Inside the Chaos of Immigration Court

Gabriel Thompson takes us into San Francisco Immigration Court and the labyrinthine system that asylum seekers—and attorneys and judges—are up against.

Source: Longreads
Published: Sep 22, 2020
Length: 27 minutes (6,849 words)

“Your Judge Is Your Destiny”

“The judge keeps a low public profile, but among attorneys in Louisiana, her reputation is feared. According to data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees our nation’s immigration courts, Judge Reese has presided over more than 200 asylum hearings during the past five years. The applicants who have stood before her have come from all across the globe: Somalia, Eritrea, Mexico, Cameroon, Honduras. Some have lawyers, some do not; it makes little difference. Unique among her peers, during the past five years, Reese has rejected every single case.”

Source: Topic
Published: Jul 6, 2019
Length: 23 minutes (5,933 words)

The Guardians of Ghost Town

Longtime West Oakland resident Annette Miller has witnessed the dramatic transformation of the city as changes over the past few decades have swept the block she’s lived on for over 50 years.

Published: May 22, 2018
Length: 9 minutes (2,442 words)

Prisoners in Hawaii Are Being Sent to Die in Private Prisons in Arizona

Forty-three percent of Hawaii’s state prisoners are currently locked up in the notorious Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona. This is the story of one man, Johnathan, who died in custody just days before his 22nd birthday.

Source: Vice Magazine
Published: Mar 6, 2017
Length: 27 minutes (6,858 words)

Dark Meat

An unflinching look at the grueling, dangerous work of the poultry workers who process millions of turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving.

Source: Slate
Published: Nov 21, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,566 words)

I Was a Super Bowl Concession Worker

At Slate, Gabriel Thompson describes what it’s like to be a food-service worker at Levi’s Stadium at Super Bowl 50 — and explores the low-wage, part-time workforce of Silicon Valley.

Source: Slate
Published: Feb 9, 2016
Length: 15 minutes (3,966 words)

Burn After Reading

Meet the man who wrote and then disowned The Anarchist Cookbook.

Published: Feb 27, 2015
Length: 18 minutes (4,520 words)

Everyone Only Wants Temps

The blue-collar temp industry is booming, which doesn’t bode well for people searching for long-term, full-time jobs. A look at Labor Ready, which wants to be “the McDonalds of the temp industry”:

“In the two weeks that I spend working out of Oakland’s Labor Ready branch, my ‘honest pay’ tops out at $8.75 an hour. I’ll clean a yard for a trucking firm, scrape industrial glue from cement floors for a construction company, and screw on the caps of bottles at an massage oil company whose “Making Love” line is a bestseller. I’ll also move heavy tools for a multinational corporation that repairs boilers on ships and be asked to serve food at Oakland A’s games for Aramark, a $13 billion powerhouse. I wasn’t able to take that one, but if I had, I would have been earning $8 an hour next to unionized workers making $14.30.

“Labor Ready’s Oakland workforce is nearly entirely black, excepting the branch manager, who is white. Most of the workers I talk to are searching for stability but finding it elusive. They include homeowners in foreclosure, apartment-dwellers who are being evicted, and residents of motels negotiating for a few more days. And many express hope they can parlay a temp gig into something permanent. ‘I’ve been with Labor Ready for over a year now and still haven’t had any luck,’ says Stanley, who resembles a young Eddie Murphy. We’re standing in a dusty lot in Hayward, 15 miles south of Oakland, surrounded by 300 cars that have seen better days. ‘Most jobs are like this one, not looking to hire anyone full time.'”

Source: Mother Jones
Published: Jul 16, 2012
Length: 17 minutes (4,255 words)