Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, August 11, 2006
Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, August 11, 2006
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A. NEWS: AP "Guard member dies on border duty"
1. Star Tribune, "Words cloud 'illegals' debate. Experts say how we label
those who cross the border does affect public opinion."
2. Los Angeles Times, "Immigration Judges Get New Regulations: Atty. Gen.
Gonzales plans to hire more jurists and improve their performance after a
review of alleged abuses and incompetence."
3. Amarillo Globe News, "Police prepare for KKK: Residents asked to avoid
4. Three perspectives from center to right on PEW immigrants & jobs study:
A. Washington Post, "Study Finds Immigrants Don't Hurt U.S. Jobs: Pew
Detects No Link To Unemployment"
B. New York Times, "Immigration and Jobs Link Is Disputed"
C. Washington Times, "Study finds no harm in immigrant workers"
5. Link to NY Times graphic on immigrants & jobs issue
6. Chicago Tribune, "Border perils hit home: Mother who was cut while
crossing into U.S. dies from infection"
8. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Gets 4th Team to Deport Fugitive Illegal
Friday, August 11, 2006 · Last updated 7:21 a.m. PT
Guard member dies on border duty
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania National Guard member died after
collapsing during a training mission in the 100-plus degree heat of the
Arizona-Mexico border, a guard spokesman said Friday.
Spc. Kirsten Fike was two hours into the first day of a border surveillance
mission when she collapsed on Wednesday. She died the next day, guard
spokesman Capt. Cory Angell said.
Angell said the guard has not yet determined the cause of death.
Fike, 36, of Warren joined the guard last month after having served on
active duty in the Air Force, Angell said. She was a member of the
Greensburg-based detachment of the 28th Military Police Co. About 60 members
of the company were serving their annual two-week training by working along
President Bush announced plans in May to send 6,000 National Guard troops
from across the country to support the Border Patrol. Bush said the mission
would free up Border Patrol officers for active patrols while the guard
members built fences, conducted routine surveillance and took care of
National Guard member hospitalized in Yuma with heat stroke
Aug. 10, 2006 08:51 PM
YUMA - A female National Guard member was being treated Thursday at a
hospital here after suffering heat stroke while guarding the border along
the Colorado River, authorities said.
The woman, who was in her mid 20s, was not breathing when paramedics arrived
at the scene Wednesday afternoon, said Somerton/Cocopah Fire Department
spokesman Robby Rodriguez.
He said paramedics used an IV to pump fluids into her body and inserted a
breathing tube to revive her.
The woman was airlifted to Yuma Regional Medical Center, but there was no
immediate word on her condition.
It was 104 degrees in Yuma on Wednesday, according to the National Weather
Service. The incident was the first reported case of a heat-related illness
since the National Guard came to Yuma in June.
Arizona National Guard spokesman Paul Aguirre said the military has not yet
released the woman's name or what National Guard unit she was from.
Units from Arizona, Tennessee and Kentucky are operating in the Yuma sector
assisting the Border Patrol as part of Operation Jumpstart.
The operation stems from a plan announced in May by President Bush to deploy
up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border for about two
years to help local and federal law enforcement to stop illegal immigration.
Last update: August 09, 2006 – 10:54 PM
Words cloud 'illegals' debate
Experts say how we label those who cross the border does affect public
Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
What should you call the men and women who sneak across U.S. borders? The
answer goes to the heart of an issue dividing the nation.
To Dell Eriksson, they're "illegal aliens." 'Immigrant' -- as a term -- is
someone here lawfully," said Eriksson, a retiree from Brooklyn Center who
thinks the country lets in too many foreigners.
Nathan Thompson contends these people are "undocumented workers."The word
'illegal' conjures images of hardened criminals coming to the U.S. ... and
that is completely false," said Thompson, a teacher who lives in St. Paul.
"The phrases 'illegal alien' and 'illegal immigrant' appeal to base-level
emotions and cut off debate."
Few issues rile up immigration activists more than the words used to
describe men and women who cross the border without permission. They are the
subject of 30 U.S. House "field hearings" on immigration reform this summer,
including one scheduled for Sept. 1 in Dubuque, Iowa, that Minnesotans are
planning to attend.
