Posted on Mon, Dec. 15, 2008
Rule changes target vulnerable workers
OUR OPINION: Don't allow last-minute regulations to erode standards
The torrent of new rules being issued by the Bush administration as it heads out the door is turning into a regulatory fiasco. The changes have lowered the bar on environmental review across the board, from limiting worker exposure to toxins to ignoring provisions of the Clean Water Act and softening, if not gutting, the Endangered Species Act. Late last week, new rules targeted vulnerable members of the labor force -- farmworkers.
The midnight changes have a sad history. At least since the days of the Carter administration, presidents have tried to extend their reach into the tenure of the next chief executive by putting in place last-minute rules that the successor will have difficulty rescinding. The fact that all presidents do it, however, does not excuse the regulatory end-run, especially when the rules seem like a favor to special interests rather than thoughtful changes in policy.
The new farmworker regulations are a case in point. Because farmworkers don't enjoy the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, they have traditionally been prey to abuses that a succession of administrations have tried to correct through Labor Department policy rules. The latest changes don't augur well for the farmworkers.
Rules that are to be published this week and which would take effect just days before President Bush leaves office would: make it easier to hire foreign ''guest workers'' -- to the detriment of Americans willing to work in the fields; lower wage standards; and weaken oversight of farm hiring.
This revision will hurt those who can least afford any cuts in pay or erosion of job protections. The changes in hiring rules are particularly egregious because the greatest fear of domestic farmworkers is being displaced by foreign guest workers who are less familiar with their rights and more likely to remain quiet when those rights are abused for fear of being deported.
Reversing the new H-2A rules, as they are known, won't be easy. It would require going through a lengthy ''notice and comment'' rule-changing process again next year. The best thing that President-elect Barack Obama can do is to push for enactment of a bipartisan AgJobs bill already in Congress that has the support of both farmworker unions and agricultural growers.
The proposal includes some of the changes in the H-2A proposal but with a significant difference: It would link the program to a path for legalization of undocumented farmworkers who pledge to continue working in agriculture for a certain period.
Florida is home to about 10 percent of the nation's farm workforce. If this administration won't do anything to lift their standards, the next one should make it a priority.
1126 16th Street, N.W., Suite 270
Washington, D.C. 20036
Read and Donate at www.farmworkerjustice.org
Blog at www.harvestingjustice.org
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Estimating the Contribution
of Immigrant Business Owners
to the U.S. Economy
Robert W. Fairlie, Ph.D.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
According to Census 2000, immigrants constitute
12.2 percent of the total U.S. work force, and 12.5
percent of the total population of U.S. business owners.
The total business income generated by immigrant
business owners is $67 billion, representing
11.6 percent of all business income in the United
States. Immigrant business ownership is geographically
concentrated in a few states.
• Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to
start a business than are nonimmigrants, and they
represent 16.7 percent of all new business owners
in the United States
• Immigrant business owners make significant
contributions to business income, generating
$67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business
income, as estimated from 2000 U.S. Census
Immigrant business ownership is geographically
concentrated in a few states. Nearly 30 percent
of all business owners in California are immigrants,
compared with about 12.5 percent of the
population of U.S. business owners. Twenty-five
percent of business owners in New York and
more than 20 percent in New Jersey, Florida, and
Hawaii are foreign-born.
• In California, immigrants are 34.2 percent of
the new business owners each month. Nearly 30
percent of all new business owners per month in
New York, Florida, and Tex as are immigrants.
• Immigrants own 11.2 percent of businesses with
$100,000 or more in sales and 10.8 percent of
businesses with employees.
• Immigrants' contributions differ across sectors
of the economy. They own a large share—more
than one-fifth—of businesses in the arts, entertainment,
and recreation industry. They also contribute
significantly to other services, transportation,
and wholesale and retail trade.
• Immigrants also own a large share of businesses
in the lowest and highest skill sectors and in several
• Although business owners from Mexico constitute
the largest share of immigrant business
owners, total immigrant business ownership,
formation, and income originate with immigrant
business owners from around the world.
data. They generate nearly one-quarter of all
business income in California—nearly $20 billion—
and nearly one-fifth of business income in
New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Illinois congressman vows to push for major immigration reform
12:00 AM CST on Friday, December 5, 2008
By JOHN RILEY / The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON – Flanked by hundreds of immigrants and their family members, an Illinois congressman called for a halt Thursday to immigration raids and vowed to push for a comprehensive overhaul that President-elect Barack Obama can sign into law.
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, the House sponsor of a 2007 bill that failed, told a crowd of more than 200 on Capitol Hill that he would work to ensure that Mr. Obama follows through on his campaign promise to sign an immigration overhaul in the first year of his presidency.
"We have a new president of the United States who has made a very clear commitment to immigration reform," Mr. Gutierrez said. "We're not going to rest on the laurels of the election."
Mr. Gutierrez said workplace raids that separate families must stop and that he is trying to build momentum for immigration change in the House, where he believes a bill can be passed more easily than in the Senate.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he hopes to meet with the president-elect before the new session of Congress to discuss a comprehensive reform and urge Mr. Obama to stop workforce raids through an executive order.
Mr. Baca said a moratorium would make illegal immigrants more likely to "come out of the shadows" and be active community participants because it would reduce the fear of deportation. Immigration officials and supporters of the current strategy say it has helped reduce illegal immigration and held employers accountable.
© 2008, The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
ACLU alleges rights abuses
Report: Detained immigrants face harsh conditions
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / December 10, 2008
Immigrants jailed for deportation in Massachusetts are often subject to harsh conditions, including inadequate medical care, harassment, and overcrowding, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said in a report to be released today.
The report alleges that state and county jails and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement are failing to oversee the detainees' treatment.
"There's no one watching over them, so there's no real incentive to make sure that the immigration detainees' rights are protected," said Laura Rótolo, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts and the lead researcher on the 22-month investigation. "They are not protecting people's fundamental rights."
ICE confirmed=2 0that the agency received letters from the ACLU of Massachusetts about its findings, and is in the process of responding fully.
"We take all allegations about conditions of confinement very seriously," said ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier, who added that the agency follows federal guidelines to ensure that immigrants are treated humanely. "ICE is committed to providing all detainees in our care with humane and safe detention environments and ensuring that adequate medical services are available."
For the report, the ACLU interviewed 40 detainees and corresponded with more than 30 other inmates, spoke with dozens of advocates and lawyers, and reviewed hundreds of government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The authors of the report called for an end to immigration raids and alternatives to detaining immigrants, such as electronic monitoring bracelets.
As of August 2007, about 800 immigrants and asylum-seekers were in seven county jails, one state facility, and one federal medical center, although the report said none are serving time for crimes. Many detainees have criminal records, but the report's authors estimate that more than half have overstayed a visa, are awaiting a decision on asylum, or sneaked over the border - all civil violations. The cost of housing them is roughly $90 a day to the US government, the report said.
Jessica Vau ghan, recently named director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said detaining immigrants - especially criminals - is important because it ensures that they will be deported.
"The odds are if we don't detain them that they're not going to be removed," said Vaughan, who is based in Franklin. "Then they become fugitives and they have to be tracked down."
The report documented several cases in which medical care was delayed or denied to immigrants, reportedly because they were about to be deported.
One 43-year-old Pakistani national, the report said, waited five months to have a specialist look at a painful lesion inside his mouth. He was released after the specialist ordered a biopsy, which was never performed, and is still awaiting deportation.
A 27-year-old Liberian national, diagnosed with schizophrenia, bounced among three county jails with a skin condition and dental problems that were left untreated for months.
Some mental health issues were ignored as well, the report found. An immigrant was removed from Bridgewater State Hospital and transferred to New Mexico, and then to Rhode Island, without his medications or health records.
The report was released at a time when ICE is investigating the August death of a 34-year-old Chinese national who allegedly received inadequate care at Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island. On Monday, ICE relocated 153 detainees from the center during its review.
Detainees also complained about crowding as well. At one point in Essex County, inmates were sleeping in the gymnasium, though they have since been relocated. The six New England states have space for approximately 1,200 detainees a day, the report said.
Interviewees complained about being assigned to cells with violent criminals and of guards who threatened them with sedation or harassed them if they complained about jail conditions or resisted deportation.
In Suffolk County, two detainees were transferred to Franklin County after complaining to the media about a strip search. A female detainee said she was sent to York, Pa., after she complained about her protracted detention.
Detainees spent an average of 11 months in Massachusetts jails awaiting deportation, Rótolo said, based on her interviews with 40 detainees. One man spent more than five years in jail fighting deportation before he was released to continue battling his case. Three immigrants spent more than two years in jail, and 10 spent more than a year in jail.
Maria Sacchetti can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.
MALDEF CALLS FOR NATIONAL ACTION IN WAKE OF KILLING OF THIRD LATINO VICTIM OF A HATE CRIME IN FIVE MONTHS
As we have reported, hate crimes against Latinos are at record levels. Today, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President & General Counsel John Trasviña called upon leaders across all communities to unite and speak out against hate violence:
“We mourn and are outraged by the murder in Brooklyn, New York of Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, whose life was violently taken by a group of people, and whose crime, according to witnesses, was motivated by hate-filled bigotry. Only one month ago, 37-year old Marcello Lucero was ferociously beaten and fatally stabbed in Long Island, New York by a group of teenagers who hunted him down simply for being Latino. In July, 25-year old Luis Ramirez lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating. We extend our sympathies to their families and loved ones.
