Baltimore Opposes Se Communities, Adds Voice to Chorus Calling for Suspension of the Discredited Program

Baltimore, MD. Last night the Baltimore City Council adopted a resolutioncondemning the “Se Communities” program which entangles local police in federal immigration issues. The Council expressed concern for the of the cities newest residents and urged the Maryland’s Congressional delegation to support the demand of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus by calling for a suspension of the program pending an Inspector General review.
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, applauded the resolution by saying, “The tide is turning on the dangerous, dishonest ‘se communities’ program. S-COMM was sold to the American public by DHS under false pretenses. The more we learn about the program, the more urgent it becomes to end it. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws. Yesterday, the Baltimore City Council took action to prevent the Arizonification of the community.
There is an urgent need to stop the harm being caused by the falsely named “Se Communities” and end to the program all together. Se Communities has become a symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration reform. Ending it would be a concrete step to repair that trust, and it would be the first step on a path to immigration reform. ”
The resolution by the Baltimore City Council is part of a growing trend of local opposition to the coercive federal program. In the past month, Illinois and New York pulled out of the program while Massachusetts refused to join in. State legislation in California is being heard in the Senate today as calls for California’s Governor to suspend the program grow. Last Friday, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi described S-Comm as a “waste of taxpayer money.” For more background information, download http://ndlon.org/pdf/scommbrief.pdf
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

CA Senate committee to hear TRUST Act as Rep. Pelosi calls S-Comm “waste of taxpayer money”

What: The Senate Public Safety Committee is expected to hear AB 1081 (Ammiano), the TRUST Act, which would reform California’s participation in S-Comm, ensuring local governments’ ability to opt out of the deeply troubled program and setting basic standards for jurisdictions that do choose to participate.
When: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

  • Hearing begins at 9:30; TRUST Act may be heard any time during the hearing.
  • Interview availability at about 10:30 AM

Migration and labor centers

Migration and labor centers

By DONNA SHEARER | Originally Posted in PressDemocrat.com
Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 11:58 p.m.

Migration and labor centers

Donna Shearer (credit: Press Democrat website)

Of all the ideas swirling around the public conversation about a potential day labor center for Petaluma, a crucial one is notably absent: The inevitability of demographic changes due to worldwide labor migrations.

The movement of people in search of food has been a normal aspect of life on the planet since the origins of humankind; but with the development of nation-states at the turn of the last century, the flow of people across international boundaries — regulated by visas and passports — is a relatively recent phenomenon. What makes this issue particularly problematic in the current era is a combination of events that are greatly accelerating the magnitude and pace of these migrations.

Globalization is one of these. The outsourcing of industry and labor to other countries not only negatively affects the wages and livelihoods of countless Americans, it also impacts the livelihoods of millions of people across the world. Farmers and small businesses who grow, process and distribute rice, beans or corn in Central or Latin America, for example, aren’t able to compete with a newly arrived Wal-Mart that can sell these commodities at far cheaper rates. The result can deprive already stressed local communities of the ability to make a living; shantytowns — where many lack employment and are malnourished — expand. A last resort then compels the well-known high-risk migrations to the United States in search of work, a story that is repeated a thousand-fold throughout the world.

But globalization is only the tip of this demographic iceberg. Refugees fleeing war and persecution feed the mix, as do corrupt governments, failing financial institutions and the unintended consequences of the industrial revolution (e.g. large deforestation projects that not infrequently leave droughts, flooding, soil erosion, and, increasingly, severe water shortages, in their wake).

It is not only the developing countries that have been experiencing these kinds of economic stresses. In the United States, a patchwork of distressed regions across the country (think Detroit) has prompted people to move to other regions in the country; and an increasing number of under-employed or unemployed Americans are currently looking for work across international borders — including Mexico — and not always with “papers.” In the end, as economic pressures on global communities mount, the eternal search for work as the primary means of survival places all of humanity in the same boat.

