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Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

Honduras is a free market paradise!

Posted by Charles II on June 13, 2014

That’s what one would think if one relied on the US media for news. In reality:

And now there’s this added motivator [for children to flee Honduras], huge motivator, of this surging violence in Honduras, where, you know, kids are seeing dead people on the streets every day. One in 10 children are not leaving their homes ever, for fear of being kidnapped. And we’re seeing younger children. And before, one in four children were girls. Now nearly half are girls. Before, parents didn’t send for their girls, because of the fear that smugglers might rape them. Now there’s such desperation, because the gangsters go to girls coming out of the schools and say, “You’re going to be my girlfriend, or I’m going to kill your whole family.” And if the girls don’t agree, they just grab them and rape them and put them in a plastic bag and kill them. So, the violence has just gotten so much worse since Enrique made his journey and Jose made his journey. It’s many—there is that draw of coming to reunify with the mother, but there’s also this enormous violence that’s pushing these kids out of these countries.

And a lot of this is fueled by our drug use in the United States. You know, we consume more illegal drugs than anywhere on Earth. And 80 percent of the cocaine from Latin America is being funneled through Honduras, and so you have the cartels and the gangs vying for those routes. And that is fueling a lot of this violence in Honduras.

Our fine readers may recall that at the time of the coup which removed Manuel Zelaya from the presidency, we were told that he was responsible for narcotrafficking, economic decline, etc.

(From Linda Pressley, BBC)

(From The Economist)

When Zelaya was president, the murder rate was about 60 per 100,000. If U.S. policy, including his ouster, is so brilliant, why is the number of child refugees spiraling upward?

I strongly recommend the DemocracyNow interview, which predicts that there will be well over 100,000 child refugees arriving in the US next year (up from 90,000 this year) thanks to the fruits of our policies in Latin America. And it gives a human face to why things are the way they are.

Posted in Honduras, immigration, State Department | 1 Comment »

A legal lynching: the murder of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas by DHS

Posted by Charles II on April 24, 2012

From DemocracyNow

AMY GOODMAN: …In May 2010, 32-year-old Anastasio Hernández-Rojas was caught trying to enter the United States from Mexico near San Diego. Hernández-Rojas had previously lived in the United States for 25 years, from the age of 15. He was the father of five U.S. born-children.

But instead of deportation, Hernández-Rojas’s detention ended in his death. A number of officers were seen beating him, before one tasered him at least five times. During the incident, Hernández-Rojas was handcuffed and hogtied. He died shortly after. The agents say they confronted Hernández-Rojas because he became hostile and resisted arrest. But new video recorded by eyewitnesses on their cell phones show a different story. The footage was obtained by reporter John Carlos Frey and aired in a national special Friday night as part of a joint investigation by the PBS broadcast Need to Know and the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: … The Border Patrol agents, via their own press release and documents, say that he was combative, Hernández-Rojas was combative. They removed his handcuffs—this is actually the document—they removed his handcuffs and applied the use of a taser. He fell to the ground, suffered a heart attack and subsequently died. That is what is actually in the police report.

What the video shows is about 25 agents standing around a man on the ground. The man is handcuffed and hogtied, not resisting at all. He is Tasered repeatedly, kicked and beaten. At one point, after he has gone into convulsions, an officer kneels on his neck.

Who is in charge of the Department of Homeland Security? No one, it turns out. Since they have decided to accept the obviously fraudulent report of the San Diego Police Department and because the Department of Justice has declined to interview any witnesses, there is no accountability whatsoever. Indeed, DHS has been asked to release their guidelines for when Tasers may be used. Evidently, there are none. And there are other cases in which agents of the federal government have shot to death unarmed Mexicans on Mexican soil.

This is a case far worse than the Trayvon Martin case, as horrific as that was. There, a small police department was remarkably incurious about the violence committed by one individual against another. In this case, a metropolitan police department has covered up a murder committed by their officers in collusion with perhaps 25 agents of a completely unaccountable federal agency. The pinnacle of the federal justice system, the Department of Justice, has averted its eyes. This is corruption from the bottom of the system all the way to the top.

