Thursday, October 7, 2010

When Will We Defend Our Borders? When the Illegals Are Climbing Through Our Windows?

AT WHAT POINT WILL WE DEFEND OUR BORDERS? When the illegals are climbing through your windows?

How Mexican Border 'Pirates' Barged into Texas Politics

By HILARY HYLTON / AUSTIN Hilary Hylton / Austin – 34 mins ago
The alleged murder of a Colorado man by "pirates" on a popular recreational lake on the Texas-Mexico border has thrust the issue of border security onto center stage in the Texas gubernatorial race. Both Republican incumbent Rick Perry and his Democratic opponent, Bill White, agree that the border is broken, and Texas voters have put the issue at the top of their concerns. But the incident has given Perry a bully pulpit for an issue well suited to his muscular rhetorical style.
Coincidentally, the news comes as Perry is flooding the airwaves with an ad showcasing his bravado and anti-Washington rhetoric. Dressed in jeans, boots and a brown barn coat, Perry is shown striding the bluffs along the Rio Grande, accompanied by border-area law officials. "Securing the border is Washington's responsibility, but it's Texas' problem," Perry says. The ad then features footage of Perry greeting President Obama on the tarmac at the Austin airport in August as Perry says in a voiceover, "I recently confronted Barack Obama with detailed steps to reduce drug-cartel violence along the border."
Perry and a parade of Texas politicians from both parties are pointing to the reported Sept. 30 shooting of David Hartley, 30, on Falcon Lake as evidence of escalating border violence. Hartley and his wife Tiffany, 29, were planning to return to their native Colorado this month after living in the South Texas area for three years while he worked for a Canadian oil company. They were taking a jet ski tour in Mexican waters around the submerged village of Guerrero, the church steeple of which stands above the water. Tiffany told Texas law officials that her husband was shot and killed by armed men in three fishing boats. David's family members criticized Mexican officials for failing to respond quickly in the search for his body, and have pleaded with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press Mexico for help. (See TIME's photo-essay "A Murder by the Border.")
Perry addressed the issue on Wednesday. "How many more Americans have to die?" he asked the Associated Press, adding that he was calling on Mexico's President, Felipe CalderÓn, to meet with Obama. "Frankly, these two Presidents need to get together with their Secretaries of State and say, 'What are we going to do about this?' " Perry said, adding that he wanted an answer from Mexico City within 48 hours. (See pictures of the siege of Ciudad Juarez.)
The Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry responded, saying Mexican officials had been in touch with their U.S. counterparts "from the first moment" and were coordinating their search efforts and stepping up "their actions with the support of specialized personnel, boats and helicopters." Local officials in the border state of Tamaulipas, an area plagued by corruption and political assassinations, initially cast doubt on Tiffany's story, and a local prosecutor said on Wednesday that Tiffany had yet to file a formal complaint with his office. (Tiffany has given a statement to Mexican consular officials in McAllen, Texas.) But on the U.S. side, Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said a witness saw Tiffany being chased back into U.S. waters by three boats. The lake is a notorious drug-smuggling transit point, and there have been at least five attempted robberies of recreational fishing boats by armed men this year, according to Texas law enforcement. (See pictures of the Great Wall of America.)
The latest incident has played into Perry's drumbeat message that the federal government has not done enough to secure the border. On Tuesday, he made another in a series of calls to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asking for an additional 1,000 National Guard troops for the border. As for Perry's Democratic opponent, White concurs that the border is broken. The difference between the two men is more in style than substance, as the soft-spoken White has pledged to fund 1,000 local law enforcement and 250 state troopers for the border effort.
For residents of South Texas, news of violence in the Mexican border region has become routine. A three-way war has been raging just south of the river among the Gulf Cartel; Los Zetas, an organized criminal enterprise made up of former Mexican-army special forces; and the Mexican military. But as TIME reported in July, border violence overall on the U.S. side is down. However, understanding the border-security big picture is a little like looking at a pointillist painting, as Robert Chesney, a national-security law expert at the University of Texas in Austin explains. There are so many points of reference, so many signals read and processed by a wide variety of people - including local sheriffs, urban police, immigration and border-patrol officials, bureaucrats and politicians - that spotting significant shifts is difficult.
Security experts look for any indication that the cartels are attempting to make a strategic move into the U.S., Chesney says, and, as horrible as the reported murder of David Hartley is, it does not appear to be a systemic projection of power by the cartels. The attack, as relayed by Tiffany, took place in Mexican waters and seems to echo previous robberies by armed men earlier this year, men who may be cartel operatives or simply thugs emulating the Zetas. In one of the previous attacks, the men were reported to have Zeta-inspired tattoos.
"This was like a tourist taking a wrong turn in Matamoros or Ciudad JuÁrez and coming across a drug deal," Chesney says, adding that the bucolic setting and labeling of the attackers as pirates have added to the drama. From a border-security perspective, Chesney says, he is more concerned with an incident on the same day that did not make national headlines: the discovery of the bodies of two cartel members in a bullet-riddled truck on a Brownsville, Texas, street. "Warfare that spills over to the U.S. is by definition significant," Chesney says.
Texas shares a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, and the two have a symbiotic relationship symbolized by cultural and economic ties. Border cities like Brownsville and Matamoros are essentially one urban area, separated only by the meandering Rio Grande. The Brownsville bodies were discovered two days after a grenade was launched at the town hall in Matamoros, just 10 blocks from the border, wounding two passersby, likely part of the same ongoing cartel war that prompted the assassinations on the American side of the urban zone. "It was only a matter of time before [spillover violence] trickled down to our community," Judge Carlos Cascos, head of the county government in the Brownsville area, told KRGV-TV.
But while the reported Falcon Lake incident may not mark a strategic change in cartel activity, it is significant in this political season, and not just in Texas. It has put a face on the border-security issue, that of an athletic, vibrant 30-year-old man with a passion for the outdoors who was a member of the Motorcycle Ministry Riders, a Christian missionary group. David Hartley was preparing to rejoin his family in Colorado, where border security is also an issue in the race for governor. Constitutional Party candidate Tom Tancredo has boosted his standing in the three-way race with an ad featuring Marat Kudlis, who is pointedly described as a legal immigrant: his 3-year-old was killed when a car driven by an illegal immigrant crashed into the Kudlis family's automobile outside an ice cream shop. David's family plans to hold a rally on Friday at the Mexican consulate in Denver that will likely bring more attention to the issue.
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LOU DOBBS HIRES ILLEGALS! Avoids Paying an American a Living Wage!


