Over 20,000 people have been deported through Los Angeles County jails in the last two and a half years. Through this lawsuit, filed in June 2011, NDLON, CHIRLA, and the National Immigration Law Center are demanding that Sheriff Baca comply with the the California Public Records Act and disclose information about the deportation programs operating in his jails, including Se Communities, 287(g), and the Criminal Alien Program.
By Susan Dickson, Staff Writer | Source: CarrboroCitizen.com
The board approved an anti-lingering ordinance for the intersection of Davie and Jones Ferry roads in November 2007 after residents of the surrounding neighborhood complained of public consumption, pharm public urination and garbage in the areas around the intersection. Day laborers, many of them Latino, often gather at the intersection in hopes that contractors will come by and offer them work. The ordinance prohibits waiting at the intersection from 11 a.m. until 5 a.m.
On June 16, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a letter to Carrboro Town Attorney Michael Brough and the board alleging the ordinance’s unconstitutionality. The letter was also signed by lawyers from the N.C. NAACP, the ACLU of North Carolina, the N.C. Justice Center, the N.C. Immigrant Rights Project, the UNC Center for Civil Rights and the UNC School of Law Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity, as well as professors in the UNC Immigration/Human Rights Policy Clinic and UNC Civil Legal Assistance Clinic.
“While Carrboro day laborers often receive day-long employment between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., many contractors and home-owners regularly seek laborers during the late morning and early afternoon hours,” the letter states. “The ordinance has interfered with workers’ ability to obtain employment during these times. Workers who have risked violating the law in an effort to put dinner on their families’ tables that evening have been subjected to humiliating herding off the street corner by Carrboro police officers and their cruisers.”
The letter also states that the ordinance is “overbroad and vague” and that the authors are “deeply concerned about the ordinance’s impact on the First Amendment,” citing a 2009 N.C. Court of Appeals case in which a Winston-Salem ordinance was struck down because “mere presence in a public place cannot constitute a crime.”
A group of residents came to the board on Tuesday to ask the board to repeal the ordinance.
“I understand that the anti-lingering ordinance was discussed at great length,” said Judith Blau, a UNC professor and director of the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center. “You could not have recognized the increasing economic hardship that’s facing everyone in the nation, but most especially the day laborers, and it’s this downturn in the economy that has made employment opportunities more difficult.”
Alberto De Latorre told the board he has been working in Carrboro for 15 years, not always as a day laborer, but that as the economy has slowed he’s found himself more frequently looking for jobs from the corner.
“I am here because I’m against the ordinance,” Latorre said in Spanish, speaking to the board through a translator.
“The corner is part of Carrboro. It’s always been there, and we always know where to find a job there,” he said. “I feel frightened to be there and the police showing up at 11. … It feels bad.”
Mark Dorosin, an attorney with the UNC Center for Civil Rights and one of the letter’s authors, thanked board members for their recent efforts to work toward solutions for day laborers, but asked them to repeal the ordinance.
“We know you are looking at other issues related to workers’ rights and the day laborers, and we appreciate the consideration of those issues,” he said. “I urge you not to let this particular issue – the ordinance and the repeal of the ordinance – get unnecessarily caught up in other issues that you are dealing with.”
Washington DC – Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security launched its advisory committee as part of the response to the growing controversy and resistance from states and law enforcement towards Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Se Communities” program.
When ICE announced cosmetic modifications earlier this month it promoted the advisory committee made up of law enforcement, ICE agents, and advocates as a body purported to issue recommendations in 45 days on how to “mitigate impacts on community policing,” “how to best focus on individuals who pose a true public safety and security threat,” as well as how to implement a post-conviction policy for traffic offenses.
Today advocates learned that in fact the commission is limited to recommendations about minor traffic offenses—a significant departure from ICE’s announcement. The commission also appears to be tangled in levels of bureaucracy —the advisory committee reports to another DHS committee.
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said: “The advisory commission launched by DHS is a sham like the rest of the ‘Se Communities’ program. The more we learn about the commission the more we smell a rat. A committee tasked on whether they should separate and detain families pre or post conviction for broken tail lights is another embarrassment for the Obama Administration and its disregard for human rights in this country.”
