Monday, March 27, 2006

Emergency action: immigration

Tell Congress: Vote No on Sensenbrenner's, Specter's, or Any Other Anti-Immigrant Bill!

Congress is on the verge of passing legislation that will decide how immigrants will be treated for decades to come. 11 million undocumented immigrants and those who help them get food, a job, or a home would be turned into criminals -- unless we act now!

A powerful conservative alliance sold the Iraq war in the name of making people safe from terrorism. Now they want us to believe that our security depends on making being in the U.S. without proper papers a felony and aiding undocumented immigrants a federal crime. Our harsh immigration laws already break up hundreds of thousands of families and often leave U.S.-born children without a mom or dad. This vicious attempt to manipulate people's post-9/11 fears would further strip immigrants of rights all people should have.

This weekend, more than a million immigrant rights supporters marched in Los Angeles and in other cities around the country to protest this anti-immigrant attack and demand that immigrants are treated with the dignity and respect that should be accorded to every human being. On March 10 up to 300,000 marched in Chicago. Another protest is taking place today in Washington, DC, as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins debate on immigration reform.

United for Peace and Justice urges you to add your voice to the chorus that is calling for real immigration reform that does not criminalize immigrant adults and children or the social workers, nurses and others who provide them with help:

Capitol Switchboard: (888) 355-3588 (toll-free) or (202) 334-3121

Please call both of your Senators TODAY. You can ask for the Senator by name at the number above. If you don't know his/her name or the line is busy, see: and click on "Senators" at the top left.

Tell your Senator to vote NO on HR 4437, the Sensenbrenner bill, Senator Arlen Specter's bill, or any other version that retains anti-immigrant provisions. Instead of undermining civil rights and civil liberties, they should support immigration reform that enables undocumented immigrants to legalize their status and gain a path to citizenship, reunifies immigrant families, stops mandatory deportations and indefinite detentions, and supports the rights of all workers.
To find out about protests in your community, see:

In December 2005, the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, which was introduced by Representative James Sensenbrenner. HR 4437 is a punitive, anti-immigrant bill that would, among other things, make an undocumented immigrant's presence in the US a federal crime; fund 700 miles of wall on the US-Mexico border; and expand the definition of smuggling to include assistance to an undocumented person.

Now the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering its own immigration legislation, starting with Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter's "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006." This alleged "compromise" bill is in fact virulently anti-immigrant. Specifically, it would:
Make it a felony to be "out of status" or in technical violation of immigration laws. A student who drops a course, a lawful permanent resident who does not notify DHS that she moved, the mother of a sick, US citizen child who overstays her visitor visa, an undocumented farm worker -- all could be arrested, prosecuted criminally, and/or deported.
Make it a felony to help an undocumented immigrant find a job, a place to live, or to get to a grocery store, even if you are a religious institution, family members, or a nonprofit organization. Green cardholders convicted of "Good Samaritan" acts can get deported.
Force local and state police to enforce immigration laws -- immigrants may be afraid to call 911 for help.
Deport more Green Card Holders for smaller criminal offenses.
Put more money into detaining immigrants, a costly and overcrowded system that is already full of abuse.
Make it more difficult to gain legal status or get citizenship.
Drastically limit the federal courts' abilities to review immigration decisions -- forcing all appeals into a single court in order to silence courts around the country that have found Immigration's actions to be wrong. Many people's appeals will just be thrown out or dismissed without being heard.
For more information on the current immigration legislation, visit:
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- Rights Working Group
- Detention Watch Network

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Los Angeles March,0,3771225.story?coll=la-home-headlines
From the Los Angeles Times
More Than 500,000 Rally in L.A. for Immigrants' Rights
By Teresa Watanabe and Anna Gorman
Times Staff Writer

Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!). The crowd, estimated by police at more than 500.000, represented one of the largest protest marches in Los Angeles history, surpassing Vietnam War demonstrations and the 70,000 who rallied downtown against Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that denied public benefits to undocumented migrants.

The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county.

Arbelica Lazo, 40, illegally immigrated from El Salvador two decades ago but said she now owns two business and pays $7,000 in taxes annually.

Jose Alberto Salvador, 33, came here illegally just four months ago to find work to support the wife and five children he left behind; in his native Guatemala, he said, what little work he could find paid only $10 a day. "As much as we need this country, we love this country," Salvador said, waving a stick with both the American and Guatemalan flag. "This country gives us opportunities we don't get at home."

