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When Will the North Face Its Racism?



Lily vendors in Chicago, April 1941. Credit Edwin Rosskam/Library of Congress

ATLANTA — THE groundswell of protests over police brutality in the closing days of 2014, when people dropped to the marble floor of Grand Central Terminal and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, blocked Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and chanted “I Can’t Breathe” from Boston to Oakland, summoned ghosts not only of the marches of the civil rights era but of the larger forces that led to the arrival of so many African-Americans in the big cities of the North and West in the first place.

Dozens of cities would ultimately join in these demonstrations of discontent. But a map of the largest protests those first nights, and of the high-profile cases of police violence in recent months, lit up like a map of the Great Migration: New York, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington, Los Angeles, Oakland, all of them the major receiving stations of the movement. These were the places to which generations of African-Americans fled to escape the state-sanctioned violence their descendants have now faced in the North and West.

In matters of racial injustice, the South has been the center of attention since before the time of the Civil War. But the North, with its shorter history of a mass black population, has only more recently dealt with the paradox of an enlightened ideal coexisting with racial disparity. The protests have become a referendum on the black condition since the Great Migration. “The protests are beginning to wake people up to the idea that the problems are not only there but have been obvious all along,” the historian Taylor Branch told me. “It feels like the South in the 1950s.”

It was because of the Great Migration — six million black Southerners fleeing Jim Crow from World War I to the 1970s — that African-Americans now live in every state of the union. They were seeking political asylum within their own country in what was, in effect, one of the nation’s largest and longest mass demonstrations against injustice. It was barely recognized for what it was at the time, arising as it did organically, rather than from a single leader, much like the protests today. Both migrants and protesters were pleading with the world to take notice that something was terribly wrong in the places where they lived.

In the early decades of the 20th century, a caste system ruled the South with such repression that every four days an African-American was lynched for some perceived breach or mundane accusation — having stolen 75 cents or made off with a mule. Those conditions forced most every black family to consider the best course of action to feel safe and free. “Where can we go,” a black woman in Alabama wrote in 1902, “to feel that security which other people feel?”

Generations later, police killings of African-Americans occur as often as twice a week for at times mundane infractions and at three times the rate as for whites, according to conservative estimates from recent studies. What happens in the moments after these encounters reveals a disregard for black life as disturbing as the shootings themselves. In the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old with a toy gun who was shot within seconds of a squad car’s arrival at a Cleveland park, new video released this week showed officers wrestling the boy’s 14-year-old sister to the ground and handcuffing her as she appeared to run toward her bleeding brother.

Such cases force black families again to consider how to safeguard their children and themselves from the violence they suffer at a disproportionate rate at the hands of authorities assigned to protect them. They are still giving a version of the same talk their ancestors gave their children back in the old country of the South, about answering yes, sir, and no, sir, and watching how they comport themselves around the upper caste and the police.

Now, as then, those kitchen table discussions signal a painful coming to terms with one’s tenuous condition in one’s own land. What was little understood at the time of the migration was that the refugees from the South shared the same dreams as the immigrants who stepped off the ships at Ellis Island, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. One of the few contemporaneous studies in the early years of the migration, published by the Chicago Commission on Race Relations in 1922, surveyed Southern migrants to determine why they had come north and what they had hoped to find. The migrants responded:

“Freedom in voting and the conditions of the colored people here.”

“Freedom and chance to make a living.”

“Freedom and opportunity to acquire something.”

“Freedom of speech, right to live and work as other races.”

“Freedom of speech and action. Can live without fear, no Jim Crow.”

Those desires went little noticed. Indeed, it was resentment toward the Southerners’ arrival and obstacles to their entering the mainstream of Northern life that helped create the current conditions. Northern cities had had limited exposure to African-Americans. These cities were ill-prepared to absorb large numbers of asylum seekers who stood out from the rest of the population.

And so the newcomers were met with suspicion. Often recruited as strikebreakers, they were denied access to some unions and trades and were paid the lowest wages for the dirtiest work. They were roped off into overcrowded ghettos by means of redlining and periodic firebombings of homes purchased by black residents who breached the de facto wall of segregation.

Unlike the immigrants from Europe, they could not shield themselves from the assumptions about their heritage or blend into the majority just by Anglicizing their names or mastering the senator’s English. They stood out as the children of enslavement and Jim Crow, unable to escape the burden of a pained history.

It was a measure of how dire conditions were in the South that the Great Migration continued into the 1970s. When it began, 90 percent of all African-Americans were living in the South. By the time it ended, nearly half of all African-Americans lived elsewhere.

