Alert!!!! Calif. Immigrant License Law Facing End + More News
- Alert!!!! Calif. Immigrant License Law Facing End + More News
By: PeaceNoWar News Services and Us-Mexico Border Information Bulletin
November 26, 2003
URL: www.PeaceNoWar.net www.ActionLA.org
Calif. Immigrant License Law Facing End
By JIM WASSERMAN
.c The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Under pressure from voters and Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, state senators voted to repeal a law allowing undocumented immigrants
the chance to get a driver's license.
The Assembly is expected take similar action Tuesday, slightly more than five
weeks before the law was to take effect.
The law's prospects collapsed in the face of a threatened initiative to
repeal it, and the clout of Schwarzenegger, who called the Legislature into special
session to overturn the law within hours of his taking office last week.
Schwarzenegger, who campaigned against the law signed by former Gov. Gray
Davis, wants a compromise version that includes more safeguards and background
checks on applicants.
The law's author, Sen. Gil Cedillo, a Democrat, urged his colleagues to
repeal it in the face of widespread public opposition. Though Cedillo stood by his
long fight to let 2 million residents living illegally in California get
licenses without providing Social Security numbers, he pledged to work with
Schwarzenegger next year to find middle ground.
``This is not easy,'' a shaken Cedillo told his colleagues before the vote.
At least 17 senators who voted for the bill in September voted Monday to repeal
it, while six others abstained from voting.
Immigrant rights supporters, labor unions and Los Angeles Police Chief
William Bratton testified Monday before the Senate Transportation Committee that
driver's licenses will spur more motorists to take the state driving test and
But opponents called it a reward for lawbreakers and a possible tool for
terrorists to infiltrate the United States. Nationwide, 37 states require driver's
license applicants to prove they are legal residents.
11/25/03 06:14 EST
Also, More News From....
Recent News on immigration issues by: National Networks of Immigrants and
News on immigration:
1. Support for immigration reform, fear of raids: "Farmers Urge Reform
of Immigration Laws"
2. Employer Sanctions at work: "Immigration paperwork shrinks staff at
T.J. Maxx "
3. On the mass murder of Juarez women: "Concerns Spread Over Juarez
4. Brief news report on "Immigration law a roadblock for gay couples"
Farmers Urge Reform of Immigration Laws
YAKIMA, Wash. - If retail giant Wal-Mart can be the target of a federal
investigation into the hiring of alleged illegal immigrants, can the
family farm be next?
Jon Warling, an apple grower and labor contractor in Othello, who
provides hundreds of farm workers for growers in the Columbia Basin,
doesn't like the uncertainty the question raises.
"I have a crop that needs to be picked. It can't be done mechanically,
so I need workers," he said. "Agriculture needs a work force. If we're
going to be scrutinized by the federal government, then we need a work
force that's dependable."
The Washington Farm Bureau says the solution is sweeping immigration
reform. The bureau is backing two bills currently before Congress.
One would make changes to the guest worker program, which farmers have
complained is too expensive and bureaucratic, for workers already in the
country. The other would allow immigrant workers a special visa and the
opportunity to eventually apply for legal permanent resident status.
The advantage of the second bill is that it provides a steady supply of
farm workers, said Dan Fazio, labor attorney for the Washington Farm
"Some people tell us that if you would just pay $20 to $30 an hour you
could get workers. That's not our experience," he said. "Our experience
is that this work is really hard and it takes skill to do it. These are
people coming here and they've got the skill and the willingness."
According to some estimates, there are as many as 10 million
undocumented workers in the United States. In Washington, that number
has been estimated at about 100,000.
The state offers a higher minimum wage and a bounty of crops that must
be hand-picked - work only immigrants are willing to tackle, Fazio said.
Employers make every effort to ensure their workers are legal
immigrants, he said, but said recent federal raids of Wal-Mart stores
raise concerns that agriculture could be next.
"What we're concerned about now is, what's the next step," Fazio said.
"We have a desperate problem in this country, and that is we have a
critical shortage of farm skill workers, people who are willing to do
Last month, federal agents arrested about 250 alleged illegal workers in
a 21-state sweep of Wal-Mart stores. The raids keyed on floor cleaners
employed by companies Wal-Mart hired for the work.
Earlier this month, Little Rock, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said it had
received a "target letter" from the U.S. attorney's office alleging it
had violated federal immigration laws. A corporate spokeswoman said the
retailer pledged its cooperation in the probe.