Saturday's rally, spurred by anger over legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last December, was part of what many say is an unprecedented effort to organize immigrants and their supporters across the nation. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is to take up efforts Monday to complete work on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. Unlike the House bill, which beefed up border security and toughened immigration laws, the Senate committee's version is expected to include a guest worker program and a path to legalization for the nation's 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants.

In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have staged demonstrations in more than a dozen cities. The Roman Catholic Church and other religious communities have launched immigrant rights campaigns, with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony taking a leading role in speaking out against the House bill and calling on his priests to defy its provisions that would make felons of anyone who aided undocumented immigrants. In addition, several cities, including Los Angeles, have passed resolutions against the House legislation and some, such as Maywood, have declared itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

"There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "They have kicked the sleeping giant. It's the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle."

One of the marchers Saturday, Jose Alberto Salvador, 33, left his wife and children behind in Guatemala four months ago to cross the border into the United States so he could earn enough money to return home and buy a house.

Jorge Valdovinos, 43, is a legal immigrant from Mexico who has three US-born children and works as a financial advisor.

Amid a sea of American and Mexican flags, protesters chanted "Si Se Puede!" and waved banners in Spanish that read, "We aren't criminals" and "The USA is made by immigrants."

"I love this country as if it were my own, for the opportunities it has given me," said Laurentino Ramirez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who works at a garment factory. "The law is unjust for those who don't have papers. We come to work. We don't come to do harm to anyone."

Many of the marchers were immigrants themselves — both legal and illegal -- from Mexico and Central America. Some had just crossed the border, while others had been here for decades. There were construction workers and business owners; families with young children and people in wheelchairs. Throughout the afternoon, protesters heard speakers demand a path toward legalization and denounce HR 4437, which would tighten border enforcement and crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

The rally was organized by numerous unions, religious organizations and immigrant rights groups and publicized through Spanish-language media, which encouraged participants to wear white to symbolize peace and bring American flags. The mostly peaceful march stretched over 26 blocks, shutting down streets and tying up traffic around downtown for hours. Police estimated the crowd at 500,000, more than five times the size of the 1994 rally against California's Proposition 187, which would have denied services to undocumented immigrants. Participants said the massive mobilization shows that immigrants' voices must be heard and that they are contributing to the country's economy.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at

Article licensing and reprint options

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Home Delivery | Advertise | Archives | Contact | Site Map | Help


Friday, March 24, 2006

Immigration policy

Which Way Immigration Reform?
Toward a Comprehensive Immigration Policy
By Tom Barry | March 20, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A tribute to Cesar Chavez

A tribute to the life and work of Cesar Chavez

Duane Campbell
Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education

César Chávez: "Presente"

The spirit of Cesar Chavez lives on in the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California. Along with Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others, César created the United Farm Workers (UFW) the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history. There had been more than ten prior attempts to build a farm workers union.
The United Cannery and Packinghouse Workers (UCAPAWA) organized in the 1930's, the National Farm Workers Union (NFW) led by Ernesto Galarza tried to organize Farm workers in the 40's and 50's. In 1959, the AFL-CIO tried to organize again with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). AWOC had several weaknesses, including a top down leadership selected by AFL-CIO leaders, not by farm workers, and a strategy of working cooperatively with labor contractors. AWOC continued the prior efforts of Ernesto Galarza and the NFW in struggling against "braceros" or guest workers, contract workers imported from Mexico, from breaking strikes. A renewed "guest worker" bill is presently before Congress.
Each of the prior attempts to organize farm worker unions were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and allied itself with the churches, students, and organized labor. The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the birth of Latino politics in the U.S.
Today, under the leadership of UFW president Arturo Rodriguez, over 28,000 farm workers enjoy benefits on the job. They are incorporated into California's educational, health and civic communities. The UFW has shown the AFL-CIO that immigrants can and must be organized. In 2002 we won significant victories in the legislature and numerous elections.
César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others deliberately created a multiracial organization, Mexican, Mexican American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW. This cross racial organizing was necessary in order to combat the prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial and language lines always left the corporations the winners.
In the 60's Chávez became the pre-eminent civil rights leader for the Mexican and Chicano workers, helping with local union struggles throughout the nation. He worked tirelessly to make people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. It is a testament to Cesar Chavez's skills and courage that the UFW even survived. They were opposed by major interests in corporate agriculture including the Bruce Church and Gallo Corporations as well as the leadership of the Republican Party then led by Ronald Reagan. Workers were fired, beaten, threatened and even killed in pursuit of union benefits . Non union farm workers today continue to live on sub-poverty wages while producing the abundant crops in the richest valley, in the richest state in the richest nation in the world.
In response to corporate power, Cesar developed new strategies, such as the boycott, based upon his personal commitment to non-violence in the tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. César Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993 near Yuma, Arizona.
Today Mexican, Mexican American and Puerto Rican union leadership is common in our major cities and in several industries. For myself and others, the UFW was a school for organizing. Hundreds of activists in labor and community organizations owe their skills to UFW training and experience. Along with improved working conditions, salaries, and benefits, training this cadre of organizers remains a major legacy of the UFW.
César taught us that all organizations have problems, that all organizations are imperfect. But, if you wait for the perfect organization, nothing gets done. Building popular organizations builds people's power, and democracy. Chavez' legacy to popular struggles, to Chicano/Mexicano self determination and to unions for the immigrant workers is beyond measure. He is present in all of our work. I plan to march on March 25, and celebrate March 31,2006 in memory of Cesar Chavez' contributions building a more democratic society for working people. You can find our more about this remarkable leader at
Duane Campbell is a Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Calif. State University-Sacramento and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. (Merrill/Pren Hall.2000)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Immigration bill: urgent action

