Real progressives have a hard time these days because we must support labor and justice and that means we protect the unemployed American workers and the immigrant workers. Believe it or not both can and will be done by REAL progressives. Today I want to address what is a divide on the issue of Immigration policy -----the status and Rule of Law of immigrant vs illegal alien. My friend David calls me on this all the time.
If you do not see the chaos and instability occurring in Latin America as fitting this Displaced Persons Act-----and see our Hispanic and Latino refugees as immigrants and not illegal aliens----then you will soon feel how injustice for one becomes injustice for all!
1948 Displaced Persons Act
(An act to authorize for a limited period of time the admission into the United States of certain European displaced pe...rsons for permanent residence, and for other purposes)
S. 224; Pub.L. 80-774; 62 Stat. 1009.
80th Congress; June 25, 1948.
You can find the full text of this law here and here or download the PDF.
This act helped those individuals who were victims of persecution by the Nazi government or who were fleeing persecution, and someone who could not go back to their country because of fear of persecution based on race, religion or political opinions. This act dealt directly with Germany, Austria, and Italy, the French sector of either Berlin or Vienna or the American or British Zone and a native of Czechoslovakia. These individuals were granted permanent residency and employment without making someone give up their current job. The displaced person could bring their family with them as long as they were “good” citizens who could stay out of jail and provide financially for themselves without public assistance. The spouse and children under twenty one is eligible for permanent residency. A child who was under the age of sixteen who became an orphan because their parents either went missing or died would also be cared for by the U.S. Two thousand visas were to be granted for those who qualified as a displaced person. If someone was in the U.S. prior to April 1, 1948 they could apply to the Attorney General to overlook their status to possibly become a permanent resident.
We have a flood of African immigrants coming to the shores of Italy to escape the wars in Northern Africa. No work, no food-----they are refugees. We have off and on a flood of immigrants from Caribbean Islands when despots become brutal and warring against their people. These are Haitian or Dominican refugees and immigrants. The Palestinians for decades have become refugees and immigrants around the world due to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. In all those cases these refugees for the most part are allowed to enter -----often allowed to disperse and integrate throughout the Middle-East---throughout Europe---throughout the US.
The numbers of Hispanics fleeing the same conditions as above and coming to the US is greater and that is what creates this concern as to whether we should categorize them as refugees from what we all know is US-led interventions in South and Central America and Mexico meant to destabilize those nations so the US can control them. It is clear as well the US destabilizes just so these Latino/Hispanic citizens will have to come to the US to be safe and find work and they do that to exploit these citizens as cheap labor. Now, do we call people who meet the definition of refugee ----illegal aliens----that is the dilemma for REAL progressives. It is the numbers of refugees that make Hispanics fall in a different category---and it is because Americans vote for these globalists---neo-cons and neo-liberals bent on creating instability for their own gain that we have this problem.
IF PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE US WOULD LOOK AT THE INSTABILITY AND VIOLENCE IN CITIES CREATED BY THESE SAME PEOPLE FOR THE SAME REASONS----YOU WOULD SEE THESE LATINO/HISPANICS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM---
The instability caused by gangs of color----fighting for resources is the same thing as described above for the world's refugees and it is done for the same reasons----to keep people from organizing and gaining power.
June 27, 2014
Destabiliziation in Latin America
by Matt Peppe
News from the AP about the U.S. government’s secret project to create a Cuban Twitter or “ZunZuneo,” to be used for disseminating propaganda and fomenting unrest in Cuba, spurring young people in that country to overthrow their government, comes as no surprise to anyone with even the most cursory understanding of U.S. policy in Cuba and Latin America in general. It is but a tiny part of a 55-year-old, completely unprovoked, genocidal policy against a nation whose only offense is failing to subordinate itself to the will of the U.S. government.
ZunZuneo was initiated and run by the ostensibly “humanitarian” U.S. Agency for International Development through a series of shell corporations which were not supposed to be traced back to the government. The project is typical of the type of subversion and interference with another nation that the U.S. government has always felt entitled to undertake, regardless of the principles of sovereignty and self-determination fundamental to international law.
Due to Cuba’s successful revolution in 1959 and their ongoing ability to resist U.S. subversion of their socioeconomic system, U.S. actions against the tiny nation in the Carribean have been harsher than any other victim who fails to recognize the U.S. as its rightful master. Early destabilization efforts included a vicious campaign of terrorism against Cuba, part of a massive CIA effort that later evolved into a policy of providing safe haven to terrorist exile groups and looking the other way as they violate the U.S. Neutrality Act and international law.
The largest act of subversion is, of course, the blockade, euphemistically known in the U.S. as an “embargo.” The U.S. blockade against Cuba has now lasted more than a half century as a punishment for Cuba achieving self-determination. The blockade is an act of warfare, as it is based on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 (TWEA), which is only applicable during times of war. The blockade has been expanded and strengthened over the years with various violations of international law such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Torricelli Act. The policy of the U.S. blockade has been found to be an illegal violation of international law for 22 straight years by 99% of the world’s nations, who have demanded its end.
The attempted subversion of a country’s political system is not unique to U.S. actions against Cuba, nor is it unique to USAID. Other U.S. government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), have long carried out similar actions. Such organizations purport to be apolitical groups for “democratic” promotion but are in reality nothing more than fronts, essentially political action committees (PACs). Due to the concealment of their purpose, they are more like political slush funds used to advanced the perceived interest of the United States.
Of course, they are not used to promote American “values” or “humanitarian principles” with abstract names like “freedom” and “democracy”, but the interests of the corporate sector eager to seek new investment opportunities outside their own country and control over the resources that they refuse to recognize as the property of local populations.
For example, over the last 15 years in Venezuela the U.S. spent $90 million funding opposition groups, including $5 million in the current federal budget. During this time, since Hugo Chavez first assumed office, his revolutionary party has won 18 elections and lost only 1. The margins of victory during Chavez’s tenure reached higher than 20%. After his death, his hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro won by a margin of 1.6% in 2012. This is a very narrow margin, to be sure, but as Dan Kovalik points out it is a margin of victory larger than JFK’s victory over Richard Nixon and certainly larger than George Bush’s victory over Al Gore. Bush actually lost the popular vote but was declared the winner by the Supreme Court in an instance of political mettling that would be hard to imagine in any other democracy in the world.
Despite the success of the Chavista party, the opposition, aided and abetted by the U.S. government, has tried to portray the elections as “questionable” or “illegitimate”. Secretary of State John Kerry led the way by calling for a recount, encouraging the opposition to challenge the results of the election and refuse to concede.
