Judicial Watch yesterday obtained, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, documents showing that, as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Hilda Solis drew a press gaggle when she visited illegal aliens in Maryland last spring and urged them to assert their “federal rights.” Judicial Watch’s investigation was prompted a year ago by an article in Washington Hispanic newspaper on June 1, 2012, which quoted Solis as saying: “[Barack Obama] knows very well that it is very important to preserve the rights of the Hispanic community and of other communities, in any area where they are working. The federal laws are very clear and protect all workers equally, whether or not they have papers.” What follows are some highlights from the records released yesterday in response to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit of March 13, 2013:
- A similar sentiment was expressed in the agency’s internal newsletter of May 31, 2012 covering the event: “This administration . . . will not be satisfied until everyone that wants to work finds a job,” Solis said. “And that’s what our partnership with CASA de Maryland offers.” This edition of the DOL newsletter was routed to White House publicists Amy Brundage and Shannon Gilson by Labor Spokesman Carl Fillichio, who recently offended DOL staffers by emailing them a game called “Lent Madness,” which involved eliminating Episcopal saints in a Fantasy-Football style tournament.
- CASA, which stands for the Central American Solidarity Association, is a nonprofit founded in 1985 whose mission is to ensure that “all people – especially women, low-income people, and workers – can participate and fully benefit [in and from American society], regardless of their immigration status,” according to a May 29, 2012 memo to the Secretary preparing her for the visit. Another May 29, 2012 memo developed in preparation for the Secretary’s visit characterizes CASA as being “located in a shopping center” and “the site of the largest corner for day laborers.”
- Also included in the agency’s release is a July 14, 2011 Washington Post profile of CASA’s director Gustavo Torres. According to the article, “nearly half of CASA’s $6 million budget comes from local, state, and federal appropriations.” The article goes on to state that “CASA uses a significant portion of that money to help illegal immigrants.” DOL awarded the organization $187,000 in 2012 according to a May 31, 2012 email also included in the production, indicating that the agency was well aware of the way taxpayer funds were being spent.
Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation into this issue has revealed that Solis’s prospective successor, former Deputy Attorney General Thomas Perez, served as Board President for CASA. Since Obama took office, CASA has secured $588,390 in grants from DOL and $1,182,390 from all federal agencies combined, according to official figures at usaspending.gov.
UPDATE July 9, 2013:
The records obtained on July 9, 2013 by compulsion of the court show that CASA, which bills itself the “go-to” organization for illegal alien advocacy in that state, boasts an annual operating budget in excess of $5,000,000. Notwithstanding CASA’s apparent strength and size, DOL continues to conceal funding sources for the organization, arguing that disclosing how much taxpayer funding it receives each year could cause the day laborer training center “competitive harm.”
Also notable in the agency’s supplemental production is the fact that both U.S. Senators for Maryland Mikulski and Van Hollen appear to have lobbied DOL through a process called “lettermarking,” for CASA to win Susan Harwood Training Grant from DOL’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Interestingly, though awarded $181,390 by OSHA, CASA offered none of the “intensive” safety training it promised in applying for the grant, concentrating its efforts instead on exceeding even its own goals in the delivery of labor rights training.
In its ongoing effort to protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce, the Obama Department of Labor (DOL) keeps entering “partnership agreements” with foreign countries vowing to preserve the rights of their migrants.
It’s one of several initiatives launched by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a former California congresswoman with close ties to the influential La Raza movement, to assist undocumented workers in this country. Under Solis the DOL even created a special division to enforce labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities.
The DOL also created a wasteful, bilingual smartphone app to help hourly workers “stand up for their rights” and file complaints against employers. A Judicial Watch investigation uncovered a scandal behind this particular program by exposing that a former DOL official got a noncompetitive contract—intended for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses—to create the app even though his lucrative company doesn’t qualify because its rakes in millions annually.
In the last year Solis has entered formal agreements with Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and India vowing to protect the rights of migrants from those countries who work in the United States. Under the decrees, DOL regional offices team up with local embassies and consulates from the foreign countries to distribute information to their citizens about their “rights” in the U.S.
This month, in a ceremony at DOL headquarters in Washington D.C., Solis entered similar agreements with Honduras, Peru, Ecuador and the Philippines. “Migrant workers make important contributions to our economy,” Solis said, adding that the contracts will “help ensure these workers are aware of the right to safe workplaces and to receive full payment of the wages owed to them under the laws of the United States.”