In the past several years, hate crimes against Latinos have risen 40 percent. This is a national epidemic whose growth is spurred each day by hate speech and anti-immigrant sentiment expressed on cable shows, local radio shows and across the airwaves. National legislation, such as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, must be a top priority for Congress and the new Administration, but it is not sufficient to reach the hate that threatens to pervade local communities. This drastic rise of hate crimes against Latinos, not coincidentally, has occurred during the same years in which there has been an explosive rebirth of extremist anti-immigrant rhetoric and measures.
The serious topic of immigration has been contaminated by hatred and racism, and has created a toxic climate which fosters and condones violence and civil rights violations motivated by bigotry. In seeking to enact unconstitu tional anti-immigrant ordinances, irresponsible elected officials spew inflammatory rhetoric that depicts undocumented immigrants as parasites and the root cause of the nation’s fallen economy. Television and radio personalities spread misinformation and stereotypes that criminalize and dehumanize Latino immigrants. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups are using this anti-immigrant wave to promote their racist groups and promote violent acts against Latinos. Collectively, the messages and norms they seek to establish are that immigrants are less human and less worthy, and do not merit basic human rights protections our Constitution demands. These messages have begun to infect too many Americans, and they are being manifested through violence.
Unfortunately, our elected leaders have failed to recognize and condemn this national crisis, the media has largely remained silent, and families have not acted to protect their children from being infected from this hatred. As proven by this year’s historic election, the great majority of Americans have defeated artificial barriers of racism and ushered us into a new era. After over a century of struggle for freedom and democracy irrespective of race, Americans have abolished the disease of racial hatred; however, a virus continues to linger with some, and we must not allow it to proliferate. There are those that may believe that racism and xenophobia will always exist, but it must not exist in our country, in our democratic institutions, in our schools, and in our homes. We must be ever-vigilant, and stamp it out where we see it.
MALDEF calls upon our national representatives, faith leaders, educators, and parents to stand up and take immediate action against this national wave of hatred. We again call on Congress and the next President to fix our broken, archaic immigration system to establish national immigration priorities, including community integration that serves the nation’s interests, allows newcomers to work with legal status and protections against exploitation, and safeguards the nation’s communities. Local and federal authorities must prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent under law. Local officials and media personalities must take responsibility for the consequences of their extremist rhetoric and should spread messages of respect and tolerance. Most importantly, we call on all Americans to unite against this wave of hatred and defeat the hate and violence. It is unacceptable and we must stop it now.”
December 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
DID A MISSISSIPPI RAID PROTECT RIGHTWING POLITICIANS?
By David Bacon
LAUREL, MS (8/31/08) -- On August 25, immigration agents swooped down on Howard Industries, a Mississippi electrical equipment factory, taking 481 workers to a privately-run detention center in Jena, Louisiana. A hundred and six women were also arrested at the plant, and released wearing electronic monitoring devices on their ankles, if they had children, or without them, if they were pregnant. Eight workers were taken to Federal court in Hattiesburg, where they were charged with aggravated identity theft.
Afterwards Barbara Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated the raid took place because of a tip by a "union member" two years before. Other media accounts focused on an incident in which plant workers allegedly cheered as their coworkers were led away by ICE agents. The articles claim the plant was torn by tension between immigrant and non-immigrant workers, and that unions in Mississippi are hostile to immigrants.
Many Mississippi activists and workers, however, charge the raid had a political agenda - undermining a growing political coalition that threatens the state's conservative Republican establishment. They also say the raid, which took place during union contract negotiations, will help the company resist demands for better wages and conditions.
Jim Evans, a national AFL-CIO staff member in Mississippi and a leading member of the state legislature's Black Caucus, said he believed "this raid is an effort to drive immigrants out of Mississippi. It is also an attempt to drive a wedge between immigrants, African Americans, white people and unions - all those who want political change here." Patricia Ice, attorney for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA), agreed that "this is political. They want a mass exodus of immigrants out of the state, the kind we've seen in Arizona and Oklahoma. The political establishment here is threatened by Mississippi's changing demographics, and what the electorate might look like in 20 years."
In the last two decades, the percentage of African Americans in the state's population has increased to over 35%, and immigrants, who were statistically insignificant until recently, are expected to reach 10% in the next decade. Mississippi union membership has been among the nation's lowest, but since the early 1980s, workers have joined unions in catfish and poultry plants, casinos and shipyards, along with those at Howard Industries.
Evans, other members of the Black Caucus, many of the state's labor organizations, and immigrant communities all see shifting demographics as the basis for changing the state's politics. Over the last seven years their growing coalition has proposed legislation to set up a Department of Labor (Mississippi is the only state without one), guarantee access to education for children of all races and nationalities, and provide drivers' licenses to immigrants. MIRA organized support in the state capitol for those proposals and Evans, who sponsored many of them, chairs MIRA's board.
Earlier this year, however, the legislature passed, and Governor Haley Barbour signed, a law making it a state felony for an undocumented worker to hold a job, punishable by 1-5 years in prison and $1,000-10,000 in fines. Employers are given immunity for employing workers without papers, so long as they vet new hires through an ICE database called E-Verify. It is still not known whether the people arrested at Howard Industries will be charged under the new state law. Evans says the law and the raid serve the same objectives. "They both just make it easier to exploit workers. The people who profit from Mississippi's low wage system want to keep it the way it is," he alleged.
In the week before the raid, MIRA organizers received reports of a growing number of ICE agents in southern Mississippi. They began leafleting immigrant communities, warning them about a possible raid and explaining their rights should people be questioned about their immigration status. When agents finally showed up at the Howard Industries plant, many workers say they tried to invoke those rights, and warn others that a raid was in progress. One woman, later detained and then released to care for her child, began to call workers who had not yet come to the factory on her cell phone, warning them to stay away. "She first called her brother, and then began calling anyone else she could think of," explained her mother, who works in a local chicken plant. Both feared being identified publicly. "An agent grabbed her arm, and asked her what she was doing, so she went into the bathroom, and kept calling people until they took her phone away."
Howard Industries, like most Mississippi employers, has a long record of opposing unions. Workers there chose representation by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on June 8, 2000, by a vote of 162-108. Employment at the plant, which manufactures electrical ballasts and transformers, grew considerably after the election, and the company now employs over 4000 workers at several locations in Mississippi. In 2002 it received a $31.5 million subsidy for expansion from the state government, and at one point state legislators were all given HI laptop computers. "The company is very well-connected politically," says Evans, who noted that its owners donated to the campaigns of former Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove, and then to Mississippi's current Republican governor Haley Barbour.
As it grew the company hired many immigrant Mexican and Central American workers, diversifying a workforce that was originally primarily African American and white. The company has declined to comment, and released a press statement that said, "Howard Industries runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for jobs. It is company policy that it hires only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants."
During the organizing drive the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging intimidation and violations of workers' rights. After the union and company agreed on a contract, more charges followed. NLRB Region 15 issued a complaint against the company for violating the union's bargaining rights. Roger Doolittle, attorney for IBEW Local 1317, says other charges allege that the company threatened a union steward for trying to represent workers in the plant. In June the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it intended to fine the company $123,000 for 36 violations of health and safety regulations at the Pendorf plant, where the raid took place, and another $41,000 in fines for a second Laurel location.
Tension between the company and union increased after the collective bargaining agreement expired at the beginning of August. According to one immigrant worker, who was not detained because he worked on swing shift and did not want to be identified, the union was asking for a wage increase of $1.50/hour and better vacation benefits. Company medical benefits are also an issue among workers, he said, because family coverage costs over $100/week, putting it out of reach for most employees.
Mississippi is a right-to-work state, and labor contracts cannot require that workers belong to the union. Instead, unions must continually try to sign workers up as members. In past years, according to other union sources, IBEW Local 1317 had a reputation as a union that did not offer much support to its immigrant members.
According to the swing shift worker, who did not belong to the union, there were just a few hundred members at the Pendorf plant, and in negotiations the company used that low membership as a reason not to sign a new agreement.
To increase its ability to negotiate a contract, Local 1317 began making greater efforts to sign up immigrant members. Spanish-speaking organizers were brought in, and they handed out leaflets in Spanish explaining the benefits of membership. They visited workers at home so they could talk about the union without being overheard or seen by company supervisors. According to the swing shift worker, many began to join, especially the immigrants who'd been hired most recently. IBEW's national newspaper, Electrical Worker, reported that over 200 had signed up last April, according to Local 1317's African-American business manager Clarence Larkin. "It's a constant process to keep the union alive and growing," he told the paper.
That's when the plant was raided. Local 1317 will now have to try to negotiate a contract after the loss of many of its members, who were among those detained. Those members, who joined the union in hopes of better wages and treatment, instead have been imprisoned for days in Jena, Louisiana, a two-hour drive from Laurel. ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez would not provide an estimate of how long they might be jailed, but said "the investigation of their cases is ongoing."