“Forty-five days and a few short meetings is not enough time to truly examine a vast program like S-Comm,“ said Bridget Kessler of Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, “ICE is once again spouting superficial talking points and band-aid solutions instead of confronting S-Comm’s fundamental flaws.”
ICE recently posted a document titled “Se Communities: Get the Facts” on its website. Advocates, questioning ICE’s “facts,” issued this response: http://tinyurl.com/4x7tnbn
“The Office of Inspector General of DHS is set to investigate the problems with Se Communities, including whether public officials were misled by the agency,” said Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The advisory committee’s narrow scope ignores the concerns of public officials and civil rights groups. Advocates and community members have called for an end to Se Communities and the administration should listen.”
Last year ICE issued a document titled “Setting the Record Straight” in response to the release of data about S-Comm. The document, which outlined a procedure to opt-out of the program, was later taken down from the ICE website. “ICE’s ‘Get the Facts’ web posting is like ‘Setting the Record Straight,’ all spin without substance aimed at hiding the truth,” concluded Sunita Patel….
Randee Haven-O’Donnell remembers advocating for the worker movement in college as one of her most rewarding endeavors.
“You knew that you were supporting emerging populations that would make a difference to the families and the future of our nation, store ” she said.
As a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Haven-O’Donnell and other local advocates are joining together to support the area’s growing Hispanic day laborer population.
Eager for work and clad in paint-flecked boots indicative of the construction industry, anywhere from 30 to 60 men stand at the corner of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road each morning.
Come rain, sleet or snow, they wait outside for the glimpse of a potential employer driving around the corner.
Now, many believe it is time for them to move inside.
Molly De Marco, leader of the fair jobs and wages team at Orange County Justice United, said while labor center discussions are still in their early stages, the recent establishment of a relationship with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network is a step in the right direction.
“With at least 30 centers nationwide, they can help us a lot with funding options and making sure we engage workers in every step of the process,” she said.
In addition to providing workers with a safe place to wait for employers and access to restrooms, De Marco said a laborer center could ease tensions with neighborhoods surrounding the current informal pick-up location and even open up new opportunities to female workers.
While no concrete plans have been agreed upon, advocates are currently considering El Centro Hispano in Carrboro Plaza as a potential location for a laborer center.
Mauricio Castro, an organizer with the N.C. Latino Coalition and founder of El Centro Hispano’s predecessor El Centro Latino, said El Centro Hispano presents a promising opportunity because it could offer workers health or education services and access to a bilingual staff.
“Based on the conversations we’ve had with the workers, they are very excited about the possibility not only to look for work but also to be able to develop other skills,” he said. “Many were excited about the possibility of using a computer lab to check their mail, to send messages to their families or to learn how to use the computers.”
Castro also said the discussion of how to staff a center is important because opening a laborer center could allow for the compilation of a database of reliable workers and employers.
“There is less chance for having any mishaps in terms of trust that way, and that’s one of the reasons we think proper education on this issue is important,” he said.
For now, Haven-O’Donnell said discussions between parties will continue throughout July and all interested are welcome.
“I think that getting behind workers and advocating for workers elevating their status is something students at the University can really sink their teeth into,” she said.
Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published June 27, 2011 in Carrboro Board of Aldermen
LAKEWOOD — Juan Gonzalez is an honors student at Lakewood Middle School, a violinist who plans to study theology or architecture at Harvard University.
An impressive public speaker at age 13, Gonzalez addressed several hundred people at a Board of Education meeting about school concerns with gangs.
“I want to become a citizen and have the same rights as anyone to achieve my dream,” he said during an interview on the last day of the school year.
Gonzalez, who was born in Puebla, Mexico, is a member of group here reflecting a national trend: an emerging Hispanic populace which could wield considerable political and cultural influence in the relatively near future.
The 2010 Census revealed the Hispanic population here surged over the past decade, from 9,000 to 16,000 — a 78 percent increase. Lakewood’s population according to the 2010 Census was 92,843, edging Toms River as Ocean County’s largest municipality.
Nationally, Hispanics account for more than half of nation’s growth in past decade, according to the census results released in March. The Census Bureau predicts that the nation will be one quarter Hispanic by 2050.
Lakewood’s Hispanic residents are mostly Mexican, also a reflection of the nation’s demographic makeup, according to the Pew Research Center.