An employer can face civil and criminal penalties for knowingly hiring
illegal immigrants or failing to comply with certain employee
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has focused its
investigations on industries tied to national security since the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"That doesn't mean that work force enforcement, including enforcement in
the farming community, has fallen off our radar altogether. But our
focus has shifted," said Aaron Wilson, assistant special agent in charge
at the Seattle office. "We have limited resources, and we have to look
at the industries that are vulnerable to terrorism or sabotage."
Wilson said authorities also are more likely to focus on businesses that
knowingly sidestep immigration laws or exploit undocumented workers.
"From our experience, most employers are doing their best to follow the
law in good faith, and offer cooperation with us and our
investigations," Wilson said.
Immigration paperwork shrinks staff at T.J. Maxx
By TOM RAITHEL Courier & Press staff writer 464-7595 or
November 22, 2003
More than 200 workers at the T.J. Maxx Distribution Center in Evansville
have walked away from their jobs since they were told more than two
weeks ago to produce documentation that they were working legally in the
Workers who did not want to be named for this story said the employees
began leaving T.J. Maxx almost immediately after they were told to
document their immigrant status.
In some cases, departments lost 20 to 30 people, workers said. Affected
departments included work areas where clothes are tagged, areas where
gifts are tagged and the shipping department.
Meanwhile, remaining plant employees have been working extensive
overtime in recent weeks. That is likely because of seasonal factors, as
well as the absent workers, the workers said.
The distribution center employs about 1,700.
Company and union officials have refused to comment on the situation in
"We have dealt with this situation in an appropriate manner. For now, we
don't have any comments," company spokeswoman Sherry Lang said last
week. Lang did not return calls for comment Friday.
Calls to Local 312 of UNITE, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and
Textile Employees, which represents hourly workers, were referred to
Noel Beasley, the union's regional director. Beasley did not return
calls for comment.
Evansville Police detective Craig Jordan said T.J. Maxx had not
contacted police on the matter, and he was unaware of any
Problems with undocumented workers began surfacing at the plant after
the company, based in Framingham, Mass., hired a consultant to check on
the immigrant status of workers throughout the corporation. The company
has five distribution centers and 41,500 employees nationwide.
The check found discrepancies in the work documentation of 261 workers
at the company's distribution center in Evansville.
Beginning Nov. 6, the company began notifying workers that they had
until early the following week to produce documentation showing they
were working in this country legally or risk being fired. Almost
immediately, workers began leaving their jobs.
T.J. Maxx came under fire earlier this year at its facility in Pittston
Township, Pa., when a search of 180 job applications at that plant by
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealed 90 illegal workers,
according to a September report by the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Lang said at the time the hiring of the consultant to examine worker
status was not a direct result of the problems in Pennsylvania.
T.J. Maxx is not the only company that has attracted attention recently
for employing undocumented workers. In October, federal agents raided 60
Wal-Mart stores across the nation and arrested more than 250 illegal
immigrants who worked as janitors for outside contractors used by
Wal-Mart. The company then announced it would review the status of its
1.1 million U.S. employees and fire any illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, two Tyson Foods managers were sentenced to a year's probation
and fined this year after pleading guilty to conspiring to hire illegal
immigrants. The company and three other company managers were acquitted
of the conspiracy charges by a jury.
Concerns Spread Over Juarez Murders
By DEBORAH KONG
AP Minority Issues Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A pink blouse, a frilly yellow child's frock and
other pastel-colored clothing dangle from the ceiling. Beneath the
dresses, shoes lie haphazardly among dead flower petals.
In artist Adrian Arias' homage to the women of Juarez, Mexico, the
hanging clothes are a reminder of hundreds of missing or murdered girls.
The scattered shoes recall those found in the desert where their raped,
mutilated and beaten bodies were often abandoned.
The slayings of more than 250 women in the city just across the border
from El Paso, Texas, began a decade ago. But recently, growing outrage
over the killings has spread to places far from Juarez, including the
San Francisco cultural center where Arias' haunting tableau is on
display through Wednesday.
"There's a lot of silence around this problem," said Arias, a
42-year-old videographer, artist and poet.
"This has been going on for the past 10 years and there hasn't been
anything done to resolve the problem. As an artist, I feel I need to do
something to be near the families who miss their sisters, their
daughters, their friends."
In recent months, protesters have called attention to the murders by
carrying signs that read "Not one more" and "Justice for our daughters"
outside Mexican consulates in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Austin, El
Paso and other cities around the world.
Last month, a congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis,
D-Calif., visited sites where the victims' bodies were found and spoke
with their families.
And in February and March, benefit performances of "The Vagina
Monologues" around the world will each donate up to 10 percent of
proceeds to help families of Juarez victims. The shows, coordinated by
nonprofit V-Day, will feature a new monologue about the killings by
playwright Eve Ensler and provide information about them to audience
"I feel really, really compelled now to do everything I can to stop
what's happening there, and to get America to stop it," Ensler said,
adding that she's had trouble sleeping since returning from a recent
trip to Juarez to research a magazine story.
"If this were happening to men, it would have stopped a long time ago.
Because it's poor women, they're completely invisible and nonexistent on
The Juarez victims are mostly slender, long-haired and pretty, between
the ages of 14 and 20. Mexican authorities estimate that 258 women have
been killed; nearly 100 of the slayings were sexually motivated - the
victims were raped, strangled and had their necks broken. Human rights
groups, however, place the total number of victims at more than 350.
Police have arrested more than a dozen people, including an Egyptian
chemist who is the only one convicted in the crimes. Officials say the
chemist, Abdel Latif Sharif, paid others to continue the killings while
he was in jail.
But some don't believe the official version, and theories abound that
the women were killed by organ traffickers, a street gang or Satanic
cult. There is fear the killings have spread to the state capital of
Some victims' families have complained of sloppy police work, corruption
and government apathy. Others blame American companies, pointing out
that many of the women worked in assembly plants that produce
electronics, toys and other items for U.S. consumers.
Alicia Gaspar de Alba, a UCLA professor who organized a conference this
month on the murders, said concern has been growing in the United States
since eight bodies were found together in a former cotton field in
Juarez about two years ago.
She also credits filmmaker Lourdes Portillo's "Senorita Extraviada,
Missing Young Woman" documentary, which has been shown around the world
since late 2001, with increasing awareness of the problem.
In the political arena, Solis has pressured Mexican authorities to
further investigate the crimes. On Friday, she and other legislators
introduced a House resolution outlining their concerns and suggesting
"There's just a clear negligence on the part of the authorities in
really, truly coming to grips with who is actually involved with the
murders and then finding some resolution and conclusion for the
families," Solis said.
The killings have also provoked an artistic outpouring. In Los Angeles,
"The Women of Juarez" play tells the story of a family grieving over the
disappearance of a young factory worker.
New Mexico songwriter Bugs Salcido plans to donate a portion of proceeds
from his new CD, "The Juarez Murders," to Amigos de las Mujeres de
Juarez, a Las Cruces, N.M., group working to end the killings and
support victims' families.
In San Francisco, Day of the Dead installations by Arias and by Mexican
artist and activist Silvia Parra, have been on display since the
beginning of the month. In Parra's exhibit, slips of paper list the dead
women's names; many say "Desconocido," unknown. The names are surrounded
by pink candles painted with a black crosses, a symbol for the dead
"They're my sisters. They're my daughters," Parra said. "The crimes are
of such hatred that it's just unbearable to my soul as an artist, as a
mother and as a woman. I cannot just stand by."
Immigration law a roadblock for gay couples
Monday, November 24, 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- The choices can be wrenching: skirting the law, leaving
one's country, splitting up with one's lover. Under U.S. immigration
policy, those are the options facing many same-sex couples when one
partner is American, the other a foreigner.
"They're in a double closet of being gay or lesbian, and being an
immigrant; people don't feel safe talking about it," said Sophie
Fanelli, a French woman unsure if she will be able to remain with her
American partner in California after next year.
When a binational couple is heterosexual, the foreigner can emigrate to
America as a fiance or spouse. Not so with gay and lesbian couples:
Under policies adopted with bipartisan support, they have no status in
the eyes of U.S. immigration officials, even if they had legal same-sex
marriages in the Netherlands or Canada.
Gay rights groups back a measure in Congress called the Permanent
Partners Immigration Act. It would treat same-sex partners the same as
heterosexual spouses for immigration purposes.
The act has nine co-sponsors in the Senate and 118 in the House, but
supporters doubt it will advance while Republicans are in power. Any
loosening of immigration laws has been a tough sell since Sept. 11, and
some GOP leaders want to strengthen -- not weaken -- the 1996 Defense of
Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex unions.
Although the Permanent Partners act hasn't yet been subject to hearings,
it has drawn fire from some conservative groups. Glenn Stanton, director
of social research for Focus on the Family, said the bill's central flaw
is that it "looks at all relationships as equal. Marriage is more than
simply a close, committed relationship between two people."
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
310-8th St., Ste. 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Visit us at www.nnirr.org
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