migrat workers

The Tory government has announced that undocumented survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster will face potential deportation if they seek aid from relief services.

The very first victim of the fire to be named was 23-year-old Mohammad Alhajali, who had escaped the horrors of the Syrian Civil War, only to die in a preventable tower block fire for want of basic safety measures. Yet those survivors as yet unknown to authorities, who have taken routes less legal than those pursued by Mr. Alhajali, will be rounded up and set back to war zones, persecution and poverty - simply by dint of being too poor or too desperate to fulfil draconian immigration criteria. It seems arbitrary in the extreme to reserve such words as ‘terrorist’ purely for the Assad regime and ISIL, when our own government is hell-bent on offering up refugees for their charnel houses.

The cruelty of this government is so uniform that it is in danger of becoming mundane, normalised by endless inhuman grotesques. Yet successive governments dating back to the Blair era have been complicit in designing the architecture of oppression which has resulted in poor migrant workers being forced to live and die in flammable death traps. Punitive measures such as those announced by the government today - which directly contradict earlier promises of an amnesty - demand a modern-day Sanctuary Movement to provide succour to those most deeply betrayed by Western liberal values.

It all has to go. The whole system is guilty.


Written by: @titaniasfics

Rating: T

Prompt 27: Katniss’s father is an undocumented worker, Peeta is a sympathetic federal agent sent to investigate or an employer willing to do anything to help. [submitted by @567inpanem]

Author’s Note: I’m late (as usual) but I went for the second option on this one. I jumped at this prompt because of my own feeling about this whole situation. Hope I didn’t hijack a lovely prompt by being politically didactic. I relied on my experiences with my family regarding picking fruit and the migration of workers as they follow the different harvest, together with the research on how the ICE conducts raids in this current political climate. It’s a different world from when my grandfather was a migrant worker.

A million thanks to @eala-musings for betaing this piece for me, @567inpanem for the amazing prompt and to @everlarkficexchange for hosting this challenge!

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well here’s some book-relevant thoughts about Fantine anyway (prompted slightly by @barricade–girls !)

We get really frustratingly little about Fantine’s life in the book, pre-Tholomyes, and it’s delivered in such small sentences; but the bit of a past Hugo suggests for her is REALLY intriguing and suggests so much about her determination and sense of adventure even before anything else about her story happens?  

We know she’s an orphan, or abandoned; anyway she grows up literally on the streets, like the gamin/es in Paris. She’s abandoned so young she doesn’t even have a NAME; “Fantine” is what some stranger called her.  Unlike the gamins in Paris, Fantine is in  what seems to be a smallish town. M-sur- M doesn’t seem to offer its street children half as much of a community amongst themselves–totally plausible, in a much smaller town.  So for Fantine’s childhood, we can look at the momes…and then subtract a good portion of the community resources and kid-community culture and support. 


Her adolescence, though, seems to have been better. We’re told she worked on a farm. A totally believable career move for a poor kid living near rural/agricultural areas!  

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…A series of events unfolded within the expanding context of the United States imperialism that contributed to the migration of workers from Puerto Rico to Hawai'i. In 1899, Hurricane San Ciriaco devastated more than half of the island of Puerto Rico. It left thousands of Puerto Ricans, who were dependent on subsistence farming, destitute and in search of work. Meanwhile, the Chinese Exclusionary Act, adopted in the United States in 1882, prohibited Chinese workers from entering any part of the United States. Consequently, recruiters of the Hawai'i Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) began to look for non-Asian experiences sugar cane cutters from domestic territories. Puerto Rico was considered a prime territory for cheap, non-Asian labor, and the annexation of Puerto Rico, Hawai'i, Guam, and the Philippines by the United States in 1898 facilitated the transfer of Puerto Ricans from one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) to the other (Hawai'i). 

Between 1900 and 1901, 5,000 Puerto Ricans left the port of Guánica to immigrate to Hawai’i. It was a long and difficult journey. The first stop of the trip by sea was to New Orleans; the second, by rail, was to San Francisco. The trip was longer than they were told, they were not given proper clothing and medical attention promised on the way to Hawai’i, and the travel conditions were crowded and unsanitary. As a result, almost half of the Puerto Ricans escaped en route… Not only did Puerto Ricans escape and refuse to get back on the ship in California, but the first act of protest of those who continued on to Hawai’i was to seize control of the vessel that was to transport them to other islands in Hawai’i…

