Monday, November 10, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Friday, November 07, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Friday, November 07, 2008


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1. Associated Press: Bush admin. makes immigration strides in 2008


2. Congressional Quarterly Homeland Security: The 10 Most Important Jobs to Be Filled Quickly at DHS


3. Censored News: El Paso and Berlin: Stop Apartheid and Border Wall


4. Curblog: Obama and the Wall + video: No Border Wall / No al Muro


5. NACLA: Terror Incognita: Immigrants and the Homeland Security State with excerpt from Building the Homeland Security State by Roberto Lovato



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Associated Press


Bush admin. makes immigration strides in 2008


By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 6, 7:05 pm ET


WASHINGTON The U.S. government arrested and deported record numbers of illegal immigrants — nearly 350,000 — in the past year, authorities say. It has also naturalized a record number of new Americans during the same time period, more than 1 million. Bush administration officials consider these to be great accomplishments within a system that President-elect Obama calls "broken and overwhelmed" on his transition Web site.

"We are seeing the kinds of results that the country hasn't seen for many years," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last month.

When Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, the administration kicked up its enforcement of the immigration laws already on the books. The government also hired more people to process applications for immigrants who want to enter the country legally.

These enhancements led to increases in arrests of illegal immigrants and employers who hire them; decreases in the amount of time it takes to process immigration applications — it now takes 9-10 months for naturalization applications, compared with 16-18 months before that. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reduced its backlog to 1.1 million, which is down from its biggest backlog of 3.6 million in 2004; it's on track to eliminate the backlog by October 2009.

The government recently awarded a five-year, $491 million contract to IBM to convert a paper-based immigration processing system to an electronic system.

There are about 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., which reflects no increase from the previous year, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. It was recently discovered that Obama's aunt is among the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.

The woman, Zeituni Onyango, had been instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya. She has been living in public housing in Boston and is the half-sister of Obama's late father. Federal officials are prohibited from talking about her case, citing privacy laws. "If she is violating laws, those laws have to be obeyed," Obama said in a television interview Nov. 2.

"Obviously that doesn't lessen my concern for her, I haven't been able to be in touch with her. But I'm a strong believer you have to obey the law."

But to solve the immigration problem completely, Chertoff — who oversees immigration — has said the next administration will need to go back to Congress for comprehensive reform.

Pressure to revisit immigration reform will build quickly from Latino supporters, immigration groups and some business interests. Larger Democratic majorities could help to move a bill through Congress, but those majorities will be built, in part, with Democrats from conservative districts who are wary of going too far. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said Democrats may have to give up some of their priorities in immigration reform to get an agreement, such as giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.


On the Net:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:



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Congressional Quarterly Homeland Security


Nov. 3, 2008 7:58 p.m.


The 10 Most Important Jobs to Be Filled Quickly at DHS


By Rob Margetta, CQ Staff


For months now, reporters and pundits have played one of Washington's favorite parlor games in election years: Who's going to replace (fill in the blank) in the new administration.

Naturally, for homeland security focused folks, who is going to replace DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff has led the pondering and pontificating. A long list of candidates who could head the Department of Homeland Security exists, and all anyone can currently agree on is that there is no clear favorite.

But whoever is elected president Tuesday will have to find not only a secretary who is up to the job and can be quickly confirmed, but also nominees for a host of other critical roles.

"It's essential to not only fill these positions as quickly as possible, but to get this transition in place to protect the country and to re-examine homeland security to say 'Here is where we are. Here is where we need to be,'" said James Lee Witt, who lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Clinton administration and now manages his own consulting firm. "All of these positions will be critical, as will the people appointed to them."

So, beyond the secretary and the deputy secretary (who has the task of running the day-to-day DHS operations) what are the 10 most critical jobs for the next administration to fill to get DHS up and running under new management quickly and with as little transition shock as possible?

We asked a wide assortment of lawmakers, former homeland security officials and outside experts to give us their lists. They were surprisingly consistent, with almost everyone agreeing on which were important enough to make it into the top 10. What follows is a summation of their responses, listed in no particular order:

FEMA Administrator At or near the top of almost everyone's list was the spot now occupied by R. David Paulson, but sources had several different reasons for giving it such a high priority.