“The principal beneficiaries of our current immigration policy are affluent Americans who hire immigrants at substandard wages for low-end work. Harvard economist George Borjas estimates that American workers lose $190 billion annually in depressed wages caused by the constant flooding of the labor market at the low-wage end.” Christian Science Monitor

Lou Dobbs Tonight
Friday, October 16, 2009

E-Verify- the single most successful federal program aimed at keeping illegal immigrants out of the workforce- is once again threatened. This time, E-Verify was stripped from a Senate Amendment behind closed doors and without explanation. Instead of becoming a permanent program E-verify has been reduced to only three years. Critics are calling this a stall tactic and an attempt at killing an employment enforcement system. We will have a full report tonight.

Lou Dobbs Tonight
Thursday, October 15, 2009

E-Verify -- the single most successful federal program aimed at keeping illegal immigrants out of the nation's workforce is once again being threatened. Permanent reauthorization for the program -- which has a 99.7-percent accuracy rate -- has been pulled from pending legislation. Now the program is set to expire in just 3-years. The change was made behind closed doors in the Senate -- without public comment or debate.


Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite
Isabel Macdonald | October 7, 2010
Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

In Lou Dobbs's heyday at CNN, when he commanded more than 800,000 viewers and a reported $6 million a year for "his fearless reporting and commentary," in the words of former CNN president Jonathan Klein, the host became notorious for his angry rants against "illegal aliens." But Dobbs reserved a special venom for the employers who hire them, railing against "the employer who is so shamelessly exploiting the illegal alien and so shamelessly flouting US law" and even proposing, on one April 2006 show, that "illegal employers who hire illegal aliens" should face felony charges.
Since he left CNN last November, after Latino groups mounted a protest campaign against his inflammatory rhetoric, Dobbs has continued to advocate an enforcement-first approach to immigration, emphasizing, as he did in a March 2010 interview on Univision, that "the illegal employer is the central issue in this entire mess!"
His scheduled October 9 address at the Virginia Tea Party Convention will mark his second major Tea Party address of the year, reviving questions about whether the former CNN host is gearing up for an electoral campaign. He recently told Fox's Sean Hannity that he has not ruled out a possible Senate or even presidential run in 2012.
But with his relentless diatribes against "illegals" and their employers, Dobbs is casting stones from a house—make that an estate—of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper.
Dobbs lives in a sprawling white mansion on his 300-acre estate in Sussex, New Jersey, where he and his family run a horse farm. In 2005 he acquired another house—a spacious multimillion-dollar winter holiday home in Eagle Isle, the most exclusive enclave of the Ibis Golf and Country Club, a gated community in West Palm Beach, Florida. It offers his daughter a place to stay during her competitions at the Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival, one of the most important events in the horse show world.
Dobbs's daughter keeps five European Warmbloods, a breed that often fetches close to $1 million apiece. In the official results of her competitions, her horses' owner is always listed as The Dobbs Group—a corporate entity for which few details are available on the public record. However, incorporation documents and other state records reveal it to be a New Jersey company of which Lou Dobbs is president. This same company also owns the copyright on Dobbs's books.
The upkeep of Dobbs's multiple properties creates no small demand for labor in two sectors where undocumented immigrants are known to be particularly prevalent. Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council, the horse industry's main lobby group, suggested in 2009 that more than half of the workers in his industry are likely undocumented. Likewise, studies have found that undocumented workers make up an estimated 28 percent of workers in landscaping. In both of these sectors, the use of contractors is commonplace, so it is not surprising that Dobbs has relied on third parties to supply the labor he needs. Vicky Moon, author of A Sunday Horse: Inside the Grand Prix Show-Jumping Circuit, explained that contracting out the care of one's horses "alleviates the time involved in coordinating the horses' care, transport, and management but it also removes the responsibility of hiring competent grooms, providing housing and meals, possibly paying Social Security taxes, health insurance and, most important, making extra sure they are legal."
