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Archive for January, 2009

Leslie Sanchez, a republican strategist has stated that Republicans should treat Hispanics as part of mainstream America.

As members of the Republican National Committee prepare to choose a party chairman this weekend, Sanchez recognizes that President Obama’s election marks the beginning of a post-partisan, post-racial America where Hispanics are no longer a minority group.

Sanchez says that Republicans need to win at least 35 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the next presidency. John McCain achieved 31 percent, George W. Bush achieved 44 percent, and Bob Dole had a dismal 21 percent. Sanchez states that politicians have long treated Hispanics as a minority group, categorizing them as all primarily poor and immigrants, often treating them as second class citizens. Treating Hispanics as a minority is not just limited to Republicans, Democrats do this as well. Although the GOP has long had anti-immigrant rhetoric, with a “We don’t want you here” image by Tom Tancredo, she says that there is promise for Hispanics in the Republican Party.

She believes that if Republicans truly want to develop a winning strategy for appealing to Hispanics, they should look at the strategies of Ronald Reagan George W. Bush, who she believes gave Hispanics an equal stake in the future of the United States; including them in the American experience.

With prior experience designing a multimillion-dollar ad strategy for the Republican National Convention to appeal to the nation’s emerging Latino electorate, Sanchez says that through Hispanic voting patterns, there was 25 percent of Hispanics who were voting Democrat on the generic presidential ballot question but would be interested in voting for a Republican who offered a campaign agenda focused on family, education and job-creation issues.

Sanchez states that President Obama catered to Hispanics on the campaign trail by treating them in a condescending manner, highlighting issues such as English as a second language and in-state tuition for undocumented students. He spoke about immigration, and highlighted minimum wage. Sanchez clarifies that these issues may not be as important to a majority of Hispanics today. The number of Hispanic-owned business Hispanics will rise to 4.3 million over the next six years, thus their political sophistication will rise consequentially. Sanchez is confident that this is a new era for Hispanics, and they should no longer be treated as a minority group.

Do you agree with Sanchez? Was Obama condescending and what do Republicans need to do?

CNN

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Last November when Suffolk County prosecutors charged seven youths in the deadly assault of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant on Long Island. Their accusations charged that “hunting Hispanics” was a regular pastime for the accused.

Yesterday, prosecutors announced new indictments that accuse the seven teenage defendants of attacking eight other Latino men. Prosecutors believe that more teenagers were involved in the racist fueled attacks on Hispanics on Long Island but still have not been apprehended. These teenagers are believed to roam around on bicycles hunting for Latinos to attacks, according to a law enforcement official.

Five of the defendants – Christopher Overton, Anthony Hartford, Jose Pacheco, Jordan Dasch and Nicholas Hausch – pleaded not guilty in Suffolk County Criminal Court. The other two, Kevin Shea and Jeffrey Conroy, are expected to plead not guilty next week in the death of Mr. Lucero.

Jose Perez, a lawyer for LatinoJustice P.R.L.D.E.F., an advocacy group, said that these attacks show that a more aggressive police response is necessary in order for Hispanic hate crime attacks to be prevented. Following the death of Mr. Lucero, many other immigrants came forward to describe other hate-crime attacks. Some had never been reported; others were reported to police at the time, but no arrests were made in part because of language barriers.

In one of the new indictments, Mr. Pacheco and Mr. Conroy, who are accused of fatally stabbing Mr. Lucero on Nov. 8, were also charged with beating Carlos Orellana on July 14, 2008. Mr. Orellana was one of many victims who gave details of 13 similar attacks to the New York Times, which are now being investigated. The media coverage of Mr. Lucero’s death has inspired others to come forward, and hopefully justice will be served.

New York Times

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The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund issued the following statement in response to today’s succession of Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former Senator Hilary Clinton:

“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s record and public statements as a U.S. Representative raise troubling concerns about her lack of commitment to comprehensive immigration reform and fair and effective immigration enforcement measures.  She supported legislative proposals that would impose costly requirements on employers to verify the employment eligibility of workers through a federal computerized system that has a high error rate in misidentifying the eligibility status of immigrants.  The use of flawed employment verification systems could deny many American workers the right to employment, and would weaken our economy.

