Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Death Rates Increasing For Hispanic Workers In U.S.

USA Today reports that deaths of Hispanic workers in the United Sates are up 76% since 1992.

This despite the reduction in the number of all workplace deaths in the United States since 1992.

From the story—

“Hispanic workers have fallen off roofs, been crushed under heavy machinery and run over by trucks, according to workers’ rights advocates, such as the Austin-based Workers Defense Project. Austin alone has reported four Hispanic deaths this year. Last month, OSHA pledged to bolster the number of inspectors in Texas in response to the growing number of construction-related deaths, more than half of them Hispanic…. Workers without legal documentation to be in the U.S. are less inclined to join a union, which helps protect workers, or protest when conditions seem dangerous, said Raj Nayak of the California-based National Employment Law Project. “They’re doing the most dangerous work for longer hours,” Nayak said….Jose Omar Puerto, 19, from Honduras, was repairing a roof on an Austin apartment building in 2007 when his aluminum ladder became entangled in electrical wires. He was electrocuted and killed, his sister, Marta Puerto, said. …His company paid for the funeral and the body’s return to Honduras, she said. The family received no further compensation…. Some of the fatalities among Hispanics could have been avoided with proper training, said Michael Cunningham of the Texas State Building and Construction Trades Council, a labor consortium…”No matter what country they’re from, whether they’re here legally or illegally, someone should make sure they have the proper training,” he said.

Here is the full story.

Here is a story about the machine death of 40 year old Ana Marie Vital. Ms. Vital died in California on July 21 when she was sucked into a machine at a factory that is a major supplier for McDonald’s.

Also in the USA Today story about the deaths of Hispanic workers—

“Last year, officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Dallas investigated 50 Hispanic workplace deaths in Texas alone, according to OSHA figures. So far this year, they’ve investigated 21 fatalities, including three workers who fell 11 stories from a collapsed scaffolding last month in Austin. ”

Some folks in Texas and in all parts of the United States love immigrant-bashing. They go after folks who crossed rattlesnake-infested deserts to be treated poorly by people who often have little self-discipline and little regard for others.

We all want the lowest prices at the store, but we rarely ask who is bearing the brunt of lower prices.

It is not the fault of immigrant workers that many in Texas and in the United States have long failed to take advantage of the benefits white skin has historically offered in our nation.

We need to treat each other with compassion. We need to realize that our fates are all connected.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ll Pay To Help So-Called Anchor Babies

File:NavySeal.png

I ran a post about two weeks ago about the failure of the malignancy known as the Texas legislature to expand health insurance for kids in Texas.

I’m a featured political reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle. I used the above referenced post at the the Chronicle and got a few comments such as this one—

“Ok, I see that the yankee liberal wants us to pony up for a bunch of anchor babies. It’s getting to the point where his posts should be located in the comic section, lol  ”

( They call me Yankee Liberal at the Chronicle  sometimes because I’m from up north.)

It took me a moment to figure out the term “anchor baby.”

An anchor baby is a baby born in the United States to a non-citizen. Since the baby is born in the U.S., the child is an American citizen. It’s a way to gain a hold on staying in the United States if you are not here legally and a way to make sure your kid can stay in the U.S.

If I can lend a hand to people who will work hard and see America as a land of promise instead of being angry all the time, I’m glad to help such people out.

At the top of this post you see the seal of the United States Navy. The anchor in the seal can stand for all the non-citizens who have served, and who are today serving, in our military.

Below is from a press release issued by the U.S. Army—

( Here is the full release.)

“Non-citizens have served in the U.S. Army since the American Revolution. In fact, almost half of Army enlistees in the 1840s were immigrants, and between 1862 and 2000, more than 660,000 military veterans became citizens through naturalization. Today, about 35,000 non-citizens serve in the military and about 8,000 enlist every year. According to Leslie Lord at U.S. Army Human Resources Command, many have used military service as a stepping stone to citizenship. “It is also true that some Soldiers have one or more Family members, especially a spouse, who is not a U.S. citizen,” Lord said.”

Anchor babies?

Maybe the term anchor would be better applied to the right-wingers who stay angry all the time and keep us stuck in the squalid port of stagnation and division, rather than allowing us to move out to the bright and sunny open sea of care for others.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Houston Police Chief Says Real Crime More Important Than Immigration Checks

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says his police officers have more useful things to do other than checking people’s immigration status. 