For starters, the agency would be a cornerstone of any response to a major disaster on U.S. soil.
"The administrator leads, shapes, and defines the agency's ability to prepare for and respond to catastrophes and other emergencies," said House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson , D-Miss.. "Further, when a multi-agency coordination effort is necessary for preparation and response efforts, the administrator is the catalyst for bringing agency partners together."

But, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA has been elevated to a level of media and Congressional scrutiny above almost any other DHS component. Putting a qualified person in place quickly and making sure that FEMA responds appropriately to any future catastrophes will be a serious credibility issue for the next administration.

"Getting your response right is just a crucial function of government," said Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the Sept. 11, 2001 Commission.

Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Replacing Charles E. Allen as DHS's chief intelligence officer was another task that landed high on people's priority list. Allen's successor will wield tremendous influence on how the country confronts the terrorist enemy.

"In the counterterrorism world, intelligence drives policies to an unusual degree," Hamilton said.
Those policies will reverberate throughout DHS's components and have serious security implications.
"From a management perspective, this position has responsibilities that affect many of the offices and directorates within the department," a Republican House Homeland Security staff aide said, adding that intelligence will be especially important during the first year of a president's term. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell recently became the latest in a string of experts to identify that time as a period of vulnerability.

DHS has also pushed in recent years to increase intelligence and information-sharing among federal, state and local agencies. In that environment, the intelligence chief "will be the starting point for critical information that goes out to the fusion centers as well as other key components," said Rich Cooper, a principal at the homeland consulting firm Olive, Edwards and Cooper.

Undersecretary for Management The next administration might have a little more time to find and then ease a qualified nominee into this position. The Homeland Security Advisory Council has urged DHS to make sure that Undersecretary Elaine C. Duke stays onboard to aid in the presidential transition.

The move emphasizes how important the job is to DHS operations. Like the assistant secretary for policy, the undersecretary for management is a key figure in the day-to-day running of the department. Whoever gets the nod will be in charge of personnel and acquisitions, two persistent problem areas for DHS, so he or she will have to be prepared to be one of the officials on whom Congress calls when it wants accountability.

"Regardless of the fact that the department is over five years old now, it is still in need of a personnel system that works: books that can be audited; acquisitions that occur without hassle or havoc; and a whole lot more," Cooper said. "Keeping track of over 200,000 employees, thousands of contractors and billions of dollars in taxpayer funds and more falls to the undersecretary for management. This person is accountable to the secretary, the Congress and the rest of us for what happens here and there are no easy answers for them to present."

Undersecretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate Robert D. Jamison's current position crosses over into many of DHS's critical functions. The assistant secretaries for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection report to him. He deals with states and municipalities, as well as federal agencies outside DHS. His work is affected by intelligence and information-sharing. Basically, if something involves managing or reducing risk, it involves the head of NPPD.

"The deputy administrator for national preparedness is responsible for overseeing how terrorism preparedness is integrated with disaster preparedness as well as setting policies that guide state and local use of grant funds," said a Republican Committee on Homeland Security staffer.

The position will require someone who can serve as an effective communicator and can stand the heat of oversight. The undersecretary for NPPD will be the person "on the hook for management and execution" on fronts like cybersecurity and infrastructure, Cooper said, as well as "having to manage the various turf battles that go on with this issue."

Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications This job, currently held by Gregory Garcia, is an example of a position covering a domain that might not have been considered especially important a decade ago. But, with reports of attackers from foreign nations trying to penetrate U.S. networks, critical facilities reporting thousands of attempted breaches and digital communications becoming increasingly important in how government and infrastructure functions, it has shot up the charts.

"Cybersecurity, by anyone's measure, is a growing issue and one that will be with us for a long time," said Donald H. Kent Jr., former DHS assistant secretary of legislative affairs and a current vice president at Navigators LLC.

Whoever gets the job faces a mountain of challenges, starting with the federal government's attempt to build a comprehensive cyberdefense in as short a time as possible, with a blueprint that keeps evolving. Even within DHS, authority over the cyberdomain is divided, a situation the Center for Strategic and International Studies has labeled problematic. Adding to the difficulties: suggestions that the White House take over stewardship of cybersecurity, and the act that most of the nation's critical infrastructure lies in private, not government, hands.

