LABOR: State and Federal government agencies struggle to find the balance between meeting labor demands in the country, protecting immigrant workers rights, and enforcing current immigration policy.
California agricultural growers continued their campaign to support a temporary guest worker program. The campaign is growing out of fears about labor shortages as border security increases (Guest Worker Idea Stuck in Web of Politics). Chipotle is under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors, accused of hiring undocumented immigrants and being out of compliance with work authorization procedures (Chipotle Federal Immigration Probe: ‘We Didn’t Do Anything Wrong’).
Tensions about immigrant labor also extend to the highly skilled professions. This week, four Senators (2 Democrats and 2 Republicans) introduced new legislation that would make it easier for foreign students and highly skilled immigrants to gain visas (Four Senators Propose Easing Visa Limits for Highly Skilled).
HOUSING: Immigrants continue to face challenging and unhealthy circumstances within the US. In Texas, authorities are finding an increasing number of “stash houses” – crowded housing where smugglers keep undocumented immigrants until their families pay the smuggling fee. These houses are hugely overcrowded, and there is often no access to air conditioning, water, and adequate food. In many cases, people are locked inside, and there are frequent reports of abuse (For Many Illegal Entrants into US, a Particularly Inhospitable First Stop).
Access to healthy housing remains a problem in many immigrant communities. In Duroville, California, a community primarily of immigrants working in agriculture and service industries in Palm Springs, residents have no sewage, paved roads, and live in overcrowded mobile homes. The poor living conditions resulted in a 2009 ruling by a federal judge that the residents be relocated, and plans were made for relocation to a new mobile home park. However the plan, to be financed through redevelopment, has been put on hold following Gov. Brown’s decision to end redevelopment (Budget Crisis Takes Toll on Community for California Farmworkers).