Tag Archives: Immigrant Rights

FIRM Spotlight: Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz

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Celina from Feministing recently interviewed Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of FIRM’s partner group, Voces de la Frontera. She gives a great overview of the current immigration debate and what immigrant rights mean to everyday folks. Here’s an excerpt:

On an everyday level, what do immigrant rights mean? And how do immigrant rights affect Americans who are not recent immigrants?
On an everyday level, immigrant rights means the right to be free of fear. Fear that at any moment you can be picked up and be separated from your family; the sense that everything you have worked for is fragile. Having to live with the fear of traveling within the U.S. and being stopped by police and questioned about your status, fear of not having identification that is so necessary in everyday life, the fear of crossing the border to be reunited with your family because of the danger if you try to come back. Fear of approaching the police if you are the victim of a crime. Fear of jail. Fear of hunger. The anguish of having to make the choice between seeing your family, in many cases your children or your aging parents, or sending them money to help them survive.

Immigrant rights affects all workers because historically, we have only raised the quality of life for working people in the U.S. by organizing across ethnic, racial, and gender lines. Immigrant workers are one segment of low-income workers in this country. If we are going to turn low-income industries into living wage industries immigrant workers have to be organized and the threat of deportation is a powerful weapon that employers use to threaten workers.

The full interview is definitely worth the read. Hat-tip to Celina at Feministing for featuring Christine, who is doing such amazing work in Wisconsin!

Courage, President Obama

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An editorial in today’s NY Times speaks to the upcoming fight for immigration reform and the hard, but hopeful,  road ahead. The endorsement of labor unions has bolstered the White House’s announcement of a move on reform this year and we are gearing up to push back against the sure-to-come rhetoric that reform is somehow not compatible with economic recovery. (If you would like some black and white proof of why this is wrong, check out the Immigration Policy Center’s most recent report.)

American workers and businesses continue to be undercut by the underground economy. The economic potential of some of the country’s most industrious workers is thwarted. Working off the books — and living in constant fear of apprehension — they earn less, spend less, pay less in taxes and have little ability to report abuses or to improve their skills or job prospects.

The ingredients of reform are clear: legalization for the 12 million, to yield bumper crops of new citizens, to make it easier to weed out criminals and to end the fear and hopelessness of life in the shadows; sensible enforcement at the border that focuses resources on fighting crime, drugs and violence; a strengthened employment system that punishes businesses that exploit illegal labor; and a future flow of workers that is attuned to the economy’s needs and fully protects workers’ rights.

We stand strong with the President and with the AFL CIO and Change to Win in their endorsement for reform. There is a lot of work to do, but I am confident that, together, we can make it happen.

We expect to hear more from Mr. Obama soon. It will take courage to defend the wisdom and necessity of fixing the immigration system. It will take even more courage to engage in the serious fight to do so. It is what the country needs and what American voters elected Mr. Obama to do.

Playing While Brown: Racial Profiling in West Palm Beach

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On March 26th, a group of people gathered to play soccer in a public park in West Palm Beach, Florida. Instead of enjoying an evening of sports and friends, however, eight of the players ended the night in handcuffs, facing deportation.

“It appears the young men were targeted for arrest and detention because of their skin color and national origin,” said PBCCIR organizer Isabel Vinent.  “They were completely peaceful, engaging in healthy sports activities as they had done for many months and actually making the parks along Flagler Drive safer for all residents, by playing their games there.” Coalition members believe that all communities have a right to feel safe while using public parks and recreational areas without being fearful that they will be selected and targeted because of their skin color or national origin.      The eight young men were arrested and put in handcuffs.

PBCCIR member Jill Hanson said, “it is shameful that right in front of West Palm Beach’s monument to America’s great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, such a blatantly illegal and intimidating raid took place.  Just as Dr. King protested against the exclusion of Black children from swimming pools, our members will protest this attempt to intimidate the immigrant community from using West Palm Beach’s playing fields.  We want everyone to know what is taking place.  We will not allow the silence to continue.”

On Monday, around thirty people gathered to protest the racial profiling. The lawyers and immigration rights supporters gathered to draw attention to the growing intimidation of immigrants that is happening nationwide (Joe Arpaio, anyone?).

ACTION: Rally for the American Dream

From our partners at the Florida Immigrant Coalition:

You are invited to attend the Rally for the American Dream, to be held on Tuesday, March, from 5pm-7pm in front of the Miami Beach Resort & Spa.

Some South Florida employers are trying to use the current economic situation to attack workers’ standards by unreasonably cutting jobs, cutting hours and changing full-time into part-time jobs.

Workers should not bear the burden for the economic crisis. Please join us as, hundreds of hospitality, gaming and airport workers come together to make sure everyone still has an opportunity to maintain good stable jobs with good benefits.

