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January 30, 2007

Swift plants for sale after raids?

Swift plants for sale?

An AP article on 1/24 suggests that the December raids on Swift, while not the only cause, may be a factor in Swift reportedly trying to sell its assets. I am running on speculation here, but is appears that – perhaps – the use of illegal workers allowed Swift to keep its labor costs down, and now without access to this labor, the economics of its plants deteriorated.

I have previously posted a Wall Street Journal article on this month on how labor costs in a chicken processing plant in Georgia rose after a raid and a shift to American workers.

My guess is that the use of illegal workers saves the employer at least 30% in labor costs. That savings can make an otherwise unprofitable business to be viable – so long as the cost of labor stays down.

Thanks to The Immigration News Blog for clueing my into follow up stories about Swift.

The article:

Swift Exploring Future Sale

By SANDY SHORE AP Business Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press

DENVER — Swift & Co., one of the nation's largest meatpacking processors, may find it more lucrative to sell its assets separately instead of as a whole or testing the market with a stock offering, industry analysts said.

The privately held Swift, which was targeted by a wide-scale immigration raid last month, is looking into strategies ranging from refinancing to a sale or initial public offering, a decision executives said was made after they received some unsolicited inquiries over the past six months.

With beef and pork processing plants in six states and an operation in Australia, Swift may find buyers more interested in pieces rather than the whole company, the analysts said Tuesday.

"I think the owners came to the realization that their options for selling the company were getting more and more limited," said Steve Kay, editor and publisher of the trade publication Cattle Buyers Weekly. "I believe it will be extremely difficult to sell it whole. They may find the component parts ... might be worth more than the whole."

The announcement, made Monday after the markets closed, comes as the nation's meatpackers are recovering from a setback that occurred when key export markets were closed after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was reported in December 2003.

Known medically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the brain-wasting disorder infected more than 180,000 cows and was blamed for more than 150 human deaths during a European outbreak that peaked in 1993. Humans can get a related disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, by eating meat contaminated with mad cow.

Swift said it has received a series of unsolicited inquiries from a number of third parties, and it has hired JPMorgan to help with the review of strategies. Swift said that there would be no additional comment and Swift spokesman Sean McHugh declined further comment Tuesday.

Federal immigration authorities rounded up 1,297 workers at Swift plants in Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Utah on Dec. 12. The company later said the raids could cost up to $30 million due to recruitment and training costs for new employees.

Last week, Swift laid off 58 employees, or about 10 percent of its corporate office staff, and said it took other cost-cutting steps to improve its competitive edge. The company said the actions were unrelated to the raids.

D.A. Davidson and Co. analyst Tim Ramey speculated that Swift may be facing some financial pressures as well as dealing with the aftermath of the Dec. 12 raids. "I think consolidation in this category would be a good thing," Ramey said.

One potential buyer is meatpacker Smithfield Foods Inc. of Norfolk, Va., whose Chairman Joe Luter has indicated interest in Swift operations. A company spokesman did not return a telephone message left Tuesday seeking comment.

In a client note published Monday, Prudential analyst John McMillin said he was encouraged by reports that Smithfield was interested in some of Swift's assets.

"Smithfield would likely be restricted for antitrust reasons from buying all of the pork processing division (three plants), but Swift's $6 billion domestic beef division could be of interest," McMillin wrote.

Based in Greeley, Swift's majority shareholder is HM Capital Partners LLC and its investment partner is Booth Creek Management Corp. It has more than $9 billion in annual sales and a work force of 20,000 worldwide. It is privately held with publicly issued debt.

January 29, 2007

Reform proposals to protect workers comp rights of day laborers -- Texas

Below is a press release about proposed legislation in Texas. In that state --uniquely -- employers can opt out of (elsewhere) mandatory workers comp statutes. This increases the vulnerability of immigrant workers. The law would require employers to cover their day laborers with workers comp.

For day laborers who are illegal immigrants, a guest worker program would probably require that they be employees, rather than independent contractors, and that they be covered by workers comp as well as enjoy all other worker rights.

January 24, 2007

Bill Proposes Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Day Laborers

Recent legislation filed by Rep. Eddie Rodriquez (D-Austin) proposes that day laborers could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from a day laborer employer. This legislation tracks the stated goals of the Texas AFL-CIO and other organized labor groups that are once again pushing for mandatory workers’ compensation coverage during the current legislative session. Texas is the only state where some employers are allowed to opt-out of coverage.

As filed, House Bill 456 calls for day labor employers to be regulated under the authority of the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation. Within the actual language of this bill, one key provision states that a day labor employer “is responsible for providing a day laborer with workers’ compensation benefits to the extent required by other law.” Additionally, if this legislation passes, day labor employers would be required to provide a day laborer formal notice by the end of the laborer’s first workday. This notice would have to be in both Spanish and English and would provide notification to the laborer that workers’ compensation benefits are available in case of an injury. If applicable, this notice would also provide the name and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Also, this bill proposes that all day laborers would be required to comply with any safety and health requirements required by employers under other applicable law. Finally, in its current form, this legislation expressly forbids an employer from charging a day laborer for any safety equipment, specific clothing or other mandatory job-related accessories that may be required by law, industry custom, or by any particular employer.

SEIU on immigration reform

Without comment, a letter from SEUI's International Executive Vice President to Senator Kennedy of immigration reform.

January 17, 200

SEIU Announces Agenda for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
January 16, 2007

Dear Senator Kennedy:

As you know, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has long been an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform. We have worked diligently with you, your Senate colleagues, and your staff to craft the best immigration reform proposals that would fix our broken system. SEIU is willing to consider any fair, practical and tough proposal that will bring out of the shadows an estimated 12 million undocumented individuals, reunite families, secure our borders and create a legal channel for new workers to enter our economy, have workplace protections, and join our civic society.

This architecture is essential to fix our broken borders, workplaces and families. However, many of the provisions in the Senate bill that passed during the 109th Congress, S. 2611, failed to reflect our principles, and fortunately died. Last November, voters sent a strong message to elected leaders that Americans want Congress to fix our nation’s problems, including our failed immigration system. Candidates who ran on anti-immigrant, anti-immigration, and enforcement-only messages lost their races because voters saw through the political rhetoric, not solving the problem. Voters know that deporting 12 million individuals is unrealistic and morally repugnant.

