Documented watch party

DOCUMENTED watch party 6/29!

The United States is home to a vast majority of people who are direct decedents of immigrants or who are immigrants themselves. Our politicians devote plenty of political rhetoric to equal opportunity and the idea that this is a country of immigrants. In reality, there exists in this country a humanitarian crisis; an estimated 11 million people that are locked in a permanent underclass.

This is a humanitarian crisis years in the making, largely because of the political disregard of the problems facing immigrants. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice aims to shed light not just on immigrant rights, but on the apathetic nihilism and political opportunism of our representatives. To help combat the social stigmas facing undocumented people, the SCSJ is hosting a watch party for DOCUMENTED, a film that explores the life of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who recently came out as undocumented. Join us this Sunday, June 29th, at 9:00 PM EDT, and take part in a conversation on immigrant rights.

According to the New York Times, the United States is currently “faced with an unprecedented surge of child migrants from Central America that is overwhelming shelters and jails in Texas and Arizona.” 52,000 children have been caught crossing the border into the U.S. since October of last year, twice as many as the year before.

The Obama Administration has said that this amounts to an “urgent humanitarian crisis,” and has responded by planning to house undocumented children in detention centers and expediting deportation strategies to send the children back to the countries they initially fled. While many immigrants’ rights groups denounced the Administration’s decision as an inhumane response to an already bleak predicament facing the children in their home countries, critics of the decision said the proposal didn’t go far enough.

This is indeed a humanitarian crisis, but not for the reasons given by mainstream media. Neither forced deportation of child migrants nor an increase in border militarization will solve problems for the countries children flee from, or the 11 million undocumented people who are stuck in a new caste system here in the U.S.

Join with us on June 29 to watch Documented, and share your thoughts on what comes next to end the human rights crisis that is U.S. immigration policy.

Post by SCSJ Intern Aaron Bryant

Immigrant Detention Center

Detention quotas are bad business


As the immigrant rights movement grows stronger, and as communities come together in defense of justice and dignity for all immigrants, we have the power to demand that the federal government eliminate the quota and stop the senseless targeting and incarceration of immigrants.

The immigration detention bed quota requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to lock up a minimum of 34,000 immigrants at any given time. This policy is unprecedented – no other law enforcement agency operates on a quota system. 

  • With a guaranteed need for detention “beds” or jail cells, the detention bed quota essentially forces the use of facilities that have poor track records in which innumerable human rights abuses and dozens of deaths have occurred. These facilities have issues ranging from no access to the outdoor space, maggot- and worm-infested food, and wholly inadequate medical and mental health care.
  • What’s more, the cost to maintain this unmanageable system is excessive. In 2012, ICE detained an estimated 478,000 immigrants and the current budget for ICE’s detention budget is just short of $2 billion. During a time of fiscal crisis, it is unacceptable to be spending billions in taxpayer dollars each year to needlessly detain immigrants to fill a quota.
  • Having a quota on how many people must be locked up every day puts a price tag on immigrant lives.  The policy leads to Congress and ICE treating immigrants as numbers filling a quota and products to be bought and sold, not as real people with children and loved ones depending on them.
  • The quota not only impacts the hundreds and thousands of immigrants that go through the detention system each year, but also the families and communities that that have been torn apart due to immigration detention.
  • The quota also incentivizes targeting people for deportation in order to fill jail cells. As politicians tout efforts towards comprehensive immigration reform and relief for those subject to deportation, any meaningful reforms to the immigration system will be impossible with the quota in place.

This issue has been brought to light by The Detention Watch Network, a national coalition working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

To learn more and participate in their call to action, visit

This video explains the horrors of the U.S. immigrant detention system.

Post by Shoshannah Sayers

North Carolina’s Agricultural Calamity: A Review of the Documentary “Harvest of Dignity”

North Carolina’s Agricultural Calamity: A Review of the Documentary “Harvest of Dignity”

Children Working (

Children Working (

Over fifty years ago, native North Carolinian Edward R. Murrow’s groundbreaking documentary, “Harvest of Shame” explored issues of housing, pay, and education for farmworkers in the eastern United States. This film created awareness concerning the shortcomings of the agriculture system and led to several legislation changes.

