Community Members Rally for Removal of Border Patrol Checkpoint

On Sunday, December 8th, 2013 community members from Arivaca AZ marched two miles down Arivaca Rd. to deliver a petition to the United States Border Patrol, calling for the immediate removal of the checkpoint on Arivaca Rd. Arivacans and their supporters from Amado, Tubac, Green Valley, Tucson and the surrounding communities converged on the checkpoint from either side to rally for its removal. To read more about Arivaca’s anti-checkpoint campaign and to sign the community petition visit:


Living with Border Patrol Checkpoints

In July 2013 residents of Arivaca, Arizona began a campaign to remove the Border Patrol checkpoint on the road through their town. Local residents speak to their experiences with the checkpoint and the ways in which it has affected local life. To find out more about their campaign or to sign the petition go to

Immigration Debate Brings Strange Bedfellows—And New Hope—to Washington

Submitted by By  on July 31, 2013. On Time

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“It’s nice to be back here amongst old friends and enemies,” Senator John McCain said Tuesday morning as he opened a discussion on immigration at the Washington headquarters of the union powerhouse American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). His comment earned a trickle of awkward laughter from the audience, which included congressional staff members, some undocumented Hispanic youth known as “Dreamers” and a slew of reporters eager to watch the Republican make a begrudging alliance with organized labor.

Widespread confusion over how the House of Representatives will handle pending immigration reform legislation has launched an all-lobbyists-on-deck scramble for influence on the Hill. Delegates from Silicon Valley to the cantaloupe fields of Texas are descending on Washington to weigh in, and McCain is putting aside his history with the AFL-CIO to join the fray. He discussed the importance of creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with labor-friendly congressman Xavier Becerra on Tuesday.

“Treat your opponents, those who disagree with you, treat them with respect,” said McCain, who was criticized by the AFL-CIO as an opponent of worker’s rights during the 2008 election and 2007’s immigration reform debate. The federation of unions spends big bucks promoting Democratic candidates. After endorsing Barack Obama for President in June 2008, they used roughly $53 million of their $200 million campaign budget to run “grass roots mobilization” plugging McCain’s competitor. The group even launched a website, (now deleted), which attacked the Senator’s voting record and his ties to George W. Bush.

The AFL-CIO also worked against McCain’s efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Although Democrats controlled the House when their bill hit the floor, McCain and Senate ally Ted Kennedy were unable to satisfy the labor lobby’s demands, which were supported by then-Senator Obama. The primary concern for labor groups was guest worker programs: initiatives that allow foreigners to reside and work in the United States during labor shortages. Such programs would have won the support of big business and the GOP, but the AFL-CIO worried that immigrants brought into the country under such initiatives would be paid less than the median wage in their respective industries. Ultimately, intra-party disagreement caused the 2007 bill to fail.

But 2013 is different, say labor groups and their congressional allies. In March, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka struck a deal with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Thomas J. Donohue, head of the business lobby Chamber of Commerce. The alliance helped secure support for bipartisan legislation later passed by the Senate. Via conference call, Schumer announced a compromise on divisive guest worker programs. He assured organizers that under the new bill, guest workers would be paid the highest prevailing industry wage as determined by the Labor Department. “This issue has always been the deal breaker on immigration, but not this time.”

Former McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who touted the economic benefits of immigration during a panel at the AFL-CIO on Tuesday, started his discussion by reflecting on fickle Washington allegiances. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more flattered than by the kind of words of Congressman Becerra and my former boss John McCain about my work. But I will tell you that when I was head of the CBO neither of them had a word to say about it. So, time heals all wounds and let us hope that we can get over the wounds of the past efforts on this topic and we can get something done this year.”

Whether or not Tuesday’s discussion helped push immigration reform toward passage in the Republican House—it likely didn’t—the gathering demonstrated that the issue has created powerful, if unconventional, coalitions in Washington. After his Democratic counterpart shared a moving story about his former job as a construction worker, McCain joked, “Congressmen Becerra went from an honest line of work into politics.”

Bring Them Home: Lulu Martinez Checking in from Mexico City

Lulu Martinez is one of the 9 undocumented activists who crossed the border to visit their families in Mexico. Now they are fighting to come back home.

The Obama administration has created a deportation machine resulting in the destruction of over 1.7 million lives, and the devastating separation of those families by the border. Those 1.7 million people are not lost and forgotten; rather, they are people who deserve to have the choice to return to their home in this country. While we fight to dismantle the system of continued deportations, we must also fight to bring our community home.

For more “check in” videos from the activists, visit the National Immigrant Youth Alliance channel:


Undocumented Activists Take a Giant Risk to Return Home

Submitted by Aura Bogado on Tuesday, July 23 2013, on ColorLines

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A historic border crossing took place Monday, not under the cover of darkness or through a desert wilderness but in broad daylight near the Nogales border patrol station with thousands of supporters on the United States and Mexico sides cheering.

