NDLON in the News

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Advocates Decry DHS Advisory Committee As a “Sham”

Washington DC – Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security launched its advisory committee as part of the response to the growing controversy and resistance from states and law enforcement towards Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Se Communities” program.
When ICE announced cosmetic modifications earlier this month it promoted the advisory committee made up of law enforcement, ICE agents, and advocates as a body purported to issue recommendations in 45 days on how to “mitigate impacts on community policing,” “how to best focus on individuals who pose a true public safety and security threat,” as well as how to implement a post-conviction policy for traffic offenses.
Today advocates learned that in fact the commission is limited to recommendations about minor traffic offenses—a significant departure from ICE’s announcement. The commission also appears to be tangled in levels of bureaucracy —the advisory committee reports to another DHS committee.
Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said: “The advisory commission launched by DHS is a sham like the rest of the ‘Se Communities’ program. The more we learn about the commission the more we smell a rat. A committee tasked on whether they should separate and detain families pre or post conviction for broken tail lights is another embarrassment for the Obama Administration and its disregard for human rights in this country.”
“Forty-five days and a few short meetings is not enough time to truly examine a vast program like S-Comm,“ said Bridget Kessler of Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, “ICE is once again spouting superficial talking points and band-aid solutions instead of confronting S-Comm’s fundamental flaws.”
ICE recently posted a document titled “Se Communities: Get the Facts” on its website. Advocates, questioning ICE’s “facts,” issued this response: http://tinyurl.com/4x7tnbn
“The Office of Inspector General of DHS is set to investigate the problems with Se Communities, including whether public officials were misled by the agency,” said Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The advisory committee’s narrow scope ignores the concerns of public officials and civil rights groups. Advocates and community members have called for an end to Se Communities and the administration should listen.”
Last year ICE issued a document titled “Setting the Record Straight” in response to the release of data about S-Comm. The document, which outlined a procedure to opt-out of the program, was later taken down from the ICE website. “ICE’s ‘Get the Facts’ web posting is like ‘Setting the Record Straight,’ all spin without substance aimed at hiding the truth,” concluded Sunita Patel….

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Georgia Still on My Mind

During the hearing on Georgia’s HB 87, a replication of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, Judge Thomas Thrash posed a hypothetical scenario: an 18-year-old man is driving his mother to church. He is a citizen, while his mother is not. Under HB 87, would the son be a criminal? The question is not a theoretical matter for thousands of families in Georgia, and millions nationwide. It is reality.

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Carrboro day laborers may get center

By Sarah Glen
Updated:
6 hours ago

Randee Haven-O’Donnell remembers advocating for the worker movement in college as one of her most rewarding endeavors.

“You knew that you were supporting emerging populations that would make a difference to the families and the future of our nation, store ” she said.

As a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Haven-O’Donnell and other local advocates are joining together to support the area’s growing Hispanic day laborer population.

Eager for work and clad in paint-flecked boots indicative of the construction industry, anywhere from 30 to 60 men stand at the corner of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road each morning.

Come rain, sleet or snow, they wait outside for the glimpse of a potential employer driving around the corner.

Now, many believe it is time for them to move inside.

Molly De Marco, leader of the fair jobs and wages team at Orange County Justice United, said while labor center discussions are still in their early stages, the recent establishment of a relationship with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network is a step in the right direction.

“With at least 30 centers nationwide, they can help us a lot with funding options and making sure we engage workers in every step of the process,” she said.

In addition to providing workers with a safe place to wait for employers and access to restrooms, De Marco said a laborer center could ease tensions with neighborhoods surrounding the current informal pick-up location and even open up new opportunities to female workers.

While no concrete plans have been agreed upon, advocates are currently considering El Centro Hispano in Carrboro Plaza as a potential location for a laborer center.

Mauricio Castro, an organizer with the N.C. Latino Coalition and founder of El Centro Hispano’s predecessor El Centro Latino, said El Centro Hispano presents a promising opportunity because it could offer workers health or education services and access to a bilingual staff.

“Based on the conversations we’ve had with the workers, they are very excited about the possibility not only to look for work but also to be able to develop other skills,” he said. “Many were excited about the possibility of using a computer lab to check their mail, to send messages to their families or to learn how to use the computers.”

Castro also said the discussion of how to staff a center is important because opening a laborer center could allow for the compilation of a database of reliable workers and employers.

