Saturday, March 18, 2006

Rights Sought for Tomato Pickers

Farmworker advocates are calling on the U.S. fast-food industry to do more to ensure fair treatment for thousands of agricultural workers who pick tomatoes.

The Southeastern Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers planned to announce Wednesday the creation of the Alliance for Fair Food. The national alliance will work to get major retail food corporations to buy from sellers that ensure laborers' wages and employment rights.

The move comes one year after the coalition won an unprecedented commitment from Taco Bell's parent company Yum! Brands to pay more for its tomatoes -- an increase that has been passed on to the workers.

Alliance members include the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights, the AFL-CIO, the Presbyterian Church, Interfaith Action and the Student Farmworker Alliance.

'The abuse of farmworkers' fundamental human rights is a shameful part of this country's history,'' said Coalition co-founder Lucas Benitez. ``The whole industry is responsible, not just Taco Bell, and now it's time for the entire industry to step up and make a change as Taco Bell has done to improve the quality of life for workers.''

A message left for the National Restaurant Association was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Farmworkers picking tomatoes from most of Florida suppliers earn about 40 cents to 45 cents for every 32 pound bucket, nearly the same amount they earned 30 years ago. Those picking tomatoes sold to Taco Bell now earn at least $10 more per week, according to the Coalition.

Farmworkers, many of whom are illegal immigrants, receive no overtime, health insurance, sick leave or other benefits. They must be constantly on call for growers, even on days when there is no work, making it hard to seek more work to make ends meet.

Florida pickers provide about 90 percent of the nation's domestic fresh winter tomatoes, according to growers.

Source: Associated Press, Mar. 8, 2006


March 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

White Supremacy Groups in Nevada

Two white supremacist groups have stepped up recruitment efforts in Nevada, starting chapters following the National Alliance's battle last year over an anti-immigration billboard near the Las Vegas Strip.

Emergence of the pro-Nazi National Socialist Movement and a group called the Southern Nevada Skinheads is tied to the billboard that read, "Stop Immigration - Join the National Alliance," critics believe. The sign included the group's Web site and phone number.

"That billboard has become an icon in the white power movement," said Cynthia Luria, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The Southern Nevada Skinheads, which formed last fall, has organized a few events in Las Vegas, including passing out fliers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to the group's Web site.

It's unclear how many people make up either the Southern Nevada Skinheads or the National Socialist Movement's chapter.

Anti-immigration fliers purportedly from the National Socialist Movement were spread in Fallon, about 60 miles southeast of Reno, last month, prompting complaints from more than a dozen residents.

The fliers decried Mexican immigrants and advocated rounding them up and sending them back to Mexico.

The National Socialist Movement's Web site states that it recently joined forces with the White People's Party. The party headed by Michael O'Sullivan who opposes affirmative action and illegal immigration, needs 7,914 signatures by Aug. 11 to become a recognized political party in this state.
Source: Associated Press, Mar. 7, 2006

March 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Did Anti-Immigrant Juror Vote for Death Penalty?

The Habeas Corpus Resource Center has requested that the California Supreme Court ignore afffidavits it filed allegedly from former jurors on behalf of death row inmates who are appealing their death penalties. The confusion is whether one of the HCRC's investigators actually fabricated the affidavits. In one such affidavit, the forewoman of the jury that recommended the death penalty for Christhian Monteroso stated that she had been a member of a group "dedicated to immigration reform. Since the 1980s, it has been hard to avoid the huge numbers of illegal aliens around the country. They are mostly Latinos, and they have a lot of children. That upsets me, because these same illegal aliens who use our public services do not pay taxes." The forewoman allegedly said she had been motivated to "speed the (case) along to avoid the waste of resources on these people."



March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Good Work of Yale Clinic and ACLU

In Nadarajah v Gonzales, the Ninth Circuit (March 17, 2006) granted immediate release to a Tamil asylum applicant who had been indefinitely detained.  The ACLU and Yale law School's international Human Rights Clinic filed an amicus brief.$file/0556759.pdf?openelement


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Immigration News from the Desert

AZ: Senate OKs ballot proposal restricting benefits to immigrants
The Associated Press, March 17, 2006
By Jacques Billeaud

The Arizona Legislature is considering a proposal to ask voters in November to expand the list of government benefits that are denied to illegal immigrants.

