Posted on Mon, Dec. 15, 2008
Rule changes target vulnerable workers
OUR OPINION: Don't allow last-minute regulations to erode standards
The torrent of new rules being issued by the Bush administration as it heads out the door is turning into a regulatory fiasco. The changes have lowered the bar on environmental review across the board, from limiting worker exposure to toxins to ignoring provisions of the Clean Water Act and softening, if not gutting, the Endangered Species Act. Late last week, new rules targeted vulnerable members of the labor force -- farmworkers.
The midnight changes have a sad history. At least since the days of the Carter administration, presidents have tried to extend their reach into the tenure of the next chief executive by putting in place last-minute rules that the successor will have difficulty rescinding. The fact that all presidents do it, however, does not excuse the regulatory end-run, especially when the rules seem like a favor to special interests rather than thoughtful changes in policy.
The new farmworker regulations are a case in point. Because farmworkers don't enjoy the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, they have traditionally been prey to abuses that a succession of administrations have tried to correct through Labor Department policy rules. The latest changes don't augur well for the farmworkers.
Rules that are to be published this week and which would take effect just days before President Bush leaves office would: make it easier to hire foreign ''guest workers'' -- to the detriment of Americans willing to work in the fields; lower wage standards; and weaken oversight of farm hiring.
This revision will hurt those who can least afford any cuts in pay or erosion of job protections. The changes in hiring rules are particularly egregious because the greatest fear of domestic farmworkers is being displaced by foreign guest workers who are less familiar with their rights and more likely to remain quiet when those rights are abused for fear of being deported.
Reversing the new H-2A rules, as they are known, won't be easy. It would require going through a lengthy ''notice and comment'' rule-changing process again next year. The best thing that President-elect Barack Obama can do is to push for enactment of a bipartisan AgJobs bill already in Congress that has the support of both farmworker unions and agricultural growers.
The proposal includes some of the changes in the H-2A proposal but with a significant difference: It would link the program to a path for legalization of undocumented farmworkers who pledge to continue working in agriculture for a certain period.
Florida is home to about 10 percent of the nation's farm workforce. If this administration won't do anything to lift their standards, the next one should make it a priority.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Estimating the Contribution
of Immigrant Business Owners
to the U.S. Economy
Robert W. Fairlie, Ph.D.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
According to Census 2000, immigrants constitute
12.2 percent of the total U.S. work force, and 12.5
percent of the total population of U.S. business owners.
The total business income generated by immigrant
business owners is $67 billion, representing
11.6 percent of all business income in the United
States. Immigrant business ownership is geographically
concentrated in a few states.
• Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to
start a business than are nonimmigrants, and they
represent 16.7 percent of all new business owners
in the United States
• Immigrant business owners make significant
contributions to business income, generating
$67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business
income, as estimated from 2000 U.S. Census
Immigrant business ownership is geographically
concentrated in a few states. Nearly 30 percent
of all business owners in California are immigrants,
compared with about 12.5 percent of the
population of U.S. business owners. Twenty-five
percent of business owners in New York and
more than 20 percent in New Jersey, Florida, and
Hawaii are foreign-born.
• In California, immigrants are 34.2 percent of
the new business owners each month. Nearly 30
percent of all new business owners per month in
New York, Florida, and Tex as are immigrants.
• Immigrants own 11.2 percent of businesses with
$100,000 or more in sales and 10.8 percent of
businesses with employees.
• Immigrants' contributions differ across sectors
of the economy. They own a large share—more
than one-fifth—of businesses in the arts, entertainment,
and recreation industry. They also contribute
significantly to other services, transportation,
and wholesale and retail trade.
• Immigrants also own a large share of businesses
in the lowest and highest skill sectors and in several
• Although business owners from Mexico constitute
the largest share of immigrant business
owners, total immigrant business ownership,
formation, and income originate with immigrant
business owners from around the world.
data. They generate nearly one-quarter of all
business income in California—nearly $20 billion—
and nearly one-fifth of business income in
New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Illinois congressman vows to push for major immigration reform
12:00 AM CST on Friday, December 5, 2008
By JOHN RILEY / The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON – Flanked by hundreds of immigrants and their family members, an Illinois congressman called for a halt Thursday to immigration raids and vowed to push for a comprehensive overhaul that President-elect Barack Obama can sign into law.