Here  is what the Chief said as reported by the Houston Chronicle

“Immigration enforcement by local police is counterproductive to community policing efforts. It undermines the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities, could lead to charges of racial profiling, and increases our response time to urgent calls for service,”….”I don’t want my guys out on the street trying to determine which of 32 different visas” an immigrant might be issued is valid, Hurtt said. “I want them to concentrate on keeping Houston safe from thieves, drug dealers, sex offenders, and making sure we maintain the trust and support of everybody who lives in Houston, and that means members of the immigrant community we serve”

I can’t add much except to say we allowed undocumented  folks to come to the United States to do our labor for us and to make sure we can get cheap services and products. At the same time, we want to bust these folks out of the country.

Let police officers go after real crime. If we reach the point where we want to start arresting all of us who have profited from illegal labor, then we can all go turn ourselves in at the local station house.     

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Houston CM Toni Lawrence—Not In My Country/ Houston CM James Rodriguez—Not In My Backyard

Houston District A Councilwoman Toni Lawrence said that the small child from Mexico who died in a Houston hospital last week  from Swine Flu should not have been treated here because the child was not an American citizen.

Here’s what she said—

“The last thing I want to do and I may be overreacting, I will be the first to say. But we had a situation in their pediatrics department now, Children’s Hospital. This child was not a United States citizen and to me we have jeopardized the Hospital District and possibly conventions. I know tour boats are not leaving Galveston now because they are not going to Mexico.”

Now I realize that Ms. Lawrence is not a fully coherent person based on this statement,  but the part about the kid not being an American citizen is clear enough.

Ms. Lawrence also said this—I’m very concerned that someone died here in Houston with (swine flu). I’m very concerned that council wasn’t told of this in a prompt way. Again we could have got an e-mail this morning. We did not. So that is a very big concern for me. I think it’s a real reality and we need to be aware of this and continue to do things for Houston and not for anybody else but what’s best for Houston.”

Houston District I Councilmember James Rodriguez offered a fair and useful retort to Ms. Lawrence’s views. Here is what Mr. Rodriguez said—

“During our City Council meeting this week, my colleague, Council Member Toni Lawrence made reference to the 23 month old child who died of Swine Flu in a local hospital. She emphasized that “The child was not a United States citizen” and added that “we need to do things for Houston and not for anybody else.” Consequently, those comments have negatively alarmed many residents throughout the city. Now is not the time for rhetoric that could potentially have a negative impact on public health. Now is not the time to inject a person’s immigration status in this very critical issue. If an individual is showing symptoms, we want them to seek immediate medical treatment without fear of being questioned of their immigration status….”

However, Councilman Rodriguez has not been so welcoming of a new home for the homeless in Houston that has been planned for construction in his district. He asserted the following position after the murder of a homeless person near where the home has been proposed.

“I am not against homeless initiatives. I do support them. I just think this area and this part of my district has enough on its plate right now,” said Rodriguez.”

Councilmember Rodriguez has in the past argued that his district has a number of these type facilities already.

I’m sure Mr. Rodriguez is fair to say that his district has many of these homes. Yet a frequent argument about our undocumented population and about further immigration to the United States is that we have enough of those folks here already.

I don’t think compassion stops at our borders and I don’t think compassion stops at the lines of Mr. Rodriguez ‘s district.

Below—Councilman Rodriguez and the singer Rihanna. Each have umbrellas.

photo

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Immigration, Politics | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Immigrants In Houston & Harris County Should Be Assured That Flu-Related ER and Clinic Visits Involve No Immigration Check

With Swine Flu cases possible in Houston and Harris County, it should be made clear to our Spanish speaking population that they will be able to visit hospitals or clinics with flu symptoms and not be subject to immigration checks.

This message should be broadcast to all our immigrant communities because it is not just Spanish speaking people who are in the county without documentation.

The Swine Flu may or not become a major health problem in the United States. It should not be made worse because of political concerns that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Local governments in Harris County should be working with the county, state and federal government to make sure that everybody who needs help gets help, and that public health officials are able to track the spread of any Swine Flu.  

( Please click here for Swine Flu information and handwashing tips.)

