Modern day slavery legislation

Not since the days of slavery have so many residents of the United States lacked the most basic social, economic, and human rights.”

The management of entirely unregulated trans-border labor force of millions of workers with low formal education, including recruitment and employment, has been driven by corporate employers in agriculture, textiles, and meat processing. From the early decades of the 20th Century, whole sectors of the American economy have been staffed by persons with to legal status. Their employers have defeated efforts to normalize the employment relationship. Programs to coordinate the North American economy, including NAFTA, left this trans-border workforce unrelated. Corporate employers have essentially kept the world’s largest trans-border workforce out of government oversight.

Rather than to regulate in a way consistent with 20th Century standards of worker protections and of dispute resolution, the United States practiced benign neglect on these employment relations, with some exceptions, and  tried and consistently failed to influence them indirectly by Mexican border control.

Immigration restrictionists have to come to terms with those employers who depend on these workers. Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guest Worker Act (H.R. 4092) would regulate the workforce by formally recognizing guest workers as persons of sharply diminished rights.

The bill would arm employers with overwhelming control over employment conditions, including mandatory arbitration, reporting within 72 hours if a worker quits, mandatory periodic return to country of origin with no obligation of the employer to pay for transportation, barring family members to accompany the worker, and barring of access to common supports for low wage workers such as SNAP food stamps, federal community health center care, and federally funded legal aid. The bill would essentially close of much of the farming workforce from U.S. citizens and create a closed pool of vulnerable temporary workers.

Farmworker Justice is at the forefront of tackling this bill.

How an African sought asylum at the Tijuana / U.S border

An extraordinary article describes Tijuana today, crammed with persons deported from the U.S., and others trying to get into the U.S. as asylees. Here is a snapshot of one asylum seeker from Guinea:

“Three young Guinean men stood in a group, evidently nervous. One had a bandage around his foot from a snake bite suffered in a South American jungle. Another, named Alpha Barry, had quick, friendly eyes and a wide smile and deep scars across his lips. Barry’s front teeth had been shattered. He told me that he was a member of a large ethnic group called the Peul that is scattered across West Africa and currently in conflict with the Malinke and Sousou ethnic groups in Guinea. Barry ran an internet café in Conakry, the Guinean capital, until somebody stole his computers. He reported the loss to police only to have the thieves return and beat him so severely that he spent two months in a coma and emerged with a severe stutter.

“Many Guinean asylum-seekers flee across the Mediterranean into Europe. Barry had a cousin in Maryland, so he chose the Western Hemisphere analogue. He flew to Brazil, where Guineans can get tourist visas, then rode buses north. In Colombia, he joined migrants from all over the world — Pakistanis, Eritreans, Nepalis, and Malians — for the 60-mile walk through the Darién Gap, a roadless rainforest that separates Colombia from Panama and harbors jaguars, FARC rebels, and right-wing paramilitaries. Navigating by scraps of cloth tied to trees, they were all bound for Tijuana. Migrants shudder when they speak of this part of the passage; they describe bandits routinely robbing and raping migrants, dead bodies by the trail, and people slipping off cliffs and drowning in rivers. Barry crossed Panama next and then walked across Nicaragua at night to avoid criminal gangs. Once he reached Honduras, he started riding buses north.”

The article provides this context:

“In the summer of 2016, a wave of migrants from outside Latin America began arriving in Tijuana. The collapsing Brazilian economy was one reason, as thousands of Haitian-born workers there fled north. The escalating global refugee crisis also contributed, as ports of entry across the U.S. southern border reported 150 percent increase in asylum applicants over the previous year, including 2,788 Indians, 1,717 Chinese, 1,672 Romanians, 518 Bangladeshis, 531 Nepalis, 583 Ghanaians, 408 Cameroonians, 293 Eritreans, 158 Guineans, and many others.

“Everyone was coming to the front door from everywhere in the world,” says Father Patrick Murphy, the Catholic priest who runs Casa del Migrante. “From May 2016 until January 2017, we had 2,000 refugees from 32 different countries. You had to pull out Google translator and figure stuff out.”

Source: California Sunday Magazine


House to vote on farm guest worker bill in July

From Farmworker Justice this morning:

Speaker Paul Ryan has committed to a July vote in the House on agricultural guestworker legislation, as reported by the Seattle Times and by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), whose family owns a large farming operation.

