Wednesday, February 27, 2013

H2A- Close to Slavery

close to slaveryThose who wish to expand the current system of bringing temporary workers to the United States via guest worker programs might want to heed the warnings of The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and their new report, “Close To Slavery.” The report documents the abuses experienced by workers in this flawed system, something former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rengel called “the closest thing I’ve ever seen to slavery.”

Two of the most used types of guest worker visas are the H-2A for agricultural workers and H-2B for non-agricultural workers.  Both systems have deep flaws that lead to a pattern of abuse though some regulations have been put in place to prevent abuse of the H-2A. These include a “three-quarters guarantee” ensuring workers will get to work at least three-quarters of the hours stated in their contract, prevailing wages determined by the DOL, and reimbursement of expenses.
H-2A workers also are legally entitled to:
• Receive at least three-fourths of the total hours promised in the contract, which states the period of employment promised (the “three-quarters guarantee”);
• Receive free housing in good condition and meals or access to a cooking facility for the period of the contract;
• Receive workers’ compensation benefits for medical costs and payment for lost time from work and for any permanent injury;
• Be reimbursed for the cost of travel from the worker’s home to the job as soon as the worker finishes 50% of the contract period. The expenses include the cost of an airline or bus ticket and food during the trip. If the guestworker stays on the job until the end of the contract or is terminated without cause, the employer must pay transportationand subsistence costs for returning home;
• Be protected by the same health and safety regulations as other workers; and
• Be eligible for federally funded legal services for matters related to their employment as H-2A workers.17

This is not acceptable- Makers

When Will They Ever Learn?

 PBS: MAKERS: Women Who Make America tells the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years through one of the most sweeping social revolutions in our country’s history, in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy. Aired  on PBS Feb. 26 .

It certainly was an excellent documentary- but, the writers and producers left out Latinas.   There were two brief cameos with Dolores Huerta and an Albuquerque construction company owner Alvarado. : Makers: Women Who Make America
Here are notes to tell the rest of the story.
As a further illustration of  the Anglo centric view of the documentary, they even left out  Congresswoman Patsy Mink who wrote the legislation for the landmark Title IX legislation.  See

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Case of Marco Rubio ( and Ted Cruz)

Rodolfo F. Acuña

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)  strongly criticized the first draft of President Obama's immigration reform plan saying “It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress… ," predicting that "if actually proposed, the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress." The Rubio statement calls the bill "half-baked and seriously flawed." It alleges that Obama’s bill is not tough enough on border security and that it penalizes "those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally" over "those who broke our immigration laws."

Rubio’s statement undermines the social construct of a Hispanic group that bonds the disparate Latino groups. Many of the activist members of this group dismissed Rubio as a “gusano” – a worm or a maggot – a term popularly used to refer to reactionary Cuban exiles that came here during the 1960s.

Prior to his epiphany Rubio had no interest in Mexican or Latino immigrants; his sudden awakening and concern about immigration was kindled because of the strength of the Latino vote, and Mr. Rubio’s presidential aspirations. Based on his surname Rubio claims the right to take ownership of the issue, even though his base is the Tea Party and the far right of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Join the Dignity Campaign for Real Immigration Reform

As recommended by David Bacon in his presentation today.
Over the last year a group of Organizations and Individuals Have Been meeting to AFFIRM the Need for an Immigration Reform bill based on human rights. Would This bill include legalization of the undocumented Immediate, de-criminalization of Immigrants, equal rights, reunification of Families, an end to temporary worker Programs, and an end to foreign trade and the Policies That cause dislocation of people.
We are calling this effort the Dignity Campaign for Real Immigration Reform. We Need Real Solutions to the denial of migrants’ rights, to the Economic and Political Forces That force migration, and to the Economic Crisis Affects That working people in general. We hope to raise our collective Aspirations for Immigration Reform, Rather Than limit our work to criticizing Congressional Proposals Reflect corporate That Needs for exploitable labor.
The Dignity Campaign is an education and Organizing Effective tool – a positive alternative to Congressional Proposals and Policies That Immigrants continue to criminalize. Can we use the alternative ‘bill’ in community forums, union meetings, marches, lobbying visits to Congress Members, newspaper articles and other Ways to raise our expectations for real solutions and rally support.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Photo journalist speaking at Sac State

