Saturday, December 29, 2007

287g VOTE 1/3!

The Day is fast approaching. The January Common Council meeting has been set for 1/3 at 7:30pm at City Hall in Danbury. The most newsworthy point on this months agenda is the proposed institution of the 287g ICE ACCESS program. Insiders are fairly sure that this measure will be adopted, carte blanche, and unanimously by the common council. For those of you not familiar, the 287g ICE ACCESS program would enable local police to train with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and set forth a partnership where the specific officers who are trained would then be under the direction of, and subject to the FEDERAL jurisdiction of ICE. It would enable them to conduct investigations of suspected criminal aliens, and those facing final deportation orders. It would allow them to conduct raids, and to arrest and detain undocumented individuals who are part of the ICE jurisdiction.

Several serious questions must be raised about this process, which the Common Council at this point does not seem to be raising.

1. How will the program be paid for? Federal government only reimburses a certain percentage of the costs incurred by this program. It does NOT pay for things such as travel and lodging expenses, or food for the agents during the training. Further, once they finish training, the public has not been advised as to which charges will be covered by federal budget. As in, how will these investigations be paid for? Surveillance? Housing of those arrested and detained? WHERE will they be housed and detained? The current police department does not appear to have ample enough space in their jails to house a large increase in arrestees.

2. While the already short staffed police force in Danbury perform these new duties, there will be at least 2 officers who will now be devoted to other duties, specifically those pertaining to issues of immigration. So, that means there will be 2 less officers on the beat to deal with the concerns of the average American resident, and the public safety issues in general. First of all, doesn't the Police already have the authority to arrest and detain anyone suspected of criminal wrong doing? Why do they need a partnership with ICE to allow this? Secondly, with two less officers on the beat handling general crime, will other police officers be asked to put in overtime hours, and how much will that cause the average danbury tax payer?

3. A partnership with ICE can only cause problems in trust between local police, and our Immigrant Community. One of the most obvious examples of how the Immigrant community could suffer as a result of this program, is domestic abuse cases. Imagine you are a woman, undocumented, who is being abused, by a spouse or boyfriend. To even reach out and call the police, for even an American Citizen in such a situation is hard enough. Domestic Abuse victims and survivors suffer years of mistrust and "shell shock" and feelings of isolation from their abusive relationships. In this situation, often, reaching out and telling people what you are suffering can be hard enough to do, imagine then, how much more difficult it would be to report such a crime if you were simultaneously terrified of being arrested and deported yourself due to your lack of documents? Imagine how easy it would be for an abuser to use this tool to further terrify the abused "I'll call the cops on you, and they'll see you don't have documents. So shut up and do what I tell you...". etc. A slippery slope indeed.

4. Members of the Immigrant Community have already privately pointed to situations in which they believe that they were discriminated against, and were victims of racial profiling and harassment due to their culture. Being that this sort of partnership with ICE has the potential to be abused, and to create a situation where frequent racial profiling is used as a tool to catch and deport "criminal aliens" how many of our Legal Hispanic and Latino residents could possibly be wrongfully detained, and harrassed even by our local police? Is there an assurance that common council can give us that this will NOT happen? Have they studied the program deeply enough to know?

These are just some of the questions that need to be raised by people at the Common Council meeting 1/3. The simple fact is, that even for those who may not be on the side of Immigrants, there are enough reasons to halt this process and ask that our common council take it to further study before accepting it. This is not a decision to enter into lightly, lest we expose ourselves to strains on our municipal police, on the taxpayers wallets, lest we expose ourselves to lawsuits incurred by civil rights violations, and less we further marginalize members of our immigrant community (legal, as well as undocumented).

We at Stop the Raids urge you to come down to the City Hall and make your arguments that day, and say loud and clear to the common council "Don't pass the 287g program today!" and preferably, don't pass it, ever.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Huckabee and Dobbs, trained at the same school?

One begins to wonder if all GOP candidates are studying at the same school as Lou Dobbs.

Recently, Keith Olberman made a very interesting argument pointing out the Mitt Romney-esque hypocrisy of Lou Dobbs, the rabid anti immigrant television news personality. Apparently, while railing against undocumented immigrants publically, Dobbs' financially supports the equestrian aspirations of his two daughters, who are showjumping enthusiasts. The competitive equestrian industry employs thousands of undocumented immigrants annually.

