Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Majority of Border Patrol agents are now Hispanic

A goal the Bush administration will meet is hiring 6,000 new agents to boost the force to 18,000. While there were about 6,400 Hispanic agents in 2006, there were 9,300 in November 2008. Hispanics now comprise 52 percent of the agents.

Because southwest border communities are largely Latino, recruits there have an advantage in the required Spanish fluency as well as familiarity with the job. Applicants who can pass a Spanish proficiency test can skip 40 days of required language instruction at the academy.

''We have a large Hispanic population on the southwest border, and they are familiar with the Border Patrol, so the opportunity is more appealing if they're closer to home,' said Joe Abbott, director of recruitment for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

There are concerns about thousands of new agents enforcing laws in the same communities where they have strong family ties, some that extend across the border. ''The problem is with people who are born and raised there, and have associates on both sides of the border. I don't think that's especially good from an integrity standpoint,' said James Dorcy, a director of the National Association of Retired Border Patrol Officers.

His organization and the National Border Patrol Council worry that the rapid buildup of the Border Patrol, along with an outsourcing of background investigations of applicants to private contractors, has allowed unsuitable candidates to become federal agents.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pennsylvania congressman joins those calling for pardon for Ramos, Compean

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, has added his voice to those calling on President Bush to pardon two former border agents convicted of shooting an unarmed drug smuggler who was trying to escape. 

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are serving more than 10 years each for shooting Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the buttocks while he was fleeing from an abandoned van loaded with 750 pounds of marijuana.

The men argued that they thought Davila, a Mexican, was armed. They were convicted two years ago in federal court in Texas of assault, civil rights violations and other charges. Davila later pleaded guilty to smuggling following another incident and also was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Dent asked Bush to review their cases and ''seriously consider'' a pardon.

''These agents were acting in fulfillment of their duty and responsibility to protect our borders and enforce the law and they have been unjustly punished for their actions.

''This case has not only undermined the trust and confidence of our Border Patrol, but it has also raised questions about the discretion and decisions of federal prosecutors.''

You can help build pressure for pardoning the two by sending an email alert demanding a pardon. Visit www.usbc.org and go to the Legislation Action Center or send an email directly to the President at president@whitehouse.gov.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mexico consulate in El Paso gives free health care to illegals

At least 600 Mexicans, most of them in the U.S. illegally, have received vaccinations this year at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, Texas. Mexico's consul in the border city, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, said that 250 AIDS tests have also been performed.

'The immigrant community, especially those who are undocumented in El Paso, come to us so that we will provide them with free health care because they're afraid of being reported if they show up at clinics or hospitals,' Hernandez said.

Vaccines have also been sent to remote rural and poor areas like Lovington and Hobbs in neighboring New Mexico, where illegal-alien workers from the El Paso consulate go as well.

'The intention is to improve the quality of life of Mexicans in South Texas and New Mexico by giving them ways to take care of their health and avoid worse problems later on that could require emergency service,' Hernandez said.

The consulate has also established support centers in American jails like La Tuna Federal Prison in New Mexico. More than 150 inmates have received high-school instruction and upon graduation receive a diploma from Mexican educational authorities.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ramos-Compean treatment has border agents hesitating to fire

On December 1 south of Tucson, Arizona, drug smugglers unloaded $1 million in drugs across the U.S. border and sprayed bullets at U.S. Border Patrol agents with automatic weapons. The agents did not return fire. They fear losing their jobs or ending up behind bars like agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Former decorated border agents, Ramos and Compean are serving lengthy prison sentences for shooting an illegal alien drug dealer while he smuggled 750 pounds of marijuana across the border. They were convicted of assault, discharge of a weapon in the commission of a crime of violence and deprivation of civil rights after the drug dealer was given immunity from prosecution.

On December 22 President Bush issued 19 pardons and commuted one sentence, but has issued none as yet for Ramos and Compean. Lawmakers and many others have asked Bush to commute their prison sentences. Bush will leave office January 20.

'Any kind of shooting toward Mexican territory is rejected by the Mexican government,' Mexican Consul General Remedios Gómez Arnau warned Border Patrol agents.

After this month's incident, an anonymous officer said that agents often fear defending themselves because shooting back could mean prison time – just as it did for Ramos and Compean.