Notably, however, high profile-cases of police brutality have recently come to be associated with the North rather than the South. And it is in the South that two recent cases of police shootings of unarmed black people resulted in more vigorous prosecution. Last month, as protests raged over the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York and John Crawford and Tamir Rice in Ohio, Randall Kerrick, a police officer in Charlotte, N.C., made his first court appearance on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the 2013 death of Jonathan Ferrell. Mr. Ferrell was an unarmed black motorist who was shot 10 times as he sought help after a car accident. In September, Sean Groubert, a South Carolina state trooper, was fired after shooting an unarmed man, Levar Jones, during a traffic stop over a seatbelt violation. In a widely circulated video of the incident, Mr. Jones asked the trooper with humbling composure, “What did I do, sir?” Then: “Why did you shoot me?” He survived his injuries. The trooper was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery, a felony that carries a possible 20-year prison term.

The nation still has far to go, but this, at least, seems cause for hope. It suggests that the South, after decades of wrestling with its history, is now willing to face injustice head on. And it suggests that the North, after decades of insisting that it was fairer and more free, could eventually do the same.

It is not known what will come of the current upheaval in the North. The protests are a response to unprosecuted police brutality but are also a plea for recognition of African-Americans’ humanity. How can success be measured when the goals are so basic and enduring? History tells us that enough people acting together can have an impact beyond what could be imagined. The Great Migration changed American culture as we know it, produced jazz and Motown, playwrights and novelists, and transformed the social geography of most every city outside of the South. At the start of the movement, one of its chroniclers put the migrants’ aims in perspective. “If all of their dream does not come true,” The Chicago Defender newspaper wrote, “enough will come to pass to justify their actions.”

If the events of the last year have taught us anything, it is that, as much progress has been made over the generations, the challenges of color and tribe were not locked away in another century or confined to a single region but persist as a national problem and require the commitment of the entire nation to resolve.

Isabel Wilkerson is the author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” and a former national correspondent and bureau chief for The New York Times.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 11, 2015, on page SR6 of the New York edition with the headline: When Will the North Face Its Racism?.

G.O.P. Aims to Fund Homeland Security While Blocking Obama’s Immigration Plan


WASHINGTON — House Republicans moved Thursday to create a bill that would fund most of the Department of Homeland Security while preventing President Obama from carrying out his recent executive action on immigration, in an effort to appease their more conservative members.

If that approach passes the House, however, it is unlikely to clear the Senate, where Republicans will need at least half a dozen Democratic votes to overcome a filibuster. And even if the Senate approves the measure, Mr. Obama has threatened to veto Republican legislation that would undo his immigration action. Funding for the department is set to run out at the end of February, something both parties hope to avoid.

Many conservatives see the funding bill as their best leverage to undo Mr. Obama’s immigration plan, which will allow as many as five million undocumented immigrants to live and work in the country.

“The House will soon take action aimed at stopping the president’s unilateral action when it comes to immigration,” Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said. “I said we’d fight it tooth and nail when we had new majorities in the House and Senate, and I meant it.”

The House leadership held several private meetings with lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday, talking through a range of proposals.

At the end of the last Congress, Representative Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that his committee did not have the authority to withhold money from Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is tasked with carrying out most of the president’s executive action, because the agency is funded by the fees it collects from immigration applications.

But now, House Republicans are likely to align behind a plan, similar to one offered by Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina, that would prevent the president from using any money, including those fees, to move ahead with his immigration measure.

“I’d look to see an amendment that would change the basic law in order to give the Congress jurisdiction of the fees,” Mr. Rogers said Thursday. “But how the details of that are put together are still under discussion.”

Another proposal, spearheaded by Representative Robert B. Aderholt, Republican of Alabama and a member of the Appropriations Committee, would nullify Mr. Obama’s executive action on immigration from last year and prevent him from taking any new unilateral steps. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and an outspoken opponent of an immigration overhaul, has signaled that he supports Mr. Aderholt’s legislation, and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is offering similar legislation in the Senate.

But even with their new majority, Senate Republicans are unlikely to have the muscle to pass the House version. “I will say there is a good possibility that the Senate could do something different, but at the same time, we don’t want to negotiate against ourselves because, as I say, there are some Senate seats that are going to be up next time,” Mr. Aderholt said. “There are a lot of people who support immigration reform but don’t want the way the president did it.”

Mr. Boehner said similarly that after the House passes its own bill, “we’ll see what the Senate can do with it, and then we’ll act.”

