France’s “Jungle” refugee camp is being dismantled — and residents may have nowhere to go

The French government has officially begun dismantling the infamous “Jungle” migrant camp in the French city of Calais, which houses roughly 6,000 people and has been a potent symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis.

About 2,000 of the camp’s residents, most of whom are from Africa and Afghanistan, left on buses voluntarily on Monday. Hundreds more have been following them out of the camp on Tuesday, the second full day of the operation.

Photo credits:
1. CLAIRE THOMAS/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
6. MICHAEL DEBETS/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
7. JACK TAYLOR/Getty Images


#BrownLivesMatter (2/12/15): This past Tuesday, 3 police officers gunned down Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican-born orchard worker, over throwing rocks at passing vehicles. They originally claimed that he was throwing rocks specifically at them. Video has now exposed them for the liars that they are– Antonio was killed as he held his hands up in surrender. Another life lost to the lawless police state. Rest in power, Antonio– we fight for you now too. #staywoke #farfromover

A Message To Meat Eaters:

Why White People Should Stop Using Migrant Workers As An Argument Against Vegetarianism (Masterpost)

Introduction: During my time here on tumblr, I’ve often seen well-meaning Social Justice Warriors point to the (very real and unconscionable) suffering of PoC in the plant-based portion of the agricultural industry as a way to counter vegetarians’ and vegans’ claims of living “cruelty-free.”  The argument is that veg(etari)ans don’t actually have cruelty-free lifestyles, and are just being hypocritical.  The more radical anti-veggies even claim that veg(etari)ans ‘care more about animals than people’, or that by incorporating more plants in their diet (to supplement the lack of meat) ve(getari)ans are exacerbating the suffering of migrant farm workers, and perpetuating racism to a degree that is not present in omnivore lifestyles.

This is dishonest and inaccurate for many reasons. 1) Non-vegetarians also consume products resulting from this exploited labor force, so it’s logically inconsistent to imply that non-vegetarians are in some way morally superior to vegetarians.  2) Not only do non-vegetarians still eat fruits and vegetables, but the food that is given to the animals raised for livestock is also cultivated by agricultural workers, and clearly the amount of food needed to sustain an animal over its lifetime is greater than the amount of food garnered by the meat upon its death.  (The actual ratios can be found here for anyone interested.)  3) Most importantly, and the key lesson of this post, is that the animal production industry - known colloquially as “factory farming” - upon which Americans get the majority of their meat, is also largely dependent on exploited PoC laboring in inhumane conditions. Thus, there is no logical reason at all why you should use the abuse of Latinx laborers specifically as a counterargument to vegans/vegetarians.

Obviously raising awareness of the suffering that low-income PoC in the agricultural industry face IS fundamentally important.  It’s also true that it’s nigh-impossible to live a truly “cruelty-free” lifestyle under a capitalist system.  However, it is worth mentioning that it is incredibly offensive for white people to ignorantly misuse the suffering of agricultural workers of color in order to perpetuate their own political agenda against vegetarians.  Consciously or not, it is both disingenuous and exploitative, and ultimately does nothing to actually alleviate the suffering of these workers.  Furthermore, it completely erases the equally-legitimate suffering of workers of color in the meat industry, who are just as deserving of our advocacy.  *(Here are two posts I’m aware of where you can get PoC perspectives on this, since I’m whiter than Olaf tbh. If you have any other resources, please feel free to message me and I’ll add them in.)

So without further ado, here’s some knowledge.