Sixteen months ago, voters approved Proposition 200 a law that denied government benefits to immigrants. State Attorney General Terry Goddard later issued a legal opinion saying the restrictions applied to only a handful of small welfare programs.

The state Senate voted 18-11 Thursday to ask voters to approve two new restrictions. If approved by the state House, the proposal would then go to voters.

The proposed restrictions would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving state-funded child care assistance and attending adult education classes.

A bill with similar restrictions was approved by the Legislature last year, but Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed it, saying it would have punished illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to Arizona when they were small children.


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Summary of Frist Bill

As threatened, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist introduced his own immigration legislation. Here's a quick summary prepared by the National Immigration Forum, with some comparison with Senate Judiciary chair Specter's bill and its markup.

Title I Border Enforcement (a variation of the chairman’s mark)

  • Enforcement personnel
  • Technological assets
  • Border infrastructure
  • Border patrol checkpoints
  • Ports of entry
  • Strategic fencing

Title II, Part B

  • Surveillance Plan
  • National Strategy for Border      Security
  • Reports on exchange of      information on N. American security
  • Improving Security of      Mexico’s S. Border

Title II, Part C

  • Biometric data enhancements
  • Secure communication
  • Border patrol training      capacity review
  • USVISIT system
  • Document Fraud Detection
  • Improved Document Integrity
  • Cancellation of Visas
  • Biometric Entry-Exit System
  • Border Study
  • Secure Border Initiative      Financial Accountability (new; may have been an amendment)

Title II Interior Enforcement (same or similar to Specter’s Mark; also includes punitive amendments passed in committee)

  • Removal and denial of      benefits to terrorists (“described in” provisions)
  • Detention and removal of      aliens ordered removed (indefinite detention)
  • Expansion of aggravated      felony (drunken driving, passport fraud offenses, two counts of illegal      presence, etc.)
  • Terrorist bars (changes to      good moral character definition; natz reform/gutting court review of natz      delays/denials)
  • Increase criminal penalties      for gang violence, etc.
  • Expansion of Alien Smuggling      definition (includes the extremely limited religious/501(c)(3) exception)
  • Denial of visas to nationals      of country denying or delaying accepting alien (Coburn amendment)
  • Illegal entry and unlawful      presence: criminalization of unlawful presence
  • Illegal entry- increased      penalties for reentry after removal
  • Passport and document related      fraud: expansion of penalties, types of offenses, etc.
  • Incarceration of criminal      aliens beyond their criminal sentence
  • Voluntary Departure “Reform”
  • SCAAP- reimbursements
  • State and local law      enforcement of immigration laws
  • Mandatory detention of aliens      at or between ports of entry
  • Expedited removal (this is      the language that amends section 238 plus a mandate to implement ER to      OTMS caught within 100 miles…)
  • Denial of benefits to certain      sex offenders
  • NCIC Database Expansion 

Title III Unlawful Employment of Aliens

  • Unlawful employment of aliens
  • Employer compliance fund
  • Additional worksite      enforcement and fraud detection agents

Title IV Backlog Reduction and Visas for Students and Aliens with Advanced Degrees (Same of Similar to Chairman’s Mark- pulls from titles IV and V of the Mark)

  • Elimination of existing      backlogs- increases FB and EB visas in the same manner as the Mark
  • Country limits
  • Allocation of immigrant visas      (reallocation of family and employment based visas)
  • Relief for minor children
  • Student visas (allows for      dual intent, increased flexibility to work, path to LPR.)
  • Visas for individuals with      advanced degrees- exempts select aliens from numerical caps
  • Medical services in      underserved areas  

Title V Immigration Litigation Reduction (Part of the Chairman’s Mark; guts some of the positive reforms to EOIR)

  • Consolidation of immigration      appeals
  • Additional immigration      personnel
  • BIA removal order authority
  • Judicial review visa      revocation- guts review
  • Reinstatement of removal      orders- guts review
  • Withholding of removal-      imports REAL ID standard of asylum (at least one central reason) into      withholding definition
  • Certificate of reviewability-      gives one person authority to reject or accept an appeal
  • Discretionary decisions on      motions to reopen or reconsider
  • Prohibition of attorney fee      awards for review of final orders of removal
  • Board of Immigration Appeals-     

Title VI Misc.


