Sunday, June 29, 2008

Utah’s Cannon among Congress' first amnesty supporters to lose his seat in 2008, but won't be the last

Utah Republican Congressman Chris Cannon, a strong supporter of amnesty, lost his bid for a seventh term this week in a primary that focused on just how conservative he was. He was defeated by first-time candidate Jason Chaffetz, a former Brigham Young University football player.

Chaffetz claimed Cannon was soft on immigration, saying his votes amounted to offering amnesty to people in the country illegally. In 2003, Cannon had sponsored a bill that would have allowed states to charge in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.

In addition, Cannon called for a guest-worker program that does not punish businesses and allows immigrants to travel freely across the border. Chaffetz said he wants the U.S. to deport all illegal immigrants and stop granting automatic citizenship to children born here if their parents aren’t legal residents.

The congressman's primary loss struck hard in Washington, where other members already fear they too may face an angry mob of voters in November. They see Cannon's loss as the ''congressman in the coalmine.''

"No incumbent is truly safe in this environment," said Ken Spain, press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee. With gas prices soaring, immigration issues unsolved and crushing federal deficits looming, voters are giving Congress some of the lowest approval ratings ever.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Task force arrests 28 gang members in Northeast Los Angeles

Hundreds of local police and federal agents raided dozens of addresses in northeast Los Angeles Wednesday and arrested 28 members of the Avenues gang in connection with a federal racketeering indictment. The Drew Street clique of the gang was targeted by the task force.

An 88-count federal racketeering indictment had charged 70 Drew Street gang members and associates with murders, the attempted murders of two LAPD officers, extortion, witness-tampering and robbery. The indictment also charged the defendants with drug violations, including trafficking in crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

The gang's leader, Francisco "Pancho" Real, 26, was known to extort "taxes" from neighborhood businesses, then forwarded part of the proceeds to the Mexican Mafia. In March, Real demanded a $30,000 extortion payment from two neighborhood businesses. When someone resisted, Real threatened to kill him and burn his business, court papers state.

The Avenues operate in parts of Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park and in the Mount Washington area. In February, other members of the Drew Street clique engaged in a shootout with LAPD officers. Fifty-five of the defendants are now in federal or state lockups, while 16 remain at-large.

Taking part in the operation were the Los Angeles and Glendale police departments, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court refuses to hear environmental challenge to border fence

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a plea by environmentalists to stop the Bush administration from waving 19 federal laws to speed construction of a fence along the border with Mexico. The court refused to hear an appeal by Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club challenging a 2005 law that Secretary Michael Chertoff invoked on the grounds that it violated the constitutional separation of powers principles.

The high court turned down the challenge to the Department of Homeland Security using authority granted to it by Congress in 2005 to waive certain environmental and land management laws to install the fencing. The two environmental groups argued that Chertoff's waiver represented an unconstitutional repeal of federal laws. The waiver provision amounted to an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to Chertoff, with only limited judicial review of his decision, they said.

Under the law, Chertoff has the sole discretion to waive all legal requirements when he decides it is necessary to speed up construction of barriers along the border. Congress also set limited, streamlined judicial review of such waivers.

Attorneys for the two environmental groups said the case presented legally significant and practically important questions, as the law involved virtually unprecedented restriction of appellate review. Justice Department attorneys urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal. They said a ruling in the case by a federal judge rejecting the challenge was correct and does not conflict with any decision by the high court or any other court. The Supreme Court sided with the Justice Department and denied the appeal without comment.

The case involved a section of fence that was being built in a national conservation area - the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area - in Arizona. Environmentalists had feared the project would disrupt wildlife habitats.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Border governors worried about drug war in Mexico as National Guard leaves border

The National Guardsmen are almost completely withdrawn from the Mexico border, despite pleas from border-state governors. When the Guard was first posted along the frontier in 2006, the governors were critical of the move.

Their worries have given way to fears that a bloody drug-cartel war in Mexico will spill into the U.S. and overwhelm the Border Patrol. The four border-state governors have tried in vain to persuade Congress and the White House to extend the Guard's presence. It will end as scheduled on July 15.

The Border Patrol says the Guard force bought it enough time to hire and train more agents. The patrol expressed confidence that it can now hold the line on its own. 'We're fine taking over. It's all part of our plan,' said Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

The Guardsmen used helicopters and night-vision gear to watch for people trying to slip across the border, then told Border Patrol agents where to find them. They also built roads and fences.

The Border Patrol's ranks have swelled by nearly 5,000 since the beginning of the Guard's presence, and now reach more than 16,400. It is still short of the 18,000-agent goal set for the end of the year.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Florida lags the nation in illegal immigration prosecutions

At the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, U.S. officials charge many of those crossing with federal crimes, rather than civil violations under immigration law. The result, in effect since 2005. has been a dramatic increase in the national rate of immigration prosecutions and convictions.

Those prosecutions lag in South Florida, where convictions are down from last year. The projected rate of immigration prosecutions are expected to rise 2 percent this year, while across the country, federal immigration prosecutions will be up 73 percent for the same period.

