Friday, October 31, 2008

Manager of Kosher Slaughterhouse Arrested

The former manager of Agriprocessors in Postville, IA, which was raided by ICE in the spring was arrested for violations of immigration law. Already the State of Iowa had fined the kosher meat processing plant for violation of child labor and wage laws. The manager was released after putting up a million dollars bail. (See NY Times article.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Health Care for Undocumented Varies State to State

A LA Times article reported on the varying provision of health care to the undocumented across the country. Federal law demands that all states provide care in "emergencies", but that's defined so vaguely that each state seems free to interpret the obligation as it sees fit. Using the example of kidney dialysis, the Times found that in California and a few other states this is routinely provided -- even Kidney transplants. The federal government through emergency Medicaid pays part of the cost. In other states patients wait till near death before going to an ER for emergency dialysis. In some states, however, practice may vary. Texas does not provide for routine dialysis, but Houston does using local tax dollars. It's no mystery why some states deny routine medical care to the undocumented -- they don't belong here and medical care would attract more. But the economics of the issue seems to favor routine care, since it's cheaper to deal with ailments of the undocumented routinely than in an ER.

Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants seemed to have become easy targets to muggers. On weekends, just have cashing paychecks. they are accosted in the streets and asked to turn over their money. The muggers act with impunity, since they know their victims will not go to the police. Both the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Phoenix Police have signed agreements with ICE to share information on the undocumented that are detained for criminal acts. No telling what Sheriff Joe Apraio would do, but the Phoenix police say they do not share information on crime victims. The message either hasn't go through or is not believed. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homeland Secretary Pushes for E-Verify

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has urged a U.S. federal court to lift an injunction on the so-called "no match" rule. The rule was one part of the Bush administration's stepped-up enforcement. To the fence and the ICE raids was to be added a requirement that employers fire all employees who names did not match the Social Security Administration's records. It would apply to all workers -- legal or illegal. Suit was brought by such immigrant advocates as the American Civil Liberties Union and business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This unusual alliance argued that the rule will catch in "no matches" citizens because of mistakes at SSA's records and would place an unfair burden on employers. The court agreed enough to place the "no match" in limbo. Now Chertoff wants it restored to join the other strategies which he claims have reduced, if not stopped, undocumented migration. (See LA Times article.)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America", has been called to task by a federal judge. Whether he's the toughest sheriff or not, the court seems to thinks he's the meanest -- especially in handling prisoners in the county jail. He has been ordered to improve conditions -- health care, quality of food and living conditions. These issues antedate his headline-grabbing campaign against the immigrant. (See NY Times article.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hispanic Vote Update

A NY Times article updated the quest for the Hispanic vote. As previously reported, it's going heavily for Barack Obama. Though Republican strategy in the past has been to cut into, but win, that vote, it's not working for John McCain. While the immigration controversy initially triggered the drift to the Democrats, as the campaign has progressed Hispanics have cited the economy, education and health care as priority issues.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Supreme Court to Hear Identity Theft Case

The Supreme Court has accepted the case of East Moline, IL, undocumented steelworker charged with two counts of identity theft. (See NY Times article and post for October 19th.) A decision will influence how and how effectively ICE can carrying out plant raids. It uses the threat of a identity-theft charge to win easy cooperation in a deportation proceeding.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Intentity Theft Cases May Go To Supreme Court

Monday, Oct 20th, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to accept an appeal on one of two identity theft cases in Iowa brought against undocumented aliens. Those rounded up in the Postville raid were given a choice -- either plea guilty to a lesser charge and serve five months in prison and then be deported or face full prosecution on identity theft and be liable to two years in prison. The issue the two cases that might go before the Supreme Court is whether the government has a greater burden to prove that the accused knowingly used another person's identity. For the most part, they didn't. Yet a district federal court and an appeals court found for the government did not. This is the issue the Supreme Court might take up. There are serious consequences if the higher court reverses the decision. ICE and federal attorneys would not be able to use identity theft as a tool to fight illegal immigration. Just the possibility of prosecution intimidated many rounded up at Postville.(See Washington Post article.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Latino Protestants as Swing Voters

President George W. Bush made great progress in attracting Hispanic votes in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Many of those votes, if not most, are attributed to Hispanic Protestants who made up nearly a third of that block. This year, according to a recent survey, more than half favor Barack Obama, only a little more than a third opting for John McCain. Religiously conservative, they were outraged and hurt by the nasty tone of the House Republicans in 2006. McCain's support of comprehensive reform helped, but his shift to stressing enforcement and border security first seems to dampened their interest. Catholic Hispanic voters tend, like earlier immigrants, to be Democrats through the first generations. (See LA Times article. Note you can click to get to the survey.)

