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January 28, 2010

Mexican program to support its citizens in U.S.


The Migration Policy Institute reports that a new program by the Mexican government to support its citizens residing in the U.S. “represents one of the most significant, if overlooked, factors in US immigrant integration policy” today. As one third of all immigrants in the U.S. are Mexican, this initiative may well serve as a model for other countries with large numbers of citizens residing here.

The program even provides medical care to illegal immigrants.

The January 2010 report’s title is “Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government’s Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States”

The report’s executive summary (further below in full): says:

“In recent years, the Mexican government has moved beyond traditional notions of consular protection by establishing a broad institutional structure, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior or IME), to deliver an array of civic, health, education, and financial services to its migrants — 95 percent of whom live in the United States.”

Also,

“While evaluations of IME’s programs remain scarce, its projects offer a number of potential best practices in areas ranging from distance learning, outreach, civic engagement, and health care. We recommend sustaining and broadening evaluation and assessment of these programs. This is especially critical as other sending countries, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, look to Mexico as a model for providing services to its diaspora and other recipient countries look to work with sending countries to make migration work for all participants.”

The Executive Summary in full:

Mexican consular officials safeguard and protect the interests of their nationals in the United States, performing many of the same functions as any other diplomatic staff in a foreign country. As an immigrant-sending country, Mexico also offers its nationals in the United States low-cost transfer rates for remittances and programs that match migrant investment in communities of origin dollar for dollar.

Continue reading "Mexican program to support its citizens in U.S." »

October 28, 2009

New York City’s Immigrant-related policies


A Bloomberg Administration-friendly article in the Gotham Gazette reviews steps that the New York City government has supported the welfare of immigrant populations, including ESL and support of the DREAM Act. This is not a bad set of programs that municipal and state governments could adopt. Bloomberg himself is a grandson of an immigrant. The most spoken languages other than English are Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian, Korean and Italian.

Making New York 'Immigrant Friendly'
By Larry Tung


As the election approaches, Bloomberg hopes to win votes in New York's immigrant communities. While his recently announced initiatives on immigration could be seen as campaign promises, over the last eight years he has been widely seen as a strong and outspoken supporter for immigrants.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Immigrants have long been drawn to New York City because it provides many opportunities for all people, regardless of their immigration status. This remains true today, even in the face of the poor economy. As more cities and states have begun allowing their police to check people's immigration status, New York City remains a safe haven for those without documentation.

In September 2003, Bloomberg signed Executive Order 41 to reinforce that protection. The order prohibited city workers from inquiring about a person's immigration status when the person seeks services from a city agency or witnesses a crime.

Continue reading "New York City’s Immigrant-related policies" »

July 2, 2008

Profile of a pro-immigrant advocacy coalition

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is one of the largest (staff of 13) and oldest (21 years) advocacy coalitions working to improve the lives of immigrants.

MIRA worked last year with Senator Ted Kennedy’s office over the New Bedford ICE raid. It is supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students. It supported Governor Duvall Patrick’s decision to rescind prior Governor Mitt Romney’s order to employ state troopers to enforce federal immigration laws.

It has connections with over120 labor and community organizations. It is also loosely affiliated with coalitions in other states,, citing Illinois, California, New York and other coalitions emerging in Florida and elsewhere.

It describes itself as the only organization in Massachusetts that “brings together groups serving immigrants and refugees from many parts of the world, of various nationalities, races, and ethnicities. MIRA is a dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition that actively involves hundreds of grassroots immigrant organizations, human services agencies, legal service providers, religious groups, and human rights groups in cooperative efforts to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees.”

June 28, 2008

A great pro-immigrant blog

Go to Citizen Orange and subscribe today. I just heard about it. The several people involved in it come from diverse backgrounds and put together an inspiring and informative blog.

Here is how they describe themselves:

Citizen Orange is a U.S.-based, Guatemala inspired, weblog founded for the explicit purpose of organizing around global justice. It is the successor to Immigration Orange and operates on the principle that the pro-migrant movement in the United States has the greatest potential for eradicating a host of global injustices and generating respect for peoples born on a different piece of the earth.

In order to be successful the pro-migrant movement has to move the debate from questions of nationality to questions of global inequity. It has to move the debate from questions of legality to questions of justice. Migrants are first shackled to the arbitrary piece of land that they are born onto and then chained to the forces that compel them to leave. We need to remove those shackles and chains. Citizen Orange works for migrant emancipation.

