Immigration Is Not a Back Stop for the Courts

Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px; padding: 0px;”>The family of William “Denny” McCann is justifiably horrified that the suspected drunken driver who killed McCann has disappeared.

“They f—– up,” the victim’s brother told the Sun-Times. “He [allegedly killed] my brother, and they let him out of jail.”

But blaming this, as some are, on a recent County Board rule change is foolish. There’s nothing wrong with county commissioners reviewing their rules now to see if tweaks can be made, but they shouldn’t be stampeded into overturning a sensible policy.

The Federal Government Was Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Partner in Crime

Department of Homeland Security programs like ‘Se Communities’ help drive the Arizona-fication of the country


Carlos Garcia grew up in Arizona and is a leader of Puente Arizona, a human rights organization seeking to improve conditions for migrant families in Maricopa County, Ariz.

 Now that the Department of Justice has closed its investigation into the troubled office of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, what lessons are there from Maricopa County?

Where Did Los Angeles’ Day Laborers Come From?

Where Did Los Angeles’ Day Laborers Come From?

Paresh Dave | December 21, order 2011 | Editor-In-Chief | Source:

Where Did Los Angeles’ Day Laborers Come From?

Reuniting With Friend, Losing All Income

Fifty-year-old Michael Kembe, a professional cook and dishwasher, knows he’s in the middle of a simple problem.

“Everybody wants to work,” he says in his accent, like a father imparting life to his son. “In today’s economy, there’s no jobs.”

After a decade of saving some his some earnings from working at Baguettes and Bagels Deli just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Kembe arrived in Los Angeles in mid-2010 to reconnect with his only friend in America.

Finding a steady job in L.A. has turned out to be much more impossible than the optimistic Kembe had expected. At most, he thought it would take three months to find a job. It’s been 15 months.

“Everywhere you go they say the business is slow,” he said. “I mean everybody, business slow, business slow. Even the warehouse, business slow. It’s not just the restaurants. Warehouse. Security guards.”

Now, he’s stuck. He alternates stays between a shelter and his friend’s house. When he gets the occasional job through a day-labor center, he can splurge on food. Otherwise, he collects food when he can from the shelter and the jobs center.

“You got to appreciate what you are receiving,” he said.

No doubt, he said, that he regrets leaving Atlanta.

“I don’t comment on that too much,” Kembe said. “It is what it is.”

As much as he wants to escape the economic deathtrap of California, the chances of him saving enough money to even travel as far as Texas is impossible.

“If I get the opportunity to go back to Atlanta, if somebody offers me something, I go,” he said. “How long am I going to stay like this?”

Where Did Los Angeles’ Day Laborers Come From?

Sacrificing Self-Pride A High Cost To Return To Mexico
After nearly three decades in America, Oscar Chavez isn’t ready to swallow his pride and return to his parent’s home in Chihuahua, Mexico despite having to live in a shelter the past two years.

After all, the shelter’s an improvement over the year he spent on the streets, he said. And he’s certain the economy is improving.

“There’s more work this year than last year,” he said in Spanish at the Downtown Community Jobs Center, where he comes each day in hopes of earning a temporary assignment. “It’s getting a little better.”

Chavez has gone from working for several years at a factory that made paper towels to eating a full meal once a day off a paper plate.

The thought of hitching a ride back into Mexico regularly pops into his mind. He hasn’t earned enough money to regularly call back home. Most of what he earns on day jobs – unloading and loading cargo trucks, usually –  goes to pay the negotiable $45 weekly rent at his shelter.

When he does call home, the message from his mother, father, brother and sisters is always the same.

“They tell me to come back every time,” he said. “’No, no, I can’t,’ I tell them. I got to think about it though if I don’t have anything next year.”

Chavez first immigrated to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Then it was onto Las Vegas. But he was scared about staying there during the anti-immigrant wave just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Los Angeles became his home – and a wonderful one at that – until 2006.

“Now too many people applying. Too many people right here in Los Angeles,” Chavez said.

