Tag: Illegal immigration

Activists March on DC to Demand Immigration Reform and a Stop to the Separation of Families

Activists lobbied Congress members to stop deportations and pass immigration reform. (Photos: Jelena Kopanja)

Activists lobbied Congress to stop deportations and pass immigration reform. (Photos: Jelena Kopanja - Click for more)

At four o’clock in the morning on Tuesday, a handful of people gathered on the corner of St. Nicholas Ave. and Linden Street in Brooklyn, waiting for the van to arrive. The morning cold did little to temper the group’s enthusiasm as they were getting ready to head to Washington D.C. for an immigration reform march.

Nicolas Zambrano remembered the last time he made the trip two years ago. There were more people back then, filling up several buses. The economic crisis, he believes, had some impact on Tuesday’s turnout. Not everyone could afford the ticket.

Under the slogan of “family unity,” the event in Washington D.C. brought together some 3,000 people, including religious leaders, community organizers and immigrants who shared their stories about families separated by deportations. American citizens spoke about their fathers or wives being sent back to their home countries while they remained in the United States.

Listen to the story of Peter Derezinski, an activist with Chicago’s Polish Initiative, whose father was deported (English with Spanish translation):



Some Immigrants Going Back to Their Home Countries To Get Affordable Health Care

Patricia Presa will seek treatment for her uterine cancer in Mexico. (Photos: Valeria Fernandez)

Patricia Presa will seek treatment for her uterine cancer in Mexico. (Photos: Valeria Fernández)

PHOENIX, Arizona — A month ago, Patricia Presa learned that she has uterine cancer. She’s decided to go back to her native Mexico to seek treatment there, because she is an undocumented immigrant and can’t afford to pay for health care in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, I need the treatment but I don’t have the money to pay for the expenses. Whether it is the medicine or the doctor’s appointments, each costs me $110,” said Presa, who’s 33. She doesn’t know if the care she’ll receive in Mexico will be better than what’s available in Arizona, but she hopes she can apply for a form of public insurance the country offers to residents known as Seguro Popular. She is married to a U.S. citizen, but because she came across the border illegally she is ineligible to adjust her immigration status or receive health care benefits in the U.S.

Listen to Presa (in Spanish):


The decision by Presa and other unauthorized migrants to return to their home country for medical treatment is further evidence of the link between two hotly contested issues facing Congress and the Obama administration — health care reform and immigration. The ability of undocumented immigrants to access health care services under President Obama’s reform package has stirred controversy and criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. But for the most part, the undocumented themselves have not had a voice in the debate


Census Reversal: Republican Senator Wants Bureau to Boycott Immigrants

First, some immigrant activists proposed a boycott of the 2010 Census to show displeasure with immigration policies centered on enforcement and to demand comprehensive reform. Now, a U.S. senator is calling for the Census Bureau to not count undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

The move by Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, comes as the Bureau has been reaching out to ethnic media and immigrant communities for months to ensure that the nation’s population is counted as accurately as possible, in fulfillment of its mandate.

Vitter’s office announced in a press release that he introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill “that would require questions in the census regarding citizenship and immigration status.”

The amendment “would also prevent states from counting illegal aliens for the purposes of determining population levels and other data associated with the census.”



Status Report: Exhibit Confronts Audience With Mexican Immigrants’ Unseen Lives

Dulce Pinzón portrays immigrants like Mexican nanny Minerva Valencia as superheroes. (Photo: Dulce Pinzón/BRIC Exhibition - Click for more)

Dulce Pinzón portrays Mexican immigrants like nanny Minerva Valencia as superheroes. (Photo: Dulce Pinzón/BRIC Exhibition – Click for more)

Delilah Montoya’s photo project Sed: The Trail of Thirst shows a desolate borderland scene dotted with plastic water jugs. The jugs are road signs, stretching into the uncertainty that lurks on the horizon. Human presence is only implied by the feeling of thirst that the image evokes. The migrant –absent from the photograph but etched into the landscape– is a ghostly reminder of the harrowing journey towards the North.

This image confronts visitors as they walk into Brooklyn’s BRIC Rotunda Gallery where Montoya’s work is shown. Bringing together artists from Brooklyn and Mexico, the exhibit Status Report –on view until October 10th– challenges the physical and philosophical landscapes of borders and nations, and looks at the work immigrants do in the context of both their “home” and “host” societies.

Drawing inspiration from the growing presence of Mexican immigrants in New York City, Status Report looks at their contributions to the city’s economy and culture. There are approximately 288,000 immigrants of Mexican origin living in New York, more than double the number in 2000. While their visibility has grown together with their numbers, the show tries to highlight what goes unnoticed as these migrants labor, often in the shadows of the American economy.


Advisory Group Recommends Scaling Back Criticized Program for Immigration Enforcement by Local Police

Soon after taking office, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to reevaluate several criticized immigration enforcement initiatives. One was the 287(g) program that deputizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Now, an advisory panel Napolitano created is recommending that the program be scaled back, and that agents authorized under 287 (g) be precluded from pursuing immigrants who are not the target of a criminal investigation.

