Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bush is pulling National Guard away from Border

National Guard troops have started leaving the U.S.-Mexico border. About 6,000 Guard members have been on the border since May 2006, where they were deployed by President Bush to back up the Border Patrol until more agents could be hired.

The troop reductions began July 15. The Bush Administration wants to cut their numbers in half by Sept. 1.

The Border Patrol plans to add 6,000 agents by the end of the year for a total of about 18,000. There are about 14,000 agents now. New graduates will be sent to five sectors - San Diego, California; El Paso and Laredo in Texas; and Tucson and Yuma in Arizona.

Many saw the Guard deployments as a 2006 election year ploy to demostrate to Republicans in Congress that Bush was committed to stemming illegal immigration. Guard troops were not allowed to make immigration arrests, but did free up border agents for the field by taking over camera rooms and helping man checkpoints.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, sent a letter to Bush this week asking him to keep troops on the border until more Border Patrol agents are trained and assigned. In Texas, the number of guardsmen will be reduced from about 1,500 to 900.

Friday, July 27, 2007

County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - leading Mesa, Arizona in cracking down on human smuggling

Mesa, Arizona's City Council passed an ordinance empowering the city police force to give drivers a parking citation for stopping to pick up day laborers at two city intersections well-known as illegal alien gathering spots. But previously, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had set up a telephone hotline to gather tips from the public about criminal activity, such as human smuggling. Within the first 18 hours of its operation, the hotline received 100 calls, ranging from reports of suspected drop houses to businesses hiring undocumented workers.

The hotline is part of a crackdown the sheriff's office launched to combat human smuggling of undocumented immigrants. Arpaio deputized 64 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents so they can act as both federal and local law enforcement agents. "We are quickly becoming a full-fledged anti-illegal immigration agency," the sheriff said.

Arpaio also said that about 160 armed sheriff's deputies, reserves and volunteer posse, cross-trained to enforce immigration law, would begin saturating Valley cities as well as roadways and highways commonly used as transportation corridors for human trafficking.

The sheriff said his deputies would target vehicles commonly used to move human cargo to destinations inside and outside the county. If a vehicle is stopped for probable cause, deputies can question occupants about their immigration status and arrest and jail them if they're undocumented. The sheriff's office started arresting undocumented immigrants in the spring of 2006.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Haven, Connecticut gives ID's to thousand of illegal aliens

Thousands of illegal aliens in Connecticut became eligible for legitimate U.S. identification cards in New Haven, Connecticut on Wednesday, when a program approved in June by the city's Board of Aldermen went into effect.

The program was approved by a 25-1 vote. Sponsors promoted the program as an attempt to curb local crime by making undocumented immigrants more likely to report crimes or cooperate with local authorities. However, the cards will also allow them to establish bank accounts, access local libraries and use other public services. The city did not predict the effect on the municipal budget.

The New Haven action runs contrary to a growing national trend in which localities are attempting to curb illegal immigration through punitive measures, such as arrest, deportation and exclusion from public services. The New Haven program was fiercely opposed by groups opposed to illegal immigration.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mechanical grape picker could remove vineyards from immigration debate

Vineyard owners may soon be able to ignore the immigration debates going on throughout the nation. They may be spending their time talking about horsepower, hydraulics and transmissions.

The New Holland Braud grape harvester can do the work of 40 handpickers in a fraction of the time. The quarter-million dollar high-tech machine -- which uses "shaker rod" technology to coax grapes off the vine into molded silicon rubber collection baskets -- may herald a future of all-mechanized agriculture.

The harvester is a powerful and controversial symbol as the nation struggles with the economic realities of immigration. Public pressure has forced a border crackdown and increased enforcement, while farmers nationwide face labor shortages as high as 30 percent to 50 percent during harvest. Further complicating matters, large numbers of former migrant laborers have switched to construction jobs for the higher pay and year-round stability.

Vineyard owners are ready to consider mechanized harvesting. Their concerns were heightened after the recent failure of U.S. Senate immigration bill that would have offered legal status for up to 900,000 undocumented agricultural workers failed. In the Northwest, the European machine was touted as a beacon of a future without illegal labor.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Senate hearing generates bipartisan effort to free Ramos and Compean

With a firearms law designed for drug kingpins, two former Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, were sentenced in 2006 to an extra decade in prison for firing their guns at a Mexican drug smuggler. At a Senate Judiciary hearing this week, senators from both parties decried the use of that provision against law enforcement officers.

