Immigrant Rights News - Friday, May 02, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Friday, May 02, 2008
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4. Associated Press: “Thousands rally in May Day effort for immigration reform”
March smaller, but festive
About 8,500 peaceful protesters converge on
By Teresa Watanabe, Anna Gorman and Ari B. Bloomekatz
May 2, 2008
Thousands of workers waved American flags, marched to mariachi music and rallied for labor and immigrant rights in downtown
Turnout across Southern California and the nation was markedly lower than in the last few years, when millions of marchers in more than 100 cities hit the streets on May Day to urge a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and other reforms.
"A lot of people feel that nothing is being done," said Xochilt Pacheco, 30, a Mexican American from
Others said the lower turnout was a reflection of the immigrant rights movement's shift in focus from marches to voter registration and other civic activities, a decision not to push boycotts of school and work this year, and a preoccupation with contract negotiations and other issues. Unlike in past years, the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 and the We are America Alliance, a coalition of churches, labor unions and community groups, were not heavily involved in organizing this year's marches.
"This year, we're focusing on civic engagement work," said march participant Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in
On that front, immigrant rights advocates say they have won considerable success. The number of citizenship applications had doubled to 1.4 million by the end of fiscal year 2007 compared to the previous year, according to Rosalind Gold of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund in
The May Day marches, which historically commemorate International Workers' Day, have been specifically used in
The battle over what to do about the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants has prompted hundreds of state and local legislative proposals, colored the presidential campaign and brought tens of thousands of marchers into the streets nationwide in the last two years.
While turnout was light this year, the mood was festive at the
At Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, a loud mariachi band led about 1,500 people in an early afternoon procession north to the
While the largely Latino crowd occasionally chanted in Spanish -- "sí se puede," yes we can -- immigrants from South Korea, the Philippines, Japan and elsewhere also participated.
"I think it's really important for us to show the broad span of immigrants in
Rick Oltman, spokesman for the anti-illegal immigration group Californians for Population Stabilization, criticized marchers' calls for a moratorium on raids.
"It is reminding the American people that there is this whole group of people, illegal aliens, who do not want our laws enforced," he said.
But marchers included many legal immigrants. Andres Rivas, 68, a former
Participants also included some of those injured in last year's
One of them was Doris Ochoa, a 40-year-old janitor and illegal immigrant from
"Why did they treat us like that?" she said. "They acted in a way officials shouldn't. It's important to show . . . that we are still standing."
Police reported no major problems Thursday and seemed to be taking extra care to be cordial. Officers on foot, bicycle and horseback -- many of whom participated in special training exercises to avoid last year's problems -- appeared relaxed and chatted with marchers, politely addressing them on loudspeakers:
"Hello. Welcome to your May Day march. Please move to the sidewalk."
Gustavo de Jesus, 17, showed up at
De Jesus, an illegal immigrant, said he wants to go to college, but doesn't know if he will be able to get scholarships to afford it. And even if he does, he worries that he will still end up working construction or at a fast food restaurant because he doesn't have immigration papers.
"I've been here my whole life," he said. "I love this country."
Reflecting the day's focus on comprehensive reform and ending immigration raids, a contingent of workers from a Van Nuys factory that was raided in February joined the march. Their calls for legalization and an end to blanket work-site raids were joined Thursday by some powerful allies: business leaders.
At a May Day news conference, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebben said the government should concentrate its limited resources and enforcement efforts on those companies with a clear history of exploitation of workers.
Work-site raids have swelled in recent years, with 4,900 arrests in fiscal 2007, a 45-fold increase over 2001, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Toebben was joined by Jack Kyser, chief economist for the L.A. County Economic Development Corp., which released a study showing that tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue could be lost if continued raids force businesses to flee the state.
The study analyzed three industries thought to employ high numbers of immigrant workers -- fashion, food processing and furniture manufacturing -- and found that about 10,000 businesses created nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs and produced $18.3 billion in wages in 2006. If 15% of those firms left the region would lose nearly 75,000 jobs, the report found.
"We can't afford any more of these raids," Kyser said, adding that recruiters from
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said it was the agency's "sworn duty to enforce our nation's immigration and customs law and the agency is going to aggressively pursue that mandate."
Contributing to this report were Times staff writers Tony Barboza, Howard Blume, Jessica Garrison, Evelyn Larrubia, Jill Leovy, Rong-Gong Lin II, Robert Lopez, Sam Quinones and Joel Rubin.
Thousands marching across US for immigration reform
21 hours ago
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Thousands of immigrants and rights groups marched peacefully across the
More than 10,000 people marched in
Immigrant rights activists say the protests -- which were taking place in more than a dozen other cities including New York, Washington, Chicago and Miami -- will draw attention to the issue of immigration reform.
Activists are campaigning for an overhaul of federal immigration laws that will provide illegal workers with a path to citizenship and an end to raids of businesses aimed at cracking down on immigrants.