In 2005, federal officials kicked off Operation Streamline, a program that brings federal charges in immigration cases. The program began in Texas and has expanded across the Southwest border states. But a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington said Operation Streamline does not operate in Florida.

A former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's South Florida Chapter, Scott D. Devore said South Florida's federal prosecutors focus more on cases against corrupt public officials and smugglers. In addition, federal prosecutors generally "have more of an opportunity to catch and prosecute" undocumented immigrants along the border, he said.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some lenders continue to provide mortgages for illegals

Though illegal immigrants no longer can get a driver's license in North Carolina, they can still be approved for a home mortgage in that state. With an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), good credit and proof of tax filing, illegal aliens can qualify for a fixed-rate 'ITIN mortgage.'

Banks aren't required to keep track of how many ITIN home loans they give, so it's difficult to find accurate data on them, but there are estimated to be $3 billion in ITIN mortgages currently active in the U.S.

Community banks and credit unions began accepting the nine-digit numbers from mortgage applicants around 2000, most of them from illegal immigrants with modest incomes. By law, banks must verify customers' identity, but they don't have to check immigration status.

Mostly smaller banks are making the loans.

A few large banks began accepting them in pilot programs, although many, including Bank of America, still shy away from this controversial investment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Supreme Court gives temporary amnesty to overstaying foreigner

The U.S. Supreme Court has given temporary amnesty to a foreigner who overstayed his visa and sought to remain in the United States legally. The court ruled that someone here illegally may withdraw a voluntarily agreement to depart and continue to try to get approval to remain in the United States.

The decision agrees with a proposed Justice Department regulation governing the treatment of similar cases in the future.

In the case considered, a Nigerian citizen stayed beyond the expiration of his tourist visa in 1998. He married an American the following year and soon began trying to obtain a visa as an immediate relative of a citizen. But the couple apparently failed to submit some documents, causing immigration officials to deny the visa.

The man has still been trying to obtain the visa, but immigration authorities have ordered him to leave the country. He agreed to leave voluntarily, which would allow him to try sooner to re-enter the country legally than if he had been deported.

The Supreme Court could not consider the fact that immigration authorities recently ruled that the man had entered a 'sham' marriage in order to stay in the United States. The court decided that he could withdraw his voluntary agreement to leave the country and continue to try to adjust his status while in the United States.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Heat wave provides opportunity for illegal alien rapist

The temperature hit 94° on June 8 in Rhode Island, bringing crowds to the beaches and an illegal alien rapist to a suburban shopping center. The illegal had just been fired from his job at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant a half mile away.

The victim, a 30-year-old woman, sat in the passenger seat of an unlocked vehicle, waiting for a shopper. The ignition was on to keep the air conditioning running.

The illegal jumped into the driver’s seat, showed the victim his knife, and robbed her. Then he drove to a park about 10 miles away and raped her twice.

The rapist fled. The victim quickly identified a photo police captured from a supermarket entrance at the shopping center. By Tuesday night, they had an name, that is, one of the names he used. On Thursday, he was arrested.

Marco Riz, 27, the rapist, had given police several aliases, but they were able to determine his true identity. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Riz is a fugitive who was ordered deported. He had defied the order and disappeared.

Riz should already have been deported to Guatemala. He is being held for arraignment on Monday, and will be turned over to ICE.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Leader of Mexican kidnapping ring arrested at the California DMV

Jose Manuel Garibay Felix, 24, one of the leaders of a Mexican kidnapping and drug trafficking organization, was arrested June 6 at a California Department of Motor Vehicles Office.

Felix was arrested by FBI Agents based on a provisional arrest request from Mexico. An 11-page complaint on file with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles says Felix and his relatives led the Los Garibay organization, which was based at the Los Garibay Ranch in the Mexicali Valley of Baja California. The group was “devoted to drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and theft,” the complaint says.

The complaint goes on to say the organization kidnapped and killed a police officer from the Public Prosecutor's Office. “The fugitive had ordered the police officer killed, since he was going after the Garibay organization,” it says.

Felix is being held in San Diego pending extradition to Mexico.

Felix had been believed to be living in Riverside with a sister but it's not clear why he was at the DMV. He had applied for a driver's license in 2007 with a Lawndale address, the complaint stated.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ohio prostitution operation busted, served illegal aliens

The Butler County Sheriff's Office in Hamilton, Ohio has busted a prostitution operation that served illegal immigrants. Detectives had received a confidential tip that an illegal immigrant named Primo was supplying prostitutes to other illegals in the county.

After making multiple calls to Primo's cell phone, undercover agents met with Primo and a prostitute. The undercover officers and the duo proceeded to a Hamilton motel. The prostitute charged $80 for two men.

Primo, actually Logan Carrasco-Zambrano, and the prostitute, Violeta Urena-Deluna, were arrested in the parking lot of the motel. Carrasco-Zambrano, 28, said he came to the U.S. illegally, two years ago, from Honduras. He is charged with two counts of promoting prostitution, a fourth-degree felony. Urena-Deluna, 45, stated she has been in the United States, illegally, for 28 years. She was charged with two counts of prostitution, a third-degree misdemeanor.

