Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stop the Sensenbrenner Anti-Immigrant Laws! Call Now.

Versión en español sigue

Stop the Sensenbrenner Anti-Immigrant Laws!
Call Your Two Senators and Representative Now

The Senate is poised to debate and vote on their counterpart legislation to the recently passed House Bill, the Secure Fence Act, H.R. 6061, which would build 700 miles of walls on the U.S.-Mexico border and would require the Department of Homeland Security to achieve "operational control" of the border as a condition before immigration reform is considered.

This week the House is expected to vote on three new immigration enforcement bills introduced by Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) from H.R. 4437. Now languishing in Congress, H.R. 4437, if made into law, would make being undocumented a felony and criminalize anyone who hires, assists, ministers to or cares for an undocumented immigrant.

Please call your two Senators and Congressional Representative, tell them:

* Oppose and votes against the proposed laws in the House and Senate that promote border militarization and draconian immigration law enforcement measures. This legislation only criminalizes immigrant workers, families and communities. These policies have created untold suffering; thousands of migrants have already died at the border.

* Support genuine legalization that protects and expands the civil rights, civil liberties and labor rights of immigrant workers, families and communities.

* More border walls and militarization, guest worker programs, and detention and deportations make our communities vulnerable to exploitation and abuses.

* Only legalization with full rights, labor protections, and family reunification will work.

How to Contact your Congressional Delegation

* You can find out how to contact your Senators and Representative at

* Or you can call the Congressional switchboard and ask to be connected to their offices: (202) 224-3121.


¡Alto a las leyes anti-inmigrantes de Sensenbrenner!
Llame a sus dos Senadores y su Representante

El Senado está por debatir y votar sobre su proyecto de ley contraparte a la legislación recientemente aprobada por la Cámara de Representantes, el proyecto de ley "Acta de Muro Seguro ("Secure Fence Act"), H.R. 6061, que permitiría la construcción de case 700 millas de muros en la frontera entre EEUU y México y requeriría que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional obtuviera el "control operative" de la frontera como precondición para considerer reformas migratorias.

Esta semana la Cámara de Representantes votara sobre tres nuevos proyectos de leyes de control policíaco migratorio, introducidos por el Representante Sensenbrenner (R-WI) de su proyecto de ley H.R. 4437. Ahora pendiente en en el Congreso, H.R. 4437, si llegaría a ser ley, calificaría de felonia el ser indocumentado y criminalizaría a cualquier persona que emplearía, ayudaría, comfortaría y cuidaría al inmigrante indocumentado.

Por favor contacte a sus dos Senadores y Representantes , dígales:

* Opónganse a los proyectos de ley en la Cámara y en el Senado que promueven la militarización de la frontera y medidas represivas de control policíaco de la migración que solo criminalizan a los trabajadores, las familias y las comunidades de inmigrantes. Estas políticas han fomentado el sufrimiento sin cesar; miles de migrantes ya han muerto en la frontera como resultado de estas.

* Apoyen una legalización genuine que proteje y expande los derechos civiles, las libertades civiles y los derechos laborales de las y los trabajadores, familias y comunidades inmigrantes.

* Sólo una legalización con derechos plenos, protecciones laborales, y la reunificación de familias resolverá esta sitaución.

* Más muros y militarización en la frontera, más programas de trabajadores braceros (o huéspedes), y la detención y la deportación hace a nuestras comunidades vulnerables a la exploitación y los abusos.

Cómo contactar a su delegación Congresistas

* Puede hallar la información de contacto de sus 2 Senadores y Representante en:

* O puede telefonear a la central telefónica del Congreso y pedir que sea conectado a las oficinas de sus 2 Senadores y Representante en: (202) 224-3121.


National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
310 8th Street Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984
Fax (510) 465-1885

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Immigrant Rights News -- Mon, Sept. 18, 2006

Immigrant Rights News -- Mon, Sept. 18, 2006

1. CNN: "Immigration raids make a ghost town in Georgia"

2. Charlotte Observer opinion: "Exploiting workers: Despite law, illegal
immigrants missing out on job injury pay"

3. Arizona Republic: "Saving immigrants from a horrid death is not a crime -

4. Arizona Daily Star: "Report shows soaring entrant deaths: U.S. study also
critical of Border Patrol reporting"

5. Washington Post: "Overstating Border Reform's Price"

6. San Antonio Express-News: "House border fence bills passes despite
criticism from Demos"

7. Washington Post: "As Border Crackdown Intensifies, A Tribe Is Caught in
the Crossfire"

8. From AfricaFocus Bulletin "Africa: Migration and Rights"
A. "Spain's borders strengthened after African refugees storm European

B "Libya: Migrants Abused, But Europe Turns Blind Eye. EU Countries Must
Press Libya to Protect Migrants, Asylum Seekers, Refugees" Human Rights

<><><> 1


Immigration raids make a ghost town in Georgia
POSTED: 3:25 p.m. EDT, September 15, 2006

STILLMORE, Georgia (AP) -- Trailer parks lie abandoned. The poultry
plant is scrambling to replace more than half its workforce. Business
has dried up at stores where Mexican laborers once lined up to buy
food, beer and cigarettes just weeks ago.

This Georgia community of about 1,000 people has become little more
than a ghost town since September 1, when federal agents began
rounding up illegal immigrants.

The sweep has had the unintended effect of underscoring just how vital
the illegal immigrants were to the local economy.

More than 120 illegal immigrants have been loaded onto buses bound for
immigration courts in Atlanta, 189 miles away. Hundreds more fled
Emanuel County. Residents say many scattered into the woods, camping
out for days. They worry some are still hiding without food.

At least one child, born a U.S. citizen, was left behind by his
Mexican parents: 2-year-old Victor Perez-Lopez. The toddler's mother,
Rosa Lopez, left her son with Julie Rodas when the raids began and
fled the state. The boy's father was deported to Mexico.

"When his momma brought this baby here and left him, tears rolled down
her face and mine too," Rodas said. "She said, `Julie, will you please
take care of my son because I have no money, no way of paying rent?"'

For five years, Rodas has made a living watching the children of
workers at the Crider Inc. poultry plant, where the vast majority of
employees were Mexican immigrants. She learned Spanish, and considered
many immigrants among her closest friends. She threw parties for their
children's birthdays and baptisms.

The only child in Rodas' care now, besides her own son, is Victor. Her
customers have disappeared.

Federal agents also swarmed into a trailer park operated by David
Robinson. Illegal immigrants were handcuffed and taken away. Almost
none have returned. Robinson bought an American flag and posted it by
the pond out front -- upside down, in protest.

"These people might not have American rights, but they've damn sure
got human rights," Robinson said. "There ain't no reason to treat them
like animals."

The raids came during a fall election season in which immigration is a
top issue.

Illegal immigrant population doubles

Last month, the federal government reported that Georgia had the
fastest-growing illegal immigrant population in the country. The number more
than doubled from an estimated 220,000 in 2000 to 470,000 last year. This
year, state lawmakers passed some of the nation's toughest measures
targeting illegal immigrants, and Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue last week
vowed a statewide crackdown on document fraud.

Other than the Crider plant, there isn't much in Stillmore. Four small
stores, a coin laundry and a Baptist church share downtown with City Hall,
the fire department and a post office. "We're poor but proud," Mayor Marilyn
Slater said, as if that is the town motto.

The 2000 Census put Stillmore's population at 730, but Slater said uncounted
immigrants probably made it more than 1,000. Not anymore, with so many homes
abandoned and the streets practically empty.

"This reminds me of what I read about Nazi Germany, the Gestapo coming in
and yanking people up," Slater said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Marc Raimondi would not
discuss details of the raids. "We can't lose sight of the fact that these
people were here illegally," Raimondi said.

Businesses may have to close

At Sucursal Salina No. 2, a store stocked with Mexican fruit sodas and
snacks, cashier Alberto Gonzalez said Wednesday that the owner may shutter
the place. By midday, Gonzalez has had only six customers. Normally, he
would see 100.

The B&S convenience store, owned by Keith and Regan Slater, the mayor's son
and grandson, has lost about 80 percent of its business.

"These people come over here to make a better way of life, not to blow us
up," complained Keith Slater, who keeps a portrait of Ronald Reagan on the
wall. "I'm a die-hard Republican, but I think we missed the boat with this

Since the mid-1990s, Stillmore has grown dependent on the paychecks of
Mexican workers who originally came for seasonal farm labor, picking the
area's famous Vidalia onions. Many then took year-round jobs at the Crider
plant, with a workforce of about 900.

Crider President David Purtle said the agents began inspecting the company's
employment records in May. They found 700 suspected illegal immigrants, and
supervisors handed out letters over the summer ordering them to prove they
came to the U.S. legally or be fired. Only about 100 kept their jobs.

The arrests started at the plant September 1. During the Labor Day weekend,
agents with guns and bulletproof vests converged on workers' homes after
getting the addresses from Crider's files.

No people, no work

Antonio Lopez, who came here two years ago from Chiapas, Mexico, and worked
at the Crider plant, said agents kicked in his front door. Lopez, 32, and
his 15-year-old son were handcuffed and taken by bus to Atlanta with 30
others. Because of the boy, Lopez said, both were allowed to return. In his
back pocket, he carries an order to return to Atlanta for a court hearing
February 2.

But now, "there's no people here and I don't have any work," he said.

The poultry plant has limped along with half its normal workforce. Crider
increased its starting wages by $1 an hour to help recruit new workers.

Stacie Bell, 23, started work canning chicken at Crider a week ago. She said
the pay, $7.75 an hour, led her to leave her $5.60-an-hour job as a Wal-Mart
cashier in nearby Statesboro. Still, Bell said she felt bad about the raids.

"If they knew eventually that they were going to have to do that, they
should have never let them come over here," she said.

<><><> 2

Charlotte Observer


Posted on Sun, Sep. 17, 2006

Exploiting workers:
Despite law, illegal immigrants missing out on job injury pay

Francisco Ruiz's story is, sadly, too common. He came to North Carolina,
illegally, when jobs dried up in Mexico and he couldn't support his family.
He landed a job in Charlotte with Belk Masonry Co.

Within six weeks he was badly injured on the job, when a crane hoisting him
and a load of bricks collapsed.

As Observer reporter Liz Chandler tells in articles on today's front page
and the front of this section, Mr. Ruiz became a victim again -- this time
of an insurer that didn't want to follow the law. Belk Masonry's insurer,
Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of Columbia, paid his initial
medical bills but rejected further claims because he was an illegal
immigrant, even though the law in North Carolina, as in almost every state,
says companies must pay injury benefits to all workers.

The company, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, said
it wanted to test the law. So for six years -- until the case was turned
away by the N.C. Supreme Court -- it kept fighting ruling after ruling that
it should pay worker's compensation to Mr. Ruiz. Today Mr. Ruiz is back in
Mexico, unable to work. But at least he received $438,000 for his injury.

