Friday, September 19, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Friday, September 19, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Friday, September 19, 2008



1. Associated Press: Muslim leader says 150 workers fired at US plant

2. The Arizona Republic: Keep an eye on Joe


3. Dallas Morning News: Report: 1 in 10 Hispanics asked about immigration status


4. Securing the nation's BORDERS


5. New York Times Editorial: Immigration Deception


6. Chicago Public Radio – WBEZ 91.5 FM: Immigration Agents Accused of Racial Profiling


7. Para leer versión completa en español e ingles de la declaración de clausura del III Foro Social Mundial de Migraciones, haga clic abajito:

To read final statements from the III World Social Forum of Migrations in Spain click on link below:


Second Declaration of Rivas: Assembly of Social Movements the III World Social Forum of Migrations


Segunda Declaración de Rivas Asamblea de los Movimientos Sociales: Reunida durante el III Foro Social Mundial de las Migraciones



<><><> 1


Associated Press


Muslim leader says 150 workers fired at US plant


By JEAN ORTIZ (Associated Press Writer)

From Associated Press

September 19, 2008 6:36 PM EDT

OMAHA, Nebraska - About 150 Muslims were fired from a Nebraska meatpacking plant that has been embroiled in a prayer dispute, a Somali-American leader said Friday.

Mohamed Rage, who leads the Omaha Somali-American Community Organization, said 80 workers were thrown out after an altercation late Thursday. He says when they tried to return for their shift Friday, they were fired, along with 70 others.

Police said were called to the plant in Grand Island late Thursday amid reports of a fight or riot. But when officers arrived, the situation had calmed, said police Chief Steve Lamken.

Muslim workers have been asking for accommodations with break times to allow prayer at sunset. The issue led to walkouts this week - not only from Muslims but from non-Muslims who protested such accommodations as preferential treatment.

JBS Swift & Co. officials have not returned repeated calls seeking comment. Officials did not refer to any terminations in a statement released Friday, but said problems at the plant were over people walking off the job without proper authorization, not about religion.

The company said employees can practice their religion so long as they don't violate their contract or disrupt operations.

Dan Hoppes, president of Local 22 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, described what happened Thursday night differently than Rage did. He said that according to management and employees, 60 to 80 people quit late Thursday after raising the prayer issue and creating a commotion.

Hoppes said supervisors had told the workers to go back to work or leave and they left. Workers who walked off the job Monday and Tuesday in protest had to have known their leaving again would result in their termination, he said. They work on a point system, and enough absences or other contract violations result in firing.

The plant employs about 2,500 people, not counting management. About a fifth of them are Muslim, mostly of Somali background.

Hoppes said he didn't know what happened Friday, but that human resources representatives were posted at employee entrances to talk to workers.

"We don't have any clear cut information as to numbers or why they were terminated," he said.

Hundreds of Muslim employees walked off the job Monday and Tuesday, saying they weren't being allowed to take a break to pray during Ramadan. Break times were then altered on the second shift so the Muslim employees, mostly Somali, could make their fourth of five daily prayers at sunset.

Then hundreds of non-Muslim workers walked off the job in counterprotests Wednesday and Thursday morning. Later Thursday, plant managers did an about-face, saying the new break times weren't working.

Tensions have also flared elsewhere, including Swift's plant in Greeley, Colorado. More than 100 workers there were fired last week because the company said they walked away from work before their shifts ended.

The company said in its statement that it is working to resolve the issues that have arisen.

"JBS values its diverse workforce and has a long track record of making significant accommodations to employees," the statement said. "We work closely with all employees and union representation to accommodate religious practices in a reasonable, safe and fair manner."


<><><> 2


The Arizona Republic


September 19, 2008|



Keep an eye on Joe


Federal officials are calling their audit of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration sweeps a "routine inspection."

We'd like stronger language.

Calling it "routine" is dismissive of some big concerns about what Arpaio is doing.

