ICE officials set quotas to deport more illegal immigrants

A Salvadoran is led away in a 2007 raid. The administration had signaled a move away from mass arrests. (Sarah L. Voisin/the Washington Post)

Spencer Hsu and Andrew Becker of the Washington Post shed some troubling light on the Obama administration’s deportation efforts:

“Seeking to reverse a steep drop in deportations, U.S. immigration authorities have set controversial new quotas for agents. At the same time, officials have stepped back from an Obama administration commitment to focus enforcement efforts primarily on illegal immigrants who are dangerous or have violent criminal backgrounds. The moves, outlined in internal documents and a recent e-mail by a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official to field directors nationwide, differ from pledges by ICE chief John T. Morton and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to focus enforcement on the most dangerous illegal immigrants. That approach represented a break from the mass factory raids and neighborhood sweeps the Bush administration used to drive up arrests.”

UPS Firing Immigrant Workers in Chicago

Dupage Latino Leaders Reject UPS Firings

Press Contacts: Cristobal Cavazos 630 260 0142; Deacon Guadalupe Villareal 630 529-3045
Members of the Dupage clergy along with Latino leaders including Father Luis Gutierrez of St. Joseph in Addison, Deacon Lupe Villareal of St. Isidore’s in Bloomingdale and Cristobal Cavazos of Immigrant Solidarity Dupage have denounced the firings of more than 200 Latino workers on their verge of losing their jobs in UPS plants across Chicagoland.

UPS in Chicagoland is asking all workers to fill out new I-9 forms. Many of the Latino workers in Addison and other plants–many with up to 15-20 years of seniority– fear they will be fired at the end of the month when the company attempts to verify their social security numbers through the “E-Verify” Employer Verification system.

Workers have expressed their concern to local groups and community leaders in the past three (3) months who are committed to struggling with the workers for their jobs, jobs that are vital to the community, while expressing the injustice of long-time Latino workers being targeted with firings in times to economic crisis due to an employment eligibility system, E-Verify, designed to target terrorists.

Letter that has been sent to UPS:

United Parcel Service, Inc
102 S Lombard Rd
Addison, IL 60101

Dear Employer,

Our organization Immigrant Solidarity Dupage, along with various local area churches such as St. Joseph in Addison and St. Isidore’s in Bloomingdale, have been made aware that your company is on the verge of firing many Latino workers from this and other United Parcel Service plants across Chicagoland. The firings will total over 200 by the end of March, the date you have given workers to re-verify their work status, with many other Latino workers quitting before that date.

UPS will be using the “E-Verify,” Employment Verification System on all workers, after re-verifying their work status with new I-9 forms due by the end of March. The E-Verify system checks workers’ social security numbers up against records in the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies data banks– records shown to be rife with errors. Of course, as the Department of Homeland Security makes clear at their website (http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm), E-Verify is a mostly voluntary program for employers to check the work eligibility of new hires. However, our organization has been made aware that UPS will not only be checking new hires– a requirement for UPS as federal contractors– but will be voluntarily running the E-Verify system on all workers, including those with seniority. We have spoken to workers with 15-20 years of seniority at your plant who will be fired. The choice by UPS to run E-Verify on workers with seniority will result in hundreds of jobs lost in the Latino community, both here in Dupage County and across Illinois.

We the undersigned, and the organizations and houses of faith that we represent, reject these firings and call on UPS to immediately opt out of the use of the E-Verify system on current workers. We call on you to suspend the firings of the over 200 Latino women and men who will be targeted with firings. Our community will not stand by as we lose 200 jobs of our family members, friends and community without a struggle, and if these firings are to occur, UPS can expect further community action, mobilizations and a national boycott of the United Parcel Service by the Latino community along with our allies with our close to 50 million people and over 1 billion dollars in purchasing power. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Cristobal Cavazos at 630 260 0142.

Unionization Improves Pay for Immigrant Workers

Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Immigrant Workers

Contact: Alan Barber, 202-293-5380 x115

Washington, D.C.- A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for immigrant workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts.

The report, “Unions and Upward Mobility for Immigrant Workers,” found that unionized immigrant workers earned, on average, 17 percent more than their non-union peers. In addition, immigrant workers in unions were much more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan.

“It is the labor market, not the border that is broken,” said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study. “Unionization raises wages and benefits – and substantially – for both US-born and immigrant workers.”

The report, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), found that unionization raises the pay of immigrant workers about $2.00 per hour. According to the report, immigrant workers in unions were also 50 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and almost twice as likely to have an employer-provided pension plan than immigrant workers who were not in unions.

The study also shows that unionization strongly benefited immigrant workers in otherwise low-wage occupations. Among immigrant workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members earned almost 20 percent more per hour than those workers who were not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations, unionized immigrants were more than twice as likely to have employer-provided health insurance and almost three times as likely to have a pension plan than their non-union counterparts.