'These men are still in prison for doing what many of us think was just doing their jobs as Border Patrol agents,' he said.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just over the border – six police officers killed in one week

Let’s imagine six police officers were killed in one week in Winsor, Canada, across a bridge from Detroit, Michigan. Would the U.S. be concerned? You bet.

Six police officers were killed last week and 40 so far this year, in Juarez, Mexico, across a bridge from El Paso, Texas. A hit list naming 26 officers was found days earlier
Roberto Ramirez, who headed a precinct, was the sixth Juarez officer killed in a week. He was abducted, and his body was found hours later, near a dog racetrack where the bodies of four civilians were found earlier in the week. Ramirez was named precinct chief in May after several police commanders asked for early retirement because of the violence.

More than 40 Juarez police have been killed this year, many in attacks blamed on drug gangs battling over territory. Some officers have quit, fearing for their lives after their names appeared on hit lists.

Juarez has been hit the hardest in a surge of drug-gang homicides sweeping Mexico. More than 1,300 people have been killed in the city of 1.3 million this year.

Across Mexico, more than 5,300 people have died in gangland-style killings in 2008 - more than double the number last year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Economy is not driving Hispanics from Oklahoma

The headlines say “Economy may force immigrants back to Mexico.” But that’s not happening in Oklahoma.

Rogers is one of six counties in the state where the Hispanic population has nearly doubled since 2000. The county is booming. In the past seven years, its population increased by 17 percent to 83,105.

Hispanics account for 1,290 new residents, doubling the previous number, and now account for 3 percent of the county population. Hispanics account for more than half of the overall population growth in the U.S. since 2000.

Since 2000, Oklahoma County's population has increased by 6 percent to 701,807 from 660,448. The Hispanic population in Oklahoma County grew by 50 percent to 86,033 last year. That means roughly one in eight county residents is Hispanic.

Areas in northeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Oklahoma and the Panhandle have seen the most growth. Combined, Rogers, Wagoner and Tulsa counties have seen their Hispanic population increase by 23,798.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Motorist helps police arrest illegal impersonating police officer

Police in Grapevine, Texas have credited a motorist for alerting them to an illegal alien who now faces a charge of trying to impersonate a cop.

They arrested 22-year-old Adan Ramirez in a white pickup with flashing lights allegedly followed a car on a Texas highway, and are holding him in the Grapevine jail. A "hold" was placed on Ramirez by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, indicating he is believed to be an illegal alien, and making him ineligible for bond.

Police lauded the motorists who brought Ramirez to their attention, immediately calling 911 when he suspected the flashing lights on the truck didn't belong to a real cop. He also stayed on the line as he drove, helping dispatchers send police to his location.

"He did everything exactly right," said Sgt. Kim Smith, police spokeswoman. "If we could write it in a textbook and give it to the public, this would be it."

The white pickup truck had special police-style flashing lights on the front and back, similar to the ones used on unmarked police cars. Ramirez carried a fake identification that was actually a gift card from a restaurant that had been painted black and had the word "police" on it.

Impersonating a public servant is a third-degree felony in Texas, and is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Colorado judge halts arrests in immigration-identity theft cases

A judge has halted arrests in the largest immigration-identity theft case ever investigated in one Colorado county.

The Greeley Police Department, along with the Weld County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department, seized 1,338 tax files from Amalia's Translation and Tax Service in mid-October.

Investigators claim many people used the tax service with false names and false Social Security numbers in a massive identity theft scam. They traced about $2.6 million in payments to illegal immigrants using phony Social Security numbers who used the tax service. By mid-November, 26 arrest warrants had been issued and 11 people arrested as a result of the investigation.

Judge James Hartmann, however, issued a show-cause order directing the district attorney to show why any state court has jurisdiction to issue a search warrant for federal tax files. The judge said he believes the filing of a federal tax return and the receipt of a federal tax refund may be matters that fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States government, not a state court.

The district attorney's office, however, maintains the state court has jurisdiction. Those involved, they said, filed a federal tax return and obtained a tax refund unlawfully. Others, it alleges, were able to obtain employment through the use of a Social Security number belonging to someone else. Hartmann has set a hearing on the matter for Thursday.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Texas spends $677 million per year for illegal aliens' health care

Texas and its local hospital districts spend an estimated $677 million per year providing health care to illegal aliens. A Texas Health and Human Services Commission study shows that most of the money was spent by local hospital districts for the illegals’ care during a recent fiscal year.

