Powerful video. this week.
Here is the Univision report on refugees in Juarez expelled from the U.S.
Powerful video. this week.
Here is the Univision report on refugees in Juarez expelled from the U.S.
Last week, thousands of immigrant workers and families took the streets of D.C. to kick off the next phase of our fight for permanent protection, dignity, and respect.
Marking International Worker's Day and the 100th day of Joe Biden's administration, we mobilized on Friday and Saturday to send a clear message to our community: we can and must fight for what we actually need — not just what the Democratic Party thinks is politically convenient.
It was so powerful to see so many Cosecha leaders (and immigrant leaders from our partner organizations, like Familias Unidas en Acción in New Orleans and Justicia Migrante in Vermont) come together. Many of us took off work and traveled for many hours with our families to be part of the "Papers, Not Crumbs" mobilization.
On Friday, the 100th day of Joe Biden's administration, over forty immigrants and allies blocked traffic around the White House for several hours. Undocumented immigrants were willing to risk arrest (and possible deportation) to highlight Biden's broken promises to our community.
In the end, we shut down traffic around the White House and over 30 allies were arrested, standing in solidarity with undocumented immigrants.
Throughout the action, reporters asked us why we needed to take such bold action. President Biden says he supports immigration reform for all 11 million. Shouldn't we give him a chance to actually get it done?
The reality is, we've been down that road before. For years, we lived with the hope that Obama and the Democrats would give us a pathway to citizenship, when the time was finally "right". It never happened, and millions were deported and remain separated from their families. This time, we refuse to let history repeat itself.
Instead of putting our faith in politicians who negotiate with our pain to advance their own political agendas—we are putting faith in ourselves, the immigrant workers who have always sustained this country.
On May 1, we were joined by hundreds more immigrants from all across the country, who traveled from dozens of cities on more than 30 buses, all so we could come together to demand papers, not crumbs.
To me, "papers, not crumbs" means finally ending the cycle of broken promises and compromises from politicians. It means rejecting the Democratic Party's strategy of dividing our community into "Dreamers" vs. parents, “good” and “bad”, “essential” and non-essential. We refuse to settle for meager crumbs: bills that divide and criminalize us. Instead, we will fight for what we really need: permanent protection for all undocumented immigrants.
Duane, I am so thankful for everyone who helped make May 1 possible by organizing on the ground, supporting us in D.C., watching and sharing our content on social media, and making donations. Cosecha has always believed that everything we need is in our community and we saw that again with this action.
If you haven't already donated to support Cosecha's May 1 campaign, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation now to support the remaining costs from these mobilizations — and to help sustain our undocumented organizers throughout the next phase of our fight!
Statement of Teresa Romero, President, UFW
House Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee
From Excluded to Essential: Tracing the Racist Exclusion of Farmworkers, Domestic Workers, and Tipped Workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act
May 3, 2021
Because of our nation’s racism and history of discrimination against farm workers, agricultural work has long been perceived as undesirable work. As a result, many of the country’s most vulnerable individuals work as farm workers. Roughly half of the nation’s 2.4 million farm workers are undocumented23 and approximately 10% of the workforce are H-2A workers, nonimmigrants whose ability to work and remain in the country is dependent on the employer that petitioned for them.24 The lack of immigration status and citizenship means farmworkers are often too fearful of retaliation and immigration enforcement to draw attention to themselves by complaining about workplace violations or seeking improved conditions. In this way, our nation’s racist exclusion of farm workers from key labor protections has perpetuated the vulnerability of agricultural workers, including by depriving them of the political power needed to improve their circumstances.
In conclusion, now end the discriminatory treatment of agricultural workers regarding overtime pay and minimum wage in
the Fair Labor Standards Act. The legislation would phase in overtime pay over a period of 4 years and would give smaller employers additional time to adjust to these changes.
32 See, e.g. Colorado SB21-087, Oregon HB 2358
33 “How much would it cost consumers to give farm workers a significant raise?” Daniel Costa and Phil Martin, EPI Working Economics Blog, October 15, 2020, available at https://www.epi.org/blog/how-much-would-it-cost- consumers-to-give-farmworkers-a-significant-raise-a-40-increase-in-pay-would-cost-just-25-per-household/.
is the time to right wrongs that can no longer be justified or tolerated in a
society where equal rights and equal justice are supposed to be more than academic theories or
political rhetoric. In a world that is ever more conscious of the structural racism underpinning
our society, we must end the racist exclusion of farm workers from FLSA’s overtime protection.
