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.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/opinion/11mon4.html?_r=1&ref=opinion 

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)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crossover-dreams/hate-brews-in-maricopa-di_b_201397.html

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

THE 2ND ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL COMMUNITY CELEBRATION TO HONOR THE LIFE OF DAY LABORER LEADER FERNANDO PEDRAZA

THE 2ND ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL COMMUNITY CELEBRATION TO HONOR THE LIFE OF DAY LABORER LEADER FERNANDO PEDRAZA

THE 2ND ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL COMMUNITY CELEBRATION TO HONOR THE LIFE OF DAY LABORER LEADER FERNANDO PEDRAZA

STUDENTS, treat DAY LABORERS AND COMMUNITY ALLIES HOLD THE 2NDANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL COMMUNITY CELEBRATION TO HONOR THE LIFE OF DAY LABORER LEADER FERNANDO PEDRAZA

Contact

Eddie Gonzalez (PEOC): (323) 422-8107

Suzanne Foster (PEOC): (310) 486-8499

Event Info

Date:          Tuesday, May 5, there 2009

Time:         10:00 AM Press Conference Begins, Memorial Ends at 12:00 PM

What:         Press Conference and Memorial Service to celebrate the memory of

day laborer leader Fernando Pedraza

Where:       Corner of Arrow Highway and Grove Ave in Rancho Cucamonga , CA 

Who:          Pedraza Day Laborers Coalition, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Claremont Colleges, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC), National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) 

( Rancho Cucamonga , CA ) – On Monday May 5th, at 10 AM at the corner of Arrow Highway and Grove Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga , day laborers and their allies celebrate the second anniversary memorial of day laborer organizer Fernando Pedraza by coming together to demonstrate community support for workers’ rights and dignity to the Rancho Cucamonga City Council.

“We are here to celebrate the life of Fernando. We will not let his memory die,” said Roberto Corona, Pastoral Associate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. “Fernando Pedraza’s body may not be here, but his ideals and dreams continue in each one of the thousands of men and women gathering on corners across our nation.”

The press conference and memorial service coincide with the day that Fernando Pedraza died two years ago. On Cinco de Mayo, 2007, an unplanned demonstration by the Minutemen against day laborers on the corner of Arrow Highway and Grove Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga ended with the death of day laborer leader Jose Fernando Pedraza. With the realization that there be dignity and respect for the day laborer community, Pedraza stood by his fellow day laborers across from the group of vigilantes who screamed racial attacks against the workers.  Fifty-seven year old Pedraza was hit and killed by a tragic car accident as he defended his fellow workers at the corner where he waited on a daily basis for work.

Pedraza, a Mexican immigrant and a father of five daughters and grandfather of seven, was killed at 1 p.m. on May 5, 2007, when an SUV, after hitting a car in the intersection, rolled onto the sidewalk where day laborers were gathered.  The day laborers were only there at that time on that day because of the Minutemen protest against their right to look for work.

“Honoring the Memory of Jose Pedraza reminds us to remember the struggle against injustices of the day laborer community in Rancho Cucamonga and to continue to empower each other to stand up for their rights,” said Eddie Gonzalez, Rancho Cucamonga organizer for the PEOC and Pedraza Day Laborer Coalition member. 

 

###

Lou Dobbs Battles Al Sharpton and ACORN’s Bertha Lewis, Gets His Lunch Eaten

By Stephen Lemon
Phoenix New Times
Wednesday, Apr. 8 2009

Click here to view the embedded video.

I don’t know what CNN’s resident nativist Lou Dobbs thought he was doing when he invited the Rev. Al Sharpton and ACORN’s Bertha Lewis on his program yesterday. But suffice it to say that the bottle-blond senior citizen got owned on his own show by Lewis and Sharpton, help who were there to attack Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his racial profiling shenanigans under the federal 287(g) program.

The verbal bitch-slapping began from jump, with Lewis doing the slapping, and Dobbs being the, well, you know. Check this exerpt from the show’s transcript:

DOBBS: Let’s start. This is unusual and this investigation started with a call, Bertha, for an investigation by four Democratic senators — excuse me — Congressmen which looks on its face to be politicization of the U.S. Justice Department.

BERTHA LEWIS, CEO, ACORN: It didn’t start there. It started two years ago. Sheriff Arpaio has been doing his reign of terror for a very long time.

DOBBS: Did you just say reign of terror?

LEWIS: Absolutely, I mean that.

DOBBS: Ok.

LEWIS: It’s been arresting people simply because of the color of their skin, or their language. You can’t tell whether someone is legal or illegal, you know. And he’s using 287-G so the outcry that had come up from citizens across Maricopa County forced these Democrats to at least take some action and the Department of Justice has him under investigation.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It continued on from there with Lewis and Sharpton ceding zero ground to Dobbs on the subject. I loved the part where Dobbs spat the blarney that ACORN is under investigation in 13 states.

DOBBS: Have you met [Arpaio]?

