Immigrant Rights News -- Wednes, Sept. 6, 2006
Immigrant Rights News -- Wednes, Sept. 6, 2006
NOTE: If this is the first time you are receiving IRN, please reply with
your address and contact info if you wish to continue receiving after this
sample taste. Thanks!
1. New York Times, "In Bellwether District, G.O.P. Runs on Immigration"
2. Arizona Republic, "U.S. targets loophole on deportation. But attorneys
say rights should be wider, not cut"
3. From Indian Country Today:
A. "Alianza, indigenous campaign for border rights"
B. "O'odham protest military home invasions"
C. "Jay Treaty benefits needed at southern border"
4. Sacramento Bee, "Advocates rally for immigrants: The gathering is part of
a national effort seeking legal change."
5. Wall Street Journal, "Immigration Stalemate"
6. Dallas Morning News, "Act on immigrant issue, FB tells U.S. Council to
wait on adopting controversial ordinances, for now"
7. Arizona Republic, "Napolitano in D.C. for border push"
8. Roll Call, "GOP Narrowing Border Strategy"
New York Times
September 6, 2006
In Bellwether District, G.O.P. Runs on Immigration
By CARL HULSE
AURORA, Colo. — It was not by chance that Republicans brought their summer
tour of hearings on illegal immigration to this growing community just
Not only is Aurora bearing the costs of schooling and providing other
services for a significant population of illegal immigrants, it is in the
heart of a swing district and so is central to the intense battle for
control of the House of Representatives.
And while Congress is unlikely to enact major immigration legislation before
November, inaction does not make the issue any less potent in campaigning.
In fact, many Republicans, on the defensive here and around the country over
the war in Iraq, say they are finding that a hard-line immigration stance
resonates not just with conservatives, who have been disheartened on other
fronts this year, but also with a wide swath of voters in districts where
control of the House could be decided.
“Immigration is an issue that is really popping, “ said Dan Allen, a
Republican strategist. “It is an issue that independents are paying
attention to as well. It gets us talking about security and law and order.”
Leading Republicans, leery of a compromise on immigration, are encouraging
their candidates to keep the focus on border control, as in legislation
passed by the House, rather than accept a broader bill that would also clear
a path for many illegal immigrants to gain legal status. The latter
approach, approved by the Senate with overwhelming Democratic support and
backed by the White House, makes illegal immigration one of the issues on
which Republicans face a tough choice of standing by President Bush or
taking their own path.
“The American people want a good illegal-immigration-reform bill,” said
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, “not a
watered-down, pro-amnesty bill.”
Here in the Seventh District, the Republican push brought a Senate
subcommittee hearing the other day to explore the costs of illegal
immigration. The taxpayer-financed, ostensibly nonpartisan meeting took on
the air of political theater.
“They are here in this district with this topic attempting to drum up
support in a closely contested Congressional race,” fumed Lisa Duran,
director of an immigrant rights group.
If that was the tactic, it may have worked. The angry confrontation thrust
the session into the headlines, reminding residents that the issue remained
a leading one in the House race between Rick O’Donnell, the Republican
nominee, and Ed Perlmutter, the Democrat, who are running to fill a seat
being vacated by Representative Bob Beauprez, a Republican seeking the
The issue remains on voters’ minds “because people are trying to keep it on
their minds,” said Mr. Perlmutter, who accused Republicans of staging the
hearing for political gain.
Mr. Perlmutter, a former state legislator, is trying to navigate tough
political terrain by coming down hard for border enforcement while leaving
the door open for illegal immigrants to seek citizenship eventually. His
opponent, a former state higher education official, says such a position
will not sell in Denver suburbs characterized by unease that the nation has
inadequately policed its borders.
“I know the voters in my district are adamantly opposed to anything that
smacks of amnesty,” Mr. O’Donnell said.
Republicans went into this year determined to keep the midterm elections
from becoming a referendum on national issues and Mr. Bush, insisting that
they would run on local concerns instead. But in this district, as in most
others with tightly contested races around the country, the campaign is
turning on the overarching national issues.
On immigration, many Republicans, like Mr. O’Donnell, have put distance
between themselves and the Bush administration, emphasizing stronger border
security and ignoring or rejecting the president’s support for the broader
Similarly, on Iraq, Mr. O’Donnell is trying to find a middle ground that,
though basically supportive of Mr. Bush, allows the candidate to be critical
of the war’s management. Like the president, Mr. O’Donnell says that
American troops should not be withdrawn until Iraq is stabilized and that
setting a deadline for a pullout could lead to disaster. Yet he is trying to
separate himself from the administration’s handling of the war, saying that
“we may need new leadership at the Pentagon.”
Mr. Perlmutter has tried to put his Republican opponent on the defensive
over a third issue, embryonic stem cell research. He made it the subject of
his first television commercial, pointing to the potential benefits for a
daughter of his who has epilepsy. “It is personal to me,” he said.
Until recently, Mr. O’Donnell sided with Mr. Bush in opposing expanded
federal financing of such research. Now he says the effort should move
forward, given a scientific advance, reported last month, that may allow
stem cells to be obtained from embryos without destroying them. He rejects
Mr. Perlmutter’s assertion of a flip-flop on the research, which both men
say is popular with voters. “I didn’t move,” he said, “the research did.”
But here as elsewhere, Democrats too are still trying to calibrate their
positions on the big issues, a reflection of what the two parties agree is a
fluid political situation. Even as they try to tap into the antiwar
sentiment in their liberal base, many Democrats in swing districts, like Mr.
Perlmutter, are articulating positions on Iraq that they hope will insulate
them from the “cut and run“ charges being leveled by Republicans. So Mr.
Perlmutter paints his opponent as an adherent of what he portrays as Mr.
Bush’s policy: “stay the course until we run aground.”