For now, the day-job market is bringing him enough money to some new clothes and socks for the first time in a while.

“It’s very difficult, but I think it’s going to better sooner than (government) officials think,” he said.

Like reporter Paresh Dave on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+ or send him an e-mail.

Arizona governor defends day-labor restrictions in state’s immigration enforcement law

Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 15, 2011

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer has asked a judge to dismiss a request by opponents of Arizona’s immigration law to block enforcement of the law’s ban on people blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on streets.

The ban was among a handful of provisions in the law that were allowed to take effect after U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton halted enforcement of more controversial elements of the law.

Opponents had sought a court order to block enforcement of the day-labor provision under the argument that it unconstitutionally restricts the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work.

Brewer’s lawyers argued that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the blocking of traffic and that the law is aimed at promoting traffic safety.

Bad economy and San Jose’s budget crisis puts Silicon Valley’s first day worker hiring center on the chopping block

Bad economy and San Jose’s budget crisis puts Silicon Valley’s first day worker hiring center on the chopping block

By Joe Rodriguez | | Posted: 12/11/2011 | Source:

Silicon Valley’s first hiring center for day workers might be forced to downsize or close at the end of the year, another victim of hard times that stretch from the streets to San Jose City Hall.

“I don’t know what I’d do,” Francisco Sanchez said recently at the Day Worker Center just east of downtown. The 58-year-old Mexican immigrant and “jornalero,” or day laborer, didn’t get a job that day, but he did get a free haircut, one of the many social services the center offers.

“I don’t want to join the guys standing in front of Home Depot,” Sanchez said. “I used to do that when I was young, but I’m not young anymore and the jobs don’t come as easy as they did.”

After the Great Recession, housing bust and financial crisis, the steady stream of contractors and homeowners who needed temporary help in flush times slowed to a trickle.


Bad economy and San Jose’s budget crisis puts Silicon Valley’s first day worker hiring center on the chopping block

Directer Mary Mendez, left, talks with Martin Martinez, 52, an out of work dry waller who once made $54 an hour and now registers for day work at the Day Worker Center in San Jose, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011. In the background are some of the computers available for job search. The first day-worker hiring center in Silicon Valley may fall victim to San Jose’s budget crisis. Started by a Catholic nun in East San Jose at the peak of anti-immigrant hysteria in California 18 years ago, the center, now located closer to downtown, on Story Rd., is scrambling for the $100,000 it needs to operate next year. (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News) ( KAREN T. BORCHERS )

So did the grants, city subsidies or philanthropic donations that kept the hiring center humming for most of its 18 years. Its last, big funding source–a three-year, $300,000 grant from Home Depot funneled through the city–runs out Dec. 31. The nonprofit Center for Training and Careers, which took over the hiring center three years ago, knew the grant would expire but had expected to replace it by now.

“With the competition out there, it’s really tough,” said Lori Ramos a vice president and grants writer at CTC.

Councilwoman Madison Nguyen, who represents much of the East Side, said the city can’t afford to rescue struggling nonprofits anymore. Instead, she’s asking a private foundation to come to the rescue of the center.”Everybody needs money at this time, every nonprofit in the city,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a very unique center. We’re trying to save as many jobs as we can. They are part-time jobs, but they’re still jobs.”

The Day Worker Center and similar ones in Mountain View and Hayward were always more than just hiring halls. In 1993, California politics boiled over with Proposition 187, the “Save Our State” ballot initiative that called for draconian measures to detect, round up and deport undocumented immigrants. The measure passed a year later but eventually was ruled unconstitutional.

Sister Mary Peter McCusker, a Roman Catholic nun working in East San Jose at the time, came up with the idea of opening a hiring center. It would get jornaleros off the streets, match their skills with the needs of reputable contractors and homeowners, guarantee a day’s pay for a day’s work, and offer free English lessons, health screenings, hot meals and more.

Her first hiring center opened at the Tropicana ping center in East San Jose. After a few years, the St. Vincent De Paul Society agreed to operate the center and moved it to the Catholic organization’s office and warehouse complex near Coyote Creek and Story Road.

