Arizona Set to Pass Anti-Immigrant Legislation

by CARA on 4.6.2010

In Arizona, seek the legislature looks set to pass a truly terrifying anti-immigration bill that would, among other thing, ask allow police to arrest undocumented immigrants on the charge of trespassing simply for being in the state:

The Arizona Legislature gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a proposal that would allow the police to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges simply for being in the state.

The provision, which opponents and proponents call a first in the nation, is part of a wide-ranging bill whose sponsors say they hope will make life tougher for illegal immigrants.

The House bill must be reconciled with a version passed by the Senate, something that may be done within the next week or two. Both include measures to outlaw the hiring of day laborers off the street; prohibit anyone from knowingly transporting an illegal immigrant, even a relative, anywhere in the state; and compel local police to check the status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally.

Immigrant advocates call the bill some of the harshest legislation they have seen in a state where battles over immigration are particularly sharp edged.


Allow me to repeat that, because it’s important. The bill would, among other things, force police to check the status of people they “reasonably suspect” are undocumented.

Tell me, who exactly do you think the people police might “reasonably suspect” of being undocumented might be? Because as a white woman, I don’t think that in the event of this bill passing, I’d exactly have to fear being stopped. What this bill would essentially do is not only legalize but require racial profiling and harassment against Latin@s.

Truthdig has more on the bill. It originally passed the Senate back in February — Google searches indicate the issue was being discussed for a couple months prior to now, though it only recently hit my radar — and the most recent news seems to be that an amended version has passed committee in the House. Though the amended version changes the language about “trespassing,” some immigrants rights advocates worry that the new language is even worse. Not only does the rewording potentially criminalize legal residents who fail to carry their documentation, it also “eliminates the requirement that an individual must be in the midst of committing another crime in order to also be charged with transporting, concealing or harboring an illegal immigrant” and contains no exception for humanitarian efforts.

I’m unsure what kind of effect voter action may have at this stage in the game. The ACLU has called the bill unconstitutional, and the best bet may be a legal challenge. Nevertheless, if my searching has failed and you have action alerts or information about organizations that are combating the bill, please leave the information in the comments and I’ll update the post.

Source: Feministe

Activists on DHS’s 287g Program: “End It, Don’t Mend It”

Activists on DHS’s 287g Program: “End It, Don’t Mend It”

Source: Uprising Radio, Host: Sonali Kolhatkar (KPFK 90.7 FM)

Listen to this segment | the entire program

Activists on DHS’s 287g Program: “End It, Don’t Mend It” On Friday, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security released an extensive internal report on its 287 (g) immigration agreements. The agreement facilitates the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes and grants federal immigration authority to state and local police enforcement officials. It gained national notoriety and spurred much controversy in Arizona when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began utilizing it to conduct immigration sweeps and roundups. Friday’s comprehensive review of all the 287 (g) agreements DHS has in place found that the federal-local partnerships lacked oversight and were inconsistent in their applications from agency to agency. In contrast with the policy’s officially stated aims, local police were found to have used their authorities in targeting undocumented immigrants arrested only for minor offenses. Inadequate safeguards on civil rights were also highlighted. Despite the internal report’s findings, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE has said that it has been aware of such problems and has already taken measures to address them. Immigrant rights activists, on the other hand, have responded to the report by calling on the Obama administration to end, not mend the agreements.

GUEST: Chris Newman, Legal Director of National Day Laborer Organizing Network

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Anti-illegal immigration group wants census used to find illegal immigrants

Originally published April 07, 2010

By Abby Sewell
Medill News Service

WASHINGTON — An anti-illegal immigration group has launched a push for U.S. census data to be used to enforce immigration law.

The North Carolina-based group Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee called Monday for its supporters to flood congressional offices nationwide with calls to introduce legislation that would allow 2010 census data to be used to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Immigration advocates and experts said the proposal would be unworkable and would run counter to the purpose of the census.

ALIPAC President William Gheen called his proposal a response to widespread efforts by the census to reach out to immigrant populations through measures such as Spanish-language ads.