We'd rather hear words like "tough scrutiny," "detailed" and "probing" applied to the investigation of how Arpaio is using an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that lets a county sheriff enforce federal immigration laws.

The agreement itself may be relatively routine. ICE has 62 such arrangements with local law-enforcement agencies across the country.

But there is nothing routine or commonplace about Arpaio. He's a showman who seeks publicity with outrageous antics. (If you are new to town, Google his name with "green baloney" and "pink underwear.")

Arpaio's zeal to pursue illegal immigrants brought him attention because the public is justifiably disgusted with federal inaction.

But immigration is a subject where anger can get the better of common sense and common decency - not to mention the civil rights of Latino citizens and legal residents of this community.

There have been serious charges that Arpaio's gusto to enforce immigration laws has led to racial profiling.

In July, four U.S. citizens joined a lawsuit that was filed in December by a legal immigrant who says he was improperly detained by the sheriff. The four citizens say Arpaio is targeting Latinos.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and other elected officials have called for better federal oversight of what the sheriff is doing.

They argue that the agreement between Arpaio and the feds was supposed to enhance enforcement against violent fugitives, gang members, drug traffickers and other dangerous criminals.

Even by the sheriff's own reckoning, that's not what's happening.

According to a press release from the Sheriff's Office, a sweep in Cave Creek was launched in response to complaints regarding day-laborer problems. In a July press release about that "crime suppression" sweep, the sheriff took credit for 193 arrests as a result of such operations specifically mentioning that 107 of those were illegal immigrants. He is clearly keeping score in terms of illegal immigrants.

An Aug. 19 press release began by saying the sheriff "continued his illegal immigration fight today." It went on to talk about another sweep that included traffic stops.

The sheriff has used his agreement with the feds to send deputies and trained volunteers into neighborhoods with large Latino populations, where they pull people over for minor traffic violations and demand to see proof of immigration status.

Arpaio says his deputies do not use racial profiling. That's a claim the feds need to investigate.

Is Arpaio a partner in the federal efforts to rid the streets of violent and dangerous people who are in the country illegally?

Or is he a lone wolf seeking to raise his political profile this election year by conducting "crime suppression" sweeps that are more about stopping people with broken taillights than going after dangerous criminals?

Do Arpaio's sweeps reflect the reality that Arizona has deep Hispanic roots and a large population of Latinos who have as much right to drive down the street unmolested as the sheriff does?

Those are not routine questions.

They are the questions the feds need to answer.


<><><> 3


Dallas Morning News


Report: 1 in 10 Hispanics asked about immigration status


12:00 AM CDT on Friday, September 19, 2008


By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News


Nearly one in 10 Hispanics in the U.S. reported that in the last year police or other authorities have stopped them and asked them about their immigration status, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a report released Thursday.


The finding comes amid the biggest crackdown in decades against illegal immigration one especially evident in Texas, the No. 2 destination for such migrants. Municipal police in several suburbs of Dallas, including Irving and Carrollton, have stepped up cooperation with federal immigration authorities.


Nationally, deportations or removals of Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans from the interior of the United States have doubled since 2005, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Renato de los Santos, a Latino leader in Dallas, called the survey's finding alarming and suggested that racial, ethnic or language profiling should be stopped unless it involves a terrorism suspect.


"It is the only way we as U.S. citizens should tolerate that," said Mr. de los Santos, a North Texas district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.


In Washington, the report's co-author Mark Lopez characterized the finding as surprising but declined to speculate on causes as survey follow-up questions weren't asked.


The report by the nonpartisan research center surveyed about 2,000 Hispanic adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Hispanics constitute about 15.4 percent of the U.S.

population, or 46 million people. Roughly 30 million are over 18 years of age. About half of the adult population is foreign-born.


A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment.


In Irving, where Latinos and the regional Mexican consul complained loudly last year about police procedures, police spokesman David Tull emphasized that Irving police officers don't carry out deportations.

But in booking at the jail, citizenship is established, Officer Tull said. If officers believe ICE should be called to do further inquiry, the agency is called, he said.