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Houston | , , , | Leave a comment

Real Feelings Of Houston-Area Residents Towards Immigrants

File:Ellis Island in 1905.jpg

Below in italics is a report that deals with the views of residents in the Houston-area on the subject of immigration as recorded by the 2009 Houston Area Survey.

You can read the full post here. It is taken from the Houston Chronicle immigration blog.

Above–Ellis Island 1905.

You can read it for yourself but the upshot is this—Most people in the Houston-area support just and reasonable policies towards the many immigrants we have around here. For all the right wing noise and all the mean and horrible things that are said, what you see below are the views of the people.

While the half of people who would deny health services to illegals are short-sighted, the numbers here are pretty good when you think of all the invective directed at these folks in Texas and in our local area.

Let’s hope our local elected officials see this information and let’s hope our eligible Hispanic voters in the area realize that if they would vote in greater numbers that they could make a difference.

From the survey—

The numbers of area residents who believe that the new immigration “mostly strengthens American culture” increased from 39 percent in 1997 to 57 percent in 2005, and then dropped to 44 percent in 2007, before recovering to 49 percent in this year’s survey.

The percentage of area residents who favor “granting illegal immigrants a path to legal citizenship if they speak English and have no criminal record” dropped from 68 percent in 2007 to 56 percent in 2008, and then recovered to 61 percent in this year’s survey.

The numbers saying that the increasing ethnic diversity brought about by immigration is a “good thing” dropped from 67 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2007, and remained unchanged (at 61 percent) in 2009.

In the 2009 survey, 64 percent agreed that, “The children of illegal immigrants should have the right to attend the public schools,” down from 71 percent in 2007.

68 percent today are in favor of “imposing fines and criminal charges against employers in this community who hire illegal immigrants,” up from 56 percent two years ago.

In 2007, 44 percent were in favor of “a law that would deny health and welfare services to il-legal immigrants in Texas.” In 2009, 50 percent were in support of that proposal.


April 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Immigration, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Deport Everyone In Houston & Harris County Who Has Employed Or Benefited From The Employ Of An Undocumented Person

Harris County Texas District Attorney Pat Lykos wants to stop the practice of cutting any deals or plea bargaining with undocumented persons who show up in our county courts.

Houston is part of Harris County.

Here is the Houston Chronicle story on the issue.

That should satisfy the nutball population of our county. 

We’re just going to lock these folks up and send them back.  (After any number of months of expensive proceedings.) I guess our jails will be full of people arrested on the most minor offenses.

I say that what we do is deport any person in Harris County who has hired an illegal alien, or who has economically benefited by shopping at a business or eating at a restaurant that was able to hold down prices because it hired an undocumented person.

That would be just about everybody who lives in Harris County.    

When I come up for deportation under this new law, I’m going to be asked to be sent to Corfu. (photo below)

(Off of the request in the comment space,  here is a Corfu link. And here is another.)

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Of Our Colonized Low Wage No Rights Labor Force Dying In Desert For The Chance To Mow Our Lawns

The article below was in the Houston Chronicle today. It is about the increased number of folks dying in an effort to reach the United States from Mexico. They die so they can work in our restaurant kitchens, our construction projects and on our lawns and gardens for poor wages and no benefits. We don’t thank them for it very often. Though we do complain about them very much. 

(Above–Work by a Thomas Castelazo noting border deaths at Tijuana-San Diego border

They are really the perfect workers for a place like Texas. They are good for employers who get what is in essence a colonized labor force that will accept any wage you pay (when employers come through with the money which is not always) and will not stick up for themselves when abused because of fear of deportation

These workers are also good for the political majority in Texas, those Texans who vote, because they are just the kind of low wage and no rights workers that we seem to be asking for when we vote as a state for John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Rick Perry and John McCain. 

When will a solution to all this be found that is decent and human? 