Both may face deportation procedures after answering for their stated charges. Investigation of the prostitution operation is ongoing.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones of Butler County has earned a reputation of being tough on illegal aliens. Two years ago, Jones posted six billboards by roadways in the county which said, “Hire an illegal — break the law!”

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Illegal alien with stolen Social Security number racks up $787,000 in loans

Is this how the foreclosure crisis started? An illegal alien in Arizona was arrested after buying three houses and two vehicles with loans he received using a stolen Social Security number. As a matter of fact, Adan Betancio Guerrero, 36, tallied more than $787,000 in debt with that stolen ID.

Guerrero told police he is in the U.S. illegally. He also told police they should be out there busting "real criminals" instead of family men like himself, court records show.

"I was floored, couldn't believe it," said the victim, Tamara Leeson of Mirana.

Leeson is the real owner of the Social Security number. Authorities started looking into the case when her credit union started processed the illegal's request for a loan for a $33,000 truck and noticed that they already had a customer with the same Social Security number. They contacted their customer, and learned her identity had been stolen.

Leeson said she checked her credit regularly since she turned 18 in 2001 and even bought her own house last year, but no red flags ever went up.

Arizona detectives obtained bank records, loan records, and other records on Guerrero. Investigators says that others could have been victimized by Guerrero.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

South Carolina now has nation’s toughest illegal immigration law

South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford has signed into law legislation that could shut down businesses and fine them up to $1,000 per worker for employing illegal aliens. Sanford said the bill will reassert the rule of law in the state. Senate President Glenn McConnell said “The message is loud and clear: Stop the silent invasion of this state."

Legislators called the measure the most strict and effective anti-illegal-immigrant law in the nation. One state representative predicted the law will lower the state's unemployment rate because immigrants will "self-deport" and make more jobs available.

The ACLU agreed "It's certainly one of the toughest, if not the toughest," said the state legislative counsel in the American Civil Liberty Union's Washington office. Other states to pass comprehensive efforts include Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado. Georgia passed the first in 2006.

All South Carolina employers must either check each new hire's Social Security number through a federal online database called E-verify or hire workers with a driver's license from South Carolina or another state with strict requirements. Those found not checking their workers can be fined between $100 and $1,000 per worker. If an investigation finds they knowingly hired an illegal immigrant, the business can be temporarily shut down, for up to 30 days on first offense and five years if caught a third time.

The bill also bans adult illegal immigrants from receiving public aid, bars illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and requires them to pay out-of-state rates for private colleges. It creates felonies for harboring or transporting illegal immigrants and for forging documents.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Georgia law requires police to check immigration status of jailed drivers

A new Georgia law, effective July 1, establishes a two-day mandatory minimum jail sentence for anyone convicted a first time of driving without a license. The measure also makes it a felony to drive without a license on the fourth conviction in a five-year period.

The law requires jailers to check the nationality and legal status of those convicted and to report anyone in the U.S. illegally to immigration officials for deportation.

'This bill addresses a serious problem in Georgia, which is people driving without ever having been issued a driver's license,' said state Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw), sponsor of Senate Bill 350. 'People are dying as a result of these drivers, and the law is necessary for public safety,' he said.

Cpl. David Schiralli of the Gwinnett County Police Department said it's likely illegal immigrants be arrested for violations because they have no way to legally obtain a Georgia driver's license. 'Illegals who work have to get to work one way or another. You'd think they probably know they're breaking the law to get there.'

Sunday, June 01, 2008

California police, prosecutors don't care whether suspects are illegal aliens

Convicted murderer Juan Dedios Burboa has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, The 29-year-old is a Mexican national, an illegal alien in California. Burboa was convicted for plotting to kidnap and kill a trio of Mexican drug runners and steal their shipment of crystal methamphetamine. One of the drug runners was shot to death.

The citizens of California received a sentence at the same time. Burboa’s prison sentence — 40 years if he lives to age 70 — will be served out in California prisons at the expense of California taxpayers.

ICE estimates that 300,000 to 450,000 convicted criminal aliens who are deportable are detained each year at federal, state and local prisons and jails. But even as California reels under a massive budget crisis, there are tens of thousands of criminal aliens serving time.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not know how many illegal immigrants are housed in the state’s prisons. They do ask new prisoners what country they were born in, but they don’t concern themselves specifically with the immigration status of convicts.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney and the Los Angeles Superior Courts have refused, as a matter of policy, to take any action to deport illegal alien gang members. Like the LAPD, these agencies have contended that they do not have anything to do with illegal immigration.

Following the March 2, 2008 murder of a popular high school football star, Jamiel Shaw, II, a criminal gang member named Pedro Espinosa was arrested for the crime. Espinosa had been out on early release from the L. A. County jail after serving four months on assault and weapons charges. Neither the District Attorney’s office or the Courts raised any questions as to whether or not he should be removed from the country. The L. A. County Sheriff’s Department never notified Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) that Espinosa was in the country illegally.