Today, North Carolina ranks as one of the top agricultural producers in the U.S. This system depends on more than 180,000 migrant workers, whose mean salary lingers below $11,000 per year. A Carrboro production company, Minnow Media, with director Donna Campbell, highlights the connections between the 1960’s film “Harvest of Shame” and the current climate for migrant workers and their families in the documentary “Harvest of Dignity.”

Harvest of Dignity highlights the existence of American dream-deprived immigrants, as well as American citizens who are trapped by a system of servitude, mimicking circumstances recognized in even the earliest days of agricultural collectives.  In fact, inhumane living conditions in connection to modern farms arguably harken back to slave quarters in the Pre-Civil War Era South.  Steve Davis of Migrant Outreach, Greene County Healthcare even classifies farmworker residences in Greene County specifically, as being “barracks style” homes.

Migrant worker housing

Migrant worker housing

Harvest of Dignity portrays a world where immigrant employees, who are commonly on temporary work visas, are required to carry out their work day with no water, and bathroom breaks are often not permitted.  A worker from the film calls the work settings “undesirable” and it’s hard to imagine the atrocities that are blanketed beneath that single word.  The documentary illustrates camps that are hidden from public view, a tactic that capitalizes on the idea of being out of sight, and as a result, out of the minds of the public.  The film reveals images of the disparities experienced by an entire body of people similar to modern day Native American reservations, also strategically hidden from view.

 Testimony from one North Carolinian health worker confirms that decades ago, there was a “pitch” used to coerce needy people into working on the farms.  The pitch promised food, shelter, and fair pay would be provided for their hard work.  The employers singled out new immigrants and the homeless, taking advantage of those with little social power and in need of relief.  For decades, those promises went ignored.  The same pitch is used today.

HD Comparison Picture


The documentary asserts that in addition to providing farmworkers with poor living conditions, employers are not properly educating their employee on vital safety practices, and language or educational barriers become causes of serious and even fatal injuries.  Employees are being exposed to toxic pesticides on a daily basis, work without regard to impending harm.  Isolation leaves little room for education, and treatable illnesses like STI’s go undiagnosed.

Laws that were designed for the health, well-being, and protection of America’s workers are being ignored, or simply excluded from the entire field of agriculture.  Business related to agriculture is exempt from the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and minimum wage requirements that most states have adopted.  Child Labor Laws  are inapplicable to agriculture, allowing Children as young as 10 years old to work a maximum of 30 hours a week.   Because poverty is a cycle that is often difficult to break, children of farmworkers become farmworkers themselves before ever reaching adulthood.  As a result, they are denied education, advancement, and the freedom to change their lives.

Mexican Migrant Children (

Mexican Migrant Children (

Harvest of Dignity is an important film that gives a glimpse of the stark reality facing many farm workers in North Carolina and throughout the South. In an economy that focuses on “right to work” laws instead of worker’s rights, there is little reason to expect the situation to improve in the foreseeable future. “There is grim irony in speaking of freedom of contract of those who, because of their economic necessities, give their service for less than is needful to keep body and soul together”.  Harlan Fiske Stone

Click here to watch Harvest of Dignity online for free.

Click here to learn more about the ongoing Harvest of Dignity campaign to improve working conditions for North Carolina farmworkers.

Post by SCSJ Intern Nadiah Porter

NC Immigrant Students Seek the Promise of Public Education

Access to public education should be available to all children, regardless of where they were born. This seems like a simple idea – why would we deny any child a basic K-12 education? How can a child grow intellectually and emotionally, and become a contributing member of society, without a sound basic education? Courts and legislatures have recognized that fact for years, particularly in Brown v. Board of Education. Because of education’s importance, North Carolina makes a broad promise of public education for students. Yet some immigrant children in North Carolina are kept out of schools because of their limited English or national origin.

image share

SCSJ, along with three other legal services organizations (Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, The North Carolina Justice Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center) recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice demanding that all NC children have access to public schools, regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.