The war of words is more than semantics, say researchers who study such
matters. What you call these men and women shapes public opinion of them,
and that in turn frames the debate over how to change immigration laws.
For example, if these people are "undocumented workers," the Senate's plan
to create a guest-worker program so they can work here legally would seem to
be the logical solution. But if they are "illegal aliens," the House
immigration proposal that focuses on tightening border security sounds like
a sensible approach.
The problem is, none of the descriptions is really accurate, said former
U.S. Immigration Commissioner Doris Meissner, now an analyst at the
Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. "This is not a simple thing,"
Many "undocumented" workers actually entered the country with documents, but
then overstayed their visas, she said. And immigrants can be legal or
illegal based simply on what country they're coming from.
A Cuban whose raft lands in the United States can lawfully enter the country
and become a U.S. resident within a year, she said. But a Mexican who swims
across the Rio Grande River has virtually no path to legal residency --
Meanwhile, individual immigrants are not necessarily illegal, but there can
be illegal immigration, Meissner said. Even the federal government can't
make up its mind. The U.S. Census Bureau calls them "unauthorized
immigrants." Other federal agencies refer to them as "illegal aliens."
At a Minnesota News Council forum this summer on how the news media cover
immigration, the language of immigration sparked pointed debate. Eriksson, a
self-described "old-school environmentalist" long concerned about U.S.
population growth, was among those in the audience. He thinks immigrant
rights groups are watering down the problem when they call people crossing
the border "unauthorized workers" or "undocumented workers."If these people
are 'unauthorized workers,' does that mean a bank robber is making an
'unauthorized withdrawal?' " he asked after the forum.
Others argued that people cannot be illegal. Or at the very least, people
who hire the workers should be labeled "illegal employers."
Lucy Smith, also in the audience, said the immigration language war is
deeply personal to her. She is a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust by
living underground for years, during an time when she was considered
"illegal" and to capture her would have been legal.
"I survived because I had the documents of someone else," said Smith, an
artist from St. Paul. "What is legal and illegal is very changeable. How
could we consider people's desire to simply get a job to support our
families to be illegal, particularly when we are not letting them in
Even the news media are divided on the wording. Fox News, for example, calls
them "illegal aliens." Most major newspapers call them "illegal immigrants,"
although the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls that term
George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of
California-Berkeley, argues that defining the issue as a question of
"illegal immigrants" or "undocumented workers" is too narrow to describe the
immigration problems facing the country. Those problems encompass business
hiring practices, U.S. foreign policy, the labor market and other issues.
"It takes a complicated problem and frames it so that the sole source of the
difficulty is the people who are crossing the border," Lakoff said.
Paul Westrum of Albert Lea, Minn., founder of Minnesota Coalition for
Immigration Reduction, says language has actually improved for immigrants
over the years. He recalled his grade school teachers calling migrant
workers "wetbacks" and also "Operation Wetback," which as launched during
the Eisenhower administration to repatriate Mexicans.
Calling these immigrants anything but "illegal" is simply wrong, he said.
Look up the words in the dictionary.
"All it does is fog the issue, and pretty soon people don't know what to
think," Westrum said.
Even Meissner grapples with wording. She said she has been using the terms
"unauthorized migrant" or "unauthorized immigrant" -- but not exclusively.
And she also uses the term "illegal" to describe the phenomena of
immigration, and sometimes to describe people as well.
"There's a lack of precise language," she laments.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511
Los Angeles Times
Immigration Judges Get New Regulations
Atty. Gen. Gonzales plans to hire more jurists and improve their performance
after a review of alleged abuses and incompetence.
By Richard B. Schmitt
Times Staff Writer
August 10, 2006
WASHINGTON — Under pressure from human rights groups, the Bush
administration announced plans Wednesday to improve the performance of
immigration judges, responding to reports of intemperate and abusive jurists
and complaints about how the system has dealt with a growing backlog of
The moves, announced by U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, include
establishing periodic performance evaluations and implementing proficiency
exams for judges who are appointed after Dec. 31.