The American Meat Industry - The Human Cost

  • 72% of farmworkers were born outside of the US, 68% in Mexico. The average education level of these laborers is the 8th grade. (x) If you’re thinking these stats are only for plant-based agricultural workers, you’re mistaken: “The Public Health Service Act provides the definition of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers for health center grantees, and includes those working in aquaculture and animal production. (x) (For that matter, any time you see something about “farmworkers” or “agricultural workers”, it includes the meat industry.  Agriculture includes animal production, as well as food cultivated from plants.) If you’re still skeptical, this 2014 survey from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics also confirms that over half of the people working in “animal slaughtering and processing” are black or Latinx.  (Additional details on demographics can also be found below.)
  • Just like you might expect from their treatment in the horticulture (plant) industry, these poor souls are desperate for work, so often have little choice but to accept mistreatment - especially because slaughterhouse workers are at-will employees (meaning they can be fired at any time, with no job security or protection against wrongful termination).  As a result, very few workplace hazards are reported to supervisors for fear they will lose their jobs or be replaced by somebody else willing to do the grueling and dangerous work. (x) Many workers have even been threatened with deportation. (x)  One study found that the large numbers of undocumented workers from Mexico and other parts of Latin America are almost half as likely to report an injury or job-related illness as their white counterparts.  Factory farms depend on these types of employees because they are thankful for the work - and, as a result, are unlikely to unionize, will endure horrible working conditions, tolerate long hours (sometimes 10-hour days or more), and be satisfied with very little pay. (x) and (x) They also aren’t necessarily forewarned of these conditions ahead of time, since most of them speak little or no English. (x)
  • Animal production is a dangerous job: among slaughterhouse workers who have been in the business for five years, 50% have experienced injury. (x)  The risks of workers in the meat industry could range from contracting diseases from handling the animal carcasses, to severe injuries from using the line equipment. During an average workday, employees inhale anything from ammonia to hydrogen sulfide, plus a number of other airborne bacteria. The air quality is so bad in these farms that nearly 70 percent of pig farm workers experience some sort of respiratory issue. (x) There are also long-term injuries to the employees’ hands, arms, shoulders and backs due to the physical and repetitive nature of the work. The health risks can even be deadly. (x) Remember that the overwhelming majority of these folks don’t have any form of health insurance, either.

  • Again, working conditions are terrible. Here are just some of the occupational hazards for those who work in aquaculture specifically (aquaculture = seafood and fishing): extreme temperatures, bacterial pathogens, heavy lifting, repetitive motions, chemical exposures, hazardous machinery, and all-terrain vehicles. Workers in the U.S. aquaculture industry are at an elevated risk of work-related fatalities. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry sector has the highest rate of work-related fatalities in the U.S. (x)  

  • Here are still more disturbing facts for the morbidly-inclined: The greatest risks for fatalities in aquaculture are inherently painful and violent deaths - namely, drowning, electrocution, head injuries, & gas poisonings. :| Non-fatal injuries and illnesses include work-related musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips, & falls, hypothermia, heat stress, sprains & strains, respiratory illnesses, skin allergies, bites & cuts, poisonings & envenomation, and work-related stress. Exposure can also lead to the development of allergies. Prolonged exposure to both finfish and shellfish without personal protective equipment may result in itching, eczema, urticaria, and irritation. Workers in processing facilities with poor ventilation have an elevated risk of developing work-related asthma. (x)

  • As with the meat industry in general, immigrant workers often constitute a significant proportion of the worker population on poultry farms and in poultry slaughter and processing facilities - a field classified as predominantly “3D” jobs (dirty, demeaning, and dangerous) . (x)  About half of poultry processing workers are Latino, and a quarter do not possess legal documents to work in the US. (x)

  • These workers face similar challenges - extreme temperatures, stress injuries (one poultry plant in SC had a 42% rate of carpel tunnel syndrome in its employees), exposure to dangerous chemicals, and exposure to infectious bacteria. (x)  Poultry workers at each link of the production chain earn low wages and work long shifts, often 12-14 hours. Chicken catchers earn an average of $92 per day for a 12 hour shift, and even poultry growers live in poverty: 71% of poultry growers have annual incomes below the federal poverty limit. Chicken catchers are particularly vulnerable to wage and hour violations, as they are generally paid for the completion of catching a set number of birds, and will not be paid for overtime. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is often not provided by employers, despite frequent worker exposure to chemicals, blood, feces, mold, endotoxins, and sharp cutting tools. (x)

  • The dairy industry is also horrendous.  There are accounts of Latinx workers being denied overtime, and forced to sign contracts promising to pay a fine of $50/day for any sick days they take. (x) Such conditions are the norm for hundreds of workers in California’s dairy industry. Exploitative dairies pay workers barely enough to eat; force them to work 12 to 16 hours a day, six or seven days a week; deny workers meal breaks; and withhold overtime pay. Some dairies abuse workers both physically and verbally; many expose employees to safety hazards on the job, and house employees in rundown buildings onsite which have no windows or locking doors, and are infested by vermin.  (A word of caution, if you choose to read the article that talks about this, it contains descriptions of severe abuse, injury, and death to exploited PoC and is quite disturbing, though important.)  Here are some more facts too.