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Main Event -- Tancredo v. Gutierrez on Non-PPV

Tancredo, colleague tussle in ugly spat After TV debate, epithets hurled

By Anne C. Mulkern Denver Post Staff Writer

The lawmakers disagree about exactly what happened during the spat Wednesday, but each tells a version that's pretty ugly. Each accused the other of threatening bodily harm.

"It was a very peculiar event, I certainly have to tell you," Tancredo said Thursday evening.

Tancredo, R-Littleton, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., sparred Wed nesday on the CNBC cable-TV channel about which version of immigration reform Congress should enact. Tancredo said that as they were removing their microphones afterward, Gutierrez noted that Tancredo had been late for the show and said, "The immigrant shows up on time. The gringo was late. I guess that's why we get the jobs."

Gutierrez's spokesman Scott Frotman agreed that his boss made that "little joke." Then the stories of what happened diverge.

Tancredo said Gutierrez began screaming obscenities at him, saying he should "kick his (expletive)" behind. But Frotman, who witnessed the incident, said Tancredo "was aggressive, hostile and threatening." "He had this wild-eyed look like a man ready to turn a television debate on the issue of immigration into a physical altercation," Frotman said, adding that Gutierrez did not swear.

The two lawmakers would normally refer to each other on the House floor as "the gentleman from Colorado" and "the gentleman from Illinois." Instead, Gutierrez called Tancredo a racist and a bigot, and Tancredo called Gutierrez a racist, Frotman said.

Tancredo heads a caucus that opposes any guest-worker program that gives what he calls amnesty to illegal immigrants. Gutierrez is a backer of a House bill to create such a guest-worker program.

After the "gringo" comment, Tancredo said, Gutierrez began screaming at him, asking such questions as, "Did you ever eat an orange? Have you ever eaten a grape?" Frotman said Gutierrez was trying to point out that Tancredo interacts with immigrants in everyday life. (Gutierrez was born in Illinois to parents from Puerto Rico.)

According to Frotman, Tancredo then stood in front of Gutierrez to block his path. He put his hand on Gutierrez's back, Frotman said, "to antagonize and provoke him." Tancredo said he put his hand on Gutierrez's shoulder, that it was not threatening, and that it was just part of the conversation they were having.

Tancredo said Gutierrez screamed, "Get your hands off of me" with more profanities. 'It was just completely beyond the pale the things he was yelling," Tancredo said. Neither plans to file any kind of official complaint.


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the Latest from the Fifth Circuit

Thanks to Dan Kowalski for the latest from the Fifth Circuit. "Asylum protects victims of persecution on account of belief, not conduct. Therefore, a criminal suspect - and even a suspect in a political assassination - is ineligible for asylum or withdrawal of removal."Check it out in its entirety at:

Download mwembie_v. Gonzales.pdf


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Citizenship Without Borders Conference

Congratulations to Professor Rachel Moran, the Institute of Social Change, the Boalt Hall Center for Social Justice, and the Center for Latino Policy Research, for the excellent conference titled Citizenship Without Borders:  Belonging and Exclusion in Immigrant America.  The conference is going on as I type.  Last night, it began with a excellent, propvocative, and challenging lecture by Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff on "The Geography of Citizenship," who asks us to move the immigration and immigrant reform movement in positive directions by focusing on how immigrants are contributing members of our communites.  Today, an excellent group of professors and activists will discuss immigrant membership in the modern United States.  For more information about the conference, see


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UK Immigration to the United States

For the latest on immigration to the United States from the United Kingdom, see:


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Blue Latinos on Immigration

FROM Blue Latinos

Dear members,

Don't let Congressional and media neglect mute our voices. Help sustain an echo for justice by emailing your Senators today. Let them know that America deserves a just, fair and honest immigration system. Follow the link below and send your Senators an email supporting immigration reform that keeps families together, provides a path towards legal status, and creates an effective, legal and orderly means for future immigrants to come to America.