Assistant Secretary for Policy With his hands in everything from cargo security to visa waiver expansion, from REAL ID to E-Verify, and Secure Flight to immigration overhaul and interagency conflicts, Stewart A. Baker's job is both important and underrated.

"It's absolutely critical, said the first person to hold the job, Stewart Verdery, who now serves as president of Monument Consulting Group. "It really should be an undersecretary, but they've had a hard time pushing it through Congress."

Baker's office deals with the private sector, other government entities and coordinates policy within DHS itself, making it a major player in the ongoing efforts to make it a more cohesive department. And failure in this position can come with tangible consequences.

"Ill-informed, ill-prepared and ill-advised policy can lead to disaster as DHS experienced with the Dubai Ports World controversy in 2006," Cooper said. "The next assistant secretary for policy will have the challenge of trying to tune the DHS band of instruments into some sort of harmony. If they can't, they risk the noise and dissonance that come from everyone not being on the same sheet of music and that will only make the department's overall job in critical areas that much harder to do."

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner The next three positions are dually important. First, they represent the heads of three of DHS's largest and most active security components. And second, they have some of the largest public profiles of any DHS agencies.

Much of the Bush administration's homeland security emphasis went toward America's southern border, leaving Ralph Basham's successor as CBP commissioner in charge of the border fence and the Secure Border Initiative, two areas that have presented plenty of headaches.

"We've had so many problems with the border," Hamilton said. Additionally, CBP has been drafted as a major player in Congress' 100 percent cargo screening mandate. "CBP is at a crossroads," House Homeland Chairman Thompson said. "The next commissioner must have the right background and vision to deliver the results we have been seeking in border and maritime policy."

Those pressures add up to a tough, nearly thankless job.

Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Caught up in the middle of the debate between immigration enforcement and immigration overhaul, ICE is praised in some corners and denounced in others whenever it makes news.

"ICE's enforcement actions have been branded by a few congressional members and other politically notable individuals as 'terrorist' and cruel," Cooper said. "Whatever feelings people may have about their job and the methods they use, they are enforcing laws enacted by Congress and approved by president. It will be up to the new president and Congress how they act with these responsibilities and the end judgment of the American people whether they approve of it or not come Election Day 2010 and 2012."

Meanwhile, Julie Myers' successor will have to consider issues such as medical care for detainees and whether programs like Operation Scheduled Departure which allows illegal immigrants to leave the country on their own terms in up to 90 days are productive solutions. And he or she will have to be ready to take hits in the media and in front of Congress.

TSA Administrator Thompson said Kip Hawley, this position's current occupant, brought stability to "an agency that struggled since 2002 under poor managers." But the next in line still has a lot of work to do.

"With a large workforce and important mission, the next assistant secretary will have to continue improvements while investing in the workforce but be open to collective bargaining," Thompson said.

Over the next few years, TSA's issues will include sustaining its workforce, bringing in new screening technology to airports and balancing initiatives like the 100 percent cargo screening mandate against its impact on commerce and daily operations. And, with staff at every airport security gate in the country, TSA also must serve as one of DHS's most visible workforces.

Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Unlike most DHS positions, which operate mainly within the government, a big part of this position is working with the private sector. Although the government has secure facilities and computer networks that current Assistant Secretary Robert B. Stephan has been put in charge of protecting from terrorist attacks and disasters, most of the country's critical infrastructure is in private hands. That includes lines of communication, power plants and hospitals.

"This person will have to be not just the champion of the private sector but also their coach and critic pushing them to take more aggressive steps to protect themselves and improve their overall resilience," Cooper said. "To do that, they will have to forge relationships of trust and respect with a range of public and private sector interests that are almost always at odds with one another. It will require balance, perspective and perseverance to manage it all in what are often highly charged political and operational environments, but the job has to be done."