None of this has to mean these problems can’t be solved. Demographers (and others in the environmental and social sciences) believe there are ways of turning human migrations across the world into advantages for the countries impacted by them. Postwar Europe addressed the migrations of workers across borders by absorbing them into local communities, and providing legal protections for them. A few generations later, many of their descendants are today’s middle-class Europeans.

Randal Johnson, vice president of the immigration division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, contends that immigration, including migrant workers from Central and Latin America, “… will continue to be an important labor force needed to replace the aging U.S. workforce” — a view that explains the Chamber’s position against penalizing migrant workers. (For details, see the United States Chamber of Commerce document: www.uschamber.com/immigrationmythsfacts.jpg).

In view of the larger demographic picture, day labor centers are extraordinarily modest adaptations to the inevitability of labor migrations worldwide. The day labor centers in both Healdsburg and Graton won the approval of a coalition of merchants, residents, police and civic leaders in part because of the remarkably low impact of these projects, and in part because of the obvious gain to their communities: Alleviating the loitering of workers near s and residences, the provision of minimum protections for the workers in the form of shelter from extreme weather, a fair hiring system that cuts down on worker exploitation and a bathroom.

Petaluma has little to lose and much to gain by supporting a day labor project in town.

(Donna Shearer is a Petaluma resident and an anthropologist with a background in international relations. World labor migrations are a recent interest.)

(Source: PressDemocrat.com)

Congresspeople Call on Governor Brown to Suspend Discredited Se Communities Program in California as Pelosi Calls Program Waste of Money

Los Angeles, CA. – Today Members of Congress held a press conference in Los Angeles to call for a suspension to the federal “Se Communities” jail deportation program that entangles local law enforcement in immigration issues. The program is considered widely discredited as a wave of cities and states including Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and most recently Los Angeles have either ended their participation, refused to join, or have sought a way out of the program. The opposition stems from numerous reports of the program resulting in a chilling effect on community-police relations as people presumed innocent and even domestic violence survivors are caught in its dragnet. In addition to its community-level impact, Congresspeople and state officials are balking at systemic lying and dishonesty in the agency exposed by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The Congresspeople’s call for Governor Brown to suspend the program as other Democratic governors have done reflects the urgency of stemming its negative impact. California is already considering a bill, the TRUST Act, which passed its assembly and is awaiting a vote in the Senate which would regulate the program and reinforce its voluntary nature for localities.
Rep. Judy Chu stated, “The program as implemented has undermined our police department’s mission of protecting the public… I sincerely hope we suspend our state’s participation in the program.
“The fact there are so many unanswered questions is the reason why we need an inspector general report.” added Rep. Allard
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, commented, “What started as an effort to uncover the truth about S-Comm has evolved into a consensus view that the program should be scrapped all together. S-Comm has come to symbolize the President’s broken promises on immigration reform. The fact is that it has not yet been frozen is now being viewed as a betrayal and places the urgent need to end the program on the desk of our local officials.
Our local officials were misled into the program and now is the time to lead us out. The tide is turning on the dangerous and dishonest ‘se communities’ program. ICE has gotten into the snake oil business. It sold S-COMM to the American public under false pretenses. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws.
Today, Rep. Becerra and the other Congresspeople said very clearly that this program has no place in California or anywhere in our democracy. We must prevent the Arizonification of our community whether it comes in the form of SB 1070 or s-comm. There is an urgent need for California to do better for its residents and to suspend s-comm immediately.”
Timeline of Recent S-Comm Activity:
* 06-10-2011 Rep Becerra and others hold Press Conference calling on Governor Jerry Brown to suspend S-Comm in California
* 06-10-2011 Nancy Pelosi critiques S-Comm as “waste of taxpayer dollars” http://bit.ly/scommpelosi
* 06-06-2011 Congressional Progressive Caucus sends letter to President Obama calling for moratorium on the program
* 06-06-2011 Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick refuses to join the program
* 06-01-2011 New York Governor Cuomo Suspends S-Comm in his state
* 05-05-2011 Congressional Hispanic Caucus sends letter to President Obama calling for moratorium on the program
* 05-03-2011 Illinois Governor Quinn terminates S-Comm Memorandum of Agreement with ICE in his state
* 04-25-2011 Rep. Lofgren calls for Inspector General Investigation into S-Comm
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

Latino Union’s Elisa Ringholm interviewed on WBEZ 91.5 FM’s Worldview segment: “Chicago as a fair trade city”

Written by Worldview May, 05, find 2011 | WBEZ.org

Listen to the Story here.