“We can’t allow illegal aliens to steal taxpayer allocations and taxpayer representation by being counted on the census, ” he said.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican who represents Frederick County, was among the congressional incumbents endorsed by ALIPAC in 2010. Bartlett’s spokeswoman, Lisa Wright, said to her knowledge no one had contacted the congressman’s office about the group’s proposal.

Census population figures are used, in part, to determine federal funding and congressional representation for each state.

Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, called ALIPAC an extremist group and equated taking their immigration policy proposals seriously with taking on affirmative action from a white supremacist group.

Gheen “is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” she said. “On the contrary, what the problem has been for years with the census is a significant undercount of Latinos.”

Census Bureau spokeswoman Samantha O’Neil had no specific comment on the ALIPAC proposal but said that the bureau is tasked with counting every resident, regardless of citizenship status. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing personal information collected in the census with any other agency.

“We take our orders from the Constitution, and we’ve been doing it the same way since 1790,” O’Neil said.

The 2010 census did not include any questions about immigration status. ALIPAC is proposing that identifying information provided on census forms should be run against federal databases to flag potential illegal immigrants.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow in the metropolitan policy program of the Brookings Institution, said it would be impossible to verify immigration status based on the information provided on the 2010 census.

“There’s no magical database out there that could accurately and reliably inform us about a person’s legal standing in the country,” she said. ” … On the accuracy of doing that, it would be a surefire failure, not to mention all of the legal and ethical consequences.”

Source: FrederickNewsPost.com

Jupiter’s El Sol Center launches ‘Hire A Worker’ campaign

MIKE RICHMOND

— Homeowners, businesses and others needing help with work are invited to “spring forward and hire a worker” from Jupiter’s El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center to help with all those spring cleaning jobs that seem to pile up.

The hire a worker campaign is an effort to boost hing that has been impacted by the sluggish economy. The program began Saturday, March 27 when 62 workers were hired through the Center’s day labor service, a record number this year. The Center is at 106 Military Trail, at the Southwest corner of Indiantown Road and Military Trail.

The day labor service matches experienced workers with employers to fill a variety of jobs such as landscaping, construction, painting, moving, general maintenance, house cleaning, carpentry, pressure cleaning and others. More than 1,880 Jupiter workers are registered at El Sol along with more than 3,400 employers.

The workers are all Jupiter residents and it takes only minutes to be matched with reliable English or Spanish-speaking persons to handle most jobs, Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to noon Sunday. For information call (561) 745-9860. There are no fees for the job referral service. Employers pay the workers directly.

“Our workers are men and women of all ages and many skills,” said Center Director Jocelyn Sabbagh. “They are reliable, hard-working people with experience in just about every kind of work a homeowner or business needs,” she said. “They are also our neighbors who have devoted many hours of community service to improve Jupiter’s neighborhoods.”

El Sol was established by the Town of Jupiter in collaboration with concerned citizens and several non-profit organizations. it was created to eliminate health, safety and quality of life problems associated with daily gatherings of large numbers of day laborers who formerly solicited jobs along several city streets.

Many worker have learned construction skills through hands on training while volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity home construction project in Jupiter. El Sol also offers job training, English language classes, instruction in computer skills, and seminars on financial literacy and compliance with Jupiter’s codes and ordinances.

El Sol President Jill Hanson said the organization is proud of the strong support El Sol enjoys in the community and of the many hours El Sol workers have devoted to public service projects to help beautify neighborhoods.

“We hope more people will avail themselves of El Sol’s free job referral service,” she said. “We think they will be pleased with the job that the workers do.”

This story is contributed by a member of the Treasure Coast community and is neither endorsed nor affiliated with TCPalm.com

Source: TCPalm

Arizona: A State With Hate

Arizona: A State With Hate

John Carlos Frey, Director

Posted: April 6, 2010 06:41 PM

Arizona state legislators are once again positioning themselves to be the most hate-based state in the union. Arizona State Senator Russell K. Pearce (R) is a perfect example of hate mongering and overt racism. I realize that terms like “hate monger” and “racist” are strong accusations but I can find no better terms to describe the current attempt to curb illegal immigration in the state of Arizona.