In another way, Mr. Ruiz's case isn't at all typical. He fought in court
until he won. As Ms. Chandler reports, many immigrant workers are
intimidated into keeping quiet about injuries or are turned away when they
seek the workers' comp legally due them. In one national study of 2,660 day
laborers, most of them working illegally, one in five reported a workplace
injury. Of those, more than half said they didn't get needed medical care.
Only 6 percent got workers' comp.

No government agency tracks the number of illegal workers injured or killed
or denied benefits. However, the U.S. Labor Department reports a
disproportionate number of workplace deaths among Hispanic and foreign-born
workers, including illegal workers.

It's outrageous that companies are willing to use illegal workers' labor yet
avoid paying them if they're injured at work. Worse, it's illegal.

The widespread flouting of the law by employers is, as one analyst called
it, "a toxic cocktail" eroding workplace safety standards for all workers,
legal and illegal alike. With rising numbers of illegal immigrants, more and
more workers are being exposed to that illegal exploitation.

It's just one more reason the U.S. immigration system needs a top-to-bottom

<><><> 3

Arizona Republic

Saving immigrants from a horrid death is not a crime - yet

Sept. 17, 2006 12:00 AM

One very hot day in July 2005, a few miles north of the Mexican border in
Arizona, a pair of 23-year-old college students were arrested and hauled off
to jail for having committed a crime for humanity.

Many of us didn't know that such a thing was possible until Shanti Sellz and
Daniel Strauss were taken into custody.

The two were volunteers for No More Deaths, a Tucson-based organization that
sets up camps and provides food, water and medical assistance to border
crossers who are lost in the searing desert.

Last year, the Border Patrol recorded more than 500 deaths along the
southern border with Mexico. More than half of the corpses were found in

On July 9, 2005, Sellz and Strauss came upon three men who were dehydrated
to the point that they could not hold down water. They were advised by
volunteer doctors to drive the men to a Tucson clinic, as others in the
group had done before.

Along the way, they were stopped by Border Patrol agents and arrested. They
were charged with illegally transporting undocumented immigrants and could
have landed in prison.

Still, Sellz and Strauss refused to accept a plea bargain, even one that
would have allowed them to walk away free. They said that offering
assistance to people in need couldn't to their minds be considered a
criminal offense.

In December, when I first spoke to Sellz, she told me, "When I called my mom
and told her that I was not going to accept the plea, she kind of paused a
little then told me that she was very proud of me."

The trial of the two students was scheduled to begin next month, but this
month U.S. District Judge Raner Collins dismissed all charges against the
pair. Collins said, essentially, that the students were following guidelines
that others had not been prosecuted for following.

"I feel a little relieved," Sellz told me last week. "I've learned a lot and
stand even more strongly on the convictions that led me to work with No More

Though she continues her college studies, Sellz has spent a lot of time over
the past year speaking to groups about her prosecution and the work that led
to it.

"So many people are immediately closed off to the humanitarian aspect of the
border issue because of their politics," she said. "As soon as you start
talking about immigration, some people shut off. But once you can bring out
the reality to them, that these are people - mothers, fathers, children -
who are dying terrible deaths in pursuit of something simple like work, some
of them come around."

Among those who don't come around, however, are politicians looking to get
elected. Which means that the best Sellz and Strauss can say of their
ordeal - and it's a lot - is that it established that in the United States
of America, humanitarian aid is not a crime. For now.

"There's a lot of work still to be done," she said. "This is one of those
problems that isn't going to go away. I know that people look at the issue
from different angles but we're going to have to work together to solve it."

Sellz has said throughout the long legal process that she would do it all
over again, risk going to prison again, if someone in authority were to
again decide that providing humane assistance to those crossing the border
is illegal.

To her and others like her, while helping such people may again be
considered a crime against the state or the nation, not helping them is a
crime against humanity.

Reach Montini at or (602) 444-8978. Read his
blog at

<><><> 4

Arizona Daily Star

Report shows soaring entrant deaths
U.S. study also critical of Border Patrol reporting

By Dan Sorenson

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona, Published: 09.14.2006

A federal report released today documents the dramatic increase in deaths of
illegal border crossers in Arizona and is critical of the way the Border
Patrol compiles those figures.

The Government Accountability Office report on illegal-immigration-related
border-crossing deaths was done at the request of Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and coincides with his scheduled introduction of a
Senate immigration bill this morning. The bill would authorize $1.5 million
for more "rescue beacons" illegal border crossers could use to signal for
emergency medical help, and calls for a prison term of up to 20 years for
"coyotes," smugglers, who abandon a border crosser outside sight of a rescue
beacon or a paved road.

In a prepared statement Frist said Tuesday that while he doesn't expect a
comprehensive immigration-reform package to be approved anytime soon, he is
introducing the Border Death Reduction Act because, "We need to secure our
borders, but we also have a moral obligation to protect the life of every
person who sets foot on our soil."

A spokeswoman for Frist said Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Kay Bailey
Hutchison, R-Texas, are co-sponsoring Frist's bill.

The GAO report notes that the location and type of border- crosser deaths
have changed dramatically since 1994, when the U.S. attorney general's
Southwest Border Strategy caused the former Immigration and Naturalization
Service to increase enforcement pressure in the heavily populated border
areas of San Diego and El Paso.

"The strategy assumed that as the urban areas were controlled, the migrant
traffic would shift to more remote areas where the Border Patrol would be
able to more easily detect and apprehend migrants entering illegally."

It was assumed that "natural barriers," including the Rio Grande in Texas,
the mountains east of San Diego and the Arizona desert, would "act as
deterrents to illegal entry."

But in practice, the action forced border crossers to increasingly use the
more remote and rugged desert of Arizona, and the number of deaths in
Arizona sectors increased.

Overall, the GAO report notes that U.S.-Mexican border deaths increased from
the late 1990s, from 241 in 1999 to 472 in 2005, and "the majority of the
increase in deaths during this period occurred within the Border Patrol's
Tucson Sector."

The leading cause of death changed from traffic-related ? often pedestrians
being hit by cars near the San Diego-Tijuana border ? to heat-related deaths
in the Arizona desert.

Even with some likely undercounting of deaths due to methodology problems
noted in the report, recorded border-crosser deaths in the Tucson Sector
increased from 11 in 1998 to 216 in 2005.

While adult men continue to make up the majority of dead illegal border
crossers, the report noted that overall, female border deaths increased from
9 percent to 21 percent between 1998 and 2005. And, during that period, the
Tucson Sector alone accounted for 57 percent of that increase.

Among the problems noted in counting all border-crossing-related deaths is a
lack of uniformity from one Border Patrol sector to the next in the way they
gather death records from medical examiners within their areas.

"Some coordinators also reported regularly scheduled contact with local
authorities, while others stated that communication was informal and
infrequent," the report said.

One example cited was an unidentified county medical examiner in the Tucson
Sector. The report said it was a "county where a relatively large number of
deaths occurred," and that Tucson Sector Border Patrol officials "only began
contacting them in 2005 to request information on border-crossing deaths."

Gustavo Soto, a Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman, said mistakes were
made in the past that resulted in undercounting border-crosser deaths.

"If there is someone out there that we encounter as skeletal remains, we
count that," Soto said. "There was a time when we didn't, and obviously that
was wrong."

He said the sector's chief, Michael Nicley, is committed to getting accurate
numbers of border-crosser fatalities, and to rendering aid.

"That's one of the things we pride ourselves on," Soto said.

"We rescued 980 people last year, people in need in (fiscal year) 2005,"
Soto said.

The report also notes that it is difficult to separate the effects of Border
Patrol safety and enforcement actions. In recent years some agents have been
trained and deployed for search and rescue work, both in special units and
as part of their regular mission.

Kat Rodriguez, a coordinator for Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based, nonprofit
human-rights organization, said the refusal of counties outside the
immediate border area to report border-crosser deaths is a significant
source of underreporting.

"Maricopa County does not track migrant deaths, even though migrants are
often transported to safe houses there. They maintain they're too far from
the border," Rodriguez said.

And she says fatalities resulting from traffic accidents involving vehicles
loaded with border crossers are often not reported as border-related deaths.

The report notes that besides the inconsistencies in collecting and
compiling border-crosser death data, there are problems with drawing
conclusions from the numbers. For instance, the report questions Border
Patrol assumptions that increased enforcement efforts prevent would-be
crossers from even attempting illegal entry into the U.S. Instead, the
report says, the enforcement action may cause illegal immigrants to cross in
even more remote, and possibly more dangerous, areas.

The rescue beacons proposed in Frist's bill are intended to address the
problem of imperiled crossers in particularly remote areas.

"I'm all for beacons. I understand the intent. I support Frist's attention
to the Tucson Sector," said the Rev. Robin Hoover of Humane Borders and
pastor of Tucson's First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway.

"I'm for all that, but I think it's a little off the mark to say we're going
to prosecute this out of existence," Hoover said.

Rodriguez, who says she was interviewed by the GAO several months ago,
applauded the report for being critical of the Border Patrol's methodology,
but said the effort should instead have been devoted to asking why Mexicans
are coming into this country illegally, and finding a way to prevent that.

"Rather than track the deaths, why not talk about preventing the deaths?"
Rodriguez said. "It comes down to money. Our economic need is not being met
by immigration laws."

She said there are more jobs in the United States for immigrant workers than
can be filled legally.

"We don't have the legal means to bring that number" of Mexican workers into
the U.S., Rodriguez said. "We need them filled, but in a safe, legal way,
not in a way that criminalizes them and exploits them."

On StarNet: Search the database of illegal immigrants who have died along
the border at

? Contact reporter Dan Sorenson at 573-4185 or

<><><> 5

Washington Post

Overstating Border Reform's Price

By Robert Greenstein and James Horney
Friday, September 15, 2006; Page A19

Would offering undocumented immigrants a path to legalization bust the
federal budget? Critics of the Senate immigration bill, which seeks to crack
down on illegal immigration while giving many currently undocumented workers
a chance to work legally in this country, tout a Congressional Budget Office
study that they say shows the bill would cost a whopping $126 billion over
10 years. A fair reading of that study, however, suggests that the bill's
actual impact on the deficit would be close to zero and that it could even
be beneficial.

Critics add up the bill's increased tax-credit and entitlement costs while
ignoring the increased tax revenue it would produce. They also substantially
inflate the increased discretionary government spending that would result
and overlook the bill's expected positive effects on the economy.

Let's start with revenue. The CBO found that the Senate bill would boost tax
revenue by $44 billion over 10 years by increasing the size of the workforce
and the number of immigrants working "above ground" and paying taxes. This
would roughly offset the $48 billion in increased entitlement costs that the
CBO projects under the bill. Indeed, it estimated that after the first few
years, new tax collections actually would exceed new entitlement spending.

