August 1, 2013

California could reap gains from immigration reform

The University of Southern California has release an analysis of immigration reform that suggests that authorization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants could lead to improvements in the state’s economy. The analysis reviewed two studies: a report by the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) that estimated that immigration reform would pump about $4.6 billion into California’s economy, and a report by the Center for American Progress that estimated about 8 billion would be added to the California economy through immigration reform.

While small compared to the total size of the California economy, there is thought to be a multiplier effect as these many of new citizens will be of lower income and will be more likely to spend their paychecks than to save them. According to the report, social issues should also be considered: “children of undocumented parents face greater barriers to accessing social services and programs and tend to have more negative social, economic and health outcomes.” About 1.5 million children in California live with at least one undocumented parent, which is an amazing 16% of children in the state.

In order to possibly curb the negative social, economic, and health outcomes these children tend to face, the report emphasized that the state should begin by legally incorporating their parents and reforming immigration law in a way that that grants them greater economic opportunities. The Study concluded that immigration reform could economically benefit both the undocumented immigrants and the state’s they call home. The full report can be read at this link:

Filed under California Economy, Immigration by

March 17, 2008

Black Market in H-1B Visas has developed

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has permitted the development of a black market for H1B Visas, according to a report in World Journal. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently criticized the Bush Administration for not upholding H-1B work visa regulations and wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff documenting abuse of the H-1B visa program. The World Journal’s review of court documents show that there is now a black market for H-1B visas in the United States. Companies now often apply for H-1B work visas for people who don’t have legal jobs waiting for them, and then lease the H-1B visa holders out to work for other companies, which is an illegal practice under current regulations. Grassley also said most of the H-1B visas are used by foreign-headquartered companies, and American companies who need high-tech international employees get only a small part of the annual quota.

Filed under Foreign Relations, Immigration by

February 11, 2008

Federal Authorities Raid San Fernando Valley firm

More than 100 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a printer supply manufacturer in the San Fernando Valley on Thursday, taking into custody about 120 employees for being in the country illegally and arresting eight on federal criminal charges, according to a report in Associated Press. The raid at the offices of Micro Solutions Enterprises began around 3:30 p.m., said Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, who said the basis for the criminal warrant that led to the raid was under seal. The eight people were arrested for allegedly providing fraudulent information to get their jobs, Kice said. All of the 120 people taken into custody for illegal immigration status were interviewed for what Kice called “humanitarian issues.” About 40, including the elderly and those with children, were released to await a hearing before an immigration judge, Kice said.

Filed under Immigration, Legal and Criminal Issues, U.S. Government by

June 21, 2007

“Made in LA” documentary debuts

Fair Trade LA has announced the screening of the documentary “Made in LA”

Many of you may have heard about the documentary MADE IN L.A., about garment workers in L.A. After five years in the making, MADE IN L.A. is finally finished! Please come support the Los Angeles premiere! It’s a FREE community screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival!!! MADE IN L.A. follows the remarkable journey of three Latina immigrants working in L.A.’s garment factories and their struggle for self-empowerment as they wage a three-year battle to bring a major clothing retailer to the negotiating table. In intimate verité style, MADE IN L.A. offers a rare and poignant glimpse into this “other” California, where immigrants in many industries toil long hours for sub-minimum wages, fighting for an opportunity in a new country. A film by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar. In Spanish and English with bilingual subtitles!

WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 12noon The screening will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers and the women in the film.

WHERE: Los Angeles Film Festival –Mann Festival Theater, 10887 Lindbrook Dr., Los Angeles 90024 (Westwood)

Filed under Fashion and Apparel, Immigration, Media and Entertainment by

June 19, 2007

Ai Caramba! Schwarzenegger says “turn off Spanish TV” – to Hispanic Journalists

It wasn’t so much what the Governor said, it was where he said it:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a gathering of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should avoid Spanish-language media if they want to learn English quickly. “You’ve got to turn off the Spanish television set” and avoid Spanish-language television, books and newspapers, the Republican governor said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  “You’re just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster,” Schwarzenegger said.  “I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say, and I’m going to get myself in trouble,” he said, noting that he rarely spoke German and was forced to learn English when he emigrated from Austria.Schwarzenegger was responding to a question about how Hispanic students can improve academically. Many journalists for Spanish-language organizations in the audience were surprised by the remarks.