  • It’s just a fucking horrible job - gross and violent and unhygienic. (x) Here is a short (graphic and disgusting) quote from an article from The Guardian describing the work involved in meat packing: “Every hour, more than 1,300 severed pork heads would go sliding along the belt. Workers sliced off the ears, clipped the snouts, chiseled the cheek meat. They scooped out the eyes, carved out the tongues, and scraped the palate meat from the roofs of mouths.” (x)  It’s brutal and dangerous, and multiple reports exist of workers being permanently injured by distressed animals (e.g., cows).  It isn’t just hazardous, it’s fundamentally a deeply unpleasant line of work.

So in short, please stop using the abuse of seasonal farm workers as an excuse to rag on vegetarians.  It’s completely ignorant and you’re throwing thousands of vulnerable PoC under the bus.  By all means, speak out against the mistreatment of the PoC working in the fields.  It’s a desperately important issue.  But if you’re only doing it when you have the opportunity to chastise vegetarians you don’t like, you’re using their suffering as a prop, and doing absolutely nothing to end that abuse.


United 4 the DREAM, a local, Charlotte based, youth led migrant justice organization stages scenes depicting the reality of our broken immigration system using a technique called Theater of the Oppressed. 

The scenes included family separation, unequal access to education for undocumented students, migrant labor exploitation, and anti-migrant racism, stereotyping and profiling.

This action occurred to today on the corner of Trade & Tryon - one of the biggest intersections of Charlotte’s downtown. 

Finding and Connecting the World’s Displaced Communities with Matilde Gattoni

To see more of her dispatches from around the world, follow @matildegattoni on Instagram.

Matilde Gattoni (@matildegattoni) has her #EyesOn the world’s displaced communities. Working across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, the Italian photographer’s stories are driven by realizations she makes on the ground. “I was very surprised to learn that there are 13 countries along the coast of West Africa that are seriously being affected by the consequences of climate change,” she says. “One day we were in a very small village in Ghana, and there was a very severe high tide. And in just one night, that village lost 5 meters [16 feet] of land.”

Matilde intentionally covers a broad range of countries and scenarios to highlight the interconnectedness of environmental issues. “Climate change in [another] part of the world is caused by the fact that the icebergs are melting north of Europe,” she explains. Some observers have commented that she seems especially focused on women, but Matilde sees it differently: “It’s often women that fight for their lives, the survival of their families. ‘What if this was me? What if this was my life?’ This is what I really hope that readers see in my pictures.”

Many activists organizing to end Cambodian deportations make the link between the US’ criminalization of non-whites and INS detentions and deportations.  Although this connection is made, there are still two challenges facing Southeast Asian activists.

The first challenge is that before the Cambodian repatriation agreement was signed, practically every other ethnic community was experiencing deportations.  This is especially the case for Mexicans and Central Americans who have been particularly targeted by border patrol and state police.  After 9-11, South Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants have experienced increased moments of “crisis” through racial profiling, special registrations and violence.  This raises the question, how do folks get sympathy for Cambodian deportation from other immigrant groups if they have been experiencing deportation all along?  How do people strategize around Cambodian deportation in a way that does not say to other immigrant communities that their detentions and deportations never mattered?

The second challenge for Cambodian activists is to figure out how to frame the deportation of immigrants in a way that does not exploit racist images of other groups.  For example, despite the obvious connections between INS systems and the larger Prison Industrial Complex (PIC), there is a difference between how the imprisonment of Asian immigrants versus that of other groups, namely Blacks, gets framed.  Generally, Asian immigrants are viewed as “good,” whereas Blacks are viewed as “bad.”  Progressives depict Asian immigrants as hard workers who sometimes fall on bad times that make them commit crimes to survive.  Implicitly (and explicitly), Blacks are viewed as lazy, unwilling to work hard, and therefore criminal by nature.  The result is that when Asian immigrants get locked up, they get some sympathy that Blacks (and to a certain extent, Latino/as) don’t.  