“Washington’s efforts to de-legitimise the election mark a significant escalation of US efforts at regime change in Venezuela,” wrote Mark Weisbrot. “Not since its involvement in the 2002 military coup has the US government done this much to promote open conflict in Venezuela… It amounted to telling the government of Venezuela what was necessary to make their elections legitimate.”
In fact, international organizations monitoring the Venezuelan Presidential vote attested to the “fair and transparent” election process and former President Jimmy Carter called the country’s electoral system “the best in the world.”
The U.S. government has also refused to recognize the vast advances social progress made under the current government. Under Chavez, the country drastically reduced poverty, especially extreme poverty, with the latter falling from 23.4% in 1999 to 8.5% in 2011. As the government has put its massive revenues from oil sales to use to provide universal education and health care for all Venezuela’s citizens, people traditionally shut out of the country’s economic gains have benefited tremendously. Venezuela has gone from one of the highest rates of income inequality in Latin America to the lowest, a truly Herculean accomplishment.
Yet this does not even factor into the U.S.’s policy toward Venezuela. As a cable published by Wikileaks from 2006 demonstrates, the U.S. policy of destabilization and regime change against Hugo Chavez was pursued until his death. Now, with the perceived weakness of Maduro and the propaganda value of violent street protests portrayed in the international media as a “student movement”, it seems that Kerry is like a shark who smells blood in the water when he slanderously proclaims a “terror campaign” and foments further unrest.
U.S. government officials must feel frustrated at their inability to project their will for Venezuela to be subservient to the United States. After all, it has proved much easier in countries such as Honduras to oust a democratically elected President as happened with Manuel Zelaya.
“Zelaya was initiating such dangerous measures as a rise in minimum wage in a country where 60 percent live in poverty. He had to go,” wrote Noam Chomsky, who goes on to note that the U.S. virtually alone in the world in recognizing the “elections” later held under military rule of Pepe Lobo. “The endorsement also preserved the use of Honduras’ Palmerola air base, increasingly valuable as the U.S. military is being driven out of most of Latin America.”
Unsurprisingly, four years after the coup a Center for Economic and Policy Research report finds that “much of the economic and social progress experienced from 2006 – 2009 has been reversed in the years since,” with “economic inequality in Honduras” rising “dramatically.”
The next success of Obama’s administration in Latin America was the coup in Paraguay, in which the right-wing, elite opposition was able to drive democratically-elected Fernando Lugo from the Presidency and thus stop his program of promoting land rights for a long-oppressed peasant population.
“The United States promotes the interests of the wealthy of these mostly-poor countries, and in turn, these elite-run countries are obedient to the pro-corporate foreign policy of the United States,” writes Shamus Cooke.
There was also the coup last year against the progressive former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Gustavo Petro. His supposed abuse of power was de-privatizing garbage collection in the capital city, which allegedly harmed the “freedom of free enterprise.” The anti-democratic actions in Colombia, a beneficiary of an enormous amount of U.S. aid, have not affected the U.S. policy toward the nation. Kovalik notes that the actions taken against Petro are part of a much larger pattern.
“While the press, as well as the U.S. government, will not acknowledge it, the elimination of progressive political leaders by coup d’ état is taking place in Latin America with increasing frequency,” Kovalik writes.
Of course this is part of long-standing U.S. policy that has destroyed democracies in countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and many other nations since the end of WWII alone. The anti-democratic measures enabled and supported by the U.S. have taken decades to recover from, if the nations victimized have been able to recover at all.
Media reporting of the story has tended to downplay or apologize for the Cuban Twitter program by stressing the U.S. government denials that it was meant to overthrow the government, or it was beneficial in allowing Cubans to communicate with each other.
Not surprisingly, Cubans themselves do not see it this way. They understandably do not appreciate an underhanded attempt to collect their personal data or to use them as pawns in a political game.
This should be a reasonable position for any American to understand. Would you support China or Russia setting up a social network meant to overthrow your government to impose one more to their liking? Certainly not. The plot in the fictitious House of Cards of infiltration of the U.S. political process by foreign money probably seems shocking to the average American. In this country, it is a crime for foreign countries or nationals to influence democracy and domestic affairs through political contributions.In reality, this is exactly what the U.S. government has carried out in foreign countries for decades. ZunZuneo is demonstrable proof they continue to do so to this day. ZunZuneo is not just a case of USAID and the U.S. government getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar. It is part of an ongoing assault against sovereignty and self-determination of any country who opposes U.S. foreign policy. People of these countries are just as smart, capable, and deserving of a government independent of outside interference as U.S. citizens are.By simply recognizing that their government has no business in determining another country’s political affairs, and demanding that their government stop spending their tax dollars to do so, U.S. citizens could do more to advance democracy and the ideals their country claims to stand for than the U.S. government has ever done.
You know you do not have Democrats in control of the Democratic Party when no one shouts that the Clintons are the face of all this misery in both Latin America and in the US cities. THAT IS WHAT GLOBALISTS DO----INSTILL MISERY TO GAIN POWER AND WEALTH. That is what makes neo-liberals Republicans because Republicans are that party of corporate power and wealth.
Bush's policies in Columbia, South America under the guise of War on Drugs was the same as the Bush invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan----Bush wanted to disperse the drug cartels throughout Latin America just as he wanted to disperse the Taliban and Al Queda throughout the Muslim world----to create instability and a reason for the US to send in operatives. THAT IS THE FOREIGN POLICY OF GLOBALISTS IN A NUTSHELL. Now Obama is using asymmetric warfare on Al-Queda in all Muslim nations causing all kinds of instability. The Columbia drug cartels moved from that one nation to all over South and Central America giving the US a reason to send operatives and creating decades of instability-----THAT IS GLOBALIST STRATEGY.
Then Republicans moved to take control of the Democratic Party in the US and sent Clinton in as a posing progressive and the first thing Clinton did----NAFTA, deregulation, and global markets that placed Bush's globalism on steroids. It is NAFTA that killed Mexico's economy and impoverished Mexican citizens and Clinton's mid-west BIG AG that killed small farmers----Mexico's major agrarian system that fed and kept Mexico stable. They did that to destabilize Mexico in order to move immigrants into the US to work cheap. This is why we had the flood these few decades.
Lastly, this flood of immigrants created much of the instability in employment in the US cities at the same time Clinton and Republicans attacked US social programs sending people of color in cities into desperation and crime and violence.
THESE ARE ALL POLITICAL STRATEGIES AND BUSH NEO-CONS AND CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS ARE DOING IN THE US TODAY WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING OVERSEAS FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY. THEY ARE BRINGING IT HOME TO DESTABILIZE THE US AND AMERICAN PEOPLE.
