Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, September 1, 2006
Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, September 1, 2006
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1. Two reports on the slew of marches starting this Labor Day weekend:
A. Los Angeles Times, "Tougher Audience for Immigration Rallies: With
congressional midterm elections just a couple of months away, neither side
of the issue looks likely to yield for a legislative compromise."
B. Washington Post, "More Immigration Demonstrations Planned: D.C. Rally to
Draw From East Coast"
2. Two from the NY Times on border issues:
A. "Tighter U.S. Border Control Boosts Smuggler Profit"
B. "Teams Vie for U.S. Border Security Contract"
3. The Charlotte Observer, "HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: Money transfers mounting.
U.S. encourages cash flow across border as tool to deter illegal
4. Chicago Tribune, "Why this immigrant rights march is brought to you by
5. Two reports on proposed anti-immigrant Ohio state law
A. Cincinnati City Beat, "Ohio's New Immigration Bill Bound to Fail"
B. The Plain Dealer, "Immigration:State-levelcrackdown proposed"
6. GovExec.com, "Congress may balk at DHS push to oust illegal Salvadorans"
7. Migration Policy Institute, "The People Perceived as a Threat to
Security: Arab Americans Since September 11"
8. Arizona Daily Star, "Illegal [sic] crosser's death leaves us wondering:
9. WorkPermit.Com, "States in the US passing their own immigration laws"
10. Two news stories on border from Tucson Citizen:
A. "Munsil proposes state border patrol force"
B. "GV Samaritans take on grisly task"
11. FederalTimes.com, "Border duty an eye-opener for National Guard troops"
Los Angeles Times
Tougher Audience for Immigration Rallies
With congressional midterm elections just a couple of months away, neither
side of the issue looks likely to yield for a legislative compromise.
By Nicole Gaouette
Times Staff Writer
September 1, 2006
WASHINGTON — Immigrants and their supporters will take to the streets today
to start a weeklong encore of the rallies that brought millions out in the
spring. But as they prepare marches in Chicago, Washington, Phoenix and Los
Angeles, immigration advocates are facing a less friendly political climate
in the nation's capital.
Although Congress may take up immigration overhaul when it returns next
week, few on Capitol Hill are optimistic about passing legislation before
November's midterm elections. And any new initiatives are likely to focus
solely on enforcement, not on providing more legal options for illegal
In some political campaigns, immigration hard-liners are embracing the issue
as a way to rally voters and target opponents who favor a broad rewrite of
In response, advocates of a more comprehensive immigration overhaul are
making the rallies more explicitly political, incorporating voter
registration drives aimed at affecting tight races in November — along with
reminders that the Latino community, in particular, will watch what
"We know the issue is being used politically," said Jaime Contreras,
chairman of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, which says it
expects more than 500,000 demonstrators Thursday on the National Mall. "Our
community understands that we haven't won the war yet, that it will probably
go into next year."
House Republicans are also on the offensive, tying immigration to the larger
issue of national security as part of their election-year campaign strategy.
"From homeland security to national security to border security, House
Republicans will focus first and foremost on addressing the safety and
security needs of the American people," House Majority Leader John A.
Boehner (R-Ohio) said in announcing the GOP legislative agenda for
It's too early to determine how many races will feature immigration as an
issue, said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Carl
Forti. But in a few tight and closely watched contests, it is already a
In the Sept. 12 Republican congressional primary to succeed retiring Arizona
Rep. Jim Kolbe, a moderate on immigration who is backing a candidate with
similar views, one of the contenders is former state Rep. Randy Graf, a
member of the anti-illegal-immigration Minuteman Project.
In TV ads that began airing Aug. 23, Graf links illegal immigration to
drugs, criminals and terrorists. "I fear not only for the safety of my
family but for all Americans. National security begins with border
security," Graf says.
At the nation's northern border, Michigan's Republican Senate candidate,
Mike Bouchard, told TV viewers that he was "a 20-year lawman. Anything that
starts with 'illegal,' I'm going to be against."
And in a highly competitive House race in Iowa, Republican candidate Mike
Whalen blasted his primary opponent's immigration record. "Illegal aliens
are flooding into our country," a voice in one ad intones. "Why? Because
politicians like Bill Dix give them special benefits like lowered tuition
In many areas with tight races, the House GOP leadership has also held
summer hearings on immigration that have helped highlight the hard-line
stance of local Republican candidates.
Democrats say the GOP emphasis on immigration is misguided.
"It is a major issue, but it's not No. 1," said Bill Burton, spokesman for
the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He cited Iraq, healthcare
and gas prices as other issues that concern voters.
Burton noted that currently only six markets are running with paid ads about
immigration, though that will probably increase.
Moreover, Burton said, Republicans are vulnerable on immigration because
they have controlled Congress for the last decade.
When Congress reconvenes, both sides are expected to dig in their heels.
Like President Bush, the Senate backs a broad overhaul of immigration laws,
including citizenship provisions for many currently illegal immigrants.
The House passed an enforcement-only bill.
Staffers say there have been few behind-the-scenes talks to bridge the
divide, and Democrats in Congress are openly skeptical.
"Without the president seriously engaging and forcing the Republican
leadership on the House side to conference," the passage of legislation
before November "won't happen," said Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas).
Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden disagreed. "I wouldn't count it out," he
Madden said that the House hearings on immigration held around the country
made it clear the public wanted "a bill that puts a premium on enforcement."
The upcoming marches — which include events in Phoenix on Monday and Los
Angeles on Sept. 9 — are intended to tell Congress that enforcement is not
The events will kick off in Chicago today, when marchers set out from
Chinatown on a four-day, 45-mile walk that will end with a rally at the
Batavia, Ill., office of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
On Saturday, the marchers will stop in DuPage County, in a district where
Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) is retiring. It's hotly contested by Republican
state Sen. Peter J. Roskam and Army Maj. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, an
Iraq war veteran and the daughter of a Thai immigrant.
Traditionally the heart of the Illinois Republican machine, DuPage County
saw a 49% increase in immigrant citizens from 2000 to 2005. In Hyde's
district, legal and illegal immigrants now comprise 44% of the population.
In Hastert's district, they make up 30%.
Local advocates of comprehensive overhaul say that turning those immigrants
into an electoral force is one of their biggest goals and that though the
marches could prompt something of a backlash, the potential gains are worth
"The struggle isn't going to be won in a day," said Joshua Hoyt, executive
director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a march
organizer. "But because of demographic and national security reasons, some
kind of status for the undocumented is inevitable."
More Immigration Demonstrations Planned
D.C. Rally to Draw From East Coast
By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 31, 2006; A12
After four months of relative quiet, immigration reform advocates are
mobilizing a new round of protests in Washington and other cities to put
pressure on a returning Congress and reinvigorate a Latino movement that
awakened in massive demonstrations this spring.
The events will begin tomorrow in Chicago, where demonstrators plan to set
out on a four-day march to the district offices of House Speaker J. Dennis
Hastert (R) in Batavia, Ill., and will continue with one-day rallies
throughout next week in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles.
In the Washington region, activists are distributing leaflets, and
Spanish-language radio is buzzing about a Sept. 7 rally that organizers hope
will be the biggest yet. Organizers say their goal is 1 million protesters
from up and down the East Coast for a rally on the Mall and a march to the
"We want to make sure that Congress and this administration get a very clear
message that the immigrant community is still paying attention to what's
happening in the immigration debate and that we know that it's election
time," said Jaime Contreras, chairman of the National Capital Immigration
Coalition, the rally's organizer.
Local organizers said they are improving on spring rallies that were hastily
planned amid a spontaneous groundswell of activism. To avoid a backlash
against foreign flags, they are directing all protesters to carry U.S.
flags. They are starting the rally at 4 p.m. so student demonstrators, who
frustrated school administrators by walking out earlier this year, can
participate. And organizers have nearly tripled their budget for portable
In media interviews and on fliers, they have simplified their focus to key
demands: legalization for the unauthorized and an end to stepped-up arrests
of illegal immigrants.
"We are learning," said Juan Carlos Ruiz, general coordinator of the
The return to street protest, a tactic that galvanized millions this spring,
comes after public discord among activists over a May 1 work boycott and a
summer when their focus turned to immigrant voter registration drives. At
the same time, new immigration legislation grew even more elusive in
Congress, which is deadlocked on the issue.
Some believe it could be risky. The spring protests roused supporters but
also stirred fierce hostility, said Steven A. Camarota of the Center for
Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration. That kind of
intensity might make members of Congress, which is approaching midterm
elections, even less likely to touch the immigration issue.
"They want to energize the community . . . to put the issue on the agenda
and make it clear that look, it's not going away," Camarota said. "By doing
all that, they may also hurt the prospect of the legislation passing."
