immigration

© Tomas/Wikimedia

The human experience continues, and so do passenger trains, so Paul Theroux continues to write.  The prolific author who made his first big splash with The Great Railway Bazaar nearly half a century ago focuses his most recent book on one of the world's hot spots: The U.S.-Mexican border. 

Theroux traveled the length of that border, with and without barriers, to research On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

He also spent time in the parts of Mexico that send people northward in search of a better life. 

34 Seconds Facebook page

The treatment of people crossing the US-Mexican border is always a topic for debate. A former Ashland resident is focused not on crossings, but on people shot on the Mexican side by law enforcement people on our side. 

Adam Markle takes up the topic in the movie "34 Seconds." 

Robert Bushell, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76451322

It is a common question during the ongoing immigration debate: why do people insist on trying to get into the United States, especially when the administration is making it harder?  The answer lies well beyond the U.S. border, in the countries people leave behind. 

Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon anthropologist, studies Latin America and migration.  She has spent time in both Guatemala, one of the countries people are fleeing, and a refugee shelter in San Diego. 

La Raza Centro Legal

A recent White House effort to curtail immigration focuses on the "public charge" concept.  That is, if immigrants have difficulty supporting themselves and might need public assistance like food stamps, they might be denied citizenship and even residency. 

The Oregon Health Authority takes a position, asserting that "health care is not a cash assistance benefit," but a way to strengthen individuals and society. 

WikiImages/Pixabay

A question that probably crosses many minds about people who enter the United States and stay, without permission, is "why?" 

You've heard many stories about the dangers people face back in their home countries.  Jeremy Slack at the University of Texas-El Paso went in search of people who had such stories to tell. 

And he found people who see the risk of discovery and deportation far more acceptable than the risk of death if they stay home--or get sent home.  Slack's book is Deported to Death: How Drug Violence Is Changing Migration on the US–Mexico Border

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The current administration has taken an aggressive stance on illegal immigration; that much is indisputable. 

But plenty of people take exception with the tactics used, including people who have taken steps to thwart the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in rounding up people of interest. 

The Eugene-based Civil Liberties Defense Center is one of several groups publicizing the rights that people can exert should ICE pay a visit. 

Frances Johnston/Library of Congress

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, American intellectuals and politicians, many of them political progressives, led an aggressive anti-immigration movement. Based on the pseudo-science of Eugenics, proponents argued that there was scientific proof of the inferiority of southern and eastern Europeans.

This lead to restrictive immigration laws that kept several generations of European immigrants out of the United States.

In his new book The Guarded Gate, Daniel Okrent delves into the history of the era of eugenics. 

Public Domain

"A rising tide lifts all boats" is often the rationale for tax cuts for wealthy people.  But the phrase can be applied in other ways, too. 

For one, the California Immigrant Policy Center recommends helping residents develop skills for the workforce, regardless of immigration status, because it can help the overall economy.  CIPC lays out the case in a recent policy brief

When life is rough, and potentially short, you look for someplace else to live.  That's what motivates the people of the "caravans" from Central America. 

Laz Ayala, now a Rogue Valley resident, escaped from El Salvador in the trunk of a car many years ago.  He's turning his attention back to his journey for "Illegal, The Project," an effort to push for understanding and immigration reform. 

One of Ayala's goals is to turn the focus from the people who come across the border to the people who hire them, often outside the law. 

CBP/Public Domain

Just say the word "border" out loud, and you can probably start an argument. 

Sonia Nazario prefers to research issues like immigration and find people affected by them.  She won Pulitzer prizes for her work, including for "Enrique's Journey," her series of reports on a Honduran boy searching for his mother in the United States. 

Sonia Nazario speaks in Redding tomorrow (February 6th) about immigration and journalism. 

GeographBot/Wikimedia

Whether you think the term is fairly applied or not, the term "illegal alien" certainly chafes some of the recipients.  Beyond the term is the reality of why people risk legal action and occasionally life and limb to remain in a country where they have no official status. 

