David Bennion: April 2008 Archives

There are a couple of events coming up soon for those in the New York metro area who want to make their voices heard to convince America to repeal our draconian immigration laws and give migrants a fair shake.

The May 1 rally at Union Square is the place to go for all your 2008 migration protest needs.

And there is a new documentary on the migration debate in the U.S. that looks very promising--free screening before the rally on May 1.

But first, a vigil on April 26 to promote passage of the Child Citizen Protection Act (CCPA) (details on all these events below).
CNN reports on another Haitian migration tragedy (via Immigration Prof Blog): 

The bodies of 20 migrants have been recovered from the sea near the Bahamas after their boat apparently capsized, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday as it searched for survivors.

The bodies of 19 Haitians and one Honduran were recovered and three survivors -- two Haitians and one Honduran -- have been found, said Barry Bena, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami. Authorities are interviewing the survivors to determine what happened.

The search-and-rescue mission began Sunday after fishermen heard people screaming in the water.

The accident happened about 15 miles (25 kilometers) northwest of Nassau, Bahamas, according to the Coast Guard. A cutter, helicopter and a jet from the Coast Guard and two Bahamas military vessels continued searching the area Monday, Bena said.

Every year, thousands of Haitians try to leave the Western Hemisphere's poorest country aboard rickety, overloaded boats for other islands or the United States.

Soaring food prices have pushed many into abject poverty and triggered riots earlier this month in Haiti, but this has not yet translated into a spike in the number of migrants.

Last year a migrant boat capsized near the Turks and Caicos islands, pitching Haitians into shark-infested waters. At least 61 people died.

In the “credit where due” file, we have the NY Times picking up on the connection between the papal visit and the Pilgrim’s Pride raids.  I complained a few days ago about the absence of coverage of the fact that even as Bush was welcoming one of the foremost advocates for immigrants in the world to the White House last week, federal immigration agents were locking up migrants and breaking up families in widescale coordinated raids around the country.  

The story broadly covered some of the pope’s remarks on immigration:

Even as he was flying to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of protecting immigrant families, not dividing them.

He raised the issue again in a meeting on Wednesday with President Bush, and later that day spoke in Spanish to the church’s “many immigrant children.” And when he ends his visit to New York on Sunday, he will be sent off by a throng of the faithful, showing off the ethnic diversity of American Catholicism.

The choreography underscores the importance to the church here of its growing diversity — especially its increasing Hispanic membership.

Of the nation’s 65 million Roman Catholics, 18 million are Latino, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and they account for more than two-thirds of the new Catholics in the country since 1960.

. . .

The separation of families “is truly dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric” of Latin and Central American families, the pope told reporters aboard his plane. “The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be a need to emigrate, that there are enough jobs in the homeland, a sufficient social fabric,” he said. Short of that, families should be protected, not destroyed, he said. “As much as it can be done it should be done,” the pontiff said.

Quote of the Day

| | Comments (2)
Who said this?

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

Answer below the fold.

Marisa Treviño questions Julie Myers' characterization of social security misappropriation as a significant proportion of the broader category of identity theft.  This, of course, was the primary justification ICE gave for churning through immigrant communities again in its raids this week, leaving the emotional and spiritual equivalent of the wreckage left by a rogue tornado. 

While not trying to minimize the hardships and nightmares that a stolen identity wreaks on its victims, I have to take issue with Ms. Myers' statement when she says - "A significant percentage of identity theft is carried out by illegal aliens trying to avoid detection and gain employment.."

According to a survey released in November 2007 by the Federal Trade Commission, only 1% of identity theft victims report their identity being used for employment purposes.

Since it's known that undocumented immigrants main purpose of using fake Social Security numbers is to gain employment then Ms. Myers seems to purposely exaggerate the facts to paint the undocumented worker as a hardened criminal intent on causing personal harm.

When in fact, it's been reported to be the opposite.

When given the opportunity to purchase the documents needed, undocumented immigrants do so willingly and gladly -- even when they fall victim themselves to scam artists.

The widescale ICE raids in several states on Wednesday surfaced briefly in the news, only to be subsumed by discussion of the presidential primary debate, recession, and the papal visit. 


The coverage these raids have gotten is problematic, to say the least, especially when you consider that the raids are implicated in each of these other three stories.

In a recent op-ed in the Charlotte Observer (via Immigration Prof Blog), presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the issue of immigration reform.  He is known to be supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here in the U.S.  Overall, I think he is the candidate with the best proposed policies on immigration, for the reasons I outlined here.  

But in reading his op-ed this week, I noticed a troubling development.

"Inquilinos Unidos ... Jamás Será Vencidos!"

Thumbnail image for please don't evict me

Tenants from Queens and Harlem came to Madison Square on Saturday to protest Credit Suisse's financial backing of Vantage Properties, LLC, a real estate management company.  The tenants came to protest Vantage's financial strategy of forcing rent-stabilized renters out by repeatedly filing frivolous lawsuits against them in housing court.  Vantage's goal is to speed up gentrification in up-and-coming neighborhoods by using illegal tactics to effectively evict low-income tenants. 

Vantage has gone on a buying spree throughout New York City over the past two years, snapping up approximately 9,200 rent-regulated apartments.  The company has made certain financial documents available to the Securities and Exchange Commission that outline its business strategy.  The company hopes to vacate 20-30% of its apartments in certain buildings within the first year after acquisition, renovate the units, and then raise the rent to market level.

But landlords can't just kick out rent-stabilized tenants--there are laws that prevent that.  So Vantage has come up with a new strategy to "recapture" high numbers of rent-stabilized apartments in western Queens and Harlem for wealthier tenants: harass its rent-stabilized tenants through frivolous lawsuits until they pack up and leave on their own.

Update: Read more about this story at the Daily News.  (I'm also told it was in El Diario, but I can't seem to find it.  If anyone else does, please let me know in comments.)


In light of widespread predawn raids as part of Operation Return to Sender, the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) prepared an informational video on how to prepare for an ICE raid.

The video plays out different scenarios in which undocumented immigrants commonly come into contact with ICE or local law enforcement, including workplace and home raids, as well as routine traffic stops.  In the clip, you see people reacting in ways that can reduce their risk of being deported, and you see people reacting in ways that greatly increase that risk.  The narrators explain how to assert your rights in different situations.  It is worth watching--certainly for migrants--but also for friends, family, and advocates who might be in a position to explain to others what to do and what not to do when confronted by ICE.

The video can be ordered here and a subtitled Spanish/English version can be viewed here.

CHIRLA edited a shorter version for YouTube (currently w/o subtitles), above, which at present appears to be sadly underviewed.  Help get the word out about this great resource and get those page views up! 

The "Know Your Rights" card described in the video can be printed up here (pdf).  CASA of Maryland also has a good illustrated guide for preparing for an ICE raid available in English and Spanish (pdfs).   

Brent Renison, the Oregon attorney who has been working tirelessly to eliminate the nonsensical "widow penalty," appeared recently on NPR's "This American Life" with Ira Glass.  You can check it out here (scroll through to nearly the halfway mark to the start of the segment: "This American Wife"). 

Meanwhile, the federal class action lawsuit to extend to the rest of the nation the exemption to the penalty currently only available to people living in the Ninth Circuit continues apace.  So far so good for Renison and his diligent co-counsel, Alan Diamante, and the hundreds (possibly thousands) of widows and widowers whose hopes rest with federal litigation and efforts to convince Congress to end this inane and unfair penalty. 

Visit the Surviving Spouses Against Deportation (SSAD) website for more information.
[T]he race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong ... 
Ecclesiastes 9:11

Restrictionists are still pushing their pet legislation through Congress--as if the current laws aren't bad enough.  Please take a moment to visit Orcinus for a list of wavering Democrats who are under pressure to accede to nativist efforts to push the misguided SAVE Act through the House. 

They could use your calls and emails to let them know that we are a migrant nation and the SAVE Act would be a big capitulation to the politics of fear and hate! 

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see if your Rep is on the list.  If so, give them a call!