From the Chronicle— 

BROWNSVILLE — The number of unauthorized immigrants who died trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico declined border-wide except in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, leading Mexican officials to conclude that increased Border Patrol presence has channeled migrants to the valley’s most dangerous river and brush routes… While notoriously rugged U.S. Border Patrol sectors such as Tucson and Yuma in Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, saw a marked decline, the number of deaths in the valley grew by 72 percent last year…The tallies also count bodies recovered on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande that are not recorded by U.S. officials. They do not include bodies with identification from Central America or other places. …“What we’re thinking is that people decided to cross from this part of the border because they think others are more dangerous,”…. “Then they come to this side, they see more deployment; they go to riskier places, more isolated places. They cross from ranches that are more apart from the highways.”… Many drown because the Rio Grande in the upper valley can have currents swirling under the surface from recent dam releases. Others fall ill in the brush and are left behind. Still others die in vehicles that crash and overturn while drivers attempt to flee authorities.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Art, Immigration, Politics, Texas | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Never Vote For Kinky Friedman For Any Office

The Houston Chronicle reports that Kinky Friedman is considering running for Governor of Texas as a Democrat in 2010. In 2006 Mr. Friedman ran unsuccessfully for Governor as an independent.

I would like to say here, for the record, that I will never vote for that libertarian leaning, testosterone poisoned, immigrant hating, Hurricane Katrina evacuee bashing, no good bully no matter what.

If by some awful occurrence Mr. Friedman were the nominee of the Democratic Party for Governor of Texas in 2010, I would sit that race out as a voter.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Immigration, Texas | , , , , , | 3 Comments

U.S. House Democratic Leadership & House Hispanic Caucus—A Two Way Street

U.S. Representative Joe Baca of California, chair of the House Hispanic caucus, is telling the Democratic House leadership to address immigration issues in a meaningful way, or risk alienating Hispanic voters.

The Houston Chronicle story suggests that this sentiment is echoed by other House Hispanics and by Hispanic leaders outside of elected office.

Congressman Baca represents San Bernardino and surrounding areas.

You can’t blame these folks. Democrats specialize is taking minority votes for granted. Hispanics have every reason to fear being used based on how the Democratic Party treats Black voters.

It’s little different from how Republicans use rural voters.

But, of course, this is a two way street. ( Above is a two way street sign from Japan.)

The House leadership could tell Hispanic Congressman that it’s time to generate some turnout in their districts, and to work hard to cultivate a deep bench of Hispanic politicians for the battles ahead. 

Congressman Baca says Democrats want to do ” what’s easy, not what’s right” on immigration.

No doubt Mr. Baca is correct.

A way Mr. Baca and the Hispanic Caucus could show commitment to the broad platform of human and civil rights that immigration policy is part of, would be to work in California to urge Hispanics to reject efforts to appeal to prejudice in the recent California gay marriage ruling.  

Opponents of gay marriage intend to place a referendum on this issue on the California ballot this fall. The New York Times reports sponsors of the ban hope Hispanics will vote heavily against gay marriage.

I know this is all crazy.

Democratic leaders regarding minority voters as something more than a never-ending fountain of support that merits little in return?

Minority legislators seeking to expand participation in their districts in a way that might challenge their fiefdoms?

People speaking out for justice in all regards instead of looking the other way at their own prejudices?

You must think I’m on LSD as I write this post. You must think I’m seeing something like the image below instead of the world as it is.  

I’m not on LSD though—Never touch the stuff.

I’m just saying how it could be if people would get with the program. 

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Immigration, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victimized People Possess No Inherent Nobility

The Financial Times reports that some South Africans are brutalizing and running off immigrants from troubled Zimbabwe.

From the story (Here is the full article)— 

Isaac Moyo fled to South Africa from his impoverished and repressive homeland Zimbabwe six years ago. He has carved out a new life as a painter in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra, enabling him, like many other Zimbabwean exiles in South Africa, to send home much-needed money to keep his family going.

But on Monday night his new, more hopeful, life came to an abrupt end when a mob of machete-wielding South Africans yelling xenophobic slogans smashed down the door of his shack and forced him and his three brothers to run for their lives. Clutching a small mirror and a bucket of old clothes, all he could grab with him as he fled, he is now camping at the local police station and planning to return to an uncertain future in Zimbabwe

“We were preparing food [on Monday evening]. Then we started hearing guns and shouts of people celebrating they’d been chasing foreigners back to Zimbabwe,” he said. “They came to our house. They took everything, our bicycles, sewing machines, blankets, saying: ‘You didn’t get this from [President Robert] Mugabe. This is our property.

“They were shouting: ‘Go back to Zimbabwe. We don’t want to see you here. You’re taking our jobs’

I read this while eating lunch today. I just shook my head. You’d figure longtime victims of Apartheid would know better than to harass and attack people.