The day after ICE agents stormed the factory MIRA began organizing meetings to provide legal advice, food and economic help. According to MIRA director Bill Chandler, Howard Industry representatives told detainees' families, and women released to care for children, that the company wouldn't give them their paychecks. On August 28 MIRA organizer Vicky Cintra led a group of workers to the Pendorf plant to demand their pay. Managers called Laurel police and sheriffs, who threatened to arrest her. After workers began chanting, "Let her go!" and news reporters appeared on the scene, the company finally agreed to distribute checks to about 70 people.
The swing shift worker was so frightened by the raid that he hadn't gone back to work after almost a week, and wasn't sure he'd have a job waiting if he did. "Everyone is still really scared," he said. Doolittle agreed, and said that fear would affect more than just the workers taken away. "Workers get apprehensive anytime something like this happens," he said. "That's just human nature."
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, explained that "raids drive down wages because they intimidate workers, even citizens and legal residents. The employer brings in another batch of employees and continues business as usual, while people who protest get targeted and workers get deported. Raids really demonstrate the employer's power." The Hattiesburg American reported Friday that Howard Industries sent a letter to customers two days after the raid, assuring them that production would be back to normal by the end of the week, and noting that the company has not been charged.
Spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez claimed ICE waited two years after receiving a call from a "union member" before conducting the raid, because "we took the time needed for our investigation." She declined to say how that investigation was conducted, or what led ICE to believe their tip had come from a union member. The picture of a plant in which union members were hostile to immigrants was reinforced after the raid by media accounts of an incident in which workers "applauded" as their coworkers were taken away. But on August 29, when Cintra and the braceleted women sat in front of the plant for a second day, demanding more paychecks, African American workers came up to them as they left work, embraced the women, and told them they supported them.
"It's hard to believe that a two-year old phone call to ICE led to this raid, but whether or not the call ever took place, that possibility is a product of the poisonous atmosphere fostered by politicians of both parties in Mississippi," says MIRA director Chandler. "In the last election Barbour and Republicans campaigned against immigrants to get elected, but so did all the Democratic statewide candidates except Attorney General Jim Hood. The raid will make the climate even worse"
During the 2007 election campaign the Ku Klux Klan organized a 500-person rally in Tupelo, and when MIRA organizer Erik Fleming urged Barbour to veto the bill making work a felony for the undocumented, he was attacked by state anti-immigrant organizations.
Some state labor leaders have contributed to anti-immigrant hostility. After the Howard Industries workers, many of them union members, were arrested, state AFL-CIO President Robert Shaffer told the Associated Press that he doubted that immigrants could join unions if they were not in the country legally. U.S. labor law, however, holds that all workers have union rights, regardless of immigration status. It also says unions have a duty to represent all members fairly and equally
"This raid will just make us more determined," Evans declared. "We won't go back to the kind of racism Mississippi has known throughout its past."
For more articles and images on immigration, see http://dbacon.igc.org/Imgrants/imgrants.htm
Just out from Beacon Press:
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants
See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008; C01
Of all the stories this tough little coal town has to tell -- stories of industrial might, bloody strikes, black lungs; stories of Friday night football, Saturday night drinking, Sunday morning praying; and now, the story of a sensational murder -- its favorite tale unfolds on a Saturday every August.
This is Heritage Day, when Shenandoah celebrates what it considers one of the best things it's still got going, besides the high school
football team: the story of how for 150 years the community has
embraced succeeding generations of immigrants. The highlight of
Heritage Day is the Parade of Nations. Descendants of each nationality in the town of 5,600 line up, alphabetically, on Jardin Street for the procession up Main Street.
"We have 18, if everybody shows up," says grand marshal Val MacDonald, clad in 20the plaid of her Scottish clan. "Here's my China. There are the Bulgarians."
The Germans wearing bonnets and broad-brim hats stand in patient
ranks. Polkas blaring from the Lithuanians' gold Chevy convertible
compete with rancheras pumping from the Mexicans' red Chevy truck.
The Mexicans! Everyone keeps an eye on the Mexicans, luminous in their shiny cowboy boots, swirling folk dresses, white suits and sombreros.
Not everyone was sure the Mexicans would attend this year. Not after
the brawl that got out of hand -- as non-Latinos refer to what
happened one Saturday night in July. Not after a popular group of
current and former high school football players beat Luis Eduardo
Ramirez to death because he was a Mexican immigrant -- as Latinos
summarize recent events.
It's been a brutal summer: families grieving, clean-cut local sons
charged with murder and "ethnic intimidation, " the Justice Department conducting its own investigation, big-city activists riding from over the hills like rival cavalries to conduct dueling demonstrations. And the beloved Blue Devils of the Anthracite Football League are forced to play with a depleted roster, owing to the criminal charges against three current or former players.
"It's a quiet town. Well, it was, until they murdered the Mexican,"
says Kitty Merrick, the widow of an Irish American, whose maiden name, Glabyte, places her in the Lithuan ian parade contingent.
The death of Ramirez, 25, threatened to undermine not just Heritage
Day, but Shenandoah's hard-earned idea of itself. This difficult
summer, it would be tough to find a more apt microcosm of the entire
imperfect nation of immigrants than little Shenandoah, struggling to
realize its ideals and reconcile its ironies.
The non-Hispanics lining Main Street applaud with more than mere
politeness as the dozen Mexican marchers come along.
"This is a special day when we are allowed to express our feelings
more than other days," Macario Velazquez says in Spanish. He's a
maintenance caretaker at Annunciation Church, the Irish parish where
the noon Mass is celebrated in Spanish.
On Heritage Day, says Velazquez, it's all right to wave a Mexican
flag, play music in Spanish, shout "¡Viva Mexico!" and "¡Andale!" in
But not every day is Heritage Day.
An Immigrant Legacy
Shenandoah -- pronounced "Shen-Doe" by residents -- is a square mile
of tightly packed rowhouses and church spires set in the green and
black hills of coal country west of Allentown. Nobody's had it easy
here, since the first hunk of hard anthracite was discovered in the
The English, Scotch and Welsh arrived first and ran the show. The
Germans and Irish followed and got stuck with the worst jobs, until
they dominated, and then it was the t urn of the Poles, Lithuanians,
Ukrainians, Slovakians, Italians, Jews, Syrians and Lebanese to elbow in. Few people of African descent ever lived in Shenandoah.
An initial adjustment period was always followed by acceptance, then
intermarriage, though the ethnic groups tended to cluster in their own neighborhoods, places of worship, cemeteries and sometimes even their own volunteer fire companies.
The first dozen or so Mexicans arrived in the late 1980s, long after
most mines had closed and the town was skidding into economic hard
times. They came to farm Christmas trees. They lived in the former
convent of the Lithuanian parish.
Even counting the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who moved from New York for the small-town atmosphere and the rock-bottom real estate prices, the Latino share of the population is small, perhaps 10 percent, compared with other parts of post-industrial Pennsylvania, such as Reading, where Latinos are the new majority.
Ramirez grew up in a poor farming and fishing town in the Mexican
state of Guanajuato. He crossed the border illegally. After getting
caught and deported once by immigration authorities in the Southwest, according to friends, he made it to Shenandoah in 2003 and got a job in a greenhouse. It was hot, heavy work for $6.50 an hour. The way he
pulled the heavy rail carts that conveyed flats of flowers in the
greenhouse reminded his friends of a horse, so they nicknamed him El
Caballo, or the horse. Most recently he held two jobs -- in a potato
chip factory and a fruit orchard.
About three years ago, through friends, Ramirez met Crystal Dillman,
now 24. She grew up around Shenandoah, the granddaughter of a coal
miner. The couple had ups and downs and separations, but they also had
two children, Kiara, now 2, and Eduardo, 1. Dillman also had a
daughter by a previous relationship, Anjelina, who was just an infant
when they met.
"What I saw in him was the fact he was very nice and respectful,"
Dillman says. "He took over being her father. I didn't ask him. From
Day One he was there for her. That really drew me to him."
For the Parade of Nations, six weeks after Ramirez's death, Dillman
dressed the children in Mexican red, green and white.
A Deadly 'Rumble'
What exactly happened on Saturday, July 12, is disputed by prosecutors and lawyers for the three young men who have been charged in the killing. Prosecutors paint a picture of murder and ethnic hatred; defense attorneys describe a fight with tragic but unintentional results.
According to charging documents and witness testimony at a preliminary hearing in the Schuylkill County courthouse, events unfolded like this:
After supper, Ramirez went out without telling Dillman where. He spent some time with friends -- a young married couple and Dillman's 15-year-old half sister.
Around 11:30 p.m., the couple gave Ramirez and the girl a ride to the Vine Street Park, a patch overlooking the high school and across from the football stadium. Ramirez had been drinking.
A few hours earlier, several current or former members of the football team met in the nearby woods where one of them had stashed a box of 1240-ounce bottles of Mickey's malt liquor. Several drank, and one said he polished off two bottles.
They visited the Polish American Fire Co. block party, and then a
group of six started walking toward the park. They saw the girl, whom some recognized from school, before they saw Ramirez.
"Isn't it a little late for you to be out?" called out Brian Scully, a
running back going into his senior year.
Ramirez came into view and shouted something in Spanish. The words
sounded unfriendly to Ben Lawson, 17, a defensive back, who testified
against his teammates. But Lawson didn't know for sure what Ramirez
said because he does not understand Spanish.
Then Scully hollered: "This is Shenandoah!" "This is America!" "Go
back to Mexico!"
