Immigrant Rights News -- Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008
Immigrant Rights News -- Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008
2. Two from the Clarion Ledger [MS]:
3. City Limits WEEKLY: IMMIGRANTS FIGHT RESTRICTIONS AT HOME
4. TruthOut: Workers Overcome Divisions After Mississippi Raid
5. North American Congress on
An 'odious reminder'
Chaffetz's plan for tent cities is lambasted
Candidate's immigration plan likened to WWII internment camps
By Robert Gehrke
A Democratic congressman who was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II unleashed on Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz's plan to detain undocumented immigrants in tent cities, calling it an "odious reminder" of a shameful period of the past.
"Jason Chaffetz's comments are more than just offensive and embarrassing to all Americans; they demonstrate a blatant disregard of the need to be vigilant in remembering the lessons learned from a disgraceful chapter in
Honda said Chaffetz statements will only "fuel resentment toward targeted ethnic groups."
Chaffetz, who is running for
He said his immigration plan is built around a bipartisan proposal from the Western Governors Association. That plan says the federal government should pay for regional correctional facilities to detain immigrants convicted of crimes in state courts.
Chaffetz said he added the idea of housing convicted immigrants in prison camps ringed by barbed wire - an idea he took from the Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff who houses prisoners in tent cities - while they await deportation because it is a cheaper way to do it.
Chaffetz's plan also goes further than the governors' proposal because it starts by targeting undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, but extends to all of those in the country illegally.
In his plan, there is no "path to citizenship" and all undocumented immigrants would be deported if they don't return home voluntarily.
"Where these guys are overstepping the line is saying that it has anything to do with ethnicity. They absolutely should apologize for that. That has never been my position, and it is terribly unfair and inaccurate," Chaffetz said. "If you're breaking the law and you're a fugitive, I want to go after you and put you in jail. I don't care if you're from
Chaffetz's Democratic opponent, Bennion Spencer, said Chaffetz's immigration plan is "abominable."
"It makes me sick," Spencer said. "This is way off the charts. His position on tent cities does not fall into the mainstream of what people of Utah believe, it does not fall into the mainstream of what Utah is about. . . . We're better than that. We represent different values than that."
Spencer said that, Chaffetz's complaints notwithstanding, immigrants with dark skin would be singled out and targeted, and those from European countries would not.
Nine percent were from Asia, 6 percent from Europe and
Honda was born in
The Topaz camp, outside Delta, housed more than 8,000 detainees during the war. Last year the camp, located in the 3rd Congressional District, was designated a national historic landmark.
Honda said Chaffetz "intentionally used intolerance to promote his own political agenda."
Jason Chaffetz's comments are more than just offensive and embarrassing to all Americans; they demonstrate a blatant disregard of the need to be vigilant in remembering the lessons learned from a disgraceful chapter in
- California Rep. Mike Honda, who spent several years of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp in
Three from the Clarion Ledger [Reports on the aftermath of the
September 5, 2008
Detained workers await court decision
Hurricane Gustav cleared immigration office in New Orleans
The 475 workers detained at Howard Industries and transported to LaSalle Detention Facility in
However, detainees have a legal battle ahead as the aftermath of the largest raid of its kind heads to the
"The immigration court system is fairly expeditious," said Brandon Montgomery, spokesman for ICE. "It generally takes between 48 hours and a week to come to a decision."
The Aug. 25 raid of Howard Industries' plants in Laurel and Ellisville led to the detainment of 595 workers, most of whom were bused to the
Most of the others - including women with children to care for - were given alternative detention that required them to wear electronic ankle bracelets.
ICE officials could not confirm a date when detainees would begin going before immigration judges to determine whether they will be allowed to remain in the country. The ICE office in
The immigration judge will determine whether to rescind the official order of removal written when the detainee was arrested, he said.
If the order is not rescinded, the detainee has three options:
Sign a voluntary departure form.
"If they are found to be here illegally, the judge will not rescind the order of removal,"
By signing a voluntary departure form, the detainee promises to return to his country of origin voluntarily and must register with the U.S. Embassy in that country upon arrival, he said.