The former agents are serving 11- and 12-year terms, while the smuggler remains free, having cut a deal to testify against them. Senators also vented their dismay at West Texas U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a Bush appointee who has caught unrelenting grief from anti-illegal immigrant activists over his handling of the case. "This really is a case of prosecutorial overreaction," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chaired the hearing. "This was still a drug dealer who was shot fleeing. Shot in the rear end fleeing. He wasn't an innocent person."

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Tex., a 26-year Border Patrol veteran, also joined the effort this week, pressing President Bush to commute the sentences of the two. Reyes said that even though he had supported the agent's conviction, the sentence is too harsh. "This penalty levied on these agents is excessive and ... they deserve the immediate exercise of your executive clemency powers," Senators Feinstein and Cornyn wrote to the President.

Letters to the president have been a blessing for the two affected families, but Bush may not support the requests. "The president has proven with Libby that he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants," said Patty Compean, whose husband is in an Elkton, Ohio, prison. "There's no due process with him. My husband was doing his job. I don't think Libby was."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Iraqis, other from the Middle East being smuggled into New Mexico

FBI agents confirm that Iraqis and others from the Middle East are being smuggled across the Rio Grande from Mexico into New Mexico.

The Washington DC Joint Terrorism Task Force has issued an FBI intelligence report saying an illegal organization has been bringing Iraqis across the border illegally for more than a year.

The FBI report, issued in early July, said the operation had smuggled Mexicans, but now smuggles “Iraqi or other Middle Eastern individuals" because it was more lucrative. Each individual is charged a fee of $20,000 to $25,000 to be brought across the border. Those being smuggled would "gather at a house on the Mexican side” of the border and then cross the Rio Grande into the U.S., the FBI document said, adding that "unidentified individuals” then transport them to train stations in El Paso, Texas or Belen, New Mexico.

If policy hadn’t changed, the Iraqis might be seen as those desperate to leave a war zone. Until this year, the United States has kept its doors all but shut to the estimated two million refugees trying to escape the violence in Iraq, taking in less than 800 Iraqi refugees. However, in May, the Bush administration pledged to legally resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees here before January.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who stopped the Senate? The people, that's who

They lined up all the major players - the White House, the leaders of both political parties, the mainstream media. All had pledged their support to the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill.

How could it fail? It failed because the people opposed it. Once Senators were deluged with angry letters, phone calls, and emails from constituents, they knew the game was over, and that their careers would be over too if they didn't pay attention to what the voters were saying. The comprehensive immigration reform bill was an insult to the intelligence of the American voter.

Fraudulent arguments and fraudulent procedures rushed the bill through the Senate without committee hearings, with restrictions on debate, with the specifics of the huge bill released only at the 11th hour so that senators would be voting on something they'd barely had time to read.

An argument was that illegal immigrants were taking "jobs that Americans won't do." What that really meant was that they were taking low wages that Americans wouldn't take. Another was "We can't find and deport 12 million people." A much bigger problem would be the tens of millions certain to come in, legally or illegally, if amnesty were extended.

Now those 'in the know' tell us that the opposition to the bill was only generated by conservative talk radio, and there imply that this was due to xenophobia, if not racism. Anyone who opposed the immigration bill will know that's a lie. Maybe those 'in the know' don't know so much after all.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Virginia county to ban all possible services to illegals

Prince William County, Virginia may have the toughest of a growing number of resolutions across the country seeking to deter illegal immigration.

The county banned illegal immigrants from using services, including the municipal swimming pool and the public library when its Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution banning illegal immigrants from most government-funded services, as well as increasing enforcement of immigration laws.

“Because of the federal failure to really address the immigration issue and because of the public outcry of our constituents," Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr said, the issue, which had been "simmering for the past couple years” came to the forefront. Stirrup, who introduced the resolution, resolution, has stoutly defended the measure as "the first step toward taking back our community."

If it withstands expected legal challenges, the resolution asks all county agencies to report on services that can be denied, those that can't be denied and those that are at the discretion of officials. It also directs the Police Department to determine the immigration status of individuals who are legally detained when there is probable cause for such a check, and to come up with a standard for determining probable cause.

Prince William County is about 30 miles west of Washington. Its main city is Manassas. Estimates are that the Hispanic population in Virginia today is five times larger than it was in 1996.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Criminal who was deported a month earlier is arrested in California

Just one month after he was deported from the United States, Juan Gutierrez Bahena, 28, was arrested in Orange County, California for obscene acts. The man peeked through a window to watch a 12-year-old boy shower and dropped his pants in front of a woman.

