Friday, October 29, 2010

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

by Laura Sullivan, NPR
October 28, 2010

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants. [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Costly virtual border fence in tatters

The U.S. is set to defund the troubled project. It was intended to keep a high-tech eye on the Mexican border.

By Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau
October 22, 2010

Reporting from Washington — The Department of Homeland Security, positioning itself to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.- Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar project involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors.

The result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border. [...]

Read the full article:,0,5546525.story

For more on the "virtual fence":

Monday, October 25, 2010

South Bay Labor Council Passes Resolution to Support Dignity Campaign

[The resolution below was passed at Laborers International Union of North America Local 270 in San Jose, California, which submitted it to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council where it passed unanimously on October, 18, 2010, with the support of UNITE HERE Local 19 and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. For more information on the Dignity Campaign, go to .]


WHEREAS: Thousands of U.S. union members have been fired as a result of the enforcement of employer sanctions against workers in the workplace, including 475 janitors in San Francisco, 1200 janitors in Minneapolis, 300 janitors in Seattle, as well as workers who have stood up to lead organizing drives into our unions, including 2000 sewing machine operators at American Apparel in Los Angeles, and

WHEREAS: Immigration reform bills in Washington, including the Schumer proposal, the REPAIR proposal by Senator Schumer and several other senators, and the CIR-ASAP proposal by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, will cause more of our members to be fired through programs like E-Verify, the national ID card and employment verification, and will make it more difficult for unions to organize non-union workplaces by making immigrant workers even more vulnerable to firings, deportations and the denial of their rights through workplace enforcement, and

WHEREAS: the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, and other similar agreements, and structural adjustment policies and other so-called economic reforms continue to boost corporate profits while creating massive poverty in countries like Mexico, El Salvador and others, and that as a result, millions of workers and farmers are displaced and have no alternative but to migrate in search of work, and therefore will continue to come to the United States to work, join our unions and participate in our organizing drives, and

WHEREAS: the Mexican government fired 44,000 electrical workers and has tried to smash their union, the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME), and brought thousands of heavily armed police into Cananea copper mine to try to smash the 3-year strike of the Mineros, in both cases to create better conditions for giant corporations by breaking unions, privatizing workplaces and throwing workers out of their jobs, and that as a result many of those workers will be forced to come to the United States in order to find work and help their families survive, and

WHEREAS: the largest corporations and employer groups in the United States, including WalMart, Hyatt, Smithfield, the Associated Building Contractors and others have sought to expand guest worker programs, forcing people to come to the United States only through those schemes that treat them as low wage workers with no rights, in conditions described as "Close to Slavery" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and

WHEREAS: our labor movement has called for basic reform of our immigration laws, and adopted a position at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles in 1999 that demands the repeal of employer sanctions, immediate amnesty for undocumented workers, protection of the right to organize for all workers, the strengthening of family reunification as the basis of immigration policy, and opposition to guest worker programs, and

WHEREAS: our labor movement believes that solidarity with workers fighting for their rights in Mexico and around the world is an important part of immigration reform,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO reiterates its support for the immigration position adopted by the AFL-CIO Convention in 1999, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO rejects all the proposals in Congress that promote employer sanctions and the consequent firing of immigrant workers, open the doors to new guest worker programs, and do not contain a program for the quick and inclusive legalization of undocumented workers, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO strongly supports proposals for immigration reform that include the renegotiation of NAFTA, CAFTA and all other trade agreements, including those with Colombia and South Korea, in order to stop the enforced poverty that displaces communities abroad and "Right Not to Migrate", to protect jobs in the United States, and will oppose any new trade agreements that cause such displacement and do not protect jobs, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO supports the proposal for an alternative immigration reform bill made by the Dignity Campaign, because it is based on protecting the labor and human rights for all people, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO supports the SME and the Mineros, and calls on union members and working people to defend their rights by developing and taking supportive actions, and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO forwards this resolution and the Dignity Campaign summary to the Congresspersons that represent this area, to our affiliates, Northern California Labor Councils, State Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and to the community organizations with which we work on issues of immigration for their concurrence and action.