The CBO also predicts that this increase in the size of the workforce would
produce benefits for the economy. Both the Congressional Budget Office and
the Office of Management and Budget expect a slowdown in economic growth in
coming decades as the population ages and growth in the supply of workers
grinds nearly to a halt. The CBO estimates the Senate bill -- because it
would expand the workforce -- would boost the economy, possibly by enough to
produce an additional $100 billion or more in revenue over 10 years.

This means that the Senate bill would probably reduce long-term deficits,
not enlarge them. Similarly, the Social Security actuaries have found that
the Senate bill would reduce the Social Security trust fund's long-term
deficit and extend the program's solvency by two years.

So how did critics of the Senate bill arrive at the sensational $126 billion
figure, which appears nowhere in the CBO report? First, they counted all of
the bill's spending increases while ignoring all of its increases in
revenue. For example, they counted the increased costs of Social Security
and Medicare benefits for those additional immigrants who would qualify for
them, while ignoring the increased Social Security and Medicare payroll
taxes the immigrants would pay to qualify for those benefits.

They also incorrectly assumed that the Senate bill requires $78 billion in
added discretionary spending. To be sure, the bill would authorize future
appropriations of roughly that amount over 10 years. But none of these funds
would actually be spent unless Congress provided them in future
appropriations bills. The federal budget contains hundreds of programs that
Congress funds below -- often far below -- the authorized amounts.

In addition, each year Congress must fit appropriations within an overall
appropriations limit, as set in the congressional budget resolution. Funding
increases for one set of programs often must be offset by reductions in
other programs. Consequently, any increase in discretionary spending arising
from the Senate bill is likely to be offset, at least in part, by cuts in
other areas. For each of the past four years Congress has made
across-the-board cuts in discretionary programs to accommodate new
priorities while remaining within the prescribed limits. The CBO itself did
not include the $78 billion figure in its estimate of how much new spending
the Senate bill actually provides.

Finally, whatever portion of the $78 billion ultimately shows up in future
appropriations will probably be provided whether Congress passes the Senate
bill or not. That is because more than 90 percent of the authorized
discretionary spending would go toward the kind of enforcement measures the
bill's critics strongly support, such as expanded border security and
stronger measures to identify immigrants illegally seeking employment.
Republican congressional leaders have made clear their intention to increase
funding for enforcement activities by billions of dollars in appropriation
bills that they will consider this month. Indeed, Rep. Harold Rogers, a key
Appropriations subcommittee chairman, declared this week that the leadership
will provide "tons of money" for this.

Because it is a subject that stirs strong emotions, debates over immigration
policy demand fact and solid analysis. As Congress searches for agreement on
immigration legislation, mistaken claims that the Senate bill would bust the
budget only make this already difficult job harder.

Robert Greenstein is executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities. James Horney is a senior fellow at the center and former chief
of the budget projections unit at the Congressional Budget Office.

<><><> 6

San Antonio Express-News

House border fence bills passes despite criticism from Demos

Web Posted: 09/14/2006 04:59 PM CDT

Gary Martin
Express-News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - A Republican bill to build 730 miles of fence along the
U.S.-Mexico border passed Thursday over Democratic criticism that the
legislation was merely GOP posturing to drive conservatives to the election
booth this fall.

The measure to build fences in border cities - including Brownsville,
Laredo, Eagle Pass, Del Rio and El Paso - passed on a 283-138 vote, drawing
bipartisan support.

"Overwhelmingly, the American people want to secure the border," said Rep.
Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "This
is something that can be done. It will work."

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, said the measure was the first in a series
of bills that would show "the American people we are serious about a serious
issue. We are going to secure the borders."

A provision calling for 730 miles of fence was included in a border security
bill the House passed in December.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill that includes 350 miles
of fence, along with earned legalization and guest worker programs.

But House Republican leaders oppose the legalization and guest worker
provisions in the Senate bill, and the House and Senate bills have not been
sent to a conference committee for reconciliation.

GOP leaders said the Senate could consider the border fence bill in upcoming
weeks, before Congress adjourned to campaign for the Nov. 7 election.

Still, the outcome of a vote on the bill was less certain in the upper
chamber, where lawmakers in both parties favor a more comprehensive

During the House debate, Democrats accused Republicans of deceiving
constituents with claims that the illegal immigration problem was being
addressed after five years of control of the House, Senate and White House.

"The America people can see through this charade," said Alcee Hastings,

Republicans, meanwhile, tried to label Democrats as weak on border security.

"I'm not going to take that rap," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston,
"You need to do your job on border security."

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, charged that Republicans were trying to fool
Americans into thinking Osama bin Laden was headed north to cross the border
wearing "a sombrero."

Even Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., a border congressman who is stepping down this
year, called the fence bill "feel-good legislation" that would not address
the problem of illegal immigration.

"It is time to reject these partial measures," said Kolbe, who voted against
the bill.

The South Texas congressional delegation voted along party lines, with
Republicans casting votes to build a fence and Democrats opposing it.

Most Republicans praised the erection of physical barriers as a tool to help
seal the Southwest border. The bill also includes a study for similar
measures on the northern border with Canada.

The bill would erect 176 miles of fence, from Laredo to Brownsville; 51
miles of fence from north of Del Rio to south of Eagle Pass.; and 88 miles
of fence from El Paso to the New Mexico border.

Additional fencing, ground sensors, cameras and lighting would be built in

Funds for fence, whose costs is estimated at between $2.2 billion and $9
billion, would be attached to a separate spending bill.

"We are going to fund it," Smith said. "We are serious about it."


<><><> 7

Washington Post

As Border Crackdown Intensifies, A Tribe Is Caught in the Crossfire

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 15, 2006; A01

ALIR JEGK, Ariz. -- Elsie Salsido was breast-feeding her baby when Border
Patrol agents walked into her house unannounced this summer. "Are you
Mexicans?" they demanded.

Salsido's four other children cowered on the bed of her eldest, a girl in
second grade. Night had fallen on this village on Arizona's border with
Mexico, nestled in a scrubland valley of stickman cactuses hemmed in by
mountains that look like busted teeth. The agents explained their
warrantless entry into Salsido's house as "hot pursuit." They said they were
chasing footprints, she recalled, of illegal immigrants sneaking in from
Mexico, just 1,000 feet away. But the footprints belonged to Salsido's
children -- all Americans.

As the United States ramps up its law enforcement presence on the border
with Mexico, places like Alir Jegk, a village of 50 families in
south-central Arizona, are enduring heightened danger, as they are squeezed
between increasingly aggressive bands of immigrant and drug smugglers and
increasingly numerous federal agents who, critics say, often ignore
regulations as they seek to enforce the law.

Alir Jegk's experience is complicated by the fact that it is on the
second-biggest Indian reservation in the United States, belonging to the
Tohono O'odham, or Desert People, who hunted deer and boar and harvested
wild spinach and prickly pear in this region before an international border
was etched through their land in 1853. Now, the Tohono O'odham Nation
occupies the front line of the fight against drug and immigrant smuggling --
costing the poverty-stricken tribe millions of dollars a year and
threatening what remains of its traditions.

"We have the undocumented and drug smugglers heading north and law
enforcement heading south. We're smack in the middle," Vivian Juan-Saunders,
chairwoman of the tribe, said in an interview at the tribal headquarters in
Sells, Ariz. "We are being squeezed."

In testimony to the U.S. Senate, the tribe's vice chairman, Ned Norris Jr.,
described a "border security crisis that has caused shocking devastation of
our land and resources."

About 11,000 Tohono O'odham live on a 2.8 million-acre reservation, the size
of Connecticut, with a 75-mile-long border with Mexico. A rickety
four-foot-tall, three-strand barbed-wire fence delineates the border, which
is punctuated by 160 trails and four cattle crossings. For decades the
nation saw little or no illegal traffic from Mexico. The main movement was
members of the Tohono O'odham who live in the Mexican part of the
reservation trickling into the United States for health services in Sells.

In the mid-1990s, however, the Clinton administration cracked down on
illegal crossings in San Diego and El Paso. Instead of stopping illegal
immigration and drug running, however, the operations simply rerouted
traffic through the deserts of the Southwest. And in Arizona, Tohono O'odham
land, bisected by State Highway 86 -- an easy link to Phoenix to the north
and California to the west -- became ground zero.

The flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants through the reservation has
caused a host of problems. Juan-Saunders estimated that about 1,500 illegal
immigrants cross reservation land each day, depositing on average six tons
of trash. Some well-traveled knolls have been renamed "Million Backpack
Hill" because of the refuse.

The tribe routinely devotes more than 10 percent of its budget to coping
with the crisis. Annually, Juan-Saunders said, the 71-member Tohono O'odham
Police Department spends $3 million on problems related to illegal
immigrants and drug traffickers. The reservation pays an additional $2
million each year to provide emergency health services for undocumented
travelers. Since 2002, 315 crossers have died on the reservation's land,
including, this year, a 3-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.

The Tohono O'odham are a poor nation, with an average per capita income of
$8,000 a year, well below the U.S. average of $23,000 and the Indian average
of $13,000. Forty percent of the families on the reservation live below the
federal poverty line, and unemployment is at 42 percent. Juan-Saunders said
an increasing number of nation members are sucked into the drug- and
immigrant-smuggling business.

Two of Juan-Saunders's relatives have been arrested on drug-related charges,
tribal officials said. And in Alir Jegk, drug smugglers have plied Elsie
Salsido's sister with so many narcotics over the years in their attempts to
turn her into a mule that the woman has never been the same, residents say.

"The pressures have dramatically increased on the tribe over the last five
years," said Robert A. Williams, a law professor at the University of
Arizona who works as a judge in the tribe's courts. "The community is fairly
well isolated, so they are very vulnerable to coyotes [immigrant smugglers]
and drug runners. We've seen signs of gang activity coming from L.A. and
Mexican gangs coming up."

Fifteen years ago, the nation, invoking its limited sovereignty, barred the
Border Patrol from the reservation because its agents harassed the
population, said Eileen M. Luna-Firebaugh, an expert on American Indian
policy at the University of Arizona. But that policy changed after drug and
immigrant smuggling skyrocketed, although the tribe was always more focused
on narcotics, she said.

The tribe is home to the Shadow Wolves, a storied, largely Indian unit of
U.S. Customs and Border Protection that uses ancient tracking techniques to
chase down drug smugglers. But after the creation of the Department of
Homeland Security, the Border Patrol has run the Shadow Wolves and has
shifted their focus away from drugs and toward immigrant smuggling,
prompting several senior officers to quit.

Nonetheless, under Juan-Saunders's leadership, which began in 2003, the
tribal council has welcomed more federal law enforcement. It has allowed the
Border Patrol to establish two permanent facilities on its land. It recently
agreed to the construction of a 75-mile vehicle barrier, costing more than
$1 million a mile, to replace the wobbly fence.

