Woolas- Childsnatcher

No one knows how many children have been snatched from their beds in this way in Britain in the past year. But the Immigration Minister Phil Woolas admitted in a letter to a concerned MP recently that more than 1,300 children were detained at three immigration removal centres in the UK during the 15 months between July 2008 and September 2009.

Some 889 children have been detained for more than 28 days in the past five years. In each of those cases an immigration minister or a judge had to sign a new authorisation every four weeks for their continued detention. The UK now has one of the worst records in Europe for detaining children.

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Patriotism, War Criminal’s Fan Club

Immigrants who take part in protests against British troops could be denied citizenship of this country under controversial new Home Office rules. The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, will launch a consultation tomorrow on a new points-based system for would-be migrants according to their behaviour, as well as skills and qualifications. Mr Johnson, writing in the News of the World, said: “Bad behaviour will be penalised, and only those with enough points will earn the right to a British passport.”

While he did not explicitly point to those who take part in anti-war demonstrations, the newspaper reported that this would be included in examples of “bad behaviour”. But there was confusion over the policy last night, as the Home Office appeared to backtrack on whether protesters would be penalised. An aide to Mr Johnson said the Home Office was consulting on what constituted bad behaviour, but refused to comment on the issue of protesters.

Commerce, Racism & Education

A private company working with the Border Agency to oppress its workers at a supposedly enlightened university, who’d a thunk…Via Socialist Unity 

Please Join This Group – Stop the Deportation of SOAS University Cleaners!

www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=89511288639

 This group has been set up in Solidarity with the 9 members of the cleaning staff at SOAS who, following a morning raid by border police, have been detained and threatened with immediate deportation from the U.K. We demand an immediate end to these deportations. Below is a summary of the events. Please sign up and show your support!

 Summary of the Border Agency raid at SOAS campus on 12/06/2009

 • All SOAS cleaning staff were called into a meeting by ISS (the company who contracts SOAS’ cleaning staff) at 7am, in a ground floor room and were given no warning about the raid.

 • 45-50 Immigration police entered through the fire doors and the main entrance to the room and surrounded the cleaning staff; the police officers were in riot gear.

 • They cleaners were locked in the room and then led one by one into another room, where their immigration status was checked during which they had no representation or even a translator (many staff are native Spanish speakers). A lot of the cleaners were in emotional distress. A trade union representative was refused access to the staff.

 

• The raid was instigated by the cleaning contractor ISS who requested the police action. Two members of SOAS Management were present during the raid liasing with the police, suggesting that they had prior knowledge of the raid.

 • 9 Cleaners, five of whom are UNISON members were taken into detention. One detained cleaner was six months pregnent, she is thought to have collapsed during the events.

 • Legal representation is being sought through UNISON and other parties, the authorities have not yet revealed where they have been taken, and the detained have no way to contact us.

 • ISS have informed UNISON that some cleaners detained may be fast-tracked out of the country, thus they may be deported within 72 hours.

 • Those detained have been working at SOAS for many years; they have settled in London and have families here. Deportation will be devastating not only for the individuals involved but also the families, who could be split up. They are also our friends and fellow colleagues.

 • The heavy-handed treatment which the cleaners received was grossly over the top and ISS/SOAS are complicit in this.

 • ISS knew that there was documentation problems with their employees yet have not acted to resolve this beforehand. It’s not a coincidence that the cleaners in question were among the first to fight for Union representation and a decent wage.

 • The actions today send a clear message to other agency workers in London not to fight for union representation, such levels of intimidation cannot be tolerated.

 • Boris Johnson has recently called for an amnesty for illegal workers in London, because he recognizes the vital work they do.

 • The raid is proof once again that SOAS cleaning staff need to be brought in-house and that companies like ISS which exploit and intimidate workers have no place at SOAS.

 • We are demanding an immediate end to the deportations!

 • We are demanding that cleaners be brought in-house where they will not be exposed to this level of harassment.

A protest is scheduled for tomorrow-

Monday 15th June at 8.30am on SOAS Steps. Please bring Union banners and other visual, audio aids.

Italian Fascist Ally of Berlusconi Suggests Segregated Buses

 At the same time they deny asylum rights to migrants by interdicting at sea, the EU need to stop being diplomatic with the Italian fascists less they appear (and become) yet another weak body that failed to stem European fascists. Or does that interfere with their Neoliberal outlook, which will end in authoritarian capitalist corporate states, hmmm-

A proposal to introduce racial segregation on trains, trams and buses in Milan provoked an outcry from Italian opposition politicians today. The scheme was put forward by a representative of the anti-immigrant Northern League, the prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s main ally in government. Matteo Salvini, the league’s secretary in Milan, told a rally to launch his party’s European election campaign that he wanted “seats or carriages reserved for the Milanese” on local public transport.

 Dario Franceschini, leader of Italy’s biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, said: “One’s thoughts go back to the affair of Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her place on the bus and inspired Martin Luther King’s struggle.” Salvini tried to downplay the row, insisting: “It was just a provocation to say the residents are now in a minority and, as such, need safeguarding.” But the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, spoke of a “worrying” increase in intolerance, while the opposition Italy of Principles party called on the government to disown the idea publicly.

 However, Berlusconi, whose government is already under attack for its immigration policies after the Italian navy returned to Libya more than 200 boat people without letting them apply for asylum, said: “Salvini himself has said it was a quip, a provocation.” The interior minister, Roberto Maroni, a Northern League member, hailed it as a “turning point” in his battle to stem the flow of immigrants through Italy’s Mediterranean islands. But the UN and human rights groups accused the government of violating international treaties to which Italy is a signatory.

 On Thursday the occupants of three boats adrift, reportedly in Maltese waters, were escorted back to the Libyan coast by Italian naval vessels. It was the first time that Libyan authorities were known to have accepted back migrants who set off from their coast. The shift appeared to reflect recent agreements between Berlusconi’s government and Libya. According to UNHCR, three-quarters of migrants who arrive in Italy by sea apply for asylum and, of those, half are recognised as genuine refugees. Maroni said that, in the latest instance, Italy was not bound to consider the asylum requests because the 227 migrants had not reached Italian waters,

 But the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, said the operation was a “source of very serious concern”. Human Rights Watch said Libya had a terrible record in dealing with migrants, who it said were sometimes subjected to indefinite detention “in inhuman and degrading conditions”. The EU justice commissioner, Jacques Barrot, carefully avoided joining the chorus of protest. He said his department was still gathering information on the circumstances.

After Escaping Burma, Migrants Face Brutal Exploitation

(IPS) – The mistreatment of Burmese migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia is the focus of a report released Thursday by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

After receiving disturbing reports of trafficking in 2007, committee staff conducted a year-long review of the allegations. The report, “Trafficking and Extortion of Burmese Migrants in Malaysia and Southern Thailand,” is based on first person accounts of extortion and trafficking in Malaysia and along the Malaysia-Thailand border. Committee information comes from experiences of Burmese refugees resettled in the United States and other countries.

Many Burmese migrants, escaping extensive human rights abuses perpetrated by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the Burmese military junta, travel to Malaysia to register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for resettlement to a third country, according to the report.

Once in Malaysia, Burmese migrants are often arrested by Malaysian authorities, whether or not they have registered with the UNHCR and have identification papers. Burmese migrants are reportedly taken by Malaysian government personnel from detention facilities to the Malaysia-Thailand border for deportation.

Upon arrival at the Malaysia-Thailand border, human traffickers reportedly take possession of the migrants and issue ransom demands on an individual basis. Migrants state that freedom is possible only once money demands are met. Specific payment procedures are outlined, which reportedly include bank accounts in Kuala Lumpur to which money should be transferred.

It has become commonplace for the authorities to use the vigilante RELA force to periodically arrest and “deport” Rohingyas, a Muslim minority, but since Burma does not recognise them as citizens, the practise is to take them to the Bukit Kayu Hitam area on the Thai-Malaysia border and force them to cross over into Thailand.

Migrants state that those unable to pay are turned over to human peddlers in Thailand, representing a variety of business interests from fishing boats to brothels.

Human rights activists have long charged that immigration, police and other enforcement officials, have been “trading” Rohingyas to human traffickers in Thailand who then pass them on to deep sea fishing trawler operators in the South China Sea.

“People seeking refuge from oppression in Burma are being abused by Malaysian government officials and human traffickers,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The committee has received numerous reports of sexual assaults against Burmese women by human traffickers along the border. One non-profit organisation official states that “Most young women deported to the Thai border are sexually abused, even in front of their husbands, by the syndicates, since no one dares to intervene as they would be shot or stabbed to death in the jungle.” Women are generally sold into the sex industry.

“(The Burmese refugees) are treated as a commodity and frequently bought and sold and we have been condemning this practise for a long time,” Irene Fernandez, executive director of Tenaganita, a non-profit group that protects migrant workers, told IPS in January. “Our demands have always fallen on deaf ears despite the accumulating evidence of the involvement of uniformed officials in the trade.”

The report, the first of three, states that Malaysia does not officially recognise refugees, due in part to concern by the government that official recognition of refugees would encourage more people to enter Malaysia, primarily for economic reasons. Also, Malaysian officials view migrants as a threat to Malaysia’s national security.

“Malaysia does not recognise key international agreements on the protection of refugees and foreign nationals. Nor does it apply to foreign migrants the same rights and legal protections given to Malaysian citizens,” Fernandez said.

Foreign labor is an integral building block of Malaysia’s upward economic mobility. While Malaysia’s total workforce is 11.3 million, there are approximately 2.1 million legal foreign workers and an additional one million illegal workers, though no accurate information is available.