1. Legalization

Legalize all people without status quickly, with low fees
People will receive permanent residence status
Newly legalized people are entitled to public benefits
Anyone in the country for five years can apply for legal status

2. Family Reunification

Raise the number of family visas available, and issue all unused visas
Process all applications for family preference visas

3. Repeal Employer Sanctions and Enforce Labor Rights

Immediately repeal employer sanctions, and dismantle the E-Verify dataabase
Increase enforcement of worker protection laws, for all workers
Make threats from employers using immigration status a crime
job creation and job trainng programs for unemployed workers
All people can get a Social Security number, regardless of immigration status

4. Guest Workers and Future Flows

All existing guest worker programs (H1-B, H2-A, H2-B) will end after five years.
Reform existing guest worker programs during those five years, force employers to hire domestic workers first, and enforce labor standards for guest workers
All guest workers can organize and join unions, and can sue over violations
Make green cards available during times of low unemployment for migrants who don't qualify for family preference visas

5. Trade Policy and Displacement

Hold hearings about the effects of NAFTA and CAFTA, and collect evidence about the way those agreements displace people.
Existing agreements will be renegotiated to eliminate causes of displacement.
No new trade agreements that displace people or lower living standards.
Prohibit U.S. military intervention or aid to support trade agreements, structural adjustment policies or market economic reforms

6. Due Process and Detention

Repeal federal laws barring drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants
Prohibit local law enforcement agencies from enforcing immigration law
End roadblocks, immigration raids and sweeps
Prohibit privately-run detention centers, and tear down existing centers
Families with children may not be separated by detention or deportation.

7. Repeal Border Militarization and Enforce Human Rights

Dismantle the wall and the "virtual wall" along the border
Remove National Guard troops from the border
End the privatization of border control and security operations on the border
End criminal charges to prosecute immigrants based on their immigration status
Prosecute private vigilante groups for violations of the rights of migrants
Reduce the budget for border enforcement and detention, and redirect the funds to social services, healthcare, education, family reunification, processing visa backlogs and enforcing civil rights.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

At War In Texas

Sheriffs’ budgets are ballooning while commissioners watch helplessly as social services and schools plunge into decrepitude.

Tom Barry, Boston Review
September/October 2010

Heads bowed in prayer, we stand at a bucolic spot on the banks of the Rio Grande known by locals as Neely’s Crossing. Like most of West Texas, there is nothing here. On the other side, drug wars have turned Mexican border towns in the Valle de Juárez and elsewhere into killing grounds.

As Hudspeth County deputies armed with AR-15 semi-automatic weapons stand guard, we close in around Reverend Jim Garlow. “Lord, we thank you Lord for gathering us here,” he says. “We thank you for all you have given us and our great nation. We ask you Lord to protect American exceptionalism, to protect U.S. national sovereignty, and secure our border.” [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Equality and Rights for All Workers – The Key to Organizing Unions

Organizing immigrant workers is not a matter of taking pity on the downtrodden. It requires us to understand what is necessary for the survival of our communities, of our labor movement.

by David Bacon, Monthly Review and Americas Program
October 11, 2010

When I was a union organizer, I had an experience that dramatized for me the importance of the cultural and historical traditions that immigrants from Mexico bring with them when they come to the United States, and how they affect the way people organize.

I was working for the United Electrical Workers, one of the most progressive U.S. unions. We were contacted by workers at a huge sweatshop, Cal Spas. Unhappy with low wages and abusive conditions, they began to organize a union. Then the head of the workers’ organizing committee was beaten up in the middle of the street in front of the plant. It was an obvious effort to scare the workers and make them stop organizing. [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYC, Oct. 15: Immigrant Rights Activist and Former Torture Victim from Chile Faces Deportation

By Lainie Cassel, Upside Down World
October 12, 2010

When Victor Toro settled with his family in the Bronx over 20 years ago he thought he had finally found a place to call home. After being tortured and imprisoned for his work as a Chilean activist under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 1970’s, Toro spent several years jumping from country to country in search of a safe haven, until finally settling in New York City in 1986. Now 68 years old, Toro may once again be forced into displacement as he heads to a US deportation court on Friday, October 15. [...]

Read the full article:

En Español:

For those in the New York City Area: Victor Toro’s hearing will take place at 9:00am on October 15, 2010 before Judge Sarah Burr. The room can be found on the 12th floor of 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY. The Victor Toro Defense Committee is urging all supporters to come out. Check

For donations to his legal fund: checks can be made payable to: Las Penitas Inc and sent to P.O. Box 739, Bronx, NY 10454.

For more information: (212) 631-7555,