Monday, August 31, 2009

Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?

Time Magazine,8599,1918941,00.html

Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009

Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?

By Tim Padgett with Dolly Mascareñas / Oaxaca

Can the U.S. government take a woman's baby from her because she doesn't speak English? That's the latest question to arise in the hothouse debate over illegal immigration, as an undocumented woman from impoverished rural Mexico - who speaks only an obscure indigenous language - fights in a Mississippi court to regain custody of her infant daughter.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Immigration official says agents will no longer have to meet quotas,0,3416020.story

Immigration official says agents will no longer have to meet quotas

Teams of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were expected to increase the number of annual arrests in the controversial 'fugitive operations' program, according to memos.

By Anna Gorman

August 18, 2009

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday in Los Angeles that he has ended quotas on a controversial program designed to go after illegal immigrants with outstanding deportation orders.

John Morton, a career prosecutor who took over as assistant secretary of Homeland Security in May, said during a meeting with reporters that he planned to make more changes soon. The "fugitive operations" program, he said, should do what it was created to do -- target absconders who have already had their day in court.

"The fugitive operations program needs to focus first and foremost on people who have knowingly flouted an immigration removal order and within that category, obviously, we will focus first on criminals," he said.

Beginning in 2003, the immigration agency dispatched teams around the country to arrest and deport immigrants who had criminal records, who had ignored deportation orders or who had been deported and illegally reentered the United States.

Between March 1, 2003, and April 30, 2009, fugitive operations teams made more than 12,300 arrests in Los Angeles and surrounding counties.

During widely publicized sweeps, armed agents showed up at homes and apartment buildings and arrested tens of thousands of immigrants. Immigrant rights groups have criticized the raids, saying they divided families, created fear and resulted in the arrests of people without criminal convictions or outstanding deportation orders.

A report by the Migration Policy Institute earlier this year showed that 73% of the nearly 97,000 people arrested by immigration teams between 2003 and early 2008 did not have criminal records. The report also showed that in 2006 the agency stopped requiring that two-thirds of those arrested be criminals and allowed the teams to include non-fugitives in their tally.

Also in 2006, the teams were expected to increase their annual arrests from 125 to 1,000, according to internal memos cited in the report.

Morton said Monday that there was nothing wrong with targets but that hard quotas don't make sense.

"I just don't think that a law enforcement program should be based on a hard number that must be met," he said. "I just don't think that's a good way to go about it. So we don't have quotas anymore."

He said, however, that he wouldn't stop enforcing the law against immigrants who have fought their cases and lost. "I am not signaling in any way that we are not going to enforce the law against noncriminal fugitives," he said.

The immigration agency received $226 million for the program this year, up from $9 million in 2003. There are 104 fugitive operation teams nationwide, up from eight when the program started. Eight of the teams are based locally.

Margot Mendelson, who co-wrote the Migration Policy Institute report, said that eliminating quotas was an exciting first step but that she would like to see written guidance for agents. Without that, undocumented immigrants without criminal records or outstanding deportation orders are likely to continue being arrested during operations.

"Although eliminating quotas is absolutely necessary, it is certainly not sufficient to bring this program in line with its congressional mandates," she said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement also announced Monday that the agency had identified 10 people who died while in immigration custody and were not previously included on the official list of deaths. The total number of deaths in agency custody since October 2003 now stands at 104. Morton directed his staff to review all documents and databases to ensure that deaths are being tracked.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the agency to obtain documents related to deaths of immigrant detainees, said that many of the deaths were due to inadequate healthcare.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Big Science in the Service of Indian Genocide: The Mexican Genome

This very interesting, if concerning, article was written by John Ross, an American freelance journalist who resides in Mexico City, Mexico.This is the same Ross who has regularly covered the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (also known as the EZLN or Zapatistas) rebellion in Chiapas.


Big Science in the Service of Indian Genocide: The Mexican Genome


When last May 11th, at the nadir of this spring's swine flu panic, President Felipe Calderon strode to the flag-bedecked podium in southern Mexico City and, under the strictest health protocols, lowered his "tapaboca" (surgical mask) to punch the button that would load "The Mexican Genome" onto the world's computers, the only thing that seemed to be missing was a military band to strike up the National Anthem.

The human genome is the ordering of genes in a determined set of chromosomes that contain all the genetic and hereditary memory of the human organism, i.e. the history of our DNA. Although distinct genomes have been decoded for racial groupings - European Caucasians, Asians, and Africans -, science has never before been assigned to decipher the genome of a national state or nation which is, by definition, a political entity, and many here questioned the existence of a "Mexican Genome."

Despite the nay sayers, Dr. Gerardo Jimenez, director of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) whose scientists did the gene mapping insists that the 89 deviations from genetic patterns found in other races, justifies the national character of the "Mexican Genome."

