Immigrant workers will rebuild after hurricanes, and other immigration news – September 12, 2017


U.S. dependence on immigrant workers – documented or undocumented – is highlighted by the prospect of rebuilding after hurricanes. The construction industry is particularly dependent on immigrant workers, and has been chronically short of workers in recent years. So what will happen with rebuilding in Texas and Miami? Will officials rush in to arrest undocumented workers as they rebuild the cities? Or will they turn their heads, as they have been doing on E-Verify compliance?

DACA news – in the second section of this post – ranges from arrests at a border checkpoint to the latest lawsuit against the rescission of DACA.  

Rebuilding after Harvey: Immigrants need apply (Houston Chronicle, 9/8/17) Immigrant workers, documented or not, will rebuild Houston.

“Hurricane Harvey has given federal officials the perfect opportunity to round up undocumented immigrants.

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents should stake out hardware stores and follow trucks loaded with drywall or other building materials to flood-ravaged neighborhoods. After all, there’s at least a 1-in-4 chance (some say even odds) that a Houston construction worker will not have the proper papers to be here, according to a Pew Research study of Houston’s workforce earlier this year.”

Chris Tomlinson describes the ongoing labor shortage in the construction industry across the country, which already depends heavily on undocumented workers, and will need them more than ever to rebuild after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“Undocumented workers have flocked to disaster zones for generations, ready to work long days and sleep four to a hotel room so they can make extra cash. Cowardly politicians, who are quick to cast scorn but never really address illegal immigration, traditionally turn a blind eye to accelerate recovery.”

‘Sanctuary businesses?’ Tough-talking states give businesses a pass on illegal immigration (Los Angeles Times, 9/10/17) Even when states – like Texas – require employers to use E-Verify, they don’t check or enforce.

“Texas Democrats have come up with a term to describe this situation — a twist on the phrase “sanctuary cities” — that JoAnn Flemming, executive director of the conservative group Grassroots America, says she can agree with.

“It’s called ‘sanctuary businesses/industry,’” she said. “That makes a lot of Republicans mad when you use that term, but the fact of the matter is that there is a strong cheap labor lobby in Texas, and they give a lot of money to candidates and they have a lot of influence.”…

“The Legal Arizona Workers Act requires every business to use E-Verify and threatens to strip licenses from businesses that knowingly hire people who are in the country illegally. Even so, only 57% of employers in Arizona used E-Verify for new hires, according to 2014 data analyzed by the Cato Institute.”

Opinion: Trump Doesn’t Understand the Economics of Immigration (Foreign Policy, 9/11/17)

If Congress and the Trump administration want to improve our immigration system, moving to a more skills-based program is a good idea—provided it recognizes the need for a broad range of skills among immigrants, including those generally regarded as low-skilled but who fill niche markets. Most importantly, however, the system must be flexible and market-oriented and shouldn’t ignore the country’s real demographic challenges. The biggest of these, as in most industrialized nations, is a falling birthrate and an aging population. We face looming Social Security and Medicare crises, caused by a shrinking population.”

The next DACA? Trump administration turns to another class of immigrants (CNN, 9/11/17) Hundreds of thousands of people with Temparary Protected Status may see their protection ended early next year. TPS for Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua ends in January, and El Salvador in March, unless the administration extends that status.

At issue is “temporary protected status,” a provision of immigration law that allows the government to grant temporary work authorizations and protection from deportation to immigrants, including otherwise undocumented ones, from certain countries where life remains dangerous. Conditions that could merit the status include armed conflict and civil war, natural disasters, epidemics and “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.”


Family, immigration attorney: DACA recipients being held at checkpoint (The Monitor, 9/11/17) From McAllen, Texas, today’s report of abuse of power by border patrol:

“It is clear that the DACA recipients in question were held for too long,” [U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen] said in the statement, referring to the 10 detainees, of whom only one has been released….

“According to [immigration attorney Elba Rocha], it remains unknown when they will be released and from where.

“An officer came out a little while ago and said this is going to take a really long time, and at some point they would be contacted (for detainees) to be picked up either back there at the checkpoint or at a detention center,” Rocha said of the account given by detainees’ families waiting outside the checkpoint in Falfurrias. “I don’t understand why they would be sent to a detention center at all.”

Minnesota joins suit to block Trump halt to program for young immigrants (Star Tribune, 9/11/17) This suit, filed by California, Minnesota, Maine, and Maryland is separate from a suit by 15 attorneys general filed last week.

California’s AG is suing Trump again. He’ll have his parents on his mind when he does (Sacramento Bee, 9/11/17)

But when asked about immigration, Becerra’s demeanor changes. While he doesn’t lose his measured mien, it becomes clear how much the issue means to him. He is, after all, the son of immigrants whose world view was shaped by his parents, Manuel and Maria Teresa. Becerra’s mother is from the Mexican state of Jalisco, and though his dad was born in Sacramento, the elder Becerra spent many years in Mexico.”

