Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three Days in the Life of a Migrant Laborer

Today, US companies demand access to flexible workforces, so to better compete in the global economy. Companies have discovered that agencies in immigrant communities supply inexpensive labor pools of workers who work hard. Factories are hungry for such work pools, and if they cannot access them here in the US, they might search for them in other countries.

By David Van Arsdale, Peace Newsletter
July-August 2011 and September 2011

A temporary worker should never oversleep. This was my thought as I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock two or three times. By the time I awoke, it was half past seven in the morning—far too late, I thought to myself, to find a construction or factory job through the staffing agency in Harlem through which I was working. I decided to try anyhow. I arrived to discover a mostly-vacant waiting room. There were only two other workers waiting and both of them informed me that most of the jobs were dispatched before seven, as I had suspected. Juan, a twenty-four-year-old Nicaraguan who lives in the housing projects across the street from the agency, asked me if I knew of any other agencies offering work. I asked if he wanted to come with me to try the agencies in Queens, in the Latino neighborhoods. Juan and I became quick friends, we jumped on the subway and headed for Queens. [...]

Read the two-part series:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Immigration Special Report: New Mexico Immigrant Fight Widens

Immigrants aren’t taking matters sitting down... instead they're mobilizing in different New Mexico communities.

By Kent Paterson, Salem-News.com and Frontera NorteSur
September 3, 2011

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - Defying the stormy skies of a late summer monsoon season, immigrants and their supporters had a message for New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez: Stop targeting our families and start working on education, jobs and other matters of vital importance in an economically hard -pressed state.

Convened by El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, an immigrant rights organization based in Albuquerque, scores of demonstrators turned out September 1 in front of state Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) offices in Albuquerque. A lively crowd of young and old alike protested a Martinez administration-ordered review of 10,000 state driver’s licenses previously issued to foreign-born people without Social Security numbers. [...]

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Does the H-2A guest worker visa program make it easy to exploit farmworkers?

In 2007 a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States, concluded that H-2A workers "are bound to the employers who 'import' them. If guestworkers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting, or other retaliation." Federal regulations to protect the workers "exist mainly on paper," it added. "Government enforcement ... is almost nonexistent."

By David Bacon, California Lawyer magazine
September 2011

In the fall of 2006 Irma Luna, a community worker for California Rural Legal Assistance in Fresno, got a phone call from the tiny town of Tulelake, on the Oregon border. Hundreds of farmworkers, the caller said, were living at the Siskiyou County fairgrounds, and many were being fired and sent back to Mexico.

Luna and CRLA attorneys Alegria G. De La Cruz and Michael Meuter drove 500 miles through the Central Valley to investigate. At Tulelake they found about a hundred angry laborers waiting at the local library. The workers said that Sierra Cascade Nursery, a leading grower of strawberry plants in the United States, had contracted in Mexico for 600 people to spend six weeks at its facilities trimming strawberry plant roots. The company, which develops rootstock and sells strawberry plants to growers around the world, owns more than a thousand acres of nurseries in northern California and southern Oregon. [...]

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nation's farm states push competing guest-worker bills

"Because the bill slashes wages and worker protections, it actually creates the incentive for employers to replace their current American workers with much cheaper (foreign) workers," warned Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

By Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers
September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Half a million foreign farmworkers could gain visas annually under a new plan that some U.S. growers believe doesn't go far enough.

Entering a political minefield, the conservative chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has written a bill that gives growers some of what they want in a farmworker visa program. Housing and transportation requirements are eased. Farmworker lawsuits are limited. Dairies, for the first time, become eligible.

"If we are really going to help American growers in the long term, we need to provide them a workable guest-worker program that will help them hire a legal workforce," declared Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. [...]

Read more the full article:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Enemy Alien" screenings in NYC, Toronto, CA

a Palestinian activist’s fight for freedom draws a Japanese American filmmaker into confrontation with detention regimes of past and present.

“Amazing...now that is what I call a ‘real’ documentary. An exposé of the first order.” -- Satsuki Ina, director, Children of the Camps & From a Silk Cocoon

"Enemy Alien is a must-see documentary! The filmmaker crosses boundaries and prison walls to tell the story of this peaceful Palestinian freedom fighter…a powerful and often scary real-life tale of the shared struggle between Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans." --Basim Elkarra, Executive Director, CAIR-Sacramento

Documentary, 2011, 82 minutes
A project of Life or Liberty
Directed by Konrad Aderer

Thursday, September 8, 7:00pm
Alwan for the Arts 16 Beaver Street Manhattan, NYC


Panel discussion with the filmmaker and discussants:
Amy Gottlieb, American Friends Service Committee
Mirene Ghossein, activist and promoter of Arab-American and Palestinian poetry and arts
Cristina "AiMara" Lee, organizer and legal observer involved in Asian American & Muslim American solidarity

Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Tuesday, October 4, 9:00pm
Art Gallery of Ontario, Jackman Hall Theater
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON
Copresented by Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

UC Berkeley
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 arrives, the Nikkei Student Union and the Muslim Student Association, will hold a joint event of featuring a screening of Enemy Alien followed by discussion
UC Berkeley's Multicultural Community Center (MCC)
September 8th, 7:30pm

Enemy Alien, a first-person documentary, is the gripping story of the fight to free Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a gentle but indomitable Palestinian-born human rights activist detained in a post-9/11 sweep of Muslim immigrants. Told through the eyes of the filmmaker, the grandson of Japanese Americans interned during World War II, this documentary takes on unprecedented intimacy and historical resonance.

As the filmmaker confronts his own family legacy of incarceration, his involvement in the current struggle deepens. Resistance brings consequences: In retaliation for organizing a massive protest from inside detention, Farouk is beaten and locked in solitary confinement, and his American-born son Tarek is arrested in a counterterrorism investigation into the documentary itself.

Website: http://www.lifeorliberty.org/enemy-alien
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EnemyAlien
Twitter: @enemyalien

Distributor, educational distribution & screenings: Third World Newsreel

The New York Observer‘Exigent Times’: Konrad Aderer’s Enemy Alien

Radio interviews with director Konrad Aderer:
Asia Pacific Forum, WBAI 99.5 NYC (6/27/2011)

Insight: Mike McGowan, Capital Public Radio KXJZ 90.9 Sacramento (2/18/2011)