Friday, February 27, 2009

Families Bring Stories of Detention and Deportation to Congress

Immigrant Rights Groups and Families Advocate for Child Citizen Protection Act

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, over 40 family members directly affected by immigration detention and deportation and a coalition of immigrant rights organizations from New York and New Jersey will convene in Washington D.C. to press Congress for passage of the Child Citizen Protection Act (CCPA).

The bill, reintroduced in 2009 by Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), would immigration judges’ discretion to consider the best interest of a U.S. citizen child before deciding whether to deport his or her parent.

"If the Child Citizen Protection Act becomes a law, my children who are citizens of this country will not grow up without a mother, drop out of school or be forced to go to a country that they hardly know," said Pauline N., one of the delegation members from New Jersey.

The families and organizations including the American Friends Service Committee, Families for Freedom, and the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, will meet with Congressional offices such as Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to tell their stories of family separation and hardship to lawmakers,

"Given the drastic shift in immigration law in 1996, there has been an unprecedented expansion of the grounds for deportation leading to an exponential increase in the number of cases where individuals are not eligible for any viable form of relief from deportation. The CCPA would ensure family unity and the right of a child to be with his or her parents," said Betsy DeWitt of Families for Freedom.

Homies Unidos, a California-based group, will bring affected community members to visit their members of Congress locally in solidarity with groups traveling to Washington DC.

Press Contacts:
  • Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights: Sandy Pl├ícido (NY & DC), 347-601-0089
  • AFSC Newark: Chia-Chia Wang (NJ & DC)), 646-509-3860
  • Homies Unidos: Luis Guzman (CA), 323-273-5564

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Act now Bellingham raid raises immigration stakes

Workers arrested. Led away in handcuffs.

It's time for a humane immigration policy!

On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided a factory in Bellingham, Washington. ICE agents arrived in force, surrounded the company's perimeter, and led immigrants away in handcuffs. At least 28 workers were arrested. Many were skilled employees who will be difficult to replace.

Is this the United States we want?

We believe
  • These raids create undue trauma and damage our country's human rights record
  • The existing immigration system is unworkable and out of date
  • The administration's primary policy goal should be to fix the nation's broken immigration system, not continue of federal immigration raids.
Call the White House today at (202) 456-1414 and leave a message for President Obama, or send him an e-mail.

Ask him to
  • Support Secretary Napolitano's call for oversight of the Bellingham raid
  • Urge the Administration to stop the raids and pass humane immigration policy with Congress
No one in the United States should have to live in fear.

Call or e-mail the president today. Urge him to work with Congress toward a policy that treats every one with the respect they deserve.

Peace,
Esther Nieves,
Project Voice director,
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Federal Program Erodes Community Trust, Report Finds


A federal program which allows local law enforcement to identify and deport undocumented immigrants has "created a climate of racial profiling" in communities across North Carolina, according to a recent report by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Immigration/Human Rights Policy Clinic and the ACLU in North Carolina Legal Foundation (News Observer).

"We found serious erosion of community trust, as well as legal concerns," said Professor Deborah Weissman of UNC law school.

AFSC’s North Carolina office is supporting the creation of Immigrant Solidarity Committees in three cities across the state and 287(g) has emerged as one of the key concerns of both immigrants and non-immigrant allies involved in the committees.

"Our office gets regular phone calls from individuals whose family members have been detained for minor offenses like broken taillights. 287(g) was sold as a program to get violent offenders off the streets, but instead we see families ripped apart for traffic violations. This report will hopefully help bring to the public’s attention the grave moral and legal problems within 287(g)," said Lori Fernald Khamala of AFSC’s Project Voice program in Greensboro, NC.

The reports and executive summary can be found at:
To learn more about AFSC’s work in North Carolina visit http://www.afsc.org/greensboro/.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AFSC hails economic recovery plan

The American Friends Service Committee applauds the passage by Congress of President Obama's economic recovery package and celebrates this collaborative achievement for the common good. We are deeply appreciative of the tens of thousands of people who made their voices heard in this process.

As an organization that works in communities across the United States and the world, we are keenly aware of the millions of people struggling, even before this recession, with job loss, housing and food insecurity, and lack of access to affordable health care. This legislation is an important first step in addressing the needs of those in our nation who feel this economic crisis most.

We welcome the spirit and substance of this recovery plan and President Obama's leadership in bringing it forward. We urge Congress and the Administration to take further steps to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and introduce reforms the put dignity and justice at the heart of the global economy.

Learn more

Friday, February 13, 2009

VICTORY: Stimulus deal strengthens safety net and drops E-Verify and nuclear weapons funding!


Call your senators and representative today!

Congress and the White House have reached an agreement on a $789 billion stimulus package, clearing the way for final votes in both chambers by this weekend and President Obama’s signature by Monday.

Thank you! Your calls made a difference! An outpouring of grassroots calls helped create a package AFSC supports.

The bill INCREASES:

· Aid to states to help them continue to fund vital services.

· Federal funding for food and unemployment benefits.

· Funds for affordable housing and emergency shelter.

The bill DROPS:

· Anti-worker E-Verify program for entities receiving recovery funds.

· $1 billion funding for nuclear weapons-related activities.

Let’s ensure the recovery package is quickly passed!

Call your U.S. senators and representative toll-free* today at 1-800-473-6711.

Thank them if they supported the economic recovery package and urge them to vote “yes” on its final passage.

Click here to find your senators and representative and their direct phone number if the toll-free line is busy. Thank you if you called before. Please call again now to see this through to final passage.

Click here for a summary of what’s in the recovery bill and other resources on the crisis.

