Undocumented workers abused in San Diego

Plus why Kenyans in U.S. are angry and why Texans are taking pipeline protest to treetops

Latitude News staff By Latitude News staff

A migrant worker eats a charity dinner in San Diego. (Reuters)

In towns and cities across the U.S., Americans are starting to realize that what happens in the rest of the world has an impact on their daily lives. The barrier between “local” and “global” news doesn’t mean what it once did. Latitude News brings you a round-up of stories from regional outlets that drive that point home.

  • Nearly one in three undocumented migrant workers in San Diego suffer from “labor trafficking” and other abuse, according to a report in U-T San Diego. Citing a Department of Justice-funded study of 826 Spanish-speaking migrant workers, the newspaper defines “labor trafficking” as including “holding a person hostage for ransom, keeping a migrant’s vital documents for leverage and assaulting a worker physically or sexually.” Janitors, construction workers and food processing workers reported the most abuse, surprising the study’s author, who expected the agriculture industry to be the most problematic. “Regardless of [the workers'] status it is a crime,” says the head of a civil rights group in San Diego. “Unscrupulous employers are getting away with it, so who are the criminals here?”
  • Thousands of Kenyan expatriates in the U.S. and around the world will not be allowed to vote in Kenya’s next national elections in March 2013, reports the New York Amsterdam News. Kenya’s Justice Minister made the announcement, saying his country’s electoral commission didn’t get its act together in time. He added that a more likely goal for Kenyans in the diaspora would see them become eligible to cast a ballot in 2017. The move predictably outraged many Kenyans living outside their native land, who sent more than one billion U.S. dollars in remittances to relatives in Kenya between January and September 2012. “It is a shame,” wrote one anonymous commenter on a Kenyan newspaper’s website, “that an undeveloped nation like Southern Sudan with its citizens spread out all over the world can pull an election off and yet Kenya, that boasts to be the regional leader, cannot pull one off.”
  • Don’t mess with East Texas. In protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, angry rural landowners and environmental activists have taken to the trees of Winnsboro, Texas, “living on wooden platforms 80 feet in the air,” according to the Texas Observer. The pipeline, which President Obama initially rejected in January before approving the Oklahoma to Texas link in March, would run from Canada to Texas’ Gulf Coast when completed. Its operator, the Canadian company TransCanada, claims Keystone XL will set a new standard in safety, but a 2012 report by Cornell University documented 35 leaks in two years from the current pipeline, which starts in Alberta, Canada and ends in Oklahoma. Latitude News has previously reported on opposition — and not from the usual suspects — to Keystone XL in both Canada and Texas. You can read that story here.