Yet he does not endorse a quick exit, calling instead for the beginning of a
phaseout of the troops, tied to a multinational reconstruction effort, with
American forces out completely by the spring of 2008.
“We will have been in Iraq for five years by that time,” he said.
Certainly the topics dominating the campaign landscape have proved
challenging. “The war and the issue of immigration are sufficiently
complicated that both parties are having a hard time getting a real clear,
laserlike fix on the whole thing,” said John Straayer, a political science
professor at Colorado State University.
Just a few weeks ago politicians and analysts suspected that immigration had
lost its political punch in Colorado, after the legislature enacted a tough
immigration overhaul including tighter identification rules for those
seeking state government services.
But the issue refuses to die. Mr. O’Donnell said it was the subject most
frequently raised with him by residents. At the hearing here the other day,
presided over by Senator Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican, more than 200
people showed up even though it had promised to be a fairly dry look at the
fiscal effects of illegal immigration.
On the street outside, the emotions surrounding the debate were on vivid
display. Advocates on both sides chanted slogans, sought to outshout each
other and displayed signs like “No Human Being Is Illegal” and “Stop the
Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican elected eight years ago, testified on illegal
immigration’s costs to the state, saying the influx was not a driving issue
when he first took office but had since risen to the top of Colorado’s
concerns. “The state did take some important steps,” Mr. Owens said of the
recently enacted immigration measure, “because of weaknesses in federal law.
But there is a lot more that needs to be done.”
In an interview, Mr. O’Donnell accused his party’s leader, Mr. Bush, of
being soft on illegal immigration. “I don’t know why the administration hasn
’t enforced the laws,” he said, adding that his objective was border
Mr. Perlmutter said he shared that goal. But he said the government also had
to deal with the millions of illegal residents already in the United States,
enabling some to “earn your citizenship if you are learning English, paying
taxes, haven’t committed a crime and have a job,” as the Senate bill
provides. He blames Republicans for allowing the problem to fester.
Hoping to throw Mr. O’Donnell off stride, the Perlmutter campaign also
resurrected an opinion article he wrote in 2004 suggesting that male high
school seniors be required to perform six months of community service, with
the option of assisting in border security. Mr. Perlmutter equated that plan
to a draft; Mr. O’Donnell said he had simply been endorsing a call for
community service that many civic leaders have backed.
As they fine-tune their messages, the two men agree on at least one thing:
this evenly split district will be a bellwether in November.
“The issues that end up driving this campaign,” Mr. O’Donnell told a Rotary
Club luncheon in nearby Commerce City, “are going to set the tone for this
U.S. targets loophole on deportation
But attorneys say rights should be wider, not cut
Sept. 5, 2006 12:00 AM
Top Department of Homeland Security officials want Congress to close a
loophole that they say leads to the release of scores of undocumented
immigrants into the interior of the United States.
An 18-year-old court order requires that all undocumented immigrants from El
Salvador appear before a judge before deportation, while people from other
countries typically are removed without a hearing. Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff said the injunction, issued while El Salvador was
involved in a bloody civil war, has resulted in a logjam of cases that
increase detention time and take up valuable space in federal prisons.
"The civil war is gone. There is a democratically elected government now,"
Chertoff said. "We need to be free of this court order."
But immigration lawyers warn that the proposed legislation, sponsored by
Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, and backed by the Bush administration, goes
beyond simply lifting the requirement that Salvadorans appear before a
judge. It would, in effect, change how the government handles accusations of
constitutional rights violations in immigration cases, said Lynn Marcus,
director of the University of Arizona Immigration Law Clinic.
"It's not just that they're trying to undo an order," Marcus said. "The bill
goes far beyond that. It may read innocuously, but . . . it so stacks the
deck against people whose rights are being violated."
There are thousands of Salvadorans in Arizona, many undocumented. There are
enough to justify opening a Salvadoran consulate in Nogales, but no one
knows for certain how many.
At the center of the debate is the federal government's catch-and-release
policy, a poorly kept secret that has long embarrassed immigration
officials. The vast majority of the nearly 1.2 million Border Patrol arrests
last year involved Mexicans, who typically are simply returned to the border
within a few hours of their arrest.
The Border Patrol has more trouble dealing with "OTMs" (Other Than
Mexicans), who have to be at least temporarily housed in federal detention
centers while the government arranges for a return to their home countries.
But with a shortage of space, immigration officials for years have simply
given scores of undocumented immigrants from countries including El
Salvador, Brazil and Honduras a notice to appear for an immigration hearing
and then release them.
About 70 percent of the roughly 155,000 OTMs arrested last year were
released into the U.S. interior. Salvadorans are second only to Mexicans for
arrests along the Southwestern border, according to Homeland Security
Homeland Security officials say they've recently made progress on reducing
the number of undocumented immigrants released after they're arrested,
keeping roughly half in custody in January. Immigration officials reported
that during the second week of August, they detained 99 percent of OTMs, but
they would not provide statistics for any other recent timeframes to show
whether that was a trend or an anomaly.
Chertoff recently extended a controversial policy known as "expedited
removal" along the entire Southwestern border. Under the policy,
non-Mexicans picked up shortly after crossing the border and within 100
miles of the international line are now returned to their home countries
without a court hearing, unless they express some fear of return or claim
Expedited removal, used on all OTMs except Salvadorans, has helped reduce
the number of undocumented immigrants released into the U.S. interior,
Homeland Security officials said. Still, Chertoff said the court order
remains an obstacle to ending catch-and-release and called for Congress to
"cut the ties that bind us."
But immigration lawyers say the only thing stopping Homeland Security from
ending catch-and-release is the detention space available. The federal
government is not required to catch and release anyone or give anyone a
notice to appear as long as they have a place to hold them, attorneys said.