Citizen Orange is an ally space. This means Citizen Orange does not seek to represent the migrant voice, but exists, instead, as a space to support migrants in their struggle for liberty. Humility compels us to make this extremely important distinction. Even though we are all migrants, the extremity of global migrant oppression forces us to recognize that even privileges we take for granted, like access to the internet, separate us from the vast majority of migrants.

This does not mean that we cannot relate to the migrant experience through our common humanity. We constantly strive towards understanding and empathy through Citizen Orange and our daily lives. It just means that we will not profess to speak on behalf of migrants. Citizen Orange is not the place to look for a space representative of the migrant voice. If you are searching, look through our blogroll for answers, or in a community near you. Citizen Orange is not the migrant voice, but we do seek to support it and amplify it through our efforts.

February 9, 2007

Tidbits from the first year of this blog

In passing into the second year of workingimmigrants.com, I have compiled some notable entries from the first year -- Peter Rousmaniere

Relative role of U.S. in transborder migration

Number of cities in world with at least one million foreign born residents: 20
Number of these cities in the United States: 8
Number of these cities in India or China: zero
Size of foreign born population in the world today: 200 million out of 6.5 billion (3%)
Size of foreign born population in U.S. Today: 35 million out of 300 million (12%)

Relative role of China in intraborder migration

Number of internal migrants from rural to urban areas in China: 150 million out of total population of 1.2 billion.

Off-shoring of work and the polarization of the American workforce

MIT professor David Autor argues that highly routine mental and manual jobs are being outsourced overseas or eliminated by automation, but that mental and manual jobs involving a level of irregularity in decision making and face to face servicing are growing. This concept explains why some manual jobs are expected to grow in the future along with the growth of high end mental jobs.

Impact of all immigrant workers on American workforce

Share of new jobs 2002 – 2012 to be filled by an immigrant: one out of eight

Size of illegal workforce

Illegal workers in U.S. as of early 2006: about 7.3 million

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce: 4.9%

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce in jobs requiring less than high school degree and without strict documentation requirements: 9/7%

Where do illegal workers work?

Per the Pew Hispanic Center:

Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes

About 3 million of the 7.2 million illegal workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.

One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans.

Economic impact of illegal population in U.S.

A Texas study says that illegal household payments of consumer and property taxes (via rent or home ownership) exceeds by about 30% the taxpayer burden for education, healthcare, and incarceration.

Do illegal workers displace American workers?

Some say yes, others say no.

It appears that illegal worker compensation is about 30% below what it would be with 100% worker protections afforded to Americans. Go here for a case study.

Waves of Hispanic work immigration since 1980s

1980s: agricultural workers, mostly on farms
1990s: meat processing workers, mostly in rural; towns
2000s: urban work including residential construction: in cities and suburbs

Employment of Indians in the U.S.

They own 20,000 hotels, or 50% of all economy hotels in the U.S.
There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the U.S, or about 4% of all doctors

Role of foreign born entrepreneurs in the U.S.

They are involved in one quarter of all technology start-ups.

Is there a nursing shortage?

Yes.

Percentage of Philippine nurses working outside the Philippines

75%

Foreign nurses in the U.S.

300,000, or about 11% of all nurses.

Mexican population in U.S.

Percentage of Mexican workforce that is working in the U.S.

16%

Remittances from Mexicans in U.S. to Mexico

$25 billion in 2006

Total remittances from all parts of world to Latin America

$54 billion in 2005

Number of community-based immigrant worker centers

upwards of 200

Foreign day laborers in the U.S.

Estimated number on any particular day:

117,600 at 500 sites in the U.S.

Percentage who speak English very well:

3%

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.

August 3, 2006

A closer look at Immigration Voice

The Washington Post profiles Immigration Voice and its founder, Aman Kapoor. “Immigration Voice boasts 3,000 members; a fundraising goal of $200,000; and, most notably, a partnership with a high-powered lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC. The group's transformation from an insular circle to a politically active movement offers a window into an alternative immigrant campaign being waged as the Senate this week resumes its work on immigration laws.”


Most members and all the core organizers of Immigration Voice hail from India, though Chinese membership numbers in the hundreds and is on the rise. Most arrived on an international student visa or a visa known as the H-1B, reserved for highly skilled workers who can stay for up to six years -- unless an employer sponsors their green cards, which grant immigrants permanent residence in the United States and the right to live and work here freely. Over the past decade, the largest numbers of H-1Bs have been awarded to high-technology workers from India and China.