<><><> 4$43294


Securing the nation's BORDERS

Virtual border project hits snags, but receives an injection of support from DHS to begin anew


From the September 2008 Issue


By Michel Marizco


Francisco Ochoa tips back a cold can of Tecate Beer, its beading condensation dripping onto the dust of this desperado town on Mexico's border with Arizona.


With its cattle trucks packed with illegal migrants, armed narco-traffickers shotgunning loads across the border and surrounded by a nearly lawless Sonoran Desert, this little town has become a thorn in the side of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a haven for migrant smuggling, a $1.5 billion a year industry in Arizona alone.


Using little more than two-way radios, a reputation for ruthlessness and a savvy for the fastest routes past U.S. defenses, it is small-time migrant smugglers like Ochoa who most damage the infrastructure of the United States' largest federal agency, whose budget now tops $50 billion a year.


Ochoa is one of a new wave of migrant smugglers, people who've come up from other parts of Mexico, tried crossing illegally a few times, then saw an opportunity for running groups of migrants themselves at $100 a head.


A few hundred yards north lies a shining new border wall, a tall steel fence stretching for miles to the east and west, part of an integration of technology and good old-fashioned fencing that's intended to stop the Ochoas of the border from crossing their loads into the country.


To the west of here, the government uses crisscrossed steel Normandy fence; to the east, walls of vertical poles set inches apart.


Out near California, a triple barrier runs 20-feet high and $1 million a mile.


But for all the walls, steel and concrete, the United States still hasn't been able to come up with a solution for what happens after those walls are breached.


In the past three years, DHS has turned toward technology to apprehend the illegal migrants. The results have cost millions and haven't proven very successful.


"I don't care what they put up," Ochoa says, maybe a little cocky, maybe showing a bit of bravado while he's talking to a reporter.


"There's always a way around these things. They haven't stopped me yet," he says.


He'll say no more, his eyes deadening at further questions, going silent while he drinks his beer.


His methods are tried and true, mostly primitive, and sometimes fatal. Among the questions he won't answer is how many people he's left behind to die in the desert. But overall, his methods are effective.


Past border strategies


Every year, the U.S. Border Patrol makes approximately 1 million arrests on the Mexican border, the majority of those arrested are simply repeat border crossers who've been deported voluntarily repatriated, in the vernacular of bureaucracy and attempted crossing again. The U.S. Border Patrol has never released statistics on how many people actually make it into the United States, though agents track the footprints of those who got away.


In the 1990s, the strategy against smugglers included walls and manpower; but it proved inefficient, mostly because the illegal migrant traffic simply went around them, a "Maginot Wall" on the United States's southern border. The result: the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector has led the nation in apprehensions since 2004, with little reduction in the hundreds of thousands of people who cross the border every year.


This time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it's going to be different, a view that not all public policy analysts agree with, and one that, for the past two years at least, has proven to be overly ambitious.


Project 28


Last fall, Customs and Border Protection unveiled what it deemed the most advanced capability it's ever had in border control nine towers standing 100 feet in the air, bristling with antennae and camera lenses that together, would oversee 28 miles of Arizona's border with Mexico. The effort was dubbed Project 28.


The system, at an original cost of $67 million, was the brainchild of Boeing Corp., which did not return numerous phone calls for this story. The system seemed simple enough, relying on existing technology and a wireless network. When illegal immigrants activated sensors on the ground, the radar system on the tower was supposed to identify the location and send the information by wireless network to laptops in a Border Patrol agent's vehicle.


Project 28 became the vaunted goal of DHS; a virtual fence that would once and for all close the door on little Sasabe, a small town situated along the popular corridor used to cross undetected into the United States.


Hopes ran high.


"Project 28 is being carried out along 28 miles of border flanking the Sasabe, Arizona, port of entry," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Congress six months into the project.


"It will demonstrate the SBInet system's capabilities by deploying sensor towers, unattended ground systems and upgrades to existing Border Patrol vehicles and communications systems. Project 28's completion date is set for June 2007."