Meanwhile, in a very "six degrees of separation" moment, Lou Dobbs not only rails against Undocumented Immigrants, he also has a tendency to blatantly lie, and often twist facts, such as this episode where he cites a massive rise in cases of leprosy in the US, which he attributes to illegal immigration. Of course, there is one small problem. There was no huge rise in cases of leprosy.

That sounds rather familiar...hmm. Who else is now spinning false statistics?'s GOP Candidate Mike Huckabee! Yes, Mike Huckabee, that bastian of republican values, and the hardline candidate on Illegal Immigration. What does Huckabee have to say about Illegal Immigrants? Well, he seems to believe that the largest percentage of Undocumented Immigrants in the US, except for those who come from South of the Mexican Border, are from...Pakistan! Could that be right? Apparently Not. But maybe he got that gem from Lou Dobbs.

I'm sure that every anti immigrant in Danbury was frothing at the mouth when they heard that news, though. Maybe for a minute, they stopped picking on the Latino and Hispanic Immigrants and turned their ire, quite mistakenly, toward the currently Mourning, and Worried Pakistani Immigrant population.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Businesses hurt by new Immigration Laws.

Small business owners, especially those in the construction and other labor sectors are feeling the crunch due to the changing local immigration laws. Business owners say that it is nearly impossible to operate under the strict and harsh immigration laws rising up in individual cities across America, and they are increasingly urging our government to seek comprehensive immigration reform.

Local communities will start feeling the pinch even more in the coming months, as not only is our economy negatively impacted by the loss of workers, but also, as we begin to see more and more immigrants "Self-Deport" as a result of the hostile environments they find in many cities who have chosen to take the matter of immigration reform into their own hands and enact strict anti immigrant policies and laws.

Meanwhile, Legal Hispanic Residents and Citizens are also begining to feel the burn of these harsh anti immigrant laws, feeling that they are being caught in the middle of this battle, and subjected to rising cases of discrimination, hate crimes, and racial profiling per the lastest Pew Hispanic Studies.

The voice crying out for federal level Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues to grow, while anti immigrant and anti latino groups focus narrowly on an enforcement only policy of "Secure the Borders", which has since been picked up as a catch phrase in the 2008 Presidential Debates by both political parties.

While the governments of local municipalities continue to take matters into their own hands, and the federal government refuses to act humanely and find some way toward amnesty or a path to citizenship, the line in the sand between those who value the many contributions of our immigrant population, and those who are apparently hellbent on "Purifying" America.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

They are Human Beings.

As we see individual communities sign on to programs like 287g ACCESS, and as we see communities such as Prince Williams County in Virginia enact very harsh anti immigrant laws, and as the cry from the Nativist Movement grows louder, and more hateful with each breath crying for Mass Deportations..there is one thing that is being forgotten.

These are Human Beings.

Unfortunately, the Nativist Bigots such as those in FAIR, NumbersUSA, The Minutemen, and other numerous hategroups will never tell you what actually happens in an ICE raid. And there will never be a camera recording the way ICE rushes into a home, in paramilitary style, terrorizing the homes occupants. There will never be a camera rolling inside a deportation center, showing you the abuses that occur there, or the children poking out from behind bars as they await deportation with their undocumented parents. And it is that very lack of actual footage that keeps people blinded to the human rights crisis we find ourselves in in this climate of hatred, discrimination, raids, and deportations.

These are human beings. They are not "Aliens". Nor are they Cattle. They are not Slaves. And the vast and overwhelming majority of them are not criminals. They are human beings. Human beings who are working the jobs that many of us would never take. For the wages we would never accept, in conditions we would never tolerate. They are Human beings who have families, that they are struggling to keep united, and provided for. They are Human beings, who are being woefully abused by this system. Both as they work in our factories in horrible conditions, subjected to many work place abuses and violations, and by our own justice system.

On March 6, 2007, ICE conducted a very large scale raid on a leather factory in New Bedford, Massachusettes. Here is one womans tale, one HUMAN BEINGS tale of how she was treated.

