September 1, 2008

Take Action

Polling

Stop the Deportation of Washington DREAMer, Alberto Yanez

Take action and tell ICE to keep Alberto at home with his three US citizen children, ages 4, 19 months, and 5 weeks.

Help Stop Mandeep’s Deportation!

Mandeep, a DREAM Act eligible student, and her mother face imminent deportation on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Mandeep graduated from Los Altos High School in 2009 and is now an honors pre-med student at UC Davis.

HELP US WRITE OUR NEXT AD!

Have you ever heard of Elton Gallegly? No? Most people haven’t. We’re going to change that with our next ad campaign, and we need your help.

Send a Fax: Stop Out of Control ICE Agents

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents targeted parents dropping off their children a local elementary school – Hope of Detroit Academy in Southwest Detroit.

Stop Mario’s Deportation

Mario was brought to this country at an early age and was raised in the Houston area. This is Mario’s home; America is all he has ever known.

Save Manolo and His Family from Deportation!

Manolo’s family could be torn apart and sent to three different continents if we don’t take action. Manolo’s family brought him to the United States from Venezuela when he was very young. And that’s where ICE now wants to deport him to—even though Manolo has no friends or family there and doesn’t speak Spanish.

Stop Mario’s Deportation!

Since Christmas, Mario Aregullin has been sitting in a Georgia detention center. Though he’s been in the United States since he was a baby, he was forced to spend Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day away from his family, friends, and his bride-to-be, Brandy.

Kansas Republican Suggests Shooting Immigrants from Helicopters

A legislator said Monday it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled — with hunters shooting from helicopters. Quote: “It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”

Tell President Obama: Stop Deporting DREAMers!

President Obama said in his State of the Union Address that it makes no sense to deport talented, responsible young people. Sign our petition asking President Obama to keep his word and stop the deportation of DREAMers.

The Maryland DREAM Act

Lawmakers in Maryland are only a few votes short of passing the Maryland DREAM Act. The MD DREAM Act (SB 167) would allow students to qualify for in-state tuition at any 2-year community college or 4-year university in the state of Maryland.

Say NO to Governor Quinn’s Crippling Budget

Even though one in every seven Illinois residents is now an immigrant, Governor Quinn wants to slash immigrant services by almost 75% in his new budget.

Stop the Arizona Copycats

Could an Arizona-like immigration law be coming to your state? Stand up to anti-immigrant policies before they become law. Tell your state representatives to vote down any legislation that breaks up families and scapegoats immigrants in your community.

Stop Pedro’s Deportation

Pedro is an orphan who grew up in Arizona. He has no family or friends in Mexico. Pedro was brought here by his grandmother at the age of 7. She passed away when Pedro was still a child, but Pedro persevered with the support of his community.

Stop the Deportation of a Disabled Veteran

Zahid served in the U.S. Army, the National Guard, and with the Red Cross until a back injury required him to use a wheelchair. Send a fax to Zahid’s Senators and ask them to stop his deportation immediately..

Keep Fighting

Sign our holiday card to courageous leaders of the DREAM Act movement and let them know that you’ll keep fighting with them.

House Could Vote Soon: Call NOW For DREAM Act!

We’ve teamed up with Reform Immigration For America to make your call easy – we’ll suggest what to say and connect you directly to your Representative’s office. It’s urgent that you call now for the DREAM Act!

Vote on DREAM!

Send a fax to Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reid thanking them for stepping up, and letting them know that it’s time for a vote on the DREAM Act!

Tell Senator Hagan to Support the Dream Act

The clock is ticking to bring in the remaining votes for the DREAM Act before the November elections take hold, and Senator Kay Hagan is still on the fence. Post a message to her Facebook wall telling her to support the DREAM Act.

Clock Is Ticking

Congress is coming back for a few short weeks. Send a message to Congress to pass the DREAM Act now — help make sure it happens this year!

The Worst of Governor Jan Brewer

Straight from the “Wild Wild Southwest,” you won’t want to miss this satirical look at the “Worst of Jan Brewer” on immigration.

Keep Selvin Home

Please send a fax to Maine Senators Snowe and Collins to keep Selvin Arevalo, a hard-working DREAM student, from being deported. DREAM Act now!

