Immigration Reform References

Temporary Work Visas and the Exploitation of Filipino Migrant Workers
Draft Prepared by Jennifer L. Sta.Ana
for Filipino Advocates for Justice and The Dignity Campaign

PART I

            In theory, the guest worker program is a means for overseas workers to come to the United States in order to temporarily supply U.S. industries with labor that cannot be acquired domestically.  Agricultural workers are brought in on H-2A visas, H-2B visas are for non-agricultural workers; and H-1B visas are for skilled workers like engineers and high tech workers.

            However, as it currently stands, the program cannot systematically prevent labor and human rights violations. Many U.S. employers recruit abroad and fraudulently petition with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for overseas workers, who then only find themselves working in exploitative conditions after arriving in the U.S. For instance, employers will fail to pay overtime, provide inhabitable housing, pay well below minimum wage, and charge an exorbitant amount in recruiter fees. Because these workers can lawfully stay in the country only if they work for their petitioning employer, workers do not report abuses. They are deportable upon losing their jobs. 

            Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are often victims of abuse arising from the guest worker program. Below is a list of recruiters and employers throughout the United States who have allegedly abused Filipino temporary workers:

 

1.      Recruiter: Quality Staffing Services Corp.

Location: Florida

From 2006 to 2008, Sophia Manuel and Alfonso Baldonado, owners of a labor contracting service called Quality Staffing Services Corporation, recruited 39 OFWs with promises of high wages and overtime hours as servers in country clubs and hotels in Boca Raton, Florida.[1] As determined by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Manuel falsified information on her petition to the DOL to obtain H-2B visas for these migrant workers.[2] Once in the U.S., all of the OFWs were housed in an over-crowded residence with their recruiters. Manuel and Baldonado coerced them to sleep on the floors of the kitchen and the garage. They were fed rotten vegetables and scraps of chicken. Furthermore, the couple would forbid the workers from opening the refrigerator except when they were ordered to cook. Manuel and Baldonado additionally would wake the OFWs in the middle of the night to test them on drink recipes and setting up tables. The pair also blockaded access to health services, deprived them of wages and charged them recruiter fees. The OFWs received threats of deportation if they ever complained.[3] Their conditions were brought to the authorities when 13 OFWs managed to run away, which led to the suit Trinos v. Quality Staffing Services Corp. in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida on July 7, 2008.[4], [5] On December 10, 2010, Manuel and Baldonado were sentenced by the DOJ for conspiracy and falsifying government information.[6]

 

2.      Recruiter: Star One Staffing, Inc.

Location: Florida and New York

Roberto Villanueva and Redelina Fernandez, operators of a Miami-based labor contractor, Star One Staffing, Inc., recruited Filipinos from the Philippines to work in country clubs and hotels in Florida and New York. According to Ronald Espiritu, while living in the Philippines, a friend told him of a Manila employment firm specializing in H-2Bs. There, he met Villanueva, who claimed he had once worked for Carnival Cruise Lines. Villanueva promised Espiritu a position at a five-star hotel and asked for a “security bond” of $1,200 to seal the deal.[7] Once in the U.S., Espiritu was housed in a “severely crowded” residence with other Filipinos.[8] These Filipinos were denied overtime compensation and received grave deductions to their paychecks for housing and living expenses (amenities of which Villanueva previously assured).[9] One of the OFWs asserts that after accounting for these deductions, Star One paid her $1.50 for a month’s work, an amount severely under Florida and New York’s minimum wage requirements.[10] Jandy Abellana, one of the OFWs sent to New York, stated that her supervisors confiscated visas from the workers’ passports so that they were barred from leaving.[11] Additionally, Villanueva and Fernandez pressured compliance by way of threatening arrest, imprisonment, deportation, denial of work, and black-listing.[12] On November 2, 2012, after numerous attempts to bring Villanueva and Fernandez to court, the Southern District in Florida ruled in favor of 13 OFWs who escaped and brought a class action suit against the pair in April 2011.

3.      Recruiters:

·        Michael V. Lombardi, of West Palm Beach, who is registered agent for co-defendant U.S. Opportunities

·        Royal Hospitality Services, of New Orleans, Louisiana

·        Ronald W. Ball, of St. Pete Beach, Florida

·        Aramark Corp.

·        The Polo Club of Boca Raton Property Owners Association, of Plantation, Fla.

·        Carlos Barracos, of Miami

·        the Foundation for Worldwide International Student Exchange, of Dyersburg, Tennessee

·        Patriot Pro Cleaning, of Orlando, Florida

·        Gasparilla Inn, of Boca Grande, Florida

·        Ibis Golf and Country Club, of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Employers:

·        5 Star Forestry, of Ridgeland, Mississippi

·        Southern Mississippi Pine Straw, of Mendenhall, Mississippi

·        Beau Rivage LLC, of Gulfport, Mississippi

·        Beau Rivage Resorts, of Biloxi, Mississippi.

 

Location: Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana

Currently, a class action against the above defendants is pending in federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi. Out of the 38 named plaintiffs, 25 are Filipino nationals (the other plaintiffs are from Indonesia, Jamaica, Belarus, and Turkey).[13] The class filed their claim on October 28, 2011. In their complaint, the plaintiffs state that the recruiters submitted fraudulent information to the DOL to obtain more H-2B visas than was necessary. The recruiters then offered the overseas workers jobs in the U.S. cities where the recruiters were located. To secure the visa, the named recruiters charged the workers visa fees of up to $5,000 to $8,000 per person. To supposedly pay, the OFWs and their fellow plaintiffs were forced to sign loan agreements that required them to: 1) sign 12 postdated checks for their 12 monthly authorization payments, 2) 12 blank checks to pay off the loan, and 3) have relatives back in their home country sign the loan as co-signers so that there was someone responsible in case of non-payment.[14] However, once the workers were in the U.S., the recruiters shipped them to work for employers unidentified on their H-2B visas and are named in the class action suit. Additionally, they were paid well below the minimum wage and housed in “filthy, unsecured, and totally bare trailer trucks that had no potable water, food, proper beds, or even mattresses.”[15]

In a separate suit, the DOJ charged Michael V. Lombardi with conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, false statements, and visa fraud. His 51-month sentence was established upon his activities from January 2009 to August 2010 to recruit temporary foreign workers for U.S.-based industries.[16]

4.      Recruiters:

·        Universal Placement International, located in Los Angeles, CA

·        PARS International Placement Agency, located in Manila, Philippines

Location: Louisiana

On August 2010, more than 350 teachers from the Philippines brought a class action suit against the recruiters Universal Placement International (UPI) of Los Angeles, CA and its Manila-based affiliate, PARS International Placement Agency. The class also named employers as defendants, including school officials and the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The Filipino nationals claimed that the recruiters enticed them in the Philippines with the promise to teach in Louisiana with H-1B visas. The Filipino teachers, who are well-versed in English, were most likely recruited to fill the teacher shortage in inner-city schools, as was the case in Baltimore, Maryland.[17] They stated that Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro, owner of UPI, set up interviews with the teachers and Louisiana School District administrators. The interviews were conducted either in person in the Philippines or through video or telephone conference. The recruiters informed the teachers that if selected, they must swiftly pay a cash fee for recruitment, which ranged from $5,000 to $5,500 per person. According to the teachers, the hope of work in American motivated them to liquidate their assets, mortgage properties, and/or ask for loans from family, friends, or lending establishments. They were additionally directed by the recruiters to lending agencies that imposed a 3%-5% interest rate per month, amounting to an annual interest rate of 43%-80% per year. Once in the U.S., the teachers were forced to comply to their recruiter’s demands, for they threatened to file lawsuits, isolate the teachers from other Filipinos, deport them, or not renew their H-1B visas if defied.[18] On March 14, 2013, Judge John A. Kronstadt decided in favor of the teachers on appeal in the Ninth Circuit, determining that the recruiters and employers made negligent misrepresentations to the teachers, violated labor laws, and committed fraud. The recruiters and employers were ordered to pay a fine of $4,481,505.00. As of March 25, 2013, the recruiters are seeking to amend the judgment.[19]