“I’m sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that,” said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.  Hispanic immigrants need Spanish-language media to stay informed and “function in this society,” Nogales said.

While many others praised the Governor’s frankness, it was also noted that he bought advertising on Spanish network during his election campaign.

Filed under California culture, California Politics, Immigration by

California Republican Party hires political director through H-IB Program

If this wasn’t so funny, it would be sad- or if it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny- I’m not sure which.  In any event, I thought America had an over-supply of right-wing political operatives- do we really need to import them?

The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.  Christopher Matthews, 35, a Canadian citizen, has worked for the state GOP as a campaign consultant since 2004. But he recently was hired as full-time deputy political director, with responsibility for handling campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state Republican Party operation, California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring confirmed in a telephone interview this week.

In the nation’s most populous state — which has produced a roster of nationally known veteran political consultants — “it’s insulting but also embarrassing … to bring people from the outside who don’t know the difference between Lodi and Lancaster … and who can’t even vote,” said Karen Hanretty, a political commentator and former state GOP party spokeswoman.

U.S. Department of Labor records show the state Republican Party applied for an H-1B visa to fill the job of “political consultant” and was granted a visa labor certification in March 2007. The three-year H-1B visa does not become valid until Oct. 1, 2007, government records show.

Party officials said Matthews has been working in the interim under a “TN” visa — a renewable one-year special visa for Canadian and Mexican professional workers created under the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was hired this year as the state GOP’s chief operations officer. But neither new official has experience in managing a political campaign in the nation’s most populous state — and as foreign citizens, neither is eligible to vote.

Kamburowski, a former real estate agent who sold property in the Dominican Republic, is a permanent U.S. resident in the process of obtaining American citizenship and does not require a specialized work visa, state GOP officials said. “There are talented Republicans in California, and the message that (party chair) Ron Nehring is sending is that there’s no talent pool here,” Hanretty said.  The state party and its 58 county operations face several challenges, Hanretty said, including “redistricting on the ballot, uncertain legislative races ahead of us … and a number of Republican congressmen who are under federal investigation and are going to be challenged by Democrats.  “Who will help these candidates?” she asked. “A couple of foreign transplants who don’t know the political landscape and don’t know the history of the complicated politics in California?”

Filed under California Politics, Canada, Immigration by

June 6, 2007

Schwarzenegger on HIB Visas- he gets it wrong again

Governor Schwarzenegger has written a letter to the U.S. Senate criticizing the proposed reforms of the H1B visa program.  His letter says in part:

Although I support the bill’s effort to increase temporary H-1B visas it is critical that the annual level be based on the actual workforce needs of these sectors and not an arbitrary cap. The current caps of 65,000 for skilled professionals and 20,000 for holders of advanced degrees have proven to be far less than what is needed. Future levels for these visas must be based on the demands of the market or this policy will strangle these important industries, forcing them overseas. The H-1B program must also be enforced in a way that does not impose unnecessary, costly administrative burdens on law-abiding U.S. businesses. I am concerned that the current bill may make the H-1B program harder to administer, especially for smaller businesses, such as technology start-ups, and force these companies to consider moving critical functions, including product development, to facilities offshore. My greatest concern, though, is with the proposal for a new points-based “green card” system designed to encourage the immigration of workers with training and skills in key areas. Replacing the current employer-based system, where companies can identify the specific skills needed and sponsor qualified immigrants, with an untested system run by the government threatens the very foundation of the program and must be amended. I strongly urge the Senate to retain an employment-based application process and consider authorizing a smaller points-based pilot program prior to any wider implementation.