Other scientists scoffed at the INMEGEN project. Science writer Julio Munoz Rubio wondered if Calderon's genome would prompt a genetic explanation for such peculiarly Mexican propensities as "mariachis, tequila, wife-beating, gay-bashing, and racist attitudes towards indigenous peoples." Would a gene be discovered for electoral fraud and the corruption of public officials asked one letter-writer to La Jornada, the left daily, pointing out that, according to a government audit, half a million Yanqui dollars appears to have gone missing during the construction of the INMEGEN headquarters in the south of the city?

Calderon's political opponents also questioned the timing of the announcement of the discovery of the Mexican Genome during a health crisis that had been tainted by his administration's overreaction to the swine flu pandemic after a six-week delay in alerting the public to the contagion.

The president countered his critics by lauding the cost benefits that the decoding of the Mexican Genome would mean for public health care. Cost effective preventative medicines and treatments could now be delivered to confront the nation's Number One killers, Diabetes, and Obesity. So-called "personalized" drugs would now be designed to deal with the health problems of the Mexican people. "Super Positive News!" read the crawl on the Univision report about the "Mexican Genome."

But which Mexicans will be the beneficiaries of this cutting edge science? Mexico is, indeed, many nations. The vast bulk of the population - 80 million out of 103 million - are of mixed European and indigenous stock (65% of the genetic material identified in the Mexican Genome is listed as "Amerindian".) On the other hand, Mexico is home to 57 distinct ethnic groups or "peoples" (15 to 20 million, a fifth of all Mexicans) whose genetic make-up is distinct from the Mestizo population.

The INMEGEN's Jimenez insists that indigenous peoples were not slighted in the compilation of the Mexican Genome - although he is not sure if samples of DNA were collected from all 57 indigenous peoples.
During a forum held this July at the National College to celebrate the publication of the Mexican Genome, Dr. Jimenez explained that INMEGEN scientists had rounded up samples from anonymous Indian donors - it is unclear if the donors knew what they were being swabbed for. Skeptical academics in the audience also wondered if drugs or treatments designed for the mestizo population would be accessible to Indian communities? Dr. Jimenez did not respond to questions about the sale or leasing of the Mexican Genome to transnational pharmaceutical giants.

"The Indians will contribute the prime material - their DNA - to enrich the pharmaceutical industry," observes Silvia Ribiero, a biotech writer for La Jornada. "As usual, we will be excluded from the benefits," adds Genaro Dominguez, founder of the National Coordinating Council of the Indian Peoples (CNPI), arguing that the Mexican Genome is a form of ethnocide.

The posting of the Mexican Genome raises critical ethical questions, Diego Valades, former Mexican attorney general and now dean at the National Autonomous University (UNAM)'s law faculty, posited at the July 2nd forum. Will indigenous peoples, the first Mexicans, be regarded as "unMexican" because their genetic sequencing differs from the mestizo norm? Could the compilation of a separate indigenous genome be used to imply the inferiority of Indian Mexicans? The commercial implications of the Mexican Genome are troubling to Valades - the genome is commercial property and can be bought and sold by service providers. Could insurance companies, for example, up premiums for policyholders with bad genes?

The manipulation of the genetic mapping of the indigenous peoples of Mexico is only one front on which Big Science aids and abets ethnic cleansing. The contamination of native maize by transgenic corn and the forced privatization of Indian lands also place scientists in the service of ethnocide.

For eight millenniums, indigenous Mexicans developed and cultivated 300 families of native corn, each with properties designed for the soils and climates in which they were grown. Indian culture and civilization are indelibly entwined with corn cultivation - indeed the Mayans are "people of the corn", literally made from maiz. "No hay pais sin maiz!" ("We have no country without corn!) is the battle cry of Indian campesino movements.

The penetration of transgenic corn into Mexico is the result of massive importation of biotech grains under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.) Some like Zapotec Indian leader Aldo Gonzalez consider the contamination of native corns by transgenic strains developed by U.S. biotech titans like Monsanto tantamount to genocide.

The discovery that genetically modified corn had been introduced into the rural Oaxaca outback in 2001 alarmed Zapotec farmers in the Sierra Norte, sometimes known as the Sierra of Benito Juarez because it is the birthplace of Mexico's only Indian president. Three years ago, at a forum in the state capital that brought together scientists from the three NAFTA nations to evaluate the impacts of the penetration of transgenic corn on the native crop, Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Union of Social Organizations of the Juarez Sierra (UOSJS), shook a drying cornstalk at the distinguished panel and accused its member of nothing less than genocide: "the seed of the Zapotec people is our corn and when you kill our corn, you kill us."

Recent non-government studies indicate that the incidence of transgenic corn has spread to maiz-growing regions in at least five non-contiguous states. The surge of transgenic corn threatens to overwhelm and homogenize native species and obliterate millions of years of genetic history.

Now the Sierra of Juarez is under siege from an unlikely coalition of U.S. scientists and the U.S. military. It seems hardly to be a coincidence that University of Kansas geographers working on a grant supplied by the U.S. Department of Defense have spent the past three years mapping the "human terrain" of Zapotec corn growers in the Oaxacan sierra. The "Mexico Indigena" (sic) Project was launched in 2006 by geographers Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson and is underwritten by the Foreign Military Study Office (FMSO) based at Fort Leavenworth Kansas, the home of the United States War College. The FMSO is administrated by Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Demarest, a graduate of the School of the Americas and author of such pertinent texts as "Mapping Counterinsurgency."