The tribe has complied with Border Patrol wishes to close one traditional
gate connecting the American side of its land to the Mexican side. It has
also recently consented to allow the National Guard to operate on the
border, on the condition that the Guard repairs roads and "respects the
people and the laws of this land," Juan-Saunders said.

Winning that respect, however, has not been easy. Tribal members are
routinely harassed by federal agents, Juan-Saunders said. "They cross
property without asking. They enter homes without knocking," she said.

In March, Juan-Saunders was driving her 8-year-old son in her Jeep, going 45
mph in a 55 zone, when she was ordered to pull over by a Border Patrol
officer. She stopped by the side of the road, and the officer leapt out of
his vehicle and pointed his gun at her. "Now I know what my constituents are
experiencing," she said.

Juan-Saunders acknowledged having mixed feelings about ceding more of her
nation's sovereignty to federal agencies. "But we are in dire straits here,"
she said.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Border Patrol in Tucson, said relations
between the Border Patrol and the tribe are "getting better and better over

"There's a lot more dialogue with folks in positions of power," he said. He
said that Border Patrol community relations officers make regular visits to
the reservation and that his agency has established a process for
complaints. Tribal representatives instruct Border Patrol agents about the
tribe and its traditions.

"We can't go into anyone's property," he said. "We have to get someone from
the Tohono O'odham police to come. However, if it's hot pursuit, it's a
different story."

Back in Alir Jegk, Margaret Garcia, 68, and an older neighbor, Francisco
Garcia, sum up the pressures facing the tribe.

Margaret Garcia, who lives in a two-room shack with, at last count, 19 cats
and six dogs, said she awoke late one night to discover that Border Patrol
agents, with shotguns and night-vision goggles, had established an
observation post in her yard.

Francisco Garcia, on the other hand, used to live in Mexico. He was kicked
out of his village by drug dealers, so he moved to the American side of the
line. "I didn't want to die," he said.

"A long time ago there was no one but us," Margaret said. "It was peaceful.
When the cactus was ripe, my daughters would go out with a stick to harvest
the fruit. Now if we go out, the Border Patrol follows us. Everyone is a

<><><> 8

Africa: Migration and Rights

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Sep 16, 2006 (060916)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back from Spain
to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program aimed at stemming the
flow of immigrants to this southern European country. But judging by
experience, the return is unlikely to stop thousands of others from risking
their lives in small boats to reach the Canary Islands from the West African
coast, or finding other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.

More than 20,000 African immigrants have been intercepted this year in
Spain's Canary Islands, including 6,000 in August alone. Rough estimates are
that at least 1,000 a year are lost at sea attempting the perilous voyage in
small boats. This flow is paralleled by Africans crossing the Mediterranean
from Libya to Italy, and by other trying to cross from Morocco into Spain's
northern African enclaves.

Although African and European countries have been meeting to seek ways of
managing such migration, there seems little prospect of a durable solution
as long as the deep economic disparities persist, or until the rights of
migrants, legal or "illegal," have systematic protection..

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains an analysis from Sokari Eikine of the
situation of African immigrants in Spain, and a report from Human Rights
Watch on human rights abuses against migrants in Libya and the failures of
European Union policy on protecting migrants' rights.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from new
reports by the Economic Commission on Africa and the United Nations, with
more general reflections on the implications of migration for development.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Spain's borders strengthened after African refugees storm European frontier


Sokari Ekine*
*Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks,

Pambazuka News

Last year, the UK's 'Sunday Herald Online' reported that "... thousands of
strong, young men at the razor-wire frontiers of these half-forgotten
Spanish possessions launched their most spectacular raid yet upon fortress
Europe..." Sokari Ekine explains that what drives most Africans to abandon
their countries of origin is poverty and civil strife. She argues that the
response of most Western European countries to the problem is influenced by
cultural prejudice against those from the so-called "Third World".

It is reported that 20,000 men, women and children have reached the shores
of Spain since the beginning of the year, with over 1300 arriving two
weekends ago. In eight months the numbers are three times bigger compared to
last year. Those that make it to the shore, often swimming the last 100
meters, arrive half dead scattered on beaches amongst the sunbathing

In an article entitled " The Canaries, The Threatened Paradise," Spanish
daily El Pais wrote: "What years ago a was slow and distant dripping of
pateras (wooden boats), disembarking ten, twelve Moroccans, Senegalese,
Guineanos or Gambians on beaches of Fuerteventura, has become an almost
daily arrival of boats with 80, 90, the 100 or most sub-Saharans." Arguments
are breaking out between the various provincial and city governments over
the numbers of migrants each is willing to accept from the two landing
points, the Canaries and Andalusia. So far the number of people who have
been deported to their countries of origin is about 1800.

There are layers of realities around immigration in Spain and Europe. The
country has benefited from cheap Moroccan and West Africa labour on
construction sites and in their agricultural sector, which has resulted in a
2.6% growth in the economy over the past 10 years. It is projected that
without immigrant labour it would have fallen by 0.6% annually. Similar
growth figures apply for the whole of Europe.

As long as Spain continues to reap benefits from cheap labour, the Spanish
government's rhetoric that it will not tolerate the continued arrival of
migrants cannot be taken very seriously. The difference between today and a
year ago can be explained in terms of numbers.

Another reality for the Spanish is that they are just waking up to the fact
that Spain is the geographical space where Europe "almost kisses Africa"
(Caryl Phillips, The European Tribe), or is it the other way around? The
contrast between Spain and Africa is remarkable. The poverty existence of
those who inhabit the latter and the wealthy existence of the Spanish is
what prompts many to cross the Mediterranean in rickety launches. For some
of these people, it is as if Spain is a promised land.

Some leave their own countries because of wars and endless conflicts. And it
must be pointed out that for every migrant, illegal or legal, there are
whole families - and in some cases communities - that survive on the
reparations of those who make the crossing.

Spain and the EU are presently initiating a number of projects and policies
in an attempt to slow down, and eventually stop, the migration of Africans
to their shores. However, the polices being proposed are like using a rag to
stop a dripping tap - cheap, temporary with no substance. This begs the
question: are these policies aimed at reducing the numbers or spreading out
the arrivals rather than stopping immigration altogether?

A Spanish NGO is opening a school in Senegal for 800 students. The aim is to
educate both women (who make up 50% of the school population) and men. The
ultimate goal of the school is to impart skills to theses young people so
that they find employment in their countries of origin, rather than be
compelled to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

There are millions of young people presently trying to migrate to the
North - this new policy would have to be replicated hundreds of times in
countries throughout West, North and East Africa as well as South East Asia,
the Middle East and beyond. The school is a positive step but the reality is
that it is a bag of flour amongst a million hungry people.

In July, in a further sign of desperation, the Spanish government signed an
unprecedented agreement with Senegal to allow the Guardia Civil to patrol
Senegalese waters to prevent migrants from leaving their homeland. The EU is
planning and funding a series of transit camps across the continent and
North Africa (from Ukraine to Libya) as part of a holistic "system of
control" along with the Schengen agreement, the closing of the two Spanish
enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, that will effectively "barbed wire"

The contradiction is that many European countries such as Britain and Spain
are in desperate need of increased migration due to falling birthrates and
emigration of their own indigenous citizens. There are some 4 million
Spanish people working abroad and only 2 million foreigners in Spain. The
way around the need for migrant labour - professional, skilled and
unskilled - is to present "legal" immigration in terms of economics and
meeting temporary needs, whilst using asylum seekers and refugees as a way
of rejecting "illegal" migration on ethnic and nationalistic grounds.

There is no doubt that Spanish and European immigration policies have a
strong racial element. Are these new policies directed towards stopping
African migrants, a response to the availability of cheap labour from
Romania and Bulgaria? It is important to note that these two countries are
soon going to be joining EU.

I do not think Spain has reached saturation point in its need for cheap
labour but now African people are having to compete for jobs with Eastern
European people who are also arriving in large numbers.

Obviously the lure of hard cash made in Spain drives the migrants to risk
their lives (often repeatedly) to reach Europe. One of the worst tragedies
started last Christmas, when about 53 Senegalese, most from the village of
Casamance, left by boat from Cabo Verde to the Canaries. The boat was
relatively large but had no cover or shade. There appears to have been some
chaos around the departure of the boat as apparently the Spaniard in charge
jumped ship at the last minute. It is reported that five of the Senegalese
also left the boat and another got scared after the boat set off and jumped
out and swam back to shore.

The boat is thought to have passed Mauritania but when it reached Nuadibu
(Nuadhibou, Mauritania) there was a storm and the passengers lost control of
the boat. They then started to call friends and family. One of the people
they called was a Spanish pirate. A few hours later they were rescued by
another boat which towed them to the middle of the ocean and then abandoned
them. They only had 40 litres of fuel, which ran out, and, as if this was
not enough, they had to cope with the storms and high seas of the Atlantic.

It is reported that there were a series of storms, with one approximately
every ten days, and high winds pushed the boat towards Barbados over a
four-month period. The people died of hunger and thirst with bodies being
thrown overboard one by one as they died.

There are many West Africans who have been able to create a successful life
in Spain and elsewhere in Europe but also many who remain impoverished and
vulnerable. Interestingly, I was fortunate enough to have a chat recently
with a person who arrived by boat two months ago from Mauritania and had
been sent to Granada from the Canaries by the government. He had it all
worked out that he would be working on a building site and would have his
papers in two years. Needless to say, there is very little chance for this
person to get papers in two years. Most probably, he will be exploited and
got rid of when he no longer serves his purpose.

In Granada, there is a noticeable increase in the numbers of mostly
Senegalese men on the streets compared to a year ago. I mentioned this to my
Senegalese hair braider who has resided in Granada for the past five years.
She replied, "There are too many coming today. Before we were not many. Now
there are too many and there is nothing for them to do, the only source of
income open to them is to sell CDs. That is not a life."

In terms of legal rights and status, migrants can be divided into three
groups: the educated elite and experts, who are subject to very few
restrictions and social disadvantages; the mass of migrants who usually seek
seasonal work, whose rights are severely restricted and whose situation is
characterised by poor working conditions, high unemployment, and poor living
conditions; and "illegal aliens" who are needed on the labour market, but
are politically excluded and have no rights whatsoever.

The irony is that only 30 years ago thousands of seasonal Spanish migrants,
especially from Andalusia, spent their summers working in northern Europe,
Germany and France mainly picking fruit, but also working on building sites
and as casual labourers, just like the Moroccans and West Africans are doing
in Spain today. In those days the borders were open and skin colour was not
an issue. It is interesting how far international relations have
deteriorated, but most importantly, it is remarkable how the state of
affairs seems to be influenced by cultural prejudice against those from the
so-called "Third World".


