Monday, September 29, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Monday, September 29, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Monday, September 29, 2008


1. Oakland Institute: Backgrounder—Uprooted and Criminalized: The Impact of Free Trade Markets on Migrants

2. San Jose Mercury News: More than 1,100 arrested throughout California in immigration raids

3. Guardian UK: Celebrities plan protest against detention of Miami Five. The men were sentenced in 2001 for allegedly acting as agents for the Cuban government

4. Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times Op Ed: A nation with a conscience can stop allowing abuse of migrant farm workers

5. Immanuel Wallerstein: The Demise of Neoliberl Globalization




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Oakland Institute [excerpt]



Uprooted and Criminalized:

The Impact of Free Trade Markets on Migrants


by David Bacon


Rufino Dominguez, coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB, Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binationales) says there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S. – 300,000 in California alone. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are uprooting and displacing Mexicans in the country’s most remote areas, where indigenous people still speak their native languages. “There are no jobs, and NAFTA made the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez says. “We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.”


As he points out, U.S. trade and immigration policy are linked together. They are part of a single system, not separate and independent policies. The negotiation of NAFTA was in fact an important step in the development of this relationship.


Since NAFTA’s passage in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new trade agreements – with Peru, Jordan, Chile, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time it has debated immigration policy as though those trade agreements bore no relationship to the waves of displaced people migrating to the U.S., looking for work. Meanwhile, a rising tide of anti-immigrant hysteria has increasingly demonized those migrants, leading to measures that deny them jobs, rights, or any pretense of equality with people living in the communities around them. To resolve any of these dilemmas, from adopting rational and humane immigration policies to reducing the fear and hostility towards migrants, the starting point has be an examination of the way U.S. policies have both produced migration and criminalized migrants. […]



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San Jose Mercury News


More than 1,100 arrested throughout California in immigration raids


By Denis C. Theriault

Article Launched: 09/29/2008 01:45:50 PM PDT


Federal immigration authorities today announced the arrests more than 1,100 people throughout California, the result of a three-week sweep billed as the largest in state history.


Targeting immigrants who have either ignored deportation orders or returned to the United States illegally after being deported, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 1,157 men and women, including 436 from Northern California. The raids also produced 420 arrests in the Los Angeles area and 301 in the San Diego area.


Statewide, 595 people had outstanding deportation orders and 346 had prior criminal convictions. In Northern California, which includes the Bay Area, 185 were fugitives and 92 had prior criminal convictions. A breakdown of arrests by city and county was not available, officials said.


Among the special enforcement teams conducting the raids was a unit in San Jose, one of two set up last year in Northern California, bringing the number to six, as ICE continues its five-year crackdown against immigrants who ignore deportation orders. Nationwide, there are 95 teams in operation, ICE officials said, and more than 100 are expected to be in place by the end of the year. In 2003, only 17 teams were in place.


Contact Denis C. Theriault at or (408) 920-5035.


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Guardian UK


Celebrities plan protest against detention of Miami Five

The men were sentenced in 2001 for allegedly acting as agents for the Cuban government


* Ed Pilkington in New York,

 * Monday September 29 2008 18:09 BST


Nine Nobel Laureates, including the South African campaigner Desmond Tutu and the German novelist Gunter Grass, join forces tomorrow with more than 100 celebrities from the arts, law and media to protest the on-going detention by the US government of five Cubans imprisoned for allegedly spying on behalf of the Cuban government.


The so-called Miami Five were sentenced in 2001 to prison terms of between 15 and 25 years for allegedly acting as Cuban agents within the exile community in Miami.


The men and their supporters have consistently protested that they had come to the US to infiltrate and disrupt right-wing exile groups perpetrating acts of terrorism within Cuba.


To mark the 10th anniversary of the arrests of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, full-page adverts are being taken out in the Guardian and the Independent tomorrow.


They claim that the men were unjustly jailed, and protest against the refusal to allow the wives of two of the prisoners to visit them from Cuba for up to 10 years.