The immigrant movement is still developing. Regional coalitions are trying
to figure out how to work together nationally, and no clear leader has
emerged. Locally, the National Capital Immigration Coalition -- a network of
about 60 organizations that has existed for four years -- is just now
defining the qualifications for formal membership.
As for immigrant voter registration, national figures are not yet compiled,
said Germonique R. Jones of the Center for Community Change in the District,
but anecdotal evidence points to success in some areas. She said Phoenix
organizers, for example, are en route to meeting a summer goal of
registering 20,000 voters.
Local results have been tepid. Northern Virginia immigrant organizations had
no drives. Groups in the District registered 200 voters, said Kim Propeack,
advocacy director for CASA of Maryland. In Maryland, Korean organizations
registered 350, while CASA of Maryland registered 425 and quadrupled
enrollment in its citizenship workshops, Propeack said.
But organizers say the movement has not lost steam. Immigrants, they said,
are enthusiastic about the coming protests, believing the demonstrations
empower them and weaken support for an enforcement-only House proposal.
"If that's what we accomplished with marches, then let's keep marching,"
said Jorge Mujica, a rally organizer in Chicago.
Other observers are uncertain. Carlos Aragon, general manager of Radio
Fiesta (1480 AM), a Woodbridge station that has been broadcasting
information about the Sept. 7 rally, said the event is a hot topic among
listeners -- but they now sound more cautious.
"Nothing happened in regard to immigration in Congress," Aragon said.
"People are just not sure if it will help."
This week's Chicago march will be followed by protests Sept. 4 in Phoenix
and Sept. 9 in Los Angeles.
Unlike previous rallies that drew people from the Washington region, the
Sept. 7 event will include participants from along the East Coast.
Organizers said at least 100 busloads of marchers will roll in.
To encourage local turnout, organizers are intensifying the strategies they
used in the spring. They are playing radio promotional spots each hour on
some Spanish-language stations. Volunteers are distributing fliers at
churches, soccer fields, Metro stations and construction sites.
With the responsibility of having a demonstration for out-of-towners upon
them, local leaders are striving to plan a smoother -- and savvier -- event.
On a recent night, organizer Edgar Rivera led a planning meeting at the
Alexandria offices of Tenants and Workers United. He listed all that will be
different about this march: After rallying, demonstrators will proceed to
the White House for the first time, he said.
Organizers will dispatch Spanish-speaking volunteers to Metro stations to
direct demonstrators, Rivera told those gathered. And more high-profile
speakers will be included -- maybe Jesse L. Jackson and a Catholic cardinal,
he said -- but fewer politicians.
"It's the community that should be out there," Rivera said.
The New York Times
August 30, 2006
Tighter U.S. Border Control Boosts Smuggler Profit
Filed at 7:09 p.m. ET
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Increased security on the U.S.-Mexican border is turning
human smuggling into a multi-billion dollar criminal industry and attracting
violent gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels, authorities say.
The U.S. government has gradually tightened its grip on the porous Mexican
border in response to heightened concerns over homeland security -- most
recently ordering 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in May.
Police and prosecutors in Arizona, where around half of the almost 1.2
million illegal immigrants caught crossing from Mexico last year were
nabbed, say the success has transformed a trade once dominated by ``mom and
pop'' outfits into an industry taking in up to $2.5 billion a year.
``What we are seeing here is the birth of a new organized criminal
activity,'' said Cameron Holmes, the chief of financial remedies at the
Arizona Attorney General's office.
``We have seen smuggling here for years, but because of increased
enforcement at the border it has grown exponentially,'' he added.
The transformation began in the 1990s and gathered pace following the
September 11, 2001 attacks, after which security along the 2,000-mile
(3,200-km) border was stepped up.
Arizona state police say there are now up to 10 major networks hauling
thousands of undocumented immigrants a day to the sprawling capital Phoenix,
where they are held in as many as 1,200 motels and drop houses until
relatives stump up fees of $1,600-$1,800.
Each network has scores of collaborators including desert guides, short- and
long-range drivers, drop house cooks and guards, and runners who collect
millions of dollars in proceeds each day from wire transfer firms across the
``They are no different to a serious drug cartel ... in terms of their
organization and their desire to get this job done,'' said Terri Tollefson,
acting deputy special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) in Phoenix.
SHOOT-OUTS ON THE FREEWAY
ICE says some of the smugglers involved in the networks come from Sinaloa
state in western Mexico -- which is notorious for drug trafficking -- and
use techniques and infrastructure honed from running narcotics over the
The huge cash profits from the trade also attract armed raiders dubbed
``bajadores'' who frequently ambush rivals as they transport their human
cargo across the state, sometimes having shoot-outs with pistols and assault
rifles on busy freeways.
``It's like drug groups ripping other drug groups off for their dope
loads,'' said Tim Mason, a detective with the Arizona Department of Public
``We are seeing more of these individuals trying to steal humans and turn
them around for a profit,'' he added.
Police say the trade was always dangerous for immigrants, but is now
becoming even more risky.
Gangs frequently tie up their charges and beat them to extract more money,
and have begun warehousing them in desert staging areas where temperatures
soar to above 120 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize profits.
With border security on an upward curve, investigators say they expect the
vigorous cross-border trade to only become more consolidated, and more
violent, in the months ahead.
``They are just getting started,'' Holmes said. ``The ultimate draw is the
job market. Until that is corrected, the phenomenon will continue to
New York Times
August 29, 2006
Teams Vie for U.S. Border Security Contract
Filed at 7:24 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five industry teams are competing for a $2.1 billion
contract to be awarded next month to help the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security beef up security along over 7,500 miles of U.S. borders with Mexico
The winning bidder will help unify existing technologies and install new
tracking sensors and communications equipment so border agents can better
monitor regions that range from urban centers to desert, to huge lakes and
``There are many different elements of border security already in place, but
there is a need for an integrated approach to securing the borders,'' said
Kia Evans, spokeswoman for the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) that was
unveiled by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last November.
Evans said the department's Customs and Border Protection Agency would award
the ``SBInet'' contract by September 30 and it would run for three to five
Bidding to tie all the pieces together are U.S. defense contractors,
Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co.,
as well as Sweden's Ericsson.
Each has put together a team of U.S. and foreign companies specializing in
everything from sensors to visual recognition technology to long-range
Boeing, teamed with L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., Unisys Corp. and
others, on Tuesday explained its bid, which relies on over 300 radar towers
along the borders, some supplemented by cameras developed by Israel's Elbit
which can spot people at up to 14 kilometers and vehicles at up to 20
Boeing's SBInet program director Jerry McElwee stressed the company's
low-cost, best-value approach and said the company's integration of other
major programs, including the Army's Future Combat Systems, gave it the
Lockheed Martin plans to announce its partners next week, said Jane Rudolph,
vice president of business development for Lockheed's transportation and
She said Lockheed was already involved in homeland security through its
joint venture with Northrop to modernize the Coast Guard, and a customs
modernization program begun before the September 11, 2001, hijacking
attacks. Shortly afterward, she said Lockheed also mobilized 1,000 employees
to revamp passenger checkpoints at 429 U.S. airports in about six months.
Raytheon says its experience on a $1.4 billion project to secure Brazil's
Amazon region -- an area that would cover two-thirds of the continental
United States -- makes it an ideal candidate for SBInet. Its teammates
include IBM, BAE Systems and privately owned Bechtel.
Northrop, which won a smaller DHS contract for surveillance at land ports
along the southwest border on Monday, has been providing information
technology support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement since 2002.
Northrop spokesman Randy Belote said information technologies represented
the largest source of revenue for the company, accounting for about 32
percent of total revenues, or $10 billion, in 2005.
Northrop's partners include General Dynamics Corp., L-3, and Anteon Corp.
which is being taken over by General Dynamics.
The Charlotte Observer
Posted on Sun, Aug. 27, 2006
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Money transfers mounting
U.S. encourages cash flow across border as tool to deter illegal immigration
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, RICK ROTHACKER AND FRANCO ORDOÑEZ
To curb illegal immigration, the federal government has posted soldiers on
the Mexican border, arrested workers at job sites, and talked about making
it a felony to enter the U.S. without permission.
But it puts greater hope in a relatively unknown and unlikely strategy:
increasing the amount of money immigrants send back to Mexico.
The Bush administration says the billions sent south each year can be used
to build the Mexican economy, thereby reducing immigration. For the past
five years, the government has worked with Mexico and money senders to
reduce the cost of remittances, and increase the volume.
Remittances to Mexico have more than doubled, topping $20 billion in 2005.
Only oil exports made more money for the country.
But there is little evidence the inflow of money is reducing the outflow of
Critics in both countries say remittances actually encourage immigration by
making Mexican families dependent on American jobs.
Even some supporters say the idea will work only if the government can
change the way remittances are sent. Instead of transferring cash, senders
must be convinced to put the money in a Mexican account, they say. When one
person makes a deposit, another can borrow, spurring economic development.