Gonzales said that he also would seek to hire more immigration judges and to
add four members to the 11-person Board of Immigration Appeals.
The moves were among 22 recommendations made by a Justice Department task
force that Gonzales established in January to review the performance of the
nation's 224 immigration judges, including 55 in California.
The review was ordered after immigrant-rights groups alleged that judges
were wrongly deporting people or denying bids for political asylum because
of erroneous evidence or incompetence.
In one instance, an appellate board found that a political asylum case
involving an Albanian citizen was mishandled because the judge relied on
testimony from a document expert who did not speak or read Albanian. In
another case, a judge in Boston was suspended after he referred to himself
as "Tarzan" during a court proceeding for a Ugandan woman named Jane.
There have also been concerns that an overhaul of the immigration appeals
system, instituted in 2002 by then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, denied
noncitizens their rights to due process.
Ashcroft implemented measures aimed at helping the immigration appeals board
reduce a backlog of more than 50,000 cases.
Responding to pressure to clear the docket, the appeals board, which
traditionally worked in panels of three, began reviewing cases individually,
often rendering decisions within minutes and without explanation.
The rate at which board members ruled against foreigners facing deportation
soared. Those rulings, in turn, led to more appeals to the federal court
system, creating another large and cumbersome backlog.
A group of immigrant advocacy organizations had urged the Justice Department
to abandon Aschroft's measures and called for a return to a three-member
review process in all asylum cases.
The Justice review found that those measures had brought "much-needed
efficiency" to the administrative review process and had helped the board
reduce the backlog. At the same time, Gonzales proposed use of three-member
written opinions in certain complex cases.
The department also plans to draft a new code of conduct for immigration
judges and to institute new procedures for detecting judges of "poor conduct
"The review has left me reassured of the talent and professionalism that
exists in the immigration courts and at the Board of Immigration Appeals,"
Gonzales said. "But there is room for improvement, and I believe these new
measures will assist them greatly in their important work."
Eleanor Acer, who heads the asylum representation program for Human Rights
First, said the measures "do not correct all of the harmful changes. But
there are important reforms in here."
"There is a recognition of a need for additional funding to hire additional
judges and board members, and many of the changes here should improve the
training and oversight of judges," she said.
Amarillo Globe News
Police prepare for KKK
Residents asked to avoid rally
By Phillip Yates
Publication Date: 08/02/06
The Amarillo Police Department is girding its resources and finalizing its
plan to provide security for a Ku Klux Klan rally at City Hall on Saturday,
police officials said Tuesday.
With the Midland police offering advice from a KKK rally in that city in
June, police have crafted a plan they hope will make the Saturday
demonstration a "non-event," said Sgt. Randy TenBrink of the Amarillo Police
During the rally in Midland, authorities arrested five residents and two
Anti-Racist Action members, but no Klan demonstrators.
"We specifically went to Midland to talk to officers and watched footage
they have filmed," said TenBrink. "We felt that we could learn what worked
there and what didn't. We are extremely prepared.
"We know that from our plan that we will be able to handle any situation
that might arise."
The Empire Knights of Texas, a KKK group out of San Angelo, contacted
Amarillo city officials July 10 to request a demonstration permit, which the
city granted July 12.
The rally will be from 3 to 5 p.m.
Amarillo police sent a message to the media Tuesday telling residents to
avoid the KKK rally and the surrounding area near City Hall, and that police
will have a sufficient number of officers on duty to ensure that the rally
is a peaceful event.
Despite advising residents not to attend the rally and stating rules about
what items residents may bring to the rally site, the Amarillo Police
Department did not offer any other details about its plans to provide
security during the rally.
But a letter from the city's Traffic and Engineering Department to the
police shows some of the plans the city is making for the rally. The letter
authorized officers to make the following street closures from 11 a.m. to 6
# Buchanan Street from Southeast 10th Avenue to Southeast Fifth Avenue.
# Lincoln Street from Southeast Ninth Avenue to Southeast Seventh Avenue.
# Johnson Street from Southeast Ninth Avenue to Southeast Fifth Avenue.
# Southeast Sixth Avenue, Southeast Seventh Avenue and Southeast Eighth
Avenue also will be closed from Grant Street to Pierce Street.
