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Several have commented that no group is more apt to be part of the 99 percent the Occupy Movement is fighting for than immigrants.  Two occupy activists, Phil Arnone, and Emma McCumber, established the Immigrant Worker Justice Working Group to help bring together these folks in a cohesive way.  IWJWG is focused on two main points: First is wage theft, wages stolen from low-paid workers; Second is protesting the private prison industry that takes advantage of poor immigrants kept in questionable detention for months or even years.

The organizers are starting with education centered on the connection between corporate greed and the private prison industry that encourages more immigration round-ups to fill their prisons.  This coincides perfectly with an investigation done recently by National Public Radio on whether the crackdowns on immigration have gone too far.  NPR commented that only a year ago, the country was ripe for more immigration control legislation.  Today it seems somewhat clear that it has already gone too far.

Arizona, the flagship of immigration laws, followed by Alabama, are both seeing their legislation challenged in court, by local businesses and a part of the population as well.  In Alabama, where agriculture depends significantly on immigrant workers, it is estimated the economy would shrink $40 million without 10,000 workers affected.  Other states with similar legislation, or at least have it in the works, are Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Both Occupy Movement organizers and immigration activists see great potential in bringing immigrants into the cause.  The former, to increase their numbers with a credible group of people who are deserving; the latter to educate their following and by virtue of the organization, line up those who are eligible to vote and get them registered.  The question is whether they will be able to overcome the fear immigrants have of law enforcement after going underground as a result of the anti-immigration legislation.

John Michael Torres, an activist from McAllen, Texas, worries about the ability to communicate with those who don’t have a TV or the Internet.  That is the reason for the meetings like the ones in New York where those who have experienced a connection with the movement can tell their story.  Maurio Munoz, who is a part of the Spanish assembly for Occupy Wall Street says they are offering classes with legal experts, including lawyers, to answer peoples’ questions.

Teresa Puente wrote in In These Times that “the convergence between the immigrant rights struggle and Occupy is growing increasingly profound.”  She adds, concern has been voiced “because the white activists seen as leading the Occupy movement haven’t been vocal about immigration reform.”  So activists have decided that the best way to win the attention they want is to get involved, bringing as many immigrants into the fold as possible.

International Migrants Day was December 18, and Occupy activists marched in the Immigrants Occupy! Rally in Manhattan at Foley Square led by the Immigrant Workers Justice Working Group.  Here is their statement:

“We recognize globalized capital–in the form of financial institutions, multinational corporations, and neoliberal state economic policies–as the impetus for economic migration to the United States, and deplore the fact that banks and corporations, supported by the government, continue to profit from immigrant detention and deportation. The leadership and participation of immigrant workers is necessary for any discussion of social, economic, and environmental justice.”

Read more on my log Nasty Jack

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Comment Preferences

  •  Always Seems Like the Really Important Questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    Have more than one answer and they are usually contradictory.

    What do we do with the millions of people in this country who are not authorized to reside and work here? It doesn't seem right to "do nothing" because this leaves them vulnerable to continued exploitation by the capital class.

    Attempt to deport them all? This could not be done without incurring various collateral damages to other parts of the population.

    Give them legal authorization to be here? This will likely have to be done, but it will make the drop in wages for unskilled work a permanent -- or at least very long term -- part of our economy.

    An example for how this works:

    When I was in college, I worked part-time as a busboy, a waiter, a bartender, or whatever -- and used this money to pay my rent and food. Yes -- I was able to rent a small studio apartment by working 20 hours a week doing unskilled restaurant jobs.

    Now these jobs are almost 100% performed by undocumented immigrants, which has driven the wages so low that no college student or anyone else could live independently on the salary.

    So, when we're talking about social and economic justice and illegal immigration -- it's a complicated question. Yes, we can authorize these millions or tens of millions of folks to live and work legally in the U.S., but we'll have to accept other damage to the ability of the 99% to support itself in the process.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:08:50 AM PST

    •  All true, and progressives haven't thought it out. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bink

      At best they've come up with flimsy-to-bogus stuff like the IPS studies which claim, with a logic that can only be described as Republican-corporate, that an influx of unskilled labor raises the living standards of people who make use of unskilled labor.