In last year’s broad spending bill, Republicans pushed successfully for the shorter-term funding for Homeland Security based on the belief that they would have more leverage with the president once they controlled both chambers.

But finding a way to keep the agency operating and strip funding selectively to block Mr. Obama’s directive may prove tricky.

Stephanie Faile, a spokeswoman for Mr. Mulvaney, said he would work “hard to defeat any ‘show votes’ or other empty gestures that do not accomplish the goal that so many Republicans, and so many citizens, support.”

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, was quick to criticize Republicans who would “play politics” with the funding bill. “How do we honor our oath to protect and defend passing a Homeland Security bill without getting involved in the issue of the president’s authority to have an executive order to protect immigrants in our country?” she asked.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have dismissed concerns about a fight that could lead to defunding the entire Homeland Security agency. “At the end of the day, we’re going to fund the department, obviously,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said Wednesday.

House Republicans are hoping to vote on their legislation as early as next week, before they and their Senate colleagues depart for a retreat in Hershey, Pa.

A version of this article appears in print on January 9, 2015, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: G.O.P. Aims to Fund Homeland Security While Blocking Obama’s Immigration Plan.

Expansive House G.O.P. Immigration Bill Undercuts the President


WASHINGTON — House Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would roll back President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, undoing a provision that would allow five million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and one that protects young people brought to the United States illegally by a parent.

The Republican plan, an effort to appease their more conservative members, would still finance most of the Department of Homeland Security.

The core of the bill provides $39.7 billion for Homeland Security, a $400 million increase from the previous fiscal year. House Republicans plan to offer an amendment to the legislation that will prevent any money — both under the appropriations process and through any fees collected from immigration applications — from being used for any of the president’s existing or future executive actions on immigration.

The plan Republicans ultimately supported, after a week of private meetings and behind-the-scenes discussions, is far more expansive than what the House leadership team anticipated. The Department of Homeland Security runs out of money at the end of February.


Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, leaving a closed-door meeting in Washington on Friday. Republicans held private meetings through the week to discuss how to reverse President Obama’s immigration plans. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

The repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which under Mr. Obama’s 2012 order protected the young immigrants who call themselves Dreamers, could prove particularly contentious; roughly a dozen Republicans in a closed-door meeting Friday objected to such an approach. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. The president has also threatened to veto the legislation that undoes his executive action on immigration.

The vote served as a signal of how far House Republicans, emboldened by their midterm election victory, would go to confront Mr. Obama. It is a move that carries peril because the provision related to the Dreamers had broad appeal in the Latino community, an increasingly influential voting bloc.

Representative Matt Salmon, Republican of Arizona, said that the most conservative members supported the plan and that a handful of the more moderate members expressed concern.

“I think the direct phraseology was, ‘We were hoping it would be more of a rifle shot. This is more expansive,’ ” Mr. Salmon said. But, he added, “This is as close to one hundred percent as we’ve ever gotten on a tough issue like this.”

The Republican plan also would rein in several 2011 memos by the administration — known as the Morton memos — that significantly expanded what immigration authorities could consider when deciding to defer or cancel deportations.

And it would increase funds for the federal Secure Communities program. Under that program, fingerprints of every individual booked by the police were checked against Homeland Security databases, leading immigration authorities to initiate many deportations. The program faced growing resistance from immigrant advocates and states and was canceled by the president.

During the appropriations process at the end of last year, House Republicans insisted on offering only short-term funding for homeland security, to give themselves leverage to revisit the issue this year, when they control both chambers and believe they are in a better position to fight the president on his immigration directives.

“The American people were expecting the leadership to step up to the plate and not just make some kind of symbolic gesture in trying to address what the president did back in November, but try to go a step further,” said Representative Robert B. Aderholt, Republican of Alabama and a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “That’s what our language does, and what at the end of the day will garner a lot of support from our colleagues.”

The House expects to vote on the bill next Tuesday or Wednesday, before congressional Republicans head out of town for a retreat in Hershey, Pa.

However, the Senate is unlikely to pass the House’s initial legislative offering, and Mr. Obama is all but certain to veto it — setting up a showdown that could hold up financing for the entire department. Republicans on Friday were clear that they did not want to risk a shutdown of homeland security, forcing them to straddle a risky balance between funding most of the department while also stripping out money for the president’s unilateral immigration actions.

“We have to D.H.S. funded, it’s as simple as that,” said Peter T. King, Republican of New York.

Democrats and immigration activists were outraged, vowing to fight the Republican proposal.