It should be noted that, at least as of fairly recently (and I think still), unlawful presence in the US is not a crime, though unlawful entry is a misdemeanor. So Hernandez-Rojas had done the equivalent of, say, shoplifting. If he had come in on a tourist visa and overstayed it, it would not have been a crime.

The full PBS program can be seen here.

Posted in DHS, immigration, impunity, Latin America, Mexico | 7 Comments »

A book for our time: Manufacturing Hysteria

Posted by Charles II on October 16, 2011

Manufacturing Hysteria, by Jay Feldman, is a must-have book.

Jay Feldman's Manufacturing Hysteria

We think of the anti-immigrant movement, the hatred of Muslims, or the depredations by the Pentagon and other federal agencies against the rights of speech and assembly to be unique to our age. They are not.

If you can’t afford the time or money for the book, listen to his talk on C-Span.

Added: if, like me, you’re a compulsive book buyer, you may also want to look at a recent book on the new deal by LAT writer Michael Hitlzig.

Posted in civil rights, immigration, rights, unions | 1 Comment »

The Infosys H1B Scandal

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2011

Yet more proof that the “oh we can’t find these tech workers at home so we must import them” line is nonsense:

A giant Indian outsourcing company with thousands of employees in the
United States is facing an expanding federal investigation prompted by
claims from an American whistle-blower that it misused short-term
visitors’ visas to bring in low-cost workers from India.

Accusations that the company, Infosys Technologies, repeatedly violated the terms of business visitor visas were first raised in a lawsuit filed in February in Alabama by Jack Palmer, an Infosys project manager. Aside from Mr. Palmer, at least two other Infosys managers in the United States have submitted internal whistle-blower reports pointing to Indians on business visitor visas who were performing longer-term work not authorized under those visas, according to internal
and current Infosys managers.

In May, Infosys acknowledged that it had received a subpoena from a
federal grand jury in Texas seeking information about the company’s use
of the visitor documents, known as B-1 visas, which are easier to
obtain. This month, N. R. Narayana Murthy, an Infosys founder, expressed
his concern about that investigation at a board meeting in Bangalore,
India, in his final address before he retired as company chairman.

“As I leave the board, I feel sad” about the subpoena, he said. “The
issue will be decided on its merits in due course,” said Mr. Murthy, who
is something of a legend in global business for building the company
over three decades from a $250 investment into an outsourcing powerhouse
with $6 billion in revenues.

The legal jeopardy isn’t the only one the divide-and-conquer-the-worker CEOs in both India are facing. Zoe Lofgren’s introduced a bill that would require US companies to increase the wages employers would have to pay H-1B workers, in an effort to ensure they do not undercut American tech industry workers as well as to eliminate the exploitation of overseas tech workers in the US; the measure targets Indian outsourcing companies. In addition, Congress last year added an extra $2,000 to the fee for H-1B visas, in another move aimed at the Indian outsourcing companies.

Posted in immigration, India, industry | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Wrestlers, Paperkids, Grocery Workers: Why the CTUL Fight is Important

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 31, 2011

US Representative Keith Ellison (in red CTUL shirt) and Minnesota Representative Jim Davnie join CTUL hunger strikers on the picket line, Sunday, May 29, 2011. Courtesy

When I was growing up in the ’70s, I shared a paper route with my brother. He did the mornings, I helped him in the evenings, and our parents sometimes helped us on the weekends — if nothing else by making sure we got out of bed on time.

The paper we delivered was the St. Paul Pioneer Press in the morning and the St. Paul Dispatch in the afternoon; the two papers were once separate entities, but were both bought by the Ridder company in 1927, and ever since then were essentially the same paper. In 1990, as TV news continued to eat into print media’s market share, the Dispatch was shut down and the PiPress has been a morning-only paper ever after.

The Pioneer Press was and is a “union” newspaper, in that its reporters belong to a union, the Minnesota Newspaper Guild. Most major newspapers have a unionized reporting staff; this has been the case for decades. The people who deliver the paper to your front door, however, are not unionized employees of that paper. In fact, they’re technically not even employees of the paper, but “independent contractors”, which in essence means they get paid a pittance (and in our case the pay depended on going door-to-door each month to collect the subscription fees, which we didn’t mind doing as at least that way we could get tips or even Christmas bonuses, which didn’t happen when subscribers opted for automatic renewal by mail or credit card).