Many of the members are stuck in green card application purgatory:

About a half-million immigrants are caught in the green-card backlog, some as they wait for Labor Department approval or because quotas have been exceeded. In that time, they cannot be promoted or given substantial pay increases because that would mean a change in job description and salary. They turn to Web sites to compare their wait times with others, and their Internet handles, such as "stucklabor" and "waiting_labor," exude their frustration.
While the immigrant marchers' demands have covered a range of issues, including allowing immigrants to gain legal status and eventually citizenship, the members of this association are more narrowly focused: They want Congress to pass measures that would end the years-long wait for a green card. In fact, they warn that efforts to enable millions of illegal immigrants to remain here permanently would result in the same bureaucratic nightmare legal immigrants are now facing.
Another possible cause it has not been active in yet is increasing the number of H-1B visas:
Under a proposal introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the number of employment-based green cards being issued would increase from 140,000 to 290,000. Currently, no one country is supposed to take up more than 7 percent of the allotment, though unused green cards can be redistributed to countries that have already met their quota. That has made possible migrations in excess of 7 percent from nations such as India, China, Mexico and the Philippines. Under the proposal, the per-country cap would be increased to a hard and fast 10 percent. Proponents say this would prevent one country from dominating the category and would retain jobs for native-born Americans.

A profile of one volunteer:


During meetings on Capitol Hill, Maduros and at least one Immigration Voice representative lay out the group's platform, weaving in the personal stories of members. Shilpa Ghodgaonkar, a Germantown housewife, has become a staple anecdote -- and a frequent visitor on the Hill. For four years, she and her husband have been waiting for their green cards. Ghodgaonkar's husband arrived on an H-1B visa, and she followed as his dependent, unauthorized to work here. To pass the time, she learned to cook. Then she volunteered as a career counselor in Montgomery County. Last year, she earned her MBA from George Washington University. In December, around the time Kapoor sent out his e-mail plea for mass mobilization, Ghodgaonkar had run out of options. "I just couldn't keep quiet anymore," Ghodgaonkar said. "I cannot be depressed anymore."

July 31, 2006

Immigration Voice, or "Green Card applicants unite!"

Here is an activist organization worthy of the times: Immigrantion Voice I doubt there is another web source of infotmed information about professional working visa problems that is as informative as this site..


Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization (501 (c) (4) pending) working to alleviate the problems faced by legal high-skilled foreign workers in the United States. We act as an interface between this set of immigrants and the legislative and executive branches of the government.

The mission of Immigration Voice is to organize grassroots efforts and resources to solve several problems in the employment based green card process including (a) delays due to Retrogression (visa number unavailability for certain employment-based categories) (b) delays due to USCIS processing backlogs and (c) delays due to Labor Certification backlogs. We will work to remove these and other flaws by supporting changes to immigration law for high-skilled legal employment-based immigrants. High-skilled legal immigrants strengthen the United States' economy and help maintain American technological superiority.

Under the tag “IV team” you’ll read about the activists in Immigration Voice: talented professionals caught in some small but interminable Kafkaesque nightmare. See this profile:


Aman Kapoor is the co-founder of Immigration Voice and is our liaison with other groups and agencies. Mr. Kapoor has been working in US for the last eight years. The prolonged employment-based immigration process has continued to hurt Mr. Kapoor’s career growth prospects. Mr. Kapoor possesses strong technical skills and has contributed in many high profile projects with large clients across the country. He has a Bachelors’ degree in Engineering and is presently pursuing his MBA in the U.S. His permanent residency application is being processed and the I-485 approval has been pending for more than 28 months. Mr. Kapoor and his family are now on third year EAD and continue to await approval of their Green Card application. Mr. Kapoor’s handle is WaldenPond and his email is aman@immigrationvoice.org

June 20, 2006

Locations of worker centers in U.S.

Janice Fine's Worker Centers: Organizing communities at the Edge of the Dream includes contact information for 137 worker centers, 122 of which are expressly focused on serving immigrant workers. their distribution by state. A online map of the country with these centers can be found here.