To RSVP call Jay Mehta at 202-256-2694 or Wendi Walsh at 305-934-7373. 

ACTION: Demand Protection for Hatian Immigrants

When: Saturday, February 28th at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Broward Transitional Center (3900 N. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach, FL 33073)

Demand Temporary Protective Status for Haitians and an end to the racist raids and deportations in our communities!

What the US Government should do in response to this humanitarian Crisis:

  • Immediately halt all deportations to Haiti
  • Grant Deferred Enforced Departure and/or Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States for 18 months;

For more information, please contact: Marleine Bastien at (305) 756-8050 or Bob Louis-Jeune at (561) 255-4445

Man Beaten for Not Speaking English

Stories like this are the reason I advocate for immigrants’ rights. We have to combat the hate that fear of the other  inspires in people. Immigrant rights are Human Rights.

An Immigrant’s Hope for the Future

Today, the L.A. Times features an article about an immigrant activist and her hopes for the incoming administration. Victoria Vergara is from Southern Mexico and has not only created a life for herself as a U.S. Citizen, but is actively engaged in our country’s political process. From her role as a shop steward in her LA Union, to her participation in immigrant rights rallies, actions and even Obama’s campaign, Vergara exemplifies the Southern California immigrant activist.

And Vergara is confident that the incoming administration – specifically new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis – will not let her (or her immigrant community) down.

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“Hilda is a very humble and down-to-earth person,” Vergara told me in Spanish. “I don’t think I’m wrong about her. She’s not a person who will ever turn her back on us.”

When Obama nominated Solis to his Cabinet, it was a deep bow of respect in the direction of Los Angeles and its working people. Obama was acknowledging, albeit indirectly, the power of the Southern California labor movement, a strength that’s been built with the sweat and struggle of immigrant workers like Vergara.

The artcile also quotes Solis:

“My vision of the Department of Labor is rooted in who I am,” Solis said Friday at her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington. “The fact that I’m sitting before you today as a child of an immigrant family, a working family, is proof that in America anything is possible.”

It is with this hopeful tone that we are entering the new administration next week. January 20th will mark a new day for immigrants in this country. As Obama takes office, we move ever closer to the promise of Just and Humane Immigration Reform. Vergara has personally asked Obama to remember immigrants.

It was on behalf of her fellow immigrants that Vergara slipped a note into Obama’s shirt pocket during an October campaign rally in Reno. She was in Nevada working with union activists on his campaign.

“I asked him in Spanish not to forget us immigrants, and to work to get us legalization,” she said. “But I’m sure that note ended up at the dry cleaners.”

Maybe not, I said. She gave a conspiratorial grin and raised her eyebrows at the possibility.

“I’d like to know if he read it,” she said. “I’m going to pray that one day I find out.”

ACTION: Vote for Bob Hildreth, Bostonian of the Year!

hildrethThis past August, I had the privilege of seeing Robert Hildreth speak at the press launch of the National Immigrant Bond Fund. The NIBF was founded by Hildreth after the terrorizing ICE raids in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Hildreth saw the injustice of these raids as immigrants were shuffled through the legal system, denied due process and never saw a fair trial or got their day in court. The NIBF is a matching fund, that helps detainees make bond, in order to protect due process of the law.

Because of his efforts, Hildreth is a contender for “Bostonian of the Year”. Click here to cast your vote for Hildreth – a vote for justice and ensuring civil and constitutional rights. You only have until Friday, so vote NOW!

ACTION: Vigil to Protest 287(g) in Raleigh, NC

I LOVE seeing the immigrant rights’ movment alive and kickin’ in my home state!

Saturday, December 13, from 5pm-7pm advocates and allies with gather at the Wake County Jail, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to protest the county’s 287(g) program.

“Every member of our community has the right to live without fear.  The 287(g) program is being abused and making our community members and immigrant families feel less safe,” said Marty Rosenbluth, staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.  

If you are in the area, be sure to come out and support the vigil.  For more information, contact the  Southern Coalition for Social Justice;
919-323-3380.

Today marks 60 years for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Sixty years ago, today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adpoted by the United Nations. To mark the anniversary, the Human Rights organization Witness.org is asking people to share the images that opened their eyes to Human Rights.

Today is relevant, because Migrant Rights are Human Rights. For more on how immigration raids violate Human Rights, check out this powerful post from kyledb at Citizen Orange.

I can easily name an image that opened my eyes to human rights.  It’s the image of Tomasa Mendez, who became a poster child for the separation of families after the New Bedford raid. 

Also, visit Immigration Impact for more on how our current immigration system violates Human Rights.