 

PART II

Filipino migrant workers must not only be wary of recruiters offering H-2 and H-1 visas, but other work arrangements that are not traditionally a part of the guest worker program, such as providing an E-2 visa, a business visitor business. Below is the most recent example of such a case:

Recruiters:

·        Industrial Personnel and Management Services, Inc. (IPAMS), a Manila-based recruiting agency, authorized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)

·        D&R Resources, LLC, a Louisiana labor contractor

·        Pacific Ocean Manning Incorporation (POMI), a Manila-based agency recruiting welders and fitters from the Philippines

·        V People, Inc. (V-P), a corporation organized under Philippine law with its principle place of business in Texas

Employers:

·        Thunder Enterprises, a Louisiana corporation hiring welders and fitters

·        Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc. (GIS), a Louisiana corporation hiring welders and fitters

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Recruiters lured in 17 Filipino nationals with advertisements in the Philippines to work abroad as welders and fitters in the oil and gas industry.[20]

IPAMS on behalf of D&R (who had a contract with GSI) recruited seven workers in the Philippines for the positions “particularly, but not exclusively, in the United States” for GSI.[21] IPAMS interviewed and executed a trade test, both of which the workers passed. IPAMS told the workers that they would be supplied transportation to the U.S., housing, food, a regular wage of $16.25 per hour and an overtime wage of $24.37 per hour.[22] The workers were promised an E2 visa, which would allow them to work for five years with the possibility of obtaining a green card or permanent residency.

The others were recruited by POMI who worked with V-P to fulfill a contractual agreement with GSI. They underwent the same process as the other seven workers and were promised the same wages and amenities.

Once in the U.S., the workers were housed in a bunk house with four people to a room. GIS automatically deducted $3,200 from each worker’s paycheck for rent even if the worker did not use the provided room. The Filipino workers were shipped to another location in Louisiana where they transitioned into a 10 x 10 feet room occupied by six people per room. The workers were forced to sleep on racks and were charged $2,000-$3,000 for rent depending on their earnings. Additionally, the workers were forced to pay for their own food. Their compensation thereafter amounted to as little as $5.50 per hour, well below the minimum wage.

Furthermore, the workers allege that D&R and GIS discriminated against them. The U.S. workers were not required to pay for their lodging, could choose their sleeping accommodations even if a Filipino national claimed it as his own. U.S. employees were also charged with accompanying them if they wanted to go to Walmart, a venture permitted only for one hour.

D&R also kept the worker’s social security cards during their tenure in the U.S, as well as forbade the workers to apply for state identification cards, driver’s licenses, twic cards. After their contract term expired, the workers were ordered to surrender their passports to IPAMS and POMI. They were informed that the passports would only be returned if they continued to work for D&R, GIS, and V-P.[23]

After seeking help from Catholic Charities of New Orleans, the workers were able to bring a class action that is still currently pending in U.S. federal court.

CONCLUSION

            The above examples have been brought to the attention of the media and the courts because OFWs in these instances were fortunate enough to escape and report employer abuses to the authorities.  However, due to coercive and fear-generating work conditions, a plethora of cases more than likely remain in the shadows. The Southern Poverty Law Center illustrates in its February 2013 report, Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States, that recruiting workers abroad is a lucrative business for U.S. agencies, and that exploitative recruiting activities expand beyond the Philippines and into other nations in the Global South and in Eastern Europe.[24]  Furthermore, they conclude that temporary worker programs cannot be reformed.  Monitoring corruption in temporary workers has lacked enforcement beginning with the bracero programs of the 1940’s 50’s and 60’s to the present.  The cases sited in this report is  testament of that.

            Massive increases in guest worker programs in the Senate immigration bill S.744 requires us to study carefully what is being proposed.  For instance, on April 1, 2013, the AFL-CIO reached an agreement with the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” to include a new kind of worker visa program called the W-Visa. As proposed, it would allow workers abroad to change jobs and provide a path towards permanent residency in the U.S.  However, effective oversight over potentially abusive work arrangements is not guaranteed.  The unequal power dynamic between U.S. employers and workers from impoverished nations can still give rise to predatory schemes.  Guest workers will still be deportable if they become unemployed, maintaining the element of fear that fosters abuse.  Instead, it would be better for people who come to the U.S. to work to receive green cards at the start, undermining their vulnerability to exploitation, and making it easier for them to join unions to protect their rights.

            By the end of a decade, the number of workers employed by corporations on work visas could easily reach a half million per year.  This will hold down wages in all industries where employers use the programs.  The increase of H1-B visas for skilled temporary workers will take skilled jobs needed by college graduates and tech workers displaced during the economic crisis, while H-2A and H-2B visas for low skilled jobs will impact the availability of jobs needed by youth (particularly youth of color) and immigrants both on and off the path to citizenship.

            S. 744 clearly represents employer interests over those of workers.  It is no coincidence that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, various Silicon Valley corporations, the Associated Building Contractors, growers and other major business groups have spent millions lobbying for the Senate bill.

 

******


[1] “Business owners accused of human trafficking,” Local News Chanel 5, http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/Business-owners-accused-of-human-trafficking (accessed May 15, 2013).

 

[2] “Florida Couple Sentenced in Forced Labor Conspiracy to Exploit Filipino Guest Workers,” Press Release, Department of Justice, December 10, 2010. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/December/10-crt-1425.html (accessed May 12, 2013).

 

[3] “2 Boca business owners indicted for allegedly running slave labor operation,” The Palm Beach Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/2-boca-business-owners-indicted-for-allegedly-ru-1/nL6d3/ (accessed May 20, 2013).

 

[4] Id.

 

[5] Trinos v. Quality Staffing Services Corp. 250 F.R.D. 696 (S.D. Florida, 2008).

 

[6] “Florida Couple Sentenced in Forced Labor Conspiracy to Exploit Filipino Guest Workers,” Press Release, Department of Justice, December 10, 2010. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/December/10-crt-1425.html (accessed May 12, 2013).

 

[7] “Underpaid, Overworked, Underfed,” Miami New Times, July 12, 2012. http://digitalissue.miaminewtimes.com/article/Metro/1115394/118518/article.html (accessed May 10, 2013).

 

[8] Magnifico v. Villanueva, Not Reported in F.Supp.2d (S.D. Florida, 2012).

 

[9] Id.