Looking ahead, we anticipate working with you in the 110th Congress to pass a workable, effective comprehensive immigration reform package the President can sign. While imperfect, S. 2611 included the architecture of comprehensive immigration reform: border security; earned legalization for the undocumented population currently living in the United States; family unification; and a mechanism to regularize the flow of workers to reduce future illegal immigration. The Senate-passed bill also included two important measures SEIU has long supported: AgJOBS that would put undocumented farm workers on a path to earned legal status; and the DREAM Act that allows eligible undocumented students to adjust their status and have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Your continued leadership is critical to ensuring that such bi-partisan comprehensive legislation passes both the House and Senate.

As you know, SEIU represents workers who perform some of our most needed, yet under valued work that is essential to our economy, families and communities. Hard working, tax-paying immigrants who are living in this country should be given every opportunity to come forward, pay a fine, and earn legal status and a path toward citizenship. This will enhance border security and buttress our economy. To this end, we are committed to the following provisions being included in this year’s comprehensive immigration reform legislation:

Legalization - The three-tiered legalization provisions included in S. 2611 are unacceptable and unworkable. Successful reform mandates the most expansive earned legalization provisions that would make eligible the largest number of undocumented persons. Congress should not be satisfied with a program that would legalize an estimated 6 to 8 million, when an estimated 11 to12 million individuals are undocumented and living within our borders. We must face reality that long-term undocumented, but otherwise law-abiding workers will not leave the country voluntarily.

We must all agree that if only half or two-thirds of the targeted population would be eligible for legalization, undocumented workers will continue to fuel an underground economy, with negative impacts on all workers, employers, and communities. We must put an end to a system in which employers avoid payroll taxes, receive an unfair advantage over their competitors by violating labor laws, depriving communities of revenue, and all of us as taxpayers pick up the tab for uncompensated health care, education and other costs.

The benefits of an expansive legalization program are clear: employer compliance with withholding requirements is best achieved by the highest level of participation in the legalization programs; people will come out of the shadows and be able to work at higher paying and more secure jobs; and families will be reunited.

Because a goal of any legalization program should be to legalize as many people as possible, it is counterproductive to include provisions that would erect permanent barriers to people achieving lawful status, such as S. 2611, which included document fraud provisions in Title II. The bill would have barred some people, with no possible waiver or pardon, from participating in legalization due to minor or inadvertent errors or omissions on passport and visa applications or other documents. If the bill had become law, an immigrant currently working with a false I-9, for example, could have been barred from legalization, and faced detention and deportation. Such measures have no place in reform legislation. Again, the legalization provisions must be expansive to capture as many undocumented as possible, not make ineligible the very people who need to come out of the shadows.

New worker program – SEIU recognizes the need for new workers in the low-wage sector of our expanding economy. However, any new worker program must include worker protections including: portability of visas so that workers can change jobs, the right to join unions and have full labor rights, the right to bring their families with them, and the ability to self-petition for permanent residency and citizenship. We support expansion of green cards to create legal channels for workers and ensure workers have full labor protections in their workplaces. Visas should not be tied to employers who can threaten workers with deportation if not compliant. We must craft a new worker program that will include labor certifications for needed workers and transform our current illegal flow into a program with legal channels that leads to an increased number of permanent work authorizations. Finally, any new worker program should include sufficient enforcement mechanisms to ensure the labor rights of both U.S. citizens and new worker visa holders.

We neither subscribe to nor endorse a repeat of the failed “guest worker” programs that are temporary in nature and require immigrants “touch-base,” or return. Mandating return to country of origin repeats the failed “guest worker” programs of the past, as 45 percent do not return and enter the underground economy. If workers are good enough to be brought to our country to do our least desirable work, they should be given the option to put down roots and become full participants in our nation and or civic society. If they are good enough to care for our children and aged, cut our grass, and clean our toilets, they are good enough to be given the option to become permanent residents and eventually citizens.

Worker Conditions, Rights and Workplace Enforcement – We must replace the current regime of employer sanctions with vigorous labor and civil rights law enforcement. All workers – U.S. born and immigrant – must be protected by local, state and federal labor and civil rights laws – regardless of their immigration status. Immigration reform legislation must include vigorous labor and civil rights enforcement provisions by both governmental and non-governmental agencies, with these agencies given the necessary resources to ensure that employers who seek to reap economic competitive advantages by exploiting workers will face significant fines and barred from future immigrant worker programs.

Our childcare providers, home health care aides, janitors and thousands of other service sector workers toil hard each and every day to feed and make a better life for their families. Our members are working on payrolls and paying taxes through employer withholding. Many are immigrants, some legal and some working with false documents. Reform must help ensure that all workers will be paid legally, under local, state and federal law, with proper withholding for employment taxes, social security, eligibility for unemployment and worker compensation programs. Employers must be required to meet their tax and employment payroll obligations, and not allowed to misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid payroll obligations, Social Security, unemployment compensation, and Medicare taxes. When employers are allowed to pay workers in cash, under-the-table, or as “contractors”—everyone loses—businesses, communities, workers and taxpayers.

Family backlog reduction- We strongly support all efforts to eliminate the family backlog and increase the number of visas available to reunite families. This should be the highest priority and be implemented immediately. Expanding both who is considered under “immediate relatives” and the numbers in the family based categories to capture the greatest number of eligible individuals, including family members currently residing in the U.S., could go a long way to reducing the undocumented population.

Eviscerating Due Process Protections is not enforcement – Many of the provisions contained in Title II of S. 2611 are not enforcement measures, but would have eviscerated the due process protections and civil liberties of the “other” 12 million, legal permanent residents who are living in the U.S. They have no place in this, or any, bill. If enacted, they would have criminalized individuals, NGOs and unions for helping immigrant family members, friends and co-workers; expanded detention and imposed mandatory detention without bond for failing to file a change of address card; imposed immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and caused enormous delays in family backlog reduction; sped up deportation without sufficient safeguards; deported suspected gang members who have not committed or been convicted of any crime; blocked paths to citizenship for many immigrants, even legal permanent residents; expanded the definition of aggravated felony; lessened judicial review of certain immigration matters; and eliminated the number of people who qualify for voluntary departure and imposed unduly harsh penalties for both accepting and failing to comply with an order. These provisions are unacceptable to SEIU.
Finally, S. 2611 would have empowered and encouraged state and local law enforcement officials to enforce civil violations of federal immigration laws. This provision also must be rejected. Such proposals would irreparably harm the critical relationships law enforcement officials have built in order to fight crime and interact with immigrant neighborhoods and communities.