According to North Carolina statute, any child living within a county has the right to attend public school within that county. This state-level protection and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution collectively make a promise that all children – regardless of immigration status – may enroll in their local public school. Yet the children represented in the complaint were turned away from public schools in various counties in North Carolina. Two were told that they were too old to enroll in high school even though they were 17 and NC public schools allow students up to age 21 to attend high school. One was told that he must pass an English-language proficiency test before being enrolled. Requiring a child to speak English before he has a chance to learn it is deeply perverse. It is also illegal.

The discrimination encountered by these children is a violation of Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of national origin in federally funded public schools, according to the complaint. The complaint also notes that more than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Plyler v. Doe that it is unconstitutional to deny a child present in the United States a public education on the basis of her federal immigration status.

SCSJ believes that every child deserves access to public education. Participating in this federal complaint is part of our commitment to provide education access for all children in North Carolina.

The press release is available in English and Spanish.

The full complaint with all attachments is available in English and Spanish .

Southernside environmental justice complaint

Environmental Justice Workshop with Professor Laura Pulido

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice strongly supports Environmental Justice at both the community and academic levels. SCSJ’s recent Environmental Justice matters include Gates County, NC‘s successful campaign against an Outlying Landing Field and Southernside, South Carolina’s pending environmental justice claim with the Department of Transportation. In keeping with our onging support of Environmental Justice, SCSJ is sharing information about an upcoming EJ workshop at UNC and Duke on February 6 and 7, 2014.

February 6 and 7: Engaged Scholarship and Environmental Justice with Professor Laura Pulido

Professor Laura Pulido

Professor Laura Pulido

Environmental justice and race scholar Laura Pulido will be visiting UNC and Duke on February 6 and 7 to talk about engaged scholarship in geography and her research on landscapes of environmental racism. Geographers and other interested parties are invited to join Professor Pulido in two organized events:

1. On Thursday February 6, Professor Pulido will join a workshop structured around questions of power and knowledge in contemporary urban environments. She will discuss her experience with ethical and political boundaries in her research, approaches to engaged scholarship, what it means to do work on race in geography, and the relationship between scholarship, movements and activism. E-mail for PDFs of the papers that will accompany the discussion. Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students are welcome. Time and location: FEB 6. 3.00-5.00PM. UNC CHAPEL HILL, Saunders Hall 321.

2. On Friday February 7, Professor Pulido will give a talk titled “Landscapes of Environmental Justice” at the Duke-UNC Consortium Conference on Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In this talk, Professor Pulido takes a long historical view to situate cases of environmental racism. Focusing on the actions of the state within the context of racial capitalism, she examines the various economic and social processes that led to the current environmental racism associated with a local polluter in Los Angeles, Exide Technologies. Going back to Spanish colonization, she shows how the landscape and geography of Exide Technologies was centuries in the making and that the current exposure of local Latinas/os is the latest in a long history of injustices.The talk will be followed by commentaries from Professor Arturo Escobar (UNC Anthropology) and Professor Gabriela Valdivia (UNC Geography). Time and location: FRIDAY, FEB 7. 3.00-4.30PM. FRANKLIN CENTER ROOM 240. DUKE UNIVERISTY.

Laura Pulido is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She researches race, political activism, Chicana/o Studies, critical human geography, and Los Angeles. She studies how various groups experience racial and class oppression, how these experiences differ among particular communities of color, and how they mobilize to create a more socially-just world. Professor Pulido has worked in the field of environmental justice, social movements, labor studies, and radical tourism.

These events are co-sponsored by the Geography Department at UNC Chapel Hill, the Working Group on Social Cartographies of the Americas, and the Duke-UNC Consortium on Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Latino Challenges Toward Racial Equity

IMG_4230Latino Challenges Toward Racial Equity

Guest post from Florence Siman of El Pueblo, Inc.

We’ve heard it a million times: that Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the US population (or were until just the other day) and that, together with African Americans, we are among the nation’s poorest and sickest, over-represented in prisons and unemployment lines, and under-represented in schools, business and politics.

We also know that Latinos are the largest of the so-called “minority” groups in the US today and that, together with African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other People of Color, we will outnumber Whites to become the new “majority” within the next thirty years. That is, if we are still considered “People of Color” by then, since the definition of race has always been flexible and who is considered “White” is changing once again.

This fact, that the definitions of “race” and “whiteness” has actually changed throughout the history of this country, is something not too many people know about or understand. Nor do many people, Latinos and Latinas included, know how people of Latin American origin in the US have been racially defined—and re-defined—over the past 195 years since the US purchase of Florida, the Mexican-American and Spanish-American Wars, and its on-going relationships with Latin America and the Caribbean. Nor have many people, Latino and otherwise, closely examined the origin and implications of the term “Hispanic,” or its impact on our identity and, potentially, on our collective social, cultural, economic and political well-being.

In the Latino Challenges Toward Racial Equity workshop, to be held January 17-18, 2014 in Greensboro NC, we examine the racialization of Latinos in the US. To shed some additional light on the complexities of racial identity of Latinos, we will also provide some historical and cultural context of race and racism in Latin America.

Moreover, we will explore how Latino identity is a source of strength for individuals and families of Latin American origin in the United States. Furthermore, we will propose that a critical understanding of the Latino experience of anyone that works in and with Latino communities is central to ending racial disparities in our institutions and to working together to create racial equity in our society.

Among the topics we will address are:

  • Race and Racism: from the Spanish colonial castas system to the racial construct in the US today
  • The Cyclone of Oppression: Dynamics and Impacts of Cultural, Institutional, Interpersonal and Internalized Racism
  • Latino? Hispanic? Identity and Demography in a Race-Based Society
  • Black, Brown and Light: Latinos and the Ever-Changing Political Nature of “Race”
  • La cultura cura: The Healing Power of Culture
  • Integral Transformative Organizing: Coming Together for [a] Change

So, if you work with or on behalf of Latinos and seek to deepen your effectiveness in creating racial equity in the Greensboro-Chapel Hill-Durham area, please come join María Reinat-Pumarejo and me for this workshop. [And if you live and work elsewhere, let’s talk about organizing a workshop in your area.]

See the program flyer here.

Fill out the registration form here. Contact Veronica Hayes at 336-404-2574 or

On Human Rights Day, #ReformStorm seeks Immigration Reform

Today is International Human Rights Day, celebrated annually on December 10 to remind the world of the importance of basic human rights. This year, a group of immigrant rights allies are working on a twitter storm (concentrated tweets going into Boehner and Cantor’s offices) focused on International\l Human Rights Day today between 1pm ET – 2pm ET (Tuesday December 10th). The “Reform Storm” will advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. You may sign up here to receive more information and suggested actions, although you don’t have to sign up in order to participate.

The #ReformStorm will hit Reps. Boehner’s and Cantor’s Twitter feeds on 12/10/13 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET, when immigration reform supporters across the country will send a barrage of tweets urging them to schedule a vote.

The goal is to drive thousands of tweets to these members so they feel the pressure of our demands to call a vote on immigration reform, and to make it a reform we can be proud to support. Immigration advocates are asking participants to send as many tweets demanding immigration reform as they can to Rep. Boehner and Rep. Cantor on 12/10 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET.

If you aren’t on twitter, you can also post these items to facebook and ask your friends on twitter to post them, too.

ALSO PLEASE CHANGE YOUR FACEBOOK banner to the image below for today.


Here are some sample tweets:

• In honor of #HumanRightsDay, you should try caring about human rights @JohnBoehner. Support a #PathToJustice

• Don’t celebrate #HumanRightsDay by supporting racial profiling. Time for a #PathToJustice @JohnBoehner

• One unified voice is calling for a #PathToJustice for immigrants, @JohnBoehner. Can you hear our #ReformStorm?

• This #HumanRightsDay, we all call for a #PathToJustice @GOPLeader! Can you hear our #ReformStorm?