Act Now to Stop Ivan’s Deporation!

Ivan will be deported any day now – all because he missed a court date when he was 12 years old – unless we make our voices heard. Fax DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano now!

Stop Marlen’s Deportation!

Unless we act now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will rip Marlen Moreno away from her family and send her back to a country she barely knows. Help us send 5,000 faxes to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to stop Marlen from being deported on Saturday!

Take a Stand

Tell the President that the public supports the Department of Justice’s critical move to challenge Arizona’s new immigration law in the courts.

Sign the Petition: Dream Act Now

Every year, 65,000 undocumented high school students who have grown up as Americans are prevented from going to college or joining the military. These youth want to give back to the only country they call home, but instead live in constant fear of deportation and separation from their families. Tell Washington: Pass the DREAM Act This Summer!

WATCH: Steve King’s Sixth Sense (The Horror Flick)

In Congress, Rep. Steve King claimed that some people have a “sixth sense” to identify undocumented immigrants, and we decided to take King at his word — watch and share our new movie trailer, “Steve King’s Sixth Sense for Immigrants.”

Watch and Share: How Will Arizona Profile People? Shoes!

Watch our hilarious video about Arizona’s outrageous new immigration law.  The state is forcing cops to interrogate, fine, or even jail anyone who “looks” undocumented and leaves their wallet at home. Tell President Obama to stop this law and move real immigration reform right away.

Tell Gov. Brewer: Veto SB 1070, Now!

We delivered over 50,000 petitions to Gov. Brewer’s office, thanks to you and our partners. The Governor has until Saturday to decide whether to sign this un-American bill into law. Please send a fax directly to the Governor today, asking her to veto racial profiling!

Veto Racial Profiling!

A new measure in Arizona, SB 1070, would force cops to interrogate and even jail people based on whether or not they “look” undocumented.  It would make every undocumented worker in Arizona guilty of a criminal offense, and require state and local police to go after them. We have a chance to stop it, but only if we raise our voices now.

Watch: More Rogue Than Right?

Our nation’s immigration enforcement agency is out of control. Immigration agents should not have quotas to round up “easy targets”— moms and dads working to feed their families — they should be going after serious criminals. Watch our shocking new video, and raise your voice.

 

Share Your Story

It is central to America’s Voice to tell the stories of the millions of hard-working immigrants trying to make lives for themselves in the United States. We’re eager to hear yours.

Send a Letter to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor is a great way to make your voice heard. A well developed letter with one unified message is most powerful. Readers really do pay attention to Letters to the Editor, because they get to see their neighbors and friends writing in and are curious about where they stand. Policy makers also read them to gauge the views of their constituents.

Write to Congress

Our federal immigration system is broken, and Congress must step up to address the problem. Write your Representative and Senators and urge them to pursue comprehensive, common sense immigration reform. Tell them you support comprehensive immigration reform today.

Write to Your State Legislators

Your state legislators are in a powerful position to step up where Congress has fallen behind, by enacting common sense measures to integrate our communities and opposing counter-productive, over-aggressive policies. Urge your state legislators to support state and local proposals that help immigrants integrate into our communities, and oppose counter-productive approaches that take us further off track.

Tell Your Friends

Help spread the word about America’s Voice’s pursuit of real, comprehensive immigration reform by sending your friends and family an e-mail introducing them to us. We’ve made it easy to import your address book, and you should feel free to edit the actual message.

Take Action Archive

The Facts About Immigration

Local “Enforcement” of Immigration Laws Doesn’t Work

The consequences of our nation’s broken immigration system are being felt in cities and states across America, and state and local officials are demanding a practical solution from the federal government. Below are remarks of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon on the devastating impact of local enforcement of Federal immigration laws in his city.

“I am calling upon this Congress and the next one, this president and the next one, to make the dual issues of border security and immigration reform their first order of business.” He said he was speaking out in order to “knock Congress upside down on its partisan head and tell them to fix the damn problem.”

 

“The Cost of Immigration Enforcement”

Mayor Phil Gordon
August 21, 2008 – The Police Foundation

Before I begin, I just want to recognize all of you — the men and women who risk everything, every single day — and to thank you for your service.