LEWIS: I’ve met him by his work. Our members in Arizona have been arrested time and time again; African-Americans who have been here for a long time.

DOBBS: What do you suppose would be said about ACORN, you’re being investigated in 13 states, for crying out loud.

LEWIS: Oh, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s not true. Check the facts. It’s not true. You can get on the phone right now, call the Department of Justice.

DOBBS: I didn’t say anything about the Justice Department.

LEWIS: ACORN is not being investigated anywhere in any state. You don’t have your facts correct. If you’re talking about people being prosecuted individuals, we are assisting in their prosecution so ACORN is not under investigation and has not been.

We asked the Justice Department in October, they confirmed it again and again, and you know what? Give them a call.

DOBBS: We will. We’ll do it. And I certainly will and I assure you it will be early tomorrow morning. How’s that?

LEWIS: That’s good.

Sharpton was excellent as well, but a bit muted by comparison with Lewis. Still, I’d like to see either Lewis or Sharpton on the same show as Arpaio. The old man wouldn’t know what hit him.

Dennis Gilman’s posted the Televised donnybrook on YouTube, with his own running commentary on Dobbs’ various inaccuracies. (Keep your eyes on the scrolling headlines below the talking heads.) It’s must-viewing for all Arpaio-watchers, con and pro.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/2009/04/lou_dobbs_takes_on_al_sharpton.php

Arpaio and Civil Rights Abuses Hearing//TUNE IN TOMORROW

April 1st, ask 2009
National Day Laborer Organizing Network

The momentum against Sheriff Arpaio and the entire 287(g) program keeps building. Only a few weeks after announcing joint hearings in the Judiciary Committee to investigate Arpaio and other civil rights abuses under the program, Conyers is following through on his word and holding the hearings tomorrow. We would like to urge you to watch as victims of racial profiling, Arizona, Mesa Police Chief Gascon, and experts on racial profiling tear the cloak off the Bush’s failed “immigration enforcement” and expose it for what it is: a civil and human rights crisis. Thanks for all your hard work in helping make this hearing happen.

Please keep an eye out for our action alert after the hearing. We’ll need your help writing to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the Obama administration to immediately terminate Sheriff Arpaio’s 287(g) contract. Si se puede! Yes we can!

Please tune in Thursday April 2nd at 10am EST: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html

Abril 1, 2009
Red Nacional De Jornaler@s

La presion contra Sheriff Arpaio y todo el programa de 287(g) sigue creciendo. Hace solo unas pocas semanas el Congressista Conyers anuncio audencias en el Committee Judicial. Manana estas audencias seran una realidad. Nos gustaria invitarlos a ver la audencia a travez del internet. Alli veran victimas del perfil racial, el jefe de la policia de Mesa, Arizona, y expertos de perfil racial demascarar las policias de immigracion de Bush por lo que verdaderamente son: una crisis de derechos civiles y humanos. Gracias por todo sus esfuerzos en hacer esta audencia una realidad. Por favor esten al tanto del aviso de accion que mandaremos despues de la audencia el jueves. Necesitamos la ayuda de todos para mandarle una carta a Janet Napolitano, la directora de Homeland Security, y la administracion de Obama para inmediatamente romper el contrato de 287(g) de Sheriff Arpaio. Si se puede! Yes we can!

Pueden ver la audencia jueves abril 2 a las 10am EST: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html

The People’s Sheriff

PBS NOW
March 27 2009

Is a hard-line sheriff crossing the line when it comes to immigration enforcement?

One of the most controversial figures in the illegal immigration debate is Joe Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, whose aggressive hard line on local crime has received national attention.

But has Sheriff Arpaio, who’s made the most of federally-granted authority to enforce immigration laws, crossed the line when it comes to serving and protecting his community? Some critics have accused him of racial profiling.

This week, our colleagues at “Exposé” and local reporters from the East Valley Tribune reveal what Sheriff Arpaio was—and wasn’t—doing in the name of law enforcement.

In a special bonus interview, NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa sits down with Joe Arpaio for an intense discussion about the issues and criticism swirling around him. Watch that interview below with Sheriff Arpaio.

Please follow this link and comment about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s policies against the immigrant communities in Phoenix, Arizona.
http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/513/index.html

Notes From the Immigration Battlefield

Published: March 18, case 2009

Here’s a thought. What if illegal immigrants really aren’t America’s worst nightmare? A lot of energy has been spent insisting that they are, but are they really as dangerous as, say, zombie banks? Or as evil as retention bonuses?

In truth, our biggest domestic menace never was waiting outside Home Depot, hoping to clean your basement. Unauthorized immigrants are not about to destroy anything, not even when they get angry and loud and march in large groups. On the contrary, they are inspiring. Their ethic of self-reliance and hard work is one that Americans should recognize and celebrate.

Exhibit A: Riverside, Calif., where I went recently to watch immigrant advocates march against the Border Patrol.

