Human trafficking suit in CT

The Associated Press today reported a federal suit by Guatamalan workers in Connecticut alleging a nursery engaged in human trafficking. The suit goes after both the nursery, Imperial Nurseries, and the labor contractor. If the suit is half true, it’s still 100% awful. Yale Law School students helped to prepare the suit. The labor contractor, who appears to have been fired some time ago by the nursery, seems to agree with the suit but denies it know anything about it.
Story follows:

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Tidbits from the first year of this blog

In passing into the second year of, 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?
Percentage of Philippine nurses working outside the Philippines
Foreign nurses in the U.S.Percentage of Mexican workforce that is working in the U.S.
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:

Mexican Government guide for illegally entering the U.S.

I am just now getting around to posting this guide, here in English translation, and available in original comic book format here.
Guide for the Mexican Migrant
Distributed by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations
Esteemed Countryman:
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with practical advice that may prove useful to you in case you have made the difficult decision to search for employment opportunities outside of your country.
The sure way to enter another country is by getting your passport from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the visa, which you may apply for at the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to travel to.
However, in practice we see many Mexicans who try to cross the Northern Border without the necessary documents, through high risk zones that involve grave dangers, particularly in desert areas or rivers with strong, and not always obvious, currents.
Reading this guide will make you aware of some basic questions about the legal consequences of your stay in the United States of America without the appropriate migratory documents, as well as about the rights you have in that country, once you are there, independent of your migratory status.
Keep in mind always that there exist legal mechanisms to enter the United States of America legally.
In any case, if you encounter problems or run into difficulties, remember that Mexico has 45 consulates in that country whose locations you can find listed in this publication.
Familiarize yourself with the closest consulate and make use of it.

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Another follow up on the Swift raid: what happened to Cactus, TX.

The Washington Post reported that “The streets of this small, isolated city in the Texas Panhandle are virtually empty nowadays, and “For Rent” signs decorate dilapidated trailers and shabby 1940s-era military barracks that just weeks ago were full of tenants.” The story relates how the depletion of residents has left two businessmen: a Mexican and a Vietmanese, high and dry.

On Dec. 12, hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents clad in riot gear and armed with assault rifles descended on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in a coordinated raid of six of the company’s facilities nationwide. The operation was the government’s largest single work-site enforcement operation ever. The plant in little Cactus — a town better known in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, and in the department of Quiché, Guatemala, where workers came from, than in Texas — was the largest one raided. Almost a quarter of the 1,282 suspected illegal immigrants arrested in the raids were removed from the Cactus plant.

Sales of tortillas and other staples are down. Money wire transactions to Central America have mostly dried up. The “Guatemalas,” as local residents call them, are almost all gone, and so are a significant number of Mexican nationals. An estimated 12 to 18 children are now living with only one parent since the other was arrested in a massive immigration raid at the biggest employer in town.

The story goes on:

Continue reading Another follow up on the Swift raid: what happened to Cactus, TX.

The net fiscal impact of illegal immigrants? New Jersey and Texas studies clash

A study of New Jersey asserts that illegal immigrants cost taxpayers $2.1 Billion. A Texas study last year asserted that the burden on taxpayers was $1.2 Billion. New Jersey’s total population is 8.4 million and it estimates its illegal immigrant population at 372,000. Texas in contrast has 20.8 million people of which 1.4 million are estimated to be illegal immigrants. How can New Jersey have almost double the taxpayer burden with less than 40% of the population of illegal immigrants?
And consider this: the New Jersey study authors say it is irrelevant what the contribution of illegal workers make in payroll taxes (yes, many pay payroll taxes) and consumer taxes. Why? Because for every illegal worker there is a legal American sitting on a bench ready to take the job if vacated! This is like saying that the taxpayer burden of red headed left handed persons is so many millions, and it doesn’t matter how much they pay in various taxes. Nor do the authors address a more important question, a step up in complication: what illegal immigrants add to the gross state product. Talk about one-sided accounting!
Per the Pew Hispanic estimates (you will find them on the right column under “undocumented workers by state”) there are 256,000 illegal workers in New Jersey and 1.024 million in Texas (2005 figures).
Go here for the Texas study, which I posted on in December.
The New Jersey study estimates these burdens on taxpayers: schools, $1.85 billion; healthcare $200 million; incarceration, $50 million. The Texas study has these comparable figures: schools, $967 million; healthcare $58 million; incarceration, $130 million.
The Texas study estimates that illegal households pay $867 million in consumption taxes and, per their rental or owned residences, $582 million in property taxes. With other payments, total payments by illegal immigrants into the public fisc are estimated at $1.581 billion, or $424 million higher than the total $1.156 billion burden on taxpayers.

