Saturday, June 29, 2013

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Immigration Bill

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Immigration Bill

SEIU praises the new immigration bill S 744.

After more than a decade of fighting for commonsense immigration reform, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina commended the passage of the bipartisan legislation before pivoting to the fight that lies ahead in the House. 
"What we can undoubtedly affirm is that this bill will set a new precedent and will mend much of our broken immigration system. It will allow millions of our friends, colleagues, families and neighbors to enter the threshold into American society, democracy and our economy. The lives of all families will be impacted for the better as will our economy that will stand to flourish.
"What lies ahead will not be easy or pretty, but what stands before the House is a model of compromise that stood the test of scrutiny, heated debate and challenging amendments. The bill is an agreement between two political parties that found common ground in upholding a roadmap to citizenship unfettered by burdensome barriers, protecting future and current working families and strengthening the unity of families."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Advocates Oppose Senate Immigration Bill Over Escalation of Border Milit...

Senate 744- is not Fair, Just, Immigration Reform

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."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Senate Passes Deeply Flawed Immigration Bill

Senate Immigration Passes

'Border Surge' Amendment -- Escalation of Bad and Dangerous Policy

We are alarmed by the punitive, flawed and dangerous path that has been deepened in Senate Bill S. 744 in order to secure Republican support. The final vote may come tomorrow. The inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven "border surge" amendment, added in a deal catering to anti-immigrant diehards in the Senate and likely fueling billions to contracts with Halliburton and other corporate interests, would undeniably cement the militarization of the US-Mexico border.
Some key elements of the costly amendment:
  • doubles the number of Border Patrol agents to almost 40,000 over the next 10 years, adding an additional $30 billion for this purpose
  • adds 700 milies of pedestrian fencing along the US-Mexico border ($8 billion)
  • would deploy 160 unmanned aircraft systems ($140 million for Blackhawk helicopters for the Border Patrol's Air and Marine divisions)
  • would set up a program to recruit former armed services personnel to serve in the Border Patrol and in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In all, the amendment increases initial funding to some $46.3 billion dollars for border enforcement.This is a massive public investment in greater surveillance and data collection and data mining that goes well beyond the border.  The amendment touches on other elements of the bill as well: removal proceedings would be expedited against at least 90% of visa overstays. It would also prevent immigrants from accessing the Social Security credits they have already paid into the system.
This, on top of so many other problems (more criminalization of immigrants, E-verify, shift from family immigration, guestworkers, etc.) with this whopping piece of legislation. (Read this analysis of the legalization provision by Peter Schey of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, to get a better sense of some of the flaws--and how it could have been improved.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No Bargain on immigration

Border Militarization Amendment Prevails with Majority Democratic Vote
No Faustian Bargain for Us

We are living in unprecedented times. Today is another day of infamy in the annals of attempted immigration reform in these United States of America. The U.S. Senate approved an amendment to S.744, the heralded bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation supported by President Obama, to double the number of border patrol agents from the current 21,000 to 40,000 along the U.S.-Mexico border. Other elements of the amendment proposed by Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, include 700 additional miles of border wall, more drones, towers, cameras, and sensors to the tune of a $30 billion price-tag. The vote was 67-27. The majority of the aye votes were cast by Democratic Senators.

Senator Charles Schumer from New York, Democratic Party senate leader, and considered the architect of the "gang of eight" bi-partisan CIR initiative, cut the deal with his Republican colleagues who rightly recognized that their amendment was over the top on the enforcement side. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez also voted for the border surge amendment. The Democrats explained their action as the compromise price to pay for getting the 70 vote margin desired to report the bill out of the Senate.

When all the other punitive measures embedded in S.744 are taken into consideration we literally have a bill of unprecedented measures. The border amendment is the final proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. The legislation is anything but fair and humane to immigrant families and foretells an immigration point system inclined towards addressing fictional labor demands in detriment to family reunification, the permanent criminalization of immigrant workers, and the militarization of the southern border - without exaggeration. Other actions include:

  1. The unprecedented police build-up in the work-place via the mandatory use of E-verify nationally with all employers. This is the greatest intervention of the federal government into the private world of work.
  2. The unprecedented creation of a biometric ID for immigrant workers that could easily be expanded to obligate all American citizens to possess.
  3. The unprecedented enhanced collaboration between local and state police agencies with the Department of Homeland Security for database sharing, detention, and transfer of detainees.

Responding to the Supreme Court on Affirmative Action

Bill Fletcher, Jr.
June 24, 2013
Class Action
The problem that people of color face... is that the advantages are never in our corner.
My first response to the Supreme Court's decision in the University of Texas case was to breathe a sigh of relief.  I had been expecting affirmative action to be ruled illegal.  Instead the Court, in effect, said that the University had to prove that non-racial methods were ineffective in creating greater diversity.
We should, however, not be truly relieved by the decision.  Affirmative action has been under attack since the 1970s.  And since then, the objective of the political Right has been to steadily weaken it, in part through an ideological assault suggesting that it is really not necessary.  The results of that ideological assault can be seen in the opinion polls that suggest that only 45% of respondents believe that affirmative action is any longer necessary.
To conclude that affirmative action is no longer necessary one must be looking at a different United States of America.  One must be looking at a country that possesses no racial differential in treatment; one must be looking at a USA that has no dead cities with large concentrations of people of color; one must be looking at a USA where funding for schools is not disproportionately biased against communities of color; one must be looking at a USA that has not witnessed the  evaporation of land owned by African American and Latino independent farmers.  To conclude that affirmative action is no longer necessary, therefore, one must have decided to focus more on the fact that there is an African American in the White House rather than looking at the realities facing people of color in the USA on a daily basis.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supreme Court strikes down key provision of Voting Rights Act

Just hours ago, the Supreme Court struck down 40 years of voting rights protections by gutting the Voting Rights Act in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. This is a major setback for voting rights and will have a real and detrimental impact on voters.

We need to respond TODAY. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced a bill to support a constitutional amendment explicitly guaranteeing the right to vote. Sign our petition now supporting the National Right to Vote Amendment and we will deliver your signatures to Congress right away.

This ruling is a continuation and escalation of the war on voting. Republicans are using every gimmick and trick in the book to ram radical voter ID laws and roll back early voting and same day registration in state legislatures throughout the country. These laws specifically targeted minority voters with their motivation all too obvious — prevent minorities to vote in order to win GOP victories across the country.

We worked tirelessly to fight back against these laws, and in some cases we were victorious — at least temporarily. But in some cases like Florida, it became all too clear what happens when the GOP is successful in preventing the right to vote, with reports of voters waiting in line for for up to 7 hours just to cast their ballot.

This past election has made it abundantly clear that we need MORE voting rights protections, not less. Which is why this ruling is especially devastating today. Sign our petition now in support of the National Right to Vote Amendment.

Our country is founded on the principle that we the people decide who will be our elected leaders. Discrimination and restricting the right to vote are an assault on the very fundamental principle this country is founded upon. Now join us as we take a stand to defend this most essential right. Click here to sign the petition now.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hernandez may run for Congress again.

 MANTECA - Former astronaut Jose Hernandez said he is still considering a second run for Congress in 2014, nearly six months after a loss to Republican incumbent Jeff Denham, R-Turlock.
Hernandez might throw in his chips even as the Democratic campaigning committee has already chosen another candidate.
Hernandez said he couldn't make the commitment within the committee's timeline because his decision hinges on whether he can afford to take a year off work to concentrate on campaigning.
The electrical engineer and aerospace consultant is hoping his consulting contracts can accumulate enough resources by fall before taking the leap.
"If I was independently wealthy, I would have announced the day after the (2012) election that I would run for 2014," Hernandez said. "I have five kids, one in college. I have to make sure my family is well taken care of, that I'm able to give my kids a good college education, that I'm able to put food on the table and pay the mortgage.
"One thing is for certain: I'm here to stay in the Valley," said Hernandez, who moved to Manteca from Houston to run for office after completing an outer space mission for NASA. "I quit my job as an aerospace executive and decided to dedicate 14 months without pay to run for the 10th Congressional District. Although we came very close, we just couldn't win the election."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Response to the Immigration Reform Bill


As organizations participating in the Dignity Campaign for 
Immigration Reform Based on Human and Labor Rights, we are very 
concerned about the harsh impact the Senate's immigration reform bill will have on immigrants.  Rather than 'bring immigrants out of the  shadows' this bill will hold millions in an underclass, vulnerable to exploitation and relegated to the ranks of the working poor, with no  access to basic services.  Millions will have no hope of receiving permanent legal status, let alone citizenship.

We believe this bill will affect our communities for decades to come, in the same way we continue to feel the negative effects of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, passed in 1986.  It is important to look at what our world will be like if the Senate's version of  immigration reform passes, to expose the negative impacts the bill will have, and especially prepare to defend our communities.

We want legal immigration status for people living in the U.S. who don't have it, and believe this desire unites millions in this country.  Diverse groups with many different experiences are all fighting today for the civil, labor and human rights of immigrants, and of all working people.  This fight didn't start with this bill - it's been going on for generations.  It won't end with it either.

This bill, however, does not reflect the aspirations of a majority of the US population to provide permanent resident status to the undocumented.  It is instead the product of corporate America, which wants to hold down the cost of labor, especially in high tech, the hotel and restaurant industry, construction, and the food growing and processing industry. Massive enforcement creates money-making opportunities through continued detention and constructing more border walls, which we all already know will not stop the flow of 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Immigration reform will save millions for deficit

While this may be just another study for many Anglo conservatives, the Latino community through the Latino press has taken notice of this report.

Immigration Law Changes Seen Cutting Billions From Deficit. New York Times.

WASHINGTON — Congressional budget analysts, providing a positive economic assessment of proposed immigration law changes, said Tuesday that legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system would cut close to $1 trillion from the federal deficit over the next two decades and lead to more than 10 million new legal residents in the country.
A long-awaited analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that the benefits of an increase in legal residents from immigration legislation currently being debated in the Senate — which includes a pathway to citizenship — would outweigh the costs. While the report was a clear victory for immigration proponents, it came just hours after Speaker John A. Boehner raised potential new obstacles for the bill, saying he would not bring any immigration measure to the floor unless it had the support of a majority of House Republicans.
The report estimates that in the first decade after the immigration bill is carried out, the net effect of adding millions of additional taxpayers would decrease the federal budget deficit by $197 billion. Over the next decade, the report found, the deficit reduction would be even greater — an estimated $700 billion, from 2024 to 2033. The deficit reduction figures for the first decade do not take into account $22 billion in the discretionary spending required to implement the bill, however, making the savings slightly lower.

March on Washington - for Jobs and Justice