 

[10] “Agency Accused of Human Trafficking,” Courthouse News Service, July 12, 2012. http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/07/12/28730.htm (accessed May 24, 2013).

 

[11] “Ripoff firm Star One Staffing got slap on writs, Filipino workers say,” New York Daily News, November 23, 2008. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ripoff-firm-star-staffing-slap-wrist-filipino-workers-article-1.334979 (accessed May 25, 2013).

 

[12] Magnifico v. Villanueva.

 

[13] Antigo v. Lombardi (S.D. Mississippi 2011), http://www.dbslawfirm.net/_literature_109792/Antigo_Complaint (accessed May 25, 2013).

 

[14] “Visa Workers Say U.S. Firms Abused Them,” Courthouse News Service, November 1, 2011. http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/11/01/41083.htm (accessed May 26, 2013).

 

[15] Antigo v. Lombardi.

 

[16] “Florida Man Sentenced for Fraud,” Press Release, United States Department of Justice, August 2012, http://www.justice.gov/usao/mss/press/August%202012/Lombardi%20Sent.html (accessed May 27, 2013).

 

[17] “ ‘The Learning’ Follows Teachers from the Philippines to Baltimore,” PBS NewsHour, September 16, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXz-zzEm2OM (accessed May 31, 2013).

[18] Tanedo v. East Baton Rouge School Board, Complaint (9th Cir. 2010). http://la.aft.org/files/article_assets/44240394-E51E-05E5-1E84EADAD644C040.pdf (accessed May 30, 2013).

 

[19] Docket, Tanedo v. East Baton Rouge School Board.

 

[20] Baricuatro v. Industrial Personnel and Management Services, Inc., F.Supp.2d (E.D. Louisiana, 2013).

 

[21] Baricuatro v. Industrial Personnel and Management Services, Inc., Complaint, Filed November 8, 2011.

 

[22] Id.

 

[23] Id.

 

[24] Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States, Southern Poverty Law Center, February 2013, http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/publication/SPLC-Close-to-Slavery-2013.pdf (accessed May 31, 2013).

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

The Dignity Campaign Opposes S. 744
July 8, 2013

Dignity is Not for Sale; No Compromises on Human Rights

The many grassroots organizations across the U.S. who stand behind the Dignity Campaign (www.dignitycampaign.org) have worked tirelessly for immigration reform based on human, civil and worker’s rights of immigrants, especially those who are undocumented.   Senate Bill 744 is not the immigration reform we seek.  S. 744 is a corporate boondoggle that will be a civil rights disaster for immigrant communities. 

This bill holds the limited legalization program hostage to the further advancement of the security state, by doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, and spending an incredible $50 billion to build a double wall on the US/Mexico border, and deploy more drones and other tools of electronic warfare in border communities.  S.744′s beneficiaries are a very narrow class of elite contractors in the “security” and surveillance industries (like Bechtel), privatized prison corporations (like Geo Corporation), and corporate-scale agriculture, and technology giants striving to keep wages as low as possible through the expansion of guest worker programs.  S. 744 accomplishes this by moving away from family-based immigration to an employment-based system.

How can the Senate justify spending billions on enforcement, while Chicago’s schools close and Philadelphia teachers lose their jobs to extreme budget cuts?  S. 744 is a disaster not just for people living in border communities, but for the whole country. 

The legalization of 11 million people without documents should be the bill’s paramount purpose, especially with 400,000 deportations a year, thousands of firings, and no end in sight.   But the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates that only 60 percent of applicants will survive the gauntlet to citizenship.  Others estimate that only 40% of applicants will make it.   Restrictions will divide the 11 million undocumented into those who can meet its punitive requirements and those who won’t.  Millions of the lowest-income migrants will be shut out by income requirements and will be at risk of deportation by enhanced E-Verify and the continuation of Homeland Security’s 287g and Secure Communities programs.  Even some of the more favorable portions of the bill, such as the 5-year path to legalization for agricultural workers, is a Trojan Horse.  It requires immigrants to be tethered to the harsh, poor-paying agricultural industry for 5 additional years.

The strategy of trading some legalization for increased border and interior enforcement and guest worker programs has led the immigrant rights movement to the current disastrous situation.  This ‘compromise’ strategy has failed to produce progressive immigration reform since it was first unveiled a decade ago.  What we have instead is the worst enforcement-heavy bill that we have ever seen.  

We reject further movement down this road.  The horse trading and “compromises” are not a solution to the broken immigration system, much less the global economic domination of the big fish over the small fish that is at the core of the mass migrations of 240 million displaced people.

We support Congressman Filemon Vela’s strong and principled stand in resigning from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest its endorsement of the border enforcement provisions of S. 744.  As a representative of a border district, he knows well the devastating impact that current enforcement programs already have.

It is past time for those Senators and Congress members who share Congressman Vela’s outrage to take a stand themselves.  It is also time for immigrant advocates to look at alternative proposals for progressive immigration reform and build the social movement that will win them.  Alternatives that reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights have been proposed many times by migrant communities, their allies, people of faith and unions.  

We say YES to legalization without chains. 

We say NO to expanded guest worker programs that create a two-tiered society.

We say NO to the continued criminalization of immigrants and militarization of the border.

With the bill moving to the House, we urge immigrants and immigrant rights activists to continue pressing for the immigration reform you want and to push back against the proposals you don’t want.  Whether or not S. 744 or some version like it — or worse — passes continue to organize for any and all eventualities.

The Dignity Campaign will continue to organize until we have a movement strong enough to win legalization for all, with basic labor standards and a fair and dignified path to citizenship.  For more information about the Dignity Campaign see our website www.dignitycampaign.org and friend us on Facebook dignitycampaignforimmigrationreform

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

NATIONAL NETWORK FOR IMMIGRANT & REFUGEE RIGHTS
June 28, 2013

For Immediate Release

Senate Immigration Bill Dashes Hopes for Fair, Just Reform
‘Border surge’ approval further threatens border communities, migrant safety and well-being

(Oakland, CA) With the Senate’s passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, the Board of Directors and members of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights voiced their disappointment and concern with the dramatic escalation of border enforcement negotiated to secure support from conservative Republican senators hostile to the legalization of undocumented immigrants.

 Executive Director, Catherine Tactaquin, commented, “The Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill yesterday. We had hoped the bill would have been historic for upholding the human rights of immigrants, for providing fair and equitable access to visas, protecting their rights as workers, fueling resources to process the long backlog of pending family visa applicants, and ending flawed and punitive immigration enforcement policies at the border and in the interior. “She continued, “Unfortunately, S. 744 was not that bill. This is not the kind of legislation and deal-making that we can support nor encourage.”

Susan Alva, a Los Angeles-based immigrants rights attorney, also criticized the immigration “compromise”:  “Legislative deal-making is a given. But in this bill, the legalization carrot has been beaten to a pulp by an enforcement stick that staggers the imagination.  By shamelessly presenting this as a victory, proponents of this bill are banking on the toll that years of historic levels of enforcement have already taken on immigrant communities.  This is not compromise; this is blackmail.”