Sherriff Joe Arpaio took his "crime-suppression" circus to Mesa's, second largest city in Maricopa County, city hall and the public library. He did it early in morning, long before business hours. His deputies and assorted volunteers came in with bullet-proof vests and automatic rifles. Who did they corral?Mostly the Hispanic and undocumented cleaning crew. The mayor and the chief of police were incensed, but nonetheless intimidated. Incidentally, Sheriff Joe's on the ballot November 4th. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Tensions in the Meatpacking Plants

The undocumented workers picked up and deported because of ICE raids on meatpacking plants has led to replacing them with Somalis. This happened in the wake of the raid on Agriprocessors in Postville, IA. Most of the Somali workers entered the U.S. legally as political refugees. Yet they have create tensions with Hispanic and Anglo fellow workers. The difference are religious and cultural mostly -- stopping work to accommodate prayer, handling pork and celbrating holidays. The Somalis are recruited by labor brokers. This pattern to a lesser extent is found among Sudanese political refugees -- only they are Christian rather than Muslim. (See NY Times article.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fighting Sheriff Joe -- Not Directly

Some community leaders have long had issues with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, even before his immigration sweeps. But the self-proclaimed "toughest lawman/sheriff in the country" has beaten off previous critics and is inclined to punished them for second-guessing him. Note the way he treated Guadelupe, AZ. (See posting for Oct. 14, 2008.) Now a new group -- an alliance of community organization, labor unions and church groups known as Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability-- is giving up frontal assaults against Sheriff Joe. Since his operations are funded by Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors, MCSA is going after the board that has been docile to the sheriff's harsh treatment of prisoners and immigrants. They pack meetings of the board and raise issues of neglected areas of law enforcement. Whether the strategy is not likely to work, at least before the election. (Sheriff Joe is on the November ballot.) But organizers for MCSA intend to be around as a thorn in Sheriff Joe's side. fo a long haul (See Arizona Republic article.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guadelupe, AZ, vs. Sheriff Joe

A small town outside Phoenix, Guadelupe, had been the dramatic scene of one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "criminal sweeps". The mayor and most townsfolk vigorously protested the round-up of undocumented for minor tariff violations. Sheriff Joe struck back by cancelling police protection to Guadelupe. The town has six months to find alternate policing. Settled originally by Yakqui Indians feeling persecution in Mexico, now it is half Hispanic and poor with a high crime rate and gang activity. Now that it must find their own policing, many residents are having second thoughts about defying Sheriff Joe. (See LA Times article.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sheriff Joe's Round-ups Illegal Says Former U.S. Attorney

A former U.S. Attorney for Arizona says Sheriff Joe Arpaio's round ups of Hispanics are clearly illegal and the Justice Department should stop them. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Senators Ted Kennedy (D. MA) and Robert Menendez (D. NJ) have introduced legislation to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who have been swept up in ICE raids. This is common enough, as in the recent ICE raid in Greenville, S.C. Often some who are detained are unable to prove citizenship because they carry no documentation. ICE agents would be required to advise the detainees of their rights, especially to remain silent. This would be similar to the "Miranda" rights afforded in criminal arrests. (See Washington Post article.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Business Learders Launch a Campaign for Legalization

Business leaders in Arizona and three other states are starting a media campaign to turn attention from securing the borders to advancing legalization and a guest-worker program. They argue that there as been much progress on the border, but this has led also to a shortage of workers. The campaign is supported by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and such ad-hoc groups like Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. (See Arizona Republic article.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ICE Raids in South Carolina

ICE rounded up more than 300 undocumented workers at a chicken processing plant in Greenville, S.C. Some were charged with aggravated identity-theft. Another aspect of the raid is ICE's claim to going after the employers as well as the workers. (See Washington Post article.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Undocumented Homeowners Better Risks

The Los Angeles Times reported that undocumented homeowners seem to be better risks to lenders than U.S. citizens. This conclusion comes from a comparison of delinquencies of those who submitted ITINS numbers in processing the loans and those who used Social Securities numbers. An ITINS number is simply the tax number one receives from the Internal Revenue Service. It is legal for lenders to accept such verification in stead of the Social Security number. Undocumented aliens generally apply and receive such numbers. That's what is submitted for a home loan. Delinquencies on ITINS loans is 1.15% compared to 3.5% on other loans. Lenders that do accept the ITINS still set tougher qualifications for undocumented borrowers. As a consequence few undocumented homeowners took subprime loans and so few face foreclosure. Many undocumented also look on homeownership as one of their primary goals in establishing roots in U.S.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Border Crossings Drop

The Border Patrol has reported a significant drop in arrest of those crossing the border without documentation. This it attributes to its tough enforcement, and so claims an indication that illegal entry is declining as a consequence. (See NY Times article.) The Pew Hispanic Center also released a report to similar effect, but attributes it more to the downturn in the economy and the industries that attract the undocumented. The Inter-America Development Bank which monitors the flow of monies between countries of the hemisphere reports that last year remittances to Mexico and other countries have dropped drastically. This is another indication of the decline in "unauthorized immigration."

The U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has decried the detention of millions of immigrants and asylum seekers throughout the world, but focused especially on the growing practice in the European Union (EU). She argued that these people are not criminals and should not be treated as such. She also lamented the growing practice of detaining unaccompanied minors. (See Reuters article.)