When this nation was founded, no one ever conceived or imagined that immigration enforcement was an issue that would ever fall to mayors and local police departments. But because of federal neglect — here we are. As the federal government continues to do less with more — cities are forced to do more with less. Not only are we being forced to step up our immigration efforts, but we also have an increased burden when it comes to gun crimes and white-collar crimes — connected to illegal immigration and formerly handled at the federal level.

In just the past two years, Phoenix PD has arrested or tuned over to ICE more than 13,000 illegal immigrants. Clearly, the lack of federal enforcement has a direct impact on cities like mine.

And cities like yours.

Before I begin detailing that impact, let me give you just a little background on my City. Phoenix, Arizona is the fifth largest city in the nation, the largest state capital in the United States, and continues to be the fastest growing major city in the nation. Slightly more than 42 percent of our population is Hispanic and, of the 3.4 million people in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, about 275,000 persons are thought to be here illegally. That is a situation we did not create — but it’s a situation that we must contend with.

The question I have been asked to address this morning is an important one: What are the costs of enforcing immigration laws at the local level?

Obviously, there are economic costs. But some costs go beyond dollars and cents. There are also Public Safety costs. Social costs and Constitutional costs. There are Human costs.

Not all can be easily quantified. But let’s start with public safety personnel, which can be quantified. Quite simply, in order to deal with all the issues caused by our nation’s failed immigration policy, local police resources in cities like mine are strained. At a time when our city budget is being otherwise reduced — at a time when we’re eliminating positions and imposing hiring freezes in other departments — at a time when programs are being cut — we are hiring 600 new public safety personnel. Mostly police officers. A large number of those new officers are the direct result of our growing population — but 100 of those new officers are directly related to the crimes associated with immigration such as smuggling, kidnapping and other felonies. And that equates to over $10 million a year.

Those are the basic costs of hiring new officers. But there other hard costs. The City of Phoenix is paying about $2 million a year in booking costs to Maricopa County to house the illegal immigrants we arrest for committing crimes in our City. That number is growing — and doesn’t include our sales and property taxes that help fund the increased jail costs due to illegal immigration. I personally hand-delivered an invoice to the Department of Homeland Security last year seeking reimbursement for the hard costs directly tied to immigration. Do I expect to recover a single cent? I do not. But for cities like mine, immigration has turned into a de facto unfunded mandate — and that’s a point that needed to be made — and still needs to be made.

Then there are operational costs. In my community, public protests and demonstrations are a regular occurrence, on both sides of the immigration issue. Some protestors on both sides are armed. Sometimes with knives and guns — and sometimes with signs like these. For those of you who can’t see it — here’s what it says: “Hooray for the slaughtering of the illegals. Boo to the Beaners !!” And then it’s got a Swastika at the bottom. You may not yet see this in Des Moines, or in Fargo or in Dover — but you’ll see them soon if the federal government doesn’t act and act soon. It’s hateful stuff — and it’s dangerous. That means the Phoenix Police Department is called upon to maintain law and order under extremely dangerous conditions — and that also means hundreds of thousands of dollars of overtime.

Unique to the immigration issue is the proliferation of “Drop Houses”. These are homes, in residential neighborhoods, where dozens of illegal immigrants are warehoused after being brought into the United States by various smuggling syndicates. Phoenix Police rescue and turn over to ICE about 1,200 people a year from drop houses. We investigate, track and break up the human smugglers known as coyotes. By the way, we are one of the very few police departments in the nation to have 10 ICE agents embedded within our department on a full time basis — to go after violent criminals who are illegal. That — in terms of both cost and effectiveness, is a much better model for local Police Departments than taking police officers — and turning them into full time immigration agents.

Hand in hand with the drop house operations, are the kidnapping operations. Almost every night, Phoenix Police will get one or more emergency calls with variations of the same story: “My wife is being held in a Phoenix drop house and she will be tortured and killed if we don’t pay them thousands of dollars”. That means Phoenix PD has to divert resources on the spot to find and protect these kidnap victims. And again, this happens routinely. The overtime hours are staggering — and the personnel resources diverted from preventing or solving other crimes are massive.

