The other face of immigration from Mexico is African – BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU – 12/10/16 08:22 PM EST

When we think of our immigration legal or illegal along our southern border, we often imagine a poor Latino family, led by a coyote across the Rio Grande under the cover of night in a desperate attempt to reach America.

America’s collective vision of immigration from its southern border is brown, not black.

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

However, Mexican authorities, and those who closely study immigration patterns are beginning to tell a different story along the U.S.-Mexico border.

African immigrants, are arriving daily in Mexico on 20-day transit visas, and paying upwards of $2,200 to be shuttled into America from Mexico to border towns like El Paso in Texas and Calexico and San Ysidro in California.

Exploiting a tiny loophole in Mexican travel regulations they have created a new path for African immigrants to arrive in the U.S. The 20-day window is just long enough for African immigrants to travel from Chiapas in southern Mexico to the border. Unvetted and, these immigrants arrive, live and work in the U.S. illegally.

This may all change with the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to harden the border and bolster the ranks of agents working the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has also promised to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants, which has sent chills through communities where undocumented African immigrants live.

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Images from US Border Patrol facility reveal harsh conditions for immigrants – Ed Pilkington Thursday 18 August 2016 15.02 EDT

Footage unsealed by federal judge gives most damning evidence yet of what some call abusive conditions for people detained at southern US border

Tucson detention facility

The photograph, a still image drawn from video footage captured by a security camera, shows a mass of cylindrical shapes squashed together in a box and wrapped in what appears to be silver foil, their surfaces glistening like sardines in a tin.

The shapes are not sardines, however, but human beings. And they are wrapped not in foil but in emergency blankets, handed out to them as they were put into a cramped detention center at the US border, courtesy of the federal agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The image, and several others like it released on Thursday at the order of a federal judge, gives the most damning evidence yet seen of the exceptionally harsh and some say abusive conditions to which immigrants are subjected when detained at the southern US border with Mexico.

Previously held under seal in a federal lawsuit in which the CBP is being sued for allegedly degrading and unconstitutional treatment of its charges, the photos offer a window into a world that until now has been rarely seen.

The shapes disclose that about 15 immigrant detainees were packed into a single cell at the Border Patrol’s facility in Tucson, Arizona. They are wrapped from head to toe in Mylar aluminium sheets for warmth, and appear to be lying directly on top of the concrete floor with no mattressing or other bedding of any sort.

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A barrier to clean water in Flint, Michigan: a government-issued ID – Updated by Dara Lind on January 25, 2016, 1:40 p.m. ET

The Flint water crisis is a nightmare for all residents. But it’s worst for unauthorized immigrants.

Water, water everywhere ... but you might be asked for ID.  -- Sarah Rice/Getty

Water, water everywhere … but you might be asked for ID. — Sarah Rice/Getty

The water in Flint, Michigan, isn’t safe to drink, but most residents have alternatives. They can pick up bottled water at National Guard–operated distribution centers or, even better, obtain a filter that will remove the toxic amounts of lead from the city’s public taps.

But for the city’s 1,000 unauthorized immigrants, getting help isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Most unauthorized immigrants don’t have IDs (at least not IDs issued by American governments). And asking for ID, whether it’s intended to limit aid to people who are here legally or simply to make sure no one person takes more than her fair share, has a serious chilling effect: Immigrants don’t feel comfortable asking for water.

Here’s what one of Flint’s unauthorized immigrants told local news station ABC 12:

Lucia heard about lead in Flint’s water four months ago from her son. Since then, she’s been buying bottled water – and she won’t get close to a distribution center after a recent experience.

“I got close to see what they were giving out, and it was water. And the first thing they asked me for was my license,” she said.

The same is true for filters. Immigration attorney Victoria Arteaga told WIVB, “I have been to an office where I’ve said I need water. They said, I need a state ID, a valid state ID, and proof that you are a resident of the city of Flint. Before I can give you a filter.”

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Why American people are scared of Syrian refugees.

Americans want to shut the door on Syrian refugees. According to one poll, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of allowing them into the country while another 11 percent would admit only Syrians who are Christians. Most governors have said that they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states (though they have no legal authority to block them), and now Congress has gotten into the act. By a vote of 289–137, the House passed a bill that would impose substantial hurdles on further refugee settlement.

The liberal commentariat has gone berserk, accusing opponents of nativism and xenophobia. The criteria used to admit refugees are strict, so the risk that any of them will commit crimes is very low. As Alex Nowrasteh points out, almost 1 million refugees have been admitted into the United States since 2001, and none of them has successfully carried out a terrorist attack. Moreover, given the infinitesimal number of Syrian refugees to be let into the country out of the millions of people who would qualify, it would be crazy for a professional terrorist to try to enter this country by pretending to be a refugee. It would be easier to obtain a tourist visa.

Source: Why American people are scared of Syrian refugees.