Activists—especially after 9-11—often frame immigrants as victims of injustice or xenophobia (fear of foreigners) who do not deserve to be in the prison system.  The process of which immigrants get sympathy is highly racialized, as noted by how many post-9-11 activists have been relatively silent on border patrol’s violence towards Mexican and Central Americans that has no doubt contributed to the fact that along with Blacks, Brown people make up two thirds of the US prison population.  The implicit message is that some groups “deserve” to be in prison, and others do not.  Some experienced injustice, and others did not.  Some are worth fighting for, and others are not.  Subsequently, the state violence against certain bodies, particularly those of Black, Brown and Native, is considered necessary, whereas that against other groups is not.

In the case of Cambodians, they tend to get sympathy because they are refugees who were often pushed by the US government into Black neighborhoods when they got to the US.  Because they live near Blacks in poor urban neighborhoods, Cambodians have somewhat been pitied by different activists and academics.  This, however, is a somewhat strategic sympathy, because it seems to serve ulterior motives.  For one, Asian American politics tends to fetishize poor Southeast Asians because they are considered “dark” and “poor.”  That is, Asian American activists often draw attention to Southeast Asians to challenge the model minority myth and “prove” to other people that not all Asian Americans are “successful.”  This does not necessarily mean that Asian America as a political project is necessarily committed to “darker” and “poorer” Asians, a point that many Southeast Asians have pointed out.  It just means that when one wants to refute the idea of Asian American success and homogenization, Asian American activists of all types quickly pull out the Southeast Asian as a way to deflect these critiques.

This is not to suggest that Asian American activists—or anyone for that matter— do not have a reason to be concerned about poor Southeast Asians.  Anyone who is structurally mistreated and subject to state violence should garner sympathy.  Yet many Asian American activists, including Southeast Asians, generally do not bring up Southeast Asian poverty in a manner that is sympathetic to all those who are pushed into urban poverty.  In other words, many Asian American activists point out that Cambodians are living in similar conditions with many of the Black people (who, like anyone living in urban poverty, have been structurally forced into their situation).  This analysis tends to bring a certain aspect of sympathy for the existence of poor Southeast Asians.  Yet this pity does not necessarily sympathize with Black people living in the same conditions of urban poverty.  Instead, it is the type of pity that says, “These poor Asians, how did they end up there?”  In this case, “there” means living near, and “like” Blacks.

It is precisely their proximity to Blacks that sometimes make Cambodians more sympathetic “victims.”  Cambodian poverty and incarceration is “understandable” and even “expected” because they live in “urban” (read: Black) areas.  In this way, what is taken as Cambodian “criminality” is viewed as a “learned” behavior and unwittingly linked to Black people.  This helps perpetuate the racist image of the Black criminal that has substantiated the US’ violent containment and killing of Black bodies.  Subsequently, these ideas about Cambodian “criminality” tend to ignore critical questions: What is crime?  How does it get socially defined?  Who defines what a crime is?  Who gets labeled a criminal (even before an arrest)?  Whose bodies and existence are considered criminal, no matter what one does or does not do?  Who benefits from how crime is defined?  Who gets sympathy when they go to jail?  Who does not?  

Overall, Southeast Asian activists have some major immediate challenges facing them in their campaign to end Cambodian deportations.  The most obvious is stopping deportation in a post 9-11 era.  But there are two other important immediate challenges.  First, figuring out how to sympathetically frame Cambodian deportation in a way that does not minimize the experience of deportation in other immigrant communities.  Second, figuring out how to talk about immigrant detainees/deportees without reproducing racist stereotypes of Blacks and other non-white groups who are forced into urban poverty and who have been incarcerated at alarming rates.  These might not seem crucial issues in the campaign to end Cambodian deportation.  But if they are not considered, there are serious consequences for non-Cambodians and an overall movement for social justice.

“The Image of the Black Criminal in Cambodian Poverty and Deportation Struggles” by Kil Ja Kim, 7 February 2003


UPDATE*** For those eligible to vote, request your ballot by emailing philvote2016@gmail.com BY APRIL 22, this friday!!!