The “independent contractor” concept shows up in other fields, too. Did you know that Vince McMahon’s wrestlers aren’t actually employees of the WWE, but “independent contractors”? That means that Vince doesn’t have to do diddly in terms of providing benefits, sensible work hours, or job security. That means that he can overwork them as much as he wants without letting them have time to rest and recover — and that means that alcohol and drug use and abuse is rampant, as it’s hard to take such a punishing schedule unless you’re sloshed or doped to the gills, and often not even then. (Jesse Ventura’s first brush with politicking was when he attempted to form a union in the 1980s back when he worked for Vince McMahon — oh, pardon me, I meant was “an independent contractor whose paychecks just happened to come from Vince McMahon”.)

This brings me to discussing the persons that clean the stores belonging to local grocery chains such as Cub Foods. While other grocery-store workers, both at Cub and at stores like Rainbow and Byerlys, are unionized employees, the cleaning people are all too often “independent contractors”, which in their case means they work for an agency that farms them out to various stores and pays them a pittance, thus allowing the grocery-store chain to avoid paying them a living wage, much less provide benefits or acceptable working conditions:

All night long, Jose Garcia performs his job while surrounded by food — a painful bit of irony, he says.

The 52-year-old Mexican immigrant works the overnight shift cleaning floors inside a Cub Foods store in Minneapolis, Minn., a job he’s mostly appreciated for the nine years he’s held it down. But lately, waxing aisle after aisle filled with groceries has simply reminded him of how little he has.

Despite his long tenure with the same cleaning company, Garcia says he earns a wage of $9 an hour — more or less the same rate he was making when he started cleaning floors back in 2002. Taking inflation into account, his salary has effectively gone down since he started working on the cleaning crew.

There are times when he can’t afford as much food as he’d like. He says it pains him to see workers at the store throw out unsold perishables like roasted chicken at the end of the night.

These are jobs that once were good union jobs held by unionized employees. Not any more. They’re all contracted out to third-party companies, who sometimes subcontract to other companies, all in the quest to keep wages low even as the workload grows.

The contracting agencies depend on exploiting the labor of people like Mr. Garcia, immigrants who may not be aware of what rights they may have as workers in America — and may find themselves trapped in untenable situations as a result.

This is why Jose Garcia and his fellow cleaning-crew workers are saying: Enough!

At the Lake Street Cub Foods, CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha), began an open-ended hunger strike to change the unfair wages and working conditions of workers who clean Cub Foods and other Twin Cities stores.

For over a year cleaning workers have asked Cub Foods to negotiate a Code of Conduct ensuring fair wages and working conditions for the workers who clean their stores. Ten years ago, many workers who clean Cub Foods made up to $10-$11 an hour. Now, most workers make as little as $7.50 an hour and the workload has doubled. The workers’ requests for dialogue with Cub have been ignored and in one incident peaceful protesters and bystanders were pepper-sprayed by Cub security.

“Every night we work in grocery stores and are surrounded by food, yet often many of us cannot even afford to feed our families. I am hunger striking to bring to light the injustices workers face every day cleaning Cub Foods and to call on Cub Foods to meet with us,” said Mario Colloly Torres, a former cleaner at Cub Foods and who was fired from his job after the protests against Cub began.

One thing that the wrestlers, paperkids, and cleaning crews here have in common is that society has been encouraged to think of them and their concerns as trivial. This is especially true in the case of the cleaning crews, where because so many of the cleaners happen to possess darker skins and non-Midwestern accents, the specter of bigotry plays an unsavory role.

It will be interesting to see who sides with whom in this fight. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189 union, which has endorsed the campaign, are appearing at the CTUL protests in solidarity on the picket line with the CTUL hunger strikers. Sadly, some persons one would expect to be sympathetic to CTUL’s cause are in fact very friendly with Cub Foods management, and may well want to keep on the good side of Mike Erlandson, the former DFL party chair who now works for Cub’s parent chain, SuperValu.

