Immigrant Rights News - Thursday, April 24, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Thursday, April 24, 2008
NOTE: IRN and NNIRR information is posted at www.nnirr.blogpsot.com
3. La Jornada: “Nueva barda en la frontera con EU”
4. New York Times: “The Not-So-Great Wall of
On the border with Michael Chertoff
The Homeland Security secretary is the point man for White House efforts to stop illegal immigration. He has an ambitious agenda -- and a stubborn streak to match.
By Nicole Gaouette
April 19, 2008
An agent sitting beside him tapped a glowing computer screen. A map expanded.
Drawing on an arsenal of radar, sensors and cameras, it displayed a spray of red dots -- suspected border crossers.
But Chertoff saw that the "virtual fence" had a major flaw: It wasn't able to show in real time where agents were on patrol along the border.
The secretary, leaning back wearily in his seat, said pensively, "We'll work on this."
In the three years since Chertoff took office, his job has been transformed by a bitter debate over illegal immigration that made sealing the border a priority. Once dubbed the nation's "anti-terrorism czar," he is now also its top border agent.
The vehicle-mounted computer is just one piece of Chertoff's efforts to revolutionize the nation's border with
As he pursues the ambitious agenda, the secretary must convince skeptical Americans that it will work. Chertoff -- a graduate of
"I always believed that if I could get direct access to 12 people, I could talk sense into them," he said.
Chertoff thinks he has the grit to get the job done: "I'm really, really stubborn. That and, honestly, I guess we're very conscious of the fact that it's very easy to get bogged down."
This month, making use of the powers given to him by Congress, Chertoff announced that his department would bypass federal laws to speed construction of 370 miles of fence, angering environmentalists and border groups.
"To me, the most important thing we're doing at the border is showing the American people that if we make a judgment that we need to do something and we promise to do it, we'll do it," Chertoff said.
The visit to the
Luis Aguilar's family and colleagues waited for Chertoff in the Border Patrol's sector headquarters. The agent died in January when an alleged drug dealer fleeing to
Aguilar's 5-year-old daughter, knobby-kneed in tights and black patent-leather shoes, piped up as Chertoff entered. "Why is everyone clapping?" she asked. "For Daddy?"
The 32-year-old was the first agent to die violently in the line of duty since 1998. As the Border Patrol has put more agents on the front line, violence has increased. Agents were assaulted 987 times in fiscal year 2007 -- with Molotov cocktails, rocks, gunfire, fists and, as in Aguilar's case, vehicles -- a 31% increase from 2006.
"An unfortunate metric," noted Chertoff, who said it indicated smugglers were feeling the heat of more enforcement.
Chertoff wants 18,000 border agents by the end of the year, up from about 15,300, double the number when President Bush took office in 2001. To get those boots on the ground quickly, training has been compressed from five months to at most 95 days.
Border officials are concerned about their ability to offer enough field training. Critics say the accelerated training adds to the danger by leaving agents unprepared.
"It's a recipe for disaster, as well as a guarantee of increased rights violations for those who cross the border, as well as those who call the border home," said Jennifer Allen of the Tucson-based Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.
"If you try to sugarcoat things . . . they won't have any respect for you," Chertoff said afterward.
A convoy swept Chertoff down dusty roads to the San Luis port of entry to observe one of his more controversial decisions. Adopting a recommendation from the Sept. 11 commission, Chertoff limited the type of identification accepted at the border.
In a building that opened to
His decision had drawn "a huge hue and cry from the border" and Capitol Hill, he said.
Chertoff is exasperated that lawmakers demand he improve border controls and then complain that tighter security hampers tourism and trade.
But he relishes a fight, so much so that his staff has a catchphrase for the lethal way he sometimes wields his rhetorical skills: "The snake coming out of the basket."
On this trip, Chertoff was unusually blunt about his conflicts with lawmakers.
" 'We'll implore you to be competent, but as soon as you make changes, we'll attack you,' " he said, recasting their comments. "That's B.S.
That puts our guys in a position where they're slapped coming and going, no matter what they do, and to me that's not a valid criticism."
Swooping low over emerald fields, a Blackhawk helicopter ferried Chertoff on a bone-jarring ride to
He was there to check on the $20.6-million Project 28, named for the
28 miles where Boeing Co. has built a prototype virtual fence to detect border intrusions.
Chertoff is heavily invested in the project, aware that most Americans don't trust the administration to do much about illegal immigration.
Winning respect for his agency is a recurring theme for Chertoff, who took over a Homeland Security Department that was the butt of duct-tape jokes in late-night comedy skits.
Soon after, the Government Accountability Office, which conducts investigations for Congress, issued a damaging report about delays and inefficiencies in Project 28. For critics, it was more evidence of the administration's failures.