Board member Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego, spoke to the Corker-Hoeven “border surge” amendment added in the final days of negotiations: “Despite this unwarranted aggression against 15 million people who call the border home and the irresponsible language of war and occupation used in the Senate floor to refer to the safest region in the United States, southern border communities will continue to ensure that rights and dignity are restored for the betterment of the people of the United States.” He continued,“The threat of militarization by policy makers has no place in a democratic society. Social and economic needs cannot and must not be resolved through military might if we are to preserve our morals and values as a society.”

Board Chairperson Eduardo Canales of Corpus Christi, Texas, added that the bill “perpetuates and enhances failed policies of increased enforcement on the border and will continue to increase migrant deaths.” He also warned that the expansion of the “E-verify” employment verification system would “allow further discrimination and racial profiling of immigrants and other workers of color.”

Other board members also raised an alarm about the consequences of the dramatic escalation of the border security program. Hamid Khan, based in Southern California, stated that the bill served as a model for what he termed as the “Surveillance Industrial Complex.”  “Under the guise of public safety and security, he commented, “the bill is a political investment in the further strengthening and legitimization of the police state.” He identified the huge transfer of public funds to be invested in surveillance equipment, data collection and data mining, enhanced communications interoperability and information sharing between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. “Intermixing current and new technologies, enhancing operational capacities, adding thousands of new customs and border patrol agents are key steps in a full spectrum of information gathering, storing, sharing and disseminating as necessary tools for social control.” 

Monami Maulik, Executive Director of the New York-based Desis Rising Up and Moving-DRUM, raised similar concerns. “This bill is not what thousands of our members, as South Asian immigrants, have been organizing tirelessly for years alongside so many communities,” she said. “Congress will send an alarming message to all of us and the world, that human rights are no concern to the U.S.” She continued, “This bill is using immigration as an excuse to further a national security state—to fly drones above us, surveil us, and set the stage for a national ID system and database. We need real human rights-based reform. The world is watching.”

Gerald Lenoir, Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, described the bill as “a nasty piece of legislation that attempts to codify repression on the border and wasteful spending.” He also expressed concern about the limitations of the legalization program: “It falls far short of the promise of a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The onerous work and income provisions will disqualify millions of low income undocumented immigrants from accessing the path to a green card and citizenship.”

“S. 744 does not deliver even our minimum aspiration for immigration reform: bringing the undocumented community ‘out of the shadows’, commented Lillian Galedo, Executive Director of Filipino Advocates for Justice, based in Oakland, California. “The proposed legalization program will not legalize 11 million people.  The 10 to 20 year ‘path’ to citizenship will not benefit the mostly elderly Filipino caregivers in our base.’ She also stated that they “totally oppose the massive militarization of the border and border communities. The only beneficiaries of this boondoggle are the war and prison contractors whose successful lobbying resulted in a $46 billion set-aside for ‘border security’. This is a sad day for human rights.”

Bill Chandler, Executive Director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance and a longtime labor organizer, expressed concern about the bill’s drive to increase and continue guest worker programs. These, he said are “another form of indentured servitude and a benefit for employers, not workers.” Board member Janis Rosheuvel, Executive for Racial Justice with United Methodist Women in New York, declared, “As people of faith, we call on our elected officials to end the criminalization of communities of color exemplified by this bill. We call for justice-driven legislation that delves into the root causes of migration and does not rely on punitive policies as a matter of course. Our communities and nation deserve more.”

The National Network pledges, as the immigration reform debate focuses on the House and where hostile representatives have declared their opposition to any form of legalization, to continue the fight for fair and just immigration reform. “We will push back on the mean-spirited, xenophobic and punitive proposals that have already begun to emerge there,” said Tactaquin, adding, “The Obama Administration also needs to shoulder greater responsibility for the well-being and safety of immigrant communities, and break this downward spiral in the direction of immigration reform. We call on the Administration to start by suspending detentions and deportations and keeping families together as we continue on this difficult road to immigration reform.”

#

Click here <http://org2.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?key=-1&amp;url_num=1&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nnirr.org%2F%7Ennirrorg%2Fdrupal%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fsenate_judiciary_committee_letter_with_signatures.pdf>  to read NNIRR’s May 20, 2013 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter <http://org2.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?key=-1&amp;url_num=2&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nnirr.org%2F%7Ennirrorg%2Fdrupal%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fsenate_judiciary_committee_letter_with_signatures.pdf>  outlined proposals and positions for a fair immigration reform policy.

 

******

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a nationwide alliance of diverse immigrant community, civil and human rights, labor, faith and other allied sector groups and individuals. NNIRR is committed to human rights as essential to securing healthy, safe and peaceful lives for all. 

 

American Friends Service Committee

For Immediate Release                                                              Contact: Adriana Jasso ajasso@afsc.org

                                                                                        Office: (619) 233-4114, Cell: (619) 808-7277

 

 

Senate Immigration Bill Much Less Than Meets the Eye

Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships

 

 

PHILADELPHIA (June 27, 2013) – The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration reform bill passed today, by a vote of 68 to 32 “offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all US residents.”

 

While the bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, it not only reproduces but dramatically expands upon many of the current failed immigration policies, making it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and advocacy groups have been calling for.

 

“The Senate bill makes it possible for some share of undocumented people currently living in the U.S. to embark on a path toward legalization. But it would not end the current cruel, costly and inefficient system of detention and deportation, and it provides for astounding investments in the border militarization industrial complex – meaning billions for defense contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Adriana Jasso of the AFSC’s San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program.

 

“The path to legalization is much narrower than people are making it out to be. It is indeed a precarious path to legalization that will leave many people behind,” said Jose Gonzalez from the Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales in Vista, CA. In fact many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make an immigrant ineligible for Legal Permanent Residency.

 

“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is only a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color,” Jose Gonzalez said.

 

Adriana Jasso noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive. And despite hearing directly from these communities about the impacts of living in an area dominated by militarization, the Senate doubled down on these measures, failing to consider the humane, meaningful and effective reforms that are so desperately needed.”

 

As the House of Representatives takes up the bill, the AFSC implores them to adopt compassionate, effective immigration reform, grounded in the following principles:

• Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced migration.

• Protect the labor rights of all workers.

• Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.

• Respect the civil and human rights of immigrants.

• Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Make family reunification a top priority.

• Ensure that immigrants and refugees have access to services.

 

AFSC details its recommendations in A New Path, which outlines policy priorities for immigration reform that protects the human rights of all. The New Path principles are derived from nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices guide AFSC’s work on immigration policies.

 

For more on AFSC’s immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

###

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

American Friends Service Committee

For Immediate Release                                                              Contact: Adriana Jasso ajasso@afsc.org

                                                                                        Office: (619) 233-4114, Cell: (619) 808-7277

 

 

Senate Immigration Bill Much Less Than Meets the Eye

Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships

 

 

PHILADELPHIA (June 27, 2013) – The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration reform bill passed today, by a vote of 68 to 32 “offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all US residents.”

 

While the bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, it not only reproduces but dramatically expands upon many of the current failed immigration policies, making it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and advocacy groups have been calling for.

 

“The Senate bill makes it possible for some share of undocumented people currently living in the U.S. to embark on a path toward legalization. But it would not end the current cruel, costly and inefficient system of detention and deportation, and it provides for astounding investments in the border militarization industrial complex – meaning billions for defense contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Adriana Jasso of the AFSC’s San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program.