Technology and data processing for the Mexico Indigena Project is provided by Radiance Technologies, a Pentagon contractor that specializes in information gathering technology. Information gathered by Mexico Indigena will be made available to U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs & Border Protection branch.

Ever since the rising of the Mayan Indian Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas on the very night that NAFTA kicked in in January 1994 and the election of Aymara Indian leader Evo Morales as the first indigenous president of majority Indian Bolivia a decade later, the continent's 60,000,000 Indian peoples have become a source of alarm for Washington strategists. The National Intelligence Council document "Global Trends 2000-2015" warned that Indian uprising would be a cause of instability south of the border in the coming years. The NIC's successor document "Global Trends 2020: Mapping the Global Future" is even more explicit: "indigenous movements are redrawing the regional map."

In Oaxaca, the Mexico Indigena Project is mapping the NIC's global future.

Curiously, Mexico Indigena was launched in 2006 in two Sierra Norte villages, the same year as Oaxaca was torn asunder by the uprising of a broad coalition of grassroots organizations determined to remove the state's despotic governor - the Union of Social Organizations of the Juarez Sierra was a prominent member of the Assembly of the Oaxacan Popular Peoples Organization or APPO. In the Mexico Indigena prospectus posted on line, Project director Herlihy boasts that his work "will illuminate important but neglected facets of these movements."

The Oaxaca isthmus, which the Juarez Sierra borders, is the narrowest neck of Mexico separating the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by a scant 225 kilometers of mountainous terrain and has been considered a strategic passage for global trade between the east and the west for centuries - the isthmus has been an object of U.S. interest ever since Benito Juarez was Mexico's president in the mid-19th century.

According to Aldo Gonzalez, Mexico Indigena geographers have violated their project's stated ethical guidelines by gathering information on the human terrain of the Juarez Sierra by deception. Villagers testify that Herlihy and Dobson never informed the elders' councils of the two villages being mapped that Mexico Indigena was funded by the U.S. military.

Nor did the two University of Kansas scientists divulge to their Zapotec informants that in 2006 they met with none other than General David Petraeus, now in charge of the Central Command and charged with running the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus, the author of the U.S. Marine corps counter-insurgency manual, complimented the Mexico Indigena Project's goals: "understanding the cultural terrain is a force multiplier (for the U.S. military.")

But what the Mexico Indigena scientists did tell the Zapotec elders was that the mapping information elicited from their communities would be shared with the PROCEDE program, the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture's agency that certifies the holdings of the nation's 27,000 "ejidos" (villages organized as rural production units) and encourages farmers to privatize their plots. Under neo-liberal revisions of Article 27 of the Mexican constitution, ejido farmers can now sell or rent their land or enter into "association" with transnational capital. Although Indian lands are held collectively, Gonzalez reports that PROCEDE agents try to convince Indian farmers to apply for ejido status so their land can be privatized. PROCEDE, in effect, converts Indian land into real estate.

By compiling a plot-by-plot map of the human terrain of the Juarez Sierra, the Mexico Indigena Project is committing "geo-piracy", the Zapotec leader warns. The U.S. scientists locate and map natural resources and facilitate biological theft - bio-piracy, if you will. "The Mexico Indigena scientists are looting Zapotec knowledge of land and territories," Gonzalez insists.

Privatizing Indian land is as much a facet of ethnocide as destroying native corn or submerging indigenous genes in a mestizo genome. Although science has learned to mask its homicidal intentions since the days when Lord Jeffrey Amherst distributed typhoid-impregnated blankets to Ottawa Indian rebels under Chief Pontiac and General George Custer decimated the Sioux, corporate scientists continue to serve the interests of Indian genocide.

John Ross' "El Monstruo - Dread & Redemption In Mexico City" will be published by Nation Books this December. "Iraqigirl", the diary of an Iraqi teenager growing up under U.S. occupation, developed and edited by Ross, is now available from Haymarket Books. John Ross has just been declared cancer-free and will soon be returning to Mexico. He can be reached at:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Israel, Perry compares Mexico to Gaza strip

In Israel, Perry compares Mexico to Gaza strip
12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, August 15, 2009

By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News

TEL AVIV, Israel – Gov. Rick Perry compared Mexico to the Gaza Strip this week, saying Texas can learn from Israeli security efforts after touring a town that has been hit by Palestinian rockets.

Perry, who has demanded a heightened U.S. troop presence along the Rio Grande, went to Israel's border with Gaza and was briefed by Israeli army officials.

"Kassam rockets have killed 28 Israelis over the last eight years. Well, 1,000 people have been killed in Juárez since the beginning of the year," the governor told the Jerusalem Post in Friday's editions, referring to the drug-related killings across the border from El Paso. "So we're trying to find ways to secure that border, because just like it's important to Israelis to keep heavy security on their border with Gaza, it's important to citizens of Texas to keep out the illegal activities that are going on with drugs."