Signatories to the adverts include the designers Vivienne Westwood and Jasper Conran, artist Howard Hodgkin, writers Iain Banks and Harold Pinter and actors Julie Christie and Susannah York.


The case of the Miami Five has attracted the attention of international human rights groups. Amnesty International has repeatedly raised the issue with the US government, arguing the refusal to permit spousal visits is unnecessarily punitive.


The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also found that the US failed to give the men a fair trial.



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Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

September 29, 2008


A nation with a conscience can stop allowing abuse of migrant farm workers


[by] Dr. Mark Heffington, M.D.


Migrant farm workers in the U.S. have been exploited and abused for more than 60 years with amazingly little improvement in their working and living conditions, despite exposés and increased coverage in the media. Now the Bush administration’s Department of Labor plans to make things even worse for legal guest workers, and in the process, for U.S. citizen and legal resident farm workers as well.


The current H-2A “guest worker” program establishes rules for the legal hiring of a limited number of foreign farm workers for temporary employment each year. It is supposed to protect the access of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents to farm jobs by requiring employers to pay a prevailing wage.


It requires employers to make real attempts to fill positions using U.S. workers before bringing in temporary foreign workers. It also sets certain minimum housing standards for migrant workers.


Rules not working


In practice, the rules are inadequate and are often broken, and many of us who witness the process on a regular basis know that real-life enforcement policy is but a bad joke.


Farm workers pay to enter the system. While in the U.S. they are bound by contract to work for a single employer, and they cannot change employers even if they are abused, mistreated, or robbed of wages by their “masters.”  Their jobs may be threatened if they dare to complain about safety issues such as pesticide exposure violations.  They cannot demand decent living and working conditions for fear of being fired, sent home, and blacklisted from future employment.

Their vulnerability puts them at the mercy of bosses who range from kind to brutal.


The H-2A program needs to be changed in many ways in order to better protect both guest workers and U.S. workers.


Making things worse


As embarrassingly inadequate as the current system is, the Bush administration has figured out a way to make it even more abusive. The soon-to-be-announced proposed changes to the H-2A program will largely reverse the few and poorly enforced worker protections that current regulations at least provide in theory.  The changes will result in reduced wages for both guest workers and U.S. workers. In addition, employers can essentially stop pretending to try to recruit U.S. workers.


Rather than improving the current appalling conditions, the Department of Labor proposes changes designed only to increase farm owners’ profits by making it easier to import greater numbers of even more vulnerable, underpaid and exploitable foreign workers.


Our representatives in Congress should stand up for the rights of workers by demanding that the administration’s proposed changes be canceled.  The Department of Labor should withdraw the proposed changes and reverse its current direction. It should make its goal to improve the working and living conditions of all farm workers rather than to perpetuate their exploitation.


It is 60 years past time for the shameful treatment of migrant farm workers in our county to end.


Dr. Mark Heffington has practiced family medicine in Cashiers since 1982. He has been medical director and outreach physician for a migrant farmworker health program for the past seven years.



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Immanuel Wallerstein


The Demise of Neoliberl Globalization


February 4, 2008


The ideology of neoliberal globalization has been on a roll since the early 1980s. It was not in fact a new idea in the history of the modern world-system, although it claimed to be one. It was rather the very old idea that the governments of the world should get out of the way of large, efficient enterprises in their efforts to prevail in the world market. The first policy implication was that governments, all governments, should permit these corporations freely to cross every frontier with their goods and their capital. The second policy implication was that the governments, all governments, should renounce any role as owners themselves of these productive enterprises, privatizing whatever they own. And the third policy implication was that governments, all governments, should minimize, if not eliminate, any and all kinds of social welfare transfer payments to their populations. This old idea had always been cyclically in fashion.

