Things That Matter

Immigration Detainees Joined Prisoners Nationwide To Strike Against Living Conditions And Very Low Wages In Prisons

The U.S. has just experienced on of the largest prison strikes in U.S. history. People who are incarcerated in at least 17 prisons across the U.S. are protested their living and working conditions. From privatized prisons stacking humans in cells to prison systems replacing the U.S. Postal Service with companies that charge impossibly high fees to send an email, this strike matters.

Latinos are incarcerated 200 percent more often than non-Latino white folks and are often sentenced to more time than white offenders for the same crime. While that is an entirely separate issue based in racism and classism. However, the fact remains that there are Latinos in prison who likely wouldn’t be there for as long or at all if they were white.

The strike began on August 21, the 47th anniversary of Black Panther activist George Jackson’s death.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

The strike was announced a week after the April 15 prison riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina. Seven inmates were killed and another 22 people were injured. The Lee riots were ignited as the result of substantiated correctional officer (CO) brutality. The brutality is well-documented in several lawsuits against the very same prison.

The strike ended on Sept. 12, but it is unclear is the strikes did anything to better conditions in the prisons.

CREDIT: @AmericanIndian8 / Twitter

The people incarcerated participated in work strikes, hunger strikes, peaceful sit-ins and spending boycotts. The protests were supposed to end on Sept. 9, the same day as the Attica prison riots. If you haven’t seen “Thirteen” yet, do yourself a favor and learn about the history of black slavery in the U.S. and how the latest systemization of subjugating minorities is all in the prison system.

The inmates are protesting what they’re calling “modern-day slavery.”

CREDIT: @MaxHPF / Twitter

It’s no coincidence that you’re only seeing brown faces on these promotional materials. People of color have long been arrested and policed at disproportional levels in comparison to their white counterparts.

Many states can legally force prisoners to work without any compensation.

CREDIT: @armedtosketch / Twitter

Most states require prisoners to work dangerous jobs, and when they are paid, the wages are very low. Just a couple weeks ago, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) bragged via Twitter about it’s 2,000 “volunteer” inmate firefighters, including 58 youth offenders. The inmates were fighting dangerous wildfires for $1 an hour.

The program saves the state $90-$100 million a year. Despite their experience, the prisoners can’t get jobs as firefighters when they are released. That’s because California requires firefighter to be licenses emergency medical technicians (EMTs) but those with criminal records are often denied EMT licenses.

Detainees in immigration center joined in on the protest to call attention to ICE treatment and conditions.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

Caption: “Up to 200 detained immigrants at Northwest Detention Center in Washington are on a work and hunger strike to protest forced labor. They join striking inmates in up to 17 prisons across the U.S. who are protesting sentencing laws, poor treatment and ‘prison slavery.'”

No. 1 on their list of demands: recognize humanity.

CREDIT: @WSWS_Updates / Twitter

“Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.”

Second, they want “an immediate end to prison slavery.”

CREDIT: @mmbilal / Twitter

They want to immediately be paid the “prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.” What that means is most likely minimum wage, which would be a 5,300 percent increase in wages.

They also want the Prison Litigation Reform Act rescinded immediately.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

The PLRA was enacted in 1996 as a means to prevent prisoners from litigating within prison. It also prevents prisoners from taking legal action “with respect to prison conditions” until “administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” It basically lets correctional officers and prison administration to regulate themselves.

Prisoners need our help in making sure their demands are heard.

CREDIT: @abqdsa / Twitter

Included in their demands are more funding for rehabilitation services.

“No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.”

Caption: “Putting in work for the workers on the inside. #PrisonStrike #PrisonStrike2018”

Top Democrats stayed quiet on the prison strike.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

It’s shocking but it’s true. Democrats who claim to be all for prison reform, like California Senator Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker or Bernie Sanders have stayed silent.

Folks on the outside have rallied in support of the inmates, hoping to garner political attention.

CREDIT: @TheFinalCall / Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for the Congress, is one of the only Democrats to say something substantive.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez shared an article along with this statement, “Today begins a nationwide prison strike demanding humane conditions & end to prison slavery. The U.S. incarcerates more than any other nation in the world. To change, we must acknowledge the direct lineage that mass incarceration has to slavery & Jim Crow.”

Inmates are demanding that their voting rights never be taken from them as an American right.

CREDIT: @MI_Abolition / Twitter

It’s nauseating to find out that the reason convicted felons have their voting rights stripped is a living breathing Jim Crow law. This is how you continue to keep American politics white and how to keep brown and black people out of politics.

Even anarchists have made themselves known in favor of inmates rights.

CREDIT: @TheBaseBK / Twitter

Caption: “Anarchists represented for the #PrisonStrike last night in Brooklyn. Revolutionaries must keep up the pressure for the #PrisonRebels as the fight inside escalates!”

We don’t know how big the prison strike really is.

CREDIT: @SawariMi / Twitter

That’s largely because the administration is trying to silence the prisoners. As of August 28, the highlighted states have confirmed prison action thus far, ranging from North Carolina labor strikes to several prisons going on lockdown after initiating strikes.

Some prison systems did bow to some pressure from the strikes.

CREDIT: @BRRN_Fed / Twitter

For inmates who have lost all ties to the life, family and world they built before being incarcerated, those 20 cents per minutes add up. Specifically, they add up to $25 saved per two hours of talking with their mami’s, esposos y hijos.

If you’re making $.14 an hour, that is gold.

We’re also seeing supporters get creative on the streets.

CREDIT: @cjdronanron / Twitter

Prisoners of the state are modern day slave laborers. The most important thing we can do to support prisoners is to raise awareness of their plight. “Orange is the New Black” was a great start to getting Americans to see the humanity in inmates and the injustices of the prison system, but it’s time to wake up to make change in real life.

Some of the protests called for violence against the prisons.

CREDIT: @Lefebvre_Sam / Twitter

Caption: “#PrisonStrike comes for the OkCupid billboards in Oakland.”

A report released on August 28 suspects that thousands of prisoners participated in 20 prisons, all the way to Canada.

CREDIT: @Evict_Twit_ter / Twitter

On the first day of the strike, more than 200 immigrants who are currently detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, publicly announced they were joining the strike in solidarity.

The truth is that since the 2016 strike, America cares more about inmates than ever before.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

One can only assume that this is the start of a larger prison reform movement. As the strike gets further in the rearview mirror, it will be telling to see how states adapt rules and laws around how prisoners are treated.


READ: A New Study Shows The Financial Incentive For Corporations To Maintain Prisons And Detention Centers

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The Man Who Created ICE Is Now Releasing A Book To Honor Immigrants

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The Man Who Created ICE Is Now Releasing A Book To Honor Immigrants

George Bush Presidential Center

The 43rd president, the man who literally helped create Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now releasing a book meant to honor immigrants to the U.S. Cue the massive eye rolls.

As president, Bush oversaw a massive expansion of the country’s deportation apparatus and his policies directly impacted the lives of millions of people in the United States, with and without documents.

So it was no surprise that as Bush announced the new book, social media was quick to point out the blatant hypocrisy and tone deaf messaging the former president is sending. It’s all nice and good that he may have had a change of heart on immigration – particularly after seeing the destructive policies of the current president – but many are pointing out Bush will be making potentially millions of dollars of the backs of the very people he once demonized.

George Bush is releasing a book highlighting stories of immigrants to the U.S.

A new book by former President George W. Bush will highlight an issue which now sets him apart from many of his fellow Republicans — immigration.

The book includes 43 portraits by the 43rd president, four-color paintings of immigrants he has come to know over the years, along with biographical essays he wrote about each of them.

“While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue. It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us,” Bush writes in the new book’s introduction, noting that he did not want it to come out during the election season. Bush has not endorsed Trump or his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“My hope is that this book will help focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.”

The book will serve as a companion to an upcoming exhibition at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

Credit: Penguin Random House

“Both ‘Out of Many, One’ and the exhibition of the same name will include bold, principle-based solutions that comprehensively address the current debate on immigration,” according to Crown. “At the heart of the recommendations is the belief that every year that passes without reforming the nation’s broken system means missed opportunities to ensure the future prosperity, vitality, and security of our country.”

Bush has become a dedicated portrait painter and best-selling author since leaving the White House. His memoir “Decision Points” has sold more than 3 million copies, and his other books include “41,” about his father, former President George H.W. Bush; and a collection of paintings of military veterans, “Portraits of Courage.”

He will donate a portion of his “Out Of Many, One” proceeds to organizations that help immigrants resettle.

Although he may be friends with the Obamas, Bush has a terrible record on immigration.

Credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Apart from Donald Trump, few presidents were as intertwined with immigration than George Bush, which has led to swift blowback on social media. Critics have been quick to point out the blatant hypocrisy with the president’s new series, since his administration created US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, more commonly known as ICE, which has cracked down harshly on undocumented immigration under Trump.  

And although Bush has on occasion criticized the state of immigration policies under Trump, it doesn’t make up for his hurtful policies as president.

In 2018, on the day after the Trump administration issued guidance for asylum seekers at the border that threatened thousands of individuals with being turned away before they could plead their cases in court, Bush said he was “disturbed” by the immigration debate taking place in the United States. Bush has also praised the nation’s immigrant history as “a blessing” while calling for comprehensive reform.

Bush’s own record on immigration isn’t totally black and white either. Many point out that the former president did introduce a bill that would have included a pathway to citizenship for 17 million immigrants in the U.S. However, the bill was defeated with bipartisan support because many Democrats felt it didn’t offer enough protections and many Republicans said it was illegal amnesty.

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This Man Was Robbed Of His Life Savings Just Minutes After Leaving The Bank

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This Man Was Robbed Of His Life Savings Just Minutes After Leaving The Bank

@naninizhoni / Twitter

Imagine having worked your life to provide a better future for your family only to have it stolen from you in a brazen attack. That’s exactly what happened to one immigrant man who had taken out his life savings from a Chase Bank when we was brutally attacked and robbed of more than $200,000 in cash.

The attack was caught on video and police are searching for the suspect. Meanwhile, the victim and his family are asking for help as the money was being used to support family across Mexico and El Salvador and to help put a child through graduate school.

A man has lost his life savings after being attacked and robbed outside a Chase Bank.

Police are searching for a suspect after a man was robbed of his life savings outside a Chase Bank. In Huntington Park, California, Francisco Cornejo had taken out $200,000 from the bank following the recent sale of his home, when an unknown assailant grabbed his satchel and ran away. 

Cornejo fell to the ground as a result, video taken by a bystander showed. The assailant’s face could not be seen in the video, but he was wearing a black hoodie.

“Within 30 seconds of just getting to his car, he was grabbed, beaten, robbed, and they took everything from him,” Cornejo’s attorney, Nathan Soleimani, told KTLA.

“He was parked as closely as possible to the bank, knowing he was going to withdraw a large amount of cash. As soon as he got to his car, before he was able to get to his car, he was grabbed and beaten,” attorney Nathan Soleimani said.

A family man, Cornejo had withdrawn the cash for the well-being of his loved ones, Soleimani said, adding that the family has no idea who would attack and rob his client. 

His daughter said her unemployed parents needed the money to “get through” the coronavirus pandemic, to support her 94-year-old grandmother, pay for her sister’s graduate school tuition and send funds to loved ones in Mexico and El Salvador. 

“This money was hard-earned and as a result of years and years of work,” she said. 

Cornejo was left severely injured and suffered a very traumatic experience.

In Spanish, Cornejo told KTLA that the entire experience and robbery were “traumatic.” And he suffered the injuries to prove it.

Cornejo was left with significant bruises on his side and arm, and his shoulder was dislocated. He also suffered severe trauma to the head, his daughter said in a GoFundMe page created to help with hospital expenses. 

“He never expected such an atrocious attack,” the daughter said. “Bystanders attest that my dad was fighting with all of his will. My father was dragged by the criminal as they both fought for the bag.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this has happened – even in the past month.

Crime has recently started rising in big cities – especially crimes targeting immigrants. A recent story out of San Francisco is very similar to what happened to Cornejo. A senior couple, who came to the U.S. nearly 40 years ago, was left heartbroken after their life savings was taken from them in a brazen daytime burglary that was caught on camera.

Simon Zhong recalls the moment he learned two men forced their way inside his parent’s Crocker Amazon home. Stunning surveillance video from outside and inside the home, shows how the men used a crowbar to pry open a back door and enter while Simon’s parents were out.

His parents, immigrants from China, spent more than 35 years working in construction and housekeeping.

“My parents actually grew up really poor in China,” he said. “They actually borrowed money to come over to America and they worked every single day of their life.”

Not trusting the banking system, his dad kept their entire life savings, in cash, in a safe, only for it to disappear in less than 15 minutes. A senior law enforcement official who didn’t want to be identified confirmed Asian American families are often targets for criminals because they keep cash in their homes.

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