Time will tell.

(Crossposted to MyFDL and Renaissance Post.)

Posted in food, immigration, Minnesota, unions | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

OAS slams US over human rights

Posted by Charles II on March 20, 2011

This comes via Avedon, Diane of Cabdrollery, and the Kirk Semple of the NY Times comes this report by the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights scalding the US for its treatment of immigrants:

The United States Supreme Court itself has upheld the constitutionality of mandatory detention in immigration cases that have not been decided, despite the fact that the violations alleged are civil in nature,
and despite the loss of liberty that detention presupposes.

The Inter‐American Commission finds that ICE has failed to develop an oversight and accountability system to ensure that these local partners do not enforce immigration law in a discriminatory manner by resorting to racial profiling and that their practices do not use the supposed investigation of crimes as a pretext to prosecute and detain undocumented migrants.

It must be reiterated that detention is a disproportionate measure in many if not the majority of cases, and that the programs that provide for alternatives to detention constitutes a more balanced way for the State to ensure compliance with immigration laws.

In this report the IACHR also stresses that even in those cases in which detention is strictly necessary, there is no genuinely civil system where the general conditions comply with standards of respect for human dignity and humane treatment; there is also a lack of the special conditions required for in cases of non‐punitive detention. As developed above, the IACHR is further troubled by the frequent outsourcing of the management and personal care of immigration detainees to private contractors.

Until recently, one would say that the US controls the OAS. Very clearly, the power of the ancien régime is declining. The first comment is the most damning. It says that our highest court is acting contrary to very fundamental precepts of law, allowing people to be deprived of liberty in civil cases. Another famous example of this sort of abuse is debtor’s prisons.

But, hey, laws are for the little guys to obey and for our Imperial Court to invent.

Posted in immigration, Latin America | 2 Comments »

Smooth Move, Mr. Emmer. NOT.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 23, 2010

Seems anti-Latino-immigration guy (and Tea Party GOP gubernatorial candidate) Tom Emmer tried to hold a stealth rally in enemy territory.

One of the people involved in setting up the rally was Rick Aguilar, local Hispanic Republican. Is he backing Latinos for Reform notions? It’s hard not to suspect this, or that the timing of the event may have been no accident, what with the new advertising efforts to tell Latinos that President Obama hasn’t delivered, and so don’t vote for Dems, or better yet don’t vote. (Of course, what the Spanish-language ads don’t mention is that every single Republican Senator filibustered and killed the DREAM Act that President Obama and the Democrats backed, but they figure that Latino voters don’t know that. They figure wrong.)

Unfortunately for Mr. Emmer and his friends, they got caught at it, according to this press release I received today:

(Minneapolis)– Oscar Reyes, owner of the Las Mojarras restaurant on Lake Street in the heart of Minneapolis’s Latino community, was pleased to get a reservation for a Saturday morning “business meeting” on October 23.

He was less happy when calls came in from concerned community members asking why a campaign rally for anti-immigrant, anti-Latino Republican gubernatorial Tom Emmer was taking place in his popular business.

Reyes cancelled the event and appeared as a guest on the Cara a Cara radio show on La Invasora 1400 to assure the Latino community that he was a victim of an attempt to stage a stealth rally in the Latino neighborhood prior to President Obama’s rally on behalf of DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.

The interview with host Alberto Monserrate has been posted online on the Cara a Cara web page and can be downloaded here.

Monserrate said that Reyes asked to be on the show in order to assure the community that he was not supporting Emmer’s campaign. While on air, Reyes said that he didn’t know that the event was part of a political campaign

The radio show host thought the secrecy was unusual, as political organizers are generally upfront with small business owners. “In all of the organizing I’ve observed, those setting up events let businesses know that it’s a campaign-related event because of the potential for customer disapproval. Those organizing this rally appear to have sought a meeting in the Latino community, but failed to tell the Latino small business owner that is was for Emmer.”

