This weekend New York City hosts the largest annual conference of left minded people and organizations, the Left Forum. Among the many panels scheduled to take place, several will address issues related to migration and immigration politics.
North of the Border: Organizing migrant workers in Canada will take place on Saturday from 12:00 pm to 1:50 pm.
This session critically reflect on theory and action in migrant worker organizing in Canada. Drawing on personal experiences as organizers and allies of migrant farm workers and temporary foreign workers,the panelists will engage on theoretical insights in a number of fields including immigration, political economy, popular education and law. the panel strives to bridge the gap between theory and practice in migration studies. In particular, they interrogate recent academic claims that an impasse exists within migrant farm worker organizing: a ‘rights-based’ approach stands in direct and explicit conflict with a ‘direct action’ approach. Through this intellectual engagement, panel participants aim to build a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges confronting ‘low-skilled’ migrant worker organizing in Canada and to provide lessons learnt for organizers, academics and activists from the Canadian experience.
Racism and resistance in the immigration debate will take place on Saturday from 5:00 pm to 6:50 pm.
This panel will address how racist, dehumanizing terms such as “illegal” play a crucial role in generating and reinforcing racial animus toward immigrants. This harmful and colonizing language, which is too often granted an unchallenged platform in the media, underpins policies that violate human rights, and hurt immigrants and all communities of color. On this panel, media activists, organizers and journalists discuss strategies of resistance and reflect on the lessons of their own work at the front-lines of the immigration debate. From the movement of “Dreamers”–the immigrant youth who have “come out as undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic” in the media, especially during the Dream Act campaign; to the Nation’s expose of immigrant-bashing former CNN host Lou Dobbs’s reliance on undocumented labor; to a new campaign calling on journalists to “Drop the i-word” (illegal) in their coverage of immigrants.
Creating a Fair Food System: Solidarity Between Farmers and Farmworkers will take place on Sunday from 10:00 am to 11:50 am.
This workshop will focus on labor on farms in New York State and efforts to create better conditions for farmers and workers through domestic fair trade, new opportunities for recent immigrants and immigration policy reform. Farmers in NYS are heavily reliant on migrant workers, both documented and undocumented. We will explore who these workers are, where they come from, and the challenges faced by both farmers and workers. Raids from immigration officials are on the rise in New York, resulting in deportations and extreme anxiety for both farmers and workers. This panel will discuss how we can address these challenges through support for domestic fair trade and reform of our immigration policies. Panelists will describe the New Farmer Development Project which supports immigrants in establishing their own farm businesses and the work of the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) to create a new label, Food Justice Certified, with the goal of changing relationships in the food system.
Pass the Dream Act: How the student immigrant youth is leading the immigration debate will take place on Sunday between 3:00 pm and 4:50 pm.
This panel reflects on how in 2010, immigrant youth & children of immigrants across the nation took destiny into their own hands & united at the local & national level to galvanize support & pressure legislators to pass the DREAM Act. Risking their lives & livelihoods, undocumented youth came forward & openly declared themselves “undocumented and unafraid.” In NY, immigrant youth carried out a 10-day hunger strike in front of Senator Schumer’s office, dozens of rallies, vigils, marches & die-ins. At the national level, there were acts of civil disobedience staged on congressional buildings, hunger strikes, protests, a mock graduation ceremony, & DREAM University in front of the White House. Undocumented youth demonstrated how a national movement with minimal funding & infrastructure can shift the discussion and bring the Dream Act to the political forefront.