Detainees who face deportation can post a bond to be released from detention or stay in detention until arrangements can be made for deportation. The process can take between 30 days and six months depending on the country of origin,
"For example, if we have a detainee from
The process is the same for the approximately 100 workers in "alternative detention,"
Those in alternative detention face extreme challenges over the next several months because of a lack of income, said Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrants' Rights Alliance.
"We are very concerned about the 600 families around
ICE is not responsible for providing for any of the detainees in alternative detention,
"Without trying to sound crass, they have been detained because they are not
September 6, 2008
AG to decide if Howard broke new state law
Businesses required to use E-Verify to check immigration status
The Associated Press
Attorney General Jim Hood's office is determining whether a new state law was violated by Howard Industries in
"We'll look at what they've done and determine if it's a violation of state law, as well as determine if we need to enforce it," Hood told The Associated Press.
The law passed by the 2008 Legislature and signed by Gov. Haley Barbour requires public and private employers in the state to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify system to check new workers' immigration status. The law took effect July 1 for state agencies and for private businesses with state contracts. It takes effect Jan. 1 for all other businesses.
Under the law, any company found guilty of employing illegal immigrants could lose public contracts for up to three years and lose the right to do business in
The law also says it's a felony for an illegal immigrant to accept a job in
The agencies in charge of enforcement of the law are the Department of Employment Security, Mississippi State Tax Commission, Department of Human Services, secretary of state and attorney general.
"Our folks have tried to get a meeting of all those agencies that have authority," Hood said this week.
On Aug. 25, nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants were taken into custody during the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid.
Eight of them faced criminal charges for allegedly using false Social Security and residency identification. Most of the others were sent to a federal facility in
For the new state law to have any effect,
Officials also must determine if the company used the E-Verify system.
Michael Howard, president of the
After the raid, Howard Industries said in a statement that the company "runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for its jobs. It is company policy that it hires only
"We do not have a contract with them," said Charity Elkins, administrative assistant at the state Department of Finance and Administration's purchasing and travel office said Thursday.
DFA oversees the state budget after legislators approve it, and also oversees most state buildings.
Elkins said there's no centralized purchasing for
David Litchliter, executive director of the Department of Information Technology Services, said his agency has "convenience" contracts for commodities, such as computers, with Howard Industries. That means a school district, for instance, could choose to negotiate with the company because it's been cleared by the state, he said.
"If Howard used the E-Verify system to check those employees, then they're not liable if they checked out," said state Sen. Lee Yancy, R-Brandon, one of the authors of the new law.
City Limits WEEKLY
Week of: September 8, 2008
IMMIGRANTS FIGHT RESTRICTIONS AT HOME
There's punishment without crime for some noncitizens facing immigration troubles, advocates say.
By Gabriela Reardon
Natalia Puriy's appearance at an immigration court in
But after the hearing, as the couple entered the building's elevator, two immigration agents followed. Turner recalls that one agent shoved him aside and asked his wife if she was Natalia. When she said she was, he proceeded to detain the 48-year-old Ukrainian immigrant without explanation. That wasn't what Puriy, a teacher, was expecting when she applied for
"I asked him who he was and what he was doing, and he said they were retaining all people coming in. When I demanded his name, he slammed his badge in my face and told me to shut up and get out of his way," Turner, a
Three hours later, Turner learned the government was placing his wife in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP). Run by a division of the Department of Homeland Security, ISAP began in 2004 as an alternative to detention for immigrants who could otherwise be detained for alleged immigration violations. But that day, Puriy felt the force of a program that some lawyers and advocates claim has instead become an alternative form of detention - too often ensnaring people who shouldn't be detained at all.
