Rally at Bill Maher Taping: Ask Napolitano about DHS Racial Profiling!! // For Immediate Release

Rally at Bill Maher Taping: Ask Napolitano about DHS Racial Profiling!! // For Immediate Release

Rally at Bill Maher Taping: Ask Napolitano about DHS Racial Profiling!! // For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Postings // Please Forward

Contact (Engish y Español):  Loyda Alvarado (323) 434- 8115 

What:     Press Conference, cheap Rally, and Demonstration 

Why:      To Urge Bill Maher to Ask Secretary Napolitano about DHS Racial Profiling Practices, 287(g), Joe Arpaio

Where:  7800 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA   (Near corner of Beverly and Fairfax)

When:   Friday, July 24, 2009

Time:     5:30 to 7 pm

(Los Angeles)  Immigrant, civil, and labor rights advocates will hold a rally and press conference outside the taping of Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday at 5:30 pm.   Protestors will urge Mr. Maher to ask tough questions of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano about her relationship with the notorious Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.  Specifically, Secretary Napolitano should be asked why DHS has not severed its contract with Arpaio (Napolitano’s hometown sheriff), and why DHS opted last week to expand a failed experimental Bush immigration enforcement policy that has demonstrably resulted in mass racial profiling.

During his press conference yesterday, President Obama used very strong language to denounce racial profiling practices by local police.   However, last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the expansion of the widely-criticized 287(g) program, which outsources federal immigration enforcement authority to local sheriffs.  In recent years, Joe Arpaio has become a symbol of the program’s failure, as his use of 287(g) has resulted widespread allegations of racial profiling.  The Department of Justice recently launched a high-profile investigation of Arpaio’s practices.    Indeed, Sheriff Arpaio’s relationship with neo-nazis has been noted by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon; Arpaio himself has said it’s an honor to be called KKK; and he has even posed for photos with high-profile neo-nazis.     The New York Times has published several editorials calling for the termination of the 287(g) program in general and Arpaio’s contract in particular.  Those editorials are available here,  herehere, and most recently, here.  

Salvador Reza, a community leader in Phoenix, issued the following statement:  ”Secretary Napolitano has the legal authority and the moral obligation to end Arpaio’s reign of terror in her hometown of Phoenix.  Instead, she is expanding the 287(g) program and intends to make the country look like Maricopa County.  We hope Bill Maher has the courage to ask hard questions of Secretary Napolitano.”


New Orleans day laborers want wage theft criminalized

Facing South Magazine:

Post-Katrina New Orleans has become the center of a national effort to protect migrant day laborers from wage theft. 

As Facing South has covered, following the 2005 hurricane season, site the Gulf Coast region saw an explosion in its Hispanic population, seek particularly in New Orleans where migrant workers came to fill the construction jobs that opened up during the post-Katrina recovery effort. Estimates indicate the New Orleans metro area’s Hispanic population has tripled in the last three years, from about 60,000 to about 180,000. 

Many of New Orleans’ Hispanic migrant workers have faced rampant wage theft, coercion and abuse. Following the hurricanes, in what labor rights advocates have called the “disaster after the disaster,” hundreds of contractors along the Gulf Coast employed migrant workers to clean up debris, repair damaged roofs and restore flood-soaked buildings, Contractors then reneged on promises to pay workers after that work was completed. The exploitation has been especially rampant in New Orleans, where thousands of workers employed by construction contractors to rebuild homes are still routinely shortchanged and denied promised wages once the work is completed. 

In fact, according to a recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, New Orleans has the highest incidence of wage theft in the South. Of those workers surveyed by SPLC, a whopping80 percent of the workers said they were victims of wage theft while working in New Orleans’ recovery since Hurricane Katrina. A 2008 survey of 300 day laborers indicated they had worked a total of 12,000 unpaid days and lost a total of $400,000 in wages, reports the New Orleans CityBusiness.

