Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day weekend in downtown Miami includes boat raid, 30 smuggled illegals

Sharp-eyed Customs and Border Protection marine agents spotted a cruising vessel, “High On the Hog” on Memorial Day weekend in Miami. They stopped and searched the 42-foot Sea Ray when one of the two crew members jumped in the river and swam away.

Agents looked below deck, and saw 30 people crammed in, would-be illegal immigrants. All but two were Jamaican, and 17 had previously been deported from the United States for having criminal records. Two others were from the Dominican Republic.

The second crewman was arrested on suspicion of migrant smuggling, and the passengers were held for questioning and deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The interdiction came in the midst of a far-ranging U.S. crackdown in South Florida on the smuggling of illegal aliens from the Caribbean.

The brazen attempt to smuggle people down the river in broad daylight is not unprecedented. Smugglers sometimes use the cover of busy boating holidays to attempt entry, thinking federal officers are not working.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Illinois mayors are frustrated waiting for 287(g) training, say they think the program is dead

Mayors in Waukegan and Carpentersville, Illinois are fuming. Months after they applied for federal 287(g) training so that their police could deport criminal illegals, they are now convinced the program is dead.

They suspect the program is plagued by such a lack of funding and such a lack of political will in Washington that it might never come to their towns. Neither municipality has heard from the federal agency charged with providing the training though they applied more than 10 months ago.

"It's dead," Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde said of the program he favors, known as 287(g). "My own personal opinion is the [federal authorities] are not going to implement it at all," he said.

Federal immigration officials say the program is moving along smoothly, if slowly. Three police forces in North Carolina are being trained this month, said Richard Rocha, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the program, adding “It's proven very successful.” So far, 47 law-enforcement agencies have implemented the program in 17 states. Another 92 applications are pending, including five in Illinois. Officials say they expect it eventually to be implemented in every town that applies.

Alabama state police force received training in 2003, and since then, troopers have begun proceedings to deport 400 undocumented immigrants. In Arizona, the program has been used to deport smugglers caught transporting illegal workers across the border.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said he expects the program to be implemented in Illinois, citing broad support for empowering local police to begin the process of deporting convicted felons in the country illegally. Kirk said the program has support “not only from American voters but also many within the Latino community.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Counties use loopholes in Georgia law to provide auto plates to illegals

Illegal aliens cannot get auto registrations in Georgia. Except, that is, if they’re in certain counties.

Though there’s a year-old law requiring immigrants to show a valid visa to get a tag, one county has interpreted the state law differently, leading to more lenient requirements.

In Fulton County, the Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner, Angie Lewis, says “We’re not interested in knowing whether they’re illegal or not. That’s not our role. We’re registering cars.” She points to an exemption to the law that says a “nonresident” can use a foreign driver’s license, or a license from another state, to get a tag. The county requires the person to have a utility bill in his or her name that proves residency in Fulton County, Lewis said.

In DeKalb County, steady numbers of illegal immigrants register themselves as corporations to get around the law. That works because a corporation does not need to show a Georgia driver’s license. That’s not as easy to do in Cobb and Gwinnett counties, which require a county business license to prove the company exists.

The number of tag applications for corporate cars in DeKalb County has shot from zero to about 30 percent of the tag and title business in the last year. A corporation does not need a Georgia driver’s license for a tag. The Georgia Office of the Secretary of State is aware of the issue and wants legislation to tighten this loophole, office spokesman Matt Carrothers said.

Motor vehicle tax revenues actually increased in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb from 2006 to 2007.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Primary season over, McCain resumes pitch for 'comprehensive' immigration reform

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has returned to promoting the 'comprehensive' immigration reform he had pitched with Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy just a year ago. Now, McCain says he would expand visas for immigrants at the same time that he would propose legislation cracking down on illegal immigration.

The remarks were a shift from what he had said while campaigning to secure the GOP nomination. During the primary contests, McCain's support for bipartisan immigration reform proved to be a liability, so he said he would clamp down on illegal aliens before pursuing any other immigration reform.

