Thursday, August 27, 2009

How could affect Immigrants the closure of 300 post offices?

The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it is offering up to 30,000 employees a $15,000resignation bonus to leave their jobs. The initiative would cost the USPS $450 million but could save another $500 million over the next fiscal year and a possibility of a major delays on the process of delivering mail on the peak season (Christmas).

Trimming back and going lean. It's like the Richard Simmons diet, for the post office.

And this no-carb plan offers participating employees an initial payment of $10,000 in the coming October followed by $5,000 in October 2010. Desk clerks, distribution center mail handlers and clerks, and motor vehicle technicians are eligible for the resignation bonus program. And they have until September 25th 2009 to decide.

The slow economy is not the only factor that has motivated the cutting measures. With increasing online and electronic communications, the USPS has already been experiencing a steady decline in mail deliveries. That decline paired with advances in technology, automating more aspects of the postal collection and sorting process, have created the need for fewer employees. In the current year alone, mail volume has dropped 12.6 percent. And if a $2.4 billion third-quarter loss wasn't difficult enough news, the projection of $7 billion as the total year's loss gives perspective for the job eliminations.

The resignation bonus is one of several cost-lowering efforts that also involved closing 300 post offices across the country, cutting over 100 million work hours, and mandating hiring and salary freezes for top executives.

The USPS negotiated the plan with workers unions, American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

The success of the plan will be telling. If it meets a positive response, it could spark a re-emergence of the USPS---perhaps a leaner, greener machine equipped to adapt to the country's changing needs. And a best-case scenario for resignation bonuses in the Post Office could serve as a catalyst for other similar incentives in other government agencies.

The Postal Service lost $2.4 billion during its third quarter and forecasts a $7 billion year-end loss, according to figures released earlier this month. The financial woes can be tied in large measure to roughly $7 billion in mandated payments to fund current and future retiree health benefits. Postal officials say they will not make the payments for future retiree benefits if it faces an expected cash shortfall next month.

The decision to offer buyouts comes amid several other cost-cutting moves. The Postal Service may close about 300 post offices across the country, mostly in dense urban areas, while selling off other expensive, but underused, retail locations. It has already cut more than 100 million work hours this year, equal to 57,000 positions. It mandated a nationwide hiring freeze and salary freeze for top executives, stopped post office construction projects and closed six regional offices.

Can we have the change you promised Mr. Obama?

It’s amazing that more people haven’t come around to it, but the Homeland Security are very threatening, at least here in California, NY, Arizona, Texas and Oregon.
I ask you, how many Americans actually carry their passports as proof of citizenship? Yet, this is what is required by the good Sheriff Arpaio, Lou Dobbs, Glen Beck and the Homeland INSecurity department; if you do not have any other picture ID documentation showing that you are a legal person in our country.
The reality is that you and I could be walking down the streets of any city minding our own business, innocent of any crime, but stopped and jailed for being or look like Mexican, Latino and not having the correct documentation showing our citizenship to the USA. This is another case of the dysfunctional and obsolete Immigration system. For millions there are no hope out there.

Jaime Mesa is the father, businessman and Woodside, Queens, resident for 43 years who was detained Aug. 13 by immigration authorities and is in danger of being deported.

"Things are looking up a little," said Jaime Mesa, referring to a temporary stay of his brother's deportation order.

"He is still in jail, but we have had a lot of support from hundreds of people who know Jorge, from friends and elected officials who have written letters or made phone calls on his behalf."

Home, of course, is not in the Colombia of his birth, but in Woodside with his fiancée, Olga Lucía Celis, a U.S. citizen, and their toddler son, Christian Enrique.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) has written a letter to Christopher Shanahan, director of the New York field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in support of Mesa.

"I am strongly appealing to you to release Mr. Mesa while his attorney continues to work his case," Crowley wrote. "He turned his life around and has never encountered a problem since he was a teenager.

"He has become a successful businessman and is the proud father of a 14-month-old child. To deport him would be a hardship for not only him but his entire family."

Held at the Monmouth Correctional Institute in Freehold, N.J., Mesa's major concern is the future of his fiancée and his son.