There are very few legal options for migrant workers, and the current laws on the books aren’t enough to protect workers, day labor advocates say. Simply put, there are no criminal statutes that hold contractors who practice wage theft legally accountable for their actions. 

New Orleans day laborers and labor rights advocates have been campaigning to stop wage theft, and to end the abuse, intimidation, exploitation and discrimination against migrant day laborers. Organizing with the New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers, a project of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, workers have urged local lawmakers and officials to pass tougher laws that would classify shortchanging or denying wages to a hired day laborer a crime. 

Workers brought their case before the New Orleans city council in a public hearing in late June, testifying to the rampant abuse in the sector. New Orleans Councilman Arnie Fielkow has started working on a city ordinance, which he hopes to have drafted by August, that would protect day laborers by criminalizing wage theft. 

Under state and federal law wage theft is a civil offense, which means workers can file civil suits against employers in small claims court, but often migrant workers face challenges to taking such measures. Fielkow’s ordinance would instead make wage theft a criminal offense, allowing cops to arrest violators. Supporters of the ordinance hope the law will empower the New Orleans Police Department to crack down on offending contractors and discourage employers from violating wage laws.


Money woes may force day-labor center to close

by Connie Cone Sexton – Jul. 21, 2009 10:16 AM
The Arizona Republic

The land in and around the Macehualli Work Center in northeast Phoenix has been a field of dreams for many years for Salvador Reza, who runs the day-labor center.

He worked to create a place to help men and women find temporary day jobs, but also wanted to develop the land into housing and possibly, a two-story employment and training center.

But now, Reza’s ability to hold on to the site at 16801 N. 25th St. near Bell Road is in jeopardy, he said Monday. Two years ago, Reza’s organization entered into an agreement with Chicanos por la Causa. “Unfortunately, the economic crisis hit and CPLC was not able to fulfill its commitment,” he wrote in a letter to supporters, alerting them to the need for funding.

Edmundo Hidalgo, president and chief executive officer of CPLC, confirmed the situation. “At the time, when we conceptualized the mixed-used project, the residential portion was to provide resources because of some of the shortages on the commercial side. But then the residential portion was no longer viable.”


Funding problems


“With the downturn of the housing market, we got caught holding the bag,” Reza said. Reza said his group bought the land with a loan. “We cannot afford a $700,000 property and we will have to put it up for . Hopefully, we’ll come up with somebody who is willing to permit the center to continue operating. But no one wants to step up to the plate.”

In the meantime, Reza said his group has been trying to keep up with the interest on the 2.2-acre parcel. “But it’s $60,000 a year and that’s hard.”

He estimates they may have another three months to operate the day-labor center, unless the land is sold.

“The losers will be the Palomino neighborhood, the business alliance and the businesses, really, because they (the day laborers) will go back to the streets,” Reza said.


Center timeline


• February 2003: Center opens as the first taxpayer-funded day-labor center in the Valley.

• June 2003: Opponents of the center launch what will be a failed recall campaign against Councilwoman Peggy Neely. She was blamed for bringing the center into the neighborhood.

• June 2004: Phoenix officials confirm the city will not back the center financially.

• May 2005: Gov. Janet Napolitano signs House Bill 2592, a Republican-backed bill that bans local governments from spending taxpayer money on day-labor centers.

• June 2006: Three of the four non-profits that fund the center confirm they are withdrawing financial support.

• February: The center turns six years old


Immigrant actors tell their story

Day laborers in Los Angeles offer impromptu street theater between jobs.

Day Laborers Await Court Date for ‘Peddling’ Tickets

Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer 

San Fernando Sun

“For now, we feel good because we’re not going to pay anything [right now].”

Those were the words of Oscar Velasquez, a Guatemalan day laborer who showed up last week at the branch of the Superior Court of Los Angeles in the city of San Fernando to comply with a ticket for “peddling” received May 19 while waiting for work outside a Home Depot store on Foothill Blvd.

Instead of paying for the ticket, Velasquez and five other day laborers requested a court date to go before a judge. They were given a Dec. 17 court date to present their case before a judge, who will decide if they must pay the citations or not.