“Senator Gillibrand also favored policies that increase the involvement of local police in the enforcement of federal immigration law.  These policies could jeopardize public safety by making police less available when needed to respond to local crimes and emergencies.  The policies also impair law enforcement efforts by making newcomers fearful of reporting crimes or cooperating with local police.

“Senator Gillibrand has now assumed a critical position of leadership in a state where more than one out of five residents is foreign-born.  She is the successor to former U.S. Senator Hilary Clinton, who recognized the need to fix America’s broken immigration system through effective legislative proposals.  Historically, immigrants shaped the economic, cultural and civic life of New York, and they will continue to make invaluable contributions to the state’s future vitality and prosperity.  We are deeply concerned about whether Senator Gillibrand understands these contributions, and we urge her to demonstrate her commitment to fair and effective immigration policies during her efforts in the U.S. Senate.

“Senator Gillibrand’s past public statements also raise doubts about her stance on comprehensive immigration reform.  Now that the Senator has taken office, she will be responsible for representing all of New York’s residents and promoting policies that are in the best interest of the state and the nation.  We urge her to support legislation that respects the rights of immigrants and non-immigrants, brings undocumented workers out of the shadows, and restores fairness to the rules governing newcomers and employers. As a public servant who is accountable to all New Yorkers, Senator Gillibrand must work with the U.S. Senate to make a comprehensive immigration reform a top priority in the 111th Congress.

NALEO

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Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros has announced he will create a nonprofit that will help integrate Latino immigrants to U.S. society by helping them improve their English and expanding their participation in military service and civic activities.

Cisneros, who previously served in the Clinton administration, said he hopes to launch the group this coming year to demonstrate the significance of immigrants and show the invaluable and necessary role they will play in the country’s future.

His nonprofit will work collaboratively with churches, schools and other nonprofits to offer a “life plan” on how people can integrate into American society. The plan would include educating parents on the U.S. education system and how they can help their children advance academically as well as promoting their responsibility in building the nation’s future.

Cisneros said,” We’ve got to get beyond just the basics of legalization and citizenship.” He mentioned that leaving 12 million people undocumented is not what the Unite States should do when it is need of workers. Latinos currently make up 15 percent of the U.S. population and in 2050 will be a quarter of the population.

“Is America going to be populated by a population that is large but poor, undereducated, underproductive, alienated in due course for lack of opportunity?” he asked. “Or is it a going to be populated by a community that is large but has infused with the education and skills so that it is one of the contributors to the energy, the creativity the productivity of this country going forward?”

Following President Barack Obama’s message of multiculturalism, Cisneros in a new book, “Latinos and the Nation’s Future,” has stated that the advancement of this country depends on the progress of the Latino population.

Associated Press

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PROBLEM

The House Appropriations Committee made a serious mistake when it approved an amendment to the economic stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) that would require all businesses and other public or private “entities” that receive money from the stimulus package to use the flawed federal E-Verify program (aka Basic Pilot).

The amendment represents a massive expansion of the E-Verify program.  As has been well documented by three different House committees in five separate hearings, the E-Verify program is deeply flawed, inaccurate, and subject to substantial employer abuse.  Bottom line – it is not ready for a massive expansion and especially not during the economic crisis because of the cost to employers, like the ones we represent.

E-Verify is a voluntary internet-based program intended to allow employers to electronically verify the information that workers present to prove their employment eligibility by accessing information in databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Approximately 100,000 employers are enrolled in (though not necessarily using) E-Verify – slightly more than 1 percent of the approximately 7.4 million employers in the U.S.

WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO

1.      CALL Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-0100

2.      CALL Chairman David Obey at 202-225-3365

3.      CALL Democratic and Republican Members of the Appropriations Committee who live in your state (see below)

TELL CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TODAY:

*    You oppose weighing down the stimulus package with E-Verify requirements and want them stripped.