This opinion could be expected from a Governor who takes all his consul from large Corporations and campaign donors, but he has absolutely NO right to claim that he is representing the opinions of small business. The current H1B Visa program is a modern version of indentured servitude- a throwback to this seventeenth century system that was long ago banished from our society. Naturally big Corporations love the current H1B visa programs as it gives them a ready supply of something akin to slave labor- employees that are completely beholden to them and under their complete control. Ask anyone who has worked on an overseas contract as a small business or independent contractor- you must completely shut down your life to work on one of these contracts and you are completely at the mercy of your “Corporate Sponsor”.

In 1999 and 2000, at the tail end of the dot com boom, I worked as a Program Manager in Silicon Valley. The firm I worked for imported large numbers of technical workers from a large Central Asian country. My job was to try to manage these poorly trained workers who were assigned to companies in California cities outside of the Silicon Valley, and I can tell you from first hand experience that any claims that these workers are more qualified then Americans- or that they can’t find Americans to do these jobs, is simply laughable. They want the cheap slave labor- it is as simple as that.

If we need to let people into our country to fill workforce needs, then they should be allowed to work where ever they want in our economy for some specified period of time, and a comparable number of Americans should be allowed to go to those countries to work. If these corporations really must hire foreign workers instead of Americans, then they should be required to provide at least some re-training of American workers. What we are seeing here is a sad example of what happens when big Corporations hijack our Government and political system. Governor Schwarzenegger probably doesn’t know any of this as he has closed himself off to all business opinions except those expressed by large Corporations and select business associations, such as the California Chamber of Commerce. As a result, he presides over a State Government that has become increasing hostile to small business interests, and is well on its way to becoming far more corrupt then the Davis administration ever was. Please call or write Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and tell them to that on this issue, Governor Schwarzenegger is once again sadly misinformed and his opinions in this letter represent Corporate interests, not the interest of the people of the State of California.

Filed under California Government, Governor Schwarzenegger, Immigration, Opinion, U.S. Politics by

May 8, 2007

California "in denial" about population growth

Excerpt from Dan Water’s column in the Sacramento Bee entitled: “California can’t avoid expansion”:

The exact dimensions of growth are less important than the fact that it continues, and as it does, it will remain the most important factor in the state’s social, economic and political evolution. A half-million more Californians every year — more in some years — translates into a demand for about 200,000 additional units of housing, a quarter-million jobs and space on the roads for several hundred thousand more cars and trucks, for instance, as well as more water, more desks in schools and so forth.

Those demands fuel political conflicts — over water and housing development, to cite but two examples — that are made even more contentious by the fact that California’s population growth is almost entirely immigration-driven, both directly and through births to immigrant mothers. Environmental groups, for instance, often oppose housing developments, water projects, highway construction and retail complexes to serve population growth, while ignoring immigration issues out of fear of alienating Latino political figures…

Arnold Schwarzenegger, to his credit, has been more willing than any recent governor to acknowledge that population growth generates political conflicts that should not be ignored. He often cites the state’s relentless push toward 50 million people in urging other politicians and voters to invest in the infrastructure that was shamefully neglected for decades because of political denial and ideological gridlock.

Schwarzenegger doesn’t see growth as a cause for celebration, as Pat Brown and others of his era did, nor as something to be ignored, as Brown’s son and his successors often did, but simply as an inescapable fact of California life.


Filed under California Government, Governor Schwarzenegger, Immigration by

May 5, 2007

Mayor cuts trade mission to address LAPD clash with immigration protesters

“Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who cut short his trip to Central America and Mexico in the wake of the May Day clash between Los Angeles police and protesters, is scheduled to speak this afternoon about the matter, into which the FBI has opened an inquiry. The mayor, speaking to reporters Thursday in Mexico City on a stop during a trade mission, said he would welcome the FBI’s investigation into the violence at the end of mostly peaceful immigrant rights marches and rallies. The mayor, who was seeking to stimulate trade and encourage international cooperation in fighting street gangs, announced late Thursday night that he was flying back to Los Angeles today”

Filed under Foreign Relations, Immigration, Legal and Criminal Issues, Mexico by

May 2, 2007

Multi-State border authority proposed

“A Southwest border regional authority to coordinate economic development efforts among four states would be created under legislation recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas. The Southwest Regional Border Authority would be a mechanism for border areas to receive federal funding for economic development plants, Reyes said in a news release. The joint federal-state agency would be modeled after other economic development commissions, including the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Southwest authority would be led by a federal representative and the governors of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.”