“We don’t know if they’re going to rescind the tickets we have,” said Velasquez, who last year spent three days in the city of San Fernando jail for not paying a previous infraction.

As the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol reported last week, dozens of day laborers at the site have been issued “peddling” tickets by the San Fernando Police Department (SFPD) since last year.

Their crime: entering the parking lot of the commercial plaza where the home improvement and several other businesses are located. They must stay out on the sidewalk while waiting for someone to hire them for menial jobs.

The day laborers say the citations issued are a form of harassment by SFPD officers who they claim have even cited them while they exited restaurants in the plaza still with coffee in their hands. Velasquez said he was even ordered by a SFPD officer to go from the sidewalk into the parking lot so he could give him a ticket.

The City of San Fernando doesn’t have an ordinance that prevents people from seeking work on public property, according to Antonio Bernabe, day laborer organizer with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

The situation also troubles Peter Schey, Executive Director for the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, who thinks ticketing day laborers could be a violation of their civil rights.

“What is peddling? If they are being issued citation under a little used ordinance and the reality is just in essence to get rid of them, I would think that would raise significant constitutional questions.” Schey said.

“They [the day laborers] have a right without disrupting others, without disrupting businesses, or customers of businesses they have the right to assemble in common areas and it seems like a subterofuge to use a peddling ordinance when they’re not really peddling goods or items for and they are available for hire if anyone wants to hire them. It seems like a ruse to me.”

San Fernando City Attorney Michael Estrada said he couldn’t comment on the cases without reviewing each one, and had no plans to look into the issue because the city council had not directed him to. He also noted he wasn’t going to second guess police chief Robert Ordelheide.

City Administrator Jose Pulido said the police actions were in response to security problems at the site.

“It was the illegal activity that was the cause of concern and they (day laborers) were almost accosting women for panhandling purposes,” said Pulido.

Pulido said managers from stores at the site had cited problems with day laborers as their number one concern. He said “They were causing a visible mess, debris and disorderly conduct, some people were drinking and some people were using s so it ran the whole gammit and some of the men were confronting some of the women [pers] panhandling. It wasn’t a nice place to be and they asked the city to help.”

Meanwhile, the police’s actions against the day laborers at the site have stopped. Police officers still come around, but they haven’t issued any tickets since May, according to the day laborers.

This is due in part to pressure from Sylmar resident Sam Cordova, who has become an outspoken critic of the police’s actions after witnessing the issuance of the tickets and a SFPD officer yelling at the day laborers.

He calls the peddling accusations against the day laborers a “made up charge” that doesn’t apply to them. Cordova is encouraging the day laborers to fight the tickets and accompanied them last week when they went to court.

“They’re not going to pay anything,” vowed Cordova. “Day laborers will get their day in court.”

Still, he said only six of the 16 days laborers who have outstanding tickets showed up on the day they had to go to court last week.

“Some of them are still scared,” said Cordova.


Day labor site growing despite new laws

Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 
UPLAND – The group of day laborers who once stood in the Home Depot parking lot to wait for work have moved their location to the sidewalk along Mountain Avenue.

The Upland City Council approved a no-trespassing ordinance in March to give businesses an extra hand in preventing people from congregating in their parking lots without the owners’ permission.

Within the past few weeks a larger group of day laborers has been seen standing within the public right of way.

“Actually what might be the issue is on the property they scattered in groups where they would blend in with pers, there ” said Robin Hvidston, story member of the Minuteman project. “It may just be that the visibility of the numbers are now apparent because they’re standing together.”

The property owner, Home Depot manager and city have all expressed opposition to the now established day laborer site, Hvidston said.

“The consensus is, `we do not want loitering or trespassing,’ but of course there are other federal issues involved,” Hvidston said. “It’s very complicated.”

The ordinance allows business owners to post “no trespassing” signs on their property. Any violators can be removed by the Upland Police Department at the owner’s request, said Sgt. Cliff Mathews, public information officer with the Upland Police Department.