The majority of the children in Lakewood are educated in private Orthodox Jewish schools, but in the public school district the 5,500-student enrollment is predominantly Hispanic, said Puerto Rican-born Annette Maldonado, Lakewood Middle School principal.
The bulk of the membership of the Parent Teacher Organization is of Mexican descent and speaks only Spanish. The school board provided at one meeting a Spanish translator through whom parents spoke.
Many Hispanic students are children of immigrant parents who entered the country legally; entered legally but remained after their visas expired; or entered illegally. No matter the status of the parents, their children born in this country are U.S. citizens, noted Monica Guerrero, director of the Latino Community Connection, a for-profit business.
Roots of a voting bloc
“Most Hispanics I know do hard labor,’’ said Gonzalez, the honors student. “I want to have a good life.”
When he becomes a citizen — like his classmates who were born here — Gonzalez will gain the right to vote. He doesn’t have political aspirations but he wants to be like the “righteous leader” cited in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, he said.
These children of Hispanic parents will be voting by the next census, said Mayor Menashe Miller, and become a formidable voting bloc along with the Orthodox Jewish and senior communities.“This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I think it is fantastic that these children will grow up and become voters,” Miller said.
“And the mosaic of the Township Committee should be a representation of who is in the town,” Miller said.
A majority Hispanic students in the middle school and especially the elementary school were born here, Maldonado said. In civics class students learn about citizen duties and are preparing to become voting residents, Maldonado said.
“They are being educated to take a more active stance,” Maldonado said.
In a broader view, the recent trip by President Barack Obama to Puerto Rico shows that the Hispanic vote is sought-after, said Kathryn Quinn-Sanchez, 41, chairwoman of world languages and cultures at Georgian Court University.
“But it will take another generation to be a voting bloc,” Quinn Sanchez said.
And the Hispanic vote is not monolithic, Quinn-Sanchez said. There are a dozen nationalities grouped under the umbrella term of Hispanic, she said. Though categorized as the same, members of the different nationalities do not feel the same “homogeneity as, say, a group of senior citizens would,” Quinn-Sanchez said.
Role of education
Hispanic parents “have a dream for their children to be educated,” said Jose, a 30-year-old day laborer man who declined to give a last name.
And educators in the school district are intent on getting the students out of the mindset of staying within the four corners of their community and to see the possibilities and power in their future, Maldonado said.
When children are exposed to the world of higher education they can see beyond their parent’s walls, Maldonado said.
This past year middle school children visited colleges and universities, she said.
“They heard things like ‘yes, you can.’ They don’t hear that at home because the knowledge is not there” on how to work toward greater achievements, Maldonado said.
What the parents do know, though, is hard work, she said.
Maldonado said she hopes that the children will be politicians helping their community to represent the people of Lakewood.
Already, said Guerrero of the Latino Community Connection, Hispanic residents feel more confident about their place in the community and are working hard to show their best side.
BY MARK SCHULTZ, Staff Writer | Source: ChapelHillNews.com
CARRBORO – National day laborers organizers planned to meet with local workers this weekend to discuss establishing a permanent space where they can wait for work.Chris Newman and Francisco Pacheco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network visited Orange County to learn more about the problems local workers have and to discuss the benefits of an official day laborers center.
El Centro Hispano (The Hispanic Center) is exploring using part of its space in Carrboro Plaza for a center. El Centro is a member of the community organizing coalition Justice United and is working with that group, the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and others.
Two meetings have been held with local day laborers, or jornaleros, who mostly come from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador but also include black citizens, said Mauricio Castro, an organizer with the N.C. Latino Coalition.
The workers have expressed concerns about wage theft (not being paid for a day’s work) and safety at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads where they gather for work. The site also does not have a bathroom.
The Carrboro day laborers spot is small compared to most across the country, Pacheco said. But the problems workers are having are not unique. It’s estimated that up to half of the 120,000 day laborers in the United States at any one time have not been paid for at least one day’s work, said Newman, the legal director for the laborer network.
The organizers said they are not here to tell local leaders to create a permanent gathering spot or take any other action.
“We’re coming as a resource,” Newman said. “Obviously Carrboro needs to decide what Carrboro wants to do.”