Filed under Immigration, U.S. Government by

April 10, 2007

Santa Ana chamber pushing residents to learn English

“In a city where about 80% of residents do not speak English at home, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce has initiated a $4.5-million campaign to get 50,000 residents to learn the language over the next four years. As part of its project, the chamber last month launched an aggressive advertising campaign, with messages urging residents to learn English plastered on buses and at bus shelters, the train station, supermarkets and self-service laundries. Census statistics show that at least 51% of city residents ‘speak English less than very well.’ More than half the city’s employees speak Spanish, most Asian merchants have learned the language, and nearly every retail business has Spanish-speaking employees.”

Filed under Business Associations, Immigration by

March 29, 2007

Inland Empire reaction cool to Federal immigration detention centers

“Three former Inland military airports could be used as federal transportation hubs for deportation flights returning immigrants to their home countries, but the surrounding land is not suitable to house immigrant detainees, local officials said. As part of a massive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, a bill introduced last week includes a provision to double space for detainees to 40,000, build 20 new detention centers on former military bases, and establish three additional U.S. Marshals Service flight hubs. The detention centers and transportation hubs would cost about $3 billion, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. The bipartisan bill, H.R.1645, is a wide-ranging assortment of immigration-law changes. It aims to tighten border security, increase enforcement of laws against employing illegal immigrants, and add a large new guest-worker program that would permit millions of undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States and eventually become citizens. The Riverside-San Bernardino area is home to 215,000 undocumented immigrants, nearly 9 percent of the 2.5 million living in California, according to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy study group whose estimates are widely used in the national debate over immigration. “

Filed under Immigration, Legal and Criminal Issues by

Immigrant integration key test for California

That’s the conclusion of Peter Schrag,columnist for the Sacramento Bee in an editorial that covered the publicity and priorities of Governor Schwarzenegger:

California, Schwarzenegger said, was once again the model not just for the nation but the world. He was making deals on global warming with the Brits, the Canadians and, of course, with other states. And with its presidential primary now moved from June or March to early February, California would have lots more power to demand real answers from the candidates, who’ll now come not just for cash but for votes… But even all that’s small potatoes next to California’s role as America’s laboratory of a multiethnic society and economy ever more dependent on the labor and skills of recent immigrants and their children. If those newcomers are successfully educated and integrated into this society, then California’s historic promise as a beacon to the world may continue to be realized. If not, then all the rest won’t make much difference. For a man with Schwarzenegger’s Olympian ambitions, that’s the real test.

Filed under Immigration by

March 19, 2007

Mexican President slams U.S. Border Policy

“Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Friday that U.S. border policies are marred by many “absurd” paradoxes that hurt the Mexican economy and force more Mexicans to migrate illegally to the United States. In an interview en route from Mexicali, Mexico, to Mexico City on his presidential jet, Calderon criticized construction of more border fencing and accused U.S. border agents of slowing the flow of commerce between the countries by sometimes failing to staff enough crossing booths. He also argued against plans to line with concrete the massive All-American Canal, which connects the Colorado River to farms in California. Calderon said the project would cut off groundwater that flows into Mexico and possibly hurt the businesses of Mexican farmers enough that they would need to migrate illegally to make a living.”

Filed under Immigration, Mexico, U.S. Government by

March 16, 2007

Loyola Marymount students spend spring break with farmworkers

“10 students from Loyola Marymount University… lived and worked with San Joaquin Valley farmworkers for a week in March, learning about the history of the rural labor movement and organizing a food and clothing drive for out-of-work field hands. The program, a partnership between Loyola Marymount and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a Bakersfield nonprofit named for the co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, is among a growing number of ‘alternative’ spring breaks in which students skip the boozy revelry in favor of volunteer work around the world.”

