« August 2006 | Main | October 2006 »

September 27, 2006

“Subidos” or Mexicans working legally in migrant construction work

The Wall Street Journal on 9/18 (payment required) tracked the work migration of a Cantu family men – self-described subidos. These are Mexicans with green cards, who leave their families in Mexico and pick up relatively well paying jobs on a contract to contact basis, crisscrossing the United States.

“Thanks to quirks in the law, they have green cards enabling them to come to the U.S. for work stints. Many, like the Cantús, call themselves 'subidos' from the Spanish verb for 'to rise,' because they do the grueling jobs of pouring concrete for tall structures such as grain silos for the ethanol plants increasingly rising across the Great Plains. "

By quickly filling jobs and providing needed skills, such workers are a boon to employers. They rarely put a burden on social services, because they leave their school-age children and elderly relatives at home. Nonetheless, there is some evidence that the Mexicans drive down wages in the industries where they work.

Some guest workers had their status legalized under the Simpson-Rodino Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented workers. It offered that group, who call themselves 'Rodinos,' the chance at green cards that confer permanent-resident status and the right to work. The act was intended to encourage U.S. citizenship, but some preferred the guest-worker way of life, as the Cantús do, earning wages in the U.S. but keeping their families and their living costs in Mexico.

Others acquired work visas through programs that legalized imported farm workers during times of labor shortages. Still others won green cards after being sponsored by a parent who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, or by marrying a U.S. citizen. About 100,000 Mexicans also legally commute short distances across the border for day jobs in the U.S.

Mr. Cantú's father arrived in the U.S. as a relief laborer during World War II. He worked regularly in the U.S. under the Bracero program for farmhands, which ended in 1964. He became a U.S. citizen in the early 1990s. His citizenship made his children and grandchildren eligible for green cards. It took eight years to obtain them. Since 2003 they have been taking advantage by landing concrete-pouring jobs in the U.S.

The presence of so much Mexican construction labor worries union officials in Midwest and mountain states, though demand for construction appears strong enough now to support both foreign-born and local workers. The Pueblo, Colo., cement plant being built by subidos, for instance, is within sight of a massive project, Xcel Energy Corp.'s $1.3 billion Comanche-3 power plant, which employs union workers, nearly all U.S.-born. Ethanol construction tends to be divided between union shops in large towns and subidos in rural areas.

Union officials complain bitterly that competition from Mexico is driving down wages, and there is evidence to back them up. Roberto Cantú's Pueblo pay stub shows he earned $14 an hour for a 45-hour week, and $21 for every additional hour. Pete Mustacchio, business manager of Cement Masons Local 577 in Denver, says Colorado's union pourers earn twice that, including an hourly wage of $23.40, plus health-insurance and pension benefits valued at another $9 an hour. Overtime starts at $35.10 an hour.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate wages in concrete work fell 16.5% in 2005 from 2000 -- to $508 a week from $604, adjusted for inflation -- despite a soaring demand for workers. Meanwhile, the proportion of cement workers described as 'foreign-born Hispanic' has risen to almost 55% from around 35% in the late 1990s. Statistics suggest many are replacing African-Americans, whose employment in concrete work declined to 9,000 in 2005, from 18,000 six years ago.

David Card, a University of California at Berkeley economist, says the decline in earnings is part of a long-term trend of nonunion construction workers replacing a unionized work force. Other factors are at play besides the subidos. Illegal-immigrant labor drives down wages even more than do legal subidos, and technology has reduced the need for some skilled workers.

An expanded guest-worker program probably would deepen the wage squeeze, says Harvard University immigration economist George Borjas. 'I find a 10% rise in worker supply results in a 3% decline in wages' locally.

Earl Agan, business manager of Cement Masons local 51 in Des Moines, says ethanol-plant construction should be a reason to hire more union workers, not fewer. He has 260 members qualified to pour silos, at least 50 of whom are presently without work. 'Contractors have my guys traveling all over the country,' Mr. Agan says, arguing that remote work sites shouldn't justify importing workers. His conclusion: Contractors want a bigger share of the profit and won't employ union labor if they don't have to.

September 23, 2006

Canada’s use of skills based point system for immigration: do we need it?

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held hearings on September 14 to explore the merits of skills based point system for managing much of permanent immigration. Canada has been using such a system for years. Here is what I gleaned from a presentation by Queen's University professor Charles M. Beach.