Here's another testimony by a woman who was detained in an ICE raid in Illinois.

And this little girl, brings us the often unseen side. The effect of these raids on the children they leave behind.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tereza Pereira, Danbury 11 days in Court.

Teresa Pereira, and the 9 remaining of the Danbury 11 are coming up upon their court trials. These dates, in particular, are their most important court hearings to date, and could possibly be the final trial for those involved.

Pereira, a Brazilian Immigrant who has been here for almost 20 years, and a mother of two American Citizen Children, faces deportation orders for having been here on an expired Visa. However, Pereira had been seeking legal help in regularizing her status, and through many mistakes made by the lawyer presenting her at that time, was not aware that she had fallen out of status. She is currently fighting deportation, on grounds that her American Born Sons would face immense hardship if they were to follow her back to Brazil.

For a brief "refresher" on the case of Teresa Pereira, see this video. (Thanks CT Blogger!).

For a Refresher on the Danbury 11 case, and why this is such a ground breaking case for Danbury, please check in the archives of Hat City Blog.

Arizona : Test Case on Immigration.

The State of Arizona has the eyes of the nation focused upon it this week, as it announces some of the harshest laws penalizing employers who hire Undocumented Immigrants.

Under the new law, which goes into effect in early January, employers who hire undocumented immigrants would face a two strike law. On the first strike, they would face suspension of their business liscense. On the second strike, they would lose their liscense entirely.

This announcement has sparked major controversy within the state, and has civil rights advocates, and business owners seeking emergency injuctions in court, to bar this law from being implemented.

Arizona is becoming a test case in the national debate over immigration, as it will be the first state to enact such harsh legislation. Advocates say that these penalites are already resulting in a mass exodus of Immigrants from Arizona, into other bordering states.

The resulting economic chaos, and structural chaos this will create both within Arizona and in neighboring states, will quite possibly have a huge impact on the future debate of the Immigration Issue. Perhaps the screenwriters of the film "A Day Without a Mexican" should make a new film, this one staged in Arizona.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What do Americans really think on Immigration?

Over and over again, like a sad, and broken refrain, I hear the same message from the mouths of the most rabid anti-immigrant bigots. The sad chorus of "Most American Citizens want these illegals gone". But is that at all based in fact? Schewed studies have indeed noted that Immigration is a concern for the American Voter. However, just how much of a concern is an issue which is hotly debated. Many people place the Immigration Issue behind Health Care, Fiscal Concerns, The War in Iraq, and other issues.

Further, as this report on points out, the true opinion of what MOST American Voters believe should be done in response to the Immigration Issue appears to be quite different than the "DEPORT THEM!" crowd would want you to believe.

According to this report on Angus-Reid, with statistics gleaned from polls conducted by the New York Times, and CBS news:

38% of American Citizens Polled, believe that Immigrant workers should be allowed to stay in their jobs, and eventually apply for US Citizenship.

28% Believe that Immigrant workers should be allowed to reenter under temporary guest worker status, but not be eligible for citizenship.

28% Believe that Immigrant workers should be forced to leave (be deported).

6% Say they are not sure.

While it is clear that this means that there is far from an overwhelming concensus on the issue, the majority clearly does not want to see all Undocumented Workers rounded up and deported, as the old refrain goes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Prince William County, Virginia, Is this the Future of Danbury?

As Danbury continues to wait with baited breath, the next step in the debate over the Local Government's proposed enaction of the 287g ICE ACCESS program, other communities across this country have already begun to enact even more strict, and harmful laws and codes to harrass, intimidate, and drive out Immigrants from their towns.

