Rights, Not Raids

"To reduce the pressure that causes undocumented migration, we need to change our trade and economic policies so they don't produce poverty in countries like Mexico."

When the Obama administration reiterated recently that it will make an immigration reform proposal this year, hopes rose among millions of immigrant families for the “change we can believe in.” That was followed by a new immigration position embraced by both the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win unions, rejecting the expansion of guest worker programs, which some unions had supported.

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Common Stuggle Common Dreams

Woodfin Workers Fight for Living Wages

Four years after they began organizing, workers are still battling the Woodfin Suites Hotel in Emeryville, California. Their fight for decent wages and working conditions sent ripples throughout the community. It fueled a successful drive for a living wage ordinance in the city, and brought together a new coalition advocating for low-wage immigrant workers.

From the Director's Desk

While the current recession has trapped countless people under the weight of a foreclosed home, unexpected loss of employment, or the evaporation of a life’s savings, those who were struggling before this economic meltdown to meet their basic needs are more vulnerable than ever. This is certainly the case in Richmond, California where the housing crisis has resulted in more than 2,000 foreclosed properties, most of them in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Simultaneously, cutbacks in public transit services, fare increases, and the related dependence on automobiles, oil, and freeways are increasing the isolation of poor communities. At Urban Habitat, while continuing our long-term commitment to land use issues, equitable development, and regionalism, we have also been working hard to win basic rights in the two key arenas of housing and transportation.

As a founding member of the Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI), a diverse coalition committed to ensuring that the city’s low-income people and communities of color benefit from development policies and financial investments, Urban Habitat has been advocating the right to affordable housing for Richmond residents for over four years.

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Everyone Has the Right to... From the Editor

By B. Jesse Clarke

When President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the United States Congress in January 1941, he called for “a world founded upon four essential freedoms”—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. Popular conceptions of rights at the time moved beyond the constitution’s narrow framing of civil and political rights to include basic social and economic rights.

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The Art of Protest

“The role of the revolutionary artist is to make revolution irresistible.” —Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and activist

By Christine Joy Ferrer

People are angry.  Sometime after the midnight hour, a 22-year-old black man was murdered on New Year’s Day—another innocent victim of police brutality. His name was Oscar Grant, shot and killed in Oakland, California by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency policy officer. Onlookers video-phoned the horrific spectacle: Grant surrounded by officers, unarmed, bleeding to death on the station platform, his arms shackled behind his back, his face pressed against the cement.

Several hours later, Laron Blankenship, a friend of the deceased, locked himself in a sound studio. He flashed back to the words Grant had spoken to him one day, “No matter what happens, even if I was to die, don’t quit doing this music thing.” His hands trembling, crying and near broken down, Blankenship produced a compelling rap anthem dedicated to Grant, “Never be Forgotten.” He sings, “I know for a fact your soul is still alive and you will never be forgotten.”            


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Court: Abu Ghraib Victims Can Sue Torturers

Submitted by News Desk on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 11:07am

By William Fisher
A federal court has ruled that four men who were tortured and released without charge can sue CACI, the U.S. contractor hired to do interrogation

NEW YORK, Apr 16 (IPS) -- In a ruling that could have widespread implications for government contractors overseas, a federal court has concluded that four former Abu Ghraib detainees, who were tortured and later released without charge, can sue the U.S. military contractor who was involved in conducting prisoner interrogations for the Pentagon in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998, denied a motion to dismiss the detainees' claims by the contractor, CACI International. The Arlington, Virginia-based company is a major contractor to the Defense Department.

Report Challenges Negative Image of Immigrant Elders

Submitted by News Desk on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 5:02pm

Editor’s Note: Six million older immigrants live in the United States, a figure projected to triple by 2030. Advocates for these elders have set out to bring their voices –- and new respect for them as community contributors –- to the public and agency decision makers, who often dismiss them as mere clients seeking benefits.

If treated as partners, rather than mere users of public services, immigrant elders can help cash-strapped agencies solve problems in their communities, according to a new report.


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