Beach said that Canada has “the highest per capita immigration rate in the world” – about 225,000 persons per years out of a population of 30 million. Our legal permanent immigration is somewhat under a million a year; Canada’s rate is over double of ours.

Canada has three immigration tracks: economic, family, and humanitarian (mainly refugees). The economic track has grown relatively to the others as Canada’s immigration rate has grown from the 1980s. The economic category accounted for 35% of immigrants in 1980, but 59% in 2000.

The country’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has considerable legal latitude to set target levels and make changes to the skills base system.

This system was introduced in 1967. Originally it was focused in part on trying to target immigration to meet periodic labor gaps, but that approach being cumbersome was abandoned towards a more generic skills scoring protocol. It had an effect: changes early in the 1990s led to a large increase in the rate of higher educated immigrants. The strategy: don’t fill labor shortages, but foster labor productivity and growth.

Since the mid 1990s, three factors in the scoring system dominant: education, age and French/English fluency. Maximum points for these categories respectively are a four year university degree, 21 - 49 age range, and fluency in both languages. If you get these maximum points you earn 59 of the 70 out of a 100 points you need for acceptance. Of these factors, education carries the greatest weight.

Douglas S. Massey of Princeton University also testified. I have posted on him before and find his a voice of reason. Massey noted that employment based immigration is about 20% of total American immigration. We gave much more weight to family affiliations. Canada and Australia have more employment-focused immigration policies needed to compete with the United States. We don’t need such a system. “In the long run, the primary source of America’s stock of skills, talents and education must come from investments made init sown human capital” – through education, training and research. Immigration to Massey is a “poor substitute” for investments in education and training. Massey also noted that many immigrants have problems earning enough, and that the highest educated immigrants are not necessarily the happiest. Massey recommended, in effect, an approach which balances employment focused immigration policy with one of family integration and fuller implementation of the population aspects of NAFTA.

September 22, 2006

How an ICE raid crippled a rural Georgia town

The New York Times carried an AP story of the economic and social impact of an ICE raid in a poultry plant in a small town in southeast Georgia. “This Georgia community of about 1,000 people has become little more than a ghost town since Sept. 1, when federal agents began rounding up illegal immigrants. The sweep has had the unintended effect of underscoring just how vital the illegal immigrants were to the local economy.”

More than 120 illegal immigrants have been loaded onto buses bound for immigration courts in Atlanta, 189 miles away. Hundreds more fled Emanuel County. Residents say many scattered into the woods, camping out for days. They worry some are still hiding without food. Last month, the federal government reported that Georgia had the fastest-growing illegal immigrant population in the country. The number more than doubled from an estimated 220,000 in 2000 to 470,000 last year.

My posting with Pew Hispanic data says that in early 2005 there were about 165,000 illegal immigrant workers in the state. Assuming a 65% workforce rate, 470,000 might be a stretch. OK, and so…

Since the mid-1990s, Stillmore has grown dependent on the paychecks of Mexican workers who originally came for seasonal farm labor, picking the area's famous Vidalia onions. Many then took year-round jobs at the Crider plant, with a workforce of about 900. Crider President David Purtle said the agents began inspecting the company's employment records in May. They found 700 suspected illegal immigrants, and supervisors handed out letters over the summer ordering them to prove they came to the U.S. legally or be fired. Only about 100 kept their jobs.

So it was the 100 remaining who were effectively targeted.

The poultry plant has limped along with half its normal workforce. Crider increased its starting wages by $1 an hour to help recruit new workers.

September 20, 2006

A Marie Antoinette statement on illegal immigrants

The Massaschusetts gubernatorial race between a black Democratic nominee, who won a primary yesterday, and an aide Governor Mitt Romney who made one of the more colorful remarks about illegal immigrants. Lt Governor Kerry Healey, a Republican ,said last year during a radio interview that she opposed proposed legislation to enable children of illegal immigrant families to obtain the in-state tuition benefits for education at the state's public colleges and universities. She said that they can perfectly well pay themselves for private college education, presumably at colleges such as Wellesley and Amherst. Healey owns homes on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Vermont and Florida. I wonder if her lawns are being manicured by illegal workers.

September 16, 2006

An analysis of WC law protections for illegal immigrants

This summer, the American Educational Institute published, for people like insurance claims executives and insurance brokers, an analysis of workers comp benefits for illegal aliens. Here it is.