Read more about this weekend’s meeting with day laborers coming Wednesday in The Chapel Hill News.
email@example.com or 932-2003
June 24, 2011 | 12:51pm | Posted in the LA Times
In Friday’s pages, Harold Meyerson sheds light on the inhumane working conditions many undocumented immigrant workers face. Take day laborer Josue Melquisedec Diaz, for instance:
Diaz was put to work in a residential neighborhood that had been flooded. The American workers who were involved in the cleanup, he noted, had been given masks, gloves, boots and sometimes special suits to avoid infection. No such precautions were afforded Diaz and his crew of undocumented immigrant workers. “We were made to work with bare hands, picking up dead animals,” he says. “We were working in contaminated water,” tearing down and repairing washed-out homes.
Stop and think about that. You may resent undocumented immigrants for taking jobs away from Americans, but you can’t possibly think they deserve to be treated like they’re subhuman and expendable. And, anyway, shouldn’t we reserve our contempt for employers skirting the law by hiring cheap labor? Meyerson continues:
Last week, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and California Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and George Miller (D-Martinez) introduced legislation (the POWER Act) that would give workers like Diaz provisional “U visas.” The visas were designed to provide temporary legal status to immigrant victims who come forward to report violent crimes, and the proposed legislation would expand the protection to those who come forward to report workplace violations. Such legislation, Menendez pointed out, would not only protect immigrants but keep unscrupulous employers from lowering labor standards generally.
Of course, undocumented immigrants aren’t the only ones being squeezed for all they’re worth. The heart of Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery’s Mother Jones article, “All Work and No Pay,” describes the culture of the new American workplace — one that places value on flashy buzzwords like “productivity,” “multitasking” and “offloading,” all of which really mean working employees to the bone. And though people may be inclined to shrug off intense working conditions as a temporary phase during a down economy, they shouldn’t:
In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.
If your blood isn’t boiling yet, these charts will do the trick.
–Alexandra Le Tellier
Illustration: Mark Weber / Tribune Media Services
Immigration officials say lawsuit should be thrown out and man deported
Sitting on a bus in Honduras in 2002, Denis Alvarez Alvarado says he overheard two men in front of him discussing how he was going to die.
Unaware that he was there, the men said that members of a gang called MS3 — who had kidnapped Alvarez a few days earlier, beaten him and eventually released him — intended to silence him so that he would not tell police about the abduction.
“I left Honduras because I was afraid that MS3 members would kill me,” Alvarez, now 32, says in court documents drawn up in his legal fight against the U.S. government to avoid deportation to his native country. “I fear that if I return the MS3 gang will have me killed.”
On Jan. 23, 2007, Alvarez, who had arrived in the U.S. without documentation, was arrested by immigration agents outside a 7-Eleven store in Upper Fells Point. A judge ordered him deported, but he is still here. Four years after his release on bail, he remains embroiled in a legal war as both defendant and plaintiff, and the battle could go on for years.
One of Alvarez’s legal cases is the effort by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport him, and the other is his lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated because he was targeted as a Latino. He seeks a half-million dollars in damages.
What seemed a routine matter of rounding up illegal immigrants has become a test of the government’s ability to force a man to return to a place in which, he says, he could die.
The raid in which Alvarez and others were arrested left Baltimore’s Latino community angry. Human rights activists, politicians and representatives of Casa de Maryland, an advocacy group, accused federal immigration agents of racial profiling.
Attorneys for the ICE declined to comment, and court documents contain no references, other than Alvarez’s own, to his claim that his life would be in danger should he be forced to go home. Alvarez’s lawyers were silent, too. Alvarez, whose 11-year-old son was born in the U.S., says in court documents that he is the sole source of financial support for his father, who is in Honduras, disabled and using a wheelchair.
In documents Alvarez filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, he explained the events that had prompted his departure from Honduras. He had lived in Choluteca, the country’s fourth-largest city, in a neighborhood called El Porvenir that he said was “known to belong to a gang called 18.”
Alvarez wrote that in October 2002 he was kidnapped by members of MS3, a rival gang from the Santa Lucia neighborhood. “The MS3 gang falsely believed that I was a member of 18,” he said. “I tried telling them that I was not a gang member and that I had no connections to 18 or any other gang. However, they did not believe me.”
For two days he was kept in a room, he said, beaten and deprived of food and with only a single bottle of water. Alvarez’s father, Santos, whom he described as “respected in the community,” convinced MS3 that his son had no connection to the rival gang.