Much like the first batch of contracts, regional DOL enforcement offices will team up with local consulates to assist workers and together they’ll reach out to migrants with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws. The “cooperation” will also help both agencies identify problems faced by migrant workers and target labor law enforcement efforts, according to a DOL announcement.
Honduras’s ambassador called it an “important step” that will “promote the respect and defense of migrant workers’ rights.” Peru’s ambassador said the agreements will help “ensure the enforcement of fundamental human rights and responsibilities in the workplace.”
With no end in sight to the devastating unemployment rate, the nation’s Department of Labor (DOL) is dedicating nearly $11 million to foreign-language programs that help workers with “low literacy or limited English proficiency.”It marks the latest of many wasteful DOL initiatives aimed at helping Latinos (the feds’ code for illegal immigrants) working in the United States. Since President Obama appointed renowned open borders advocate Hilda Solis to head the agency, the former California congresswoman has dedicated vast resources to the cause.It’s safe to bet this won’t be the last. The DOL has just given a list of “community groups,” labor unions, colleges and “joint labor/management associations” $10.7 million to provide hands-on safety training and educational programs for “vulnerable” workers that lack education and don’t speak English. The idea is to eliminate hazards in some of the most dangerous industries, according to Solis.A quick glance of the grantee list reveals a common thread; all of them will provide training and materials in Spanish and at least one in Portuguese. Most will recruit “hard-to-reach workers” with “limited English” and “low literacy” in fields such as construction and manufacturing. A Washington D.C. environmental group will use its $48,000 grant to develop an online “hazard communications” for “weatherization professionals” in Spanish.Last spring Solis created a special program to assist illegal immigrants in the U.S. by deploying 1,000 new field investigators to reach out to Latino laborers in areas with large numbers of undocumented employees. The goal is to protect “vulnerable” and “underpaid” workers, according to Solis, who has close ties to the nation’s influential La Raza movement. Judicial Watch has sued the DOL to obtain records regarding the taxpayer-funded program that encourages illegal aliens to contact the government for wage assistance.A few months ago Solis entered formal agreements with two Central American countries vowing to preserve the rights of their migrants working in the U.S. Under the decree DOL 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. since “Latino workers suffer disproportionately from on-the-job heat injuries and illnesses.”Since Obama appointed her to run the DOL, Solis has also given the open borders most powerful group, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), more than $5 million to expand nationwide and promote its leftist agenda via a network of community organizations dedicated to serving Latinos. Read Judicial Watch’s exposé on how the NCLR’s federal funding has skyrocketed since one of its top officials got a job in the Obama White House.
The Obama Administration has threatened to strip a large Colorado cheese producer of its lucrative federal contracts if more minority workers aren’t hired pronto.Word came via a Department of Labor (DOL) notice accusing the company of “discriminating against qualified African-American, Asian and Hispanic applicants.” The agency, headed by a former California congresswoman (Hilda Solis) who has launched several initiatives to protect illegal immigrants, is also demanding back wages and job offers for minorities who were rejected for employment.Here is how the DOL determined that the company, Leprino Foods, is biased against the previously mentioned ethnic groups; only 49% of “otherwise qualified minorities” passed its jobs skills assessment exam compared to 72% of “non-minority” applicants. That means the test “adversely impacted minority applicants,” according to the DOL’s reasoning.If more minorities don’t get hired quickly the Denver-based producer of mozzarella cheese will be stripped of its lucrative government contracts and banned from entering any future deals with Uncle Sam, according to the feds’ ultimatum. It’s safe to bet that Leprino will oblige since the company stands to lose north of $5 million in government contracts. That’s a lot of cheese!The action against Leprino is part of a bigger effort by the Obama Administration to end workplace tests that top officials claim “discriminate” against minorities. A few months ago the Justice Department’s bloated civil rights division formally announced the administration’s commitment to eliminating written tests that discriminate against minorities in the workplace.Obama’s Assistant Attorney General in charge of civil rights, open borders advocate Thomas Perez, claims the exams have a “disparate impact” because they disproportionately screen out people of a particular race even though the tests “present the appearance of objective, merit-based selection.”