While Malaysia accepts the presence of Burmese and others from outside of the country for the purpose of contributing to the work force, persons identified as refugees and asylum seekers on their way to a third country are viewed as threats to national security.

In an interview with The New York Times, RELA’s director-general, Zaidon Asmuni, said, “We have no more Communists at the moment, but we are now facing illegal immigrants. As you know, in Malaysia, illegal immigrants are enemy No. 2.”

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The Thin End

The idiot slogan British jobs for British workers is doing just what the ruling class wants, divide and rule schmucks. Phil adds some nuance but it does come down to that nationalist slogan is a poisonous and self defeating one. Lenin said a lot but Dave says it best, (he tells me it is the SWP statement, so anyway, it says it best) here’s a taste-

The slogan accepted by many of the strikers is “British jobs for British workers”. That comes directly from Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party conference in 2007.

Update: Gordon has just reiterated it, utterly shameful.

And it has been encouraged by many in the higher levels of the Unite union. Derek Simpson and others at the top of Unite have done nothing to encourage resistance to job losses, or a fightback against repossessions or against the anti-union laws. Instead they go along with a campaign that can divide workers.

But it lets the bosses off the hook and it threatens murderous division at a time when we need unity in action to fight back.

It’s not Italians or Poles or Portuguese workers who are to blame for the attacks on British workers’ conditions.

Construction workers have always been forced to move far from home for jobs, whether inside a country or between countries. How many British workers (or their fathers or brothers) have been forced to work abroad from Dubai to Dusseldorf?

When workers are divided it’s the bosses who gain. Total Oil, who manage the Immingham refinery, make £5 billion every three months! Jacobs, the main contractor which has then sub-contracted to an Italian firm, made £250 million in 2007.

These are the people workers should be hitting, not turning on one another.

Those who urge on these strikes are playing with fire. Once the argument is raised it can open the door to racism against individuals. Already in some supermarket warehouses the racists are calling for action against workers from abroad.

We all know what will happen if the idea spreads that it’s foreigners, or immigrants or black or Asian people who are to blame for the crisis. It will be a disaster for the whole working class, will encourage every racist and fascist and make it easier for the bosses to ram through pay and job cuts. Already the BNP are pumping out racist propaganda supporting the strikes.

Everyone should ask themselves why Tory papers like the Express and the Sun and Mail – which hate union power and urge on privatisation – are sympathetic to the strikes.

Obama’s Aunt

Listen to Kyle-

The way the mainstream “progressive” netroots have handled the story of Obama’s Aunt is a complete embarrassment.  I wrote about it earlier this morning.  First, I was told several times by commenters on Daily Kos that “this is a non-story”.  Wrong.  It has been on the front page of memeorandum all day.  If you have turned on your TV, it has been blaring all over the 24-hour cable news networks.

The silence is deafening on the front pages of major “progressive” blogs like Daily Kos and Firedoglake.  My only conclusion can be that they agree that this is a non-story.  It’s to be expected from blogs that exist to elect “more and better Democrats.”  If it helps Democrats to be silent on one of the most important social justice issues of our time, U.S. migration policy, you can expect that the “progressive” blogs will follow.  It’s to be expected from those that have called migration a “pet issue.”

The few that have covered the story, like, Matt Stoller of Open Left, Digby, and Josh Marshall and Zachary Roth of Talking Points Memo, have completely ceded the U.S. migration debate to nativists.  The debate over this story has devolved into one of Republican nativism and Democrats and their allies either describing this as smear or running as far away from this as they can. If having an unauthorized migrant relative is a smear, than smear me too.

Read the full piece with links@ Citizen Orange

About Zeituni Onyango-

Onyango… is paid a small stipend for working as a health advocate in her housing complex. […]

For three years, she was a volunteer with Experience Corps, a nonprofit that trains adults over 55 to work with children in public schools, said Mary Gunn, the group’s executive director.

In a profile on the Experience Corps website, Onyango is described as a “former computer systems coordinator” who says she wanted to volunteer in the schools because “I felt that I should help the children in my community.”

“I love people and enjoy interacting with them,” Onyango said. “Also, I was idle, and this was a chance to get involved.”

Gunn said Onyango is a wonderful person, but said, “Zeituni wishes for me not to comment, and I want to honor her wish.”

Ms. Onyango lives in a disabled-access apartment and worked as a volunteer resident health advocate for the Boston Housing Authority before stopping recently for physical therapy following back surgery, said William McGonagle, deputy director of the authority.

I’m sorry, have we stepped into bizarro world where a helpful, volunteering woman who is enriching her community is considered a bad thing? But wait we have haven’t we, war is good, it spreads peace and wins hearts & minds, freedom is best defended by mass surveillance & torture and the basics of the economy are sound. And after a retard the Republicans are offering up a wife beater to appeal to voters, actually that bit’s business as usual.