Global Citizen: March 2008 Archives

A new Rapid Response Network Hotline (1-800-308-0878) has been launched for migrants in New York and New Jersey to call at the time of contact with ICE.  Please distribute this information in any venues likely to reach migrants living in NY/NJ.  You can find the press release (pasted below) and promotional posters here.

Please note:

  • This number is not intended for nationwide use.  Unfortunately at present this number can only serve migrants in the New York/New Jersey area. 
  • This number should NOT be used for routine immigration inquiries.  It is meant to be called in emergencies only: DURING an ICE raid or upon contact with ICE officers.  This is a crucial time during which detention can potentially be avoided or negative legal consequences mitigated.
Together, we can help prevent raids and avoid the severe disruption to migrant communities that they cause.  We do this by informing migrants of their constitutional rights and by standing up for what we believe against an unjust and inhumane enforcement regime.

[Begin press release]

stock exchange flag.jpgI was having trouble posting a comment to DREAMActivist's tough questions in a recent post at A Dream Deferred, so I thought I'd just put it up here.  It's kind of long for a comment, anyway.  I hope to have more to contribute to kyle and Dave Neiwert's conversation on putting forward an alternative paradigm for discussing issues of immigration and nationality, a conversation that really started before any of us were born and has been going on mostly unheeded for a long time.  I've been meaning to put my thoughts on this issue together in a more comprehensive fashion, but in the interest of continuing the conversation, here is an initial volley.

(Photo by Flickr user bnittoli used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.)

usa-vs-al-arian.jpgMore than thirty years ago, Sami Al-Arian, the son of Palestinian refugees, came to the United States as an immigrant.  He married, had a family, and eventually became a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida.  Five years ago, after years of illegal surveillance of both he and his family, he was arrested for supporting terrorism.

The trial was a travesty.  The government found no evidence (in 21,000 hours of illegal wiretapping!) such as would convict Al-Arian, but they tried to manipulate the emotions of the jury by showing videos of bombings in Israel, implying that Al-Arian was some sort of mastermind of such activities.  The jury refused to convict.  They ruled him innocent on eight charges, remaining deadlocked (10-2) on nine more.

As his continued incarceration was wearing on both he and his family, Al-Arian ultimately agreed to plead "guilty" to one charge consisting of such heinous crimes as lying to a reporter about whether or not he knew someone (this is against the law?).  In any case, the agreement was that the government would release Al-Arian to join his family and leave the United States.  In a last minute shocking move, however, the judge sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum possible for the trumped up charges and Al-Arian was shipped to a back-water county jail in Virginia where he was brought up before a Grand Jury and subsequently cited for contempt for not testifying.  This meant MORE time to serve, of course, so he is now in his fifth year of continual incarceration without having been convicted of a single crime!

what is the what cover.jpg

I'll continue now with the second part of my review of What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, by Dave Eggers.  The first part was here, in case you missed it. 

The book illuminates a rather serious problem for migrants and migrant advocates.  Migrants often come to the U.S. or other wealthy countries with unreasonable expectations.  I remember from elementary school the song from An American Tail: "There are noooo cats in Ame-ri-ca, and the streets are filled with chee-eese."  The intrepid mice quickly find both these assumptions to be false.  Likewise, many Lost Boys seem to have believed their problems would be over once they made it to the U.S.  They were wrong: