ImmigrationWorkingGroupNotes Nov3

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OB Immigration Working Group

Thursday, November 3, 2011

6pm – 8pm
Simmons College L223

Meeting Notes: Attendees:

Margot, Kendra, Gabriel, Julia, Lena, Lindsey, Danielle, Laura

Introductions: Individuals who attended the meeting are involved in groups such as Centro Presente, JwJ, National Immigration Project, Harvard Immigration Project at Harvard Law School, Health Professionals from area hospitals and OccupyBoston activists.

Discussion regarding how Centro Presente and JwJ can reach out/collaborate with OB.

Discussion of the events of interruption (group of white men marching through the crowd with their faces covered yelling “Out of the Park and into the Streets” about 4 times/ 2 interruptions on the mic requesting people to march as well) at the Immigration Forum on October 23. Group agreed that there needs to be a discussion within OccupyBoston about the disrespect and racism that resulted from these actions. We agreed to contact the Anti- Oppression working group to see if they can provide us a platform to have this conversation ( Also, we agreed that this conversation needs to take place before any actions are taken involving immigrant communities in the future.

Update: Anti-Oppression, Community Wellness and Outreach have been discussing the events (as well as others) of interruption and disrespect at the Forum and have been having communications regarding how to create safe and respectful spaces in the future. I will continue to update the group with what I have learned has been done and the proposals for the future. The individuals who were marching have been called out on their disrespectful actions and every effort is being made to create respectful spaces on site.

We have also discussed how these actions (marching, disrespect etc.) could have created/or have created a distance between the groups/people that took the time to speak, and attend the forum, and the Occupy Boston movement. If Immigrant communities and immigrant subjects continue to be disrespected people will not want to spend the time getting involved or making their voices/concerms heard. 

Discussion of current campaigns including Just Communities, E-Verify, Wage Recovery and Know your Rights that are currently taking place. These campaigns are possibly a way that OccupyBoston can provide a platform (collaboratively working with immigrant groups and communities) to take action against discrimination, racism and injustice.

Discussion regarding the word Occupy and how some may find it offensive, imperialist, ignorant and insensitive.

Discussion of reservations regarding being active in the Occupy movement. How can we use what Occupy movement (Occupy Boston) is about (99%) to speak of our concerns regarding immigration.

Discussion of using teach-ins to educate OB about discriminatory and oppressive campaigns such as Secure Communities, E-Verify, withholding/refusal to pay worker’s wages (Wage Injustice). Some felt that teach-ins/education was important to create awareness and to make visible the injustices taking place within immigrant communities and all communities of Boston/Massachusetts.

Discussion of how individuals that have visited the OB site have observed that most of the representations of the 99% were “white young kids” and we all discussed our hopes of a more diverse representation of the 99%. (anti-oppression is working directly on this).

Discussion of collaborating with anti-oppression group (who recently had a 300 person anti- oppression training). Update: I have emailed them several times and did so again this morning. I will report back with progress that has been made.

What do we want from Occupy Boston? How can we use it as a platform to voice our concerns regarding separation and discrimination of immigrant communities?

Proposal by Patricia at Centro Presente:

The Just Communities Campaign, organized by Centro Presente, has been working to try to get rid of Secure Communities. There have already been emergency meetings, press conferences, community forums (MIRA and governor’s office). Secure Communities is still operating in the city of Boston.

Proposal to Occupy City Hall, this would be a symbolic occupation and would not ask people to sit in the Mayor’s office or to get arrested. Discussion of possibly having a teach-in (which would hopefully be done by Centro Presente/Just Communities Campaign and other Immigrant Rights Groups), a march that would lead to City Hall and then an Occupy City Hall action.

Discussion of actions that can also be taken against E-Verify.

E-Verify will allow employers to verify if an employee is authorized to work. There are currently “72 million” database errors which potentially could cause problems for all workers. Discussion of how taking action against E-Verify might be an “easier-sell” as it affects all workers.

Discussion from members of the group that Secure Communities also affects all of our communities and is an important campaign to take action against. Discussion of Secure communities creating unsafe communities as community members are afraid to seek assistance from law enforcement. Secure Communities creates fear to “drive all wages down.”

Discussion of the appreciation of the Occupy movement as it offers us all an opportunity to have these conversations.

Discussion regarding how the immigrant movement is divided. How can we create a group that will represent various immigrant communities? One suggestion: reaching out to organizers of Occupy China Town as well as the community in China Town. China Town is extremely close to the Occupy site and at this time meeting attendees saw little outreach being done to the immigrant communities in China Town.

Discussion surrounding Ocupemos El Barrio and the importance of the space being created to discuss particular concerns of immigrant communities in Boston.

Discussion of how we want to structure future meetings and how weekday meetings may be more convenient. There was also a discussion regarding the reality that certain groups are understaffed and therefore may not have time to commit to weekly meetings. We proposed that we try to meet at least every 2 weeks and an email would go out to try to figure out what day of the week is best for everyone. There was an initial discussion that Tuesdays and Wednesdays were not convenient for some that had attended the meeting. In addition, others expressed that it depended on their schedule for the particular week being proposed.

Final Thoughts:

Meet in two weeks, email anti-oppression group about platform to discuss discriminatory actions taken at Forum, email anti-oppression and labor outreach about potential collaboration for a potential Occupy City Hall or similar action.

Kendra offered space at Harvard for future meetings. Outstanding Items:

  • Reaching out to Anti-Oppression and Labor Outreach.
  • Obtaining feedback on how we want to organize a discussion around the disrespectful actions taken at OB Immigration Forum.
  • How we want to structure email communication in the future. Are people comfortable with having emails made public on a distributed list?