 

“The path to legalization is much narrower than people are making it out to be. It is indeed a precarious path to legalization that will leave many people behind,” said Jose Gonzalez from the Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales in Vista, CA. In fact many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make an immigrant ineligible for Legal Permanent Residency.

 

“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is only a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color,” Jose Gonzalez said.

 

Adriana Jasso noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive. And despite hearing directly from these communities about the impacts of living in an area dominated by militarization, the Senate doubled down on these measures, failing to consider the humane, meaningful and effective reforms that are so desperately needed.”

 

As the House of Representatives takes up the bill, the AFSC implores them to adopt compassionate, effective immigration reform, grounded in the following principles:

• Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced migration.

• Protect the labor rights of all workers.

• Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.

• Respect the civil and human rights of immigrants.

• Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Make family reunification a top priority.

• Ensure that immigrants and refugees have access to services.

 

AFSC details its recommendations in A New Path, which outlines policy priorities for immigration reform that protects the human rights of all. The New Path principles are derived from nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices guide AFSC’s work on immigration policies.

 

For more on AFSC’s immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

###

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

American Friends Service Committee

For Immediate Release                                                              Contact: Adriana Jasso ajasso@afsc.org

                                                                                        Office: (619) 233-4114, Cell: (619) 808-7277

 

 

Senate Immigration Bill Much Less Than Meets the Eye

Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships

 

 

PHILADELPHIA (June 27, 2013) – The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration reform bill passed today, by a vote of 68 to 32 “offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all US residents.”

 

While the bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, it not only reproduces but dramatically expands upon many of the current failed immigration policies, making it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and advocacy groups have been calling for.

 

“The Senate bill makes it possible for some share of undocumented people currently living in the U.S. to embark on a path toward legalization. But it would not end the current cruel, costly and inefficient system of detention and deportation, and it provides for astounding investments in the border militarization industrial complex – meaning billions for defense contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Adriana Jasso of the AFSC’s San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program.

 

“The path to legalization is much narrower than people are making it out to be. It is indeed a precarious path to legalization that will leave many people behind,” said Jose Gonzalez from the Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales in Vista, CA. In fact many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make an immigrant ineligible for Legal Permanent Residency.

 

“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is only a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color,” Jose Gonzalez said.

 

Adriana Jasso noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive. And despite hearing directly from these communities about the impacts of living in an area dominated by militarization, the Senate doubled down on these measures, failing to consider the humane, meaningful and effective reforms that are so desperately needed.”

 

As the House of Representatives takes up the bill, the AFSC implores them to adopt compassionate, effective immigration reform, grounded in the following principles:

• Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced migration.

• Protect the labor rights of all workers.

• Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.

• Respect the civil and human rights of immigrants.

• Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Make family reunification a top priority.

• Ensure that immigrants and refugees have access to services.

 

AFSC details its recommendations in A New Path, which outlines policy priorities for immigration reform that protects the human rights of all. The New Path principles are derived from nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices guide AFSC’s work on immigration policies.

 

For more on AFSC’s immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

###

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Senate Immigration Bill Goes from Bad to Worse
June 28, 2013   


by Gerald Lenoir, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

In April, I wrote a blog critiquing the Senate immigration bill titled, “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” <http://www.blackalliance.org/the-senate-immigration-reform-bill-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/> .   Since then, the U.S. Senate managed to do what I thought wasn’t possible—make what started out as a bad bill much worse.  S. 744, the immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate on June 27, is a piece of nasty legislation that attempts to codify repression and wasteful spending.  At the same time, it falls far short of the promise of a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Senate Democrats and many of the immigrant rights organizations and coalitions conceded to massive spending (over $46 billion!) to step up the building of a massive wall along our southern border with Mexico, doubling the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000, and increasing border surveillance through the use of drones and other surveillance technology.

I have been to the border near Tucson four times in the last seven year.  I have talked with U.S. residents along the border, including immigrants, activists and faith leaders, and with migrants in Mexico seeking to cross the border without papers as well as faith leaders and activists.  From those discussions, I am very aware that the border patrol and U.S. policy are out of control, trampling on the rights of people and families on both sides of the border and causing thousands of deaths, detentions and deportations.

No where in the Senate debate did they consider the fact that over 2,500 bodies have been found in the desert since 2000 because U.S. policy is that forces migrants to cross the most treacherous parts of the desert.  There was not a mention of the daily violations of human rights that goes on along the border—racial profiling, daily harassment, and even murder, even to the point of the killing of people on the Mexican side of the border.

No where in the Senate debate was there a reference to the fact that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has allowed U.S. corporate farmers to dump subsidized agricultural products on the market in Mexico, undercutting the price of local products and forcing millions of unsubsidized small farmers off their land and into the desert seeking work where there is work—in the United States.  There is no acknowledgement that many millions of people come to the U.S. because U.S. corporations are distorting their economies and taking away their livelihoods.

The Senate bill even fails to deliver on a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.  Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, did a scathing analysis of the bill <http://mexmigration.blogspot.com/2013/06/peter-schey-deconstructs-s-744.html> on June 22 and concluded that only five to six million undocumented immigrants—only half of those in the U.S.—will successfully complete the path-to-citizenship gauntlet because of onerous provisions, like requiring that applicants be unemployed for no longer that 60 days during their 10 to 20 year status as Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPIs) and requiring that RPIs have income or resources averaging at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level.   And those who don’t qualify will, of course, be deported and forced to leave their families and the life they’ve built here.

And the Senate has eliminated two categories of family visas, condemning many families to life in the U.S. without their siblings or adult children.  So much for “Family Values”.  In addition, the bill eliminates 50,000 Diversity Visas, which were distributed by lottery to people in countries without a history of migration to the U.S.  Nearly half of those visas benefitted people in African and Caribbean countries.  No longer.

To those who hail the Senate bill as “historic”, I say, yes, it is historic in a distorted way.  This War on Immigrants continues the overall trend of militarization of U.S. society as a whole under the guise of the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs.  It justifies and codifies another plank in the National Security State that is threatening all of our civil liberties and constitutional rights, citizens and non-citizens, documented and undocumented.

Perhaps I sound alarmist.  Let me tell you that I am alarmed.  Immigrant communities have been under siege since 2006 when George Bush II unleashed immigration agents to crush the burgeoning movement.  It reminds me of the FBI’s illegal Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the 1960s that was designed to disrupt and destroy the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, only this time it’s being done under the color of law.

Whatever benefits “comprehensive immigration reform” brings, we must never try to minimize the grievous harm that comes with it.  After the dust settles, we will be left to deal with the consequences.

###

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 22, 2013

Media Contact: Christian Ramirez, 619-885-1289

Border Communities Stand United Against Senate Border Deal

Organizations representing northern and southern border communities, including the Border Network for Human Rights, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights, and the Northern Borders Coalition, released the following joint statement in united opposition to the negotiated Senate deal which calls for an additional armed 20,000 border patrol agents, increased drone surveillance, and up to 700 miles of border fencing at an estimated cost of $48 billion over 10 years:

 “This is a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers, but especially for those that live and work in the border region. While the flow of migration is at a historic low, excessive enforcement remains unchecked and unaccountable to communities in which Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection operates. This proposal to increase enforcement without checks and balances is an example of excessive and wasteful government spending and represents an unnecessary expansion of the federal government’s authority.