“Join me and urge the speaker to refrain from serving red meat to the crowd by attaching defunding executive order language to the Homeland funding bill,” Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, wrote to colleagues. “Doing so is setting up another manufactured crisis on our national security, terrorism prevention and border security management.”

Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization, criticized the House Republican leadership for allowing itself to be swayed by the conference’s most conservative members. He warned that the new proposal could alienate Hispanic voters in the 2016 presidential election.

“It is outrageous and it is noteworthy that the House leadership has embraced the most extreme proposals from the most extreme members of their caucus,” Mr. Sharry said. “It is nothing short of breathtaking that this is their first move coming out of the box in 2015 when they get the reins of power.”

A version of this article appears in print on January 10, 2015, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Expansive House G.O.P. Immigration Bill Undercuts the President.

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Nativist Lawsuit on the Texas Border


Brownsville, Tex. Credit Yvette Vela/The Brownsville Herald, via Associated Press

The first thing to know about the lawsuit brought by two dozen states to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration is that it is a meritless screed wrapped in flimsy legal cloth and deposited on the doorstep of a federal district judge in Brownsville, Tex.

The second thing to know is that the judge, Andrew Hanen, may well look kindly on the suit. He made news in 2013 with a politically charged ruling accusing the Obama administration of criminally conspiring with Mexican drug cartels to smuggle children over the border (he really said that), which is surely why the plaintiffs like their chances.

The judge held the first hearing in the case on Thursday and could rule as early as next month. If he blocks Mr. Obama’s actions — which seek to protect millions of immigrants from deportation and to grant them permission to work — this would complicate things for the administration, which is planning to start signing people up for the programs in February.

But there is a third thing to know: Sound legal scholars are not too worried that Judge Hanen alone will be able to kill the administration’s programs and force the White House to abandon other reforms of enforcement policies. Even if the judge buys the plaintiffs’ bogus line, the government still seems likely to win on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court. The states’ standing to sue is dubious; their claims of damage are speculative at best. There is no evidence that executive action will do anything to increase illegal immigration, and there is clear data showing that giving work permits to immigrants who are already here helps, not hurts, state economies.

Above all, the programs rest on a rock-solid legal footing: the principle of prosecutorial discretion, under which Mr. Obama’s Homeland Security Department intends to use its limited resources to go after dangerous, high-priority immigration violators instead of low-priority ones. Upending that principle — and the Supreme Court said as recently as 2012 that “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials” — could sow broad confusion over all the executive branch’s enforcement decisions, creating what one immigration-law expert concisely called “a royal mess.”

So things will likely be O.K., but they may get bumpy in the meantime.

Potential applicants for deportation relief and their families need to hold firm and not let themselves be confused or bullied into not coming forward. The success of the Obama programs, one of the most positive developments on immigration reform in years, will depend on wide participation.

The Obama administration has an urgent job this year: setting up an ambitious, smoothly functioning effort that could grant relief to more than four million people. All the anti-immigrant side has to do is keep trying to block reform, and, failing that, to spread chaos, confusion and anxiety.

The country is not going to deport everybody — even many Republicans admit that, but they continue to refuse to do anything to fix the system. After Mitt Romney’s disastrous presidential pose on “self-deportation,” the party went through a stretch of sobriety and sought to enhance its damaged brand by getting in line with the public, which rejects mass deportation in favor of having immigrants come forward, pay taxes and get right with the law. But now we have Republican governors and attorneys general pressing a 25-state lawsuit, joining their counterparts in Congress who are waging a legislative assault on Mr. Obama’s executive actions. The party has reverted back to its original strategy: intimidation, exclusion and fear.

A version of this editorial appears in print on January 20, 2015, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Nativist Lawsuit on the Texas Border

Borders beyond control? / Hein de Haas

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Borders beyond control?

In my previous blogpost, I argued that politicians are often busy with feigning immigration control while in reality they often can or want to do little about it. Does that mean that borders are beyond control, as Jagdish Bhagwati famously argued in 2003? Have governments lost control? What do we actually know about the effects of immigration policies?

In order to answer this question, I have conducted a research project on the ‘Determinants of International Migration’ (DEMIG) at the International Migration Institute at Oxford University. This 5-year project, which lasted from 2010 to 2014 and received funding from the European Research Council, allowed a team of researchers to collect new data and conduct analyses on the effectiveness of migration policies. (See this this link for more information on the project, the 4 DEMIG databases, analyses and 28 research papers).

One of the main insights of the project is that while immigration restrictions often reduce immigration, these effects tend to be rather small. In addition, restrictions often have a four potential side-effects (‘substitution effects’) which further undermine their effectiveness or can even make them counter-productive.