These are infographics I helped make to promote the Migrante Partylist! Help give a voice for Overseas Filipino Workers that endure unfair working conditions all over the world.

Pesticide drift and the politics of scale.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

California’s Central Valley is a bread basket of America. It is the source of much of the country’s grapes, tree fruit, nuts, and vegetables. Many of the farms are massive, requiring large amounts of capital, land, and labor.

In the nearby small towns are the homes of the state’s farm laborers. They are primarily Latino. About half are undocumented. Most are poor and few have health care. Politically and economically weak, they are the primary human victims of pesticide drift.

Pesticide drift occurs when chemicals leave the fields for which they’re intended and travel to where humans can be exposed. According to data summarized by geographer Jill Harrison for her article on the topic, California is a pesticide-intensive state. It accounts for 2-3% of all cropland in the U.S., but uses 25% of the pesticides. One in ten of registered pesticides are prone to drift and a third include chemicals that are “highly acutely toxic” or cause cancer, reproductive or developmental disorders, or brain damage. Officially, there are an average of 370 cases of pesticide poisoning due to drift every year, but farmworker advocates say that this captures 10% of the victims at best.

State officials and representatives of agriculture business minimize pesticide drift; Harrison calls this “down-scaling.” They claim it’s accidental, rare, and not an integral part of the system when it operates well. “Unfortunately from time to time we have tragic accidents,” says one Health Department official. “I think the number of incidents that have occurred given the, are really not that significant…” says another. “The system works,” says an Agricultural Commissioner, “Unfortunately, we have people who don’t follow the law.” All of these tactics serve to make the problem seem small and localized.

It’s not easy to get politicians to pay attention to some of the weakest of their constituents, but activists have made some headway by what Harrison calls “pushing it up the scale.” Contesting its framing it as small problem by virtue of its frequency or impact, they argue that pesticide drift is routine, regular, and systemic. “These things happen every day,” says one resident. “You can smell [the pesticide use],” says another. “You can see it. When you drive, it gets on your windshield.” An activist argues: “The art of pesticide application is not precision delivery. It’s sloppy, and it often spills.” They further contest the downscaling by arguing that pesticide drift is harming the overall air quality. By describing it as air pollution, they make it a state of California problem, one that affects everyone. This makes it more difficult for big agriculture to say it’s no big deal.

An activist upscales in Wasco, CA (image from Voices from the Valley):

Upscaling and downscaling are both part of the politics of scale, a tactic that involves making a problem seem big or little. Harrison notes that many environmentalists advocate a local approach. “The local,’” she writes, “is commonly touted as the space in which people can most directly voice their concerns and effect political change, due to local officials’ proximity to constituents and familiarity with local issues.” This case, though, suggests that justice isn’t one size fits all.

If you’d like to know more about pesticide drift and the struggle for environmental justice in California, sociologist Tracy Perkins has started a website, called Voices from the Valley.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

mad love to Jessica and Estefania - organizers with the Let’s Learn NC (tuition equality for undocumented students - of United 4 the DREAM for bringing all of us out today to take action on pushing instate tuition forward to make post-secondary education a possibility for undocumented students in North Carolina. 

Let’s Learn NC

Good for our Students, Good for our State, Tuition Equality Now!

here are some chants form today’s rally and call to action:

no papers, no fears, undocumented and learning here

no papers, no fears, immigrants are learning here

What do we want? Education! When do we want it? Now! 

the people united, we’ll never be divided

el pueblo unidos, jamas sera vencido 

The thing is, I listen carefully to the news. I mean, what is the root for this massive migration? It is war, it is terror, and it is the former U.S. government who is accountable for it, and the NATO state governments. I’m very sorry to say so, but it is the truth. It was Bush who invaded Iraq. It was Bush—then Libya, destroying Libya, then Syria. Now Saudi Arabia, with the help of German weapons, is invading Yemen. This is the next country, you know, where we will receive refugees. The whole area of the Middle East is a zone by war and terror, so therefore people are leaving their countries…it is our arms, you know, which are also killing and destroying these countries… And you know Germany is the third biggest weapons exporter, and we have very good relations, to a fault, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and despite massive protest—and my party always protests, like the good peace movement. We are still—our government is still delivering arms to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is also supporting IS, the jihadists. What is this? I mean, we are rather stupid to do so. So, therefore, it is the arms business—arms export should be stopped immediately. I mean, I say there are more arms in the Middle East region than bread. And I remember a discussion with ambassadors from this region about three years ago, and he looked at us, other parliamentarians, as well, and he said, “It is time that the West collects the weapons you have brought us.”

