Category Archives: International Immigrant Rights

New Sanctuary Movement in France – La Nouvelle Resistance

President Sarkozy has set a quota- not for incoming migrants, but for his police department. He wants the police to deport AT LEAST 25,000 immigrants.

Sound familiar? While here in the US churches take the lead in the New Sanctuary Movement to protect immigrants from unjust laws and deportation, it is common citizens in paris and other cities that have joined the “resistance” and have begun giving immigrants sanctuary in their very homes.

Unlike us, the French have a amassed a cultural and social understanding of what it means to be at war on one’s own ground. In war, it isn’t simply the government that acts, but it is individuals- that were a part of the original resistance in World War 2- that made the true difference on the ground [reference: Vichy]. While the “official” French government was folding over and capitulating an effective network of citizens, and individuals, along with government resistors fought back.

For all we may not like about the French (and I get an earful about it, about once a week)- the spirit of citizenship and action is alive and admirable- and draws the question– are we doing enough:

The Guardian – Oct 3, 2007,,2182383,00.html

Immigration crackdown in France

The French government aims to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants by the
end of the year. But the police snatch squads aren’t having it all
their own way. A new ‘resistance’ has sprung up, inspired by memories
of wartime deportations and shame at the way France treats its ethnic

by Angelique Chrisafis

Like most illegal immigrants working in Paris’s textile sweat shops,
nail bars or restaurants, Chulan Liu kept her head down. A 51-year-old
divorcee who left her only son in northern China this summer, she spoke
no French. But she knew the name Nicolas Sarkozy and his order for
police to round up thousands of France’s “sans papiers” – immigrants
with no papers and no right to stay.

When, a fortnight ago, officers knocked at the Paris flat Liu shared
with four Chinese sans papiers, she panicked. She leaped from a window
and hung from an awning by her fingertips, like a scene from a bad
Hollywood film. She hit the pavement awkwardly and died.

Ivan Demsky, 12, was a popular pupil at his French secondary school,
but his Chechen and Russian parents were failed asylum seekers. When
police came to their flat in the northern town of Amiens in August,
Ivan followed his father in escaping via the balcony. He fell four
floors to the street below and into a coma. He has regained
consciousness but is still being treated by doctors. The faces of Liu
and “le petit Ivan” have been broadcast all over France in recent days
and displayed at demonstrations against what the left call France’s
“foreigner-hunt”. Continue reading

Who’s your daddy, armed fighter?

Well, if you’re in a “developing” country chances are, your weapons sugar papa is US.

I’ll write a post later on why I hate the phrase developing world- for now let’s focus on the matter at hand:    We have poor gun control here, which feeds into an industry that supports violence there. We persecute migrants here, without acknowledging that they are often forced to migrate because of violence, instability and pain there (heightened by the gun industry we, and our good brothers in Europe support). Youth die on the streets (and in schools) here, Youth die on the streets there. The poor are unable to find living wage jobs here, the poor are unable to find living wage jobs there.

Conservatives would have our communities believe that migrants come because they want MORE. They spread the lie that we are separate economies, and communities – Us vs. Them. When in truth, our economies, our societies and our children are inextricably linked. There is no here without there and vice versa.

Perhaps we need to send a message to Rahm Emanuel, Romney, Clinton, and anyone else who thinks they are big enough to direct our country, letting them know that immigration isn’t a wedge issue- it’s a life and death issue that ties us all into the same broken system pulling us all down, down…

Conservative anti-immigrants unite!

Wow. You know, you get so used to seeing lip-serviced paid to anti-immigrant isolationists by federal government agencies in your OWN country, you forget they do it other places too.

The shadow minister for community cohesion told the paper: “There are a lot of people out there who are voting for the British National Party and it’s those people that we mustn’t just write off and say ‘well, we won’t bother because they are voting BNP or we won’t engage with them’.

“They have some very legitimate views – people who say ‘we are concerned about crime and justice in our communities, we are concerned about immigration in our communities’,” she said.

Reading this type of rhetoric is eerie and disturbing. It calls to mind all the attention congress has been giving to the “fears” [racism? hate? scapegoating?] of anti-immigrant groups here in the US. Britain and the US may be facing different migration dynamics, but the interplay of political grandstanding and public manipulation by federal officials is truly cross-cultural.

Kafka, the Trial: Being relived in a university near you.

Not sure if you’ve had a chance to read about a Music Scholar being blocked from the US without explanation. The young intellectual studied and reeived her degree from the University of California Berkeley, but when attempting to return to the US to use that hard earned degree, ICE officials told her she would be unable to reenter the country.

She has been arraigned, judged and sentenced by immigration officials without her knowledge. She doesn’t know even know what her crime is.