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, the House sponsor of a 2007 bill that failed, told a crowd of more than 200 on Capitol Hill that he would work to ensure that Mr. Obama follows through on his campaign promise to sign an immigration overhaul in the first year of his presidency.
"We have a new president of the United States who has made a very clear commitment to immigration reform," Mr. Gutierrez said. "We're not going to rest on the laurels of the election."
Mr. Gutierrez said workplace raids that separate families must stop and that he is trying to build momentum for immigration change in the House, where he believes a bill can be passed more easily than in the Senate.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he hopes to meet with the president-elect before the new session of Congress to discuss a comprehensive reform and urge Mr. Obama to stop workforce raids through an executive order.
Mr. Baca said a moratorium would make illegal immigrants more likely to "come out of the shadows" and be active community participants because it would reduce the fear of deportation. Immigration officials and supporters of the current strategy say it has helped reduce illegal immigration and held employers accountable.
© 2008, The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
ACLU alleges rights abuses
Report: Detained immigrants face harsh conditions
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / December 10, 2008
Immigrants jailed for deportation in Massachusetts are often subject to harsh conditions, including inadequate medical care, harassment, and overcrowding, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said in a report to be released today.
The report alleges that state and county jails and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement are failing to oversee the detainees' treatment.
"There's no one watching over them, so there's no real incentive to make sure that the immigration detainees' rights are protected," said Laura Rótolo, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts and the lead researcher on the 22-month investigation. "They are not protecting people's fundamental rights."
ICE confirmed=2 0that the agency received letters from the ACLU of Massachusetts about its findings, and is in the process of responding fully.
"We take all allegations about conditions of confinement very seriously," said ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier, who added that the agency follows federal guidelines to ensure that immigrants are treated humanely. "ICE is committed to providing all detainees in our care with humane and safe detention environments and ensuring that adequate medical services are available."
For the report, the ACLU interviewed 40 detainees and corresponded with more than 30 other inmates, spoke with dozens of advocates and lawyers, and reviewed hundreds of government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The authors of the report called for an end to immigration raids and alternatives to detaining immigrants, such as electronic monitoring bracelets.
As of August 2007, about 800 immigrants and asylum-seekers were in seven county jails, one state facility, and one federal medical center, although the report said none are serving time for crimes. Many detainees have criminal records, but the report's authors estimate that more than half have overstayed a visa, are awaiting a decision on asylum, or sneaked over the border - all civil violations. The cost of housing them is roughly $90 a day to the US government, the report said.
Jessica Vau ghan, recently named director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said detaining immigrants - especially criminals - is important because it ensures that they will be deported.
"The odds are if we don't detain them that they're not going to be removed," said Vaughan, who is based in Franklin. "Then they become fugitives and they have to be tracked down."
The report documented several cases in which medical care was delayed or denied to immigrants, reportedly because they were about to be deported.
One 43-year-old Pakistani national, the report said, waited five months to have a specialist look at a painful lesion inside his mouth. He was released after the specialist ordered a biopsy, which was never performed, and is still awaiting deportation.
A 27-year-old Liberian national, diagnosed with schizophrenia, bounced among three county jails with a skin condition and dental problems that were left untreated for months.
Some mental health issues were ignored as well, the report found. An immigrant was removed from Bridgewater State Hospital and transferred to New Mexico, and then to Rhode Island, without his medications or health records.
The report was released at a time when ICE is investigating the August death of a 34-year-old Chinese national who allegedly received inadequate care at Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island. On Monday, ICE relocated 153 detainees from the center during its review.