We call on Congress to enact legislation such as Rep. Grijalva’s and now Vice President Harris’send the discriminatory treatment of agricultural workers regarding overtime pay and minimum wage in
the Fair Labor Standards Act. The legislation would phase in overtime pay over a period of 4 years and would give smaller employers additional time to adjust to these changes.
National Day of Action for Immigrant Rights
Sat May 1 throughout California | details
On International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day, we recognize and celebrate workers and their right to organize. This May Day also concludes the first 100 days of Biden’s administration. In the next 100 days, the President and the Congress will decide whether to create the pathway to citizenship for the approximately 10 million undocumented people who call this country home.
At this week’s Moral Monday, viewers were urged to attend Movimiento Cosecha’s May Day Action in Washington DC, where activists and allies will demand sweeping immigration reform. We Californians can show our support at actions taking place across the state. Find a May Day event near you.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson is really determined to sell his audience on what is — and this cannot be stressed enough — a literal neo-Nazi conspiracy theory. Neo-Nazis and other white nationalist groups have long pushed the idea that a shadowy cabal of Jews is secretly conspiring to "remake" America and "steal" it from its rightful owners, white Christians. They are supposedly doing this by "importing" non-white people — who neo-Nazis believe to be mentally inferior and therefore easily controlled by the shadowy Jewish conspiracy — into the U.S.
Carlson's only spin is replacing the word "Jews" with "Democrats," but other than that, he's lifting "replacement theory" wholesale from the neo-Nazi dregs of the internet and now is repackaging this ridiculous conspiracy theory as if it were an inarguable fact, much to the delight of white nationalists. And because Carlson's main modus operandi is trolling, he's relishing the negative attention he gets by hyping a racist conspiracy theory and he's using his audience's love of liberal-triggering to encourage them to mindlessly burrow deeper into the worldview of unapologetic fascists.
Carlson is a moral monster. It's likely he has been this way since his high school "Dan White Society" days. Sadly, he is a monster that must be dealt with, despite the unfortunate risk of troll-feeding. It's not just because Carlson has an audience that regularly tops 3 million viewers, though that alone is terrifying. It's that he is a smart man whose strategy for selling this conspiracy theory is sinister and clever. To fight back, it's crucial that progressives don't fall into the trap he is setting.
Basically, Carlson is pulling off two bait-and-switch routines. First, he falsely conflates any cultural change with his ridiculous "replacement" conspiracy theory. Second, he tries to paint the debate as one over whether change is real — something that literally no one contests — so as to avoid talking about the real issue, which is how it's nuclear-level racist to react to cultural change like it's some kind of existential threat. In reality, it's just what happens if you're lucky to live long enough to experience it.
Both tactics were on full display on Wednesday night, when Carlson took a break from trying to martyrize Derek Chauvin to once again promote "replacement theory" by bashing Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., who was born in Taiwan but grew up in Ohio. Lieu was angry at Rep. Scott Perry, R-Penn., for parroting the "replacement theory," and retorted on Twitter. "And with every passing year, there will be more people who look like me in the US. You can't stop it. So take your racist replacement theory and shove it."
Carlson treated this tweet like it was some inadvertent confession that "replacement" conspiracy theory is real.
"In other words, you're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it, so shut up," he shouted with what can only be described as a maniacal laugh.
Here's the thing, though: Lieu didn't give any game away. Liberals have neverdenied that immigration changes society. Of course it does, along with generational shifts, changing fashions, and evolving social norms. When I was young, people wore low-rise jeans and MTV still played music videos. Now it's skinny jeans (though apparently not for long) and TikTok. Change is inevitable, and generally good, as anyone who has a memory of hair-destroying styling products in the bad old days can attest.
What makes "replacement" a conspiracy theory, however, is that it invents this elaborate fantasy ascribing change not to the normal churn of human society, but to a sinister and hidden conspiracy of Jews and Democrats who are secretly inflicting change to pull off some grand scheme.
That is, of course dumb. It's like "neo-Nazi message board" levels of dumb. Carlson deflects attention from that by pretending that we're debating the factual assertion "change is real," and lashing out at straw-liberals who, though only in his imagination, are pretending it's not.
More importantly, Carlson is propping up this fake debate so that he can smuggle in his real argument, which is that change is bad.
