Category Archives: Immigrant Rights

The White Nationalist in the White House

Stephen Miller sent 900 emails to Breitbart that spell out his white nationalist sympathies

By Tony Norman
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Columnist

Nov 19, 2019 – White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has a white nationalism problem. Nine hundred recently uncovered emails he wrote to Breitbart.com in 2015 and 2016 reveal him to be a white nationalist sympathizer and a promoter of racist anti-immigration ideas.

At the time Mr. Miller wrote the emails, he was an adviser to then-Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, an extremist who could do little harm to America outside the confines of Alabama.

A weird and solitary figure even by the standards of the then evolving alt-right, Mr. Miller took it upon himself to educate the folks at Breitbart about the nuances of bigotry that they simply weren’t astute enough to pick up on their own.

He sent emails to favored reporters at the site he believed would push his “tips” into the mainstream. Among his favorite ideas was the “white genocide” conspiracy theory that animated the Tree of Life shooter in Pittsburgh in 2018.

In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop, Texas. Supporters for Reed, who’s facing lethal injection in less than two weeks for a murder he says he didn’t commit, are mounting a final push in the courts and on social media to stop his execution, which is being called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union.

Of course, we wouldn’t know about his intellectual freelancing if it weren’t for the investigative work of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC acquired the 900 emails from disgruntled and fired Breitbart editors eager to show the extent of Mr. Miller’s dalliance with white nationalist racism and ideas.

Mr. Miller wrote the emails before he became the architect of President Donald Trump’s brutal anti-immigration policies. The politics of separating families at the border and the scheme to cut non-white European immigration to a trickle codified into law the rhetoric of what were once alt-right fever dreams mere months before he joined the White House.

In any other administration, the existence of 900 emails exposing a senior aide’s secret life as a cheerleader for white nationalism would’ve resulted in a full-throated rebuke, a swift firing and a televised escort from the White House grounds by the blackest Secret Service agents on staff. Continue reading The White Nationalist in the White House

What’s Really Behind the Creation of Pennsylvania’s New E-Verify Law?

By Ryan Deto
City Paper Pittsburgh

Nov 6, 2019 – In Pennsylvania, it’s not uncommon to hear politicians dog whistle to nativism, especially when it comes to labor.

Last month at the Shale Insight conference in Downtown, President Donald Trump received a large applause when he told the crowd he would “always put America first.” In a special election for state senate earlier this year, attack ads were levied against candidate D. Raja (R-Mt. Lebanon), an Indian-American businessman who runs a software company that employs workers from his native India and in Allegheny County, for “outsourcing” jobs and “importing talent.”

And now, a new law has hit Pennsylvania’s books that harks back to similar themes.

On paper, the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, aka House Bill 1170 (HB 1170) — known more commonly as the E-Verify law — looks to tackle problems associated with labor fairness and to ensure everyone is following the same rules.

It passed with overwhelming support on Oct. 7, moving swiftly through the legislature before Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) let it lapse into law without signing. (When Pennsylvania governors don’t veto bills within 10 days of reaching the governor’s desk, they become law.)

But there are disagreements on whether the law, which will require employees of construction companies to be run through a verification system to determine if they are legally allowed to work in the U.S., will be able to accomplish those goals.

The bill requires all private construction employers statewide to run new hires through a federal E-Verify system, an electronic database that checks the legal work-status of new hires by comparing the employees’ information to that of the Social Security Administration and federal immigration officials. More than 20 states have mandated the use of E-Verify in some or all industries.

Proponents of the law say it helps catch violators who employ off-the-book workers and thus avoid paying taxes and workers’ compensation fees. But opponents say the law will disproportionately hurt immigrants, noting the ineffectiveness of similar laws in other states and arguing it could lead to the deportation of undocumented immigrants and exacerbate a labor shortage. Labor unions and immigrant advocates are now wondering why the E-Verify law passed so quickly, and why these potential shortcomings were not fully vetted. Continue reading What’s Really Behind the Creation of Pennsylvania’s New E-Verify Law?

Sisters of St. Joseph Work with Migrants at U.S.-Mexico Border

Setting an Example of Solidarity with Workers and the Poor

By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Beaver County Times

Aug 10, 2019 – A group of nuns and volunteers from the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden is working with migrant families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

They called him a liar.

For months, the Venezuelan man waited patiently with his wife and three children for permission to leave their home country, riddled with political unrest and economic free fall in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Once granted, the family waited for months in Mexico for consent to enter the United States as asylum seekers.

It was a long and difficult journey.

Just hours after finally crossing the border into the United States, he sat last week with Sister Janice Vanderneck, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, at the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

“What a privilege it is to be able to be among the first people to welcome this family to our country,” Vanderneck said. “I was glad to be the person empathetic to their story because he told me that immigration officials called him a liar, thinking that he didn’t understand English.”

For one week, three members of St. Joseph — Sister Jeanette Bussen, Sister Patti Rossi and Vanderneck — are working at the respite center in McAllen to meet and serve migrant families seeking asylum. They are accompanied by Maureen Haggarty, former sister and benefactor, and Carol McCracken, who was inspired by the service and mission work of Rossi.

The respite center is the first stop for those released from a nearby U.S. Customs and Border Patrol holding center. Each day, the respite center serves between 500 and 900 families, providing migrants in crisis with a warm meal, clean clothes and a chance to recover from the first part of their long journeys.