'I believe we have to secure our borders. But we must enact comprehensive immigration reform, and we must make it a top priority,' McCain said this week, speaking before chief executives of several high-tech companies. 'We must make the best of this problem, and we must attract the best and brightest minds to this nation.'

McCain expressed sympathy for the entrepreneurs' plight in attracting qualified workers. He also took personal responsibility for Congress's failure to enact immigration reform last year. 'The failure of the federal government -- and it was my failure, too -- has had a lot of consequences associated with it,' he said.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Human-smugglers are well-organized, work closely with drug cartels

Human smuggling organization have built sophisticated criminal enterprises generating an estimated $2.5 billion per year, counting just their operations in Arizona. Working with Mexican drug cartels, the human-smugglers have established networks of drivers, warehouse operators, distribution specialists and enforcers to move their cargo.

The smugglers call the illegal immigrants pollos — chickens — reflecting the low value they place on their human cargo.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has said "These people are well-organized, very well-armed, and apparently will stop at nothing to maximize their profit from human beings, including severe brutality and murder. It makes the drug business look almost good by comparison."

Human-smuggling rings are organized like traditional Mexican drug cartels, with the top bosses based in Mexico, operating openly, relatively safe from American police and prosecutors. The smugglers likely pay some percentage of their earnings as tribute to the drug cartels in return for being allowed to use smuggling routes controlled by the drug traffickers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mexican police officials are seeking asylum in U.S.

Javier Emilio Pérez Ortega had built his career on the law, but has lost faith in his country's ability to enforce it. Ortega served four months as police chief in Puerto Palomas, Mexico, enduring death threats from drug smugglers and watching his entire police force resign en masse.

In March, Pérez arrived at the international border crossing with the United States, seeking political asylum. He is one of three Mexican municipal police chiefs to do so the past several months.

U.S. immigration law does make exceptions for persecution by non-state actors if asylum seekers can provide evidence that their government can't or won't intervene. But in Mexico, a new president has spent much of his first 18-months in office battling drug cartels. The narcotics traffickers have fought back, focusing on law enforcement officials.

Since January 2008, 25 officers have been killed in suspected drug-related violence nationwide. Edgar Millán Goméz, the head of the nation's federal police force, was assassinated May 8 at his home in Mexico City. More than 300 officers died in 2007.

Pérez remains in the custody of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement while his case is under review. He hopes to move his family to the United States soon. Puerto Palomas has already hired a replacement police chief.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Governor yanks Arpaio's ‘immigration sweeps’ funding

The Governor of Arizona has shut off the funding which has allowed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to have his own ‘immigration sweeps.’

Governor Janet Napolitano has issued an executive order developing a new task force with the funds. It will be headed up by the state Department of Public Safety, and will be challenged to find and arrest tens of thousands of felons with outstanding warrants.

A week ago, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to renew an agreement between the Department of Public Services and Arpaio’s office that would have provided the sheriff with $1 million in special funds for fiscal year 2009, which starts in July.

Arpaio had used the funds to pay the salaries and overtime expenses of deputies involved in immigration enforcement. The funds also were used to lease numerous vehicles and to purchase radios and other equipment.

Over time, Napolitano has been criticized for failing to take a stance on Arpaio's immigration sweeps. Now she has, hitting the sheriff where it hurts - in the pocketbook. Despite the loss of funding, the sheriff has vowed to continue the sweeps.

Polls show that most county residents heartily approve of Arpaio's methods.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Senate Committee tucks Ag-Jobs amendment into Iraq spending measure

The Senate Appropriations Committee has tacked onto an Iraq spending bill a controversial provision to help pave the way for undocumented agriculture workers to win legal status. The move could revive the immigration debate on the Senate floor.