Perry's office has been mum about his exact whereabouts during the trip. His wife, Anita, their son Griffin, and Griffin's fiancée are reportedly with him, and he returns to Texas today.

The Gaza-Mexico comparison was far more strident than the tone struck by President Barack Obama on Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. Obama pledged ongoing support in Mexico's fight with drug cartels.

Perry told the Post that in Sderot, the Israeli town near Gaza that took the brunt of attacks in recent years, he had seen "playgrounds that had to be covered from rocket fire. It's a powerful place."

An aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry's opponent in the March Republican primary, said Perry needed the tutorial on securing the border.

"With one of his signature border initiatives failing to meet almost every goal, we actually agree that Rick Perry has a lot to learn about border security," said Joe Pounder, a Hutchison spokesman. "So far, Rick Perry's done more talking about securing our borders than actually getting results for the people of Texas."

While in Israel, Perry also has met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited "sacred and historical sites," including Jerusalem's Old City, according to the newspaper.

Perry's first visit to Israel was 18 years ago; he visited again in 2007.

He described his views on Israel in religious terms sure to strike a chord with conservative Republicans.

"I'm a big believer that this country was given to the people of Israel a long time ago, by God, and that's ordained," Perry said, offering prayers and nearly unequivocal support for Israel. That stance puts him at odds with many American policymakers and even much of the Israeli populace, who feel that American prodding has kept Israel's hawks in check.

Perry was critical of the Obama administration for putting any pressure on Israel.

"Israel does all the giving, and the other side does not reciprocate," Perry said. "What I don't understand is this administration's hesitancy to recognize the sovereignty of Israel."

Perry's office said he also wanted to cultivate Texas-Israeli business ties on the trip.

Besides the Gaza-Mexico comparison, he drew a parallel between Texas' shrine to freedom and an Israeli mountaintop fortress where Jewish zealots held out against a Roman siege before committing mass suicide.

"The comparison between Masada and the Alamo was not lost on me," he said, recalling his first visit to Israel. "We're talking about two groups of people who were willing to give up their lives for freedom and liberty."

Friday, August 14, 2009

17 charged in string of brutal kidnappings and slayings in San Diego suburbs


17 charged in string of brutal kidnappings and slayings in San Diego suburbs

In a spillover of Tijuana violence, Mexican gang members posing as U.S. law enforcement personnel abducted and killed 9 victims.

By Richard Marosi

August 14, 2009

Authorities announced charges Thursday against a Mexican gang that took Tijuana-style violence to the upscale suburbs of San Diego County, kidnapping, torturing and killing well-to-do residents, even after some families paid large ransoms.

The gang, a rogue cell of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix drug cartel, moved across the border in 2002 and posed as U.S. law enforcement, donning FBI and police uniforms and caps while snatching victims outside homes and public places, said San Diego County prosecutors.

Nine victims were killed from 2004 to 2007, and the bodies of two of them were dissolved in chemicals at a rented house in San Diego. Gang members were also charged with trying to murder a Chula Vista police officer in September 2005, peppering his car with high-caliber bullets before fleeing in a car.

The gang targeted people it suspected of having links to organized crime, although some victims had no known ties, authorities said. Prosecutors charged 17 defendants, including gang leader Jorge Rojas Lopez, who is serving a life sentence for one of the abductions. Eight of those charged Thursday remain at large. The others are in custody on previous charges.

"This rogue group of individuals is responsible for a string of brutal murders and kidnappings that demonstrate the ugly reality of cross-border violence," said San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie M. Dumanis.

Spillover crime from Tijuana's gang wars is relatively small, given the scale and brutality of the violence there. Nevertheless, the gang's migration to the San Diego area reinforces concern that border vigilance is no match for Mexican organized crime.

After Arellano-Felix cartel members in 2002 killed Lopez's brother in a gangland dispute, he moved his cell across the border to stage retaliatory attacks against anyone suspected of cartel links, according to authorities.

A series of drug rip-offs, robberies and ransom kidnappings followed. The gang, called the Palillos -- Spanish for toothpicks -- also got involved in drug trafficking, according to authorities.

Police started getting chilling reports of criminals using tactics typically seen only on the streets of Tijuana: Men dressed in police uniforms and bullet-proof vests snatching victims in daylight and throwing them into cars before speeding off into traffic. Bodies bearing signs of torture were dumped.

The crimes haunted residents in such suburbs as Chula Vista and Bonita, where many prominent Tijuana families had moved to escape violence only to find that criminals had followed and blended into the cookie-cutter anonymity of American suburbia.

The veteran gang prosecutor leading the case, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Amador, said the gang was the most vicious he's ever prosecuted. "I've never seen a more ruthless, cold-blooded, sociopathic group," he said.

A break in the investigation came in June 2007, when an FBI SWAT team raided a two-story home in Chula Vista where a Mexican businessman had been held captive for eight days. Lopez and four others were arrested, paving the way for more victims to step forward.