From Senator Pearce’s own website:

“Republicans and Democrats in DC are terrified to oppose illegal immigration out of fear that they will be labeled racist. This assertion is ridiculous. There is nothing racist about upholding the law.”

Senator Pearce’s proposed legislation (SB1070) has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with racial discrimination. According to Jennifer Allen, executive director of Arizona based Border Action Network who is working to defeat the bill, local law enforcement must make the eradication of undocumented immigrants a priority over other public safety responsibilities. Without any form of training, local law enforcement will be given authority to arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe they are undocumented. Who do you think they will suspect? This construct sets up a blatant system for racial profiling. The nearly 2 million Latinos in the state of Arizona will become prime suspects solely based on ethnicity. The bill’s discriminatory tactics include attacks on day laborers and individuals that hire them as well as anyone who may transport, know, harbor, shield or protect undocumented immigrants. The bill represents nothing short of a witch-hunt with impunity. It sets up a system of law enforcement abuse that will drive immigrants, legal or not, deeper into the shadows of society.

When I was a child, I was out for a walk with my mother in a rural part of south San Diego County. We lived within walking distance of the U.S. Mexico border. This particular morning, like many others, I ran ahead to investigate the seasonal creek several hundred yards away. When I came back to meet up with my mother she was nowhere in sight. I looked everywhere and quickly ran home to tell my father. My family spent 24 hours searching for her — calling everyone we knew including law enforcement. The next morning we received a telephone call from Tijuana, MX. My mother had been picked up by U.S. Border Patrol and deported. When I ran ahead of her, a Border Patrol agent suspected my mother was in the U.S. illegally. She tried to convince the officer that she was “legal” but he didn’t believe her. My mother had deep brown skin and spoke poor English but had lived in the U.S. as a legal resident for 25 years. She had raised four children but was deported because of her ethnicity. It was a horrible case of racial profiling that scarred my mother and family for life.

State Senator Russell Pearce has been pushing racially motivated, anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona for years. He is endorsed by and has direct associations with known white supremacists Buffalo Rick Galeener and J.T. Ready amongst others. Rick Galeener was cited for publicly urinating in front of a Latino mother and her child.

Arizona: A State With Hate J.T. Ready has publicly campaigned for Senator Pearce and has close ties to Neo-Nazi organizations. J.T. Ready has publicly stated, “I firmly believe in having a minefield across the border, this is 100% effective.” Senator Pearce did not return calls to comment on these associations nor has he denounced them publicly. Both Galeener and Ready have been monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and are classified as nativists, extremists and white supremacists but Senator Pearce remains silent.

Jennifer Allen of Border Action Network has collected and sent over 20,000 postcards to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer opposing the legislation, yet the governor continues to support the bill. The bill is opposed by the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and dozens of Latino organizations and civil rights groups, yet the bill continues to make progress in the legislature. Scholars, lawyers, and fellow legislators believe Pearce’s push to rid the state of undocumented immigrants violates basic civil rights and constitutional law, yet the bill has strong Republican support. Hate crimes against Latinos are up 40 percent, yet John McCain and his primary challenger JD Hayworth claim they are tough on undocumented immigrants and neither of them have the courage to denounce the racially motivated legislation.

If Arizona lawmakers were interested in resolving the complex dilemma of immigration they would address poverty, trade imbalances, work visas, corporate greed and family reunification. Instead, leaders of the great state of Arizona have grabbed their pitch forks and nooses and are continuing to scapegoat the voiceless and vulnerable for cheap political victories. Hate begets hate and hate solves nothing.

Source: Huffington Post

New poll shows ’sea change’ in Californians’ attitudes toward illegal immigration

New poll shows ’sea change’ in Californians’ attitudes toward illegal immigration

Ken McLaughlin
kmclaughlin@mercurynews.com

New poll shows ’sea change’ in Californians’ attitudes toward illegal immigration

Rally attendees hold a San Jose based rally in support of a massive pro-immigration rally in Washington D.C. at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in San Jose, link Calif. on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (Josie Lepe/Mercury News) (Josie Lepe)

In a dramatic turnaround from 16 years ago, Californians now overwhelmingly favor giving illegal immigrants a “path to legalization” rather than punishing them by denying them a public education and social services, according to a poll unveiled Monday.

