Granite Staters Call For An End To Deportations That Are Literally Tearing Families Apart

Image from AFSC-NH

What has happened to our great country, a country that welcomed millions of immigrants from around the world, into America with open arms?

We are a nation of immigrants, yet now we evicting people by the thousands who are just trying to become Americans.

“This Administration is deporting more than 1,000 immigrants every day.  It’s time to stop the practice of tearing families apart. President Obama can and should act immediately to halt deportations,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.

Nearly two million people have been deported since Obama has taken office.  These are people with families, some who have children who are legally American citizens.

According to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 4 million U.S.-born children in the United States with at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant, plus 1.1 million children who are themselves unauthorized immigrants and have unauthorized-immigrant parents. Moreover, Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the United States for more than a decade. In other words, most of these people are not single young men, recently arrived, who have no connection to U.S. society. These are men, women, and children who are already part of U.S. society.”
(Research from the Immigration Policy Center)

However the legal status of the children does not seem to make much of a difference to the government who is deporting them.

“New Hampshire people are raising our voices in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters who simply want to work hard and be with their families.  We say ‘Not one more deportation,’ ” said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee’s NH Program.

Image from AFSC-NH

Image by Arnie Alpert / AFSC-NH

On April 5th, the AFSC, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference held a rally in Nashua, NH calling for an “end to deportations.”

Here is just one example from the Nashua rally of how the current deportation policy is literally ripping families apart.

“Octavio, a native of Mexico, said immigration police took him from his home while he was giving his little girl a bath.  When he was deported, his family hoped to reunite in Mexico, but the grave illness of his youngest child forced his wife to return with the girl for medical treatments.  After substantial effort, Octavio was able to overcome what was initially a ten-year ban on re-entry to the USA and win a temporary visa to join his own family, all of whom are US citizens.”   (Dozens Call for End to Deportations at Nashua Rally, AFSC Blog)

“Immigration enforcement greatly increases the chances that families will never see each other again,” said Rinku Sen President of Applied Research Center. “Detaining and deporting parents shatters families and endangers the children left behind. It’s unacceptable, un-American, and a clear sign that we need to revisit our immigration policies.”

A report from the Applied Research Center (2011) conservatively estimates that there are more than 5,000 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.

“The Obama Administration is deporting the very people who would qualify for the legalization we are fighting for,” said Maggie Fogarty.

Fogarty pointed out that the US Congress has mandated that 34,000 immigrant prison beds be kept full, at a cost to taxpayers of $164 a day.  With many of those cells in privately owned prisons and others in county lock-ups that have grown to depend on the flow of federal dollars, the detention bed mandate serves as a driving factor behind detentions and deportations.

John Sandweg, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the New York Times, “We are fulfilling the mandate.”

We call on Congress to stop funding the detention bed mandate,” stated Fogarty.

Due to policies like the detention bed mandate and others, the Department of Homeland Security (Border Patrol) budget has grown immensely.  “The annual budget of the Border Patrol has increased ten-fold, from $363 million in FY 1993 to $3.5 billion in FY 2013.”

Border Patrol Budget

We must act now to stop the deportations, and pass meaningful immigration reforms.

“The House of Representatives should vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that passed overwhelmingly nine long months ago,” stated AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Since the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 last June in support of a bipartisan bill to address our long-standing immigration crisis, America has suffered more than 250,000 deportations, and House Republicans have made a partisan decision not to allow that bill a single up or down vote.”

“At the same time as we fight to end House Republican stalling, we will continue to push the Administration to take broad executive action to relieve the ongoing deportation crisis for millions of workers,” continued Trumka.

As a government agency, the Department of Homeland Security must follow any executive orders issued from the President.  This means that with the stroke of his pen, President Obama could say “no more deportations.”

Will President Obama do the right thing to keep families together, while they wait for Congress to take action and pass a real immigration bill?