Bahena, an illegal immigrant, had been deported May 26 after serving a prison sentence for drug possession. He also has several convictions for burglary and resisting arrest.

County sheriff’s deputies used taser stun guns to subdue the combative illegal alien.

Bahena was booked for investigation of indecent exposure and peeping. He could also be charged with a felony by federal officials for returning to the United States after formal deportation.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Why wasn’t this U.S. attorney fired?

The White House and the Justice Department should have added Johnny Sutton to the list of federal prosecutors to be fired.

Sutton is the U.S. attorney in west Texas. For five years he has been the top federal lawman in one of the nation's busiest regions, a job he secured with deep ties to President Bush and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.

But in those five years, he’s conducted a campaign against law enforcement officers, especially Border Patrol agents. They include:
  • Border Patrol Agent Gary M. Brugman, sentenced to two years in prison for shoving an illegal alien to the ground. The use of force was in accordance with his training, he said, and the migrant was not injured.

  • Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, sentenced to more than decade-long prison terms for shooting a drug smuggler suspect in the buttocks after he abandoned 743 pounds of marijuana on the border.

  • Border Patrol Agent Noe Aleman, convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States for trying to adopt three teenage girls from Mexico and harboring them in his home. The girls were his wife's nieces and Texas officials had approved the adoption.

  • Edwards County, Texas, Deputy Sheriff Guillermo "Gilmer" Hernandez, sentenced to a year in prison for shooting at a truck loaded with illegal aliens after the driver tried to run him down.
Ramos and Compean were sentenced in October, just as the White House was preparing to fire eight other federal prosecutors. The parallel events have left many disappointed that Sutton was not terminated too.

'Johnny Sutton has lied to the American people,' Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntingon Beach) proclaimed in a House floor speech in March. 'Sutton prosecuted the good guys and gave immunity to the bad guys.'

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Congressman Jones response to Libby commutation: Pardon the border agents

In light of President George W. Bush’s recent commutation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence, North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones has written a letter to again call on the President to pardon U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

“I am writing to express my deep disappointment that U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean remain unjustly incarcerated for wounding a Mexican drug smuggler who brought 743 pounds of marijuana across our border,” Jones wrote.

“While you have spared Mr. Libby from serving even one day of his ‘excessive’ 30-month prison term, agents Ramos and Compean have already served 167 days of their 11 and 12-year prison sentences,” Jones wrote. “By attempting to apprehend an illegal alien drug smuggler, these agents were enforcing our laws, not breaking them.”

“Mr. President, it is now time to listen to the American people and members of Congress who have called upon you to pardon these agents,” Jones continued. “By granting immunity and free health care to an illegal alien drug trafficker and allowing our law enforcement officers to languish in prison – our government has told its citizens, and the world, that it does not care about protecting our borders or enforcing our laws.”

“I urge you to correct a true injustice by immediately pardoning these two law enforcement officers,” Jones concluded.
Senators facing reelection voted in a landslide against immigration bill

Isn't it interesting? While the cloture vote for the Senate amnesty bill failed last week with 53 'nay's' to 46 'yea's,' one group of Senators voted much more strongly against the bill. That group was the 33 Senators who are up for reelection in 2008. Twenty-three of them, 70 percent, voted against the immigration bill.

These are the senators who need to listen more closely to their constituents than to their corporate fundraisers, more closely to the folks back home than to the Bush administration in Washington. Although voters often reelect their Washington delegation, 70 percent of the Senators facing a 2008 campaign felt it was important that they be on the record as opposing the amnesty bill. Here's how the Senators facing reelection in 2008 voted on the immigration bill:
Democrats voting yes (6) - Biden, Del.; Durbin, Ill.; Kerry, Mass.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Levin, Mich.; Reed, R.I.

Democrats voting no (5) - Baucus, Mont.; Harkin, Iowa; Landrieu, La.; Pryor, Ark.; Rockefeller, W.Va.

Democrats not voting (1) - Johnson, S.D.

Republicans voting yes (3) - Craig, Idaho; Graham, S.C.; Hagel, Neb.;

Republicans voting no (18) = Alexander, Tenn.; Allard, Colo.; Chambliss, Ga.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Collins, Maine; Cornyn, Texas; Dole, N.C.; Domenici, N.M.; Enzi, Wyo.; Inhofe, Okla.; McConnell, Ky.; Roberts, Kan.; Sessions, Ala.; Smith, Ore.; Stevens, Alaska; Sununu, N.H.; Warner, Va.