The survey of 1,515 registered voters showed that 67 percent of Californians support a two-pronged approach to solving the illegal immigration problem: implementing stronger enforcement at the border while setting up a legalization path for undocumented immigrants who admit they broke the law, perform community service, learn English and pay fines and back taxes.

Seventy percent favor stricter border controls and a temporary worker program that does not grant illegal immigrants citizenship and requires them to return to their homeland. But only 45 percent favor denying the undocumented an education and taxpayer-funded health and social services.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said the poll — sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences — showed there was a “sea change” in Californians’ attitudes toward illegal immigration since 1994. That’s when 59 percent of the state’s voters cast a ballot in favor of Proposition 187, the white-hot measure aimed at denying services to illegal immigrants. The proposition was later ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.

“The conventional wisdom has suggested that the level of support for denial of services had remained fairly constant,” said Schnur, who once worked for Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, a champion of Proposition 187. But the new poll, Schnur said, suggests otherwise.

One big reason for the change: Younger voters are less likely to favor cutting off services to the undocumented, Schnur said. In addition, the number of Latino voters has substantially increased since 1994.

Richard Hobbs, associate director of the San Jose-based Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, said the poll results didn’t surprise him because he believes most fair-minded Californians realize that the current immigration policy is breaking up families. “There is widespread support to allow mixed-status families to be made whole,” he said.

But Yeh Ling-Ling, executive director of the Orinda-based Alliance for a Sustainable USA, a group that wants to see more restrictions on immigration, said the poll’s results are deceptive and will turn around once Californians begin paying attention to the renewed debate in Congress, expected later this year.

“Nobody ever told the people surveyed that amnesty will lead to an explosion of both legal and illegal immigration as newly naturalized citizens bring in their extended families,” she said.

The wide-ranging survey — which because of its large sampling size has a relatively small margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points — is the second in a series of polls sponsored by the college and the newspaper. The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with American Viewpoint, a public-opinion research firm.

Other results included:

  • Forty-six percent of voters are more likely to support a member of Congress or U.S. senator who supported the recently passed health care bill. Twenty-nine percent are less likely to support the lawmaker; it made no difference to 19 percent. The finding is not good news for statewide GOP candidates for governor and U.S. Senate who have vowed to repeal the law.
  • GOP front-runner Meg Whitman is beating Democrat Jerry Brown 44 percent to 41 percent in the battle for governor. In the GOP primary, Whitman was beating Steve Poizner by a 3-1 ratio: 60 percent to 20 percent. Brown led Poizner by 53 percent to 22 percent.
  • Whitman’s wall-to-wall TV and radio advertising campaign has resulted in an increase in favorable ratings from 17 percent in November to 30 percent now. Poizner, the target of Whitman attack ads, has seen his unfavorable ratings increase from 7 percent in November to 23 now.
  • Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer beats a “ Republican” opponent by 48 percent to 34 percent. Former Silicon Valley Congressman Tom Campbell is winning in the GOP primary with 29 percent, compared with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, with 25 percent. Conservative state Assemblyman Chuck Devore is trailing with 9 percent.
  • Belying the “common wisdom” that most Republican primary voters hunger for a red-meat conservative candidate, 44 percent of likely GOP voters said they preferred a “centrist”; 45 percent preferred a “strong conservative.” The difference is statistically insignificant.

“As a Republican pollster, I was struck by how reasonable the Republican primary voter is today,” said Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint.

She noted that only 20 percent of Republican voters surveyed said that it’s “extremely important” for a candidate to be conservative. That, she said, indicates California Republicans this year are more interested in winning than nominating someone who is a true believer.

Contact Ken McLaughlin at kmclaughlin@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5552.