The DNA analysis of the evidence, authorities said, was the largest undertaken by the San Diego Police Department, a two-year effort staffed by three full-time analysts. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department also assisted.

Of the 17 defendants, nine are in custody; some of them already have been convicted on other charges. Of the eight fugitives, some are believed to have fled to Mexico. U.S. authorities said their Mexican counterparts are assisting in the investigation.

Some of the gang members were U.S. citizens who lived in upscale homes. They rented several other residences where they kept hostages. Neighbors, authorities said, would see groups of young men coming and going but didn't suspect criminal activity.

The Chula Vista case in June 2007 was typical of the murky methods used in the crimes. The victim, Eduardo Gonzalez Tostado, a Baja California champion off-road racer, went to the home expecting to meet a woman.

Instead he was beaten, cuffed, shot with a Taser and thrown into a small room. Family members eventually paid nearly $200,000 in ransom money. At the trial, defense attorneys, citing FBI interviews, alleged that Gonzalez had smuggled drugs for the cartel.

Gonzalez, in his testimony, denied the accusation.

The Chula Vista officer attacked in 2005 was responding to an attempted abduction. After a chase through residential neighborhoods, the suspects' car stopped near a shopping center and two gunmen jumped out. One stood on each side of the car as they fired more than a dozen rounds. The officer ducked inside his car and escaped injury.

He has left the force, citing stress from the assault, according to Amador, the prosecutor.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Distorted Claims about Immigrants and Social Security Refuted

"Legalizing undocumented immigrants sooner rather than later would help the Social Security system because it would enable these immigrants to earn more income and pay even more taxes," Jonathan Blazer, public benefits policy attorney, writes in a blog entry refuting distorted claims made by Rep. Lamar Smith, the top-ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. "But don't take my word for it. Read the letter [the Social Security Administration's] chief actuary sent to Rep. Smith for the complete picture. The chief actuary's more balanced view is consistent with other official assessments. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2007 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill would have resulted in a $56 billion net increase to the fund over the next 10 years. SSA itself estimated that implementation of the 2006 Senate-passed bill would have improved the long-term solvency of the Social Security trust fund."
The article in its entirety is available on Immigration Impact, the Immigration Policy Center's blog.

Americans Return to Tougher Immigration Stance

August 5, 2009

Americans Return to Tougher Immigration Stance
More want immigration decreased than kept the same or increased

by Lymari Morales

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With some U.S. lawmakers and immigration rights activists stepping up calls for the Obama administration to pursue immigration reform, Gallup finds Americans less favorable toward immigration than they were a year ago. Half (50%) say immigration should be decreased, up from 39% last year. A third (32%) say immigration levels should be kept the same, down from 39%, and 14% say they should be increased, down from 18%.

The most recent results, from a Gallup survey conducted July 10-12, 2009, mark a return to the attitudes that prevailed in the first few years after 9/11; attitudes softened from 2006 to last year. The shift toward a tougher stance this time around may reflect the country's economic situation, as Americans tend to become less pro-immigration during difficult economic times.

A similar shift is evident when Americans are asked more broadly whether immigration is a good thing or a bad thing for the country. Currently, 58% say it is a good thing -- the lowest percentage saying so since 2003. The historical low for this measure, 52%, came in 2002, after the 9/11 attacks.

The latest Gallup findings preceded a letter that was circulated Monday by seven Illinois congressmen, aimed at urging the Obama administration to take up immigration reform this year. Immigrant activist groups have been eager for reform since a Bush administration bill was defeated in the Senate in 2007.

While these Gallup data do not specifically ask about proposals that might be included in comprehensive immigration reform, they do suggest that Americans of all political persuasions are taking a tougher stance toward immigration than they did a year ago. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to want immigration decreased, as has typically been the case, but more than 4 in 10 independents and Democrats share this view.

The 61% of Republicans who now say they would like to see immigration decreased is up from 46% in 2008. At the same time, the 46% of Democrats and 44% of independents who would like to see immigration decreased represent shifts in the same direction, up from the 39% and 37%, respectively, who said the same in 2008.

There are slight variations in views on immigration across the four major regions of the country. Americans in the South (54%) are the most likely to want immigration decreased, while those in the West (44%) are relatively less likely to say the same. Here again, each group has shifted toward a more anti-immigration stance.

Bottom Line

Americans have returned to a tougher stance on immigration than has been evident for the past few years. Republicans, in particular, have shifted most strongly toward decreasing immigration, with Democrats and independents moving in the same direction, but to a lesser degree. Thus, as lawmakers consider when and how to pursue immigration reform, they should do so mindful that Americans of all political persuasions are generally more resistant to immigration in broad measure than they were a year ago.

Author's note: While the views of Hispanics are important to debate and discussion about immigration, the sample size of Hispanics in the poll is not large enough to allow for meaningful interpretation.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,018 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 10-12, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obama plans to end immigrant family detention at Don. T Hutto correctional facility.

This is great news from Caroline Keating-Guerra, Coordinator of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC). This handily demonstrates what activism—including a prominent role by a grassroots groups in Austin named TUFF—combined with a policy and university-based strategy can accomplish. Kudos to Caroline and the rest of the AIRC.