We know the effects that these provisions will have on the daily lives of all border residents. Our communities have endured the painful reality of unchecked and unaccountable enforcement operations, which have led to decreased civil liberties and civil rights protections, interruption of commerce and trade, constant surveillance in our neighborhoods, excessive and deadly use of force by Border Patrol agents, and the outright militarization of border communities. The Senators need to be reminded that border communities are still part of this nation and that there should be no further militarization of our neighborhoods. In fact, there has been an immediate and overwhelming response from mayors, local elected officials, law enforcement leaders and faith leaders along the border in opposition to the proposal.

 As border communities, we stand united in our resounding rejection of the Hoeven-Corker deal and urge the Senate to include accountability and oversight mechanisms to the already massive presence of border agents in our communities. This includes mandating lapel cameras for border agents, providing subpoena power to the DHS Border Oversight Task Force, applying geographic limits on warrantless Border Patrol stops in the southern border, and directing any increase in personnel to ports of entry where they are needed to facilitate trade that is fueling our economies.

The Hoeven-Corker proposal to increase the number of Border Patrol, add additional fencing, and spend trillions in technology is expensive, extreme and wasteful, particularly at a time when we need to improve our schools, fix our roads, and grow our economy. It is an assault on our system of checks and balances and seriously threatens the quality of life of border residents. Overhauling the nation’s immigration process is urgently necessary, but this should not be done without proper consultation with those communities who must live with the effects of poorly thought-out policy. We cannot not remain silent as politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to treat border communities as an endlessly expendable trade-off for immigration reform.”

###

Cristina Parker

Communications Director,

Border Network for Human Rights

w: bnhr.org | t: @bnhr | f: BNHR | p: 915-875-9107

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

July 16, 2013

Re: Immigrant and Latino Leaders Strongly Oppose S744

Dear Representative:

We the undersigned representatives of national, regional, and local Latino and immigrant organizations and
communities write to urge you to reject S744 in its current form. After much reflection, we have concluded that
S744 does more harm than good to the cause of fair and humane immigration reform. And we expect that the bill
will only get worse and even more focused on “border security-first” as it goes to the House of Representatives.
Recent polling findings by Latino Decisions underscore that Latino voters do not support the border militarization
or ineffective legalization components of S744.
We marched, we protested, and we voted for real immigration reform. But rather than fulfill the promise of
citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the country, we got legislation, S744, which will
plunge millions in immigrant and border communities into a more profound crisis than the one they already face.
This flawed legislation begins with the mistaken and dangerous premise that puts punishment over people and
enforcement over citizenship. This is not inclusive, it is not fair. We cannot, in good conscience, support S744
without major substantive changes that the Senate debated or refused to consider. Our rejection does not represent
defeat. Rather, it represents the decency and dignity of a community drawing the line against more punishment of
immigrants, decency and a dignity that will continue to guide our struggle for humane and just immigration
reform.
In practice, S744 will
• Block Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) from seeking lawful permanent resident status or citizenship for
decades or forever;
• Exclude or disqualify, over time, more than 5 million undocumented persons from the Registered Provisional
Immigrant program; Subject Registered Provisional Immigrants to reprehensible and unacceptable conditions for
ten or more years in order to maintain status;
• Increase discrimination and racial profiling of people of color through nationwide mandatory E-verify of every
worker- citizen and non-citizen- in the country; and
• Create a virtual police-state and create environmental disasters in the 27 border counties by militarizing the USMexico
border including semi-armed drones, 40,000 guards, and 700 miles of border walls;
Such a proposal does not, in any way, reflect the kind of humane and serious values that we envisioned before and
since the 2012 elections. We write to ask you to join us in rejecting this legislation in the name of continuing the
fight for real immigration reform.
Sincerely,
Appendix 1: Latino and Immigrant Leaders’ Critique of S744
After much reflection, we have concluded that S.744 does more harm than good to the cause of fair and humane
immigration reform.
What follows is a more complete explanation of our major concerns about S. 744:
S.744’s Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) program will exclude and/or disqualify over time 5 million
undocumented persons from adjustment of status
With the exceptions of the beneficiaries of the Dream Act and AgJobs programs (representing an estimated 18% of
undocumented persons), S.744’s legalization provisions fail most of the 11 million undocumented people in the
United States. According to the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study only 8 of the 11 plus million
undocumented persons in the US will initially achieve RPI status. .
Moreover, a recent analysis by leading immigration attorney and national advocate Peter Schey of the Center for
Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), of Senate Bill 744’s legalization provisions found that (1) for
several reasons the entire population of Registered Provisional Immigrants may never be eligible to apply for
permanent resident status or citizenship, and (2) even if these obstacles are overcome, at least half of the remaining
approximately 8 million undocumented immigrants may never qualify for permanent status (or citizenship) because
of the onerous “continuous employment” and federal poverty guideline requirements, and the high costs combined
with the requirement to pay past taxes. A detailed legal and demographic analysis of Senate Bill 744’s Pathway to
Legalization and Citizenship by Schey is available at www.centerforhumanrights.org.
The RPI program will have a disproportionately negative impact on immigrant women who only have a 60%
workforce participation rate according to a recent Migration Policy Institute (MPI) study.
In the face of these facts, those positing that “11 million will be legalized” are not stating the facts. In fact, they do
a disservice to both the U.S. public and, more importantly, to the millions of individuals and families who do not
know that they may be among the many excluded by S.744.
S744’s Continuous employment and 125% of poverty income provisions subject RPI visa holders to
workplace discrimination, exploitation and sexual harassment;
Even those “fortunate enough” to meet the requirements to gain RPI status are at high risk to become indentured
servants locked into overly burdensome continuous employment and income obligations for at least ten—and
perhaps fifteen or more—years given the “backlog/back of the line” and trigger “border security” provisions.
RPIs will be without health care and are ineligible for federal safety net benefits. They will be excluded from
access to billions of dollars in previously paid social security benefits.
S.744 RPIs will be denied their most basic power as an employee — the right to withhold their labor if an employer
abuses, harasses or exploits them. Conversely, employers will be empowered to
engage in unlawful worksite and labor law violations. RPIs who resist employer abuses risk losing employment for
60 days or more. This puts them at high risk of losing RPI status and/or becoming ineligible for permanent resident
status.
Female RPI card holders will be disproportionately affected. For example, S.744 grants some housewives
“dependent” status; i.e. dependent on their husbands’ continuous employment and their continuous relationship. In
practice, “dependents” suffering domestic abuse, including children, will be significantly discouraged from leaving
their homes or reporting abuse to the authorities.
Notably, the provisions obligating that permanent resident status not be awarded to qualified RPI card holders
upon completion of the multi-year probationary period, unless the border is “secure” and the backlog of preexisting
visa applications are resolved, create a scenario of inevitable and unpredictable delays. There will be no
objective way to “prove” border security concerns have been met as S.744 is written, or assurances that resolving
100% of the current visa back-log can be accomplished in 10 or 20 years, or ever. For example, the current backlog
includes cases more than 20 years old. S.744’s “backlog” and “border security” requirements guarantee an
indeterminate number of years of delay before RPI status holders can even apply for permanent resident status.
At the same time, S.744 significantly increases judges, courts and the legal mechanisms to detain and deport those
excluded from RPI status or ultimately denied lawful permanent resident status.
S.744’s E-verify program is fatally flawed
E-verify will just increase discrimination and racial profiling. It places an undue burden of costs on small business,
undermines job growth, and does little to reduce undocumented employment.
The extension of E-Verify to every worker in the U.S. lays the foundation for precisely the national identification
system and national database tracking systems that most people in the U.S. oppose.
The “enhanced driver’s license” provision adopts the requirements of section 202 of the REAL ID Act of 2005,
requiring the sharing of driver’s license photos among the states and federal government, a program 25 states have
opposed by law or resolution. We understand that only 13 states have joined the enhanced driver’s license program
of the REAL ID Act of as of 2012. This law also removes the religious accommodations that 20 states offer in the
form of driver’s licenses without photographs for reasons of religious faith.
E-Verify mistakenly approves a majority of unlawful immigrant job applicants and, worse, misidentifies about one
percent of American job applicants as unlawful. The GAO has predicted that approximately 164,000 U.S. citizens
per year will receive a Tentative No confirmation (“TNC”) just for issues related to name changes. Tens of
thousands more may receive TNCs because of transliteration problems, simple typos in Government records
databases, or identity theft.
Even the existing limited use of E-Verify has shown that erroneous TNCs produce discriminatory outcomes
primarily affecting citizens with foreign names, naturalized citizens, and legal immigrants. Furthermore, errors will
disproportionately impact women and immigrants about whom the databases have incorrect information due, for
example, to marriage-related name changes or hyphenated last names.
Mandatory E-Verify may also reduce state and federal payroll tax revenues because many
employers will move existing unauthorized workers not granted RPI status and future unauthorized workers off the
books to avoid detection.
Under S.744, hundreds of thousands of US workers may be required, within 10 days of getting a TNC, to contact
an appropriate Federal agency and “appear in person….” As past experience shows, a significant number of U.S.
workers will fail to correct erroneous nonconfirmations, with a disproportionate number being women and other
low-income workers.
It has been estimated that mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify program will cost employers with fewer than
500 employees about $2.6 billion a year.
S.744’s border surge is unnecessary as a matter of policy, and will significantly increase border deaths along
with violations of human and civil rights.
Today, $18 billion in enforcement infrastructure is already in place after an unprecedented ten year build-up that
include 300 towers, hundreds of miles of walls, electronic surveillance equipment and thousands of border guards.
At a border that the FBI certifies as safe, prioritizing “border security” represents an unacceptable escalation of an
already extremely dangerous pattern of waste and violence.
Net migration from Mexico has been zero or close to zero for several years and unauthorized border crossings are
the lowest in a generation. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano certified the border as “secure.”
The “border surge”, with a price tag of $47 billion dollars, will significantly increase border deaths as unauthorized
crossers brave even more harrowing and dangerous circumstances. This has been documented over the last several
years as increased border enforcement has caused border deaths to increase substantially even though unauthorized
crossings have gone down significantly.
The “border surge” will cause civil rights violations of U.S. border residents. 40,000 border guards buttressed by
electronic surveillance equipment and dozens of drones will “occupy” border communities combing for
“undocumented immigrant” profiles that are in practice indistinguishable from that of the majority citizen and
legal population. Fifty-four percent (54%) of the 7.5 million border county inhabitants are Latinos according to the
2012 Census.
As recent exposes in the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times report, S744 is a boondoggle for the private
prison and surveillance technology industries that will get even more billions of dollars in contracts for border
enforcement, for more “immigrant prisons,” and for the implementation of E-verify.
Signatories of the July 16, 2013 letter Re: Immigrant and Latino Leaders Strongly Oppose S. 744, addressed to
U.S. Representatives, believe that smart, effective, just, and cost-effective immigration reform is in the national
interest of the Unites States. For this reason we urge congressional representatives to reject S. 744 and any similar
proposals introduced in the House.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Rio Grande Guardian

