Obama Administration Chooses to Place Immigrants Rights Activists in Solitary Confinement Instead Of Granting Them “Humanitarian Parole”. Activists Now On Hunger Strike, while Members of Congress Call For Their Release.
In what is being called the most powerful protest in the history of immigration reform, 9 undocumented youth (also known as DREAMers) crossed the US-Mexico border earlier this week in attempt to return back to the only home they have ever known. The action – orchestrated by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) – called out President Obama as “the Deporter-in-Chief”. The nickname was coined by the DREAMer community in reference to the fact that Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants in his time in office than the last two presidents combined.
Upon crossing the border into Arizona, the “DREAM 9″ were arrested and sent to the Eloy Detention Center, a privately owned Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility. After being detained, they were denied typical access to telephone service. They were subsequently placed in solitary confinement and three days ago, began a hunger strike by refusing food. Solitary confinement is considered torture by the United Nations:
“Solitary confinement should be banned by [United] States as a punishment or extortion technique,” UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the [United Nations] General Assembly, “Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention.”
The Dream 9 are asking for humanitarian parole or asylum, two measures the Obama Administration could use to release these youth from detention. Rep. Honda and 20 other United States Congressmen have signed a letter asking President Obama to release the Dream 9.
Speaking at the Nashville protest were members of Jovenes Unido por un Mejor Presente (JUMP), Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence, Human Rights Defense Center, Vanderbilt University Prison Project, pastors and labor leaders.
Today, we’re launching a campaign to get Adidas to pay the legally-required severance to its workers who sewed Vanderbilt-logo clothing (as well as for many another university brands) for wages of only 60 cents an hour.
These workers were employed by Adidas’ subcontracted factory, PT Kizone, in Indonesia. After the owner of the factory fled the country, the factory was closed and workers were left without jobs or their legally-required severance pay (totaling $1.8 million).
Vanderbilt has refused to accept the plain fact that Adidas is violating our university’s own Code of Conduct for its apparel licensees, which requires them to follow the law, holds apparel licensees responsible for the actions of their contractors, and, furthermore, requires them to ensure that workers are “not exploited in any way.”
Eight other universities have cut ties with Adidas over this issue – Adidas has been refusing to pay workers’ severance for the past two years and cutting ties with Adidas is the only option left for students to get their universities to steer clear of sweatshop apparel and for workers to get Adidas to pay them what they are due.
Learn more and join us at our next meeting: Thursday, March 21, at 7:30pm in Sarratt 363. (Our other campaigns are continuing as well – but this week we’re focusing on Adidas.)
It has been revealed that Vanderbilt has divested itself of its investment in Emergent Asset Management/EmVest, the “land grabbing” company. This comes after a yearlong campaign by the Vanderbilt Responsible Endowment Campaign and our organization working in concert with other campuses and nonprofits.
We’re glad to be back to school this year with everyone. If you want to get involved, come to our meetings, which are every Thursday at 7:30pm in Sarratt 363 [upstairs, down the hall towards the pub].
The Living Wage Campaign at Vanderbilt (2006)
Raised wages for the lowest wage workers at Vandy from $6.50/hr to $10.50/hr through mass rallies, organizing alumni, culminating in the interruption of a board of trust meeting.
‘No Cuts’ Campaign (2008)
Helped prevent layoffs of Vandy workers after the financial crisis.
DREAM Act @ Vanderbilt (2009)
Along with Nashville immigrants’ rights groups, encouraged Nashville’s congressmen and the Vanderbilt administration to support a national bill to legalize young undocumented immigrants and provide an opportunity for them to go to college.
Responsible Endowment Campaign (2011-ongoing)
Vanderbilt has no ethical guidelines for investment. Vanderbilt ended investment in a hotel company with illegal labor practices, HEI Hotels & Resorts, as a result of our campaigning. We are still invested in land allegedly stolen from impoverished farmers in subsaharan Africa.
Occupy Vanderbilt for Workers’ Rights (2012-ongoing)
Dozens of students at Vanderbilt camped in front of the administration building for 47 days in Spring 2012 to support dining workers’ rights to rise above the poverty line, in the tradition of recent occupations around the country. They are laid off over the summer and typically earn around $16,500 per year.
Campaign for Fair Food (2012-ongoing)
Mainly migrant farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida, grow the tomatoes that we eat during the winter. We take action here around Nashville to stand in solidarity with them and their organization, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and end modern-day slavery in the United States and create a global food system with justice.