Thursday, October 30, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Thursday, October 30, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Thursday, October 30, 2008


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1. Brenda Norrell (blog): Audios/In Cold Blood/Border Agent murders youth


2. New York Times Editorial: “A War on Janitors”


3. Congressional Daily: Homeland Security launches program to find illegal immigrants in jails


4. New York Times: Immigration Cools as Campaign Issue




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Audios/In Cold Blood/Border Agent murders youth


By Brenda Norrell


TUCSON -- US Border Patrol agent Nicholas Corbett is on trial for the murder of Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, 22, from Morelia, Mexico. Eyewitnesses said the border agent shot the youth in cold blood, without provocation.


At a shrine in front of the courthouse, family members and supporters are gathered to remember the youth and speak of the impunity that US Border Agents are operating under, as they murder people of Mexico. On Wednesday, Roy Warden, who previously burned Mexican flags with the Minutemen at human rights marches here, gathered with others in front of the courthouse to harass and yell at the family and their supporters.


This is not the first time a person from Mexico has been murdered in cold blood by US Border Patrol agents at the US/Mexico border. This time, there were witnesses when Border Agent Corbett shot the youth in the chest at close range on Jan. 12, 2007, in the Sonoran Desert near Douglas, Arizona.


Family and supporters said there is a poisoned atmosphere of racism in the United States.


"We are talking about a poisoned atmosphere against immigrants," Isabel Garcia, cochair of Derechos Humanos, said during an interview outside the federal courthouse. Garcia compared today's racism toward migrants with the pre-Civil Rights era in the south.


Garcia said border agents are murdering and getting away with murder.


"We are living in really, really, dangerous times," Garcia said. "This case is about accountability, this case is about impunity. That is the bottom line."


Attorneys are presenting their final arguments today, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. Corbett is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. His first trial ended in a mistrial after another jury deadlocked.


Listen online to today's interviews from the street at the shrine for Francisco Javier:



Brenda Norrell

Censored News

Listen at Earthcycles:



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New York Times

October 20, 2008



A War on Janitors

The Wild West weirdness of the nation’s immigration policy reached new extremes last week in Mesa, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb where the county sheriff, Joe Arpaio, has gone off the rails as the self-appointed scourge of people without papers.

About 2 a.m. on Thursday, Sheriff Arpaio sent out a strike force of 30 detectives and 30 members of his volunteer “posse,” with semiautomatic weapons and dogs, to look for illegal janitors. Acting on a tip to the sheriff’s immigration hotline, they raided Mesa’s City Hall. They raided the public library. They raided the local headquarters of Management Cleaning Controls, the company with the janitorial contract for city buildings.

Three janitors were arrested at the library. Thirteen other people were picked up at their homes. All are “illegals,” according to the sheriff’s office, which keeps a running total of its immigration arrests on its Web site.

In most other parts of the country this would be seen as a stunning misuse of firepower, a waste of resources and a bizarre intrusion by one government agency onto another’s turf. Neither the mayor nor Mesa’s Police Department had been warned about the raids. And the city had already been investigating the company’s hiring.

But this happened in Maricopa County, where for months Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies have been staging high-profile sweeps, stopping drivers and pedestrians and demanding their papers. The crackdowns have terrorized and infuriated Latino residents of Phoenix, America’s fifth-largest city, where citizens say they have been stopped and harassed for the crime of being brown-skinned. They have spurred lawsuits and led the Phoenix mayor and others to plead for a federal investigation.

Sheriff Arpaio’s crusade is unconstitutional and repugnant. But it is where the rest of the country could be headed. Immigration has vanished from the presidential race, but its problems are still with us, distorted by opportunists and poisoned by fear.

The system has too few visas, too many shadow workers and no way to bring a huge and vital undocumented labor force into compliance with the law.

The new president will not only have to stand up for something better; he will have to stand against the repulsive scapegoating that hard-liners like Sheriff Arpaio, who is up for re-election next month, have waged for short-term political gain.

He will, in short, have to reassure immigrants, Latinos especially, that America’s welcome is secure.


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Congressional Daily


Homeland Security launches program to find illegal immigrants in jails



The Homeland Security Department will launch a program Monday aimed at identifying illegal immigrants held in county and city jails across the country, but critics worry that nonthreatening individuals could be ensnarled in confusing deportation proceedings or denied legal protections.

With an infusion of funding from the Congress, the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has started an aggressive effort to find illegal immigrants who are incarcerated and enter them into deportation proceedings. ICE says its initial focus is on finding and removing illegal immigrants who have been convicted of violent crimes or those convicted of major drug offenses.

The program will allow local law enforcement agencies to automatically compare the fingerprints of their prisoners against FBI criminal databases and Homeland Security immigration databases. When law enforcement officials run a check on fingerprints against the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a check will automatically be done against Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System.

The program will begin with the Harris County Sheriff's Office in Texas, with the goal of being expanded to about 50 other local law enforcement agencies by the spring.

"It sounds rather simple but it really changes the way we do business and the way we go about identifying individuals for immigration enforcement," said David Venturella, director of ICE's Secure Communities program.

"We're going to be measured and careful in our rollout but we're going to do it as aggressively as possible," he added.

ICE will first focus on having the program operational with county jails and then at city jails. Venturella said reaching all jail booking sites will take three and a half years. But he said doing so will require much more funding from Congress to cover additional costs, such as more detention capacity and transportation services.