The Salvadoran consul in Nogales, Leocadio Josi Joaqumn Chacsn, was
unavailable for comment.
The injunction was issued in the 1980s after attorneys sued on behalf of
Salvadoran clients who said they were pressured to waive their right to
hearing and return home. They also reported having limited access to legal
representation, typically a major factor in the success of immigration
"The injunction was issued so people with valid asylum claims have the
opportunity to have those claims heard and not be coerced or otherwise
pressured to waive their rights," said Linton Joaquin, executive director of
the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center.
He said the court order is not outdated or unnecessary, saying the
protections for El Salvadorans should be extended to people from other
The civil war in El Salvador ended in 1992 with the signing of a peace
treaty, capping 11 years of fighting.
"It's not the question of whether there's a civil war," he said. "It's a
question of whether there are people with good-faith asylum claims. Some of
those claims are different than they were in the civil war. Some of them are
still political persecution, . . . but some of them are based on persecution
by gangs. Some of them are domestic violence that they can't get protection
Immigration officials referred phone calls to the Justice Department's
Office of Immigration Litigation, where a spokesman declined to comment.
The federal government has filed a motion to have the injunction lifted, but
a judge has not yet ruled on it. In the meantime, Homeland Security
officials are asking Congress for legislation that would override the court
order, commonly known as the "Orantes injunction."
Bonilla's bill would also change the timetables for immigration-related
injunctions, not just affect El Salvadorans, attorneys said. Bonilla's
spokeswoman did not return phone calls.
Marcus said that Bonilla's bill would shorten the timelines for getting
injunctions, making them impossible to get in more complex cases.
She also said the legislation would give more power to the government to
quickly appeal injunctions, putting people whose rights were violated at a
disadvantage in the system.
"It sounds OK to members of Congress who aren't lawyers, but they would make
it basically impossible to enjoin illegal conduct by the government," Marcus
She criticized Homeland Security for not letting the appeal play out in
"Tell it to the judge," Marcus said. "We have procedures in this country. We
have a forum in which the government can speak. If they can't make out a
decent case to the court, then they have no right to be running off to
Congress crying about it."
Indian Country Today
Alianza, indigenous campaign for border rights
Indian Country Today September 04, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: September 04, 2006
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
TUCSON, Ariz. - Indigenous on the border are battling increased
militarization and the violation of sacred sites while their civil and human
rights are being violated, according to Yaqui, O'odham, Mayan and scholars
speaking during a recent press conference of the Alianza Indigena Sin
Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders.
Julian Hernandez, Yaqui ceremonial leader for Barrio Libre in South Tucson,
said Yaqui ceremonial leaders face constant problems crossing the border and
border agents are violating ceremonial items.
''Our artifacts for ceremonies are being taken away by border officials.
Border officials should be working together with indigenous peoples,''
Hernandez said during the press conference in Tucson Aug. 17.
Hernandez said border officials, now under the Office of Homeland Security,
are developing policies without consulting indigenous peoples. ''They are
not actually involving us.''
Jose Garcia, lieutenant governor of the O'odham in Mexico, said O'odham
south of the border live in an area frequented by drug traffickers and that
the elderly in remote areas are vulnerable.
''In Mexico, we're not allowed to have guns to protect ourselves,'' Garcia
said, adding that O'odham in Mexico are not receiving the support they need
from the Tohono O'odham Nation in the United States.
Garcia said O'odham people are losing their language, history and
ceremonies. ''It is important to know who you are, what your history is.''
Further, Garcia said the international border has been a source of division
for the O'odham in communities in the United States and Mexico. ''It still
creates division, discrimination and racism. When people on this side speak
of O'odham on the other side, they say 'those people.'
''It separates the O'odham, our culture, language. All of this is because of
that imaginary line. A border wall will strengthen that idea that we are two
separate people,'' Garcia said.
During the press conference, the Alianza Indigena sin Fronteras/Indigenous
Alliance Without Borders announced the launch of a campaign to establish
national policy guidelines for southern indigenous peoples' rights of
mobility and passage. The alliance is pressing for environmental protection,
the survival of the languages and the prevention of further loss of ancient
Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, professor in the Department of Women's Studies at
the University of Arizona and an Alianza member, said more than 4,000 people
have died crossing the border.
''The loss of human life is so vast,'' Broyles-Gonzalez said. She said the
border has also caused a separation for tribes living on both sides of the
border, effecting cultural and ceremonial ties.
Urging the United States to abide by international laws, Broyles-Gonzalez
said the cutting of cultural ties violates U.S. laws, treaties and
International law guarantees the right for indigenous to maintain their
cultural and religious ceremonies across the borders, she said.
Jose Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader and Alianza director, said on the
northern border the Jay Treaty recognizes the right of indigenous passage
and allows First Nations' people to work in the United States. However,
those benefits are not available to indigenous at the southern border.
Meanwhile, the fight for recognition is not always won with
federal-recognition, Alianza members said.
Matus said Yaqui became a federally recognized tribe in the United States in
1978, yet many people continued to refer to Yaqui as ''Mexicans.''
Matus said Yaqui have always been a nomadic tribe. ''We are not Mexicans; we
are indigenous peoples of this territory.''
Tupac Enrique Acosta, coordinator of Tonatierra community action in Phoenix,
said the ongoing immigration stream at the border is no accident. He said
this stream has been an economic reality for the past 200 years.
''The infrastructure of Mexico is designed to deliver labor to the United
States. Mexican labor is a dispensable commodity in America.''
Enrique said the United States never negotiated with the O'odham, Yaqui,
Cocopah, Pima, Apache, Hopi or other Indian tribes when the international
border was created in 1848.
However, Enrique pointed out that the Jay Treaty in the north recognizes
there were indigenous peoples here before Spain arrived and the U.S.
government was established.