About 10,000 people of Hispanic and Asian origin gathered in downtown
Jose Gutierrez, leader of the Latino Movement USA, one of the organizing groups, said the protests would give voice to the millions of undocumented workers across the country.
"It is imperative to raise the voice of the more than 12 million undocumented people who work in this country," Gutierrez told AFP. "Every day families are being separated because of the raids."
Another activist, William Torres of the March 25th Coalition, said undocumented workers deserved the right to stay in the country legally.
"Is it fair that we only exploit them for their cheap labor and deny them citizenship when they love this country?" Torres said as crowds carrying American flags and placards began gathering in downtown
"I want my parents to be legalized in this country," Prieto said. "I see that all the immigrants are here to make the country a better place."
"The raids are frightening workers. They are worrying employers," Garrison told the Los Angeles Times. "I think it's going to cause a lot of businesses to think twice about coming to
A coalition of rights groups were holding rallies in
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama meanwhile said the most effective way for protesters to make their voices heard was by registering to vote in this year's presidential election.
"Today, I encourage the thousands of people who are marching and calling for change to work hard registering voters in the months to come. Your vote is your voice," Obama said in a statement.
Obama's rival Hillary Clinton reiterated her pledge to introduce immigration reform in the first 100 days of her presidency, if elected.
"As President, I am committed to working with Congress to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill within my first 100 days in office,"
Immigration reform supporters gather at
© 2008 The Associated Press
Protests in Austin and Houston had a turnout of some 400 each while
Nancy Rios, a
"I support immigrants and workers and all who are in this country searching for a better life and providing them with dignity and respect instead of dehumanizing and scapegoating them," Rios said.
She was among about 400 people who rallied at the steps of the state Capitol before a march through downtown
The rally included speeches and music and a short play that depicted immigrants trying to cross the
An estimated 300 to 400 people marched through intermittent raindrops in steamy downtown
"I'm here because we need immigration reform immediately," said marcher Victor Ibarra, 38. "We need to be able to travel and be free."
Ibarra said he entered the
"I need some freedom," he said, wearing handcuffs and chains and carrying a sign that said in Spanish: "We don't have freedom. We don't have fair immigration. We are not slaves."
With temperatures in the mid 80s and blustery winds, many of the demonstrators carried other signs, some pushed strollers with infants and others led chants shouting through megaphones.
Police on horseback escorted and followed the crowd, which was confined to a lane of traffic that had been reserved for them along a downtown street. Among law enforcement officers standing by a federal building where the demonstrators gathered were some wearing shirts and gear with the logo ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Francisco Valle, 67, of
"This is a cause that affects everybody and affects future generations," he said. "There are people being left homeless, families divided. We need to bring those issues out."
In San Antonio, about 300 to 400 people marched through the streets of downtown, many wearing pins reading "Todos Somos Imigrantes," which translates to "we are all immigrants," and chanting "No wall between amigos!" in protest of border fencing.
"I think that, as an immigrant worker, I have the right to receive fair treatment and a fair salary," Araceli Herrera, 48, said in Spanish. Herrera, a housekeeper, said she became a
Chris Sanchez was marching to support comprehensive immigration reform, which he said might have allowed his father to stay in the
"I want to show the city and even the whole nation the force we have to get immigration reform," said Sanchez, 21, a fast-food restaurant manager.
After the march, the crowd listened to speeches and music in a newly renovated downtown plaza.
Carla del Rio, 21, an illegal immigrant from
"The government needs to see that we are here so they can see that we want immigration reform," she said in Spanish.
Manuel Rodela, a member of march organizer International Coalition for Mexicans Abroad, said the task they are expecting the next president, Republican or Democrat, to take up soon after entering the office is to approve legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants.
"My vote is secret, but I will vote according to who I see will most help the immigration issue," said Rodela, a naturalized citizen from
The crowd was dramatically smaller compared to a massive march in 2006 that had about a half million people walking the downtown
Associated Press writers Michael Graczyk in
Thousands rally in May Day effort for immigration reform
By SOPHIA TAREEN – 16 hours ago
CHICAGO (AP) — Thousands of chanting, flag-waving activists rallied in cities across the country Thursday, attempting to reinvigorate calls for immigration reform in a presidential election year in which the economy has taken center stage.
"We come here to fight for legalization. We're people. We have rights," said Eric Molina, an undocumented factory worker who immigrated to
Molina, his sister and his 13-year-old daughter Erika, a
Turnout has fallen sharply since the first nationwide rallies in 2006, when more than 1 million people — at least 400,000 in Chicago alone — clogged streets and brought downtown traffic to a standstill. Activists say this year's efforts are focused less on protests and more on voter registration and setting an agenda for the next president.
Some said participation likely was lower because many immigrants increasingly fear deportation.
