Thursday, November 29, 2007

Immigrant, illegal alien numbers are at record highs

• Nearly one-third of the immigrants in the U.S. are illegal aliens. Illegal aliens make up half of all Mexican and Central American immigrants in the U.S., and one-third of all South American immigrants in the U.S.

• Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived. More than half the post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are believed to be illegal aliens.

• One-third of all immigrant-headed households, and more than half of Mexican-American households, use at least one welfare program, compared to one-fifth of native households.

• Immigration accounts for virtually all of the increase in public school enrollment in the nation over the last two decades. In 2007, there were 10.8 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.
These statistics were the highlights of a report published today by the Center for Immigration Studies, which reviewed the size, growth, and characteristics of the U.S. immigrant population as of March 2007.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bush administration abandons plan to penalize businesses that employ illegal immigrants

It was to be a major step forward in immigration enforcement, but the Bush Administration has abandoned, and is now revising, its strategy for penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants. The rules would have required employers to fire workers if their Social Security numbers didn't match records and if the discrepancies couldn't be resolved within 90 days.

Last month, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a temporary injunction stopping the government from enforcing the rules. The judge said errors in the Social Security database could cost legal workers their jobs. He also said the government hadn't properly studied the effect of the rules on businesses.

The Administration has now told the judge that it will have new rules on the issue ready by spring. The judge has giving the administration until March 24th.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Western Union rises from bankruptcy by catering to immigrants

Western Union was the first U.S. telegraph giant, but airmail and faxes left telegrams obsolete, and the company entered bankruptcy in 1992. Just 15 years later, the company now earns nearly $1 billion a year by catering its services to the needs of immigrants, legal and illegal.

Western Union executives once tried to oust Congressman Tom Tancredo because of his push for tougher immigration laws. Tancredo, now running for president, says “Western Union wants to encourage illegal immigration in order to expand the number of people in its market,” adding “Believe me, if I were president, I would ask the Justice Department to look into it.”

The company says it does not know what share of its customers are illegal immigrants, but when an overflowing federal detention center in Texas bused detainees to a homeless shelter, the company sponsored a lunch there, dispensing T-shirts, bandannas and fliers in Spanish with the company’s toll-free telephone number. Studies of money transfer services show that at least 40 percent of customers are Hispanics living in the U.S. illegally.

Western Union made substantial donations to groups seeking last spring’s failed effort for “comprehensive” immigration reform, which would have offered amnesty to illegals. Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, says “Western Union has decided that its business model depends on a continuing flow of illegal immigrants.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Border agents say they are ‘outmanned and outgunned’

A dramatic increase in alien and drug smuggling activities on the U.S.-Mexico border has spiked an increase in violence against all law-enforcement authorities near the border, who say they are outmanned and outgunned.

The vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 1613 in San Diego says 'They've got weapons, high-tech radios, computers, cell phones, Global Positioning Systems, spotters and can react faster than we are able to. And they have no hesitancy to attack the agents on the line, with anything from assault rifles and improvised Molotov cocktails to rocks, concrete slabs and bottles.''

In February, an ICE-led task force seized two completed improvised explosive devices, materials for making 33 more devices, 300 primers, 1,280 rounds of ammunition, five grenades, nine pipes with end caps, 26 grenade triggers, 31 grenade spoons, 40 grenade pins, 19 black powder casings, a silencer and cash during raids in Laredo, Texas.

'Keeping explosives and other high-powered weaponry out of the hands of violent criminal organizations is a central focus of the new Border Enforcement Security Task Force in Laredo,' Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE, said in announcing the seizures.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Immigration becomes a major issue in presidential campaign

Along with the war in Iraq, worries about health care and the economy, illegal immigration ranks as a top concern for many voters. The issue of illegal immigration has been raised at countless town hall meetings and debates, in ads in Iowa and other early presidential battlegrounds, and in the one-on-one encounters with candidates on the campaign trail.