      My meta-problem with this, however, is that it's part of the dilution of Occupy into a bunch of issues that get people away from the meta-issue: the role of finance capitalism in our economy and our politics.  Solve that and you'll make progress with everything else, but focus on the everything-else and you'll never solve anything.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:12:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  IPC I mean...the folks who used to post here n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bink

        But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

        by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:13:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Tried to Engage Them in One Diary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA

          But they never responded.

          I'm not sure how those lifestyle arguments -- "But who is going to cut your lawn for $1.50 an hour!?" -- work out. Because if this population is given legal authorization to work, they will demand to be paid at least minimum wage, which means that I will no longer have access to their almost-free labor.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:17:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, they responded maybe once in a while (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            johnny wurster

            I always tried to give them positive reinforcement for engaging with the comments once they posted the diary, but I guess their interns had other important things to attend to.

            But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

            by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:00:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know where you live (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      but this certainly isn't true where I live.

      Now these jobs are almost 100% performed by undocumented immigrants, which has driven the wages so low that no college student or anyone else could live independently on the salary.

      I know a lot of people who work the jobs you are talking about.  If you have actual numbers to back this up that would be great.  We here like to provide real data for things like this and not just anecdata.

      So, when we're talking about social and economic justice and illegal immigration -- it's a complicated question. Yes, we can authorize these millions or tens of millions of folks to live and work legally in the U.S., but we'll have to accept other damage to the ability of the 99% to support itself in the process.

      If we were talking about millions of new people coming into the country you might have a point, but we are talking about people who are already here and who, because they are undocumented and exploited, are already having a negative effect on the rest of us workers.  To fix that we need to work with the folks here without papers, not act like they are the problem.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:24:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are you talking legal immigrants or illegal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GoGoGoEverton

    immigrants?  If you're talking illegal immigrants then you're proposing to bring foreign agents who don't belong here into OWS.  That can't look good in the MSM.

  •  You can't seriously fight for (0+ / 0-)

    immigrants without fighting to make immigration itself much easier. If people are so desperately poor that they want to leave their homes to come work here, I say let them do so. Make it MUCH easier, at least. But the fact is that the right doesn't want to open the borders because they are racist and are afraid of diluting "white" culture, and the left doesn't want to open the borders because of the effect that will have on the labor market. Since OWS is clearly about making income more equal across society, they should be on the side of the Third World worker who is worried about his next meal more than, well, anyone else.

    •  There's also a lot of us that understand (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nextstep

      "open borders" or something close to that, like you're proposing, is not a realistic way to run a nation and thus no other developed country has that policy.

      Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:26:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I meant borders that are more open, not (0+ / 0-)

        (obviously) completely open. Let 'em in, I say, as long as they are not violent criminals. It is not their fault their ancestors were not Americans, just like it was not anything I did that allowed me to benefit from being born here.

        •  Those borders are essentially open. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SquirrelWhisperer

          I see a world with borders and nations, and a failed state if people may come as they please. If no one had borders and everyone helped out everyone else, your idea may be more realistic.

          Have you considered how to manage a social welfare system with no cap on immigration? Those nations we consider ahead of us in terms of a strong social system (healthcare/benefits/work regulations etc) all have tighter immigration systems than we do.

          Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

          by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:26:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is only a problem as long as Mexico is seen (0+ / 0-)

    as a less desirable place to live than the USA. In the next couple of years, as they reach parity, immigration will cease to be an issue.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:44:50 AM PST

  •  If you're referring to non-nationalized immigrants (0+ / 0-)

    then I think they should probably be working on their home countries, no? Otherwise they wouldn't have immigrated.

    Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 09:27:11 AM PST

  •  Immigration has been an issue at OCCUPY actions... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sentido

    ...in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Here's a video from the December 18 action at President Obama's campaign office for the Iowa caucus.

    Members from Occupy Omaha and Occupy Iowa City joined Occupy Des Moines with Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker community and the ICCI (Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement) and arrived early Saturday morning at Obama's state wide, but unmarked, campaign headquarters office to locked doors. At which time Occupy Des Moines and Veterans for Peace declared victory in successfully shutting down Obama's campaign office but vowed to stay and support the ICCI in their demonstrations . The ICCI got off their bus chanting"aqui estamos y no nos vamos" translated "here we are and we will not leave" and declaring themselves "immigrant welcoming communities"

    "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

    by ehrenfeucht games on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:08:00 PM PST

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