Brandon Piekarsky, 16, a wide receiver and honors student, started
exchanging punches with Ramirez. Then Derrick Donchak, 18, the
quarterback who graduated last spring, joined in.
Ramirez fell and Donchak landed on top of him. A group of th ree
players stood around Ramirez, kicking him.
Ramirez got to his feet. There was a confusing "rumble" with punches
flying, Lawson testified. The end came when Ramirez had his attention
on Donchak, when Colin Walsh, 17, a linebacker and straight-A student,
landed a surprise blow to his face. Ramirez went down hard, his head
thumping on the pavement. While he was down, Piekarsky kicked him near
the left temple.
Ramirez, unconscious, started foaming at the mouth and "bouncing off
the road" with violent convulsions, testified Eileen Burke, a retired
Philadelphia police officer who had come outside her house at the
sound of the commotion.
Ramirez went into a coma and died two days later.
Thirteen days later, Piekarsky and Walsh were charged as adults with
third-degree murder, ethnic intimidation (Pennsylvania' s term for a
hate crime) and other crimes. Donchak was charged with aggravated
assault, ethnic intimidation and other crimes. Charges are pending
against another juvenile, according to District Attorney James Goodman.
That night, as the young men scattered, according to Burke, Piekarsky
shouted a final warning to one of Ramirez's two female friends by then
on the scene: "You [expletive] bitch! You tell your [expletive]
Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you're
going to be laying [expletive] next to him!"
In the Aftermath
The words make Shenandoah wince, Latinos and non-Latinos alike. They
suggest a context for the violence. But what do they mean? Is
Shenandoah a racist place, its immigrants' pride and promise a cruel
Piekarsky and Walsh were held in the county prison, the same castle
where 130 years ago alleged members of the Molly Maguires, the secret
militant Irish miners' group, were hanged on dubious charges. The two
were led in shackles into the courtroom packed with their family and
friends, and the teenage girls filling one bench burst into tears.
Dillman sat in the front row, sobbing quietly. Her lone companion was
an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
"Here we go again," Roger Laguna, Walsh's attorney, said later. "Hang
'em all, and 50 years from now we'll figure out maybe we should have
slowed down and demanded some facts or demanded some evidence."
Laguna, the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, grew up around Reading
where he says he heard the term "spic" in plenty of playground fights.
"When people fight they call each other names," he said. "This fight
was not racially motivated simply because someone used racial terms."
The young men's attorneys challenge the credibility of witnesses and
their ability to pinpoint who said what and who landed which blows.
They also argue that Ramirez was an aggressor who kept the fight going
longer than it might have lasted.
It wasn't murder, "this was mutual combat," Piekarsky's attorney,
Frederick Fanelli, said in court. No trial date has been set. (The
families of the three accused did not respond to interview requests.)
Homicide in a small town is a tragedy with multiple roles for everybody.
Among the first Shenandoah police officers on the scene were one who
is a friend of Piekarsky's mother and another who is the father of a
teammate, according to a witness and local officials. Police knew
within hours who was involved but arrested no one for nearly two weeks.
The day after the beating, most of the players and at least some of
their parents went to Piekarsky's house. "We made up a plan that we
were going to tell the cops," Lawson testified. "That nobody kicked
him. There was no racial slurs. There was no booze. And Brian [Scully]
got hit first."
Shades of Tolerance
Outside the courthouse, a more complicated question than guilt or
innocence lingers: Does all of this say something larger, darker,
about Shenandoah -- and, by extension, the rest of us?
The soul of an immigrant town is examined, debated, prayed over in a
hundred locations within the intimate square mile, from Mrs. T's
Pierogies at one end to the crime scene and the football stadium at
"I don't think very many people say there is no prejudice here," says
=0 AMindy Heppe, pastor of the historically German St. John's Evangelical
Lutheran Church. "On the other hand, I don't think you can call it a
polarized community. I think you could say there are parallel
communities with very little overlap." She is leading an effort to
have everyone make a flag expressing unity.
"These kids are not bad kids," says Joe Sobinsky, a bus driver at the high school. "They're normal coal region kids. They got in a fight and people got hurt." Sobinsky tells the Latino kids on his bus not to
speak Spanish because non-Latinos think they're talking about them.
Once a Latino sophomore told him, "You're picking on me because I'm
brown!" Sobinsky pointed to the Polish Italian olive hue of his own
skin and said: "Before you got here I was the brownest. So you got two
shades on me -- now get back in line!"
Sobinsky offers Shenandoah's highest praise to that parallel
community: "The Mexicans are the hardest-working people I've ever seen
in my life. They're from an old country. That's how our grandparents
were." The same themes are discussed inside the parallel community --
on front porches where families relax and chat in Spanish, at the
Spanish Mass where they pray for tolerance, in the handful of Latino
businesses that have opened among the empty storefronts.
Different conclusions are reached. Yet the feelings about Shenandoah
"Mo st of the young people cause problems for Hispanics," Jorge Perez,
owner of La Guadalupana market, says in Spanish. "They don't get along
He has lived in Shenandoah for two decades. "There are people who
criticize you for coming from another country," he says. "Sometimes
you don't want to argue with them. . . . They want to provoke us to go
He keeps a collection box on the counter to raise funds for the family
of the man he knew as El Caballo. Ramirez's swollen face in his
hospital bed fills the cover of a Spanish-language newspaper on a shelf.
"The community is a little intimidated, " Perez says. "You're afraid it
might happen to you."
"If these kids go to jail, everything will be okay," says Felix
Bermejo, a Puerto Rican attending church services in Spanish, in the
tradition of local churches that used to celebrate in German, Polish
and Italian. "If they don't go to jail, or they get out in six months
or a year, there's going to be a lot of trouble."
The Latinos are shocked that the events of July 12 passed so far
beyond the frequent hurtful words and suspicious looks. Lethal
violence is not part of the Shenandoah they still appreciate, on some
"Thank God, and this country, we have the little we do have," says
Perez, who recently wired $600 to his family in Mexico to buy seeds
for=2 0their farm. "There are Americans who are very special and very
good" in Shenandoah.
But to survive in Shenandoah, the Latinos learn to take precautions.
They avoid appearing on Main Street after dark. The strip is the
province of non-Latino teens and 20-somethings who loiter in large
groups outside the pizza restaurants. It's sometimes referred to as
the "jock block."
Unlike the out-of-town Latino activists, the Latinos of Shenandoah are
not the demonstrating kind. They settle for invisibility, except on
"When things happen, you keep quiet," Perez says.
The Blue Devils lost their first game, 19-6, last Friday night.
The names in the huddle (Semanchik, Whalen, Polosky, Sadja,
Amberlavage) conjure the same old countries as the names on the Miners
Memorial at the top of Main Street and the names on the tombstones dug
into the bluff overlooking the town.
The generations came, and they worked and played and then they died --
and then for half a century after the coal business died, they stopped
coming. Maybe Shenandoah forgot how to handle the truly new.
The Latinos haven't been here long enough to fill a burial ground yet,
nor claim many spots on the football team. Their new roots are
fragile, their identity in transition. Ramirez's body was sent back to
his mother in Mexico -- with financial help from the Irish and Italian
parishes in Shenandoah. His favorite white Michigan State baseball cap
was placed on his head to cover the scars.
"I really thought it was so ironic when I saw this thing in the news,
because I've always talked about Shenandoah as a model of the American
melting pot," says poet Joseph Awad, whose Lebanese and Irish
grandfathers worked in the mines, and who once was grand marshal of
the Parade of Nations.
"Let's not say we're having a lovefest with one another," says Dennis
Yezulinas, Lithuanian on his father's side, Irish on his mother's,
sipping coffee on Main Street. He makes doors for a living. "We never
did have a lovefest here in Shenandoah. It's people trying to get by,
in a low-income blue-collar area, the best way they know how."
© 2008 The Washington Post Company
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Humanitarian Crisis in Mississippi:
ICE Detains Hundreds in Workplace Raids Take Action – Make Calls or Send Faxes to Demand an End to Raids (see below) Humanitarian Crisis in Mississippi: ICE Detains Hundreds in Workplace Raid Monday, August 25, 2008 After answering the phone, Bill Chandler, director of MIRA! (the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, based in Jackson), blurted out, “The ICE raid is in progress right now at Howard Industries, in Laurel, Mississippi.” Laurel is a small town of about 18,000 people; Howard Industries employs about 800 workers.
Earlier this morning, Department of Homeland Security agents began descending on different work sites in Mississippi to unleash another brutal immigration raid. According to Mr. Chandler, DHS began renting hotel space over the past few days, indicating the presence of hundreds of Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. MIRA also reports ICE placed the Southern Hens poultry plant under lockdown, which employs nearly 2,000 people in Mossell, Mississippi. Mossell is between Hattiesburg and Laurel on I-59. And on Sunday night ICE set up roadblocks near the Wal-Mart in Hattiesburg, an illegal detentive stop to check for immigration status of passersby’s.
ICE agents have already gone into the Howard Industries plant in Laurel, where some 800 workers manufacture ballast for office lights, neon tubes and transformers. Approximately half the workers there are Latinos. Howard Industries has three plants; one in Laurel, Magee and Ellisville. ICE also raided Howard corporate offices in Ellisville. ICE has arrested so many workers at the Laurel Howard plant that operations have been shut down. MIRA has already received reports of scores of children being left behind without their parents who ICE arrested at the Howard Industries plant.
