Tag Archives: Alabama

14,237 Unaccompanied Minors Detained at the US-MX border, 2/13-2/20

22 Feb
Mexico's ICE

Mexico's ICE

Nearly 15,000 unaccompanied minors detained at the Mexico-US border annually, Fox News Latino, 2.13.12
_____Mexico’s version of ICE, the National Institute of Migration (INM) released an astounding figure early last week. In 2011, 14,237 minors travelled by themselves and were detained at the Southern border. That translates to about 40 children a day who are caught trying to cross into the US. This number does not include the children who are not detained when crossing the border, suggesting that the number of minors traveling by themselves is much higher. The 14,237 includes 11,520 minors from Mexico and another 2,717 minors from other Latin American countries such as Colombia, Panama, Spain, and Argentina. The report is not clear on whether these are minors without parents, crossing on their own, or minors who are trying to reunite with family in the US. The INM report also mentions that, within their agency, 386 officials work in the “Children’s Protection” unit where they screen for maltreatment, abuse, and trafficking. These children have been lured to the opportunities that may be available when they arrive in the US, despite the dangerous border conditions and the widespread discrimination.
_____The push and pull factors of immigration do not occur by chance: 11 million undocumented people in the United States is not a random statistic. In a recent Nation article David Bacon successfully at describes how US foreign policy has been a major contributor to the push of Mexicans out of Mexico.  NAFTA has eliminated many agricultural jobs, it hasn’t created enough manufacturing jobs, and both of these contribute to a 50% poverty rate in Mexico. In such a poor economic environment, it should be no wonder that there are so many trying to come to the US, including nearly 15,000 children who were detained at the border. If young people searching for better opportunities are able to make it to the border, we should not expel them from our country to an uncertain fate. Given that these minors may be orphans of have family in the US of Latin America, US’s first priority should be to ensure their safety, NOT their deportation. After all, US foreign policies are part of the reason they were pushed away from their homes in the first place.

In other news
March for Dignity a Success, Oakland Local, 2.18.12
Several hundred marchers stood in solidarity with workers who were laid-off from Pacific Steel Casting after an ICE audit. The resilient worker-organizers along with their allies marched through Berkeley on Friday, reminding the public that the immigrant persecution in this country is not limited to Arizona and Alabama.
Alabama’s Immigration Law Could Cost Billions Annually, Business Week, 2.14.12
An economic analysis of anti-immigrant laws in Utah, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana find that these laws are having a tremendous economic impact. In Alabama, the study estimates that the economy will shrink by 2.3 billion dollars and 70,000 jobs every year. The majority of the decline is attributed to goods and services that would have been used by immigrants who have fled the state to avoid the laws.
Arizona business leaders drive a new approach to unauthorized immigration, WSJ, 2.13.12
A republican legislator in the state described the new approach: “In Arizona, we’re no longer willing to throw illegal-immigration bills against the wall to see what sticks.” The push is backed by the business groups such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Arizona Farm Bureau, which indicates that the state’s nativist streak may concede to a desire for a healthy economy. State legislators Alabama is also re-considering repealing elements of it’s anti-immigrant law.
Immigrants are slowly returning back to Alabama despite repressive HB56, USA Today, 2.19.12
After the dust of HB56 has settled, immigrants who initially left the state in large numbers are starting to return. Jobs are difficult to find elsewhere, rumors of mass deportations proved to be untrue and many families just want to return to a place they consider home. Still wary of the changes in Alabama law, many immigrants remain vigilant.

More than just a business, 1/23-1/30

1 Feb
A recent article in the New York Times described one incentive for providing a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants: economic profit. The article highlighted a report from the Greater Houston Partnership which found that Texas would get at least $1.4 billion a year in revenue and that “…the law needs to be business friendly” and that “the untapped revenue would be accessible if immigration reform…allowed illegal immigrants the chance to work legally and pay taxes.” The economic rhetoric is also seen in other states, where legislators are supporting businesses with low-cost labor, while passing laws that discriminate against this labor because of immigration status.

The focus solely on profit and business is troublesome because it treats undocumented immigrants like a business. Given our weak economy, it’s convenient to emphasize the economic argument. From a business perspective, this may pass. But from a public health and social justice perspective, it doesn’t. Undocumented immigrants are not a business transaction. Their well-being is part of the health and well-being of our society at large. The rationale for providing a pathway for citizenship should have a deeper foundation – one that is based on human rights and social justice. Yes, undocumented immigrants should have the chance – the right – to work legally, and they should also have the right to enjoy the benefits of their hard work, like health insurance, and have the freedom to live without fear. In the US, a business or economic argument can be made about anything, but we must also equally emphasize the human rights and public health foundations for a healthy society.

In the News

Why Conservatives Want to Tax Poor American Children of Immigrants, Center for American Progress, 1.20.12
Republicans in Congress have voted for a bill that would fund the extension of the payroll tax break by eliminating the ability for parents who file income taxes with a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, meaning they do not have a Social Security Number, to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. A New York Times editorial also speaks out against this bill.The Politics of Immigrant Scapegoating: Not Just an American Past-time, Colorlines, 1.23.12
U.S. is not alone in its anti-immigrant attitudes and polices. Britain and Western Europe also have political figures who “waste no opportunity” to scapegoat immigrants.

Romney on immigration: I’m for “self-deportation”, CBS, 1.24.12
Despite being vocal about his stance against immigration in previous states, like South Carolina, Romney argues for “self-deportation” instead in Florida, given the state’s large Latino voters.