GOP Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Duncan Hunter of California stand as the opponents of illegal immigration, and hope to increase enforcement enough so that most illegal immigrants will pack up and leave. The range of candidates ends on the left with Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who has proposed making Spanish the second official language of the United States. So-called ‘top-tier’ candidates, including Democrat Hillary Clinton and the GOP’s John McCain have already been singed by the issue.

While immigration has been a prominent issue among Republican candidates, the Democrats have been trying to court a growing Hispanic vote without alienating the old-line party constituencies and independents troubled by the past decade's surge in illegal immigration. Most GOP candidates oppose amnesty, but Giuliani and McCain favor a path to legal status for illegal immigrants who pay back taxes and fines, learn English and have clean records. Each, however, is very careful in discussing their support, stressing that border security must come first.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Illegals provide monogramming for Williams-Sonoma in Memphis

If the monogrammed napkins at your Thanksgiving dinner are from Williams-Sonoma, there’s a good chance an illegal immigrant added that monogram. Williams-Sonoma, headquartered in San Francisco, is a high-end retailer. Last year the company produced $3.7 billion in sales, and illegal aliens helped generate that revenue.

In Memphis, Tennessee, illegal aliens sent by a staffing agency sew monograms onto backpacks, sheets, pillowcases and other goods for Williams-Sonoma. In fact, most of the workers in the monogram department are Hispanic ‘immigrants’ sent by a staffing agency.

Williams-Sonoma occupies 4.8 million square feet at several facilities in Memphis, and in Olive Branch, MS, outside of Memphis. For time-sensitive tasks like monograms and packaging, the firm relies heavily on temporary workers to manage seasonal demand.

There were 135 active staffing agencies in Memphis in 2005. The agencies are an economic lifeline for illegal aliens with fake identification. Many agencies recruit Hispanic workers by advertising in Spanish-language media, with bilingual recruiters and by training and supervising in Spanish. Researchers at the University of Memphis concluded that many local staffing agencies accepted low-quality fake identification. They found that FedEx Corp. pays good wages and benefits, and found no evidence that that Fedex was hiring illegal immigrants. Big warehouses, however, are located in Memphis because of FedEx, and many have long used temporary agencies to manage surges in volume.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Drug smuggler shot by Ramos, Compean arrested in Texas

Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, the drug smuggler who was shot in the buttocks two years ago by U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, was arrested on drug charges in El Paso, Texas on November 15.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General agents arrested Aldrete on a sealed indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, and with possession with intent to distribute marijuana back in September and October 2005. The incidents occurred after Aldrete was shot and was given immunity to testify against the agents, who are each serving over 10 years. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who prosecuted Ramos and Compean, had been criticized for not going after Aldrete earlier. Sutton said he was "pleased" to announce the recent arrest.

U.S. Border Control has uncovered the fact that Sutton misused a law in the prosecution of that case. Sutton’s office charged Ramos and Compean with “discharging” a firearm when that was not even an element of the crime charged. Sutton would be required by law to charge the agents with illegally carrying, possessing, or using a firearm, but a jury would never have convicted active duty officers of that crime since in the line of duty, officers are required to carry, posses, and use firearms.

Aldrete's immunity agreement only covered the February 2005 incident. His first court appearance will be Friday, November 16.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Congress adds new funding for Guard troops at the border

Members of the House and Senate appropriations conference have added $247 million in the fiscal 2008 Defense spending bill to continue a National Guard mission along the southwest border. The border effort had been neglected in the Bush administration's budget request.

The funds would keep about 3,000 National Guard troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist in border-security operations and training of border patrol personnel.

Neither the Defense Department nor the Homeland Security Department had requested money to continue the mission, dubbed Operation Jump Start, in fiscal 2008, despite long-standing administration plans to keep a limited number of troops on the border.

The President had used a nationally televised address in May 2006 to announce an initial deployment of 6,000 Guard troops mainly for border surveillance missions and construction. Troops would be withdrawn after the first year 'as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online,' he said. But when the National Guard began reducing by half the number of its troops deployed to the border this summer, the redeployments immediately triggered concerns from lawmakers who feared that it was too soon to withdraw troops.