ICE Raid, SB 2988 and MS’s Inglorious Present The brutal ICE raid now taking place in Laurel and other parts harkens back to Mississippi’s shameful past of Jim Crow segregation, police brutality and violence. The current state laws, the national anti-immigrant climate and hangovers from Mississippi’s inglorious past made Jones County ripe for ICE to conduct their usual raids that trample on constitutional rights and communities. Laurel has the distinction of being located in Jones County, headquarters for two notorious racist and anti-immigrant groups, the KKK and MFIRE, the Mississippi branch of FAIR, the national anti-immigrant group.
Earlier this year the Mississippi legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Senate bill 2988, the most draconian employer sanctions law passed to date in the U.S. that further criminalizes workers, especially immigrants, and opens the door for employers to discriminate against Latinos and others. SB 2988 makes it a felony to work without authorization in Mississippi. SB 2988 imposes a one to five year prison sentence and hefty fines of $1,000 to $10,000. No one has yet been charged under SB 2988.
Today’s ICE raid however opens the door to using both federal and state laws, including SB 2988, in a new way. This has everyone on edge. Mr. Chandler added, “Now we are all waiting to see what will happen to people being arrested at Howard Industries.” Support Needed to Counter ICE Raid Impacts Mr. Chandler said, “We had been expecting the raids, either on the coast or in Hattiesburg. We were getting information that ICE was in hotels in the coast and other preparations were going on in Hattiesburg.” MIRA began holding community meetings on the Mississippi coast and Hattiesburg areas all last week, getting the word out for the last ten days that an ICE raid was underway. MIRA advised workers of their Constitutional rights, to remain silent if arrested, and to prepare for the crackdown. Now MIRA is seeking the help of lawyers. There is deep worry among the community about the raids and their aftermath. MIRA has prepared social services and legal help for all persons, including families and others, affected by the ICE raid. Bill closed by saying, “Most of what we are getting today is that ICE is focusing on Jones County; but haven’t had calls from all areas. We have had calls from chicken plants in and around Laurel. We had expected the raids to occur at chicken plants; it was a surprise, it’s a different industry. Howard Industries gets state and federal funding to operate.” Support MIRA: Stop the ICE Raids MIRA is now in meeting with families affected by the raid to assess what their needs are and also working with lawyers to deal with arraignments of workers swept up in the raid.
MIRA needs attorneys to volunteer their services and help the detained workers. Please visit the MIRA website to make an on-line donation at: www.yourmira.org Send in a check or money order, payable to “MIRA,” write in the memo “Relief for families affected by raids” and mail to: MIRA!PO 1104Jackson, MS 39215 To support MIRA’s legal project, call (601) 354-9355For media inquiries, (601) 968-5182. *
Take Action to Stop the ICE Raids Call or fax the following officials, demand an END to ICE raids and to stop the attack the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities Mississippi Congressional Delegations:House: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.htmlSenate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=MS MS Gov. Haley BarbourTel (601) 359-3100 * Fax (601) firstname.lastname@example.org Call your Congressional delegation:Find your Senators telephone and fax numbers at:http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfmFind your Representative’s number at:http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.html
Tell them: Stop all immigration detentions & deportations, end raids: · ICE raids traumatize families, undermine worker’s rights and violate the rights of citizens and non-citizens.
· Immigration collaboration with local, county and state police and other public agencies undermine community trust and make our communities vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.
· ICE raids and enforcement operations destabilize our communities and disrupt the economy.
· The problem with ICE raids is so fundamental that Department of Homeland Security should end all such enforcement operations.
· Congress must stop the raids and hold hearings on the impact on DHS/ICE on immigration raids and enforcement operations. Restore due process rights and make our communities safe! To file a complaint against ICE agent on ICE abuses during enforcement operation or immigration raid:Call the Joint Intake Center ATTN: Duty AgentFax (202) 344-3390 and (202) 927-4607Toll-free: 1 (877) 2INTAKE (1-877-246-8253)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Know Your Rights Materials for Youth
A Know Your Rights & Responsibilities Resource for Immigrant Youth
Immigration issues are tricky. There are many ways in which your immigration status – whether you're a green card holder or undocumented – can impact your ability to get a job, go to college, or even remain in the United States. That's why the Immigrant Legal Resource Center created this resource especially for immigrant youth.
The newly released Spanish version can be downloaded at:
The newly released Korean version can be downloaded at:
The English version can be downloaded at:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 22, 2008
TO: Editor/News Director
Contact: Patricia Ice—office 601-354-9355
Bill Chandler—office 601-968-5182
JACKSON, MS—A series of preparations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the Gulf Coast has local advocates on edge about the possibility of yet another worksite raid, and yet another devastating blow to businesses, families and communities in the name of immigration enforcement.
“The preparations we are seeing ICE make are alarmingly similar to what occurred immediately prior to the raid on the Agriprocessors, Inc. Kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, a few months ago, “ said Patricia Ice, an immigration attorney and spokesperson for MIRA. ICE has reportedly booked dozens of rooms in hotels on the Gulf Coast. They may be checking in as early as tonight.
Perhaps even more worrisome are the reports that the federal court in Hattiesburg is being readied for a response similar to the response to the raid in Postville, when nearly 400 plant workers were arrested on trumped up identity theft charges, and slammed through criminal prosecution and judicial removal (being forced to waive all their criminal defense and immigration claims) within just days of the raid. “What happened in Postville was an absolute travesty of justice that must never happen again,” said Ms. Ice. “ICE must assure that any future enforcement actions are conducted in a humane manner and that detainees are permitted their constitutional rights to due process and to legal counsel.”
With all the signs pointing to an impending raid, Ms Ice, other staff and local leaders are working quickly to identify possible targets, educate workers and assemble a team of attorneys to offset the burden on public defenders and provide immigration advice.
The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) is a membership-based alliance which guarantees the human rights of immigrants and all workers in Mississippi. MIRA works to support immigrants in the exercise of their rights through providing services, organizing, advocacy and public education.
Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
310 8th St. Ste. 303
Oakland, CA 94607
tel: 510.465.1984 ext. 302
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thursday, August 21, 2008
(image from Windy City Times)
Queer Activists And Immigrant Activists: Finding Intersections and Working Together
Posted by: Xiomara Corpeno . Monday, Aug 18, 2008
Cross-issue work between queer and immigrant communities is possible. What are the connections that bring these communities together? And how does a struggle for liberation connect us all?
I started as an activist/organizer while I was getting my bachelor's degree at UC Riverside. I worked on a lot of different issues at that time. Although most of my activism focused on issues most directly affecting people of color, I also spent a lot of my time at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center after I re-connected with an old high school friend who had since come out of the closet. While my current work focuses on organizing for immigrants rights, I am struck by the similarities of the struggle between queer youth and immigrant youth and the intersections of the systems of oppression which seek to marginalize and divide queer, poor and people of color communities.
When I was in college, hanging out at the LGBT Center eventually turned into being an ally; I worked with the Center and other Student Program offices on joint activities, trying to promote solidarity and understanding between groups. Two successful, albeit sad events, that brought together a wide coalition of campus and community groups were the vigil for Matthew Shepard, as well as the march and memorial services for Tyisha Miller, both victims of hate crimes. Matthew was a young white gay man in Wyoming who was beaten to death by two men he had just met. Tyisha was a young Black woman who was shot and killed by the police while she was passed out in her car in Riverside. At the time, these incidents made it crystal clear for me how homophobia, sexism, and racism were all inevitably intertwined.
While there have been significant gains for the queer movement over the years, many youth remain silent about their identity for fear of violence and/or rejection. And the threat is real. Theresa is a 2008 college graduate who was confronted by her parents about her sexual orientation and over night was cut off from any financial assistance from her parents. Lawrence King, a fifteen year old boy, was murdered earlier this year because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.
Fear of violence is also pervasive in immigrant communities. Incidents like the 2000 beating of two immigrant men in Farmingville, NY are a reminder that hate and racism are still prevalent in the United States. In 2007, plots to attack immigrants with grenades and semi-automatic weapons by white supremacists were uncovered in Alabama, Maryland and Washington, D.C by federal authorities. Of course, the threat of a knock on your door in the middle of the night by ICE agents as well as raids in the workplace make these fears more palpable.
Undocumented youth, like their queer counterparts, live a closeted lifestyle. Even in Los Angeles, one of the largest immigrant cities, there is a clear line (including amongst Latinos) that there is some inherent difference between Latinos on the basis of immigration status. "Wetback, Chunt(aro) and FOB" are still popular insults on the playground. My friend Anita had to endure years of threats from her younger sister who would pick up the phone to call immigration when they would get into petty teenage arguments.
Undocumented students also face depression and feelings of isolation and rejection, as they try to navigate a system that wants them to stay in the 'undocumented closet.' Some student leaders have admitted that they have endured jobs with low-pay and other exploitative conditions because they felt they had few prospects for finding a better job. Others have faced deep depression after graduating from college still unable to find work. Undocumented youth, like queer youth that are in the early stages of coming out to themselves, sometimes reject other undocumented people as a way to negotiate their identity. Sometimes they blame their parents, arguing that they were brought to the United States through no fault of their own. Sometimes we encounter families who will emphasize how their immigrant child deserves a college education for their hard-pressed effort, but they are reluctant to be "tossed" in with the immigrant rights movement.
