[KR: Many immigration advocates have been holding out hope that, even with an economic downturn, immigration reform would proceed under the Obama administration. The President has periodically voiced interest for comprehensive reform. Some even suggested that immigration reform could actually be seen as part of a stimulus package. What is apparent from stories like this in the NYT today is that we are a long way off from such rosy scenarios. Perhaps the only difference is that people are not being deported or taken from their homes and separated from family members. A more humane policy, perhaps, and also a more cost-effective one.]

———

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/us/30factory.html

September 30, 2009
Immigration Crackdown With Firings, Not Raids
By JULIA PRESTON

LOS ANGELES ? A clothing maker with a vast garment factory in downtown Los Angeles is firing about 1,800 immigrant employees in the coming days ? more than a quarter of its work force ? after a federal investigation turned up irregularities in the identity documents the workers presented when they were hired.

The firings at the company, American Apparel, have become a showcase for the Obama administration?s effort to reduce illegal immigration by forcing employers to dismiss unauthorized workers rather than by using workplace raids. The firings, however, have divided opinion in California over the effects of the new approach, especially at a time of high joblessness in the state and with a major, well-regarded employer as a target.

(more…)

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[KR: There will be a runoff in July, but it seems all but a formality in this eastern metro LA Congressional District. The race may have been too small for exit polling, but it would be interesting to see if Chu won a majority of Latino votes, or instead relied on support from other constituent groups. Either way, a significant development in terms of race/ethnicity and representation.]

Asian-American leads Latino district in Calif.
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press Writer
May 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES – In an election that highlighted America’s fluid racial landscape, an Asian-American candidate emerged as the leading contender to fill a U.S. House seat in an overwhelmingly Hispanic district.
Democrat Judy Chu topped a field of 12 candidates Tuesday, making her the favorite to claim the seat in a July runoff. Democrats hold a more than 2-1 registration edge in the district.

If elected, she would be Southern California’s only Asian-American in Congress.

(more…)

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[KR:Notice sent from Barbara Howe at Farmworker Justice, Washington DC, on March 14, 2009]

U.S. Labor Department Proposes 9-month Suspension to Bush’s Midnight Guest Worker Rules

Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced today the proposed suspension for nine months of the Bush Administration’s last-minute regulation changes to the nation’s H2A agricultural guest worker program. The changes made it easier for growers to slash the pay of domestic farm workers, reduce housing benefits and hire imported foreign laborers instead of U.S. field workers.

(more…)

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[KR: A bit surprising to see that immigration reform is alive and kicking during this economic downturn, and that Rahm Emmanuel has shifted from being skeptical on any reform, to encouraging piecemeal reform.]

Rahm’s immigration turnabout
Gebe Martinez, POLITICO
February 17, 2009 04:46 AM EST

It was not so long ago that Rahm Emanuel was on the House Democratic leadership team and being accused of throwing immigrants “under the bus” for the sake of strengthening Democrats’ power in the House.

As the engineer of the Democrats’ 2007 takeover of Congress, Emanuel was viewed as stalling House consideration of broad immigration legislation, fearing that Democrats in Republican-leaning districts would become roadkill at the hands of angry voters. Even a Democratic president would have to wait until his second term to take on the issue, Emanuel once opined.

But now, as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Emanuel is removing roadblocks that stand in the way of some of the legislative agenda benefitting immigrants, ethnic minorities and their advocates.
(more…)

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[KR: Oped in Businessweek by Vivek Wadhwa, based on his research on return migration of high-skilled immigrants]

Why Skilled Immigrants Are Leaving the U.S.
By Vivek Wadhwa
Tue Mar 3, 8:08 am ET
Business Week, via Yahoo! News

As the debate over H-1B workers and skilled immigrants intensifies, we are losing sight of one important fact: The U.S. is no longer the only land of opportunity. If we don’t want the immigrants who have fueled our innovation and economic growth, they now have options elsewhere. Immigrants are returning home in greater numbers. And new research shows they are returning to enjoy a better quality of life, better career prospects, and the comfort of being close to family and friends.

(more…)

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New Book: A Place to Be edited by Philip J. Williams, Timothy J. Steigenga, and Manuel A Vásquez (Rutgers U. Press)

A Place to Be is the first book to explore migration dynamics and community settlement among Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Mexican immigrants in America’s new South. The book adopts a fresh perspective to explore patterns of settlement in Florida, including the outlying areas of Miami and beyond. The stellar contributors from Latin America and the United States address the challenges faced by Latino immigrants, their cultural and religious practices, as well as the strategies used, as they move into areas experiencing recent large-scale immigration.

“A Place to Be is a must-read for everyone interested in religion and transnational communities. The book’s innovative focus on lived religion and collective mobilization considerably advances theories of both international migration and religion.”
–Alex Stepick, Director, Immigration & Ethnicity Institute, Florida International University
(more…)

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[KR: It has been a while since we posted here, and today seems like an apt day to start again. The New York Times is initiating a national dialogue on immigration, with some excellent maps and tables of historical and contemporary trends, including settlement patterns. We encourage everyone to check out this feature.]

Welcome to a national conversation about immigration. Starting today, readers and specialists are invited to discuss themes that will be explored each Sunday in a series of articles that will appear online and in the newspaper in the coming months.

The first article, to be published this weekend, will report on a Virginia school district that segregates students who are the children of immigrants, and who don’t speak English well, to make it easier to give them intensive support. Is that a good idea?

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/

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[KR: I got the following post from Farmworker Justice, an organization that advocates for migrant and seasonal workers. Apparently, the administration published the new rule in the federal register this morning. The rule has generated opposition from several organizations and newspaper editorial boards.]

Guest post by Farmworker Justice

December 18, 2008

This morning, the Bush Administration finalized midnight changes to the H2A guestworker program that slash wages and worker protections for our nation’s farmworkers. These changes have been denounced by groups like the United Farm Workers, National Council La Raza and Farmworker Justice.

The new regulations will slash wage rates for both U.S. and foreign workers by:
- eliminating the “prevailing wage” salary requirements;
- reducing employers’ obligations to recruit U.S. workers for these jobs before hiring vulnerable guestworkers; and,
- cutting oversight of the program that could detect and curtail labor abuses.
(more…)

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[KR: A historic election that went largely under the radar during the Presidential transition period. Notable that the first Vietnamese American in Congress did not come from Orange County, but this was a special election given Jefferson's corruption problems. As the story notes, Cao came to the U.S. at age 8.]

1st Vietnamese-American elected to US Congress
By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press
Sun Dec 7, 10:11 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – The first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress took advantage of dissatisfaction with a longtime incumbent dogged by corruption allegations and reflects the changing nature of New Orleans politics since Hurricane Katrina.

Republican immigration attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao defeated Democratic U.S. William Jefferson on Saturday in an election postponed for a month by Hurricane Gustav.
(more…)

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[KR: Irene sent this story out last week. I wonder if Chu's appointment to Department of Energy will make any difference. Somewhat ironic that a Chinese American heading a Berkeley-run lab will head the same department that hung Wen Ho Lee out to dry.]

Chinese-American activists oppose any Bill Richardson cabinet nomination
By Ken McLaughlin
The San Jose Mercury News (CA)
December 2, 2008

In a move bound to create political tension between Latinos and Asian-Americans, a group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley has launched a nationwide grass-roots movement to fight President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination today of Bill Richardson as commerce secretary.

The group is upset at the New Mexico governor for his handling of the nearly decade-old case of Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. U.S. officials once suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China when Richardson was President Clinton’s energy secretary.
(more…)

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