Lastly, we have the cost of long-term, ongoing undercover and investigative operations designed to cut the head off big smuggling operations — humans, drugs, guns and money — and interrupt that activity, beginning at the top. We’ve taken down sophisticated syndicates, travel agents and transportation providers who smuggle and transport humans — and who launder millions of dollars in cash each month.

Smuggling operations are becoming more sophisticated and more dangerous. Which means local police need more sophisticated intelligence, and more strategic undercover work — which means more costs. And as the smugglers use more sophisticated and costly armaments and armor, so must we. Phoenix PD has just begun offering our officers 45 caliber Glocks and adding more rifles to our arsenal.

Then, we have another situation developing in Phoenix — that is both difficult to describe and difficult to deal with.

It has always been the rule of law enforcement that the victims of crimes, and witnesses to crimes, will be protected. If the witness to a homicide is in this country illegally, it is more important for us to catch the killer than to turn the witness over to ICE. If the victim of a sexual assault is in this country illegally, it’s more important for us to catch the rapist, than to turn the victim over to ICE. That makes sense, and it’s always been the rule. My police department absolutely protects innocent witnesses and victims in order to catch the “really bad guys”. But our job has been made tougher because of a Sheriff who doesn’t. Instead, he allows sexual assaults, homicides and other serious crimes to go unsolved — by arresting victims and witnesses and sending them to jail for violating immigration statutes. That’s a direction that makes our community less safe. And that’s a sad reality that creates public safety costs that are impossible to determine.

Targeting illegal immigrants who have not broken a single law since they crossed the border — comes at too high a cost for our communities. In order, for example, to concentrate on these immigrants, the County Sheriff’s operations in El Mirage, Arizona — a city of just 32,000 people, failed to investigate at least 30 violent crimes, including a dozen sexual assaults last year. While crime rates are down in every category in Phoenix, in the parts of the County under the sole jurisdiction of the Sheriff, crime rates soared in every category but one last year.

Lastly, the dearest costs we are incurring in our City are Social, Constitutional and Human costs. And again, it centers around our Sheriff and a broken federal system.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has filled a political void created by the utter neglect and inaction on immigration issues by Congress and the President — and he has exploited that void to suit his own political needs. Washington’s inaction has caused frustration in cities like Phoenix. The Sheriff’s Method is to profile people with brown skin, and to ignore the civil rights we should all be enjoying. It is unconstitutional and wrong.

On April 4th, I called for an investigation by the United States Department of Justice for Civil Rights violations — a call that has yet to be answered. The Sheriff, himself, says he doesn’t need to engage in racial profiling because he can tell if someone is here illegally “by the way they dress and where they are coming from”. That is, as you know, the very definition of racial profiling. One of his Chief Deputies admits that when it comes to enforcing immigration laws, their department does not follow federal Civil Rights requirements. Citizens are being stopped because they are brown. Immigrants here quite legally, carrying their paperwork, are detained. Street vendors with current Visas and properly licensed mobile businesses are also being detained.

I’d like to tell you three quick, but important stories that help to humanize these issues. The first is from an editorial in the Washington Post that was published earlier this month: “Manuel Ortega, a Mexican citizen, entered the United States legally last fall, using a visa valid until 2016 as well as a permit from the Department of Homeland Security. Ortega had every reason to believe he was on the right side of the law, except for one small misstep: being brown in Maricopa County.

“He had been in the United States for barely three weeks last September when Arpaio’s deputies stopped the vehicle he was riding in. Despite showing the officers his documents, he was handcuffed, jailed (for 9 hours) and finally turned over to federal immigration officials, who promptly released him…”

That’s shameful. And it’s a cost no one should have to pay.

Very close to home — a member of my own staff and her husband went “off-roading” with five other couples a few months ago. Deputies pulled all six vehicles over. One by each couple was approached, and let go — until they got to the last vehicle — the one driven by my Assistant and her husband — third generation Americans. The Sheriff’s Deputy didn’t ask for a drivers license like he did the others. He asked for a Social Security Card. And he didn’t let them go like he did the others. He wrote a citation. Their first names are David and Jessika.