After a year of letters and inquiries, Ms. Ghuman and her Mills College lawyer have been unable to find out why her residency visa was suddenly revoked, or whether she was on some security watch list. Nor does she know whether her application for a new visa, pending since last October, is being stymied by the shadow of the same unspecified problem or mistake.

In a tearful telephone interview from her parents’ home in western Wales, Ms. Ghuman, 34, an Oxford graduate who earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, said she felt like a character in Kafka.

“I don’t know why it’s happened, what I’m accused of,” she said. “There’s no opportunity to defend myself. One is just completely powerless.”

It makes you sick, doesn’t it?

Migration Unites Us


(from nytimes article)

NY Times article focusing on migration patterns in Iraq. Tons of people are relocating, first to avoid danger, and then they often make two or three more calculated moves to follow family, jobs or resources.

The motivations for movement are shared, uniting migrants across the world. The Iraqi migration highlights that. Just like Mexicans, Indians, and Algerians, Iraqi’s are moving for complex reasons. They are moving multiple times, and they are moving with consideration of their families, work and future stability.

Migration isn’t an anomaly of the poor- it’s a fact of life for us all and it’s time for our government to improve the lives of those that act on that human fact. It’s time for xenophobes to open themselves to the strength and prosperity that can come from migration. It’s time for migrants to unite across borders.

100 billion dollars worth of bubkiss

Is that how you spell bubkiss? Not sure. But what I am sure of, is that the ICE budget for deporting hardworking undocumented individuals that are a cornerstone of vibrant american industries, communities and families is completely and utterly ridiculous.

“There’s got to be a better way” posits the clearheaded citizen- well, there is. Improving our laws, improving our economy and employer standards, improving trade relations with our neighbors to the south- just for starters.

Check out cnn’s latest facts and figures:

ICE: Tab to remove illegal residents would approach $100 billion

WASHINGTON (CNN) — It would cost at least $94 billion to find, detain and remove all 12 million people believed to be staying illegally in the United States, the federal government estimated Wednesday.


Day laborers, who identified themselves as illegal immigrants, talk to a potential employer in Dallas, Texas.

Julie Myers, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, gave the figure during a hearing before a Senate committee Wednesday.

She acknowledged it was based on “very rough calculations.”

An ICE spokesman later said the $94 billion did not include the cost of finding illegal immigrants, nor court costs — dollar amounts that are largely unknowable.

He said the amount was calculated by multiplying the estimated 12 million people by the average cost of detaining people for a day: $97. That was multiplied by the average length of detention: 32 days.

ICE officials also considered transportation costs, which average $1,000 per person.

But that amount can vary widely, the spokesman said. Some deportees are simply driven by bus across the border, while others must take charter planes to distant countries, he said.

Finally, the department looked at personnel costs, bringing the total to roughly $94 billion.

The statistic is likely to become one more piece of fodder in the heated debate between the Bush administration — which has fought for a “path to citizenship” for people who have lived peaceably in the United States — and those who want to see more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, up to, and including, the deportation of all illegal immigrants.

By way of comparison, the Department of Homeland Security‘s annual budget is about $35 billion.

Humanity’s Hope

Americans have big hearts. I’ve seen depths of sharing and care that truly instill a sense of pride for our culture of hospitality and welcoming. But when it comes to immigration, Americans are sometimes lulled into the false sense that we are the world’s care givers and that others simply take and take and take from us.

Americans are often surprised to hear that Mexico has immigrants not only travelling through the country, but going there to live and work. Many stereotype mexicans as the receivers of kindness, without recognizing the sacrifices and kindness that they offer the world’s immigrants.

Caring for a stranger, and opening up your heart to the empathy of another’s suffering is one of the deepest strengths of human society. It is that empathy that has led to the end of slavery, and that may one day lead to the end of the persecution of immigrants, and the world’s poor. I appreciated this post at Immigration Orange where Kyle highlights the generosity and kindness of women sharing what little they have with immigrants in their community. If only city governments like Hazelton, PA could find it in their heart to be as humane.

Outrage: Sarkozy/France set new quotas for expulsions

By Elaine Ganley

1:28 p.m. June 4, 2007

PARIS – France set tough new quotas for the number of illegal immigrants authorities should arrest and expel each month, the new immigration minister said Monday.
Brice Hortefeux, who heads the newly created Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development, said a monthly quota also would be set for ferreting out those employed in France illegally.