Last week over a quarter of a million people marched through downtown Chicago to protest a truly un-America immigration bill now before the U.S. Congress. The protest - the largest in Chicago's history - expressed our shared frustrations and disappointment with HR 4437 - the House-passed immigration bill that would criminalize immigrants and good Samaritans and would dim America's beacon of freedom for everyone else. Even after this historic march in Chicago, the Bush Administration, Congress and the mainstream media have all continued to ignore our call for real and comprehensive immigration reforms. The Bush Administration has said nothing about the event. Congressional leaders are equally mute, only responding to calls from anti-immigrants. And the mainstream media has failed to inform America about this historic event. CNN's Lou Dobbs reported on the march, but he seemed more interested in covering the handful of Minutemen - the racist, gun toting vigilante group - than the hundreds of thousands of marchers.

Their neglect cannot erase history, however. And it cannot stop the hundreds of thousands more who will take to the streets across America to protest unjust immigration laws. Los Angeles is set to stage their protest on March 25. Ohio just called for a mass protest on March 26. Students are marching and rallying in support of the DREAM Act. And a group of day labors, fueled by their deep faith and dignity, are running across the country with a message of hope and justice for all, ending their 3,000-mile journey at the heels of the Statue of Liberty.

Do your part. Email your Senators today. After you send them an email, make sure to follow up with a call telling them to reject the ill-conceived Sensenbrenner proposal (HR 4437) that would criminalize immigrants and turn America's tradition of justice on its head. HR 4437 is the first step towards mass deportations of 12 million people. The bill goes much further than granting local police the authority to enforce federal immigration laws - it demands clergy, teachers and anyone that provides undocumented immigrants any help including their family and friends to check for their immigration status and report them to Homeland Security. Without mincing words, HR 4437 would create a virtual police state by making us all border patrol agents.

Don't let the anti-immigrant forces have the last word. Email and Call today!

In solidarity,

José Quiñonez,

P.S. Email us with information regarding your community's efforts to fight HR 4437. We'll post it on website so that others in your community can participate. Don't know of any protest in your area? Organize one yourself. It only takes two people standing outside a Senator's office - one holding a protest sign and another to take a picture! Let us know how we can help.

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest Immigration Reform Commentary


This Thursday (Mar. 16), mostly under the media radar, the U.S. Senate inched closer to what some observers call a turning point in long-delayed comprehensive immigration reform. Just when it looked like all efforts were on the verge of collapse, the Senate Judiciary Committee apparently agreed on proposals that would offer the 12 million undocumented workers and their families living in the U.S. the possibility of earning permanent residence and citizenship. Senators present at Thursday’s meeting have told the media that there is now a voting majority to back the so-called McCain-Kennedy measures that are, without question, the most enlightened of all pending immigration proposals.

Republicans have been bitterly divided over this issue and until Thursday’s meeting it appeared that the close-the-border "restrictionists" had the upper hand.

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on Chicago

Thanks to Susan Gzesh for the link to this article, in Spanish, about the Chicago march by a major Mexican newspaper

Susan adds that

Two important things about the march - it was organized, in 6 weeks, by a combination of the Mexican hometown associations and a radio d.j. And it was very grass-roots - Most of the signs were home-made. Some employers sent their employees in vans; others have fired people for going (this report from one of the main organizers who works for SEIU). Why a march of well over 100,000 fails to be "news" in national press is, again, the invisibility of Mexican immigrant workers to people whose quality of life depends on their labor. What's next? It's up to the organizers... we'll see. I was there - it was very energizing, peaceful, enthusiastic, positive - and nice that the Governor, Mayor, Sen. Durbin and Obama, and several Reps showed up to speak.

About the march, Craug Mousin reports that

The rally in Chicago was unlike any I have been a part of previously in Chicago. Police in the street were telling us that it was more like 250,000, but all the official reports said 100,000--and initial plans suggested the rally would only bring out 15,000. Regardless, the streets were full, the politicians including Mayor Daley, Senator Durbin, Rep. Gutierrez, were vocal and strong in their support of the rally and against the House bill. One common theme, we now have to organize, become citizens and vote.

