The U.S. Immigration Battle Intensifies

 ap971610016668_spip-4e770.jpg
Central American migrants ride a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico. (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

As expected, a Republican judge, Andrew Hanen of Texas, on the night of Feb. 1, temporarily blocked the first of several programs President Obama announced in November to offer work permits and a three-year reprieve from deportation to more than four million immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and who have no criminal record. The decision is temporary and was immediately appealed by the Obama Administration. It will probably be overturned. All are urged to continue to prepare for their application. The temporary decision has no effect on DACA applications. For updates go to the SEIU site: http://iAmerica.org -- Editors

By David Bacon

In an escalating dispute with President Barack Obama, Republican members of the United States House of Representatives have passed a bill which will cut any funding to the Department of Homeland Security for suspending the deportation of undocumented people.

In December the President ordered the department, beginning this spring, to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants with U.S.-born children (who are thus U.S. citizens).

A previous Obama order suspended the deportation of young people without documents, brought to the U.S. as children.

The Republican bill would rescind both orders.

A new, Republican-dominated Congress took office in January. Congress must fund the department by February 27 or it could shut down.

President Obama has threatened to veto this bill, and while there are enough Republican votes in the Senate to pass it, there are not enough to override a veto.

The U.S. trade union movement supports deferral programs, and opposes the mass deportations that now total over two million people during the Obama administration - around 400,000 per year.

After the Republican majority was elected, AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka warned its defunding proposal “would further exploitation and force our community members to continue to live and work in fear.”

Guillermo Perez, President of the Pittsburgh Labor Council on Latin American Advancement, said the job of the trade union movement is to ensure the implementation of President Obama’s deferral order in order to “help us in organizing workplaces where there are substantial numbers of undocumented people.”

Joe Hansen, president of United Food and Commercial Workers, agreed. “Executive action is not all we need or deserve,” he said. “But it is a step in the right direction.”

Controversy

Obama’s latest executive action, however, caused a lot of controversy among unions and immigrant rights activists because of the conditions attached to the deferrals.

For instance, tech employers will be allowed to bring increased numbers of workers recruited under contract labour programs to the U.S., and pay them wages substantially below those of U.S. residents.

Over 900,000 workers already arrive in the U.S. in these programs every year, which have been criticized because the recruited workers have few labour rights.

Meanwhile, various organizations also criticized the administration’s order because it increases immigration enforcement.

U.S. law currently forbids people to work without legal immigration status, but about 12 million people do so anyway.

Under Obama’s order, four to five million people, at most, will get permission to work.

But at the same time the Department of Homeland Security will increase enforcement against those millions of others who will not.

Over the last decade, tens of thousands of workers in agriculture, meatpacking, construction, building services, manufacturing and other industries have lost their jobs as a result of workplace enforcement.

Many, if not most, have been union members, and a groundswell of labour opinion has condemned these terminations.

Hundreds of workers, for instance, were fired in the middle of an organizing drive at a California supermarket chain.

Gerardo Dominguez, organizing director of Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, called the terminations “an economic disaster for the San Francisco Bay Area.

These workers pay taxes that support local schools and services. Being terminated because of immigration status is a violation of their human and civil rights. Their families and our entire community will be harmed, and inequality and poverty will increase.”

In addition, the President announced that even greater resources will be spent securing the U.S./Mexico border, where hundreds of people die each year.

“More enforcement here will mean even more people will die trying to cross, and greater violations of civil and human rights in our border communities,” according to the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a union-aligned immigrant rights organization based in Tucson, Arizona.

“We need to demilitarize the border, not to increase its militarization. The U.S. already spends more money on immigration enforcement, including the notorious Operation Streamline kangaroo courts, than all other federal law enforcement programs combined. It is inexcusable to spend even more.”

President Obama also announced he will expand the number of privately-run prisons for immigrants, and the number of people held in them.

One such centre, the South Texas Family Residential Center, has already been built in Texas to hold over 2,400 children and family members from Central America.

The detention of Central American children has been strongly criticized by the AFL-CIO.

A recent delegation to Honduras led by the federation’s vice-president Tefere Gebre even urged the Honduran government not to accept deportees arriving from the U.S. if they haven’t been allowed their legal right to apply for asylum.

Free trade policies

According to many labor and immigrant rights groups, however, migrants from Central America, Mexico and elsewhere have been driven into migration by free trade agreements and other economic policies pursued by the U.S. government.

Yet the Obama administration is currently asking Congress to give it a “fast-track” process for approving the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement involving 12 countries around the Pacific Rim.

The Dignity Campaign, a network of a number of local unions, labour councils and immigrant rights organizations, warned:

“Two decades of experience with NAFTA tells us that these deals drive people into poverty, leading to more displacement and global migration, while U.S. jobs are eliminated.

“We need to end these trade arrangements as part of a sensible immigration policy. We must change U.S. immigration law and trade policy to deal with the basic causes of migration, and to guarantee the human, civil and labor rights of migrants and all working people.”

The Obama executive order will not change U.S. law — only the Congress can pass laws.

It can only change the way existing law is enforced. The possibility exists, therefore, that an incoming administration elected in 2016 could reverse it, deporting those who have come forward to claim a deferred status. That prospect has already frightened some potential applicants.

“The challenge is getting those folks to apply, get them legal status, and make sure that they never lose it,” Perez says.

“If we don’t get enough people into the program, it’s more likely that it could be taken away. I’d love to see union halls all over the country opening up and serving as places where people can come to get good information to apply. That would be beautiful.

Reprinted with permission from Equal Times.

David Bacon is a writer and a photographer. His photographs and stories can be found at http://dbacon.igc.org.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

June 27, 2017
· 77 rsvps

Join DSA activist Judith Gardiner to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT, 7 pm MT, 6 pm PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

July 06, 2017
· 17 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

July 09, 2017
· 3 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

Running for the National Political Committee

July 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join this call to hear a presentation and ask questions about the role, duties and time commitment of a member of DSA's National Political Committee. In the meantime, check out the information already on our website about the NPC.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 11 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.