Vicki Covey, community services director for the city, said the police
department requested the street closures to restrict traffic near the site.
Restricting access and reducing the drive-by traffic will enable police to
better protect residents and anyone else who attends the rally, she said.
"City Hall is so exposed on both sides," Covey said. "It will limit access
on the east and the west sides of the Civic Center and the south side of
According to police, the following items may not be brought to the rally
site at City Hall:
# No glass containers.
# No objects, including flagpoles, with a diameter greater than 3/8 of a
inch or longer than 5 feet.
# No weapons or firearms. Holders of concealed carry permits may not carry a
firearm into the rally.
Anyone who refuses to comply will be arrested, police said.
A Community Unity Day Celebration, organized as a response to the downtown
rally, will be held at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park during the same time
as the KKK rally and is free and open to the public.
Staff writer Joe Chapman contributed to this report.
Click here to return to story:
Study Finds Immigrants Don't Hurt U.S. Jobs
Pew Detects No Link To Unemployment
By Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 11, 2006; D01
High levels of immigration in the past 15 years do not appear to have hurt
employment opportunities for American workers, according to a new report.
The Pew Hispanic Center analyzed immigration state by state using U.S.
Census data, evaluating it against unemployment levels. No clear correlation
between the two could be found.
Other factors, such as economic growth, have likely played a larger role in
influencing the American job market, said Rakesh Kochhar, principal author
of the report and an economist at the Pew Hispanic Center in the District.
"We are simply looking for a pattern across 50 states, and we did not find
one," Kochhar said. "We cannot say with certainty that growth in the foreign
population has hurt or helped American jobs."
Immigration policy is a central issue in this fall's congressional
elections. The report's findings appear to refute the idea -- often voiced
by supporters of stricter immigration laws -- that foreign workers depress
wages and take jobs from American workers, especially those with less
education and fewer skills.
In the 10 states with the top employment rates from 2000 to 2004, for
example, five states showed a high influx of immigrants while the other five
showed little growth in the foreign-born population. "Even in relatively
slow economic times, a relationship fails to reveal itself," Kochhar said.
The Pew Hispanic Center is one of several research groups funded by the Pew
Charitable Trusts to develop and distribute unbiased information on
controversial topics, such as climate change and genetic engineering. The
Pew Hispanic Center has published respected polls and reports on the role of
Hispanics in the United States.
The study used Census Bureau data to compare the influx of immigrants and
unemployment rates in each state between 1990 and 2000, a period of robust
economic growth, and between 2000 and 2004, a period of slower growth.
Some economists expressed reservations about the technique yesterday,
arguing that such broad statewide data do not give an accurate picture of
immigration's effects on the labor market.
"There's an age, gender and educational component to this story that this
report does not address," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor
Market Studies at Northeastern University.
Between 1990 and 2000, he said, immigrant workers did not take jobs away
from American workers "because the strong economy was creating enough jobs
to employ everyone who was looking for work." But in the past five years, a
subset of the workforce -- native-born men age 16 to 24 with high-school
diplomas -- have in fact been displaced by immigrants, he said.
"We argue that immigrant labor has changed the nature of work in a very
negative way," Sum said.
The Pew report found that nearly 25 percent of native-born workers live in
states where rapid growth of the immigrant population occurred at the same
time as above-average employment prospects. Only 15 percent of American
workers live in high-immigration states with below-average employment
prospects, the report found.
And the 60 percent of American workers living in states with slower
immigrant growth did not consistently enjoy higher employment levels, the
Locally, the lack of any consistent relationship between the inflow of
immigrants and native-born employment was apparent.
In the District, both the growth in the foreign-born workforce and the
employment rate for native-born workers were below average in 2000 and 2004.
In 2000, Maryland and Virginia had below-average growth in the foreign-born
population and above-average employment rates for native-born workers. In
2004, both states experienced above-average growth of both the foreign-born
workforce and native-born employment rates.
On the local level, too, some experts disputed the findings of the Pew
report. While educated workers with specialized skills are not likely to be
displaced by foreign-born workers, young unskilled laborers have felt the
pinch in recent years, said Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the
Center for Immigration Studies in the District.
