Helping the 99 percent -- with less

La Raza Centro Legal fights to address the issues raised by Occupy, and it needs support

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OPINION La Raza Centro Legal, an organization central to the empowerment of San Francisco's low-wage immigrant workers, finds common cause with the Occupy movement during a time when our programs combining legal services and worker organizing are in jeopardy. Our hour of need falls within a window of tough times, but heightened political awareness, and we are calling out to the community to join us in solidarity as members of the 99 percent.

La Raza's resonance with Occupy shows on a bilingual sign printed for the movement. Under a day laborer's face, the sign reads, "We are the 99 percent. I'm blamed for the economic crisis, but what about the Wall Street banks?" Immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in government services, generate revenue exceeding the services they receive, subsidize the Social Security system, and provide labor that supports entire industries.

Contrary to the red herring propaganda generated by the 1 percent, the scapegoated low-wage immigrant worker is not the cause of the financial crisis in the United States. Occupy has resuscitated public discourse with the plain facts of shocking economic inequity and the corruption of our democracy. Immigration debate can now rise to the surface after nearly drowning in the lies that spawned the recent legal abominations in Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia.

In the current political and economic climate, immigrant rights organizations face an intractable three-pronged challenge: dangerous policies born of anti-immigrant zeal, a crushing economic crisis that disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color, and dwindling funds from the government and foundations that used to support our work. The Obama administration's Orwellian-named "Secure Communities" deportation program creates an unprecedented stream of profits for privately contracted immigration detention facilities rife with human rights abuses. At the same time, employers take advantage of job scarcity to exploit low-wage immigrant workers. On the same days that our advocacy and services are needed more than ever, we've receive news that a grant that we depend on will not be renewed in the coming year.

Just like so many other members of the 99 percent, La Raza Centro Legal is in financial crisis. If the organization cannot find immediate support, some of La Raza's programs that help so many people in the immigrant community could die. If La Raza is diminished, who will reunite a family unjustly torn apart, or take an employer to task for ripping off a day laborer so that the worker can feed his children? Who will organize the community so that, through La Raza's Day Labor Program and Women's Collective, low-wage immigrant workers can find their voice and build their own innate capacity for leadership in their community?

We aren't giving up. Because the Occupy movement has pushed into public consciousness the well-established but long-ignored truth of how the status quo is hurting us all, it offers incredible hope. An October 20 community meeting kicked off a new fundraising drive for La Raza. San Franciscans and the city must join us in solidarity to help us find ways to support community nonprofits in declining economies and increasing civil rights abuses — which is when they are needed most.

Kate Hegé and Kate Deeny work in the Workers' Rights Program at La Raza Centro Legal. For more information about how to help, contact Genevie Gallegos, Executive Director of La Raza Centro Legal at Genevie@lrcl.org.

Comments

Thank you for this articulate, smart article. This expresses the situation so well. I am going to share it with a lot of people.
-Jane

Posted by Jane Stitt on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 10:43 am

THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, NOT LEGAL. THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACE, AN INDIVIDUALS RELIGION, IT’S ABOUT THE ‘RULE OF LAW’ AND 20 MILLION PLUS INVADERS, THE COSTS TO TAXPAYERS IN EVER GROWING DOLLARS.

ENORMOUS PROFITS, POWER AND INFLUENCE! LIBERAL PROGRESSIVES ARE ULTRA SOCIALISTS. BOTH PARTIES HAVE FORGOTTEN, THEY WORK FOR AMERICANS—NOT FUGITIVES FROM ICE.

Stop the assault on our nation for Democrats to grab votes, as they intentionally remain deaf, dumb and blind to illegal aliens voting or even aiding them. ACORN is a good example, of fraudulent registrations, absentee ballot applications and the ‘Motor Voter’ forms. Each of us should wonder how many illegal aliens breached the Arizona’s voting code, to recall state senator Russell Pierce. Under this Jerry Brown the doors will be left wide open at the border and the poverty-stricken people will cripple our countries welfare system, public schools and hospitals. With a very large percentage of foreign nationals settled in that border state, it would be easy to compromise the lax voting restrictions? Anybody with a computer and color printer could fool the officials, with two pieces of paper as a forged utility or phone bill, with a name and address on it. Furthermore stop Republicans selling our country to the special interest lobbyists on ‘K’ Street for campaign contributions and lucrative perks. The NumbersUSA web site for the real facts.

• March to 100 Cosponsors of Chairman Smith's Legal Workforce Act! Keep up the bombardment. IT’S WORKING! Contact the ‘Ways and Means Committee led by Majority Speak John Boehner (R-OH) must adopt the Mandatory E-Verify Bill (H.R. 2885.) and should be under interminable shrapnel of challenging voters, as never before. Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and as of yesterday Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) is now co-sponsoring House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith's Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885.) New members are swiftly joining this epic bill. But don’t expect Liberals or career Democrats to attach themselves to this law. Eventually it will be the fresh faces of the TEA PARTY leadership that will bring success.

• Smith's Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885) would require 100% of companies—large and small-- to use E-Verify for all new hires within 2 years. This bill would also require all federal, state, and local agencies as well as federal and state contractors/ sub-contractors and critical infrastructure sites to use E-Verify within 6 months.
• Require federal, state, and local agencies to run its entire workforce through E-Verify
• Allow private business to check all current employees through E-Verify
• Increase employer penalties and fines for knowingly hiring illegal alien workers
• Require the Social Security Administration to send no-match letters to employers if a current employee's name and social security number don't match in their system
• Require the Social Security Administration to notify owners of a Social Security number if their number is used multiple times.

Time is the essence when 16 foreign governments are trying to imposing their influence on the Obama administration and our courts. This will not be allowed under a TEA PARTY CONGRESS. ONE THING IS ABSOLUTELY SURE; THERE WILL NOT BE ANY AMNESTY UNDER AN OVERRIDING TEA PARTY CONGRESS.

What would the Legal Workforce Act do for your state? FIND OUT—by investigating facts at the www.numbersusa.com website. This pro-sovereignty organization that is passing 1 million memberships and counting has free faxing to Washington. YOU HAVE A CHOICE AS A VOTER OR LEGAL IMMIGRANT TO BREAK THE SCOURGE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION—THE CHAIN MIGRATION, THE INSTANT BABY CITIZENSHIP, SANCTUARY CITIES AND STATES, AS WITH CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA AND AMNESTY DREAM ACTS. ALL CONSUME OVER A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. THIS MONEY SHOULD NOT BE SPENT ON CRIMINAL FUGITIVES BUT ON OUR OWN PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY?

The Legal Workforce Act could open up jobs currently held by illegal aliens. GET ON THESE LAWMAKERS CASES IMMEDIATELY—Call this number at the Washington Switchboard 202-224-3121.

Businesses in dairy and farming and many other occupations, need to look at what their paying. Before blaming Americans as jobs are going unfilled, and then begin adding fair wages and conditions to the payroll. Stop passing the buck of illegal alien children to public schools and depositing injured or sick workers in emergency rooms, for taxpayers to carry the burden. For decades businesses in agriculture, dairy, food processing industries have not only been using low priced labor, but collecting huge subsidies from an inept governments; it’s over. WANT WORKERS—PAY A LIVING WAGE!

Smith's Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885), in order to get it to the House floor for a vote it needs more cosponsors. Chairman Smith's bill isn't being viewed at all that urgent; IT IS EXTREMELY URGENT but it's behind a long list of other bills that will fill up this year's calendar for floor action.

Posted by Dave Francis on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

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