Category Archives: Resources

VIDEO: How Detention Violates International Human Rights

This video, produced by Kevin Koll at the Natioal Immigrant Justice Center, explains how the U.S. immigrant detention system violates key international human rights standards.

How Immigrants Impact the Economy

Like every other person in this country, I bet you are worried about the state of our Economy. I bet you even voted on November 4th with the Economy as one of your top issues.

I think that this report on immigrant business owners and their impact on our Nation’s economy should not be overlooked. Immigrants contribute to our economy in a multitude of ways – and immigrant-owned businesses are a great example of that.

According to Census 2000, immigrants constitute 12.2 percent of the total U.S. work force, and 12.5 percent of the total population of U.S. business owners. The total business income generated by immigrant business owners is $67 billion, representing 11.6 percent of all business income in the United States.

Check out a PDF version of the full report here.

Candidates Guides on Immigration

As I’ve mentioned before, our two presidential candidates are unabashedly courting the Latino vote, while remaining hesitant to discuss immigration.

Our immigration system in the United States is broken, and as immigration raids spiral out of control and immigrants are blamed for anything and everything, we are in dire need of a sensible discussion about this issue.


Have no fear, the Immigration Policy Center to the rescue! IPC has recently released to documents, to help political candidates engage in thoughtful and articulate dialogue about immigration.

The candidate packet was created as a resource for candidates and current elected officials to use in their efforts towards  achieving a real, effective, and practical immigration policy that keeps the interests of all those living and working in our country at heart. 

A Candidate’s Guide to Immigration along with a two-page document of Answers to the Toughest Questions are factual documents, backed by hard data and statistics.

I highly recommend Answers to the Toughest Questions to both presidential candidates. Now you can stop avoiding the topic and start a desperately needed dialogue with the American public!

VIDEO: Race and Immigration: Behind the Debate

The Accidental American has posted a great video discussing the intersection of race and immigration.

Be sure to check it out!

VIDEO: Calavera Highway

Yesterday was the broadcast premier of the PBS award-winning documentary, “Calavera Highway”.

The seven sons of Rosa Peña, a migrant worker and single mother, were raised in Texas border towns in Hidalgo County, the poorest county in the United States. She worked hard, had two husbands — she chased off the second one with a knife when he beat one of the boys — and instilled in her sons a strong sense of family and ethnic pride. With Rosa’s death her grown sons were left adrift. As recounted in the award-winning new documentary Calavera Highway, by filmmakers Renee Tajima-Peña (Who Killed Vincent Chin? P.O.V. 1989) and Evangeline Griego, Rosa’s funeral and cremation brought the boys together — and tore them apart again.

And be sure to check out Kyle de Beauset’s review at Alternet as well.

Free Trade and Criminalized Migration: Both Sides of the Same Coin

Author David Bacon spoke in D.C. last night at the AFL-CIO about his new book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants.

Lividsnails from Citizen Orange nicely summarized his argument as this:

People migrate (both within and across borders) for the same reasons:
economic necessity.  The same globalization (of neoliberal economic policies  –embodied in treaties like NAFTA) that causes folks in rural Mexico to have to migrate to the cities and/or cross the U.S. border is also responsible for workers in Michigan losing their jobs when their factories close down and move overseas.  Indeed sometimes those workers become migrants themsleves moving within the U.S. in search of better economic opportunity.

The globalization of neo-liberal economic policies has spelled economic disaster for poor people in impoverished countries as well as for working people in this country.

These economic realities will have to be addressed if we really want to reduce illegal immigration to the U.S.

It is absolutely vital that Americans understand how our economic policies influence immigration to our country. Most nativists or anti-migrant sympathizers love to use the argument that migrants come here “expecting a free ride” and that they are “not our responsibility”. The reality is that many of our policies have caused them to leave the country they know and love, risking everything, to come here and work themselves ragged just to survive. A free ride? Give me a break.

Theres also the argument that migrants should “stay at home and work on making their own country better” – as though it is just a lack of will on their part that is keeping their homeland poor. The reality is that much of the legislation that we push through here in the states works to keep these countries impoverished.

If we are going to even begin to solve the issues of migration, we MUST begin with these economic policies. Otherwise, any possible solution will only be partially successful.