‘Flee or die’: violence drives Central America’s child migrants to US border
Obama heads to Texas as the mirage of an open door on the southern border triggers a political storm in Washington A group of immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the US-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP Jo Tuckman in San Pedro Sula
Wednesday 9 July 2014 11.28 EDT Last modified on Saturday 4 October 2014 10.15 EDT
Two weeks ago, Karla arrived at the Texas border with her two very young children, her mother, and three siblings under the age of 15. It had taken the family a month to make the 1,500 mile journey from their home in northern Honduras, travelling by bus through Guatemala and Mexico. They had sold everything they owned to pay a network of people smugglers who bribed the way clear through checkpoints along the route.
Karla headed north, partly because she had heard the US had begun allowing children to enter legally. This is what the smugglers were saying, and the family knew others who had safely made it across the frontier.
But the main motive for the journey was fear: Karla wanted to get beyond the reach of her father and his contacts in the street gangs that have turned Honduras into the country with the highest murder rate in the world.
A Mexican child joins immigration reform protesters at a rally earlier this week in Washington condemning the president's response to the crisis. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images Karla says her father was seeking revenge after he was convicted of raping her as a child and sent to prison. He had already hired a gunman to kill her older brother who fled illegally to the US.
When the gruelling journey eventually brought them to the banks of the Rio Bravo, Karla thought the family’s nightmare was finally over. But after putting themselves in the care of a US customs agent, a new one began.
Instead of being taken to a detention centre in Texas for processing, they were sent straight back to Mexican immigration control to be sent home.
“They didn’t even let us speak,” said Karla, who is now staying at a spartan facility in San Pedro Sula, the coastal city that is receiving floods of migrants deported from Mexico. “We are back where we started and I don’t know what to do. We haven’t got a dollar between us.”
The mirage of an open door on the southern US border has triggered a political storm in Washington – and helped fuel an unprecedented humanitarian crisis on America’s doorstep.
Republicans have seized on the issue, accusing the Obama administration of overseeing a systemic failure of immigration policy and demanding tougher action against illegal immigrants. Efforts to pursue wider immigration reforms in Congress recently collapsed and the crisis may come to a head on Wednesday when Obama visits Texas on a pre-scheduled trip. Although he will not visit the border for fear of further stoking the political flames, the president has agreed to invite state governor Rick Perry, one of his chief Republican critics on the issue, to a meeting with local politicians and humanitarian charities in Dallas.
Anti-immigration activists protest outside the US border patrol station in California earlier this week. Photograph: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images Earlier this week, the White House announced plans to introduce fast track deportations and $116m to pay for the cost of transporting unaccompanied children back home, but activists in Central America say that the political debate in the US is missing the point.
“All the talk is about the children in the US, but they are relatively well off,” said Sister Lidia Mara Silva de Souza, a nun from the Scalabrini order that has worked with deportees from the US for decades. “The ones who are the most vulnerable are the ones who are returned to the situations they are running from.”
The vast majority of the child migrants come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – all struggling with levels of violence tantamount to an undeclared regional war. Honduras has a murder rate of around 90 per 100,000 inhabitants. The rate in Mexico hovers around 20. In the US it is under five.
Heavily armed street gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha and Calle 18 impose a reign of terror on entire neighbourhoods across the region, which is also a key route for Mexican and Colombian cartels shipping narcotics north.
Drug-fuelled corruption, political instability, and – in the case of Honduras, a rightwing coup – have all contributed to a situation of institutional collapse. As their states fall apart around them, many Central Americans feel that justice and security can only be found elsewhere. .
“For many people the choice is to flee or to die,” says Carlos Paz, director of the San Pedro Sula office of the church organisation Cáritas.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest A pair of discarded jeans begins to blend with the sand on the shore of the Rio Grande at a site where immigrants cross the US-Mexico border illegally in Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP The US political row over child migrants caught fire in early June when leaked photographs showed children crushed together in a Texas holding facility while they awaited processing. Soon after, the government released figures showing that more than 52,000 unaccompanied children had reached the southern border between October 2013 and mid-June – more than double the number for the entire previous fiscal year.
These children cannot be legally deported without first going through the courts because of 2008 legislation designed to prevent child-trafficking.That law was signed by George W Bush, but Republicans blame the recent surge on the practice of placing minors with relatives in the US pending deportation hearings – a process that usually takes more than a year.
The Obama administration says the wave of migration has been triggered by people smugglers who spread rumours that children were being given legal permits to stay in the US.
But perversely, the phenomenon has also been fed by tighter border controls: unable to return home to visit children they left behind, Central Americans already living illegally in the US pay smugglers around $5,000 to bring their sons and daughters across the frontier.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest A migrant sleeps on a bunk bed inside a Catholic migrant shelter in San Luis Potosi. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters Taxi driver Roberto Cerrato said his 11-year-old granddaughter was now safely in the care of her mother,after being sent to join her 10 years after she headed north. “My granddaughter was the apple of my eye,” he said. “I cried for a month after she left, but it is the best thing. Honduras is not a place for children.”
The migrants include many teenagers travelling alone: some looking for their parents, some seeking work, and others trying to escape the violence. A good few are doing all three.
Carlos, 14, set out last month, hoping to join his mother who had fled to Houston after her employer was killed by gang members. The woman had secretly been selling drugs on gang territory, and Carlos’s mother had heard she was next. Carlos spent nearly a year living with relatives before heading north, but only got as far as southern Mexico. “Maybe I will never see her again now,” he said, wandering aimlessly around the city centre waiting for an elder brother to pick him up.
San Pedro Sula is the most violent city in the world, with a murder rate of around 180 per 100,000. Surviving here begins with knowing the invisible lines that mark the boundaries of rival gang territories, and respecting the de facto curfew that falls at sunset. It is also important to see, hear and say as little as possible. Most residents who agree to speak to a journalist do so anonymously.
There is no choice, they say, but to accept the “war taxes” the gangs extort from businesses, or the “protection taxes” they levy on family homes. If there is a murder, it is better not to go to the funeral. Church organisations and some NGOs do have a presence, but some will admit they have to obtain permission from the gangs and stay away from controversial topics.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Savadoran Andri Yovani (right), 2, and Honduran Kendri Hernandez, 3, play by a window inside a Catholic migrant shelter in San Luis Potosi. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters Earlier this month the Honduras government claimed the murder rate had fallen by 17% in the first three months of this year, but the announcement was met with scepticism. Two workers at the San Pedro Sula morgue, interviewed separately, said the number of bodies they receive is significantly higher today than it was a year ago.
Stories are also piling up of young children forced to work as lookouts, messengers or spies for the gangs. Eight children, between the ages of 7 and 13, were kidnapped and killed in La Pardera barrio during May. Word on the street is that they were killed for refusing to join the dominant local gang.