First, restrictions often compel migrants to ‘jump categories’, by finding other legal or irregular channels to migrate. For instance, when European countries tried to curb immigration from Moroccan and Turkish workers from the 1970s, people continued to migrate as family and irregular migrants.

Second, restrictions can lead to huge surges of ‘now or never migration’. This happened when Suriname became independent from the Netherlands in 1975. While the Dutch were keen to make Suriname independent as a way to curb free migration from Dutch nationals living in the Netherlands, the irony is that over 40 percent of the Surinamese population migrated to the Netherlands to beat the impending immigration ban.

Third, restrictions often compel migrants to explore new geographical routes by migrating to or via other countries. For instance, if one European country toughens its asylum policies, this may divert asylum seekers to neighbouring countries. We also see this with migration controls in the Mediterranean Sea, which do not stop migration but rather compel migrants and smugglers to use other geographical routes.

The fourth and probably strongest side effect of immigration restrictions is that they not only reduce immigration but that they also reduce return migration. In other words: they reduce circulation and push migrants into permanent settlement. Ironically, this is exactly the opposite of what the policies aim to achieve.

Thus, the effectiveness of immigration restrictions is partly or entirely undermined by such side-effects. Besides that, they have a human costs in terms of creating a market for smuggling (which is a reaction to border controls and not the cause of migration) and increased suffering of migrants and a rising death toll.

Yet this does not necessarily mean that policies always fail or that borders are beyond control. Policies that attract migrants tend to be more successful then policies that restrict immigration. For instance, most Western countries have opened their doors for skilled migrant and students and these policies seem to have worked to a certain extent. The extensive media attention for irregular migration also conceals that illegal border crossings represent a small share of total immigration. The majority of migrants abide by the law and migrate legally.

It would therefore be an exaggeration to say that borders are beyond control. It is be more correct to say that there are clear limits to border controls. The whole idea that migration can be micro-managed is illusionary. As the example of the Gulf countries shows, even authoritarian states cannot achieve total immigration control.

This is largely because migration is mainly driven by economic and social processes that lie beyond the reach of migration policies. Another insight of the DEMIG project is therefore that governments mainly influence migration via so-called “non-migration policies”. Although economic policies, labour market policies, trade and foreign policies are not designed to affect migration, they have a considerable effect on migration.

Such policies often undermine the effectiveness of immigration restrictions. The most obvious example is economic policies. While governments typically aim to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment, rosy economic prospects also tend to attract a lot of migrants.

As part of economic liberalisation policies of the past decades, many governments have privatised state enterprises and made it easier for employers to hire temporary workers on low pay. This has converted many relatively secure, respectable jobs into precarious jobs with little status, which native workers often shun and only migrants want to do. So, these policies have increased the demand for low-skilled labour migrants. It is also no coincidence that irregular migration of (predominantly) women working nannies and private care workers is a major phenomenon in countries which have weak public facilities for childcare and elderly care, such as in the United States and southern Europe.

More generally, the overall trend towards increasing economic openness and regional integration (within the EU, for instance) of the last four decades has also boosted migration. It is unlikely that this can be reversed. This also shows the hypocrisy of politicians who pretend to be immigration fighters, but have backed economic policies that have only increased the demand for regular and irregular migrant labour.

* For more information on the DEMIG project see www.migrationdeterminants.eu

De: Estudios Fronterizos [mailto:estudiosfronterizos.org]
Enviado el: lunes, 19 de enero de 2015 06:21 p.m.
Para: Roxana Rodriguez
Asunto: Seminario “Hospitalidad y Ciudadanía: de Platón a Benhabib” / lunes 26 de enero a 25 de mayo 2015 / UACM-DV / 17:30 hrs.

Estimades colegas,

Para el semestre 2015-I propongo un seminario colectivo, con colegas especialistas en filósofos que desarrollaron posturas conceptuales referentes a Hospitalidad & Ciudadanía, como parte de las actividades de EstudiosFronterizos.org, grupo de investigación que coordino en la UACM. La idea de conformar este seminario desde la filosofía consiste en que los argumentos vertidos puedan ser una herramienta de análisis para el estudio de los fenómenos migratorios y fronterizos.

El seminario es abierto a todo público interesado en la discusión filosófica de estos conceptos.

Pueden consultar el programa y las lecturas que subiremos previo cada sesión en el siguiente link:



Roxana Rodríguez

Formulario de inscripción.doc
Formulario de inscripción.doc


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