And their last name is Rodriquez.

And the only thing that made them different from the other five couples was the color of their skin.

Finally, as reported by a Phoenix radio station reporter, a United States Marine, in full uniform, was harassed, insulted and called a traitor by a group of protestors posing as “Pretend Patriots”. “It’s too bad you didn’t die in the war — you’re a disgrace to your uniform”, they shouted at him. “Go back to your own country”. Well this American Hero of Hispanic heritage IS in his own country. He fought for this country.

These stories have nothing to do with Green Cards. They have everything to do with brown skin. They were about racism and nothing else. Yet despite these, and other blatant violations — well documented in the Phoenix media — the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, through its silence, continues to thumb its nose at both Civil Rights AND Justice.

And how do you assign a cost to that?

How can you put a price tag on the very promise of America? Cemeteries here and around the world are filled with men and women who traded their lives for our rights and freedoms — the same rights we see perched at the top of that famously-dangerous slippery slope.

Those are big prices to pay. And here’s another one. Last September, one of Phoenix’s finest — Police Officer Nick Erfle — was shot and killed by a man he was trying to arrest. A man who had been arrested before, found to be in this country illegally and deported to Mexico by our Federal government. Of course, because this Congress and this President have yet to find the time to secure our borders, this man had no problem re-entering the country, and crossing paths with Officer Erfle on that tragically fateful day.

My community paid too much on that day. But not as much as Officer Erfle’s wife and children, who will continue to pay for our failed immigration policies and our Do-Nothing Congress for the rest of their days. Julie Erfle is here today — and will help lead the fight for a secure border and immigration reform so that, hopefully, no other officers — and the people who love them — will pay the consequences for the inactions of Washington. Julie, will you please join me at the podium as I ask everyone to join with me in thanking you for your service — and the sacrifices you continue to make.

Julie, you said it best eight months after Nick’s tragic death: “We need comprehensive immigration reform that puts safety and humanity on equal footing.”

And that’s why I accepted the invitation to come to Washington today.

It is time for the federal government to take responsibility for the situation they have created. They need to take responsibility today. They need to begin addressing each of these complex issues today.

But the good news is they CAN fix the problem. When, as a nation, we roll up our sleeves, focus on a goal, debate our options, outline a course and act with conviction and principle there is nothing we cannot accomplish. America is a great nation — and Americans always live up to that greatness. We have won freedom for much of the world. We have industrialized the world. We have fed the world. In so many ways, we have changed the world. And we have shown the ability to change our own nation when change was needed. During my lifetime, African Americans could not use public drinking fountains, sit at lunch counters, or ride in the front of a city bus. But thanks to the greatness of individual Americans like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy — and thanks to a responsible and compassionate Congress and White House we changed all that. We lived up to the very promise of America.

And on the issue of immigration, this nation of immigrants will do it again.

I am calling upon this Congress, and the next one — this President and the next one — to make the dual issues of border security and immigration reform their first order of national business. I don’t believe that certain Members of Congress understand what the impact of their neglect is having on cities. They don’t see the hate. They don’t see the division. They dont hear the rhetoric. They don’t see the Civil Rights violations. And they don’t understand the costs.

Phoenix is a good community — filled with good people. The many voices of compassion in our community have always prevailed over the voices of hate, racism and violence.

That’s why I am calling upon this nation’s investigative journalists, and other members of the media, to come to Phoenix and shine a light on the intolerant few. Let Congress and the White House finally see what their unconscionable neglect is costing us. Report on the racism and the hate. Turn your cameras into the eyes of American Citizens who’s Civil Rights don’t seem to matter anymore. Help us tell this story to our National leaders — and help them — no, MAKE THEM, see the light.

It’s been seven years since our nation was attacked by terrorists. It’s been four years since the 9-11 commission made its recommendations. It’s been three years since the United States House of Representatives debated the “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act”. It’s been two years since the McCain / Kennedy Comprehensive immigration Reform Act was defeated. And it’s been 11 months since we said goodbye to Officer Nick Erfle.

And still there is no debate. meaningful or otherwise, in House races, in Senate races, or between the two candidates for President of the United States.

