Friday, December 16, 2011

AZMEX I3 14-12-11

AZMEX I3 14 DEC 2011

Note: Not just farm workers being abused. There are way too many
employers here that purposely hire those here illegally so they can
pay them less, no benefits, and other abuses. Women especially

Nonprofit: H-2A is misused, leading to abuse of foreign guest workers
December 10, 2011 9:28 PM

SAN LUIS, Ariz. — Mexicans seeking agricultural jobs in the Yuma area
and elsewhere in the United States under the H-2A guest worker
program often fall victim to unscrupulous job recruiters, according
to the head of a nonprofit that wants to curtail the abuses.

The recruiters, who travel to Mexico and other foreign countries to
extract hefty fees from workers in return for the promise of jobs,
represent one of the most frequent abuses in the federal government's
H-2A program, says Janine Duron, executive director of Centro
Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas (CITA), or Independent
Agricultural Workers' Center in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son.

"At CITA, we are working very closely with the workers to guide them
and prevent them from becoming victims of abuse," she said.
Unscrupulous recruiters "charge them to obtain a visa and place them
in economic hardship, many times without there even being a job

With funds from a $1 million grant from the Buffet Foundation to
Catholic Relief Services, the San Luis Rio Colorado-based
organization is opening "farm worker support centers" in Chiapas,
Oaxaca and San Luis Potosi and other interior Mexican states from
where many of the guest workers hail, Duron said.

The goal is for the centers, working with growers and employers on
this side of the border, to line up the workers without charge,
thereby giving them an option to recruiters demanding payments. Duron
says CITA hopes to recruit about 50,000 workers.

Catholic Relief Services, working with the Catholic diocese in Tucson
and Mexicali, Baja Calif., created CITA as a binational nonprofit
organization that connects workers with U.S. growers needing labor.

The H-2A program was established by the U.S. government to allow
growers to employ foreign guest workers on temporary work visas to
fill any seasonal jobs for which they can't find domestic labor. The
employers apply to the government for whatever number of H-2A visas
they need for foreign workers.

But a report done earlier this year by Farmworker Justice, a
Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, concluded that the
H-2A program has been misused to exploit foreign workers, who are
lured by the promise of earning many times more in wages than they
could earn in their own countries.

Unscrupulous recruiting has led to numerous cases of human
trafficking and forced labor, according to the report, titled "No Way
to Treat a Guest: Why the H-2A Agricultural Visa Program Fails U.S.
and Foreign Workers."

"It's gotten to the point where organized crime has gotten involved
and ends up charging the workers," said Duron.

"There's a huge need there (in Mexico for employment)," she added.
"Many of those workers are farmers who were hurt by the Free Trade
Agreement, and now that they're looking for work, they can be easy
victims of abuse."

Read more:

With illegal immigrants in mind, LAPD to change impound rules
The change would let unlicensed drivers summon someone with a
license, who would then be allowed to drive the car away. Chief
Charlie Beck calls it a fairness issue. The police union opposes the
By Joel Rubin and Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
December 14, 2011

Unlicensed drivers without prior convictions would be given the
chance to avoid having their vehicles impounded under new rules
outlined Tuesday by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The proposed changes to the impound procedures are a potentially
explosive issue because LAPD Chief Charlie Beck designed the reforms
to remedy what he believes is the unfair burden that impounds place
on illegal immigrants. Since immigrants who are in the country
illegally cannot get driver's licenses in California and most other
states, they make up the majority of the drivers who have their cars
impounded for the infraction.

Beck contends that the hundreds of dollars in fees and fines that
must be paid to retrieve an impounded car and the disruption to
illegal immigrants' often tenuous hold on jobs deal a
disproportionate blow to people "who are a valuable asset to our
community and who have very limited resources."

In an interview Tuesday, Beck amplified his position: "It's a
fairness issue. There is a vast difference between someone driving
without a license because they cannot legally be issued one and
someone driving after having their license revoked."

The city's influential police union, which is leading the opposition
to the plan, has criticized Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for
trying what they see as an effort to score political points through
reforms that the union warns could hurt public safety.

Under the current rules, L.A. police are instructed to impound cars
driven by people who either do not have a license or who have had
their license revoked or suspended, said Assistant Chief Michel Moore.

Under the new rules, police would let an unlicensed driver who has
not been convicted previously of driving without a valid license
summon someone with a license, who would then be allowed to drive the
car away.

Moore presented the new procedures at a public meeting of the Police
Commission, the civilian body that oversees the LAPD. Several of the
panel's members expressed support for the idea, but voiced concern
that the department could open itself to claims of unequal treatment,
since the amount of time an officer allows for a substitute driver to
arrive will vary depending on how much time the officer can spare.

Beck and Moore conceded that would be an unavoidable aspect of the
new rules, but said it would be no different from other aspects of
policing in which officers must use their discretion. "We rely on our
officers to do the right thing. I will hold them accountable," Beck

If the driver cannot find someone to retrieve the vehicle, it would
be impounded. Officers, however, would be instructed to use a section
of the vehicle code that allows the car's owner to retrieve it as
soon as a licensed driver can get to the impound lot. Currently,
officers can use a less lenient section of the code that requires the
car be held for 30 days.

Commissioner Alan Skobin suggested that owners who repeatedly allow
unlicensed drivers to use their cars, not just drivers, should be
held accountable. He urged Beck to expand the plan to include
instructions that officers impound cars that have been impounded

Skobin also questioned how the department plans to identify and keep
track of repeat offenders who avoid detection by giving police
different names each time they are stopped.

Moore said the department now has about 400 mobile fingerprint
devices that can be used to identify people but is looking for other
ways to address the issue.

Wanting to maintain control over how and when the new rules are
implemented, Beck emphasized to the commission that the changes would
effect department procedures instead of policy — an important
distinction since the commission must vote on policy matters.

Beck assured the board that he would not put the changes into place
until hearing concerns from commissioners, immigration advocates,
opponents of the plan, and the public. He gave no firm timeline.

The latest plan expands on similar changes Beck made several months
ago to the rules that apply when unlicensed drivers are stopped at
drunk-driving checkpoints.

Kristi Sandoval, a union official, warned the board that the more
lenient rules would allow dangerous drivers to remain on the road.

Some studies support that claim. Dave DeYoung, chief of the research
and development branch at the state Department of Motor Vehicles, led
a pair of studies in the 1990s that found unlicensed drivers nearly
five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than licensed
ones. Impounding vehicles, he concluded, was an effective way to keep
unlicensed drivers off the road.

And two nationwide studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
concluded that 13% to 14% of drivers involved in fatal crashes did
not have a valid license at the time.

There is, however, no reliable data available that singles out the
driving records of illegal immigrants.

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