SEIU is committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform, and continues to work in partnership with immigrant advocates, business, religious and labor leaders who recognize the need for a “break the mold” reform package. We have rededicated our efforts and the resources of SEIU to make reform a reality. We look forward to working with you and your staff to complete this legislation in the 110th Congress. If you have any questions please contact SEIU Director of Legislation, Alison Reardon at (202) 730-7706.


Andrew L. Stern
International President

Anna Burger
International Secretary-Treasurer

Eliseo Medina
International Executive Vice President

With 1.8 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is the largest health care union, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home care; the largest property services union, including building cleaning and security; and the second largest public employee union.

January 25, 2007

NYCOSH online library on immigrant work safety

NYCOSH -- the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health -- has created a library online with many reports, news articles, and other materials about the work safety and health of immigrant workers. Most of the material is from 2002 through 2004. It was last updated in 9/06.

NYCOSH was instrumental in making sure medical assistance and worker rights counseling was made available to the 8,000 odd immigrant workers engaged in the rescue and recovery from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

January 24, 2007

What President Bush said about immigration reform

President Bush on immigration reform in the 2007 State of the Union address, presented without comment:

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America, with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country.

To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol, and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet, even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border. And that requires a temporary worker program.

We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in.

And that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists.

We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers so there is no excuse left for violating the law.

We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country, without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate so that you can pass -- and I can sign -- comprehensive immigration reform into law.

January 20, 2007

Income tax and social security tax payments of illegal immigrants - a legal analysis

I located an article in the Harvard Latino Law Review analyzing the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants

Francine Lipman, The Taxation of undocumented immigrants: separate, unequal and without representation published in October, 2006. The article focuses in-depth on income tax and social security tax issues, and is heavily annotated. I found the article in the reports section of the website for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or

January 19, 2007

Where to find country population, migration and related projections

Go here, A U.N. website, to find past figures from 1950 and projections through 2050. It shows that Japan and Italy will begin to experience population declines in 2010-2015 and France after 2035. Canada and Australia will have very strong immigration rates (over 5% of population in many years). The U.S. follows. The immigration rates of Western European countries are much less. Mexico will export people at a substantial rate.

France’s new skilled labor focus on immigration

The Migration Policy Institute published a paper describing France’s new immigration law of 2006. Below are quotes from the study, which says that France is well aware that it must compete with other global players for international talent. Countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia all actively recruit migrants and select them according to criteria that range from education and language skills to adaptability and age. I have already posted on Canadian policy and an extensive article in the Economist about the effort of other countries to recruit highly skilled labor (use "search" to find them.)

Comparisons between the U.S. and France

Population: U.S. 300 million France 61 million
Percentage foreign born: U.S. 12.5% France 10%
Unauthorized residents: U.S. 3% France 2%
Work based entry as % of total immigration: U.S. 22% France 11.9%
Family reunification as % of total immigration: U.S. 58% France 64%
Foreign students: U.S. 621,000 France 250,000

Students from abroad:

France has double per capita the number of foreign students and is trying to keep them in France to work. Between 2001 and 2003, the number of foreign students increased by 50 percent — a significantly larger increase than that which occurred in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, or the United States. (Australia is ahead of all in recruiting foreign students.) The new law would require foreign students to receive approval to study in France from their country of origin. Once in France, foreign students who receive a masters or higher degree would be allowed to pursue a "first professional experience" that contributes to the economic development of both France and the student's country of origin

The law in general:

France introduced in July 24, 2006 a new immigration law with fur objectives: recruiting skilled workers; facilitating foreign students' stay; tightening the rules on family reunification; and limiting access to residence and citizenship. In sum, it aims to overhaul France's immigration system by giving the government new powers to encourage high-skilled migration, fight illegal migration more effectively, and restrict family immigration.

Although the new law does not take effect until early 2007, one of its pillars is already making itself felt. The number of people deported for not having the required documents reached nearly 13,000 by the end of July 2006, more than halfway to the Interior Ministry's 2006 goal of 25,000, inciting protests from tens of thousands of French citizens.

The unrest illustrates that France will not have an easy transition to a selective immigration system that emphasizes employment-driven immigration at the expense of the 113,000 immigrants who arrive in France annually for family-related reasons and that carries out a robust campaign against illegal migration.

Skilled based immigration:

The new law authorizes the government to identify particular professions and geographic zones of France that are "characterized by recruitment difficulties."[9] For those identified employers, the government plans to facilitate the recruitment of immigrant workers with needed skills or qualifications. However, this means employers who are not on the government-selected list may have more difficulty (or may face longer waiting periods) obtaining residence permits for migrant workers they wish to employ.

Under the new law, foreigners who possess skill sets of interest to French employers in the designated areas will be granted "skills and talents" visas, valid for three years. In a uniquely French twist, eligible candidates must be able to demonstrate that they will contribute to the economic or intellectual and cultural development of both France and their country of origin.[10]

The new law's emphasis on "skills and talents" has already created tensions with those who are concerned that it will negatively impact developing countries, whose highest-skilled nationals will likely seek to emigrate.

In an attempt to ease fears about "brain drain," the government will only issue this visa to qualified immigrants from a developing country if the sending country has signed a "co-development" agreement with France or if the immigrants in question agree to return to their country of origin within six years. By doing so, the government aims to reframe the issue about the loss of some of sending countries' most skilled nationals by emphasizing the "circulation of skills."

January 17, 2007

Case study of employment results of a large ICE raid on a poultry plant

The Wall Street Journal ran an informative article today on the effect of a major ICE raid upon employer – employee relations. Evan Pérez and Corey Dade wrote the article. I posted on the raid of Crider Inc., a Stillmore, GA, poultry plant in May, 2006. The WSJ article describes the before and after:

BEFORE: employees mostly Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Black employment since late 1990s had declined from 70% to 16%. High productivity, poor benefits and working conditions, and few employee complaints. Wages barely above minimum wage. Parking lot wage payments, in which checks were issued and immediately cashed by the employee, preventing any record of employment history. I infer that worker savings probably sent to Mexico.