 

Hinojosa comes out against ‘border surge’

 

21 July 2013

 

By Steve Taylor

 

SAN BENITO, July 21 – Congressman Rep. Rubén Hinojosa says he is opposed to the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill and to further militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

The Mercedes Democrat, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, made his position clear in a statement issued to Presente.org.  “Coming from a Border district in southwest Texas I am very sensitive to amendments like Corker-Hoeven. It is undeniable that people have concerns about our border; however those of us from the border region know that we most need security investment at the ports of entry, not between them,” Hinojosa said.

 

“The movement of people legally through our ports of entry, and the ability to stop guns and narcotics at the border is critically important to the safety and economic growth of the region. Unfortunately Corker-Hoeven ignores the progress already made at our border and is misguided in its allocation of resources for the region.

 

“Our region has a long history of business trade with our neighbor to the south and we hope to build on that strong relationship to make our economy strong along the border and the rest of the country. I stand firm in my belief that we should not allow the separation of families, and I completely support the passing of an immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship.”

 

The statement from Hinojosa came after a House colleague from the Texas-Mexico border, Congressman Filemon Vela, quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in protest at the inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven amendment in the Senate immigration reform bill. The CHC has not taken a formal position on the amendment.

 

The amendment by U.S. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and John Hoeven, R-Dakota, calls for an additional 20,000 border patrol agents, increased drone surveillance, and completion of 700 miles of border fencing at an estimated cost of $48 billion over ten years. The amendment was accepted by the so-called Gang of Eight senators that fashioned S.744, the Senate immigration reform bill. It passed the Senate with support from 68 senators, including 14 Republicans. Texas’ two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted against the measure because they said the border security provisions did not go far enough.

 

On Wednesday, Congressman Vela held a rally against increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border at his district office in San Benito. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club were present, along with colonia, immigrant rights and grassroots groups, such as Proyecto Libertad, Movimiento del Valle, La Unión del Pueblo Entero, and Project ARISE.

 

Scott Nicol, of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team, predicted hundreds of additional miles of fencing would be built along the South Texas border region. And he pointed out that under S.744, immigrants will not be able to secure permanent resident status or citizenship unless and until the various border security provisions are met. So, if Congress does not provide the funding for an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents or for the additional fencing, pathway to citizenship will not happen.

 

“The way the bill is written, nobody gets a pathway to citizenship until the wall is built and the Border Patrol numbers are higher. It would be amazing to think you are going to double the number of Border Patrol in a very short time. It could take Congress takes a really long time,” Nicol said.

 

Nicol said having an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents is a recipe for disaster. “The only way that is going to happen in a short period of time is if you lower your standards dramatically. Apprehensions are way down. These Border Patrol agents will be running around with guns with nothing to do and poor training. That does not sound like a good way to be managing the border,” he said.

 

Nicol urged other border congressmen to stand with Vela and stand up for their districts in opposition to increased militarization of the border. “These walls are being thrown upon their districts, they should stand up for their districts, their eco-systems, the farmers, the homeowners that are along the border that are going to have these walls coming through their lands,” he said.

