Category Archives: State Level Immigrant’s Rights

The Growing Human Rights Crisis on the Northern Border

For three years, OneAmerica community organizers had been hearing about the fear and mistrust border residents harbored toward U.S. Border Patrol. Residents living in Snohomish, Whatcom, and Skagit counties were too afraid to go to the courthouse to pay a fine, too mistrustful of the authorities to call 911, or too fearful to leave their home to attend church or go to the grocery store.

How could they become active participants in their communities if they were too scared to leave home?

Organizers interviewed residents in their homes, at work, and in church. We researched and observed how U.S. Border Patrol’s funding soared, its jurisdiction crept further and further inland, and how its role in the community became virtually indistinguishable from local police and 911 emergency service personnel.

Download the Executive Summary (2MB pdf)Download the Executive Summary


Download the full report (5MB pdf) Download the full report

OneAmerica compiled this research into a report and, in April 2012, released The Growing Human Rights Crisis on the Northern Border, which truly demonstrates the transformation of these border communities in the wake of the post-9/11 buildup of U.S. Border Patrol activity in the area.

The report shares the findings from 109 on-the-ground interviews with mothers, fathers, workers, and students. The majority of stories are marked by fear, mistrust, harassment, and abuse. They are rooted in specific—and avoidable—patterns of practice implemented by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), working in close coordination with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies.

In particular, Growing Human Rights Crisis calls attention to three interrelated patterns of practice:

  • First, in its own independent operations, the Border Patrol engages in systematic profiling of religious and ethnic minorities.
  • Second, collaboration between Border Patrol and other agencies, including local law enforcement, emergency responders, and the courts, results in a confusing and dangerous fusion where vital services are perceived as immigration enforcement.
  • Third, these first two patterns result in a third: U.S. Border Patrol’s behavior and dangerous partnerships with other agencies have created extensive fear and mistrust, leading to community members’ unwillingness to call 911, access the courts, and even to leave their house to attend worship services or fulfill basic needs.

We believe firmly that we must not trade away our rights for security. Documenting what is happening allows us to educate our policy makers so we can push together to change the situation. Our report offers policy recommendations aimed at correcting these wrongs while still protecting our borders, improving the ability for CBP to carry out its mission, and protecting the safety and rights of all who live in these communities.

This report is the product of a unique three-way partnership between OneAmerica, theUniversity of Washington Center for Human Rights, and the residents and leaders of these border communities. It culminates the first stage of a long process of organizing, educating, and empowering northern border communities to defend their human rights.

Governor Welcomes Immigrants in New Hampshire

Declaration Welcoming Immigrants in New Hampshire

Texas GOP Turning Texas Blue

Today, the Texas House will not address closing the Texas-sized deficit. Nope. Instead it will hold a hearing on banning “sanctuary cities” and other nonsense legislation aimed at appeasing its conservative base and alienating the Latino population.

From the Dallas Morning News:

The State Affairs Committee takes up several bills designed to punish cities or other entities that adopt policies limiting police or sheriff’s officials from enforcing federal immigration laws. The bill would withhold state grant money and other funding and allow the Attorney General to sue if such policies become known. Gov. Rick Perry has condemned such so-called sanctuary cities, although he has declined to name any cities that have such policies.

The House is pursuing this harebrained idea despite the protest of much of the state’s police and without much regard to the financial strain it will add to local governments.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said the county jail already holds 3,200 undocumented inmates and costs $6 million a year. This legislation would add about another $1 million to that bill, she said. A cost estimate done by the city of Houston and Harris County said implementing the legislation would cost local taxpayers $4.5 million a year, including 22 officers for immigration functions, 33 jail guards for additional prisoners and increased jail and housing costs.

There will be a lot of hearings in Texas similar to this one.  Republican legislators have been tripping over each other to file anti-immigrant and anti-Latino bills, which is really puzzling considering the 2010 Census numbers confirmed what everyone already knew: Latinos in Texas will soon be the largest ethnic group.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post wrote about the growth of the Latino population and the Republicans all out effort to alienate Latinos:

Don’t look now, but Texas is turning blue.