Project 28's shortcomings


Then the problems began a sequence of events which showed that what worked well in the design room couldn't negotiate the tricky desert where even commercial-grade cell towers often won't work.


Some of the problems, like the Border Patrol agents' laptops, were easily fixed. The computers were originally equipped with stylus pens, which proved impossible to use while driving, and the first mounts used to attach computers to patrol vehicles, failed.


Other problems lacked such a simple fix. Residents of Arivaca, Arizona, a small town where the Project 28 towers were located, wanted to know why camera towers with a 9-mile capability were placed 12 miles from the border. Border Patrol officials explained that placing the towers closer to the border limited their ability because of the hills. Then the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the original price tag could soar as high as $10 to $30 billion if the towers were set all along the border.


The radar and ground sensors used also proved to be too sensitive, sometimes confusing raindrops for people, other times, bushes waving in the breeze would set them off. And, the terrain, lava fields, thick mesquite, and hilly land cobwebbed with washes, defeated the network's wireless system.


"The long and short of it is that Boeing was given $20.6 million to begin testing and fielding their new system," says Richard Stana, director of the GAO's Homeland Security and Justice Issues, the agency that documented the errors on behalf of Congress.


After DHS rejected the original plan, Boeing absorbed much of the cost of repairing its faulty systems, spending twice as much as it had earned to try and repair the broken system.


New plans arise


"Now, they're not going to replicate Project 28. But they are moving toward a similar installation," Stana says.


The newest program is supposed to begin in 2009 in the Tucson Sector but won't be completed along the southwest border until 2011.


For its part, Customs and Border Protection has backed away from its energetic embrace of Project 28, now saying it was merely a prototype for future projects. "It was widely reported that Project 28 was a failure," says Customs and Border Protection spokesman Barry Morrissey. "It was a success, but no one wanted to believe it."


The newest plan is the installation of two systems in the Tucson Sector, one in the central Arizona desert, AJO-1, and one near Sasabe, TUS-1, a cluster of 57 of the same type of towers throughout the desert.


Despite the problems with Project 28, the first $55.7 million contract was awarded to Boeing Corp. on June 26 and work was scheduled to begin soon, Morrissey says. However, land-use issues may delay the project until at least January 2009, possibly longer.


The second half of the contract, which includes technology, cameras, radar and ground sensors, has not yet been awarded. "It's safe to say it will also go to Boeing," he says.


Morrissey won't discuss the type of radar used or the focal length on the cameras that will be mounted, but says the agency is comfortable that the wireless hotspot issues have been resolved.

Caution ahead


The GAO remains cautious about the project.


"Will the fixes to be done by Boeing be enough to fix it?" Stana asks. "No one knows yet."


The other question is whether the new set of towers, provided they work, are enough to bring any kind of control to the border a question whose answer so far has been no. "It's a virtual fence, it doesn't mean it will stop people," Stana says. "A physical fence may slow them; a virtual fence may identify them. But you still need people on the ground to make arrests."


Dave Stoddard, a former Border Patrol agent living in Arizona, also watches this new system with a skeptical eye.


In 2005, a federal auditor questioned whether the contractor paid by Border Patrol officials for work never performed was overcharging a network of pole cameras set up along the border.


The $239 million Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System's pole cameras in Naco, Arizona, were found simply lying on the ground outside a storage shed. There was also some question as to whether the daughter of a Texas Congressman employed by the contractor was involved in the project.


"I think that certain powers that be are pushing it," Stoddard says.


"No. 1, there's a whole lot of money coming in. And No. 2, the open-borders bunch sense that the virtual fence isn't going to work so they're happy to push for it."

Realistic expectations


Dan Wirth, a Tucson-based leader of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and border security coordinator for the U.S.


Department of the Interior, was among the first federal officials in Arizona to begin pushing for vehicle barriers to replace the rusting strands of barbed wire that run along most of Arizona's border with Mexico.