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March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants and Reality TV

From the Los Angeles Times

Immigration -- the game

Rosa Brooks, March 17, 2006

HERE'S AN IDEA for a reality TV show. Call it "Aliens."

The contestants will be drawn from the U.S. Congress. To start, they'll have their credit cards, cellphones, computers and cars confiscated. Next, they'll be sent with their families to live in rural villages and urban shantytowns in poor countries. Each will be assigned a menial job in his new home, for which he will receive a dollar a day.

Most members of Congress won't last more than a few episodes, of course. Their kids will quickly lose the puppy fat that comes from a hearty American diet and instead gain the bloated tummies that characterize children with nutritional deficiencies. This development will frighten off the faint of heart.

The remaining contestants will be given the opportunity to compete in an even tougher game. They'll be instructed to make their way to a distant country, but they won't be provided with money, a passport or transportation. Hardships along the route will include fording flood-prone rivers, crossing dangerous deserts on foot and evading the armed gangs of smugglers and traffickers who will attempt to rob, rape and kidnap them. Contestants will then have to covertly cross a border into a country guarded by armed agents.

Those who make it will then have to find food, shelter and employment in a place where they don't know the language and are in constant danger of being detected, detained and deported by the authorities. The only jobs available to them will be low-paying and often backbreaking labor.

What's the prize, you ask? Any contestants who manage to survive a full season will be offered the opportunity to draft a new immigration reform bill for the United States.

"Aliens" would have an enormous natural audience in the two-thirds of Americans polled who disapprove of Congress' job performance. And one thing's for sure: The resulting immigration reform bill would look nothing like the reform bill under consideration in Congress. For the rest of the story:,0,6897771.column?coll=la-home-commentary


March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Immigration Emergency Plan: Hotel USA

Is this akin to martial law? The government's plans for an "immigration emergency" in relocation and detention centers. See:

Hotel U.S.A.

March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Leahy Supports Legalization

Opening Statement by Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee today:

Yesterday, the Chairman was right to indicate that we should turn our attention this morning to the fundamental issue of whether our bill will include a path toward citizenship for the many undocumented immigrants in the country.  Senator Kennedy agreed, as do I.  This should be the focus of the Committee’s attention today, and we should seek to make progress and vote. 

It will be difficult today because some do not want resolution of this matter, nor do they want a comprehensive approach to immigration.  It will be complicated by the votes scheduled by the Republican leader on the budget resolution and amendments to the proposal to provide for the unprecedented debt and deficits that have been created during the Bush-Cheney Administration. 

I am here to join in what I hope will be a bipartisan effort to make real progress on the fundamental issues that need to be considered if we are to have comprehensive immigration legislation this year.  The President has talked about a guest worker program for years, but there has been no action by the Republican Congress.  Farmers in Vermont and across the country need help.  Immigrants are hopeful that we will reaffirm the promise that America has long represented with our Statue of Liberty and its inspiring words of hope and comfort to the oppressed and downtrodden.

Yesterday, we also spoke in a bipartisan way about the importance of not being circumvented by an arbitrary deadline for Senate floor action.  I joined Senators Kennedy and Feinstein in a letter to the Majority Leader urging him to work with Chairman Specter and this Committee so that we may complete our work on a bipartisan bill.  I ask that a copy of our letter be made part of the record.

I am disappointed that the Republican leader has decided to circumvent the Committee.   

Yesterday, The New York Times published an editorial entitled “Immigration’s Moment,” in which it quite rightly noted that this is a “pivotal week in the search for answers for the nation’s immigration problems.”  This is the pivotal day and pivotal morning in that search.  I ask that a copy of that editorial be included in the record. 

Mr. Chairman, I hope that this morning we follow through on the discussion we signaled and began yesterday.  You said, and I believe you, that you do not want to create a permanent underclass.  Many of us have spoken about the need to bring people out of the shadows.  Today is the day for us to amend the Committee bill to make those purposes a reality.  Thousands are watching and listening, and thousands more depend on our following through on those commitments.