People are allowed to stand on the sidewalk because it’s public property, but they are not allowed to block the right of way, he said.

“I think this ordinance has been successful, but again the strength of it is that the owner of the center or business has to call the police, so if they’re not going to do that then it’s only going to be as strong as their participation,” Mayor John Pomierski said.

Hvidston informed the City Council during Monday’s meeting about her recent encounters with people selling ows outside of Coco’s restaurant on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.

Selling ows in parking lots within the city is not acceptable, Pomierski said.

“There are people that pay money to have business licenses and when they sell their products there’s a markup on it because fees are being paid,” Pomierski said. “That’s the cost of being in business and when people are selling stuff at the curb, including labor at a ed rate, it’s not a level playing field.”

The possible increase in day labor and vendor activity could be due to the poor economy, Pomierski said.

“It’s affecting all walks of life from the top and down,” Pomierski said. “It’s going to affect (day laborers) as well. They’re just looking for more avenues for exposure.”

Juan Rodriguez of Ontario was among a dozen men sitting along the curb in front of Home Depot on Mountain Avenue on Tuesday.

Rodriguez, a construction worker, has filled out more than 100 job applications, but did not receive a single call back, he said.

Rodriguez said he hopes someone will hire him to do yard work or to help with moving.

“If I make $50 it’s better than nothing,” he said. “We come here because we need food. I’m legal. I can work, but there is nothing. I’m not asking for handout.”


Promised Land

The stigma of ‘illegal aliens’ makes migrant workers targeted prey

New Orleans City Business
July 20, check 2009
by Richard A. Webster

Hours after Councilman Arnie Fielkow proposed an ordinance that would protect Hispanic day laborers by criminalizing wage theft, WRNO 99.5 FM talk radio show host John Osterlind took to the airwaves to express his disappointment.

“My head is spinning and I’m an Arnie Fielkow fan,” Osterlind said on his June 30 broadcast. “Do we want laws on the books to protect illegal immigrants?”

Osterlind opened the phone lines and the first caller, Marcus, lashed out at Fielkow’s proposal.

“Most of the (day laborers), if you get real close to them, you smell liquor,” Marcus said. “They’re addicts, alcoholics and most are illegal aliens.”

The next caller, Jalinda from Thibodeaux, took Marcus to task.

“Just because they’re here illegally doesn’t mean we have the right to treat them like dogs. If you make a verbal agreement pay the guys,” she said.

Fielkow’s proposed wage theft ordinance has ignited debate beyond the airwaves and revealed long-simmering tensions regarding the status of the thousands of Hispanic workers who have arrived in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

“You can’t say enough about what (the day laborers) have done for the city,” Osterlind said when interviewed last week. “But like many said, they’re here illegally, end of story, case closed. Either tell everyone who is here illegally to stay, which I’m not a proponent of, or enact our immigration laws. But until the federal government does something to fix this problem we’ll keep going around and around in circles.”

It is widely known that there are thousands of undocumented immigrants working in New Orleans and that New Orleans companies employ them in droves. But little is done about it. The federal government hasn’t dispatched teams of immigration agents to round them up and rarely punishes the companies employing them, said Larry Bagneris, executive director of the city’s Human Relations Commission.

And there is little incentive for the city to take action since the migrant workers have played such a vital role in New Orleans’ recovery.

But this symbiotic relationship has created a new set of legal problems such as wage theft that the city is now forced to deal with.

Fielkow has taken the lead on the issue and as a result people uneasy with the presence of illegal immigrants have turned on him.

“Fielkow is a straight up guy but I turn my back on him for pushing this crap down the people’s throats,” said John in Slidell, a caller to the Osterlind show.

Fielkow defends his proposed ordinance as the right thing to do for a group of people who have meant so much to the rebuilding effort.

“It’s very hypocritical to ask them to help with rebuilding and then turn a blind eye when they’re getting ripped off,” Fielkow said. “I would appeal to people’s basic civil rights and humanity that … we should at least afford them some level of protection.”