Enrique said, ''The issue is colonization. We have to call for
decolonization of this hemisphere. We have to step up to the plate and take
Sebastian Quinac, Mayan Cakchiquel from Guatemala, said indigenous peoples
were divided by the borders when North, Central and South American countries
''We were people with respect, and were respected. We respected our mother
With borders and the establishment of states and countries, indigenous lands
were divided up and human rights were violated, he said.
During comments, Dennis Manuel, Tohono O'odham elder in the audience, said
O'odham sacred sites are being disturbed at the border. ''We are getting a
lot of traffic over our sacred sites.''
Earlier, the U.S. Border Patrol set up camp at the site of Baboquivari, home
to the O'odham sacred being I'itoi on tribal lands in Arizona. Now, Manuel
said the Border Patrol and military disturb O'odham artifacts, burial
grounds and petroglyphs. ''They still continue to drive in through these
areas,'' Manuel said.
Quinac said building walls is a way for governments to control communities.
Hernandez said border walls will increase Yaqui border crossing problems.
Broyles-Gonzalez said a border wall is viewed as a quick solution, but is
''What is needed is a solution to problems. This would only make the
problems worse,'' Broyles-Gonzalez said.
Indian Country Today
O'odham protest military home invasions
Indian Country Today August 18, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: August 18, 2006
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
GU-VO DISTRICT, Tohono O'odham Nation, Ariz. - As the National Guard sets up
observation posts on Tohono O'odham tribal land on the border, O'odham say
homes are being invaded by U.S. Border Patrol agents and their peace of life
has been destroyed.
''There is an invasion of our communities. You would not think this is
America: it is a whole different world,'' said Ofelia Rivas, founder of the
O'odham Voice against the Wall, an O'odham human rights advocacy
Rivas said O'odham living on the border live in fear of the ongoing home
invasions and the resulting retaliation if they speak out against the Border
Patrol or National Guard troops now preparing camps in their backyards.
''The armed guards invaded the small village of Ali Jegk on the Tohono
O'odham reservation. The community is under siege day and night by
unmonitored heavily armed border patrols and other agents,'' Rivas told
Indian Country Today.
Ali Jegk, adjacent to the international border on tribal land, is 136 miles
southwest of Tucson and borders the Organ Pipe National Monument.
Rivas described a recent incident in which a young O'odham man and his
family were threatened with pepper spray if they did not get out of their
vehicle. The family, including an infant, was traveling to the funeral of
their father and uncle.
''They were told to abandon their vehicle and walk more than 25 miles to
their community. The young man was taken into custody under bogus charges.
An encounter with the tribal police and the Border Patrol forced the release
of the young man,'' Rivas said.
Currently, O'odham elderly, who normally sleep outside their adobe homes in
summer because of the heat, now have to sleep indoors.
''They are forced to sleep in their homes at night because the Border Patrol
is out there walking around and shining their spotlights on them. There is
no peace at all,'' Rivas said.
Rivas said that recently, Border Patrol agents climbed on top of their
patrol units and watched O'odham elderly gathering saguaro fruits during the
traditional cactus fruit harvest.
''They feel like they are under a microscope.''
Gustavo Soto, spokesman for the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, told ICT
that the agency takes these allegations seriously.
''There are a lot of allegations against our agency doing inappropriate
activities,'' Soto said. However, he said the Border Patrol is monitored by
the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Personnel Responsibility.
There are also internal special investigation teams, he said.
Soto said he was not familiar with specific allegations coming from the Ali
Jegk community, but that the Border Patrol encourages O'odham to make formal
complaints to the agency. He said each formal complaint is investigated and
a Border Patrol community representative is assigned to follow up.
Tohono O'odham Chairman Vivian Juan-Saunders said she was not aware of
complaints of Border Patrol agents in the Ali Jegk community. Juan-Saunders
said she asked Gu-Vo District leaders if they had received reports of
allegations from the community and none had been received.
''Until community members bring these issues to the attention of either the
community, district council, Legislative Council Domestic Affairs Committee,
the Legislative Council or to my attention, we can't address these issues,''
Juan-Saunders said, however, the Tohono O'odham Nation receives complaints
from both sides concerning the Border Patrol, including O'odham who question
where border agents are when illegal entrants invade O'odham homes.
Juan-Saunders said the nation encourages O'odham to file complaints when
their rights are violated. She also said the nation has informed the Border
Patrol of the tribe's sovereign status.
''They need to respect the rights of the nation as well,'' Juan-Saunders
However, Rivas said O'odham families are harassed and spotlighted in their
homes at night.
Rivas said a family of eight was awakened at 4:45 a.m. by armed Border
Patrol agents who stated that footprints from the border led to their home.
The family consists of a grandmother, two daughters and five grandchildren.
The O'odham children were questioned if they were from Mexico.
''The young mother was spotlighted in her bed while she was nursing her
infant. This is the third invasion of their home in the past two months. In
this home invasion, the invaders did not identify themselves. The family is
constantly under watch; the Border Patrol constantly drives by their yard,
spotlighting and watch from the roadside.''
Rivas said another young family with two small children was awaked by four
heavily armed Border Patrol agents at their door. The family was accused of
harboring undocumented Mexicans and possibly hiding drugs. Two agents went
through out the house while two other agents guarded the entrance to the
In another incident, an O'odham man in his 50s and his brother were stopped
while traveling from his community along the border.
''He was threatened; they said they would smash his windshield if he didn't
open his window completely. He was accused of being a drug trafficker.
''After they were released, the U.S. Border Patrol agents were yelling the
stereotypical 'Indian war yells,''' Rivas said.
Rivas said one Ajo Sector Border Patrol agent stated to an O'odham man,
''You Indians think you have sovereign powers; we are the authority here. We
have more authority then the tribal police.''