March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Undocumented Irish Immigrants!

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES An Irish Face on the Cause of Citizenship

By NINA BERNSTEIN Rory Dolan's, a restaurant in Yonkers, was packed with hundreds of illegal Irish immigrants on that rainy Friday night in January when the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform called its first meeting. Niall O'Dowd, the chairman, soon had them cheering. "You're not just some guy or some woman in the Bronx, you're part of a movement," Mr. O'Dowd told the crowd of construction workers, students and nannies. He was urging them to support a piece of Senate legislation that would let them work legally toward citizenship, rather than punishing them with prison time, as competing bills would. For months, coalitions of Latino, Asian and African immigrants from 50 countries have been championing the same measure with scant attention, even from New York's Democratic senators. But the Irish struck out on their own six weeks ago, and as so often before in the history of American immigration policy, they have landed center stage. Last week, when Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer declared their support for a new path to citizenship, and denounced criminal penalties recently passed by the House of Representatives, they did so not at the large, predominantly Hispanic immigrant march on Washington, but at the much smaller Irish rally held there the following day. For the rest of the story, see

KJ Some in the immigrant coalitions resent being passed over, and worry that the Irish are angling for a separate deal. Others welcome the clout and razzmatazz the Irish bring to a beleaguered cause. And both groups can point to an extraordinary Irish track record of lobbying triumphs, like the creation of thousands of special visas in the 1980's and 90's that one historian of immigration, Roger Daniels, calls "affirmative action for white Europeans."

March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reid Response to Frist

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, issued a statement today criticizing Majority Leader Bill Frist's threats to go to the floor with his own immigration bill on March 27.

Senator Reid's statement follows below:

“Senator Frist should stop threatening the Judiciary Committee with an arbitrary deadline for finishing work on the immigration bill.  The Committee has been working diligently and should be allowed to complete its markup when the Senate returns from the recess.  On an issue as complex and significant as immigration, we need bipartisan solutions not partisan ultimatums. 

“There are plenty of other matters for the full Senate to consider while the Committee continues its work on immigration.  For example, we could return to the lobbying reform bill and finish that important bill before starting the immigration floor debate. 

“In any event, the Majority Leader’s enforcement-only approach to immigration will not work.  Clearly the federal government must work to shut down the flow of illegal immigration across our borders.  But without comprehensive reforms to our immigration laws, the situation on the border will continue to be chaotic. 

“Democrats support bipartisan, realistic, and workable immigration policies that will reunite families, provide for continued economic growth, protect the rights of American workers, and honor our values as a nation of immigrants. 

“I will object to any attempt by the Republican leadership to short-circuit the committee process on the immigration bill.” 


March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Frist Immigration Website

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a likely Republican presidential contender, has opened an immigration website,, on which he solicits answers to such questions as, "Do you believe illegal immigration is a drain on the resources of the United States?"

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, led an early presidential straw poll of GOP activists at a party gathering in Memphis last week.


March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Media Black Out of Immigrant Protests?

March 15, 2006

Immigration News

US Media Black Out Immigrant Protests

If you relied on the US media, you might not have noticed the massive pro-immigrant protests held in US cities in recent days. A survey of several leading US border and national media outlets revealed scant or non-existent coverage of protests against the Sensenbrenner immigration bill, HR 4437, convened in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Tampa by Latinos Unidos, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sin Fronteras, and scores of other organizations.

The dearth of coverage is striking considering the ample doses of recent media attention on the Minutemen, immigration legislation and the growth of the undocumented workforce in the United States. Not surprisingly, the US exception was the Spanish-language television giant Univision which featured prominent stories about the protests on its nightly newscast. A program on a Univision- affiliated radio station in Chicago is credited for helping promote that city's action.