They say ISAP is overly restrictive and doesn't effect the cost savings it was designed to - while some 610
For those already detained for immigration offenses - such as entering the country without permission or overstaying a visa - the way ISAP works is to grant release on the condition that participants agree to a set of strict rules, including a 12-hour curfew, three face-to-face meetings per week with a case worker, and unannounced telephone calls and home visits from the authorities. Each immigrant is also fitted with a GPS (Global Positioning System) monitoring ankle bracelet and must install voice recognition technology on his home telephone line, which allows caseworkers to confirm they are speaking to the ISAP participant during routine phone calls. After 30 days in this intense phase, participants usually graduate to the intermediate phase, in which the bracelet is removed and the visits and phone calls reduced. The final stage involves fewer visits and phone calls, and usually continues until the immigrant is deported or cleared of charges.
Only those not subject to mandatory detention, and not deemed a threat to the community or a flight risk, can participate in ISAP.
Puriy, who married Turner in 2002 and relocated from upper
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that polices immigration, says the aim of ISAP is to free detention bed space in facilities to make room for some of the average 214 immigrants ICE arrests every day, and to ensure the people it releases appear in immigration court. The government launched the program in 2004 in eight
ICE outsources ISAP to Colorado-based Behavioral Interventions, Inc., a private firm with experience managing home-arrest and felon reintegration programs across the country. The company also manufactures the GPS-monitoring ankle bracelets and radio frequency receivers used for such programs. According to the federal watchdog group OMB Watch, which tracks government spending, since 2004 ICE has paid Behavioral Interventions nearly $40 million to provide monitoring services in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, St. Paul, Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco, Portland, and more recently Orlando, Los Angeles and New York City.
According to ICE, the agency has deported about one-third of ISAP participants, including those who opted for voluntary departure after proceedings had begun.
But lawyers and immigrant advocates say that like Natalia Puriy, many of the immigrants entering ISAP are not detainees who are released into the program. Instead, they say, ICE is offering the program to people who have already been released on bond by an immigration judge or who have never been detained. Most accept the so-called volunteer program because they are told their only alternative is to enter detention.
While ICE says it does not track participants' detention status prior to entering the program, anecdotal evidence provided by attorneys and policy analysts suggests it is more likely that people who have already been released from detention will be placed in the program.
"We are regularly hearing that it is rare for someone to be released into ISAP. More and more clients are going into immigration courts, fully complying with the conditions of their release, and then going into ISAP. The irony is that a person has proven him or herself and is then given more restrictions," said Annie Sovcik, staff attorney for the Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Kerry Bretz, a
"This is meant to keep a short leash on people who are at the end of their case, who are looking to leave the country soon on an order of deportation, or who are ordered removed but have no travel documents, so that when it comes time to execute the removal order, [ICE] has the person nearby," Bretz said.
Although some advocates criticize the harsh conditions and restrictiveness of the program, many say that for those who are detained in a facility, ISAP is preferable. The problem is few people in detention are offered the ISAP program. "I don't see anyone who is detained suddenly benefiting from ISAP," says Bretz.
ICE Public Information Officer Richard Rocha did not respond to City Limits' multiple requests for input on the operations of the program, including assertions that some immigrants are wrongfully being subjected to an "alternative form of detention."
Efforts like ISAP find support in groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates stricter immigration controls. "There has to be some way of holding on to people once they're apprehended," says spokesman Ira Mehlman. "There is a need to have people under detention or a close form of supervision. There's definitely an inadequate number of detention beds available. Obviously Congress needs to appropriate more funds so that we can hold the people we have spent the money to go out and find."
"Even if you are considered a lesser flight risk, it doesn't mean there's no risk at all," Mehlman said. "We have supported detention because there's an extremely high rate of people absconding."
The government modeled ISAP after the Appearance Assistance Program (AAP) piloted between 1997 and 2000 in
INS hired the Vera Institute to test whether community supervision could improve court appearance rates and thus decrease its reliance on detention. Like ISAP, the program required regular in-person meetings, telephone calls and home visits. But, unlike ISAP, the program did not use electronic monitoring devices, and it also provided participants with referrals to human services like food pantries, health clinics and English classes. Both programs refer immigrants to free or low-cost lawyers. The result of the pilot was a 91 percent appearance rate for participants, in contrast to a 71 percent appearance rate for non-participants.