Riverside is 100 miles from Mexico, but the Border Patrol has an office there. Its agents have accused supervisors of imposing arrest quotas — 150 illegals a month — that forced them to swoop into day-labor corners and bus stops to keep their numbers up.

The marchers wanted to make the point that arresting people in bulk because they look Hispanic is grossly unconstitutional. They wanted to denounce the raids as a cruel misuse of crime-fighting resources — fishing for minnows instead of sharky predators.

The day of the march dawned wet, cold and calm. The crowd at City Hall grew to about 300, then set off for the Border Patrol office, three miles away. They looked like any Americans, though maybe more cheerful. They chanted and sang and got soaked. The ink on their signs bled. They looked like poor people marching for a better life, the kind we root for in movies like “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Drivers gave friendly honks, but not everyone was nice. A guy on a townhouse balcony silently held up a Confederate flag as the Latinos marched by. When he saw my camera, he became a frightened little man. He whipped the flag behind his back, as if it were a dirty magazine.

At the march’s end, a band of Minutemen with American flags and bullhorns was waiting across the road. “We support the Border Patrol!” they yelled over four lanes of blacktop. “Viva la Migra!”

I had thought these outnumbered soldiers might be tense. But I saw no fear, only loathing. It was a party! I met a smiling man named Jim. “What’s your heritage?” he asked. As immigrant sons, we talked about what a great country it was.

I asked him why we couldn’t all just get along. He said because these aliens were not the good Ellis Island kind. They were soaking California for billions in social-service tax dollars while hatching evil schemes. “Reconquistas,” he called them, citing a Mexican plot to seize the U.S.A. through mass migration. It’s fictional, but Jim believed it.

He gave me his card.

Jim Gilchrist!

Mr. Gilchrist founded the Minutemen. I asked for a picture. He pointed to a tree and suggested posing there.

“With a noose hanging from it?” he said.

“Pardon me?”

“With a noose hanging from it?”

I asked him to repeat it again. He said he was joking. I tried to make the words fit together as humor, but couldn’t.

I went to the Latino side, where the singing was better. The speeches were interrupted when shoving broke out on the Minuteman side. Uh-oh.

I ran over and got Mr. Gilchrist out of a huddle. He told me one of his troops had been spit on by a reconquista. He was keeping everybody calm while the victim, a frail-looking woman, got ready to press charges.

A police officer was taking statements. A lawyer for the marchers, a skinny white guy, put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Did he really spit on you?” he asked.

“No,” she said, “but he could have.”

It was a Perry Mason moment. But it was more. It was the Minuteman worldview wrapped up in one sad little psychodrama: The alien threat, so scary, yet so imaginary. The officer took note.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/opinion/19thu4.html?_r=1&ref=opinion 

The Ballad of Joe Arpaio

Published: March 15, 2009

Saul Linares, a factory worker from Hempstead, N.Y., sat down at dinner on Feb. 7 with pen, paper and a story to tell. Then he did what similarly equipped Mexicans have done since the 1800’s. He wrote a corrido.
“In the left hand I was eating, and with my right hand I was writing it down,” he said. He was done in 20 minutes.

Mr. Linares was on a weekend retreat for immigrant-rights organizers in Rye, N.Y. After work on Saturday they took a break for a “cultural night” of poems, songs and stories.

Mr. Linares, 30, had never written a corrido before. He is from El Salvador, where they sing cumbias. But people all over Latin America like corridos. He knew what to do.

Voy a cantarles un corrido a los presentes,

que le compuse a Joe Arpaio de Arizona,

un sinvergüenza, desgraciado, anti-inmigrante,

que se ha ganado el repudio de toda la gente.

I will sing a corrido to all those present

that I wrote for Joe Arpaio from Arizona,

a shameless, disgraceful immigrant hater

who has earned the repudiation of the people.

Corridos are Mexican folk ballads, stories of love, betrayal, murder, s, often lurid and usually drawn from real life. Scholars who collect them by the tens of thousands say they are the literature of the rural poor: pulp nonfiction.

Mr. Linares’s subject, the Maricopa County sheriff, is infamous for abusing prisoners, strutting on TV and arresting Latinos on flimsy pretexts. To his victims he is a figure of fear and mockery, part Bull Connor, part Buford T. Justice from “Smokey and the Bandit.” He is prime corrido material.

Arpaio puts the immigrants in jail

because he says that they are crooks

but they are only looking for a decent job …

And without any apparent sense or reason

he paraded them in chains down the street.

That is all true. The inmate parade happened in Phoenix on Feb. 4. Last week the Justice Department told the sheriff he was being investigated over accusations of racial profiling, and Congress members denounced his “reign of terror.”

Mr. Linares, a former day laborer, had his audience cheering, but he was modest about it. He threw the song away. Someone had to persuade him to retrieve and save it. The next day, he and a guitarist, Francisco Pacheco, squeezed into a bathroom, for better acoustics, and recreated the moment for a portable recorder.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/opinion/16mon4.html?_r=1&em