State lawmakers were not surprised at the amount, and said they hoped the report, required by the 2007 Legislature, will help prompt Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. Federal law requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of their citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.

The report underestimated the cost of care to illegals because it did not include figures for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which functions like a hospital district by providing safety-net services. It spends $140 million annually on illegal alien care.

State Rep. Warren Chisum, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said the report puts a number on health care costs that the state cannot do anything about. 'Show it to our congressman, I guess. Tell him, 'Merry Christmas,' Chisum quipped. 'This is something we can look at the federal government and say, 'You guys ought to do a better job of guarding your borders or at least pay for 'em if you're going to allow them to come over here.' '

One of the most prominent critics of illegal immigration, Rep. Leo Berman, said he is glad that Congress is getting the report. 'I'd like to bill the United States government,' he said, 'and have them pay Texas for the cost of the benefits that they require us to provide to illegal aliens.'

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Judge blames federal government as illegal alien is sentenced in drunk driving case

A judge in Richmond, Virginia blasted the federal government for "its failures" in a fatal drunk driving case he was about to rule on. He then sentenced the illegal alien to 10 years in prison for killing two people while driving drunk.

Carmen Alejandro Garcia-Hernandez, in the U.S. illegally, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 
Judge Bradley Cavedo blamed the federal government, saying it failed to do its job when a family house warming party last May ended in tragedy. Kathryn Jones, 44, and Joseph Owens, 40, were killed in a chain reaction crash started by Garcia-Hernandez.

Kathryn Jones and her sister, Constance Ragsdale, were leaving the party, standing by a car in the front yard when Garcia-Hernandez came barrelling at them in a pick-up truck. He had no driver's license, and his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Garcia-Hernandez was going 55 miles an hour. He hit a parked car and caused a chain reaction crash which killed both Jones and Owens. Garcia-Hernandez tried to flee the scene but, was caught by bystanders.
The judge blamed the federal government for “failing to perform its basic and fundamental duty -- keeping the borders safe and secure.”

Owens' sister-in-law said of Garcia-Hernandez, “He was allowed to come into the United States and takes someone's life and now he gets to do his time and go back home with his family and nothing else is said.” Garcia-Hernandez will be deported to Mexico after serving his 10 year sentence. Both families have filed civil suits against his former construction company employer, the owner of the pick-up truck.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Journalists are targets in Mexico's drug war

The death toll in Mexico's drug war — already above 4,000 this year — had just risen. But on this day, none of the seven bodies belonged to journalists. Photographer Hector Dayer grabbed his camera, pulled up the collar of his jacket to hide his face, and stepped out to photograph the carnage.

Mexico is the deadliest place in the Americas to be a journalist, and among the deadliest in the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 24 have been killed since 2000. Seven have vanished in the past three years. Many of the victims had reported on police ties to cartels. Some are suspected of accepting drug money. Of the 24 cases, the committee says, only one has been solved.

Some attacks target specific journalists, others entire newsrooms. In at least two cases, grenades have been thrown at newspaper offices.

The attacks are silencing journalists and undermining the Mexico democracy. News media in Mexico have stopped reporting on the drug war, with most limiting their reports to facts put out by authorities, with no context, analysis or investigation. Most of the time, journalists don't even report on killings they witness.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's bloodiest city with about 1,400 deaths this year alone, is an exception. There, journalists continue to cover the daily deaths, without using bylines or photo credits.

Nearly all the crime reporters have received threats. Media-freedom groups are lobbying Mexico's Congress to pass a bill that would make attacks on the news media a federal crime.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Green-card marriage a significant source of illegal immigration

Green cards obtained through fraudulent marriages are a significant contributor to illegal immigration. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) this week released a new document called 'Inside the Green Card Marriage Phenomenon.' The report was written by David Seminara, who adjudicated thousands of marriage-based green-card applications for the US State Department in several countries.

Marriage, he concluded, is the quickest way to get a green card. Over the past 10 years more than two-million foreign nationals have obtained permanent residence cards by marrying an American citizen.

