Immigration :

Dream ActWESPAC is a member of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition which is working hard to change the public discourse around immigration: http://hvccoalition.org

Open letter in support of Arizona Boycott

<http://usacbi.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/open-letter-in-support-of-the-boycott-of-arizona-by-the-u-s-campaign-for-the-academic-and-cultural-boycott-of-israel/>

27 June 2010

The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)
endorses and supports the call for Boycott of Arizona on account of its
manifestly racist laws, HB1070 and SB 2281.

SB1070 calls for police officers to require documentation from people to
establish resident status. The law essentially requires police to engage in
racial profiling and discrimination on the basis of appearance.1 SB 2281
outlaws the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools. It builds a
pretext for the censorship of books and suppression of historical texts
which are perceived by the state as political literature.2

USACBI calls attention to the similar plight of Palestinians in occupied
Palestine.3 Analogous to Arizona’s policies, Palestinian narratives are
suppressed by the state of Israel, including a new piece of legislation
outlawing the commemoration of an nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine
in 1948.4 Israel also requires identification papers of Palestinians in
order to engage in routine and essential daily tasks. These ID cards, which
not all Palestinians are granted, forces many Palestinians from the diaspora
to be foreigners in their own land and often denies them entry into their
own country or results in expulsion from it.5

Palestinians, like many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, are forced to resist
borders that were imposed on them by foreign powers. In this context we also
call attention to stark similarities between Israel’s Apartheid Wall and the
U.S. Apartheid Wall.6 Israel’s Apartheid Wall confiscates Palestinian water
and land for the sole benefit of illegal Israeli settlements, and strangles
the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians.7

The two walls have much in common – not only because both are built on land
that was occupied by conquest, that displace indigenous people, and that
separate families, but also because these walls are built by the same
colonial forces. The Israeli firm, Elbit Systems, played a leading role in
the construction of both walls.8 Naomi Klein warned that the U.S. Apartheid
Wall (which the U.S., like Israel, calls a “fence”) will have similar
consequences to the one on Palestinian land:

In April 2007, special immigration agents with the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, working along the Mexican border, went through an
intensive eight-day training course put on by the Golan Group. The Golan
Group was founded by ex-Israeli Special Forces officers and boasts more than
3,500 employees in seven countries. “Essentially we put an Israeli security
spin on our procedures,” Thomas Pearson, the company’s head of operations,
explained of the training course, which covered everything from hand-to-hand
combat to target practice to “getting proactive with their SUV.” The Golan
Group, now based in Florida but still marketing its Israeli advantage, also
produces X-ray machines, metal detectors, and rifles. In addition to many
governments and celebrities, its clients include ExxonMobil, Shell, Texaco,
Levi’s, Sony, Citigroup, and Pizza Hut.”9

The U.S. Wall will further segregate border communities, break families
apart, and increase the number of deaths on the border as migrant workers
are pushed deeper into the desert.

Both walls protect imperial interests, not those of indigenous people whose
rights are violated by these states and their structures. Like Israeli
settlers
, militia organizations like the Minute Men have found legitimacy
for attacking economic refugees crossing the border. These armed, racist
groups find their counterparts in groups of Israeli settlers shooting at
Palestinian farmers attempting to access their own land, visit families, or
travel between home and work.

USACBI expresses its solidarity with organizations that strive for equality
and justice of oppressed indigenous peoples, particularly the move to
boycott Arizona until it reverses these racist laws. We call on others to
join us in the boycott of Arizona10 and to build divestment campaigns
targeting companies like Elbit that profit from the oppression of indigenous
people on stolen land whether in the U.S. or Palestine.11

USACBI
www.usacbi.org
uscom4acbi[at]gmail.com

1 Guy Adams, “Arizona boycotted over ‘Nazi’ purge of migrants.” The
Independent
. 14 May 2010.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/arizona-boycotted-over-nazi-purge-of-migrants-1973028.html.
http://www.altoarizona.com/about.html.

2 Jessica Calefati, “Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies.” Mother Jones. 12 May
2010. http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/05/ethnic-studies-banned-arizona.

3 “Solidarity Letter from Mexico to the Palestinian People.” Palestine
Monitor. 20 April 2008.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article377.

4 http://www.badil.org/en/press-releases/135-2010/2179-press-en-18.

5 http://www.righttoenter.ps/.