But the truth of the matter is that down-and-out people and victimized people possess no inherent nobility. 

We saw this in economically messed-up West Virginia this week where many Democratic primary voters openly cited race as a factor in their votes.

Everybody counts in this world. Yet this does not mean we have to romanticize people or patronize people with the idea that suffering brings some sort of wisdom or dignity.

I think sometimes liberals are guilty of this. 

People of all kinds are good and people of all kinds are lousy.

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Immigration, Lousy People, Politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Support Mass Arrests Of Anyone Benefiting From Undocumented Labor

A recent surprise immigration raid in Houston at a Shipley Do-Nuts facility is leading to the deportation of undocumented persons.

Will anyone from the company who hired these people be locked up?

What do you think?

It is the vulnerable we punish.

Do people in Houston want cheap doughnuts more than they care about immigration laws?

I bet it’s a close call in many cases. 

How about rounding up people in Houston who gain from the lower prices immigrant labor allows?

We could conduct surprise raids at malls, churches or at an Astros’ game.

We could arrest anybody who has benefited from undocumented immigrant labor.

To see if people are guilty, we could ask if they have purchased anything in the last 10 years.

Anyone saying yes would be detained. 

We could charge them with some kind of aiding and abetting.  

We could pump the stomachs of people who have been rounded up to see if they have been eating doughnuts.

Doughnut eaters would be forced to the border to help build the border fence and in so doing work off the calories from the doughnuts.

It’s time to get tough on the causes of undocumented labor. 

May 1, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Immigration | , , | 4 Comments

America Welcomed Pope With Resumption Of Death Penalty & With Immigrant Raids

Pope Benedict was welcomed to the United States over the last week with a Supreme Court decision opening the way to resumption of the death penalty and with stepped up immigration raids.  

Both these actions are contrary to Catholic teachings.

The church has long been opposed to the death penalty.

The Pope spoke about the need for humane treatment of immigrants in his recent visit. 

This is a sick country in many ways.

We seem crazed with violence and war. 

We use vulnerable and desperate immigrants for cheap labor when it suits us, and as political fodder when it suits us.

The Pope got a sense of this sickness on his trip here. 

April 22, 2008 Posted by | Immigration, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Conflicting Immigration Policies From Different Levels Of Government

A recent Houston Chronicle story discusses the possible impact on the local ecomony from increased enforcement of immigration laws.   

The story says some local employers have formed a group to lobby for, in essence, non-enforcement of immigration laws.

They won’t put it that way. But that’s what it is.  

I’ve long had the view that immigration is good and I welcome immigrants to the United States.

Immigrants bother me far less than the native population. The native population is often annoying.

Still, I was struck in the article by the suggestion that road construction work would be slowed by a crackdown on undocumented workers.  

I noted this for two reasons.

First is that we have one branch of government–at the federal level—conflicting with government at the more local level.

Talk about a policy mess. I know this road work is being done by contractors hiring undocumented persons. But can’t we get some policy coherence?

The federal government can say what what it wants. Still, if a big place like the Houston-area is not on board, federal policies, to the extent they exist, will have limited meaning. 

The other thing, despite my support of immigration, is why are people breaking the law getting jobs funded by taxpayers? Public money should not be used to help break the law.

In this case, the laws should be changed to allow an easier path to citizenship for undocumented people.

At the same time, government-sponsored work should come with good wages and benefits. If these things were offered, the native-born population would want these jobs in the first place   

I’m not going to solve the immigration question in a blog post. 

What I feel can be said is the current setup leads to exploited immigrants, low-paying jobs for the American-born population, an absence of respect for the law, and big profits for business places that will do whatever they can get away with doing.           

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Immigration | , | Leave a comment

Japanese Immigrant Poem About Working In Hawaii Canefields

 

Here is a poem from around 1905 by a Japanese immigrant who had come to Hawaii to work in a sugarcane plantation. (Photo above is of sugarcane in Hawaii.)

Hawaii, Hawaii

Like a dream

So I came

But my tears

Are flowing now

In the canefields.

Here is a history of Japanese immigration to Hawaii.

While the poem tells the story well enough, here is information about working in a sugar plantation in Hawaii.

February 19, 2008 Posted by | Immigration, Poetry | , , , | 3 Comments