August 6, 2009
U.S. to Overhaul Detention Policy for Immigrants

The Obama administration intends to announce an ambitious plan on Thursday to overhaul the much-criticized way the nation detains immigration violators, trying to transform it from a patchwork of jail and prison cells to what its new chief called a “truly civil detention system.”

Details are sketchy, and even the first steps will take months or years to complete. They include reviewing the federal government’s contracts with more than 350 local jails and private prisons, with an eye toward consolidating many detainees in places more suitable for noncriminals facing deportation — some possibly in centers built and run by the government.

The plan aims to establish more centralized authority over the system, which holds about 400,000 immigration detainees over the course of a year, and more direct oversight of detention centers that have come under fire for mistreatment of detainees and substandard — sometimes fatal — medical care.

One move starts immediately: the government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire.

“We’re trying to move away from ‘one size fits all,’ ” John Morton, who heads the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as assistant secretary of homeland security, said in an interview on Wednesday. Detention on a large scale must continue, he said, “but it needs to be done thoughtfully and humanely.”

Hutto, a 512-bed center run for profit by the Corrections Corporation of America under a $2.8 million-a-month federal contract, was presented as a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s tough approach to immigration enforcement when it opened in 2006. The decision to stop sending families there — and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers — is the Obama administration’s clearest departure from its predecessor’s immigration enforcement policies.

So far, the new administration has embraced many of those policies, expanding a program to verify worker immigration status that has been widely criticized, bolstering partnerships between federal immigration agents and local police departments, and rejecting a petition for legally binding rules on conditions in immigration detention.

But Mr. Morton, a career prosecutor, said he was taking a new philosophical approach to detention — that the system’s purpose was to remove immigration violators from the country, not imprison them, and that under the government’s civil authority, detention is aimed at those who pose a serious risk of flight or danger to the community.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, said last week that she expected the number of detainees to stay the same or grow slightly. But Mr. Morton added that the immigration agency would consider alternative ways to assure that those who face deportation — and are not dangerous — do not flee.

Reviewing and redesigning all facilities, programs and standards will be the task of a new Office of Detention Policy and Planning, he said. Dora Schriro, special adviser to Ms. Napolitano, will become the director, assisted by two experts on detention management and medical care. The agency will also form two advisory boards of community groups and immigrant advocates, one focusing on detention policies and practices, the other on detainee health care.

Mr. Morton said he would appoint 23 detention managers to work in the 23 largest detention centers, including several run by private companies, to ensure that problems are promptly fixed. He is reorganizing the agency’s inspection unit into three regional operations, renaming it the Office of Detention Oversight, and making its agents responsible for investigating detainee grievances as well as conducting routine and random checks.

“A lot of this exists already,” he said. “A lot of it is making it work better” while Dr. Schriro’s office redesigns the detention system, which he called “disjointed” and “very much dependent on excess capacity in the criminal justice system.”

Asked if his vision could include building new civil detention centers, he said yes. The current 32,000-bed network costs $2.4 billion a year, but the agency is not ready to calculate the cost of a revamped system.

Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who led the lawsuit against the Hutto center, was jubilant over the decision to stop sending families there, but cautious about the other measures.

“The ending of family detention at Hutto is welcome news and long overdue,” she said in an e-mail message. “However, without independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before.”

Ms. Gupta said the changes at Hutto since 2006 illustrated the importance of enforceable rules. Before the A.C.L.U. lawsuit was settled in 2007, some children under 10 stayed as long as a year, mainly confined to family cells with open toilets, with only one hour of schooling a day. Children told of being threatened by guards with separation from their parents, many of them asylum-seekers from around the world.

Only through judicial enforcement of the settlement, she said, have children been granted such liberties as wearing pajamas at night and taking crayons into family cells. The settlement also required the agency to honor agency standards that had been ignored, like timely reviews of the decision to detain a family at all. Some families have been deported, but others were released or are now awaiting asylum decisions in housing run by nonprofit social service agencies.

That kind of stepped-up triage could be part of the more civil detention system envisioned by Mr. Morton and Dr. Schriro, who has been reviewing the detention system for months and is expected to report her recommendations soon.

But the Hutto case also points to the limits of their approach, advocates say. Under the settlement, parents and children accused of immigration violations were detained when possible at the country’s only other family detention center, an 84-bed former nursing home in Leesport, Pa., called the Berks Family Shelter Care Facility. The number detained at Hutto has dropped sharply, to 127 individuals from as many as 450.

Advocates noted that Berks, though eclipsed by the criticism of Hutto — the subject of protest vigils, a New Yorker article and a documentary — also has a history of problems, like guards who disciplined children by sending them across the parking lot to a juvenile detention center, and families’ being held for two years.

The Hutto legal settlement expires Aug. 29. In the most recent monitoring report last month, Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin wrote: “Although the use of this facility to hold families is not a violation of the settlement agreement, it seems fundamentally wrong to house children and their noncriminal parents this way. We can do better.”