Dobbs has heaped scorn on the government for using contractors that hire undocumented immigrants. On CNN in 2007, he called private firms that oppose verification requirements for their contractors' employees "ridiculous." Yet interviews with several such employees show that Dobbs has been far from vigilant about the status of workers laboring on his own properties.
"I Looked After Dobbs's Horses While I Was Illegal"
This year, Hillary Dobbs became the youngest-ever horse show rider to win $1 million in prize money. While all horses require extensive maintenance, the labor entailed in the upkeep of competition horses like the ones ridden by "Dobbs's million dollar baby" (as the New York Post dubbed Hillary) is particularly strenuous.
Every November, all five of The Dobbs Group's show-jumping horses must be transported from their summer stables in Vermont to their winter stables in Wellington, Florida. The workers are transported to the tropics too, returning to New England with the horses in April. They ride in trucks each way alongside their expensive equestrian charges, tending to the horses' needs throughout the thirty-two-hour journey. Their return to Vermont marks the start of a new annual circuit of horse shows—an exhausting schedule during the spring, summer and fall months that entails constant travel between their Vermont base and horse shows around the country. At these shows, it is not unusual for the grooms who care for Dobbs's horses to rise in the middle of the night or in the predawn hours to clean, brush and prepare the horses for a training session or early morning competition.
For years, undocumented immigrants from Mexico have been relied upon to meet these labor demands.
A 36-year-old Mexican immigrant I'll call Marco Salinas was working with a group of horses in a stable at the bustling Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival when I approached him for an interview. (Fearing deportation or job loss, Salinas, like the other workers interviewed for this story, asked that neither his real name nor the name of his employer be used.) Several hours later, when he finished his ten-hour workday, Salinas recounted how he had come to the United States five years ago for a job. Seated on an outdoor bench near the stable, the Mexico City native told the story of how he had crossed the Yuma Desert on foot, from the Mexican city of San Luis Río Colorado and into the United States, eluding the border patrol.
Salinas said he braved the journey for one reason—because he had the promise of a job on the other end. An old friend of Salinas's worked as a groom with some of the horses owned by Dobbs, and he had sent word that Salinas could be hired on as a groom at the Vermont stable contracted to care for the Dobbs Group horses.
Salinas got the job, he said, and worked at it for more than two years without documents until he was finally able to obtain a guest-worker visa designed for seasonal foreign workers (the same kind of visa denounced as a form of "indentured servitude" on Dobbs's CNN show).
I asked Salinas, still clad in his work clothes—a polo shirt and jeans—about Dobbs, the owner of the horses he cared for. But the father of three simply flashed a disarming grin, let out an easygoing laugh and politely declined to comment.
In his work as a groom for Dobbs's horses, Salinas said he regularly started at 5 AM and did not get off until after 6 in the evening. According to Pedro Gomez, another undocumented worker, who cared for Dobbs Group horses in Vermont and Florida, the workday during horse shows like the three-month-long Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival was typically twelve hours or longer.
I caught up with Gomez, who cared for Dobbs's horses for a year in 2008 and 2009, at a different Florida stable, where he now works. A native of the Oaxaca region of Mexico, Gomez, now 24, came to the United States to work when he was only 18. Seated on a plastic chair in the dim stable, wearing baggy blue jeans and a T-shirt, he told me he desperately wants legal status. "My situation with immigration is bad," he said, "because I [still] don't have papers." For him, documentation would mean "better work."
When Gomez worked for the Vermont-based stable contracted by Lou Dobbs, his wages were $500 per week, and he typically worked sixty-five hours, meaning he was earning only slightly above minimum wage. During shows in which Gomez was caring for the Dobbs Group horses, Dobbs's daughter would sometimes give him a $100 weekly tip, according to Gomez. But he says he was never paid overtime.
While there is some disagreement over whether federal labor laws apply to horse stable workers, according to West Palm Beach labor lawyer Jill Hanson, the working conditions described by these stable workers likely violate both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act—which requires time-and-a-half pay for hours worked beyond a forty-hour workweek—and a Florida law that requires overtime pay for any workday longer than ten hours.
I sat down with Marco Esperanza, 39, another Mexican worker who cared for Dobbs Group horses, after hours in the stable where he was then working in Wellington, Florida. Seated on the concrete barn floor, his back against the wooden siding of a horse stall, he explained that the work requires him to "be available twenty-four hours a day." When a horse is sick, Esperanza said, "it doesn't matter what time it is: in the night or at dawn, you have to check the horse. You always, always have to be at work." When I asked whether he had a green card or guest-worker visa while he worked for the stable hired by Dobbs, he shook his head: "I looked after Dobbs's horses while I was illegal."
At the Vermont stable that cared for the Dobbs Group horses from spring through autumn while Gomez worked there, the workers lived right at the horse barn. This arrangement has benefits, as Gomez points out; for example, the workers don't have to pay rent. However, according to Gomez, their quarters—a two-bedroom apartment on the top floor of the barn—were extremely crowded. When Gomez lived there, nine workers were packed into the small apartment, and he had to share a bedroom with four of them.
When I asked whether the Dobbs family knew that undocumented workers were caring for their horses, Gomez responded by saying that at least in the case of Hillary Dobbs, "I believe she knew." The stable owner knew "that some people didn't have papers," Gomez said, and had even taken precautions to keep the workers away from the immigration agents who often patrol the areas around horse shows. Gomez said it was hard to believe that Dobbs's daughter, who was in close contact with these undocumented workers almost every weekend, could have been unaware of their status.
Hillary Dobbs did not respond to repeated attempts to contact her for comment.
"The Pay Is Bad" for Work in Dobbs's Gardens
Nor are stable workers the only undocumented immigrants who have worked on Dobbs's properties. Rodrigo Ortega, a native of Chiapas, Mexico, who has lived and worked in the United States for fourteen years, was busy tending the immaculate garden of a large luxury home under the blazing afternoon sun when I approached him. Though he had been working since 7 am, he agreed to talk once his ten-hour workday ended.
Speaking with The Nation in a Mexican restaurant where Univision blared in the background, Ortega, who had worked for a Florida company contracted by Dobbs to do garden maintenance on his West Palm Beach property, described himself as "an immigrant who doesn't have papers." Ortega said he had been responsible for "cutting the grass, cutting the trees, cleaning the garden—all the garden work" at Dobbs's house for more than three years.
Ortega, who was one of approximately fifteen Latin American employees of the company, recalled meeting Dobbs one day while he was working on his garden: "He told me, in Spanish, that his name was Luis." According to Ortega, the two had a brief interaction, during which Dobbs instructed him to tell his boss that a certain plant needed to be moved in the garden.
Ortega said his status was far from a secret. His employer "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers," he said, but this was "never a problem." Employees of the landscaping firm "never needed to have a good Social Security number" as a condition of work, he said.
Nor were they ever paid the overtime they are entitled to under federal labor laws, although they typically worked a fifty-hour week, plus a monthly shift on a Saturday.
In a telephone interview, Jorge Garcia, a 24-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who worked for seven years at the same landscaping company, said that he and his brother had also regularly worked on Dobbs's property. The two brothers worked two and a half to three hours each week for more than three years on the upkeep of the lawns, gardens and trees at Dobbs's house, Garcia said. He was hired to do that work even though, he said, "I don't have papers." Neither did his brother.
Originally from the town of Momostenango in Guatemala's department of Totonicapán, Jorge came to the United States looking for work seven years ago. His brother Miguel, now 27, followed him soon after. As Jorge explained, the two of them had family they needed to support back home, including Miguel's wife and three children.
But at his hourly wage of $9, Jorge said, he was "not able to save much money" after covering his rent and bills. Miguel was making only $8 an hour. "The pay is bad," Jorge said. "There are no benefits, there's no medical coverage—nothing." Yet the landscaping work was sometimes dangerous, he said, especially when workers were required to prune Dobbs's trees and taller bushes.
Jorge said that he'd come to America to earn better wages—"to live better." However, his experience working as a landscaper, on Dobbs's and other properties, was "the opposite" of that.
During one of Dobbs's many shows devoted to immigration, in April 2006, the host described $10 an hour as "a decent wage, not, in my opinion, an adequate wage, but a decent wage." He then turned to his viewers with a pointed question: "How much more would you be willing to pay each year for fruits and vegetables if it would improve working conditions and raise wages for farmworkers?"
