Tag: immigrants and the economy

casa_ecuatoriana
AudioStories

Luring Ecuadorian Immigrants Back Home: FI2W’s Jelena Kopanja on PRI’s The World

Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Jelena Kopanja produced a piece for PRI’s nationally-syndicated daily program The World about how Ecuador tries to convince its expats to return home.

The Year in Review: Arizona Immigrants Face New Year With Old Fears

For Arizona immigrants 2009 was the year of raids in workplaces, traffic stops that led to deportations and reports of violations of human and civil rights.

Pulling Their Weight: Report Shows Immigrants’ “Robust” Contribution to the U.S. Economy

Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, contribute to the American economy “in very close proportion to their share of the population,” in the 25 largest metro areas, says a new study.

Recession Reverses Jobs Trend: Immigrants Hit Harder By Downturn Than Native-Born Americans

The Migration Policy Institute released a report saying that in the current economic crisis immigrants are being hit harder in the job market than native-born Americans.

Workplace Immigration Enforcement Trampled On Workers' Rights, Report Says

Workplace raids by immigration authorities have “severely interfered with the protection of labor rights for immigrant workers,” according to a new report released Tuesday by labor organizations.

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant - Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant. (Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr)

“The single-minded focus on immigration enforcement without regard to violations of workplace laws has enabled employers with rampant labor and employment violations to profit by employing workers who are terrified to complain about substandard wages, unsafe conditions, and lack of benefits, or to demand their right to bargain collectively,” reads the report prepared by the National Employment Law Project, the AFL-CIO, and the American Rights at Work Education Fund (click here for pdf).

The report comes as the Obama administration has continued many of the Bush-era enforcement policies, although work-site raids have been scaled back since the Democrats took over in January. Nevertheless, local police forces with immigration enforcement powers –like Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose federal contract was scaled back— had until recently continued to conduct these operations.

(more…)

Stories

Status Report: Exhibit Confronts Audience With Mexican Immigrants’ Unseen Lives

Dulce Pinzón portrays immigrants like Mexican nanny Minerva Valencia as superheroes. (Photo: Dulce Pinzón/BRIC Exhibition - Click for more)

Dulce Pinzón portrays Mexican immigrants like nanny Minerva Valencia as superheroes. (Photo: Dulce Pinzón/BRIC Exhibition – Click for more)

Delilah Montoya’s photo project Sed: The Trail of Thirst shows a desolate borderland scene dotted with plastic water jugs. The jugs are road signs, stretching into the uncertainty that lurks on the horizon. Human presence is only implied by the feeling of thirst that the image evokes. The migrant –absent from the photograph but etched into the landscape– is a ghostly reminder of the harrowing journey towards the North.

This image confronts visitors as they walk into Brooklyn’s BRIC Rotunda Gallery where Montoya’s work is shown. Bringing together artists from Brooklyn and Mexico, the exhibit Status Report –on view until October 10th– challenges the physical and philosophical landscapes of borders and nations, and looks at the work immigrants do in the context of both their “home” and “host” societies.

Drawing inspiration from the growing presence of Mexican immigrants in New York City, Status Report looks at their contributions to the city’s economy and culture. There are approximately 288,000 immigrants of Mexican origin living in New York, more than double the number in 2000. While their visibility has grown together with their numbers, the show tries to highlight what goes unnoticed as these migrants labor, often in the shadows of the American economy.

(more…)

Small Business Employees in New York, Many of Them Immigrants, March to Demand Paid Sick Time

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W Contributor
Guillermo Barrera says he was firedafter he asked his boss for a day off due to illness. (Photo: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

Guillermo Barrera says he was fired after he asked his boss for a day off due to illness. (Photos: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes – Click for more)

Hundreds of workers marched over the Brooklyn Bridge last Thursday calling on New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support a bill that requires local small businesses to provide paid sick days to employees.

The bill would address cases like that of Guillermo Barrera.

Barrera, an immigrant from Mexico and a father of two, was showcased by the organizers as the quintessential example of what workers without sick-day rights endure.

He said he was fired September 18th from his job of seven years as a cook at a Brooklyn restaurant, because he felt too sick to work and asked his boss for the day off.

“Many workers like myself cannot miss a day of work or get sick because of fear of losing our jobs,” Barrera said. “Especially in the current economy, many workers suffer mistreatments from their bosses.”

In New York City, organizers said, over 900,000 workers, many of them immigrants, do not get a single paid sick day, either for themselves or to care for a sick child.

The lack of regulation in this area has caused many workers to be fired, suspended, or threatened by their employers. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Manhattan City Council Member Gail Brewer, would give workers the right to nine paid sick days a year.