In response to these struggles, students have developed on-campus clubs in order to form support groups. Like their queer counterparts, these students face the challenge of attracting other undocumented students, without necessarily outing themselves or others because of some of the repercussions that might bring. On some campuses, like Cal-State Dominguez Hills, organizations like these have blossomed, but on other campuses, like Bakersfield Community College, there are just two friends who hope to be able to transfer soon. Our biggest success is in the California DREAM Network, made up of over 25 campus groups who have joined together in the fight for access to higher education.
Over 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from high school every year with little means to attend college. When we talk about undocumented youth, we mostly focus on the top students who are trying to make it against the odds. But this figure does not account for all undocumented young people, because just as many drop out of high school when they figure out there are few options for them upon graduation.
While we should also recognize the unique struggles faced by both groups, we must be clear that both of these communities have been marginalized as part of the same system of oppression that took land away from Native Americans, legalized slavery, and placed U.S. Citizens of Japanese descent in concentration camps. Cross-issue work is difficult in the United States. For many organizations, their funding relies on being an "expert" in their field. Cross-issue work is a process and there are gains and misunderstandings along the way. But the first step is to start open, honest and respectful dialogue to bridge understanding, instead of avoiding topics that can be construed as sticky or controversial.
CHIRLA, in conjunction with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote first began with conversations about how "wedge" issues are created and who benefits from the divisions they create. The next steps have included educational workshops for our members on Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender definitions and issues, as well as workshops on the historical context of oppression in the United States. Our conversations are far from over because the struggle for liberation of all peoples is on-going.
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is credited for being one of the first gay rights activists and in the 1860s he began to promote the idea of coming out as a means of liberation. Ulrichs understood that while people remained in hiding, ashamed or fearful of embracing their identity, it would be impossible to challenge and eventually change the dominant world view about being gay. As activists and organizers in these or other struggles, the concept of liberation should ring true for all communities. My hope is that this piece inspires queer activists and immigrant justice activists to find ways to get together and work for liberation together.
Xiomara Corpeno is the Director of Organizing with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). She is also a 2008 Taproots Fellow. Read her bio here.
Cops Enforcing Immigration Laws Bust County Budgets
By Anthony D. Advincula
New American Media, Posted on August 14, 2008
When local cops enforce federal immigration laws, the police department may not only incur significant costs, but may also fail to attend to more serious crimes and delay response times to most emergency calls, according to a report released by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC).
Take the case of Maricopa County, Ariz. Since Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio transformed his department into an immigration-enforcement agency,following a partnership made by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on January 19, 2007, his
office has incurred a $1.3 million deficit in just three months.
Maricopa's police officers began working 4,500 extra hours every two-week pay period during the first month of the partnership, as compared to 2,900 extra hours the previous month, the report said. In April 2007, police officers worked more than 9,000 overtime hours and cost the county's
Maricopa County is not an isolated case. More and more cities across the country that allow the police to carry out federal immigration laws get themselves in a similar economic quagmire. Many of them find that it is much
more expensive than they thought.
Recently, the initiative against illegal immigration in Prince William County, Va., raised its costs to $6.9 million for the budget year that starts July 1, because of overcrowding at the county jail.
Immigrant rights advocates also say that even cities like Valley Park, Mo.and Hazleton, Pa. -where local enforcement takes a more aggressive approach than simply relying on ICE to perform federal immigration operations -may fall into deep budget pits soon. "This kind of local enforcement just leaves
counties broke, aside from many other negative consequences," said Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst for IPC. "It makes the community frightened and forces many businesses to close down."
While police officers arrest undocumented immigrants, Waslin says that they fail to catch the human smuggling rings. "I don't think that cops who become immigration agents are effective to help in stopping the flow of illegal
immigration," she said.
The two-page IPC report, based mainly on the findings of a series of
investigative stories published in Phoenix-based East Valley Tribune , also revealed that since Maricopa County cops started looking for undocumented immigrants, the county's arrest rate for serious crimes -including robberies, aggravated assaults and sex crimes -decreased dramatically -and these crimes received little or no investigation. Arpaio's office in 2005
cleared 10.5 percent of its investigations with arrests. When immigration
operations began, according to the report, that number dropped to 6 percent.
In July 2007, the county's police only made arrests on 2.5 percent of their investigations. Because more officers need to be added to the immigration
team, the report said that Arpaio pulled deputies off patrol beats and used them to staff the human smuggling unit, resulting in more delays when responding to 911 and other emergency calls. Patrol districts, trails and lake divisions as well as the central investigations bureau all lost deputies. Allegations of racial profiling have also stung the county, as
Arpaio's team increasingly conducts large-scale operations without any evidence of criminal activity in Latino neighborhoods or sites where day
"Some of these will ultimately lead to costly lawsuits," Waslin added. "In any way, the idea of cops doing federal immigration enforcement is very problematic. It's not just going to work.
Anthony D. Advincula is a New York based editor at NAM.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
AUGUST 30: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE DISAPPEARED
In Your Community and Everywhere
A Day to Remember, A Day to Take Action
FREEDOM TO POLITICAL PRISONERS - APPEARANCE OF THE DISAPPEARED!
In solidarity with the international call from the Association of Families of the Disappeared and Victims of Violations of Human Rights in Mexico (AFADEM), and by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Families of Disappeared Detainees (FEDEFAM)...
We of the Solidarity Without Borders Delegation call upon groups in the United States to participate in August 30, as a day of remembrance and a day of action for those disappeared and those detained.
As repression rises across the United States against immigrant communities and communities of color...
As political prisoners continue to struggle for freedom behind bars, and as more dissidents are taken captive as "terrorists" under the pretext of homeland security...
As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imposes a reign of terror with raids, roundups, deportations, detentions and disappearances...
As the government strips detainees of their rights from Guantanamo to Iraq to Black Sites across the globe...
As private corporations, multinationals and security contractors profit from every detention, disappearance, and incarceration, from our communities to occupied territories abroad...
MAKE AUGUST 30 A DAY FOR MEMORY AGAINST FORGETTING. A DAY FOR STRUGGLE AGAINST SILENCE.
As the US exports this repression globally to serve and protect its corporate interests, to enforce its capitalist agenda on the world...
As the US sponsors state and paramilitary violence against people's movements in Mexico, such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the popular struggles in Oaxaca...
As the US continues its 30-year campaign to silence those who resist in Latin America, from Plan Colombia to Plan Mexico and on to the Security and Prosperity Partnership...
As occupying forces continue to disappear thousands of people from their homes and streets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Haiti, and beyond...
As those who commit these crimes against humanity have never been brought to
justice, and as impunity reigns in the halls of power...
MAKE AUGUST 30 A DAY TO GLOBALIZE OUR REMEMBRANCE, A DAY TO GLOBALIZE OUR RESISTANCE.
ON AUGUST 30 WE ALSO STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH...
Those commemorating Black August, in memory of the freedom fighters.
Those still struggling in New Orleans and beyond on the anniversary of Katrina.
Those mobilizing for political prisoners and for immigrant rights at the DNC and those mobilizing against the RNC.
Those struggling every day in their communities and behind bars.
THIS AUGUST 30 AND BEYOND, WE UNITE WITH OUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS IN AFFECTED COMMUNITIES TO DEMAND...
Freedom to All Political Prisoners!
Appearance of the Disappeared!
Not One More Raid! Not One More Deportation!
Not One More Detention! Not One More Murder!
WHAT SHAPE COULD THE AUGUST 30 DAY OF ACTION TAKE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
A March of Silence?
A Disappear-In? Direct Action Street Theatre?
An action at your local Detention Center?
An act of solidarity around the DNC or RNC?
A display of the faces and names of those disappeared or detained in your community?
A dialogue or forum with the families and communities hit hardest by repression?
Building local coalitions, supporting existing movements of resistance in your community?
It´s up to you...
EDUCATE. AGITATE. ORGANIZE.
For Our Dead and Disappeared
Not a Moment of Silence But a Lifetime of Struggle!
From Oaxaca, Mexico in struggle,
Solidarity Without Borders Delegation
ORIGINAL CALL TO ACTION FROM AFADEM/FEDEFAM
International Day of the Disappeared Detainee
Since 1981, we have commemorated the International Day of the Disappeared Detainee in Latin America. The purpose of this day is to remember men and women who were taken from their homes by criminal hands. They were beings who did not hesitate to offer their life to construct a world where peace with justice predominates.
They were taken prisoner by those who thought themselves lords of their lives, who applied the doctrine of national security through the most ferocious terrorism of the State, commiting grave violations of human rights, excelling by their cruelty to the forced disappearance.
Throughout these years, families have been added to the commemoration of the disappeared in Asia, Africa, and the European Continent. Various governments of these continents have recognized the proposal pushed by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Families of Disappeared Detainees (FEDEFAM), the establishment of the 30th of August as the International Day of the Disappeared Detainee, among them the Bolivarian of Venezuela.
Sadly, in Colombia, the forced disappearance is still practiced. Every day many Colombians are victims of disappearance and other violations of human rights, they are assassinated and tortured. But also in other countries of our Latin America, repression and the perpetual violation of rights live on, above all those that apply the economic project designed by the government of the USA. For this reason we demand the termination of any attempt to continue training soldiers to repress and murder the peoples.