 

Rogelio Nuñez is executive director of Proyecto Libertad. He told the Guardian that the “trigger” inserted in S.744 with the Corker-Hoeven amendment is designed to keep immigrant communities from becoming legalized. The longer legalization can be put off, the longer it will take for minorities to exert political influence, the former history professor said.

 

“The opponents of immigration reform are seeing the future and they do not like it. So, they are going to do whatever they can to make sure they keep winning, including gerrymandering and inserting triggers in the immigration reform bill,” Nuñez said.

 

“But, you cannot stop the will of a community. You cannot stop the will of a people who historically has been on both sides of the border, who has historically has family, cultural ties, tradition, history, you are not going to be able to stop that. It is really unjust and unfair when there are efforts by legislators to stop that whole integration and cohesion of what is community and what is family on the Southwestern Border.”

 

####

 

 

National Office • 1426 El Paso Suite B • San Antonio, TX 78207 • (210) 922-0225 • Fax (210)932-4055

California Office • 2914 N. Main St., 2nd Floor • Los Angeles, CA 90031 • (323) 343-9299 • Fax (323) 343-9100

 

SVREP is a national. nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to the political empowerment of Latino

communities through the use of some of the most powerful tools of American democracy: voter registration,

voter education and voter participation, SVREP’s work continues to have a dramatic impact and is a major

reason for the increase in Latino Voters from 2.2 million to 13.7 million between 1974 and today. SVREP

has been hugely successful training over 150,000 community activists in 25 states, informing Latinos on

issues and rights, as well as registering 2.5 million voters.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Senate Immigration Bill: Unfair, Unjust, Unwise

July 5, 2013

United Methodist Women rejects the disciplinary nature of the current Senate immigration bill, making it more urgent for us to continue our advocacy for positive immigration reform.

United Methodist Women has deep concerns with “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity & Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744) passed by the Senate on June 27. Hailed as a historic vote in advancing comprehensive immigration reform, the legislation offers a grueling pathway to citizenship for a limited number of immigrants while authorizing unprecedented militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323820304578413063272797112.html> .

 
“We desperately need immigration reform, but this is not the reform we need,” stated Harriett Jane Olson, United Methodist Women’s general secretary and CEO. “As we pause this week to celebrate Independence Day, it is a moment to look deeply into the vision and meaning of this nation.”


We understand the national debate on immigration as part of this ongoing civil rights agenda in the United States—an agenda that calls us to live up to the vision of a just and inclusive nation. Our nations’ leaders are prioritizing military spending <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/immigration-reform-border-security-contractors> over the health and well-being of our communities.


Brutal elements of border security
Brutal new elements of border security changed the character of Senate Bill 744. As amended, the bill:

  Requires law enforcement to apprehend 90 percent <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323820304578413063272797112.html> of the people coming across the border without proper papers.

  Escalates the enforcement budget from $4.5 billion to $46 billion <http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/07/03/Coburn-Senate-s-Immigration-Bill-Border-Stimulus-for-Contractors-Not-Border-Security> .

  Doubles the number of border patrol officers <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3038132/posts> from 20,000 to 40,000.  

  Requires construction of an additional 700 miles <http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/21/19062298-price-tag-for-700-miles-of-border-fencing-high-and-hard-to-pin-down?lite> of double border fencing, waiving environmental protections <http://%20http:/www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/border-militarization-06-19-2013.html> regarding wall construction.

  Expands drone and other forms of surveillance through a 24 hour “virtual fence <http://www.nationalreview.com/article/352539/building-human-wall-border-andrew-stiles> .”

  Makes the E-verify system obligatory <http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-01/e-verify-and-visas-an-immigration-reform-watchlist-for-small-employers> for all employers.

 

Women and children will not benefit from bill
This is unfair, unjust and unwise. United Methodist Women sees the faces of those who will not benefit from this bill:

  Families served by our National Mission Institutions near the border who fear seeking services because of harassment <http://www.lawg.org/component/content/article/79/938> by the border patrol.  

  A domestic worker who cannot get on the pathway to citizenship because an employer laid her off and she hasn’t been able to find a job in less than the 60-day unemployment window <http://www.labornotes.org/2013/05/new-path-citizenship-looks-more-obstacle-course> .

 • A woman with provisional status <http://www.immigrationdirect.com/registered-provisional-immigrant-status.jsp>  ineligible for Medicaid <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/07/senate-immigration-bill-leaves-women-s-health-needs-unanswered.html> so cannot afford to take her children to the doctor.

 

  An older woman, working and paying taxes in the United States for decades, who won’t access Social Security <http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/06/25/comprehensive-immigraton-reform-the-small-significant-detail/> during a minimum 13-year wait <http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/government/washington-digest-senate-bill-would-offer-13-year-path-citizenship-millions> for citizenship.

  The thousands of families divided due to an intensification of detention and deportation <http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=31&amp;Itemid=74&amp;jumival=10378> policies.

  An immigrant woman incarcerated because of lack of papers, forced to give birth in shackles <http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/legal-shackle-women-childbirth-immigration-detention/story?id=19481909#.UdMnXT5AT2A> .  

  An unauthorized immigrant woman who arrived after the cut-off date for legalization <http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/citizenship-now/immigration-dec-31-2011-legal-status-cutoff-date-stands-proposed-bill-article-1.1343825> who fears detention and losing custody of her children.

 

Toward humane immigration policy
United Methodist Women rejects the disciplinary nature of the current Senate immigration bill and proposals in the House of Representatives. “Rather than target and criminalize immigrants for coming to the United States without papers, we must address the reasons that migrants are forced to come. Human rights and racial justice must be at the core of both U.S. economic and immigration policy,” said Janis Rosheuvel, executive for racial justice.

According to United Methodist Women’s resolution “Criminalization of Communities of Color in the United States,” <http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umw/resources/articles/item/index.cfm?id=647> policies such as S. 744 “render whole communities of color … as guilty until proven innocent. … This approach is based on a theology and worldview of scarcity. In contrast, The United Methodist Church affirms, ‘God’s vision of abundant living is a world where we live out a theology of “enough” for all.’”


As people of faith, this is a key moment to bring our theologically grounded policy proposals to our leaders. United Methodist Women members will continue to raise their voices for just and humane polices. We hope to infuse immigration reform with a much-needed reorientation toward human rights for immigrant women, children and families.


United Methodist Women National Office reiterates our core concerns for just immigration reform:

  Offer a rapid and affordable pathway to citizenship for all unauthorized immigrants.

  Offer public services, including health care, to immigrants regardless of status.

  Reunite families and keep families together.

  Protect the labor rights of both immigrant and U.S. workers.

  Guarantee due process and protect the civil and human rights of all immigrants.

  Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border

  End enforcement practices that criminalize migrants because of their status.

  Address migrant women’s rights: precarious work conditions, protection and redress from violence.

  Develop humane economic, trade and foreign policies to reduce forced migration.

  Suspend detention and deportation of migrants and shift resources to underserved communities.

 

“United Methodist Women has worked tirelessly for justice for immigrants,” said Carol Barton, executive for community action and coordinator of United Methodist Women’s Immigrant and Civil Rights Initiative. “These turn of events makes it more urgent for us to continue our advocacy for positive immigration reform.”

 

##

 

» powered by radicalDESIGNS