DHS Report Criticizes 287(g) Immigration Program/Informe del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional critica programa de inmigración 287(g)

Democracy Now! | Headlines for April 05, for 2010 (English followed by Spanish Text)

A new federal report has criticized the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program, treat which gives state and local law enforcement agencies authority to enforce immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found the program does not have adequate safeguards against racial profiling and other civil rights abuses. In addition, the report said local police officers have misused the program by targeting undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for minor offenses. The report states, “g) program is meeting its intended purpose, or that resources are being appropriately targeted toward aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety and the community.” Critics of the program say many immigrants will no longer call the local police for help out of fear they could be arrested and deported. Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “The 287(g) program, as this latest report confirms, all but abandons the constitutional guarantees of fair and due process, and encourages racial and ethnic profiling.”

——————

Un nuevo informe federal critica el programa 287(g) del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE, por su sigla en inglés), que le otorga facultades a las agencias de seguridad estatales y locales para hacer cumplir las leyes de inmigración. La Oficina del Inspector General del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional descubrió que el programa no prevé protecciones adecuadas contra la discriminación racial y otros abusos de los derechos civiles. Además, este informe indicó que los oficiales de la policía local hicieron un mal uso de este programa contra los inmigrantes indocumentados que fueron arrestados por delitos de menor cuantía. El informe dice: “la ICE no puede garantizar que el programa 287(g) esté cumpliendo con el objetivo deseado o que los recursos se estén utilizando adecuadamente contra los extranjeros que representan grandes peligros para la seguridad pública y la comunidad”. Quienes critican este programa dicen que muchos inmigrantes no acudirán a la policía local en busca de ayuda por temor a ser arrestados y deportados. Laura Murphy, de la Unión Estadounidense por las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por su sigla en inglés), dijo: “El programa 287(g), como lo confirma el más reciente informe, prácticamente abandona las garantías constitucionales de trato justo y debido proceso y fomenta la discriminación racial y étnica”.

Source: Democracy Now! Headlines (English, Spanish)

Outreach volunteers help region’s day laborers every week

Outreach volunteers help region’s day laborers every week

Written by WGNO ABC26 News | Friday, 02 April 2010 12:45 ABC26 News

Outreach volunteers help region’s day laborers every week New Orleans’ growing Hispanic population includes day laborers who came post-Katrina to help the region its reconstruction. Some outreach groups are trying to help them with crime prevention and basic needs.

Workers flock to cars in Central City hoping to get hired. They are day laborers. Most of them came after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild, but are often targeted as walking ATMs. Jeremiah Perez says in the past year, he has been robbed twice and lost about $800, once by a group of men carrying weapons.
“One gun and they had three or four bats,” Perez said.

This is problem day laborers have been facing, and outreach groups hope to educate them about checking accounts.

Another problem day laborers have been complaining about is wage theft: working for someone and then not getting paid.

Francisco Torres says he’s been stiffed by a boss before.

“He called me and said he would come by house but he never came and at the end of the day I was still waiting and they didn’t come,” Torres said.

Volunteers who come to Central City every Friday morning are trying to get a law passed in the city to prevent wage theft.

“Other cities have had similar situations and they have enacted or passed ordinances that have taken care of the problem, at least they have criminalized the wage theft,” said community activist Marcel Rivera.

Day laborers can count on volunteers who come to Central City weekly to feed workers and lend a helping hand.

Outreach volunteers also let workers know where they can go for basic medical needs.

Source: WGNO ABC26 News

Historia de una mujer jornalera

Historia de una mujer jornalera

JESÚS RODRÍGUEZ MONTES ( Corresponsal),  5 de abril de 2010

Tlapa, 4 de abril. En español, Chiepetepec significa cerro de piedra. En este pueblo nahua de Tlapa el suelo es agreste, duro, poco favorable para el cultivo y en primavera el sol torna al clima caluroso.

Esta condición, además de la pobreza que asuela a la mayoría de pueblos de La Montaña de Guerrero y el ínfimo apoyo del gobierno para el campo, es el motivo por el cual los indígenas han optado por migrar al norte del país y a Estados Unidos para conseguir el empleo más probable, a miles de kilómetros de distancia, ya sea como jornaleros agrícolas o como lavaplatos en Nueva York, Washington, Chicago y Los Ángeles.

