Marching for One More Penny: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Pickets Publix Supermarkets in Tampa Bay
University of South Florida
Not My Usual Walk to the Grocery Store
It’s 11:00am on Saturday and I walk out of my second floor apartment after finishing my coffee. In the distance I hear car horns honking, cheers, and an indiscernible chant. I immediately recognize the energized din as part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) second day of protesting, four blocks away at my neighborhood grocery store, Publix. The CIW is a community-based activist organization that started in Immokalee, Florida, one of the state’s key agricultural towns. Founded in 1993, the CIW advocates for the rights of agricultural workers across the country. Through its successful Fair Food Campaign, the CIW has negotiated with retailers like Whole Foods and fast food chains such as Subway, Burger King, and Taco Bell to pay growers one penny more for produce, allowing growers to increase compensation for farmworkers.
As I walk towards my neighborhood Publix I begin to identify words in the chant, having heard them from the protests that started the day before:
“Up, up with the fair food nation! Down, down with the exploitation!”
I arrive at the Publix I frequent two to three times a week and am stunned by how unfamiliar it looks; the ordinarily desolate sidewalk surrounding the store teems with protestors wearing bright green shirts, carrying signs with slogans about farmworker hardship or calling for corporate responsibility. “Publix profits from Poverty,” reads one sign; “Consumers Crave a Living Wage,” reads another.
There are far more protestors at this Publix than the one I had visited the day before, and I join the protest line as one of the organizers yells a new chant for us to follow:
“No more slaves! Pay a living wage!” Read more…
One week after the start of the disaster in Japan, earthquake-induced power outages, food shortages, and the fear of radiation has prompted migration out of some regions and in some cases out of the country altogether. One news analyst even asks: Is the nuclear refugee the next type of environmental migrant?
The devastating impact of the earthquake and tsunami upon Japan’s largely invisible population of unauthorized immigrants remain to be seen. The January 1995 Kobe earthquake that killed 5,300 people and left 300,000 homeless prompted many unauthorized migrants to seek exit visas to leave Japan at their own expense. As this historical example shows, unauthorized migrants are not entitled to housing or other assistance that is made available to quake victims. Yesterday, the Migration Policy Institute posted a snapshot of the most recently available statistics on foreign nationals in the country, along with a link to their 2006 report on Japanese immigration policy. According to the information, 91,000 people overstayed their visas, plus another 13,000 to 22,000 estimated to have entered the country without authorization. Together, unauthorized migrants represent about 5 percent of the foreign nationals in Japan.
Some reports over the past days indicate that relatives of migrant workers from the Philippines have been unable locate them on official lists of the missing. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) lists over 4,300 Filipinos in Japan. The DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs has set up a crisis management center for those concerned about the welfare of their family members.
Access Denied welcomes any reports on the situation of unauthorized migrants in Japan following the disasters. You can send us information at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply post replies here.
News from the US:
- Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As the Irish have done for the last 150 years, many continue to leave the economic situation in their homeland in the hopes of finding something better in New York. Still, many lament that American laws make it exceedingly difficult for immigrants without work visas to find a legal job.
- A court-appointed guardian’s decision to remove the feeding tube of a Rwandan immigrant, Rachel Nyirahabiyambere, exposes the debate over caring for patients in persistent vegetative states. Three weeks later, a judge has ordered that a Nyirahabiyambere be given nutrition and hydration immediately.
- Many states have pledged to toughen up on illegal immigration. Now, with some legislatures winding down their sessions, the lack of consensus that has immobilized Congress has shown up in the legislatures as well, and has slowed — but not stopped — the advance of bills to penalize illegal immigrants.
- In the first move by a state to extend legal recognition to illegal immigrant laborers, the Utah Legislature has passed immigration bills that include a guest worker program that would allow unauthorized foreigners to work legally in the state.
- As many state legislatures consider laws to expand the role of local police departments in immigration control, police chiefs across the country say they are reluctant to take on these tasks and want clear lines drawn between local crime-fighting and federal immigration enforcement, according to a new report by the Police Executive Research Forum.
- Tens of thousands of migrant workers, mainly Egyptians, continue to flee Libya’s turmoil. In excess of 140,000 people have fled for neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.
- The film “Strangers No More,” which features a south Tel Aviv school attended by children whose families hail from 48 different countries, won the Academy Award for best short documentary on Sunday. Despite the attention, 120 children and their families face deportation from Israel in the coming week. In the coming days, AccessDenied will discuss this case in more depth.
- Up to 50 migrants have been hospitalized almost five weeks after going on hunger strike in Greece.
- The Philippine government announced last week that it was suspending the processing of labor applications for its citizens to work in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen as unrest continues to sweep the Middle East. Anthropologist Andrew M. Gardner is cited in the article. His recent book, City of Strangers, offers a glimpse into the fragile social contract of low income migrant workers in Gulf nations.
- Sweden has seemed immune to the kind of anti-immigrant sentiment blossoming elsewhere in Europe. Nearly a quarter of the population is now foreign born or has a foreign-born parent. But increasingly, Swedes are questioning liberal policies and anti-immigration parties are on the rise. Read more…