The Southwest Border Task Force presented its first report in a conference call with reporters this week. Most media outlets focused on the recommendation that the U.S. hire more customs inspectors for its southern border. But McAllen, Texas newspaper The Monitor reported that the group said the 287(g) program “should be limited to identifying illegal immigrants in state prisons and county jails and exclude any efforts to track them down outside of criminal investigations.”

The task force made a total of 19 recommendations to the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which will forward them to Napolitano.


Senate Committee Considers Immigration-Related Amendments to Health Care Bill

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Sen. Max Baucus presides the Finance Committee's session on health care reform - Image: C-SPAN

Sen. Max Baucus presides at the Finance Committee's session on health care reform. (Image: C-SPAN)

As the health care reform bill slogs through the Senate, the Finance Committee may consider some 15 amendments related to coverage (or lack of it) for immigrants, Spanish-language Los Angeles newspaper La Opinión reported Wednesday.

The amendments are related to issues including identity verification, who gets coverage and who qualifies for subsidies to pay for it, La Opinión’s Antonieta Cádiz reported.

Democrats Robert Menéndez, Jay Rockefeller and Jeff Bingaman have introduced five amendments, two of which deal with coverage for immigrant children who are American citizens, and the eligibility of mixed-status immigrant families for subsidies.


Deaths of Undocumented Immigrants in Arizona Desert Increase Over Last Year

A Humane Borders volunteer works on a water station in the Arizona desert. (Photo: Humane Borders)

A Humane Borders volunteer works on a water station in the Arizona desert. (Photo: Humane Borders)

The number of deaths among undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. through the Arizona desert increased 20% during fiscal year 2009, Spanish-language wire Agencia EFE reported.

From Oct. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31 this year, 191 migrants died, EFE said. Most of them were Mexicans.

The total for the same period between 2007 and 2008 was 159 deaths.



"Drop Lou Dobbs" – Online Campaign by Pro-Immigrant Forces Puts Pressure on CNN

One of several online campaigns against Lou Dobbs. (Image: Americas Voice)

One of several online campaigns against Lou Dobbs. (Image: America's Voice)

Hispanic and pro-immigrant activists are becoming increasingly vocal in their demand that CNN drop host Lou Dobbs. Dobbs has a history of supporting fringe conspiracy theories –like the so-called “birther” movement that questions whether President Obama was born in the U.S, and one that claimed immigrants were spreading leprosy in America.

The latest of several campaigns against Dobbs was launched yesterday. It targeted CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien, who has Hispanic roots and occasionally reports on Latino issues for the network. She has an upcoming special called “Latino in America” that will air next month.

“Tell Soledad O’Brien that CNN can’t have it both ways. CNN should not make money off of the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., Latinos, at the same time that it promotes the type of dangerous language that has led to increasing hate crimes against those very same Latinos,” said the campaign launched by an activist on Twitter.

This is just one of several initiatives on the web against Dobbs. Presente.org, a “national online advocacy organization,” launched BastaDobbs.com (Enough Dobbs). Miami-based activist group Democracia U.S.A. created another campaign, asking CNN to “to hold Mr. Dobbs to journalistic standards.” Monitoring organization Media Matters, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), America’s Voice and various other groups have put up DropDobbs.com, which aims to convince advertisers to pull their ads from Dobbs’ show.


Parsing Obama's Message to a Hispanic Audience: No Direct Answers on Immigration, Defends Use of "Illegal" Term

Obama sits down to talk to Jorge Ramos on Univision. (Photo: Univision.com)

Obama sits down to talk to Jorge Ramos on Univision. (Photo: Univision.com)

Part of President Barack Obama’s Sunday morning interview blitz was a sitdown with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, in which the anchor’s questions were as telling as the president’s answers.

Ramos confronted Obama not only about whether undocumented immigrants will be able to buy insurance under a reformed health care system, but also questioned his use of the term “illegal immigrants” during his recent speech to Congress and pressured him on his fading promise of putting forward an immigration reform bill during his first year in office.

Obama stepped carefully around the thornier questions and, other than reaffirming that the undocumented will only get health insurance by paying full price for it, did not say much that was news to an Hispanic audience that may be increasingly disappointed with his government.


Religious Leaders Face Deportation: Detention Reignites Churches' Call for Immigration Reform

Pastor Magdalena Schwartz speaks with the wives of the detained religious leaders - Photo: Alfa y Omega Church.

Pastor Magdalena Schwartz speaks with the wives of the detained religious leaders. (Photo: Alfa y Omega Church)

PHOENIX, Arizona — A group of eight religious leaders of the Disciples of Christ denomination in Phoenix are facing deportation after being detained by a tribal police department when they were on their way to a spiritual retreat.

The incident that occurred on Sept. 4 has shaken up the Evangelical church community in Phoenix, which is redoubling its efforts to call on President Barack Obama to take action on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

“We’re planning to send him a letter soon with a group of churches,” said Job Cobos, who oversees the 13 Spanish churches of the Disciples of Christ in Arizona and who is also the pastor of the English-language Larkspur Christian Church.

A caravan of vehicles from the Alfa y Omega Church was driving towards Payson for a weekend spiritual retreat, when one van with nine passengers was pulled over.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Police Department stopped the van because it was driving significantly below the speed limit, chief of police Jesse Delmar told Feet in 2 Worlds.