Category Archives: New Labor Forum

Dreamers Unbound: Immigrant Youth Mobilizing

Immigrant youth organizing has grown to become one of the most vital social movement in existence today. How has this movement grown to where it is today? What are some of the pivotal strategic moments that have brought immigration reform to the center of mainstream discourse? An article in the latest issue of New Labor Forum provides some answers.

One of the most important social movements in the United States is the undocumented youth movement (Dreamers). The movement has not been successful in passing the federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It has, however, worked closely with its allies to rack up an impressive string of local and state-level victories and pressured the Obama administration to pass Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. This latter measure provided approximately 553,000 undocumented youths with temporary relief (two years) from deportation. DACA was an important victory in its own right, but it also provided the legal and political precedent for the broader immigrant rights movement to push for a similar measure to cover all undocumented immigrants residing in the country (“DACA for all”). The Dreamers also helped politicize large segments of the undocumented youth population while inspiring thousands of older immigrants to take a more assertive and contentious stance in asserting their rights to stay in the country. Youths and adults now undertake high-risk civil disobedience actions including chaining them- selves to the White House, blocking deportation buses, occupying offices of national politicians, and engaging in hunger strikes, among other things. The importance of the Dreamers should therefore be understood broadly: they have achieved gains for undocumented youths, and they have unleashed political and legal dynamics that stand to alter the status of the broader undocumented population. Such dynamics contributed to an executive order introduced by President Obama on November 17, 2014 to provide temporary residency to an expected four to five million immigrants with tenuous legal status.

This article highlights contrasting moments in the movement’s development. The first reflects a strategy of the “bounded Dreamer,” aimed to construct political messages that stressed the “deservingness” of this specific population and an organizational infrastructure that instilled disparate youths with discipline when making arguments in the public sphere. The second reflects the strategy of the “unbounded Dreamer,” enabling the incorporation of youth activists into other mobilizations and struggles, especially the anti-deportation campaigns of recent years (2011-2014). The Dreamers in this latter instance are less bound to the tight framing categories of the earlier strategy, feel freer to express broader and more contentious arguments, and make much more use of informal organizations and social media to organize their political work. This article identifies these two strategic moments and assesses the factors that helped the transition from the former to the latter.

Read more at the New Labor Forum online.

Photo by peoplesworld via flickr (CC-BY-NC).

Journalists Gather to Discuss Labor and the Elections at Murphy

Last Friday, Sarah Jaffe, Juan Gonzalez, Errol Louis, Michael Hirsch and Ed Ott participated in a panel discussion in front of a packed house here at Murphy. The panelists analyzed the 2014 midterm elections, looking at what happened this time around and discussing the implications for the future.

Miss the Forum? Check out the livestream, embedded below and archived on our new YouTube channel.


Rev. Al Sharpton Talks Protest and Policing at Murphy

Earlier this semester, a full house attended a special forum entitled “From Protest to Policy: Policing in Communities of Color,” kicking off the Fall 2014 Labor Breakfast Forum series at the Murphy Institute.

The event was moderated by CUNY Prof. John Mollenkopf and featured the Reverend Al Sharpton, who talked about the controversial policing tactics seen in present-day and past New York City, the effect these tactics have had on minority communities as well as the effect they have on the overall crime rate, and the quality of life for all New York City residents. The discussion also looked at arrest trends and potential public policy interventions.

Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election. He hosts his own radio talk show, Keepin’ It Real, and he makes regular guest appearances on Fox News (such as on The O’Reilly Factor), CNN, and MSNBC. In 2011, he was named the host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, a nightly talk show.

Labor & the Climate Justice Movement at Murphy

On Friday, Oct 31st, the New Labor Forum hosted Bill McKibben, Jill Furillo, Chris Erikson, Estela Vazquez and Sean Sweeney to discuss labor and the climate justice movement. Check out some of the conversation here:



Want more from the New Labor Forum? Come to one of our upcoming events.

The next Labor and Policy Forum will be held on November 14th. Look forward to a discussion about the 2014 Midterm Elections, featuring Ed Ott, Sarah Jaffe, Juan Gonzalez Errol Louis and Michael Hirsch.

The Murphy Institute Fall 2014 Labor and Policy Forums

September 17, 2014, 6:00-7:30 pm
Wisconsin Rising: Film Screening & Discussion

September 19, 2014, 9:30-11:15 am
From Protest to Policy: Policing in Communities of Color.

  • Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president, National Action Network
  • Moderator: John Mollenkopf,  Director, Urban Research Center, CUNY Graduate Center

October 31, 2014, 8:30 to 10:30 am
“Temperature Rising: Labor and the Climate Justice Movement”
Cosponsored with Cornell GLI/Worker Institute

  • Bill McKibben, Founding President,
  • Jill Furillo, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
  • Christopher Erikson, Business Manager, Local 3 IBEW
  • Estela Vazquez, Executive VP, 1199 SEIU
  • Moderator: Sean Sweeney, Cornell GLI/Worker Institute

November 4, 6:00-7:30 pm
“The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class”

  • Guy Standing, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

November 14, 2014, 9:30-11:15 am
“2014 Elections: Who Won, Who Lost?”

  • Juan Gonzalez, co-host, “Democracy Now”, The Daily News columnist
  • Errol Louis, host, Inside City Hall, NY1 TV
  • Sarah Jaffe, independent journalist, columnist for New Labor Forum
  • Michael Hirsch, national editor, Politico Magazine
  • Moderator: Ed Ott, Distinguished Lecturer, The Murphy Institute

December 5, 2014, 8:30 am-3:30 pm
“Civic Engagement & the Latino Community”

Cosponsored with BridgeRoots, Common Cause, Demos, Citizen Action, New American Leadership Project, NALEO, NYC LCLAA, New York Immigration Coalition, City and State Magazine

And in 2015:

January 23-24, 2015, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
“Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies: Impacts of Economic Injustice on Vulnerable LGBTO Communities”
Co-sponsored with Queer Survival Economies Initiative, Barnard College

  • Panel 1: Whose Communities? LGBTO Perspectives on Surviving in Poor and Low Income Communities
  • Panel 2: Economic Injustice and Queer Low-Income & Precarious Workers
  • Panel 3: Queer Migrations
  • Panel 4: Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Justice