How to help

The Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden has donated more than $10,000 to help replenish supplies at the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. Items include toiletries, baby bottles, diapers, sealed snack foods and phone cards.

To donate, visit https://stjoseph-baden.salsalabs.org/bordercrisis/index.html.

The center’s volunteers work to educate parents about their rights and responsibilities as asylum seekers and help prepare them to navigate the legal process to determine whether they can remain in the United States. Continue reading Sisters of St. Joseph Work with Migrants at U.S.-Mexico Border

USW Condemns Cruel Treatment of Migrant Children

 From Fred Redmond

United Steel Workers

PITTSBURGH—The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard released the following statement in response to the reporting from the Mexican border on the shocking conditions of our country’s migrant detention centers:

“The USW prides itself on the morality of our core values and its mission of being a collective voice for the voiceless. Therefore it is our duty, as a union that stands with workers and families everywhere, to condemn the cruel and inhumane treatment of migrant children in our nation’s overcrowded and unsanitary detention centers.

“Our global alliances with organizations and unions like Los Mineros in Mexico serve as a reminder of the common ties that bind nations together.  It is also important to remember that the plight of the people fleeing Mexico and Central America is partly a result of our own country’s failed trade policies that have wrecked their economies and their livelihoods.

“At the end of the day, this is not a partisan issue. This is about human decency. This is about recognizing that many of the people coming to our borders seeking asylum are workers. They are our members’ families. They are Americans in waiting. They deserve humane treatment and a real shot at becoming contributing citizens of our great country.

“The labor movement likes to say, ‘An injustice to one is an injustice to all,’ and we must stand firmly in that belief today.”

The USW represents workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

Nearly 500 Celebrate May Day in Pittsburgh with a Colorful and Festive March and Rallies

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Nearly 500 workers and community actvists marched through the streets of Pittsburgh’s South Side May I celebrating the international workers holiday. The main theme of the event was linking a defense of worker’s rights with immigrant rights, and backing the passage of a just and comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress.

‘Everyone here is an immigrant or the sons and daughters of immigrants,’ declared Leo Gerard, USW President, speaking from the back of a truck. ‘We can’t separate worker’s rights and immigrant rights, they’re one and the same.!

The main organizers of the celebration were Fight Back Pittsburgh and United Steel Workers Local 3657. The United Federation of Teachers, the United Electrical Workers, SEIU, IBEW, the USW’s ‘Women of Steel’ and other unions also took part.

This was the first May Day event backed by Pittsburgh unions in some years, and it was also promoted nationally by Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO. It marks the beginning of a more militant response by labor against austerity and in defense of wider democracy for all of its allies.

The day started with a rally at the UFT headquarters, followed by a mile-long march along Carson Street, ending with another rally, with music and food, at the IBEW headquarters.

Community organizers from One Pittsburgh and the resident groups also played an important role, bringing out Latinos, Middle Eastern and African immigrants. Activists from Beaver County’s Progressive Democrats of America, Beaver County Peace Links and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism also took part.

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Revival of May Day Rallies Reflect Urgency of Pending Immigration Reform, Workers’ Right to Organize

By Peter Drier
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost

May 1, 2013 – Unlike the rest of the world’s democracies, the United States doesn’t use the metric system, doesn’t require employers to provide workers with paid vacations, hasn’t abolished the death penalty, and doesn’t celebrate May Day as an official national holiday.

Outside the U.S., May 1 is international workers’ day, observed with speeches, rallies, and demonstrations. This year, millions of workers in Europe, Asia, and Latin America are taking to the streets to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. A week after a building collapse in Bangladesh killed hundreds of workers in sweatshop factories making clothing for American and other consumers, thousands of garment factory workers in Bangladesh paraded through the streets calling for work safeguards and for the owner of the collapsed building to be sentenced to death.

Ironically, this celebration of working-class solidarity originated in the US labor movement in the United States and soon spread around the world, but it never earned official recognition in this country. Since 2006, however, American unions and immigrant rights activists have resurrected May 1 as a day of protest. This year’s rallies have a special urgency. For the first time in decades, a bill for comprehensive immigration reform, which would bring many of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows, has a good chance to pass Congress. In cities across the country, millions of Americans will be out in the streets today to give voice to the growing crusade for reform.

The original May Day was born of the movement for an eight-hour workday. After the Civil War, unregulated capitalism ran rampant in America. It was the Gilded Age, a time of merger mania, increasing concentration of wealth, and growing political influence by corporate power brokers known as Robber Barons. New technologies made possible new industries, which generated great riches for the fortunate few, but at the expense of workers, many of them immigrants, who worked long hours, under dangerous conditions, for little pay.

Continue reading Revival of May Day Rallies Reflect Urgency of Pending Immigration Reform, Workers’ Right to Organize

Join the May Day Rally and March in Pittsburgh

AFL-CIO CELEBRATES MAY DAY

Pittsburgh, PA

May 1, 2013
05:00PM to 07:00PM

Hosted by Fightback Pittsburgh, United Steelworkers and others.

Event Description

Working families in Pittsburgh will hold a May Day rally and march to support a common sense immigration process. The rally will start at Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers then be followed by a march at 6PM. Working families will then rally and celebration of resistance at 6:30PM at IBEW Local 5 Hall, (5 Hot Metal St. Pittsburgh, PA. Organizations participating include Fight Back Pittsburgh, the United Steelworkers other unions and community organizations across Pittsburgh.

Location

Event will start at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, 10 S. 19th St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203