Take for instance, bucolic Prince William County, Virginia. Where they "Treasure the Past, and the Promise of our Future" by encouraging county agencies to look for ways to deny county services to people of undocumented, or unverifiable citezenship status. Now, let's be clear here. PWC Virginia did pass this legislation. And it is some of the harshest anti immigrant legislation to date. Including provisions that police are allowed to check immigration status on the most minor of offenses (as in..littering or jaywalking), and that authorities are also welcome to check for documents before allowing access to services such as, oh.. parks, public libraries, pools, HOUSING ASSISTANCE, DRUG REHAB, SENIOR SERVICES.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mark Boughton, announced today in his State of the City address, his plan to create a special "Downtown Taskforce" with the aim of addressing challenges to the atmosphere of downtown danbury (i.e blight, etc), and also to make it mandatory for those seeking shelter at the city's New Street Shelter commit to either performing community service, or enrolling in a program where they can "better themselves". Interesting, isn't it? Now, call me a conspiracy theorist. But, just on the threshold of the city deciding whether or not to enact the 287g ICE ACCESS program here in Danbury, a program which would allow local police to conduct federal ICE duties, we also see this new policy about homeless shelters. One can conceivably imagine that in order to obtain services such as drug abuse programs, or other, that perhaps one might need to have some sort of document. It would be interesting to see whether the board of supervisors in Prince William County are counted amongst the ranks of the Mayors and County Executives for Immigration Reform, which is Mayor Mark Boughton's very own anti-immigrant hate group, only, they keep their white robes tucked in their brooks brothers suits. (By the way, Mark, you really should step beyond that oh so clinical stock photography you have on the homepage.)

The good news in all of this? Today, the U.S Commission on Civil Rights has finally come forth and announced they will be investigating these laws, and how they have been carried out thus far, to answer to claims of possible discrimination and civil rights violations since their implementation, and the people of Prince William County have been actively fighting back with protests.

Since the case of the Danbury 11 brought the idea of Civil Rights Violations by Local Law Enforcement to the forefront months ago, here in Danbury, this will be a very important case for Mayor Boughton, and his anti immigrant cronies to keep an eye on, in the coming months. Let us hope that the 287g laws are not enacted here, and that the realization that every move he makes against the immigrant community here in Danbury will be noted, and watched, and reported, makes Mayor Mark Boughton a little less trigger happy with his anti immigrant legislative dreams.

Warning-STRONG LANGUAGE (Strong Point).

While I usually do not frequent sites having any tags related to Goth, Emo, or other distressed lifestyles, this blog entry from a blogger called "Suicide Girlz" came across in my Google News Alerts today, and provided a much needed tone of sanity to the immigration debate, despite the "insanity" of the Blog's Title. I would caution you that the language used on this site, and in the post, is rather harsh, and indeed, vulgarity laced, but the point is well worth the read. Scrape off the rough layers of anger, and look at the quotes, keeping in mind as you do so the so-called "Staggering" 4 million dollar in one quarter "medical bill" attributed to "Illegal Immigrants" purportedly "leaked" by an insider at the hospital to WTNH news in CT.

Studies are continually showing that Undocumented Immigrants pay far more into our system in taxes, than they ever wind up utilizing in way of Health Benefits, or any other benefit.

So, in light of what the statistics, and experts say, regarding the "Staggering" costs of Immigrants to our healthcare system, and how very underwhelming those costs are, especially in comparison with the amount of financial (tax) wealth immigrants pour into our system year by year, this, (amongst many other reasons) poses a serious question about the legitimacy of the so-called "Official Record" from the Danbury Hospital, in general.

As a side note, having been thrown under the bus by a severe case of Pneumonia, complicated by atsma, last week, I wound up in the Emergency room at Danbury Hospital twice. And found myself searching the emergency room for even one Immigrant family or patient. I found not one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Washington Post on the Nativist Agenda in the Immigration Debate.

Interesting article I have found on the NDN Blog regarding the political frenzy which has been whipped up regarding Immigration in this years campaign season. Newest studies from the Pew Hispanic Center, and statistics from the FBI Hatecrimes Database are showing that the number of hatecrimes and instances of other hate-fueled discriminations, have grown exponentially in the last year, as a result of a virulently anti immigrant atmosphere, which is propelled further by the GOP, who see the lives of our Immigrant Neighbors as a toy they can play with, (Judging from their rhetoric thus far) in order to garner votes from a conservative republican populace. Meanwhile, simultaneously, Democrats are appearing to avoid the topic of immigration reform at all cost, and waffle continuously.

While Congress has failed to pass any meaningful immigration reform, all talk of future resolution seems to almost exclude any compassionate/logical path to legalization, or amnesty for those immigrants here now, and concentrate almost entirely on enforcement only measures, which appeal to a anti immigrant agenda, while Immigrant Lives, and Civil Liberties, and Basic Human Compassion, have come under increasing attack in our nation.

