Why are more Nicaraguans heading north to the United States looking for jobs? Until July 2020, numbers were tiny. But in the last 1½ years numbers have increased sharply. Suddenly this has become a story, and government detractors argue, with little evidence, that people are fleeing political repression. “They’d rather die than return to Nicaragua,” is a typical headline. Manuel Orozco, a Nicaraguan based in Washington who strongly opposes the Sandinista government, told The Hill that “Nicaragua’s dictatorship is criminalizing democracy and fueling migration to the U.S.” Then, on September 20, this became the official explanation when White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Nicaraguans are “fleeing political persecution and communism.”
For the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to hear an extrajudicial killing case involving violence committed by U.S. law enforcement. The Commission is a body of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States. It considers cases involving torture, massacres, extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the Americas. On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a 42-year-old long-time San Diego resident and father of five, was crossing the border from Mexico into the United States when he was apprehended and tortured by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. He died in the hospital a few days later from his injuries. In order to cover up their crimes, the agents attempted to destroy evidence and create a false narrative that portrayed them as the victims and Hernández Rojas as the aggressor.
Boston, Massachusetts - On May 5, under a scorching Boston afternoon sun, a motley group of Central American immigrant leaders and their families were strewn across the steps under the towering, ornate cast iron gates of the Massachusetts State House. Joined by mostly younger, non-immigrant allied organizers, the air was charged with nervous anticipation. An eclectic mix of Latin-American music, from traditional mariachi to Bad Bunny, boomed over a mobile PA system. Spontaneous chants of “Que queremos? Licencias! Cuando? Ahora!” or “What do we want? Licenses! When? Now!” broke out amongst ongoing laughter and chatter. Sometime around 2 p.m. the news was finally announced: in a veto-proof majority, the state senate voted 32-8 to pass the Work and Family Mobility Act, a bill that would allow undocumented people to apply for a driver’s license.
For many 2020 voters of Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, their historic electoral win would symbolize a drastic change from the vituperative language and callous policies that came to define the chaotic and destructive Trump years. Whether it was the Trump administration’s criminalization of asylum seekers, separation of mother and child at the border through their cruel “zero tolerance” strategy, reduction in refugee resettlement, or use of xenophobic rhetoric before racializing a viral disease like COVID-19 that would stoke rampant Sinophobia, a more “compassionate” approach was promised by his would-be successors. However, as the late journalist Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report astutely coined to describe the Obama administration, in many facets the Democratic Party represented not a “lesser evil” to the Republicans, but a more “effective evil.”
When you are in a process like this one, all of your body shivers, every bit of yourself shakes, because you do not want to make mistakes to be again at risk of being detained or deported,” says Carlos, whose name has been shortened to avoid affecting his immigration case. “It wears you out.” Carlos settled in Fontana, Calif., coming from Chimalhuacán, on the outskirts of Mexico City, in 2002. But after a misdemeanor in 2019, Carlos was subject to deportation proceedings. He was imprisoned for three months, electronically shackled for more than a year, and, in January 2021, ordered to install an app on his phone so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents could check in on him. The app uses voice recognition and geolocation to verify that Carlos is at home, which ICE says helps ensure his “compliance with release conditions.”
On Monday morning, Popular Information broke the news that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false information to convince them to board flights chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). A brochure distributed to migrants says that they will be eligible for numerous benefits in Massachusetts, including "8 months cash assistance," "assistance with housing," "food," "clothing," "job placement," "registering children for school," and many other benefits. None of this is true. The benefits described in the brochure are resettlement benefits available to refugees who have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and authorized to live in the United States. These benefits are not available in Massachusetts to the migrants who boarded the flights, who are still in the process of seeking asylum.
Every year for two weeks between late August and early September, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, home to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is transformed into a glitzy playground for the U.S. Open. Tickets to tennis matches range between $93 to $8,807, and fans sip cold $22 Honey Deuce cocktails. The median income of U.S. Open attendees is about $182,000. But that glamor does not extend to the workers who keep the U.S. Open running. On Tuesday, 71-year-old Maria, her sister Luz, and members of New Immigrant Community Empowerment rallied in the shadow of the U.S. Open tennis arena to demand that they receive the wages that were stolen from them.