The Reason Foundation recently released a great analysis of the country’s immigration system. The article comes with a chart, showing just how complex (and at times impossible) it can be to navigate our country’s complex immigration law.

The immigration debate is often reduced to – why don’t immigrants just get in line and come into this country legally? If only it were that simple.

A new chart details how complicated the immigration maze is, demonstrating the countless requirements that must be met, and the red tape that must be navigated, by everyone from English soccer star David Beckham to an Indian engineer.

What’s the best-case immigration scenario? Five or six years: If you are the spouse or a minor child of a U.S. citizen, you should be able to enter the country and get a green card. Then, after three to five years, you can apply to become a citizen.

The worst case scenario? You are an unskilled worker hoping to make a better life for yourself in America. “Unlike previous periods in our history, there is virtually no process for unskilled immigrants without family relations in the U.S. to apply for permanent legal residence,” the chart by Reason Foundation and the National Foundation for American Policy states.

Unskilled workers just have to hope they get lucky. That’s because only 10,000 green cards are given to these workers each year and “the wait time approaches infinity.” Skilled workers may have better chances, but still face strict caps, thousands of dollars in fees, and an 11 to 16 year wait to obtain a green card and gain U.S. citizenship.

“Our country’s immigration system is broken,” says Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation and one of the chart’s authors. “Workers with family already here or college degrees face a convoluted, cruel and uncertain process. And they are the lucky ones. For poor laborers, who pick our crops and build our homes, there is virtually no legal process and no ‘line’ to wait in if they hope to permanently work and live in this country.”

You should definitely check out the cartoon version of the chart. Funny (and true) stuff.

Both Sides of the Immigration Plank

While the Democrats were rallying in Denver last week, Republicans met to hammer out the McCain Platform being presented this week in St. Paul.

Duke at MigraMatters posted on some details of the Immigration plank of the Republican Platform (and the deliberations that created the plank).

In sharp contrast to the 2004 platform, whose immigration plank clearly reflected the highly flawed Bush/McCain doctrine on immigration reform, relying heavily on a pro-business guest-worker program, a modified and somewhat limited path to citizenship for the 12 mill undocumented workers, and stricter enforcement with limited judicial review, this year’s platform is based entirely upon increased enforcement, raids and deportation.

So this means we can expect more of this and this?

The current platform full-throatily endorses the “deportation through attrition” model so favored by hate groups like FAIR and their allies in the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus led by ex-FAIR lobbyist Brian Bilbray.

While the 2004 platform at least tried to leave a modicum of human dignity for migrant workers intact by paying lip service to ” the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants” and the essential role they play in the nation’s economic vitality, this years platform, after four years of a campaign of misinformation from anti-immigrant activists, reflects more the rants of Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs than a practical governing tool.

The platform itself is decidedly anti-migrant, but the real sentiments seem to have come out during the deliberations process.

Two delegates wanted to harden the language surrounding the issue of amnesty. The draft read, “We oppose amnesty.” But, delegates from North Carolina and Colorado wanted to include opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform” because they believe it is a code word for amnesty. This sparked a heated discussion between members with a delegate from Washington DC who said that the Republican Party is a “not a xenophobic party, not an intolerant party. We are a compassionate party that insists on the rule of law and endorses federal law,” said Bud McFarlane. Kendal Unruh from Colorado, who wanted to include “opposition to comprehensive immigration reform” to the draft, seemed to take offense to that statement citing her missionary work and saying that she would “never have the label” of xenophobic “slapped on me.” She continued to press that the committee add the tougher language to stop “behind the door tactics” to prevent “amnesty” of illegal aliens.

This is compared to the Democratic immigration plank that I posted on (with Duke’s help) earlier this month.

On the good side there is a commitment to take up comprehensive reform within the first year, a plan to regularize the status of the 12mil undocumented migrants already living in the US, an acknowledgment that conditions in sender nations that foster increased migration must be dealt with, a reaffirmation of the commitment to the principles of family based immigration, an increase in the number of available visas, and a call to fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy.

On the bad side, the platform is still mired down in the language of enforcement and criminalization that marked previous failed efforts at reform. Calls for increased border enforcement and security as a means to regulate migration, and promises of getting tough on those who “disrespect the law”, while perhaps smart political theater, are not constructive ways to address a broken immigration system, and only add to the divisive and dehumanizing nature of the debate.

Check out the original post for the full text of Obama’s Immigration plank.

ACTION: Support the National Immigrant Bond Fund

To follow up on my last post, I am posting on a cause that I truly believe in – The National Immigrant Bond Fund.

If our “justice” system will release people accused of murder on bail, why won’t it allow the same for hard-working immigrants caught up in our broken system?

If you believe in due process – you should support the National Immigrant Bond Fund.


For too long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have raided workplaces across the country, detaining and separating hard-working immigrants from their children, while leaving their local communities in total disarray.

 ICE agents have detained, shackled and pushed men and woman alike through hearings in which these detainees have been deprived adequate legal representation, including an attorney of choice. In some cases ICE has flown detainees thousands of miles from their families to be tried in detention centers on the border.

These harsh enforcement actions are causing an economic, constitutional and humanitarian crisis in the United States. 

Legal experts across the nation agree that the best chance for a fair trial is to post bond immediately and contest their case in the courts. Posting bond sets jurisdiction in the district where the arrest took place, thereby avoiding ICE’s rapid transfer of detainees outside the district. Posting bond also increases the detainee’s ability to argue his/her case for a stay of deportation before a judge. Lastly detainees able to post bond have better access to community resources and family support.

Go to to help families remain intact and honor our nation’s commitment to human dignity and due process. 

The goals of National Immigrant Bond Fund are to:

  • Assist immigrants caught in raids to post bond so that they can assert their right to legal counsel and due process in court
  • Build public opposition against raids and support for immigration reform by focusing on the lack of rights afforded detainees.
  • Support local community’s efforts to respond effectively to ICE enforcement actions and raise public awareness of the need for detained immigrants to access due process.

100% of your tax deductible contribution will go directly to an immigrant seeking due process in our courts (families of detained immigrants will be required to contribute towards the posting of bond).  Released bonds will be returned to the Fund to assist other detained immigrants.


The National Immigrant Bond Fund is a fiscal project of the Public Interest Projects, Inc. (PIP). PIP strengthens the work of philanthropic institutions, nonprofit groups and other public interest organizations sharing a vision of a society that ensures justice, dignity and opportunity for all people.

No Human Being is Illegal

Excellent post from Peter Rachleff on ZNet.

In April 2006, hundreds of thousands of immigrant rights protestors marched in cities across the United States.  They countered prolonged debates about the pros and cons of comprehensive immigration reform with a short but sweet affirmation, scrawled on placards: “No Human Being Is Illegal.”  Their direct assertion challenged the deeply entrenched practices of our government and a deep wellspring of racism in our culture.  Their actions also evoked traditions of protest, organization, and resistance.   


Since the days of slavery – well before the establishment of the United States itself – the government, buttressed by popular culture, included some residents as citizens and  excluded others as outsiders, as what historian Mae Ngai has called “impossible subjects.”  Not only were slaves defined as outside the political and social community, but freed slaves and their children were typically excluded from citizenship.  The federal constitution counted slaves as three-fifths of a person.  The Naturalization Act of 1790 offered citizenship to “free white persons.”  The Alien Act of 1798 authorized the president to order the deportation of any alien “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” during peacetime.  Once the government began to regulate immigration, argues Professor Ngai, it had begun to create the “illegal” alien.


Race was the central criterion by which such decisions would be made, and thinking about race was shaped by popular prejudices, beliefs, and passions.  A dual process cast the racially different as “other,” while securing a place on the inside for all of those accorded “white” status.  The outsiders were vulnerable to the worst forms of economic exploitation, from slavery and servitude to sweatshops, in the most dangerous conditions at the lowest wages.  Yet they enriched their employers.  Just a step above these outsiders on the economic ladder, from their own position of insecurity, simultaneously threatened by the wealth and power of those above them and the lack of power manifested by those below them on the socio-economic ladder, working class whites struggled to hold on to what status and privilege they had.   They practiced discrimination and even mob justice at times, and they sought laws, court orders, and enforcement from the state to shield them from competition with the outsiders.  And hence a pattern took shape which would be seared into the American body politic.  When insecurity spread among working class whites and popular discontent threatened to swell, the elite and the state responded by scapegoating and exorcising “the other,” both people of color and immigrants.


This pattern has dominated our society since its founding to the present day. 

Keep reading – you won’t be disappointed…