenses.

Our strategies are not about passing an anti-immigrant bill so we have something to call a victory – and it is frustrating to see others do so in our name. Our voices are consistently drowned out by a well-funded pro-reform camp that is pushing anti-immigrant reform policies known as “CIR” or “common sense reform.” They say the reform is better than nothing, they say we have to play politics. They say Republicans are “Standing in the way of 11 million” and they call for “Just and humane Immigration Reform for all” or for Republicans to “Fix the broken immigration system now!”

It’s disheartening. CIR is built on dishonest messaging, and a strong pledge to the Democratic Party — not our community. Furthermore, if these organizations and politicians claim to be “Pro” migrant why aren’t they giving our community the facts and engaging them in building truly pro-migrant legislation? It’s vital to dispel these lies once and for all. No need to make it personal, no need for name-calling, it’s just time for the truth.

The 3 big immigration lies:

  • Lie #1:  “We can pass just and humane immigration reform.” Key words: just and humane. It’s important to know that historically when immigration bills enter the senate, then the house, they don’t get better, they gain bad amendments like a hippie volkswagen bus gets stickers. The context is that the bills we’ve seen enter the legislative arena, already come heavily compromised. You can see the result with the  SAFE act (Strengthened and Fortified Enforcement Act) which would make post Immigration Reform undocumented presence in the U.S. a crime punishable with jail time and long term detention imprisonment. Also, amendments on border militarization would devastate border communities, as Christian Ramirez, director of San Diego’s Southern Border Communities Coalition told The New York Times, “This amendment makes border communities a sacrificial lamb, in exchange for the road to citizenship.” There’s nothing humane or just about this.
  • Lie #2: “The Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill is a good step forward.” The undocumented community especially needs to know that is a complete bold face lie being repeated over and over by people who are ok with supporting a bill that will benefit a minority and gravely endanger a majority. Future generations of undocumented immigrants will face dire consequences and our already limited capacity and resources for organizing will be further burdened – pushing us into more defensive tactics when we really want to build a human rights movement and innovate with legislation that will protect our rights and our lives. Critics call these assessments divisive, but we call it being honest with our community. 
  • Lie #3. “Reform will put 11 million on a path to citizenship.” For starters, people are still being deported every day as Homeland Security works to fill a 400K a year deportation quota. And it’s estimated that 4-5 million will not make the cut for RPI (registered provisionary status). Given that one can’t be unemployed for more than 60 consecutive days and that it’s a requirement to remain 25% above the poverty line in order to arrive at citizenship – it’s easy to understand how undocumented people of color will be impacted, and especially undocumented black people who due to racial inequities have the lowest employment rates. The path is more like an obstacle course.

The truth about big bucks in migrant suffering.
The Obama administration has separated more families and nearing 2 million. In fact, he’s deported more people than the last three administrations combined. Obama has failed to address immigration in any real way, by making S-Com (the deceitfully named Secure Communities deportation pipeline) a mandatory program, and giving a green light to Operation Streamline all which fatten the pockets of Corporate Corrections of America and Geo Group by more than $1 billion a year in federal funds which translates to immigrant suffering and incarceration. It’s well documented and worth pointing out again as Laura Carlsen, Director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, wrote in March, “Among the gang of eight senators, all but Lindsay Graham and John McCain have received significant money from the private prison corporations.” That includes senators that CIR-supporting nonprofits often praise like Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J).

Being honest about real solutions.
How can this bill be comprehensive in any positive sense, if it does absolutely nothing to address the root causes of undocumented migration? Migrants need to be engaged by sending countries and the US to craft real solutions. Real solutions would prioritize families rather than rich kids, and they would look toward getting rid of the free trade agreements that have set off a chain of events to cause many farmers and working class people to lose their professions and seek work here in the United States. Real solutions would address environmental pollution and destruction in the global south and continued subsequent displacement of millions that is sure to come.

Dear President Obama: Stop deportations and give deferred action to all!
We hear the President’s nice words about immigration, but we live out the difference between his words and action.  If he’d listen to our voices, he’d stop deportations, free the prisoners that are currently being exploited in private detention centers, and reunite the families he separated and people he deported, granting deferred action for parents and older adults. He has the executive power to do so, but aided by mainstream reform advocates, he is remaining loyal to corporate interests and has along with many nonprofits become complimentary to Right Wing extremism.

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Luis Serrano(@luiseetoe): Undocumented & Unafraid, Luis Serrano is originally from Sonora, Mexico. He migrated to the US as a child and has called Los Angeles home for two decades. For the last several years he’s been organizing with the Immigrant Youth Coalition of Los Angeles to better the circumstances that he and his fellow immigrant and working class community members and family live in.

After Obama’s Immigration Pep Rally, Deportations and Arrests Continue

Remarks by the President on Immigration Reform

Here is what The White House released this afternoon:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

US-WhiteHouse-Logo

For Immediate Release                                                   October 24, 2013

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

 

East Room

10:47 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please have a seat, everybody.  Good morning, and welcome to the White House.  Today I’m here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith communities who are united around one goal — finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system.

This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now.  Leaders like all of you have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done.  And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.

Now, it’s no secret that the American people haven’t seen much out of Washington that they like these days.  The shutdown and the threat of the first default in more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses and on families across the country.  And it was a completely unnecessary, self-inflicted wound with real costs to real people, and it can never happen again.