‘Never be ashamed’: Pope forcefully defends immigrants in Philadelphia – Rory Carroll and Alan Yuhas, Angela Bruno Saturday 26 September 2015 18.50 EDT

Francis stands firm amid a tide of Donald Trump-fuelled xenophobia in the presidential campaign but pontiff challenges some progressive views

Pope Francis defended immigration in a passionate Philadelphia speech.

Pope Francis has channelled the spirit of America’s founding fathers to make an impassioned embrace of immigrants and cultural diversity, insisting that newcomers to the United States must not be ashamed of their traditions.

Speaking on Saturday from the Philadelphia hall where rebels gathered in 1776 to assert their freedom from Britain, the pontiff told a crowd of thousands that immigrants brought “gifts” which helped to “renew” the US.

“I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation,” the pope said before an estimated 24,000 people gathered at Independence Hall. “You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land.”

It was a strong rebuff to the Donald Trump-fuelled xenophobia roiling conservatives on the presidential campaign trail, and stalling immigration reform efforts in Washington.

While declining to fully indulge conservatives on issues across the spectrum of the modern US culture wars, the pontiff also challenged some progressive views by denouncing discrimination against religion and making a veiled criticism of abortion.

“Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate,” Francis said. “But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.”

After journeying to the centre of US power, in Washington, and commerce, in New York, the pope used his first day in Philadelphia to invoke US history.

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ALL of the net jobs gains in the U.S. since 2000 have gone to immigrants – By Stephen Dinan Friday, June 27, 2014

Study challenges foreign worker need

Mexican law enforcement officials watch on the Mexican side of the international border while Boston Archdiocese Cardinal Sean O'Malley leads mass, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. O'Malley and several Bishops who serve along the U.S./Mexico were visiting the border town to bring awareness to immigration reform and to remember those who have died trying to cross the border in years past. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Mexican law enforcement officials watch on the Mexican side of the international border while Boston Archdiocese Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads mass, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. O’Malley and several Bishops who serve along the U.S./Mexico were visiting the border town to bring awareness to immigration reform and to remember those who have died trying to cross the border in years past. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Since 2000, all of the net jobs added by the U.S. economy have gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal, according to a report being released Friday by the Center for Immigration Studies that challenges prevailing wisdom that the country needs an influx of workers.

Nearly 6 million more people are working in the U.S. now than in 2000, but the number of native-born Americans holding jobs has declined slightly, from 114.8 million to 114.7 million, according to census figures crunched by CIS. Instead, all of that job growth — a total of 5.7 million — has gone to immigrants.

SEE ALSO: Senators demand Obama ‘personally’ push back against illegal immigrant surge

Some of the native-born are unemployed, but a huge number have been chased from the workforce altogether, in part because of competition from immigrants, said Steven A. Camarota, research director for CIS and lead author of the report.

“Some may think that immigrants and natives never compete for jobs. But a majority of workers in virtually every occupation are native-born. Immigrants have made gains across the labor market in lower-, middle- and higher-skilled jobs. Thus the idea that there are jobs Americans don’t do is simply not supported by the data,” Mr. Camarota and co-author Karen Zeigler wrote.

The study is being released as business leaders step up their push for Congress to pass an immigration reform bill this year, saying the country could use the workers.

In an op-ed published last week in The Wall Street Journal, media magnate Rupert Murdoch said passing an immigration bill could “revitalize our economy.”

Earlier this month,, founded by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, began an ad campaign to try to push congressional Republicans to action.

While most of the focus of the debate is on legalizing the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., the bill that passed the Senate a year ago would have increased legal workers. Combined, they would add 9.6 million people to the country — most of them eligible workers.

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Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor – By IAN URBINA MAY 24, 2014

Working for $1 a Day CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times

HOUSTON — The kitchen of the detention center here was bustling as a dozen immigrants boiled beans and grilled hot dogs, preparing lunch for about 900 other detainees. Elsewhere, guards stood sentry and managers took head counts, but the detainees were doing most of the work — mopping bathroom stalls, folding linens, stocking commissary shelves.

As the federal government cracks down on immigrants in the country illegally and forbids businesses to hire them, it is relying on tens of thousands of those immigrants each year to provide essential labor — usually for $1 a day or less — at the detention centers where they are held when caught by the authorities.

This work program is facing increasing resistance from detainees and criticism from immigrant advocates. In April, a lawsuit accused immigration authorities in Tacoma, Wash., of putting detainees in solitary confinement after they staged a work stoppage and hunger strike. In Houston, guards pressed other immigrants to cover shifts left vacant by detainees who refused to work in the kitchen, according to immigrants interviewed here.

Detained Immigrants, Working for the U.S.

Every day, about 5,500 detained immigrants work in the nation’s immigration detention centers. Some are paid a dollar a day; others earn nothing. The locations shown are facilities that the federal government reimburses for this work.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at May 26, 2014 12.25

Harsh immigration realities set in for many ‘dreamers’ – By Lalita Clozel March 24, 2014, 8:26 p.m.