It is time that America started looking very closely at this issue, it is time for people to wake up, and take a very close look at the true statistics in this debate, and stopped listening to rhetoric and false information circulated by the Numbers USA, FAIR hategroups, and asked themselves some serious questions.

1. Who are being effected by the anti immigrant climate in the US? Undocumented Immigrants only? Statistics prove otherwise.

2. In a political climate in which our possible participation in Torture (i.e Waterboarding) is such a hot topic, how can we simultaneously decry torture as a human rights violation, and approve of enforcement only techniques to the immigration debate which would tear families apart, put them in deportation centers (prisons), strip away their access to emergency medical care, and housing, leaving many Immigrants in increasingly destitute, hopeless, and untenable conditions? This "Smoke em out" mentality is, make no mistake, just another form of torture, and yet another form of human rights violations.

3. Who are the groups/individuals driving this current anti immigrant/xenophobic (and racist) agenda? Groups like Numbers USA, and FAIR who have been founded by blatant racists with ties to Neo Nazi Groups (See this wonderful article at Hat City Blog)

4. With these being the case, how can we continue to turn our eyes away from this subject, or allow our leaders to do so? Time to turn up the heat, people. For more information on how to become involved, please contact us and we will add you to our mailing list for all upcoming Stop the Raids events.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

150 Immigrants Rights Supporters March in Hartford!

150 Immigrants Rights Supporters Marched in Hartford, In front of the ICE Headquarters this week, and what an amazing site it was. Far from the myth that the Stop the Raids movement is dead here in CT, this march proved that people from many different groups, and from all regions in CT detest the ICE Raids which are terrifying workers, and ripping apart latino families, nation wide.

While the Anti Immigrant groups such as FAIR, and NUMBERS USA would like you to believe that the Immigrants Rights Movement is a dying movement, and that they have indeed one the battle, I believe that this video footage from FOX 61 proves that there are still those who will continue to march, continue to speak out, and continue to stand up to the face of the Xenophobic Madness which is currently fueling these policies which are threaghtening our communities.

NUMBERS USA folks, as is par for the course with Hate Groups, continually bakes lies and misinformation, to make it seem as if their opinion, opinions based deeply in hatred, are the opinions of the majority of Americans. But, when one stacks their numbers at their own demonstrations, with the numbers of those who march in the streets at every pro immigrant rights activity, one clearly sees this as just another lie.

The people are still speaking. The people are still marching. STOP THE RAIDS!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Numbers USA and FAIR created by white Supremacists?

Well, looks like one only needs to follow the trail a little bit, to find the very prevalent roots of groups such as F.A.I.R and NUMBERS USA in the White Supremacist Movement. As if we ever had any doubt.

Those who read and participate in such groups are usually the ones hanging out on the Danbury News Times Live messageboard linked to Topix, and can also be found hanging out at the American Legion on Wednesday Nights here in good old Danbury (*Cough* CTCIC, USCFILE). And are masters of quoting the supposed "Facts" of the immigration issue. Having had runins with members of these groups, and who are rabid fans of FAIR and of NUMBERS USA, I have to say that it doesn't surprise me that they are circulating erroneous information, or even that they have links to White Supremacy Groups.


The mothership of hate is U.S., Inc., an organization created by Tanton that simultaneously funds lobbyists, researchers and media who promote racist views while accepting funding from eugenics, neo-Nazis and wealthy ultraconservatives with a penchant for white supremacy. A former ophthalmologist, Tanton, to borrow a Biblical reference, appears to have a log in his own eye regarding immigrants, especially brown-colored ones.

Tanton made his mark in the 1970s when he chaired the Sierra Club’s National Population Committee, among other leadership positions in mainstream environmental and family planning causes. When his colleagues rejected his extreme ideas, he took a hard right turn toward unabashed anti-immigration with a virulently racist tone.

Chief among the groups Tanton has founded or funded are: NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). All of them are regularly cited in media accounts as valid sources of information on immigration.

Point to this post is, as usual, Don't believe the hype. Not one word that these hate groups circulate, anyway.