6 “Death on the U.S.-Mexico Border.” Socialist Worker. 7 March 2009.
http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=17252 and Jimmy Johnson,
“Palestine-Mexico Border.” Tadamon. 3 May 2010.
http://www.tadamon.ca/post/6394.

7 http://stopthewall.org/internationallaw/1001.shtml

8 http://www.wri-irg.org/de/node/9663.

9 Naomi Klein, *The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism*. (New
York: Metropolitan Books, 2007), 438.

10 Dave Zirin, “Who’s afraid of a boycott?” Socialist Worker. 12 May 2010.
http://socialistworker.org/2010/05/12/whos-afraid-of-a-boycott. Sean
Michaels, “Rage Against the Machine Lead Arizona Boycott.” Common Dreams 27
May 2010. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/27-3.

11 Adri Nieuwhof, “Scandanavian financial institutions drop Elbit due to BDS
pressure.” The Electronic Intifada. 19 February 2010.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11084.shtml.

 

 

Comprehensive and Inclusive Immigration Reform




Comprehensive=Inclusive Immigration Reform

US Immigration law is based upon the principle of family unification, and when an American citizen or legal permanent resident falls in love with someone from another country, they are allowed to petition to bring their fiancé or spouse into the US.

 

This does not if you’re gay or lesbian and I learned this first-hand when I met my partner.

 

I’m a US citizen, born and raised in New York. My grandparents came to the US as immigrants and that was about as familiar as I was with our immigration laws – completely ignorant of how next-to-impossible it is to come here legally.

 

After discovering there was no legal way for me to bring my partner here, I moved to Europe in order for us to be together. A year later, a former employer contacted me and offered me a job back in the US. After lengthy e-mail and phone call discussions, they agreed to sponsor a training visa for my partner, good for 18 months, so he could move with me. Shortly after arriving in the US, our attorney advised us to approach the employer to file for a skilled worker visa, which would give us more time here and a possible path to a green card. The employer agreed to do this, but we had to cover the expenses (both visas totaled over $10,000).

 

Later that year, we travelled back to Europe and received the skilled worker visa, and then a few months later, the company almost went bankrupt. They let my partner know his position was being eliminated, and after consulting with the attorney, discovered this meant we’d have to leave again (once a work visa is ended through job loss, the employee becomes undocumented). It felt like the whole world came crashing down that day. We rushed to find another job for my partner, and luckily, miraculously, within a week we did, and they agreed to sponsor another visa and possibly a green card down the line.

 

After this, everything was moving along great. We bought an apartment together in Westchester and were enjoying the life we were building here with family and friends. Then the economy took a turn for the worst and my partner’s new employer notified him that they would be eliminating his job. Once again, our world was turned upside down. Imagine being told you’d have to sell your home, leave your family and friends, and not know when – if ever – you’d be able to return together. It felt like we were screaming in a vacuum and nobody was listening.

 

When we explained all of this to the employer, they agreed to reduce my partner’s hours and allow him to search for another job.

 

Forcing gay and lesbian Americans into exile in order to stay with the person they love hurts American families, businesses and communities. America is losing talented, tax-paying citizens, and American companies are losing talented employees because they are forced to move abroad to keep their family together.

 

 

The US Government discriminates against gay and lesbian couples by not allowing us to sponsor our foreign-born partners or spouses for residency the way straight couples can. No matter how long we’ve been together, no matter if we are married or in a civil union or domestic partnership in any of the States or Countries that grant this right – we are not afforded this basic dignity in the US. At least 19 other countries provide equal immigration benefits to gay and lesbian couples, including most of our closest allies.

 

Like many other gay and lesbian bi-national couples, we are forced to ‘visa-juggle’ to stay here legally. If we were a straight couple, all we’d have to do is get engaged or married to gain permanence legally.

 

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA – H.R. 1024/S. 424) would end this discrimination and would allow me to sponsor my partner for immigration, with the same process, procedures and penalties applied to straight couples – including imprisonment for up to five years and a $250,000 fine for fraud.

 

The UAFA does not redefine marriage and it would not repeal the Defense of Marriage Act law. We simply want the same opportunity to prove that our family deserves to stay together.

 

Comprehensive immigration reform is not comprehensive unless it includes all families – including gay and lesbian families. We are hoping Congress remembers this when they draft the next immigration reform bill.