Nine people, all transnational activists working with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), are now being held at the Florence Detention Center in Arizona after petitioning to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds. This is the first time a group of longtime U.S. residents who are technically Mexican nationals have attempted to return to the states by petitioning for humanitarian parole. Monday’s action attracted more than 10,000 viewers from around the world who tuned into a Ustream live feed to see what would become of the so-called Dream 9.

At around 1:30 p.m. EDT, the nine crossers gathered for a final press opportunity in Nogales, Mexico, before taking a short walk to dividing line between the United States and Mexico. Eight people had originally planned to participate but Rosie Rojas, who said she traveled for three days to meet them, joined the action at the last minute.

Among the nine activists was 22-year-old Adriana Diaz who was brought to Phoenix, Ariz., from Mexico when she was just four months old. Diaz graduated high school with honors in 2010 but decided to go to Mexico last year because of the fear she felt living under Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  She attempted to attend college there but the country doesn’t recognize her U.S. diploma. Had she waited just three months, she could have been eligible to stay in the U.S. under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Diaz was one of six members of the Dream 9 who were either deported or left the U.S. on their own accord. The other three seeking humanitarian parole landed in Mexico in the last two weeks. Humanitarian parole would mean that the nine would been released on grounds that they don’t pose a threat to society. But authorities have apparently denied their petitions so the activists are now seeking asylum.

While the Dream 9 crossers are now facing the perils of detention, the uncertainty was perhaps more elevated for the three activists who went to Mexico more recently to take part in the action. Although undocumented people in the U.S. live under the constant threat of detention and deportation, there is a relative safety in staying here. Those three who willingly crossed into Mexico are facing the new uncertainty of not being able to return to their respective homes, after having just left them.

Marco Saavedra, 23, who hails from Washington Heights in New York City and hasn’t been to Mexico since he was 3, is one such activist. He has already infiltrated a detention center and is currently in deportation proceedings. But last Thursday morning as he waited for his flight to Mexico Saavedra reluctantly admitted that this border action is riskier than others he’s worked on in the past. The risk of crossing into Mexico, of course, was that he could be denied humanitarian parole and be permanently barred from the U.S. “I’m trying not to focus on that too much,” Saavedra said. “If I did, I might shut down and not be able to go through with it.”

The Dream 9 are not alone in their action. The NIYA is now maintaining a waiting list of people who want to use the strategy; they’re drawn to the idea that there is a humanitarian option. Just hours after the Dream 9 crossed, a group of 30 people who had already been deported to Mexico attempted to cross as well. It’s unclear what became of their effort. Pima County public defender Margo Cowan, who is providing legal services for the Dream 9, said she will support the effort of the 30 additional crossers, should they need it.

As the Dream 9 approached the border, supporters on the U.S. side—including citizens, green card holders, and undocumented activists—could be heard screaming, “Bring them home!” The NIYA informed supporters that the border patrol had sent an email threatening immediate arrest and deportation as soon as the Dream 9 crossed into the U.S. Those moments of uncertainty are traces, in some ways, of the anxiety that some family members feel; the loved ones of those more than 1.5 million people who have been detained and deported by the Obama administration. Yet the nine were not deported immediately, and are now in detention hoping to attain some form of relief in order to return home.

That desire relies heavily on lawmakers whose influence on Capitol Hill could sway the outcome. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Il.) took to social media to say that he hopes “the Obama administration will do the right thing.” But for many, that’s not nearly enough.

“We don’t care if he comes out on Facebook because that accomplishes nothing for us,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, who works with the NIYA. “If the Congressional Hispanic Caucus says they fight for families, they shouldn’t be posting on social media,” he added. “It’s about taking proper action and using the proper channels to make sure the Dream 9 can come home.”

Immigration officials would not comment on the crossing or subsequent detention citing privacy concerns. In order to attain asylum, the Dream 9 will have to convince authorities that they will face certain persecution in Mexico. But Obama and other lawmakers can take swift action to otherwise secure their release. To that end, the NIYA is asking supporters to sign a petition and call lawmakers to keep the pressure on as the Dream 9 are kept at the Florence Detention Center—a facility that is privately owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.

Before the initial eight crossers took their action at the border, they spent several days mapping out how to organize other detainees once they were taken into custody. Their goal now is to not only demonstrate that a humanitarian return home is possible, but to also halt deportations from detention.

Backpacks from the Border

Backpacks from the Border

In January 2009, an anthropologist named Jason De León began spending a lot of time near the United States border south of Tucson. On the Mexican side, he interviews would-be migrants about to try an illegal crossing. On the American side, he collects what is discarded by those who make it — among other things, clothing soiled by the passage and the backpacks in which they carried clean clothes. Many of these items have been exhibited at the University of Michigan, where De León is the director of the Undocumented Migration Project; one of his collaborators, the photographer Richard Barnes, helped select the backpacks for the following pages. Says De León: “I realized that you have this highly politicized social process that’s incredibly clandestine and misunderstood. I just want the public to have a better understanding of what it actually looks like.”


What If Robert Reich Told You That Immigration Reform Would SAVE Our Economy?

Debunking Myths: The Truth About Immigration Reform and the Economy