ISAP has been even more successful, according to ICE. Since the program's inception, 99 percent of participants nationwide appeared for their removal hearings, and 95 percent appeared for final order hearings, at which the court issues its decision. In
Some lawyers and advocates are troubled by ICE's use of electronic monitoring devices in the form of ankle bracelets placed on participants during the intense phase. The American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration calls electronic monitoring overly restrictive, saying it "constitutes another form of detention, rather than a meaningful alternative" to it.
Janis Rosheuvel, an organizer with
The program "is not an alternative to detention. It is an alternative to people's freedom of movement. The notion of alternatives to detention is that people will be released into the community ... not placed in non-stop monitoring," she said.
The question of whether the government's use of GPS monitoring devices constitutes detention, or is just a condition of release, became central in the case of an immigrant challenging the "arbitrary and unfair conditions" of her detention. In a ruling published in May, Los Angeles Immigration Judge Lori R. Bass wrote, "The use of ankle bracelet monitor does cause the loss of a great deal of Respondent's liberty, and requires confinement in a specific space."
Oren Root, director of Vera's Center on Immigration and Justice, headed the pilot program in the late 1990s and said his team considered using electronic monitoring at the time, but ended up opting against it. "We decided to try to see whether a combination of supervision and incentives, such as referrals to the community, could be used without using electronic monitoring. We were successful in showing we could get good results without using [it]," Root said.
In addition to attaining high court appearance rates, the government argues that ISAP presents a cost-saving alternative to the ever-growing demand for detention beds, which has continued to climb since changes to immigration law in 1996 broadened the category of deportable immigrants - but has really peaked since the Bush administration launched Operation Endgame. That effort, launched in 2003, aims to deport all undocumented immigrants and those with criminal convictions by 2012. In 2008 ICE spent nearly $1.7 billion on immigrant custody; the number of detention beds reserved for immigrant detainees is rising from 20,000 in 2006 to a projected 33,000 for 2009. Bed space in a facility currently costs the government $95 daily per detainee, while ISAP costs as little as $12, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
But because ICE is not applying the program to people already detained and emptying detention beds, critics say, the intended cost-savings effect is lost. "The way [ICE] sees the program, it is more expensive. They are viewing it as an add-on, to be applied to people who are already out," instead of using it on people currently occupying a detention bed, says Kerry Sherlock Talbot, the associate director of Advocacy, Family and Due Process for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Paul D. Petrus, Jr., a criminal defense and immigration attorney in
Much of the concern over ISAP revolves around the lack of transparency in how the government runs the program. It has not shared, for example, its enrollment criteria or the specific indicators of success that permit participants to graduate to the less intense phases. Individual officers appear to have a lot of discretion in each case and decisions on individual cases sometimes appear arbitrary.
For this reason Petrus declined to identify his client, describing him only as a Chinese national who lives in Queens and who entered the
"Our dilemma is, if he speaks up he risks being detained [in a facility] but if he remains silent he surrenders his constitutional rights and remains in house arrest," Petrus said.
He describes this policy as arbitrary and capricious - exactly how Turner and Puriy felt the agents behaved toward them on their court date nearly three years ago. Petrus says thus far he has seen no criteria or been given any documentation explaining why his client is in ISAP.
"Only the gods and the federal government know when this will change," he said.
- Gabriela Reardon
Monday 08 September 2008
by: David Bacon, t r u t h o u t | Report
Two workers detained during a police raid on a
"We don't know the fate of those people or what they may be charged with," says Patricia Ice, attorney for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA). "These people were rounded up and just dumped in a privately run detention center. We've heard reports that there weren't even enough beds and that people were sleeping on the floor. Because they haven't been charged, so far as we know, there's no process for them to get bail. My gut reaction is that this is an outrage."
Approximately 100 women were released the day of the
Meanwhile, MIRA and other labor and community activists say media coverage of the raid has heightened racial tensions. Newspaper stories have painted a picture of a plant in which African-American and white union members were hostile to immigrants, based mostly on an incident in which some workers "applauded" as their coworkers were taken away by ICE agents. This simplistic picture obscures the real conditions in the plant, activists say, and the role the company itself played in fomenting divisions among workers.
According to Clarence Larkin, African-American president of IBEW Local 1317, the union at the plant, "this employer pits workers against each other by design, and breeds division among them that affects everyone," he says. "By favoring one worker over another, workers sometimes can't see who their real enemy is. And that's what helps keep wages low."
Workers at Howard Industries, however, do not simply look at each other as enemies across race lines. On August 28, Cintra led a group of women fired in the raid to the plant to demand their pay, after the company denied them paychecks. Managers called
The following day, Cintra and the women returned to the plant to get paychecks for other unpaid workers. They sat on the grass across the street from the factory in a silent protest. "When the shift changed, African-American workers started coming out and they went up to these
Meanwhile, the union has been in negotiations with the company since its contract expired at the beginning of August. In preparation for those negotiations, the IBEW brought in a Spanish-speaking organizer, Maria Gonzalez, to recruit immigrant workers into the union. She visited people at home to help explain the benefits of belonging. Larkin says many immigrant workers joined, complaining of bad treatment. "Supervisors yell at people a lot," he says, "not just immigrants, but at everyone. Howard has always been an anti-employee company, and treats workers with no respect, as though they make no contribution to its success."
When workers have volunteered to become stewards, Larkin says, or to serve on the negotiations committee, the company "institutes a very aggressive discipline against them, so people fear reprisals. It's a challenge to get people involved. Bear in mind, this is the South. It's always a tall order to talk about forming a union here."
Local 1317 hasn't been as active as other unions in nearby poultry plants, however, in bringing workers together across racial divides. In
Hill says it's important for workers to understand the historical price paid for racial division in the South. "Our conditions are the direct result of slavery," she explains. "Today, Frito Lay wages in
Larkin makes the same point. Wages at Howard Industries, the world's largest manufacturer of electrical transformers, are $2 lower than other companies in the industry, he says. That difference goes into the pocket of the Howard family. "The people who profit from
Some state labor leaders, however, have contributed to racial divisions and anti-immigrant hostility. After the Howard Industries workers, many of them union members, were arrested, state AFL-CIO President Robert Shaffer told The Associated Press that he doubted that immigrants could join unions if they were not in the country legally.
Divisions are likely to be deepened as well by repeated public statements by ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez that the raid took place because of a tip by a "union member" two years before. She claimed ICE waited two years before conducting the raid, because "we took the time needed for our investigation," but declined to say how that investigation was conducted, or what led ICE to believe the tip had come from a union member.
"It's hard to believe that a two-year-old phone call to ICE led to this raid, but whether or not the call ever took place, that possibility is a product of the poisonous atmosphere fostered by politicians of both parties in Mississippi," says MIRA director Chandler. "In the last election, Barbour and Republicans campaigned against immigrants to get elected, but so did all the Democratic statewide candidates except Attorney General Jim Hood. The raid will make the climate even worse."
During the 2007 election campaign, the Ku Klux Klan organized a 500-person rally in
Evans called the raid "an effort to drive immigrants out of
North American Congress on
Displaced People: NAFTA's Most Important Product
Sep 3 2008
Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new bilateral trade agreements with
Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new bilateral trade agreements with
Economic crises provoked by NAFTA and other economic reforms are uprooting and displacing Mexicans in the country's most remote areas. While
Meanwhile, a rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment has demonized those migrants, leading to measures to deny them jobs, rights, or any pretense of equality with people living in the communities around them. Solutions to these dilemmas-from adopting rational and humane immigration policies to reducing the fear and hostility toward migrants-must begin with an examination of the way U.S. policies have both produced migration and criminalized migrants.