 

To learn more, please visit: www.ImmigrationEquality.org

 

Thank you,


Tom

[email protected]

Citizenship Summit in Albany

Citizenship Summit in Albany

I went to the New York Immigration Coalition’s Citizenship Summit yesterday. The talk of the Summit was the move by many New York Congressional Representatives who had been lukewarm supporters of immigration reform over to the “firmly committed” column. Now this does not mean that we are well on our way to reform. The other side is organizing using the Tea Parties and other conservative gatherings to identify supporters. In fact, Chung-Wha Hong of the Coalition said that the anti-immigrant groups have a list of 900,000 supporters they think they can mobilize against our push for change. She did say that we are also getting better organized and noted that a few weeks ago the immigrant rights groups generated 20,000 electronic messages to Congress calling for immigration reform.

David Hansell, Commissioner of the state’s agency dealing with immigrants, spoke of the need to confront anti-immigrant hate crimes, particularly in Suffolk County. The state is going to initiate a campaign against bias crimes like the killing of Marcelo Lucero. Hansell also debunked the rhetoric of the anti-immigrant movement which portrays immigrants as a drain on New York’s economy. “This is contrary to the facts”, he said, adding “it is in our best interests to continue to welcome immigrants and encourage their integration”. He said that, in spite of the current climate, New York State expects to receive 100,000 new immigrants every year as well as 5,000 refugees.

He didn’t just talk about citizenship. Hansell helped initiate a new state program to assist the victims of human trafficking and he is looking at ways to improve services for trafficking victims while the cases against their traffickers are going through the legal system. In the short time the program has been in place, 55 trafficking victims have been helped. New York is one of the few states with a law that not only provides penalties for traffickers, but also provides services for victims. This was a law that the New York Immigration Coalition helped guide through the legislative process and that local groups like CARECEN and Catholic Charities pushed.

Larry Frank of New York State’s Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (BRIA), one of the really great civil servants in Albany, introduced a panel of people from Utica. The first speaker called Utica the City that Loves Refugees. Utica, like many upstate cities, has faced tough economic times over the last thirty years. At the beginning of the city’s economic slide, its political leadership made the decision to try to arrest the loss of population, which has killed places like Buffalo and Rochester, by entering into an agreement with the Federal government to resettle refugees. The small city of 60,000 people is now home to 13,000 refugees, one of the highest proportions of any city in the country. The Mohawk Valley Refugee Center helps 400 refugees each year prepare for American citizenship. Elizabeth Bowers from ConMed, a medical manufacturing firm, said that when her workers get sworn in as citizens, their co-workers and supervisors often go along to support them. She said that it really expands the horizons of the native-born workers to have co-workers from all over the world.

Larry Frank’s boss, Tom Hart of BRIA, gave the Summit participants the good news that among the seven states with the largest immigrant populations, New York has the highest percentage of immigrants who are eligible for citizenship who actually become citizens. This has to have something to do with the State’s own efforts to fund community groups that prepare immigrants for citizenship.

Chung-Wha Hong emphasized that citizenship “is a piece of a broader immigrant integration agenda”. She said that “we need to ensure that immigrants are contributing their maximum to our state”.

Anti-immigrant politicians may cling to a view of the foreign-born population as a mass of “illegal aliens” who can be targetted for political points and who are too tame and powerless to strike back. But they are missing the point. Immigrants are becoming citizens in record numbers and they are voting in unprecedented percentages. And they are reading the newspapers to find out who their political friends are.

Open Letter opposing 287(g)

April 19, 2008

To the People of the Hudson Valley:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, oppose any efforts to enlist state and local police authorities in the enforcement of federal civil immigration laws. We believe such actions will undermine trust and cooperation between police and the communities they are sworn to protect, divert law enforcement resources away from far-more-important policing activities, lead to costly mistakes and civil rights violations, and make us all less safe.

Here in New York, the idea of deputizing state and local police as immigration agents is being promoted by State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R–Carmel), who is convening a meeting with local law enforcement officials and anti-immigrant groups to sell the idea on April 19th. Mr. Ball is calling on local law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with the Department of Homeland Security under section 287(g) of immigration law, authorizing police to carry out the functions of federal immigration officers, at local expense.

Enlisting state and local police to enforce federal civil immigration laws is bad public policy for many reasons:

Undermines community policing efforts. Police depend on relationships with and cooperation from the entire community. People will be less likely to go to the police if they fear that they or their family members could end up being deported. Victims of domestic violence will hesitate to report their abusers. If crime victims or witnesses are fearful of approaching the police or reporting suspicious behavior, the entire community is less safe.