*This toll-free number is provided by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization which works for social and economic justice and peace (http://www.afsc.org/). AFSC welcomes groups to use the number in support of non-partisan work and without linking it to a website that solicits donations or actions, which may be used to support partisan lobbying or work.

Friday, February 06, 2009

AFSC Calls for New Immigration Policy


American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) issued A New Path: Toward Humane Immigration Policy, a report outlining recommendations for a new approach toward immigration in the U.S. The report also includes personal testimonies from immigrant communities. Policy recommendations are presented in the areas of:

Civil and human rights of undocumented workers and immigrant families
Economic policies and trade agreements
Labor and employment rights
Border communities and their quality of life
Family reunification, permanent residency and refugee protection
Access to public services and basic human resources

The report highlights the need to protect the rights for all workers, in the U.S. and worldwide. In producing this report, AFSC continues its work to put immigrant voices front and center in a debate often dominated by stereotypes.

The report will be submitted to the Obama administration, members of Congress, local and state officials and AFSC community partners. AFSC calls on national and state leaders to strongly consider these policy recommendations during the next round of dialogue on immigration policy and laws.

To read the entire document visit www.afsc.org/newpath.

Report Details Troubling Impact of Arizona Employer Sanctions Law


The real impact of the “Legal Arizona Workers Act” stretches beyond attempts to curtail the employment of undocumented immigrant workers and has hurt the state’s social, cultural and economic viability. Entire families have left the state, children have not returned to their classrooms, and workers have reported labor abuses, threats and harassment.

A report by AFSC's Tucson-based program, Sanctioning Arizona: The Hidden Impacts of Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law, relies on a grassroots community survey of almost 400 immigrant workers to shed light on the multiple, layered negative impacts of the law. Key findings reveal how the quality of life of families (including US-born children) has been disrupted with the enactment of the legislation:
  • There is substantial and widespread confusion about the specific provisions in the law, leaving workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. 46% of respondents were unclear as to whether current employees are subject to verification using the E-Verify federal database. This makes it very easy for employers to misuse the program.
  • Employers have misapplied the law, both intentionally and unintentionally. Almost 30% of respondents were asked by their current employer to provide documents, in some cases before the law even went into effect.
  • Nearly 20% (1 in 5 workers) of respondents were asked to provide documents by prospective employers, before they were hired.
  • The law, or fear of it, has had a harmful impact on the quality of life of immigrant workers, families and the community at large. Almost 40% of respondents report that they do not go out as much, due to fear of being stopped and questioned by local police, border patrol agents or Immigration Customs and Enforcement officers.
  • The law has had a disastrous impact on children: Almost 10% of respondents reported that they are caring for someone else’s children due to the parents leaving the state, being detained, or deported. 16% say they have taken their child(ren) out of school.
The report asserts that confusion on the part of employers is leading to a variety of abuses that are not allowed under either the new law or existing labor law. Moreover, the new law is being applied incorrectly, either because employers attempted to enforce it before it was officially law, or are applying it retroactively to workers who already work for the company.

In addition, US-born and naturalized immigrants are being laid off. Even more disturbing are reports that a few unscrupulous employers are using the law as an excuse to cheat workers out of wages they rightly earned, knowing that they do not dare complain.

AFSC’s report calls for an immediate suspension of the law, so that the abuses detailed in the report can be more fully investigated. According to Caroline Issacs, director of the Tucson program, “We are confident that our findings and conclusions can be substantiated and call for a permanent repeal of this law. Our interviews with immigrant families and workers show that the law is poorly understood, has led to labor and workplace abuses that have been ignored or gone unnoticed. This is not in the best interest of our state, and not in the interest of any worker. We urge our state lawmakers to correct this situation.”

To read the report visit www.afsc.org/tucson or contact AFSC at 520-623-9141.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Wisdom of an Inclusive Economic Stimulus Plan


The Senate's recent green light on a sweeping economic recovery package is far-reaching action that responds to the urgent and bleak reality of workers, small and large businesses. From brick-and-mortar projects to jobs, to increased human services, government support will try to temper domestic economic worries and help states and workers facing tough economic situations.

However, Senator Grassley (R-IA) has proposed an amendment that expands the E-verify program and targets undocumented workers for increased hardship. E-verify, a national employment verification system has been found consistently to contain inaccurate information and gross inefficiencies.

The proposed Grassley Amendment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will condition the receiving of funds and benefits upon the use of the e-verify system. The broadness of that amendment could require faith organizations, social service agencies, municipalities and states, health centers, large businesses and small companies to use the e-verify system. This measure would require all entities receiving recovery funds to enroll in the flawed E-Verify program for all new hires, currently meant to be voluntary. Congressional hearings and independent researchers have identified many flaws with E-Verify.

AFSC opposes any effort to hinge our nation’s economic recovery on mandatory implementation of a system proved to contain inaccuracies and cause workplace discrimination. That contradicts the legislation’s purpose and sends the wrong message at a time when Congress should focus on measures to protect all workers.

Call your U.S. Senator at 1-800-473-6711 and tell them:

  • To vote for the economic recovery bill and to oppose efforts to include a flawed anti-immigrant measure called "E-Verify."
  • De-link national immigration policy from the proposed economic recovery plan. This is a historic opportunity for the new administration and Congressional leaders to work in a bipartisan and united manner and pass an economic stimulus package that helps struggling workers, their families and businesses.
  • Urge your Senator to support a process that addresses future immigration policy in a transparent and bipartisan rather than hinging the nation’s economic stimulus recovery on immigration enforcement
*This toll-free number is provided by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization which works for social and economic justice and peace . AFSC welcomes groups to use the number in support of non-partisan work and without linking it to a website that solicits donations or actions, which may be used to support partisan lobbying or work.