Mr. Morton, a career prosecutor, seemed to agree. Hutto will be converted into an immigration jail for women, he said, adding: “I’m not ruling out the possibility of detaining families. But Berks is the better facility for that. Hutto is not the long-term answer.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

California Ballot Measure Targets Illegal Immigrants

California Ballot Measure Targets Illegal Immigrants

Jul 16, 2009 5:00:00 AM

As California wrestles with its worst economy since the Great Depression, illegal immigrants are becoming part of the debate. It's not unlike what happened the last time the state was having money problems.

Outside the Home Depot in Los Angeles' Pico Union neighborhood, a group of day laborers wait for construction and gardening jobs. Among them is 40-year-old Justo. He came to California from Guatemala 13 years ago.

The government is always accusing immigrants of draining money, he says, adding "they look to us as scapegoats." There's not much work these days for men like him. He scrapes by on a part-time job as a security guard downtown. Justo says he got hired using a phony Social Security card number.

"I pay taxes," Justo says. "I pay FICA, federal and Social Security."

Like nearly 60 percent of all undocumented immigrants in the country, Justo doesn't have health insurance, so he relies on the county hospital emergency room. His young children were born in California and are U.S. citizens. They go to public school in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich says such situations are, unfortunately, all too typical.

"It is catastrophic," Antonovich says. "We cannot be the HMO to the world."

One of the greatest burdens in L.A. County, he says, is welfare for children whose parents are undocumented.

"We're talking about half a billion dollars. And then you add the cost of criminal aliens in our jails — it was exceeding half a billion dollars. Then you add the delivery of health services — that's over $400 million a year. So we're talking about over a billion dollars — that's a fiscal impact just to one county in California," Antonovich says.

As the state tries to dig its way out from under a massive deficit, some say cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants should be part of the solution. One proposal would stop welfare payments even to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.

It echoes California's last big financial crisis in 1994. That's when 59 percent of California voters passed Proposition 187, a ballot measure that outlawed education, health care and social services to illegal immigrants and their children.

Many Californians still remember the powerful TV commercial with pictures of frightened immigrant families running across freeways after illegally crossing the border.

"Three-hundred thousand illegal immigrant children in public schools, and they keep coming. The cost: $1.5 billion a year," the announcer says.

Even though Proposition 187 passed, the measure was declared unconstitutional in federal court and was never enforced. Since then, several other states have crafted similar measures that have passed legal muster.

Legislative Analyst Dan Carson says California now spends about $4.6 billion yearly to provide services for — or to incarcerate — illegal immigrants.

"It's clear in the aftermath of Prop 187, our ability to balance the state budget by reducing that $4.6 billion is limited. It's probably more realistic to expect savings to the state in the hundreds of millions, in the short term, not in billions," Carson says.

Weighing the costs versus the benefits of unauthorized immigrants is tricky, says Jeff Passel, a researcher with the Pew Hispanic Center. They don't get paid much, and many don't report their earnings — but they still end up contributing billions of dollars to the state's economy. Regardless of their impact, the sheer number of undocumented immigrants in California is huge — around 2.7 million by Passel's estimate.

"California has had the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country for at least 25 years, and during those years, the state's had budget difficulties but also ran huge budget surpluses," Passel says.

Back in Pico Union, Justo, the day laborer, wonders how California has gone from boom to bust so quickly.

"California was very, very rich. My question is who take this money? The illegal, the immigrants? I don't think so," he says. Copyright 2009 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

Un mensaje de laRed de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos

A los organismos defensores de los derechos humanos
A las organizaciones democráticas e independientes
A los medios de comunicación nacionales e internacionales
Al pueblo de México y del mundo

El teatro electorero del 5 de julio reflejó lo que se advertía antes de los comicios, un gran abstencionismo y un rechazo del pueblo para solucionar sus problemas a través esta forma; que solo perpetúa las condiciones de pobreza y miseria de más de 80 millones de mexicanos. Los únicos beneficiados en esta faramalla son el duopolio televisivo (televisa-TV Azteca), los diputados y senadores, quienes ahora se encargarán de defender los intereses de la burguesía. En tanto, la minoría de la sociedad que efectuó su voto (43.7%) no fue del todo consciente, agregando a ello quienes optaron por anular su voto (6%), demostrando así la caduca forma de ejercer la supuesta democracia.

Por otra parte, la política del actual gobierno federal encabezado por el PAN está llevando al país a una etapa de consolidación del fascismo con las reformas a las leyes que criminalizan la protesta, la lucha social y popular. Desde el tiempo que se dio a conocer el brote del virus A (H1N1) se llevaron a cabo estas reformas mientras al pueblo se mantenía con la psicosis y el temor de la pandemia.