Trade negotiations and immigration policy were formally joined together when Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. While most attention has focused on its provisions for amnesty and employer sanctions, few have noted an important provision of the law: the establishment of the Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, to study the causes of immigration to the
To slow or halt this flow, it recommended "promoting greater economic integration between the migrant sending countries and the
The negotiations that led to NAFTA started within months of the report. As Congress debated the treaty,
Contrary to NAFTA proponents' predictions, the treaty became an important source of pressure on Mexicans to migrate. It forced yellow corn grown by Mexican farmers without subsidies to compete in
As a result of a growing crisis in agricultural production, by the 1980s
NAFTA was part of a process that began long before, in which economic reforms restructured the Mexican economy. One major objective of those reforms was the privatization of the large state sector, which employed millions of workers. By the early 1990s the Mexican government had sold most of its mines to one company, Grupo México, owned by the wealthy Larrea family, along with a steel mill in Michoacán to the Villareal family, and its telephone company to the richest person in Mexico, Carlos Slim. Former
Rich Mexicans weren't the only beneficiaries of privatization.
After NAFTA the privatization wave expanded.
In NAFTA's first year, 1994, the Mexican economy collapsed when the peso was devalued without warning in December. To avert the sell-off of short-term bonds and a flood of capital to the north, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin engineered a $20 billion loan to
As the Mexican economy, especially the border maquiladora industry, became increasingly tied to the
All of these policies produce displaced people who can no longer make a living or survive as they've done before. The rosy predictions of NAFTA's boosters that it would slow migration proved false. Between just 2000 and 2005,
People were migrating from
But from 1982 through the NAFTA era, successive economic reforms produced more migrants. Campesinos who lost their land found jobs as farmworkers in
Its report urged that "migrant-sending countries should encourage technological modernization by strengthening and assuring intellectual property protection and by removing existing impediments to investment" and recommended that "the
NAFTA, however, was not intended to relieve human suffering. "It is the financial crashes and the economic disasters that drive people to work for dollars in the
Displacement is an unmentionable word in the
Today, displacement and inequality are deeply ingrained in the free market economy. Mexican president Felipe Calderón said during a recent visit to
President George W. Bush says the purpose of
Some 24 million immigrants live in the
Companies depend not just on the workers in the factories and fields, but also on the communities from which they come. If those communities stop sending workers, the labor supply dries up. Work stops. Yet no company pays for a single school or clinic, or even any taxes, in those communities. In the tiny Mexican towns that now provide workers, free-market and free-trade policies exert pressure to cut the government budget for social services. The cost of these services is now borne by workers themselves, in the form of remittance payments sent back from jobs in
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox boasted that in 2005 his country's citizens working in the
At the same time, companies dependent on this immigrant stream gain greater flexibility in adjusting for the highs and lows of market demand. The global production system has grown very flexible in accommodating economic booms and busts. Its employment system is based on the use of contractors, which is replacing the system in which workers were directly employed by the businesses using their labor. Displaced migrant workers are the backbone of this contingent labor system. Its guiding principle is that immigration policy and enforcement should direct immigrants to industries when their labor is needed, and remove them when it's not.
Guest-worker and employment-based visa programs were created to accommodate these labor needs. When demand is high, employers recruit workers. When demand falls, those workers not only have to leave their jobs, but the country entirely. Today, employers and the Department of Homeland Security call for relaxing the requirements on guest-worker visas. Although there are minimum wage and housing requirements, the Southern Poverty Law Center report, "Close to Slavery," documents the fact that the requirements are generally ignored. "These workers don't have labor rights or benefits," Domínguez of the FIOB charges. "It's like slavery. If workers don't get paid or they're cheated, they can't do anything."
New guest-worker programs are the heart of the corporate program for
"The governments of both
Changing corporate trade policy and stopping neoliberal reforms is as central to immigration reform as gaining legal status for undocumented immigrants. It makes no sense to promote more free-trade agreements and then condemn the migration of the people they displace. Instead, Congress must end the use of the free-trade system as a mechanism for producing displaced workers. That also means delinking immigration status and employment. If employers are allowed to recruit contract labor abroad, and those workers can only stay if they are continuously employed, they will never have enforceable rights.
The root problem with migration in the global economy is that it's forced migration. A coalition for reform should fight for the right of people to choose when and how to migrate, including the derecho de no migrar-the right not to migrate, given viable alternatives.