And that needs to change.

In just the past few days, I was asked, by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to head up a Task Force on Immigration Reform. To study the problem and to make recommendations to the 111th Congress and the 44th President.

And I accepted that honor, with one important caveat: No more studying. No more hearings. No more task forces. No more White Papers and executive summaries lining the shelves of Congress. This is an issue that has already been studied and studied and studied some more.

Now it’s time for action. Now it’s time to implement.

My message is a simple as it is urgent:

Do not wait another day to figure out a way to secure our borders. We need more personnel. We need to make better use of technology. I recently went to the State of Israel. They have, through sheer necessity, figured out how to best secure their own borders. For them, it’s a literal matter of life and death. And I say to Washington, “if you can’t figure out how to secure our borders, then ask the Israelis for their advice and counsel.” I say to Washington, “If the greatest technological nation in the world can’t do it, bring in someone who can.”

Second, I call upon Congress to change our failed immigration policies. For our economy and for the foreign workers who need to support their families, let’s use the technology that is available to match up the skills of these workers with jobs in this country that are going unfilled. Make the work Visa program make sense. And because half the immigrants who are in our country illegally entered the United States quite legally — but overstayed their Visas — Congress needs to make this new Visa system completely trackable.

Third, not everyone who comes here to work will want to become a citizen. But for those who do, we need a pathway to citizenship that doesn’t stretch out for 10 years or more, the way it does now. You wonder why so many ignore the system and come here illegally? It’s because a 10 year-plus process is no process at all. It is broken and it is ours to fix.

Fourth, we need to recognize the human side of immigration. Consider a grandmother who has lived here peacefully for decades who has worked, and raised a family, and paid taxes and contributed to our social fabric and our economy — treating HER the very same way we treat a drug dealer who is in the United States illegally, makes no sense at all. We should never paint with a brush that broad. We need to recognize different circumstances and treat them differently.

Two years ago, the Western Governors Association, under the leadership of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, issued a Policy Resolution very much like the proposal I just outlined. It, too, is a reasonable proposal that a reasonable Congress should use as a road map. But here we are, two years later, and that map still sits folded in some Congressional Cloakroom.

So one of the main reasons I’m here today is to force the Congress of the United States — to face the two-headed monster of hate and racism — it has created and turned loose — 2,000 miles from this very room.

If you’re a Member of Congress, or the next President of the United States — you’ll be hearing from me. And when you do, I’ll be standing right next to Julie Erfle because I want you to look into her eyes and to see for yourself what the cost of your inaction has been.

So again. the research has been done and the papers have been written. Our mission is to obtain the full backing of the US Conference of Mayors, law enforcement groups like this one, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the faith community and, with the support of the Western Governors Association, march over to Capitol Hill, proposal in hand, and knock Congress upside its partisan head with it — and tell them to fix the damn problem.

Thank you and God Bless you.

The Facts About Immigration

Worksite Enforcement:  Bad Employers Get a Free Pass

While the Bush Administration claims to have gotten “tough” on employers who exploit workers and break the law, the facts tell a much different story. While immigrant workers are denied their day in court, employers with egregious histories of breaking labor laws are being let off the hook.

  • 98% of Worksite Arrests are of Worker, Not Employer: Since its inception in 2003, ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy has been to target the undocumented worker rather than his or her employer. Although ICE’s overall workforce arrest totals increased from 510 in FY 2002 to 4,940 in FY 2007, the vast majority of these arrests were of workers. In 2007, ICE logged 4,077 administrative arrests. Only 92 of ICE’s 863 criminal arrests involved employers. Taken together, this means that immigrant workers and not employers accounted for 89% of the criminal arrests and 98% of all immigration arrests in the workplace in 2007.

    According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, this trend has continued throughout 2008. Since October 2007, ICE has made 3,750 workplace arrests, of which only 75 were business owners, supervisors, or human resources workers. Once again, this means that 98% of the arrests have been of workers instead of their employers.