“In this job you become hardened to seeing death,” says one of the morgue workers who recovered some of the bodies, and asks his name not be published. “But to have to recover a child who has been cut to pieces and burned. That was just too much.”
US politicians have called on Central American parents not to expose their children to the many dangers facing migrants on the journey through Mexico, mentioning only in passing the desperate situation they are leaving behind.
“Tens of thousands of young children are being exploited and are being put at great danger,” secretary of state, John Kerry, said last month at a meeting of Central American leaders in Guatemala. “The lives of children cannot be put at risk in this way.”
The threats are real, and activists are receiving increasing reports of kidnapped and missing children in Mexico. But dozens of interviews in Honduras showed that most Central Americans are fully aware of the danger – yet many still feel that they have no choice but risk the journey north.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Salvadoran Yesenia Elizabeth Orellana, 40, who is pregnant, holds hands with her daughter Valentina, 3, as her friend Mirna Laines, also pregnant, looks on. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters The gravity of the situation was reflected on Wednesday, when the UN high commission for refugees called for Central American migrants to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. “The US and Mexico should recognise that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries but rather, receive international protection,” the agency said.
Many in Honduras believe the Mexican government is stepping up its pursuit of migrants in deference to growing US pressure. During congressional hearings on the crisis in June, the House homeland security committee chairman, Michael McCaul, berated Mexico for not doing more to stem the tide of children. “If we can close the southern border of Mexico, that stops 99% of our problem,” he said.
The Mexican government is unlikely to admit publicly to doing the US bidding, but the number of deportations has risen dramatically. The children’s reception centre in San Pedro Sula received 4,001 child deportees during 2013, compared to 5,767 in the first six months of this year.
Several times a week, a convoy of buses brings the latest group of migrants turned back from Mexico: earlier this year the convoys had four buses and arrived twice a week. Now there are three convoys a week, each with seven busloads – many of them including entire family groups.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Members of the Salvadoran national police detain two men during an anti-gang raid in San Salvador. Photograph: Esteban Felix/AP The deputy secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told a press briefing last month that 39,000 adults with children were detained at the border between October and the end of May. Most of the deported families in the San Pedro Sula centre included more than one child; many had three, of whom a good number were still in nappies.
Edin, a harried-looking woman in a tiger print T-shirt, had two small children in tow as she waited nervously for the latest convoy, on which her husband and baby son were being returned. The plan had been for him to get to the US, save enough money for a people smuggler, and then send for the rest of the family.
Edin said they started to consider leaving Honduras after her husband, a milkman, was threatened by a gang for refusing to pay their “war tax”. Soon after, the couple witnessed the murder of a local evangelical pastor and decided to flee.
When the bus finally arrived, Edin interrupted her story to cuddle her baby, hug her husband, and allow herself to cry a little. The moment of relief was brief. “We are staying with my sister, but I am frightened we are putting her in danger as well,” she said.
Another returnee, Martha, 22, said the experience of a few weeks in a Mexican holding centre with her three much younger siblings was not something she wanted to relive. “They treated us like dogs and the little ones were getting very upset at being cooped up,” she said, adding that she decided against applying for asylum in Mexico after officials told her it would mean another six months in detention.
But while she was happy to have regained her freedom, she was nervous about what to do with it.
Her family, from the mountainous state of Olancho, had for eight years depended on remittances sent by their mother, who was working illegally in Houston. Their problems began, she said, when she refused the advances of a local drug trafficker. Soon after, the family home was sprayed with bullets, and the whole family fled to the capital, Tegucigalpa. When the dealer tracked her down once again, she led her siblings north in the hopes of joining their mother. They got to Chiapas before being detained by Mexican officials.
Back in Honduras, Martha wanted to call her mother to discuss what to do next, but she said a Mexican guard had stolen her phone. “The only thing I can think of doing is to try again.”
So, in comes Obama just as he is doing overseas in the Muslim nations with asymmetric warfare and drones-----only now the excuse of instability in Latin America has Obama moving in with militarization. Obama super-sized the problem with instability----globalization and too-large global corporations----but the solution is to protect against Latino refugees by military force. Texas and Bush were the biggest exploiters of those refugee Latinos as was BIG AG in the mid-west----Clinton territory.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM FOLKS----AMERICA MOVING FROM A DOMESTIC ECONOMY THRIVING AND FUELED BY WELL PAID WORKERS TO GLOBAL MARKETS AND MONOPOLY CORPORATIONS THAT ARE ROGUE THUGS.
Republican voters are the ones that hate the results of globalization the most----all of that aid sent as overseas development and defense----all of those refugees from destabilized nations-----yet they keep voting for a strong US and global markets. Clinton neo-liberals have spent a few decades indoctrinating Democratic youth especially in cities with this same propaganda.
GET RID OF THE NEO-CONS AND NEO-LIBERALS IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO LIVE IN THEIR OWN NATIONS.
It is no accident that Republican states in the south are heavy into military and Clinton neo-liberal cities are getting city citizens heavy into global markets----IT IS DELIBERATE. The people hurt most by policies are tied to employment so they feel they must support them. Think about the Gulf oil spill and how Gulf citizens had to say OH WELL as the oil industry has been made the only employment. Then think how cities like Baltimore with its FOXCONN Johns Hopkins controlling all employment does the same thing in the drive for global markets. IT IS DELIBERATE FOLKS.
The U.S. Re-militarization of Central America and Mexico
The Obama administration has expanded its financing of Mexican and Central American military forces—many of whom committed the mass killing and torture of political opponents and indigenous communities only two decades prior.
Honduran paratroopers with U.S. Special Forces soldiers during a “static line jump” (UNASOC News Service / Creative Commons) During his brief visit to Costa Rica in May 2013, President Obama appeared eager to downplay the U.S. regional security agenda, emphasizing instead trade relations, energy cooperation, and youth programs. “So much of the focus ends up being on security,” he complained during a joint press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Laura Chinchilla. “But we also have to recognize that problems like narco-trafficking arise in part when a country is vulnerable because of poverty, because of institutions that are not working for the people, because young people don’t see a brighter future ahead.” Asked by a journalist about the potential use of U.S. warships to counter drug-trafficking, Obama was adamant: “I’m not interested in militarizing the struggle against drug trafficking.”
Human rights organizations from Central America, Mexico, and the United States see the administration’s regional security policy very differently. In a letter sent to Obama and the region’s other presidents last year, over 145 civil society organizations called out U.S. policies that “promote militarization to address organized crime.” These policies, the letter states, have only resulted in a “dramatic surge in violent crime, often reportedly perpetrated by security forces themselves. Human rights abuses against our families and communities are, in many cases, directly attributable to failed and counterproductive security policies that have militarized our societies in the name of the ‘war on drugs.’”
The latest round in the ramping up of U.S. security assistance to Mexico and Central America began during President George W. Bush’s second term in office. Funding allocated to the region’s police and military forces climbed steadily upward to levels unseen since the U.S.-backed “dirty wars” of the 1980s. As narco-trafficking operations shifted increasingly from the Caribbean to the Central American corridor, the United States worked with regional governments to stage a heavily militarized war on drugs in an area that had yet to fully recover from nearly two decades of war.
In 2008 the Bush Administration launched the Mérida Initiative, a cooperation agreement that provides training, equipment, and intelligence to Mexican and Central American security forces. A key model for these agreements is Plan Colombia, an $8 billion program launched in 1999 that saw the mass deployment of military troops and militarized police forces to both interdict illegal drugs and counter left-wing guerrilla groups. Plan Colombia is frequently touted as a glowing success by U.S. officials who point to statistics indicating that drug production and violence has dropped while rebel groups’ size and territorial reach have significantly receded. Human rights groups, however, have documented the program’s widespread “collateral damage,” which includes the forced displacement of an estimated 5.7 million Colombians, thousands of extrajudicial killings, and continued attacks and killings targeting community activists, labor leaders, and journalists.
Under President Obama, the U.S. government has renewed and expanded Mérida and, in 2011, created the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). From 2008 to 2013, these programs have received over $2 billion and $574 million respectively, according to a 2014 report by the Igarapé Institute. Though administration spokespeople emphasize investments made in judicial reform and drug prevention programs, most funds have been spent on supporting increasingly warlike drug interdiction and law enforcement.
The surge in U.S. security assistance has coincided with a notable regional increase in the militarization of law enforcement activities. Starting in 2007, former President Felipe Calderón of Mexico began deploying tens of thousands of troops as part of his government’s crackdown on drugs and organized crime. In El Salvador troops were deployed in the streets in 2009 and their presence was increased in 2011. In 2011 and 2012 Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes appointed active and inactive military officers to top security posts, breaking with the tradition since the country’s 1992 peace accords of keeping these posts in civilian hands. In Guatemala, meanwhile, over 21,000 army troops have taken up policing missions, often far outnumbering the number of police personnel in the areas where they are deployed. According to the Center for International Policy (CIP) approximately 40% of Guatemala’s security-related posts have been filled by former military officers, since former army chief Otto Perez Molina’s 2012 ascension to the presidency.
U.S. security funding to Honduras was briefly suspended following the June 2009 military coup. But by the following year the United States had resumed funding at a higher rate than before the coup, even though the Center for Justice and International Law noted that “high-ranking Army officers or former members of the Army against whom complaints were brought for their participation in the coup d’état, are occupying executive positions in government offices.” In November 2011 the Honduran government began sending military patrols into the streets to fight common crime, and in August 2013 a new Military Police for Public Order was created, tasked with cracking down on gang activity. Military involvement in policing duties had been prohibited under the Honduran constitution, but in January 2014 the country’s legislature amended the constitution to permit a military police force.
Though the U.S. government has remained silent regarding military involvement in law enforcement activities, the steady increase of U.S. assistance to national armed forces has, if anything, been an indicator of tacit U.S. support. But the U.S. role in militarization of national police forces has been direct as well. In 2011 and 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST)—which had previously carried out military-style missions in Afghanistan—set up camp in Honduras to train a local counternarcotics police unit and help plan and execute drug interdiction operations in the Mosquitia, a remote region in eastern Honduras that has recently become a hub for the transit of drug shipments northward.
Supported by U.S. helicopters mounted with high caliber machine guns, these operations were nearly indistinguishable from military missions, and locals routinely referred to the DEA and Honduran police agents as “soldados” (soldiers). According to The New York Times, five “commando style squads” of FAST teams have been deployed across Central America to train and support local counternarcotics units.
In July 2013, the Honduran government created a new “elite” police unit called the Intelligence Troop and Special Security Group, or TIGRES (Spanish for “tigers”). The unit, which human rights groups contend is military in nature, has been deployed in tandem with the new military police force and has received training in military combat tactics from both U.S. and Colombian Special Forces units.
Outside of Honduras, Colombian military and police trainers are now active throughout the region as well. Eager to help export the “successful” Plan Colombia model, the United States has funded training programs carried out by Colombian security forces in Mexico, Central America, and beyond. In 2012, President Obama and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos announced a joint multi-million dollar Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation that draws on “Colombia’s established and expanding expertise and capacity for countering transnational organized crime…and shared U.S. responsibility to address the demand for illicit narcotics,” according to a State Department release.
A Honduran paratrooper and U.S. Special Forces soldier shake hands (UNASOC News Service / Creative Commons) Human rights groups such as the Fellowship for Reconciliation (see Lindsay-Poland, this issue) note that many members of Colombia’s police and military forces are—like many of their Mexican and Central American counterparts—implicated in extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses. Transnational crime organizations are believed to have permeated a large number of the region’s police and military units as well.
The U.S. government presents the increased support to Mexico and Central America’s security forces as a necessary response to the alarming rise in drug-trafficking activity which has, in turn, fueled violent crime. But has U.S. policy borne positive results? The question is complicated because the United States and its partners have failed to publicly establish clear metrics to assess counternarcotics efforts. One of the few measures used by the U.S. Congress is “the pace of equipment deliveries and training opportunities” according to a Congressional Research Service Report, though this information says nothing about the effectiveness and impact of aid. U.S. officials highlight statistics showing that there is less cocaine available in the U.S. today than in the years prior to the Mérida Initiative, but it appears likely that this trend is counterbalanced by the increased availability and popularity of other drugs like heroin.
What is certain is that the surge in U.S. security assistance has been accompanied by a dramatic spike in violent crime in several countries. Homicide rates have skyrocketed in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the countries that have received the bulk of CARSI funding. Today those countries—often referred to as the Northern Triangle—comprise one of the most violent regions on earth. In Mexico, meanwhile, Human Rights Watch estimates that around 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings since 2006. Drug violence has also led to the displacement of over 200,000 Mexicans, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.
U.S. officials have suggested that the epidemic of violence in the region actually indicates the effectiveness of the war on drugs. The head of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, recently told the Associated Press that “the bloodshed tends to occur and increase when these trafficking organizations…come under some degree of pressure.” This theory doesn’t seem to be supported by any concrete evidence, and appears to disregard the fact that many of those killed have no links to drug trafficking.
The chilling reality is that the majority of U.S. security assistance flowing to Mexico and Central America is going to police and military forces that only two decades earlier were engaged in horrifying acts of killing and torture against political opponents and indigenous communities. With few exceptions, security forces across Central America have undergone no serious reform since the 1980s, and the state agents responsible for past human rights violations have not been brought to justice for even the most egregious crimes, such as the massacre of entire villages. Today, the region’s judicial institutions—particularly in Mexico and the Northern Triangle—remain deeply corrupt and inefficient, and only a tiny proportion of crimes involving security forces are successfully investigated and prosecuted.
The U.S. government has been reluctant to acknowledge the growing number of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses reportedly perpetrated by members of state security forces receiving U.S. support. In 2011, Human Rights Watch presented evidence of Mexican security forces’ involvement in “more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since 2006.” And these incidents are likely only a drop in the bucket. From 2007 to April 2011 Mexico’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office opened 1,615 investigations into alleged military crimes against civilians, but not a single one of these investigations resulted in a prosecution.
As documented in an in-depth report by Rights Action and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and by journalist Kaelyn Forde in NACLA’s Fall 2013 issue, on May 11, 2012, a drug interdiction operation involving Honduran police and DEA FAST team agents flew into the tiny municipality of Ahuas and opened fire on a passenger boat, resulting in the killing of four indigenous villagers, none of whom were known to have links to drug trafficking. To this day, the families of the victims of the Ahuas killings await justice and compensation from the Honduran and U.S. governments. And in a number of documented instances across Central America, attacks by security forces have targeted civil society groups engaged in peaceful protests or other forms of non-violent opposition. In Guatemala troops have killed indigenous protestors demonstrating against the government’s economic reforms. Honduran military and police units are accused of killing dozens of land rights advocates in the Bajo Aguán valley close to the Atlantic coast, and a peaceful demonstrator protesting a hydroelectric project further west in the Rio Blanco Valley.
Killings and attacks against women, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, LGBT activists, union leaders, and political opposition leaders have risen sharply. In Honduras, many occur in death squad fashion, with individuals kidnapped by masked men in unmarked vehicles, shot and left by the roadside, sometimes with evidence of torture. Given the tactics, many suspect the involvement of security forces, but those responsible are almost never brought to justice.
Citing these widespread abuses, human rights groups and many members of Congress have pushed back against the U.S. security spending frenzy. In 2012, 94 members of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded the complete suspension of police and military assistance to Honduras. Congressional appropriators have conditioned portions of security aid to Mexico and Honduras pending State Department certification of governments’ compliance with human rights and accountability provisions. They have also maintained a long-standing ban on foreign military funding and training of Guatemalan army units in appropriations funneled through the State Department.
But the Obama administration has consistently certified Mexico and Honduras as compliant with human rights conditions in spite of, in the case of Honduras, public objections from over 20 U.S. senators. The ban on some security assistance to Guatemala is amply compensated by direct Department of Defense support to military units, among them those that reportedly include members of the Kaibiles, Special Forces troops implicated in past massacres.
Recently, the United States began channeling more sophisticated and insidious forms of support to the region’s security forces. Through CARSI, the U.S. government has equipped police institutions with surveillance technology and encouraged widespread wiretapping activity. The overt intention may be to improve local law enforcements’ ability to intercept drug traffickers’ calls, but—given the absence of effective judicial accountability—civil society actors legitimately fear that this enhanced surveillance capacity is being directed at them.
Despite the United States’ enormous investment, the State Department’s 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report notes that “approximately 90 percent of illegal drugs from South America destined for the United States are smuggled through the seven Central American countries and Mexican corridor.” Why have billions of dollars been spent on a failed policy that has only generated more violence? And why, in an apparent repetition of the dark days of Central America’s dirty wars, does Washington invest so heavily in strengthening and empowering corrupt security forces with appalling human rights records?
U.S. officials’ unwavering faith in the Colombian militarized model is no doubt part of the reason. But a stubbornly persistent Cold War mindset may also be at play. Based on hours of interviews with State Department officials and Congressional staffers, investigative journalist Hector Silva Avalos recently observed in an Inter-American Dialogue report that the U.S. security agenda in the Northern Triangle is driven in part by the perceived threat of the growing regional power of the Venezuelan government. A new “anti-American narrative,” he argues, has replaced the prior communist threat in the eyes of key policy makers.
Avalos’s findings echo a 2007 U.S. strategy memorandum—part of the WikiLeaks trove of diplomatic cables—on the “Southern Cone Perspective on Countering Chávez and Reasserting U.S. Leadership.” Though the memo focuses on policy toward the Southern Cone, its message would no doubt resonate among U.S. Central America policy makers. “We should continue to strengthen ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over [late Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez,” stated the memorandum
The U.S. government’s failed and destructive regional anti-drug policy now faces a swelling movement of resistance from Central American leaders and grassroots movements alike. Governments are debating alternative policies that include potential decriminalization of drug possession and use.
Human rights groups and social movements are increasingly united in decrying the use of army troops and militarized police in repressing popular movements and defending corporations in their efforts to wrest resource-rich lands from communities. The priority, they believe, is building strong, transparent judicial institutions to address human rights crimes and ensure accountability. To eradicate the scourge of violent crime, investment is needed, not in military equipment and police and military training, but in equitable and sustainable economic development that addresses the basic needs of the poor.
The cities and states that were the forefront of REAL progressive Democratic politics were taken during the Reagan/Clinton neo-liberalism by these global corporate pols that had a goal of killing all that is progressive. That is why all of what were BLUE Democratic states are now mostly PURPLE neo-liberal states and they are as abusive and exploitative of labor and justice as Republican states.
SUSPENDING ALL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW----WITH THE FEDERALISM ACT BY CLINTON AND OBAMA PUSHES THE BLUE DEMOCRATIC STATES INTO THIS SAME CORPORATE AND WEALTH POLICY STANCE.
Refugees overwhelmingly DO NOT WANT TO BE IN THE US ----THEY WANT TO BE IN THEIR OWN NATIONS WITH THEIR CULTURE AND FAMILIES.
This is why immigrants do not trust the Democratic Party any more than people of color and labor-----CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS ARE CONTROLLING GOVERNMENT IN DEMOCRATIC STATES AND THEY ARE NOT DEMOCRATS! This is deliberate to break up the Democratic base of labor and justice
Hispanic dairy workers step out of the shadows to protest abuses
by David Sommerstein & Julia Botero, in Lowville, NY
About 40 farm workers and advocates marched to the front gates of Marks Farm, south of Lowville, N.Y., to protest alleged worker abuses. Photo: David Sommerstein. Listen to this story May 06, 2015 — For more than a decade, undocumented Hispanic workers have been indispensable on dairy farms across New York's North Country. That is largely because Congress has failed to act on immigration reform and provide a legal visa program.
The immigrants live largely invisible lives and rarely stray off the farm to avoid detection by federal agents. They are also less likely to report abuses.