"The reality is that Project 28 was rushed into implementation to bolster the Bush administration's claim that it was serious about border control," said professor Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.
Chertoff acknowledged the system wasn't "as good as it could be," but said the problems would be fixed.
Under a cobalt sky, Chertoff stood near a podium, listening as local officials praised his willingness to work with them. Palm trees swayed in a gentle breeze; Border Patrol agents stood in formation.
Chertoff was in
Residents and officials had opposed the fence, fearing it would stifle the legal flow of goods and people.
If part of Chertoff's job is to convince Americans that his high-tech system and 670 miles of fence will help stop illegal immigration, he must also convince border communities that the effort will not hurt them.
Then he added a caveat: "We always prefer to work cooperatively, but we do have a commitment to secure the border. What I can't afford to do is postpone the inevitable and kick this process down the road."
On the plane back to
Tally of those arrested in immigration raids at Pilgrim's Pride plants climbs to 311
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, April 18, 2008
By DIANNE SOLÍS and STELLA M. CHÁVEZ / The
The tally of those arrested at Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants on various immigration-related offenses climbed Thursday to 311.
Workers at Pilgrim's Pride, one of the world's largest poultry processors, have been the target of a criminal investigation into identity theft for at least a year, and Wednesday, workers employed at five plants, including Mount Pleasant operations, were arrested by federal immigration agents.
Certain workers at the
False use of an authentic Social Security number is a felony – and growing in prevalence among illegal immigrants searching for ways to avoid detection.
But the tally, released Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showed that slightly less than a third of the arrested workers had been charged with criminal violations. Federal officials said Wednesday that charges could be made more severe.
The remaining Pilgrim's Pride employees are being processed for removal from the
All 46 workers arrested in
assistant attorney involved in the investigation. In one case, one worker was a legal permanent resident; Mr. Spencer would not comment on the immigration status or citizenship of the second worker.
Another two dozen workers were arrested last December, after an investigation that began a year ago and involved undercover agents
School district officials in
Missy Walley, principal of Chapel Hill Elementary in the
"We had one whose daddy was taken last night and one whose mother was taken," she said. "They were pretty much hysterical."
Ms. Walley said she heard students crying in the bathroom on her morning rounds through the hallway.
Some students were worried that immigration agents would pick up students at the school. Parents called the district to make sure their children were OK.
"All of our students and campuses are impacted because Pilgrim's is the number one employer," said Judith Saxton, public information officer for the
Ms. Walley said she was struck by the number of children who showed support for those visibly shaken.
"It was not just our Hispanic children who were upset," she said. "It was all the children. It affected the whole school."
Nueva barda en la frontera con EU
Rubén Villalpando, corresponsal
Ciudad Juárez, Chih., 22 de abril. La Patrulla Fronteriza, sector El Paso, Texas, anunció la construcción de una nueva barda en el límite entre México y Estados Unidos, que partirá a la altura de la colonia Anapra, del lado mexicano, hasta el cruce internacional de Santa Teresa, ubicado a 6 kilómetros. Ramiro Cordero, vocero de esa corporación, dijo que van a colocar barreras metálicas que impidan el paso de vehículos e indocumentados que cruzan a pie por esa zona, la cual es actualmente utilizada por los polleros para internarse en el país vecino. La nueva barda medirá aproximadamente 6 kilómetros y partirá de la zona de Sunland Park, del lado estadunidense, donde la Dirección de Seguridad Interior de Estados Unidos proyecta sustituir una malla metálica que tiene una extensión de aproximadamente mil 600 metros.
New York Times
The Not-So-Great Wall of
Remember the fence, the one that Congress told Michael Chertoff, head of homeland security, to build on the Mexican border, with the admonition to let no power on earth stop him — no law or statute, no judge or jury? That fence?
News reports out of New Mexico and Texas suggest that it may not be all the wall that it was cracked up to be, or hoped for by the hunker-downers in Congress and on talk radio who clamored for it as the first and most important step toward an illegal-alien-free America.
"Feds Say Border Fence Not Tough Enough," The Associated Press reported this month out of
Perhaps the federal government could not have anticipated bungee-jumpers. But it should have foreseen the fury of border-community officials, like the coalition of
The coalition's chairman is Mayor Chad Foster of Eagle Pass, a border town that prides itself on its close ties to its Mexican neighbor, Piedras Negras (the home page at cityofeaglepass.com says, "Where Yee-Hah Meets Olé"). Mayor Foster is not against security: he has said he thinks floodlights and officers on patrol are a good idea. But he and others say the fence is too easily breached, too disruptive of life and lawful commerce, and thus monumentally stupid.
Mr. Chertoff's agency is pressing on. The government has begun buying land in south
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