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

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pickers Are Few, and Growers Blame Congress

(Via: New York Times)

"As they sum up this season’s losses, estimated to be at least $10
million for California pear farmers alone, growers in the state mainly
blame Republican lawmakers in Washington for stalling immigration
legislation that would have addressed the shortage by authorizing a
guest-worker program for agriculture. Many growers, a dependably
Republican group, said they felt betrayed.

“After a while, you get done being sad and start being really angry,” said Toni Scully, a lifelong Republican whose family owns a pear-packing operation in Lake County. “The Republicans have given us a lot of lip service, and our crops are hanging on the trees rotting.”

John Whiteside
of the Blue Bayou blog writes a good post on how we are repeating the same mistakes when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration. It led me to wonder how the GOP will fare with these farmers and growers who have generally voted Republican. Will these farmers and growers demonstrate their feeling of betrayal by the GOP for the labor shortages they are currently experiencing and further more for the fact that congress should have passed the AgJobs bill by now. The GOP should receive a message from these farmers this November.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

GOP Posturing for Immigration Win prior to Elections

National Public Radio (NPR) posted an article about how faced with tough midterm elections Republicans are seeking a small victory with another enforcement only bill. The small victory would come in the 700 mile double-fence along the Mexico border. The GOP concerned about projecting a policy of strict border enforcement could tout the 700 mile wall as a small victory this November.

Democrats have called the Republican stance as election-season pandering, but have not moved to block the bill, even as they continue to call for a more comprehensive immigration bill. The standoff between the parties is evident and in this story also by NPR, Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama comes to a conclusion. He said, "My conclusion based on the current politics is that unless the American people had a sincere sense that we are making progress on the border issues, we are not going to be able to resolve the pathway to citizenship."

I say give the GOP their small victory and let them build a wall, fence or barrier of any sort. Let's not get into how effective it will be. I previously posted on that matter here. Last week I was reminded of just how futile the 700 mile fence is going to be when my mechanic Fernando recalled his story of how he crossed the border some 17 years ago. He stated, "I attempted to cross four times and got caught every single time. He added for 3 months I attempted to get accross. The smugglers tried to get me accross by having me go through the desert and through the mountains, over 10 foot fences and everytime I was got caught."

So, I asked, "Okay, how did you finally get her?". To which he replied, "On my last attempt, I had no more than $200.00, so I went to this smuggler that someone had recommended. Fernando indicated he was somewhat skeptical when the smuggler took him to a bar and told him let's get some beers. He said, "It was 3 o'clock in the morning and by this time we were somewhat drunk. The smuggler say's let go and we began to walk towards the border".

Fernando added: "We get within 500 feet of the border and the smuggler takes a beer and dumps it on himself. He takes another beer and dumps it on me. He takes out a fake green card and says to put it in my wallet. He instructs me to get within sight of the border agent, pull out my wallet and take out the green card.

So, as he approaches the border agent, Fernando does just that, hands over his newly aquired green card and hands it to the border partol agent. The agent looks at him, down at the card, looks over at both of them and says, "Too much Cerveza"? They smile and both respond, "Si un poco!" ("Yes. A little"!)

Thus after what began as a number of dangerous attempts to illegally cross the border, Fernando managed to just walk accross the border. He eventually settled in Los Angeles and began his 17 year stay as an illegal immigrant.

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, September 23, 2006

America's Great Wall: With a Few Gaps

Jon Coppelman of WorkCompInsider writes a humorous post on the 700 mile wall our US House of Representatives recently passed by a vote of 283-138. Coppelman does a good job at poking fun on the US House of Representatives foolish wisdom and it's inablility to resolve our illegal immigration crisis. The truth unfortunately is no laughing matter and both Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame.

Perhaps they can forgiven because crisis has been 20 years in the making and no one should expect a speedy resolution. Partisan politics come into play and we should not expect too much from our legislators, especially during an election year when most want to play it safe and are unwilling or unable to risk their political capital. Few legislator look forward to making the difficult choices that will be necessary to actually fix our illegal immigration crisis, so it's easier to have things remain status-quo.

The issue of illegal immigraton is still for the most part a problem that affects someone esle. It is similar to joblessness, homlessness and poverty, they generally are a problem for other people. In my work I come into contact with illegal immigrants daily. I deal with their employers and the insurance companies of the employer. In California illegal immigrants like other parts of the country, they perform the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs and when they are injured the fortunate ones will be provide with medical benefits, recover and move on with their lives. The unfortunate ones have their world turned upside down when they are denied benefits precisely because they are illegal. The court systems have generally ruled in favor of injured workers refusing to make a distinction betwen legal and illegal thus ordering insurance companies and the employers they represent to pay up claims.

The newly adopted tactic against illegal immigrants of denying public services and benefits to illegal immigrants including the prospect of arrest and deportation can be compared to segragation efforts agains blacks prior to the civil rights movement. If the goal is to stem the flood of illegal immigration our efforts would be better served if we focused on cracking down on employers who routinely hire illegal immigrants. At this point Americans have become accustomed to the cheap goods and services that illegal immigrant affords them, even if they don't understand the complicated economic dynamics that result from this uneasy alliance. So the population of illegal immigrants is now 20 years old and we have an estimated 12+ million illegal immigrants who hang in the balance. The failure of our government to work towards resolving this matter will add an additional 800,000+ undocumented immigrants to our population. The irony and madness about creating a fortress at our borders negates the fact that most of unocumented immigrants do not illegally cross our border, but enter this country legally on tourist visas and then simply don't leave. The truth is that it is the poorest of immigrants that attempt and sometimes die trying to illegally cross our borders, those are the ones we read about dying in our deserts.

Our focus on building walls at our borders to resolve our illegal immigration problem will never work. It will never work because we can never actually seal the 1,952 mile border. Any giant 1,952 mile wall faces huge gaps in its structure. One of those gaps would be 75 miles long. The location of that gap is at the Tohono O'odham Nation of Southern Arizona whose majority of land holdings stretch for hundreds of miles along the Arizona and Mexican border. The Tohono O'odham Nation has already indicated that they would legally challenge the building of any wall on their territory. The New York Times reporter Randal C. Archibold wrote a piece "Border Fence Must Skirt Objections from Arizona Tribe" which indicates that the Tohono O'odham Nation indian territory expects to pose legal challenges to any wall on about 75 miles of land they own on the border.

Even if our government was able to overcome the Tohono O'odham Nation legal challenges, who would build that wall? Would we once again tap illegal immigrant labor just like we have done for the rebuilding efforts of Hurricane Katrina.

True Costs or Just Write a Blank Check:

The 700 mile fence would be a public works project with projected costs of $7 Billion US Dollars. If US taxpayers are to foot the bill, I'm left wondering what the final tab will be. Perhaps cost is not an issue and our 700 mile fence is realy a means us to compete with the Great Wall the Chinese built. History has demonstrated to us how effective the Chinese wall has been at stoping invasions and I have no doubt our wall won't be much different.

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Summer of the Death of Hilario Guzman

(via: L.A. Times)

And so I tried to fit into my puzzle the solution of a guest worker program. Not the bracero program that Latino activists railed against, as if we couldn't improve on a model 60 years old, but a version more efficient and less brutal.

It would be premised on the notion that families remain behind as anchors to build rural Mexico. This would gut the underground of coyotes and illicit document purveyors. It would lead to a more predictable flow of workers so that employers knew what skills they were hiring and workers knew up front what they were earning. No more starting their journey here as indentured servants $7,000 in the hole. No more desperation of the kind that made $2.50 an hour acceptable.  (Read Article)

technorati tags:, ,

Blogged with Flock