RALLY April 5th: Not One More Deportation, Not One More Family Split Apart

Immigration reform for america

NH groups join thousands across U.S. April 5 to demand an end to deportations now

Immigration reform for americaNASHUA – The NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, the American Friends Service Committee and the NH Conference of the United Church of Christ will join thousands across the country on Saturday April 5, 2014 to demand that President Obama end deportations.

“This Administration is deporting more than 1,000 immigrants every day.  It’s time to stop the practice of tearing families apart. President Obama can and should act immediately to halt deportations. The purpose of this action is to strengthen his will to do so,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.

The New Hampshire event will be held in the parking lot at St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Church, 48 W. Hollis Street, Nashua from 10 to 11 am, with art, music and reflections from families who have experienced deportation.  There will be parking available in designated areas.  In case of rain, the event will be held indoors.  All are welcome.

Across the country, immigrants and allies are taking action – including detainees refusing food in Tacoma, WA and Conroe, TX detention centers operated by for-profit GEO Group, Inc. – to stop the destruction of communities and the erosion of civil and human rights.

“New Hampshire people are raising our voices in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters who simply want to work hard and be with their families.  We say ‘Not one more deportation,’ ” said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee’s NH Program.

Immigrants Generated $252 Million In The NH Economy

Immigration reform for america

There is no denying that immigrants built this great nation and are continuing to shape her every passing day.  Every day immigrants are coming to America to create a better life for themselves and their families.  These immigrants are chasing their own American Dream by starting their own small businesses.

Immigration reform for america

Image by Sasha Y. Kimel on Flicker

According to research from the Immigration Policy Center, between “2006 to 2010, there were 4,253 new immigrant business owners in New Hampshire.”  The IPC also found that in 2010 over 5.7% of all business owners in New Hampshire were foreign-born.

If you listen to Fox News, the only immigrants in America are freeloaders who want to collect welfare and live off the government.  This could not be further from the truth.  Those ‘lazy immigrants’ account for a significant portion of New Hampshire’s net business income.

“In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $252 million, which is 5.8 percent of all net business income in the state.”

Immigrants are flocking to our country to start their own small businesses in the hopes that someday they will become rich! And for some, that is exactly how it worked.

  • New Hampshire is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, including well-known companies such as the footwear company Timberland. Based in Stratham, Timberland currently employs more than 5,800 people and has over $1.5 billion in annual revenue.
  • Sonny Vu, originally from Vietnam, and Sridhar Iyengar, the son of immigrants from India, founded AgaMatrix in 2001. Based in Salem, New Hampshire, their company distributes what Vu and Iyengar call the “next generation” of blood glucose monitoring products for diabetes. AgaMatrix invented and in 2012 began producing the first FDA approved blood glucose meter that directly connects to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • In Manchester, refugees from Bhutan opened a market in July 2013. Himalayas General Store provides familiar products from Bhutan to refugees, but also markets a wider variety of goods to other under-served ethnic groups.

The list goes on and on.

We as Americans have always taken pride in being innovative and entrepreneurial.  Many Americans take that giant leap and start their own business. For some the business grows into Apple or Facebook, for others it falls apart after a couple of months.  That – the opportunity to at least try – is the American Dream.

Millions of immigrants are stuck waiting for Congress to give them the roadmap to citizenship they need to chase their own American Dream.  They are waiting for Congress to take the first step, and let them in.

Immigration is a part of who we are as Americans.  I am an Irish, English and Polish “mutt” with roots in New England for over 150 years.  Does that make me any less of an American?  Would it matter if my grandparents were born in Mexico instead of Ireland?  No, it would (and should) not.

People from around the world are coming to the United States; and for hundreds of years we have welcomed them.

Until now.

What are we waiting for?

Now is the time we should be welcoming immigrants with open arms once again – so they can bring their entrepreneurial spirit with them, to help our economy grow.

Senate Republicans Including Senator Ayotte Are Pitting Immigrants Against Veterans

Frag Out!

Frag Out!Veterans have always been political bread and butter.  It has become a game: who supports Veterans more?  This debate has ratcheted up a couple of notches after the budget negotiation reduced the Cost of Living increases for working age retired Veterans (under 62 years of age).