In a meeting with security officials, Hortefeux reiterated President Nicolas Sarkozy’s goal of 25,000 expulsions by the end of 2007 – compared with 24,000 in 2006 – and set a year-end goal of 125,000 arrests for alleged illegal entry or illegal residence, a ministry statement said. The number of those already arrested was not immediately clear.
Sarkozy, who was elected May 6, pledged during his campaign to create a ministry of immigration and national identity to rein in the flow of migrants and ensure they are integrated into French society. Riots in French housing projects in 2005 were largely driven by anger among children of immigrants at persistent discrimination and a feeling of alienation from mainstream society. Continue reading

Quebec- US must embrace immigrants

Macrocosm – Microcosm

What happens on a small scale often replicates what happens on a major scale.

America – Quebec

We may not often put these two locations on the same continuum but a recent story in the NY Times highlights the similarities and connections between these two places. Quebec used to have one of the highest birthrates in Canada. But as Quebec’s birthrate has plummeted in only one generation, the region can no longer survive on it’s native born population and its industries, society, and politics must embrace immigrants who are increasingly supporting the infrastructure of the community.

Recent reports in the US have reported exactly the same phenomenon in both major urban areas where, without immigrant communities, population growth would have been negative over the last decade, AND in rural communities where immigrants open thriving small businesses and can often increase the wages of workers and tax income of counties.

Immigrants throughout the West are supporting the economies and cultures of numerous states and countries in a trend that cannot be denied by Numbers USA or any other anti-immigrant association.

Read more baout Quebec’s demographic shifts: Continue reading

Sarkozy: The new hope or the new Bush?


Well folks the results are in, and the French will soon be welcoming President Nicolas Sarkozy to the head of their country. I have followed the debate around these presidential elections with great interest and I’ve also been quite interested in the American responses to the candidates. I have seen several anti-immigrant bloggers hold up Sarkozy as a symbol of anti-immigrant strength and reason. Though I would never say that Sarkozy was a pro-immigrant leader, do these bloggers know that the first-generation son of hungarian immigrants supports a form of affirmative action for children of immigrants in France? Perhaps not.

I first became interested in French politics as a student of French in high school. Those interests came to fruition while I worked for one of the leading immigrant rights groups in the country, SOS Racisme, for over a year and a half. We fought hard against “les lois Sarkozy” a set of reforms to the immigration law that would considerably hurt the rights of immigrants and that would lead to a system of choosing which immigrants could come to France based primarily on wealth and education- clearly the antithesis of liberty, egality, and fraternity. We lost the fight, and those laws were ultimately enacted in 2006.

Though we were opposed to Sarkozy’s laws and his hate speeches against migrant youth and second generation citizens, we also understood that his position on immigration was nuanced. He was not simply xenophobic, he was classist. Many Americans who seek to raise Sarkozy up as a international leader fail to see the complexities of anti-immigrant sentiment in France.

The NY times recently called Sarkozy the most polarizing figure to enter the French presidency since World War II. Perhaps the better anaylsis is that France is more polarized than it has ever been since World War II. France, like the US, is in an incredibly vulnerable sistuation. They are at a critical turning point at which they must figure out how their country will adjust to a new wave of globalization, european unification, continued attacks on their international influence and demographic changes such as immigration. Sarkozy isn’t this anti-immigrant guru that America should turn to for insight into how WE should deal with immigrants. He is a politican seeking the presidency of a country in real crisis and he is using hate speech and passing hurtful laws against a portion of his own people in order to get there. That’s polarization the US doesn’t need.

Sarkozy primarily draws the support of working class and rural French, along with those voters over 60. His hard headed tactics, and forceful language make many French feel safe, powerful and united in a way that Segolene Royal and the Socialists were simply not able to do.

It is this point in particular that reminds me of the US. For many, Bush’s simple yet straightforward answers to our economy, to aggression, to faith and a whole host of issues reassured them in the elections that the US would be OK. Bush seemed to promise a stronger country and that was an important part of his winning strategy. 

That promise has not come to fruition. Instead we have seen our rights trampled, cultures and countries destroyed, lies told, and unworkable immigration reforms supported. The electorate is finally waking up to see that agressive tactics, backroom deals and hate speech does not a strong democracy make.

Does Sarkozy’s presidency hold the same for France? Only time will tell if his conservative economic policies, strong arm police tactics, and his rejection of working class immigrants will actually serve his country any good.

The Migration Policy Institute has put together materials on the 2007 Presidential French election- If you are interested in learning more, check out the link below: 

Immigration and the 2007 French Presidential Elections:
A New MPI Backgrounder

WASHINGTON — As French voters select between presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal on May 6, immigration may be a decisive issue.  In light of the upcoming election, the Migration Policy Institute has released a backgrounder on the latest developments in France’s immigration system and the two candidates’ immigration platforms. Continue reading