"My family is my great worry," he said in a telephone interview.

Mesa's predicament stems from a 1981-1983 drug-related sentence. But as Crowley pointed out, in the past 26 years Mesa has never had a problem. More importantly, Mesa has earned the love and respect of all who know him.

"In all the years I have been assisting my constituents, I have never seen such an outpouring of support from the community [like the one] on Mr. Mesa's behalf," Crowley wrote Shanahan.

Like Crowley, Christina Hall, Mesa's lawyer, is amazed at the support her client has received from hundreds of people.

"He was just given a temporary stay of deportation so the Bureau of Immigration Appeals has time to go over the paper work," Hall said. "Monday, I sent them a 30-page addendum with 30 more letters in support of my client."

City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens), who is running for public advocate, is outraged at what Mesa and his family are going through.

"I really want to help him. What's happening to Mesa is heartbreaking and wrong," said Gioia, who told the Daily News he is getting in touch with Crowley and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand about Mesa's case. "Breaking up his family and deporting him does not do any good to anybody," Gioia added.

Gillibrand also wrote to the Department of Homeland Security requesting that Mesa be allowed to remain with his family while his appeal is pending, said Glen Caplin, her spokesman.

But it is in the dozens of e-mails that people from Woodside have sent to the Daily News where Mesa's unusual human qualities are best reflected.

"I have lived in Woodside all my life. In the past 16 years I cannot remember a time when Jorge Mesa wasn't around. My entire family has vacationed with him upstate for as long as I can remember and it would not be the same without him," said an e-mail from Jaime Fitzgerald. "He is a hardworking, kind-hearted man and Woodside would be suffering a big loss if he was deported."

Clearly this is the general feeling in Woodside. Let Mesa go home to his family and his community where he belongs.

US has barred HIV-positive travellers and potential immigrants from entering the country since 1987.

An Aug 16 rally in support of lifting all travel restrictions on HIV positive visitors to the United States took place at the Peace Arch at the Canada-US border. Canadian Martin Rooney, who was denied entry into the United States in 2007 because he is HIV positive, organized the event. “Please Mr Obama lift this ban now,” said Rooney to approximately 30 attendees. “There is no medical science to support that HIV is a contagious disease that presents a threat to public health or national security of the United States.” He said the immediate publication of new regulations removing remaining travel restrictions would be “an enormous step forward” in treating HIV positive people with the dignity they deserve.”Former US president George W Bush lifted an outright ban in 2008, but HIV positive visitors are still required to submit a waiver before entering the United States. On World AIDS Day 2006, Bush instructed the secretary of homeland security to “initiate a rulemaking that would propose a categorical waiver for HIV-positive people seeking to enter the United States on short-term visas.”At the time, AIDS activists were cautiously optimistic but wary about what shape the new rules would take.The US has barred HIV-positive travellers and potential immigrants from entering the country since 1987. Congress codified this policy in 1993, as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), meaning it would take an act of Congress to reverse the ban completely.Under the new rules, waiver applicants would have to agree to give up the ability to apply for a change in status while in the US, including applying for legal permanent residence.Applicants would also have to travel with all of their HIV meds needed during the trip, prove they have medical insurance accepted in the US, and prove they won’t engage in behaviour that might put the American public at risk.David Parsons, who enjoys travelling to Seattle to watch professional sports, spoke about his experience with the new waivers. “Once you figure out the process, it takes maybe five days to get [the waiver],” he said. “It’s pretty easy and it costs $135. It’s not the best but it’s an improvement. You just go to an American consulate website and click on visa and you just follow the instructions from there.”But Rooney opposes the waiver on principle.“If I have a contagious disease of significant public threat to the United States and its people then $135 US doesn’t make me any less of a threat,” he said. “So on those grounds alone I will not apply for the United States waiver.”The restrictions, according to many rally attendees, serve as a reminder of the stigma faced by people living with HIV and AIDS. Sonia Marino, who works for an AIDS service organization, says she knows many people who face discrimination at the border due to their perceived HIV status.