He remains optimistic about the latest plans. "At the first Boeing presentation, they were talking about logarithm software and it may have worked in the office, but the system wasn't working out in the field," he explains. "There's been a lot of moderation from what Boeing originally said they'd do. It's not so pie in the sky now."


Expectations need to be kept realistic. "It's definitely going to enhance border security but you'll never secure the border at 100 percent," says Wirth about the project.


Bringing it closer to that 100-percent figure will require more agents. "Detecting movement is great but then you have to have someone respond to those incidences," Wirth says.


To that end, DHS has been aggressively recruiting more agents, trying to reach 18,000 by the end of the year, more than twice the number from before the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Last January, the agency started a minority recruitment campaign in the Deep South, specifically targeting African Americans for $40,000-a-year jobs with the Border Patrol. It has also reduced basic training time from five months to 95 days.

Another day


For migrant smugglers like Ochoa, it's business as usual whether or not the project moves forward.


Ochoa finishes his Tecate, flinging the red empty into the bushes. A van lumbers slowly up the road, a plume of white dust building behind it as it negotiates the final stretch.


Fourteen people are stuffed inside, sitting on metal benches where someone has ripped out the seats to pack in more migrants. A milk crate is shoved between the front seats so one more can fit. At $10 a head for the driver, every inch counts.


The people move quickly, clambering out of the van, shifting backpacks and plastic bags, eyes down, avoiding the scrutiny of others. Some have obviously made this trip before, walking straight toward a small grocery store where they can pick up gallons of water and electrolytes for the long walk.


Ochoa talks quietly with the driver, readying for a new day. His cut will be $100 a person, $1,400 for this group alone if everyone makes it. A second van is already pulling away, heading south to pick up more people.


"If you'll excuse me," he says. "I have to get to work."


Michel Marizco is an organized crime reporter in Arizona and northern Mexico. He runs the news and intelligence Web site,, in Tucson. He can be reached at



<><><> 5


New York Times


September 19, 2008



Immigration Deception

Yes, immigration is a complicated and combustible issue for political candidates — and the economic meltdown is everyone’s top priority. No, that is no excuse for ignoring immigration or lying about it to voters, as John McCain and Barack Obama have been doing.

Mr. McCain lied first, in a Spanish-language ad that accused Mr. Obama of helping to kill immigration reform last year, by voting for amendments that supposedly doomed a bipartisan bill. The ad lamented the result: “No guest worker program. No path to citizenship. No secure borders. No reform. Is that being on our side?”

That is a jaw-dropping distortion. The bill wasn’t killed by any amendments. It was killed by a firestorm of talk-radio rage and a Republican-led filibuster. The very bill that Mr. McCain now mourns is the one he sidled away from as his own party weakened and killed it. It’s the one he says he would now vote against.

For Mr. McCain to suggest that Mr. Obama opposes the “path to citizenship” and “guest worker program” compounds his dishonesty. Mr. Obama supports the three pillars of comprehensive reform — tougher enforcement, expanded legal immigration and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here.

Mr. McCain was an architect of just such a comprehensive bill. But he is also leading a party whose members rabidly oppose the path to citizenship. So, in deference to them, Mr. McCain now emphasizes border security as the utmost priority. Except when he’s pandering in Spanish.

Mr. Obama’s retaliatory ad, also in Spanish, was just as fraudulent. It slimed Mr. McCain as a friend and full-bore ally of restrictionists like Rush Limbaugh, even though Mr. Limbaugh has long attacked Mr. McCain’s immigration moderation. It quotes Mr. Limbaugh as calling all Mexicans stupid and ordering them to “shut your mouth or get out,” which he never did.

Immigration was broken before the candidates started this repugnant ad war, and looks as if it will stay that way for at least the duration of this campaign.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration keeps raiding factories and farms, terrorizing immigrant families while exposing horrific accounts of workplace abuses. Children toil in slaughterhouses; detainees languish in federal lockups, dying without decent medical care. Day laborers are harassed and robbed of wages. An ineffective border fence is behind schedule and millions over budget. Local enforcers drag citizens and legal residents into their nets, to the cheers of the Minutemen.

