Friday, May 31, 2013

For Medicare, Immigrants Offer Surplus, Study Finds

By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times
May 29, 2013

Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending.

The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period.

The findings shed light on what demographers have long known: Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country’s aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security. And with the largest generation in the United States, the baby boomers, now starting to retire, the financial help from immigrants has never been more needed, experts said. [...]

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Judge Finds Violations of Rights by Sheriff

By Fernanda Santos, New York Times
May 24, 2013

PHOENIX — A federal judge ruled on Friday that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops here and throughout Maricopa County.

With his ruling, Judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court delivered the most decisive defeat so far to Sheriff Arpaio, who has come to symbolize Arizona’s strict approach to immigration enforcement by making it the leading mission for many of the 800 deputies under his command at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

At 142 pages, the decision is peppered with stinging criticism of the policies and practices espoused by Sheriff Arpaio, who Judge Snow said had turned much of his focus to arresting immigrants who were in the country illegally, in most cases civil violations, at the expense of fighting crimes. [...]

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Arizona Desert Swallows Migrants on Riskier Paths

By Fernanda Santos and Rebekah Zemansky, New York Times
May 20, 2013

TUCSON — In the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office here — repository of the nation’s largest collection of missing-person reports for immigrants who have vanished while crossing the United States-Mexico border — 774 sets of remains awaited identification in mid-May, stored in musty body bags coated in dust.

For the family of Andrés Valenzuela Cota, the remains represent a chance to turn the page on a sad chapter of family history. Mr. Cota was 45 when he disappeared on July 15, 2011, after calling a niece in Los Angeles and asking her to send $100 to a Western Union office in Cananea, Mexico, a staging point for smugglers bringing migrants through Arizona. [...]

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

South Bay Labor Council Resolution Opposing Immigration Firings and Employer Sanctions, May 20, 2013

From the South Bay Labor Council:


WHEREAS: the labor movement has called for basic reform of our immigration laws since it adopted a position at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles in 1999, supported by resolutions passed since then by the South Bay Labor Council, which demand the repeal of employer sanctions, legalization 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: The immigration reform bills being proposed in Washington would cause more of our members to be fired through programs like mandatory E-Verify and other forms of workplace immigration enforcement, and would 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, and [...]

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tech Industry Pushes to Amend Immigration Bill

By Somini Sengupta, New York Times
May 19, 2013 

SAN FRANCISCO — The technology industry got much of what it wanted in a bill that overhauls federal immigration law.

But in the give-and-take of political bargaining, the legislation emerged with some provisions the industry considers unappealing. Now its lobbyists are feverishly working to get rid of them.

Whether it gets its way could shape, in part, the fate of the overall package — and with it, the fate of millions of migrants to this country.

The industry achieved its main goals in the draft Senate bill: an easing of the green card process and an expansion of the number of skilled guest worker visas. That draft, though, includes language that it considers excessive regulatory oversight of when a company can hire a temporary foreign worker and lay off an existing American worker.

Executives from Silicon Valley companies say such language would effectively keep them from using the larger numbers of temporary work permits, known as H-1B visas. [...]

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Deportation in 90 Minutes or Less

Border crossers get no justice in Operation Streamline’s kangaroo court.

By Nancy Fleck and Susan Nelson, In These Times
May 13, 2013

Five days a week, between 40 and 80 men and women in handcuffs and shackles are brought into Tucson’s DeConcini Courthouse, a high-rise that houses the U.S. District Court. The prisoners are dirty, hungry and sometimes injured from days spent walking across the desert before Border Patrol agents caught them entering the United States along the southern Arizona border without the proper documentation. Led into a second-floor courtroom, they sit quietly in neat rows on spectator benches and in the jury box. Across the courtroom sit two men in dark green shirts with “Border Patrol” across their backs.

Upon arriving, the judge advises the migrants en masse of the charges and their constitutional rights. In a few cases the charge is simply “illegal entry,” a misdemeanor. But for most of the defendants, this is not the first time they’ve been caught trying to enter the country, and they are charged with both the misdemeanor and felony “illegal entry.” The judge then offers those defendants a plea bargain: Plead guilty to the misdemeanor entry, and the felony entry charge (which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison) will be dismissed. The felony entry charge is “the easiest felony to prove and the fastest-growing felony in the country,” says Isabel Garcia, the co-chair of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos and Pima County Legal Defender.

All of the defendants take the deal. [...]

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform

By David Kravetso, Wired
May 10, 2013

The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf) is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo. [...]

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Immigrant Workers Are Organizing in New York -- With or Without Immigration Reform

Actions like this aren't unusual in New York City these days. Everywhere you look you see workers organizing: at supermarkets in Brooklyn, at restaurants and cafés in Manhattan, at carwashes in the Bronx. And over and over again this organizing is in the low-wage service industries that largely employ undocumented immigrants.

By David L. Wilson, MRZine
May 17, 2013

Some 50 to 60 union meat cutters and their supporters turned out on the afternoon of April 6 for a noisy protest against what they said was a lockout by Trade Fair, a chain of nine small supermarkets based in Queens, New York.

Standing in a picket line on a busy sidewalk outside a Trade Fair store in the Jackson Heights neighborhood, many wearing their white aprons, the workers explained that after a year without a contract, they held a brief strike the morning of March 13 over workplace abuses. When they tried to return to work, they said, Trade Fair CEO Farid ("Frank") Jaber responded by laying off all 100 or so meat cutters and hiring non-union replacements. [...]

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

From the I-Word to the I-Deed

Still, the question is, what impact will greater linguistic sensitivity have on the rapidly growing apparatus of immigration control and boundary policing—one that cost almost $18 billion and exiled via deportation a record-breaking 410,000 people last fiscal year?