But that's a tall order. Distrust of banks is widespread in Mexico; most
people don't have accounts. Last year, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank
of Mexico launched a system offering low-cost transfers if the recipient
opened a bank account.
So far, the service has enlisted only thousands out of potentially millions
Even if more money is directed to economic development, the gap between
wages in the two countries suggests the motivation to emigrate would remain
strong for a long time.
And the government's attempt to harness remittances is a political lightning
rod. Illegal immigrants are among those sending money. By encouraging
remittances, the U.S. is, in effect, trying to make illegal immigration so
successful that it will end.
"I'd say that's about as plausible as unicorns and leprechauns," said
William Gheen, head of Raleigh-based Americans for Legal Immigration, which
advocates tighter borders. Other critics see the remittance policy as
another example of how the government makes it easy for illegal immigrants
to participate in American society.
Congress could resume its debate on the future of America's estimated 12
million illegal residents when it reconvenes in September. Competing House
and Senate bills don't directly address the remittance industry but would
affect its customers.
For all these obstacles, many experts view economic development as the only
plausible strategy to deal with immigration -- and remittances as one of the
most valuable tools for promoting development. A 2004 study by
Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank, began simply, "A strong case can be
made that remittances are now Latin America's most important resource."
Every week, millions of people throughout Latin America walk to the corner
store or the local bank to collect a few hundred dollars from relatives
working in foreign countries. The numbers add up. Last year, the region
received more than $53 billion in remittances, up 17 percent from 2004,
according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).Three-fourths is sent
from the U.S., and the largest share -- 38 cents of every dollar -- flows to
The money lifts many from deepest poverty. A 2005 World Bank study of 71
countries found that a 10 percent increase in remittances per capita
produced a 3.5 percent dip in the number of people in poverty, which was
defined as life on less than $1 a day.
Antonio and Fernandez Lopez, brothers who work in Charlotte, send about $400
a month from Banco de la Gente on South Boulevard to their family in
Aguascalientes, Mexico. It is the only reliable income the family receives.
With it the family pays for rent, electricity, groceries.
"It's so they can eat," Antonio said Friday. "I'd like to send more, so they
could eat more."
Some immigrants also pool money for development projects. The poster child
is the Mexican state of Zacatecas, in an agricultural region on the central
plateau. Hundreds of thousands of its residents have emigrated to the United
States. Groups of them in cities including Los Angeles and Chicago have sent
back millions of dollars to build roads, schools and other infrastructure.
Immigrants from another Mexican state, Michoacán, have banded together to
fund 40 scholarships to Mexican universities for students in their hometown
Both efforts receive help from the Mexican government through a program
called "Three for One." When immigrants pool money for projects, each dollar
is matched by the federal, state and local governments. Last year, the
federal government budgeted about $23 million for its share. Earlier this
year, Western Union agreed to match some remittances, as well.
Nonprofits, international development agencies and Mexican companies have
also tried to use the flow of money to power economic development. Cemex, a
giant concrete company, accepts payment in the U.S. for construction
materials to build homes in Mexico. It even offers free building plans.
But such efforts remain the exception: 90 percent of the money remitted to
Mexico is used to pay for basic needs, such as food and health care,
according to Rodolfo Garcia Zamora, an immigration expert at the Universidad
Autonoma de Zacatecas.
Zamora is among a growing number of Mexicans who warn the nation is relying
too much on remittances and doing too little to promote its own development.
Relying on remittances as an income stream means families must continue to
send relatives to work in more prosperous countries. And it does not
guarantee future prosperity; if the U.S. tightens immigration controls, the
flow of money could dry up.
"The U.S. has become addicted to cheap Mexican labor, and Mexico has become
addicted to the remittance," Zamora said in a speech in April before a
United Nations conference on remittances in Mexico City.
The number of Mexicans in the U.S. has increased by about 500,000 a year
over the past decade, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Other experts
believe the population is growing even more quickly.
Last year, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said Mexico was "hooked" on
remittances. He threatened legislation to cut foreign aid by the amount of
remittances to offset what he called the strain on U.S. taxpayers. Tancredo
spokesman Carlos Espinosa said the legislation was never introduced because
it would have been unconstitutional, but the congressman "wanted to raise it
as an issue."
Legislators in North Carolina and other states have similarly proposed
Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the
University of Georgia, calls the reasoning behind singling out remittances
"bogus." For the American economy, he says, there is no difference between
spending money on an European vacation and sending money to Mexico.
In September 2001, President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox
announced a "Partnership for Prosperity." The two countries would promote
economic development in the Mexican regions that produced the most migrants
"on the premise that no Mexican should feel compelled to leave his home for
lack of economic opportunity," according to their joint statement.
Remittances were named as a major focus of the partnership. The first goal
was simply to reduce the cost of sending money. The governments hoped to
encourage banks to enter the business, increasing competition.
Banks eager for Hispanic customers have piled in, and prices have dropped.
The IDB estimates the cost to consumers on average is about 6 cents to remit
a dollar, down from about 15 cents in 2000. And government officials hailed
Bank of America Corp.'s announcement last year that it would offer free
transfers to Mexico to anyone who opened a checking account.
Persuading recipients to put the money in a bank account has been much
Most remittances are distributed by Mexican banks, but the recipients
generally are not customers. The process is the same as getting the money at
a corner store. Bank of America and others that require senders to open
accounts don't require recipients to do the same. "We developed our system
based on what customers told us was important," said Marcos Rosenberg, a
Bank of America executive.
In 2003, Bush and Fox met again, in San Francisco. This time, they announced
they were entering the remittance business. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the
Bank of Mexico would start a remittance system that required recipients to
The system, Directo a Mexico, allows banks in the U.S. to send money to
banks in Mexico at a low cost. It is intended for use by small banks and
credit unions. Large banks can arrange their own international transfers.
The Fed charges a fixed fee of 67 cents, allowing the bank or credit union
to charge a fee to customers that can be as low as $2. On larger transfers,
the savings can be considerable. To use the service, the sender must have an
account in the U.S. -- and the recipient must have an account in Mexico.
"It's a stepping stone for radically changing one's financial future," said
Elizabeth McQuerry of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. "Their funds will
be waiting for them safe and secure and insured in a bank account. They'll
have access to a growing number of other financial services."
But the service has been slow to catch on. The Fed processes about 27,000
transactions through the program each day, but fewer than 1,000 are personal
remittances -- a small fraction of all personal remittances to Mexico.
Mostly the service is used to send Social Security checks to people who
worked legally in the U.S.
Remittances have kept a low profile during the congressional debate about
immigration. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., told the Observer he believes
Congress has not fully grasped the significance of the money flow. He said
the question of how best to harness remittances should be central to any
immigration reform legislation."When you're talking about $50 billion it's
staggering; it's a lot of money," said Engel, the ranking member of the
Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the Committee on International Relations.
Meanwhile, the Fed is working to increase use of Directo a Mexico. Payment
volume is up 13 percent since last fall, when it launched a new publicity
campaign. As of July, 86 banks in the U.S. offered the service and another
54 had signed up.
It is perhaps a sign of the political times that many of the banks have
declined to publicize their participation. Of the six banks signed up in
North Carolina, only three have given the Fed permission to disclose their
names: Latino Community Credit Union, the State Employees Credit Union and
First National Bank of Shelby.
There is no doubt that illegal immigrants use the service. A questionnaire
about Directo explains that if a customer is deported, the money in his bank
account can still be withdrawn from an ATM in Mexico.
"You don't have to be a legal resident in the United States to have a bank
account," said the Fed's McQuerry.
"To us, a payment is a payment is a payment."
-- Binyamin Appelbaum: email@example.com
Rick Rothacker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Franco Ordoñez: email@example.com
North Carolina is ranked eighth among states that send the most money to
Latin America. In 2004, immigrants living in North Carolina sent $833
million to Latin America, according to the Inter-American Development Bank,
which calculates state-by-state remittance data. South Carolina sent $148
million and is ranked 25th.
The estimated total population of illegal immigrants in the Carolinas has
skyrocketed since 1990.
1990 2000 2004
North Carolina 25,000 205,000 390,000
South Carolina 5,000 45,000 55,000
United States 3.5 million 8.4 million 12 million
SOURCE: Pew Hispanic Center
Why this immigrant rights march is brought to you by Miller
By Oscar Avila
Tribune staff reporter
September 1, 2006
Marchers had to duck into fast-food restaurants for water when they first
took to Chicago's streets in support of illegal immigrants five months ago.
At the next two marches, family-owned grocery stores offered free bottled
water from trucks emblazoned with their names.
This time, as demonstrators march from Chinatown to House Speaker Dennis
Hastert's (R-Ill.) Batavia office this weekend, they will have Miller
Brewing Co., as a sponsor. The brewer has paid more than $30,000 for a
planning convention, materials and newspaper ads publicizing the event.