Deferred deportations and work permits granted under an Obama program don’t always result in better jobs or higher pay. Lack of education or work experience is a big hurdle.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at Mar 25, 2014 2.21

Dream Act applicants in Los Angeles

WASHINGTON — Working as a Jack in the Box cashier, Marissa Cruz Santos breathed a sigh of relief last year when she qualified for an Obama administration program that defers deportation of young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

With high expectations and a freshly minted work permit, Santos, 27, hit the job market, hoping to leverage her new status and a Cal State Fullerton degree into an entry-level office position. But after applying for several jobs near her Riverside home, Santos got only two interviews and no offers.

Yes, she said, the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has made it easier for her to apply for jobs that were previously out of reach, but obstacles remain to actually getting them, mostly because of gaps in her skill level and a weak resume caused by years toiling at low-paying fast-food jobs.

“I don’t think we were ready for the fact that a lot of us have been out of school for a long time and that we don’t have experience,” Santos said.

As prospects for comprehensive immigration reform this year fade, many young immigrants like Santos are confronting the limits of the president’s program, saying it has not transformed their lives as much as they had hoped.

The program offered a two-year deportation deferral and work permits to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the country illegally before age 16. Santos and others, dubbed the “dreamers,” were encouraged to come out of the shadows and build new lives. The program was hailed as an important first step in addressing the plight of more than 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

But since the program started, more than 40% of participants have failed to land new jobs after receiving work permits, and only 45% reported getting pay increases, according to early results from a 2013 survey of 2,381 participants, conducted by Roberto G. Gonzales, an assistant professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

He said the “prototype dreamer” that most immigration activists talk about — straight-A students and valedictorians who are now free to pursue successful, productive careers — represents the minority. Most participants, he said, are having “a hard time reentering mainstream life.”

Many have been unable to take advantage of new opportunities because they lack a high school diploma or college degree, Gonzales said. He noted that the program did not make participants eligible for financial aid or in-state tuition in every state.

“The biggest barriers to higher education … still exist,” he said.

Maria Del Carmen Reyes, 31, an unemployed Santa Ana waitress, said she had enrolled in a program to become a licensed vocational nurse but quit after four months because she realized it was futile. “I was almost going to finish,” she said, but “people were telling me, ‘You don’t have a Social Security [number]…. You’re not gonna be able to work.'”

Through the program, she received a work permit and hopes to go back to school. But that could take years. Reyes, who is expecting a baby in July, recently quit her restaurant job to take care of her other three children and a husband, who is in the country illegally and cannot qualify for deferred deportation because of his previous gang ties.

Even those with degrees and education are finding that they lack adequate work experience to get jobs in their desired fields. Some have internalized the stigma of growing up in the country illegally and lack confidence during job interviews.

Antonia Rivera, 32, who moved from Mexico when she was 6, received a degree in literary journalism from UC Irvine. After graduating in 2006, Rivera applied for a position at an insurance company but didn’t reveal her immigration status. Rivera said she just wanted to see whether she could get a job on her merits.

Rivera not only got the job, but the firm offered her a better position than the one she applied for, she said. When the company asked for a driver’s license, however, she never called back, knowing it would not hire someone in the country illegally.

Nearly a decade later, she has almost no experience except for fast-food and customer-service jobs.

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Meet the Company That Makes Huge Profits From Locking Up Immigrants – Nation Action on October 22, 2013 – 11:21 AM ET

Private prison companies like the GEO Group pull in millions of dollars a year locking up immigrants in federal custody. If Congress passes draconian new immigration legislation, they stand to profit enormously.

This summer, the House Judiciary Committee passed the SAFE Act (HR 2278), a toxic measure that would transform millions of undocumented immigrants into criminals overnight. No longer a civil violation, not having papers would become a felony punishable by months or years in a US prison. The legislation would also dramatically expand the civil immigration detention system. Companies like GEO Group would reap huge profits off the changes—nearly half of all people in immigration detention are locked in private jails and prisons.


There’s still time to stop this destructive legislation. Tell Speaker John Boehner not to bring the SAFE Act to the House floor.


In our latest Prison Profiteers video, produced in partnership with the ACLU and Beyond Bars, criminal justice advocates and former inmates detail the appalling conditions at GEO Group facilities around the country.

Out of the goodness of his heart?

Boehner calls out Rep. King on immigration insult


WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday elevated his criticism of fellow Republican Rep. Steve King over King’s suggestion that many immigrants in the country illegally are drug runners, calling the comments “deeply offensive and wrong.”

Boehner already had issued a written statement earlier in the week condemning King’s remarks, but at his weekly news conference, he ramped up his criticism even without being asked. The Ohio Republican took the unusual step of calling King out by name, dramatizing the concern among GOP leaders that incendiary comments from the right can tarnish the party’s image even as lawmakers struggle to find a solution to the immigration debate.

“I want to be clear. There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” Boehner said.

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