Libya: Migrants Abused, But Europe Turns Blind Eye

EU Countries Must Press Libya to Protect Migrants, Asylum Seekers, Refugees

Human Rights Watch

(Rome, September 13, 2006) The Libyan government subjects migrants, asylum
seekers and refugees to serious human rights abuses, including beatings,
arbitrary arrests and forced return, Human Rights Watch said in a report
released today. The European Union is currently negotiating joint naval
patrols with Libya to block migration. But EU members, including the
frontline country of Italy, have failed to insist that Libya protect the
rights of the hundreds of thousands of foreigners in the country.

The 135-page report, "Stemming the Flow: Abuses Against Migrants, Asylum
Seekers and Refugees," documents how Libyan authorities have arbitrarily
arrested undocumented foreigners, mistreated them in detention, and forcibly
returned them to countries where they could face persecution or torture,
such as Eritrea and Somalia. From 2003 to 2005, the government repatriated
roughly 145,000 foreigners, according to official Libyan figures.

"Libya is not a safe country for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees,"
said Bill Frelick, director of refugee policy for Human Rights Watch. "The
European Union is working with Libya to bloc
these people from reaching Europe rather than helping them to get the
protection they need."

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of people have come to Libya,
mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, either to stay in the country or to travel
through it to Europe. Many of the foreigners came for economic reasons, but
some fled their home countries due to persecution or war. Once welcomed as
cheap labor, sub-Saharan Africans in Libya now face tightened immigration
controls, detention and deportation.

A persistent problem is physical abuse at the time of arrest, Human Rights
Watch found. Foreigners who had spent time in Libya also reported abuse in
detention, including beatings, overcrowding, substandard conditions, lack of
access to a lawyer, and limited information about pending deportations.

In three cases, witnesses told Human Rights Watch that physical abuse by
security forces led to a detained foreigner's death. Three interviewees also
said security officials threatened women detainees with sexual violence.
While detention conditions have improved in recent years, the evidence
suggests that many of these abuses persist.

Some interviewees told Human Rights Watch that they saw or experienced
police corruption during arrest or in detention. After a bribe, security
officials let detainees go or allowed them to escape.

The Libyan government maintains that the arrests of undocumented foreigners
are necessary for public order, and that the security forces carry them out
in accordance with the law. Some border guards and police officers have used
excessive force, officials told Human Rights Watch, but those isolated
incidents were punished by the state.

According to government statistics, roughly 600,000 foreigners live and work
legally in Libya, a country of about 5.3 million people. But between 1 and
1.2 million foreigners are in Libya without proper documentation, placing a
strain on resources and infrastructure.

An overarching problem is Libya's refusal to introduce an asylum law or
procedure. Libya has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the
government makes no attempt to identify refugees or others in need of
international protection. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) has a Tripoli office but no formal working arrangement with the

Some Libyan officials told Human Rights Watch that the country does not
offer asylum because none of the foreigners in the country need protection.
Others were more candid, and told Human Rights Watch that they fear offering
asylum when the government is trying to reduce the number of foreigners. If
Libya provided the opportunity for asylum, foreigners "would come like
locusts," one top official bluntly said.

"The Libyan government says it does not deport refugees," Frelick said. "But
without an asylum law or procedure, how can a person who fears persecution
submit a claim? Who would review that claim and on what basis?"

Human Rights Watch interviewed 56 migrants, asylum seekers and refugees,
both in Libya and Italy for the report. Of these people, 17 had received
refugee status at the time of the interview, either from UNHCR or the
Italian government. Thirteen others were waiting for the Italian response to
their claims.

The report also documents the treatment of foreigners in the Libyan criminal
justice system. Foreigners in Libya reported police violence and violations
of due process, including torture and unfair trials. Sub-Saharan Africans in
particular face hostility from a xenophobic host population, expressed in
blanket accusations of criminality, verbal and physical attacks, harassment
and extortion. Top Libyan officials blame foreigners for rising crime and
health concerns such as HIV/AIDS.

A large section of the report examines the migration and asylum policies of
the European Union, which is cooperating closely with Libya on migration
control, but not taking adequate regard for the rights of migrants or the
need to protect refugees and others at risk of abuse on return to their home

Italy, the country most affected by migration from Libya, egregiously
flouted international law under the recent government of Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi, Human Rights Watch said. In 2004 and 2005, the government
expelled more than 2,800 migrants and quite possibly refugees and others in
need of international protection back to Libya, where the Libyan government
sent them to their countries of origin. At times, the authorities
collectively expelled large groups without a proper screening of possible
refugee claims.

The Italian government denied Human Rights Watch access to the main
detention center for people coming from Libya on Lampedusa island, but
eyewitnesses reported unhygienic conditions, overcrowding and physical abuse
by guards.

In a positive development, the current government of Romano Prodi has said
it will not expel individuals to countries that have not signed the Refugee
Convention, including Libya. International organizations have been allowed
regular access to the Lampedusa facility since this year, and the current
government formed a commission to investigate conditions at immigration
detention centers around the country.

"The Prodi government took a welcome step by halting collective expulsions
and recognizing that Libya is not safe for return," Frelick said. "Now it
should ensure that everyone who arrives in Italy or is intercepted at sea
gets a proper chance to submit an asylum claim."

To read the Human Rights Watch report, "Stemming the Flow: Abuses Against
Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees," please see:


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing
reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus
on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by
William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to
this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest
material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please
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resources, see

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Migrants’ advocates to meet UN Permanent Mission to push for migrants rights in the upcoming UN High-Level Dialogue

[Sigue en espanyol]
September 12, 2006

Migrants’ advocates to meet UN Permanent Mission to push for migrants rights in the upcoming UN High-Level Dialogue

(New York City) Civil Society leaders and migrants’ rights advocates from the United States, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe gather in New York City today to meet with permanent mission representatives to the United Nations (UN) to present civil society perspectives on migration and development. The embassy visits are being organized by Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and Migrants Rights International (MRI) ahead of the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development on September 14-15, 2006.

“As part of the civil society, we exercise our right to speak out and deliver our position on critical issues related to migration and development,” says Sajida Ally, Programme Consultant of MRI. “It is imperative for us to present our perspectives to the permanent mission and government representatives. These are the people who will influence the course of the debate at the High-Level Dialogue. It is essential that they base discussions on the real situation of migrants’ human rights.”

According to MFA Regional Coordinator William Gois, the Asian delegates managed to secure appointments with the permanent missions of the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and South Korea. The Asian delegates called the Asian Alliance for Migration, Development and Human Rights will be presenting their recommendations to their government counterparts including the call to ratify and implement the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as well as the relevant labor standards and other migration-related conventions of the International Labour Organization.

“Labor migration is quite dynamic in the Asian region which now hosts 53 million migrants, and it fast becoming an intra-regional phenomenon with around 2.5 million people a year moving within the region, says Mr. Gois. “The policy framework that will be created at the High-Level Dialogue as indicated by the Secretary General’s report leans more towards harnessing remittances as an economic benefit of migration. We are also concerned with the ‘co-development’ strategy wherein civil society has little or no participation at all. The main stakeholder in the migration process is the migrants themselves. Therefore, the policy on migration must be based primarily on the needs of people migrating,” adds Mr Gois.

MRI and MFA recommends for the establishment of a Permanent Forum on Migration that is inclusive and participatory. The group says that the forum should be a place to stimulate new ideas, approaches and perspectives in understanding migration and to enforce government commitments towards these.

“The forum should likewise include issues related to the contemporary nature of migration. A lot of things are happening and it is not just remittances. We must recognize that migration is a complex issue that should be based on human rights framework,” says Ms. Ally.

# # #

The Civil Society Parallel Events on Migration, Development and Human Rights are being held at the Queens College Workers Education Extension Center, 25 W 43rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City until September 15, 2006.

For interviews and more information, please contact:
Joey Dimaandal
Tel: +639175267171, +639278775810
Address: West Side YMCA, 5 West 63rd Street between Broadway and Central Park West, New York City.

Arnoldo Garcia (For Spanish language media organizations)
Tel +1 510 928 0685


12 de Septiembre, 2006

Defensores de derechos migrantes se reunirán con la Misión Permanente de la ONU exigiendo el cumplimiento de los derechos de las y los trabajadores migrantes en las reuniones próximas del Diálogo de Alto Nivel de la ONU

(Ciudad de Nueva York) Líderes y defensores de los derechos de las y los migrantes en la Sociedad Civil de los Estados Unidos, Asia, el Medio Oriente, América Latina y Europa están en Nueva York hoy para reunirse con representantes de la misión permanente de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) para presentar las perspectivas de la sociedad civil sobre la migración y el desarrollo. Las visitas a las embajadas han sido organizadas por el Foro Migrante en Asia (MFA, Migant Forum in Asia) y la Internacional de Derechos Migrantes (MRI, Migrant Rights International) en anticipación del Diálogo de Alto Nivel sobre la Migración y el Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas el 14-15 de Septiembre, 2006.

“Como parte de la sociedad civil, ejercemos nuestro derecho a alzar la voz y entregarles nuestra perspectiva sobre temas críticas relacionados a la migración y el desarrollo,” dice Sajida Ally, Consultante de Programa de la MRI. “Es imperativo que nosotras presentemos nuestras posiciones a la misión permanente y los representantes de los gobiernos. Estos son los que influirán el curso del debate en el Diálogo de Alto Nivel. Es esencial que sus discusiones sean a base de la situación real de los derechos humanos de los y las migrantes.”

Según el coordinador regional del Foro Migrante en Asia (MFA), William Gois, los delegados asiáticos lograron conseguir reuniones con las misiones permanentes de las Filipinas, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia y Corea del Sur. Los delegados asiáticos llamados la Alianza Asiática por la Migración, Desarrollo y los Derechos Humanos están presentando sus recomendaciones a sus contrapartes gubernamentales incluyendo el llamado a ratificar e implementar la Convención Internacional sobre la Protección de los Derechos de los Trabajadores Migratorios y los Miembros de sus Familias de 1990 así como también las normas laborales relevantes y otras convenciones relacionadas a la migración a la Organización Internacional del Trabajo.

“La migración de trabajadores es muy dinámica en la región asiática la cual ahora es anfitriona a 53 millones de migrantes, y que rápidamente se está convirtiendo en un fenómeno intra-regional con unos 2.5 millones de personas por año moviéndose dentro de la región,” declara el Sr. Gois. “El marco político que será creado en el Diálogo de Alto Nivel como indicado por el informe del Secretario General tiende hacia el sometimiento de las remesas como un beneficio económico de la migración. Entonces, la política sobre migración tiene que ser basada principalmente en las necesidades de los pueblos en migración mismos,” añade el Sr. Gois.

La MRI y el MFA recomiendan el establecimiento de un Foro Permanente sobre la Migración que es inclusivo y participativo. El grupo dice que el foro debe de ser un espacio para estimular nuevas ideas, trayectorias y perspectivas en el entendimiento de la migración y para asegurar el cumplimiento de los gobiernos hacia éstas.