“There is less chance for having any mishaps in terms of trust that way, and that’s one of the reasons we think proper education on this issue is important,” he said.

For now, Haven-O’Donnell said discussions between parties will continue throughout July and all interested are welcome.

“I think that getting behind workers and advocating for workers elevating their status is something students at the University can really sink their teeth into,” she said.

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

Published June 27, 2011 in Carrboro Board of Aldermen

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Lakewood reflects emerging Hispanic presence

1:50 PM, Jun. 26, 201 | Written by Margaret F. Bonafide | Source: Asbury Park Press

Lakewood's day-laborer "muster zone" between First and Second streets and Route 9 and Clifton Avenue where primarily Hispanic men go to find work. The town's Hispanic population is foreseen by some as forming an influential voting bloc. / TOM SPADER/ASBURY PARK PRESS

LAKEWOOD — Juan Gonzalez is an honors student at Lakewood Middle School, a violinist who plans to study theology or architecture at Harvard University.

An impressive public speaker at age 13, Gonzalez addressed several hundred people at a Board of Education meeting about school concerns with gangs.

“I want to become a citizen and have the same rights as anyone to achieve my dream,” he said during an interview on the last day of the school year.

Juan Gonzalez, 13, in the Lakewood Middle School library. Born in Mexico, Gonzalez is a example of Hispanic immigrant children who want to pursue the advantages of U.S. citizenship. / TOM SPADER/ASBURY PARK PRESS

Gonzalez, who was born in Puebla, Mexico, is a member of group here reflecting a national trend: an emerging Hispanic populace which could wield considerable political and cultural influence in the relatively near future.

The 2010 Census revealed the Hispanic population here surged over the past decade, from 9,000 to 16,000 — a 78 percent increase. Lakewood’s population according to the 2010 Census was 92,843, edging Toms River as Ocean County’s largest municipality.

Nationally, Hispanics account for more than half of nation’s growth in past decade, according to the census results released in March. The Census Bureau predicts that the nation will be one quarter Hispanic by 2050.

Lakewood’s Hispanic residents are mostly Mexican, also a reflection of the nation’s demographic makeup, according to the Pew Research Center.

The majority of the children in Lakewood are educated in private Orthodox Jewish schools, but in the public school district the 5,500-student enrollment is predominantly Hispanic, said Puerto Rican-born Annette Maldonado, Lakewood Middle School principal.

The bulk of the membership of the Parent Teacher Organization is of Mexican descent and speaks only Spanish. The school board provided at one meeting a Spanish translator through whom parents spoke.

Many Hispanic students are children of immigrant parents who entered the country legally; entered legally but remained after their visas expired; or entered illegally. No matter the status of the parents, their children born in this country are U.S. citizens, noted Monica Guerrero, director of the Latino Community Connection, a for-profit business.

Roots of a voting bloc

“Most Hispanics I know do hard labor,’’ said Gonzalez, the honors student. “I want to have a good life.”

When he becomes a citizen — like his classmates who were born here — Gonzalez will gain the right to vote. He doesn’t have political aspirations but he wants to be like the “righteous leader” cited in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, he said.

These children of Hispanic parents will be voting by the next census, said Mayor Menashe Miller, and become a formidable voting bloc along with the Orthodox Jewish and senior communities.“This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I think it is fantastic that these children will grow up and become voters,” Miller said.

“And the mosaic of the Township Committee should be a representation of who is in the town,” Miller said.

A majority Hispanic students in the middle school and especially the elementary school were born here, Maldonado said. In civics class students learn about citizen duties and are preparing to become voting residents, Maldonado said.

“They are being educated to take a more active stance,” Maldonado said.

In a broader view, the recent trip by President Barack Obama to Puerto Rico shows that the Hispanic vote is sought-after, said Kathryn Quinn-Sanchez, 41, chairwoman of world languages and cultures at Georgian Court University.

“But it will take another generation to be a voting bloc,” Quinn Sanchez said.

And the Hispanic vote is not monolithic, Quinn-Sanchez said. There are a dozen nationalities grouped under the umbrella term of Hispanic, she said. Though categorized as the same, members of the different nationalities do not feel the same “homogeneity as, say, a group of senior citizens would,” Quinn-Sanchez said.

Role of education

Hispanic parents “have a dream for their children to be educated,” said Jose, a 30-year-old day laborer man who declined to give a last name.