AFTER: Wages increased 30% - 50%. Workforce is 65% black, 30% white, 5% Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Much of workforce converted to independent recruiting contractor status and/or engaged through employee hiring firm. Productivity sags 10%. More complaints about worker health and safety. Labor shortages. Company searches across U.S. for people willing to work, such as Hmong migrant workers. I infer that worker savings now put into local housing, cars.

NATIONALLY, WHAT A GUEST WORKER PROGRAM WOULD DO: Boost wages by at least 30%. Prohibit independent contractor abuses. Better health and safety. Remove vulnerability of Hispanic workers to fear of deportation. Worker shortages. More investment in technology to reduce workforces.

Excerpts from the article, with some notes by me:

Do immigrant workers lower pay and working conditions? At Crider, yes. -- PFR

The sudden reversal of economic fortunes in Stillmore underscores some of the most complex aspects of the pitched debate over immigration: Do illegal immigrants take jobs from low-skilled American workers? The answer in Stillmore initially appeared to be yes.

But in the months since Crider began hiring hundreds of African-Americans, the answer has become more complex. The plant has struggled with high turnover among black workers, lower productivity and pay disputes between the new employees and labor contractors. The allure of compliant Latino workers willing to accept grueling conditions despite rock-bottom pay has proved a difficult habit for Crider to shake, particularly because the local, native-born workers who replaced them are more likely to complain about working conditions and aggressively assert what they believe to be legal pay and workplace rights.

The company was "taken aback" when federal agents showed up in May asserting that about 700 of its workers were suspected of having false work documents, Mr. Purtle says. Two Crider employees were among four men arrested for allegedly running a document mill, churning out fake green cards and other fake documents.

The story of Germaine Royals, an African-American, who was hired then fired by Crider -- PFR

For Mr. Royals, the new opportunities at Crider amounted to a windfall after months of erratic work through a temporary labor agency. A high-school dropout who earned his General Education Diploma two years ago, Mr. Royals previously worked nights at a succession of factory jobs. He had just been laid off for the second time in a month when Ms. Germain Paulk came home with word of the Crider recruiter.

Mr. Royals went to Crider with a plan to work as many hours as possible -- he sometimes worked 17 hours a day -- and earn enough to save for a new home and pay off bills. His wife recently took a full-time job as a private nurse for an elderly woman and attends classes at a technical college to earn a license as a practical nurse.

But for some of the African-American workers who surged into the plant, the unexpected chance to work at Crider didn't turn out well. They described long, arduous schedules, alleged health and safety hazards, and unrelenting supervisors. A Crider spokeswoman says the allegations are the sentiment of "people who are not intent on working."

Payroll abuse by Crider – PFR:

Since the illegal immigrants were run out of the plant, Crider no longer directly employs many entry-level workers. Instead, Mr. Royals and many others are classified as independent contractors, working under an agreement between Crider and Allen Peacock, an African-American owner of a recruiting business.

Every Friday, Mr. Peacock pulled into the parking lot of the dormitory complex and handed out checks, most of which he cashed on the spot -- leaving his employees with no documentation of how much they received in wages or paid in taxes, according to several workers.

After a few weeks on the job, Mr. Royals and other black workers claimed Mr. Peacock was short changing them on hours worked. They said taxes were being deducted even though workers never filled out federal and state tax forms. At one point, Ms. Paulk, Mr. Royals's wife, telephoned Mr. Peacock and demanded an explanation about the paychecks.

Mr. Peacock denied mishandling their wages. "Everybody has to pay taxes," he said in an interview. Mr. Peacock said his workers were all being fully paid and that their taxes were properly collected.

Despite his frustrations, Mr. Royals vowed to keep working. But one morning, Mr. Peacock arrived at the Crider dormitory complex and several workers gathered to register their complaints about wages. In front of the other employees, Mr. Royals says, Mr. Peacock fired him.

Since the raids, African-Americans have made up about 65% of Crider's work force, while whites are 30% and Hispanics 5%, according to the company. Turnover has been high. The population of workers hired since last September's immigration raids has turned over three times, according to Crider.

Workers shortage persist -- PFR

Still struggling to fill its ranks, Crider began busing in felons on probation from a state prison and residents of a homeless mission from nearby Macon. Crider also hired another labor contractor who specializes in Hispanic workers. But Crider is still about 300 people short of its work force before the immigration raids. It is now bringing Laotian Hmong immigrant workers and their families from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with hopes that they'll stay on the job and build new roots in Stillmore.

January 16, 2007

Shortages of farm labor hit Florida, California. Are they due to immigration enforcement?

In Florida, H-2A farm guest worker program is increasingly used to solve labor shortages on farms. In California, after a catastrophic pear season last year, farmers are ernest about getting a broad guest worker program into place. The increased demand may be due to stricter enforcement against illegal workers. In any event, H2A use is up 500% in Florida.

In Florida:

Florida growers and farmworker advocates say that the number of guest workers being employed picking Sunshine State crops is up 500 percent. Last year, there were about 1,000 guest workers legally in the United States under the federal program -- referred to as H2A -- with about 16 employers applying for workers.

In 2006, that ballooned to about 5,000 with more than 70 employers applying, says Greg Schell, a Lake Worth labor attorney and farm worker advocate. The unresolved immigration debate is likely to force even more employers to tap the H2A program, under which a guest worker visa is good for 364 days.

President Bush has been pushing for an extensive revamping of immigration law. He wants a guest worker program and the possibility of eventual citizenship for many illegal immigrants already in the country. In the past, H2A has not been broadly used by Florida growers because of its costly and complicated nature. Exactly who is going to be paying the additional costs of the program for farmers in unclear, but, all things being equal, growers are likely to pass the cost along to consumers.

Spencer said that labor was the primary obstacle to getting his crops to grocery store aisles during the past year. The shortage was unprecedented for an industry that relies so heavily on Latino immigrant workers. There has also been a drastic increase in the number of H2B workers. It is a sister program open to industries other than agriculture that tops out at a set number of issued work visas. The measure has been used in the past in landscaping, manufacturing and construction.

In California:

Growers say aggressive security patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border have created a labor shortage that's left apples hanging on trees in Washington state, marred berry harvests in Oregon and delayed the onion harvest in Texas. The American Farm Bureau Federation has warned labor shortages could cause $5 billion in losses to the agriculture industry.

The economic threat is particularly acute in the nation's top agricultural state where more than one-third of the nation's farmworkers are employed, California farmers say. Last summer, a quarter of the pear crop in rural Lake County rotted on the field when pickers never showed up, said Toni Scully, a pear packer there.

"Throughout the summer, farmers were cobbling together workers to meet their immediate needs," said Jack King, national public affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. "When we failed to push something through last year, we vowed we'd be back."

January 15, 2007

Can a work injured illegal immigrant obtain benefits? In Indiana, it depends

Thanks to www.workcompcentral.com (subscription required) I have a case study of the snarl-ups often experienced today when an illegal immigrants suffers a work injury, about which there is no dispute it happened. Her or his payments can still be cut off. A guest worker program will eliminate all of these trap doors, which I have found the large majority of work injury experts are unaware of.

The matter at hand in this Indiana case is whether the injured worker is entitled to benefits after having reached “maximum medical improvement” and is still disabled – that is, simply is not going to get any better. The worker, Benjamin Marrufo, says through his lawyer that he is still not at “MMI.” The problem for him in reaching MMI is that the court may decide (as it appears to in other jurisdictions) that an illegal worker is not eligible for ongoing permanent benefits.

The article says….

Mindel [his lawyer] disputes that his client is at MMI, and said that under Indiana workers' compensation law his client cannot request an independent medical examination because of his illegal status. To be eligible for an independent medical evaluation, an injured worker must have received total temporary disability -- which an undocumented cannot collect under the law, Mindel said, adding that he doesn't expect his client's claim to be a test for the state high court.

Marrufo is a 47-year-old Mexican national who admittedly came to the United States eight years ago. He filed a workers' compensation claim for a May 2006 back injury and received medical benefits.

He did not receive any temporary disability for loss of wages during his recuperation, his attorney said.

Indiana courts have not decided whether undocumented workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. State courts in California, New York, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Alabama [and other states – PFR]have all ruled that illegal aliens are entitled to medical benefits. Most of the courts, however, have said no to wage-replacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation because the worker is in the country illegally.

A South Carolina lawmaker this year will push to exclude undocumented workers from his state's workers' comp system.

"My bill is a very simple bill," Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia, was quoted as saying last month. "It says that if a person applies for workman's compensation, they must show that they are a legal citizen."

January 8, 2007

Mexican immigrant worker economics - remittances are the goal

The Arizona Republic presented information from the most recent Inter-American Development Bank about Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. The article starts with a personal profile: “Take Martin Armenta, for example. The Phoenix resident takes home $380 a week after taxes from his job as a cook. Yet he sends more than a third of his paycheck to his wife and two children in Sonora. How does he do it? With some serious scrimping. Armenta, 31, shares a three-bedroom house with seven other immigrant men, watches TV for entertainment and never goes out to eat."

The key to creating jobs and other forms of economic development in Mexico and Latin American countries will be using remittances to finance micro-loans and mortgages. Those types of banking tools are currently unavailable to most poor people in Latin America, said
Sergio Bendixen, a Miami-based pollster who surveyed 2,511 Latino immigrants for a study of remittances commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank. Communities in the U.S. also stand to benefit from remittances by creating co-ops that encourage immigrants to invest money here instead of sending it home, de la Garza said.

Sending more home

The Inter-American Development Bank survey found that between 2004 and 2006, the percentage of immigrants sending money regularly increased from 61 to 73 percent. Still, the majority of immigrants who send money home earn wages considered working-poor or lower-middle-class by U.S. standards. About three-fifths earn less than $30,000 a year. A third earn less than $20,000, according to the survey, which was released in October.
About half of Latino immigrants find a job within a month of arriving in the U.S., the survey said. The first jobs they find tend to pay low, about $900 a month. But on average that is six times the amount they were earning in their home country.

Frugal lifestyle

In Mexico, incomes vary widely, but government information suggests that the vast majority of Mexican workers makes less than $21 a day.
Armenta said he sends money home to his wife and two children, ages 9and 3, every week to help them buy food, clothing and medicine. The family owns its home in Ciudad Obregón, the second-largest city in Sonora. His biggest expense is a $150-a-week car payment for the 1990 Ford pickup truck he bought shortly after arriving in Phoenix. The remainder of his $380 weekly paycheck goes to pay for auto insurance, gasoline, rent and food. Armenta's monthly share of the rent, split eight ways, is about $230, including utilities. The only furniture in the house he rents is a sofa and a few chairs. For entertainment, Armenta watches TV. He doesn't have cable. He also doesn't have a bed. He said he sleeps on the floor. Armenta said he never goes out to eat.

January 7, 2007

Major problems in immigration and future guest work info systems

A Washington Post article reports on an inspector general audit of Citizenship and Immigrant Service computer system weaknesses. These weaknesses are contributing to huge backlogs now for legal applications. It sounds like a guest worker program with amnesty will crush the system.

Per the article:

As the White House and Congress prepare to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, U.S. officials have concluded that they lack the technology and resources to handle the millions of applications for legal residency that could result from the changes and that several efforts to modernize computers have gone astray.
A report released Dec. 20 by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner cited a long list of setbacks and concurred with internal USCIS reviews that the bureau "lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads." A project to replace the nationwide computer network has been halted because the agency lacks $72 million to complete it. A staff reorganization was frozen because of deficiencies "that hinder day-to-day IT operations," according to the report.

A quote from the audit itself:

Our September 2005 report discussed inefficiencies in USCIS’ IT environment that hindered its ability to carry out its immigration benefits processing mission successfully. Specifically, USCIS’ processes were largely manual, paper-based, and duplicative, resulting in an ineffective use of human and financial resources to ship, store, and track immigration files. Adjudicators used multiple and non-integrated IT systems to perform their jobs, which has reduced productivity and data integrity. IT software and hardware systems also were not well configured to meet users needs.
Further, although federal guidelines require effective planning and management of IT to increase efficiency of business operations, USCIS has not had a focused approach for updating its legacy systems and manual workflow practices. Rather, IT planning and implementation were conducted in a reactive and decentralized manner across the organization. Additionally, USCIS relied on personnel rather than technology to meet its backlog reduction goals.