Take Action Now : March 24, 2006.

The Senate Judiciary Committee may attempt to complete immigration bill mark-up this week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Arlen Specter R-PA., is currently considering the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. The committee has met twice to consider the bill, but has only made progress on Titles I and II on border and interior enforcement. The most controversial issues, such as the criminalization of the undocumented and those who assist them, the temporary worker program, and the fate of the undocumented population, could be taken up this week. The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday and may try to finish its work and report a bill by the end of the week. It is crucial that you contact your Senators this week to ask them to support comprehensive immigration reform, most particularly an earned legalization program for the 11 million undocumented in the country.

As background, Senator Frist has stated he will bring enforcement-only legislation (most likely Titles I, II, and III of the legislation) to the floor the week of March 27 if the Committee does not report a bill to the floor. Such a move would diminish chances that comprehensive immigration legislation will be considered during the current Congress.

We urge you to contact the Senators no later than Wednesday with a two-part message:

1). Only a comprehensive immigration reform bill is acceptable and that the Senate Judiciary Committee should be given time to complete its work and,
2). Please support an amendment to the bill which would provide an earned legalization program for the 11 million undocumented in the country.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are:

Alabama: Senator Jeff Session's office at (202) 224-4124

Arizona: Senator Jon Kyl's office at (202) 224-4521

California: Senator Feinstein’s office at: (202) 224-3841

Delaware: Senator Biden’s office at: (202) 224-5042

Illinois: Senator Durbin’s office at: (202) 224-2152

Iowa: Senator Grassley’s office at: (202) 224-3744

Kansas: Senator Brownback’s office at: (202) 224-6521

Massachusetts: Senator Kennedy’s office at: (202) 224-5251

New York: Senator Schumer’s office at: 202-224-6542

Ohio: Senator DeWine’s office at: (202) 224-2315

Oklahoma: Senator Coburn’s office at: (202) 224-5754

Pennsylvania: Senator Specter’s office at: (202) 224-4254

South Carolina: Senator Graham’s office at: (202) 224-5972

Texas: Senator Cornyn’s office at: (202) 224-2934

Utah: Senator Hatch’s office at: (202) 224-5251

Vermont: Senator Leahy’s office at: (202) 224-4242

Wisconsin: Senator Kohl’s office at: (202) 224-5653 & Senator Feingold’s office at: (202) 224-5323

Click on the links provided for a summary of the bill and talking points which highlight the major issues in case you have an opportunity for a longer conversation with staff. Again, the short message is that 1). the Senate Judiciary Committee should be given time to complete its work on a complicated immigration bill. Such a bill should not be rushed out of committee. Please support an amendment to the bill in committee and/or on the floor which would provide an earned legalization program for the 11 million undocumented in this country. (An earned legalization program would provide temporary work visas for currently undocumented. It would require them to pay a fine, begin learning English, and work for six years before becoming eligible for a green card/permanent residency)

This is an important week for the chances for comprehensive immigration reform. We need your voices.

Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope.
The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform

Saturday, March 11, 2006

100,000 March in Chicago for Immigrant Rights

Saturday, March 11, 2006 · Last updated 7:56 a.m. PT
100,000 march in favor of immigrant rights

CHICAGO -- Hoisting American flags into the air, tens of thousands of immigrants from the Chicago area marched downtown in a display of support for immigrant rights as a bill to stiffen border enforcement awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
Many took up enthusiastic chants like "Si, se puede (Yes, it can be done)" and "La raza unida nunca sera vencida (A people united will never be defeated)."
The mostly Latino marchers Friday descended upon the plaza across from the federal courthouse, where they listened to speeches backing pro-immigrant legislation.
"Raise those American flags!" shouted U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat. "This is our country, and this is where we will stay."
Police estimated that more than 100,000 marchers came from all over the Chicago area, many carrying - or wearing - Mexican and American flags. The protest was spirited, but peaceful, and there were no reported arrests or incidents.
The legislation, already passed by the U.S. House, is billed as a border protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration control act. It includes such measures as enlisting military and local law enforcement help in stopping illegal entrants and authorizes the building of a fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich addressed the crowd in Spanish, telling them he is the son of immigrant parents and understands their issues.
The Democrat's proclamation that "ustedes no son criminales. Ustedes son trabajadores" ("You are not criminals. You are workers") brought loud cheers.
Abigail Marquez, 35, said she came to the rally with her husband and teenage son to express her support for Latino issues. The native of Guadalajara, Mexico said she did not expect so many people to participate in the march, organized by dozens of activist groups.
"I had no idea. There are just so many people here," she said in Spanish. "I feel very happy because it shows that we are all united."
The march began at noon at a park several miles west of the downtown Loop business district. Hours later, marchers still thronged the Loop, clogging streets and tying up traffic. By early evening, traffic had returned to near-normal levels, police said.
Abel Nunez, associate director of a social service agency that was one of many organizations spearheading the event, said the goal was "to demonstrate to people that immigrants are here and we contribute to this country."
The Illinois Minuteman Project, affiliated with a national volunteer civilian border patrol group, held a news conference before the march began.
State director Rosanna Pulido said she does not want to see Chicago become a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants. Nationally, the illegal immigrant population has grown from about 8.4 million in 2000 to nearly 12 million, according to a new report.
"There are 14 million underemployed Americans," she said. "Don't they have the right to have a better life and support their families? Let's give them an opportunity because this is their country."
Associated Press Writer Nathaniel Hernandez contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

AFL-CIO rejects temporary guest worker proposals

AFL-CIO rejects U.S. guest worker proposals
Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:17 PM ET
By Peter Szekely

SAN DIEGO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - AFL-CIO leaders on Tuesday said they would reject guest worker proposals now in Congress, saying that all foreign workers who come to the United States to fill labor shortages should come as permanent residents.

In a comprehensive policy on an immigration issue that has divided labor as well as Republican lawmakers, leaders of the 54-union federation ditched the idea that a temporary guest worker program could be made acceptable.

"To embrace the expansion of temporary guest worker programs is to embrace the creation of an undemocratic, two-tiered society," AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson told a news conference.

The AFL-CIO's immigration policy, which has evolved from a restrictive view a generation ago, is expected to be formally adopted on Wednesday by its executive council during its winter meeting, after winning the endorsement of a council subcommittee, an AFL-CIO spokeswoman said.

The AFL-CIO, the larger of two U.S. labor federations, continues to support the legalization of more than 11 million illegal foreign workers in the country as it has since taking that landmark position in 2000.

Its new policy, however, would oppose existing U.S. guest worker programs, such as H1B visas for foreign professional workers or H2B visas for seasonal unskilled workers, as well as Senate proposals to expand those programs.

By rejecting the guest worker concept, the AFL-CIO rejected the notion of separate but equal working conditions for workers who are not accorded permanent residency status, or "green cards," and given the option of becoming citizens.

"Our answer is that the future labor shortages need to be filled by workers with full rights," said Ana Avendano, director of the AFL-CIO's immigrant workers' program.

Avendano said the number of foreigners who come to work in the United States with residency status in the future should be determined by a formula using economic indicators that measure the job market for individual industries.


The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of five unions to break away from the AFL-CIO last year and start the rival Change to Win labor federation, supports a version of a guest worker program in a bill sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican.

But that bill was overshadowed on Friday by a comprehensive draft offered by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter that will become the vehicle for Senate debate on immigration matters. The committee is scheduled to discuss his bill on Thursday.

Besides allowing illegal workers who entered the United States before Jan. 4, 2004, to remain indefinitely, Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, would allow an unlimited number of new guest workers to enter the country without a right to eventually become permanent residents or citizens.

Republicans are split over the immigration issue, which has exposed the gulf between conservative activists who oppose guest worker and amnesty programs for current illegal workers and Republican business interests that rely on immigrant labor.

President George W. Bush favors a guest worker program that offers illegal immigrants in the United States the chance to register and work -- mostly at low-skilled jobs that Americans don't want -- for up to six years.

A bill that passed the House of Representatives would expand an employer verification system designed to weed illegal immigrants out of the workforce.