Bernie Sanders Gets Immigration Policy Right

By THE NYT EDITORIAL BOARD

NOV. 26, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders released his immigration plan on Tuesday. To read it — and every citizen should — is to be yanked back in time, to an America that not so long ago was having a reasonable immigration discussion and a time when major reform had strong bipartisan support and a shot at becoming law.

But since the immigration reform bill was killed, in 2013, the party that killed it — the Republicans — has dragged the immigration debate to grotesque depths that go well beyond the usual nativist bigotry. Republican presidential candidates are arguing, in all seriousness, about sealing the border with fantastical 2,000-mile fences and weaponized drones; merging state, local and federal authorities and private prisons into one all-seeing immigration police state; forcibly registering American Muslims; mass-deporting 11 million Mexicans and others in a 21st century Trail of Tears; and turning away thousands of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in the Middle East.

Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, turns away from the insanity. His plan starts with the right premise: that immigrants should be welcomed and assimilated, not criminalized and exploited. His proposals seek to uphold American values, bolster the rule of law, bolster the economy and protect and honor families.

Recognizing Congress’s chronic inaction on immigration, Mr. Sanders promises to use executive authority well beyond what President Obama has done. He would protect young immigrants and their parents from deportation, and give “broad administrative relief” to young immigrants, to the parents of citizens and legal permanent residents and to others who would have been allowed to stay under the 2013 Senate bill. This affirms the humane and sensible principle behind that legislation — that 11 million unauthorized immigrants should stay and contribute, not be isolated and expelled. (Continued)

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We’re Spending Billions to Support the Most Corrupt, Abusive Arm of Law Enforcement

By Susan Grigsby
Daily Kos via Alternet
March 15, 2015

These guys are scary.

In March 2014, three women from Honduras—a mother, her 14-year-old daughter and another teenage girl—crossed the Rio Grande near Abram, Texas. According to Garrett Graff’s [3] article in Politico Magazine, they surrendered to U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent Esteban Manzanares of the Border Patrol. Instead of taking them to the holding area in McAllen, Texas, Manzanares put them in the back of his patrol vehicle and drove around for a couple of hours.

    Then he stopped his truck in a wooded area. He raped both the mother and the daughter. He slit the mother’s wrists and tried to break the daughter’s neck, leaving them for dead in the brush.

    He drove off with the third woman bound in his green-and-white heavy-duty Border Patrol truck with a red-and-blue light bar on top, a Department of Homeland Security logo on the door and a U.S. flag on the hood. Somewhere out in the borderlands, the agent left his third prisoner hidden, bound with duct tape.

At the end of his shift, he went back for the girl, took her to his apartment where he raped her. Meanwhile, one of his earlier victims, still alive, had stumbled across the field of a surveillance camera and Border Patrol agents were sent to pick her up. Questioning the two victims led the agents to suspect that a CBP officer was involved and they called the local FBI office. Finding duct tape and blood in Esteban Manzanares’ service vehicle, the FBI agents headed to his apartment. There, Manzanares shot himself after the FBI knocked on his door and identified themselves as federal officers. The girl was found in his apartment, alive, naked and bound to a chair.

Border Patrol Agents conduct an operations check on a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle on the South Texas border.
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. To protect against a secret flood of IEDs on the border?

After an internal bureaucratic struggle that forced him to turn to the secretary of the DHS, the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) [4] director, Gil Kerlikowske, issued a statement [5] that said, in part:

    I want you to know that I consider these actions, if true, to be reprehensible and I know they are not representative of the agents of the U.S. Border Patrol. … I am deeply sorry that this incident occurred and am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent incidents like this from occurring again.

There are two things of note about this story. One is that Esteban Manzanares was already under suspicion [6] for allowing two border violators to go free, but the backlog of misconduct allegations at the inspector general’s office was so great that he was allowed to remain on duty until an investigation could be done.  (Continued)

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When the Teenager Is the Breadwinner

The Fight for 15 movement could free the children of low-income workers from the need to work after school to keep their families afloat.The Fight for 15 movement could free the children of low-income workers from the need to work after school to keep their families afloat. (Photo: peoplesworld)

…An intersection of race, class and gender

By Yana Kunichoff
In These Times

Jan 5, 2015 – Like many immigrant families, that of Iris Sebastian (a pseudonym) has long played a precarious financial balancing game.

Her parents, Luis and Josefa, both crossed the border from Mexico in the mid-1990s. They met in the U.S. and settled down in Houston, where they had Iris, the oldest of four girls, soon after. Thus began the balancing game. As Luis and Josefa worked low-wage jobs in service or day labor to support themselves and their children, the family was in constant discussion about how to save a little here, a little there. Maybe that meant secondhand clothes or going without new school supplies. Or it could mean a few extra nights of work for Luis or Josefa at their second jobs as cooks.

Working two jobs and trading child care responsibilities sustained them through the boom of the 1990s and even the initial dip of the 2008 recession. From 2005 to 2013, both had steady cook jobs at a Burger King in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

That all changed in the fall of 2013. Luis had long suffered from diabetes, and fluid retention in his legs made it increasingly difficult to work on his feet all day, as his service jobs demanded. Eventually he had to severely cut down his working hours. The balancing act became more precarious.

As the oldest daughter, Iris, an 18-year-old high school junior, felt it was her responsibility to keep the family afloat.

“I was telling [my parents] I needed to get a job,” she says . “I always see my mother and she is stressed, I see my dad and his legs are swollen.” She’d tell him, “I know we need money, but I need you to calm down and relax.”

Against the wishes of her family, she, too, took a job. Four or five days a week, Iris works at Smoothie King, a local chain, for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It’s not uncommon for young people to work. Of the 16.7 million young people aged 16–19 in the United States in November 2014, 28.6 percent were employed and another 20 percent were looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, a quarter of Latino youth like Iris are employed.

But what distinguishes Iris is the reason she entered the workforce—economic need. The children of poor families already start off further behind for a slew of reasons, including food insecurity, growing up in a neighborhood without adequate resources, and simply the stress of being poor.  (Continued)

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