With the help of city subsidies, St. Vincent added computers for job searches, showers and laundry washing machines. Enrollment grew. However, St. Vincent decided to give up the entire complex and sold it in 2008 to the Center for Training and Careers.

Barring an 11th-hour rescue, the Center for Training and Careers will downsize its operations and move to a sparse classroom next door, or shut it down entirely. In either case, Mary Mendez, who is 66 and has led the center for 18 years, would be out of a job.

“Personally, it would be a big loss for me,” she said. “But don’t worry, I’m of retirement age. I can find something part time. I worry about the workers.”

Irene Macias, born and raised in Silicon Valley, is one of the newcomers. Widowed only last year, the 49-year-old mother of two young children comes in regularly to look for jobs cleaning houses or grooming pets. The family lives in a recreational vehicle.

“It would be really hard if they close the center,” Macias said. “If we lost it, I’d just have to do it on my own.”

Ruben Rodriguez, 53, is one of the old-timers. Born and raised in San Jose, he thought back wistfully to the best job he ever had, assembling mainframe computers for IBM.

“That was a great job out of high school,” he said. “I’ve had some good ones, but things happen.”

He arrived at the center 11 years ago after his last steady job ended. Rodriguez lives in his van and gets by with the moving and plumbing jobs he gets through the center.

“Right now it’s very difficult,” he said. “This place has been good for me. I’d hate to see it go.”

Carrboro aldermen repeal anti-loitering rule Critics said rule hurt laborers

Carrboro aldermen repeal anti-loitering rule Critics said rule hurt laborers


Carrboro aldermen repeal anti-loitering rule Critics said rule hurt laborers

Steve Dear, left, and minister Robert Campbell lead a gathering at Jones Ferry and Davie roads in Carrboro in late October to protest the town’s anti-loitering ordinance.

CARRBORO – The Board of Aldermen’s unanimous decision last week to repeal a 2007 anti-loitering ordinance won’t change how police respond to the intersection of Jones Ferry and Davie roads.Officers will continue to respond “proactively” when residents call, Chief Carolyn Hutchison said, although “in a perfect world, we would like additional personnel to respond to that corner.” The department also will continue to build community partnerships with residents, day laborers, and groups such as the Human Rights Center and El Centro Hispano, she said.

The anti-loitering ordinance has reduced the number of people at the corner but has done little to reduce crime in the area, Hutchison said. It prohibited people from standing at the corner – a popular pickup spot for day laborers – between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m. and was passed in response to complaints of harassment, trespassing, drinking and public urination.

The ordinance’s critics were jubilant after Tuesday’s vote. Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center director Judith Blau said the group is focused now on leaving Abbey Court for a house nearby, where it can operate existing programs and possibly a workers’ center.

Since summer, members of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network also have been working with a local task force to site a permanent day laborer center with access to water, restrooms and help with employment issues like wage theft.

Most of those who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting said the anti-loitering ordinance was discriminatory, unconstitutional and reflected poorly on Carrboro’s reputation as a progressive community.

“I would oppose this ordinance if it were applied to my street or anywhere in town,” said resident Steve Dear, who has been eating lunch with other people at the corner every day since asking the board to repeal the law at its Oct. 25 meeting.

Dear said he decided to take action because he was disappointed with himself for not doing more and after hearing how the ordinance had affected the workers and their families. Mayor Mark Chilton said police did not stop the gatherings, because they were constitutionally protected political protest.

Some affected workers told the board how the ordinance limits the available jobs, since employers and residents often don’t seek help until later in the day, especially in winter. That leaves them with very little money to food and to provide for their families, they said.

Day laborer Santiago Hernandez said through an interpreter that he respects the police and respects the community but would like to be able to wait longer for work. Others echoed his request, and Jose Francisco Gonzalez said they also would like help with employers who refuse to pay.

Other residents who spoke said they were concerned that the neighborhood would return to its former state if the ordinance was repealed.