Detainees also complained about crowding as well. At one point in Essex County, inmates were sleeping in the gymnasium, though they have since been relocated. The six New England states have space for approximately 1,200 detainees a day, the report said.
Interviewees complained about being assigned to cells with violent criminals and of guards who threatened them with sedation or harassed them if they complained about jail conditions or resisted deportation.
In Suffolk County, two detainees were transferred to Franklin County after complaining to the media about a strip search. A female detainee said she was sent to York, Pa., after she complained about her protracted detention.
Detainees spent an average of 11 months in Massachusetts jails awaiting deportation, Rótolo said, based on her interviews with 40 detainees. One man spent more than five years in jail fighting deportation before he was released to continue battling his case. Three immigrants spent more than two years in jail, and 10 spent more than a year in jail.
Maria Sacchetti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.
MALDEF CALLS FOR NATIONAL ACTION IN WAKE OF KILLING OF THIRD LATINO VICTIM OF A HATE CRIME IN FIVE MONTHS
As we have reported, hate crimes against Latinos are at record levels. Today, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President & General Counsel John Trasviña called upon leaders across all communities to unite and speak out against hate violence:
“We mourn and are outraged by the murder in Brooklyn, New York of Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, whose life was violently taken by a group of people, and whose crime, according to witnesses, was motivated by hate-filled bigotry. Only one month ago, 37-year old Marcello Lucero was ferociously beaten and fatally stabbed in Long Island, New York by a group of teenagers who hunted him down simply for being Latino. In July, 25-year old Luis Ramirez lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating. We extend our sympathies to their families and loved ones.
In the past several years, hate crimes against Latinos have risen 40 percent. This is a national epidemic whose growth is spurred each day by hate speech and anti-immigrant sentiment expressed on cable shows, local radio shows and across the airwaves. National legislation, such as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, must be a top priority for Congress and the new Administration, but it is not sufficient to reach the hate that threatens to pervade local communities. This drastic rise of hate crimes against Latinos, not coincidentally, has occurred during the same years in which there has been an explosive rebirth of extremist anti-immigrant rhetoric and measures.
The serious topic of immigration has been contaminated by hatred and racism, and has created a toxic climate which fosters and condones violence and civil rights violations motivated by bigotry. In seeking to enact unconstitu tional anti-immigrant ordinances, irresponsible elected officials spew inflammatory rhetoric that depicts undocumented immigrants as parasites and the root cause of the nation’s fallen economy. Television and radio personalities spread misinformation and stereotypes that criminalize and dehumanize Latino immigrants. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups are using this anti-immigrant wave to promote their racist groups and promote violent acts against Latinos. Collectively, the messages and norms they seek to establish are that immigrants are less human and less worthy, and do not merit basic human rights protections our Constitution demands. These messages have begun to infect too many Americans, and they are being manifested through violence.
Unfortunately, our elected leaders have failed to recognize and condemn this national crisis, the media has largely remained silent, and families have not acted to protect their children from being infected from this hatred. As proven by this year’s historic election, the great majority of Americans have defeated artificial barriers of racism and ushered us into a new era. After over a century of struggle for freedom and democracy irrespective of race, Americans have abolished the disease of racial hatred; however, a virus continues to linger with some, and we must not allow it to proliferate. There are those that may believe that racism and xenophobia will always exist, but it must not exist in our country, in our democratic institutions, in our schools, and in our homes. We must be ever-vigilant, and stamp it out where we see it.
MALDEF calls upon our national representatives, faith leaders, educators, and parents to stand up and take immediate action against this national wave of hatred. We again call on Congress and the next President to fix our broken, archaic immigration system to establish national immigration priorities, including community integration that serves the nation’s interests, allows newcomers to work with legal status and protections against exploitation, and safeguards the nation’s communities. Local and federal authorities must prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent under law. Local officials and media personalities must take responsibility for the consequences of their extremist rhetoric and should spread messages of respect and tolerance. Most importantly, we call on all Americans to unite against this wave of hatred and defeat the hate and violence. It is unacceptable and we must stop it now.”
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