Even with the shutdown over, and the threat of default eliminated, Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements — there are some just fundamentally different views about how we should move forward on certain issues.  On the other hand, as I said the day after the shutdown ended, that’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to work together on the things that we do agree on.

We should be able to work together on a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline.  We should be able to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans in hard times.

And we should pass immigration reform.  (Applause.)  We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year.

Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken.  Across the political spectrum, people understand that.  We’ve known it for years.  It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here — we send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products someplace else.

It’s not fair to businesses and middle-class families who play by the rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules work in the shadow economy, to hire folks at lower wages or no benefits, no overtime, so that somehow they get a competitive edge from breaking the rules.  That doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead.  It’s not smart.  It’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense.  We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.

Now, the good news is, this year the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed all of these issues.  It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders.  It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.

It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States.

It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally — one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.

So it had all the component parts.  It didn’t have everything that I wanted; it didn’t have everything that anybody wanted; but it addressed the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair, that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And that’s passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority.  (Applause.)

So here’s what we also know — that the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits.  Independent economists have shown that if the Senate bill became law, over the next two decades our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don’t pass the law.  It would reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars.

So this isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.  Securing our borders; modernizing our legal immigration system; providing a pathway to earned, legalized citizenship; growing our economy; strengthening our middle class; reducing our deficits — that’s what common-sense immigration reform will do.

Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor — (laughter) — and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done.  (Laughter.)  This is Washington, after all.

So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody has been looking at the politics of this.  And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for it, then I’m against it.”  But I’d remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform.  I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.

I’m not running for office again.  I just believe this is the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  I just believe this is the right thing to do.  And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance.  And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this.  It’s not something they reject — they support it.  Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done.  In fact, if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it.

So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why.  A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.

Now, how do we move forward?  Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill.  So now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.

I do know — and this is good news — that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve just discussed.  And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them.  I’ll be listening.  I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas.  But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.

Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems.  This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future.  So let’s see if we can get this done.  And let’s see if we can get it done this year.  (Applause.)

We’ve got the time to do it.  Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act.  So let’s not wait.  It doesn’t get easier to just put it off.  Let’s do it now.  Let’s not delay.  Let’s get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is — thank you.  I want to thank you for your persistence.  I want to thank you for your activism.  I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue.  And I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up.  Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.  There are going to be moments — and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform — where you meet resistance, and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.

And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don’t look like people who are easily deterred.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.

THE PRESIDENT:  They don’t look like folks who are going to give up.  (Applause.)  You look fired up to make the next push.  And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, I want you to keep working, and I’m going to be right next to you, to make sure we get immigration reform done.  It is time.  Let’s go get it done.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END                10:59 A.M. EDT

 

White House Arrests Telling Obama to Stop the Deportations

UPDATE, 1:35 pm ET: The activists arrested today have been released. Here is their video message.

Yesterday, President Obama gave an interview with Telemundo News and addressed immigration reform. According to The Washington Post, “President Obama on Tuesday ruled out using his executive authority to freeze deportations for most of the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, saying such a move would violate federal law.”

The article added the following:

But Obama said such a move is “not an option.” During an interview at the White House with Telemundo, the Spanish-language television network, Obama defended his decision last summer to defer the deportations of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents as children. The legal rationale in that case, he said, was to allow federal agencies to devote more time and resources to high-priority immigration cases such as those involving people with multiple criminal convictions.

Here is a portion of the interview:

Such a response has also led to today’s action in front of The White House, where undocumented immigrants chained themselves to the residence’s fence.

Here is what Colorlines reported:

This morning, seven undocumented immigrant leaders—some of them already in deportation proceedings—handcuffed themselves to the White House gate in protest of Obama’s record deportations, which they say are tearing communities apart. The seven, who are active leaders in their communities across the nation, were arrested and taken into custody by Federal Park Police about a half hour after they started the action, as supporters screamed in solidarity a few yards away.

Narciso Valenzuela Siriaco, who identifies as Yaqui and lives in Tucson, participated in today’s action. He’s currently fighting deportation after spending time at Eloy Detention Center following a stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Arizona. “I don’t want there to be more deportations,” he said. “Our children suffer.”

NDLON

Meanwhile, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) released the following statement today:

09.17.2013 – Los Angeles, CA. In response to the President’s comments in an interview with Telemundo where he says that he cannot further expand deferred action to suspend deportations, Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:

“The President’s statement is factually inaccurate. He has the power to reduce deportations, the legal authority to expand deferred action, and the political obligation to lead the national debate through bold action. In fact, courageous leadership will only galvanize momentum for reform and focus Congress’s attention on their constitutional duty to modernize immigration law.

The demand for the President to stop deportations is only growing louder, and our community will not take ‘no’ for an answer.

Unless the President alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigrant administration in history. History books will blame the President and not congress for a hypocritical and shameful period of immigrant expulsion. For too long, President Obama has empowered the most most repugnant voices from the Republican party to mask his own policies of attrition as the lesser of two evils.

While the President seems to content to seek political advantage in the worsening status quo, those whose lives hang in the balance will not accept inaction. Oppressed people have always won inclusion and legalization through determination, courage, and sacrifice. Across the country, immigrant communities are refusing to be expelled from the country they call home, and they are asserting their right to remain. In the process, they are defending bedrock constitutional rights and cherished national values, and they’re inspiring others to join their cause.

We continue to invite the President to be the champion he promised to be.”

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