The amendment was approved by a 17-12 vote. Critics say the amendment amounts to amnesty for people who entered the country illegally. A broader comprehensive immigration overhaul, with a path for citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, failed in a divisive Senate vote last year.

'No matter how one characterizes it, this enormous amendment still amounts to amnesty,' said Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). 'I oppose amnesty. All these immigration issues should be addressed through the regular order.'

The Senate plans to take up a series of bills next week, and is likely to approve the funding for the wars. The measure is one of the few likely to get enacted before the election in November. The amendment was sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ethics complaint filed against Ramos-Compean prosecutor

An ethics complaint has been filed with the Texas Bar Association against federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton, arguing that he willfully misled the jury to convict Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

The two were convicted of shooting a fleeing drug suspect and hiding evidence in a 2005 incident. A federal judge sentenced Compean to 12 years in prison and Ramos to 11 years. Appeals are pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The convictions caused a national firestorm. Critics have repeatedly called the prosecution unjustified and the sentences extreme.

In exchange for his testimony against the agents, the smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, was given immunity from prosecution for trying to smuggle drugs the day he was shot. Jurors didn't get to hear evidence that Aldrete also smuggled marijuana into the United States several months after the shooting.

The complaint alleges Sutton's office misled the public and jury about Aldrete's subsequent arrest. Kentucky-based Christians Reviving America's Values filed the complaint.

Monday, May 12, 2008

UPS requires woman to show green card for package

UPS in Miami has set a new standard for shipping companies in the U.S. The company refused to send a package to a Mexican woman living in South Florida because she refused to provide proof that she is a legal resident.

Cristina Bustos, the addressee on the package, told the Palm Beach Post the package contains the birth certificates of two relatives also living in Florida who need them to apply for passports. UPS told her the package would remain at a UPS center in Louisville, Kentucky until she sends a copy of her green card to UPS.

Kirsten Petrella, a UPS spokeswoman, said the company is obliged to follow directives from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency believes documents like birth certificates are sensitive because they could be used by terrorists to get false documents, she said.

The recipient, apparent an illegal alien, clearly showed she has been trained in knowing her supposed 'rights' in the U.S. She told the newspaper said she believes the demand is unfair. Speaking of Petrella, she said, 'She represents a private company,' she said. 'She's not an agent for the immigration service, and I have no obligation to show her my immigration status. We paid to have those documents sent, and they should deliver them to us. There is nothing illegal in that envelope.'

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Eleven arrested in smuggling scheme to staff Mexican restaurants

Five people in Western New York and six in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Georgia have been arrested and charged with smuggling illegal aliens from Mexico and forcing them to work at Mexican restaurants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out the roundup after a two-year investigation.

In the scheme, 45 illegal aliens were charged $2,000 or $2,700 to be smuggled into the United States, then were paid substandard wages and were required to live in certain apartments and pay rent to the owner of the restaurants where they worked.

The situation harms other businesses, particularly other Mexican and ethnic restaurants who comply with U.S. laws and are compete for customers against those who illegally hire a labor force, and pay them substandard wages, while earning a larger profit margin.

"The ICE national strategy of worksite enforcement is essentially to level the playing field for businesses that are operating under legitimate means and do not fall victim to businesses that don't abide by those same laws," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Illegal immigrant in North Carolina jailed on identity theft charges

An illegal immigrant who purchased a Texas woman's name and Social Security number to work in North Carolina has been charged with identity theft.

A sheriff's office in North Carolina received a call from Veronica Arias of Combes, Texas last week. Arias reported to authorities that someone in North Carolina was using her name and Social Security number.

The Texas woman had been contacted by the Internal Revenue Service in reference to unreported earnings in North Carolina. The Social Security Administration told her that the individual was using her Social Security number for employment with Honda Power Equipment in Swepsonville, North Carolina.

Honda officials verified that they had a female employee using that name and Social Security number. After an investigation, the sheriff's department determined that Maria Sanchez, 30, was allegedly using Arias' information.

Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, admitted that she purchased the name and Social Security number but refused to reveal how the identification was obtained. She was charged with identity theft and placed in the County jail under $10,000 bond.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nebraska Attorney General punished by feds for refusing to represent illegals

The federal government is holding back federal funding for a Nebraska public commission in order to punish the state’s attorney general for refusing to use taxpayer dollars to file lawsuits for illegal aliens . Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning would not pursue cases on behalf of illegal immigrants. As a result, the state’s Equal Opportunity Commission lost $240,000 in annual federal funding.

The commission’s head insisted that the state’s top prosecutor pursue a discrimination case on behalf of an illegal immigrant couple that was asked by a landlord for drivers’ licenses. Non-Hispanic tenants did not have to provide licenses therefore the commission determined that the illegal aliens were victims of discrimination.

The Attorney General refused to take legal action representing illegals in the case, stating that the 1996 federal welfare reform law prohibits him from providing legal services to illegal immigrants. “I’m not going to use taxpayer dollars to file lawsuits for illegal aliens,” he confirmed, adding that those who are not citizens of this country are not going to get a free lawyer from his office.

Bruning's stance caused outrage among immigrant advocates, who are planning a lawsuit. The director of a renowned radical Chicano group (National Council of La Raza) that advocates the return of the American Southwest to Mexico, says Bruning is allowing people to “run wild over immigrants.”

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Diplomats, lawmakers protest Mexican brutality toward Central American immigrants

On May 1, Mexican immigrants led rallies across the U.S. seeking amnesty for illegal aliens. At the same time, demands for immigrant rights are festering in Mexico, which is facing increasing international criticism for how it treats Latin American migrants.

Last month, diplomats from El Salvador and Honduras formally protested after dozens of their citizens accused Mexican authorities of brutality. The top UN advocate for migrant rights toured Mexico and proclaimed that "the impunity with which Mexico victimizes Central American immigrants makes it the principal violator of human rights on the American continent."

At the same time, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, at a summit in New Orleans, was eloquently defending the contributions Mexican immigrants make to the U.S. economy. He didn’t mention the Central American immigrants.

In addition to the UN condemnation, Calderon recently caught flak from lawmakers upset at Mexico's lobbying for a bill that would legalize many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

"Mexico expends enormous resources to prevent Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans from entering Mexico country illegally, but you castigate the United States for wanting secure borders. Mr. President, in my neighborhood that is called hypocrisy," Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.), wrote in an open letter to Calderon.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fed Chairman Bernanke seen as ‘Man of the Year’ in the fight against illegal immigration

After reviewing the accomplishments of officials of the Department of Homeland Security, Customs, Border Patrol, Immigration, and the Internal Revenue Service, it appears that Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has done more to remove illegal aliens from the U.S. in the last year than any other person or agency involved in the effort to end illegal immigration.

"Thanks to Chairman Bernanke and his policies to destroy the American dollar, our economy has collapsed; we are in a major recession; and illegal aliens are fleeing our country like rats off of a sinking ship," said U.S. Border Control Chairman Ed Nelson. “It's a brilliant strategy,” he added.

More than 3,000,000 immigrants have stopped sending money back to family members in their home countries during the last two years, the Inter-American Development Bank said. Growing numbers of Latino immigrants are also considering returning to their home countries in response to the poor economic conditions in the United States. The IADB survey of 5,000 immigrants from Latin America found that only half of the Latino immigrants in the U.S. now send money regularly to relatives in their home countries, compared with 73 percent two years ago.

Money transfers to Mexico have started to decline, reversing five years of spectacular growth. In the first quarter of this year, transfers to Mexico dropped 2.9 percent from the first quarter of 2007, the first significant decline since 1995.

Latino immigrants said life in the U.S. has become more difficult, with 81 percent saying it is harder to find a good-paying job, and 40 percent saying they were earning less this year than the previous year. Over all, slightly under one-third of the immigrants said they were thinking of leaving the U.S.