Under state and federal law, wage theft is a civil offense with disputes often settled in small claims court. Fielkow’s proposal would make it a criminal offense allowing police to arrest alleged offenders.


Struggle to accept

After Hurricane Katrina an estimated 90,000 Hispanics came to New Orleans, according to the Catholic Diocese’s Hispanic Apostolate.

Since their arrival, they have been hailed as an indispensable part of the recovery. They did the jobs no one else wanted to do — plunging into flooded houses festering with mold and rotting food, clearing out debris and gutting the toxic insides, working long hours in brutal conditions for the promise of cash to send home to their struggling families.

But for all of the accolades thrown their way, many people have struggled to accept the new foreign population, Bagneris said. And they have not been afraid to express their feelings.

Since the storm, Bagneris has worked undercover among day laborers, standing in the parking lots of The Home Depot and Lowe’s and listened as drivers in passing cars scream “wetback” and “go back to Mexico.” Some have even thrown bricks through the windows of the workers’ trucks.

The abuse the migrant workers weathered had gotten so bad that Bagneris suggested after Hurricane Ike that they go to Galveston, Texas, where the Hispanic culture is more prevalent and he thought they would be treated better.

“They refused. They said it’s worse in Houston and Galveston in terms of how they’re treated and abused. I was floored considering what they go through here,” Bagneris said.

During one undercover assignment at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Claiborne Avenue, several workers pointed out a man they claimed had cheated them out of thousands of dollars in promised wages. When Bagneris approached the accused individual, the man, thinking Bagneris was just another day laborer, hurled racial epithets at him.

“I told him I worked for the mayor’s office and he said, ‘Don’t you have more important problems to deal with than protecting these people, like all the murders?’ I told him, ‘This is important. You’re murdering these people’s spirits.’”


Blacks vs. Hispanics

Bagneris said the biggest shock was that the man accused of ripping off the workers was black.

Luz Molina, a Loyola University law professor who specializes in wage theft cases, said she too has been surprised to hear stories of blacks abusing the migrant workers.

“If anyone would be sympathetic to their situation you would think it would be African Americans,” she said.

The antipathy of blacks towards day laborers is based on a combination of economics and race since many of the post-hurricane construction jobs have gone to Hispanics, said Ted Quant, director of Loyola’s Twomey Center of Peace Through Justice.

“If you’re a black worker and look at construction on a housing project you used to live in and don’t see anybody working on it that looks like you, it breeds resentment,” Quant said. “We saw the same thing happen after Vietnamese community moved here after the fall of Saigon. People were screaming they were going to take all the jobs. This is a repeat 40 years later with a different group of people. But they’re a different color and speak a different language, so it’s easier to hate them.”

Fielkow’s proposal to pass an ordinance to protect Hispanic workers is like digging the knife into the wounded pride of local workers who feel the new population of immigrants has stolen their jobs, Quant said.

“The sad thing is that these are hardworking people who, when you get to know them, are dealing with same issues we are: How do I feed family, get my kids educated, make sure my mother and father can get medical care?” Quant said.

But they are different because they are deemed “illegal aliens,” Molina said. The term is dehumanizing and justifies all manner of abuse — wage theft, robbery, racial slurs, beatings — because they are illegal aliens, Molina said.

A recent survey of 300 Hispanic day laborers indicated they had worked a total of 12,000 unpaid days and lost a total of $400,000 in wages, according to the New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers.

Molina represents a man who was cheated out of $60,000 for three months of work. He is now living in his car with little hope for the future.

Another case involves a 17-year-old boy owed more than $3,000. When he asked his boss for the money, the employer told him to “get out of my face,” Molina said. The contractor then called the police, told them the 17-year-old threatened his family and that he was in the country illegally.

The police arrested the boy and turned him over to immigration.