And educators in the school district are intent on getting the students out of the mindset of staying within the four corners of their community and to see the possibilities and power in their future, Maldonado said.

When children are exposed to the world of higher education they can see beyond their parent’s walls, Maldonado said.

This past year middle school children visited colleges and universities, she said.

“They heard things like ‘yes, you can.’ They don’t hear that at home because the knowledge is not there” on how to work toward greater achievements, Maldonado said.

What the parents do know, though, is hard work, she said.

Maldonado said she hopes that the children will be politicians helping their community to represent the people of Lakewood.

Already, said Guerrero of the Latino Community Connection, Hispanic residents feel more confident about their place in the community and are working hard to show their best side.

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Laborers seek permanent site

BY MARK SCHULTZ, Staff Writer | Source: ChapelHillNews.com

CARRBORO – National day laborers organizers planned to meet with local workers this weekend to discuss establishing a permanent space where they can wait for work.Chris Newman and Francisco Pacheco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network visited Orange County to learn more about the problems local workers have and to discuss the benefits of an official day laborers center.

El Centro Hispano (The Hispanic Center) is exploring using part of its space in Carrboro Plaza for a center. El Centro is a member of the community organizing coalition Justice United and is working with that group, the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and others.

Two meetings have been held with local day laborers, or jornaleros, who mostly come from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador but also include black citizens, said Mauricio Castro, an organizer with the N.C. Latino Coalition.

The workers have expressed concerns about wage theft (not being paid for a day’s work) and safety at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads where they gather for work. The site also does not have a bathroom.

The Carrboro day laborers spot is small compared to most across the country, Pacheco said. But the problems workers are having are not unique. It’s estimated that up to half of the 120,000 day laborers in the United States at any one time have not been paid for at least one day’s work, said Newman, the legal director for the laborer network.

The organizers said they are not here to tell local leaders to create a permanent gathering spot or take any other action.

“We’re coming as a resource,” Newman said. “Obviously Carrboro needs to decide what Carrboro wants to do.”

Read more about this weekend’s meeting with day laborers coming Wednesday in The Chapel Hill News.
mark.schultz@nando.com or 932-2003

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Unfair working conditions: Blame greed, not the economy

June 24, 2011 | 12:51pm | Posted in the LA Times

Unfair working conditions: Blame greed, __fg_link_3__  not the economy In Friday’s pages, Harold Meyerson sheds light on the inhumane working conditions many undocumented immigrant workers face. Take day laborer Josue Melquisedec Diaz, for instance:

Diaz was put to work in a residential neighborhood that had been flooded. The American workers who were involved in the cleanup, he noted, had been given masks, gloves, boots and sometimes special suits to avoid infection. No such precautions were afforded Diaz and his crew of undocumented immigrant workers. “We were made to work with bare hands, picking up dead animals,” he says. “We were working in contaminated water,” tearing down and repairing washed-out homes.

Stop and think about that. You may resent undocumented immigrants for taking jobs away from Americans, but you can’t possibly think they deserve to be treated like they’re subhuman and expendable. And, anyway, shouldn’t we reserve our contempt for employers skirting the law by hiring cheap labor? Meyerson continues:

Last week, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and California Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and George Miller (D-Martinez) introduced legislation (the POWER Act) that would give workers like Diaz provisional “U visas.” The visas were designed to provide temporary legal status to immigrant victims who come forward to report violent crimes, and the proposed legislation would expand the protection to those who come forward to report workplace violations. Such legislation, Menendez pointed out, would not only protect immigrants but keep unscrupulous employers from lowering labor standards generally.

The July/August issue of Mother Jones also takes on the issue the unfair working conditions. Take, for example, Martha’s story:

Unfair working conditions: Blame greed, not the economy

Of course, undocumented immigrants aren’t the only ones being squeezed for all they’re worth. The heart of Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery’s Mother Jones article, “All Work and No Pay,” describes the culture of the new American workplace — one that places value on flashy buzzwords like  “productivity,” “multitasking” and “offloading,” all of which really mean working employees to the bone. And though people may be inclined to shrug off intense working conditions as a temporary phase during a down economy, they shouldn’t:

In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.

If your blood isn’t boiling yet, these charts will do the trick.

–Alexandra Le Tellier

Illustration: Mark Weber / Tribune Media Services

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