Here's where immigration lawyer J.J. Mullen Sepúlveda steps in.  He works at the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California-Davis, and he has many stories to tell.  His first book is No Human Is Illegal: An Attorney on the Front Lines of the Immigration War

WikiImages/Pixabay

There's a hard line between the United States and Mexico, and plenty of people who want to make it harder. 

But while the efforts to build a wall on the border continue, ties between the countries keep getting stronger.  That's the general argument of the book Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together, by Andrew Selee. 

He saw first-hand how Mexico, despite well-publicized problems, has grown more prosperous and more like the United States.  He sees the border as a seam, not a barrier. 

ICE/Public Domain

The federal crackdown on illegal immigration is focused on the Mexican border.  But agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement--ICE--are active in many parts of the country. 

ICE agents have appeared and detained people on the North Coast. 

True North Organizing assembled a rapid response network in the Arcata area to track and publicize any ICE activity in the region. 

davispigeon0/Pixabay

The state of California got chewed out by the President and the federal Attorney General recently for its attitude toward immigration raids and other enforcement actions. 

California, as a sanctuary state, is sharply resisting the crackdown on people living and working in the state illegally. 

Resistance aside, the crackdown is having an effect... by scaring undocumented workers away from farm work. 

And that is a great concern for the California Farm Bureau Federation

Santa Rosa Junior College

The debate over immigration, legal and not, is of great interest to the artist Maria De Los Angeles.  There was nothing legal about her arrival in California from Mexico at age 11. 

She worked hard, was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, and worked even harder to get to and through college, finishing up at Yale. 

Her art tells her story, including the installation of "Transcending Myths" at the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University (through March 17). 

Scribner

Set aside for a moment the arguments about the United States taking in immigrants and refugees.  Let's focus instead on the people who got here, and didn't necessarily want to be here. 

Helen Thorpe found a group of young people struggling to learn English and a new culture at a high school in Denver. 

They are portrayed in Thorpe's book The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

Oregon State University Archives

The debate over immigration into the United States occasionally gets to the issue of workers INVITED into the country from Mexico. 

Lina Cordia, a Medford librarian and local historian, lays out the facts and figures in a lecture on the program. 

It is part of the Windows in Time series of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and it's called “The Fruits of their Labors: the Bracero Program in Southern Oregon 1942-1964.”

Lina Cordia presents the program today (November 1) at noon at the library in Medford, and November 8 at noon at the Ashland library. 

insidesou.edu

The academic year had not even begun for most West Coast colleges when President Trump announced he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program.  Under DACA, President Obama suspended any moves to deport young people who had been brought into the United States illegally as children. 

In return, they registered with the government and agreed to work or attend college. 

College presidents uniformly condemned Trump's DACA decision, which puts pressure on Congress to do something. 

Linda Escot-Miranda is a Southern Oregon University student with some perspective on DACA and its impact. 

GeographBot/Wikimedia

Stories of immigration in the United States--both legal and not--tend to focus on numbers and generalities. 

Journalist Lauren Markham went looking for a personal tale behind the facts and figures.  She found a pair of brothers who were forced to flee gang violence in El Salvador and headed north. 

Markham tells the story in the book The Far Away Brothers, an examination of the brothers' situation and immigration policy more broadly. 

California Poised To Pass Sanctuary Law That Goes Further Than Oregon's

Aug 22, 2017
www.ice.gov

Since taking office, President Trump has signed an executive order giving federal immigration agents more power.

But California Democrats want to thwart Trump’s promise to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally: lawmakers want to make California a sanctuary state.

The measure isn’t the first of its kind. Oregon has had a similar law for decades. But California’s law would be much more limiting in how law enforcement communicates with federal agents.

In fact, if the bill passes, California would have one of the most protective sanctuary state laws in the country for immigrants. 

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