“One of the biggest shocks is how many homeowners have cheated these people,” Molina said. “They’ve rebuilt their houses on slave labor. But people think since they’re here undocumented, that they’re criminals and don’t deserve any respect as human beings.”

Even more surprising is that a significant number of contractors committing wage theft are Latino themselves, according to Catholic Charities.

Many of these Latino contractors come from countries where regulation is non-existent, Molina said. They are simply opportunistic people looking to make some fast cash and don’t understand that what they can get away with in their home country, they can’t get away with in the United States, Molina said.

“It’s sad because who is in better position to know how vulnerable these workers are than another Latino who he himself may have taken a similar road,” Molina said. “But all these people, no matter their race, are the same. They’re individuals predisposed to abusing others and making a quick buck.”

Unfortunately, the majority of the public wrath falls on the heads of the undocumented workers and not the corrupt contractors, she said.

“And what’s their crime? That they wanted to support their families in their home country? And that’s an evil thing?”


Illegal business

It’s not an evil thing, but it is an illegal thing, said Wes Wyman, president of the New Orleans Homebuilders Association.

Wyman said he opposes Fielkow’s wage theft ordinance because it provides protection to laborers who work for cash under the table and that gives an unfair advantage to businesses that want to avoid paying taxes, worker’s compensation and insurance.

Wyman also took issue with the prevailing public opinion that the day laborers have played an instrumental role in the rebuilding of New Orleans.

“The vast majority of these guys are no more than common laborers,” Wyman said. “They have no skill and do substandard work that will eventually have to be fixed if the homeowner ever wants to sell his house. It’s your contractors and subcontractors, the people who have been working in this city for years, who have rebuilt New Orleans. Where people get this picture that these guys rebuilt the city I have no idea.”

Callers to the Osterlind show who opposed Fielkow’s ordinance echoed Wyman’s sentiment, that their opposition is based on the rule of law and not race.

“It’s a strange thing to listen to people who broke the law to get here now want protection of the law,” said Michael in Baton Rouge. “Nothing would be better to the situation than to do nothing (about wage theft). Word would get around that you get stiffed here then they wouldn’t come here.”

Federal and state laws protect undocumented immigrants employed by U.S. companies despite their illegal status, Molina said. Contractors have no more a right to steal from them than they do American workers, and the undocumented immigrants have just as much a right as legal citizens to pursue justice in the courts, she said.

Fielkow and his opponents agree on one important point: If companies followed the law and refused to hire illegal immigrants, the problem wouldn’t exist.

But until they are properly punished, Quant said the most unscrupulous will continue to hire and rob undocumented workers because they live by a simple credo: Greed is a virtue and compassion is a vice.

“What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too if I’m slick enough to get it,” Quant said, describing the disreputable contractor’s mindset. “And if we can drive people’s wages down so I can make more profit, all the better for me.

“But there’s a social consequence to that in crime, poverty and disease,” Quant said.

“It just doesn’t make sense for us to be defending people stealing the wages of others who work hard. It violates every value we have as a people.”


Day Laborers on Long Island, Left at the Curb

Published: May 10, seek 2009

Just south of the commuter train tracks in Huntington Station, Long Island, a weary pileup of streets forms a little district of desperation.

Down along New York Avenue, Fairground Avenue and Depot Road, men in groups of a half-dozen or more linger by a gas station, a bar, a tire-repair . They are Latino day laborers, waiting for trucks to pull up with jobs to do.

When times were good, there was lots of work. But hardly anyone is building or renovating now, and the men go days and weeks without being hired. Wages have plummeted, and when a job is done, the men are often paid nothing and told to get lost. The sidewalks they have claimed are small outposts of the national pain created by the burst housing bubble.

The men have no safety net: no unemployment insurance, no food stamps. They are nobody’s responsibility, and nobody pays them much heed, except those who find them distasteful or frightening and have pushed for laws to shoo them out of sight. It’s like this across Long Island. In Huntington Station, jobless laborers sleep in the woods. They do the same out east, in lush Southampton, and in points between.