Not today, to be sure, nor tomorrow. But to read the newly released census data on the Lone Star State is to understand that Texas, the linchpin of any Republican electoral college majority, is turning Latino and, unless the Republicans change their spots, Democratic.

The GOP in Texas, though, is showing no sign of changing its spots. They’ve done the opposite. You would think after what happened to Sharron Angle in Nevada or all the Republicans in California that Republicans would know better than to actively agitate and enrage the fastest growing voting bloc in the state. Nearly half of all Texas under the age of 18 are Latino, a staggering statistic. Talk about sacrificing the future for a fleeting victory today.

Of course we shouldn’t wait until all these young Latinos are of voting age. We should let the GOP know today we do not want Texas to follow Arizona’s lead. The Reform Immigration FOR America campaign is encouraging people to send faxes to their Texas representatives. Go here to send yours.

State and Local Roundup


NC: Protesters Rally Against Immigration Enforcement Program – Activists marching across the state for immigrants’ rights rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Friday in support of abolishing 287(g), a federal program that allows local law enforcement officers to act as immigration officials.

UT: More Law Enforcers Declining to Follow State Immigration Statute – Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter will not cross-deputize his officers as immigration agents.

MD: Assembly Closes the Door on Licenses – The Maryland General Assembly last night passed a hard-fought compromise that would end the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, capping a 90-day session in which lawmakers were greatly constrained by the state’s financial challenges but passed numerous low-cost bills affecting residents’ daily lives.

State and Local Roundup


CA: Group: Detained Immigrants Kept in Squalid Basement: Immigrants held by the federal government are being detained in a squalid basement where conditions are foul-smelling and dirty, a civil rights group said in a lawsuit.

WA: Seattle Raid Raises Questions About Shift in Enforcement: The disclosure Wednesday that illegal immigrants in Seattle were given permission to work in the country has triggered alarms on Capitol Hill that the Obama administration is making a fundamental shift in the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.

NM: Roswell Hispanics Claim Police Racial Profiling: Roswell residents’ complaints about racial profiling of Hispanics by police officers have prompted a state advocacy group to request intervention from the U.S. Justice Department and the state attorney general’s office.

GA: Senate Bill Links Road Money to Immigration Status: Local governments that don’t check to make sure they are not hiring illegal immigrants could lose state money for building roads, under legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday.

State and Local Roundup


OK: “Oklahoma Still Divided on State Immigrant Law: Arkansas House Bill 1093 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Both the Oklahoma and Arkansas bills are titled the “Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.”

IL: “Cal City to Consider Immigration Ordinance: Municipal officials are likely to spend the next two to three months trying to craft an ordinance to protect non-U.S. citizens living in this south suburb from being harassed by local law enforcement because of their immigration status.

UT: “Utah Latino Leaders Urge Community to Raise Voice”: Utah Latino leaders urge community to raise voice. They ask immigrants to overcome fear and speak out about immigration bills.

NC: “Editorial: Oversight or Overkill?”: In March Guilford County’s BJ Barnes will join the growing ranks of North Carolina sheriffs who have added immigration enforcement to their daily to-do lists.

State and Local Round-up

CO: Colorado immigration panel urges leverage for copsThe bulk of the recommendations puts much of the onus for enforcement on the federal government and pleads for Congress to address the issue. Several recommendations call for more funding to help local law enforcement agencies deal with the problem.


NV:  28 inmates deported under new partnership – Immigration officials deported 28 foreign-born Clark County jail inmates during the first month of a new partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department.

AZ: Immigration enforcement faces budget cutsState lawmakers will consider whether to continue spending tens of millions of dollars a year to arrest illegal immigrants when the legislative session begins next week with Arizona’s government in a $3 billion hole.

TX: Texas lawmakers revive push for new immigration laws – Some state lawmakers want to revive immigration discussions by proposing more than a dozen bills that among other things would punish employers for hiring unauthorized workers, challenge the U.S. citizenship of immigrants’ U.S-born children and reverse a Texas law that allows undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition.