Military-only version of the DREAM Act, Miami Herald, 1.27.12
Remember how GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that he’d support a version of the DREAM Act that didn’t have a college component? Taking a cue from Gingrich, a Florida Republican Congressman has now introduced just that, a House bill that proposes conditional legal status for undocumented young people who enlist in the military. Going to college, however, would not be an option.

Undocumented workers pay billions in Social Security taxes, 12.25.11-1.2.12

4 Jan
A common myth is that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes. But, a recent article in The Seattle Times shows that each year billions of dollars are deducted from undocumented workers’ pay checks, and this money goes to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Medicare. The funds go into what is called an Earning Suspense File, established to collect money from filers whose names do not match social security numbers. In 2009, the last year for which figures were available, there were $72.8 billion in wages from 7.7 million workers whose names did not match the social security numbers. Of this, approximately $9 billion went to the SSA system and an additional $2.1 billion went to Medicare. In addition, they also pay sales tax, income taxes and rent, which landlords use to pay property taxes. Instead of seeing the benefits from these billions, undocumented workers face accusations that they do not pay taxes.
This inaccurate – and discriminatory- accusation is just another example of how U.S. policies and society exploit and scapegoat our undocumented workers. Less obvious are the health repercussions of these false assumptions. For instance, many undocumented workers will not be able to claim the benefits to which they contribute, such as Medicare or Social Security pensions. The “immigrants-do-not-pay-taxes” myth also stigmatizes workers and encourages flawed policies, such as E-verify, that further marginalize undocumented workers. Anti-immigrant systems and policies exploit immigrant workers, when what our society needs to do is recognize the contributions of our workers and treat them fairly. One way to start is by exposing these discriminatory myths.
In Other News
Calif. bans car tow practice that hit illegal immigrants, USA Today, 12.27.11
On Sunday, a new law took effect that prohibits police from impounding cars at checkpoints if the only offense is not having a license. Immigrant advocates have long critiqued checkpoints as unjustly targeting undocumented immigrants while towing companies gain huge profits from impounding fees.
As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy, Pew Hispanic Research Center, 12.28.11
The report finds that “By a ratio of more than two-to-one (59% versus 27%), Latinos disapprove of the way the Obama administration is handling deportations of unauthorized immigrants.”
Immigration laws pose a test of states’ rights in Supreme Court, LA Times, 12.28.11
While federal judges have blocked anti-immigrant laws introduce by conservatives in half a dozen states like South Carolina and Arizona,  the Supreme Court’s conservative majority may shift against immigrant rights advocates.

E-verify sections of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigration law now in effect, 1.2.12
Employers in Alabama and Georgia are now required to use the E-verify system, which mandates employers to sign a document confirming that “they’ve e-verified their employees….[and] are complying with federal law.”

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

Latinos and the health care reform, 10/9-10/16

17 Oct
Hastings Center LogoLatino voters support health care reform, not the insurance mandate, Latino Decisions, 10/13/11.
New resource to clarify health care reform for undocumented patients, Medical News Today, 10/13/11
Like any other group in this country, Latinos are mixed about their support for the new health care reform law. A nation wide poll of 600 Latino voters found limited support for the affordable care act. Asked whether the law should stand, 50% said yes, compared to 29% who said no. Asked whether they were in favor of mandated insurance, a much less popular, albeit necessary feature of the act, 59% were against, compared to 32% who were in favor. There was large opposition to cuts to Medicare, with 73% opposed. Adding to the confusion, there is little clarity on what the new reform means for undocumented people.
A new effort lead by the Hastings Center a non-partisan research institution will attempt to shed light on access to health care for undocumented individuals. Many assume that they or their children do not have access to the medical where this is not the case. For example, a US born child, who has undocumented parents, does have access to health care: this is not always understood.The report will investigate how doctors and organizations navigate the challenges of serving undocumented patients. Specifically, the report with look at how laws, policies, and financial constraints are dealt with to provide health care. Along with a final report, the Hastings center will put forth a website with resources for the public.In other news
Apeals court blocks part of Alabama law, Reuters, 10/14/11
Appeals filed by the DOJ and immigrants rights groups stopped the part of the law that required public schools to keep records on immigration status of students and the part making it a crime to be in the streets without papers.Immigrant Groups to DOJ: In Alabama the situation is dire, HUFFPO, 10/10/11
Ironically, many immigrants are fleeing the state during “Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.” The law that targets immigrants has created an atmosphere of uncertainty, and has led many in the state to leave while the courts determine where the law is constitutional. DOJ has taken a proactive role to protect individuals from abuses, meeting with immigrant groups and setting up toll-free lines for people to report abuses stemming from the new law. One Alabama Latino said, “I never thought I’d be hanging out with the FBI and the Department of Justice so much, but they’re on our side,”

Latinos in Alabama are not going down quietly, ABC News, 10/12/11
Latino workers with authorization to work are standing in solidarity with the undocumented immigrants of Alabama to protest the repressive HB56. Chicken processing plants will be closed due to the work stoppages. One web commenter stated, “We must be united to be a force, now more than ever.”

Dayton Ohio has plans to become an immigrant friendly city, Reuters, 10/13/11
In a much different approach to immigration, Dayton Ohio hopes to prevent population loss and stimulate the economy by legislating a welcoming environment. Similar approaches have been taken by northern cities Detroit and Cleveland.

Immigration from Central America into México plummets, FOX News Latino, 10/11/11
Mexican government official cites extortion, kidnapping, and disappearances as the reason for the dramatic decrease in immigration into Mexico. Since 2005, unauthorized immigration has dropped from 433,000 a year in 2005 to 140,000 in 2010.