The support of a major corporation for a controversial political cause shows
how fierce the competition has become to woo the growing market of Latino
For Miller, the march offered a special chance to catch up. This spring the
brewer drew the ire of pro-immigrant forces over contributions to U.S. Rep.
James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who sponsored legislation that would crack
down on illegal immigrants. That prompted a short-lived boycott by some
Now, march advertisements feature not just the organizing committee's
trademark blue globe but Miller's logo and a Spanish translation of its
"Live Responsibly" slogan, a company effort to build goodwill among Latinos.
But this march is no Cinco de Mayo parade. The politically charged event
will promote a controversial plan to end deportations and offer legal status
for all 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants. That creates
potential pitfalls for any businesses lending support, experts say.
At the same time business sponsorships have forced activists to confront
whispers that they are commercializing their movement when they accept
"We would love to have 20 corporate logos. It doesn't mean we are selling
the movement out," said Jorge Mujica, a member of the March 10 Committee.
"The principles and demands remain the same. They are helping out this
movement and we are happy with that."
Labor unions remain the movement's backbone with four major unions bringing
at least 600 marchers on buses from throughout Chicago. Religious groups
have been key too. Some marchers will bed down in churches and a mosque.
But businesses have become vital to this weekend's Immigrant Workers Justice
Walk, which will cover 45 miles to Hastert's district office. Hundreds of
marchers plan to cover the entire span from Friday through Monday, and
organizers need food and water for them.
Sometimes political and commercial messages are mingled.
At a July march, Chicago-based food producer V&V Supremo printed signs with
its logo that urged "Moratorium Now, Legalization Yes."
Jimenez Market, an area chain, had its sign on display as workers passed out
more than 5,000 bottles of water and other supplies worth nearly $17,000.
Co-owner Jose Perez acknowledged it is good publicity but stressed that "we
are supporting our people. Without them, our business would go downhill."
This weekend, the Los Comales restaurant plans to donate 500 tortas, Mexican
sandwiches filled with steak, ham and other toppings. The Laredo Bakery is
donating bread while other restaurants are donating water, fruit and other
supplies, organizers said.
Those businesses are natural allies--"part of the same brotherhood," as one
marketer put it.
But the presence of Miller at a welcoming reception the day before the Aug.
12-13 planning convention raised eyebrows.
The convention brought together labor unions, anti-war groups, immigrant
service organizations and even socialist political candidates.
Hours before bashing NAFTA and U.S. foreign policy, participants at the Aug.
11 reception mingled with the Miller Girls, the company's public relations
ambassadors, amid a display of Miller logos.
That Miller was involved in the first place is one measure of the growing
power of immigrants. After the boycott announcement, the company approached
march organizers to try to find common ground, and agreed to back the march
Miller is also bankrolling informational ads in Voces Migrantes, or Migrant
Voices, a community newspaper in Chicago, and has promised scholarships for
Mathew Romero, the company's local market development manager, said Miller
felt it was important to speak out against Sensenbrenner's legislation,
though his campaign was one of many the company supported.
Romero noted that company founder Frederick Miller was a German immigrant
and many current executives are foreign nationals. Miller is now part of
Romero said he wasn't worried that some opponents of illegal immigration
would be upset at the company's support of "the free movement of people,
labor, goods and services."
"As long as you are stacking facts against facts, they are free to make
their own decisions. We will stand by our positions," he said.
George San Jose, president of the San Jose Group, a Chicago-based marketing
company specializing in the Hispanic market, said he understands why
companies chase Hispanic purchasing power, which tops $700 billion annually
in the U.S. Brewers, he said, have been especially aggressive.
But San Jose would advise clients that there are better ways.
"A company sponsoring one of the two sides of the immigration debate is no
different than a company sponsoring groups for or against abortion [rights].
It's one of those heated political debates that companies should stay clear
of," he said.
At the request of march organizers, media executive Robert Armband sent
e-mails to thousands of business contacts, asking if they would consider
helping the March 10 Committee.
"It certainly is an opportunity to reach the masses, but it might not be the
right vehicle to come out as a sponsor," said Armband, publisher and chief
executive of La Raza, a Chicago newspaper.
March organizers say they have not made any full-fledged sales pitches to
major corporations and are having internal discussions about whether they
should make a real push. That can be a tough decision, according to march
organizer Gabe Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said he represents those in the movement--maybe half the total, he
thinks -- who don't even consider themselves capitalists. Many have been
involved with labor campaigns targeting specific companies.
March organizers shot down a suggestion that they approach Coca-Cola, for
example, because of what they perceive as the company's labor abuses in the
developing world, a cause celebre among liberal activists.
Although immigrant activists see legalization as an issue of social justice,
Gonzalez said corporations might back the idea as a way to protect their
bottom line. Whatever the motivations, Gonzalez said he would cooperate with
almost any company willing to back the cause.
"That's the nature of politics. You form coalitions based on mutual
self-interest," Gonzalez said. "So will we work with corporations? We will
work with anyone who will work with us."
Cincinnati City Beat
Ohio's New Immigration Bill Bound to Fail
By Dan La Botz
The leadership of the Ohio Legislature is proposing new legislation aimed at
undocumented immigrants. This is legislation that will make immigrants'
lives more miserable but, in all likelihood, probably will not drive them
out. Moreover, it does not address the principal issue: Why do they keep
Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) and Ohio Senate President Bill
Harris (R-Ashland) have announced the Ohio Workforce Protection and Illegal
Alien Enforcement Act. Expected to be taken up in September, the bill would
crack down on immigrants without papers by increasing police powers, cutting
off social services and going after employers.
The bill would have both immediate and long-term impact on immigrant
communities. State and county officers would, for example, be allowed to
arrest undocumented immigrants, solely for being in the United States
The law would drive immigrants away from emergency medical care by insisting
that adults' identities be verified before being treated. It would deny
undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates, scholarships or financial
aid. Making it difficult for those who might have contagious illnesses to
get emergency care could harm the entire society, while impeding education
for the children of immigrants will embitter them and deprive us of their
The law, intended to drive undocumented workers out of Ohio and back to
their countries of origin, will only succeed in making their lives
unbearable. But it will not drive them out.
They are staying here because there are no jobs in their home countries. The
real purpose of this bill then is simply to wave the flag and firm up the
conservative, anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party in time for the
Ohio is not the only state to consider such legislation. Colorado, Georgia
and Louisiana have adopted one or another law aimed at cracking down on
undocumented workers. Most recently, Suffolk County, N.Y. and the city of
Hazleton, Pa. have also created such laws. But local laws, always adopted
for political reasons, cannot solve what is an enormous national problem.
The proliferation of city, county and state ordinances aimed at immigrants
results from the failure of Congress to come up with a solution. Proposed
legislation -- all of it flawed and fundamentally unsound -- ground to a
halt in the last session of Congress.
Most such bills would have legalized only a portion of the undocumented
immigrants in the United States today, leaving many without legal status.
They would create heavy financial penalties, a burdensome process of
legalization and long periods of residency before possible naturalization.
Some versions of these bills do not offer a clear path to citizenship for
those who do achieve legal status.
These bills also propose guest worker or bracero programs, temporary
workers, eventually growing to hundreds of thousands of workers, rotating in
and out of the United States. This program for legalized sweatshops in the
fields and factories of America would create a new sub-proletariat without
basic rights or the power to organize to improve their situation.
The existence of millions of workers without rights not only perpetuates
their low-income jobs but threatens the rights and wages of all of us.
Finally, they propose a border wall that will cost millions, won't work and
will only harm the soul and the image of America.
At the national level, some organizations claiming to represent
immigrants -- We Are America, the Catholic Church and the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU) -- support a compromise bill which, while it does
not contain the border wall, would permit a partial legalization and allow
guest worker programs. These groups, which claim they want to "fix it now,"
argue better something than nothing.
Many Latino immigrants groups, however, do not share their view. A recent
meeting in Chicago of some 400 representatives of organizations in 25
states, including the groups that organized the huge demonstrations earlier
this year in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, rejected compromise on a
partial and punitive reform that would exclude millions and permit sweatshop
guest worker programs. They want to hold out, as immigrant groups did in the
early 1980s, for a real reform such as the Immigration Reform and Control
Act of 1986 (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million immigrants.
What is it that immigrants want? The Latino immigrant groups that I work
with want legalization for all of those now here with a path to citizenship,
an end to guest worker programs and oppose a border wall. They argue that
immigrants work as janitors, hotel and restaurant workers, construction
laborers and factory workers -- work that keeps this country running. Their
labor not only brings prosperity but also creates jobs for others.