In the 1980s, these ideas were proposed as a counterview to the equally old Keynesian and/or socialist views that had been prevailing in most countries around the world: that economies should be mixed (state plus private enterprises); that governments should protect their citizens from the depredations of foreign-owned quasi-monopolist corporations; and that governments should try to equalize life chances by transferring benefits to their less well-off residents (especially education, health, and lifetime guarantees of income levels), which required of course taxation of better-off residents and corporate enterprises.

The program of neoliberal globalization took advantage of the worldwide profit stagnation that began after a long period of unprecedented global expansion in the post-1945 period up to the beginning of the 1970s, which had encouraged the Keynesian and/or socialist views to dominate policy. The profit stagnation created balance-of-payments problems for a very large number of the world's governments, especially in the global South and the so-called socialist bloc of nations. The neoliberal counteroffensive was led by the right-wing governments of the United States and Great Britain (Reagan and Thatcher) plus the two main intergovernmental financial agencies - the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and these jointly created and enforced what came to be called the Washington Consensus. The slogan of this global joint policy was coined by Mrs. Thatcher: TINA, or There is No Alternative. The slogan was intended to convey to all governments that they had to fall in line with the policy recommendations, or they would be punished by slow growth and the refusal of international assistance in any difficulties they might face.

The Washington Consensus promised renewed economic growth to everyone and a way out of the global profit stagnation. Politically, the proponents of neoliberal globalization were highly successful. Government after government - in the global South, in the socialist bloc, and in the strong Western countries - privatized industries, opened their frontiers to trade and financial transactions, and cut back on the welfare state. Socialist ideas, even Keynesian ideas, were largely discredited in public opinion and renounced by political elites. The most dramatic visible consequence was the fall of the Communist regimes in east-central Europe and the former Soviet Union plus the adoption of a market-friendly policy by still-nominally socialist China.

The only problem with this great political success was that it was not matched by economic success. The profit stagnation in industrial enterprises worldwide continued. The surge upward of the stock markets everywhere was based not on productive profits but largely on speculative financial manipulations. The distribution of income worldwide and within countries became very skewed - a massive increase in the income of the top 10% and especially of the top 1% of the world's populations, but a decline in real income of much of the rest of the world's populations.

Disillusionment with the glories of an unrestrained "market" began to set in by the mid-1990s. This could be seen in many developments: the return to power of more social-welfare-oriented governments in many countries; the turn back to calling for government protectionist policies, especially by labor movements and organizations of rural workers; the worldwide growth of an alterglobalization movement whose slogan was "another world is possible."

This political reaction grew slowly but steadily. Meanwhile, the proponents of neoliberal globalization not only persisted but increased their pressure with the regime of George W. Bush. Bush's government pushed simultaneously more distorted income distribution (via very large tax cuts for the very well-off) and a foreign policy of unilateral macho militarism (the Iraq invasion). It financed this by a fantastic expansion of borrowing (indebtedness) via the sale of U.S. treasury bonds to the controllers of world energy supplies and low-cost production facilities.

It looked good on paper, if all one read were the figures on the stock markets. But it was a super-credit bubble that was bound to burst, and is now bursting. The Iraq invasion (plus Afghanistan plus Pakistan) are proving a great military and political fiasco. The economic solidity of the United States has been discredited, causing a radical fall in the dollar. And the stock markets of the world are trembling as they face the pricking of the bubble.

So what are the policy conclusions that governments and populations are drawing? There seem to be four in the offing. The first is the end of the role of the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world, which renders impossible the continuance of the policy of super-indebtedness of both the government of the United States and its consumers. The second is the return to a high degree of protectionism, both in the global North and the global South. The third is the return of state acquisition of failing enterprises and the implementation of Keynesian measures. The last is the return of more social-welfare redistributive policies.

The political balance is swinging back. Neoliberal globalization will be written about ten years from now as a cyclical swing in the history of the capitalist world-economy. The real question is not whether this phase is over but whether the swing back will be able, as in the past, to restore a state of relative equilibrium in the world-system. Or has too much damage been done? And are we now in for more violent chaos in the world-economy and therefore in the world-system as a whole.


<><><> the end / el fin / tamat <><><>


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