Soto, given a copy of the allegations in the Ali Jegk community, said it
would be necessary for the Border Patrol to have the names and information
on each incident in order to investigate. He said it is important for
O'odham to write down the license plate numbers of the Border Patrol agents
allegedly carrying out inappropriate activities so specific agents could be
The number to report abuses is (877) USBPHELP, and the help line is
available around the clock, he said.
''We immediately take these matters very seriously,'' Soto said, pointing
out that spotlighting into homes is one offense that is investigated when
Rivas, however, pointed out that O'odham who do complain and make their
names public become targeted and victimized by agents, especially in the
isolated area of Ali Jegk.
''There is absolutely nothing out there to protect them, there is no one
advocating for them,'' Rivas said.
Responding to ongoing criticisms of the Border Patrol by indigenous at the
border, Soto said Border Patrol agents receive cultural sensitivity training
during their initial training at the Border Patrol Academy. Then, agents
receive annual cultural sensitivity trainings in individual sectors,
including the Tucson, Ajo and Casa Grande Border Patrol sectors in southern
Rivas and other indigenous border rights activists said the cultural
sensitivity training that Border Patrol agents receive is obviously not
Jose Matus, Yaqui and director of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders,
said that when he recently crossed the border in Arizona, a Border Patrol
agent told him that he had never heard of the Yaqui people.
Soto said the cultural sensitivity training focuses on ''American Indians''
and is not specific for individual tribes. He said the cultural sensitivity
training is multi-faceted and includes Irish-Americans and various ethnic
Indian Country Today
Jay Treaty benefits needed at southern border
Indian Country Today August 14, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: August 14, 2006
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
With increased security and human rights violations, indigenous face
difficult border passages at the northern and southern borders
PORT ALBERNI, British Columbia - Indigenous at the northern and southern
borders face increased border crossing problems from U.S. Border Patrol
agents as ceremonial items are confiscated and destroyed, and human rights
violated, said a Yaqui border rights activist.
Jose Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader and director of the Indigenous Alliance
Without Borders, said indigenous at the southern border suffer because they
do not have the benefits offered by the Jay Treaty for First Nations people
at the northern border.
Still, indigenous at both borders face new restrictions and increased
security, which make border passage difficult.
Matus, keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary of the Elders Indigenous
Gathering in Port Alberni, July 18 - 20, spoke on border passage and new
''A lot of indigenous people are concerned and upset that they could be
required to have a passport. They feel this is a violation of the Jay
At the southern border, Matus said Native tribes do not have the benefits of
the Jay Treaty to ensure passage into the United States, which offers First
Nations people the ability to work once they are in the country.
At the southern border, Matus said, ''Indians are treated as aliens. We feel
we are not aliens, we are indigenous to this land and have been here since
Although tribal members of the Kickapoo Tribe in Texas have a congressional
agreement that allows tribal members to cross the border with their tribal
identification cards, other Native tribes at the southern border lack this
benefit, he said.
Matus is urging the National Congress of American Indians to look closely at
conditions faced by Native tribes at the southern border. He said it is
important for NCAI to consult both the elected tribal leaders and the
ceremonial leaders of Native tribes.
''In terms of the Yaqui, it is the ceremonial leaders who govern the
people,'' he said.
''Sometimes, in the United States, the elected tribal leaders do not
recognize the importance of bringing in ceremonial leaders to maintain the
ceremonies and traditions.''
Matus is pressing for a NCAI resolution to recognize indigenous who have
communities on both sides of the southern border, from Texas to California.
''They should recognize the tribes with relatives on both sides of the
At the border of the United States and Mexico, Matus said U.S. agents are
engaged in the fight against terrorism and the smuggling of humans and
drugs. At the same time, indigenous suffer from the lack of recognition of
their identity and respect for their human rights.
Indigenous entering from Mexico must obtain a visa by showing proof of
employment, home ownership or paid electricity, gas or water bills. However,
indigenous living in villages -- and often with other family members -- most
often do not have these documents or the high fees for visas.
Indigenous might not be allowed to pass, even if they have these documents
and pay the fees, Matus said.
''If they are too nervous, or if border agents feel they are lying, they
won't be allowed to pass. If they don't get approved, they don't give the
visa fees back,'' he said.
When Matus was a teenager, he was given the responsibility by Yaqui elders
to escort Yaqui ceremonial leaders from Sonora, Mexico, across the border to
conduct Deer dances and other Yaqui ceremonies.
''I said, 'I'm just 18 years old, I'm just a kid.' They just said 'You do
it,' and I did. But I found out you can't just bring people across.''
During one of those first border crossings, agents said they would
''parole'' the Yaqui ceremonial leaders into the United States. ''I said,
'I'm not bringing them in from prison,''' Matus said. While the terminology
and requirements for U.S. entrance changed through the years, the problems
Currently, Matus has a written agreement with the U.S. State Department, the
U.S. Consulate and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction
with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, for Yaqui ceremonial leaders to enter to
conduct ceremonies. Still, each time is a struggle.
Recently, in two separate incidents, U.S. border agents destroyed a
ceremonial deer head used in the Deer dances and agents confiscated Yaqui
goat hides used in ceremonies.
Matus said the constant turnover of U.S. border agents in numerous agencies
makes conditions worse. Many agents are on the border for only six months to
a year and never receive adequate training about indigenous border passage.
Recently, one U.S. border agent said he had never heard of the Yaqui people.
Matus pointed out there are 40,000 Yaqui living in eight villages, each with
tribal councils and governors. The villages are near the city of Obregon in
the state of Sonora, adjacent to Arizona. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Arizona
is a federally recognized Native tri
Matus said another point often overlooked is that many people coming across
the southern border are indigenous from the regions of Chiapas, Guatemala
and elsewhere in Central and South America.