The article in full:

Immigration officials have said for years that it is critical to update an antiquated, paper-based application process before the government grants a new path to citizenship for as many as 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States or creates a temporary-worker program, as senators and the Bush administration propose.

The U.S.-Mexico border is at the forefront of a growing debate over U.S. immigration and border security reform.

But in recent months, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials have determined that the troubled, $2-billion-a-year agency is unable to effectively manage its existing work, much less a flood of new applications.

A report released Dec. 20 by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner cited a long list of setbacks and concurred with internal USCIS reviews that the bureau "lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads."

A project to replace the nationwide computer network has been halted because the agency lacks $72 million to complete it. A staff reorganization was frozen because of deficiencies "that hinder day-to-day IT operations," according to the report.

USCIS is in the midst of its third major modernization effort in three years, leaving some employees confused over whether such efforts were completed or were ever begun, the report said.

Many legal immigrants already face years-long waits when they apply for green cards, often a first step toward obtaining citizenship.Another 100,000 names submitted to the FBI for background checks have been on hold for a year or more. Congressional auditors recently reported that 14 immigration offices had lost track of 111,000 files as of July.

The inspector's report noted that the agency shelved pilot programs to streamline one type of business-sponsored visa application in October and electronic processing of immigration benefits in March because of cost, timing and contracting challenges. "USCIS may be losing momentum and user confidence," the report said.

USCIS spokesman Chris Bentley said the agency had no comment beyond a written response to the report by Deputy Director Jonathan Scharfen.

"We acknowledge that we still have a great deal to do," Scharfen wrote, adding that re-engineering USCIS processes "remains a high priority." He noted that the agency has drafted new strategic and acquisition plans and hired a contractor to help.

The agency announced in September that it had cut its backlog of applications by 70 percent after a five-year, $560 million effort provided more personnel. In August, USCIS awarded a five-year, $150 million contract to convert 55 million files into electronic form.

Private analysts said that the report revealed a broken immigration system and that by funding USCIS through user fees, Congress hobbles its ability to pay upfront for expansions or upgrades.

"Congress needs to step up and provide the funding to ensure that USCIS is able to build a functioning infrastructure, regardless of the fate of immigration reform," said Crystal Williams, deputy director of programs for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Congress withheld $47 million from USCIS this year pending approval of a final technology overhaul plan by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Congress's audit arm, the Government Accountability Office. A USCIS contractor reported the plan would cost $400 million to $1.4 billion, depending on what the agency decides it needs.

150 million internal migrants in China today

Thanks to Immigration News Blog for picking up the NY Times story on Shenzhen, the vast fulcrum of China’s mammoth internal worker migration movement. There are 150 million internal migrants within China. This number compares to the 200 million estimated transborder migrants currently in the work. Assuming a labor force participation rate of 80%, this means there are 30 million more internal migrant workers in China than the entire American workforce. Internal migration provides almost all the workers for the manufacturing centers along the coast, including Shenzhen, which is near Hong Kong.

From this article:

Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village in the Pearl River delta, next to Hong Kong, when it was decreed a special economic zone in 1980 by the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Since then, the city has grown at an annual rate of 28 percent, though it slowed to 15 percent in 2005.


Yu Di, a 19-year-old from Hubei Province with a junior high school education, said he worked in a grimy watch-casing factory, loading and unloading heavy boxes from a truck 11 hours a day, six days a week. With a salary of about $80 a month — and no benefits — Mr. Yu has to borrow money from his parents just to cover his living expenses. He lives in a dim and filthy dorm room, crammed with 12 bunk beds and mattresses made of bare springs covered with cardboard. “The only thing I regret is not working hard in school,” he said.
In the room next door, Zhou Hailin, 20, who grew up in Guang’an, the hometown of Deng Xiaoping, seems better off. Mr. Zhou, who came to the city four years ago, earns about $120 a month as a machinist in the same watch factory.
To do so, though, he must work eight-hour shifts, plus three or four hours of mandatory overtime, six days a week. A typical workday, he said, ends at 10:30 p.m., when he often goes to visit a sister who works in another factory nearby.

The complete article follows….

Chinese Success Story Chokes on Its Own Growth
By HOWARD W. FRENCH 12/19/06

SHENZHEN, China — When Zhang Feifei lost her job in this booming Chinese factory town, she was not terribly concerned. Jobs had always been plentiful in Shenzhen’s flourishing economy.

Then Ms. Zhang, a 20-year-old migrant laborer, lost her identity card and was shocked to find that no factory would hire her without a bribe that she could not afford. Desperate for money, she ended up working in a grimy two-room massage parlor in a congested alley here, where she has sex with four or five men each day.

“I was terrified at first, and I was really embarrassed not even knowing how to use a condom,” said the soft-spoken young woman, casting her eyes downward as she spoke. “I didn’t have any choice, though. Little by little, you have to get used to it.”

Few cities anywhere have created wealth faster than Shenzhen, but the costs of its phenomenal success stare out from every corner: environmental destruction, soaring crime rates and the disillusionment and degradation of its vast force of migrant workers, Ms. Zhang among them.

Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village in the Pearl River delta, next to Hong Kong, when it was decreed a special economic zone in 1980 by the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Since then, the city has grown at an annual rate of 28 percent, though it slowed to 15 percent in 2005.

Shenzhen owed its success to a simple formula of cheap land, eager, compliant labor and lax environmental rules that attracted legions of foreign investors who built export-based manufacturing industries. With 7 million migrant workers in an overall population of about 12 million — compared with Shanghai’s 2 to 3 million migrants out of a population of 18 million — Shenzhen became the literal and symbolic heart of the Chinese economic miracle.

Now, to other cities in China, Shenzhen has begun to look less like a model than an ominous warning of the limitations of a growth-above-all approach.

While grueling labor conditions exist in many parts of China, Shenzhen’s gigantic plants, employing as many as 200,000 workers each, have established a particular reputation for harshness among workers and labor advocates. Monthly turnover rates of 10 percent or more are not uncommon, labor groups say.

The tough working conditions, in turn, have helped spawn one of the most important labor developments in China in recent years: large-scale wildcat strikes and smaller job actions for better hours and wages. The Guangdong Union Association, a government-affiliated group, said there were more than 10,000 strikes in the province last year.