  • Employer Fines Remain Scarce – Especially Compared to the 1990s: Employer fines for hiring illegal labor have plummeted under Bush. In 1999, 417 employers received notices of the Department’s intent to fine them for employing illegal aliens – a number that dropped to three by 2004 and was only 17 in 2007. Compared to the high-water marks of the 1990s, this is a precipitous drop of over 99%.
The Facts About Immigration

Immigration Reform and Protecting All American Workers

All Americans feel the pinch of our broken immigration system. Outdated immigration laws and lax enforcement against employers who hire undocumented immigrants have created a situation where unscrupulous employers can get away with paying slave wages and exploiting workers.

When egregious labor law violators are allowed to operate outside the law, the quality of every worker’s job is threatened.

For example, Agriprocessors a meatpacking company was a notorious violator of labor laws. Citing the federal government’s own search warrant application, workers caught up in the raid, and contractors brought in to replace them, dozens of news articles have exposed troubling tales of exploitation at the Postville, IA plant. Despite these revelations, no company owners or managers have been charged with an offense. Meanwhile, more than 300 Agriprocessors workers are serving jail time for crimes related to working with false papers, and nearly 400 will be deported.

Members of Congress have called on the Bush Administration to investigate Agriprocessors’ history of abuse, and enforce labor laws designed to protect all workers. In addition to stronger enforcement of labor laws, we also need a rational immigration system that brings undocumented workers out of the shadows so they can apply for legal status and exercise their labor rights. Our current immigration system is so badly broken that unscrupulous employers like Agriprocessors can exploit workers with impunity, because immigrants are too afraid of deportation to speak out. Agriprocessors is truly the poster child for our broken immigration system, and its story shows why we need common-sense reform of our immigration laws.

The allegations against Agriprocessors include:

  • Underage Hiring: Meatpacking is dangerous and difficult work, and employment of underage workers is strictly prohibited. Yet many press accounts indicate that an ongoing child labor investigation at Agriprocessors was disrupted by the May 12th immigration raid (Des Moines Register, “Lawmakers: Did Postville raid stymie labor probe?” May 28, 2008). Evidence of underage hiring was in fact uncovered during the immigration raid: “Twelve juveniles were among those detained, six of whom have been released, federal officials said. The 12 juveniles were plant employees,” (Des Moines Register, “The Day After Churns up Charges, Emotions,” May 14, 2008).
  • Sexual Abuse: “Reports that there was an expectation of sexual favors at Agriprocessors Inc. are beginning to emerge from workers at the Postville meat processing plant, and advocates for immigrants are trying to document the stories. Sister Mary McCauley, a Roman Catholic nun at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, said workers reported that “there was sexual abuse, that there’s propositioning,” (Des Moines Register, “Advocates: Workers Allege Sexual Abuse,” May 20, 2008).
  • Drug Production and Fraud in the Plant: In government’s affidavit and application for a search warrant filed in conjunction with the immigration raid, a source recounted discovering an active methamphetamine lab within the plant. The source also described a physical confrontation with their supervisor after destroying the lab and “believes the incident led to [the source’s] termination,” (Application and Affadavit for Search Warrant, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, May 9, 2008. Available via www.eyeonagriprocessors.org). Additionally, a Department of Transportation “investigation found that an Agriprocessors supervisor was forcing workers to buy cars from him and allegedly registered the cars under falsified identities. An investigator found at least 200 cars were bought in this manner,” (Associated Press, “Immigration Raid Spurs Calls for Action vs. Owners,” June 1, 2008). According to the Iowa Independent the supervisor, Hasom Amara, since fled to the country (Iowa Independent, “Agriprocessors Official Who Sold Used Cars and Favors Has Fled the Country, Residents Day,” June 20, 2008).
  • Instances of Physical Abuse: The government’s search warrant application cited an incident in which an Agriprocessors supervisor “duct-taped the eyes of an employee… the floor supervisor then took one of the meat hooks and hit [the employee],” (Application and Affadavit for Search Warrant, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, May 9, 2008. Available via www.eyeonagriprocessors.org).
  • Health and Safety Violations: Labor Ready, an Iowa staffing firm contracted to fill positions left empty by the immigration raid, pulled 150 of their workers from the Agriprocessors plant 10 days after starting. According to Stacey Burke, a spokeswoman for Labor Ready’s parent company, “[t]here was a concern on the part of my field operators about the safety and care afforded to our workers. We felt as if there was a violation on our core principles,” (Des Moines Register, “Labor Contractor Pulls Workers from Agriprocessors,” May 30, 2008). Previously, the Iowa Department of Labor fined the company for “workplace safety problems including 39 citations since last October…which included improper storage and handling of hazardous chemicals and inadequate training in the use of respirators and handling of blood-borne pathogens,” (Associated Press, “Immigration Raid Spurs Calls for Action vs. Owners,” June 1, 2008). The fines were reduced to a fraction of their value. Additionally, “Occupational Safety and Health Administration logs show records of incidents that led to five amputations, dozens of reports of broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss at the plant between 2001 and 2006,” (Associated Press, “Immigration Raid Spurs Calls for Action vs. Owners,” June 1, 2008).
  • Advertising in Guatemala – After the Raid: Advertisements published in Guatemalan newspapers after the May immigration raid highlighted jobs at a meatpacking plant in Postville, IA and promised an “excellent opportunity of a job in the United States,” (Iowa Independent, “After Postville Raid, Mystery Advertiser in Guatemala Sought Meatpackers,” June 27, 2008). Although questions remain about who published the ads, only Agriprocessors fits the description of a Postville-based meatpacking plant.
  • Food Safety and Environmental Concerns: Agriprocessors also has a substandard record of failure to comply with food safety and environmental laws. In November 2007, Representatives Bruce Braley (D-IA), Steve Kagen (D-WI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) sent a letter to Chuck Conner, the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating that “the Food Safety and Inspection Service (PSIS) has issued over 250 Noncompliance Records (NRs), as well as Letters of Warning to Agriprocessors. Those charges document a long history of repeated federal food safety violations against Agriprocessors.” Additionally, in August 2006, Agriprocessors agreed to a $600,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA found that Agriprocessors “failed to comply with wastewater pretreatment conditions and limitations, and alone or in conjunction with the discharges of other sources, introduced pollutants into Postville, Iowa’s water treatment plant that caused the City to violate its wastewater permit,” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “AgriProcessors to Pay $600,000 in Environmental Case,” August 31, 2006).