ICE estimates the total cost could be $3 billion a year, which is more than half the total annual budget of the entire agency. The total number of criminal illegal immigrants in U.S. jails who were charged with deportable offenses surged to more than 220,000 in fiscal 2008, according to statistics released by ICE last week. This compares to about 164,000 in 2007 and 67,000 in 2006. ICE estimates that federal, state and local prisons and jails hold between 300,000 to 450,000 criminal illegal immigrants who are potentially removable.

Immigration advocates agree that illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes should be deported. But they fear noncitizens might not be given proper legal protections.

"Our concern is making sure that people have access to counsel or are advised of their rights," said Kerri Sherlock Talbot, associate director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "Sometimes people are pressured into signing away their rights by basically stipulating that they are removable from the United States," she said.

Some illegal immigrants might qualify for visas, such as those who can legitimately claim asylum or those who have been victimized or trafficked, she said. Although ICE says it is only targeting illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes, immigration advocates worry that nonthreatening individuals might get swept up in the process.



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New York Times


October 29, 2008

Immigration Cools as Campaign Issue


On the stump, Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain rarely talk about immigration, and it was never raised in their three debates.

Yet as this thorny issue has receded from the presidential campaign, the two candidates continue to refine their approach to it — especially in regards to illegal immigration, the most politically sensitive piece of the equation.

Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, has hardened his tone on how to deal with illegal immigrants, while Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, has made immigration enforcement a priority, a position in line with the Bush administration’s. Both candidates are responding to the anger many Americans feel about uncontrolled illegal immigration, including working-class voters whom Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama are trying to attract in the final days of the campaign.

Because of persisting political rifts and a crush of priorities related to reviving the economy and unwinding the Iraq war, advisers to the campaigns say it is increasingly unlikely that either candidate would propose to Congress an overhaul of the immigration system during the first year in office, something both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama had pledged to do.

On the assumption that immigration legislation “is not likely to be the first thing out of the box” for the new president, Doris Meissner, who was commissioner of the immigration service under President Bill Clinton, said she was working with a bipartisan group of experts to identify changes that the new president could make without Congress.

“The reforms we need to put in place are so sweeping and the political environment is so hostile to consensus, I think we will be in a phase of longer-term building of public understanding,” said Ms. Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a research group in Washington.

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain continue to support legislation that would include a path to legal status for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.

As a result, groups that oppose legal status for illegal immigrants, who mobilized a wildfire movement of largely Republican voters against a comprehensive immigration bill last year, are sitting out the presidential race. Instead, they are focusing on Senate and House races, where they hope to stop the Democrats from winning large majorities.

“We’re going to have an incredibly bad White House, so we’re in for some tough defensive battles,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which favors reduced immigration. “We have to make sure we’ve got at least 41 senators so we can block any Obama or McCain amnesty.”

Seeking to broaden support for legalization, Mr. Obama embraces new law-and-order language adopted in the Democratic Party platform at the convention. Although Americans are “welcoming and generous,” the platform states, “those who enter our country’s borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law.” Instead of the Democrats’ emphasis, as recently as last year, on integrating illegal immigrants into society, the platform says, “We must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

Heather Higginbottom, the Obama campaign’s director for policy, said Mr. Obama had not altered his basic views. If elected, Mr. Obama would insist that illegal immigrants pay back taxes and fines, learn English and go to the back of the immigration line to become legal.

For Mr. McCain, there has been a sharper turn from the past. He was unable to stop the Republican Party from adopting a platform at the September convention that directly rejected his support for legalization. “We oppose amnesty,” the platform states, describing “the American people’s rejection of en masse legalizations” as “especially appropriate.”

Some Republicans have not forgiven Mr. McCain for joining Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to write a bill, known as comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate in 2006. Mr. McCain stayed on the sidelines last year as a version of that bill stalled in Congress. Then, under pressure from rivals in the Republican primaries, Mr. McCain said early this year that he would not vote for that bill if it came up again.

He has supported the Bush administration’s aggressive enforcement campaign against illegal immigration, calling it a necessary first step to persuading Americans to accept any legalization program. In recent weeks his campaign has avoided the term “path to citizenship” to describe the option Mr. McCain would offer illegal immigrants, saying only that he would deal with them in a humane way.

The McCain campaign is hoping that his differences with the Republican Party will help to reinforce his image as a maverick, especially among Hispanic voters. One of his television advertisements in Spanish shows Mr. McCain speaking of illegal immigrants as “God’s children,” as Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the Republicans’ most outspoken foe of illegal immigrants, looks on, scowling.

“Senator McCain risked his own political career to get a bill in the Senate that would benefit Latinos,” said César Martínez, a producer of the McCain advertisements in Spanish.

Obama supporters say they do not mind his campaign’s silences, since they are confident he remains committed to an overhaul including legalization, and debate has often proved polarizing.

“We feel very comfortable with where he stands,” said Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, who has been barnstorming for Mr. Obama. “We do not have to have it repeated to us over and over again.”

Ms. Higginbottom, the Obama policy adviser, acknowledged that high unemployment in coming months could make an immigration overhaul a harder sell but said Mr. Obama would argue that American workers would benefit if millions of unauthorized immigrant workers, currently vulnerable to exploitation, gained their labor rights.

While the candidates have skirted the immigration issue in speeches and town-hall-style- meetings, they are clashing head on over it in the Spanish language media, in negative advertisements that have played heavily in swing states with growing numbers of Hispanic voters like Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

In those advertisements, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama each tries to show that the other was less consistent in supporting legislation to change the system, including provisions to legalize illegal immigrants.

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