They argue that they do pay taxes. Most work for employers who make payroll
deductions, their landlords fold the property taxes into their rent and they
pay sales taxes on every purchase they make. Immigrants point out that it is
their payments into Social Security that helps keep the system afloat. They
seek legalization as recognition that, through their labor and their
presence, they have contributed to our prosperity and enriched our culture.
No proposal will work, though, if it does not tackle the foreign policy of
the United States. The United States, throughout much of this history,
backed military dictators such as those in Guatemala, who protected the rich
and persecuted the poor. Unable to survive in their own country, Guatemalans
fled north looking for safety and then for jobs.
Most recently, the United States has foisted "free trade" agreements on
Latin America, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with
Mexico and Canada. NAFTA enriched a few, impoverished many and turned
millions into migrants. Imports of government-subsidized corn from the
United States ruined the corn farmers of Mexico, who then headed north
looking for work.
Until we alter these policies, the approach to immigration through simple
police power is bound to fail.
Dan La Botz is a writer, teacher and activist. His column appears the fourth
issue of each month.
E-mail the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Plain Dealer
Immigration: State-level crackdown proposed
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
by Margaret Wong
Margaret Wong & Associates Co, LPA
With Congress at an impasse on immigration reform, some groups, including
some of Ohio's Republican Party leaders, have been eyeing state legislation
targeting illegal immigration.
On August 3rd, state GOP leaders announced a plan to crack down on illegal
immigrants within Ohio. Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted and Ohio Senate
President Bill Harris, both Republicans, unveiled their plans for the Ohio
Workforce Protection and Illegal Alien Enforcement Act.
The GOP plan would deny adult illegal immigrants all public benefits,
including emergency medical care and public defenders; impose a $50,000 fine
for counterfeiting identification papers for immigration fraud; and would
create an investigative office that would ensure that Ohio companies are not
hiring illegal immigrants. The GOP plan also calls on the state to work out
an agreement with the federal government to grant state law-enforcement
officers the power to arrest undocumented immigrants solely for their
presence in the United States.
GOP leaders in other states have also announced immigration reform plans.
New, tough laws recently went into effect in Colorado. These laws now
require anyone seeking government services in Colorado, including welfare
and government loans, to provide proof of American citizenship or of legal
immigration status. Some lawmakers in Utah are also calling for state-level
legislation to crack down on illegal immigration.
Though the U.S. House and Senate have both passed immigration reform bills,
the bills they passed are very different. The Senate's bill would increase
enforcement on illegal immigration while also creating a guest-worker
program and a path to legal status for some illegal immigrants; the House's
bill would only increase enforcement.
The Republican Party leaders in the House and Senate have reached a
standstill, and the general consensus on Capitol Hill is that reform will
not happen in 2006.
Even President Bush, who has made immigration reform one of his key
initiatives, is said to have conceded that no immigration reform will be
possible this year. Mexican President Vincente Fox reported that President
Bush told him during a recent meeting that reform was unlikely before the
end of the year.
Currently at the national level, Republican House members are staging 21
hearings in 13 states during the August recess, in a stated effort to learn
more about what citizens are thinking about immigration reform. Some
lawmakers, including both Republicans and Democrats, have alleged that the
hearings are being used as a political tool to rally anti-immigration forces
in battleground districts.
Continued inaction from the U.S. House and Senate has led some state
lawmakers to take action into their own hands. Individual state immigration
laws could leave the U.S. with a bewildering array of laws. Already, Mexican
Consul General Juan Marcos Gutierrez-Gonzalez in Denver has said that "there
is a lot of confusion So far, there is a lot of misunderstanding" regarding
the immigration laws that recently went into effect in Colorado.
Margaret Wong is chair of the Cleveland Bar Association Immigration Law
Committee; member, International Law Section; AV Rated; life member 6th
Circuit and 8th Judicial District; Ohio Supreme Court Racial Task Force;
Ohio Women's Hall of Fame; Leading Lawyer; frequent lecturer and writer of
immigration law articles; managing partner of Margaret Wong & Associates.
Congress may balk at DHS push to oust illegal Salvadorans
By Jonathan Marino
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's push for Congress to end a
provision prohibiting the deportation of most illegal immigrants from El
Salvador may become a hot-button political issue. Rather than reversing the
provision before November's midterm congressional elections, lawmakers may
instead seek to provide DHS with additional funding for detention
The provisions were enacted two decades during a civil war in El Salvador.
That conflict, Chertoff has pointed out, ended in the 1990s.
DHS officials say they have spent nearly $250 million this fiscal year to
"The average stay for El Salvador nationals caught at the border is 65 days,
at an average cost of $95 per night," said DHS spokesman Jarrod Agen,
compared to one- to three-week stays for other non-Mexicans. Mexicans are
deported even more expeditiously.
Some Salvadorans are released back into the United States; others are sent
to other nations, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman
Ernestine Fobbs. The other countries must agree to accept them.
It's unclear where legislation of the type Chertoff is pushing would
originate on Capitol Hill.
"That's probably our jurisdiction," said a source on the House Judiciary
Committee, who added, "I've heard a lot of grumbling about this from the
[Bush] administration" for the past six months.
However, the source said, despite Chertoff's call for the legislation to be
passed before the November midterm elections, no action has been taken in
the committee to have a bill ready when lawmakers return from summer recess.
Some members of Congress might balk at Chertoff's call to end the provision.
There is still a lot of sympathy among Hispanics in the United States for
the plight of Salvadorans -- who, despite the end of the civil war there,
still face social strife in their homeland.
Rather than jeopardize Hispanic votes, lawmakers could seek to beef up
funding for DHS' detention centers. Such funds could be used either to build
new facilities or to rent additional space.
"We may construct some new detention facilities, but there is excess bed
capacity in state and local facilities that is available to the extent we
can afford it," said a DHS source who works regularly with lawmakers.
Migration Policy Institute
The People Perceived as a Threat to Security: Arab Americans Since September
By Randa A. Kayyali
George Mason University
July 1, 2006
Since the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Arab Americans have
regularly been featured in the press as a group "of interest" to many
federal agencies, particularly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Yet government security agencies have recruited them for their language
skills — the FBI has hired 195 Arabic linguists since 9/11 although other
agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), have not released
the number of new hires. Despite demand, the number of recruits is low due
to bureaucratic problems and the difficulties Arab Americans face in getting
top-level security clearances. Similar to other US immigrant groups in the
past, they are viewed as suspect simply because of their origin.
Although the term "Arab American" is often used, it remains misunderstood.
Who exactly is an Arab American? Are all Arab Americans Muslim? Has the
immigration rate of Arab Americans decreased as a result of 9/11? What has
been the net fall-out effect of 9/11 on this group? This article will
provide definitions, look at flow data from recent years, and examine the
trend of immigration and security policies affecting Arab Americans.
Arab Americans are the immigrants (and their descendents) from the
Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Under this
classification, Arabic-speaking countries include the members of the Arab
League and range from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east (see sidebar).
Individuals from Iran and Turkey, where the predominant languages are Farsi
and Turkish, respectively, are not considered to be of Arab origin even
though these countries are part of the Middle East.
According to the US Census Bureau, Arab Americans are those who responded to
the 2000 census question about ancestry by listing a predominantly
Arabic-speaking country or part of the world as their place of origin. The
main Arab-speaking countries cited in the 2000 census included Egypt, Iraq,
Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Syria.
Although some people from Arabic-speaking countries identify themselves as
Arab, many do not but are regularly defined as such in the United States by
the government and the average American, adding further weight to the term.
Because some choose a national identity, such as Lebanese or Egyptian, over
the term Arab, the diversity of the community must be recognized at the
outset of any discussion about Arab Americans. In truth, there are hot
debates about whether there is one or many communities of Arab Americans
because of the distance, both physical and emotional, between various
Countries of Origin of Arab Americans
United Arab Emirates
*Not included in the US Census Bureau definition of Arab countries
In regards to religious affiliation among Arab Americans, surprisingly few
studies have been done. However, the Arab American Institute, based on a
2002 Zogby International poll, estimates that 63 percent of Arab Americans
are Christian, 24 percent are Muslim, and 13 percent belong to another
religion or have no religious affiliation. The Muslim Arab-American
population includes Sunni, Shi'a, and Druze. Among the Christians, 35
percent are Catholics (Maronites, Melkites, and Eastern Rite Catholics), 18
percent are Eastern Orthodox (Antiochian, Syrian, Greek, and Coptic
Christians), and 10 percent are Protestant.
The high proportion of Christians among Arab Americans is partially due to
the descendants of Arab immigrants who arrived in the late 19th and early
20th centuries; they mostly came from Mount Lebanon, an area inhabited by
Maronite Christians and Druze that is now in Lebanon. Also, minority
groups — Maronites and Orthodox Christians from Lebanon, Coptic Christians
from Egypt, Shia' Muslims and Chaldeans from Iraq, and Orthodox Christians
from Palestine — are immigrating to the United States today in larger
numbers than the majority Sunni Muslim population of the Middle East.