Diverts resources away from fighting crime. Checking immigration documents and holding suspected undocumented immigrants who have committed no crime diverts law enforcement resources away from responding to 911 calls and investigating real crimes. Our police should be focused on the real criminals who prey on communities, not on immigrants who are simply working to support their families.

Results in serious mistakes and civil rights violations. Determining whether someone has violated immigration laws or regulations is not a simple matter. Enlisting police to enforce complex immigration laws is likely to lead to increased racial profiling and civil rights violations, as well as mistakes, all of which can expose state and local governments to lawsuits and expensive judgments and settlements.

Shifts federal responsibilities and expenses to local government. The federal government provides no new funds or reimbursement to towns and cities that take on immigration law enforcement. In an era of tight budgets, the last thing we need is to be doing the job of the federal government at our own expense. Congress needs to fix the broken immigration system, not shift responsibility to local municipalities.

The 287(g) agreements do nothing to help us fight crime. State and local police already have the authority to arrest and detain immigrants who are involved in criminal activities and to call federal immigration agents. They do so every day. The 287(g) agreements, however, go far beyond criminal enforcement, authorizing state and local police to go after immigrants who pose no criminal threat. Such efforts would only push immigrant workers and families further underground, making them easy targets of crime.

Like all Americans, we are concerned about public safety and security. We want to protect our families and our communities from crime and terrorism. We also understand that serious and comprehensive immigration reform is needed to resolve our country’s immigration problems. But having state and local police act as immigration agents will not solve these problems, and will only create a whole host of new problems. We urge you to join us in opposing any efforts to involve state and local police in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Anti-immigrant politics must not be allowed to trump common sense.

Sincerely,

Organizations

AntiRacist Alliance
Citizens for Open Government
Concerned Families of Westchester
Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action, Manhattanville College
Elias Foundation
The Emergency Shelter Partnership
The Grand Council of Guardians
Grupo HAGUA
Hispanic Federation of New York
Hudson Valley Progressive Democrats
Keep19/TakeNY
Mt. Kisco Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Council
National Latino Officers Association of America, Anthony Miranda, Executive Director
National Black Police Association, Westchester Chapter
NY Civil Liberties Union Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, Linda S. Berns Executive Director
Open Door Family Medical Centers
Orange County Peace & Justice
Orange County Democratic Alliance, Michael Sussman
Organization of Chinese Americans, Westchester & Husdon Valley Chapter (OCA – WHV); Jeannette Wang, President; William H. P. Kaung, Vice President
Philipstown for Democracy
Putnam Community Action Program, a component of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc.
Rosemarie Bahr, Director
Marisa O’Leary, Assistant Director
Riverdalians for Free Inquiry
Rockland Immigration Coalition – Gail Golden
Rural and Migrant Ministries – Rev. Richard Witt, Executive Director
Somos la Llave del Futuro, Yonkers – Carlos Orellana
Summerfield United Methodist Church, Portchester: Reverend Rafael Garcia
Victims Assistance Services, Elmsford, NY; May Krukiel, Director
Walkabout Clearwater Sloop Inc
WCLA – Choice Matters
WESPAC, Nada Khadar
Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Luis Quiros., Chairperson
Westchester Hispanic Coalition – Graciela Heymann
The Westchester Progressive Forum – Gloria Karp
Westchester Women’s Agenda
Workers’ Rights Law Center of NY, Inc.