Among Chinese economic planners, Shenzhen’s recipe is increasingly seen as all but irrelevant: too harsh, too wasteful, too polluted, too dependent on the churning, ceaseless turnover of migrant labor.

“This path is now a dead end,” said Zhao Xiao, an economist and former adviser to the Chinese State Council, or cabinet. After cataloging the city’s problems, he said, “Governments can’t count on the beauty of investment covering up 100 other kinds of ugliness.”

As the limits of the Shenzhen model have grown more and more apparent, other cities in China’s relatively developed east are increasingly trying to differentiate themselves, emphasizing better working and living conditions for factory workers or paying more attention to the environment.

“Some inland cities have started to provide migrants social security, including pension and other insurance,” said Wang Chunguang, an expert in class mobility at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “In Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, residency controls are loosening up and education for migrant children is getting more attention.”

Migrants do still arrive here, of course, drawn by the promise of work and undaunted by stories of the difficult life that awaits them. Some, like Ms. Zhang, who come here for the $100-a-month sweatshop salaries, end up trapped, literally too poor to leave. But many others quickly become disillusioned and return home.

Increasingly short of workers, factories recently have increased assembly-line wages by as much as 20 percent. But even so, critics say, Shenzhen’s boom has spread little wealth.

While the city is dependent on migrant labor to keep its factories running, onerous residency rules discourage migrants from settling here permanently and make it difficult for them to obtain public services from education to health care.

“The government has evaded its responsibilities toward migrant workers,” Jin Cheng, a member of an influential local civic forum, Interhoo, said bluntly.

The resulting rootlessness has fed a wave of crime of a sort hardly ever seen elsewhere in China. Gunfights, kidnappings and gang warfare are rife, and crime rates are skyrocketing.

Although the city does not publish crime data, the Southern Metropolitan News, one of the most reputable Chinese newspapers, reported that there were 18,000 robberies in 2004 in Baoan, one of six districts in Shenzhen. By comparison, in Shanghai, a city of around 18 million, there were only 2,182 reported robberies for all of 2004, according to figures compiled by the city.

Near the gates of Foxconn, a huge electronics assembly plant that is one of the city of Shenzhen’s largest employers, a half-dozen former factory workers lounged in the shade on a recent afternoon.

Asked if it was their day off, one of them, a 20-year-old, explained that he had been fired when he developed lesions on his arms from exposure to paints and asked to switch jobs. Now, he said, he and his friends survived by “beating people up for a living.”

In addition to shakedown crews like this one, prostitution, usually thinly disguised in karaoke joints and massage parlors, but increasingly in the open, ranks as one of the city’s biggest industries. In Shenzhen’s blue-collar neighborhoods, thick with fetid workers’ dormitories, the frustration with hard labor, merciless factory bosses, low pay and miserable living conditions is palpable.

“I’ve changed jobs many times,” said one man, a onetime factory floor manager, who was lying on a bunk bed in a stiflingly hot room jammed with other workers. “The pressure is very high in these jobs. They don’t give you weekends, or breaks — especially the Taiwanese companies.”

Migrant workers describe the city’s labor market as a predatory environment filled with unscrupulous job brokers, fraudulent training courses and a multitude of other scams aimed at cheating the most disadvantaged part of the population.

Yu Di, a 19-year-old from Hubei Province with a junior high school education, said he worked in a grimy watch-casing factory, loading and unloading heavy boxes from a truck 11 hours a day, six days a week. With a salary of about $80 a month — and no benefits — Mr. Yu has to borrow money from his parents just to cover his living expenses. He lives in a dim and filthy dorm room, crammed with 12 bunk beds and mattresses made of bare springs covered with cardboard. “The only thing I regret is not working hard in school,” he said.

In the room next door, Zhou Hailin, 20, who grew up in Guang’an, the hometown of Deng Xiaoping, seems better off. Mr. Zhou, who came to the city four years ago, earns about $120 a month as a machinist in the same watch factory.

To do so, though, he must work eight-hour shifts, plus three or four hours of mandatory overtime, six days a week. A typical workday, he said, ends at 10:30 p.m., when he often goes to visit a sister who works in another factory nearby.

Asked if he ever visited downtown Shenzhen, which bristles with skyscrapers and shopping malls, he said he had never had time. “I have to work every day,” Mr. Zhou said. “All the factory jobs here are the same. That’s what it’s like being a migrant laborer.”

Mr. Zhou calmly accepts his lot, but for many the merciless grind of factory life is too much. Their health failing, or their dreams of amassing sizable savings broken, these workers opt to return home to simpler lives in the countryside.

“Shenzhen may seem prosperous,” a worker said, sitting in his bunk in a steamy dormitory, “but it’s a desperate place.”

January 4, 2007

“Open Doors Wider for Skilled Immigrants”

A Businessweek.com columnist commented on the new study of immigrant entrepreneurs in high tech, which I posted on below, and referred to his and others’ study of this matter over the years. He concludes: “My view: Let's build really high [immigration] fences, but have big gates. Let's be very selective in whom we admit, but open the doors to as many as we need.”

Skilled immigrants provide one of the U.S.'s greatest strengths. They contribute to the economy, create jobs, and lead innovation. A new study I helped lead at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, where I am an executive-in-residence, shows they are fueling the creation of hi-tech business across our nation and creating a wealth of intellectual property. To keep our global competitive edge, we need to attract more of the world's best and brightest. And we need them to come here and put down deep roots

Vivek Wadhwa, the founder of two software companies, is an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Professor at Duke University. He is also the co-founder of TiE Carolinas, a networking and mentoring group.

Immigrant entrepreneurs involved in one quarter of technology start-ups

Foreign-born entrepreneurs were behind one in four U.S. technology startups over the past decade, according to a study published today.

A team of researchers at Duke University estimated that one quarter of technology and engineering companies started from 1995 to 2005 had at least one senior executive - a founder, chief executive, president or chief technology officer - born outside the United States.