New article: Illegal immigrants frequently denied compensation

A very well documented story was run on 9/15, by Liz Chandler of McClatchy Newspapers. about problems with access to workers comp protections for immigrant workers -- in particular illegal workers. This is the best national scope journalistic report to date on this problem, which I have often addressed. she writes:

In one national study, university researchers surveyed 2,660 day laborers, most of them working illegally. One in five said he'd suffered a work injury. Among those who were hurt in the last year, 54 percent said they didn't receive the medical care they needed, and only 6 percent got workers' comp benefits. Employers in at least 20 states, arguing that their employees shouldn't receive injury benefits because they're illegal immigrants, have fought and lost in courts and review boards. Among those employees were a California laborer who hurt his back lifting sacks of coffee, an Arizona auto mechanic who was hit in the eye by flying debris, a Maryland carpenter who cut his hand on a saw, and a North Carolina construction worker who suffered a brain injury when he fell 30 feet onto a concrete floor.

the article:

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Jose Hernandez was good with a machete. So he was the top choice when his boss needed someone to chop down young trees that were choking parts of Florida's Everglades.

On one trip to the swamps, the workers flew in by helicopter and quickly cut a stand of sprouting trees. But when they took off again, something went wrong: The chopper lurched left, then plunged into murky water.

A broken rotor blade slashed through Hernandez's left thigh.

Doctors saved his life, but couldn't save his leg.

To pay for his costly medical care, Hernandez filed a workers' compensation claim, which covered some of his bills.

Then, the insurance carrier, Florida Citrus, Business & Industries Fund, discovered that Hernandez was in America illegally, without work papers or permission from federal immigration officials. It halted all payments and left Hernandez to languish in a low-income Florida nursing home, unable to work to support his wife and four children in Mexico.

Thousands of illegal workers like Hernandez are hurt on the job every year in America, but don't get the compensation that's promised by law in every state.

Bosses often fire them, threaten them with deportation and commit an array of other misdeeds to avoid responsibility for workers' injuries. Some insurers refuse to pay their claims, citing reasons related to their illegal status.

As a result, injured workers often go without medical care or go to emergency rooms for treatment - and taxpayers get stuck with the bills.

"It's a violation of the American spirit," said Florida lawyer Gerry Rosenthal, who represents Hernandez. "Employers are hiring these people and pushing them hard to make a profit for the company, but when a worker gets hurt, they abandon him."

From field hands to garment workers to poultry processors to construction crews, injuries abound in industries that rely on an estimated 7 million undocumented workers, often to do dirty and dangerous jobs. Yet those who are undocumented are frequently cheated out of benefits that American workers have taken for granted for nearly a century, a McClatchy Newspapers investigation has found.

Federal labor officials haven't studied whether undocumented workers are wrongfully being denied compensation. But the exploitation is rampant, according to interviews with scores of illegal workers, employers, workers' comp lawyers, health care providers and workplace experts, and a review of lawsuits and workers' comp claims.

In one national study, university researchers surveyed 2,660 day laborers, most of them working illegally. One in five said he'd suffered a work injury. Among those who were hurt in the last year, 54 percent said they didn't receive the medical care they needed, and only 6 percent got workers' comp benefits.

Employers in at least 20 states, arguing that their employees shouldn't receive injury benefits because they're illegal immigrants, have fought and lost in courts and review boards. Among those employees were a California laborer who hurt his back lifting sacks of coffee, an Arizona auto mechanic who was hit in the eye by flying debris, a Maryland carpenter who cut his hand on a saw, and a North Carolina construction worker who suffered a brain injury when he fell 30 feet onto a concrete floor.

Juan Palacios, a 27-year-old husband and father from Guatemala, was working on the roof of a Florida home in March when a coworker accidentally splashed hot tar on him. Palacios fell 12 feet and smashed through a glass table and onto a tile floor. He was hospitalized for a week.

During that time, he heard nothing from his boss at Sunrise Roofing.

"They don't care about me," Palacios said. "I feel bad because I can't work. ... That's why I'm here."

Sunrise confirmed that it had employed Palacios, but its insurance carrier, the Insurance Company of the Americas of Bradenton, Fla., has refused to pay. It won't discuss the denial but said in documents that "there is no employee/employer" relationship.

Palacios remains out of work. He's scarred and in need of skin grafts, he said. He relies on his roommates to feed and care for him, and he's received nothing from Sunrise.