Historia de una mujer jornalera

Foto: JESÚS RODRÍGUEZ MONTES, Lorenza Tapia Isidro, una de las primeras mujeres jornaleras en incursionar en el ámbito de los contratistas, dominada por varones

Pero Chiepetepec no siempre ha sido un pueblo que exporta mano de obra barata. Lorenza Tapia Isidro, que ahora tiene 50 años, cuenta que hace unas tres décadas los indígenas ni siquiera migraban a Tlapa, lo más urbano en la región.

Cuando tenía 20 años, a principios de los 80, ella formó parte de la primera brigada de la comunidad que se aventuró a migrar por empleo. Lo hizo a Sinaloa, como jornalera, con 20 paisanos más y al cabo de cuatro años de ir y venir, ganó la confianza de los “patrones” del campo agrícola en el que laboraba y de los lugareños para convertirse en una de las primeras mujeres de toda La Montaña, quizá la única durante muchos años, en incrustarse en el mundo de los contratistas, un entorno en el que predominan los varones.

El estado de salud de Lorenza no es el óptimo desde 2005. En Culiacán enfermó. Los médicos le detectaron un tumor y sugirieron una cirugía de emergencia para evitar que se agravara.

Lorenza –cuenta ahora en entrevista– accedió por la gravedad del diagnóstico, pero en la operación, por negligencia de los médicos, resultó que le hicieron una transfusión de “sangre contaminada” y eso es lo que la mantiene ahora decaída de salud.

La historia de Lorenza es una historia muy peculiar entre los jornaleros agrícolas de la región. En este ambiente se habla de jornaleros, contratistas, enganchadores, capataces, jefes de cuadrilla cuando literalmente se refieren a los varones que desempeñan ese papel. Un entorno dominado por los hombres.

El contratista es la persona encargada de organizar el viaje de los jornaleros. Es el puente entre los empresarios y los indígenas que optan por migrar para trabajar en los campos. Como todo en la vida, dice Lorenza, hay “buenos y hay malos”.

“Antes yo era la única mujer que contrataba a la gente, yo era la única y aquí andaba, buscando casa por casa, preguntando quién quería irse, empezaba desde julio y hasta agosto, me salía a otros pueblos”, narra.

–Cuénteme, ¿cómo es que entra en este mundo de hombres, de contratistas?

–Pues cuando me dejó mi esposo no teníamos que comer. Yo me casé muy chica, tenía como 13 años. Pero cuando me dejó mi esposo ya tenía cuatro hijos y pues como no tenía trabajo, no tenía dinero, vino un señor de Tlapa a invitarnos a trabajar a Sinaloa y pues me fui.

“Llegando allá tuve suerte, a mí me ayudaron mucho unos ingenieros, los patrones, me ayudaron, me dejaron estar con mis hijos, también se ponían a trabajar y pues una vez que les dije que iba a ir a otro campo donde pagaban más me dijeron que no, que cómo que me iba a ir, que ya no iba a trabajar de jornalera, que ahora les iba a ayudar a llevar la gente”.

Antes de viajar a Culiacán –un viaje que demoró tres días, recuerda– Chiepetepec era el único sitio que había conocido Lorenza, ni siquiera Tlapa. No hablaba español. Aprendió en aquel estado, en el campo agrícola La Feria, muy cerca de Navolato.

“Cuando me dijeron que tenía que llevar gente yo les dije a los ingenieros que cómo, que casi ni sabía hablar español, que no sabía hablar por teléfono; pero ellos me dijeron que me iban a ayudar y me ayudaron”.

–Dígame Lorenza, se sabe que es difícil la vida para un jornalero, pero, ¿Cómo es para una mujer jornalera estar en los campos?

–Pues más difícil señor. Hay que levantarse temprano, a las 3 de la mañana para hacer tortillas para los niños. A las 6 hay que irse a trabajar, de ahí hasta las 4 de la tarde que vamos de regreso a la casa, pero pues hay que darles de comer a los niños. Ya casi nomás vamos a dormir a la casa y es así todos los días. Es más difícil para las mujeres, por los niños, que los cuidamos.