Additional information is available from the following organizations:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Malcolm Amado Uno
Executive Director
Muno – at – apalanet.org

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
Hector Sanchez
Director of Policy and Research
202-508-6918

DOL Will Certify U Visas For Trafficking Victims

From Dan Torres of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

DOL can certify U visas!  This should be very helpful to representation of day laborers, farm workers and others.

Fact Sheet from the Department of Labor

SECRETARY SOLIS ANNOUNCES THE DEPARTMENT TO EXERCISE
ITS AUTHORITY TO CERTIFY U VISAS

On March 15, 2010 Secretary Solis announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) will begin exercising its authority to certify applications for U Nonimmigrant Status Visas (“U Visas”).

What are U Visas?

U Nonimmigrant Visas (“U Visas”) were created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-386). Victims of qualifying criminal activities who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse may apply for a U Visa if they are willing to assist law enforcement or other government officials in the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. Individuals who receive U Visas may remain in the United States for up to four years, and may eventually apply for permanent residency. Among other requirements, a federal law enforcement agency or official must certify that the U Visa petitioner “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful” in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

What is the Department’s authority to certify U Visas?

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations (8 C.F.R.§ 214.4(a)(2)) expressly list certain federal law enforcement agencies that may certify U Visa applications, including the Department of Labor. In doing so, DHS recognized that DOL’s investigators may detect evidence of qualifying criminal activities during the course of investigating violations of workplace laws.

How will the Department certify U Visas?

The authority to certify U Visas will be delegated to the Wage and Hour Division, which will identify potential U Visa applicants in appropriate circumstances during the course of workplace investigations.

The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing some of our nation’s most comprehensive federal labor laws, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, the employment of persons with disabilities, family and medical leave, the employment of temporary or seasonal migrant workers, the use of lie detector tests, and prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts.

Additional agencies may be delegated authority where appropriate.

When will the Department begin to certify U Visas?

Clear protocols regarding the identification of qualifying criminal activities and the certification of U Visa applications will be available in mid-summer. Certifications are not expected to begin before late summer.

What is a qualifying criminal activity?

Qualifying criminal activities involve violations of certain federal, state, or local criminal laws including: abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, felonious assault, hostage-taking, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, and other related crimes.

E-Verify Laws Passed in Utah and Virginia

More E-Verify News:  “The growing patchwork of E-Verify laws continues, with Utah and Virginia becoming the first states to pass bills mandating E-Verify participation in 2010. As with previous laws enacted in 2008-2009, these bills require certain employers to use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of new hires.”

New Americans in the Gem and Treasure States

The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of Idaho and Montana’s economies, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic and political force as consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the nation working towards economic recovery, Latinos, Asians and immigrants will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of the Gem and Treasure States.

Highlights from Idaho include:

• Immigrants made up 5.6% of Idahoans (or 83,904 people) in 2007.

• The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $2.5 billion and Asian buying power totaled $650.6 million in Idaho in 2009.

• If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Idaho, the state could lose $42.8 million in economic activity and $190.4 million in gross state product.

Highlights from Montana include:

• Immigrants made up 1.7% of Montanans (or 4,789 people) in 2007.

• The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $501.2 million and Asian buying power totaled $176 million in Montana in 2009.

• If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Montana, the state could lose $96.3 million in economic activity and $42.8 million in gross state product.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make in Idaho and Montana and the important role they will play in the states’ political and economic futures.

Why Immigration Boosts Wages — and Not Just In California

A Newsweek story “Why Immigration Boosts Wages — and Not Just In California” by Tony Dokoupil discusses the latest research of Professor Giovanni Peri, an economist and immigration colleague of mine at UC Davis.  Peri is the author of a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper that examined nearly five decades of immigration data to find that foreign workers have boosted the economy, increasing average incomes without crowding out American laborers.

Commitment to Immigration Reform

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

President Barack Obama last Thursday assured immigration advocates frustrated by the wait for a promised overhaul of U.S. immigration laws that he remains committed to fixing a system he has said is broken. What remains unclear is whether Congress will send him a bill this year.

FROM AILA WELCOMES PRESIDENT OBAMA’S COMMITMENT TO IMMIGRATION REFORM:

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed President Obama’s announcement that his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is unwavering and that he would proceed with an overhaul of the immigration system this year if he could attract necessary Republican support. After meeting with Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Lindsey Graham Republican of South Carolina yesterday afternoon, the President stated that he will continue to be their partner in trying to move forward a proposal to fix our broken immigration system.