How Arab Americans Are Counted
Unlike Asian, white, or black, "Arab" is not a racial category for the
Census Bureau. Rather, Arab Americans are considered white, defined by the
Census Bureau as "a person having origins in any of the original peoples of
Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa." This distinction dates back to
court decisions from 1913 to 1917 on the "whiteness" of Syrian and
Arab Americans who received only the short form of the 2000 census, which is
sent to all US households, could check the "white" box for race; if they
self-identified as "other" and then identified themselves on the long form
as a person from the Middle East or North Africa, the Census Bureau
reassigned them to the "white" category. This classification system is in
line with other federal guidelines on race and ethnic standards, as set out
by Directive 15 by the Office of Management and Budget, and therefore is
present in many administrative forms.
Since the 2000 census, the Census Bureau has published two reports on Arab
Americans, both of which are based on the long form that asks about ancestry
and is sent to only one-sixth of all US households. The first report, issued
in 2003, reported that about 1.2 million people in the United States
reported Arab ancestry alone or in combination with another ancestry. The
second report, issued in 2005, focused on the 850,000 people who reported at
least one Arab ancestry and no non-Arab ancestries (see Table 1 and Figure
1). Therefore, a person of British-Egyptian heritage would have been
included in the first report and excluded from the second.
Figure 1. Arab Population by Ancestry, 2000
Notes: Percent distribution; data based on sample. "Other Arab" (9.6
percent) includes Yemeni, Kurdish, Algerian, Saudi, Tunisian, Kuwaiti,
Libyan, Berber, Emirati (United Arab Emirates), Omani, Qatari, Bahraini,
Alhuceman, Bedouin, Rio de Oro, and the general terms Middle Eastern and
Source: US Census Bureau, Census 2000 special tabulation.
In both reports, the Census Bureau differs from the Arab League membership
definition in that it excludes those from Mauritania, Somalia, Djibouti,
Sudan, and the Comoros — countries that are members of the Arab League and
include large Arabic-speaking populations. Arab-American organizations
estimate that the Census Bureau counted only one of every three Arab
Americans in 2000, and therefore these organizations estimate the number at
approximately 3.5 million, or 1.2 percent of the total US population. This
3.5 million estimate of Arab Americans in 2000 also includes those of mixed
Arab and non-Arab heritage, unlike the 2005 Census report.
Another way to examine the Arab-American population is to look at the
foreign-born population from Arab countries. Although the media portray the
Arab-American population as wholly foreign born, the 2005 census report
found that only about 50 percent of Arabs in the United States were foreign
born; of these, about half were naturalized US citizens and the other half
were not citizens. Therefore, half of the Arab Americans in 2005 report were
either born in the United States or born abroad to US-citizen parents. Of
the foreign born, 46 percent arrived between 1990 and 2000, compared to 42
percent of the total foreign-born population.
Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Flows Since 9/11
Many assume that the immigration of Arabs to the United States decreased
after 9/11. However, the numbers of those admitted as immigrants or those
who became legal permanent residents from Arabic-speaking countries has
remained level at around four percent of the total number of foreign
nationals admitted as immigrants to the United States, even though there was
a drop in 2003. In 2005, over 4,000 nationals from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon,
Morocco, Somalia, and Sudan, in addition to an unknown number of
Palestinians, became permanent residents (see Table 2).
What has dropped drastically post-9/11 is the number of nonimmigrants who
are issued visas and admitted to the United States as tourists, students, or
temporary workers. The largest numerical drop between 2000 and 2004 (70
percent) has been in the number of tourist and business visas issued to
individuals from Gulf countries, which include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
Although there was a decrease in the number of all incoming foreign students
between 2001 and 2004, the number of student visas issued to individuals
from Arabic-speaking countries dropped substantially. The greatest numerical
drop, from 19,696 student visas in 2000 to 6,826 in 2004 (65.3 percent),
came from the Gulf countries. The number of Egyptians who entered on student
visas dropped 52.7 percent between 2000 and 2004 (see Table 3).
One of the first reasons cited for the decrease in the number of foreign
students was increased security measures, particularly the Patriot Act and
its provision that required the implementation of the Student and Exchange
Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an online database that
monitors international student compliance with immigration laws by requiring
all schools to be certified and to regularly update information on each
foreign student, including their visa type, status as a student (full-time
enrollment is required), biographical information, class registration, and
Recent reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the
Institute of International Education (IIE) found that the decline in the
number of international students is not due to SEVIS but, according to IIE,
to "real and perceived difficulties in obtaining students visas (especially
in scientific and technical fields), rising US tuition costs, vigorous
recruitment activities by other English-speaking nations, and perceptions
abroad that it is more difficult for international students to come to the
Increasing global competition for the best students has added to the drop in
the numbers of international students. While these reasons may be the most
significant deterrents for all international students, such observations do
not adequately answer why the number of Arab students has been
The numbers of visitors for business and pleasure has similarly decreased.
Businessmen and tourists from the Gulf went from 84,778 in 2000 to 25,005 in
2004, a 70.5 percent decrease. The number of Egyptian visitors dropped 51.5
percent, from 48,904 in 2000 to 23,742 in 2004. The decrease in the number
of both visitors and students from Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon was also
significant but lower than that of Egypt and the Gulf states. The causes for
these declines have not been investigated although some researchers cite
visa delays and fears of discrimination.
Security-Related Policy and Arab Americans
Another consequence of 9/11 has been the increased monitoring of Arab and
Muslim Americans for security reasons. Although most FBI interviews of Arab
and/or Muslim Americans have been conducted voluntarily, the increased
attention has caused tension, nervousness, and concern to many individuals,
as well as community leaders and organizations.
A two-year study conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice and funded by
the National Institute of Justice, a research agency of the US Department of
Justice, confirmed that 9/11 had a substantial impact on Arab Americans and
their perceptions of federal agencies, particularly the FBI. The report
states, "Although community members also reported increases in hate
victimization, they expressed greater concern about being victimized by
federal policies and practices than by individual acts of harassment or
A major issue of concern remains the 2001 Patriot Act and its provisions
that allow increased surveillance without approved court orders. The number
of people who have been charged or convicted for terrorism under the act is
unclear. In June 2005, President Bush stated that over 400 charges were made
as a result of terrorism investigations, but in almost all of these cases,
the federal prosecutors chose to charge the plaintiffs with nonterror
charges, such as immigration violations. Under the Patriot Act, anyone asked
for information about an individual or group of people by the FBI has a gag
order placed on them, regardless of whether the identity of the individual
becomes public knowledge.
In December 2005, President Bush confirmed that he authorized warrantless
searches in which the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored phone calls
and emails from possibly thousands of citizens and others in the United
States who contacted persons abroad.
Despite the former NSA director’s reassurances that the program was targeted
and focused on persons associated with Al Qaeda, Arab Americans are
concerned about the legality of warrantless searches, and the program has
increased feelings of being targeted and put under surveillance due to their
ethnic background and contact with friends and family in the Middle East. In
2006, several organizations filed lawsuits challenging the legality of
warrantless domestic spying as well as the release of thousands of customer
phone records by BellSouth, AT&T, and Verizon, citing violation of privacy.
In addition, in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security implemented the
National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which required
males over the age of 16 from certain countries who had entered the United
States since October 2002 to report to immigration offices to be
photographed and fingerprinted on an annual basis.
Shortly after NSEERS was implemented, immigration authorities fingerprinted,
photographed, and questioned 80,000 men. It is not known how many
individuals were Arab, but 19 out of the 25 countries on the NSEERS list
were Arabic-speaking. Although the main features of this program were
suspended in December 2003, nationals of some countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya,
Sudan, and Syria — are still bound by the NSEERS requirements.
As a result of NSEERS and other initiatives, the number of deportations from
the Arab countries on the NSEERS list and an additional five predominantly
Muslim countries also on the list increased 31.4 percent in the two-year
period following 9/11. The percentile rise in deportation orders for
nationals of other countries was 3.4 percent in comparison. Human rights,
civil liberties, and Arab-American organizations believe these facts point
to a trend of profiling and patterns of selective enforcement of immigration
Together, these security and immigration measures have given the impression
that the US government believes Arabs and Muslims to be a suspicious and
dangerous group to whom constitutional rights and liberties do not apply.
One of the long-term consequences of 9/11 was a questioning of identity and
the outward expression of ethnicity and religion. In the last five years,
many Arab Americans have asked themselves, How do I present myself when the
mention of my ethnicity and/or religion is enough to make others
While some have decided to hide their heritage or privilege another ethnic
background — also the reaction of some German Americans after World War I
and Japanese Americans after World War II — others have channeled this
dilemma into artistic expression. As a result, Arab-American arts have
blossomed. Fiction and poetry — particularly by Arab-American women — art
exhibits, and comedy acts have found their way into the public domain,
giving Arab Americans a more human face.