–Es algo muy obvio pero se lo tengo que preguntar: ¿por qué se van?

–Por la necesidad señor, porque aquí no hay trabajo, por eso la gente se a donde sea, porque aquí no hay nada. Se n para Estados Unidos, San Quintín, a Culiacán, porque estamos pobres, ya ni en Tlapa hay trabajo.

Lorenza es madre de diez y abuela de 15. Como desde hace cinco años ha dejado de trabajar, son sus hijos quienes la mantienen, aunque con muchas dificultades por los gastos extras que tiene que realizar para los medicamentos.

Lorenza no duda cuando opina: “falta más apoyo del gobierno para los jornaleros y para las mujeres”.

Source: La Jornada, Guerrero

Federal government to day laborers: We’re here to help

By Matt O’Brien
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 04/01/2010 02:13:52 PM PDT
Updated: 04/01/2010 02:13:54 PM PDT

CONCORD — A crew of federal officials wandering into a day labor hiring zone used to mean one thing: It’s time to leave.

This wasn’t the case Thursday morning on Monument Boulevard. Armed with coffee, not handcuffs, investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor chatted warmly with Latino immigrant workers about how to find jobs without being exploited.

“We’re the feds, but the good ones,” said Paul Ramirez, speaking in Spanish inside the Michael Chavez Center, a gathering spot for day laborers. “We’re here to help workers.”

The unprecedented visit was part of a campaign to bring long-established workplace protections to the nation’s most vulnerable and underpaid workers, including those who have no legal right to be living in the United States.

“Documented or not, the law is: If you work certain hours, you are owed certain money,” Ramirez told the small crowd. Met at first with apprehension, the Brentwood native captivated his audience of men from Mexico and Central America as he told of tending tomatoes, onions, asparagus and cucumbers as a young California field hand. Now an enforcer of workplace rules, he advised what to do when contractors skirt the law.

“We already knew some of these things, but now we feel more comfortable, more support,” said laborer Gilberto Villanueva, who came to the East Bay eight years ago from southern Mexico. “It’s good that they came.”

There was nothing new about the standards Ramirez mentioned: minimum wage, overtime, sick leave. But none of the workers had heard this before from a federal agent. “We’ve always been very active in the community, but now we’re becoming more vocal, more transparent,” said Susana Rincon, Bay Area director of the labor agency’s wage and hour division. “Other than that, the message is the same.”Ramirez made the same speech recently to workers who gather outside a Home Depot in Pittsburg. And it’s not only a message for day laborers; it was delivered Thursday at the Chinese Newcomers Service Center in San Francisco.

The awareness campaign, called “We Can Help,” is being led by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, a former Southern California congresswoman who joined the Obama administration early last year.

Solis inaugurated the campaign Thursday in Chicago with a speech at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, a 19th century landmark of labor reform and social welfare movements. She said she has added more than 250 field investigators, bringing the total to nearly 1,000 nationwide, about the same as at the beginning of the Bush administration.

The investigators have no jurisdiction over homeowners who hire day laborers for temporary landscaping, moving and domestic work, but they do have authority over contractors who make at least a half-million dollars, Rincon said. If workers with a problem call investigators, usually the issues are resolved by phone within 24 hours, Rincon said. In rare cases, the investigators will visit work sites or take employers to court.

Day laborers “know laws are out there to protect them, but they don’t always believe it, or know that it can be enforced,” said Mike Van Hofwegen, director of the Concord work center. Van Hofwegen was as surprised as his clients when the labor department team called to say they wanted to visit.

“This is the first time we’ve had this kind of connection,” he said. “Someone asked me, ‘Is this an April Fools’ thing?’”

Such a discussion between federal employees and workers who are, for the most part, illegal immigrants, is likely to engender controversy, but could also do everyone some good, he argued.

“It helps U.S. citizens because they’re not being undermined by abusive labor practices in the community, because things are more competitive,” Van Hofwegen said.

Source: Contra Costa Times