Carlson's whole gambit depends on the presumption that change is a terrible thing. But that belief is both delusional and, on the subject of immigration, racist. As Adam Serwer of The Atlantic recently wrote, the same kinds of arguments were made "at the turn of the 20th century" to argue that "Polish, Russian, Greek, Italian, and Jewish" immigrants "posed a danger." Carlson's hysterics make about as much sense as some man in the 1920s arguing that the bagel is the downfall of American civilization.
Lieu's point actual point was, of course, that people like him are a valuable addition to the American community, and we should welcome the changes immigration brings. Carlson knows that he can't win that argument, especially when reminded of how idiotic such arguments from the past look to modern eyes. As Sewer notes, the Tucker Carlsons of the 1930s were so racist and paranoid that even Nazis rejected some of their ideas as "a bit too strict." So instead, Carlson raves about secret conspiracies and pretends that liberals are hiding something. It's pure projection, of course. The only people hiding anything are Carlson and his allies, who are hiding their true motivation: naked racism.
The "replacement" and "change" language feeds on the very human fear of mortality that is especially powerful with the largely elderly Fox News audience. As Heather "Digby" Parton wrote last week for Salon, "The fact is that we are all going to be 'replaced' by the generations that come up behind us." Change is often terrifying because it's a reminder that time is passing by and that the grave awaits us all. For many people, it's easier to let this sour-faced, middle-aged prep school brat lash out at immigrants than grapple with their fears of change and death. Carlson is a cynical demagogue, no doubt, and that's why he's a dangerous one.
Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.
Join us on Thursday, April 15 at 8pm eastern/5pm pacific, for our monthly general meeting. REGISTER HERE.
This month we will be discussing the upcoming Building the Religious Left Conference and National DSA convention.
These meetings are an opportunity to hear about what you and your chapters are doing and to connect our work.
As a reminder, WG monthly membership meetings are on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 8pm eastern.
IRWG Steering Committee Vacancy
We are looking for some new faces to help head the DSA National Immigrant Rights Working Group as part of the Steering Committee and we want you to join! Please consider applying to be consider for the current vacancy on the Steering Committee and help DSA expand the fight for immigrant rights!
The Working Group endeavors to organize and fight for the full liberation of peoples impacted by mass displacement, forced migration, and oppression caused by global capitalism and imperialism. We will fight to abolish ICE, abolish borders, end detention, end travel bans, and stop deportations.
Women, immigrants, BIPOC encouraged to apply.
Deadline: Thursday, April 15.
Defend Immigrants Rights
( for members of Democratic Socialists of America)
As you may know, the 2021 Convention is coming up this August. As we lead up to the Convention, the Immigrants' Rights Working Group Steering Committee unanimously adopted a Priority Resolution On the Defense of Immigrants and Refugees.
We need 100 signatures before April 15 in order for the resolution to reach the convention floor. A link to the resolution can also be found on the signature form here.
Immigrants in the United States are living under apartheid conditions. Under the U.S. constitution, persons living in the U.S. are promised basic human rights; however, under the current legal framework migrants in the U.S. are disenfranchised from basic legal protections. The migrant working class constitutes ast least 22 % of the working class. This working class population – residents of the U.S., should not be ignored by a socialist platform.
Political projects including the (draft) platform position to treat immigration as only or primarily a subcategory of Internationalism, do not include a substantive and realistic analysis the migrant working class in the nation fail to understand both race and class in the U.S. and thus fail to address our fundamental political tasks.
Of course there is an international component to the migration issues just as there is an international component of the ecological crisis, and the need to rebuild a labor movement and a socialist movement. The world is experiencing a major restructuring of the global economy directed by self-interested transnational corporations. The impoverishment of the vast majority of people in pursuit of profits for the minority has pushed millions to migrant in search of food, jobs, and security. Global capitalism produces global migration. NAFTA and other trade agreements produces a new wave of migration. The economic restructuring of Asia, Africa, and Latin America has pushed millions to migrate to the U.S. in search of a safety and a decent standard of living.
How you can assist ?
If you are a DSA member, please read the linked proposed resolution (above) on the Defense of Immigrants and Refugees as drafted by the Immigrants Rights Working Group. ( IMWG).
If you agree with the perspective, you are invited to endorse the resolution using the link provided. If we get 100 signatures, the resolution will go forward to the convention for consideration. Only DSA members may endorse this resolution.
Please complete your signing before April 13, 2021.
