Thursday, April 24, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Thursday, April 24, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Thursday, April 24, 2008


NOTE: IRN and NNIRR information is posted at


1. Los Angeles Times: “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.”,1,6313643.story


2. Dallas Morning News: “Tally of those arrested in immigration raids at Pilgrim's Pride plants climbs to 311”\


3. La Jornada: “Nueva barda en la frontera con EU”


4. New York Times:The Not-So-Great Wall of Mexico



<><><> 1


Los Angeles Times,1,6313643.story


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

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


April 19, 2008


TUCSON Michael Chertoff was in the driver's seat of a white Chevrolet Tahoe, under the glare of high-powered lights ringing Border Patrol headquarters. It was 10 p.m., 15 hours into the Homeland Security secretary's workday.


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 Mexico. Besides the installation of high-tech surveillance tools meant to create a virtual fence, he is spearheading the construction of 670 miles of real fence and a rapid expansion of the Border Patrol.


As he pursues the ambitious agenda, the secretary must convince skeptical Americans that it will work. Chertoff -- a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former Supreme Court clerk, federal judge and federal prosecutor -- retains a lawyer's faith in the power of a good argument persuasively delivered.


"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 Tucson station was Chertoff's third stop on a recent 48-hour, two-state blitz through border country, a trip that vividly illustrated the enormous task ahead as he races toward the end of his tenure.


Yuma, Ariz.


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 Mexico in a Hummer struck him.


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.


In Yuma, Chertoff spoke frankly about the increasing risks of the job and expressed his "personal respect and gratitude." As he did, some agents bit their lips. One silently wept.


"If you try to sugarcoat things . . . they won't have any respect for you," Chertoff said afterward.


San Luis, Ariz.


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 Mexico on one side and the U.S. on the other, Chertoff watched an agent briskly process people entering the U.S.


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 Tucson, where a convoy whisked him through the darkness to the sector headquarters.


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.


In Tucson, Chertoff bolted down his second salad of the day, then huddled with operators in a room packed with monitors that displayed camera and radar images.


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.


McAllen, Texas


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 Hidalgo County for a little public diplomacy.

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.


Chertoff overcame Hidalgo County's objections by endorsing a homegrown suggestion to combine a Rio Grande levee with a barrier. "We're always interested in blending community needs and national security. It's the only antidote to public cynicism," Chertoff told the crowd.


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 Washington, where he would soon issue the largest-ever waiver of federal laws to build the border fence, Chertoff explained why he had delivered the warning: "If people think you're going to buckle, you're never going to get anything done."



<><><> 2


Dallas Morning News\


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 Dallas Morning News


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 Mount Pleasant plant are believed to be key organizers in an identity theft ring, federal prosecutors and agents said.


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 U.S., on administrative violations of immigration law.


All 46 workers arrested in Mount Pleasant faced criminal charges. But Thursday afternoon, two workers were released and motions to dismiss the criminal indictments were dropped, said Arnold Spencer, a U.S.

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.


Arrests in Mount Pleasant could climb. "We have a significant number of people who are now fugitives and were indicted," Mr. Spencer said.


Another two dozen workers were arrested last December, after an investigation that began a year ago and involved undercover agents


School district officials in Mount Pleasant said the arrests have rattled their schools.


Missy Walley, principal of Chapel Hill Elementary in the Chapel Hill Independent School District, said she had 16 upset students in her office Thursday morning. Two of them had parents who had been arrested.


"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.


A Chapel Hill district employee visited the home of at least one student who did not report to school and found nobody home. A neighbor indicated that federal agents had been to the home.


At Mount Pleasant Independent School District, counselors were also on hand to talk to students.


"All of our students and campuses are impacted because Pilgrim's is the number one employer," said Judith Saxton, public information officer for the Mount Pleasant district.


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."



<><><> 3


La Jornada


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 Mexico




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 Columbus, N.M., surprising nobody who lives on or near the border. It told of immigrants using acetylene and plasma torches and hacksaws to cut through the 15-foot-high concrete-and-steel barricade. "Officials monitoring cameras in the area have seen at least one group using a massive ladder to scale the south side of the fence," The A.P. reported. "The group tried to drop into the U.S. with bungee cords before agents caught them."


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 Texas mayors and other public officials, from El Paso to Brownsville, who are fighting furiously to stop the project.


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 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 Texas and pressing ahead with lawsuits against landowners who refuse to sell. The battle may be headed to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the illegal flow continues north — of people pushed by dire poverty and fierce determination, pulled by the mightiest economy on earth, obeying one law that Congress and Mr. Chertoff could never repeal, that of supply and demand.



<><><> the end / el fin / tamat <><><>



Arnoldo Garcia

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 ext. 305

Fax (510) 465-1885


Join HURRICANE: the human rights immigrant community action network -- help build community power for justice & human rights!

Unete al HURACAN: la red de accion de comunidades inmigrantes para los derechos humanos -- construyendo el poder de las comunidades por la justicia y los derechos humanos!

Click here for Hurricane/Haga click para info sobre el Huracan:


Get a copy of Over-Raided, Under Siege, NNIRR’s new human rights report!


Post a Comment

<< Home