Friday, November 09, 2007

23 illegal aliens arrested working at O’Hare airport, some on the tarmac

Twenty-three illegal immigrants were arrested November 7 working in critical areas of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago after an eight-month investigation that involved federal, state and Chicago law enforcement. The illegals used fake security badges and some were working on the tarmac. They were employed by Ideal Staffing Solutions Inc.

Ideal Staffing's corporate secretary and office manager also were arrested. Mary Gurin, 36, and Norinye Benitez, 24, were each charged with one federal count of harboring illegal immigrants for gain and one federal count of misuse of Social Security numbers. Benitez herself is believed to be an illegal immigrant from Mexico. The company provided workers for United Airlines, KLM and Qantas.

“These individuals built an illegal work force into their business practice, and our investigation identified a vulnerability that could compromise national security,” said Elissa Brown, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

Much of the investigation centered on the airport security badges issued by the Department of Aviation. Agents found that 110 of the 134 badges issued to Ideal Staffing workers did not match the individuals who carried them. The discrepancies were first noted in March by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sensenbrenner introduces expanded enforcement-first bill

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has renewed his drive for immigration reform with a bill which includes securing the borders, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and increasing penalties for people who smuggle them into the United States.

The new measure, H.R. 4065, expands an enforcement-first bill Sensenbrenner sponsored when he headed the House Judiciary Committee. It passed the House in 2005 on a 239-182 vote but did not advance in the Senate. "While many of my colleagues have expended a lot of hot air discussing the issue this year, they . . . have continued to ignore the calls of the American people on this very emotional and complex matter."

Other highlights include:
• $300 million annually for states and localities to buy items needed to enforce immigration laws.
• More Customs and Border Protection officers stationed at ports of entry.
• Employers required to submit workers' Social Security numbers to the Social Security Administration for verification.
• Employer required to verify the employee's identification on discrepancy. Failure to act would result in "severe penalties."
• Double the number of temporary visas granted every year to skilled workers.
• Reform the H-2A visa program for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New York sheriffs, county clerks take aim at governor’s plan to license illegals

An organization of New York state sheriffs and two county clerks have came out strongly against Governor Elliott’s Spitzer’s plan to provide drivers licenses to illegal aliens. The Sheriffs' Association formally opposed the plan following a presentation by Spitzer's homeland-security director.

The Association released a statement saying, "We do not feel that providing a driver's license to illegal immigrants is appropriate and, as an association, we do not support that program." Spitzer would provide three kinds of licenses, two meeting tougher Real ID federal standards.The third would be available to illegal aliens. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Spitzer's revised plan for illegal aliens is a bad idea.

"When you allow lawbreakers to be legitimized with a New York license, what kind of example are you setting?" Livingston County Sheriff John York asked.

Two county clerks, one of them appointed by Spitzer, have warned that under the governor's plan, they intend to report any such aliens to law enforcement for deportation. The clerks have been in discussion with their local police departments and district attorneys to craft their own new policy they believe will deter illegal immigrants from even applying for licenses.

The clerks said their offices will accept paperwork from those suspected to be illegal aliens and process it as required by Spitzer's order. But they will also report suspected illegal aliens to their local law enforcement, who then can notify federal immigration officials.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

North Carolina sheriffs, U.S. join forces on migrants

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) has announced a partnership that will give North Carolina authorities the power to enforce federal immigration laws. The partnership between North Carolina sheriffs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will give the state’s sheriff's offices access to ICE resources.

"North Carolina can become a model for the nation on how to identify, apprehend and remove undocumented aliens who have identified themselves by committing crimes," Dole said.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell, president of the N.C. Sheriffs' Association, said "This is an opportunity for us to ID those illegal aliens ... who are ending up in our jails." Deputies in participating sheriff's offices will be able to check the immigration status of criminal suspects and begin deportation proceedings.

"We're going to root out the problem," he added, "If you're illegal and you're committing a crime, you're a priority to us." Bizzell concluded "We're tired of crime in general, but we're darn tired of crime that involves an illegal criminal alien who shouldn't be here in the first place."