Fair Trade Day in Chicago is on May 6. Chicago has officially become a fair trade city and there’s even a website to track its progress. But what does this mean for the city? We examine the benefits of fair trade and discuss efforts to bring fair wages and just working conditions to local workers.

Joining the discussion are:

Nancy Jones, executive director of Chicago Fair Trade. They work with businesses, faith-based organizations, non-profits, universities and activists to support fair trade through education, advocacy and consumer campaigns.

Elisa Ringholm, development director of Latino Union, an immigrant workers rights organization.

Jose Gallardo, a co-op member of Café Chicago, a fair trade, organic coffee-roasters cooperative.

ICE Anonymous Response to States’ Rejection of Se Communities, Characteristic of Agency’s Dishonesty and Lack of Transparency

– New York and Washington – Today, advocates and attorneys critical of the controversial immigration program Se Communities (S-Comm) decried the agency’s placing of anonymous sources in articles in the New York Times and Boston Globe to bolster its contention that the program is mandatory even as more and more localities and states choose to opt out. With New York and Massachusetts following Illinois, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is waging a campaign of coercion to force states and localities to adopt a program that faces wide calls for its termination due to its dishonest and indiscriminate implementation. Started in 2008, S-Comm runs the names and fingerprints of everyone arrested in participating localities through federal immigration and criminal databases. Law enforcement professionals have said the program results in a deterioration of community-police relations as local officers are commandeered to assist with the work of the feds. The agency’s story about the ability to opt out of the program has shifted constantly, and many localities and members of Congress feel that ICE lied to them in the process.
(More Background Information available at http://ndlon.org/pdf/scommbrief.pdf)
Said Bridget Kessler, Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, “Through Freedom of Information Act litigation we have sought disclosure of the opt-out policy and the legal basis for the DHS’ most recent position that states and localities cannot opt-out. So far, ICE has stonewalled and refused to turn over an unredacted version of a legal memorandum about the authority to make the program mandatory. The lack of transparency on this issue is stunning. The public has a right to straightforward information from the federal government about the purported legal basis for programs that cost taxpayers millions of dollars–particularly when the government appears to be forcing these programs on unwilling states and cities.”
A recent statement by an assistant director at the FBI called into question whether they can force information sharing: “[W]e don’t own those records. They’re owned by the states, by the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across this country. They submit them to us and allow us to use them, we hold them and distribute them per their agreements with each of the states. And every state has a different law governing what records can be distributed and what they can be used for. The challenge is walking that line and making sure we’re not violating any of the states’ rights in addition the federal laws that we have.”
Said Pablo Alvarado, NDLON Executive Director, “DHS is more a rogue agency than a reliable source at this point. The agency’s use of anonymous sources signals a lack of transparency and secrecy that has no place in a democracy. ICE continues misrepresenting the program. DHS can’t be taken on its word to write its own legal authority. There’s never been a mandate to make end run around 10th amendment nor a mandate to enlist police as frontline deportation officers.”
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Sunita Patel, “Regardless of the legal authority to do so, one thing is clear: Making S-Comm mandatory is bad policy. New York, Illinois and Massachusetts agree that the program is harms all of us. We are concerned with potential constitutional violations and privacy violations if the federal government compels information sharing. DHS should halt the program for an immediate review and, at minimum, allow states and localities to opt-out or limit their participation in the program.”
Visit CCR’s NDLON v. ICE case page or the joint website, UncovertheTruth.org, for the text of the FOIA request, the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York and all other relevant documents.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org
The mission of the National Day Laborer Organization Network is to improve the lives of day laborers in the U.S. by unifying and strengthening its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights. Visit www.ndlon.org
The Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was founded in 2008 to provide quality pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants facing deportation. Under the supervision of experienced practitioners, law students in the Clinic represent individuals facing deportation and community-based organizations in public advocacy, media and litigation projects. Visit www.cardozo.yu.edu