NJ: NJ may consider driving privileges for immigrants – A panel advising Governor Jon Corzine on immigrant issues is considering recommending the state allow undocumented immigrants “driver privilege cards” and in-state college tuition rates.

State and Local Round-up

NV: Police to share immigration status with feds – Undocumented immigrants who get into trouble with the law in Las Vegas will be referred to federal immigration enforcement officers – even if they aren’t found guilty of any criminal offense.

NC: ASSOCIATED PRESS: NC sheriff’s ‘trashy Mexicans’ remark brings questions about enforcing immigration law locally

AR: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Hispanic voter increase seen as boon to races  – The mayor’s race is less than a month away, and a significant number of Hispanics, invigorated by the presidential election, made the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline and are ready to head to the polls.

IA: Taxpayers’ costs top $5 million for May raid at Postville – The nation’s taxpayers have spent $5.2 million on the raid of Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville by immigration officials. The May 12 raid on the meatpacking plant, one of the largest immigration raids ever on a single site in the United States, included several hundred federal agents and two law enforcement helicopters that monitored the raid from overhead.

Largest Workplace Raid in History – Laurel, Mississippi

Last Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided Howard Industries in Laurel, MS, arresting nearly 600 unauthorized immigrant workers.

The raid surpassed May’s raid in Postville Iowa as the largest workplace raid in history, and it continues the increasingly aggressive enforcement only policy of the current Bush administration.

Media coverage of the raid was sparse, since it coincided with the first night of the DNC and Michelle Obama’s powerful appearance. However, the little attention given to the raid worked to hype up racial and non-union/union worker tentions.

From the LA Times:

It was the black co-workers who clapped and cheered, Pena said, as she and hundreds of other Latino immigrant laborers were arrested and hauled away.

“They said we took their jobs, but I was working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said [Fabiola] Pena, 21, a day after the raid last week that resulted in the arrest of nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants. “I didn’t see them working like us.”

And from the Washington Post:

One worker caught in Monday’s sweep at the Howard Industries transformer plant said fellow workers applauded as immigrants were taken into custody. Federal officials said a tip from a union member prompted them to start investigating several years ago.

However, there are reports coming out of Mississippi that the raid was politically and financially motivated. Not only does Howard Industries have close ties to the MS state government, but there was a growing coalition of workers pushing for better conditions and union contracts with the company.

There is a great analysis of this at New American Media:

Jim Evans, a national AFL-CIO staff member in Mississippi and a leading member of the state legislature’s Black Caucus, said he believed “this raid is an effort to drive immigrants out of Mississippi. It is also an attempt to drive a wedge between immigrants, African Americans, white people and unions – all those who want political change here.” Patricia Ice, attorney for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA), agreed that “this is political. They want a mass exodus of immigrants out of the state, the kind we’ve seen in Arizona and Oklahoma. The political establishment here is threatened by Mississippi’s changing demographics, and what the electorate might look like in 20 years.”

Basically, unions were working to increase their immigrant membership, in order to ensure fair pay and good conditions for all Howard employees. This is when the raid occurred.

I have posted before about the idea of raids as union-busting efforts, and this seems to be no different.

Additionally, there were multiple financial reasons for going after Howard Industries. For more on this analysis, check out this blog post at Immigration talk with a Mexican American. The post connects the dots between the current Bush Administration, Howard Industries (whose CEO is a big-time GOP contributor), and GEO Corp (who runs the Jena, LA detention center where detainees are currently being held).

The media should start covering the real story behind these raids. The Bush administration is denying due process and basic human decency to thousands of workers, while big business and government continue to profit both financially and politically.

For more on this perspective check out this post at VivirLatino.

State and Local Round-up

  • North Carolina: The arrest of a librarian in Alamanc county is drawing criticism. There is speculation that local law enforcement is combing through medical records at the Alamance Health Department in order to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

  • Nebraska: After hours of tense debate, Fremont’s city council votes down and anti-migrant bill. The proposal would have required contractors and employers who got licenses, permits or loans from the city to participate in the E-verify program to electronically verify a job applicant’s immigration status.
  • California: California may become the latest of several states to put restrictions on an online system that attempts to verify whether a job applicant can work in the U.S.