The proposal will be based on Rep. Goodlatte’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-family Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA). Goodlatte and Newhouse included the AGA within Goodlatte’s larger Securing America’s Future Act, which failed in the House last week (so badly that almost half of Republican Congressmen voted against it).

Goodlatte’s cruel AGA, if passed, would accomplish two horrific results. For more details, see our summary.

First, this bill would basically convert the farm labor force of 2.4 million into guestworkers on new H-2C temporary work visas. Growers could bring in hundreds of thousands of H-2C guestworkers with no right to immigration status. Goodlatte’s bill would separate families –- spouses and children would have to remain in their homeland while the H-2C guestworker labors in the US for months or years. Current undocumented farmworkers would have an illusory right to return to their homelands and seek an H-2C visa, but not their spouses and children currently in the US, who would still be subject to deportation.

Second, the H-2C program would replace the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and minimize recruitment of U.S. farmworkers; slash the modest wage and other labor protections; deny meaningful access to the judiciary; and minimize government oversight.

I described the Goodlatte bill here.



Immigrant dairy farmers in Vermont

According to Migrant Justice:

The average dairy farm worker works 60 – 80 hours a week.
40% of farm workers are paid less than minimum wage.
40% have no days off.
28% routinely work seven hours or more without a break to eat.
20% have their pay illegal held.
15% live in overcrowded housing and 15% have inadequate heat.

From a 2014 survey of 200 Vermont dairy workers

Republicans aim to cut immigration by 40%

Currently one to 1 ½ million person get a green card every year. I have posted before on a long-time shift of Republicans to greater restriction, despite a poll showing that only 17% of Americans favor a decrease in immigration. The House appears to be almost evenly divided over restriction Ron Brownstein of CNN noted this:

“With last week’s vote in the House of Representatives on hardline immigration legislation from GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, about three-fourths of Republicans in both the House and Senate have voted this year to cut legal immigration by about 40%. That would represent, by far, the largest reduction in legal immigration since Congress voted in 1924 to virtually shut off immigration for the next four decades.

The 40% estimate comes from the Cato Institute. “By far the worst aspect of the Securing America’s Future Act are the cuts to legal immigration overall (pp. 5-21). The bill authors claim that it would cut immigration by 25 percent—some 2.6 million people per decade—but in reality, it would be closer to 430,000, almost a 40 percent decline. This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.”

The Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) was filed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on January 10, 2018. The bill would give Dreamers a three year visa with no right to permanent stay or citizenship, restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children (thus removing adult children and parents), shift the visa lottery to economic visas, and boost border security. Goodlatte told reporters, “I think there are a lot of other things that need to be done on immigration.”

Temba Maqubela, immigrant from South Africa

On June 14, 1985, the South African Defense Forces raided Botswana, killing the formal witness at South African Temba Maqubela’s wedding. The next day, the American ambassador interviewed him as a refugee applicant to the United States. Within a year, he was teaching at Philips Andover, in Andover, Massachusetts. In 2013 Maqubela became the headmaster of Groton School, an elite Massachusetts boarding school, founded in 1884. He says, ”The walls that used to separate students around the world have collapsed. The Internet is the great equalizer, it makes teaching so much more fun. If I don’t keep up before I go to class, I’m going to be caught.”

What is the impact of E-Verify?

The House Freedom Caucus demands that e-Verify be mandatory for American employers. Who would benefit?

There appears to be no systematic evidence that native-born American workers gain any benefits from e-Verify, but that there are shifts within the Hispanic immigrant workforce. Consider who will replace undocumented workers in farming — other immigrant workers.

A 2014 study examined the impact of state-mandated E-Verify laws on the workforce. The use of e-Verify is voluntary except in these states with the implementation date of the mandate: Alabama April 2012; Arizona January 2008; Georgia January 2012; Mississippi July 2008; North Carolina October 2012; South Carolina January 2012; Tennessee January 2012; Utah July 2010. A fact sheet on e-Verify is here. Based on estimates from 2007, 4% of new hires in the U.S. workforce went through e-Verify.

The authors wrote,” universal E-Verify mandates appear to reduce hourly earnings by about 8% among male Mexican immigrants who are likely to be unauthorized. The effect is concentrated among long-term U.S. residents. The results indicate that E-Verify mandates to date are largely successful in achieving the goal of worsening labor market outcomes among unauthorized immigrants.

Another goal of E-Verify mandates is to improve labor market outcomes for U.S. natives who may compete with unauthorized immigrants. We find some evidence that the laws achieve this objective, although positive effects are more prominent for Mexican immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens than for U.S.-born Hispanics. The adoption of E-Verify mandates does not appear to affect labor market outcomes among non-Hispanic whites either positively or negatively.”