*    Including E-Verify in the stimulus package imposes new and costly requirements on small businesses, state and local governments, schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations which counteracts the purpose and effect of the stimulus.

*    Delaying the receipt of stimulus funds by effectively forcing employers to use E-verify harms all American workers, businesses and the economy.

*    Caving in to a minority, interested only in using immigration as a political wedge issue, is not the type of leadership Americans-particularly New Americans and Latinos-voted for in the last election.USHCC URGENT ACTION ALERT – Anti-Employer Immigration Language in Stimulus

Why the E-Verify Requirement Should Not Be Included in the Stimulus Bill
The amendment would delay implementation of the stimulus.

The vast majority of entities that would be eligible to receive stimulus funds (including public schools, hospitals, and local governments) do not now participate in E-Verify.They would be precluded from participation until and unless they formally decide to do so and go through the process of applying, signing the required memorandum of understanding, training staff, and implementing the program.

This could take weeks or months depending on the size and other characteristics of the affected entity.  Some, including churches, small businesses and others, may choose to forgo the stimulus altogether rather than participate in the program.

The amendment imposes exorbitant costs at a time when our economy is most vulnerable.

A federal rule, similar to the provision included in the stimulus package, that would require all federal contractors to use E-Verify would result in net societal costs of $10 billion a year.

Imposing these costs would be particularly unwise now, as our economy deepens into recession.  In particular, such costs will have a disproportionate effect on small businesses and their ability to contribute to the economy.

Small businesses employ approximately half of the entire U.S. workforce and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade. These businesses, already struggling in the current economy, will face additional burdens and unanticipated problems if they are required to use Basic Pilot/E-Verify, potentially harming their ability to create new jobs and revenue.

Mandatory participation in Basic Pilot/E-Verify would further increase the cost of doing business in a tough economic climate.

· According to the American Council on International Personnel, nationally, the reason 99 percent of employers have not enrolled in E-Verify is not because they are hiring undocumented workers or shirking their employment verification responsibilities, but rather because Basic Pilot/E-Verify enrollment is not easy or efficient.

  • Ask any small business about E-Verify and you are likely to hear stories like the following:
    According to a manager of a small business in Maryland, it takes seriously its legal obligation to confirm its employees are eligible to work in the U.S., but has not enrolled in E-Verify because it does not have “the luxury of a large human resources department” and the costs for one year would total approximately $27,000.

1       MCL Enterprises, an employer in Arizona, found the process of registering to use E-Verify “extremely costly” and “disruptive” to operations.

E-Verify is riddled with errors-and these errors result in unjust firings, failure to hire qualified workers, delayed employment, and lost productivity.

· Although DHS claims that the error rates are low, that is not what U.S. businesses report:
· Almost 13 percent of workers run through E-Verify by Intel Corporation in 2008 could not be confirmed.  All of these workers were eventually cleared by E-Verify as work-authorized, but “only after significant investment of time and money” and “lost productivity” Intel reported.

1 The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman interviewed a variety of employers in Arizona (where use of E-Verify is mandatory) and found the “concern most frequently identified” is that “temporary non-confirmations (the notice employers receive when the federal databases cannot confirm a worker’s employment eligibility) are “issued on work-authorized individuals.”  That’s U.S. citizens and legal residents being denied work or having their employment delayed by a dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Mandatory E-Verify will hurt U.S. workers – the very workers this amendment purports to protect.

U.S. citizen Abel Pacheco went to look for a job in Arizona when he lost his job as a truck driver because of the worsening economy.  He applied with eight different companies, but couldn’t figure out why no one called him back with a job offer.  When he finally found work, his new employer notified him that E-Verify couldn’t confirm his work eligibility, which turned out to be due to an error in SSA’s database.  Pacheco cleared up the problem, but those few weeks of lost income had a serious financial impact on his family.

Ken Nagel, a restaurant owner in Phoenix, Arizona, used E-Verify after he recently hired one of his own daughters, a native-born U.S. citizen.  Upon feeding her information into the system, it could not confirm his daughter’s eligibility to be employed in the U.S.