A recent study done by the center shows that the immigrant share of the
young workforce in Maryland and Virginia nearly doubled in the past five
years, peaking at 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in 2005.
"Native workers who have little education in Maryland and Virginia are
dropping out of the labor markets in droves" as the number of immigrants
grows, he said. "Unskilled workers only account for a fraction of the total
economic output, but if immigration plays a role in even a part of [the
trend], that's something we should be concerned about."
Census data and estimates show the United States had 28 million
immigrants -- legal and illegal -- age 16 and older in 2000, an increase of
61 percent from 1990. By 2004, there were 32 million. The majority are
Latinos, followed by Asians. The Pew study did not distinguish between legal
and illegal immigrants.
The report pointed out that immigrants typically move to booming areas of
the country with low unemployment rates.
"It's unclear as to whether immigrant workers help to cause that boom, but
they certainly haven't detracted from it," said Randy Capps, a senior
research associate at the Urban Institute.
New York Times
August 11, 2006
Immigration and Jobs Link Is Disputed
By JULIA PRESTON
In the furious debate over immigration, advocates of reducing the inflow
have argued that the millions of foreigners who came to the United States in
the last decade took jobs from American workers. But a study released
yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center found that there was no evidence to
support that claim for the country as a whole.
The study, based on Census Bureau data, found that 14 states with high
immigration rates after 1990, including Texas, Nevada and Georgia, also had
higher-than-average employment rates for American-born workers. Those 14
states accounted for 24 percent of American workers.
But in eight states that had big increases in immigrants in the same period,
among them Arizona and Tennessee, employment rates for American workers were
below average. Those states were home to 15 percent of American workers.
The study concluded that there was no consistent link between surging growth
in immigration and declines in employment for Americans.
“We find no pattern,” Rakesh Kochhar, the author of the study, said. “We
cannot say with certainty that the growth of the foreign-born population has
either hurt or helped native-born workers.”
Even in the recession and slow recovery since 2001, there was no consistent
pattern to show that increases in immigration hurt the job prospects of
American workers across the country, the study found.
Instead, Mr. Kochhar said, the pace of economic growth in a state was more
likely to determine whether American workers lost out in competition with
immigrants. The study did not address the impact of immigration on wages.
The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization in Washington
that does not make policy recommendations. In the study, Mr. Kochhar looked
at census data from 1990, 2000 and 2004 to chart the increase in immigrant
populations in the states and the employment of American-born workers in
2000 and 2004.
The study confirmed that the boom of the 90’s brought surges in immigration
to states that had not seen such intense flows, including Georgia, Nevada
and North Carolina where immigrant populations increased more than 200
From 2000 to 2004, the study found, increases in immigrants coincided with
high employment rates for American workers in 27 states and the District of
Columbia, which encompassed 67 percent of workers born in the United States.
“The findings are entirely plausible, contradicting a notion that immigrants
are broadly hurting native-born workers,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist
at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, a nonpartisan group that
focuses on low-wage workers. But Mr. Bernstein cautioned against minimizing
the impact on Americans who did face a struggle against foreign workers.
“There certainly are places in this country where native-born workers are
hurt by immigrant competition,” he said. “The fact that it doesn’t hurt in a
national sense should not lead us to dismiss local problems.”
Study finds no harm in immigrant workers
By Stephen Dinan
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published August 11, 2006
Immigrants have no clear effect on the employment prospects of native-born
Americans, said a study that looked at patterns for 15 years.
"There is no consistent relationship between the growth in the
foreign-born population and employment outcomes for native-born workers,"
said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at the Pew Hispanic
Center, who wrote the report. "As a result, it is not possible to state with
certainty whether the inflow of foreign-born workers has hurt or helped the
employment outlook for native-born workers."
But a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, which has yet to be
released, argues that immigrants harm younger workers at the lower end of
The reports surface as Congress debates whether to enact a guest-worker
program to allow more immigration and to give legal status to some of the
estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the country.
