New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Strangers in a Strange Land

November 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Family, Politics

Recent Study Focuses Attention on Deportees

by Devon G. Peña

While the Obama Administration continues to make news by breaking the record number of deportations, the U.S. and Mexican publics actually know very little about the demographic background, socioeconomic status, and living conditions of the deportees. I just returned from a lecture tour to San Diego and what I learned is very troubling.

It has been infuriating to witness the unfolding of the Obama Administration’s deportation policies, which have been driven by a monthly quota system established back in 2009 and designed to serve the demands of private correctional and prison corporations for a steady stream of bodies to fill the 34,000 beds in the nondescript and semi-secret detention centers built across the country since the end of the Bush II years. We first reported on this activity in October 2010 — see Detaining Profits — and will revisit the privatization of prison and detention institutions in a forthcoming post. (more…)

Voluntary Movements

November 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Bacon, Economy, Politics

All Over the World, Migrants Demand the Right to Stay Home

by David Bacon

Immigrants, workers, union members and community activists marched on May Day in San Jose. Marchers protested attacks on immigrants, unions and the rights of workers, and called on Congress to pass a just immigration reform.

The United States has become home to a large number of people born outside its borders — there were some 40 million as of 2010, according to various estimates. That was up from approximately 20 million in 1990.

The immigration debate in the United States usually treats the migration of people into this country as something unique. But it is not. The United Nations estimates that 232 million people worldwide live outside the countries where they were born — 3.2 percent of the world’s population. In 2000 it was 175 million, and in 1990, 154 million. The number of cross-border migrants has grown by 78 million people in just over 20 years — enough to fill 20 cities the size of Los Angeles.

U.S. exceptionalism — the idea that this country is somehow unique and different — has no basis in fact when it comes to migration, which is a global phenomenon. And the big questions are why are the number of migrants increasing so rapidly and what should be done about it. (more…)

A Meaningful Future

July 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Bacon, Economy, Politics

What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like

by David Bacon

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious last weekend in Fresno.  At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House.  It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible.  Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights. (more…)

Paying for Detention

February 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Pat LaMarche, Politics

Interview with Sheriff Arpaio Casts Light on Kids, Poverty, and More

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

I met with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio this week. (You can read the full transcript of our conversation on my Facebook page.) I was excited to meet with him for many reasons. I was hoping against hope that he could clear up something about the role the criminal justice system plays in the lives of the poor. But all that aside, I thought he might answer some questions that were planted in my brain earlier on our Babes of Wrath EPIC Journey: why in the world kids in Arizona get charged a per diem for their incarceration.

Short answer? He didn’t know. No, it’s not that he didn’t know why, he just didn’t know they were charged at all. The kids are charged in Coconino County, Arizona — but it appears not in Maricopa County. It must be subjective. After all, Sheriff Arpaio decides what the kids in his jails have, including a chain gang. When we spoke, the Sheriff was boasting about his equal opportunity chain gangs. (more…)

Urban Farms or Myths?

August 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Feeding Ourselves, Our Cities, and the World…

by Devon G. Peña

The excitement surrounding urban agriculture is partly rooted in a notable history and possible future capacity to actually help feed the entire nation. During the Second World War, so-called ‘Victory Gardens’ provided close to half of the fruits and vegetables consumed by the population; albeit, people in those days ate smaller, healthier portions. Perhaps the revival of urban farming will lead not just to a diet for a small planet but a diet for smaller people?

Victory Gardens, a.k.a. ‘War Gardens’, played a major role in the mobilization of the civilian population during the two world wars but were especially important during the Second World War. Most reliable estimates confirm that 40 to 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed during this period were grown in urban gardens.

The return of urban farming echoes these monumental efforts of the past, but the new ‘Victory Gardens’ are about a victory over poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and the dissolution of community ties. The phenomenal success and rapid growth of urban farming has created extraordinary opportunities for food justice and an ecologically superior, community-based approach to reinvention of our current food system, which is dominated by unsustainable and inequitable industrial models and a profit-driven top-down corporate anti-nature and anti-worker rationality. (more…)