Rob Margetta can be reached at


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Censored News


Sunday, November 9, 2008


El Paso and Berlin: Stop Apartheid and Border Wall





By Carlos Marentes

Censored News


EL PASO & BERLIN -- On November 9, 1989, the German people knocked down the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall had been erected on August 13, 1961 dividing the people of Berlin into two sectors. One sector was controlled by US and its allies and the other was controlled by the Soviet Union. German people was not free to cross from one sector to another. Families and friends were separated by the wall. The wall lasted 28 years. During this period of time, about 5000 escape attempts were made to reunite with relatives, friends or to seek better economic opportunities. Close to 300 persons died attempting to cross the wall.


The Berlin Wall was considered an offense to humanity. All the so-called democratic governments denounced the wall and demanded their removal. In June 26, 1963, during a visit to Germany, president John F. Kennedy said in his popular “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech:


“Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in...”



“While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together...”


Many years later, another American president, Ronald Reagan, visited Germany and in a very passionate speech made the following plea:


“Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same--still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world...”


“...we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace...”



“...Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!...”

(Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate West Berlin, Germany, June 12, 1987)


Nineteen years later, taking advantage of the lack of historic memory of the American people, it's our own government building a wall in the same totalitarian spirit of the Berlin Wall. This time the wall is in the US-México border. The border wall will separate the border community in the same manner that the Berlin Wall divided the German people for 28 years.


This wall is also an attack to the freedom and peace of our border community. The border wall will separate a border community composed by the cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and many rural communities on both sides of the Río Grande River. The wall will bring more violence and intolerance and will also cause an irreparable ecological disaster to our already deteriorated environment.


The mere fact that the construction of the wall is estimated at more than 7.5 million dollars per mile, is also an offense to El Paso, the fourth poorest city in the nation and the poorest city in the state.


For this reason we have been fighting against this wall for many years. We have marched, protested, celebrated faith and indigenous ceremonies, held community meetings, and many cultural events against the construction of the wall. This has been a hard fight. We have been arrested and harassed by the local police, the sheriff department, the Border Patrol and the racist thugs of Kiewit Corporation, the construction company in charge of erecting the wall. But we are not afraid and we will not be intimidated. On the contrary, every time we are more committed to continue our fight against this atrocity of the Bush administration.


Today we celebrate the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We celebrate this occasion by stating our conviction that we will stop the construction of this atrocity in our border community. We also understand that the political situation may be changing, therefore we also celebrate the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a new slogan:


President Obama, stop the construction of this wall!



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Obama and the Wall


Greg Harman

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is not welcome in South Texas. In fact, there will be celebrations when he leaves office with his Boss Bush.

Still, Southwest Workers' Union border coordinator Ruben Solis predicts it may still be difficult to work with institutional Democrats in Congress to stop the Border Wall now under construction.

That means people need to keep pushing.

"The new administration is a transfer of the national agenda. So our point today is to begin to mold that national agenda as it refers to the border, border militarization, and immigrant rights," Solis said during a small protest outside the U.S. Federal Building in San Antonio today.

"So we want to send a clear message to Washington: We didn’t just go and ... give (our vote) away. We own that vote. We have a responsibility to that vote and to the people we elected.

"Just because you voted, doesn’t mean you go home and sit down and wait for somebody to do it for you.”

YouTube: No Border Wall / No al Muro



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NACLA: Terror Incognita: Immigrants and the Homeland Security State (November-December 2008)


Building the Homeland Security State [Excerpt]


Roberto Lovato

Lost in debates around immigration, as the United States enters its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, is any sense of the historical connection between immigration policy and increased government control—of citizens. Following a pattern established at the foundation of the republic, immigrants today are again being used to justify government responses the economic and political crises. Consider, for example, the establishment in November 2002 of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the largest, most important restructuring of the federal government since the end of World War II.1 The following March, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was dismantled and replaced with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency under the newly established DHS. ICE’s rapid expansion—16,500-plus employees and near $5 billion budget—quickly transformed it into DHS’s largest investigative component, accounting for more than one fifth of the multibillion-dollar DHS budget. ICE is also the second-largest investigative agency in the federal government, after the FBI, responsible for enforcing more than 400 statutes, and is arguably the most militarized federal entity after the Pentagon.2 Not long after its inception, ICE began to wage what many advocates have called a “war on immigrants.”…

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