Alvarez was released. Several days later, he was riding a bus to work when he overheard the chilling conversation between the two men and the death threat. He fled to the U.S. and worked as a day laborer in Baltimore, where the 7-Eleven parking lot on Broadway was a popular spot to pick up workers.
In an interview at his East Baltimore home in November, Alvarez said the agents had “grabbed me unjustly” during the roundup in 2007. Alvarez said he was waiting for a man who had promised to hire him as a painter but decided to go home when the man failed to show up. Alvarez said that as he was leaving, a van appeared and the men inside — who turned out to be federal agents — solicited the crowd for construction workers.
In the lawsuit, Alvarez said that as he walked away, a second vehicle blocked his exit and men emerged wearing holstered guns. Alvarez was arrested, held for several days in the Dorchester County jail and released on $10,000 bail.
Alvarez said in court documents that the ICE’s Fugitive Operations Team had arrested him “based on nothing more than his race.”
A response filed by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the ICE, said members of its fugitive team went to the 7-Eleven only to get food and coffee, and had not planned to arrest anyone as part of a raid.
An immigration judge overseeing Alvarez’s appeal of his deportation said the officers “were not forthcoming” about the arrests. The judge said it was “implausible” that the officers “went to the store to food and coffee,” considering the “nearly immediate arrival of two additional ICE vehicles.” He admonished the officers for their “complete lack of candor to the court” and said they had misrepresented to the laborers “that they were seeking to hire them for casual employment.”
But the judge determined that the officers had not violated Alvarez’s rights and ordered him deported, though he may remain here while he appeals.
Other documents filed in the case suggest that immigration agents were determined to boost their arrest numbers. An internal DHS administrative report says that after the officers had detained nine people earlier on the day of Alvarez’s arrest, a supervisor ordered the team “back into the field and make additional arrests.”
According to the report, the supervisor said they “needed more numbers.” News accounts of the raid indicated that out of 24 people arrested, eight had been previously deported and six had criminal records. Alvarez has no such record.
Warren Price, an Annapolis immigration attorney who is not involved in Alvarez’s case, said it was rare for a roundup of illegal immigrants to result in such a drawn-out legal battle. Alvarez is represented by the Immigrant Justice Center, based at American University’s Washington College of Law.
“These constitutional violations against members of the undocumented population happen all the time, but you rarely see these types of lawsuits in response,” Price said. “Usually they just get deported.”
With parts of HB 87 temporarily blocked, community still threatened by Governor’s appeal and already existing 287(g) and the so-called ‘se communities’ program.
06.27.2011 Atlanta, GA. Today Judge Thrash announced a temporary and partial injunction on HB 87, enjoining sections 7 and 8 of the state law while allowing other sections to move forward. Governor Deal promptly declared his intention to appeal the decision.
Teodoro Maus of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), plaintiff in the injunction suit responded to today’s announcement saying,
“We know that the law is unconstitutional. We will continue organizing until it is erased from Georgia’s books and our community is respected in this state for all we contribute. We ask our neighbors to take this moment to correct the false image of our community that has been created for them by hate-mongering anti-immigrant efforts.”
Adelina Nicholls, executive director of GLAHR added, “The court decision is a positive step forward but our communities still face discrimination from police empowered by the Obama administration’s 287(g) and se communities programs.
The criminalization of migrants is the wrong direction for our country regardless of whether it is state laws or federal programs propagating it. We now need an injunction on the federal level to stop programs that separate families. We need to turn toward a pathway for legalization.”
Gwinnett and Cobb counties are two of the most egregious examples of the racial profiling and discriminatory policing that occurs under federal ICE Access programs such as 287(g). HB 87 would have been an escalation of the already existing violations of civil and human rights of migrant and Latino communities in Georgia. Advocates are calling for the federal government to take a more active role in preventing implementation of HB 87, ending its own initiatives that have resulted in racial profiling and discriminatory policing, and pursuing genuine immigration reform.
GLAHR continues to call for a Day without Immigrants on July 1st and a march in recognition of the migrant community’s role in Georgia at the capitol on July 2nd. The partial injunction marks a temporary victory but dangerous segments of HB 87 are still moving forward. In that the Governor has already pledged to appeal its decision, the struggle for immigration reform and against racial bias in the state continues. …