• We will not stand idly by. This #HumanRightsDay, we call for a #PathToJustice @SpeakerBoehner.

• Good policy is good politics, @GOPLeader. #SAFEAct is neither. Hear our #ReformStorm. We demand a #PathToJustice

• Int’l Human Rights Day 12/10 commemorates the @UN adoption of the Universal Declaration of #HumanRights:

• #CIR should honor Universal Declaration of #HumanRights: “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader @SpeakerBoehner it’s time to act on immigration reform. Give us a vote! #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader @SpeakerBoehner American majority (88%) wants an #immigration process w/ a roadmap to citizenship now! #ReformStorm

• .@SpeakerBoehner We demand a vote! Our immigration process should uphold #HumanRights of all regardless of citizenship status #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader @SpeakerBoehner leaders are fasting on the Mall in solidarity with the 11 million. It’s time for the House to act #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader #TimeIsNow to vote on #CIR that includes a clear roadmap 4 New Americans who aspire to be citizens #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader @SpeakerBoehner this Int’l #HumanRights Day, #TimeIsNow for #CIR with a clear roadmap to citizenship! #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader uphold U.S. value that hard work should be rewarded. Protect workers’ rights, regardless of #immigration status! #ReformStorm

• .@SpeakerBoehner a fair day in court & access to lawyers: #HumanRights central to U.S. justice system. Protect due process! #ReformStorm.

• .@GOPLeader Int’l #HumanRights Declaration states “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” #not1more #ReformStorm

• .@SpeakerBoehner When we allow denial of due process to any immigrants here, we allow a threat to our core #HumanRights values. #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader immigrants come here to make a better life. Uphold American value that families should stick together! #ReformStorm

• .@SpeakerBoehner why haven’t you visited the #Fast4Families tent? You’re invited: 6pm vigil for #CIR that honors #HumanRights #ReformStorm

• .@GOPLeader @SpeakerBoehner the #SAFEAct is anything but safe. Don’t legalize racial profiling #ReformStorm#EndRP

• All people should be treated fairly no matter the color of their skin or birth country @SpeakerBoehner #EndRacialProfiling #ReformStorm

YOU can Help with Research on Housing Experiences of Immigrant Women

This is a courtesy posting from National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project
We are seeking your assistance in learning more about the problems immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and abused, abandoned and run away children have in accessing transitional housing and public and assisted housing by completing a two-part survey by Thursday, December 12th.

Since 2001, undocumented immigrants who are homeless, victims of domestic violence, or runaway, abused or abandoned children have been eligible as a matter of law to access transitional housing.  The first goal of this survey is to learn the extent to which immigrant crime victims have been successful or have encountered barriers that impede their access to transitional housing.  This survey, available at, should take less than 30 minutes to complete.

Our second goal is to learn the extent to which battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners and their children have been able to access public and assisted housing.  In 1996 immigration and benefits laws made VAWA self-petitioners who received prima facie determinations “qualified immigrants,” eligible to live in public and assisted housing units and to receive subsidies on their own behalf in addition to what their citizen children may qualify for.  To qualify the victim must remove the perpetrator from the public or assisted housing unit and have the unit transferred to their or their child’s name.  This survey is designed to learn the extent to which battered immigrant VAWA self-petitioners have been able to access these important benefits and how not having access to public or assisted housing for themselves in addition to their children affects the lives and safety of battered immigrants and their children.  It is available at and is about half as long as the first part.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in this survey and forwarding it to other service providers. We will distribute the results widely: to you, your organization, and to government agencies. The knowledge we gain from this survey, regarding how delays in access to work authorization affect immigrant victims and their children, will assist police, prosecutors, attorneys, and advocates working with immigrant victims to improve safety, legal protections and case planning.


Leslye Orloff, Director
National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP, pronounced new-app)
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW · Room 465 · Washington, DC 20016-8181
(o) 202.274.4190 · (f) 202.274.4226 · ·

For technical assistance, call NIWAP at 202-274-4457 or email
Training:; Directory of Service Providers: