Read Full Articles

New Phone App. to Help Immigrants Find Water in Desert Crossing

October 4, 2010 by  

CBS News reports: A group of California artists are developing a GPS-enabled cellphone to help dehydrated illegal migrants find water – and regale them with poetry – as they trek through harsh deserts into the United States.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool created by faculty at the University of California, San Diego, is part technology endeavor, part art project. It introduces a high-tech twist to an old debate about how far activists can go to prevent migrants from dying on the border with Mexico without breaking the law.

Immigration hardliners argue the activists are aiding illegal entry to the United States, a felony. Even migrants and their sympathizers question whether the device will make the treacherous journeys easier.

The designers – three visual artists on UCSD’s faculty and an English professor at the University of Michigan – are undeterred as they criticize a U.S. policy they say embraces illegal immigrants for cheap labour while letting them die crossing the border.

“It’s about giving water to somebody who’s dying in the desert of dehydration,” said Micha Cardenas, 32, a UCSD lecturer.

Migrants walk for days in extreme heat, often eating tuna and crackers handed out at migrant shelters in Mexico. On Arizona ranches, they sip desperately from bins used by cows when their water runs out.

Hundreds have perished each year since heightened U.S. border enforcement pushed migrants out of large cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas, in the 1990s. In response, migrant sympathizers put jugs or even barrels of water in the desert.

The designers want to load inexpensive phones with GPS software that takes signals from satellite, independent of phone networks. Pressing a menu button displays water stations, with the distance to each. A user selects one and follows an arrow on the screen.

Some worry the software could lead migrants to damaged or abandoned water stations. Others wonder if it would lull them into a false sense of security or alert the Border Patrol and anti-illegal immigration activists to their whereabouts.

John Hunter, who has planted water barrels in California’s scorching Imperial Valley since the late 1990s, says vandals destroy about 40 of his 150 stations every year.

“My concern is for people who arrive and find (the water) doesn’t exist,” he says.

“If it tells you where to find water, it’s good,” he said at a Tijuana, Mexico, migrant shelter.

The phone designers say they are addressing the concerns, with an eye toward having the phone ready by midsummer.

“We don’t want to create a safety tool that actually puts people in more danger,” Stalbaum says.

U.S. authorities are unfazed. The Border Patrol has begun a $6.7-billion plan to drape the border with whiz-bang cameras, sensors and other technology.

“It’s nothing new,” said Border Patrol spokesman Mark Endicott. “We’ve seen handheld GPS devices used by smugglers. … We’re just going to have to learn to adapt to any challenges.”

To read uncut article click here.

The Hispanic Paradox: U.S. Hispanics Live Longer, Despite Socio-Economic Hurdles

July 10, 2009 by  

When it comes to Hispanics and health care, the horror stories are well known. Less so is the mysterious phenomenon known as the “Hispanic Paradox.”

Again and again, we hear that the Hispanic population is disproportionately beset by the bugbears of poverty, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and lack of access to quality health coverage and insurance.

These unfortunate facts are indisputable. But what many people don’t realize is that, when it comes to the bottom line — that is, mortality — the news for Hispanics is good. Very good.

In the United States, Hispanics, despite their socio-economic hurdles, on average live longer than blacks by seven years, and whites by five years, says Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of medicine at UCLA.

“There’s something about being Latino that is good for their health,” Hayes-Bautista told HispanicBusiness.com, adding wryly: “Just think if we had access to health care.”

Widely known as the “Hispanic Paradox,” the phenomenon was discovered and coined by researchers decades ago.

Now, Hayes-Bautista is on the front lines trying to figure out why this is so.

“There’s something going on here,” he said. “Is it diet, is it family, is it spiritual, is it the Latino mind-body balance? I don’t know.”

In 2007, the Public Policy Institute of California found that the average lifespan of a Hispanic man in that state is 77.5 years, compared to 75.5 among white males and 68.6 among black males. The lifespan of Hispanic men was topped only by Asian men, whose average lifespan came in at 80.4.

In 2008, the National Center for Health Statistics released a study showing that the overall mortality rate for Hispanics in 2006 was 550 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 778 for whites, and 1,001 for blacks.

Hayes-Bautista said that Hispanics in the United States are 35 percent less likely than whites to die of heart disease, and 40 percent less likely to develop cancer.

Immigration plays a factor, he said, albeit a small one.

Immigrants, he said, are far less likely than U.S. born Hispanics to smoke, drink, do drugs and contract sexually transmitted diseases. Similarly, he said, U.S.-born Hispanics with high levels of education also tend to avoid these high-risk behaviors and their consequences.

This might lead one to ask whether this means that Mexicans live healthier than Americans. Not so, according to the CIA World Factbook of 2008.

On that index, the life expectancy of Americans in 2008 reached 78 (a national record). For Mexicans, it was about 76.

However, Hayes-Bautista said the lifestyle in rural Mexico is much healthier than that of urban Mexico. What’s more, he says, the bulk of Hispanic immigrants in America hail from the rural pockets of Mexico.

Elena Rios, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said overall, the immigrant Hispanics are younger, and abide by healthier habits, than U.S. born Hispanics.

“With the immigrants, the first generation has healthier habits: less driving, less smoking, less fast foods, more walking,” she told HispanicBusiness.com. “As the second-generation Hispanic families happen, they pick up the Western — the American — lifestyle.”

As a result, Rios said she wants any healthcare reform package to include an educational component urging Hispanics to get back to their basics, such as traditional foods.

“It is important to have more prevention and education when they are younger, before they get into bad habits,” she said.

To read the full article click here.

Author: Rob Kuznia

Source: HispanicBusiness.com

Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority

April 16, 2009 by  

While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as “policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,” said the official, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.

“He intends to start the debate this year,” Ms. Muñoz said.

But with the economy seriously ailing, advocates on different sides of the debate said that immigration could become a polarizing issue for Mr. Obama in a year when he has many other major battles to fight.

Debate is still under way among administration officials about the precise timing and strategy. For example, it is unclear who will take up the Obama initiative in Congress.

The White House is calculating that public support for fixing the immigration system, which is widely acknowledged to be broken, will outweigh opposition from voters who argue that immigrants take jobs from Americans. A groundswell among voters opposed to legal status for illegal immigrants led to the defeat in 2007 of a bipartisan immigration bill that was strongly supported by President George W. Bush.

Administration officials said that Mr. Obama’s plan would not add new workers to the American work force, but that it would recognize millions of illegal immigrants who have already been working here. Despite the deep recession, there is no evidence of any wholesale exodus of illegal immigrant workers, independent studies of census data show.

In broad outlines, officials said, the Obama administration favors legislation that would bring illegal immigrants into the legal system by recognizing that they violated the law, and imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. The legislation would seek to prevent future illegal immigration by strengthening border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, while creating a national system for verifying the legal immigration status of new workers.

But administration officials emphasized that many details remained to be debated.

Anticipating opposition, Mr. Obama has sought to shift some of the political burden to advocates for immigrants, by encouraging them to build support among voters for when his proposal goes to Congress.

That is why Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, a Democrat from Mr. Obama’s hometown, Chicago, has been on the road most weekends since last December, traveling far outside his district to meetings in Hispanic churches, hoping to generate something like a civil rights movement in favor of broad immigration legislation.

Mr. Gutierrez was in Philadelphia on Saturday at the Iglesia Internacional, a big Hispanic evangelical church in a former warehouse, the 17th meeting in a tour that has included cities as far flung as Providence, R.I.; Atlanta; Miami; and San Francisco. Greeted with cheers and amens by a full house of about 350 people, Mr. Gutierrez, shifting fluidly between Spanish and English, called for immigration policies to preserve family unity, the strategic theme of his campaign.

Mr. Gutierrez’s meetings have all been held in churches, both evangelical and Roman Catholic, with clergy members from various denominations, including in several places Muslims. At one meeting in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, officiated.

In an interview, Mr. Gutierrez rejected the idea that the timing is bad for an immigration debate. “There is never a wrong time for us,” he said. “Families are being divided and destroyed, and they need help now.”

Author: Julia Preston

Source: NY Times

Jailed Without Justice- a report by Amnesty International

April 2, 2009 by  

Amnesty International has found that the dramatic increase in the use of detention as an immigration enforcement mechanism in the USA results in a number of human rights violations. More than 300,000 men, women and children are detained by US immigration authorities each year. International human rights standards require that detention should only be used in exceptional circumstances, must be justified in each individual case and must be subject to judicial review. However, in the USA immigrants can be detained for months or years without any form of meaningful individualized judicial review of their detention. Alternatives to detention including reporting requirements or a bond should always be considered before resorting to detention. 

The conditions under which immigrants are held violate both US and international standards on the treatment of detainees. Amnesty International documented pervasive problems including comingling of immigration detainees with individuals convicted of criminal offenses; inappropriate and excessive use of restraints; inadequate access to healthcare including mental health services; and inadequate access to exercise. Many individuals have limited or no access to family and to legal or other assistance throughout their detention.

Key findings of Amnesty International’s report on immigration detention include:

  • The US detains asylum seekers, survivors of torture and human trafficking, lawful permanent residents and the parents of U.S. citizen children.
  • While the average cost of detaining an immigrant is $95 per person/per day, alternatives to detention are significantly cheaper, with some programs costing as little as $12 per day. Despite the proven effectiveness of these less expensive and less restrictive alternatives, the government is choosing to detain instead.
  • Immigrants can be detained for months or years without any form of meaningful individualized review of whether their detention is necessary.
  • The vast majority of people in immigration detention – 84 percent – are unable to obtain the legal assistance necessary to present viable claims in an adversarial and complex court process.
  • The US contracts with approximately 350 state and county criminal jails to house approximately 67% of all immigrants in detention.
  • Detention facilities are required to comply with ICE detention standards, however, these standards are not legally binding, and oversight and accountability for abuse or neglect in detention is almost nonexistent, leading to practices in violation of international standards. Immigrants are often put in excessive restraints, including handcuffs, belly chains and leg restraints.
  • Individuals in detention find it very difficult to get timely – and at times any – treatment for their medical needs. 74 people have died while in immigration detention over the past five years.

to read entire report visit: amnestyusa.org

The Right to Stay Home

March 9, 2009 by  

Global Exchange has released a new book online entitled, The Right to Stay Home: Alternatives to Mass Displacement and Forced Migration into North America.  The report is written by economists, anthropologists, law professors, journalists, and leaders of social organizations from the United States and Mexico.  The aim of their analysis, ideas, and proposals is to stir conversation about the forces driving Mexican migration north of the border among the public, advocates, policy makers, opinion leaders and journalists.  As immigration reform moves again to the center of public debate.   

The  analysis, on-the-ground reporting, photographs, and proposals in The Right to Stay Home take a look at NAFTA, equality and human rights, and international policy change that is friendly to workers and small farmers. 

Some of the articles include: “Against the Current: Looking for Alternatives to Migration in the Mexican Countryside,” by John Gibler and “Reinventing the Traditions of the Lower Triqui Region,” by Maria Dolores Paris; which argue that durable and just immigration reform must include a commitment to help stabilize Mexico’s most vulnerable immigrant sending communities.

To read the book online or to find out how to order it click here.

Page 2 of 3123