“El foro debe de incluir temas relacionados a la naturaleza actual de la migración. Muchas cosas están sucediendo y no sólo remesas. Tenemos que reconocer que la migración es un tema complejo que debe de ser basado en marco de los derechos humanos,” dice la Sra. Ally.


Los Evento Paralelos de la Sociedad Civil sobre a Migración, el Desarrollo, y los Derechos Humanos están siendo convocados en el Queens College Workers Education Extension Center (Centro Extensión Educativo de Trabajadores del Colegio de Queens), 25 W 43rd Street entre las Avenidas 5t y 6ta en la Ciudad de Nueva York City hasta el 15 de Septiembre, 2006.

Para entrevistas y más información, por favor de contactar:

Joey Dimaandal, portavoz de MRI para los eventos paralelos de la sociedad civil durante el Diálogo de Alto Nivel sobre Migración y Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas en la Ciudad de Nueva York
Tel +639175267171, +639278775810
Correo electrónico:
Dirección: West Side MICA, 5 West 63rd Street, entre la Broadway y Central Park West, Ciudad de Nueva York

Arnoldo García (para los medios de comunicación en español)
Tel +1 (510) 928-0685
Correo electrónico:

* MFA es una red regional de 260 asociaciones, sindicatos y ONGs de trabjadores migrantes en Asia. La información de contacto de MFA:
Coordinador regional: William Gois
Dirección: 59-B Malumanay Street, Teachers’ Village West, Quezón City, Las Filipinas
Correo electrónico: Web:

** La Internacional de Derechos Migrantes (MRI) tiene miembros en Asia, Europa, América del Norte y América Latina.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Migrants rights advocates pay tribute to undocumented migrant workers killed in 9-11, saying no human being is illegal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [Sigue en espanol]
September 11, 2006

Migrants rights advocates pay tribute to undocumented migrant workers killed in 9-11; saying no human being is illegal

(New York City) Migrant workers and migrant rights organizations from the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe will converge at the Ground Zero this evening and join the New York-based immigrant rights advocates to recognize the heroism of hundreds of undocumented migrant workers killed in the September 2001 terror attacks. The early evening vigil also aims to challenge repressive migration policies across the globe and call for the ‘decriminalization’ of undocumented workers who are called illegal workers in many countries.

“Migrants are among the victims of that heinous and barbaric attack five years ago. Some of them did not have the proper documents as well. Would you call those people, who had served coffee, mopped the floors and cleaned the windows of the World Trade Center, illegal? They sacrificed their lives for this country during the 9-11 attacks,” says Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director of the US-based National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and member of Migrants Rights International. “Tens of thousands of migrant workers in the US face daily sacrifices including loss of life, as they toil to provide safe and healthy lives for their families,” she adds.

“An undocumented worker is not illegal. No human being is illegal. Undocumented migrant workers have the same rights as any other worker. Both contribute to the companies they worked for, the countries they reside in and the countries they will go home to,” says William Gois, the Regional Coordinator of Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA).

According to Mr. Gois, categorizing migrant workers who have no proper documents as illegals allows governments to conduct activities that will violate the rights of the migrants. In Asia, MFA has repeatedly condemned the Malaysian and South Korean governments for the violent crackdowns and arbitrary expulsions against undocumented workers.

“Stop the crackdowns and vicious raids. These are not the actions of mature and democratic societies. What we need here is the genuine recognition of the tremendous contribution of migrant workers to the development of host and home countries. These are the facts. Without these workers, there will be no food on your table, no clean clothes in your closet and no roof over your heads,” Mr. Gois says.

The various migrant rights groups are in New York City to attend and observe the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development on September 14 and 15. Ms. Tactaquin says that their group will also be organizing community dialogues on migration and talking with the different permanent mission representatives of the UN Member States to give their inputs on migration and highlight the perspectives of migrants and migrant civil society organizations.#

For interviews and more information, please contact:
Joey Dimaandal, (English only) Media Officer for the MRI Civil Society Parallel Events during the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in New York City
Tel: +639175267171, +639278775810
Address: West Side YMCA, 5 West 63rd Street between Broadway and Central Park West, New York City.

Arnoldo Garcia (For Spanish language media organizations)
Tel +1 510 928 0685

* MFA is a regional network of 260 migrant workers associations, trade unions and NGOs in Asia. The contact information of MFA:
Regional Coordinator: William Gois
Address: 59-B Malumanay Street, Teachers’ Village West, Quezon City, Philippines
Email address: Web:

** Migrant Rights International has members in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America


Para difusión inmediata
11 de Septiembre, 2006

Defensores de derechos migrantes rinden homenaje a las y los trabajadores migrantes indocumentados que murieron el 11 de septiembre; declaran que ningún ser humano es ilegal

Ciudad de Nueva York) Organizaciones de trabajadores migrantes y defensoras de derechos migrantes de los EEUU, Asia, África y Europa se convergirán en Zona Cero esta noche y se unirán a defensores de los derechos de los y las inmigrantes basados en Nueva York para reconocer el heroísmo de los cientos de trabajadores migrantes indocumentados que murieron en los ataques terroristas del 11 de Septiembre. La vigilia del anochecer también desafiará las políticas represivas que se han desatada a través del mundo y llamarán por la “despenalización” de las y los trabajadores indocumentados que son llamados trabajadores ilegales en muchos países.

“Los y las migrantes están entre las víctimas de ese ataque vil y barbárico de hace cinco años. También algunos de ellos no tenían sus documentos en orden. ¿Llamaría a esa gente, que servían café, trapeaban los pisos y limpiaban las ventanas del Centro de Comercio Mundial, ilegales? Sacrificaron sus vidas por este país durante los ataques del 11 de septiembre,” declara Catherine Tactaquin, directora ejecutiva de la Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados (NNIRR, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rightsd), que está basada en los EEUU, y miembra de la Internacional de Derechos Migrantes (MRI, Migrant Rights International). “Decenas de miles de trabajadores migrantes en los EEUU enfrentan sacrificios diarios incluyendo la pérdida de su vida, cuando trabajan para proveer vidas sanas y saludables para sus familias,” añade.

“Un trabajador indocumentado no es ilegal. Ningún ser humano es ilegal. Las y los trabajadores migrantes indocumentados tienen los mismos derechos que cualquier otro trabajador. Ambos contribuyen a las compañías por los que trabajan, a los países donde residen y a sus países de origen,” dice William Gois, el coordinador regional del Foro Migrante en Asia (MFA, Migrant Forum in Asia).

Según el Sr. Gois, categorizar de ilegal a las y los trabajadores migrantes que no tienen documentación vigente permite a los gobiernos de conducir actividades que violarán los derechos de las y los migrantes. En Asia, el MFA repetidamente ha condenado a los gobiernos de Malasia y Corea del Sur por las represalias violentas y las expulsiones arbitrarias contra trabjadores indocumentados.

“Alto a las represalias y las redadas viles. Estas no son las acciones de sociedades maduras y democráticas. Lo que necesitamos aquí es el reconocimiento genuino de la contribución tremenda de las y los trabajadores migrantes al desarrollo de los países anfitriones y de origen. Estos son los hechos. Sin estos trabajadores, no habrá comida en sus mesas, no habrá ropa limpia en su armarios y no habrá techos sobre sus cabezas,” declara el Sr. Gois.

Los diversos grupos de derechos migrantes están en la Ciudad de Nueva York para asistir y observar el Diálogo de Alto Nivel sobre Migración y Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas el 14 y 15 de Septiembre. La Sra. Tactaquin dice que su organización también estará organizando diálogos comunitarios sobre migración y hablando con diferentes representantes de la misión permanente de los Estados Naciones de la ONU para proveer las perspectivas sobre la migración y realzar las perspectivas de los y las migrantes y las organizaciones migrantes de la sociedad civil.

Para entrevistas y más información, por favor de contactar:
Joey Dimaandal, (SOLO EN INGLES) portavoz de MRI para los eventos paralelos de la sociedad civil durante el Diálogo de Alto Nivel sobre Migración y Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas en la Ciudad de Nueva York
Tel +639175267171, +639278775810
Correo electrónico:
Dirección: West Side MICA, 5 West 63rd Street, entre la Broadway y Central Aprk West, Ciudad de Nueva York

Arnoldo García (para los medios de comunicación en español)
Tel +1 (510) 928-0685
Correo electrónico:

* MFA es una red regional de 260 asociaciones, sindicatos y ONGs de trabjadores migrantes en Asia. La información de contacto de MFA:
Coordinador regional: William Gois
Dirección: 59-B Malumanay Street, Teachers’ Village West, Quezón City, Las Filipinas
Correo electrónico: Web:

** La Internacional de Derechos Migrantes (MRI) tiene miembros en Asia, Europa, América del Norte y América Latina.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, Sept. 8, 2006

Immigrant Rights News -- Fri, Sept. 8, 2006

1. Christian Science Monitor, "As Congress stalls on immigration, a backlash brews"

2. Two from the Chicago Tribune:
A. "County measure would shield illegal immigrants"
B. "Feds turning up the heat: Immigrant son won't lose rights, U.S. says"

3. News 8 Austin, "Immigration activists try different approach"

4. Courier Post, "Immigration rally falls short"

5. San Francisco Chronicle, "House GOP to try again on immigration crackdown: Speaker sees chance to appeal to voters on hot-button issue"

6. Los Angeles Times, "House GOP Makes Border Security Its Priority"

7. Heritage Foundation, "Immigration Enforcement: A Better Idea for Returning Illegal Aliens [sic]"

<><><> 1

Christian Science Monitor
September 08, 2006 edition

As Congress stalls on immigration, a backlash brews

By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Chicago activists marched 50 miles to House Speaker Dennis Hastert's house last weekend to protest congressional inaction over reforming immigration laws and what they say is his anti-immigrant stance. In Phoenix, protesters rallied at the state's Capitol, also to highlight the stalemate in Washington.

Bob Johnson is equally exercised. The structural engineer from Buffalo Grove, Ill., argues the other side of 2006's Great Immigration Debate - that the US needs to send home illegal immigrants and gain better control of its borders - but he says he cannot believe Congress is punting on immigration reform. He's been writing letters to his congressman and senators and says he may not vote in November or he may vote for a third-party or write-in candidate.

The decision by congressional leaders not to try to bridge the big gulf between the House and Senate versions of immigration reform, at least not before the November midterm elections, is touching off a backlash that may deliver a sting to some incumbent lawmakers.

How big the backlash grows may not be known until the day after the election, but it's surfacing in blogs, letters to the editor, and record-low approval ratings for Capitol Hill.

"When you have both Bob Novak and David Broder writing the same column about Congress's failure to act on immigration, you know something is wrong," says Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, referring to two well-known columnists who typically have very different views. "People on both the right and left will see it as a huge failure" if Congress ends its term without a bill.

Certainly, many Americans are worked up over immigration. The issue sparked huge rallies and marches in the spring, and has been the subject of endless Lou Dobbs reports. Over the summer, House leaders held hearings on immigration all over the country.