Pressure Grows on President to End Rogue ICE Deportation Program

NDLON, Law Enforcement, Attorneys and Affected Community Interviews and Visuals Available Upon Request.
(Los Angeles, Washington DC) In the growing groundswell of opposition, the New York Times echoed the call of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others to end the “Se Communities” (S-Comm) program in an editorial published today. The Times stated, S-Comm has “made Republican hard-liners happy by bolstering the noxious argument that all undocumented immigrants are mere criminals, deportees-in-waiting. This is a failure of decency and good sense. It merely punishes and does nothing to actually come to grips with the problem of illegal immigration.”
Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling for the ability to opt-out of S-Comm and Oakland voted to support the California TRUST ACT, legislation meant to the state’s participation in the program. Los Angeles City Councilmember Reyes said, “We need to end this ugliness, the meanness of federal policies that are punitive to vulnerable people. This is not the America we want.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, commented, “”The tide is turning on S-Comm. A chorus of opposition to the program is growing louder as the migrant rights movement demands a reversal of politics that criminalize immigrants. It is clear S-Comm threatens community safety, it results in gross civil rights violations, and it undermines efforts to reform immigration laws. What started as an effort to uncover the truth about S-Comm has evolved into a consensus view that the program should be scrapped all together. S-Comm has come to symbolize the President’s broken promises on immigration reform. The fact is that it has not yet been frozen is now being viewed as a betrayal.”
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the national Turning the Tide campaign….

Connecticut Becomes The First State To Require Paid Sick Leave For Service Workers

June 6, ed 2011 | Originally posted in CityTownInfo.com

State legislators approved a bill on Saturday that makes Connecticut the first state in the nation to require employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers.

According to The New York Times, the bill, which the House voted 76 to 65 and was approved by the Senate on May 25, applies to service sector businesses with 50 or more employees who receive an hourly wage. However, manufacturing companies and nationally chartered nonprofit organizations, day laborers, independent contractors and temporary workers are exempt. Employees who qualify will be able to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. The benefit is capped at five days per year. CNN reported that Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to sign the bill before it goes into effect at the beginning of 2012.

“This is a historic moment and a very common-sense moment,” said House Speaker Christopher Donovan to CNN. “People get sick and there should be some way that they won’t lose pay or lose their job if they get sick.”

MSNBC reported that the United States is one of the few industrialized nations in the world that does not require paid sick time for workers. Vicki Shabo, director of the work and family program for the National Partnership for Women & Families, stated that more than 40 million U.S. workers do not have paid sick time. Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland also do not require it.

CNN noted that although no other state has such a mandate, San Francisco has required all employers to provide mandatory paid sick leave to workers since 2006. Washington D.C. and Milwaukee began mandating paid sick leave in 2008.

According to MSNBC, labor advocates hope that the passing of the bill in Connecticut will encourage other states to follow suit. Massachusetts is already considering a bill that would give workers seven paid sick days and other cities–including Philadelphia, Denver and Seattle–are looking into similar legislation.

Not everyone is on board with the legislation, however. Many businesses argue that the bill will significantly raise the cost of doing business and adds another obstacle for companies trying to stay afloat in today’s tough economy.

However, according to CNN, Shabo pointed out that paid sick time is a public health issue and, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge benefit to everyone.

“The cost of providing a sick day is less than having a worker show up sick and not be productive and spread their flu or virus to their co-workers or customers,” argued Shabo. Furthermore, she added that most workers do not use up all of their sick time.

Despite some debate, Governor Malloy said he supports the bill.