If you are not a DSA member, you may join at dsausa.org
The author and Cesar Chavez, 1972,
Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez Day is a state holiday in California – one of eight states to recognize the date, and one of the few holidays in the nation dedicated to a labor leader. Sacramento and dozens of cities, counties and labor federations will celebrate the life of Cesar Chavez on March 31.
On March 26, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis honored Cesar Chavez and the UFW founders by dedicating the auditorium at the Department of Labor in Chavez’s name.
The Cesar Chavez celebrations focus on the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California. Along with Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others, César created the United Farm Workers (UFW) the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history. There had been more than ten prior attempts to build a farm workers union.
Each of the prior attempts to organize farm worker unions were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing and allied itself with the churches, students, and organized labor. The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the birth of Latino politics in the U.S.
Today, under the leadership of UFW president Teresa Romero only about 8,000 farm workers enjoy benefits on the job. Wages and benefit in farm labor have again been reduced to the pre union levels. Unionized workers are incorporated into California's educational, health and civic communities. The UFW has shown unions that immigrants can and must be organized. Today the UFW is working to pass a new immigration law that would assist farm workers.
Chavez and the UFW are best known helping to create instrumental role in passing the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 under then Governor Gerry Brown which gives workers collective bargaining rights. The law was made necessary by the assault on the UFW of the Teamsters Union. While workers are often able to win elections under the ALRB, they seldom can win a contract. Growers stall and delay until the workers leave the area.
César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others deliberately created a multiracial organization, Mexican, Mexican American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW. This cross racial organizing was necessary in order to combat the prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial and language lines always left the corporations the winners.
In the 60's Chávez became the pre-eminent civil rights leader for the Mexican and Chicano workers, helping with local union struggles throughout the nation. He worked tirelessly to make people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. It is a testament to Cesar Chavez's skills and courage that the UFW even survived. They were opposed by major interests in corporate agriculture including the Bruce Church and Gallo Corporations as well as the leadership of the Republican Party then led by Ronald Reagan. Workers were fired, beaten, threatened and even killed in pursuit of union benefits . Non union farm workers today continue to live on sub-poverty wages while producing the abundant crops in the richest valley, in the richest state in the richest nation in the world.
In response to corporate power, Cesar developed new strategies, such as the boycott, based upon his personal commitment to non-violence in the tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. César Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993 near Yuma, Arizona.
Today Mexican, Mexican American and Puerto Rican union leadership is common in our major cities and in several industries and Latino union leaders increasingly play an important role in local, state, and national elections. For myself and others, the UFW was a school for organizing. Hundreds of activists in labor and community organizations owe their skills to UFW training and experience. Along with improved working conditions, salaries, and benefits for the unionized workers, training this cadre of organizers remains a major legacy of the UFW.
César taught us that all organizations have problems, that all organizations are imperfect. In the last decade several books have been written criticizing the Chavez legacy.
In the midst of several life and death struggles over power against corporate agriculture and the political power of the state, the UFW executive committee did not develop democratic union structures . Marshall Ganz’s book, Why David Sometimes Wins: leadership, organization and strategy in the California Farmworker Movement (2009) describes these issues well.
Frank Bardake, in Trampling Out the Vintage (2011) spends a great deal of time on the purges of UFW activists, organizers, and volunteers in 1977 -1981 period. (See the review here on Talking Union). While the purges are at times presented as anticommunist decisions by Chavez, many of the dismissals were for lack of loyalty to Chavez and his decisions as the final arbiter of all issues in the union. Some of the “purges” were based upon left politics, and some of the dismissals were based upon other differences, including differing views of the best direction for the union. There were dismissals and staff leavings for a variety of reasons. Some of the most significant dismissals were not about left nor right, but were about issues of both policy differences and personal loyalties.
Building popular organizations while messy builds people's power and democracy. In creating the UFW Chavez organized thousands into a union and inspired millions. Today children in schools study his life- although such study is prohibited in Arizona and severely limited in Texas as “revolutionary”, or anti American. Many curriculum packages for schools stress his emphasis on service to others. The service side of Cesar’s work was certainly inspiring.
The organizing side of the UFW legacy changed the Southwest and organized labor. In a 1988 campaign and fast Cesar focused attention on the many dangerous problems of pesticides used in the fields. Artists have captured his image in hundreds of ways. Schools, parks, and highways have been named for him. Establishing Cesar Chavez holiday in California and other states has increased knowledge of his contributions.