Individual signors

Carolyn Adessa, Mamaroneck, NY
Rev. Paul Alcorn, Bedford, NY
Rachel Alexander, Chappaqua, NY
Judy Allen, Putnam Valley, NY
Mary Ann Baily, Cold Spring, NY
Barbara Batchelor
Murray Beaver, New Rochelle, NY
Carlos Bernard, Hartsdale, NY (Board member, Westchester Hispanic Coalition)
Catalina Berti
Jerome Bibuld, Danbury, CT
David Birn Cold Spring, NY
Joyce Blum, Garrison, NY
Barbara Bonham, Orange County, NY
Mariana Boneo, Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaronek
Carol Bouton, Mount Vernon, NY
Frank Brodhead, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Elizabeth Bucar, Wurtsboro, NY
Lisa Buck, LCSW
Andrew Campbell, Mahopac Falls, NY
Jacobo Cancinos, Elmsford, NY
Lauren A. Carner, PhD, Putnam Valley, NY
Anne Carter, Somers, NY
Rev. John Collins, New Rochelle, NY
Sheila Collins, New Rochelle, NY
Janet Couch, Pawling, NY
Betty Cypser, Katonah, NY
Rudy Cypser, Katonah, NY
Dorothy Shays Dangerfield, Fishkill, NY
Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Chappaqua, NY
Don DeBar, Ossining, NY
David Eisenhower, Cold Spring, NY
Ruth Eisenhower, Cold Spring, NY
Debra Feiman, Mahopac, NY
Diane Ferretti-Perillo Chelsea, NY
Felix J. Flores, Ossining, NY
Robin Fox, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Seth Freach, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Margery Freeman, Bronx, NY
Pam Forde, Putnam Valley, NY
Linda Fried Katonah, NY
Carol Gable, Mamaroneck, NY
Lillie Galan, Yonkers, NY
Sue Gamache, Kent, NY
Mary Gault Beacon, NY
Hall Gibson, Town of Southeast, NY
Alan Goldston, Democracy for New York
Dawn S. Gorlitsky, Psy.D., ABSNP
Karin Greenfield-Sanders, Putnam Valley, NY
John Haines, Garrison, NY
Peter B. Hanson, Brewster, NY
Dan Herman, Katonah, NY
Grace Heymann, Chappaqua, NY
Thomas Heymann, Chappaqua, NY
Bryan Hickey Garrison, NY
Janet Howe, Warwick, NY
Delores (Dee Rod) Hughes, Beacon, NY
Judith Johnson Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Phil Johnson, Beacon, NY
David Keaton, Garrison, NY
Nancy Kennedy, Maryknoll Magazine, Ossining, NY
Rev. Kwang-il Kim, Brewster, NY
Judy Kropf, Garrison, NY
May Krukiel, Director, Victims Assistance Services, Elmsford, NY
The Rev. Joan LaLiberte’ Callicoon, NY
Vane Lashua, Beacon, NY
Michelle LeBlanc, Putnam Valley, NY
M. Laura Leonard, President NOW NY Putnam County Chapter
Alan Levine, Esq. New York
Peggie Lieb, Somers, NY
Blanca Lopez, Community Leader, Port Chester, NY
Marcia E. MacLean, Callicoon, NY
Barbara Mair, Action for Social Concerns of Community Unitarian Church, Pleasantville, NY
Jackie Mann, Elias Foundation
Anibal Martinez, Brewster, NY
John McBride, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Prof. Vanessa Merton, Pace University School of Law
David Mitchell, Rockland County, NY
Jeannette Morales, Mahopac, NY
Raymond Morales, Mahopac, NY
Nick Motern, ConsumersforPeace.org
Solange Muller, Cold Spring, NY
Jennie Murphy, Hastings on Hudson, NY
James O’Barr, Cold Spring, NY
Betsy Palmieri, Westchester County, NY
Norma Pereira-Mora, Carmel, NY
Gilda Mora Bravo, Carmel, NY
Nancy Petschek-Kohn, CSW-R, Briarcliff Manor, NY
Luis Quiros, M.P.A.,M.S.W., Fordham University Adjunct Professor of Social Work, Mamaroneck, NY
Martha Quiros, CPA, Mamaroneck, NY
Sheelagh Rabo, Armonk, NY
Darren Rigger, Peekskill,NY
John Riley, Brewster, NY
Joan Rose, Mahopac, NY
Leonard Ruderman, Yonkers, NY
Ann Marwick Russell, Mahopac, NY
Gordon Russell, Mahopac, NY
Raul Santana
Nancy Sayles-Evarts, Garrison, NY
Nancy Shatzkin, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Robi Schlaff, Chappaqua, NY
James A. Schmitt, Monroe, NY
Mary Schmitt, Monroe, NY
Roxanne Seitz, White Plains, NY
Bobbi Siegelbaum, Bronx, NY
Steve Siegelbaum, Bronx, NY
David N. P. Simington Brewster, NY
Martin Smolin, Ossinning, NY
Ralph Stein, Pawling, NY
Bidu Tashjian, Cold Spring, NY
Celeste Theis, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Michael J. Tully, Garrison, NY
Virginia Villegas, Carmel, NY
Henry Villegas, Carmel, NY
Roy Volpe, Kent, NY
Ann E. Wright, Hartsdale, NY
Margaret Yonco-Haines, Garrison, NY
Andrew Zeigler, Mt. Vernon, NY

Hudson Valley Community Coalition

WESPAC is a member of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition that is working together to encourage immigration solutions that include and work for everyone, to expand the conversation about our diverse community and the value it brings to the people of the Hudson Valley.

hvccoalition.org/

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