But now, with inaction on the Hill, some businesses are mobilizing. A few national groups - like the Associated General Contractors of America - say they'll stop campaign contributions to lawmakers who take hard-line stances on immigration controls, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Texas Produce Association has said people may have to get used to an "outsourced" industry, with more growing done in Mexico, if Congress doesn't produce a bill.

"It's frustrating and troubling and bad for the country" that Congress hasn't taken action, says Ray Prewett, executive vice president of the Texas Vegetable Association. He adds that growers need at least a guest-worker program to enable them to harvest their crops. It angers him that Republicans in the House seem to have hardened in their opposition to compromise.

If the backlash to inaction proves to be a big one, it would probably hit Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress, the hardest, observers say. Democrats hope to use that image of a "do-nothing" Congress under Republican leadership. But Republicans have presumably done the math and are calculating that voters who want a crackdown on illegal immigration would rather have no bill than a bill that offers any version of amnesty.

Still, experts see pitfalls for lawmakers. Congress "failed at crafting a Social Security plan that would sell. The same is true with immigration: It looks as if they can't tie their shoes," says David Mayhew, a political science professor and congressional scholar at Yale University. "This is a great prominent public issue, and it looked as if they were climbing up the hill earlier in the summer, but then couldn't make it and are going to do nothing."

Some activists are responding to the inaction with laws and proposals at the state and local level, mostly aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. Towns like Riverside, N.J., and Arcadia, Wis., have followed the lead of other cities in proposing ordinances that take aim at everything from flying non-US flags to hiring illegal immigrants or restricting the number of people who can live in rental housing. In state legislatures, almost 550 bills concerning immigrants have been introduced this year, and 33 have been enacted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"It's a domino effect," says John Keeley, a spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates restricting immigration. "Washington's at a stalemate, but the fact is there's large-scale illegal immigration, attendant crime, school overcrowding - all this stuff going on. At the state and local level, they don't have the luxury of filibustering."

Part of the impasse, say observers, has to do with the Republican Party's split stance on the issue.

"If they don't act, this has been their signature priority and the president's signature priority this year, and they look like idiots," says Norman Ornstein, a residential scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and coauthor of "The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track."

Advocates on both sides claim public-opinion majorities, with some pointing to polls showing that between two-thirds and three- quarters of the public favors a combination of enforcement and a path to citizenship. Others note that far more Americans think immigration should be decreased, than increased.

If fact, the security-only voices have been getting stronger, especially in some key districts, and many Republicans maintain they're better off with no bill than with a compromise involving some path to citizenship. And it's still possible that Congress will pass some smaller enforcement bills, increasing the resources for border security, in lieu of comprehensive reform.

But critics say that strategy is shortsighted and ignores the growing numbers of Latino voters.

"It seems to me like they're running an incredible risk," says Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum, which favors reform more along the lines of the Senate's version. "It's unbelievable they would beat the drum on this issue for 18 months, have both chambers pass a bill, spend the summer doing hearings, and now say they aren't going to do anything.... They're going to have some 'splainin' to do."

<><><> 2A

County measure would shield illegal immigrants

By Oscar Avila
Tribune staff reporter

September 8, 2006

A resolution introduced Thursday would make Cook County a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants, meaning authorities could not inquire about their immigration status in routine interactions.

County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado, the measure's sponsor, said he wants to prevent the county from joining a growing group of local jurisdictions that are cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws.

If the measure passes, Maldonado said, sheriff's deputies could not ask for immigration papers during traffic stops and county employees could not report suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Maldonado said he has no evidence that county officials are currently doing that.

The measure offers illegal immigrants no protection from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who are free to make arrests in the county. But Maldonado said the resolution is still important because turning county authorities into immigration agents would detract from their other duties.

Those who support sanctuary policies say they don't want to send illegal immigrants underground. Earlier this year, the Chicago City Council strengthened its sanctuary policy by turning a long-standing executive order into law.

But critics say sanctuary policies undermine law enforcement and let criminals go free when they might otherwise be arrested for immigration violations. Residents in Elgin and other suburbs have recently appealed to their elected officials to become more aggressive in assisting with immigration enforcement.

The County Board did not discuss the resolution Thursday. Maldonado said he hopes to have a public hearing on the measure before the Law Enforcement and Corrections Committee. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.


<><><> 2B

Chicago Tribune,1,3699855.story

Feds turning up the heat
Immigrant son won't lose rights, U.S. says

By Oscar Avila
Tribune staff reporter

September 8, 2006

The U.S. government and Elvira Arellano's legal team escalated their skirmish Thursday over an unusual federal lawsuit contending that to deport the undocumented immigrant would violate her young son's rights.

Attorneys for 7-year-old Saul Arellano say his constitutional rights would be violated if he is forced to return to Mexico with his mother even though he is a U.S. citizen by birth.

Prosecutors detailed their counterarguments in a motion filed Thursday to dismiss the case, insisting that Saul would not lose legal rights by his mother's deportation.

Arellano has taken refuge in a Humboldt Park church since defying a government deportation order Aug. 15, creating a standoff that has generated international notoriety.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said Saul Arellano's lawsuit raises "novel issues." Normally, illegal immigrants contest their own deportation orders instead of having their U.S. citizen children become plaintiffs, experts say.

Legal observers and advocates on both sides of the immigration debate are closely watching the lawsuit, which could affect the 3.1 million U.S. citizen children with at least one parent living here illegally. Some say the lawsuit is a long shot but could have political benefits.

"The courtroom is only one arena in which this lawsuit is going to play out. There is also the political arena," said Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church, where Arellano has taken refuge.

Arellano, a well-known activist for undocumented immigrants, and the government have been in a stalemate since she took refuge at the church. Arellano said she is not leaving the church. Immigration officials say they don't plan to enter the church to get her even though she is a fugitive.

For now, Arellano's hopes rest on Saul, who had already taken center stage at sympathetic rallies, quietly playing with a Spiderman action figure or a TV microphone cord.

Arellano said she does not want to take Saul to Mexico because she fears that he will return to the United States as she did: with no knowledge of English and little formal education. Arellano said she has never seriously considered leaving her son behind either.

Federal prosecutors, in their court filings Thursday, said allowing Arellano to stay in the U.S. because of her son would grant her a benefit that Congress never intended. They implied that Arellano was hypocritical in turning to the court after ignoring the government's orders.

"Ms. Arellano should not be permitted to ignore the law and yet use the law through the means of a legal fiction by challenging the order through her son," prosecutors argued.

Prosecutors said they considered but rejected a plan to grant Arellano a temporary stay of deportation while her son's case is heard.

Joseph Mathews, attorney for Saul, said Arellano had been willing to wear an ankle bracelet or observe a curfew if she could be protected from deportation while the case is heard.

"I am disappointed in [the government's] decision, but I understand it," Mathews said. "They have a job to do, and they are doing it."

Prosecutors said legal precedents work against Arellano, and many experts tended to agree.

David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia and former counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said he would be surprised if a judge agrees with the boy's claim.

"Some people's knee-jerk reaction is that you can't force a U.S.-citizen child to live somewhere else," Martin said. "This isn't really forcing him. Technically, they aren't deporting the child."

Muzaffar Chishti, director of the non-profit Migration Policy Institute's office at New York University School of Law, agreed that Saul's rights would be violated only if the government was ordering him to leave. In this case, Arellano is choosing to take him to Mexico rather than leave him in the U.S. with a guardian.

"It's a tragic human case but not a very compelling legal issue," Chishti said.

Even if Arellano's strategy doesn't hold up in court, some legal observers think her lawsuit could have political value in publicizing the situations of families like hers.

"This reflects the fact that our immigration laws are not accomplishing what they set out to, which is family unification," said Mary Meg McCarthy, director of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center.

Critics say Arellano's rhetoric and legal tactics show how cynically many illegal immigrants use their U.S. citizen children as protection from their lawbreaking.

For some illegal immigrants, their children could eventually provide a legal window. When the children turn 21, they can petition for legal status for their parents living here illegally although the process is not easy.

Those children gained U.S. citizenship through the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 mainly to reverse pre-Civil War legal barriers against African-Americans. The amendment states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States."

A growing number of congressmen want to strip the citizenship rights of the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) sponsored a bill last year to change the practice and received nearly 100 co-sponsors, almost all Republicans.


<><><> 3

News 8 Austin

Immigration activists try different approach

Updated: 9/7/2006 10:44:52 PM
By: Bob Robuck

More than 200 immigrant rights activists gathered at the Texas Capitol Thursday for a different kind of rally. Instead of protesting immigration laws, they honored people they say are victims of immigration laws.

The approach is meant to breathe new life in an issue some activists believe is losing steam.

"We wanted to bring it back to the actual people, to being human, to say that no human is illegal. We all have a right to be here. We're supporting all immigrants," said activist Silky Shah.

With hopes dwindling for broad immigration reform, protestors now focus on the human toll that's resulted from crackdowns on undocumented workers.

"I think the present immigration laws divide people and families, and we are against that," Josefina Castillo said.

Their hope is to put a new face on the immigration issue; one that shows the pain of first-hand experience with detention, deportation and death.

"There were three people crossing the border in Arizona, and because of Arizona and the situation there and the heat, two of the people died and one of the people had blisters all over his feet," Shah said.

Thousands also gathered at the nation's capital for continued protests in favor of immigrant rights. Both rallies were part of a series of protests going on all over the nation this month.

<><><> 4

Courier Post (New Jersey)

Immigration rally falls short

Courier-Post Staff

The rally, organized by IMPACT, a pro-immigrant organization, called on immigrants and those sympathetic to their cause to make their voices heard.

The sparsely attended rally fell far short of expectations.

Some recognized that there has been a growing frustration with the lack of progress on immigration reform over the summer. Maria Juega, chairwoman of the Latin American Legal Defense Association, said she fears that the "people may have lost faith in the process."

Luis Talesca of C.A.T.A., an immigrant farmworker organization, said that it was still important that "we get together and not to lose faith."

Laura Rodriguez, another member of C.A.T.A., said, "Today, with our presence here, we want it to be recognized that although we may be undocumented, that we contribute to this country and its economy."

Congressional Republicans have said that their focus in the last session before the election cycle will be on terrorism and Iraq. Political analysts have posited that this may indicate that immigration is too hot a political potato to handle before the November elections.

Ryan Stark Lilienthal, a New Jersey immigration attorney, told the crowd, "It is important to remind U.S. citizens that you are the future of this country."

The crowd chanted, El pueblo callado jamas sera escuchado! (The people who keep quiet are never heard).

Gary Christopher, chairman of the planning board in Riverside, where an ordinance cracking down on illegal immigrants was recently passed, said he supports the ordinance. He said he understands why immigrants may want to come to the township and the country, but when they do it illegally they strain public resources, he said.