To sum up: An estimated 20,000 people rallied in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, March 7, against the provisions of the Sensenbrenner immigration bill passed by the US House of Representatives last December. On Friday, March 10, from 75,000 to 150,000 demonstrators-or more- held a massive protest in the heart of Chicago against Sensenbrenner. Local media called it the largest demonstration in the Midwestern City since an anti-Iraq war protest in 2003. Taking on the characteristics of a strike, businesses were shut down and traffic was snarled for hours. Bus loads of demonstrators arrived from surrounding communities in Wisconsin and Indiana to participate in a march addressed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard Daly and US Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), among many others. "You are not criminals!" said Gov. Blagojevich in his speech. "You are workers who love your families!"

Protestor Abigail Marquez, an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico, said she was satisfied at the community response to the convocation. "I feel happy, because this shows we are united," Marquez said. Although US and Mexican flags were prominent in the crowd, people from other nations joined in the protest. Contingents from the Caribbean, Central America, Ecuador, Colombia, Poland, Ireland, and China were especially noted. Other forces supporting the demonstration included labor unions, evangelical churches, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, and the Nation of Islam. Besides the Washington and Chicago protests, a smaller demonstration against the Sensenbrenner bill, but still drawing hundreds of people, was conducted in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, March 11. Despite the large turn- outs, many US English-language media outlets in the border region initially ignored the protests. The Internet news sites of the Laredo Morning Times, El Paso Times, Las Cruces Sun-News and Albuquerque Tribune did not carry any stories about the burgeoning pro-immigrant movement in the two days following the Washington rally. Nor did the print edition of the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico's largest circulation daily. The publications are located in cities with huge Mexican immigrant populations. Tucson's Arizona Daily Star and the San Diego Union-Tribune ran small stories from the Reuters and Associated Press news services, respectively. Written by Karen Hawkins, the Associated Press piece included quotes from the director of the Illinois Minuteman Project , Rosanna Pulido, who participated in a press conference and tiny counter- demonstration in Chicago. Pulido said she didn't want to Chicago become a "sanctuary city," adding that 14 million underemployed US citizens could assume the jobs currently done by immigrants. Another Minuteman Project member, Carmen Mercer, was quoted by the EFE news service as saying that 9-11 made it imperative to oppose undocumented immigration.

Although the movement kicking off last week's protests has obvious national implications, as well as local ones in communities across the US, the importance was missed by the US border media outlets surveyed. The significance of the movement wasn't lost on the Chicago Sun-Times, however, which ran a follow-up story to last Friday's massive march. "We've been taught a lesson by Chicago," said Martha Ugarte, an activist in Los Angeles, California, with the pro-immigrant movement. Ugarte said the Chicago rally was the talk of the town in Los Angeles, where organizers are gearing up for a similar action later this month. According to Univision, anti-undocumented worker laws in Arizona are also inspiring the movement. Back in the Windy City, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights plans an event next weekend to help newly-naturalized citizens register to vote. On the other hand, members of the Illinois Minuteman Project and 9/11 Families for a Secure America blasted the pro-immigrant mobilization. Rosanna Pulido said US citizens are fed up with the illegal immigrant population. The Minuteman Project leader hoped that the "the outrage of the people of Illinois is heard through voting." For their part, Mexican border and national press outlets gave high profile treatment to the immigrant demonstrations. Accompanied by an article drawn from different news wires, Mexico City's La Jornada daily displayed a big photo of the Chicago protest on the home page of its website, as did El Sur of Acapulco, Guerrero. The newspaper is widely distributed in state that contributes large numbers of migrants to the Latino population of Chicago. El Universal, El Diario de Juarez and enlineadirecta, an Internet news site based in Tamaulipas state, all featured stories written by the EFE, Notimex and the Spanish-language AP news services.

Additional sources: Univision, March 7, 10, 11, 14, 2006., March 10, 2006. Article by Fabian Santillan. El Universal, March 11, 2006. La Jornada, March 11, 2006. El Sur, March 11, 2006., March 11, 2006. El Diario de Juarez, March 11, 2006. Arizona Daily Star March 11, 2006. San Diego Union-Tribune, March 11, 2006. Chicago Sun-Times, March 11 and 12, 2006. Articles by Dave Newbart, Monifa Thomas, Oscar Avila, Antonio Olivo, and Rick Pearson., March 10, 2006. Article by Leticia Espinosa. Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico


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