Reyes learned of the true nature of the event when calls started coming in after news of the event appeared in the Wednesday, October 20, 2010 “Morning Take,” published by Tunheim Partners public affairs firm; the event was also listed on a local conservative blog. Community organizers and activists spread the word via Facebook and Twitter, and curious activists called Reyes.

Reyes was angered to learn that the event was political and to discover Emmer’s record of supporting anti-immigrant measures like Arizona’s SB1070 bill and anti-Latino measures like an English-only bill, according to Monserrate.

For more information, listen to the interview, and contact Alberto Monserrate at

Posted in immigration, Latino, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly | Tagged: | Comments Off on Smooth Move, Mr. Emmer. NOT.

GOP’s Hispanic Strategy: Block Obama’s Immigration Reform Plan, Then Blame Him For It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 6, 2010

Adam Serwer has the details:

Last week, I outlined the Republican strategy on immigration reform:

Step one: Obstruct all efforts at immigration reform, accuse the president of holding the border “hostage” even as he deports a record number of illegal immigrants.

Step two: Remind everyone how the president broke his promise to pass immigration reform.

Here’s the thing: It’s working. Jon Walker points to Gallup’s weekly demographic poll from last week showing Hispanic support for Democrats collapsing. Latinos support Democrats by only a 13-point margin, down from 33 points back in March.

Of course, it didn’t help that Obama’s right-hand man Rahm Emanuel was and is hated by the Hispanic community for throwing them under the bus by blocking immigration reform. Maybe now that Rahm’s gone, Obama can change course on this.

Posted in 2010, immigration | 1 Comment »

God Bless Stephen Colbert

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 27, 2010

It took a professional entertainer, appearing in character, to get our press to wrench itself away from Lindsay Lohan for a brief moment and produce this article:

VISALIA, Calif. — As the economy tanked during the past two years, a debate has raged over whether immigrants are taking jobs that Americans want. Here, amid the sweltering vineyards of the largest farm state, the answer is no.

Most Americans simply don’t apply for jobs harvesting fruits and vegetables in California, where one of every eight people is out of work, according to government data for a federal seasonal farmworker program analyzed by The Associated Press.

And the few unemployed Americans who apply through official channels usually don’t stay on in the fields, a point comedian Stephen Colbert — dressed as a field hand — has alluded to in recent broadcasts on Comedy Central.

“It’s just not something that most Americans are going to pack up their bags and move here to do,” said farmer Steve Fortin, who pays $10.25 an hour to foreign workers to trim strawberry plants for six weeks each summer at his nursery near the Nevada border. He has spent $3,000 this year ensuring domestic workers have first dibs on his jobs in the sparsely populated stretch of the state, advertising in newspapers and on an electronic job registry.

But he hasn’t had any takers, and only one farmer in the state hired anyone using a little-known, little-used program to hire foreign farmworkers the legal way — by applying for guest worker visas.

Funny how Steny Hoyer didn’t mention any of this when he went on FOX News the other day to blast Colbert.

Posted in immigration | 10 Comments »

Why Catering To Racists Is Rapidly Becoming A Net Negative For Republicans

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 30, 2010

Go ahead, Tom Emmer, Tim Pawlenty and the rest of the GOP. Please.

Go ahead and keep cuddling up to the immigrant-hating Tea Partiers and the twits who gave Arizona SB 1070. Go ahead and assume that the Southern Strategy works just as well using Latinos as the scapegoat as it did when it used African-Americans for the past half-century.

Please, keep it up. You’re helping to flip one of America’s bastions of conservatism into a much more liberal place:

Orange County has been a national symbol of conservatism for more than 50 years: birthplace of President Richard M. Nixon and home to John Wayne, a bastion for the John Birch Society, a land of orange groves and affluence, the region of California where Republican presidential candidates could always count on a friendly audience.

But this iconic county of 3.1 million people passed something of a milestone in June. The percentage of registered Republican voters dropped to 43 percent, the lowest level in 70 years.

This is why Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to buck the national Republican and conservative stance on undocumented workers, even as the base voters and financiers of the GOP, as represented by the Koch-funded Tea Partiers, got more racist and more conservative. But it wasn’t enough.

Posted in immigration, race in America, racism, Republicans | 3 Comments »

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