Anniversaries: Chinese Exclusion Act, Employer Sanctions & More



Today is Cinco de Mayo

The marketing for Cinco de Mayo parties has been going strong over the past week, and plans are proceeding for some mobilizations - although these don't seem to be in the numbers of past years. Although immigrant participation and messaging was strong during Monday's International Workers' Day marches and rallies, the "celebration" nature of Cinco de Mayo seems to have waned a bit in the face of Donald Trump's persistent attacks on immigrant rights and communities.

Nonetheless, it's worth noting that Cinco de Mayo is really about: it commemorates the victory of Mexico over French troops in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 -- a victory known for a smaller army defeating (if temporarily) a larger one. Some historians believe the defeat in this battle also dampened French support for the southern Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, thus contributing to the abolition of slavery. 

NNIRR Board member Bill Chandler of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance shares more on "The Truth" about Cinco de Mayo here, in English and in Spanish.

The Chinese Exclusion Act

May 6 is the 135th anniversary of the notorious Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 -- an anniversary that Bay Area organizers will mark with a "Rally for Inclusion" tomorrow, Saturday, May 6 in San Francisco.

Trump's proposal for a Muslim ban has resurfaced an ugly history of U.S. exclusion and immigration restriction policies and laws, causing many community activists and advocates to call for solidarity and resistance: exclusion was wrong then and it is wrong now!

Check out the No More Exclusion website for more information about the rally as well as tools and resources on the Chinese Exclusion Act.

And look for NNIRR's new online edition of Network News next week -- it will include an article about the Chinese Exclusion Act and a link to an updated history of U.S. exclusion policies.

The Implementation of Employer Sanctions

Six months after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), in November 1986, a key provision of the compromise bill, employer sanctions, kicked in. 30 years have now passed, and there are likely many people in today's immigrant rights movement who know little about the significance of these sanctions.

As described a number of years ago by David Bacon and Bill Ong Hing in a great overview article, "The Rise and Fall of Employer Sanctions", this provision of IRCA "requires employers to keep records of workers' immigration status, and prohibits them from 'knowingly hiring' those who have no legal documents, or 'work authorization.' In effect, the law made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work. This provision, employer sanctions, is the legal basis for all the workplace immigration raids and enforcement for a quarter century and now for Obama's auditing of employment records. The end result is the same: workers lose their jobs. Sanctions pretend to punish employers, but in reality, they punish workers."

And of course the premise of employer sanctions has set the stage for workplace raids, for the E-verify program, for the "criminalization" of immigrant workers. It's an important part of our history and of our fight for immigrant rights today. Happy 30th anniversary, employer sanctions. Not.

Thank you, Camille and Katharine

Today we are saying farewell and Thank You to Camille Ely and Katharine Hirata, our Spring 2017 interns. We have been so fortunate to have their great company and dedication this year!

They have been incredible members of the team during this chaotic period and have contributed so much to our work. Camille came to us from France and quickly adapted to the challenges facing us with the Trump presidency. She's produced fact sheets, the new educational "immigration quizzes", researched and drafted artciles, posted to social media, updated the website and so many other tasks that come with working in our office. Katharine is graduating from UC Berkeley, and worked with us part-time during a busy senior year. She also monitored new legislation, worked on border fact sheets, including a new piece on the "the wall" and has updated a history of U.S. Immigrant exclusion laws. You'll see some of their contributions in our upcoming Network News online, a "new", quarterly and shorter version of NNIRR's newsmagazine that was published in print for many years.

From all of us at NNIRR, thank you Camille and Katharine! We know we will remain connected. We wish you both the very best!