'Unfortunately...one of the oldest tricks in the book for people who are looking to get to the U.S. or who are here illegally and want to legalize their status is to marry a U.S. citizen,' Seminara explained, adding 'Of that 2.3 million, the overwhelming majority are legitimate relationships -- but there are tens of thousands of fake ones out there as well.'

The marriages, he said, are 'most common in developing countries, the obvious suspects being Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security have nowhere near the resources needed to combat the problem, he concluded.

As Seminara's report became public, an FBI agent trainee from Williamsburg was arrested, accused of entering into a sham marriage to gain U.S. citizenship seven years ago. Yue Cheng was charged with five offenses linked to a marriage she entered into in Las Vegas when she was 19.

The criminal complaint says that she applied to the FBI in Norfolk to become a special agent in March 2007. During training, she admitted marrying a 57-year-old California resident for the sole purpose of gaining citizenship. Her charges include making false statements to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and lying to the FBI.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Supporters of former Border Patrol agents continue to push president for pardon

A request to suspend or shorten the 10-year and 11-year prison terms of former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean is still pending. Lawyers and family members for both agents are hoping that Bush will commute their sentences before he leaves office at noon on January 20.

Before Thanksgiving, Bush issued pardons for 14 convicted criminals and commutated the sentences of two others. Ramos and Compean were not on that list.

"We have the support of millions of people throughout the country," said Joe Loya, Ramos' father-in-law. "And that includes about 150 congressmen and senators. Among the elected officials who have publicly come out and supported the commutation for the agents, who were convicted of shooting a drug dealer, are U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California

Even U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton has said that the 10-year sentence is too much for these former agents. Ramos' lawyer, David Botsford, said he hopes Bush takes into account what Sutton has said.

"Hopefully, Mr. Sutton, who has publicly admitted that the sentence is too harsh, will recommend to the President that at least a portion of their sentence be commutated," Botsford said.

You can help build pressure for pardoning the two by sending an email alert demanding a pardon. Visit www.usbc.org and go to the Legislation Action Center or click on this link to go directly to the email to send to the Presdent.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

California Congressmen predict more amnesty legislation ahead

President-elect Barack Obama chose Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his secretary of Homeland Security, and according to two California Congressmen, that selection is a sign that the battle of amnesty will have to be waged again.

'I think it sends a clear signal that we’re in for a long fight on this amnesty issue because she’s clearly an open borders advocate,’’ said Rep. Royce.

Napolitano, he said, opposed Proposition 400 in Arizona in 2004 that would have required the state to verify the immigration status of people applying for welfare and requiring them to verify citizenship when voting. She only signed Arizona’s law requiring employers to verify the employment status of workers, he said, after it reached her desk a second time and clearly had overwhelming public support.

'Napolitano is someone who is not committed to stopping the most important security problem we have in America today and that’s illegal immigration, said Rep. Rohrabacher.

Napolitano has been hailed by immigration advocates as someone who supports comprehensive immigration reform and as a border governor who has been intimately involved in such issues.

Royce did note that Napolitano called for the National Guard to continue to patrol the border, something he supports and open border advocates have opposed. 'I would say that her choice is no better or worse than what George Bush has done on homeland security,’’ said Rohrabacher.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Obama nominee Napolitano on immigration

President-elect Barack Obama has nominated Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to be Secretary of Homeland Security in his administration. Early this year, Napolitano was interviewed on the immigration priorities she would recommend to a new president.

Reflecting her experience as governor of a border state, her first recommendation was that a new president develop an eight-year program for the border and immigration reform, as well as an eight year budget to fund the program.

Napolitano said she would recommend beefing up border security with technology and manpower, cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers, and increasing the availability of work visas. She also included offering amnesty to the country's illegal immigrants.

Earned legalization for illegal immigrants must be on the next president's agenda, Napolitano stressed. And she wouldn’t require waiting for new border security measures to be in place before offering amnesty. “I don't know that you should do those sequentially, “ she said.

In exchange for amnesty, Napolitano would simply require illegal immigrants to pay a fine, learn English, and "get in line.” She would not require illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before earning amnesty.

She also opposes asking border governors to certify the integrity of the border, a proposal of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. Relying on governors to certify that the border is secure amounts to shirking responsibility, said Napolitano.