“Why would you want to eat food from a sick restaurant cook? Or have your children taken care of by a sick day care worker? The simple answer is–you wouldn’t. And now, you won’t have to,” he said in a statement quoted by The New York Times.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin

Sources:

“Can a paid sick leave plan go national?” msnbc.msn.com, June 5, 2011, Eve Tahmincioglu

“Connecticut legislators first to pass paid sick leave bill,” CNN.com, June 4, 2011, Leigh Remizowski

“In Connecticut, Paid Sick Leave for Service Workers Is Approved,” NYTimes.com, June 4, 2011, Peter Applebome

Los Angeles Resolution Calls for SCOMM OPT OUT

(Los Angeles) The City Council today passed a resolution opposing the discredited “Se Communities” jail deportation program, amid growing calls for the California TRUST ACT, legislation moving in Sacramento which would limit California’s participation, and ensure local police’s ability to opt-out of the program.
The resolution is part of a turning tide against the Obama Administration’s discredited jail deportation program.
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network commented, “The tide is turning on the dangerous, dishonest ‘se communities’ program. S-COMM was sold to the American public by DHS under false pretenses. It’s snake oil. It makes communities less safe, it imperils civil rights, and it is poisoning political efforts to reform unjust immigration laws. Today, Los Angeles said very clearly it isn’t ing the snake oil, and the City Council has taken action to prevent the Arizonification of our community.
There is an urgent need for the TRUST Act in California, and an end to the program all together. Se Communities has become a symbol of President Obama’s broken promises on immigration reform. Ending it would be a concrete step to repair that trust, and it would be the first step on a path to immigration reform. ”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Reyes said, “We need to end this ugliness, the meanness of federal policies that are punitive to vulnerable people. This is not the America we want.”
Michel Moore, Assistant Chief of Special Operations of the LA Police Department, reaffirmed, “Undocumented status is of no interest to the department. Se Communities undermines our ability to maintain trust and communication with communities. Trust and communication that’s essential to ensure their safety.”
Councilmember Huizar stated, “We say no thank you to the federal government. We say no to s-comm.”
More than a year ago, Washington DC, Arlington, VA, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, CA sought to opt-out of what was originally represented as a voluntary deportation program, “Se Communities.” The actions of those cities has escalated to a domino effect of states seeking out of the now discredited program, attempting reforms, or pledging not to participate in the case of those yet to sign-on.

In the past month, Governor Quinn of Illinois and Governor Cuomo of New York announced their suspension of the program and the cancellation of the memorandum of agreements between their states and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Observing how S-Comm has been implemented in other states, Massachusetts Governor Patrick announced Monday that his state would not sign on to the program. In California, a bill that would regulate the program and reinforce its voluntary nature, the TRUST Act, recently passed the Assembly and is awaiting vote in the Senate.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has said DHS has been “essentially lying to local government” about the program. Her calls for a thorough investigation have corresponded with requests by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to immediately suspend the program.
The Oakland City Council is scheduled to pass a similar resolution this evening.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is a plaintiff in an on-going FOIA lawsuit against DHS/ICE for access to documents related to the Se Communities Program. NDLON plays a central role in California advocacy for the TRUST Act and coordinates the Turning the Tide campaign….

Federal labor officials host summit on Latino, immigrant worker safety

Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | First Posted: June 05, 2011 – 4:07 pm

BRIDGETON, case N.J. — Federal labor officials say Latino workers suffer workplace injuries and deaths on the job at a higher rate than all other workers combined.

Experts say in New Jersey, stuff the problem is prevalent among migrant farmworkers or those hired as day laborers; two groups often exposed to wage abuses or workplace safety hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a summit on the issue Sunday in Bridgeton to educate people on workplace safety and federal wage protections.

Latino workers accounted for nearly one quarter of the total number of New Jersey worker fatalities in 2009, according to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Organizers were expecting participation from more than 200 people, including workers, representatives from community groups, unions, faith-based organizations, and federal and state agencies.