Meanwhile, NCAI has made border passage a priority. In June, the theme of
NCAI's mid-year conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was ''Not Our
Borders: Culture and Commerce in the Era of Homeland Security.''
NCAI President Joe Garcia said, ''These are not our borders, but we live
near them and border policies have a big impact on these communities. After
Sept. 11, 2001, I know everyone understands that we have to be very serious
about border security and immigration.
''But the federal government also has to realize that there are 30 U.S.
tribes located right on an international border and there are tribal
communities such as the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, where
people have many relatives on the other side of a border and most of the
business customers flow back and forth across the line. Tribes must be a
part of the decision-making process,'' Garcia said.
At the elders' conference in Port Alberni, Matus praised the indigenous
youths for their attentive services to the elderly and the beauty of the
mountain area. Matus said the gathering had a tremendous impact on him.
''Elders have life experiences and can educate the youths. I was impressed
with the youths. They were from 10 years old to college age. They were
really taking care of us; they sure met all of our needs. I learned a lot. I
came back with a lot of ideas.''
Matus said First Nations youths brought fruit, other food and water to those
gathered and continued to ask if there was anything more they needed. At the
same time, the elders, with their life experiences, were able to share with
Matus said the bonds of the indigenous from the northern and southern
borders formed by coming together could have a tremendous and long-lasting
effect, especially with elders sharing their knowledge with young people.
''As part of the education process, we need to work with First Nations to
preserve our ceremonies and language. It is very important to make this
Matus said the 30th anniversary of the gathering marks an important
milestone in the healing process.
''A lot of people, who are now elders, truly were kidnapped and taken to
residential schools, for the purpose of being Christianized. They were not
able to speak their language or practice their ceremonies. They were
physically or sexually abused in Christian and Catholic residential
Matus said 30 years ago, they decided to gather together with their families
and begin the healing process here.
Advocates rally for immigrants
The gathering is part of a national effort seeking legal change.
By Loretta Kalb -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Several hundred people promoting immigrant rights rallied in Southside Park
on Monday and heard a call to "change our destiny" and "begin again our
struggle" for equitable treatment.
Rocio Guido of Zapatista Solidarity of Chico told listeners that many of the
nation's leaders, descendents of European immigrants, "today … suffer
Guido and her family participated with the organizing group, Campaign
Against Unjust Immigration Laws, in a Labor Day immigrant rights rally and
noon march to the federal building some 12 blocks north of the park.
"I believe we have an obligation as citizens and people to demand of our
government-without-memory to look back and recognize it is them with their
policies who push us to emigrate from our country," Guido said, "(only) … to
come here and be treated as second- and third-class citizens."
Participants, many of them with small children in tow, shouted their support
of the rally speakers who called for national immigration changes. A few
said they came to the site from Chico and Davis as well as Sacramento.
In an atmosphere that was part picnic and part politics, observers waved
flags from the United States or Mexico, which sold for $3 each at one of the
half-dozen tables in the park. One child carried a flag from Cuba. A woman
wore a Costa Rican flag over her shoulders. Others bought and ate ice cream
from a vendor.
Similar scenes played out nationwide as immigrant rights supporters rallied
and marched in cities from Los Angeles to Milwaukee, calling for amnesty for
The Sacramento session proved an opportunity for congressional candidates to
show their support.
"They say you are 'illegados,' " said Jeff Kravitz, a constitutional law
professor at Lorenzo Patiño School of Law and Green Party candidate seeking
the 5th District seat held by Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui. "Well, you know
what is illegal. It's illegal to have people work in your country and deny
them basic rights… .
"It's illegal because it's discrimination, because it's apartheid, and let's
call it by its proper name," he said, drawing some of the loudest cheers.
Phillip Fujiyoshi of Davis carried a placard declaring, in Spanish, "We do
the work. Let them hear our voices."
"When all the wealth goes north (to the United States), the people have to
follow," he said. "No one wants to leave their country just to make ends
"It seems particularly cruel to mistreat the people who are forced out of
their homes for economic reasons."
About the writer
* The Bee's Loretta Kalb can be reached at (916) 478-2641 or
Wall Street Journal
Congress's Failure to Resolve Issue Feeds Ire of Activists on Both Sides
By JUNE KRONHOLZ
September 6, 2006; Page A6
Riverside, N.J., passed an ordinance this summer that would bar illegal
immigrants from holding a job or renting an apartment there. When
Riverside's Latino community held a prayer vigil to protest the measure a
few weeks later, counterdemonstrators showed up to chant "go home" and
One demonstrator waved a Confederate flag, and a few people gave Nazi
salutes. "It was shameful," says the Rev. Miguel Rivera, who organized the
vigil and adds that he knows who to blame: Congress.
By raising illegal immigration as a political and national-security issue --
and then doing nothing about it -- Congress has given new life to an
anti-immigrant movement that had long been relegated to the political
fringes, say some policy watchers and think tanks.
"The conduct of members of Congress has given it license and credibility,"
Rev. Rivera says. With a national election around the corner, and control of
Congress at stake, "nobody from Washington wants to respond to these words
being hammered against us."
Congress's failure to stem illegal immigration "may well flare up in
unpleasant ways," agrees Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for
Immigration Studies in Washington, which favors immigration restrictions and
enforcement. But he adds that pro-immigration groups have responded with
questionable behavior of their own, including the "We were here first" signs
some Hispanics toted at rallies this spring, and charges of racism leveled
at those who call for tougher border enforcement.