Bill Madden, who lived in Abbey Court before the ordinance and now lives on Fidelity Street, said he never felt threatened, but his female co-workers were hesitant to walk through the area, even to catch the bus.

“What I saw at the corner was that a lot of men would be drinking when they couldn’t get a job, when all the employers would leave in the latter portion of the morning, and the cops would chase them around Ridgewood, Abbey Court, behind the wooded area along Alabama [Avenue] and up and down Davie Road,” Madden said. “The community needs to take better action in self-policing. That if you see somebody out of line, call the cops, call 911.”

Sexual harassment, as well as drinking and public urination, were among reasons for the 2007 decision creating the ordinance. Alderwoman Jacquie Gist recommended the town find a way to pay for a community resource person and work next year to strengthen the anti-harassment ordinance so that lewdness directed at women would be considered hate speech.

“In any language, grabbing your crotch and saying, ‘You want some of this,’ I don’t think that that’s part of any culture,” Gist said. “That is a physical threat, and it is hate speech in the same way as, ‘I’m going to bash your head in because of your ethnicity.’ ”

The board voted unanimously to support Gist’s proposal and also to pursue Alderman Dan Coleman’s suggestion that the town collaborate with community partners to find the money for a full-time staff person at the corner.

Grubb: 336-380-1325

Entrevista a Yoshua Okón - “Pulpo”

Entrevista a Yoshua Okón – “Pulpo”

por Mabel Téllez | Source:

Click here to view the embedded video.

El proyecto Pulpo, stuff de Yoshua Okón, ed uno de los artistas mexicanos con mayor proyección internacional, se exhibe actualmente en el Hammer Museum. Fue este el motivo, aunado a la importancia de su trayectoria artística, el que nos llevó a platicar con él acerca de la obra y de sus próximos proyectos.

¿Cómo se gestó la idea para desarrollar un proyecto como Pulpo?

El punto de partida fue la combinación de El arte del asesinato político, escrito por Francisco Goldman, y la experiencia de contratar a trabajadores en el estacionamiento de un Home Depot en Los Ángeles. Goldman, un neoyorkino hijo de madre guatemalteca, cubrió la guerra civil de este país como periodista durante los años 80 y 90. Su libro, además de narrar el asesinato del obispo Geraldi, presenta el panorama de la guerra incluyendo el hecho de que la dictadura guatemalteca fue instaurada, financiada, dirigida y sostenida por EEUU para beneficio de sus intereses económicos. Después de que Arbenz, presidente electo democráticamente, fue ilegalmente derrocado por la CIA, el nuevo presidente, un militar, fue llevado al palacio de gobierno en un avión militar estadounidense.

A lo largo de mi estancia en Los Ángeles, en numerosas ocasiones contraté a trabajadores indocumentados. Éstos normalmente se juntan en el estacionamiento del Home Depot esperando que alguien los contrate. Como coincidencia, el Home Depot, que está cerca de la casa donde vivía, es donde los miembros de la comunidad Guatemalteca Maya se reúnen para buscar trabajo. De esta forma me di cuenta que quienes contraté para un trabajo de albañilería, son algunos de los protagonistas del libro que estaba leyendo: ex guerrilleros o ex militares indígenas Mayas de la región alta de Ixcán en Guatemala, la zona más afectada por la guerra. En ese momento surge la idea de la pieza.

Tiempo más tarde, ya de vuelta al DF, fui invitado por el museo Hammer de Los Ángeles para realizar una residencia de investigación y fue entonces que decidí profundizar más sobre el tema. Finalmente el museo me invitó a producir y exhibir la pieza.
En Pulpo, relacionas la situación actual en la que viven los inmigrantes guatemaltecos en EE.UU, con la situación que vivieron bajo el monopolio de United Fruit Company, ¿qué tanto han cambiado sus condiciones?