Migration Is About Survival, Short Documentary By grass-roots community based organization We are San Juan and Erika Martinez

San Juan Capistrano is famously known for the return of the swallows coming from South America to old mission town. Every year, thousands of people visit to celebrate the migration of the swallows. While the city prides itself in this yearly event, they continue to disregard the voice of the migrant community. San Juan has a large population of undocumented immigrants, and because it is small and isolated, border patrol strategically targets the community, harasses them, deports them, and instills a sense of fear in their daily lives. Just like the swallows, the migration of the undocumented community of San Juan is largely driven by survival. A survival that is continuously violated by destructive and invasive immigration policies.

#PLAYFAIR: Think the World Cup is just fun and games? Not for the migrant workers building the stadiums.

441 migrant workers from India and Nepal already died in Qatar last year, the richest country in the world per capita. At this rate, an estimated 4,000 workers will die by the completion of the stadiums. That’d be 62 deaths for every World Cup game played.

SHARE this article to raise awareness of workers’ rights in Qatar!

Read the article here

Mexican Danilo Lopez, a dairy worker in Vermont who is here illegally, has been ordered out of the country by ICE. He has until July 5th to leave, but his case and the status of more than a thousand like him  –  who have been credited with saving the state’s dairy industry – has brought to the surface issues of immigration law, workers rights and more. (Photo by RYAN MERCER/FREE PRESS)

The other day I was walking through a small farm town outside of Vancouver on a Sunday evening as the sun was setting, and I passed a school with a large grassy soccer field. The grass and its surroundings were lit a warm hue from the setting sun, and I watched as several people kicked around a soccer ball, listening to the pleasant cacophony of indecipherable voices and laughter.

As I got closer, I noticed there were several more people sitting on a grassy knoll surrounding the field, as well as what seemed to be 20 or 30 bicycles sitting in a pile near the side of the road. I realized that they were all migrant workers from Latin America. I stopped cold in my tracks and felt my heart sink and my cheeks start to get hot. I scanned their faces and my mind was immediately filled with memories of the individuals I see each time I go to Guatemala; people working so hard and so long and yet smiling earnestly, glad for the few cents they earn.

I wanted to run up to them and to tell them that they mattered, that I knew how hard they were working. I wanted to ask them where they were from, what brought them here, and what they left behind. But of course, I couldn’t dare. So I reflected quietly for a moment, and continued walking. But my heart felt heavy. I don’t know if I believe in fate or destiny, or God or anything like that. But I think that’s because I don’t like the world we live in; I don’t like the way it’s rigged to favour some while exploiting others. My heart breaks constantly: when I think of the migrant workers in the US and Canada who have recently entered picking season and pick fruits and other produce almost every single day from 5am to 10pm, as long as the sun is out, for just a few dollars to send back home. It breaks whenever I think of the desperate North Africans who fling themselves and their families onto boats that symbolize a better future not knowing whether or not it will capsize in the middle of the Mediterranean sea or be intercepted before they get there. My heart breaks when I think of families, even little children, who spend their lives in Chinese factories and never see the light of day because they are too busy building things for Western countries that nobody really needs. My heart breaks for African Americans who are continuously forced to fight for their freedom, safety, and dignity in a country that does not care enough.

My heart breaks and breaks and breaks every day. And I try to stay positive, I really do. But the reality is that this world is harsh and cruel and unfair. We are all out here just trying to make it. We are all just trying to survive. But how are we supposed to fix a broken world made up of broken systems? How are we supposed to get ahead when so many of us are being held down by forces that are too strong to overcome? Some days I manage to block some of this out and feel better for a while, but eventually I am always reminded of the ugliness that exists. I feel small and helpless today.