The adjustment in the COLA for working age retired Veterans would save the government about $7 Billion dollars.  Of course the Veterans organizations were outraged over these cuts, and so was Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Here is a little background on Senator Ayotte.  She currently sits on the Veteran Affairs Committee in the Senate, and is married to Joe Daley who is a retired Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel. This fight over retired Veterans COLAs is personal for Senator Ayotte because it directly affects her and her family. This cut will directly affect Joe and his retirement benefits.

I agree that we should not be making these COLA cuts to our brave men and women who retired from the military at a young age.  There are many possible solutions to restoring these cuts and the proposal that seems to be getting the most traction is the one to change the ‘Additional Child Tax Credit’ (ACTC).  It would require the person claiming the ACTC to file their taxes with the IRS under their Social Security Number.

Currently working immigrants file their federal taxes using a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) because they cannot get a Social Security number until they are US Citizens.

This change is a direct assault on the millions of hard working immigrants who are paying their federal taxes and legally claiming their dependents under the ACTC program.  Once again, the only way to get a Social Security number is to be a US resident.  This means that if you are not a US Citizen (even if your children are), you still have to pay taxes, but you cannot claim the ACTC.

The Bipartisan Policy Center stated, “Effectively, this would allow the IRS to deny ACTC benefits to households headed by unauthorized immigrant parents, regardless of the child’s citizenship status.”

This is where the whole plan gets very complex.  For example, there are many households in the US right now headed by parents of a US citizen – but due to the immigration process, the parents are not US citizens themselves.  Even if the child is a natural born American citizen, their parents could not claim them under the proposed ACTC changes.

(Note: Senator Ayotte later amended her proposal to provide an exception for parents of US citizens.)

We are not talking about a few hundred people filing for these credits. According to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, in 2010, ITIN filers reported $60 billion dollars in wages. The Bipartisan Policy Center reported that, “a large majority of unauthorized immigrants’ children are U.S. citizens.”

To me the issue could easily be resolved by passing a comprehensive immigration bill, like the one that has already passed in the US Senate.  We can clear up the tax questions quickly by allowing these parents of US citizens to become citizens themselves.  Making a roadmap to citizenship allows those people who are already living and working – and paying taxes – here in the United States a way to become citizens themselves.

We should stop trying to find ways to punish them for being undocumented, and find ways to help streamline the citizenship process. Some of them have been working on getting legal citizenship for years now, all the while living, working, and paying taxes like every other American.

Now our Congressional Representatives are waging war between Veterans and immigrants to find a way to restore the cuts to Veterans’ retirements.

Here is an idea to solve both problems: let’s stop building war machines that we do not need and put that money back into the budget where it can do some real good.  Like the F-35 fighter jet, which is billions over budget and still cannot fly at night.  Or the hundreds of tanks that the Army and Marine Corps do not want, which are being built just to stored in the desert boneyards, with no intent to actually use them.

By trimming the fat off the DOD budget, we can open our doors to all immigrants, feed our nation’s poor, and create a better education system through proper funding.

Or we can continue to build weapons of war that we do not want or need.

Immigration Reform and the State of the Union

SEIU immigration rally _1

A statement from the Immigration Policy Center: 

Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said:
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The President’s inclusion of immigration as a matter of economic necessity reinforces efforts over the last few years to redefine how we think about immigration reform. Immigrants create jobs as consumers and entrepreneurs and spend their wages in U.S. businesses—buying food, clothes, appliances, cars, etc. This builds our economy as businesses respond to the presence of these new workers and consumers by investing in new restaurants, stores, and production facilities. Also immigrants are 30 percent more likely than the native-born to start their own business. The end result is more jobs for more workers.
The President’s message on immigration extended beyond his speech. Immigrants and immigration activists attended as guests of Congress and the First Lady. Mrs. Obama invited two immigrants to attend as her guests: Cristian Avila, a DREAMer and DACA recipient who recently completed a 22-day fast on the National Mall in support of immigration reform and Carlos Arredondo, a Costa-Rican-American peace activist made famous by his heroic acts after the Boston Marathon bombing.

These guests remind us of the humanitarian nature of immigration reform that cannot, and should not be overlooked.  As we grapple with efforts to create a more just and equal system in which everyone has a fair shot at economic prosperity, we cannot forget the need for a fair and just immigration system.  Deportations that separate families, disrupt businesses, and destroy hopes and dreams help no one and ultimately do not reflect our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Tonight, the President reiterated that he is prepared to use the authority of his office to push a range of initiatives forward. Thus, if 2014 is to truly be a year of action and opportunity, we encourage the president not only to support efforts to complete immigration reform, but to do all in his power to end needless costs—to families, to workers, and to the economy—of an immigration system that does not fulfill the promise of America.

How Immigration Reform Will Help All Workers

Photo Credit: Randol's Restaurant http://bit.ly/1n2bT40

Our ultimate goal should be to help Americans find good paying jobs. Abusing the guest worker program is hurting the millions of Americans who are currently looking for employment.

Every year thousands of people legally enter the United States on temporary work visas.  They use the guest worker program as a way to get their foot in the door, and begin chasing their own version of the American Dream.

Many people, like Senator Orin Hatch, want to see the guest worker program expanded to fill a hole in the US labor market and “meet the demands for workers in the STEM fields.”

Senator Hatch is not alone in his belief. Many business leaders say there is a shortage of workers in these specialized STEM fields.  Why is that?  With the US unemployment rate still above 7%, millions of Americans are out there every day looking for work.  Are we really saying that none of these people have the qualifications to work in these jobs?

No, the problem is that corporations do not care about the workers or their local communities; they only care about one thing, their bottom line.  They are only interested in lowering their labor costs, and they do this by bringing in thousands of immigrant workers.

In a free market two things, supply and demand, determine the value of a product.  The same is true in the labor market. Why else would millions of people take low-wage jobs? Unemployment is high, which means there are plenty of people looking for work. This drives wages down.  If you are not willing to work for the wages offered, chances are there is someone else who will.

This is where the guest worker program comes in to ‘save the day’.  For many years companies have been saying that they do not have enough qualified applicants seeking employment in STEM fields.  Instead of raising the wages they offer, companies began to look outside the US for new workers.  Guest workers flood the market and are willing to work for much less.

Just for the privilege to work in in the United States guest workers are charged outrageous fees by ‘head hunters’.  This has led to numerous instances of worker abuse.   Guest workers become indentured servants, and are treated as such.

Image from REUTERS

Image from REUTERS

In Louisiana, workers in a shrimp processing facility were forced to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, at minimum wage.  They were not paid overtime, or provided any of the provisions guaranteed to American workers by US labor laws.

Ronil Hira an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the author of Outsourcing America, says the guest worker program (H-1B) is “deeply flawed.”  Hira goes on to say that many companies are hiring guest workers before offering the job to American workers.

This is why we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Unfortunately the current immigration bill that passed the US Senate includes and expansion of the guest worker program.  The good thing is that it also includes stronger regulations on employers who use the guest worker program.

As part of the comprehensive reform package new laws will increase the wages for H-1B workers, and protect American workers with new regulations against the ‘displacement of US workers’.

We need to pass immigration reform to help the 11 million aspiring Americans as well as the millions of unemployed Americans.  We need stronger labor laws to protect against the abuse of the guest worker program, for the betterment of American workers.  Reducing the number of guest workers will decrease the supply of qualified workers, in turn increasing the wages for new and existing workers.

Senator Kelly Ayotte Twists The Facts About Immigrants & Taxes With Unemployment Insurance Amendment

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

This week, as the Senate decides whether to extend unemployment benefits, some Senators are looking for “offsets.”  Unfortunately, a fallback for some members of Congress has become targeting programs for immigrants, without regard to the true fiscal or social impact.

Senator Kelly Ayotte Official Portrait

Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

One recurring target has been the Addtional Child Tax Credit for immigrant taxpayers. An amendment proposed by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) prososes to “pay for a three-month extension of unemployment benefits by stopping a scheme that currently allow {sic} illegal immigrants to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.”

Calling a program which allows immigrant workers to pay taxes and legally claim tax credits a “scheme” distorts reality. Immigrant workers—both undocumented and lawfully present immigrants—like all workers, are required to pay taxes and many do so using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The IRS has determined that ITIN filers are indeed eligible to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit for their qualified children. Those who are undocumented pay into a system that makes them ineligible for the vast majority of benefits their tax dollars fund.

Weeding out fraud is important and while there have been some reports of fraud in the program, just as there is in other tax programs, the “fraud” doesn’t occur when an ITIN holder claims the credit. Ending the entire program punishes those who are seeking to follow the law.

ITIN filers are doing the right thing by paying into the tax system with little hope of collecting any future benefits for themselves. According to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, in 2010, ITIN filers reported $60 billion dollars in wages. There may be debate as to whether this is fair or reasonable policy, but it is not a scheme, nor is it fraud. The debate about ITIN filers and the Additional Child Tax Credit should be fueled by honest reporting and reliable facts.

Via press release from the Immigration Policy Center

In-State Dreamers Should Get In-State Rates At UNH Schools

Image from http://pocho.com/viva-los-dreamers/
Image from http://pocho.com/viva-los-dreamers/

Image from http://pocho.com/viva-los-dreamers/

How many times have you heard the ignorant anti-immigrant right-wingers say that undocumented immigrants are uneducated leeches on the US economy?  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this.  That is why I was delighted to hear that New Hampshire is about to consider a law to allow students awaiting legal citizenship, entry into the University of NH at residential rates.

For decades now we have been telling our children that they need to get a college education to be able to get a good job, and live well in the middle class.  Though I agree that college does improve your ability to make higher wages, it is not the only way.  An internship with the building trade unions will also provide a great education in a trade that you can use for the rest of your life.   However that is a post for another day. Today we are here to talk about college education.

Middle class families have been struggling to pay their own bills and this has not left much extra cash to help their children attend college.  This is forcing many students to take student loans to attend college.  This is why many have chosen to attend a local state school, because residents pay dramatically less for tuition.

For example:

In-state tuition at the University of New Hampshire is $13,670 this year compared with $26,390 for a non-resident. At Keene State College and Plymouth State University, the in-state rate is $10,410 compared with more than $17,000 for out-of-state students.” (Nashua Telegraph/AP)

As you can clearly see that in-state students only have to pay about half the tuition to attend school as out-of-state students.

In 2012 the NH Legislature led by a GOP supermajority and Speaker Bill O’Brien, passed a law that required all “students receiving in-state tuition to file an affidavit attesting that they are legal residents of the United States (Nashua Telegraph/AP).”  This means that if you are an aspiring American that you cannot attend UNH without paying full out-of-state tuition, no matter how long you have lived in NH.  I think this is wrong.

I know what some people are saying right now; they are here illegally and they should not be given preferential treatment! Yes, they may be undocumented but is that really their fault?  Many of these students were brought here as children by their parents.  Why are we trying to punish the children for their parents’ transgressions? It is like taking away the child’s driver’s license because their parents got a speeding ticket.

Throughout the United States there are about 1.3 million undocumented children or ‘dreamers’.  How many of these children do you think came here knowing their parents were violating the law?   This is a major part of the current immigration debate.  Should we allow the ‘dreamers’ a chance to get their citizenship immediately?

One of the key parts of this revision to the NH law is that in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates they must have lived here for at least three years.

The students would have to be a graduate of a high school in the state or have gotten a New Hampshire high school equivalency certificate. They would have had to attend a state high school for three years before graduating or receiving an equivalency certificate and have met all the other criteria for in-state rates (Nashua Telegraph/AP).”

According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are about 1,020 ‘dreamers’ living in NH right now.   That means this change would have a very minor effect on the UNH system.

Changing this law would also add New Hampshire to the 15 other states that already allow ‘dreamers’ to attend college as in-state residents, while they are waiting to become legal US citizens.

Since the US House does not want to address the issue of Immigration, we as Granite Staters can take a little step forward to help these young people while we wait for the Congressional gridlock to end.

The NHLN’s Top Five Priorities For 2014

Image from SantaBanta.com
Image from SantaBanta.com

Image from SantaBanta.com

Today we begin a new year and I thought I would take a few minutes to lay out my priorities for the NH Labor News this year.   As the creator and content editor of the NH Labor News, I get to choose the direction the blog moves in.  This year we are going to be focused on these five things. 1) Raising the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire and throughout the country: The minimum wage is so far behind that people are working full time and still live in poverty.  We need to increase the minimum wage to help give people at the bottom more spendable income, which they will spend in local stores and businesses. Raising the minimum wage will also reduce the amount of money that the government shells out in food assistance programs. Raising the minimum wage will create new jobs and increase our GDP. 2) Passing comprehensive immigration reform and providing a roadmap to citizenship. There is no denying that we need to do something to change our current immigration laws.  Every day over 1,000 immigrants are forcibly deported, tearing apart their families and destroying their lives.  These immigrants are being physically abused and are having their personal property stolen. What about the children, the ‘dreamers’, who were brought illegally as toddlers and have lived in the U.S. their entire lives?  Many of these children do not know they are not American citizens until they try to acquire a driver’s license or some other government ID. We need to do something for the 11 million aspiring Americans, who like my great grandparents, left everything to move to American and chase the American dream.   They deserve the same chances that our grandparents had. 3) Postal Reform: Our goal is to bring awareness to the real reason the USPS is going bankrupt on paper.  The truth is that the pre-funding obligation forced on the USPS is what is making it appear that they are going bankrupt. With Congressional Representatives like Darrel Issa pushing to end Saturday delivery and privatize the entire USPS, we need to fight back.  We cannot let they destroy the great and most beloved division of the US Government. We will continue to bring you news about pending legislation and proposed changes to the USPS. 4) Healthcare: Whether you’re a fan of the Affordable Care Act or not, there is no denying that it has helped millions of Americans get affordable healthcare, many for the first time.  Like many laws, there are flaws, but compared to what we had before it is a step in the right direction with an ultimate goal of having a national single payer system. We will also keep pushing to expand Medicaid.  Low-income families can barely afford to survive and need programs like Medicaid to help keep their families healthy.  Over 50,000 Granite Staters would benefit from an expanded Medicaid, if we could just pass the bill. 5) Pushing for stronger labor laws and creating new American jobs: We need to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. We need to pass laws that make it easier to organize workers, especially in jobs that are not typically covered by unions (i.e. McDonalds and Wal-Mart). We will continue to fight against the so-called Right To Work (for less) laws that weaken the collective bargaining process and lower wages for all workers. We also need to continue to fight against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership that will only continue the off shoring of US Jobs.  At the same time we need to keep pushing for laws that increase American manufacturing.  Ensuring that the US Government spends our tax dollars on companies right here at home. We also need to pass a real jobs bill, something that will help rebuild our nations infrastructure while putting millions of people to work. If you follow the NH Labor News then none of these items will be foreign to you.  These are the main items we talk about, and will continue to talk about, until we see the changes we need and want. As long as you keep reading and sharing, we will keep writing and providing ammunition to fight back against the right wing attackers. If you have not already subscribed via email, now is your chance.

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(Not in the top five, but a personal priority for me. I will continue to push for stronger gun laws, and universal background checks on all gun sales. I do not ever want to see children running out of their elementary school again because a man carrying an assault weapon is terrorizing their school.   I do not want to have to write about the sacrifices that six brave educators did in an attempt to protect their children.)

Deportation, Physical Abuse, & Stolen Paperwork; What Will It Take For A Vote On Immigration?

Don't deport my mom

Don't deport my momEveryone is jumping up and down over the fact the House of Representative finally did something!  Yeah, they passed a bill!  The fact is that passing this budget is a big deal for a couple of reasons.