For several days, buses have been dumping refugees from Texas in New York City, along with buses that have been going to Washington D.C. for months. Mutual aid groups are receiving these refugees and providing them with mental health, legal support, and other resources. This mutual aid has formed in the absence of a citywide policy to welcome refugees. In recent years, more and more refugees from Latin America are migrating to the United States. This increase in migration is a direct result of the climate crisis and centuries of imperialism ravaging and underdeveloping the Global South. Wealthy countries in the Global North are responding with callous disregard for the basic right to migrate, even as they create the conditions for it. For example, many of the refugees are migrating from Venezuela, a country being economically devastated by some of the most intense U.S. sanctions regimes.
At two federal detention centers in California, more than 50 immigrant workers are on strike over unsafe working conditions and low wages. “We are being exploited for our labor and are being paid $1 per day to clean the dormitories,” said strikers at a central California detention center in a June statement received by public radio station KQED. Detained workers, known as “housing porters,” participate in a supposedly volunteer working program while locked up. They use their earnings to pay for the exorbitant cost of phone calls and commissary items like dental floss and tortillas. “They are compelled to do this,” says Alan Benjamin, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council who heard directly from striking workers during a call with the labor council. “It's not voluntary; it's compulsory work, without proper sanitation and equipment.”
On Monday, about 3,700 Central American migrants left the border state of Chiapas for the United States. According to reports from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the caravan is made up of people from countries including Venezuela, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, and also from Asia. Members of this new caravan reported that this mobilization is taking place after two weeks of unsuccessful waiting for a response from authorities of the National Migration Institute (NMI) for the issuance of temporary permits to travel through the territory and thus alleviate some of the institutional violence that afflicts migrants during transit. For their part, activists are denouncing the sale of migration cards at prices of almost $2,000, and sting operations involving not only the NMI, police, National Guard, and Mexican Armed Forces, but also federal agents from the United States, and Central and South America.
On July 22, Reuters revealed that a subsidiary of auto giant Hyundai, SMART, had been employing migrant children in Luverne, Alabama. Reuters learned of the underage labor exploitation through local police, the family of three child workers, and eight former and current employees of the subsidiary’s plant. Interviews with former employees and labor recruiters revealed that many minors employed at the plant went without schooling in favor of work. A former worker claimed that the plant, which, according to Reuters, has a “documented history of health and safety violations, including amputation hazards”, employs as many as 50 children. Both Hyundai and SMART deny any responsibility. Hyundai said in a statement that it “does not tolerate illegal employment practices at any Hyundai entity.
Today, the ACLU published thousands of pages of previously unreleased records about how Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other parts of the Department of Homeland Security are sidestepping our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable government searches and seizures by buying access to, and using, huge volumes of people’s cell phone location information quietly extracted from smartphone apps. The records, which the ACLU obtained over the course of the last year through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, shed new light on the government’s ability to obtain our most private information by simply opening the federal wallet. These documents are further proof that Congress needs to pass the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, which would end law enforcement agencies’ practice of buying their way around the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
Over 100 undocumented immigrants and their supporters descended on a federal appeals court in New Orleans Wednesday, as oral arguments began on a case that will determine the future of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — the program protecting hundreds of thousands from deportation. José Coronado Flores, 25, a DACA recipient and organizer for the immigration advocacy group CASA, traveled from Maryland to the courtroom at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as attorneys debated the legality of the program in the case of Texas v. United States. Since its inception over a decade ago, DACA has provided temporary work status and protection from deportation to people brought into the U.S. as children. “For a lot of people, DACA is just a word or a political talking point,” Coronado Flores said.
The United States Supreme Court has decided to allow the Biden administration to end a Trump-era immigration policy according to an opinion delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday. The program formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), frequently called the “Remain in Mexico” policy, requires migrants arriving at the southern border to stay outside the United States while waiting for the sluggish U.S. immigration system to process their asylum hearings. The Biden administration has yet to end the program.
I am a fan of bad television. I admit it. I even DVR it. I watch an awful show on the National Geographic Channel every week about Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and how they intercept drugs and birds and food and other contraband from people arriving from abroad into the airports of New York, Atlanta and Miami. I was watching an episode this week where an elderly Korean man arrived at JFK airport in New York with a few hundred dollars in his pocket. For no apparent reason, he was pulled into secondary for a more comprehensive search. When the CBP officer went through the man’s wallet, he found four cashier’s checks, dated years earlier, that totaled $136,000. The man said that it was his life savings, he had been carrying it around for years, and that he had forgotten that the checks were on him.