Other pertinent studies are a 2000 study on Silicon Valley’s new immigrant entrepreneurs

Annalee Saxenian of U.C. Sanat Cruz was author of the 2000 study, involved in the 2007 study, and one of the top experts on immigrant worker involvement in high tech.

and this study: American made: Impact of immigrant entrepreneurs and professionals on U.S. competitiveness (no date)

Key findings:

•In 25.3% of technology and engineering companies started in the U.S. from 1995 to 2005, at least one key founder was foreign-born. States with an above-average rate of immigrant-founded companies include California (39%), New Jersey (38%), Georgia (30%), and Massachusetts (29%). Below-average states include Washington (11%), Ohio (14%), North Carolina (14%), and Texas (18%).

•Nationwide, these immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

•Indians have founded more engineering and technology companies in the U.S. in the past decade than immigrants from Britain, China, Taiwan, and Japan combined. Of all immigrant-founded companies, 26% have Indian founders.

•The mix of immigrant founders varies by state. Hispanics constitute the dominant group in Florida, with immigrants from Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Guatemala founding 35% of the immigrant-founded companies. Israelis constitute the largest founding group in Massachusetts, with 17%. Indians dominate New Jersey, with 47% of all immigrant-founded startups.

•Chinese (Mainland- and Taiwan-born) entrepreneurs are heavily concentrated in California, with 49% of Chinese and 81% of Taiwanese companies located there. Indian and British entrepreneurs tend to be dispersed around the country, with Indians having sizable concentrations in California and New Jersey, and the British in California and Georgia.

•In 2006, 24.2% of U.S.-originated international patent applications were authored or co-authored by foreign nationals residing in the U.S. These immigrant non-citizens, as we called them, are typically foreign graduate students completing their PhDs, green card holders awaiting citizenship, and employees of multinationals on temporary visas. This percentage had increased from 7.8% in 1988—and this count doesn't include immigrants who had become citizens.

January 3, 2007

United States the leader in cities with large foreign born populations

There are twenty metropolises in the world with at least one million non transient foreign born residents. The United States has more cities with foreign born populations of at least one million than any other country: eight. Asia has only two! This according to a study on migration available on the website of the Migration Policy Institute.

The study pinpoints the cities serving as magnets and ports of entry for huge waves of migration in the past several decades. Old magnets, such as Latin American cities, have become exporters of populations. And the study locates “hyper-diverse” cities, where a large share of the population is foreign born without dominance from one or two countries.

The authors did not address cities with large internally generated in-migration, such as cities in China.

The one million plus foreign born cities are:

Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore

Australia: Melbourne, Sydney

Europe: London, Paris, Moscow

Middle East: Dubai, Medina, Mecca, Riyadh

North America: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington DC.

The United States has 14 cities with between 100,000 and 249,000 foreign born, and 15 cities with between 250,000 and 999,000 foreign born. They are scattered all across the United States.

The authors of this study write that “….answering the question "What are the world's top urban immigrant destinations?" required drilling down into existing census data from countries on every continent — data that never before had been gathered. Ultimately, data on the foreign born in 150 cities was compiled.

“The data are from a range of years, as country censuses are conducted in different years. Most of the data, however, are from the years 2000 to 2005…The cities mapped in this report are metropolitan areas of 1 million or more people with at least 100,000 foreign-born residents. Data were constructed by examining information on the foreign born for 150 cities in 52 countries.”

The authors explain why there are no Latin American or African cities in this list of twenty:

Latin American and African cities are absent from Figure 1, although they are destinations for internal and international migrants. This reflects the fact that most countries in these regions have a negative rate of net migration, meaning more emigrants leaving then immigrants arriving. Buenos Aires, a long-established immigrant destination, had fewer than 1 million foreign-born residents according to the 2001 Argentine census (approximately 920,000 foreign born), a decrease from earlier censuses. Other megacities in Latin America, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City, attract far fewer foreign-born residents. If anything, these localities tend to be sources for immigrants to other regions of the world, including North America, Europe, and Japan. For many African countries, the data are simply not available at the urban scale. Even if the data were available, there is little evidence that African cities are attracting large numbers of foreign-born residents, with the exception of some cities in South Africa.

The one million plus cities in the middle east are there because of very large foreign worker populations. The population of Dubai is 80% foreign born.

There are “hyper-diverse cities” where one country is not dominant in the supply of foreign born residents. “Cities that meet this definition include established gateways such as New York, London, and Toronto, which together have approximately 9 million foreign-born residents. Other hyper-diverse cities include Sydney; Amsterdam; Copenhagen; Washington, DC; Hamburg; Munich; San Francisco; and Seattle. Such cities are a product of the globalization of labor that has both economic and cultural implications…..With over two million foreign-born residents, no one group dominates Toronto's immigrant stock. Nine countries account for half of the foreign-born population, while the rest of the foreign born come from nearly every country in the world.

January 2, 2007

A valuable new public interest group: Global Workers Justice Alliance

Hundreds of millions of workers have migrated internally or across borders for work. The New York City – based Global Workers Justice Allianceprotecting the rights of cross border workers through an international network of worker advocates and resources. Its initial focus is on the trans border workforces connecting the United States with Mexico and/or Guatemala. It tools include education, advocacy of public policies, and litigation support.

The Alliance is filling a huge hole into which many injured, payroll shortchanged or in other ways abused injured immigrant workers have fallen. I hope that the Alliance will help to place some estimates of the number and types of these problems.

Every immigrant worker community organization including legal aid organizations should connect with the Alliance.

The basic theme of the Alliance is “Businesses are global. Workers are global. Justice is not.”

Millions of people, more than ever before, cross national borders seeking employment. Too often these global migrants are often cheated of wages, injured, and have other rights violated on the job in their host country. When the workers return home, however, the obstacles to achieving justice both practical and legal--are nearly insurmountable. The result is that valid claims are routinely abandoned and thousands of workers never receive their wages or treatment for compensable injuries. Without advocates supporting each other to provide a continuum of legal representation, these workers will continue to be used and abused within the globalized economy. Workers should not have to check their legal rights at the border. Global workers require global justice.

One of its services is “Case Facilitation”.

Global Workers facilitates employment-related litigation for low-wage migrant workers who have left the country of employment to return home Practical and legal barriers usually result in migrant workers being unable to access justice in the country of employment once they have left that country. Global Workers bridges that gap by connecting and supporting advocates in the country of employment to the country of origin so that workers have access to justice no matter where they go. Cases are initiated either in the country of employment or the country of origin by advocates in those countries.