For the first time in the North Country, farm workers and their advocates stepped out of the shadows and held a public protest. Last Friday, they marched to the gates of the region’s largest dairy farm, Mark's Farm, near Lowville, N.Y., to call attention to what they called widespread wage theft, harassment, and other forms of abuse.
About 40 people chanted “Milk cows, not workers,” and other slogans as they marched up a gravel road past long rows of cow barns. They waved signs that read “No Blood in Milk” and “Say No to Workplace Violence.” The protestors said some farmers treat their cows better than the humans who milk them.
Lazaro Alvarez, originally from Mexico City, addressed his former co-workers inside the farm. "Maintain your dignity," he told them. He now works on a farm in Fonda, N.Y. Photo: David Sommerstein."Workers should be treated with dignity," said Lázaro Álvarez, who is originally from Mexico City. Álvarez used to work here on Marks Farm, one of the state’s largest dairy farms. According to farm officials, about 40 of its 55 employees are Hispanic. The Worker Justice Center of New York and the Workers' Center of Central New York targeted Marks Farm for this march because of an incident under investigation by state police. A farm manager, Michael Tabolt, allegedly beat a worker named Francisco and threw him to the ground several times after Francisco was reluctant to work on his day off. Advocates said there were witnesses, but they were scared to testify. Francisco was fired.
Report the beatings! Report the injustices, the abuses, the racism. Don't be afraid!Marks Farm spokeswoman Lindsay Peck would not comment on specifics because of the investigation, but she said the farm supports Tabolt’s actions and said Francisco violated an employee policy. "We support the workers' cause, in that we want our workers to be well taken care of," said Peck. She said the farm pays a competitive wage, offers good housing, and provides soccer fields for the workers to play on during their free time. “To our fellow workers working on this farm,” José Cañas shouted into a megaphone, as the marchers lined up facing Marks Farm’s front door. Facing back at them, two farm representatives leaned against a car. Curious cows peered out from the barn. “Report the beatings! Report the injustices, the abuses, the racism,” shouted Cañas.
Most of the advocates came up from Syracuse or Rochester, although there were a couple North Country marchers. Photo: David Sommerstein.Advocates said it is not the first time workers have complained about Mark’s Farm. Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers' Center of Central New York said on many farms, abuse of workers is common; things like poor and unsafe housing, ignoring health problems, physical and verbal abuse, failure to pay minimum wage and wage theft. She said, "When workers don’t get paid for all the hours, or they don’t get paid at all, or they don’t get the last paycheck. For these workers who are supporting their families, every dollar counts." It is estimated several thousand undocumented immigrants work on New York and Vermont dairy farms. They present false Social Security cards that farmers do not have to verify. Federal agents generally look the other way, but this legal limbo leaves workers vulnerable to abuse.
Steve Ammerman, spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, which lobbies on behalf of New York’s 5,000 dairy farms, agreed the lack of immigration reform "does pose challenges both for the farmers and the farm employees." He said workers should report any kind of substandard work condition, but he said farmers bristle at the suggestion that abuses are common. He said, "The overwhelming majority of the dairy farms take good care of their employees because they have to. They need them. Their farms wouldn’t exist without them. And they could lose a worker to another farm down the road if they weren’t doing what’s right."
Advocates from the Worker Justice Center of New York handed a letter of protest to representatives of the farm, who were watching the march. Photo: David Sommerstein.Some workers do walk away to farms with better conditions, but Rebecca Fuentes said that is not so easy for immigrants who do not know English or the region and fear deportation. "When you are not from this country, you don’t have many options," Fuentes said. Most of the marchers were advocates from Syracuse or Rochester. Only a handful were farm workers. Kathy Tucker, a union activist from Gouverneur, was one of just a couple North Country people at the march. She said after hearing the farmworkers’ stories, she believes abuses are more widespread than people want to believe. Tucker said, "Unfortunately, I believe this is the norm. That really is very, very disturbing to me."
The marchers delivered a protest letter to Marks Farm's office and called for the supervisor under investigation to be let go. Álvarez said it is true not all farms are the same. He said he found better conditions on a farm in the Mohawk Valley. Alvarez said Hispanic labor is a critical part of the Upstate economy. Dairy farms need them to milk the cows. He said the workers just want to be treated with dignity, equality, and respect.
The first thing a city does to stop decline is stabilize communities to keep people already here in the city. If your goal is to further destabilize a city you allow high unemployment and scarce jobs and resources to grow at the same time you invite all kinds of immigrants to a city. LA and Chicago is the example of this dynamic and we see these cities with gangs bringing quality of life to third world levels. These cities are like cities in developing nations.
That is what Maryland is doing with its move to welcome immigrants. You put out the welcome mat for Hispanics and then flood the city with citizens from nations around the world at the same time a planned economic crash that seeks to bring a Depression-era stagnation to the US and VOILA-----everyone is fighting for jobs while Johns Hopkins does its global market operating completely separately from the cities economy. The goal at the end of a few decades of this----to have all those immigrants and impoverished US citizens desperate enough for those global sweat shop factories. If left to move forward it may be less than a few decades.
IF YOU THINK YOUR INDIVIDUAL RIGHT TO GET RICH TRUMPS THE KIND OF SOCIETY YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN WILL LIVE----WE WANT YOU OUT OF POLITICS!
Clinton neo-liberal pols know that is to where this is going as do Baltimore's neo-conservative working for Hopkins but running as Democrats.
Baltimore puts out welcome mat for immigrants, hoping to stop population decline
By Carol Morello and Luz Lazo July 24, 2012 The fate of Baltimore may rest with immigrants like Alexandra Gonzalez.
A native of Puebla, Mexico, Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.
“I like living here,” said Gonzalez, 24, as she pushed a stroller holding her sleeping 1-year-old daughter and bags of purchases from a dollar store in the blue-collar Highlandtown neighborhood. “They don’t look at you weird because you don’t speak English.”
The degree to which Gonzalez feels welcome is no accident.
After decades of seeing the city’s population slide with every census count, Baltimore officials are trying to turn things around. One key strategy is embracing immigrants, in the hope they will encourage friends and family to join them.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) has told Latinos, in particular, that she is counting on them to help Baltimore gain 10,000 families within a decade. As a first step, she signed an order in March prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about immigration status — and in the order, she explicitly asked federal immigration authorities to tell anyone they arrest that they are not agents of the city.
Baltimore joins an increasing number of U.S. cities, most of them manufacturing behemoths fallen on hard times, that are courting immigrants to reverse half a century of population loss.
The Global Detroit effort includes programs that help immigrants start small businesses, get driver’s licenses and learn English. As part of the Welcome Dayton Plan adopted last year, the Ohio city sponsors a soccer tournament for immigrant teams. Not to be outdone, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) says he wants his home town to be known as the most “immigrant-friendly city in the country.”
The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. There, laws requiring police to ask a person’s immigration status have raised concerns about racial profiling among many immigrants, whether or not they are in the country legally, and many have left because of the stricter laws, as well as the recession.
In the Washington region, Prince William County saw a drop in its immigrant population, both legal and illegal, after it mandated that police make immigration checks.
A new attitude Baltimore has undergone a shift in attitude. In 2004, then-Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D), a former mayor and governor, chastised immigrants who don’t speak English well after a Spanish-speaking cashier at a McDonald’s had trouble understanding his order.
“I don’t want to adjust to another language,” Schaefer said. “This is the United States. I think they ought to adjust to us.”
Eight years later, Baltimore and many other cities are adjusting.
The 2010 census was a tipping point. Most cities that grew had Hispanics and, to a lesser degree, Asians to thank. Cities with few immigrants lost political power and federal money as district lines and funding formulas changed to reflect new census numbers.
“The census has shown cities definitively what the population trend is,” said Margie McHugh, an immigration expert with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “It got a lot of smart people in city and state governments looking 10 years ahead and thinking hard about what the economic future for cities could be.”
In Michigan, former state House majority leader Steve Tobocman (D) heads Global Detroit, built around the idea that immigration can drive an economic rebound. The group plans to provide training in how to start “micro enterprises” and has created a “welcome mat” network of social service agencies that offer English and citizenship classes. It hopes to draw both entrepreneurial engineers who graduate from the state’s universities and working-class immigrants who can start small neighborhood businesses.
“Immigrants have a lot to contribute to job creation and economic growth,” Tobocman said.
Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are. Philadelphia, for example, saw its population grow for the first time in 60 years after the mayor ordered police in 2009 not to ask about immigration status, but the rise in Hispanic and Asian residents that was responsible for the increase might have happened anyway. Hispanics and Asians are the two fastest-growing groups in the country, more because of their higher birth rates than to immigration.
Critics of ‘sanctuary cities’ Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.
The census does not ask immigration status, so it is not possible to say how many of Baltimore’s 45,000 foreign-born residents are here legally. But the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that in 2010, Maryland had the nation’s 10th-largest population of unauthorized immigrants.
Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County) said he is consulting with Judicial Watch, a conservative think tank, about whether Rawlings-Blake is “aiding and abetting” people who are in the country illegally.
McDonough said the mayor’s order in effect creates a “sanctuary city” that will draw undocumented immigrants who will compete for jobs with current residents. Baltimore’s unemployment rate tops 10 percent; for African American men, it is at least double that.
“For the mayor to want to increase the population of Baltimore City in principle is an admirable thing,” McDonough said. “But by going after people who don’t have a lawful presence, and all of the accompanying cultural and criminal issues associated with that policy, you are counterproductive. You’re going to discourage people who live in the city from continuing to be there.”
Immigrant outreach — such as the city-run classes in Spanish — is just one part of the mayor’s agenda for growing Baltimore. She has programs that aim to improve public schools, reduce crime, cut property taxes and create jobs, increasing the city’s appeal to all residents. The mayor’s order has been her only action aimed at immigrants, though other initiatives are being considered.
“What we want to do is attract immigrants who call home and say: ‘Maybe you should think about coming to Baltimore. I’m having a great time here,’ ” said Ian Brennan, a mayoral spokesman.
Widespread support Support for the policy appears to be broad.
“I agree with her policy in terms of trying to increase the city’s numbers,” said Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D), chairman of the city’s House delegation in Annapolis. “Her idea now to reach out to the non-documented population is one way. But I don’t think it’s the most important thing she’s doing.”
More important, he said, is reducing the property tax rate and creating jobs.
Ryan O’Doherty, another mayoral spokesman, said the city has several pillars of economic strength offering jobs at all skill levels: Johns Hopkins University, the port and tourism.
As if to underscore the urgency of stemming the city’s population dive, new census estimates show that Baltimore lost an additional 1,500 residents in the 15 months after the census, bringing it below 620,000. The figures, which are being contested by the city, show a continued exodus of black residents, while the numbers of Hispanics, Asians and non-Hispanic whites were on the upswing.
Only Cleveland and Detroit lost more residents than Baltimore. During the same period, the District gained 16,000 residents and is closing in on its northern neighbor in the rankings of big cities. Baltimore is now the nation’s 24th largest city. In 1980, it ranked 10th.
Hispanics in particular have helped slow the decline in the city’s population, which peaked at 950,000 in 1950. Their numbers more than doubled over the past decade, from 11,000 in 2000 to 26,000 in 2010. They now make up 4 percent of Baltimore residents, a fraction of their share of the state and national population.
Hispanics born in Mexico, Central America and South America make up more than a third of all foreign-born residents of Baltimore, according to census figures. The city also draws many immigrants from Africa, China and the Middle East.
Reviving Highlandtown One place where the influx of immigrants is most evident is Highlandtown, a neighborhood of narrow rowhouses, corner bars and grocery stores on Baltimore’s east side. It was settled by European immigrants, mostly Greeks, Italians and Poles who never moved to the suburbs and left their homes to their children. Merchants say that by the early 1990s, the neighborhood was dying.
But today, it is a bustling crossroads. Convenience stores advertise Corona and Modelo beers. Restaurants featuring Mexican and Honduran fare stand beside diners serving up Coney dogs. A storefront church, Jesus de Vida, occupies a building next to the Madina Grocery and Halal Meats, which is run by a Chinese couple. A refugee resettlement center guides newcomers from Nepal and French-speaking Africa on orientation tours, including a stop at the Southeast Anchor Library.
“One of the first things they do is get a library card,” said branch manager Cindy Kleback. “Then they can use the computers for free to communicate with people back home. I walk past the computers and see people watching TV from Eritrea.”
Every Thursday, the library hosts a children’s storytelling hour in Spanish. Non-Hispanic parents also bring their children to expose them to another language and culture, fostering friendships that have led to baby showers in the library and a potluck Thanksgiving dinner.
The spreading Latin influence has been a welcome change to Fidelita Portillo, who found few familiar products at the corner grocery when she moved to Baltimore eight years ago to join her sister. Today, several grocers carry the chiles, sweet breads and Goya products that remind her of her native El Salvador.
This year, Portillo enrolled her 4-year-old in preschool and readily found information in Spanish. The school has an interpreter available as well.
When the mayor held a small town hall meeting at the library this spring to explain her new, immigrant-friendly policy, Portillo attended. She acknowledges not having the proper documents to be in the country.
“I feel better knowing the mayor has assured us that the police are not going to be going after the immigrants,” she said, adding that she wants her children to grow up without worrying that their parents will be deported. “People feel free. We don’t have to live in hiding and in fear.”