Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cold as ICE

(Via: Migra Matters)

Whether it was planned or mere coincidence the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on the Swift & Co's, meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado, which occurred on Tuesday, December 12, 2006, the day in which for Mexicans celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe the most revered religious and cultural figure to Mexican Catholics around the world is likely to be considered an afront by La Migra on the Latino community. This despite the fact for illegal immigrants the risk of arrest and deportation are a daily possibility given their residency status.

The Greeley Tribune covered the Swift immigration raids and posted video. Click to view exclusive video.

Unfortunately the ICE raids like those at other meat packing plants tend to be largely symbolic. These types of raids while they capture mainstream media coverage and focus the public attention on the issue of illegal immigration provide no meaningful solutions towards fixing or changing our existing immigration policy which is clearly not working and a sham.

The fact that our immigration policy is outdated and requires transformation should come as no surprise to immigrant advocates and proponents of Anti-Illegal immigration laws. The current immigration policy is a sham, because it rewards unscrupulous employers at the expense of a largely exploited Latino immigrant working class.

President Bush and Congress need to fix this and pass a comprehensive immigration bill, because doing so would be good regularize millions of undocumented workers and provide them basic employment and civil rights most Americans take for granted. The passage of a comprehensive immigratoin bill is also good for our economy as it provides businesses that are dependent on secure and stable workforces access to immigrant workers who have already proven to be reliable and efficient workers.

Although some readers of this blog may take my previous statement as self-serving because I myself am a Mexican immigrant, the fact is I'm increasingly finding others who share this view like here and here. The respective links are a NY Times Editorial and
Peter Rousmaniere who hosts the excellent blog Working Immigrants.

Arrests and After Effects:

The raids at the six Swift plans are unlikely to act as deterrents towards diminishing the continued flow of illegal immigration. The fact remains that for illegal immigrants the fear of arrest and deportation is a constant factor in their daily lives. Long after this story has been forgotten the negative economic effects will continue for small towns likely Greeley, Colorado where companies like Swift are the areas largest employers.

The aftermath of immigration raids generally result in a depressed economy for these small towns as a large number of illegal immigrants move onto others towns for work. Such was the case after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a poultry plant in Stillmore, Georgia. The chicken processing plan was the largest employer in the small town and it's loss of illegal immigrants in the community have caused economic hardship from which the town has yet to recover. Follow up story here.

Proponents of Anti-Illegal Immigrant laws argue that immigration raids like those at Swift result in employers being forced to offer better wages that appeal to native workers to these types of jobs. However, as long as our immigration policy continues to turn a blind eye to an effective employer verification system employers will continue to seek immigrant workers to fill jobs what have working conditions and salaries that native born Americans feel are unsafe or pay depressed wages and in most cases both.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Got Illegal Workers?

The Washington Post has this article on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a potential Presidential candidate and a strong advocate of border fencing as well as imposing penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. In a classic "do as I say, not as I do" scenario Gov. Romney was reportedly unaware that the lawn of his suburban home was being cut by illegal immigrants. Eric Fehrnstrom, Communications Director for Romney, said Friday that the Governor was not aware of or "knowleadgeable about the information alleged".

The statement by Mr. Fehrnstrom is classic spin. It is easy to pass the blame onto the lawn care company and indicate that they are responsible for ensuring a workers legal status. The fact is no one ever asks. As an individual one rarely asks if the handyman, gardener, nanny or janitor is an illegal worker. If we hire the individual from an agency we just ask "How much will it cost" and hold out for the best deal. Everyone is looking out for the best deal and Gov. Mitt Romney is no exception.

I would argue that as Americans we tend to be a bit hypocritical on the illegal immigration issue. We are all too happy to hire a guy to mow the lawn for $40 Dollars a month even though we are well aware that it cost some $50 Dollars a month, back in the 1990's. We eagerly consume $1.00 tacos, $1.00 Chinese food and 99 Cent hamburgers as long as we can turn a blind eye at the illegal immigrant labor which makes these prices possible, and still afford business owners a meager profit. It is simple, if I can't pass the price increase onto my customer I can always reduce the wages of the employee, if my legal employee won't take the wages, I'll find one that will. After all the employment application indicates he is legal and the paperwork he submits appears legit.

I would suggest a novel approach for Gov. Romney on how to deal with this issue. My suggestion is that he hold a news conference and just admit that illegal immigrants are in practically every sector of our industry and service sector and this can't be undone. We need to move forward and acknowledge the labor and benefits these immigrants bring to this nation. Our economy whether we like it or not has become dependent on immigrant labor, it can no longer continue it's growth path without cheap labor.

Gov. Romney should take a lesson from the nomination of Zoe Baird for US Attorney General. The Zoe Baird nomination was considered Clinton's first political blunder and Zoe Baird's chances of becoming the nation's chief law officer was over before it started. Read more at Time and

But poor Miss Baird did herself in. It wasn't just the hiring of an undocumented alien couple as nanny and driver - since 1986 a federal crime, and one particularly inappropriate for a putative boss of the FBI and INS. The quick firing of the unfortunate couple right after the election suggested a combination of ruthlessness and guilty conscience.

Surely Gov. Romney and his advisers will weather this storm. My concern is for the illegal immigrants that are unwittingly thrust into this scene. While mainstream media picks up and continues with the story will the authorities quietly pursue deportations against the illegal immigrants working on Gov. Romney's grounds?

The headache Gov. Romney is experiencing is likely to be far more damaging to the illegal immigrants involved. Gov. Romney has only his Presidential ambitions to lose, the illegal immigrants are likely to lose their jobs altogether. Below is an excerpt from the Time story on the illegal immigrant nanny and driver of Zoe Baird.

While the headache is ending for Clinton, it may be just beginning for the Peruvian couple hired by Baird. Immigration officials have ordered Victor and Lillian Cordero to appear for questioning next week in Hartford. Deportation proceedings could follow. Victor's current employer says the former driver has disappeared, leaving a note that he was returning to Peru; Lillian has not yet been located.

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