The authors conclude, “If more states implement employment verification, unauthorized workers will likely have even lower wages and may not be able to avoid disemployment effects by moving to a state that does not have a mandate in place. This suggests E-Verify can be a powerful interior enforcement tool but could also lead to higher poverty and more social assistance needs among the unauthorized immigrant population. E-Verify mandates might be used more effectively and with fewer unintended consequences as part of a comprehensive immigration reform where they would be a deterrent to future unauthorized immigration.”

And this….

“We do not support E-Verify unless there is a fully functioning guest-working program,” said Paul Schlegel, the managing director for public policy and economics at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We don’t want to be in a situation in which a grower has a need for labor and doesn’t know where he’s going to get a legal worker.” From here.



Immigrants commit fewer crimes

The Cato Institute concludes its study of crime this way: “Legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives.” They go on:

“There were an estimated 2,007,502 natives, 122,939 illegal immigrants, and 63,994 legal immigrants incarcerated in 2014. The incarceration rate was 1.53% for natives, 0.85% for illegal immigrants, and 0.47% for legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are 44% less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal immigrants are 69% less likely to be incarcerated than natives…. If native-born Americans were incarcerated at the same rate as illegal immigrants, about 893,000 fewer natives would be incarcerated. If natives were incarcerated at the same rate as legal immigrants, about 1.4 million fewer natives would be incarcerated. The American Community Survey data include illegal immigrants incarcerated for immigration offenses and in ICE detention facilities. Subtracting out the 17,000 convicted for immigration offenses and the 34,000 in ICE detention to focus on non-immigration alien offenders lowers the illegal immigrant incarceration rate to 0.50%, which brings it close to the legal immigrant incarceration rate of 0.47%.”

Two out of 400,000 plus crossing the border illegally

This year, maybe 300,000 plus people will be arrested trying to cross illegally from Mexico. More than 100,000 will likely make it safely to their destination. This is a story of two who got arrested.

The Washington Post tracked a couple trying to return from Mexico to Florida, where they had worked, for jobs promised to them via Facebook. The couple waited two miles south of the border. “For $3,000, the first smuggler would take the couple from a nearby safe house to the Rio Grande. For $4,000 more, the second smuggler would take them from the river to a safe house in McAllen, Tex. For another $3,000, the third smuggler would take them from McAllen to Houston. And for $2,000 on top of that, the fourth smuggler would take them from Houston to Florida. In total, it was a $12,000 investment — equivalent to what they could earn in Florida in six months, at $9.60 per hour.” The smuggler had a package deal for three attempts.

On their second attempt, they crossed the Rio Grande but were caught south of Houston, abandoned by their smuggler.

“There’s an absolute dearth of workers, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my career,” said Craig Regelbrugge, senior vice president of AmericanHort, a lobbying firm that represents the horticulture industry in Washington.

“Thanks to an improving economy, U.S. citizens who might have picked flowers or planted corn now have better options. Farm and nursery owners complain about the red tape and expense of work visa programs.”

ICE inspections of employers at a pace of 219% of last fiscal year

Rural Migration News reports that ICE has increased investigations of employers suspected of hiring unauthorized workers. In the entire 2017 fiscal year there were 1,716 investigations. As of May 4, 2018 there have been 3,510 investigations in FY 2018. Were 5,000 to happen as planned in FY 2018, that is 219% of the FY 2017 figure.

About two-thirds of these workplace investigations involve audits of the I-9 forms completed by newly hired workers and their employers. HSI agents give employers three days to provide their I-9 forms, and sometimes obtain warrants requiring employers to provide copies of the identity and work-authorization documents that were provided by workers when they were hired.

California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) requires employers to demand warrants from ICE agents before allowing them to inspect I-9 forms, to notify their employees of upcoming ICE audits, and inform employees of the outcomes of ICE audits. Employers can be fined $2,000 to $5,000 for the first violation of AB 450, and $5,000 to $10,000 for each additional violation.

After ICE audits, employers receive Notices of Suspect Documents that inform them which workers appear to be unauthorized. Employers must “take action” on suspect employees within 10 days, firing them if they do not clear up discrepancies flagged by ICE. Most workers quit when informed of discrepancies between the documents they presented to employers when hired and the information in government databases.

Form I-9: Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form. (from here)