July 25, 2013
Future of 'Dream 9' activists who self-deported is still uncertain

ICYMI: By far the riskiest NIYA action to date.

May 2, 2013
LA Times drops term “Illegal Immigrant.”

The LA Times will no longer use the term “illegal” or “undocumented” when describing people. The goal is to “provide relevance and context and to avoid labels.” Read more here

May 1, 2013
The Undocumentary is honored by the Society of Professional Journalists:
I’m proud to report that The Undocumentary placed as a National Finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists annual Mark of Excellence Awards. It won 1st Place in SPJ’s Region 2 competition, which covers North Carolina and other mid-Atlantic states. Thank you again to everyone involved in the project, and happy May Day! 

The Undocumentary is honored by the Society of Professional Journalists:

I’m proud to report that The Undocumentary placed as a National Finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists annual Mark of Excellence Awards. It won 1st Place in SPJ’s Region 2 competition, which covers North Carolina and other mid-Atlantic states. Thank you again to everyone involved in the project, and happy May Day! 

April 21, 2013
The Undocumentary receives 2 Gold Medals from the Horizon Interactive Awards

I’m happy to announce that The Undocumentary has received two Gold Medals in the Horizon Interactive Awards. The project was recognized in both the Short Film/Documentary and the Advocacy/Non-profit categories. Awards like this are as much a testament to the reporting and production, as they are to the individuals who bravely opened up and shared their lives for this project. Thank you to everyone involved. 

March 8, 2013
Protesting N.C. Driver’s Licenses

North Carolina’s controversial plan to indicate “No Lawful Status” on driver’s licenses issued to DACA recipients is now national news. The New York Times picked up the story this week, and today USA Today ran with it today. For more information on the legal end of the debate, read more from The National Immigration Law Center

February 20, 2013
UNDOCUNATION DENVER


The last UNDOCUNATION took place in Charlotte, right as the DNC was in full swing at the height of the 2012 election. Now, as talk immigration reform has taken over the national conversation, immigrant artists and supporters will come together in Denver this weekend for this special event.

In Charlotte, I was honored to share the stage with Alicia Torres-Don and talk about The Fighter after it screened. In Denver, Felipe Baeza will be discussing the challenges of being an artist living in NYC without papers after a screening of An Undocumented Artist. Unfortunately I will not be attending, however if you have the chance to go, don’t miss it. 

January 29, 2013
IMMIGRATION REFORM?

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now. In part for personal reasons—I recently moved to New York to start a gig at a documentary production company—though also because I wanted to wait until we got to that point where the political talk turned into some semblance of action. And, well, that point is now.

Immigration reform in 2013 is real. There are no guarantees of a CIR bill passaging. And, even if Congress does pass a bill, there are no guarantees that it will adequately address the needs of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. But here we are today, talking about immigration as an issue square and center in the national debate. No longer is immigration relegated to a obligatory campaign promise or threat. Rather it’s an issue that politicians of both parties want to get behind in one way, shape or form.

But here’s the rub. Much of the chatter coming out of Washington lacks a certain sensibility and understanding of the greater issues concerning migration. One such problem is tying citizenship benefits to enforcement. Mother Jones went so far as to call it a deal breaker. The main point being that, stricter enforcement does not necessarily slow the flow of migrant workers into the United States. Instead the root of the problem needs to be addressed by answering the question: How do we create a legal path for migrant workers to enter the United States, or help create opportunities in their country of origin? The answer is largely academic, and I’ll soon share some nonpartisan studies. 

Another issue is that the Congressional “Gang of Eight” is putting together a bill that would ask millions of undocumented immigrants to wait until stricter enforcement efforts were “certified” by governors in border states—among them, Jan Brewer. Close to two decades have passed since we passed significant immigration reform. And in that time the Obama administration has deported record numbers of immigrants. To make people wait any longer is a stain on our national consciousness. 

I have more to say about this, and I will certainly do so in upcoming posts. For now, let me send you to Jose Torres Don, Cinthia Marroquin and Marco Antonio Cervantes. The NC Dream Team trio discussed their demands for immigration reform in 2013 in this video I recently produced for The Nation.  

December 26, 2012
New immigration policing guidelines?

As 2012 draws to a close, Congress will fail to pass significant immigration reform for yet another year. (For those keeping score, the last reform bill was in 1996). In it’s place, the Obama administration issued DACA and Prosecutorial Discretion. The latter, which came in the form of a 2011 memo from ICE director John Morton, established new guidelines for prosecutors to close deportation cases of noncriminals. In immigration circles, the Morton Memo, is largely seen as a joke, as Obama owns a record 1.5 million deportations in his first term in office, fulfilling a quota of 400,000 people a year. 

The new ICE directive issues stricter guidelines for placing detainers on undocumented immigrants. Currently, programs like Secure Communities and 287g help local police work with ICE to identify and detain people suspected of being in the country without papers. The new guidelines, however, seek to eliminate placing detainers on individuals with no known criminal record who pose no threat to society. It is unclear why this directive was not attached in the 2011 memo, however it does address a clear problem where individuals are detained for minor offenses, such as for driving without a license. (Undocumented immigrants cannot receive driver’s licenses in most states).

The New York Times Editorial Page entered the debate yesterday, writing the following:

A stricter detainer policy is better for police and sheriffs, who can focus more on public safety. It makes people less vulnerable to pretextual arrests by cops who troll for immigrants with broken taillights. And it helps restore some sanity and proportion to an immigration system that has long been in danger of losing both. 

On paper, this would be an accurate interpretation of the increasingly problematic deportation issue. How it will play out, however, especially in the absence of meaningful Congressional reform, remains to be seen.

December 21, 2012

December 20, 2012
Activists arrested while challenging Sen. Kay Hagan on deportation case

The immigration system is clearly broken. And one place where this could not be any more apparent is North Carolina. Today, two NC DREAM Team organizers were arrested for occupying Sen. Kay Hagan’s office in Greensboro, NC. The group is trying to pressure Sen. Hagan, who was one of five Democrats to kill the DREAM Act in 2010, to intervene in a deportation case that likely should not exist. 

Here’s the backstory. Maria Juana Perez Santiago was arrested two years ago for driving without a license. The arrest occurred in Alamance County, NC, which the U.S. Department of Justice recently investigated and has since filed a lawsuit against the county for a pattern of racially profiling Latinos. Santiago has three children who are U.S. citizens, and should be a prime candidate for prosecutorial discretion. 

It is not uncommon for lawmakers to intervene in such cases, however Hagan herself has demonstrated a lack of commitment toward the Latino community in her first term in office.