Immigration News from October 12, 2021

Pundits and politicos are debating David Shor’s prescription for Democratic electoral victory, which includes not talking about race and immigration issues. That’s a dangerously wrong-headed strategy (not to mention immoral and a betrayal of Democratic principles), as Sergio Gonzales, Executive Director of the Immigration Hub, points out:

“We’ve been hearing this bad advice for years, and what has it yielded? Republicans continue to weaponize immigration, filling the vacuum on an issue that can effectively move key voting blocs. Running away from immigration isn’t the answer. Senators Michael Bennet and Harry Reid proved in 2010 that when you lean into immigration, you can galvanize Latinos and other voters to win tight races. The same remains today. Democrats can win votes by articulating their bold vision for a humane and functioning immigration system and actually delivering on it. It works with the base; it works with Latinos and it works with the non-college educated. Stacey Abrams and Georgia groups, LUCHA and Arizona groups, and Terry McAuliffe and Virginia groups are all good examples of what it takes to invest and to win votes without tip-toeing around immigration or race.”

I recommend reading the whole article, but here’s just one more tidbit: 

“In July of 2021, the Immigration Hub, People’s Action, SEIU and Voto Latino urged Democrats in a confidential memorandum to deliver on citizenship and lasting protections for Dreamers and undocumented immigrants to maintain the majority, galvanize critical blocs of voters and prevent backlash. The groups cite a number of evidence-based data and research, reiterating and highlighting among them:

“When Democrats fail to articulate a bold, values- based vision for immigration, Republicans fill the vacuum and move critical sets of moderates who are vulnerable to their attacks and misinformation. Ultimately, voters fail to understand what Democrats stand for on the issue.”

And in other news

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memorandum outlining a shift in policy that would protect undocumented immigrant workers from abuses and end major workplace raids. The memorandum is a first step toward fully describing and then implementing policies. 

(Bloomberg Law) “Mayorkas ordered agency leaders to clear a path for the Labor Department, National Labor Relations Board, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to conduct more robust workplace enforcement that targets businesses for exploiting undocumented workers. 

“His memo included a request for policies to allay noncitizen workers’ fear of employer retaliation and deportation by DHS when they assert their federal workplace rights by complaining about employer abuses. Federal law provides on-the-job protections regardless of a worker’s immigration status, including minimum wages, overtime pay, occupational safety standards, a right to union organizing, and defenses against discrimination….

​​“’We will not tolerate unscrupulous employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities, or impose unsafe working conditions,’ Mayorkas said in an accompanying statement. ‘By adopting policies that focus on the most unscrupulous employers, we will protect workers as well as legitimate American businesses.'” 

52 families reunited so far this year. And more than a thousand remain separated. The reunifications move in the right direction, but painfully slowly. 

(The Hill) “In June, a report from the Department of Homeland Security revealed that more than 2,100 children had still not been reunified with their families, to the task force’s knowledge. Roughly 2,800 children were taken from their parents under the 2018 policy, though the actual number may be higher.

“[Michelle Brane, the chair of the task force] said that because there was no system in place in 2018 for documenting family separations, officials are now left without a database or system to consult when determining who was separated.”

Professor David Card of U.C.-Berkeley won the Nobel Prize in economics for his groundbreaking research that showed raising the minimum wage does not reduce jobs and immigration does not hurt native workers. The prize was awarded jointly to Card and two other economists. 

(AP) “Card’s research also found that an influx of immigrants into a city doesn’t cost native workers jobs or lower their earnings, though earlier immigrants can be negatively affected. 

“Card studied the labor market in Miami in the wake of Cuba’s sudden decision to let people emigrate in 1980, leading 125,000 people to leave in what became known as the Mariel Boatlift. It resulted in a 7% increase in the city’s workforce. By comparing the evolution of wages and employment in four other cities, Card discovered no negative effects for Miami residents with low levels of education. Follow-up work showed that increased immigration can have a positive impact on income for people born in the country.” 

Anti-immigration policies harm all of us, both directly and indirectly and are rarely confined to immigrants. Surveillance and interrogation tactics reported six months ago by Pro Publica have now been confirmed in an official government report. 

(Pro Publica) “A new government report has revealed that a secretive counterterrorism team interrogated dozens of American activists and journalists at the border as part of the Trump administration’s sweeping response to fears about a large migrant ‘caravan’ that was making its way to the United States’ southern border.

“A ProPublica story in May first revealed the involvement of the counterterrorism team. But the new report, from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, shows the unit’s assignment was far broader than previously known.

“According to the report, at least 51 U.S. citizens were flagged for interrogation — often based on evidence as flimsy as once having ridden in a car across the border with someone suspected of aiding the caravan.

“Thirty-nine of those Americans crossed the border shortly after being flagged and were detained and interrogated. All of those interrogations, the report found, were conducted by members of the Tactical Terrorism Response Team, a little-known unit of Customs and Border Protection trained in counterterrorism, not immigration issues.”

Nine Black immigrants, among them five Haitians, have filed a civil complaint with the Biden administration over what they say is a disturbing pattern of racism and abuse at the Krome North Service Processing Center in South Miami-Dade County while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

(Miami Herald) “Advocates and the detainees are demanding release from the ICE detention center and a federal investigation into their allegations.

“Among the accusations: that guards at Krome use threats, coercion and physical violence to obtain signatures on deportation paperwork from Black immigrants, poor hygiene at Krome and negligence of COVID-19 protocols, and a pattern of racial discrimination and disparity in decisions on who gets released. For example, the Black immigrants claim that only lighter-skinned Cuban migrants are being released.

“‘People in this dorm are displaying COVID-19 symptoms and are really sick,’ Johan Cruyff Jimstar Aceus, one of the two individuals named in the complaint, said in the document. ‘There is no proper sanitation and no testing being done either.'”

MPR interviews historian Rodolfo Gutierrez, executive director of HACER — Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research. Gutierrez came to Minnesota 23 years ago to pursue his PhD in history at the University of Minnesota. 

(MPR) “Why is it important for you to share your experiences as a Latino?

“It’s really important because I am a historian. As a historian, I see this country having some sort of episodes in which we need to remember the historical processes, in which one way or another, we learn how to be better. So that is why I think it is important to raise our voice and say, “Hey, we are going through this moment.” We are not, as many people consider us, new immigrants, because we’ve lived in this country from the beginning of the country. In 1848, when the Guadalupe treaty was signed, Mexicans were living already in this country, and for Minnesota, since 1865. Mexicans are living here, in Minnesota. So that is something important to recognize and to really dismantle some sort of misunderstanding, some stereotypical images that are prevailing still. 

“What is one thing that you believe people misunderstand about Latinos?

“Particularly, that we’re strangers. Seventy-two percent of the population of Latino origin in Minnesota are born in the United States. So just being portrayed as foreigners, immigrants, new immigrants, undocumented, is terrible. That is something that needs to change, because we cannot rely anymore on false premises that try to convince people that we are all immigrants trying to steal the jobs that most people have.” 

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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