Shadow class: College dreamers in Trump’s America (American Public Media, 9/11/17) Five personal stories.

“APM Reports began interviewing college students with DACA before the election. We followed them through spring semester, talking with them periodically as the Trump administration gave mixed signals about Dreamers.

“The students talked about their experiences through high school being undocumented, their fears and fleeting joys, the barriers to advancing to college and the safety of families. We updated the story with their reactions to Trump administration’s announcement it would end DACA.”

1 in 4 Dreamers Are Parents of US Citizens – and other stats no one talks about (Mother Jones, 9/7/17) Such as – Dreamers’ average age: 25. Average age of arrival in the United States: 6.

DACA Recipients Worry What The Government Will Do With Their Private Information (NPR, 9/9/17)

“Perhaps what frightens him the most is an online post by the Department of Homeland Security. It says that the personal information provided by DACA recipients won’t be “proactively” shared with immigration enforcement agents. But there’s an exception if a person “poses a risk to national security or public safety, or meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria.” And it says the privacy policy can be modified or rescinded at any time without notice.

“What that means in plain English is when ICE wants to place someone in removal proceedings, it can ask for any information it wants to do that,” says Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney in Washington, D.C., who worked in the Obama Justice Department. “And the administration has not denied this meaning.”

Seniors’ Access to Health Care May Suffer IF DACA Is Terminated (Immigration Impact, 9/8/17)

Seniors who rely on workers with DACA for health care services may now lose their aide. Surveys of DACA recipients have shown that roughly 20 percent of them are employed in the health care sector. This suggests that terminating DACA could result in a potential loss of tens of thousands of workers from in-demand health care positions.”

Democrats Look to Trump on DREAM Act After He Puts Expiration Date on DACA Program (NPR, 9/10/17)

“Democrats hope the president’s apparent willingness to work across the aisle will extend to the legislative push to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump is phasing out the Obama-era immigration policy while first giving Congress six months to codify it.

“Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I, and I said if we can get something to happen, we’re gonna sign it, and we’re gonna make a lot of happy people,” Trump told reporters Wednesday while traveling aboard Air Force One.”

Trump action on young immigrants divides some GOP districts (AP via Star Tribune, 9/10/17) Focus is on Georgia’s 10th Congressional District.

For Teachers Working Through DACA, A Bittersweet Start to School Year (New York Times, 9/7/17)

“The last three years that I have been teaching was like a world of possibility for me and my students,” said Mr. Ballesteros, 25, who is from the Philippines. “Today, I just didn’t feel that same level of hope.”

“He was just one of the estimated 30,000 DACA recipients in New York who now face uncertain futures…”

Dreams Die Hard: Where Do They Go After DACA? (Moyers & Company, 9/6/17) Sarah Jaffe’s extended interview with two young DACA recipients is part of her series, Interviews for Resistance, “in which she speaks with organizers, troublemakers and thinkers.”

Opinion: Swap DACA for wall funding? No way! (New York Times, 9/8/17) Americans support DACA. They do not support a border wall. A “compromise solution” is no solution at all.

“We’ve got one policy that enjoys broad public backing, as well as bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. We’ve got another policy that has little public backing, which congressional Democrats oppose implacably and leaves even some Republicans ambivalent. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, said Tuesday that he hopes to punt the wall-funding question to December. Under these circumstances, making a DACA/wall deal would be like Rafael Nadal saying to his 75th-ranked opponent, “Sure, I’ll let you win half the time.”

Special Episode: Dismantling DACA (Latino USA/NPR, 9/8/17) Special Podcast from the always-great LatinoUSA podcast series with Maria Hinojosa.

We break down some of the factually questionable statements in Attorney General Sessions’ announcement, hear from an expert on how DACA affects the economy and find out about one DACA recipient’s daring sacrifice during Hurricane Harvey. Plus, we open the phone lines and hear from you, our listeners, about what your DACA means to you.

House Democrats threaten to “shut down” the government if “Dreamers not protected by mid-December (Mic, 9/8/17) Well – maybe. But don’t count on it.

“In an emotional press conference with progressive and immigrant activists, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said Democratic House leaders have told him they will support stopping the government to protect 800,000 people whose status has been in limbo since the Trump administration announced it will suspend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in six months.

“A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday.”

Trump administration struggles with fate of 900 DREAMers serving in the military (USA Today, 9/7/17)

Those service members — all of whom have health care or language skills the U.S. military considers vital — would be forced to leave the military under Trump policy that would rescind their protected status beginning next March.

Is Ending DACA the Worst Decision Trump Has Made? (The New Yorker, 9/18/17 issue)

“In terms of immediate human suffering, yes….

“In a recent survey, ninety-one per cent were employed, and forty-five per cent were enrolled in classes. Many have no memory of the countries in which they were born. They are, in a word, Americans. But six months from now, and possibly sooner, they will begin losing their work permits, their places in college, their businesses, their legal right to be in this country. They will start living in fear of deportation. The cruelty of it is staggering.”




About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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