Carmen Ruiz, a U.S. citizen, applied for a position with a temporary agency in California, only to be turned away because E-Verify was unable to confirm her. The employer did not advise her of her right to contest the finding and instead required her to show additional documents. She was unemployed for over 4 months without health insurance and was diagnosed with a serious illness during that time.

The 2007 independent evaluation of E-Verify found “substantial” employer misuse of the program.

Specifically, employers engaged in prohibited employment practices, including pre-employment screening; adverse employment action; and failure to inform workers of their rights under the program.

These are long-standing problems that DHS has failed to address since they were first identified in 2002.  Requiring participation in the program by all entities that receive stimulus funds without addressing these violations effectively permits employers to continue abusing the program and violating employee rights.

    Mandatory E-Verify will exacerbate employer abuse of the system.

Politically, this Congress has an opportunity to set a new tone of substance over symbolism and inclusion over division.

· Imposing E-Verify on a broader swath of the economy under the guise of the stimulus package is throwing red meat to the “deportation-only” elements who see immigration as a divisive political wedge to use as a bludgeon, not to solve as lawmakers.

1       New voters turned out in record numbers to elect this Congress and their reward should not be a kowtow to the wedge politics of immigration.

2       Real solutions to our nation’s economic woes and real solutions to the substantial problems of our immigration system should be top priorities for this Congress and should be approached thoughtfully and seriously.

3       Americans have been inspired by the new administration’s goals of changing “business as usual.” This is an opportunity for Congress to show its leadership and pass an economic stimulus package that will help all American workers and businesses rather than allowing anti-immigrant and anti-worker groups to turn this critical bill into an immigration enforcement issue.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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In a new report released by the Arizona-based Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW); Arizona reportedly has 300 immigrant women who are incarcerated.

Problems that negatively impact the welfare of female immigrants are discussed in Unseen Prisoners: A Report on Women in Immigration Detention Facilities in Arizona, including serious issues that affect many Latinas who are in immigration detention.

With regards to inadequate medical care, a woman was detained while six months pregnant while she had a potentially dangerous ovarian cyst, and lacked prenatal vitamins or extra padding for her bed. Also,many immigrant women detainees are mixed with people actually serving criminal sentences, women that who are potentially dangerous. The majority of women interviewed in this report were separated from at least one U.S. citizen child. In addition,  a majority of the women serving time in Arizona prisons have been transferred from out of state.

Many immigration detainees are in administrative court proceeding rather than criminal court proceeding. However, women in immigration confinement are treated like criminals, including limited access to recreation, a complete absence of activities, a small provision of food, and a routine use of strip searches and shackling during transport.

The report offers recommendations for Congress, Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about how they can improve the treatment of immigrant women in detention.

· Congress: Pass legislation to require DHS to establish legally enforceable procedures for the timely and effective delivery of medical care to immigration detainees.

· DHS: Provide enforceable regulations to guarantee women appropriate gynecological and obstetrical care.

· ICE: Halt or strictly limit the practice of detaining nursing mothers and pregnant women to cases in which no alternative arrangements exist.

Latina Lista

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Hispanic and women-owned businesses will find relief in the latest passed reforms that include improvements to the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in H.R. 354, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, which was passed late Thursday in by the House of Representatives.

The TARP program includes new provisions that would improve opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to participate in the financial recovery efforts. The recommendations were made by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) as a result of a collaborative effort by Hispanic organizations concerned over the lack of diversity in TARP contracting.  Organizations that pushed for reform included the New America Alliance, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, National Council of La Raza, Raza Development Fund, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The House bill established a new “Office of Minority and Women Inclusion” at the Treasury Department.  The office would be responsible for ensuring compliance by the Treasury Secretary and each assisted financial institution, and for all matters related to diversity in management, employment, and business activities under TARP. Under the bill, the Treasury Secretary would be required to ensure the inclusion of minorities and minority- and women-owned businesses in all activities of the Treasury Department and TARP-assisted institutions, particularly in procurement and contracts in a wide range of financial service areas. The USHCC is pleased with these changes as it will ensure more opportunities for Hispanic-owned businesses.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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