Margot Veranes, a volunteer organizer in Tucson, Ariz., — where 12,000 took to the streets last year but early estimates Thursday put the crowd at about 500 — blamed the turnout on aggressive enforcement by Border Patrol and police.
"People have been stopped and deported in the last week. This is a community living in fear," said Veranes, a researcher for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. "You never know when you're going to be stopped by Border Patrol and now the police."
But she said that's also why people were marching.
"We're marching to end the raids and the deportations, but we're also marching for health care and education and good jobs," she said.
"I'm here because we need immigration reform immediately," Ibarra said, wearing handcuffs and chains. "We need to be able to travel and be free."
Activists also asked the Republican and Democratic national committees to have their presidential candidates enact immigration reform.
A crowd of about 1,000 gathered on the steps of the Oregon Capitol in
Hugo Orozzo, a 17-year-old high school senior, was among hundreds who marched through the streets of southwest
"It is going to help my family and friends," Orozzo said of the effort. He carried a preprinted sign that read: "Stop raids and deportations that separate families!" in both English and Spanish.
"They are going to grow up with this anger of the government for the loss of their parents, parents who were simply trying to give them a better life," she said.
"We need to fix the legal situation of immigrants," she said. "Even if it's not this year legislators are seeing we're still here, we're still marching, we're still knocking on their door."
"Our people, we pay taxes, we pay the same as a citizen," said Tesillos, who has a Green Card. "Maybe the new president can see this point, and do something for us."
But activists say they know it will be a challenge to push their issues to the political forefront.
Immigration reform did not resonate with voters in primary elections who overwhelmingly listed the economy as their top concern. Immigration legislation has stalled and been defeated in the Senate, and presidential candidates have not extensively addressed the issues.
Democratic presidential rivals Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a 2006 bill, sponsored by Republican candidate John McCain, that offered illegal immigrants legal status on conditions such as learning English. All three also have supported a border fence.
"I know a lot of people who don't have papers and I want to help them out," Rodarte said.
Seventh-grader Vicente Campos of
"Immigrants come here to support their families in
Associated Press Writers Caryn Rousseau in Chicago, David Runk in Detroit, Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee, Arthur H. Rotstein in Tucson, Ariz., Joseph B. Frazier in Salem, Ore., Mike Graczyk in Houston, Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami, Juliana Barbassa in San Francisco and Jacquelyn Martin in Washington D.C. contributed to this report.
Union and states try recruiting farm workers from Mexico
By GARANCE BURKE
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 29, 2008; 4:55 AM
HURON, Calif. -- Weary of waiting for Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, the United Farm Workers hopes to recruit Mexican laborers to pick crops on U.S. farms.
The union's efforts to import temporary workers under an existing government program follows similar moves by lawmakers in Arizona and Colorado, who are also trying to create new pathways to bring in foreign field hands without approval from Washington.
This month, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez signed an agreement with the governor of the Mexican state of Michoacan to help recruit local residents to apply for temporary jobs on
Under the new pact, government field staff in Michoacan will distribute information on
In exchange, the union will negotiate contracts with
The UFW got involved after hearing that Mexican recruiters were charging people as much as $5,000 for short-term contracts under the existing, but rarely used federal guest worker program, Nicholson said.
"Agriculture is a global industry, so we're building an international infrastructure to advocate for these global workers," Nicholson said. "Workers need to know about their rights on both sides of the border."
Immigration raids and employer penalties have led to a shortage of workers in the nation's largest farm states, leading many in the agriculture industry to conclude that growers can't get their products to market without a stable supply of workers from abroad.
But with Congress deadlocked over immigration reform, the question is under what conditions the workers will be hired _ legally or illegally.
The farm labor force in the
The UFW wants to increase those numbers by matching willing workers in
Both put the Labor Department in an awkward position, and could be challenged in court, said Leon Sequeira, its assistant secretary for policy.
"I don't think anybody would object to organizations trying to prevent recruiters from charging workers exorbitant fees," Sequeira said. "But it's new territory when you are talking about states setting up their own guest worker programs and letting aliens into the country."
The federal government is trying to stave off the state-by-state approach by tinkering with its existing guest worker program, and released a set of proposed changes in February.
Despite an unusually cold spring and record low temperatures in some areas, losses do not appear to be widespread, although damage may be significant in isolated areas of
"This is one of the worst frost seasons we've had in the last 15 to 20 years, but frost protection appears to have been pretty effective in most areas," said Kirk Mayer, manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association in
"With huge bud set, we can afford to lose 10 to 15 percent and still have a good crop," Mayer said. Some growers had no damage and others had up to 75 percent crop loss, he said.
Damage appears greater to cherries than pears and apples because cherries were further along in bud development. Apple growers had anticipated a record 105 million- to 110 million-box apple crop this fall, but now it likely will be closer to last year's 98 million boxes, Mayer said.
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