A new information center for immigration issues

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has launched a more comprehensive information service for policy making and research about immigration.
The Migration Policy Institute describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.” It is unveiling an initiative: the creation of a National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “The Center will connect government agency administrators, researchers, community leaders, service providers, the media, and others who seek to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities today’s high rates of immigration create in local communities.”
The underlying goal appears to be to generate more positive support for pro-immigration policy at the federal level.
The MPI’s press release goes onto say:

As part of the launch of the Center, MPI is also unveiling its electronic resource center, which provides online information and analysis across more than a dozen integration subfields, and a new, cutting-edge data tool that provides instant access to the most current demographic and social information on the foreign born in each state. The electronic resource center provides “one-stop shopping” for individuals seeking information on integration topics ranging from proposed changes in the U.S. citizenship test and application fees to the performance of immigrant students in U.S. schools. And, with the click of a button, the new state data tool allows users to see data such as the percent change in the foreign-born population in Georgia from 1990 to 2005, or the top countries of origin for the foreign born in California, based on data from the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey.

Three broad demographic trends make the need to focus on integration clear. First, high numbers: Over half of new workers in the U.S. economy in the 1990s were immigrants. Second, the dispersal of immigrants to nontraditional receiving areas: The state with the fastest growth between 2000 and 2005 was South Carolina. Third, shifting legal status: The share of immigrants who are undocumented rose dramatically over the past decade, rising to almost 30 percent all U.S. immigrants

Full text copy of the press release:

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Mexican remittances were $25 billion in 2006

The Houston Chronicle reports, “More cash flows home, remittances from Mexicans working abroad reach $25 billion.”
Mexico City — Mexicans working abroad sent home a record $25 billion last year, most of it from the United States, according to a study released Friday. The estimated figure represents a 25 percent increase over 2005 and a nearly 80 percent surge since 2003, the Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB, said in its report. Remittances have surpassed tourism as Mexico’s second-largest source of foreign revenue, helping support more than 4 million Mexican families, said the Washington-based bank, which lends to 26 member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Oil is Mexico’s largest foreign revenue producer.
The country’s reliance on remittances from abroad is not necessarily a good thing, the bank said. ‘No one should celebrate that Mexico is the largest remittances market in the world,’ it said. ‘It means the domestic economy is simply not generating enough jobs.’
Indeed, more than half of the Mexican emigrants surveyed in another recent study by the bank said they were unemployed before leaving for the U.S. Those who held jobs in Mexico earned an average of about $150 a month. By contrast, more than half found jobs within a month of arriving in the U.S., where they earned an average monthly salary of $900.
The bank made no distinction between Mexicans who were in the U.S. legally or illegally.
(More follows on the hyperlink.)

2/5/07 update on Swift raid

The Washington Post ran this article quoting the president of Swift as saying the raids were for show.
Meatpacker: Immigration Raids Were Show
The Associated Press, February 2, 2007
Greeley, CO (AP) — The head of meatpacker Swift & Co. said federal officials wanted a high-profile example of an immigration crackdown when they staged raids at its plants in six states in an identity theft investigation late last year.
President and CEO Sam Rovit said the government rejected the company’s offer to help in the investigation months before the Dec. 12 raids.
‘They were looking for a marquee to show the administration it was tough on immigration,’ he told the Greeley Tribune for a story published Friday.
Rovit denied knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and told the newspaper his company complied with federal hiring practices to check applicants’ immigration status.
Rovit and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages from The Associated Press Friday.
ICE arrested 1,282 workers during raids in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota. Of those, 246 now face state or federal identity theft charges and the rest face immigration charges.
Greeley-based Swift says it is the world’s second-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, and employs about 20,000 people, including about 15,000 in the U.S.

An initiative in California to protect immigrant workers from insurance fraud

This is a model for every state with a large low wage immigrant work population to follow. California is the most active state in private/public sector expression of concern and action about protecting low wage immigrant workers. I have posted several times about California. This time I am posting about two overlapping initiatives:
AWAHP: The Agricultural Workers Access to Healthcare Project
WCEC: The Workers Compensation Enforcement Collaborative
The Collaborative it aiming to identify employers who are un- or under-insured. It involves a creative mingling of community activist, law enforcement, and state regulatory efforts. Financially supporting the effort is the state’s insurance fraud commission.
According to the Watsonville Law Center, in Watsonville CA (831-722-2845)

“Uninsured employer cases account for 25% of all injured workers served through the Agricultural Workers’ Access to Healthcare Project (2003—2006). Nearly all injured workers whose employers lack workers’ compensation insurance coverage are Spanish-speaking low-wage immigrant workers. These clients are often unaware of or afraid to exercise their right to workers’ compensation benefits because they fear retaliation in the form of termination of employment and/or deportation. Injured workers come to The Watsonville Law Center (WLC) usually because they have not been able to access medical treatment or legal assistance.”

The Agricultural Workers Access to Healthcare Project was formed to assist low-wage immigrant workers access medical treatment and related benefits under the workers’ compensation system. A collaborative between California Rural Legal Assistance, Salud Para La Gente and The Watsonville Law Center, AWAHP is the first of its kind in the state and possibly the nation and noted as a model approach for worker health in California in a report published by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation under the California Department of Industrial Relations.
The Workers Compensation Enforcement Collaborative (WCEC) is comprised of state and local enforcement agencies and others committed to tracking and addressing barriers to enforcement of low wage immigrant workers’ compensation rights. Over the last year, WCEC has worked to develop goals and objectives to ensure workers are informed of their right to medical treatment and related benefits under the workers’ compensation system, and are provided accessible medical and legal services so they can obtain the medical treatment they need. Agencies represented and proposed goals for the collaborative are listed below.
WCEC Members:
The Watsonville Law Center, Department of Insurance (DOI) Fraud Division, Santa Cruz and Monterey County Offices of the District Attorney, the Fraud Assessment Commission, Kaiser, the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) and the U.C. Berkeley Labor and Occupational Health Project. The project is working on developing collaborative partnerships with the following agencies: Workers’ Compensation Injury Rating Bureau (WCIRB), Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF), Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC)-Information and Assistance Unit, Salud Para La Gente, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), California Applicants’ Attorney Association (CAAA).

H-IB visa quota for this year may be exhausted in first 15 days

These are the visas that are typically used by engineers to come to the U.S, and work for the likes of Intel or Microsoft. Back in 2004, the annual quota for new H1B visas was 195,000, then it dropped to 65,000. The Senate’s immigration reform bill S. 2611 would boost it back to 115,000, then rise annually according to a “market” based factor. And – many persons with advanced degrees would be exempt from the cap. See my prior postings on H1B.
The Times of India (TOI) reports that when the next annual period begins on April 1, the entire lot of 65,000 visas may be claimed within a few weeks:

The rush for H-1B visas this year could be like never before. Two years ago, the H-1B quota finished on August 9, 2005. Last year it finished on May 25. This year, with the US economy still growing strongly, it is expected that the quota, which opens for filing of applications on April 1, will finish around April 15.

In other words, as Navneet S Chugh, attorney with the Chugh Firm, US, says, “All of the 65,000 visas (which allow skilled foreign workers, including Indians, to go to the US) will evaporate in 15 days.” Chugh’s firm is telling its clients that “it is imperative that we have all our H-1B petitions ready to go and file them special delivery on April 1.”

TOI spoke to several technology firms who said they are busy finalising the names and number of their employees, who would be travelling to US.