Impunity is a grave problem that we confront day to day in many of our countries, thanks to which those who committed crimes against humanity have never even been brought to justice nor punished. This is leaving grave consequences among our people. Human life is devalorized, confidence in justice is lost, and democracy is degraded.
We, FEDEFAM, together with social organizations, will continue pushing preventative actions so that the forced disappearance will be definitively eradicated in Latin America and in the world.
25 Years of Struggle for Truth
For Justice and Against Impunity!
For the Right Not to Be Disappeared!
Association of Families of Disappeared Detainees and Victims of Violations of Human Rights in Mexico, AFADEM-FEDEFAM
FEDEFAM: 20 years of struggle against impunity
AFADEM: 30 years of struggle against impunity
FREEDOM TO POLITICAL PRISONERS - APPEARANCE OF THE DISAPPEARED
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Lifting Voices, a survey for and about Families of Color
Dear friends and colleagues, as many of you know Family Equality Council just launched Project Harmony.
Project Harmony is a voice for families of color within and outside of Family Equality Council. As such our mission as a program is to actively:
raise issues relevant to our combined oppressions, leading us to challenge ourselves and the overall LGBTQ movement on our assumptions and actions;
raise and promote an anti-oppression agenda with, for and by our 40,000+ constituent membership, partnerships and programs;
promote racial equality and economic opportunities that include, but are not limited to, access to services, maintaining cultural heritage in mixed race adoptions, building community for those in mixed raced families, and to support and work collectively with other local, statewide, and national organizations to address oppression
As part of this project we will be conducting a participatory research initiative which will produce a report on the conditions of LGBTQ-headed Families of Color to guide program creation and capacity building for the Family Equality movement and organizations.
The quantitative part of this project is the Lifting Voices Survey. We would like to encourage you to distribute the link to the survey and promote the participation of your members and colleagues on it!
To fill out the survey please visit: www.familyequality.org/harmony and click on the Lifting Voices Survey Box!!!!!!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
QUEERS AND IMMIGRATION: A VISION STATEMENT
Two of the most divisive issues in the United States today are those concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer rights and immigration. There is little discussion of how immigration is also an issue for queer people, and even less analysis of the structural similarities between queer and immigrant struggles. Queer immigrants are marginalized or invisible at the intersection of two identities. As a whole, more complex family structures -- such as those of binational same-sex couples and extended families -- are completely absent from the larger struggle for immigration reform.
The immigrant advocacy movement places undue emphasis on heteronormative relationships and conceptions of normality in an effort to gain basic citizenship rights. The mainstream LGBTQ rights movement tends to focus on those immigrants who are partners of US citizens. This leaves out the predicament of, for instance, single people and/or those who do not define themselves within conventional relationships like marriage or conjugality. Both movements are depriving themselves of the power and strategic insights that LGBTQ immigrants can provide. We, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gender-nonconforming people and allies, stand in solidarity with the immigrant rights movement. With this statement, we call for genuinely progressive immigration reform that helps LGBTQ immigrants.
We recognize that many in our community live as queers and immigrants and we are taking this opportunity, at a historic moment for both groups, to articulate our analysis of the immigration debate. We call for an end to the stigmatization of queer individuals, the recognition of our varied, unique, and flexible kinship networks, the end of the restrictive and dangerous criminalization of migrant and queer communities, and an immigration reform package that puts progressive labor reforms into practice.
The 2006 elections provided mixed results for our communities. Even though anti-LGBTQ ballots were being passed around the country, Arizona voters defeated a measure that would further stigmatize LGBTQ people (Proposition 107). Nationally, voters rejected anti-immigrant candidates running for Congress. Sadly, draconian anti-immigrant amendments were approved at the state level in Arizona (Propositions 100, 102, 103, and 300) and Colorado (Referendums H and K). These measures will have a severely negative impact on the lives of LGBTQ immigrants, virtually nullifying the positive gains of the election. We are strongly against states initiating laws that have detrimental effects on both queer and non-queer-identified people. In the past year we have seen bills such as HR4437 and the Senate Bill S261. There are several problematic aspects of these bills, and none of these bills address the needs of LGBT immigrants. We focus on the following issues:
We call for an immediate repeal of the HIV ban and bar on travel and immigration. The bar forces several immigrants to hide their HIV status and into criminalization. Moreover, the HIV bar is an unscientific public health measure because it perpetuates the stigma about HIV/AIDS. In many cases, the mandatory immigrant visa-related HIV test at the time of the adjustment of status application is the first diagnosis of HIV for an immigrant who may not be subsequently offered counseling or treatment options. The ban is ostensibly designed to keep the virus out, but it only penalizes HIV positive people, many of whom are already in the country. Moreover, immigrants are often infected in the US. The ban defines them as public health risks instead of ensuring their access to health care.
Under the current ban, waivers are offered on the basis of qualifying familial relationships. The ban does not offer waivers for non-conjugal relationships/kinship networks/same-sex partnerships and perpetuates the traditional devaluing of non-heteronormative bonds. We call for the reinstating of individual hardship waivers that would allow an individual to self-petition for humanitarian reasons or reasons of public interest—similar to those in place before the 1996 reforms which instituted the familial relationship requirement.
Policing the Border
The proposal for a national wall along the 20,000 mile border between US and Mexico is economically unsustainable and takes away from programs like education and public assistance. A wall would expand the existing police state and harm inflicted upon immigrants entering at the border. As the National Immigration Forum has reported, increased surveillance only results in increased desperation as migrant workers face injury, exploitation by coyotes, and the increased possibility of dying: “From January 1995 through March 2004, more than 2,640 migrants died. In the last four years there has been on average more than one death per day. A record 460 migrants lost their lives this past year compared to 325 in 2004, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.” Clearly, spending on border security drains much-needed resources from US society and is not effective. These same resources could be used to strengthen social services for all within the US and to improve the economies of countries that send immigrants. Paradoxically, the demand for the wall comes with an increase in demand and need for immigrant labor in the US (Mexicans form 40% of California’s agricultural labor force). It heightens anti-immigrant sentiment among US citizens and only extends the exploitation of immigrant labor.
The proposed wall is also detrimental to Native Americans and indigenous peoples. There are 26 federally recognized Native American tribes that live between Mexico and the US. These tribes are currently allowed to move freely in the border region; the wall would drastically change their way of life. Immigrants follow a travel cycle dependent upon work demand. This cycle would be interrupted by a wall and increased security by forcing them to stay in the US when it may be in their best interests to travel back to their country of origin. The construction of a wall would be counterproductive, increasing rather than reducing undocumented migration into the US.
The current definition of family in immigration law is limited to parents, spouses, and children. This definition also implies a heterosexual family structure. Unfortunately it is very restrictive because it leaves out most of the family structures in which LGBTQ immigrants live. Partners in same-sex binational couples, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews, and other extended family members are not considered eligible under this narrow definition (if recognition is granted, such as in the case of siblings, the time it takes to obtain a family-based visa is so long that it is equivalent to not having the benefit at all). As a result, the broad universe of non- heteronormative family units created by LGBTQ immigrants is automatically excluded from receiving immigration benefits. Both the LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities need to work towards expanding their narrow definitions of “family” in order to better serve all immigrants, including LGBTQ immigrants.
Applying for asylum based on sexual orientation is the only way for some of the most vulnerable LGBTQ immigrants to legalize their status. Currently, those who apply for asylum based on sexual orientation must do so within a year of entering the country. This disproportionately affects LGBTQ immigrants since many of them are unaware of the asylum provision or are recovering from torture and persecution. Many LGBTQ immigrants are affected by homophobia and transphobia in their day to day lives. This leads to isolation and lack of access to information and resources and delays their applying for asylum based on sexual orientation. We call upon removing the one year deadline for applying for political asylum. Moreover, the category of aggravated felony is being expanded to include offenses such as shoplifting and prostitution; this expansion only applies to immigrants. Individuals charged with aggravated felony are barred from any immigration relief including asylum. This is unjust and only a way of keeping more people from applying for immigration relief.
Harboring is the act of protecting or in any way assisting an undocumented immigrant. Harboring provisions appear in both the House and Senate Bills and target individuals and organizations
that provide assistance to undocumented immigrants with financial aid, food, housing, and other basic social services. Currently
individuals--friends or partners--who live with undocumented immigrants and immigrants who overstay their visas for any significant
length of time are targeted under harboring provisions. US citizen partners of many foreign nationals, who are often denied
legal relationships with their partners, could be targeted and prosecuted under harboring provisions and face fines, asset
seizure, and imprisonment. We oppose efforts to criminalize those who assist the immigrant community, their families, and
loved ones through harboring provisions.
Guest Worker Programs
The guest worker program provisions create a two-tiered system that divides our communities into “better” and “worse” immigrants depending on how long they have been in the country and what kind of work they do. It establishes hierarchies among immigrants based on their income potential and class categories. Under the guest worker program, employers may underpay and/or mistreat low-wage, temporary workers who cannot seek redress for fear of being left without employer sponsors. The program allows work-visa holders in supposedly more prestigious industries to gain citizenship more quickly. Such programs undercut and divide the labor rights movement in the U.S. by making it impossible to regulate immigrant workers’ rights. This hurts US workers, especially those with fewer skills and low income. Moreover, the proposed guest worker program calls for mandatory HIV testing, making it the only non-immigrant visa worker program that actively discriminates against immigrants by requiring them to take an HIV test. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and call for it to be extended to immigrants, especially since an LGBTQ immigrant may lose his or her ability to live in the U.S. if fired for sexual or gender identity.