At the same time, migrants should have basic rights, regardless of immigration status. "Otherwise," Domínguez says, "wages will be depressed in a race to the bottom, since if one employer has an advantage, others will seek the same thing." To raise the low price of immigrant labor, immigrant workers have to be able to organize. Permanent legal status makes it easier and less risky to organize. Guest-worker programs, employer sanctions, enforcement, and raids make organizing much more difficult.
Corporations and those who benefit from current priorities might not support a more pro-migrant alternative, but millions of people would. Whether they live in
David Bacon is a senior fellow at the Oakland Institute, which provided support for this analysis. He is a writer and photojournalist, and former labor organizer. His most recent book is Illegal People-How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008).
1. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, "Unauthorized Migration: An Economic Development Response,"
2. USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service, "
3. North American Transportation Statistics Database, "Transportation and the Economy," Table 2-3, "Employment in Transportation and Related Industries," available at nats.sct.gob.mx.
4. Jeanne Batalova, "Mexican Immigrants in the
5. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, "Unauthorized Migration: An Economic Development Response."
6. Associated Press, "Mexican President Decries Anti-Immigrant Tone," February 14, 2008.
7. Office of the Press Secretary, the White House, "Fact Sheet: Fair and Secure Immigration Reform," January 7, 2004.
8. "México es tercer país receptor de remesas en el mundo, según Banco Mundial," July 15, 2008, www.informador.com.mx .
9. Inter-American Development Bank, "Remittances and Development: The Case of Mexico" June 28, 2005, available at www.iadb.org .
Source URL: http://nacla.org/node/4980
Monday, September 08, 2008 17:11 GMT
RIGHTS: Fighting the 'War on Terror'
"Immediately after Sep. 11 we saw a dramatic change in government policies with regard to terrorism, suspected terrorism, and the monitoring of citizens, with the underlying assumption that human rights norms as established in conventions and treaties no longer apply," Joanne Mariner, director of the terrorism and counter-terrorism programme at Human Rights Watch said at the conference in Paris last week.
The trend has worsened over the last seven years, Mariner said.
Some 2,000 human rights experts and activists attended the annual United Nations Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organisations Conference.
The UN DPI/NGO conference on 'Reaffirming Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60' was held at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The conference this year commemorated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message that the delegates were gathered "to commemorate one of humankind's greatest achievements."
But it was not a celebratory mood at the conference. The meeting was dominated by the sense that human rights have been globally weakened by the war between "terrorism and counter-terrorism" both at the national and the international level.
Mariner told a conference roundtable on Human Rights and Human security that the
"There is a global pattern to suppress the rights and freedoms of individuals through new laws. These laws cut back on individual rights and human rights norms, and have greatly increased government powers to investigate, detain, and imprison people with minimum judicial oversight, minimum transparency, and very little procedural safeguards."
Mariner and other participants blamed some UN institutions for cooperating with this suppression of human rights. "Within the UN, the balance of power on the question of human rights has tilted in favour of the Security Council and the bodies it has created specifically to deal with the issue of terrorism," Mariner said.
The UN Security Council, Mariner said, has been passing resolution after resolution on terrorism, all of which have a marked "legislative character", requiring states to pass ever new laws against suspected terrorism, to spot the flow of money, on migration, and to incarcerate suspects.
Workshops at the conference covered issues such as 'Addressing Gross Human Rights Violations: Prevention and Accountability', 'Dealing with the Past in Post-Conflict Societies: Community-Based Responses to Genocide and Mass Violence', and 'The Right to Know, the Right to Truth: How Archives and Records help Combat Impunity'.
Daniel Bekele, head of policy research and advocacy at Action Aid
The conference also explored education as a human right. Ahead of the International Year of Human Rights Learning to be launched Dec. 10, and as a complement to the World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005-2009), the conference considered ways of advancing education, learning and dialogue about human rights as a way of life.
The conference considered practical measures to integrate human rights education and learning into the programmes and activities of governments, civil society, media and the Internet, faith-based organisations, academics and the private sector, with a view to developing a learning process at the community level worldwide. (END/2008)