Although Hawai’i was a territory of the United States when Puerto Rican immigrated there, in the early part of the twentieth century it was still not a democracy. Hawai’i was managed by an oligarchy of five elite families who controlled it as if it were their personal fiefdom. These families constituted the HSPA. Members of the HSPA were enraged by the negative publicity and by what they considered audacity of the half-starved Puerto Rican peasants to protest their treatment. They implemented numerous strategies to control them. One of the successful strategies they had tried on earlier group was to promote a negative social image of Puerto Ricans as aggressive, and to stereotype them in the local newspaper as temperamental knife wielders. The HSPA also exploited existing differences among the various ethnic groups and invested considerable resources in creating and perpetuating animosities among the workers…

The HSPA used the strategy of scattering ethnic groups throughout the archipelago to prevent them from deriving power in numbers. Although he workers toiled alongside other ethnic groups in the field, they were housed in segregated quarters on each planation, a tactic put in place by the HSPA to keep workers under control and in competition with one another. As Michael Haas notes, ‘One of the ways that the plantation owners fostered interethnic conflicts was by intentionally recruiting Puerto Rican as ‘scabs’ to break up successful union strikes carried out by the Japanese workers in the early part of the twentieth century. Moreover, in contrast to the Chinese and Japanese workers who immigrated before them, Puerto Ricans did not have a government official in Hawai’i to represent them. This may have occurred because once they left, the Puerto Rican government did not want them to return; they were perceived as part of the overpopulation problem that the U.S. government officials had proclaimed in 1899… 

- Iris López, “Borinkis and Chop Suey: Puerto Rican Identity in Hawai’i, 1900 - 2000,” The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives 


Cucarachas (Roaches)

If you wish

you can call us


because even when you kick us out

even when you kill us

we always come back

multiply withoutpermission

and do what we need todo

to survive.

You tried to drown

our family down the drain

but they swan through sewage

to make it back into your mansion.

We always remain

no matter how many times

you stepped on our friends

so get out of the kitchen

and let us cook

you know you love

our cucaracha food

so get out of the music room

and let us play

you know you love

our cucaracha tunes

so let us serve behind the bar

you love our drinks you do.

We are leaving the basement

crossing every border of poison

on your doorways

and entering your room

like it or not

we stalk dreams and hope

while you snore

we make things move

at dusk

that is why your socks

are missing

and your underwear has black tracings

of our dinner

we prey upon your crumbs

clean your floors with our tongues

and scatter when the lights go on.


We work in the shadows

of your rejection

so you can eat fresh cilantro

and ripe tomatoes

with your breakfast

so you can lounge in a dust free home

so your restaurants

run oh so smoothly

so your hotels are shiny.

We are everywhere

here there here there


swarming on your dishes

until you can see your reflection

infesting and organizing your produce

hiding and constructing your buildings

some of us teaching your children

many of us raising your children

until they speak our cucaracha language

all products of moonlight migration

crawling through your hallways

invading and fixing your engines

so you can drive to a store

to buy Raid venom

and even when you spray us

we will always come back

like cucarachas

so you should start being nice

and leaving us

the welcome mat.

-By Eric Eztli

  • 0:00 - Tithi Bhattacharya, Social reproduction theory: conceiving capital as social relation
  • 15:27 - Michael Heinrich, Communism in Marx’s Capital
  • 39:56 - Lucia Pradella, Marx’s Capital and the power of labour: imperialism, migration, and workers’ struggles
  • 1:07:53 - Beverly Silver, Marx’s general law of capital accumulation and the making and remaking of the global reserve army of labour

Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age

In the generations after emancipation, hundreds of thousands of African-descended working-class men and women left their homes in the British Caribbean to seek opportunity abroad: in the goldfields of Venezuela and the canefields of Cuba, the canal construction in Panama, and the bustling city streets of Brooklyn. But in the 1920s and 1930s, racist nativism and a brutal cascade of antiblack immigration laws swept the hemisphere. Facing borders and barriers as never before, Afro-Caribbean migrants rethought allegiances of race, class, and empire. In Radical Moves, Lara Putnam takes readers from tin-roof tropical dancehalls to the elegant black-owned ballrooms of Jazz Age Harlem to trace the roots of the black internationalist and anticolonial movements that would remake the twentieth century.
From Trinidad to 136th Street, these were years of great dreams and righteous demands. Praying or “jazzing,” writing letters to the editor or letters home, Caribbean men and women tried on new ideas about the collective. The popular culture of black internationalism they created–from Marcus Garvey’s UNIA to “regge” dances, Rastafarianism, and Joe Louis’s worldwide fandom–still echoes in the present.

This looks official.