David Bacon.  Journalist, photo journalist, labor journalist, immigrant rights activist. Speaking Feb. 20, 2013.  2013.  Hinde auditorium.  Sacramento State. 1:30 PM.
Sponsored by the Serna Center. See post below. 

David Bacon
We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the U.S., and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work.  While proposals from Congress and the administration have started the debate over the need for change in our immigration policy, they are not only too limited and ignore the global nature of migration, but they will actually make the problem of criminalization much worse.  We need a better alternative.

Coming in 2013 from Beacon Press:
THE RIGHT TO STAY HOME:  Ending Forced Migration and the Criminalization of Immigrants


Child Labor in Mexico

Child Labor in Mexico

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lets stop making migration a crime

David Bacon
We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the U.S., and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work.  While proposals from Congress and the administration have started the debate over the need for change in our immigration policy, they are not only too limited and ignore the global nature of migration, but they will actually make the problem of criminalization much worse.  We need a better alternative.

This alternative should start by looking at the roots of migration - the reasons why people come to the U.S. in the first place.  Movement and migration is a human right.  But we live in a world in which a lot of migration isn't voluntary, but is forced by poverty and so-called economic reforms.

Our trade policy, and the economic measures we impose on countries like Mexico, El Salvador or the Philippines make poverty worse.  When people get poorer and their wages go down, it creates opportunities for U.S. corporate investment.  This is what drives our trade policy.  But the human cost is very high.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mexican American Digital History

The Mexican American Digital History Project.  Dr. Duane Campbell.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.
At orchard suite,  Student Union
Sponsored by the Serna Center.
Reception follows at the Multi-cultural Center (Library 1010)
3:00—4:00 p.m.
California State University
Sacramento,6000 J Street,
Sacramento, CA 95819 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

U.S. Court orders Tucson schools provide culturally relevant instruction

Court Orders Tucson School District To Reinstate Culturally Relevant Curriculum That Reflects The History, Culture and Experiences of Mexican Americans

TUCSON, AZ - Yesterday Judge David C. Bury ruled in favor of Latino plaintiffs in the longstanding desegregation lawsuit against the Tucson Unified School District (“TUSD”), filed by MALDEF in 1974 in federal district court in Tucson, Arizona. In his order, Judge Bury adopted the Unitary Status Plan (“USP”), designed to eliminate segregation and improve educational outcomes for Latino students in TUSD, that was jointly filed last year by TUSD, the Fisher Plaintiffs on behalf of African American students, the United States Department of Justice, MALDEF on behalf of the Mendoza plaintiffs who are Latino students, and the Court-appointed Special Master, Dr. Willis D. Hawley.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel stated, "Once fully implemented, today's order promises to dramatically improve educational opportunities for Latino students in Tucson. The plan addresses critical issues, such as the education of English learners, discriminatory disparities in access to critical programs, and the restoration of culturally relevant courses to the curriculum. When these issues are addressed, the educational experience of all students will be richer and more equitable."

In his ruling, Judge Bury found that TUSD has not eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination identified in a 1978 court-approved settlement of the case and that it had not acted in good faith because over the years “the District had not addressed ongoing segregation and discrimination in TUSD, both physical segregation and unequal academic opportunities for Black and Hispanic minority students.” Significantly, Judge Bury upheld the section of the USP that calls for culturally relevant curriculum designed to reflect the history, experiences and culture of the Mexican American community as a strategy to improve student achievement and one that was agreed to by the parties as a “meritorious strategy, fully supported by the experts and the Special Master, to improve the academic performance of minority students.” 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Dignity Campaign's Alternative for Immigration Reform

By David Bacon
OAKLAND, CA  (2/6/13)
The Nation - web edition

        For some immigrant rights organizations, President Obama's principles for comprehensive immigration reform sound very familiar.  "The idea of the three-part tradeoff, that is, that we get some legalization in trade for guest worker programs and increased immigration enforcement, has been around for a long time," says Lillian Galedo, executive director of Filipino Advocates for Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area.  "We need a new alternative, based on much more progressive ideas.  I don't think the Dignity Campaign is the only alternative, but it's an effort to get us to talk about what we actually want, not just what politicians in Washington DC tell us is politically possible or necessary."
  The Dignity Campaign is a loose network of over 40 immigrant rights and community organizations, unions and churches that has crafted an immigration reform proposal "based on human and labor rights."    (Full disclosure: I am an active supporter of the Dignity Campaign.)   But it is more than a network and a particular proposal.  It is an alternative to the political strategy behind the tradeoff.  And the campaign's member organizations support it because of what they call the bitter impact of earlier tradeoffs over the last 30 years.
    In Tucson, Arizona, the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos calls comprehensive immigration reform, the shorthand name for the tradeoff strategy, "primarily a vague promise used to attract immigrant and Latino voters, [while] border communities have suffered the costs of irresponsible and brutal enforcement-only policies, resulting in death and violence."  A recent study found the federal government spends more today on border and immigration enforcement than on all other law enforcement agencies combined. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Mexican American Digital History

Mexican American Digital History Project.
Duane Campbell presents the Digital History Project, sponsored by the Serna Center.  Feb.13, 2013.  1:30 PM. Orchard Suite. University Union.  California State University –Sacramento.  Reception following.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Most of Us Used to be "Them" - Barack Obama

By: Patricio Gomez (Mexican American Political Association)
There is not much of President Barack Obama's speech on the matter of comprehensive immigration reform that can be criticized. He basically said all of the right things as far as immigrant advocates are concerned. But then again Obama has always been long on rhetoric but short on action, and not just related to the immigration issue. He is not known for walking the talk. Hobbling would be more like it. His comments were laudatory towards immigrants in recognition that "we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants," with the exception of its original inhabitants, the "first Americans," who he acknowledged were indigenous to the land. The president's observation that, "a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them," was a statement of the obvious.
However, when we review the past four years of Obama enforcement, border and interior, his performance defines him as the "us" and the 1.5 million (1,595,693 to date to be exact) deportees removed by his administration as the "them." This is a divide that President Obama created upon assuming the presidency, no one else. No other president since President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s has deported more migrants and separated more families, than President Obama. This will be his legacy in the history of America no matter how he attempts to repair the damage with his recent initiative.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Need for genuine immigration reform

Reform Frameworks Give Some Hope, but Deepen Concerns that Punitive Enforcement Still Dominates Proposals

President Obama Can Lift Communities Now by Suspending Detentions and Deportations
The release this week of an immigration reform framework by a bipartisan group of Senators, followed by President Obama’s comments on his immigration proposal, are long-awaited and raise our expectations for immigration reform. For many years, immigrant communities around the country have been eager for action to address the flaws and tragic consequences of current policies.
To the extent the door for immigration reform is now open, we urge both Congress and the Administration to act responsibly and in good faith. Members of Congress should enact laws that are fair, just, humane, and do no further harm to the immigrant community.
The fact that legalization is now on the table for consideration is an important break in the debate and speaks to the significance of the political moment and the influence that voter turnout in the last election continues to have.
But it would be a shame and a human tragedy if the potential of this political moment is brought down by the insistence of some policy makers to hold legalization hostage to the ever-moving standard of “border security” and increased enforcement in the interior.  Or, if the legalization program itself severely limits the integration of immigrant men, women and children who could languish for a decade or more in a “probationary” period before having a chance to obtain a green card.