U.S. Promotes Mexican Immigrant Programs, Services

Edwin Garcia, San Jose Mercury News, June 7

U.S. government officials convened Monday in San Francisco to promote programs, services and benefits available to Mexican immigrants in this country, including those who are undocumented, under a binational effort aimed at protecting workers’ rights and improving the health of families.

The officials from the Department of Labor and Department of Agriculture spoke to dozens of representatives of Mexican consulates from throughout the western United States in a daylong training seminar aimed at jointly promoting immigrant rights.

“We are interested in making sure that all eligible people participate in our programs because we think our programs are very worthwhile,” said Allen Ng, a regional administrator with the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which provides meals to children in school, among other programs. “This partnership with the Mexican consulate is just another avenue for outreach.”

A regional administrator for the Labor Department, George Friday, told of how his agency’s Wage and Hour Division recouped more than $3 million for 17,000 plus workers in the past year who were owed paychecks from employers.

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“This is another indication that the federal government has absolutely no intention to curb illegal immigration,” said Yeh Ling-Ling, executive director of Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, an Oakland group that wants less immigration. “Americans should be outraged.”

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Another emphasis was on the programs provided by the Agriculture Department, such as food stamps, health brochures on diabetes printed in Spanish, and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, which provides nutrition services. Not all the department’s programs, though, are offered to illegal immigrants.

Officials of both countries said the partnership benefits the United States and Mexico in ways that each nation couldn’t achieve independently.

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