Saturday, March 29, 2008

Racewire Reports on H2B Workers and Sexual Exploitation, the Colorlines blog has two interesting posts on immigration topics. One is by Terry Keleher on the often ignored needs of H2B guest workers. The other is a post by Julianne Hing (an aspiring young writer who happens to be my daughter) on her reaction to the sexual exploitation of women by federal immigration agents.

Terry Keleher
Black Churches, Labor Activists form Underground Railroad for Indian Guest Workers

On a recent visit to New Orleans, I attended a memorable celebration at a neighborhood gymnasium organized by the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity, a project of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.

As I entered the gym, the jubilant spirit was contagious, as a group of immigrant workers performed a series of lively popular education skits highlighting themes of organizing for justice and human rights. The skits were followed by a spontaneous succession of storytelling, singing and dancing shared by a multicultural audience of Indian guest workers, Latino immigrants, white supporters and an energetic group of young Black jazz musicians who lead everyone in a lively New Orleans–style parade around the gym.

Amidst all the hand-shaking, hugging, marching and moving, there was a palpable feeling of camaraderie and hope, as if this magical moment was the beginning of something much bigger; indeed, the possibility that people from across the globe could truly unite and experience the taste of justice. The celebration marked the culmination of an organizing drive by nearly 100 Indian H2B guest workers who had broken an 18-month chain of human trafficking between Mumbai, India and Pascagoula, Mississippi. Click here for the rest of the article.

Julianne Hing
Anti-Immigrant Fever Ignites Violence Against Women

I felt a sour taste in my throat, the one that immediately precedes my gag reflex, when I read the NY Times piece about an immigration official who forced a woman to perform oral sex on him in exchange for her green card.

After the 22-year-old Colombian woman, whose name has not been released, went in for an interview for her green card with immigration agent Isaac Baichu in December of 2007, she started receiving phone calls from Baichu demanding sex. When he called her to meet in a restaurant's parking lot in Queens, she was prescient enough to stash her cell phone, which was recording their conversation, in her purse. Her cell phone captured Baichu asking for sex “one or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.” Later in the tape there’s a minute-long pause when, the reporter writes, the young woman “yielded to his demand out of fear that he would use his authority against her.” The Times posted an audio clip of the woman’s recording in the web edition of the article (yay, multimedia?).

The sexual exploitation of immigrant women is nothing new, but there’s a very specific pattern of abuse tied to this case. News of a Miami ICE agent who made a pit stop at his home so he could rape the Haitian woman he was responsible for transporting to detention and reports of sexual assault on a woman held at the Don T. Hutto Family Residential Facility, a de facto prison in Texas for families awaiting immigrations processing, come to mind. Similar scandals have been reported in Maryland (Deputy Lloyd W. Miner this year), California (Agent Eddie Miranda in 2007) and Georgia (Agent Kelvin R. Owens in 2005). Click here for the rest of the article.


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