Filed under California Unions, Education and Training, Immigration by

March 13, 2007

Minuteman group having political implosion

The Minuteman Project- a group that patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal immigrants, has been called a citizens militia by some and “vigilantes” by others- including President Bush. The Los Angeles times reports that the group’s board is trying to fire project co-founder Jim Gilchrist:

The story behind the vote to dismiss America’s most famous anti-illegal immigrant fighter contains allegations of hubris and missing money, jealousy and greed, backstabbing and extremism… There were public accusations of secret bank accounts, missing funds, sloppy accounting and donations that had been collected without the full board’s knowledge.

Filed under California Politics, Immigration by

March 7, 2007

Costly border fence may fail

At least that is what the El Paso Times of Texas thinks:

San Diego: A 10-foot-high wall snakes along the U.S.-Mexico border south of here, and behind it another fence, steel mesh and even higher. Cameras sit atop 50-foot poles, and stadium lights can turn night here to day. It’s a daunting sight that looks utterly secure. Until you notice the dozens of divots. “Everywhere you see a divot, that’s where someone has gone over with a ladder,” said Damon Foreman, a young Border Patrol agent, pointing to the nicks across the top of the secondary fence. Sold for $5 on the Mexican side, the ladders are made of rebar and can be carried with one hand at a quick run. “Ten guys are over that fence in a minute,” Foreman said. For Department of Homeland Security officials trying to secure the country’s land borders, it’s a hard lesson: A $5 ladder trumps a $30 million fence.

Filed under Immigration, Mexico by

March 5, 2007

Sherman Oaks Immigration Lawyers Charged with Visa Fraud

“Two Sherman Oaks immigration lawyers have been indicted for allegedly filing fraudulent visa applications, some of them for workers at their law firm, prosecutors said today. Daniel E. Korenberg, 57, and Steven James Rodriguez, 40, are named in a 33-count indictment. Both are charged with making false statements and conspiracy, and Korenberg is also charged with multiple counts of visa fraud. The two worked for one of the West Coast’s largest immigration law firms, which was formerly known as Korenberg, Abramowitz & Feldun — where Korenberg was a partner and Rodriguez was a senior associate. The firm hired paralegals and other office staff who were not authorized to work in the United States, according to prosecutors. It is now known as the ASK Law Group, and has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas, according to ICE. “

Filed under Immigration, Legal and Criminal Issues by

February 27, 2007

Wells Fargo might also give credit cards to illegal immigrants

“Wells Fargo might be the next bank to distribute credit cards to checking account customers who don’t have Social Security numbers — namely, undocumented immigrants. The contentious issue captured national headlines last week after Bank of America Corp. announced plans to expand its pilot credit card program throughout Latino-heavy Los Angeles County. The bank has defended its program, saying it is designed to help BofA customers build a credit history. Now, Wells Fargo & Co. is contemplating a similar program. ‘We are exploring the possibility of offering unsecured credit cards to Wells Fargo checking account customers who do not have Social Security numbers,’ a Wells Fargo spokeswoman said. ‘Wells Fargo recognizes a great need for equal access to financial products and services for all customers who want to build credit, establish financial security and achieve the American dream’. “

Filed under Banking and Financial Services, Immigration by

February 14, 2007

Bank of America gives credit cards to illegal immigrants in LA

“Bank of America Corp. has begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers, a group that typically includes illegal immigrants. According to The Wall Street Journal, the BofA card is open to individuals without a Social Security number or a credit history, as long as they have held a checking account with the bank for three months without an overdraft. Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA tested the program last year at five branches in Los Angeles. Last week, BofA expanded it to 51 branches in Los Angeles County, the newspaper says. BofA is the largest bank in Los Angeles.”

Filed under Banking and Financial Services, Immigration by

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