At the time Dobbs said that, an undocumented Guatemalan worker laboring in his own yard, Miguel Garcia, was being paid only $8 an hour.
Responding to The Nation's request for comment from Lou Dobbs, Chad Wilkinson, producer of The Lou Dobbs Show, said by e-mail that "Lou will not be commenting for the piece." Dobbs's attorney, Robert Zeller, clarified by e-mail that Dobbs would only answer questions if posed on his live radio show. (The Nation agreed to appear on the show but only after publication of this article.)
I asked Mike Sedlak, the owner of Sedlak Landscaping, the contractor that maintains the grounds on Dobbs's West Palm Beach property, whether Dobbs has ever inquired about the status of his employees. Sedlak said only, "I don't feel comfortable talking about it," and quickly got off the phone.
I also asked Missy Clark, the owner of North Run Farm, the stable in Warren, Vermont, where the Dobbs Group horses are housed, whether Dobbs or his daughter had ever inquired about the immigration status of the workers caring for Hillary's horses. She said, "They're very well aware that the people taking care of the horses are 100 percent legal," and said she'd given the Dobbs family assurances to that effect. But she later described her difficulty obtaining work visas for many of her employees. "It was a big process and a total pain in the neck," she said. "I had been working on it for years."
According to Christine Biederman, a Dallas-based immigration lawyer hired by Clark to obtain visas for North Run's employees, a California law firm Clark had initially hired had failed to deliver on visas it promised its clients and had gone out of business. Biederman took over and finally filed the visa applications for Clark's workers in June 2009, including for workers caring for Dobbs Group horses. It took three months for these H-2B visa applications to be processed, Biederman said.
When asked whether the workers who look after Dobbs's horses had legal immigration status before then, Biederman declined to comment.
"Imprisoned in a Palace"
Immigration attorney Laurie Volk explained that immigrant workers in jobs designated "low-skilled" are caught in a bind because "there's a demand for their work, but there's no way for them to do it legally." "There's no visa categories—or there's limited visas—for unskilled labor," she said.
For undocumented workers who have been in the United States for more than a year without status, being apprehended by immigration authorities poses a risk of being deported and barred from re-entry for ten years. That risk was very real for many of the workers who labored on Dobbs's properties, since many of them were in the United States for several years without status. The risks of apprehension were particularly great for the stable workers, whose work caring for the Dobbs Group horses forced them to travel constantly—including to border areas closely monitored by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Salinas traveled back to see his three kids and wife in Mexico on four occasions, but to avoid being apprehended he had to travel by bus, an exceptionally long journey from Vermont. For his part, Gomez is so afraid he will not be able to return to the United States that he has not seen his mother and brothers at all since immigrating six years ago, at the age of 18.
To avoid the risk associated with driving while undocumented, most of the workers interviewed for this piece don't ever drive, which imposes upon their lives an extreme isolation, given that Dobbs's horses are stabled in rural Vermont. Workers relied on their manager to transport them once a week to buy groceries at a store a half-hour's drive away. As Gomez told me, "Here one can't leave." This arrangement left the stable workers feeling, as Esperanza put it, like they were "imprisoned in a palace."
Yet even such precautions as not driving and not traveling home are no guarantee of safety. On the morning of October 5, 2009, Miguel Garcia was arrested by undercover ICE agents while he was on his way to his work cleaning Miami office buildings. (After four years of landscaping at Dobbs's and other properties, he'd quit because of the low pay.) "He was waiting for the train—nothing more," his brother Jorge explained. "They brought him to the jail." After a week in immigration detention, Miguel was deported to Guatemala.
Dobbs has long championed such enforcement measures. Yet according to Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, a UCLA professor and author of a recent Center for American Progress report, "Raising the Floor for American Workers," these measures "only serve to push undocumented workers further under the table, lowering their wages and the wages of native workers as well."
Commenting on this scapegoating of undocumented workers, Hinojosa-Ojeda remarked, "The irony is that the biggest users of services of the undocumented are affluent white people." In the case of Lou Dobbs, who made his name and his fortune lambasting "illegals" and their employers, the irony is breathtaking.


At a time of extraordinary unemployment, BOXER, PELOSI, FEINSTEIN and their OBAMA simply can’t stop working for ILLEGALS!

All that staggeringly expensive “cheap” Mex labor helps keep their corporate paymasters happy, rich and generous! THAT AND OUR BAILOUTS!



Labor Secretary Pledges Help For Illegal Workers
Last Updated: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:00am
Two months after the Department of Labor launched a special program to assist and protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. the Obama cabinet official who heads the agency is personally encouraging undocumented workers to report employers that don’t pay them fairly.
In a Spanish-language public service announcement, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis assures that “every worker in America has a right to be paid fairly, whether documented or not.” Illegal aliens who are not getting fair wages are encouraged to call a new hotline set up by the agency on a new “Podemos Ayudar” (We Can Help) web page designed to administer worker protection laws and ensure that employees are properly paid “regardless of immigration status.”
In the short video, also posted in English, Solis tells illegal immigrants that it’s a “serious problem” when workers in this country are not paid fairly and that all workers have the right to receive their salary regardless of immigration status. She encourages those who are not to call the new hotline and assures it’s free and confidential. “Podemos ayudar,” (we can help), Solis guarantees at the end of the brief segment.
The Labor Secretary’s new message is part of a campaign launched a few months ago to help illegal immigrant workers in the U.S., who she refers to as “vulnerable” and “underpaid.” At least 1,000 new field investigators have been deployed to reach out to Latino laborers in areas with large numbers of illegal alien employees and the agency will focus on enforcing labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire lots of illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities.
For a government agency to protect law breakers in this fashion may seem unbelievable but not if you consider the source. A Former California congresswoman, Solis has close ties to the influential La Raza movement that advocates open borders and rights for illegal immigrants. She made the protection of undocumented workers a major priority upon being named Labor Secretary, assuring illegal aliens that “if you work in this country, you are protected by our laws.”
Why the new jobs go to immigrants
By David R. Francis
Wall Street cheered and stock prices rose when the US Labor Department announced last Friday that employers had expanded their payrolls by 262,000 positions in February.
But it wasn't entirely good news. The statisticians also indicated that the share of the adult population holding jobs had slipped slightly from January to 62.3 percent. That's now two full percentage points below the level in the brief recession that began in March 2001.
Why the apparent contradiction? Reasons abound: population growth, rising retirements. But one factor that gets little attention is immigration.
In the past four years, the number of immigrants into the US, legal and illegal, has closely matched the number of new jobs. That suggests newcomers have, in effect, snapped up all of the new jobs.
"There has been no net job gain for natives," says Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University.
In the US, President Bush calls for giving millions of illegal immigrants a kind of guest-worker status as a legal path to US citizenship. So far, no specific legislation to implement his suggestion has been put before Congress.
Meanwhile, US border patrols spend millions of dollars a year trying to keep illegals out. And yet, they keep coming, evidently little discouraged by recession or the 9/11 attacks. In the past four years alone, the number of immigrants ran some 2.5 million to 3 million, of which about half were illegal.
They come for jobs, of course. And the Bush administration makes barely any effort to enforce current law. In 2003, a total of 13 employers were fined for hiring undocumented employees.
In fact, neither Republicans nor Democrats have promoted enforcement of immigration law prohibiting the hiring of illegal immigrants, says Mr. Sum, head of Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies.
What employers really want in many cases by hiring immigrants is to hold down wage costs, experts say.


