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  1. #1
    Senior Member cvangel's Avatar
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    Guatemala:Village fills with deportees as US cracks down

    Village fills with deportees as US cracks down
    By TRACI CARL Associated Press Writer
    Posted: 12/07/2008 10:04:18 AM PST


    In this May 6, 2008 file photo a woman carrying a machete walks... ((AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File))

    ICALCAL, Guatemala—For years, the only people in this valley were those too old or too young to make the trip to the United States. Now the village bustles again with deported workers.

    The reason is a raid that happened nearly two years ago and 3,000 miles away. On a bitterly cold March morning in New Bedford, Mass., dozens of immigration agents swarmed the Michael Bianco Inc. textile factory on the water's edge and arrested 361 people, mostly Central American women.

    The sweep was among the first of more than a dozen showcase raids as the U.S. cracks down on illegal immigration. Arrests of undocumented workers have risen tenfold since 2003, to 4,077 last year. Fines for employers have jumped from a few dozen companies paying $45,000 in 2003 to 863 facing penalties totaling $30 million.

    The Michael Bianco raid signaled the government's new, no-tolerance attitude toward its undocumented population. So far only 160 former Michael Bianco employees have been sent home. But the raid's impact has had a ripple effect across the U.S., scaring employers into policing their work forces.

    Thousands of workers found themselves jobless and gave up on the American Dream, returning to hometowns now struggling to feed the returning populations. One of these is Xicalcal, a collection of homes down a forgotten dirt road in Guatemala's Mayan highlands.

    The area was among the hardest-hit during Guatemala's civil war in the 1980s, and many people fled as soldiers and militias killed anyone suspected of being a leftist guerrilla. A few ended up in the industrial port of New Bedford, where the fishing and textile factories rarely asked for work papers.

    Over the years, hundreds followed, some paying smugglers as much as $6,000 for the trip.


    As money flowed back, Mayan women replaced their delicate, hand-embroidered blouses with polyester tops. Men wore ballcaps with "Old Navy" scribbled across the front. Crude huts gave way to three-bedroom concrete homes. But mostly the town emptied, and homes ended up half-finished, rusty rebar reaching for the heavens.

    n New Bedford, a town of about 94,000 people, the Guatemalans spent long hours pushing fabric through chattering sewing machines at companies like Michael Bianco. The factory started out making leather goods for brands including Coach, Fossil and Timberland and ended up winning $230 million in contracts to produce military gear for the U.S. war in Iraq.

    As far back as 2002, the U.S. Social Security administration suspected Michael Bianco might be hiring illegal immigrants. It sent a letter stating that almost a quarter of workers' social security numbers didn't check out. Similar letters arrived each subsequent year.

    In December 2005, as rumors swirled of a possible raid, a manager announced over the intercom that employees were welcome to leave for the day, according to a federal indictment. About 75 people scattered, hiding in factory boxes or their cars.

    That turned out to be a false alarm, but soon an undercover agent posing as an illegal immigrant was working at Michael Bianco. According to the indictment, the factory's payroll manager told her how to get illegal papers at the record store across the street.

    By 2007, Michael Bianco's payroll had swelled to almost 650 people. More than two-thirds had fishy social security numbers, and prosecutors allege the company intentionally filled its ranks with undocumented workers to avoid paying overtime. The Guatemalans gladly took the jobs, where they could earn in a half hour what they made in a day back home.

    On March 6, 2007, the sewing machines had just clicked into gear when armed agents in black flooded the floor and blocked the exits. Workers scattered and hid—including one found by immigration agents in a box hours after the raid. They broke into applause, congratulating the man for evading capture. Then they arrested him.

    News of the raid was splashed across the evening news in the U.S. and made headlines as far away as Guatemala.

    Immigrant-rights groups accused agents of leaving children stranded at schools and with baby sitters when they rounded up their parents—allegations Immigration and Customs Enforcement calls baseless. ICE Director Julie Myers called it a good example of a showcase raid.

    "As long as there's a job," Myers said, "people will keep coming back."

    Nearly two years later, some 200 people are still waiting to see if the U.S. will let them stay. Some are allowed to work while their cases crawl through the court system. Some have no income.

    Three teens got green cards because they were unaccompanied minors. At least four other workers have won permission to stay in the U.S., including three who got asylum, which allows them to seek citizenship.

    Those deported are flown to the capital, Guatemala City, at the U.S. government's expense, and most fund the rest of the journey by themselves.

    Last month, Michael Bianco founder Francesco Insolia—himself an immigrant from Italy—pleaded guilty to harboring and concealing illegal immigrants. He faces up to 18 months in prison when he's sentenced in January. He also agreed to pay workers $850,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming back pay.

    The raid also had a chilling effect on other employers. Fearing a similar fate, many are turning away anyone whose work papers are suspect. Missouri-based Eagle Industries, which bought Michael Bianco Inc. a year ago, now runs social security numbers through E-Verify, a government database. Some say the government is passing on its responsibilities to employers.

    "It isn't easy for an employer, despite all the rules and regulations," said Anthony Sapienza, chief executive of the Joseph Abboud high-end men's clothing factory in New Bedford. "The fact is, you can buy pretty sophisticated documents on the streets and you can get hoodwinked."

    Tragedy for some has been opportunity for others. Jeff Matos, 24, says without the raid he wouldn't have been able to leave the overnight shift at a 7-Eleven to work at Michael Bianco. He now earns 50 cents more an hour.

    "It's an unfortunate situation," he said of the raid. "But it opened up a position for me to get hired."

    Many of the Guatemalans, meanwhile, are stuck.

    Dominga Gomez's husband, Ricardo, was among the deported, and she was fired from her illegal job packing clothes into boxes at a textile factory nearby. But she didn't leave New Bedford because the U.S. government pays $500 in medication every three weeks for her autistic American son, 4-year-old Mauricio.

    Her husband couldn't support their five children in Guatemala, so he borrowed $6,000 from friends and family to be smuggled back into the United States. He arrived on Oct. 28, 2007, complaining of a sore throat, and felt worse the next day. But Gomez didn't take him to the doctor because they could be caught.

    Soon, he wasn't breathing. She called an ambulance. He was declared dead. She never found out why.

    Living in New Bedford with her 4-year-old, Gomez can't find steady work because she doesn't have papers, and now takes odd jobs for cash. Her oldest child, a 19-year-old boy, is in Guatemala. He begs to be smuggled to New Bedford, but she refuses.

    "I don't want to lose a son," she said. "I already lost a husband."

    Back in Xicalcal, hardly a day passes without another long-lost villager walking up the dusty path. Several were deported before they had paid off smugglers for their trip north. With the prospect of losing land or homes, they borrowed more and headed north again.

    But most are staying these days. Table saws whine through the mountain valley as people finish abandoned homes. Many can't find steady work, and are rapidly using up savings from their time in the U.S.

    Victor Garcia, 34, wonders how he'll feed his four young children. When he worked for Michael Bianco, Garcia was able to send home up to $500 a month. Now, he is lucky to earn 40 Quetzales ($6) a day working in the fields.

    "I wasn't stealing anything," he says. "I just wanted to work."

    Remittances are dropping. Guadalupe Toj is among the lucky few who still lives on money sent home by her husband. He works illegally at a pizzeria in Boston, but she wonders how long that will last.

    "There are so many people coming back," Toj says. "Who is going to employ so many people? What will they eat?"

    A few feet away, her children flip through a deck of playing cards sent by their absent father. They don't recognize the logo of the Boston Red Sox.

    http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/world/ci_11162237

  2. #2
    Senior Member jp_48504's Avatar
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    Senior Member Gogo's Avatar
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    "As long as there's a job," Myers said, "people will keep coming back."
    Will Obama will there be any jobs for Americans? If you give amnesty who do you think will be pounding on the White House door to get an answer from you and the Democrats?

    Think it through carefully.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Richard's Avatar
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    I think a big part of resolving the immigration problem is the lack of addressing the underdevelopoment of the villages that the illegal aliens are coming from and that it has not been adequately addressed by either side. What the people in this village should be doing right now is sourcing as much as possible of their food close to home. If I were them I would look at building a silo to use for grain for animal feed. One other thing that might improve their situation is switching from kerosene to ethanol in their houses right now any savings would be marginal but the cost of petroleum derivatives is not going to stay as low as it is right now. By cycling their income within their communities they are going to be able to incrementally improve the quality of life and will feel less tempted to come here and fewer will be violating our laws competing with our own poor.
    I support enforcement and see its lack as bad for the 3rd World as well. Remittances are now mostly spent on consumption not production assets. Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Dixie's Avatar
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    He arrived on Oct. 28, 2007, complaining of a sore throat, and felt worse the next day. But Gomez didn't take him to the doctor because they could be caught.

    Soon, he wasn't breathing. She called an ambulance. He was declared dead. She never found out why.
    So what deadly disease did he carring back into the US?
    When he worked for Michael Bianco, Garcia was able to send home up to $500 a month. Now, he is lucky to earn 40 Quetzales ($6) a day working in the fields.
    500 US Dollars = 3825.74 Quetzales

    Greed is one of the 7 deadly sins.

    Dixie
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  6. #6
    Senior Member butterbean's Avatar
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    But she didn't leave New Bedford because the U.S. government pays $500 in medication every three weeks for her autistic American son, 4-year-old Mauricio.
    THIS PISSES ME OFF! I know many people that cant afford their prescritions and are taking medications every other day in order to save money. Why is our government paying out OUR MONEY to ILLEGAL ALIENS when alot of us cant afford medicine?
    RIP Butterbean! We miss you and hope you are well in heaven.-- Your ALIPAC friends

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  7. #7
    Senior Member miguelina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterbean
    But she didn't leave New Bedford because the U.S. government pays $500 in medication every three weeks for her autistic American son, 4-year-old Mauricio.
    THIS PISSES ME OFF! I know many people that cant afford their prescritions and are taking medications every other day in order to save money. Why is our government paying out OUR MONEY to ILLEGAL ALIENS when alot of us cant afford medicine?
    I'm willing to bet that most of this $500 every 3 weeks finds itself on the way to Guatemala every month. I have an autistic son and he is not receiving a dime for any medication!
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    "

  8. #8
    Senior Member SOSADFORUS's Avatar
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    Richard...America has given billions in aid to these countrys, and the money never gets to the really needy people in the village's...

    America needs to maybe have groups of people go out with this money and make sure it gets used where it will do the most good and gets put in the right hands with plans as to how the money should be spent for the good of the whole village.

    Give aid to people like President Caldron and the needy people never see a dime of it, and this has been going on for years.

    This is where LaRaza the ACLU and all of these other groups should be helping...with all their money, if they cared about the poor they would be out helping the poor all over this Hemisphere.

    BECAUSE WE CAN NOT TAKE THEM ALL IN HERE!!!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Bowman's Avatar
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    You are right sosad, our government should stop handing out foreign aid money and let private parties do it. Of course the Obamatron wants to INCREASE government aid to these corrupted countries.
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