The Pew study used census figures and looked at both workers with less
than a high school degree and workers ages 25 to 44 with a high school
degree but no further education. The study covered the years 1990 to 2000
and 2000 to 2004 in an effort to capture the contrasting job markets.
Mr. Kochhar identified eight states where the immigrant population grew
most quickly between 1990 and 2000 and where native-born workers had
below-average employment rates in 2000 -- meaning the immigrants may have
harmed native-born workers' ability to find jobs. But he also found 16
states with above-average immigrant population growth and above-average
employment -- meaning the immigrants may have benefited natives.
Between 2000 and 2004, the District of Columbia and 27 states showed a
positive correlation between immigration and jobs, while the remaining 23
states had a negative correlation.
The study did not consider immigrants' effects on wages.
Those who favor restrictions say the current wave of immigrants -- which
by total numbers is the largest ever -- puts pressure on the job market and
holds down wages.
Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration
Studies, said the Pew study did not look specifically at the native
population most likely to be hurt by competition from immigrants.
"The big declines in work are among natives who have less than a high
school degree or only a high school degree and are young, and he's not
really looking at that population," Mr. Camarota said.
He said a 35-year-old native is not likely to be competing with a
35-year-old immigrant, but a 20-year-old native is competing with the
The unreleased CIS report found that between 2000 and 2005, 4.1 million
immigrants arrived in the work force, accounting for 86 percent of the
growth in employment -- the highest recorded share in U.S. history. At the
same time, the number of employed native-born men ages 16 to 35 dropped by
Of the new immigrant workers, between 1.4 million and 2.7 million are
illegal aliens, which means they account for up to 56 percent of the net
increase in civilian employment during the past five years, the CIS report
NY Times graphic on PEW immigrants & jobs study:
Border perils hit home
Mother who was cut while crossing into U.S. dies from infection
By Oscar Avila
Tribune staff reporter
August 11, 2006
Herminia Silva crossed the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time last week,
traversing the hellish Arizona desert with her 10-year-old daughter by the
She crossed the border again Thursday, through the clouds, her casket
nestled in the cargo hold of American Airlines Flight 1597 from Chicago to
Silva had made the trip from her tiny town of Rio Grande because her
daughter wanted to reunite with Dad in Chicago.
Relatives say a cactus had apparently ripped through Silva's right leg
during her Arizona crossing. The wound became infected, she did not
immediately seek medical care, and she died Friday in a West Side hospital.
The border had claimed another illegal immigrant's life.
About 100 mourners, including Pilsen residents who had never met Silva,
trickled into St. Pius V Church on Wednesday. Her husband, Feliciano
Velasco, clutched two of his children for comfort as someone hung a crucifix
on Silva's casket and placed a rosary in her hands.
"She risked her life to bring my daughter to me so we could have a better
future," Velasco said softly in a chat in the back of the church. "Now I
have to fight for our family, to honor what happened to her."
Both immigrant advocates and proponents of stricter immigration enforcement
agree: Mexicans like Silva should not be streaming illegally into the U.S.
Silva's death puts a tragic face on an immigration system that lawmakers of
all stripes consider a failure.
For lawmakers and activists aghast at the flow of illegal immigration,
border deaths reflect the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. government
to secure its border. The Mexican government is also guilty, they argue, for
not discouraging its citizens from emigrating and not providing economic
opportunities at home.
Immigrant activists make a different point: If U.S. employers dangle jobs at
illegal immigrants, the U.S. government must create a framework so those
immigrants can work without risking their lives.
Silva's story is slowly spreading through Chicago's Mexican community. At a
Monday news conference, even before they knew Silva's name, immigrant
organizers of a Labor Day weekend march to Batavia invoked her death as
proof of a broken immigration system.
At her funeral, Rev. Brendan Curran compared Silva's journey to Jesus
dragging the cross up the hill to Calvary. On the cross, he suffered from
thirst and died after telling God that his task was completed; Silva also
completed her mission of bringing her daughter to the U.S., Curran said.
"In the midst of the profound thirst, we feel this sadness. We remember the
hopes that came from a family. We remember a brave mother accepting whatever
risk to achieve a new future," Curran said.