We demand genuine legalization and opportunities to adjust status for all undocumented immigrants. We believe that the current immigration system is broken and in need of repair. To that end, we demand the following:
• Enact genuinely progressive immigration legislation at the state level that respects the human rights of immigrants. We call for all states to opt out of the Real I.D. Act, reinstate in-state tuition fees for undocumented immigrant students, and not pass legislation that will disallow undocumented immigrants from accessing public benefits. Proposed legislation would allow for greater collaboration between local police and immigration enforcement officials. We are against such collaboration because turning police officers into immigration officials would further jeopardize the already fragmented relationship between police and immigrant communities.
• Repeal the HIV ban immediately.
• End the one year deadline for applying for asylum
• End the heightened policing and criminalization of immigrant communities, including the increased militarization of the border, the construction of any wall around the US-Mexico border, and/or the use of city and state government agencies to enforce federal immigration law.
• End the indefinite and mandatory detention of non-citizens and ensure the safety and self-determination of all people, regardless of national origin, religion, race, gender or sexuality. Detention is particularly harsh for LGBTQ and HIV positive detainees. Rape, harassment, abuse, and denial of HIV treatment/hormone therapy are some of the routine forms of hardship that LGBTQ people face in detention.
• Strengthen labor laws and protections for all workers, native and foreign born, and end guest worker proposals that would continue the exploitation of many low-wage workers.
• End penalties imposed upon service providers and family members of undocumented immigrants.
• Repeal the Real I.D. Act, which creates a national database and makes it more difficult to obtain legal identification, thus causing hardship for thousands of people who cannot obtain identification. In addition, we demand that the Federal government not penalize states that opt out of the Real I.D. Act by, for instance, withdrawing support for educational programs. This Act is particularly hostile to transgender people who can be penalized and deported if birth records do not match current IDs. The national database is also worrisome for transgender workers who may not be open about their transitions at work.
• Eliminate the high-income requirements for immigrant sponsors.
• Eliminate the 3 and 10-year bars for so-called unlawful presence.
• Support efforts to create and affirm the broader definitions of family and kinship patterns in which LGBTQ people already live. Currently, LGBTQ US citizens and Green Card holders cannot sponsor their partners for immigration. The Uniting American Families Act would allow them to do so. We urge the passage of the Uniting American Families Act. But this is only a first step in the direction of the expansion of the definition of “family.” A truly fair immigration system should recognize all families in our LGBTQ and immigrant communities, including non-immediate relatives and non-traditional families of our choice. We call for the end of immigration reform based on the notion of conjugality and instead support efforts to broaden definitions of “family” and end inequality.
• Support legalization for all immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. End the criminalization of immigrants by preventing the expansion of deportation criteria and increased penalties for minor offenses.
As LGBTQ people (both immigrants and non-immigrants) we would like to express our disappointment with President George W. Bush. In addition to promoting the Federal Marriage Amendment, he has given in to the radical elements in his party and backed down on his commitment to immigration reform by choosing to focus on enforcement. The LGBTQ community is once again let down by lawmakers who are playing with our lives.
The undersigned are coming out as LGBTQ immigrants and allies in support of genuinely progressive immigration reform. Our natural allies are the LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities and we are eager to work with you towards achieving social justice for all. We will insist that both movements’ strategies address the intersection where we live and love and struggle.
List of Endorsing Organizations as of 03/01/2007:
If your organization would like to be added to the list of signatories,
please email Debanuj DasGupta at email@example.com
ALLGO, A Statewide Queer People of Color Organization
701 Tillery St. Box 4
Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 472-2001
Fax: (512) 385-2970
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 241-7000
The Audre Lorde Project
85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217-1607
Phone: (718) 596-0342
Fax: (718) 596-1328
Boston Mayday Coalition
c/o Kaveri Rajaraman
The Center Project
307 Highway 15
PO Box 3448
Myrtle Beach, SC 29578-3448
Phone: (843) 626-4953
Fax: (843) 626-9900
El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos
1701 Broadway SE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Phone: (505) 246-1627
Chicago Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Immigrants Alliance (CLIA)
c/o Latinos Progesando
Phone: (312) 850-0572
Chican@/Latin@ Academic Student Development
MultiCultural Student Development
245 Cesar E. Chavez Student Learning Center
University of California, Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-1802
Chinese for Affirmative Action/Center for Asian American Advocacy
17 Walter U. Lum Place,
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: (415) 274-6760
COLAGE National Office
1550 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 861-5437
Fax: (415) 255-8345
The Colorado Anti Violence Program
P.O. Box 181085
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: (303) 839-5204
Fax: (303) 839-5205
Coloradans For Immigrants Rights (CFIR)
901 W. 14th Avenue #7
Denver, Colorado 80204
Phone: (303) 623-3464
Fax: (303) 623-3492
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC)
1212 Mariposa St, Suite 5
Denver, CO 80804
Phone: (303) 893-3500
Fax: (303) 893-3505
The Colorado Progressive Coalition
1600 Downing Street, Suite 210
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: (303) 866-0908
Fax: (303) 832-6416
Colorado Stonewall Democrats
c/o Colorado Democratic Party
777 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
168 7th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone: (212) 465-8115
DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving
72-26 Broadway, 4th Floor,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Phone: (718) 205 3036
Fax: (718) 205 3037
P.O. Box 13733
Birmingham, AL 35202
Phone: (205) 445-4843
3712 North Broadway,#125
Chicago, IL 60613
Filipinos for Affirmative Action
310 8th Street, Suite 306
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 465-9876
PO Box 403
Times Square Station
New York, NY 10108 USA
Phone: (212) 592-3507
GABRIELA Network Chicago Chapter
P.O. Box 259 392
Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: (708) 439-4071
GABRIELA Network, SF Bay Area Chapter
3543 18th Street, #17
San Francisco, CA 94110
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
119 West 24th Street
New York, NY10011
Highlander Research and Education Center
1959 Highlander Way
New Market, TN 37820
Phone: (865) 933-3443
Fax: (865) 933-3424
c/o Jesse Lokahi Heiwa
Joplin Gay & Lesbian Center
PO Box 4383
Joplin, MO 64803-4383
Phone: (417) 642-5626
La Raza Centro Legal
474 Valencia Street, Suite 295
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 575-3500
The Latina SafeHouse Initiative
Phone: (303) 433-7208
LGBT Community Center of Central Iowa
3839 Merle Hay Road, Suite 227
Des Moines, IA 50312
Phone: (515) 277-7884
Lighthouse Community Center
1217 A Street
Hayward, CA 94541
Phone: (510) 881-8167
Love Sees No Borders
P.O. Box 60486
Sunnyvale, CA 94088
Fax: (413) 502-4758
LUZ: A Reproductive Justice Think Tank
Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), New York City
National Center for Lesbian Rights
870 Market Street, Suite 370
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 392-6257
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
240 West 35th Street, Suite 200
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 714-1184
Fax: (212) 714-2627
National Immigration Project
The National Lawyers Guild
14 Beacon Street, Suite 602
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 227-9727
Fax: (617) 227-5495
National Lawyers Guild
132 Nassau Street, Rm. 922
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 679-5100
Fax: (212) 679-2811
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
310-8th St., Ste. 303
Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Phone: (510) 465-1984
Fax: (510) 465-1885
National Transgender Advocacy Coalition
PO Box 76027
Washington, DC 20013
New York City Anti-Violence Project
240 35th St, Suite 200
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 714-1184, ext. 50
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
615 Second Ave., Ste. 400
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: (206) 587-4009
Fax: (206) 587-4025
People of Faith CT
West Hartford, CT 06127
Phone: (860) 841-5006
Pride At Work, AFL-CIO
815 16th St, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 637-5085
Fax: (202) 508-6923
Queens Pride House
Diversity Center of Queens
76-11 37th Ave. Suite 206
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Phone: (718) 429-5309
Queer Immigrant Rights Project (QuIR)
590 Fort Washington Avenue, Apt. 2J
New York, NY 10033
Queers for Economic Justice
16 W. 32nd St., #10H
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 564-3608
Fax: (212) 564-0590
R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center
PO Box 5883
Burlington, VT 05402
Phone: (802) 860-7812
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT)
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400L
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Phone: (301) 270-1855
Fax: (301) 270-4000
South Asian Network
18173 S. Pioneer Blvd, Suite I
Artesia, CA 90701
Phone: (562) 403-0488, ext. 108
Fax: (562) 403-0487
Southerners On New Ground / S.O.N.G.
c/o Paulina Hernandez
Phone: (865) 387-8236
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
322 8th Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 337-8550
Fax: (212) 337-1972
19641 West Seven Mile Road
Detroit, Michigan 48219-2721
Phone: (313) 537-3323
Fax: (313) 537-3379
Unid@s, the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Human Rights Organization
1403 Fifth Avenue #6 New York, NY 10029
Phone: (646) 358-1479