The movement led by Cesar created a union and reduced the oppression of farm workers. Many people, descendents of earlier generations of farm workers, learned to take a stand for justice. We learned to not accept poor jobs, poor pay, unsafe working conditions as natural or inevitable. Rather, these are social creations which can be changed through organizing for economic and political power. Dolores Huerta continues her important education and organizing work throughout the nation.
Now, thousands of new immigrants harvest the crops and only a small percent are in unions. The new generations of immigrants and migrant labor hardly know Chavez’ name nor his contributions. Yet, in other regions immigrants are being organized into unions such as Justice for Janitors, by activists who learned their organizing skills working with the UFW. And, Latino political leaders often made their first commitments on a UFW picket line.
The generation that created the UFW is passing. A new generation of political activists, mostly within the Democratic Party, have emerged since the Chavez generations. In the 2006 massive immigrant rights movements, several new organizing practices emerged. The organizing of these demonstrations was significantly assisted by persons trained within the UFW. A new, significant Latino union and political base has been created.
Chavez' legacy to popular struggles, to Chicano/Mexicano self determination and to unions for the immigrant workers is significant. The union taught us how to organize for power and for justice. He is present in all of our work. I plan to march on March 31,2012 in memory of Cesar Chavez' contributions to building a more democratic society for working people. You can find our more about this remarkable leader at www.ufw.org And, http://www.chavezfoundation.org/
Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing. They allied the union with churches, students, and organized labor. The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the growth of Latino politics in the U.S.
The Current Situation – Strategic Racism
The movement led by Cesar Chavez , Dolores Huerta and others created a union and reduced the oppression of farm workers for a time. Workers learned to not accept poor jobs, poor pay, unsafe working conditions as natural or inevitable. Then the corporations and the Right Wing forces adapted their strategies of oppression.
The assault on the UFW and the current reconquest of power in the fields are examples of strategic racism, that is a system of racial oppression created and enforced because it benefits the over class- in this case corporate agriculture and farm owners. The current renewed oppression is a product of strategic racism including a complex structure of institutions and individuals from police and sheriffs, to immigration authorities and anti immigrant activists, and elected officials and their support networks. These groups foster and promote inter racial conflict, job competition, and anti union organizing, as strategies to keep wages and benefits low and to promote their continuing white supremacy in rural areas.
Duane Campbell is an Emeritus Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Calif. State University-Sacramento and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. 4th. edition. (Allyn and Bacon,2010)
He is a co chair of the Immigrants Rights Working Group of DSA.
Asylum-Seekers Expelled by Biden Administration Say They Feel Deceived
Central American families arrived in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez disoriented and disconsolate; many didn’t realize they were being expelled from the U.S.
March 24 2021, 5:55 p.m.
“Bienvenidos a Miami,” the woman in the black jacket mouthed bitterly. Welcome to Miami. An official said this mockingly to her and her fellow passengers, she recalled — all Central American parents with young children — as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plane descended. They had departed from Brownsville, Texas, but they knew they weren’t in Miami, she said. Instead of a coastal city, they saw mountainous terrain.
Three hours later, huddled on a dirty, noisy street by a bridge, most still seemed disoriented. Some thought they were in the United States.
“What’s it called here?” a skinny man with a 4-year-old asked me.
“Ciudad Juárez,” I said. “The state of Chihuahua.” Mexico.
Around us, toddlers wailed, older children stared, and mothers quietly wept. The skinny man summed things up: They’d each been “engañado” by the U.S. government. “Deceived,” he said. His verb choice might have seemed strong, but it wasn’t just migrants who were misled. So were Americans just north of the border.
In February, just after Joe Biden took office, Border Patrol agents on the southwest border encountered about 19,000 people traveling in families with children. Of those, 41 percent were immediately returned to Mexico, including to dangerous border cities. They were returned under Title 42, a health law activated in March 2020 by the Trump administration, nominally to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The unprecedented application of Title 42 against asylum-seekers was seen by many public health experts and human rights organizations as having nothing to do with public health and everything to do with anti-Latinx racism. Immigrant rights proponents hoped that Biden would immediately retire the policy. He didn’t.
Still, most people traveling in families were initially let in. They were held for a few days by Border Patrol and then often taken to church-affiliated shelters where they could call family members already in the U.S. From there, they went to bus stations and airports, especially in far South Texas cities like McAllen and Brownsville. They got tickets and started their trips into America.