AZ - 3
AR - 1
CA - 29
CO - 1
DC - 1
FL - 6
IL - 8
IN - 2
ME - 1
MA - 5
MI - 1
MN - 3
MS -2
MT - 1
NE - 1
NJ - 5
NV - 1
NY - 24
NC - 7
OH - 3
OR - 4
PA - 3
RI - 1
SC - 1
TX - 6
UT - 1
VT - 1
VA - 4
WA - 5
WI - 4

May 12, 2006

Labor centers for immigrant workers

If one takes into account well staffed entities as well as simple hiring halls, there are probably up to 200 centers dedicated to supporting immigrant workers in obtaining work, learning about American labor practices, and securing their labor rights. I have been to two such centers: The Brazilian Immigrant Center in Boston, and the Watsonville Law Center in Watsonville, CA. I have also visited a makeshift center – more of a hiring hall – in Brooklyn.

Janice Fine of Rutgers University has published a book on this topic: “Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream”. Cornell U Press summarizes the book: “[She] identifies 137 worker centers in more than eighty cities, suburbs, and rural areas in thirty-one states. These centers, which attract workers in industries that are difficult to organize, have emerged as especially useful components of any program intended to assist immigrants and low-wage workers of color. Worker centers serve not only as organizing laboratories but also as places where immigrants and other low-wage workers can participate in civil society, tell their stories to the larger community, resist racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and work to improve their political and economic standing.”

Fine defines labor centers as “community-based mediating institutions that provide support to low-wage immigrants. Part settlement house, part local civil rights organization, and part union, the centers pursue this mission through a combination of approaches.”

Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Labor Organizing Network proposed seven characteristics of a well runs center:

Continue reading "Labor centers for immigrant workers" »

May 3, 2006

Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration

This February 2003, pastoral letter signed by Mexican and American bishops in the Catholic Church forms a foundation for the church's strong support of immigration reform that gives undocumented immigrants legal protections. The letter addresses the broad social issues of all Hispanic immigration.

Selected numbered paragraphs:

102. We recognize the phenomenon of migration as an authentic sign of the times. We see it in both our countries through the suffering of those who have been forced to become migrants for many reasons. To such a sign we must respond in common and creative ways so that we may strengthen the faith, hope, and charity of migrants and all the People of God. Such a sign is a call to transform national and international social, economic, and political structures so that they may provide the conditions required for the development for all, without exclusion and discrimination against any person in any circumstance.

103. In effect, the Church is increasingly called to be "sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, no. 1). The Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico, in communion with the Holy Father in his 1995 World Migration Day message, affirm that

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community. Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble.

The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.

Continue reading "Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration" »

April 2, 2006

The Farmworker Justice Fund

This organization, now in its 25th year, promotes improvement in working and living conditions of farmworkers, especially immigrant migrants. It has backed AgJobs legislation, the topic of a future posting.

It’s “Pro-Farmworker Agenda” focuses on

1. Farm Labor Housing and Housing Development Capacity: Farmworkers’ low wages, reluctance to allow farmworker housing in some communities, failure to maintain existing housing, inadequate government funding and other causes have led to a crisis-level shortage of housing and inadequate sanitation.

2. Workers’ Compensation: Farmworkers continue to be discriminated against in many state regarding access to workers’ compensation for work-related injury and illness.

3. "Right to know" about toxic occupational chemicals. Farmworkers have been denied coverage under the hazard communication program of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ….We suggest a federal pilot program in several states to examine whether granting farmworkers the right to know about occupational chemicals reduces the incidence and severity of work-related illness and injury.

4. Farmers’ transition away from toxic pesticides to safer pest control methods would substantially benefit farmworkers by reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals at work.

5. Freedom of Association: Farmworkers employed in an industry substantially supported by government deserve the right to join and organize labor unions free from retaliation, but they presently lack that right. The federal National Labor Relations Act grants that right to other workers but specifically excludes farmworkers. We suggest amending the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the principal federal employment law regarding farmworkers, to grant workers the right to organize, join and participate in labor unions without being discharged or discriminated against in any way by their employers or labor contractors.

6. Unemployment compensation benefits: Business difficulties and the nature of seasonal agriculture prevent many farmworkers from working year-round. Most workers in seasonal industries, such as construction and tourism, can rely on unemployment compensation if they cannot find other jobs during the off-season. a minimum, a business receiving government support should provide unemployment insurance.

7. Transportation to and from work: Many farmworkers do not own their own motor vehicles and live or work in rural areas where there is not public transportation. In many locations, a dangerous business practice has developed. Contractors take money from farmworkers and deliver them to the work site, often in dangerous vehicles, many of which are minivans that lack seats and seat belts.

8. Overtime Pay: Federal law excludes agricultural workers from the payment of time-and-one-half for work in excess of forty hours per week. In California, state law grants overtime to farmworkers after ten hours of work in a day and California remains a highly productive, profitable agricultural state.

9. A Living Wage: The federal minimum wage is utterly inadequate as a minimum wage rate, especially for seasonal employees like farmworkers, whose annual earnings average only about $7,500. A government-supported business should be expected to provide decent work, which includes compliance with all labor laws and a living wage.

February 17, 2006

SAFE: Socially Accountable Farm Employers in Florida

Here is an example of a community-based organization and an employers association joining forces to bolster employee protections and rights of farm workers in Florida. They conduct audits to check for compliance with a code of conduct. Audit scope includes forced labor, child labor, discrimination, wages and benefits, employment records, healthy and safe work environment, and housing.

An executive of a farming corporation told me that

Their auditors were very professional and knowledgeable and really dug into our operations for hiring, screening, training, payroll, benefits, safety, insurance, chemical handling, housing, etc. They also conducted interviews with 50+ employees. Oh yeah, the SAFE audit is conducted annually to maintain your certification.

According to SAFE....

Continue reading "SAFE: Socially Accountable Farm Employers in Florida" »

February 16, 2006

Wall Street Journal article on Brazilian immigrant cleaning business in MA

Today's Wall Street Journal profiles Brazilian home cleaning businesses in MA. The businesses are so well developed that a buy-sell market has emerged; the Internet is used to communicate and clients; and Craig’s list is used to recruit workers. The hub of the cleaning business is in Somerville, MA, which according to the Boston Globe’s analysis of census data, 31% of new immigrants are Portuguese speaking (Brazilian or Portuguese). We have already profiled the Brazilian Immigrant Center.

Tufts University is undertaking a collaborative multi-year project in Somerville to study and support economic growth among immigrants. Included in the project is the introduction of “green” cleaning materials for cleaning businesses.

Among a number of initiatives, this project

.... will also break new ground by launching an entirely new business model for immigrant workers: a non-profit green cleaning cooperative that will help to break down the barrier of isolation faced by these workers. "Brazilian women cleaners form a large occupational group working and living in Somerville who can benefit from this new structure and by learning about safe work practices and the benefits of using environmentally friendly cleaning products," said Monica Chianelli, coordinator, Brazilian Women's Group.
"Immigrants have accounted for 82 percent of the growth of the labor force in Massachusetts since the mid 1980s. Somerville, which has seen the number of foreign-born residents grow by 34 percent in 10 years, is an important gateway for newcomers," explained Principal Investigator David M. Gute, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University and an epidemiologist.

February 11, 2006

Migrant Clinicians Network

The Migrant Clinicians Network engages in healthcare delivery and healthcare research for low income workers including but not exclusively migrant workers. Their new Saving Lives by Changing Practice project is attempting to improve the quality of service to work injured clients. Amy Liebman is coordinating the program. She provided me with this introduction to the program.

For an earlier posting on community health clinic services to injured workers, go here.


Amy K. Liebman, MPA
Migrant Clinicians Network
410.860.9850 aliebman@migrantclincian.org

There are numerous barriers to recognizing and treating environmental and occupational health (EOH) problems in the primary care setting. Some of the underlying reasons are the limited EOH training front line providers receive as well as institutional challenges that prevent clinicians from adequately addressing EOH problems.

Continue reading "Migrant Clinicians Network" »

January 24, 2006

Brazilian Immigrant Center (Boston, MA)

The Brazilian Immigrant Center in Boston -- o Centro do Imigrante Brasileiro -- runs a large number of educational and community action programs on behalf of the 100,000+ Brazilian workers in and around Boston. The site offers Portuguese and English options.

in English:

Who Are We???
The Brazilian Immigrant Center is a community-based organization working to empower Brazilians in the Greater Boston Area around issues of access to education, workplace rights and immigration. Our work is done through advocacy, education, organizing and leadership/capacity building.

What Are Our Goals??? The BIC's mission is to unite Brazilian immigrants to organize against economic, social and political marginalization, and to help create a just society.

in Portuques:

Quem Somos Nós???
O Centro do Imigrante Brasileiro é uma organização, baseada nesta comunidade, procurando melhorar as vidas dos brasileiros em Boston, através de treinamento, organização e desenvolvimento de suas capacidades para liderança.

Qual é o Nosso Objetivo??? O objetivo do CIB é de organizar um movimento unido de brasileiros contra discriminação econômica, social e política.