Friday, September 2, 2011

President Obama’s illegal immigrant uncle had Social Security ID

President Obama’s accused drunken-driving uncle — who was busted after a near collision with a Framingham cop — has had a valid Social Security number for at least 19 years, despite being an illegal immigrant ordered to be deported back to Kenya, the Herald has learned.

The president’s 67-year-old uncle, Obama Onyango, has had a valid Massachusetts driver’s license and Social Security number since at least 1992, said Registry of Motor Vehicles spokesman Michael Verseckes.

Onyango, whose sister, Zeituni Onyango, made headlines when it was revealed she was an illegal immigrant living in public housing in South Boston, was wobbly legged, “slurring” and had “red and glassy eyes” when he was pulled over at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Waverly Street in Framingham.

A marked cruiser pulled him over just past the Chicken Bone saloon, about a mile from Onyango’s single-family home. Onyango, the half-brother of the president’s father identified in some press accounts as “Uncle Omar,” initially denied drinking but admitted having “two beers” after police said they smelled booze on his breath, according to a police report.

“It was clear that he was moderately unsteady on his feet,” Framingham Officer Val Krishtal wrote.

Onyango’s white Mitsubishi SUV was pulled over after the vehicle made a sudden right turn in front of a cruiser at a stop sign, causing Krishtal to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. Onyango blew a .14 on the Breathalyzer and continually interrupted the officer, the report states.

“(Onyango) spoke English well, albeit with a moderate accent. I detected what I believed to be some slurring as he spoke,” Krishtal wrote.

Onyango was ordered held without bail on a federal immigration warrant after his arraignment Thursday in Framingham District Court. Court papers show he was the subject of a previous deportation order. He was being held in the Plymouth House of Correction last night.

Mike Rogers, a spokesman for Cleveland immigration attorney Margaret Wong, who is representing Onyango, said he “wouldn’t know how” Onyango obtained a Social Security number. Wong is the same lawyer who represented the president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, in her fight to win asylum last year. Reached at her apartment in a South Boston public housing complex yesterday, Zeituni Onyango said of her brother’s arrest: “Why don’t you go to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., and ask your president? Not me.” She then hung up on a reporter.

The bust came just days after another illegal immigrant was charged with running down and killing a 23-year-old man in Milford.

Asked about the issue yesterday, Gov. Deval Patrick said: “You know my stance: Illegal is illegal. We need comprehensive immigration reform.”


Labor Dept. Signs 'Partnerships' with Foreign Gov’s to Protect Illegal Workers in U.S.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis today signed "partnership" agreements with ambassadors from a group of Latin American nations aiming to protect what she described as the labor rights of both legal and illegal migrants working in the United States.

During the signing ceremony hosted at Labor Department headquarters in Washington D.C., Solis said the agreements are aimed at educating migrant workers, regardless of how they got here, about their rights under U.S. law and to help prevent them from being abused in the workplace, either through wages, loss of job, or deportation.

When asked by, she made clear the agreements aim at protecting both documented and undocmented workers inside the United States.

In her address at the signing ceremony, Solis asserted that all migrant workers have a “right to a legal wage”--even though the Labor Department itself states that under U.S. law, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), “employers may hire only persons who may legally work in the United States (i.e., citizens and nationals of the U.S.) and aliens authorized to work in the U.S.”

The INA “protects U.S. citizens and aliens authorized to accept employment in the U.S. from discrimination in hiring or discharge on the basis of national origin and citizenship status," states the Labor Department Web site.

Nevertheless, during the signing ceremony today, Solis said, “No matter how you got here or how long you plan to stay, you have certain rights. You have the right to be safe and in a healthy workplace and the right to a legal wage. We gather here today to strengthen our shared commitment to protect the labor rights of migrant workers in the United States. Unfortunately, due to language barriers and immigration status, migrant workers can be those that are most vulnerably abused.”

“We’re committed to ending that abuse and in a few moments we’ll sign a new partnerships between the Department of Labor and the embassies of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador,” she said. “These are pledges between our governments to work together to educate migrant workers about their labor rights and prevent abuses in the workplace.”

“During the past year, we’ve signed similar agreements with the embassies--and I’m very proud of this--the embassies of Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala,” said Solis, “and going forward we’ll be pursuing accords with governments from South East Asia and others in the Caribbean wanting to educate and protect those most vulnerable workers that live and reside in this country.”

“We understand that many migrant workers in America are afraid to report mistreatment because it can lead to more abuse, the loss of job, a job, or deportation,” she said. “With these partnerships we seek to remove those fears.” spoke to Solis on video after the ceremony about U.S. labor laws, asking, “Both documented and undocumented workers will be protected under U.S. labor laws?”

“It has always been the case under previous Republican as well as Democratic administrations. All we’re doing is enforcing the law and we’re allowing for other individual groups and partnerships with other consulate offices to work with us in expanding our reach in information,” Solis said. “What we’re trying to avoid is that vulnerable communities be abused and that there be an increase in more underground activity, economic activity that goes untapped, those monies that are being paid to workers.”

“In some cases taxes aren’t being appropriately paid, those taxes should go into our [U.S.] Treasury, and if everyone is brought out of the shadow in that manner, then we’ll have more assistance to protect people, we’ll have better competitive businesses,” she said. “It’s not fair for businesses who come into this country or are working in this country now and abuse workers. So we’re trying to rectify that and with that we hope that there will be more awareness and there’ll be better, how can I say, policies and documentations that can counter all that negativity that we’re seeing occurring when we’re seeing a downturn in our economy. That’s when most vulnerable are abused when there’s a downturn in the economy.”

Altogether, the envoys to the United States that have signed the agreements include those from the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. Also, envoys from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala had signed the agreement prior to today’s ceremony.

On Monday, Solis said, “Immigrant workers are an important part of our American labor force fabric,” adding that they work in jobs that are “low paying and difficult to do, but they also pay taxes, they pay rent, they buy groceries, and some even open businesses and we’re grateful for their contribution to our economy.”

According to the Labor Department, the declarations signed today state that the department’s Wage and Hour Division will “protect the rights of migrant workers in low-wage industries such as hospitality and agriculture, while OSHA [the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration] will continue efforts to improve workplace safety and health conditions as well as provide outreach and assistance to Spanish-speaking workers and employers.”

Under the declarations, the embassies and consulates that signed the agreements will work with the regional enforcement offices of OSHA and the Wage Hour Division to disseminate information about U.S. health, safety, and wage laws.

Two labor union leaders were invited to speak at today’s ceremony, Eliseo Medina from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s Joseph Hansen.

Today’s ceremony marked the first day of Labor Rights Week, which was started by the Mexican consulate in 2009. During Labor Rights Week, the Labor Department works in conjunction with 50 Mexican consulates across the nation to bring U.S. labor law education to migrant workers and their employers.

This year’s Labor Rights Week is focused on migrant women in the workplace.

“On behalf of President Barrack Obama, we stand together to denounce hatred, violence, and prejudice and recommit ourselves to protecting migrant women in the American workplace,” said Solis at today’s event.

Speaking Spanish to the ambassadors who attended the event, Solis vowed to continue fighting for immigration reform in this country.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, in a June 17 memo, directed its officials to use “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding which illegal aliens to remove from this country, including those involved in union organizing or who have legitimate complaints about employment discrimination or housing conditions.


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