By Joseph Nevins, Border Wars, NACLA
May 1, 2013

On April 2, the Associated Press announced that it would no longer sanction the term “illegal immigrant” or use “illegal” to describe persons living in a country without authorization. Eight days later USA Today, the largest circulation newspaper in the United States, announced a similar policy.

These changes are the result of a three-year, national campaign spearheaded by the Applied Research Center and its online news site,, as part of a collection of organizations and activists that includes the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist and founder of Define American. The effort, called “Drop the I-Word,” is now seeking to build on its victories by pressuring The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times to follow suit. [...]

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Close the Distance Between Washington and the Reality of Immigration

By Pablo Alvarado, Huffington Post
May 2, 2013

Last week, an exchange between Jeff Flake, Janet Napolitano, and Chuck Schumer exemplified all that is wrong with the way in which immigration gets discussed within Washington and how far removed the beltway is from the daily reality and aspirations of people who are marching for immigrant rights this week.

When the topic of immigration enters the beltway, it gets reduced to an issue and divorced from the people whose lives hang in the balance. The dehumanizing view of migrants promoted by people like Sheriff Arpaio and Jan Brewer in Arizona finds a home inside the Capitol. At the Senate Judiciary Committee witness table, nativist "experts" share tables with self-identified undocumented Americans and continue to call them 'alien.' But it isn't just the xenophobes intent to block reform who attempt to deny migrants' humanity.

Recalling the so-called "Gang of 8" visit to the Arizona border, Sen. Jeff Flake openly mocked a woman who was apprehended by Border Patrol. [...]

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses—We Have Private Prisons to Fill

The profits and losses of criminalizing immigrants

By Forrest Wilder, Texas Observer
May 1, 2013

When Jose Rios walked into a Bank of America branch last year, he hoped to open an account for the car repair shop he owned. He didn’t expect to end up with a prison sentence.

Days after Rios provided the bank with a home address and Social Security number, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at his house looking for him. (Rios said ICE agents later told him that Bank of America turned him in.) Rios wasn’t home. His wife, a pretty, sad-eyed woman of 38, answered the door.

“They said, ‘if we don’t find [Jose], we come back for you,’” she said, sitting outside her daughters’ elementary school on a gorgeous California day while her smiling 2-year-old brought us handfuls of dainty red geraniums. Her daughters, the agents warned, could end up in foster care.

Both Jose and his wife, Marta, are undocumented immigrants. (The Observer has changed their names to protect their identities.) Their three girls—ages 2, 7 and 12—are U.S. citizens. Facing the prospect of a shattered family, Jose turned himself in to ICE. [...]

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Monday, May 13, 2013

A New Era for Worker Ownership, 5 Years in the Making

The New Era Windows Cooperative opens its doors (and windows) for business

By Kari Lydersen, In These Times
May 9, 2013

The workers know launching and running a company won’t be easy, but given their deep knowledge of the industry and their personal investment in the project, they are confident they can do it.

Today, in a revamped Campbell’s Soup building in an industrial and residential section of southwest Chicago, the New Era Windows Cooperative will celebrate the grand opening of its new factory.

Becoming a worker-owned cooperative is the latest chapter in the saga of the workers of Republic Windows and Doors, who gained the nation’s attention by occupying their factory—twice—and became a symbol of resistance in the face of corporate corruption and the economic crisis. [...]

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Workers Claim Race Bias as Farms Rely on Immigrants

By Ethan Bronner, New York Times
May 6, 2013

VIDALIA, Ga. — For years, labor unions and immigrant rights activists have accused large-scale farmers, like those harvesting sweet Vidalia onions here this month, of exploiting Mexican guest workers. Working for hours on end under a punishing sun, the pickers are said to be crowded into squalid camps, driven without a break and even cheated of wages.

But as Congress weighs immigration legislation expected to expand the guest worker program, another group is increasingly crying foul — Americans, mostly black, who live near the farms and say they want the field work but cannot get it because it is going to Mexicans. They contend that they are illegally discouraged from applying for work and treated shabbily by farmers who prefer the foreigners for their malleability. [...]

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Right to Vote Seen Close to Reality for NYC Legal Residents

By Voices of NY, El Diario La Prensa, Queens Latino
Translated by Emily Leavitt from Spanish

Both El Diario La Prensa and Queens Latino covered a proposed bill being discussed in the City Council this week which will give legal residents the right to vote in municipal elections, including the race for mayor later this year. The articles are excerpted and translated below.

The Queens Latino story by Javier Castaño, headlined “The Right to Vote for Legal Residents Becomes a Reality in NYC,” was the most optimistic of the two, assuring readers that the measure is a shoo-in.

"After a 10-year struggle, the right to vote in municipal elections is starting to become a reality for legal residents. This Thursday, May 9, at 1 p.m. the City Council will hold the first public hearing on the measure." [...]

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Heritage Foundation Immigration Author Under Fire

“There are real differences between groups, not just trivial ones that we happen to notice more than we should,” he went on to say. “Race is different in all sorts of ways and probably the most important way is in IQ.”

By Sara Murray and Neil King Jr., Washington Wire, Wall Street Journal
May 8, 2013

It’s not just the Heritage Foundation’s research that’s controversial.

The conservative think tank earlier this week published a study – denounced by other conservatives – that concluded legalizing 11 million immigrants would end up costing taxpayers $6.3 trillion. By Wednesday the scrutiny had shifted to one of the report’s coauthors, Jason Richwine.

Mr. Richwine, who was hired as a senior policy analyst at the think tank last year, graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in 2009. In his Harvard dissertation he asserted there were persistent differences between the average IQ of white Americans and that of immigrants. The relative IQs of different immigrant groups, he argued, should be weighed when determining who should be allowed permanent entry into the U.S. [...]

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For information on the Harvard professors who approved Richwine's PhD dissertation: