Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

Christmas day is fast approaching and many are wondering if their Christmas wishes will come true. Retailers are hoping for a boost in sales, Senate Democrats are hoping to keep their act together and pass health care legislation, children are hoping they were good enough for Santa and families in Minnesota are bracing for a major winter storm and hoping it won’t totally ruin their Christmas celebrations.

For some families, a winter storm is the least of their worries. Last week  I struck up a conversation with a recently hired co-worker. He was a short fellow with an ever-present smile and eager to do his share of work. His english was broken but still good enough that we could converse. A recent immigrant to the U.S., he and his wife and many other families have relocated to Worthington from a refugee camp in Thailand where he spent the last ten years of his life. He is a native of Karen, a region in southeastern Burma bordering Thailand. His two sons are in Canada and he still has a daughter in a refuge camp in Thailand. Other family members are now in Australia. Of course our conversation turned to politics and government and he did not hesitate to show his disdain for the Burmese government and the military junta control over virtually everything. He also made sure that I understood that he was Karen, proud of it, and that there was a difference.

The Karen people have sought independence from Burma since 1949. Charges of ethnic cleansing and religious persecution have been leveled at the Burmese government, now known as the Republic of Myanmar. The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) has been documenting the plight of the Karen people for over 17 years and has a wealth of information in the form of reports, pictures and video on its website. KHRG also can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

My Christmas wish? Health and happiness to all my family and friends, a world without war and a future where my new union brother will be able to reunite his entire family.

Kawthoolei is the name used by the Karen people for the state they wish to establish. It has several possible meanings: Flowerland, Land without Evil, and The Land Burnt Black. Whatever its meaning, I know that it is a beautiful country ravaged by war.

 Here is a video of  traditional Karen music:

Here is a video with a series of clips. Beautiful, interesting and sad.

Peace & solidarity,


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A little over three weeks ago, ICE was in Worthington, Minnesota to conduct an “enforcement action”. The February 28th edition of the Worthington Daily Globe reported:

“Immigration officials were closed-mouthed Wednesday about what they were doing in Worthington, but did say they were conducting an enforcement operation targeting specific individuals in the area… “

In a recent conversation with a friend and coworker of mine I found out that “targeting specific individuals” must mean that if you don’t look like you just came off the farm and are not saying ” you betcha” a lot, it must mean that you are undocumented. He had went to pick up some items from a local retail store and was leaving the store when two men approached him and asked for his identification. Being a good union brother that respects but likes to challenge authority, he asked them who the hell they were and did not produce any ID. They replied that they were with Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and again asked for his identification. He asked for identification from them and they finally produced it. After verifying their id’s my friend offered them his driver’s license. The ICE agents apparently were not satisfied with that and asked to see his Green Card. Well, after telling them that he did not have a Green Card because he is a citizen, they took his drivers license to a van where they have all their secret Homeland Security electronic gizmo’s and checked it out. Returning a few minutes later they told him he was free to go. Before leaving he asked why he was stopped and was told ” he didn’t need to know”.

I often hear people say that if you are here legally that you do not have anything to fear from the government. Fortunately for my coworker, the verification process worked this time. If their data was inaccurate or incomplete what would have happened? What is disturbing is that he was chosen at random because he did not fit the profile of a SW Minnesota native. ICE officials say they do not randomly pick up people. Apparently the agents in the field did not get the memo.

Here is a video of Jim Carrey (a native Canadian who is also now a U. S. citizen) doing a parody of Vanilla Ice.

Peace & solidarity,

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar spent some time in southwest Minnesota the last two days as part of her Main Street tour. In 2007 she visited all of Minnesota’s 87 counties and is planning to do the same this year. Today her agenda included six of those counties and I was able to catch part of her presentation and Q & A in Worthington after I got off work. The Farm Bill, Iraq, the economy, immigration, veteran’s issues etc. were discussed. The event at the Blue Line Cafe attracted a mixture of local citizens, DFL activists, and local media.

I think more people should take the opportunity to visit with Senator Klobuchar. She is to be commended for her effort to meet with constituents and to hear their concerns. I did get a brief opportunity to personally discuss with the Senator the Bush administration’s NLRB and its attack on workers ,and the Employee Free Choice Act. 

When Senator Klobuchar comes to county near you make the effort to see her and hear what she has to say and voice your concerns!


Senator Amy Klobuchar addresses

the crowd at the Blue Line

in Worthington


Peace & solidarity


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Max Blumenthal’s video, Generation Chickenhawk: With The College Republicans, filmed at the College Republican national convention show us their true colors. All of the National Guard members who put off their college to fulfill their obligation should see this. Former Texas Congressman Tom Delay (what a role model) spoke at the convention and has some interesting ideas about abortion and immigration plus there is a hilarious conversation about being gay with an almost gay republican.

Watch the video below:

Peace and solidarity,


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This week I happened to catch a little bit of the GOP presidential debate not because I intended to watch it but because the television was on as I walked by on my way outside to work on the yard. I was stopped in my tracks when I heard the comments of Rep. Duncan Hunter (GOP) of California. He was responding to a question about immigration and proceeded to make a statement that was so outrageous that I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. Watch the video above.

Rep. Hunter talked about the ICE raids at the Swift & Co. plants and got most of the facts wrong and then proceeded to say, American citizens were lined up the next day to get their jobs back at $18.00 an hour.”

 I happen to have a little knowledge about those particular raids. I work in one of the plants that was targeted in Worthington, Minnesota. Rep. Hunter refered to the raids as happening in Iowa and said there were about 850 illegals arrested.

Let’s see if we can do a little fact checking here.

The ICE action(read ICE press release) targeted Swift & Company plants in Greeley, Colo., where Swift is based; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, MN. NOT JUST IOWA!

Over 1280 immigrants were arrested.

No one was lined up for jobs at the plant I work at the next day and I am reasonably certain that was the case for the other locations.  It has taken over five months for the company to get staffing back to pre-raid levels. Read the Swift press release here. There are a few reasons why that did not happen. The company was not prepared to do any hiring at that moment because they were busy assesing the remaining workforce and they were looking at how they were going to meet production demands. The biggest reason there were not lines for those $18.00 an hour jobs: They do not exist.

The starting rate for production jobs at the Worthington, Minnesota Swift plant is $11.50 and hour. Yes, $11.50 an hour. The plant at Marshalltown, Iowa has a similar starting rate. The production employees are represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers union and I have seen the contracts for both plants.

Was Rep. Hunter lying to make a point? Was he confused? Did a low level campaign worker misinform him? Maybe he was suggesting that Swift pay $18.00 an hour for hew hires (great idea). Perhaps he  just doesn’t know how to ‘google the internets’  to get information . He certainly demonstrated the willingness to use his so called facts to support his position. What kind of facts does he use on issues like Iran, Korea and Iraq? What is his position on the sale of Swift & Co. to a foreign company?

If you follow the news the immigration bill crashed and burned in the Senate. I have my own views on this issue but won’t get into those in this post. For backgound and reaction to the ICE raid in Worthington check out a collection of news articles from the Worthington Daily Globe here.

Because of his actions and statements Rep. Duncan Hunter earns the honor of


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