(more…)

AudioStories

Reporter’s Notebook: Finding Common Ground on Immigration in Arizona’s Dairy Farms

Phoenix-based FI2W reporter Valeria Fernández produced a radio piece for NPR’s Latino USA on immigrants who work in the dairy industry and the farmers who hire them.

Here, Valeria narrates how she produced the piece, which airs this weekend on Latino USA. To listen to the piece, press “play” below.

[audio:http://latinousa.kut.org/wp-content/lusaaudio/859segAZdairies.mp3]

 

By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor

For almost two years now, one of my sources here in Arizona had insisted that I do a story about immigrants working in dairies. I finally started to work on this one about five months ago, before I even knew which direction it was going to take, or even that it was going to become a radio piece. I needed to become familiar with the universe of dairies at a time when Arizona was facing an intense crackdown on illegal immigration.

There was naturally going to be fear and resistance on the part of immigrant workers. For about two years now, the state has had a law in place that sanctions companies who knowingly hire undocumented labor.

Cows in Gerald Lunts farm: he says than other than the economy and the price of milk, finding workers to help in his farm is his biggest problem. (Photo: Valeria Fernández)

Farmer Gerald Lunt says than “other than the economy and the price of milk,” finding workers is his biggest problem. (Photos: V. Fernández – Click to see more)

ALSO: Read a diary by the daughter of a Mexican immigrant dairy worker.

The law has been used mostly to conduct work-site raids in businesses, resulting in the arrest of a couple of hundred workers. The number is not large, but the chilling effect on local immigrant communities is much bigger.

In a couple of ways, this was unexplored territory for me. I was as nervous as the subjects of the story. Not only was I going to leave the comfort of print, but also, I was going to do it in English, my second language. I feared leaving my small notepad and using a microphone instead. Often times I would just tuck it away, and listen to people to help them relax.

There have been stories about workers in agriculture, but I wanted to do a story about what life was like in the dairies. I had all sorts of preconceptions.

(more…)

AudioStories

“My Life in an Arizona Dairy”: Journal of a Migrant Worker’s Daughter

This diary was written by the 12-year-old daughter of a Mexican immigrant dairy worker. Her name has been changed to protect her identity. Click here to go to the main story to read more about her family and to listen to a radio piece about immigrants and dairy farmers by FI2W‘s Valeria Fernández for NPR’s Latino USA.

Well, my name is Laura. I was born in Arizona and lived here for about a year or so when I moved to the dairy. So I’ve been living here for most of my life.

I live here with my mom, and dad, my two brothers and my little sister. It can be fun and boring living in a dairy.

For the first part, I don’t like living here ’cause the smell!! Yes, there’s times when it smells really awful. And times you can really smell nothing.

Also most the time there’s nothing to do! Well, like, there’s not much trailers here, only like 5! Also there’s not much kids my age around here.

Then sometimes I am really bored and can’t just walk to a friend’s house or something: it’s too far! So I might feel left out most of the time.

Now, the thing I do kinda like is that you can take a walk and see the cows; now I think that’s pretty fun to walk around. Also there’s a lot of open space here! In most houses there’s not a lot of space.

So here you can have a party and barbecue. Okay, so that’s partly most of my life. I’m mostly used to it, so I don’t mind much.

I hope my dad doesn’t lose his job and (we) live here for a couple more years or so. And I hope for those people that don’t want Mexicans here to think it over, ’cause Mexicans have done a big difference to this country to make it a better place.

E-Verify Seems Here to Stay: Obama’s Immigration Chief Vouches For Status Verification System

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in Aug 12 as USCIS director

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in Aug 12 as USCIS director. (Photo: USCIS)

E-Verify, the often-criticized electronic system for checking workers’ immigration status, is apparently here to stay. President Obama’s chief of Citizenship and Immigration Services defended the system this week as the government continues to expand its use.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of USCIS, “defended the accuracy” of E-Verify during a talk with reporters who cover immigration, The Washington Times reported. This goes against what many business organizations and pro-immigrant advocates have said: that the system makes many mistakes that can leave legal residents jobless.

Mayorkas also said “the agency is continuing to improve the system and get it ready in case Congress mandates it for all U.S. businesses as part of an eventual immigration overhaul,” the Times Stephen Dinan wrote.

Just last week, the administration made it mandatory for federal contractors to use the system to check their workers’ status.

Mayorkas’ statement comes as the Obama administration apparently is attempting to advance immigration reform without alienating those who favor tougher restrictions on unauthorized immigration. E-Verify is a key piece of this strategy, along with other Bush-era enforcement measures that the Obama White House has embraced. This tougher-than-expected approach has irked many in the pro-immigration camp, who don’t see an equal zeal for advancing a reform bill or in making the immigrant detention system more humane.

(more…)