Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thousands of Farmworkers in California Can't Make a Living

By David Bacon, New America Media
June 2, 2015

Editor's note: California farmworkers once made a decent living but according to NAM contributing writer, David Bacon, those days are long gone. Now the majority is struggling to survive. More than a third of the farmworkers population makes less than the minimum wage, while the other third earns the exact minimum. Many suffer from various health issues as the result of years of backbreaking work. Undocumented farm laborers find movement back and forth across the militarized border far more dangerous and expensive than before, and many are stuck even when picking season has ended. In a three parts series, Bacon gives his analysis of the situation and provides two moving portraits of struggling Triqui farmworkers. Bacon’s analysis is below.

At the end of the 1970s California farm workers were the highest-paid in the U.S., with the possible exception of Hawaii's long-unionized sugar and pineapple workers. Today their economic situation is not much different from that of their coworkers elsewhere around the country. California's agricultural laborers are trapped in jobs that pay the minimum wage and often less, and are mostly unable to find permanent year-round work.

The decline in income is apparent in three ways. The minimum wage is the current wage standard for most farm workers. They receive a tiny percentage of the retail price of the crops they produce. And their living conditions reflect incomes that are at the bottom of the U.S. wage scale.[...]

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Death in Detention

Congressman Grijalva calls for Justice Department investigation into suicide of undocumented man at private prison

By Jim Nintzel, Tucson Weekly
June 25, 2015

The autopsy shows that while undocumented immigrant Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun was being housed in a privately run Eloy prison in May, he shoved a sock down his throat and choked on it.

Deniz-Sahagun, 31, was a troubled inmate. The autopsy report, by Pima County Forensic Pathologist Gregory L. Hess, notes that Deniz-Sahagun arrived at the Eloy Detention Center on May 18 with "delusional thoughts and behaviors" and was placed on a constant watch because he was threatening to kill himself. On May 20, the guards reduced the constant watch to cell checks every 15 minutes, which evidently gave Deniz-Sahagun enough time to swallow his knee-high orange sock and end his own life.

In the wake of his death, rampant rumors were coming out of the prison, where Corrections Corporation of America detains undocumented immigrants under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Phoenix-based Puente Human Rights Movement announced that 200 people were refusing to eat, calling for an end to abuse and exploitation, but INS officials have told the press that no hunger strike was [...]

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Study: Private contracts encourage federal immigrant detentions

Quotas create incentive for authorities to detain more immigrants than they would otherwise need to, report says

By Tom Kutsch, AlJazeera America
June 11, 2015

A system of local quotas for privately run immigration detention facilities across the United States has created a strong incentive for federal immigration authorities to detain more immigrants than it would otherwise need to, while increasing profits for private companies, according to a study.

The report (PDF), released Thursday by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Detention Watch Network, says that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the division of the Department of Homeland Security that manages immigration detention facilities – supports a system where its contracts with private companies establish “guaranteed minimums,” taxpayer-supported monetary obligations to pay for a set number of detention beds, regardless of whether they are used.

That, the report says, means ICE has an incentive to detain individuals, and gives private companies that run detention facilities a say in the number of immigrants the U.S. detains annually.[...]

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Enforcement is not the answer to the migrant crisis

EU’s plan to crack down on traffickers and stop migrant boats in the Mediterranean will endanger the migrants even more

By David Bacon, AlJazeera America
June 8, 2015

The influx of migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa continues unabated. In the last weekend of May alone, European naval and merchant ships rescued more than 5,000 migrants after boats in the Mediterranean issued distress calls, according the European Union border control agency, Frontex. The death toll is also on the rise. At least 1,770 people have died so far this year — up from 56 at this same time last year. The International Organization for Migration warns that the migrant death toll could reach 30,000 in 2015.

Frontex has stepped up its search and rescue efforts after nearly 900 migrants drowned off Libya’s coast in April. But EU leaders remain divided on just what to do with those already in Europe. At least 40,000 people have reached Italy by boat since January. Yet so far, the EU’s response has focused on border enforcement and a crackdown on traffickers. This emphasis not only ignores the primary drives of migration but also jeopardizes millions of people who are seeking refuge from repressive regimes.

Other European plans are equally riddled with flaws.[...]

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Broad Public Support for Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants

Other Attitudes About Immigration More Mixed

By Pew Research Center
June 4, 2015

With immigration shaping up to be a major issue in both the final years of the Obama administration and the 2016 presidential campaign, most Americans (72%) continue to say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met.

These views have fluctuated only modestly over the past two years. As in prior surveys, a majority of those who favor granting legal status for people in the U.S. illegally – 42% of the public overall – say they should be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. About a quarter of the public (26%) say they should only be able to apply for permanent residency.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 12-18 among 2,002 adults, finds less agreement when it comes to other opinions about immigrants and immigration.[...]

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Immigration Overhaul May Be in Limbo Until Late in Obama’s Term

By Michael D. Shear, New York Times
May 27, 2015

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, which he announced in a prime-time speech to the nation last November, may remain under a cloud of legal uncertainty until months before he leaves office in 2017, legal experts and administration officials said Wednesday.

Officials from the Justice Department said in a statement that they would not ask the Supreme Court for permission to carry out the president’s immigration programs — which seek to provide work permits and deportation protection to millions of undocumented immigrants — while a fight over presidential authority plays out in the lower courts.

That legal battle may extend for a year or more, officials said, undermining any hope of putting the president’s plan into effect until right before the 2016 election.[...]

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