The U.S. Department of Labor tracks workplace deaths and injuries, but officials haven't assessed how undocumented workers fare. The only hint is the climbing and disproportionate number of workplace deaths among Hispanic and foreign-born workers, which includes many of those who are working illegally.

Workplace safety programs also are failing these workers, as the number of inspections and the staffers to do them has declined. The nation's 2,300 inspectors check 1 percent of 7 million employers each year, and critics say fines are so low that risky operators consider them a cost of doing business.

"The regulators are rooted in paralysis," said insurance analyst Peter Rousmaniere, who's studied abuses of undocumented workers in a dozen states. "They don't want to acknowledge these workers exist - so, in effect, they are allowing them to be abused."

Workers' compensation is regulated by the states, but most simply offer review boards to settle disputes. Few states look for abuses of undocumented workers, and some adopt regulations that freeze illegal workers out of injury benefits.

Florida recently rejected hundreds of workers' comp claims because they didn't include Social Security numbers, a procedure the state Supreme Court halted last year because the requirement violated privacy laws.

A few states - Florida, Michigan and Kansas - allow employers to limit benefits or fine injured workers who use phony Social Security numbers.

"What you have is 20th century legal principles trying to catch up with the 21st century reality of a global workforce," said Bill Beardall, a lawyer and professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

"It takes time - and persistent injustice - for us to figure out that the old rules don't fit."


Workers' compensation is intended to protect labor and management.

The deal is employers pay for injured workers' medical treatment, partial wages, disabilities and deaths, and employees can't sue if they get hurt.

Every state requires such benefits, except Texas, which last year passed California to lead the country in workplace deaths of Hispanics. Workers comp is optional in Texas, but companies must cover all employees - legal and illegal - if they opt for the insurance.

While some states exempt tiny businesses and certain agricultural and domestic workers, almost all other workers are promised protection.

But employers have incentives to cover up injuries. Accidents drive up insurance costs and can attract investigators. And intimidation tactics work best against employees who speak little English, don't know their rights and fear the threat of deportation.

"They are terrified of getting fired or being deported," said Nan Lashuay, an assistant clinical professor and occupational health expert at the University of California, San Francisco. "There's a lot of pressure. Some of them have families who are literally on the verge of starvation. ... You can make here in a day what you make in a week in Mexico. And if you're deported, it can be extremely difficult to get back into the U.S."

Examples of abuse are widespread.

# In Boston, when a Brazilian restaurant worker stabbed his hand with a knife, his supervisor, acting as translator, told doctors the injury happened at home, legal advocates said.

# At a Mississippi poultry plant, bosses questioned the immigration status - then fired - an undocumented employee after he sought medical treatment for injuries to both arms, according to the worker and his case manager.

# In Florida, a 15-year-old Guatemalan boy picking peppers was run over by a truck in the field, then dumped at a hospital 25 miles away with no name or contact information for his employer.

It's not unusual for bosses, known to workers only by nicknames and cell phone numbers, to abandon injured workers in unfamiliar areas without fear of reprisals.

"It's an ugly secret, and it's going on nationwide," said Texas lawyer Richard Pena, the chairman of the American Bar Association's immigration committee. "The employers and insurance companies profit ... (while) immigrant workers often go back to their home countries broken and in pain."

Insurers say they don't track how many illegal workers file for injury benefits or how many workers' families seek payment for deaths on the job. Most American companies take care of injured workers, employers say. They understand that the best way to keep productivity up and insurance premiums down is to run safe, responsible workplaces.

When someone is hurt, insurers say, they generally pay the claims, and immigration status doesn't arise. When it does, they interpret state injury laws conservatively.

"Most accept that illegal aliens should be compensated. That doesn't mean everybody is necessarily enthusiastic about it," said Eric Oxfeld, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for businesses.

If injuries aren't reported, he said, "it has little to do with the employer, and everything to do with the workers' fear that he might be sent home."


Some companies, however, continue to argue that undocumented workers shouldn't receive injury benefits.

Insurers may pay medical bills but refuse to cover workers' lost wages and retraining costs, arguing that the workers can't legally hold jobs and earn wages in the United States anyway.

"There are not across-the-board denials. My guess is that many thousands of illegal immigrants have been injured and treated through workers' comp," said Bob Hartwig, the chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute. "The problem is that many don't get to the door. ... Many of these people are intimidated in variety of ways by employers."

Some companies - particularly in competitive and dangerous industries - seek to gain an edge by hiring illegal workers and then cheating them on pay and injury benefits.

"It's a toxic cocktail," said insurance analyst Rousmaniere. "You have employers who have great incentive to cheat workers, and you have large numbers of illegal workers who will accept lower labor standards. It's causing our safety standards to erode - and that hurts legal workers, too."

One employers' trick is to go without workers' comp insurance.

Investigators say that kind of fraud is far more common than the much-publicized cases of workers who fake injuries. Offenders typically are small companies in high-risk pursuits, in which annual insurance premiums can cost 50 percent or more of a company's payroll. On average, companies pay about 1 percent of payroll toward premiums.

Employers also lie on payroll records - understating their size and job risks - to keep insurance costs down, which can leave workers without injury coverage.

Then there are more subtle tactics, such as the treatment an undocumented immigrant from South America got at a Mississippi poultry plant.

The worker slipped on a floor slick with chicken fat and landed hard, suffering two fractures in his back and a spinal dislocation.

The company-recommended doctor found no injury in his X-rays and cleared him to return to work, according to the worker and his legal advocates. He spent time sitting in a break room, too pained to work but prohibited from going home during work hours so the company wouldn't have to report the injury.

As the pain in the worker's leg grew, an orthopedic specialist finally examined the earlier X-rays and found the fractures, which required surgery.

"I can't work as I did before. I'm going to have pain for all my life," said the father of five, who asked not to be identified for fear of being fired.

He walks with a limp now. He gave up his $500-a-week job cutting bones from chicken thighs because he can't stand up for long periods. But he still works at the poultry plant, where he now makes $300 a week mopping floors.

"When you're cutting up chickens and working on a line where speed is everything, workers get cuts, broken fingers, repetitive motion injuries, or they get their hands caught in machines," said Anita Grabowski, who coordinates the Mississippi Poultry Workers Center near Jackson, Miss., which gets a steady flow of immigrant workers injured in area plants.

"They may see a company doctor or nurse, but many times they're given an aspirin or some cream and sent right back to the line that day. Their injuries are never reported, and they don't get the treatment they need," she said.

It was the insurance company, not the boss, that blocked benefits for Jose Hernandez. Adjusters for Florida Citrus, Business & Industries Fund began digging into his background on the day he lost his leg to the helicopter blade.

They quizzed his employer, Linda Rojas.

What's his history?

What kind of employee was he?

What documents had he provided when he was hired?

"They kind of hounded me to say things about him that weren't up to par," Rojas recalled. But "I wasn't going to say anything bad. ... He was an excellent employee."

Within a week, adjusters phoned Rojas with a decision: "We feel like he's an illegal alien, and we're going to use that to deny his claim," Rojas remembers the agent saying.

She didn't argue.

Rojas said she had mixed feelings. Hernandez deserved compensation because he was maimed for life, but she wasn't sure that an illegal worker should be entitled to benefits. So she left things to her insurer.

Florida Citrus declined to discuss the case, but in its denial, the insurer charged that Hernandez violated state law by making "false" or "fraudulent" statements about his identity.

When Rojas hired him, Hernandez presented a Social Security card he bought in North Carolina. He'd picked strawberries there, and before that, he'd planted shrubs in Kansas City, cut pines in Washington state and picked grapes in California, living and working in the United States periodically for more than a decade.

"The `false' statements Jose Hernandez made to get a job have nothing to do with his injury," said lawyer Rosenthal, of West Palm Beach. "This man was almost killed working for an American company. Isn't it right to compensate him?"

Florida Citrus settled the case for an undisclosed amount, but Hernandez remains in the Florida nursing home getting treatment, waiting to return to Mexico. His girls are 3 and 6 now, the boys 10 and 12. He hasn't seen them in three years.

"The important thing is that some money is there to take care of us," said Hernandez, 36. "I can't walk, but I'll keep trying to go forward. Thank God it didn't get my arm - with my hands I can do anything."

Rojas said she wasn't surprised when her insurer "dropped us like a hot rock" after Hernandez's injury. She paid double for a new policy and expects a price increase again this year.

She's not sure whether her company, Rojas Brothers Grove Service, can afford to stay open or can continue to find workers willing to wade into swamps to chop trees.

"Not everybody wants to do this kind of work," she said. "They're going into swampy areas where you've got snakes and alligators. ... It's rough work."

September 13, 2006

Many immigrants working at WTC cleanup

As reported in Newsday, “experts estimate that [among the 40,000 workers engaged in the cleanup] between 3,000 and 10,000 Ground Zero workers were immigrants, of which half -- between 1,500 and 5,000 -- were in the country without papers, said Carmen Calderon of the Manhattan-based nonprofit New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.” Another estimate can be derived from the Sept 2006 Mt. Sinai Medical Center medical study of 9,000 cleanup workers. It reported that 17% of examinations were in languages other than English: 10.3% in Spanish, 3.3% in Polish, 0.3% in other. Per the Mt. Sinai study, 23.8% of those examined had Hispanic ethnicity. So assuming that 20% of the workers were immigrants, Let's estimate that 75% of Hispanic workers, or 17.8% are immigrants. Adding the Polish speaking we come to about 20% of all workers, or 8,000 workers.

How many were undocumented? 1,500 seems to be too low, and 4,000 - 5,000 conceivable if you assume that 75% of Spanish speakers are undocumented and 75% of Polish speakers are undocumented. I don’t have a way to make a better estimate.

The Newsday article goes on:

Interviews across the region show that some of the undocumented immigrants who worked at the site are, in fact, now seeking treatment offered by Stony Brook, Mount Sinai and other regional facilities.

In February, Calderon's group opened an office in Hauppauge to search out these workers on Long Island and to offer assistance. Meanwhile, Stony Brook's monitoring program is planning to hire a Spanish-speaking doctor and social worker to cope with what they expect will be a growing number of undocumented immigrants coming for help at the Islandia clinic.

Experts and activists say that many of the undocumented immigrants have not come forward because of language barriers. Others fear deportation, although government officials say they don't plan any such crackdowns. Calderon said most of the undocumented immigrants are from Poland, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

September 8, 2006

Throwaway workers: dangerous jobs take toll on illegal immigrants

Thanks to Jason Barab of Confined Space for alerting me to the publication of this report by Stephen Franklin and Darnell Little of the Chicago Tribune on the occupational injury and death risks of immigrant labor, especially illegal workers. This is not the first not the last news article to be written on this topic. The authors present case studies from around the country. Excerpts:

Over the last decade, Latino workers' fatality rates have soared, outstripping their share of the workforce. With more Latinos on the job, many suffer a hefty dose of injuries from some of the most dangerous jobs, according to government statistics and interviews with union, workplace safety and public health experts, as well as workers. They are vulnerable because many are immigrants who are illiterate in English, have little understanding of American culture and are grateful for any job, no matter how dangerous. And because many are undocumented immigrants, afraid of being deported, they often don't ask questions and don't challenge the boss.”

Since 1997, Latino workers in Illinois have had an injury rate twice that of others, said Dr. Linda Forst at the University of Illinois at Chicago, relying on figures from the Illinois Trauma Registry. Latino workers' rate of amputations for fingers or hands is three times that of others.

When Antonio Cabrera, a 25-year-old Guatemalan, was badly injured in a Chicago construction accident, he was so petrified he hid instead of getting immediate help. Eager for work and in debt $6,000 to the "coyote" who had smuggled him to Chicago, he took a painting job on the North Side last spring. The pay was about $7 an hour. Back home in rural Guatemala, where his wife and four children still live, he had earned $4 a day as a farmer. It had started to snow, and he was the last of the painters to quit, suspended in a swing three stories aboveground. Usually, his team would use a backup rope for safety, but this time, for some reason, he said there wasn't one for him.
As he began to lower himself, the rope broke, and Cabrera plummeted to the street, landing first on his left foot. Passersby called police, but his co-workers, hearing the approaching sirens, panicked and hid him in a nearby car. A bone was sticking out of his foot, so they covered it with a blanket. When police arrived, he and his co-workers insisted he was OK and did not need any help. They feared being turned over to immigration officials. "I was afraid, and they were afraid too," he recalled. Cabrera was lucky because he did go to the hospital, and his medical bills were covered by the painting company's health insurance. Contacted by the Tribune, the painting company owner would not discuss the incident.

September 5, 2006

House Republicans to stop beating the immigration reform drum

This, as reported through several media in particular the New York Times, is pleasant to hear, at the very least. I suspect that the decision was made on the basis that House Republicans and Senate Republicans were at odds over immigration reform, and that the get-tough House approach ran counter to the White House's view.