Tag Archives: Alabama

Economic Destruction in Alabama, 11/20-11/27

28 Nov

Mercedes Benz with the doors out

In what must have been an embarrassment, Alabama state lawmakers recently discovered that a European businessman had been caught up in the HB56 immigration dragnet. A manager with Mercedes Benz, was pulled over and arrested when he failed to produce documents authorizing his presence in the state. The charges were dropped when the AL police realized that the manager had been authorized to do business in the state. No word, however, on the other immigrants who have also been arrested for not carrying documents, but who pick fruits and vegetables instead of selling luxury vehicles. Apparently Alabama values its high-end SUVs more than nutritious food.
The manager from Mercedes Benz’s arrest serves to illustrate how the 1% are using the economic crisis to scapegoat immigrants. The Mercedes Benz plant came to Alabama in the 1990’s, almost assuredly with generous tax write offs. The plant provides jobs for some in Alabama while providing minimal revenue for the state. Alabama is left praising the generous Mercedes Benz corporation for locating their jobs to the state, glazing over the fact that the overall effect is fewer tax dollars for the people of the United States. Meanwhile, immigrants who come to the state for the labor-intensive jobs and meager wages are blamed for stealing jobs and ruining the economy.
The Occupy movement has been raising the issue of inequality in major cities across the country. The richest 1% have made incredible economic gains in the past 30 years, while the wages for the rest of 99% have remained stagnant. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is the reason schools and health programs are being defunded.
Fortunately, there are solutions. For example, a newspaper in St.Louis has invited Mercedes Benz to relocate to Missouri. The newspapers editorial recommended that the German company move to Missouri because its friendlier policies for  immigrants. Others, like Occupy SF and a collective of domestic workers (La Colectiva) and day Laborers have taken to the streets to march for immigrants’ rights. People are coming together to fight the foreclosures, investment in the detention system, and the exploitation of immigrant labor that are prime examples of how the 1% are profiting of immigrant suffering. People are standing up to say that their wellbeing is just as important as a manager for Mercedes Benz.

In the news:
New Yorker Cover-- Pilgrims crossing the borderImmigration featured on NEW YORKER cover, HUFFPO, 11.23.11
Pilgrims running across a militarized border are featured on the cover of this weeks New Yorker. The illustrator, a German immigrant, had this to say: “The debate should be about how can a country benefit from immigration. America depends on immigration. The discussion will be more valuable if it is focused on benefits.”
Black labor leader surpised by impact of HB56, COLORLINES, 11.23.11
A delegation of black labor leaders recently traveled to Alabama to see the profound impact of HB56 the state’s anti-immigrant law. Many were surprised with the severity of the law that has affected schools, work, employment, and even access to water and electricity.
Newt Gingrich tests the waters with statement on immigration, HUFFPO, 11.26.11
In a recent debate for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt dares to make a statement in favor of some undocumented immigrants. In Newt’s opinion, there should be slight compassion afforded to immigrants who have been in the country for over 25 years and go to church.

Fear is at the Core of Alabama’s Immigration Law- and it’s a Public Health Emergency 11/14-11/21

23 Nov

Last week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published an article where it outlines the 10 most destructive consequences of Alabama’s law for public health. These consequences include children not getting life-saving immunizations, mothers not obtaining necessary prenatal care, and communities not having access to water services.  It concludes that all people in Alabama will suffer negative health consequences.

The underlying threat to public health is the fear that this law causes. This fear leads to many of the public health consequences outlined in CAP’s article. For example, parents are afraid to go to health clinics for themselves and for their children, leading to lack of immunizations. Mothers are afraid of seeking the necessary prenatal care which puts them at risk during their pregnancy.

Fear does not only affect specific choices or decisions about seeking health services.  This type of fear is chronic – it’s there day after day, year after year in ways not easily measured.  It can result in trauma that can manifest itself in medical and psychological illness. Living in constant fear is unhealthy both for the individual and communities. In addition to the impact on health care, it also shatters the trust with many gatekeepers to health and other services: the government, employers, doctors and providers, teachers, and neighbors. A community and society becomes dysfunctional when the backbone of its policies is to generate fear.

The state of Alabama is already experiencing some of these consequences. For instance, one farmer estimates that he has lost $300,000 due to labor shortages. We have yet to see the longer term effects, and there are many ways in which fear can damage not only the state economy but the health of the community as well.

Instead of destroying the lives of hardworking individuals and communities, decision-makers should develop policies that are fair, that do not violate basic human rights, and that do not instill fear in communities. As public health advocates, we also have the responsibility to expose how these unjust policies affect the health of our communities and populations.

In Other News
Obama: Kids Stuck in Foster Care Due to Deportation a ‘Real Problem’, Colorlines, 11-14-2011
President Obama acknowledges that his administration’s immigration policies break up families. The Applied Research Center’s report finds that at least 5,100 children are currently in foster case because their parents were detained or deported by ICE.

Alabama’s Immigration Laws Are Unconstitutional, Bloomberg, 11-15-2011
The U.S. tells the federal appeals court that Alabama’s anti-immigrant law is unconstitutional. In a separate filing, the ACLU also opposes the law arguing that the laws “are designed to make daily living so difficult for undocumented workers that they will leave the state.”

Immigration from Mexico in fast retreat, data show, Los Angeles Times, 11-15-2011
Fewer people are leaving Mexico and many are also returning to their native country. Lack of jobs and increased border enforcement are cited as responsible factors.

In Alabama, Calls for Revamping Immigration Law, The New York Times, 11-16-11
Lawmakers are becoming more willing to change parts of Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law, especially the controversial and illogical provision that requires proof of immigration status for “any transaction between a person and the state or a political subdivision of the state.” Some of these “transactions” have included severe infringements on basic human rights, such as access to water or sewer services.

Oakland Occupier free pending deportation hearing, SF Chronicle, 11-18-11
Oakland activist Francisco “Pancho” Stierle was released after being arrested at the Oakland Occupy police raid and then detained by immigration agents for not having papers. Advocates describe Pancho as one of the more peaceful protesters and one who represents how programs like Secure Communities tend to detain and eventually deport individuals who are convicted of non-violent offenses.

SUCCESS @ Wells Fargo! 10/31-11/6

7 Nov
Action at Wells Fargo Nov.5th, protesting investment in detention centers.

Photo by Roxanne Robledo

On November 5th, an overcast Saturday morning, the group 67 Sueños organized an action at Wells Fargo in Oakland to protest its investment in the nation’s privatized immigrant detention system. As outlined in this helpful flier we created, which can be found on our Resources page, the immigrant detention system is notorious for its abuses.  While learning about these abuses was surprising to some people, what has been more surprising is Wells Fargo’s involvement in our nation’s abusive detention system. Wells Fargo invests in the Geo Group the Corrections Corporation of America, two large corporations that run immigration detention centers for a profit. The profits come at the cost of the health and well-being of individuals caught up in detention and deportation system. Continue reading

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