“AILA is heartened to learn that the President is fully committed to pass immigration reform,” said Bernie Wolfsdorf, President of AILA. “As it stands now, the country’s immigration problem severely undermines our national interests by slowing economic growth, forestalling family unification, and subverting strategic foreign policy objectives.” AILA believes any effective, long-term solution to the immigration problem must: 1) require the undocumented population to come out of the shadows and earn legal status; 2) ensure that American businesses are able to hire the workers they need to help grow our economy while protecting U.S. workers from unfair competition; 3) reduce the unreasonable and counterproductive backlogs in family-based and employment-based immigration by reforming the permanent immigration system; and 4) protect our national security and the rule of law while preserving and restoring fundamental principles of due process and equal protection. “AILA hopes that yesterday’s meeting serves as a springboard to a renewed bipartisan effort and emphasis on solving America’s broken immigration system. We recognize that there are other challenges currently facing our nation’s leaders, such as healthcare, and for comprehensive immigration reform to move forward the President and Congress need to provide a more specific plan that will gain the support of the public and AILA looks forward to reviewing that plan,” Wolfsdorf added.

Immigrants in Healthcare Reform

From the California Immigrant Policy Center:

Dear Colleagues,

A few months ago your organization endorsed a letter to Senators Boxer and Feinstein urging the inclusion of immigrants in health care reform.  We are requesting that you join a similar effort once again.  As the Congress moves forward with the process of reconciling a new bill there are opportunities to make two changes in particular:  1) To lift the five year bar preventing lawfully present immigrants from accessing Medicaid; and 2) Removing a ban included in the Senate version of the bill that prevents undocumented immigrants from purchasing unsubsidized insurance with their own money through the new exchanges.  Attached is a letter to Speaker Pelosi and to Majority Leader Reid asking that these two changes be made.  If your organization is interested in endorsing this letter please contact Bill Daley with the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations at: daleybill@comcast.net.

You can also help by contacting your two U.S. Senators and your Member of Congress.  Calls to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid also are helpful.  Senator Reid’s phone number is:  (202) 224-3542.  Speaker Pelosi’s phone number is:  (202) 225-0100.

With appreciation,

Cary Sanders
Having Our Say

Isaac Menashe
California Immigrant Policy Center

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Harry Reid
Speaker of the House       Majority Leader of the United States Senate
H-232, US Capitol     522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515    Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid:

The undersigned immigrant and civil rights organizations urge you to remedy two critical components of comprehensive health insurance reform impacting immigrant populations.

We believe that health insurance reform should benefit everyone in America, and that reform should create a truly inclusive and accessible health care system in which no one is left out.  It is critical that lawfully present immigrants have access to subsidies to purchase insurance on the exchange and are happy that this is included in the Senate health reform bill.  However, in order for very low-income lawful residents to be treated equitably in health reform, they must have full access to Medicaid, which offers strong cost sharing and premium protections. We urge you to ensure lawfully present immigrants are treated fairly as you complete the work of drafting and passing comprehensive health insurance reform by using any tools available to add a provision that would permit lawfully present immigrants to access Medicaid if they are otherwise qualified.

Immigrants contribute to this nation’s workforce, pay their fair share of taxes, and pursue citizenship to its fullest potential.  Yet, under existing law, many low-income legal immigrants must wait five years to obtain Medicaid coverage. The continuation of the five-year Medicaid waiting period for legal immigrants will make it more difficult for them to afford care while at the same time mandating that they purchase insurance. The five-year waiting period precludes individuals from obtaining necessary services to prevent serious medical conditions from worsening.  This type of restriction is not only unfair but also excludes immigrants from a critical safety net that their taxes help support.

We also urge you to amend provisions in the Senate bill that prohibit undocumented immigrants from purchasing unsubsidized insurance products with their own money through new exchanges. These provisions in the Senate legislation will impose a costly new verification system upon each person who seeks coverage through the exchange, whether they are an immigrant or a U.S. citizen.  By removing these provisions you will eliminate an unwieldy bureaucracy and an impractical bar to the insurance marketplace.

The existence of these discriminatory provisions will mean that adequate health coverage will not be available to significant populations – especially the four million U. S. Citizen children who live in mixed status families.   Retaining these provisions will merely shift costs to the general population and ultimately burden us all with poorly designed policies that undercut everyone’s access to affordable health coverage.

New Americans in the Evergreen State

The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of Washington’s economy, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic and political force as consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the nation working towards economic recovery, Latinos, Asians and immigrants will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of the Evergreen State.

Highlights from Washington include:

• Immigrants made up one-in-eight (12.3%) Washingtonians (or 795,179 people) in 2007.

• 41.8% of immigrants in 2007 (or 332,755 people) in Washington were naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote.

• Latinos accounted for 9.4% (608,032) and Asians 6.6% (or 426,916) of Washingtonians in 2007.

• The purchasing power of Asians totaled $16.6 billion and Latino buying power totaled $13.4 billion in Washington in 2009.

• If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Washington, the state could lose $14.5 billion in economic activity, $6.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 71,197 jobs.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make in Washington and the important role they will play in the state’s political and economic future.

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