The presence of an underclass stranded by a lack of work, with no place to exchange sweat and skill for a day’s pay, is an affront to decency in a place that enshrines the work ethic and owes these men so much. In this kingdom of home and lawn maintenance, they blew leaves, trimmed hedges and grass, spread mulch, painted houses and patched drywall. There is little demand for the informal labor market now, and the men who made it work have been left at the curb.

Long Island owes them gratitude, but — gratitude? Are you kidding? The men are lucky they aren’t being harassed and racially profiled by the police, swept into federal custody, as local authorities are doing to Latino immigrants across the country.

Suffolk County has begun a police crackdown on gangs and s in Huntington Station, which are a problem there, as in any poor community. But outreach to day laborers — to help them assimilate, find jobs or housing, or perhaps go home — is harder to find.

There is a fenced lot on Depot Road with benches and portable toilets — a day laborer hiring site supported by Huntington Town. It is not working as well as planned. To gain the tiniest advantage, the men have dispersed ever farther from the site. Even on a bright spring morning, all those men standing around give the neighborhood a feel of disarray and aimlessness.

The same could be said of government efforts to deal with day laborers, which boil down to a question: Do we welcome you, or try to push you off the streets, and the economic ladder?

In places like Huntington and Southampton, some residents are attacking the problem with level heads and kind hearts. Volunteers in Huntington house homeless laborers in churches every night, all winter. Sister Margaret Smyth, a Roman Catholic nun who has spent years serving the poor on the East End of Long Island, works with Southampton’s day laborers, fighting homelessness, hunger and wage theft.

“We’re getting more and more cases of workers not just underpaid, but just plain not being paid at all,” Sister Margaret said. “We take them to court. Poor Southampton court system, I must have 40 cases with them.”

When she’s not being her own nonprofit legal service agency, Sister Margaret is a travel agent, raising money to immigrants air fare home.

“I’ve never bought so many tickets,” she said. “I just bought four in the last week and a half. We’ve gotten very good at it. I joined a club on the Internet, and with Spirit Airlines, I can get a one-way ticket to Guatemala for $120.”

The immigration problem is far bigger than Sister Margaret. It’s a federal failure that has fallen into the laps of local governments. But reform is finally showing signs of moving forward in Washington, and local government would be smart to help it along, starting now.

It could step in to magnify Sister Margaret’s labors. It could support nonprofit agencies and help the men to organize themselves, to run hiring sites across the Island. It could fight the crimes of wage theft and harassment. It could give the men soup. It could abandon reflexive hostility to day laborers as the equivalent of a pest-control problem.

It could act decently, without starting a huge fight over immigration policy.

“We can always pray for a miracle,” Sister Margaret said.


Hate brews in Maricopa ~ Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres

Huffington Post
May 11, 2009
By Valeria Fernández – Phoenix, Arizona

Disturbing video of armed neo-Nazi supporters of Sheriff Joe Arpaio trying to incite violence during a peaceful protest against alleged brutality in Maricopa County jails has human and civil-rights groups worried.
Click here to view the embedded video. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), treat  National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) andAssociation of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) criticized Arpaio for not condemning the actions of his supporters and instead getting his picture taken with the neo-Nazis.

On Saturday, May 2nd close to 3,000 people marched for six miles to protest the Sheriff’s alleged abuses of civil rights inside and outside his jails as part of his crackdown on illegal immigration.

The march was inspired by the cases of several women who reported intimidation and brutality by jail guards. Hundreds of prisoners reportedly started a hunger strike to denounce jail conditions and .

The protest ended outside the Durango jail complex where the marchers were met with a handful of neo-Nazis stepping on the Mexican flag, doing the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute and yelling racial slurs. Some observers said that the heavy presence of Phoenix police, who are not controlled by theSheriff’s Office, was what kept violence from erupting.

Phoenix, the seat of Maricopa County and capital of Arizona, is the fifth largest city in the United States with a population of over 1,500,000. Maricopa County’s population is roughly 3,900,000.