"This would not have come to a head if any of the Latino community leaders would have toed the line," said Christopher, 58, a medical librarian at a Pennsylvania hospital. "We had 20 guys living in one house, streets filled with trash and neighborhoods in which every third car had Pennsylvania plates."

Christopher said illegal immigrants made an already crowded town unmanageable. He said he regrets that the debate about the township ordinance has attracted public acts of intolerance, such as some protesters flying Confederate flags. But he defended the right of local officials to act.

"If the federal government fails to protect life, liberty and pursuit of happiness does everyone have to lie down and take it?" he asked.

Staff writer Bill Duhart contributed to this report. Reach Teresa Sicard Archambeault at (856) 486-2917 or

<><><> 5

San Francisco Chronicle

House GOP to try again on immigration crackdown
Speaker sees chance to appeal to voters on hot-button issue

- Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Friday, September 8, 2006

(09-08) 04:00 PDT Washington -- House Republicans, who have campaigned hard against illegal immigration with few legislative accomplishments to show for it, announced Thursday they would try to cobble together a package of border crackdown measures before their recess next month.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he would convene an unusual forum Wednesday in which Republican committee chairmen would report their findings from immigration hearings held around the country this summer and suggest proposals such as the creation of voter identification cards that the House would try to pass before Congress adjourns.

"It won't be the whole 95 tons of what we've tried to work between the House and Senate, but we will try to get some things done," Hastert, R-Ill., said, emphasizing that the measures would be passed quickly by his house -- although their fate in the Senate is uncertain.

Republicans have made illegal immigration a linchpin to preserving their threatened House majority in the November midterm elections, seeing it as one of the few issues that may work in their favor. Yet after insisting the issue is a crisis, House Republicans can't show voters they've addressed the issue because of an impasse with fellow Republicans in the Senate.

The two chambers have been at loggerheads since the spring, when the Senate passed a bill with broad support from the minority Democrats that contrasted sharply with a House-approved bill.

The Senate's bill would greatly expand legal immigration, particularly by providing a way for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country to become legal residents.

The House bill passed last December would make illegal presence in the country a felony and build a 700-mile fence on the Mexican border. It sparked large immigrant protests.

Instead of trying to reach a compromise with the Senate, House Republican leaders held more than a dozen hearings across the country ripping the Senate bill as a Democratic amnesty measure they promised never to support.

The chance of passing major legislation has been doomed for months. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee acknowledged the obvious Wednesday, when he said it would be next to impossible to pass a major immigration overhaul before Congress adjourns.

The plan Hastert announced Thursday followed a meeting among President Bush and Republican House and Senate leaders. Bush supports the Senate approach but has almost no political leverage to rein in House Republicans. The administration in recent weeks has been touting its efforts to tighten the border, including sending 6,000 National Guard troops to back up the Border Patrol.

Hastert said discussions continue with the Senate but "in the meantime ... there are things we can do right now."

House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio outlined interim measures the House could push through in the next month, such as increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, adding fencing and surveillance along the border and granting greater authority to state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. The GOP leaders suggested several of these measures could be attached to spending bills expected to move in the next month.

For example, the Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., adding $1.8 billion to the military appropriations bill to pay for 370 miles of triple fencing and 461 miles of vehicle barriers on the border.

"We believe that solving this problem is important and the American people expect us to solve it," Boehner said.

E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at

Page A - 9

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Los Angeles Times

House GOP Makes Border Security Its Priority
Plans for a hearing next week indicate that work on a larger immigration overhaul will have to wait until after midterm elections in November.

By Nicole Gaouette
Times Staff Writer

September 8, 2006

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders announced Thursday that rather than negotiate the type of sweeping overhaul of immigration law that President Bush had called for, they instead would hold an unusual hearing next week to help fashion a tightly focused "border security package."

The decision effectively ends any chance that Congress will pass legislation addressing the status of millions of illegal immigrants before November's midterm congressional elections.

It also adds another act to the House's summerlong series of immigration "field hearings" around the country, which critics said were meant less to solicit public input than to promote the get-tough approach to immigration favored by conservative lawmakers.

At next week's session, various House Republicans will testify to their leaders about lessons learned in those hearings and measures that could be included in the border security effort.

"We will quickly do border security legislation before we leave" for Congress' preelection recess, said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "Congress can't wait to act on this issue. The border is a sieve. We're at war, and we certainly need to act like we are at war and close our borders."

The announcement came as a few thousand immigrants and their supporters demonstrated on the National Mall to demand legalization for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

House Republicans have announced that they will concentrate on national security for the rest of this session, before an election in which many Republican seats are at risk.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the border security initiative would provide more border patrol agents, add fencing and surveillance along the southern border, and toughen the enforcement of immigration laws inside the country.

Republican aides said enhanced enforcement efforts could include giving state and local officials greater authority to enforce immigration laws. Hastert said measures could include tamper-proof Social Security cards.

"The House leadership is committed to sending legislation to the president's desk before Oct. 1," Blunt said.

House and Senate leaders met with Bush on Wednesday to discuss the fall agenda, and Blunt said the administration would issue its own series of proposals related to border security in the next few days.

In December, the House passed a bill focused on enforcement of immigration laws and border security, but there has been no progress since the Senate passed its bill in late May. The Senate legislation includes steps to improve enforcement, a guest worker program and a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship — elements that Bush has called for but which the House has adamantly rejected.

On Thursday, Hastert said that discussions were continuing with the Senate but that House leaders had no intention of considering measures beyond security.

"Before you have a guest worker program or any other program, you have to heal the wound," he said, referring to the border with Mexico. "There are nuggets of things we can do. It won't be the whole 95 tons of what we'd been trying to work out between the House and Senate, but we can get some things done."

Supporters of the Senate bill criticized the House announcement.

"Security alone cannot fix the problem of illegal immigration," said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who backs the Senate bill. "If we do enforcement without anything else, crops in the field will be rotting, nothing will be picked and the problems will ripple throughout the entire economy."

At the immigration rally, less than a mile from the Capitol, speakers promised the crowd of immigrants and activists that the fight for a broad overhaul was far from lost.

Gina Jean, a 20-year-old Haitian American from Brooklyn, clutched a Haitian flag and a sign urging bilingual education and English classes for recent immigrants.

"I see suffering people are trying to gain their rights, but people don't want to hear what we have to say," she said.

Separately, the Senate on Thursday passed a $470-billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2007 that includes $1.8 billion for the National Guard to install 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border.

The Senate bill will have to be reconciled with the $428-billion defense spending bill the House passed in June.


Times staff writer Moises Mendoza contributed to this report.

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Heritage Foundation

Immigration Enforcement: A Better Idea for Returning Illegal Aliens

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
Executive Memorandum #1011

September 7, 2006

By some estimates, more than 15 million indi­viduals are unlawfully present in the United States. If the U.S. government actually succeeds in appre­ciably reducing illegal border crossings on the border with Mexico, the number of people unlaw­fully present in the United States could actually rise significantly. No voice in the immigration debate—on the right or on the left—believes as a practical matter that millions of immigration viola­tors can be detained and deported in short order. Before implement­ing comprehensive immigration and border security reform, Congress needs a real­istic answer to solve what will be a very real and significant problem.

Getting immigration and border security right will require a quick and efficient means of getting large numbers of illegal aliens to return voluntarily to their home countries. Indeed, if reforms are con­ceived and implemented correctly, many of these millions will want to leave so that they can seek the opportunity to return for lawful employment. The best solution would be for Congress to establish a privately funded national trust fund that legitimate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) could use to help unlawfully present persons to return to their places of origin.

The Border Security Paradox. Much of the debate over immigration and border security has focused on sealing the southern border with gates and guards, with little regard to the implications of these policies. According to a study by Dr. Manuela Angelucci, an economist at the University of Ari­zona, each additional Border Patrol agent hired will stop roughly 771 to 1,621 illegal border crossings annually. This sounds impressive, but hundreds of thousands of people cross the border illegally every year.

However, reduced border cross­ings is only half of the story. Stud­ies find that each additional agent hired encourages roughly 831 to 1,966 illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay here for fear of being caught at the border if they try to return home. “The effect of an additional agent,” concluded Dr. David Muhlhausen, who reviewed the academic studies in a report for The Heritage Foundation, “is unclear, possibly resulting in a net reduction of 503 individuals or a net increase of 995 individuals residing in the United States illegally.”

If this research is correct, Congress is pushing for a solution that could make the problem worse.

The congressional focus on manpower and fences ignores another key fact: About half of the illegal immigrants currently in the United States came here legally and then overstayed their visas. Border security cannot stop this type of illegal immigration. Furthermore, as the border is made more secure, this type of visa abuse and trafficking in phony visas and other identity documents is likely to increase exponentially.

This is the paradox: Heightened border security could produce a net increase in the number of peo­ple illegally present in the United States. Further­more, better workplace enforcement will deny more undocumented workers jobs, leaving mil­lions of unemployed illegal aliens trapped in the United States behind secure borders.

A Better Answer. The simplest “answer” to this problem is to give amnesty to people already unlawfully present in the United States. Along this line, the Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611) would allow most of the millions of illegal immigrants, who have broken U.S. immigration laws, to remain in the United States. However, the Immigration Reform and Con­trol Act of 1986 has already demonstrated that amnesty does not work, largely because it encourages further lawbreaking. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, 2.7 million undocumented work­ers received amnesty. Predictably, over the next 20 years, the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. exploded to about five times that number.

On the other hand, if the United States had rea­sonably secure borders and reasonable legal oppor­tunities to get visas, green cards, and access to a common-sense temporary worker program, many of those unlawfully present would leave willingly so that they could return to live and work here legally. To help them, the Congress should establish a National Trust for Voluntary Return—a program to help illegal aliens return voluntarily to their home countries.

Essentially, the National Trust for Voluntary Return should be a privately run, community-based volunteer program. It makes no sense to try to turn the federal government into a travel agency or to saddle American taxpayers with the burden of helping lawbreakers to make amends. In contrast, many nongovernmental groups have a serious interest in helping at-risk undocumented popula­tions in their communities. Immigrant rights and faith-based organizations and other civil groups and individuals would donate money out of humanitarian concern. Business coalitions would enthusiastically support such a program as a way to get the workers that they need. Individuals inter­ested in a strong civil society would donate funds because it would help to reduce the unlawfully present population in the United States.

The National Trust for Voluntary Return fund should be:

Administered by a private commission with government oversight,

Funded by private donations, and

Drawn on by accredited NGOs that would use the funds to assist individuals to return volun­tarily to their places of origin.

Finally, individuals participating in the program should be required to register with US-VISIT before they exit.

A Needed Initiative. Border security and immi­gration law enforcement efforts should be backed by measures that will help to make implementing these laws practical and effective. The National Trust for Voluntary Return is a necessary measure, but also one that is missing from the current legis­lation being considered by Congress.


James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

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