A report about the work lives of recent Mexican immigrants in seven cities across the United States suggests that they typically traded jobs in Mexico for the prospect of work here, despite serious bouts of unemployment, job instability and poor wages.
The report, released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, was based on surveys of nearly 5,000 Mexicans, most of them here illegally.
Those surveyed were seeking identity documents at Mexican consulates in New York, Atlanta and Raleigh, N.C., where recent arrivals have gravitated toward construction, hotel and restaurant jobs, and in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Fresno, Calif., where they have been more likely to work in agriculture and manufacturing.
Unlike the stereotype of jobless Mexicans heading north, most of the immigrants had been employed in Mexico, the report found.
Once in the United States, they soon found that their illegal status was no barrier to being hired here. And though the jobs they landed, typically with help from relatives, were often unstable and their median earnings only $300 a week, that was enough to keep drawing newcomers because wages here far exceeded those in Mexico.
"We're getting a peek at a segment of the U.S. labor force that is large, that is growing by illegal migration, and that is bringing an entirely new set of issues into the U.S. labor market," said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at the Pew Hispanic Center and author of the study.
The report suggested that policies intended to reduce migration pressures by improving the Mexican economy would have to look beyond employment to wages and perceptions of opportunity.
The survey found that the most recent to arrive were more likely to have worked in construction or commerce, rather than agriculture, in Mexico. Only 5 percent had been unemployed there; they were "drawn not from the fringes, but from the heart of Mexico's labor force," the report said.
After a difficult transition in their first six months in the United States about 15 percent of the respondents said they did not work during that time the rate of unemployment plummeted, to an average of 5 percent.
But in one of the most striking findings, 38 percent reported an unemployment spell lasting a month or more in the previous year, regardless of their location, legal status or length of time in the United States.
"These are workers with no safety net," Mr. Kochhar said. "The long run implication is a generation of workers without health or pension benefits, without any meaningful asset accumulation."
On the other hand, Mr. Kochhar and Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, said the flexibility of this work force was a boon to certain industries like home construction, an important part of the nation's economic growth since the last recession.
Among respondents to the survey, those who settled in Atlanta and Dallas were the best off, with 56 percent in each city receiving a weekly wage higher than the $300 a week median. The worst off were in Fresno, where more than half of the survey respondents worked in agriculture and 60 percent reported earning less than $300 a week. The lowest wages were reported by women, people who spoke little or no English, and those without identification.

To some scholars of immigration, the report underlines the lack of incentives for employers to turn to a guest worker program like the one proposed by President Bush because their needs are met cheaply by illegal workers and all without paperwork or long term commitment.
Guest workers might instead appeal to corporations like Wal Mart, the scholars said, where service jobs are now the target of union organizing drives.
"You can't plausibly argue that immigrant dominated sectors have a labor shortage," said Robert Courtney Smith, a sociologist and author of "Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants." Instead, he said, the report and evidence of falling wages among Mexican immigrants over time point to an oversupply of vulnerable workers competing with each other.
But Brendan Flanagan, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, which supports a guest worker program, disagreed. "In many places it is difficult to fill jobs with domestic workers," Mr. Flanagan said. "We've seen a simple lack of applicants, regardless of what wage is offered."
Although the survey, conducted from July 2004 to January 2005, was not random or weighted to represent all Mexican immigrants, it offers a close look at a usually elusive population.
Those surveyed were not questioned directly about their immigration status, but they were asked whether they had any photo identification issued by a government agency in the United States. Slightly more than half over all, and 75 percent in New York, said they did not.
The migration is part of a historic restructuring of the Mexican economy comparable to America's industrial revolution, said Kathleen Newland, director of the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization based in Washington.
The institute released its own report on Tuesday, arguing that border enforcement efforts have failed. Workplace enforcement, which has been neglected, would be a crucial part of making a guest worker program successful.
For now, Mexicans keep arriving illegally.
"It doesn't matter if it's winter," said Ricardo Cortes, 23, a construction worker waiting for a friend outside the Mexican consulate in New York on Tuesday. "People are still coming because there's no money over there."