With Illinois home to about 400,000 illegal immigrants, the family's tale is
a common one.
Velasco left the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where he worked as a farmhand and
made only about $50 a week. He said he often did not have enough money to
buy food or clothes for his five kids.
In Chicago, he works two restaurant jobs and was able to save money--enough
to pay the $5,000 fee to have his wife and daughter smuggled into the United
States and transported to Chicago. They had been separated for nearly three
Velasco's daughter, Adriana, had often called her father on the telephone
from Mexico to say he didn't love her because he hadn't brought her to
Chicago. Herminia Silva had joked that she would stash their daughter in one
of the care packages she often sent her husband.
But the humor masked a deep fear within the family about Silva's upcoming
journey. The woman couldn't avoid the TV news reports in Mexico of
immigrants dying en route. And her son, 18-year-old Feliciano Velasco Jr.,
had endured his own brush with death.
When Velasco crossed the border illegally years ago, he had been packed into
a trailer with dozens of other immigrants. The smuggler had told them 40
minutes, but the trip turned into 4 hours.
"I know how dangerous it is," he recalled, "and I was praying she would make
By the time Silva reached Chicago, the wound on her leg was in awful shape,
her husband said. The bottom of her leg had swollen to twice its size and
was covered by an unhealed wound. Hospital officials told the funeral home
that Silva died from a widespread infection and septic shock, worsened by
In his book "The Devil's Highway"--about a group of illegal immigrants who
died in the desert--Chicago author Luis Alberto Urrea had described the
landscape this way: "The plants are noxious and spiked. Saguaros, nopales,
the fiendish chollas. Each long cholla spike has a small barb, and they hook
into the skin, and they catch in elbow creases and hook forearm and biceps
Curran said he wasn't surprised that so many strangers came to the church to
mourn Silva. Many parishioners also had endured their own harrowing
crossings into the U.S.
Experts worry that the desperation will only get worse. With the deployment
of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, they predict immigrants
will seek even more isolated routes through the desert. Earlier this week,
nine immigrants died when their overpacked van overturned while fleeing the
Chris Simcox, president of the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps,
a group of volunteers who patrol the border to detect illegal immigrants,
said the blame for the death toll doesn't fall just on illegal immigrants
but on a broken immigration system. "Mexico is forcing its citizens to put
themselves in peril. We are facilitating it by not securing our borders and
enforcing the law," Simcox said. "If we secure our borders, no more deaths.
It's horrible what's going on. To allow that to happen is immoral."
Velasco said he realizes that he is just another player in a tragedy being
played out in both countries. He considered returning to Mexico but said he
will keep the family in Chicago because he thinks his wife would not have
wanted him to abandon their goal of starting anew in this country.
Velasco had written a tribute in a condolence book, expressing the belief
that his wife will always watch over their family. But those hopeful words
also came with a warning to his countrymen.
"I beg the other immigrants to not do the same, cross the border, because
you are risking your life to find a better life like she did."
- - -
The Velasco family has opened an account at Aztec America Bank. Those
seeking to help with funeral and medical expenses can donate to account No.
New York Times
August 11, 2006
Black Colleges Recruiting More Hispanics
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:49 a.m. ET
ATLANTA (AP) -- Faced with stiff competition for their traditional students,
historically black colleges are now making a push to recruit Hispanics.
Black colleges that want to shore up enrollment numbers are revising
recruitment strategies to include more members of the nation's largest and
fastest-growing minority. The campuses are hiring Hispanic recruiters,
distributing brochures that feature Hispanic students and establishing
special scholarships for Hispanics.
''I tell them 'There's a place for you and a need for Latinos to be present
on (historically black) campuses,'' said Nelson Santiago, a Puerto Rico
native and recruiter for the historically black Howard University in
Washington, D.C., which has about 170 Hispanics out of 11,500 students.
Santiago and recruiters from other schools, including the all-male Morehouse
College in Atlanta, are visiting predominantly Hispanic high schools and
setting up booths at college fairs to recruit Hispanics. Morehouse sends
recruiters to high schools in southern Florida, New York, eastern Texas and
Los Angeles -- areas with large Hispanic populations.
''Considering Latinos and African-Americans share a lot of history together
that they don't realize, I think it's a good idea,'' said John Miranda, the
21-year-old son of Brazilian immigrants who is one of 15 Hispanics enrolled
at the 2,800-student Morehouse.
Miranda, of Silver Spring, Md., said he picked Morehouse because he was
offered a full scholarship funded by an Atlanta foundation that promotes the
education of Hispanics.
Morehouse's goal is for at least 5 percent of its student body to consist of
Hispanics within five years. If its current overall enrollment holds steady,
the school will need 125 more Hispanic students by 2011 to reach that goal.
In the 1990s, Hispanics surpassed blacks as the nation's largest minority.
The number of Hispanics in the United States grew by nearly 60 percent that
decade, while the number of blacks only grew by about 15 percent.
At the same time, the competition for black students has increased as public
colleges nationwide try to improve diversity by recruiting more minorities.
Federal courts have forced some state higher education systems, especially
in the South, to meet specific black recruitment goals under desegregation
lawsuits from the 1960s.
The number of Hispanic students attending historically black colleges
increased more than 60 percent from 1994 to 2004, while the number of black
students grew by 35 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Some students and alumni worried about the new recruitment strategy.
''I do have concerns,'' said Earl Nero, a retired Atlanta businessman and
1974 Morehouse graduate. ''Since the college has determined they want to
stay the same size they are, that would take away space from qualified
But having other minorities attending a historically black college will help
them get ''a real life view about what black people are all about,'' Nero
Student James Travis, 21, who is black, said having students of other races
on a historically black campus bothers him ''a little bit'' because it
challenges the college's mission.
''It's supposed to maintain the historically black tradition,'' said Travis,
who is from Atlanta's College Park suburb. ''I'll have to see how it goes
before I see if I want to change the situation or not.''
Educators said the nation's two largest minority groups are a natural fit on
a college campus.
''They are both underserved communities when it comes to higher education,''
said Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. ''We
have got to educate them so that we can have a competitive workforce in the
Miranda, one of 15 Hispanics at Morehouse, said it has not bothered him
being on a majority black campus.
''Since I've been at Morehouse, I've gotten a different perspective on a lot
of things,'' Miranda said, referring to black history. ''I learned a lot
that was left out of the schooling I got.''
On the Net:
Morehouse College: http://www.morehouse.edu
Texas Southern University: http://www.tsu.edu
Howard University: http://www.howard.edu
United Negro College Fund: http://uncf.org
Los Angeles Times
L.A. Gets 4th Team to Deport Fugitive Illegal Immigrants
Federal officers search out those who have ignored judges' orders to leave
the United States. Most have criminal records and are considered a threat to
By Gary Polakovic
Times Staff Writer
August 10, 2006
Los Angeles has added another team of officers to search out and deport
fugitive undocumented immigrants, under an ongoing program aimed at reducing
illegal border crossings.
The city now has a fourth team as a result of the deployment by the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
With the additions, 45 such teams are in operation nationwide and as many as
seven more are expected to be in place by the end of September, officials
The job of the teams is to find and arrest immigrants who have failed to
comply with a judge's deportation order. Officers target individuals who
have prior criminal records and are considered the greatest threat to public
Of about 52,000 illegal immigrants apprehended since the teams were created
in 2003, nearly 23,000 had been convicted of violent crimes, robbery or drug
More than 2,800 fugitives have been arrested in Los Angeles since October —
more than any other city.
About 1,000 people are apprehended each week nationwide.
"Those immigration fugitives who remain at large should be on notice: The
days when you could brazenly ignore an immigration judge's order are over,"
said Eric Saldana, a deportation officer who oversees the Los Angeles
Fugitive Operations Team. "We are going to find you and send you home."
The program, which has gradually expanded each year, is part of the Secure
Border Initiative, created by Department of Homeland Security to secure the
borders and reduce illegal immigration.
Other cities with similar operations include San Francisco, San Diego,
Atlanta, Houston, Newark, N.J., Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Baltimore,
Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Miami, New York City,
Philadelphia, Seattle and San Antonio.