Both candidates once espoused smart, thoughtful positions for fixing the problem. But Mr. McCain is shuffling in step with his restrictionist party. Mr. Obama gave immigration one brief mention at the Democratic convention, in a litany of big-trouble issues, like abortion, guns and same-sex marriage, on which he seemed to say that the best Americans could hope for are small compromises and to agree to disagree.

They’re both wrong. The country needs to hear better answers, stated clearly and forthrightly over the shouting. The answer to immigration is what it was last year: comprehensive reform that extends order and the rule of law to a system that is broken in a million complex ways. Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama both know this. They should get back to telling the truth about it, in English and in Spanish.


<><><> 6


Chicago Public Radio – WBEZ 91.5 FM


Immigration Agents Accused of Racial Profiling


Fifteen alleged members of a fake ID ring in Chicago appeared in court Friday on federal conspiracy charges. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement hailed its operation in the city’s Little Village neighborhood for putting the suspects behind bars. But some residents of the neighborhood say the agents engaged in racial profiling. We report from our West Side bureau.

Reverend José Landaverde is pastor of an Anglican mission in Little Village called Our Lady of Guadalupe. As raids on five neighborhood locations got underway Thursday, Landaverde says he was visiting his alderman’s office to pick up a block-party permit.

LANDAVERDE: When I walked outside the office, three officers of Immigration approached me and put me on top of my car, and then searched me. And they said, ‘I want to see your documents, mica.’ And then I said, ‘I don’t have any mica, but I have my United States passport because I’m a United States citizen.’ When he saw the passport, he gave it back to me right away and he said, ‘Go away.’

But Landaverde didn’t go far. He says he walked a block to the neighborhood’s main drag, 26th Street.

LANDAVERDE: They were stopping everyone who was walking on the sidewalk and saying, ‘Lay down on the floor, searching you, give me your documentation.’ If you didn’t have it, they were taking you.

Landaverde says the agents never would have treated white people this way.

But a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement says there were no random stops. The statement says the operation only sought people named in arrest warrants and, for each one, agents used information sheets with photographs.

A 65-year-old permanent U.S. resident who doesn’t want us to broadcast her name says she’s had to weather many raids.

RETIREE: Yo tengo aquí 35 años en La Villita...

After 35 years in Little Village, she offers some simple advice for neighbors when immigration agents are around.

RETIREE: No salgan.

Don’t go outdoors.

I’m Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.


<><><> 7

Excerpt below / Sólo un extracto abajo





Second Declaration of Rivas

Assembly of Social Movements

Held during the III World Social Forum of Migrations


Today as we commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the twenty years since the deaths along the Gilbralter began, 35 years of the military strike against the democratic president, Salvador Allende, while this same legitimacy is gravely threatened in Bolivia and requests our consciousness and solidarity, and as we celebrate the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we, men and women, who form a part of more than two thousand social movements and organizations from 90 countries around the planet, united in Rivas Vaciamadrid (Spain), from September 11th to the 14th, are joined by the slogan





Segunda Declaración de Rivas Asamblea de los Movimientos Sociales

Reunida durante el III Foro Social Mundial de las Migraciones


Hoy, cuando conmemoramos los sesenta años de la Nakba palestina, los 20 años del inicio de las muertes en el Estrecho de Gibraltar,  los 35 años del golpe militar contra el gobierno democrático de Salvador Allende; cuando esa misma legitimidad está gravemente amenazada en Bolivia y convoca nuestra conciencia y solidaridad, y cuando celebramos los 60 años de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, nosotros, mujeres y hombres que somos parte de más de dos mil movimientos y organizaciones sociales de noventa países del planeta, nos reunimos en Rivas Vaciamadrid (España), del 11 al 14 de septiembre de 2008, bajo el lema



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


Post a Comment

<< Home