Passing this budget means that we will not be forced into another government shutdown.  The budget funds the government for the next two years.  This also means that Congress will not be jumping from crisis to crisis every three months.

Passing this budget also means that the house can actually put aside their ideologies and pass legislation is a bi-partisan way.  Speaker John Boehner did something nobody expected him to, and chastised the right-wing conservative groups for trying to block this budget.   The question is whether or not Speaker Boehner will continue this rebellion and start to actually pass a few bills in the house.

I know just where Boehner can start, comprehensive immigration reform.  You know the bill that already passed the Senate with strong bi-partisan support, and is just waiting for the House to pass it.  The Speaker has said on multiple occasions that passing immigration reform is a major part of the Republican agenda and it should be done.

Sadly the House of Representative closed up shop for the year. They went back home to their districts without even discussing immigration.  Now we must wait until early January until we see if John Boehner will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Our immigration system desperately needs reform. Our broken system puts significant strain on our communities. It also hurts American workers and legal immigrants, not to mention illegal immigrants, whose families live on the margins of our society,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).

That means we will have to wait about 25-30 days before the House reconvenes and a vote can be held.  In those 30 days over 30,000 aspiring citizens will be deported.  30,000 families ripped apart.  On average 1,100 aspiring  citizens are deported every day.

To add further insult to these people who are chasing their own version of the American Dream, the Immigration Policy Center reports that immigrants are being mistreated while in US custody.

“Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody”. (Emphasis added)

If we put these figures into action that would mean that in the next 30 days while Congress is on vacation and not passing immigration reform, 3,000 immigrants will be physically abused during their deportation.

As if physically abusing immigrants already in custody is not enough, it is now being reported that over “one-third (1/3) of all immigrants taken into US custody had their belonging taken from them and not returned.”  Some items may be trivial, but not all of them. “Among deportees who were carrying Mexican identification cards, 1 out of every 4 had their card taken and not returned. The taking of possessions, particularly identity documents, can have serious consequences and is an expression of how dysfunctional the deportation system is.

The Immigration Policy Center continues:

 Our study finds that migrants processed through Operation Streamline, or held in detention for a week or longer, are most likely to have their possessions taken and not returned.”

How can this be happening?  Just because they are not American citizens does not mean that the US Government can trample their rights.  This is just another reason we need to pass immigration reform.  We must put an end to the daily deportation of these aspiring  Americans.

To bring attention to the need for real immigration reform advocates began a ‘Fast for Families’ on the National Mall.  Many of the faster’s are well known in the ongoing fight for immigration reform, including Eliseo Medina.  The Fast For Families includes bio’s of all of the faster’s, and this is what they said about Eliseo:

Eliseo Medina is described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most successful labor organizers in the country” and was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders” in Poder Magazine. Medina served as the International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 17 years (1996 – 2013)

They began their fast with a declaration.

What is our faith, our words and our history worth if not translated into action, sacrifice and redemption? The world has witnessed the beliefs and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez translate in courageous acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to gain justice for a community of people who were underserved and discriminated against. We now humbly attempt to follow the examples of these great teachers and the teachings of Scripture to align our own hearts with the heart of God, who desires justice for immigrants and immediate justice for the 11 million undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters within our borders. Our faith requires nothing less. Today begins our vow to abstain from sustenance.”

(Read the full Fast for Citizenship: The Moral Obligation to Pass Immigration Reform)

These brave men and women have been fasting for over 35 days now.  They have received visits from many supporters including President and Mrs Obama, Rep John Lewis (D-MS), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and many more.  To bring more attention to their fast, members sent multiple letters to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring the bill up for a vote.

After 30 days of surviving on nothing but water, the fasters have handed the torch over to a new group of fasters.  Congressional Representatives and union leaders quickly stepped up to fast for immigration reform. Every day since, members of Congress and immigration advocates have come forward to fast on the National Mall in their place.

How many families will have to be ripped apart by deportation before Speaker John Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor of the house?

How many people will be physically abused, and have their property and identification cards stolen from them before Speaker Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor?

What does it take to convince the Speaker that we need immigration reform now!