Creo que entender una obra de arte en estos términos puede ser muy engañoso. La pieza no es sobre la condición de los inmigrantes guatemaltecos ni sobre la dictadura en Guatemala; ese sería el papel de algún estudio socio-político. Más bien conecta ciertos puntos para así mirar desde un ángulo distinto. En el contexto de EEUU, estos trabajadores no solamente subsisten en terribles condiciones y llevan a cabo los trabajos más pesados por muy poca remuneración sino que también son maltratados y discriminados por no tener papeles. Si le preguntas a cualquier persona el por qué de su presencia, la gran mayoría te responderá que están ahí porque aspiran a ser gringos, porque quieren ser como ellos: la intervención, la destrucción del tejido social de sus comunidades por EEUU, el hecho de que estén ahí por necesidad económica, nada de eso entra en la ecuación.

En ese sentido, Pulpo no es una pieza sobre Guatemala, más bien es una pieza de sitio específico sobre EEUU y sobre percepciones generalizadas que se tienen del aquí y ahora en Los Ángeles.

Entrevista a Yoshua Okón - “Pulpo”

Dentro de la video instalación, realizas una simulación de la guerra civil guatemalteca, cuál fue el proceso para establecer una dialéctica entre ficción, realidad y documental?

Me interesó hacer una recreación de la guerra con un alto nivel de abstracción. Apropiándome de métodos y estrategias militares, utilizo un conjunto de movimientos coreográficos que van dando forma al conflicto. Abordo el fenómeno de tal manera para que la obra se desarrolle desde diversos ángulos y promueva tensiones entre éstos: ficción y hecho histórico; acción y locación; recreación y registro, así como un espacio en el que se detonan situaciones propias al conflicto y que no pueden ser anticipadas por completo.

Por ejemplo, la locación se transfiere a suelo estadounidense, en un Home Depot, y la acción se lleva a cabo el 31 de marzo, misma fecha del golpe de estado guatemalteco (tradicionalmente las recreaciones de guerras se llevan a cabo en el mismo campo donde se libró la batalla original y en fechas que las conmemoran). Otra estrategia fue hacer que la producción fuera lo más discreta posible y sin permiso del local, para no perturbar el funcionamiento cotidiano del estacionamiento; con la finalidad de que compradores y empleados se comportaran como lo hacen normalmente y para que no se tuviera un control total de la situación generada. Así, escenas altamente escenificadas ocurren dentro de un contexto caótico y ex-combatientes de la misma guerra recreada, ocupan una posición liminal entre ser actores y representarse a sí mismos.

En este sentido, como bien lo planteas en tu pregunta, la ficción y el documento se mezclan de tal forma que es difícil distinguir entre ellos. Esta es una estrategia que utilizo a menudo y una clave para entender uno de los intereses principales de mi práctica. En el momento en que la mente no puede registrar de manera clara lo que está observando, pero al mismo tiempo se siente atraída, el mecanismo natural es indagar y analizar; como resultado, el espectador termina en una posición activa/creativa en la que formula sus propias interpretaciones.

¿Cuáles son tus próximos proyectos?

Este año tengo varias exhibiciones individuales y un par de colectivas. En la galería Kaufmann Repetto, en Milán, mostraré Hipnostasis, una instalación de 6 canales de video que hice en colaboración con Raymond Pettibon. Además, para esta misma exhibición, estoy preparando una versión distinta de Pulpo, donde utilizaré fragmentos de pequeñas casas prefabricadas de plástico, combinadas con proyecciones de video y pantallas planas. La estética de éstas, que normalmente son utilizadas para guardar herramientas de jardinería, simula el estilo de casas seriadas de suburbio y, como en el caso de Home Depot, la utilización de estas casa alude a la expansión mundial del modelo corporativo. Finalmente, la exhibición incluirá una serie de dibujos bastante grotescos basados también en la metáfora del pulpo como símbolo de la expansión del modelo Neoliberal.

Entrevista a Yoshua Okón - “Pulpo”

Entrevista a Yoshua Okón - “Pulpo”

Fotos: Cortesía de Andrea Belmont y Okón Studio

Hasta el 6 de noviembre.
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.