Photos and videos circulating on white-supremacist web pages show the Sheriff getting his picture taken with them. J.T Ready, one of the neo-Nazis that stepped on the Mexican flag compared the actions of Arpaio to those of Adolph Hitler, saying the latter was his “hero.”

“The hate and bigotry of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his supporters must be exposed, confronted and overcome”, said Pablo Alvarado, director of NDLON. “What is happening in Maricopa County is nothing short of a human rights crisis on United States soil”.

During a press conference outside the jail complex on Saturday, Arpaio complained that the protesters caused him to have to put extra security in the jail. When asked whether or not he was concerned about attracting support from neo-Nazis, he dodged the question, replying: “I arrest anyone who breaks the law.”

Later his office issued a statement saying that he had no control over who shows up at these protests.

“Any time that white supremacists groups and other groups like that support Sheriff Arpaio, it speaks for itself,” said Bertha Lewis, executive director of ACORN. “They know one of their own. In fact, he actually is very proud to be associated with the KKK,” [Ku Klux Klan] she added.

Lewis comment was in reference to a remark made by Arpaio on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” in 2007. He was asked to respond to critics who question his tactics in enforcing illegal immigration. “Well, you know, they call you KKK. They did me. I think it’s an honor, right? It means we’re doing something,” Arpaio said, according to transcripts of the show.

The local Anti-Defamation League has warned that the current negative atmosphere against undocumented immigrants in the state, fed by local politicians like Arpaio, is attracting hate groups to Arizona.

In the past, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon criticized Arpaio for conducting immigration raids at the request of individuals related to white supremacist groups.

Other videos of the neo-Nazis:

The Association: Joe Arpaio and Neo-Nazi friendship exposed!
(This video ends with footage of Arpaio talking with “white nationalist” demonstrators.)

Mexican vs Neo-nazi white minutemen Sheriff Arpaio supporters
(Filmed by A.J Alexander)


NDLON Statement on Exchange Between Arpaio and Neo-Nazi Supporters and Planned Expansion of “Posse” Program


(Phoenix, Arizona)  On Saturday, order an estimated 4,000 people marched peacefully for six miles from the Maricopa County Sheriff Office to its “tent city” jail to draw attention to an emerging civil rights crisis in the nation’s fifth largest city.  The march was nearly disrupted by the actions of several, well-known white supremacists who hurled racial epithets in an effort- as the Anti-Defamation League noted– to incite violence.

Alarming video footage and photos on white supremacist web pages have surfaced documenting an amicable exchange between Joe Arpaio and his neo-nazi supporters. The videos show Arpaio taking photos with white supremacists and passing along information about the marchers’ progress.

In the past, Arpaio has been criticized by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon for directing law enforcement resources at the request of white supremacists.   Just yesterday, the Sheriff issued a press release announcing the expansion of his “Posse Program” which deputizes and arms local vigilantes.

The following is a statement of Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in response to recent events: 

“The hate and bigotry of Sheriff Arpaio and his supporters must be exposed, confronted, and overcome.  What is happening in Maricopa County is nothing short of a human rights crisis on United States soil.  

“It is particularly troubling that this is happening in John McCain’s backyard and in Janet Napolitano’s hometown, as both have taken a prominent role in efforts to reform immigration law.   Indeed, it is inexcusable that Janet Napolitano allows another hour to pass without terminating the 287(g) contract between her office and Joe Arpaio. 

“Above all, we are concerned for the safety of migrants, Latinos, and those who speak out in Arizona.   Arpaio has shown a propensity to retaliate against his opponents, and he has now demonstrated a willingness to encourage the same dangerous, right-wing militias Janet Napolitano warned the country about last week.  

“On behalf of our 41 member organizations, we call upon the White House to swiftly intervene in order to restore the rule of law and to ensure community safety in Maricopa County.” 

Click here to view the embedded video.


National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Contact: Yadira Hernandez (707) 318 2771
for more information on this campaign: http://ndlon.org