Labor Dept. Protects Central American Migrants
A year after launching a nationwide campaign to protect illegal immigrant workers in the U.S., the Obama Labor Department has entered formal agreements with two foreign countries vowing to preserve the rights of their migrants.Signed this week by the U.S., Guatemala and Nicaragua, the declaration will make it easier to protect the rights of migrants from those Central American countries who work in the United States. Under the decree, Labor Department regional offices will team up with local Guatemalan and Nicaraguan embassies and consulates to distribute information to their citizens about their “rights” in the U.S.It’s part of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’s plan to help illegal aliens, who she refers to as “vulnerable” and “underpaid.” Last year Solis, a former California congresswoman with close ties to the influential La Raza movement, deployed 1,000 new field investigators to enforce labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities.Also this week, Solis announced another initiative (Water Rest Shade) to help landscapers and farm and construction workers avoid illness and death related to heat exposure. Thousands of workers die annually after becoming sick from heat exposure on the job, according to the new government web site promoting that project.It goes on to say that “Latino workers suffer disproportionately from on-the-job heat injuries and illnesses,” which is why the heat campaign will “particularly reach out to those workers” with Spanish materials and publicity campaigns.To make its point, the Obama Administration uses the case of a pregnant, teen-age illegal immigrant farm worker who collapsed from heat exhaustion during a shift at a Californiavineyard. Two days later she died, according to the government story that points out there was no shade or water available to any worker on the site.In a related matter, a separate federal agency is holding a special forum this week to explore ways the nation can honor the contributions of Latinos. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will headline the powwow along with a “broad spectrum” of influential scholars and business and cultural leaders from the Latino community. The goal is to “better integrate and highlight” past and ongoing contributions of Latino women and men into the National Park Service.