23 and living with HIV - One Woman's story
Massachusetts town bans term 'illegal' when referring to those here illegally
Last week, the Somerville Board of Aldermen passed a resolution, agreeing to refrain from using the term "illegals" when referring to people who are in the country illegally.
The aldermen took the measure after being confronted by a group of teenagers, many of whom are apparently here illegally. Their appearance was organized by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities.
One of those teens who addressed the board, was 14-year-old Elis Melara who complained about her cousin's deportation, and how he was referred to as "illegal," which she claims has changed her life forever.
"The way he said those words made me angry. The officer made him seem like a criminal. He was talking about my cousin like he didn't matter. He matters to me. The word 'illegal' is a wrong way to describe a human being. A better word is 'undocumented.' I am thankful that I am an American and can do something about it."More teens addressed the board, telling similar stories, claiming the word is somehow 'dehumanizing.'
Apparently, their tales of woe were well directed...
Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente, exclaimed: "Undocumented or not, these kids are victims by circumstance and I think it's important we give them some dignity and show some support. Undocumented or not, they want the same things we want, what other children want."
Mayor Joe Curtatone then voiced his support for Obama's so-called 'executive order DREAM Act.' and added: "In this community we've always been a city of hope for immigrants around the world. We made it clear here that whatever your status is, wherever you're from, we are your mayor, we're your aldermen, this is your city and we're here to service you," he said, hoping for some immigration reform after the elections"
Following the meeting, board president, Tom Taylor, apologetically told the Somerville Journal: "I hadn't given it a thought until they brought to my attention how hurtful that term is, Some of their testimony is pretty heart wrenching."
Of course, Somerville not only has a large illegal alien population, but is also suffering from the crimes which such an influx of basically, untraceable individuals so often brings.
In November 2011, Alfredo Romero Posada, 22, was arrested and charged with a string of sexual assaults which occurred over a two-month period in Somerville and Medford.
According to Assistant District Attorney Ceara Mahoney, the first attack occurred on September 10, when Posada grabbed a 25-year-old woman's buttocks and crotch on Wallace Street in Somerville.
Then on September 24, Posada allegedly grabbed a 19-year-old Tufts University student from behind, pulling her to the ground where he sexually assaulted her.
The last attack came on October 22, when a 24-year-old Tufts graduate student was reportedly tackled by Posada in Medford. Posada did so "grunting and grinding," Mahoney said.
On the same day he was arrested, Posada was positively identified by all three victims.
Posada was charged with three counts of assault with intent to rape and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
A few days after his arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Posada is in the country illegally from El Salvador.
Lessons to be Learnt- Spain's Immigration Amnesty by Nicholas John Mead
The amnesty was seen as the only way to document the thousands of immigrants
that had entered Spain illegally.
It’s not every day that a country legalises 700,000 illegal immigrants. In fact, in Europe’s current climate of fear, it is almost unthinkable but in the summer of 2005 that’s exactly what the Spanish government did. Between February and May of that year, Spain’s estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrants were given three months to apply for official papers with the main conditions being that they must prove they had been there more than six months and had an employer willing to sponsor them. It was the biggest amnesty in European history and all the more remarkable when you consider at the same time, countries such as the UK were tightening-up immigration laws even though it only had a net intake of a mere 150,000 immigrants a year.
It was in fact Spain’s sixth amnesty in 15 years and hailed by the government as a wholesale success with around 700,000 workers legalised and the social security coffers subsequently boosted by €1.5 billion. With workers’ families included, it was estimated more than a million people would no longer have to hide from police or workplace inspectors. But in the aftermath of the amnesty, it is clear that the scheme has not been the immigrant dream-ticket it might appear. Many successful applicants say they have merely been granted a stay of execution whilst many others have been left frustrated by bureaucracy, exploited by employers and disillusioned. “The amnesty-schemes are not a long-term solution to Spain’s illegal immigration problem,” says Isabel Martinez of Barcelona based charity SOS Racismo. “Of course many immigrants lives will be made easier in the short-term but hundreds of thousands of others remain illegal and the number will only grow.” One recent report in Catalonia has even concluded that the amnesty has done nothing to improve the situation in the region predicting that there will be more illegal immigrants here at the end of the year than before the amnesty began.
Spain’s regular amnesties have been justified by successive governments as the only way to deal with the explosion in immigration as the country’s economy boomed during the 1990´s. According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute, the country now has 3.69 million immigrants in its population of 44 million – in 1999 there were fewer than 750,000. However, it was obvious from the start of this last amnesty that many illegal immigrants would not even be able to apply. Applicants had to prove they arrived in Spain before 8th August 2004, had been working continuously and had no criminal record in their home country. Crucially, one of the few documents acceptable as proof of arrival in the country was the empadronamiento which proves a person has registered with the local council entitling them to use the public health service. This immediately ruled-out many since understandably, very few illegal immigrants dared register themselves with the authorities when they arrived. Those that did or managed to find alternative proof of their arrival then had to convince their employers to admit to the authorities that they had been employing illegal immigrants. This obviously put many illegal workers in a highly vulnerable position. Employers knew they faced fines of up to €60,000 if they continued to employ immigrants without papers but also realised that they would have to pay backdated tax and social security contributions on all employees they legalised.
This created a situation where many unscrupulous employees either
blackmailed workers or forced them into precarious positions. One
Guatemalan immigrant, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains
the situation he
faced with his employer in a bar. “My boss refused to help me so
I went to a lawyer and he told me that my only option was to register
myself as an autonomous worker under the category of ‘domestic
servant’. I did this and eventually my employer co-operated on
the last day of the amnesty. I was given a reference number to
track my application on an Internet site and after three months, my application
appeared as accepted. I’ve been told I have to re-apply for the
residency papers within a year and will only be granted permission
to stay if I remain a ‘domestic servant’ and can prove my
employer will employ me continuously for the following year. At the end
year, I have to do it all again although I am allowed to work in
another sector by then. Its also cost me a lot of money because of the
and because I’m registered as autonomous which means I pay an extra €130
per month. Life at work has become increasingly difficult because
my boss now treats me like I owe her a favour for all this too.”
Even the supposed successes of the amnesty seem increasingly dubious. A recent study by the independent Catalan societal research group Fundació Jaume Bofill concluded that there are still more than 130,000 illegal immigrants in Catalonia alone and that if the current rate of influx continues, by the end of the year, there would be more illegal immigrants living in Spain than before the amnesty began. The report highlighted the fact that many will struggle to qualify for renewal in a year.
Despite it’s failings, the Spanish immigration amnesty is nevertheless a novel attempt at dealing with the problem. However, until the fundamental causes are acknowledged, such immigration schemes will never be a solution. It should be remembered that most of Spain’s predominantly Latin American and North African immigrants are fleeing economic ruin or political persecution in their own countries and the blame for much of that lies much closer to home. Whilst Western governments and corporations continue to dictate the same kind of economic policies that have destroyed many South American economies or left Africa mired in debt and poverty, the number of immigrants desperate enough to live somewhere illegally will only grow.
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