Not surprisingly, word spread in Central America — which has been wracked by hurricanes, in addition to coping with poverty and violence — that parents with children could turn themselves in to officials at the U.S. border and have a decent chance of acceptance into the asylum process. More families started coming.
In March, the Biden administration started to backpedal. Border Patrol stations were too crowded with families, the government said. Shelters in South Texas were overwhelmed. On March 8, an overflow plan was announced: Beginning that day, families seeking asylum would be flown west to El Paso, where they would be taken in by Annunciation House, a venerable Catholic organization with multiple shelters that has long offered respite to refugees. The group issued a call for El Pasoans to volunteer at “A-House,” as the shelter network is affectionately known. The city felt proud that it could do its humanitarian bit for the people doing what they have a right to do under international law: seek asylum.
Meanwhile, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, repeatedly announced to would-be migrants that they should stay away. “The border is closed,” he said.ead
I got vaccinated and by late February was primed for a more normal life. For me, “normal” means once again visiting El Paso’s sister city in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez. On March 15, I walked south across the international bridge to take a stroll downtown. I went to haunts I hadn’t visited since before the pandemic: the sing-song outdoor fruit market, the cheese vendor who slices tasting samples, the plaza where two old men in zoot suits dance to a boom box blaring Pérez Prado. It was a glorious day until I walked back over the bridge. There I saw two Border Patrol agents herding dozens of young adults stumbling disconsolately toward Mexico, toddlers clunking from their chests.
Over the next few days, journalists started reporting that some families flying from Brownsville to El Paso were subsequently being expelled. But, they said, Annunciation House had also received families from the airplanes. On March 16, I went to a remote part of the airport and peered through holes in a burlap-covered fence to watch a plane land. A Reuters photographer was there, and we saw mothers and tiny children disembark before the cops shooed us away. The photographer then went to Juárez. Two hours later, he saw the same families.
Migrants arrive in El Paso, Texas, on a chartered flight from Brownsville on March 17, 2021.
Photo: Paul Ratje/Reuters
Local and national press visited Juárez, but the media continued to report that a fraction of families — no one said how many — were still being processed into the United States.
On Sunday, I learned a plane was coming in from Brownsville at noon, so two hours later, I again walked south on the bridge. That’s when I saw the weeping people who’d been told they were landing in Miami.
A group of Mexican government workers usually comes to offer the families help. They provide information about shelters, though Mexican officials have told the press that capacity has been overwhelmed and a gymnasium is being refurbished to make more space.
The woman in the black jacket, as well as others who’d been on the plane, told me they feared Mexican shelters because they might be funnels for deportation back to Central America. The streets are dangerous, the government officials warned. She said she had no idea how to get off of the street. I asked them how many families were still being processed in El Paso. They said they had no idea.
“No one,” said some of the expelled people. We didn’t see anyone chosen to stay in El Paso. We all got sent over the bridge.
Back in El Paso, I asked around. I heard from an activist that when the flights first started coming from Brownsville, some passengers were immediately removed to Juárez, while some were released to Annunciation House. But lately, I was told, every single family was immediately being expelled.
I asked the Border Patrol to confirm this, and El Paso Sector Chief Gloria Chavez responded by email. “Our priority is to process them and expel them into Mexico under Title 42,” she wrote of the families being sent to El Paso from the South Texas Rio Grande Valley region. While the agency had been working with local officials and NGOs to house families in El Paso, she explained, as of a little over a week ago, “the government of Mexico has been able to receive all family units from RGV under Title 42. Therefore, limiting the amount of individuals released to Annunciation House.”
El Paso’s respite facilities have their beds, yet asylum-seekers are being sent back to Mexico. Across the bridge, meanwhile, the good people of El Paso — the local officials and volunteers ready to welcome the families — can do nothing to help.
I Represent El Paso. What I’m Asking For Doesn’t Include Open Borders.
Until we address what motivates vulnerable people to leave their home countries, they will continue to come.
Until we address what motivates vulnerable people to leave their home countries, they will continue to come.
Ms. Escobar is a Democratic representative from El Paso.
March 24, 2021
Many Republicans are eager to blame President Biden for the increase in families and children arriving at the border, but the truth is that this is not a new phenomenon. Since 2014, as Central American migrants have come, generous border communities like El Paso have ensured that they are safe and cared for. Meanwhile, the rest of the country wrings its hands, politicians complain about the “crisis at the border,” businesses across the country benefit from the labor of these hard-working individuals — and nothing changes.