The problem was created, he and others say, when the House and Senate passed
starkly different immigration bills. The Republican-proposed House bill
calls for a fence along the border and makes illegal immigration a felony;
it currently is a misdemeanor. The Senate bill, which attracted more support
from Democrats than Republicans, would let most illegal immigrants stay in
the U.S. after paying fines and back taxes, and largely reflects President
Bush's calls for a law that supplies the economy with the workers it needs.
Congressional negotiators never met to iron out their differences, and final
passage now seems unlikely before the November elections. Republicans are
split between the party's pro-immigrant business wing and its anti-immigrant
cultural conservatives. Democrats see political benefit in letting the issue
simmer while they tar Republicans as anti-Hispanic for passing the House
The high-profile debate has rallied immigration supporters, with many
native-born Americans joining hundreds of thousands of immigrants at rallies
calling to overhaul immigrant laws. But those rallies and the debate over
the House and Senate bills also have focused public attention on the
fast-growing illegal population and fanned fears of terrorists easily
crossing U.S. borders.
The deadlock in Congress corresponds with several huge demographic trends.
The U.S. is adding one million immigrants a year, a historical high. Half
are illegal entrants, who tend to be poor, uneducated and Hispanic.
In the past, most immigrants settled in a half-dozen "gateway" states. But
the growth in low-skilled jobs in the South and Midwest is luring them to
states that aren't used to large numbers of foreigners.
That has captured the attention of state and local governments, which
complain that they are carrying the health-care, education and other social
costs of illegal immigration. Local leaders are "frustrated by the lack of
federal action, so they're looking for things they can do," says Ann Morse,
who tracks immigration for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
State legislators introduced 550 bills aimed at illegal immigration this
year, Ms. Morse says, with most restricting access to driver's licenses,
unemployment pay, elder care and other benefits.
City and town councils also have gotten into the act by barring day-labor
centers and passing ordinances that go after employers and landlords who
hire or rent to illegal residents. The Riverside measure is modeled on one
that passed the Hazleton, Pa., city council and has been widely copied.
The Hazleton ordinance, which hasn't been implemented, contends that
"illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates," and then bars any
business caught hiring an illegal worker from obtaining city permits or
contracts for at least five years.
Polls show a hardening attitude toward immigrants -- even legal ones. In
three Wall Street Journal/NBC and Pew Research Center polls this spring,
nearly half those asked said immigration hurts the U.S. by taking jobs,
burdening public services or threatening "customs and values."
The rising passion is creating a climate that allows politicians to "rather
commonly" say things that only hate groups once uttered, says Mark Potok,
who monitors those groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery,
Ala. "When politicians and other leaders speak in this way, rank-and-file
people feel they've been freed to do the same and worse," he adds.
Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia has denied he was tapping
anti-immigrant sentiments last month with his "Welcome to America" remarks
to a rival's campaign worker -- a second-generation Indian-American -- who
was videotaping an Allen campaign event. Other lawmakers are less subtle.
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa regularly accuses illegal immigrants of
committing sex crimes against "eight little girls" a day as part of "a
slow-motion terrorist attack."
A recent Democratic Party ad juxtaposed a video clip of Hispanics scaling a
border fence with images of Osama bin Laden and North Korean President Kim
Jong Il -- equating illegal immigrants with terrorists, according to
Hispanic groups. A Republican Party ad warns that Steve Laffey, the
Cranston, R.I., mayor challenging Sen. Lincoln Chafee in the Republican
Senate primary, "accept[s] Mexican ID cards" and that the cards "can
threaten our security" by allowing immigrants in planes and government
The debate has energized anti-immigrant or immigration-restrictionist
groups. Congress's focus on immigration has "helped create the terrain" for
groups like the 18-month-old Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, which patrols
the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal crossers and has raised money for a
border fence, says Devin Burghart of the Center for New Community, a Chicago
policy group that monitors a dozen groups aiming to restrict immigration.
But it also has prompted the governors of New Mexico and Arizona to declare
states of emergency because of illegal immigration -- a move that Mr.
Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies calls "political theater"
aimed at showing a response to a public frustration.
Write to June Kronholz at email@example.com
Dallas Morning News
Act on immigrant issue, FB tells U.S.
Council to wait on adopting controversial ordinances, for now
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 6, 2006
By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News
FARMERS BRANCH - City Council members on Tuesday night chose not to go
forward with ordinances that would have restricted illegal immigrants from
living and working in the city.
But they vowed to pursue such measures this fall if Congress doesn't come up
with a plan to enforce existing laws and reach an agreement on immigration
A standing-room-only crowd applauded and cheered when the council approved a
resolution criticizing the federal government's failure to secure the
borders and enforce immigration laws and promising to take action if
Mayor Bob Phelps said the resolution would be sent to President Bush, U.S.
Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and other members of Congress
from Texas, along with hundreds of e-mails the council has received on the
The resolution also will be sent to every city and school district in the
state, encouraging their elected officials to do the same, Mr. Phelps said.
"The citizens of this state and nation and the citizens of the City of
Farmers Branch are concerned, worried, upset, frustrated and downright mad
that President Bush and the Executive Branch of the United States government
has and is totally failing in the enforcement of the Immigration Act as it
relates to the influx of illegal aliens," the resolution reads.
It goes on to say that if federal officials don't act, the city will "take
whatever steps it legally can to respond to the legitimate concerns of our
The resolution quieted, at least temporarily, the contentious debate over
suggestions by Farmers Branch City Council member Tim O'Hare two weeks ago
to adopt local ordinances that would make it harder for illegal immigrants
to live and work in the city.
Those suggestions, along with others from council member Ben Robinson,
include fining landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, punishing
businesses that hire them, cutting off funding for illegal immigrant
children in some of the city's youth programs and making English the city's
Both Mr. O'Hare's supporters and local Hispanic leaders who opposed the
suggestions praised the council's decision.
"It's exactly what we were asking for," said Farmers Branch resident Luis de
la Garza. "It's a federal issue."
Carlos Quintanilla, representative of the League of United Latin American
"We want immigration reform," he said. "We want it immediately; we want it
to be fair and equitable. ... It is a great victory for us."
But both men, who had said Mr. O'Hare's proposals were racist and
unconstitutional, vowed that if the city tries to approve such ordinances
later, they will be back to fight them.
Some of Mr. O'Hare's supporters also supported the resolution.
"It's a courageous move," said Irving resident Sue Richardson, who carried a
sign saying, "Protect the Rule of Law and Support National Sovereignty."
"I think they drew the line in the sand, said if Congress doesn't do it, we
will. That's fair," Ms. Richardson said.
But not all were happy with the decision.
"I think they're passing the buck," Farmers Branch resident Earl Conley
Shannon McGauley, president of the Texas Minutemen, said the resolution was
intended only to "bide time" and warned that if council members don't adopt
local ordinances, they could find themselves recalled.
Dozens of supporters and opponents congregated in the City Hall lobby
Tuesday night after the fire chief declared the council chambers were at
capacity, and police blocked the doors to prevent others from entering.
As the council met privately with the city attorney upstairs to discuss the
legalities of the proposed city ordinances, supporters and opponents got
into a nearly indecipherable shouting match, some standing just inches
apart, yelling to make their points while others climbed onto furniture to
make themselves seen and heard.
At one point the two groups broke into simultaneous chants of "We support
Tim O'Hare" and "Tim O'Hare must resign."
Napolitano in D.C. for border push
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 6, 2006 12:00 AM
Gov. Janet Napolitano called Tuesday for Congress to move more quickly
toward approving a plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
Saying the country is already overdue for such a policy, she said she
believes the slow pace is intentional. Earlier this year, the governor
expressed strong support for immigration reforms proposed by President Bush,
but Congress has not approved the measures.
"After all this . . . they (Congress) are still not dealing with
immigration," she said. "This must happen in Washington, D.C. They must pass
a comprehensive immigration reform bill."
Her comments came during a weekly media briefing Tuesday as the U.S. Senate
reconvened, and one day before the House opens session. They also came on
the heels of Labor Day demonstrations at the state Capitol, organized by
protesters on each side of the debate.
Senior Republicans in Congress are expected to meet this week for a final
decision on what to do this year about immigration policies. News reports
this week have said the House and Senate expect to make domestic security
the top priority for the rest of the year, downplaying immigration.
The issue is important to Arizona, which has emerged as a battleground in
the fight over state and national immigration reform. The state played host
to a number of congressional hearings during the summer to gather testimony
from experts and those affected by immigration. A stated purpose of the
hearings was to help formulate a new national policy.
One of the chief concerns in those hearings was how and whether voting has
changed since the 2004 approval of Proposition 200. The law requires voters
to show proof of citizenship before they cast ballots. For the most part,
the debate over immigration in Arizona has moved on to questions of how to
bolster the border against illegal immigration and whether tougher penalties
should be enacted against people living in Arizona illegally and businesses
that hire them.
Napolitano, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, dismissed the
hearings as a tactic to delay legitimate reforms before the elections.
"It's a total abrogation of responsibility for Congress not to put this on
the agenda and get it done," Napolitano said. "We're having these fake
hearings . . . as opposed to getting around a table and really working it
Proposition 200 supporters say the measure guards against vote fraud and
keeps unqualified voters from tainting elections.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas testified in one of the congressional
hearings that 10 non-citizens who registered to vote were indicted recently.
His office also is reviewing 149 cases involving non-citizens attempting to
GOP Narrowing Border Strategy
September 6, 2006
By Susan Davis,
Roll Call Staff
Plagued by a disgruntled base and public demands for action to address
illegal immigration, House Republican leaders are planning a push this month
to shift the focus away from their inability to reach agreement with the
Senate by passing smaller-scale initiatives to strengthen the border.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that GOP leaders
and committee chairmen of jurisdiction would meet Thursday to discuss the
results of two months of field hearings and constituent feedback on the
immigration issue, all with an eye to the midterm elections.
Boehner told reporters Tuesday that the meeting was scheduled "to begin to
assess what we should or shouldn't do" this fall.
"Over the past couple of months we've heard directly from thousands of
Americans that we have an emergency on our borders," Boehner said. "We will
respond with more border patrol agents, more enforcement, more fencing and
While Boehner would not concede that the House will not attempt to address
legislation that deals with the millions of illegal immigrants already in
the country, GOP aides said Tuesday that at this point there is no plan to
take up a comprehensive bill before the election.
House Republicans have spent the better part of the summer working to
demonize the Senate-passed version of the immigration overhaul that creates
a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, instead promoting their
"The American people want a good illegal immigration bill, not a
watered-down, pro-amnesty bill," Boehner said, noting that he hit 26
districts and more than 50 campaign events in August, and the overwhelming
impression was that voters support securing the borders as a first step.
The approach may prove to be an Election Day gamble for many vulnerable
Republicans, as President Bush has used his bully pulpit for most of 2006 to
call for a comprehensive approach to illegal immigration, but at this point
Congress is not likely to adjourn with any major legislative accomplishments
on the issue.
"The conversations about the overall bill, the larger bill, are going to
continue, but in absence of that there's a lot of things we can do to
strengthen our borders and we're going to," Boehner said.
However, rather than risk adjourning without anymore accomplishments on the
immigration front, GOP aides said the House may take up single-issue border
security legislation in September, which does not address the possibility of
creating "amnesty" or a guest-worker program.
Congress is also on track to complete the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security
appropriations bill this month, which Boehner said will likely include
increased funding for the border initiatives included in that spending
measure, which have already passed the House.
the end / el fin / tamat <><><>