Recently in International Migrant Discrimination Category

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Migration is a fact of life for millions of people all over the world.  The simple notion of moving from one place to another in search of economic prosperity, freedom from violence, or hope for a better future for one's children, is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is discrimination and mistreatment.

One of the best ways to combat xenophobia and suspicion is to put a human face on the whole issue of migration and immigration. In honor of International Migrants Day, the American Friends Service Committee and the Center for Digital Storytelling, with help from allies at the Newark Immigrant Rights Program and Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, and Amnesty International have each produced a series of migrants' stories.

Their stories are poignant and universal. Hearing their accounts of leaving & loss, and adaptation & survival, brings their experiences out of the shadows and into the human experience that we all share. 



tigres.jpg Tres Veces Mojado - Los Tigres Del Norte

Oftentimes in debates and discussions of illegal immigration, all indocumentados get lumped into one category: Mexicans.  When it comes to migration from south of our border, however, Mexicans make up only a part.  There are many who come from farther away, who have to cross not one, but many borders to make it here.  Those from countries further south - Guatemala, Hondurans, El Salvador, and beyond - face unspeakable hardship in crossing Mexico.  Most are robbed, beaten, raped, arrested, and some are maimed trying to ride the train.   

nativism: a global problem

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I posted last week about an Italian man who was locked up by Customs and Border Patrol for 10 days without cause and then sent back to Italy. (We had one commenter with what appeared to be inside knowledge of CBP procedures come to defend CBP's actions and cast aspersions on the NY Times reporter who broke the story, the detained man, and his girlfriend's father.)  This story was just one more bit of evidence of our deeply warped immigration policy.  The problematic Postville raid and the disclosure of scores of deaths in immigration detention over the past few years are two more.

But for anyone who thought that nativism and government overreach were strictly American phenomena, the last week has shown otherwise. 

One consequence of the myth of sovereignty propagated through our current international political system is the war in Iraq.  Another is our broken immigration system.  Yet another is the skyrocketing death toll in Burma, caused in part by the massive storm and entrenched poverty, but in large part by an incompetent and corrupt government that makes George Bush look like Cory Booker.

It may comfort some in the U.S. to imagine that the first two problems listed above are rooted in the misdeeds of a particular leader, or a particular political party, or even in the dysfunction of the contemporary American political system 

However, these diagnoses are mistaken.  The dysfunctional international political system permits an unconstrained superpower like the U.S. or warped polities like Burma or Zimbabwe to push far past the bounds of civilized conduct, but while culpability may lie with leaders and the voters who support them, the framework that allows such bad actions to persist is structural. 

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.

The United States has failed to uphold its international obligations to protect the human rights of migrants, subjecting too many to prolonged detention in substandard facilities while depriving them of an adequate appeals process and labor protections, a United Nations investigator said Friday.
Teresa Watanabe - Los Angeles Times

Enough said.
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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:  


Winter Rabbit over at Culture Kitchen just wrote an important post on Native American stereotypes in athletic contests.  Most relevant to this blog is the fact that these stereotypes are especially prevalent in Oklahoma.  I'll transcribe from the video Winter Rabbit embedded to explain:

Stay calm, relax

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Greg Siskind brings us word of this horrific story from Hawaii


The mother of a 2-week-old boy said her son would be alive today if they and his traveling nurse hadn't been held up at Honolulu International Airport by customs personnel.

Luaipou Futi of American Samoa spoke through an interpreter during a news conference Tuesday at the offices of the family's attorney, Rick Fried.

Futi's son, Michael Tony, died Friday at the airport after he, Futi and the nurse, Arizona Veavea, were kept in a locked room after flying nearly five hours from American Samoa so the child could be treated for a birth defect, a hole in his heart, Fried said.

Breaking Free

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God bless the Palestinian people.



Which brings me to a new definition of "border" as put forth today by Luis Alberto Urrea:

BORDER, n. 1. An imaginary line imposed on an indigenous landscape by men who are not from that landscape; 2. A line that unites two different cultures and forms an unbreakable bond between them.


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This page is a archive of recent entries in the International Migrant Discrimination category.

ICE raids is the previous category.

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