Pundits and analysts predict that the Republican embrace of extremist immigration politics will turn out to be a mistake of historic proportions.

“I am worried. You cannot ignore the aspirations of the fastest-growing minority in America” [Karl Rove aboard Air Force One on 8/13/07].

“For the past few cycles, Republicans have relied heavily on illegal immigration a wedge issue aimed at driving their base to the polls. In many regions of the country, though, it has been an issue that has caused more harm than good: Business advocates recognize they need immigrant labor to drive the economy, and Hispanic voters are turning away from the GOP due to what many feel is overly harsh rhetoric. Few, in fact, can point to a race in which a Republican candidate seriously benefited from focusing on immigration” [Reid Wilson, RealClearPolitics.com, 6/17/08].

“It is fair to say that the fallout of the immigration debate has damaged the Republican Party among many Hispanic voters.” [Charlie Cook, 6/17/08].

“I have never seen an issue where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters – Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans…Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified,” [Michael Gerson, Washington Post, 9/19/07].

From August 6-14, 2008, Bendixen  & Associates conducted a poll for NDN of 500 voters in each of four states: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The margin of error for each state sample is +/-4%. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish and included an oversampling of at least 150 Hispanic voters in… Continue »

From August 6-14, 2008, Bendixen  & Associates conducted a poll for NDN of 500 voters in each of four states: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The margin of error for each state sample is +/-4%. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish and included an oversampling of at least 150 Hispanic voters in… Continue »

From August 6-14, 2008, Bendixen  & Associates conducted a poll for NDN of 500 voters in each of four states: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The margin of error for each state sample is +/-4%. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish and included an oversampling of at least 150 Hispanic voters in… Continue »

From August 6-14, 2008, Bendixen  & Associates conducted a poll for NDN of 500 voters in each of four states: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The margin of error for each state sample is +/-4%. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish and included an oversampling of at least 150 Hispanic voters in… Continue »