However, heightened security fears and recent terrorist attacks in Europe
have kept the Arab American community under the microscope of the FBI and
NSA. The perception of surveillance that dominates many local and
national-level discussions between Arab Americans and these agencies is not
likely to decrease unless pending lawsuits result in the courts finding the
warrantless searches or the release of phone records to be unconstitutional
and a violation of due process or privacy.
While the flow of immigrants has remained slow but steady, the number of
students and visitors has slowed down substantially. Although these
decreases are unlikely to isolate Arab Americans from their friends and
family in the Middle East and North Africa, it may indicate a decrease in
the interactions between people who are Arab and live in the Middle East and
Americans who live in the United States. In the current political climate,
it seems there is a growing need for cultural exchanges — yet the
opportunities for those very cultural exchanges are declining.
[About The Author]
Randa A. Kayyali is the author of The Arab Americans (Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 2006) and is a doctoral candidate in cultural studies at
George Mason University.
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11, 2001: Engagement in a Time of Uncertainty." Vera Institute of Justice.
Institute of International Education. 2005. "US Sees Slowing Decline in
International Student Enrollment in 2004/05." Press release. November 14.
Jachimowicz, Maia. 2003. "Foreign Students and Exchange Visitors." Migration
Information Source. September 1. Available online.
Reed, Cheryl L. 2005. "Government wages uphill battle in search for Arabic
translators: Four years after 9/11 attacks, US still short of qualified
linguists." Chicago Sun-Times. December 18, p. A18.
Samhan, Helen Hatab. 1999. "Not Quite White: Race Classification and the
Arab-American Experience" In Arabs in America: Building a New Future, edited
by Michael W. Suleiman. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press. Available online.
Suleiman, Michael. 1999. Arabs in America: Building a New Future. Edited by
Michael W. Suleiman. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
US Census Bureau, Foreign-born profiles by region and country of birth.
Arizona Daily Star
Illegal crosser's death leaves us wondering: Who's next?
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
A stranger in our land died last week. His name was Alfonso Salas Villagran.
He was 64 years old.
His body was found at the bottom of an embankment, under a scraggly mesquite
tree, next to a creek covered with waist-high weeds off the Arivaca-Sasabe
A group of Samaritan volunteers, including the four who found the body,
prayed for Salas Wednesday morning.
They erected a white cross bearing his name where he died and tied it to a
They recited scripture: "You shall treat the alien who resides with you no
differently than the natives born among you. . . . For you too were once
aliens in the land of Egypt."
Salas died of exposure and a bad heart, according to the Pima County medical
Salas was a sojourner. He was an illegal border crosser. He was a human
He was from near Mexico City. He had a son, Oscar Salas Aguilar.
He was 5-feet 6-inches tall and weighed 132 pounds. When he died he was
wearing a black shirt, blue pants, dark socks, gray shoes and a black belt.
He had a comb, a watch, some personal papers, a Mexican driver's license and
a Mexican voter identification card.
That is the little we know about him. There is much we don't know about him.
We don't know whom he loved and who loved him when he ventured north.
We don't know what his thoughts were when he crossed the border or while he
rested after walking hours in the late- summer heat.
We don't know if he had a low-paying job waiting for him and an American
employer who cared how Salas got to the workplace.
We don't know if he was bitter at his country's business and political
leaders for their indifference toward people like him.
We don't know if he was angry at his country for making it impossible for
him to make a living.
We don't know if he had repeatedly tried to legally enter our country and
how frustrated he became after years of waiting.
We don't know how much, if anything, he paid to a smuggler, who exploits the
dreams of hungry people and the failure of two neighbor countries to develop
a sound and safe immigration policy.
We don't know if he understood how dependent our country has become on
people like him.
We don't know if he realized that people like him are made to be the
scapegoats in our country.
We don't know how often he stumbled and fell, weakened from the lack of
water and food.
We don't know the pain that coursed through his body as it searched for any
trace of life-saving nourishment.
We don't know if he drank his urine in his final desperate effort to stay
We don't know what words he mouthed in despair or whose face he saw in hope
as he took his last gasp.
We don't know if he knew the spot where his body crumbled was a tenth of a
mile away from a road — and possible survival.
But we do know this: At least 144 illegal border crossers have died around
Tucson since Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.
We do know nearly 300 illegal border crosses have died in the U.S. since
Oct. 1 from exposure, drowning and vehicle accidents.
And, we do know there will be more people like Salas.
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
? Contact Ernesto Portillo Jr. at 573-4242 or at email@example.com. He
appears on "Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. and
States in the US passing their own immigration laws
01 September 2006
Frustrated by election year political rhetoric that has virtually halted
meaningful discussion about immigration reform, individual states and cities
within the United States are passing their own regulations. Sweeping new
immigration laws in Colorado and Georgia may be the toughest state actions
yet, but more than a dozen local governments are taking an even harder line
that in some towns is leading landlords to start evicting illegal
States have to be very careful not to violate Federal laws. Immigration is
the specific jurisdiction of the Federal government, but local jurisdictions
are looking for opportunities to take action against illegal immigrants.
Since the Pennsylvania city of Hazleton became the first to go after not
only employers but also landlords of illegal immigrants on July 13, dozens
of other local governments are debating similar ordinances seeking to deter
illegal immigrants from settling in their communities.
Courts are now considering legal challenges against Hazleton and the town of
Riverside, N.J., which copied the Pennsylvania town's ordinance to fine
landlords $1,000 per day for renting to illegal immigrants and to strip
business licenses from employers who hire undocumented workers. Opponents
say the measures violate federal law by creating new immigration controls,
which only Congress has the authority to do.
Four other communities already have passed measures based on Hazleton's,
including Valley Park, Mo., where landlords started evicting dozens of
tenants who are not legal residents earlier this month. At least 17 more
cities are considering similar measures, according to the Puerto Rican Legal
Defense and Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit against Hazleton's
ordinance Aug. 15.
The outcome of the legal challenges will help determine how far state and
local governments can go in their attempt to deter illegal immigration,
advocates on both sides of the issue said.
"Going after (undocumented immigrants') housing has the potential to be more
far-reaching than anything we've seen if the courts decide these measures
aren't pre-empted by federal law," said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the
Migration Policy Institute at New York University School of Law.
Frustrated by what's seen as a failure by the federal government to enforce
the nation's immigration laws, state and local governments have started
experimenting with new -- and potentially unconstitutional -- ways to deter
illegal immigrants by making it harder for them to get jobs, driver's
licenses or housing.
States and local lawmakers have limited authority when it comes to
immigration, which is solely a federal responsibility. A major federal
immigration law passed in 1986 pre-empted most existing state immigration
policies and forbids states from enacting tougher criminal or civil
penalties for illegal immigration than those set by Congress.
This year, state legislatures considered a record 550 pieces of
immigration-related legislation and passed at least 77 new laws in 27
states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Georgia passed a sweeping immigration reform package in May that set the
strictest sanctions on employers and access to public services by any state.
Colorado lawmakers passed nearly identical requirements during a politically
heated special legislative session in July called by Republican Gov. Bill
The employer sanctions in both states will be phased in starting in 2007.
The laws require employers to verify the immigration status of workers and
penalize those caught hiring illegal aliens. Additional restrictions require
that all adults applying for government benefits, licenses or other services
with the state show documentation proving they are in the country legally.
Colorado began enforcing the restrictions Aug. 1 and Georgia's will go into
effect Jan. 1, 2007.
"Only the federal government can remove illegal aliens from the country, but
state and local jurisdictions can and are taking action to deter new
settlement, to encourage illegal aliens to leave and pressure federal
authorities to enforce existing laws," said Mike Hethmon, an attorney for
the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a conservative-leaning
organization that advocates stricter immigration enforcement.
Munsil proposes state border patrol force
PHOENIX - Republican gubernatorial candidate Len Munsil on Thursday proposed
a major new expansion of the state's efforts to help secure the U.S.-Mexico
border and combat illegal immigration, including creation of a new state
Department of Public Safety unit to help patrol the border.
Munsil said the multifaceted plan he proposed jointly with GOP attorney
general candidate Bill Montgomery would probably carry a pricetag in the
"hundreds of millions" of dollars. He declined to elaborate on the costs.
Besides creating the Arizona Border Patrol as a division of DPS, other
elements of the plan include deploying Arizona National Guard troops on the
border, seeking funding for border radar, fencing and vehicle barriers and
passing new state laws to criminalize illegal immigrants' presence in
Arizona and to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
Other elements include providing additional funding for courts and law
enforcement agencies and having the Attorney General's Office form a new
unit to handle any prosecutions under the state's human-smuggling law and
training more Arizona law enforcement officers to handle immigration
interviews so undocumented immigrants can be turned over to federal
Munsil and Montgomery said they released the plan because handling of
immigration and border issues by Gov. Janet Napolitano and Attorney General
Terry Goddard has been dangerously inadequate. The situation is just as bad
as it was when the two Democratic officials took office in 2002, the
"Nothing has happened. Nothing has been done," Munsil said.
He said costs of the plan would depend on negotiations with state lawmakers
and federal authorities on exactly what the state could and should do to
augment federal efforts. "We're talking in the hundreds of millions of
Napolitano campaign spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said Munsil's plan
contained elements that either already are being done or are unrealistic for
reasons of funding or legal authority.
"Obviously the governor does not go along with the idea of creating an
entirely new police force to do something that the federal government should
have been doing all along," L'Ecuyer said.
Steps already taken or under way include deploying National Guard troops
along the border to support the Border Patrol and training Department of
Corrections officers to conduct immigration interviews, L'Ecuyer said.
Napolitano has criticized the federal government, saying it is falling short
of its responsibilities for border security and immigration enforcement and
failing to fully reimburse the state for costs stemming from illegal
Napolitano was at odds with GOP lawmakers on immigration- and border-related
issues throughout the Legislature's 2006 session and vetoed several
Montgomery, Napolitano and Goddard are unopposed in their respective Sept.
12 primary races, while Munsil is one of four Republicans seeking the GOP
nomination for governor.
Munsil's chief rival for the Republican nomination, Don Goldwater, has
claimed illegal immigration and border security as his issue.
Goldwater's own plan calls for deploying National Guard troops along the
border to apprehend illegal crossers, not just in support roles. He also
wants to construct a border fence, prosecute employers who knowingly hire
illegal immigrants and establish "tent city" camps along the border so
illegal immigrants convicted of crimes can help build border barriers and
repair environmental damage caused by illegal crossings.
GV Samaritans take on grisly task
Bethia Daughenbaugh's stomach lurched when she spotted the jeans behind a
clump of low-lying mesquite bushes. Her mind searched for an explanation.
Maybe the person was asleep. Maybe it was just discarded clothing. But in
her gut, she knew whoever lay there was dead.
"It was my worst fear come true," the 65-year-old Green Valley resident
A couple more steps and she could see it was a man. He lay under a mesquite
by a barbed-wire fence with his head tilted back and arms neatly by his
Daughenbaugh and three others made the discovery south of Arivaca Road on
Aug. 22 while on patrol with the Green Valley Samaritans, a group of mostly
retiree volunteers who search the desert for illegal migrants in distress.
The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office identified the man as Alfonso
Salas Villagran from Chicoloapan in the state of Mexico. He died from a
combination of heart disease and heat exposure, said Pima County Medical
Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks. He carried a Mexican voter identification card, an
address book and a compass. He was 64.
"My God. That's nearly the same age as us," Daughenbaugh said.
Daughenbaugh joined the Samaritans a year and a half ago, soon after moving
to Green Valley from Seattle, where she was a social worker for 40 years.
She first learned about the large numbers of migrants crossing the border
illegally while working a part-time job selling beverages on a Green Valley
"They'd come up to me on the golf course, asking for directions or wanting
to buy some water," Daughenbaugh said.
Green Valley's Samaritan group has grown steadily since it was founded two
years ago and has 75 regular volunteers who patrol seven days a week.
"These people are dying in our backyard," said founding member Shura Wallin,
65, who patrols the deserts around Arivaca two mornings a week and was with
Daughenbaugh when she found Salas. "We knew we had to do something."
A week after the discovery, Wallin and Daughenbaugh led around 50 people to
the spot where they had found Salas, to hold a memorial service.
Wallin and the Rev. John Fife, a retired minister of Southside Presbyterian
Church, dug a hole for a cross inscribed with Salas' name. Others stacked
stones, flowers and incense at the base of the cross. Fife, together with
the Rev. Delle McCormick of BorderLinks, a religious-based group that leads
educational trips along the border, and the Rev. Bob Carney from St. Francis
de Sales Parish, led prayers and songs.
Since October, 146 illegal immigrants are known to have died crossing the
Tucson sector, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Salas' son, Oscar Salas, 47, who drives a taxi near Los Angeles, said his
father was headed to Atlanta, where he'd worked in construction for several
years. His father had left Atlanta 18 months ago because he decided he was
too old to work anymore and wanted to go home. But economic circumstances
were so bad in Mexico, and wages so low, that he decided to return to
support his wife and younger children, Oscar Salas said.
"I don't have words enough to thank the people who found my father," he said
in a telephone interview. "Please tell them how much this means to our
family. My father was a good man."
Border duty an eye-opener for National Guard troops
By MICHELLE TAN
August 30, 2006
NOGALES, Ariz. — Immigration is hard to ignore here.
For many residents, Mexico lies almost literally in their back yards.
Shoppers cross into the United States from Mexico in a steady stream looking
for deals on shoes, clothes and toys. Lines at vehicle checkpoints are long
And all day and night, Border Patrol agents in green uniforms chase illegal
crossers through thick brush and unforgiving terrain.
“We’ve been dealing with this since 1924,” said Gustavo Soto, a supervisory
Border Patrol agent who’s been on the job for 10 years.
The difference now is that there are about 6,000 National Guard soldiers and
airmen scattered along the U.S.-Mexico border to help.
Just like in other border towns, teams of four Guardsmen dot the hills here,
scanning the mountains and valleys for illegal activity. The soldiers and
airmen, armed with rifles and binoculars and clad in body armor, alert
Border Patrol agents to what they see, and the hunt begins.
“Living here in Arizona you see a lot of migrants coming across,” said Sgt.
1st Class Anthony Newlin, of the 258th Engineer Company in Phoenix. “These
people will save money all their lives for one chance on that border run.”
Newlin is the noncommissioned officer in charge of a road construction
project conducted by the 258th’s Detachment 1. The road runs parallel to the
fence that separates the two countries near downtown Nogales, and the
mission to build it is the 258th’s two-week annual training on a hot
afternoon in late August.
President Bush in May announced an initiative to send up to 6,000 National
Guard members to the Southwest border for two years. Many soldiers serving
along the Arizona border said they were surprised at the number of people
who try to jump the fence into the United States.
“CNN and all the major media keep reporting that it’s not a big deal and it
doesn’t happen in our back yard,” said Capt. Brian Watson, of the 116th
Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Stanton, Va. “I got down here and realized
it’s a major problem.”
Watson is in charge of the Virginia Guard’s entry identification teams in
Tucson and Ajo.
“We’ve effectively shut down this valley to any major foot traffic and
vehicle traffic,” he said. “As for the people who’re trying to make a better
life for themselves, I can understand that, but they’re starting their life
here with a commission of a crime.”
Watson said his time in Arizona has erased his indifference to illegal
immigration. “Now I think there needs to be more national attention to
this,” he said.
Spc. Ross Booth, of the 29th Infantry Division in Richmond, Va., said he’s
amazed that so many people will risk their lives to live in America.
“They’re that desperate,” he said. “They have nothing left that they’re
willing to risk it. I can’t blame them, but they need to go through the
Booth mans an entry identification team in Sasabe, a small, remote town west
of Nogales. The area is so desolate that Booth and his teammates have to
hike a quarter-mile up a steep hill to get to their post.
Pfc. Aram Christopher, of the 183rd Cavalry in Norfolk, Va., mans a more
central entry identification site, right at the edge of downtown Nogales.
“I’m very surprised at the number of crossers, especially in broad
daylight,” he said. “If it really was that bad out there I’d probably do
the same thing and jump in broad daylight, but I’m not in their situation so
I don’t know.”
The soldiers on duty in Arizona expressed appreciation for the area’s Border
Patrol agents. Agents have even provided some of Watson’s soldiers with
thermal sights and radios.
“We’re making their job easier so it’s in their best interest to make our
job easier and they’ve done that in spades,” Watson said.
The Border Patrol returned the compliment.
“The National Guard has proven to be more than what we expected,” Soto said.
“They routinely spot illegal aliens [and] since the Guard first deployed
here we’ve seen incremental drops in entries.”
Illegal immigration may not be a new issue, but it remains a difficult
issue, Soto said.
“We must know who’s coming into the country,” he said. “We cannot have open
borders. There are a lot of economic immigrants, but we have a lot of
The Tucson sector
• Is one of the Border Patrol’s nine sectors along the Southwest border.
• Encompasses 262 linear miles.
• Has fewer than 20 miles of permanent fence. Marked, in many areas, only by
• Has 2,400 to 2,500 agents assigned, including 500 at largest station in
• Agents have apprehended more than 350,000 illegal crossers so far this
• Agents have seized more than 596,000 pounds of marijuana so far this
Source: Customs and Border Protection
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