Americans must finally acknowledge that the real crisis is not at the border but outside it, and that until we address that crisis, this flow of vulnerable people seeking help at our doorstep will not end anytime soon.
Presidents’ words are a minor factor in migrants’ decisions to leave their homeland. Overwhelmingly and consistently, Central American refugees tell stories of fleeing violence, persecution, food insecurity and calamitous economic conditions in their countries. Back-to-back hurricanes and storms that have made it impossible to rebuild are new motivations to go north.
At most, what politicians say changes only the tone of the pitches criminal organizations make to the migrants they prey on, pitches of hope with a compassionate administration or fear with a cruel one. Policies limiting legal avenues for immigrants encourage them to undertake desperate measures to enter the United States, making it more difficult for agents and more profitable for criminal organizations.
Closing the border isn’t a real solution. It’s clear that even the most draconian efforts by the Trump administration — walls, family separation, expulsion — did not stop the flow of migrants to the southwestern border. Neither did a deadly pandemic. The Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy put an unsustainable burden on Mexico, and pushing people back into that country fuels even more of the criminal activity that already plagues it.
The Biden administration’s challenge is not just the number of children arriving at the border; it’s also that the previous administration effectively obliterated existing systems and infrastructure (flawed as they were), failed to work collaboratively on an orderly transition and created a backlog of vulnerable people on the other side of our ports of entry.
Politically, it’s never the “right time” for immigration reform. Even politicians genuinely seeking solutions have often been afraid to tackle the issue because there’s no quick and easy fix.
We came close in 2013. The Senate a bill with 68 votes. But John Boehner, then the speaker of the House, refused to bring the bill to the floor. Since then and especially during the Trump era, xenophobia has become useful politically to some as well as a tool of division.
The good news is that we now have an administration willing to work on the issue. It will take significant collaboration and something in very limited supply: patience.
Mr. Biden should engage the leaders of the Western Hemisphere for a summit that identifies shared responsibilities, challenges and opportunities. Engaging Northern Triangle countries, fully the Central American Minors program (which allows children to apply for refugee status in their home countries) and reinstating aid (practices curtailed by former President Donald Trump) is a . But a multilateral approach must include our Canadian allies and address the causes of the migration coming not just from Central America but from Mexico as well. We need a shared plan with a focus on security to combat crime and persecution that includes cracking down on gangs and other criminal organizations and creates accountability for politicians and officials who turn a blind eye to criminals.
We must stop treating vulnerable children and families like a national security threat. We have to rethink our facilities and processes to include social workers, humanitarian aid workers and other civilian personnel at our processing centers to greet those who seek refuge here with humanity. And we need to reimagine the infrastructure where families and children are processed.
We also need to understand that climate change has made some of the poorest parts of our globe too difficult to inhabit. Hurricanes and drought are causing food insecurity and mass migration. We shouldn’t be surprised that populations in hard-hit areas have no choice but to leave.
Another driver is our country’s eagerness to employ migrant labor. A majority of unaccompanied children and families from Central America come to the United States to reunite with family members (parents, children, siblings or spouses) who are working here in construction, meatpacking, agriculture or the hospitality industry — paying taxes, helping their employers be profitable and supporting our economy. Many immigrants are the very essential workers we’ve depended on during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Congress must enact immigration reform. Last week the House H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, as well as other measures that would a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those granted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons and agricultural workers and their families. They are promising, yet they address only a small fraction of the people already living and working here. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has another important piece of legislation that would take a multifaceted approach to immigration, including dealing with the root causes of it. (These bills also highlight why many of us believe we must eliminate the filibuster, which has been an instrument of gridlock for immigration reform.)
The Biden administration must work with Congress to reform the Department of Homeland Security. Border Patrol agents have been performing duties unrelated to their law enforcement functions, like data entry for processing migrants and child and family supervision. Agents should be on the ground, focused on collaborating with law enforcement partners to track criminal activity and apprehending those who pose a true threat to our security.
Those of us who represent border communities can help the administration reshape a system that has focused on border militarization, a flawed and expensive strategy that we should all agree — after decades and hundreds of billions of dollars — is a failure.
If we continue to ignore the facts and use the same failed approaches of the past, we shouldn’t be surprised when we have the same conversations every year. The Biden administration is willing to try new approaches and focus on solutions; it wants to restore order and humanity once and for all. It deserves a chance.
I’m not asking for open borders. I’m simply asking for open minds.
Veronica Escobar is a Democratic representative from Texas.