Felipe Calderón quien se mostraba como el salvador del país al hacer frente a la supuesta amenaza del crimen organizado y del narcotráfico se decidió por el enfrentamiento de estos problemas mediante el uso inconstitucional de las fuerzas armadas y de los demás cuerpos policiacos, situación que ha traído consigo constantes violaciones de las garantías individuales mediante allanamientos, detenciones ilegales, incursiones militares en comunidades organizadas y no organizadas, desapariciones forzadas. En tanto, que los órganos de inteligencia del Estado se encargan de dar seguimiento puntual a luchadores sociales y defensores de los derechos humanos en todo el país.

Bajo este esquema se emprendió el combate a la disidencia en todo el país, desde organizaciones sociales, populares y todo grupo opositor a su política con un gran arraigo en el pueblo y trayectoria de lucha, así como sindicatos de trabajadores, grupos y colectivos y organismos defensores de los derechos humanos.

En este contexto de criminalización de la protesta y lucha popular se encuentran también:

· Represión al plantón y desaparición de 19 familias que exigían la libertad de presos políticos en el estado de Chihuahua.

· La detención-desaparición de Fermín Mariano Matías, estudiante de la maestría en geofísica de la Facultad de Ciencias de la UNAM y consejero estatal del PRD en Puebla.

· La detención de 5 integrantes del Movimiento Contra las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica de Candelaria, Campeche.

· La incursión y hostigamiento por parte del ejército en las comunidades de Tecoluco donde está ubicada la casa cultural campesina y la oficina de CODHHSO; últimamente se ha anunciado la realización de patrullajes conjuntos de la Policía Federal y del Ejército Federal en las comunidades que integran el Frente Democrático Oriental de México Emiliano Zapata (FDOMEZ).

· Hostigamiento y vigilancia por parte de cuerpos policíacos y agentes vestidos de civil a los compañeros Yolanda Castro Apreza y Daniel Alfonso Luna Alcántara, integrantes del Frente Nacional de Lucha por el Socialismo (FNLS), ambos defensores de los derechos humanos, y la intención gubernamental de integrar expedientes y averiguaciones previas en su contra bajo la consigna de vincularlos a “células armadas”.

· En el estado de Chiapas se sigue dando cobijo a las bandas paramilitares camuflajeadas en membretes como lo ocurrido con nuestros compañeros de la OCEZ-FNLS, en la comunidad El Carrizal, municipio de Ocosingo, al ser víctimas de agresiones y provocaciones que han sufrido de parte del grupo paramilitar “Los Petules”, quienes después ingresaron a la ORCAO y después pasaron a formar la CMPECH, cuyo membrete ha servido para realizar las encomiendas del gobierno estatal de combatir y desarticular a las organizaciones populares.

· En Michoacán la supuesta lucha contra la delincuencia organizada revela su carácter político, los últimos acontecimientos nos indican la estrategia que persigue Felipe Calderón, intensificar la militarización del Estado, instaurar un estado de facto como lo han establecido en los estados fronterizos como modelos a seguir para imponer un estado de excepción nacional ante el escenario sangriento producto de la guerra de la delincuencia organizada, que en el contexto político persigue distraer a la opinión publica que se torna critica pidiendo ya la renuncia de Calderón, es sumamente grave que el gobierno federal permita el desborde de la violencia en Michoacán, para justificar la violación del pacto Federal y busque por todos los medios castigar al pueblo michoacano, criminalizando la protesta popular con el objetivo confeso de generar una crisis de gobernabilidad con la renuncia del Gobernador del Estado

Producto de esta estrategia es la política de despojo de tierras comunales en el Estado como sucede en los caso de Santa María de Ostula, con el ataque de supuestos propietarios perpretado el 29 de junio en contra de comuneros y comuneras de esta comunidad indígena que decidieron recuperar ante la nula respuesta agraria el legitimo derecho a la defensa de sus tierras,

En la comunidad Tabiquera la Loma de Uruapilla en Michoacán persisten las incursiones de la policía federal y el Ejército federal en la casa de los comuneros que defienden 97 hectáreas de tierras por ejercer este derecho son objeto de detenciones desapariciones temporales, torturas y disparos de armas de fuego, últimamente persisten las amenazas de detener, desaparecer y asesinar a los comuneros.

La impunidad es la respuesta a las exigencias de organizaciones sociales y populares a las constantes violaciones a los derechos humanos, represión y muerte de gente que ha luchado por mejorar sus condiciones de vida. Además de reactivar y fortalecer a cuerpos paramilitares en diferentes regiones del país.

El gobierno federal defiende a capa y espada al ejército y avala todas las violaciones a los derechos humanos y las garantías individuales, como lo ocurrido en el juicio que promueve la familia de Rosendo Radilla Pacheco en la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos por el delito de desaparición forzada, asimismo, garantiza la impunidad con que actúa el Ejército Federal a través de la figura del fuero militar en voz del Secretario de Gobernación Fernando Gómez Mont.

Ante esta escalada represiva hacia todo el movimiento social y popular seguimos haciendo el llamado a los organismos de derechos humanos a estar atentos a los posibles sucesos en contra de quienes siguen exigiendo justicia y mejores condiciones de vida para el pueblo.











San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas a 17 de julio de 2009.


Dignidad, Justicia, Libertad
Red de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos