Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama administration names US-Mexican 'border czar;' says it will crack down on drug cartels

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced this week that former Justice Department official Alan Bersin will lead the Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Bersin, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego, already served as the "border czar" to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. He also served as California's education secretary and as superintendent of schools in San Diego.

The Obama administration also announced it was placing three Mexican drug gangs -- the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana -- onto a list of significant foreign narcotics traffickers targeted for special sanctions. The move allows the U.S. government to freeze any cartel assets in U.S. jurisdiction and bars Americans from dealing with funds linked to the groups and their operatives.

The two announcements preceeded Obama’s first trip to Latin American, with a stop in Mexico before the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

Napolitano said Bersin, who begins work immediately, will have the title of assistant secretary for international affairs and special representative for border affairs.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wisconsin landscape company targeted following fatal crash caused by illegal alien driver

In late March, a landscaping truck driven by an illegal alien hit an SUV and caused three fatalities in Richfield, Wisconsin. Terra Tec Landscapes,, the company that employed the three illegals in the truck, has become the target of email accusations.

'You are responsible,' 'You should all be ashamed,' and ’You have blood on your hands' are messages the company has received since the crash. The accident report has been filed, and it officially blamed the driver of the landscaping truck. No citations have been issued yet, but the report said the truck was going 'too fast for conditions.'

The three brothers in the landscaping truck, all illegal aliens, are in the custody of federal immigration authorities and face possible deportation.

Ricardo Guerrero was driving and had a valid license. The attorney for Terra Tec Landscaping said the brothers had filled out all the required employment forms.

A law firm representing the family of one of those who died said, 'The company is responsible for screening employees correctly -- their training and experience, and their conduct on the road.’

Besides the three fatalities, four other passengers in the sport utility vehicle were seriously hurt.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Johnnie Sutton resigns as U.S. Attorney

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of Austin, who served as the top federal prosecutor for 68 Central and West Texas counties during the Bush administration, has tendered his resignation. His last day at the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District will be April 19.

Sutton was nationally reviled for the prosecution of two Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing drug smuggler in the buttocks in a 2005 encounter near El Paso. The prosecution and convictions of Jose Compean, sentenced to 11 years in prison, and Ignacio Ramos, sentenced to 12 years, was angrily derided by advocates of tighter immigration laws.

Bush commuted the two men's sentences in the very last hours of his presidency in January. Ramos and Compean are now free. Called before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, Sutton defended his prosecution of the two.

Sutton, 48, was a prosecutor for eight years in the Harris County district attorney's office before moving to Austin in 1995 as then-Gov. Bush's criminal justice policy director.He followed Bush to Washington, working on the president's transition team and serving in the Justice Department.

President Obama will select a new U.S. Attorney for the office.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Obama's La Raza hire floats trial balloon on amnesty campaign

This week showed why Barack Obama has Celcelia Muñoz on his staff. Muñoz had been a Senior Vice President at the National Council of La Raza, and is now White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

On Wednesday, Muñoz told the New York Times that the administration's illegal alien amnesty campaign would be underway in May. Some in the media called her statement a ‘trial balloon,’ remarks distributed specifically to observe the reaction of the audience.

Supporters of open borders, including the National Council of La Raza, hailed the statement, saying it showed that Obama ‘has made immigration reform one of his top priorities for this year.’ Those who support enforcement of immigration laws, however, were outraged that the administration would even float a ‘trial balloon’ on the issue while millions of American citizens are out of work.

The statement brought the issue of amnesty to the top of the mainstream media's agenda, but White House officials on Thursday played down views that the administration’s priorities are shifting. Said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro. “The economy comes first, that’s why we’re so deeply engaged in that now. We will start an immigration discussion later in the year.”

Pro-immigration groups had been put off by remarks Vice President Joe Biden made to Central American leaders last week that the US administration would need “some forbearance” in moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform at a time when many Americans were losing homes and jobs.

Says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, “The president is being put under a lot of pressure by some very demanding and, in our view, extremist constituents of his base.”

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Charlotte, North Carolina now a key distribution point for Mexican heroin smuggling

The U.S. Justice Department says that Mexican drug traffickers have turned Charlotte into a key distribution point for "black tar" heroin in North Carolina. Heroin-related arrests have jumped.

John Emerson, assistant special agent in charge for the N.C. bureau of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said that "multiple" cells operate in Charlotte. At least three have been shut down in the past two years.

The cartels don't discriminate among customers. They sell their drugs to low-income users and uptown bankers, police and treatment officials say. And they're increasingly selling to young people - "teens in high schools," said Capt. Mike Adams of the city’s vice and narcotics unit.

Statewide, heroin seizures increased 77 percent last year, according to the DEA. Heroin abuse is surging. On average, each day last year the local drug treatment center had seven to eight new people seeking methadone treatment. Now they get 15 to 20.

‘Black tar’ heroin gets its name from its color and texture. One officer describes it as being like "a warm tootsie roll." And at $12.50 a dose, it's about half the price of other available forms.

Federal drug-enforcement officials said the increase in drug trafficking is a direct correlation with immigration. Charlotte has one of the country's fastest growing immigrant populations. An estimated 390,000 illegal immigrants live in North Carolina.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Recurring nightmare 'Dream Act' reintroduced in House and Senate

The 'Dream Act' would grant amnesty and a 'path to citizenship' to a broad range of illegal aliens who meet certain minimal educational requirements and broad definitions relating to student status. In truth, it's surely a recurring nightmare for students seeking to attend college as legal citizens, as the 'Dream Act' could find their slot at their dream college taken by an illegal alien.

Amnesty supporters in Congress again introduced the 'Dream Act' (also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). Authored by Democrat Senator Dick Durbin (S.729) and Democrat Congressman Howard Berman (H.R.1751), the Senate bill has 7 cosponsors, including Democrats Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy as well as Republican Senators Dick Lugar and Mel Martinez. The House bill has 9 co-sponsors, including Democrats House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, and Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren.

The legislation would grant broad-based amnesty, and ultimately, citizenship, to illegal aliens who entered the country before a certain age if they can meet minimal educational standards; would changed federal law to allow states to subsidize college tuition for illegal aliens even when that subsidy is not available to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants attending a state college; and would render moot any lawsuits filed by U.S. citizens against a state or colleges when state law allowed colleges to grant in-state tuition without offering the same benefit to U.S. citizens not residing in the state.

Taking things even further, the San Mateo Community College District, on the San Francisco Peninsula has distributed a mass email announcing a scholarship for illegal alien students of "Chicano/ Latino descent" only.

Friday, April 03, 2009

"How can you give up when people aren't giving up on you?"

Ignacio Ramos managed to get through two years inprison in solitary confinement by remembering those who were supporting his case, including U.S. Border Control, and Jose Compean echoed his sentiments. Ramos credited the outside support with helping him win clemency and keeping his spirits up during his imprisonment.

"Members from Congress were speaking about us, people writing us constantly, it felt so good to know that people didn't give up on us and that people constantly believed in us," he said.

After spending two "hard, long, lonely" years in prison, the two said they were looking forward to spending time with their families and putting this chapter of their lives behind them.

"There are more important things than the people that have done this to us or what we have gone through and I am not going to sit here and dwell on that," Ramos said after beginning a ‘supervised release’ in late March.

"We are looking ahead. We're optimistic for a very good future and that's what's more important," Ramos said.

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from two former Border Patrol agents, but additional appeals are being planned through the lower courts. The high court refused to consider an appeal from the former agents, who were convicted in 2006 of shooting Osvaldo Aldrete Davila near El Paso on the Texas-Mexico border.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obama's illegal alien aunt gets federal protection at immigration hearing

President Barack Obama's illegal alien aunt appealed a deportation order dressed in a wig of curly red and gold hair, sunglasses, and an ankle length coat of fake fur. She emerged after a brief, closed-door hearing in US Immigration Court in Boston and smiled broadly, having won 10 more months in the U.S.

"Praise God," Zeituni Onyango said softly, holding her head high.

At the initial appearance, said Department of Justice officials, the judge explained the deportation charges against her and detailed her rights. A second hearing was set for February 4, 2010 when she will be able to plead her request. A decision is generally made at the second hearing, said Justice officials.

The half-sister of Obama’s deceased Kenyan father, Onyango tried to avoid reporters, leaving the court through a back door. The hearing was closed to the public at the request of her lawyer, and she was escorted by Federal Protective Service officers.

She was ordered deported from the United States in 2004, but has been living in public housing in Boston since that time. Last December, following Obama's election victory, a court allowed her to have the case reopened. Obama says he never knew his aunt was living illegally in the United States.

The decision to provide federal officers as an escort and to take Onyango in and out of the court through special entrances reflected "some security concerns," said Justice officials. It was unclear who paid for her legal team. The government does not provide lawyers in immigration appeals.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Supreme Court to announce this week whether it will review Ramos, Compean convictions

David Botsford, attorney for former Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos, expects that the Supreme Court will announce this week whether it will review the prosecution and conviction of Ramos and Jose Compean. Together with Compean’s attorney, Botsford has asked the Supreme Court to wipe the convictions off the record.

The sentences of the two former agents were commuted by former President George W. Bush on his last day in office. The two were prosecuted for the nonfatal shooting of a Mexican drug smuggler after he abandoned a load of marijuana near the border.

The former agents were released from prison February 17 and confined to house arrest for 31 days. They were barred from speaking pubicly until their sentences ended March 20.

Several members of Congress had called on Bush over the years to either pardon the agents or commute their sentences. At one point, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in Texas, whose office prosecuted the case, said in an interview that the 'punishment was high' but that Congress had mandated the sentences by requiring that 10 years be added to any sentence for discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

Members of U.S. Border Control, with other border security activists, had gathered millions of the signatures asking Bush to pardon or commute the sentences of the two men.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Americans strongly in support of local immigration enforcement, border fence, penalties for firms that hire illegals

Americans are strongly in support of local law enforcement of immigration laws. Some 73 percent of respondents to a mid-March poll said that police officers should automatically check to see if someone is in the country legally when vehicles are pulled over for traffic violations.

Two-third of those polled also said that if law enforcement officers know of places where illegal aliens gather to find work, generally known as day laborer locations, they should conduct surprise raids to identify and deport illegal aliens.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) said they want strict government penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens. Only 22 percent of respondents opposed such penalties. In addition, 48 percent support strict government sanctions on landlords who rent or sell property to illegal immigrants.

Additional questions found that 79 percent of those polled support using troops on the U.S.-Mexico border to protect Americans from drug-related violence. The number of those in support of troops on the border jumped 21 percent in two months, two months during which many Americans learned the extent of violence by Mexican drug cartels. A total of 82 percent of respondents said they are concerned that Mexican drug violence will spill over into the United States, including 50 percent who say that they are very concerned.

Finally, the poll found that more than 60 percent want the Department of Homeland Security to continue to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Border crackdown to target drug smuggling, drug violence

Federal agents and surveillance equipment will be added to parts of the border with Mexico in an effort to prevent drug violence from spreading into the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday announced the plan to spend $700 million to curb drug smuggling and the escalating border violence. About $30 million in stimulus money will go to local and state law enforcement agencies along the border, and x-ray equipment will be installed at most points of entry. Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, said the administration is also considering requests by Texas and Arizona to deploy the National Guard.

In Mexico, 6,290 killings were blamed on the drug cartels in 2008. In Ciudad Juarez, directly across the border from El Paso, Texas, more than 1,600 people were killed, while In El Paso, 18 killings were reported.

In Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, 843 people were slain in 2008, more than half during the last three months of the year. In San Diego — with a population about the same as Tijuana — 26 people were killed last year. In Phoenix, Arizona, kidnappings in 2008 rose to an all-time high of 364.

The administration said its effort includes doubling border enforcement security teams that combine local, state, and federal officers; and adding 16 new Drug Enforcement Administration positions in the southwestern region to complement the 1,000 agents already working there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Results of workplace raids show more employment for legal workers, increased wages

Though religious and pro-immigration leaders are urging the Obama administration to end workplace immigration raids, a study by the Center for Immigration Studies demonstrates the raids’ positive results.

In late 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel raided six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, and Utah. Workers in the industry had seen a dramatic decline in wages over the previous 30 years, with the average wages of meatpackers in 2007 45 percent lower than those in 1980, adjusted for inflation. Work throughout the industry, and at the six Swift plants, is characterized by difficult and dangerous conditions. It is estimated that 23 percent of Swift’s production workers at the time of the raids were illegal immigrants. The study showed:

  • All plants resumed production the same day as the raised, and returned to production within five moths, showing that they could operate at full capacity without the presence of illegal workers.

  • After the raids, the number of native-born workers increased significantly. Swift also recruited a large number of refugees who are legal immigrants.

  • Wages and bonuses rose an average of 8 percent with the departure of illegal immigrants.

  • In addition to pay increases, Swift paid bonuses to new employees, and to current employees who recruited others. It also advertised heavily, paid relocation expenses, and provided daily transportation from distant population centers.

  • Many members of the communities were enthusiastically supportive of the raids; others were sharply critical.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Anti-illegal Hispanic woman on the ballot in April 7 Chicago Congressional race

Rosanna Pulido, a native Chicagoan, founder and current director of the Illinois Minuteman Project, is the Republican candidate in Illinois’ April 7 special congressional election. She is also the Illinois Spokesperson for "You Don't Speak For Me"- a campaign of American Hispanics speaking out against illegal immigration.

On March 3, she won the Republican nomination in the state’s Fifth District, and will be on the ballot to fill Rahm Emanuel’s vacant seat. A businesswoman and an advocate for senior citizens, she produced and hosted Caregivers Radio, a program dedicated to the concerns and needs of senior citizens and their families.

She is also a staunch advocate for veterans and for those who serve in law enforcement. She has worked extensively with sheriffs across the country in addressing the many problems created by illegal immigration, and has been endorsed by "America's toughest Sheriff," Arizona’s Joe Arpaio.

Ms. Pulido places the survival of the U.S. above the nebulous "rights" of people who are in this country illegally. About the race, she has said “One of my opponents is Mike Quigley who voted to make Cook County the first Sanctuary County in the Nation. He is very proud of thumbing his nose at Federal law and making his own laws. I am sure he is counting on the illegal alien vote to help him win this Congressional seat.

“The same goes for the two other top Democrats. They are sold out to their special interest groups, which happen to be the Open Borders Lobby. Sara Feinholtz and John Fritchey both ushered in in-state tuition for illegal aliens, they both voted to accept the Matricula Consular which is an invalid form of ID. They both voted to intimidate Employers in Illinois from using E-Verify, a tool that helps businesses identify potential employees that are legally authorized to work in the United States,” she concluded.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Overwhelming majority of U.S. voters support troops on the border to fight drug violence

U.S. voters want the military to be used along the border with Mexico to protect American citizens from drug-related violence. President Obama has expressed concern about the rise of drug violence in Mexico and is reportedly considering sending the National Guard to the border.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of voters are concerned that Mexican drug violence will spill over into the United States, including 50% who are very concerned, a sizable jump in this concern also over the past two months.

Ninety percent (90%) of GOP voters say the military should be used to protect U.S. citizens if the violence crosses into this country, compared to 72% of Democrats and 76% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties.

Yet the majority of GOP voters (53%) remain more concerned about illegal immigration than growing drug violence. Sixty-three percent (63%) of Democrats, on the other hand, are more concerned about drug-related violence.

Even without the higher level of concern about drug-related violence, 74% of voters said in early December that the federal government is not doing enough to secure the country’s borders. Homeland Security has announced that it is using money from the new economic stimulus plan to continue work on the border fence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wal-Mart to go Hispanic in the U.S.

You may be a loyal Wal-Mart shopper, but is Wal-Mart loyal to you?

Wal-Mart will open the first of a series of Hispanic-focused supermarkets this summer in Arizona and Texas. The first stores, named Supermercado de Walmart, will open in Phoenix and Houston in remodelled locations previously occupied by two of the company’s Neighborhood Market stores.

Wal-Mart said the stores are in 'strongly Hispanic neighbourhoods' and will feature a 'new lay-out, signing and product assortment designed to make them even more relevant to local Hispanic customers'. The staff will be bilingual. The company’s Sam’s Club warehouse store also plans to open a 143,000 sq ft Hispanic-focused store called Más Club in Houston.

Several leading regional US supermarket chains already operate Hispanic store brands, including Publix in Florida, which operates three Publix Sabor markets, and HEB in Texas, which opened a Mi Tienda store in Houston in 2006. The markets include elements such as cafés serving Latino pastries and coffee, and full service meat and fish counters.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, the head of Wal-Mart’s US stores since 2005, raised the idea of turning the Neighbourhood Market into a Hispanic-style bodega concept several years ago. Castro-Wright was previously head of Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, whose store network ranges from large US-style Supercenters to small local bodegas, an upmarket supermarket chain and two restaurant chains.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mexicans officials, journalists seek asylum in US, even in a cell

Drug-related violence in Mexico has become so overwhelming that some police officers and journalists would rather sit in a cell at a US immigration detention center. The alternative includes being caught in the crossfire between rival gangs in Mexico.

The situation in Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, can be described by police officer Salvador Hernandez Arvizu, who was sequestered in a U.S. Immigration holding cell.

After his name was blacklisted by drugs gangs, he was hit by two bullets a year ago while walking with his family in a downtown area. He was rushed to a medical centre 'guarded by dozens of armed agents', but his fear of further violence was greater than the pain he was suffering. In less than a month, he had left his hospital bed and crossed the border to El Paso, where he applied to US immigration authorities for political asylum and was promptly placed in a holding cell.

Jorge Luis Aguirre, a Mexican journalist, soon found himself in the same predicament. An anonymous phone call forced him into exile in El Paso. The call came as he was driving to the funeral of a journalist from El Diario de Juarez newspaper, who had been shot dead.

The 51-year-old journalist, together with his wife and three adult children, currently lives in El Paso on a temporary one-year visa that had been previously granted so he could report on both sides of the border.

Whatever the inconvenience, Aguirre says sitting in jail would be a better option than a return to Mexico. 'Of course I would prefer seven months in jail because it's a matter of life and death,” he said.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

E-Verify wins six-month extension for now

The omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday reauthorizes E-Verify through the end of September, the end of the federal fiscal year. The omnibus spending package was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., had offered an amendment to extend authorization for the E-Verify program for five years, but that proposal was tabled in the Senate with a vote of 50-47.

E-Verify allows employers to quickly to check the citizenship status of employees and potential employees, without charge. Said one human resources officer, “I hope they keep it. By using E-Verify, it saves us a lot of trouble down the road.”

While those in favor of immigration enforcement have been pushing to make E-verify mandatory, some Democrats, as well as immigration supporters, oppose the program and would like to see it scrapped. As the number of queries to E-Verify continues to grow by leaps and bounds through the spring and summer months, Congress will have to tackle the question again in September.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Without congressional extension, E-Verify could shut down this week

As it begins to become a standard hiring practice for legitimate employers, E-Verify, the free, online program run by the Department of Homeland Security, will shut down thus week unless it is reauthorized by Congress. The program enables employers to quickly and simply check that new hires are indeed eligible to work in the United States.

New data from the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that online employer queries to the system are already approaching 3 million in 2009, nearly half the total 6.6 million queries in 2008. The total for 2008 was more than double the use of the system in 2007. If the usage for 2009 continues at the same rate, the number of employer queries for this year will be 442% greater than in 2007.

In 2008, about one of eight new hires nationwide was checked through E-Verify. If the projected growth rate continues, one-quarter to one-third of all new hires will be verified by the E-Verify system, putting it well on the way to becoming a standard hiring practice for all legitimate employers.

Increased employer satisfaction with E-Verify – demonstrated by the steady increases in employer sign-ups and queries with E-Verify – indicates that E-Verify is one of the most successful programs initiated by the government.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Iowa’s Rep. King critical of nearly $1 million earmark in omnibus bill for LaRaza

Iowa Congressman Steve King has blasted a $950,000 earmark for a racist Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the omnibus spending bill that passed the U.S. House Wednesday. Senate Republicans blocked the $410 billion measure Thursday night, forcing Congressional Democrats to prepare a stopgap budget resolution to keep the federal government from shutting down.

King called the National Council of La Raza a 'pro-amnesty organization' and said 'the last thing Congress should be doing is handing out cash to apologists for immigration law breakers. American taxpayers do not support La Raza’s agenda or its position in support of amnesty for illegal aliens.'

La Raza has been a focal point of conservative criticism over the years, ranging from claims that it encourages illegal immigration to the United States to accusations that it is exclusionary in its approach to civil rights.

King is not alone in his criticism of certain earmarks in the omnibus bill. Many conservative lawmakers called on President Barack Obama to demand the extra spending be eliminated from the bill, but Democrats were quick to point out Republicans have requested their fair share of earmarks, too.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Struggle continues to retain E-Verify program

While immigration advocates and groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce work to kill the E-Verify program, the Department of Homeland Security and its Citizenship & Immigration Services have introduced a new E-Verify program that will help make sure that foreign-born citizens eligible to work in the U.S. will not be denied a job because of mismatches.

E-Verify checks employee Social Security numbers against a database to determine whether new hires have proper documentation to work in the United States.

Critics of the program claimed that foreign-born citizens were more likely to receive mismatches, or Tentative Non-confirmations (TNC), when applying for jobs as opposed to U.S.-born citizens.

Though it is funded through the federal fiscal year, which expires September 30, the authorization for E-Verify is scheduled to expire March 6. The House has voted to approve a spending bill which extends the program's authorization by six months. The president's budget proposal sets aside $110 million to expand the program, and in an accompanying statement, the White House said that E-Verify “helps U.S. employers comply with immigration law and ensures that U.S. jobs are available to U.S. citizens and those authorized to work in the United States."

Officials say Homeland Security’s new E-Verify program is already reducing the number of mismatches among foreign-born citizens since it was implemented last month.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Illegal alien to be charged in Washington killing of Chandra Levy

Federal prosecutors have obtained an arrest warrant for an imprisoned illegal alien from El Salvador who they believe was the killer of Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy in May 2001.

The illegal, Ingmar Guandique, is already serving time at a federal prison in Adelanto, California for assaulting two joggers in Rock Creek Park, where Levy was murdered. He is now charged with murdering 24-year-old Levy and faces a conviction that will keep him in prison for another 60 years.

Jeffrey Taylor, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said he believes the illegal killed Levy while she was jogging. Her remains were found in May 2002, a year after she went missing.

Officials revealed that a witness saw and ran from Guandique at the Rock Creek Park on the day Levy went missing. Another witness saw him with a swelled lip and scratches on his face on that same day.

Levy's death became much publicized as then Republican Congressman Gary Condit of California, with whom she had an affair, was questioned about the slaying. He was never named a suspect in the murder.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Illegal aliens may receive mortgage relief under Obama program

As many as one million illegal immigrant households in the United States could receive home mortgage relief under President Obama's $275 billion mortgage relief plan.

'There is no legal prohibition against illegal immigrants owning homes,' said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies '...In most cases mortgage lenders will accept a taxpayer ID or a Matricula Consular card issued by a Mexican Consulate office as identification to illegal immigrants from Mexico.'

About a million illegal immigrant households acquired U.S. mortgages through the beginning of 2007, before the housing bubble burst, Camarota said.

Chad Buchanan, a manager at SaveMyHomeUSA – a group that assists homeowners facing foreclosure, and which is working with the Obama administration – said that illegal immigrants who own a home 'could certainly apply under our program.'

'We don't target or go after illegal immigrant customers,' he said. 'But if an illegal immigrant owns a home legally, we could try to help them under our program.'

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gun dealer faces charges of arming Mexican drug cartel

Eight Mexican agents died last spring after moving in on a safe house full of drug dealers. The agents were not prepared for the fire power that greeted them. An assault rifle police recovered was traced back across the border to a Phoenix gun store called X-Caliber Guns. Its owner, George Iknadosian, goes on trial this week on charges he sold hundreds of weapons to smugglers, knowing they would be sent to a drug cartel in Mexico.

Guns help fuel ongoing cartel warfare in which more than 6,000 Mexicans died in 2008. Drug gangs seek out guns in the United States because gun-control laws are far tougher in Mexico. Mexican civilians must get approval from the military to buy guns and cannot own large-caliber rifles or high-powered pistols, which are considered military weapons.

Gun laws in the United States allow the sale of multiple military-style rifles to American citizens without reporting the sales to the government. There are more than 6,600 licensed dealers in the U.S. along the Mexican border, many operating out of their houses.

Smugglers routinely enlist Americans with clean criminal records to buy two or three rifles at a time, often from different shops, then transport them across the border in cars and trucks. Mexican authorities say they seized 20,000 weapons from drug gangs in 2008, most of them bought in the United States.

U.S. officials estimate 90 percent of the weapons recovered in Mexico come from dealers north of the border. Iknadosian is accused of being one of those dealers. Officials say in two years, he sold more than 700 weapons of the kind currently sought by drug dealers in Mexico. At least 600 of those weapons, they say, were smuggled to Mexico.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ICE agent removed illegal alien during church service

On a Sunday morning in October, in a church sanctuary in Texas, an off-duty immigration agent tapped Jose Juan Hernandez on the shoulder and asked him to step outside. Hernandez, a 31-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who has already been deported three times, followed the agent and was promptly detained on suspicion of illegal re-entry after deportation.

Hernandez was detained and arrested October 26, pleaded guilty to the re-entry charge in February and is scheduled for sentencing in April. He remains in federal detention.

Yet his attorney, Rick Soliz, said he plans to file a complaint against the ICE agent in connection with the arrest. “I wonder what the agent was thinking, if he was thinking at all,” Soliz said. “How do you decide to do that in the middle of a religious service?”

ICE has defended the agent’s actions as fulfilling his “sworn duty to enforce the nation’s laws.” The agency has guidelines related to arrests “in sensitive community locations” which allow agents to make arrests at churches in specific circumstances.

Hernandez is expected to again be deported after he serves his sentence. Court records show he was convicted of a felony drug charge and deported in 2000. He was deported again in 2001. He was convicted for DWI in January 2004, and in October of that year, he was convicted of driving without a valid license. He was deported for a third time in 2004, according to ICE records.

Hernandez has been in the U.S. illegally since age 6.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mexican protestors prefer drug cartels to army

Hundreds of Mexicans blocked bridges to the United States in three border cities- Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa. The demonstrators said they want the Mexican army to leave their area and to stop trying to quell drug violence.

Demonstrators, mostly women and children, blocked the bridge leading from Ciudad Juarez to downtown El Paso, Texas. They shouted "Soldiers, get out!" as they stood in front of about 20 troops in green army pickup trucks.

The demonstrations displayed discontent against the government's role in an anti-drug crackdown staarted two years ago by Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Calderon deployed soldiers across the country to fight the drug cartels While 
Calderon's offensive was initially popular, drug violence has only surged since then, with drug gangs beheading rivals and attacking police.

More than 6,000 people were killed in drug violence in 2008. Border towns have been transformed by the crackdown, with soldiers in ski masks regularly rumbling down the streets in large convoys.

The same day the protest occurred in Ciudad Juarez, three police officers were shot to death by unidentified assailants on a street near the U.S. consulate. Another officer was wounded.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Increased numbers of Latinos and illegal aliens sentenced in federal courts

Criminals being sentenced in federal courts are increasingly Latino. In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all federal offenders, more than three times their portion (13%) of the total U.S. adult population. At 40%, the Latino number of all sentenced offenders was up 175% from their 23% in 1991.

By 2007, immigration offenses made up nearly one-quarter (24%) of all federal convictions. They were just 7% in 1991. Hispanics made up 80% of those sentenced for immigration offenses in 2007, due to the sharp growth in illegal immigration and increased enforcement of immigration laws.

Demonstrating the sharp growth in illegal immigration, by 2007, Latinos without U.S. citizenship represented 29% of all federal offenders. Of all Latino offenders, 72% were illegal aliens, up from 61% in 1991. Far fewer illegal aliens sentenced were white offenders (8%) or black offenders (6%).

Fully 75% of Latino offenders sentenced for immigration crimes in 2007 were convicted of entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization.

Hispanics who were convicted of any federal offense were more likely than non-Hispanics to be sentenced to prison. But among all federal offenders sentenced to prison, Hispanics were also more likely than blacks or whites to receive a shorter prison term. The statistics were included in the report "A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime," published by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Haiti blocks deportations from U.S.

U.S. immigration authorities have ordered 30,000 Haitians to leave the country, but officials in Haiti are refusing to issue the travel documents needed for the deportations. They say the Caribbean nation needs time to recover from last year's devastating hurricanes and cannot handle the return of its citizens.

The action has clogged U.S. immigration detention centers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says about 600 Haitian deportees are in detention centers and another 240 are under house arrest.

The U.S. government halted deportations to Haiti for three months last year, starting in September, after back-to-back storms killed nearly 500 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

Soon after resuming flights in December, the administration of then President George W. Bush denied Haiti's request for temporary protected status. The designation would have allowed Haitians living in the United States illegally to stay and work temporarily.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Did you enjoy the Mexican candy?

Saturday was Valentine's Day, celebrated with flowers and candy, but increasingly, that candy is coming from Mexico. From jellied hearts to Hershey's chocolates, Mexico's candy exports to the United States have more than doubled since 2002 as manufacturers chase cheap labor and sugar south of the border.

The latest arrival is Hershey, which is building a 1,500-employee factory in Monterrey, Mexico. Since 2007, the company has closed or shrunk factories in Oakdale, Calif.; Reading, Pa.; San Francisco and other sites.

Hershey’s is following Brach's Confections, famous for caramels, and Ferrera Pan Candy, maker of Red Hots and Jaw Breakers. In January, Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut opened a plant in Monterrey to produce about 100,000 tons of chocolate and cocoa a year for Hershey and other food makers. Mars Inc.'s Mexican branch produces Snickers and Milky Ways at a chocolate factory opened in 2007 in the northern city of Montemorelos, Mexico.

"All these companies want to make it cheap overseas somewhere, then bring it back and sell it to our people who don't have any jobs to buy it," said Dennis Bomberger, business manager of Chocolate Workers Local 464 in Hershey, Pa.

Even Mexican officials say they are unhappy, noting that chocolate factories are buying most of their cacao, the raw ingredient of cocoa and chocolate, at cheaper prices from Africa and Brazil, not Mexico.

Brach's Confections Inc. closed its Chicago factory in 2003 and moved to Linares, Mexico. Bobs Candies of Albany, Ga., a leader in the candy-cane business, moved its production to Reynosa, Mexico in 2005. In crime-ridden Juarez, Mexico, Sunrise Confections opened a plant in 2001 to make candies for U.S. grocery-store brands. For Valentine's Day, it churns out jellied hearts and cinnamon hearts.

Friday, February 13, 2009

E-Verify requirement stripped from stimulus package

A requirement that employers who get money federal stimulus money must first ue the federal E-Verify program to vet employees has been stripped from the final version of the $787 billion stimulus package. The move is a victory for those who called the E-Verify requirement unnecessary. Also cut from the final conference report was a provision to extend the E-Verify program beyond March 6, when it is set to expire.

The elimination of E-Verify from the stimulus bill is a major disappointment for those concerned about preventing illegal aliens from benefiting from stimulus programs. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said dropping the verification requirement was a mistake, both from a policy and a political sense.

"As a policy matter, when you are spending hundreds of billions on job creation, it should be for Americans and legal immigrants, and not illegal aliens," he said.

According to the DHS's own estimates,about 96% of employees are authorized for work within 24 hours, while about 4% receive initial mismatches. Less than one-half of a percent of those mismatches are later confirmed to be authorized to work, meaning the system is generally reliable in spotting mismatches.

Sen. Jeff Sessions had attempted to add E-Verify back into the bill, citing studies that said several hundred thousand stimulus jobs will go to illegal aliens without the requirement. Sessions urged a floor vote, saying that E-Verify would more than likely pass a vote in the Senate.

“The purpose of the bill is to put Americans back to work. It is common sense to include a simple requirement that the people hired to fill stimulus-created jobs be lawful American residents,” Sessions said.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Group of representatives seek to halt border fence construction

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, along and seven other Democratic members of the House have asked President Obama to halt the construction of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, until an evaluation of border security operations being conducted by the new administration is concluded.

'We strongly believe the Bush Administration's approach of constructing a fence along much of the Southwest border was ill-conceived as it was void of any meaningful input from the local communities or the Border Patrol Sector Chiefs who are most familiar with the challenges of securing our border," said the representatives' letter to Obama.

During the Bush administration, hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to private contractors to bring the total miles of border fences and vehicle barriers to 600 miles, up from 145 miles in September 2006. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff used a waiver granted to him in the Real ID Act of 2005 on four occasions during his tenure to bypass environmental law and move forward with the fencing project, angering many environmentalists and border residents.

The group's letter criticizes the use of that waiver and violations of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, citing the destruction of 69 Tohono O'odham graves south of Tucson in 2007.

The seven other Democratic members of the House of Representatives who signed the letter along with Grijalva include five from Texas and two from California: Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas; Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas; Ciro D. Rodriguez, D-Texas; Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; Bob Filner, D-Calif.; and Susan Davis, D-Calif.

Monday, February 09, 2009

16 illegal aliens sue Arizona rancher over their ‘civil rights’

Roger Barnett has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his land in Arizona. He is now being sued by 16 Mexicans who accuse him of conspiring to violate their “civil rights” when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In 1998, Barnett began rounding up illegal immigrants and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home. Federal and county law enforcement officials acknowledge his ranch, near Douglas, Ariz., is 'the avenue of choice' for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.

The 16 illegals have sued Barnet for $32 million in actual and punitive damages. Also named are Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, the sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live.

The immigrants are represented at trial by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which charged that Sheriff Dever did nothing to prevent Barnett from holding their clients at gunpoint.

U.S. District Judge John Roll has already rejected a motion to have the charges dropped, ruling there was sufficient evidence to present the matter to a jury. Barnett's attorney, David Hardy, has argued that illegal immigrants did not have the same rights as U.S. citizens.

'This is my land. I’m the victim here,' Barnett says. 'When someone’s home and loved ones are in jeopardy and the government seemingly can’t do anything about it, I feel justified in taking matters into my own hands. And I always watch my back.'

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Los Angeles City Council approves $12.85 million payout to demonstrators

Two hundred demonstrators, most of them illegal aliens, sued the city of Los Angeles after a May Day 2007 melee in which Los Angeles police fired about 12 dozen rubber bullets into the crowd. Now the demonstrators will receive $12.85 million under a settlement approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

The clash between police officers, demonstrators and journalists resulted in more than 300 claims and lawsuits. After reviewing the incident for more than a year, Los Angeles Police Department brass recommended that four officers be fired for their actions that day. In addition, the city's "Board of Rights" also recommended that three officers receive official reprimands; five officers receive three-day suspensions; two officers receive a five-day suspension; and one officer receive a 10-day suspension.

The melee began when 20 to 30 people in the crowd of demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at the police officers. The officers responded by firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

The ‘official’ report released by the LAPD several months after the incident blamed the LAPD, saying that a lack of planning, training and orderly supervision hampered the officers and led to the fracas.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Nominee to head Commerce supports expansion of H1-B foreign worker program

Sen. Gregg Judd, President Barack Obama's new nominee to run the Department of Commerce, comes with a record of wholeheartedly endorsing the expansion of H1-B workers in the technology industry. H-1B is a temporary work visa program which allows companies and universities to employ foreign guest workers with the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in 'specialty occupations.' The intent was to help companies temporarily fill positions when there is not a sufficient qualified American work force.

Gregg co-sponsored a 2007 bill which would have increased the current H1-B visa cap of 65,000 to 150,000, and would have authorized a 20 percent increase beyond that number in any fiscal year after a year in which the cap was met. He voted against a bill introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin to ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers before hiring foreign workers, and he opposed legislation by Sen. Bernie Sanders to raise the fees from $1,500 to $10,000 for employers to import H1-B high-skill workers.

'Helping the high tech industry tap into highly skilled talent from around the world and address well-documented labor shortages not only keeps our economy strong, but creates U.S. jobs and deters employers from sending work elsewhere,' Judd stated.

His perspective, however, is tempered by strong opposition. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), a frequent critic of the tech industry's use of the H1-B visa system, has already staked out ground opposing the expanded use of H1-B visas.

Grassley wrote in a Jan. 22 letter to Microsoft, 'Our immigration policy is not intended to harm the American work force. I encourage Microsoft to ensure that Americans are given priority in job retention. Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times.'

Grassley, Durbin and Sanders are seeking to reform the H1-B program. A bill introduced from Grassley and Durbin would require employers to make a good faith effort to hire American workers first. Employers would also have to show that the H1-B worker would not displace an American worker.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Heading toward collapse, U.S. banks sought foreign workers

As the banking system was melting down in 2008 and Americans were getting laid off, major U.S. banks sought government visas to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs.

The 12 banks now receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, sought increasing numbers of H-1B visas in the past two years, 3,258 in 2007 and 4,163 in 2008. The positions had average annual salaries of $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.

The requests were filed with the Labor Department under the H-1B visa program, which allows temporary employment of foreign workers in specialized-skill and advanced-degree positions. Foreigners are attractive hires because companies have found ways to pay them less than American workers.

The use of visa workers by ailing banks angers Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

'In this time of very, very high unemployment ... and considering the help these banks are getting from the taxpayers, they're playing the American taxpayer for a sucker,' Grassley said. Together with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Grassley is pushing for legislation to make employers recruit American workers first, along with other changes to the visa program.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

US Chamber of Commerce wins further postponement of E-Verify enforcement

An E-Verify regulation won’t be enforced for federal contractors until at least May 21. It was the second postponement of enforcement of the reguation that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has won. In a news release, the Chamber said the extra time will allow the rule “to be reviewed by the Obama administration.”

Rationalizing a campaign to allow contractors to continue to hire illegal aliens, Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the chamber’s public-policy law firm said “The new administration needs time to re-think mandatory E-Verify use, particularly in light of the stressed economy. We are hopeful that the incoming administration will agree that E-Verify is the wrong solution at the wrong time.'

A Chamber lawsuit challenging the rule is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Co-plaintiffs with the chamber are the Society for Human Resource Management, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the HR Policy Association, and the American Council on International Personnel.

The regulation requires contractors to use the E-Verify system to determine if their workers are legally eligible to work in the United States. In the program, employers electronically submit Social Security numbers for employees. If there is a match, the employee is deemed eligible to work. If not, procedures are in place to determine if the 'no-match' is an error, or if the Social Security number is being illegally used.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama's illegal alien aunt seeks asylum in U.S.

President Barack Obama's illegal alien aunt is seeking asylum to stay in the United States. Zeituni Onyango, the 56-year-old Kenyan half-sister of Obama's deceased father, has hired an attorney to represent her at an immigration hearing in Boston on April 1.

Onyango lives in a South Boston slum, and refused to leave the U.S. for her Kenyan homeland after a judge rejected her request for asylum in 2004.

A Boston Housing Authority spokesman told the Boston Herald that Onyango receives a small stipend for working six hours a week as a volunteer resident health advocate in her complex.

Obama’s aunt made a $260 campaign contribution to her nephew's presidential bid from a work address in the city.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

House's SCHIP expansion will benefit illegals

The Senate is considering a House-approved bill that will make it easier for illegal immigrants to take advantage of a program established to provide healthcare to low-income children. A California-based population stabilization organization has called on the Senate to amend the bill and close the loophole.

The expanded version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, SCHIP, weakens verification requirements. Anyone wanting to enroll only needs to show a Social Security card, a card which specifically discourages its use as identification, has no identifying image, and can very easily be forged.

Speaking for Californians for Population Stabilization, Rick Oltman said that while providing healthcare to low-income children is a laudable goal, extending benefits to illegal aliens will mean fewer funds available for poor Americans. He noted that the US already guarantees emergency healthcare for everyone in the country.

He added “Opening up these public programs to allow anybody in the world to have access to them if they can simply get here is wrong. What we do not need to be doing is heaping more patients on top of the taxpayer to pay for healthcare.'

He called on the Senate to amend the legislation to prevent SCHIP benefits from going to individuals who are in the country illegally.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Travel in Mexico prohibited for US military

The outbreak of violence in Mexico has prompted Southern Arizona's largest military installation to restrict troop travel and warn military families and civilian staffers to stay out of Mexico. The troops stationed at Fort Huachuca must get prior approval from the Army post's top brass to cross the border. Violators are subject to military discipline.

The 44,000 U.S. Marines in Southern California are also now prohibited from Mexico’s Tijuana. Citing a wave of violence and murder in Mexico, the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton has made the popular military "R&R" destination and its nearby beaches effectively off-limits for Marines.

Said Mike Alvarez, civilian public information officer for the unit at Camp Pendleton, "The situation in Mexico is now more dangerous than usual. The intent is just to look out for the Marines' safety and well-being."

What is going on here? If it is unsafe for tough, well-trained American soldiers to visit Mexico, why hasn't our State Department issued a warning to students, families, indeed, all Americans to stay out of Mexico? It becomes obvious that the people running our government are withholding the truth so they can continue to advance their plans for open borders, possibly even a North American Union where the U.S., Mexico and Canada are united into a borderless, European-style, economic union.

If there was ever a time to close our borders with Mexico and Canada, this is it. Mexico is on the verge of a possible bloody revolution and Canada has become a staging area for Islamic terrorists. Anybody who thinks dissolving the borders with these two nations makes sense is either completely out of his or her mind or are in the employ of the multinational conglomerates who care nothing at all about the nations they are destroying.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Can't afford to visit Beirut? Try Mexico - it's almost as dangerous

The big lie continues that Mexico is a civilized nation that we should embrace with open arms and open borders. The truth is that Mexico is one of the most corrupt nations in our hemisphere and, right now, is very close to a state of total anarchy.

The drug cartels (see map at right), who, for years have controlled many of Mexico's politicians and more than a few American politicians are now in open warfare with the government for total control of the country.

Most recently, a Mexico police chief's head, stuffed into an ice box, was delivered to his colleagues in the country's latest drug-related violence. The incident came as 16 other people were also killed in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua in attacks the authorities believe are linked to the country's drug wars.

"Hitmen cut off commander Martin Castro's head and left it in an ice cooler in front of the local police station," said a statement issued by the state justice authorities. Along with the head was a warning from the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel.

The police commander, only five days after starting his job, was abducted along with five other police officers and a civilian, . Six bodies in police uniforms bearing signs of torture and gunshot wounds were found in a street in the state capital, Chihuahua.

Along the northern areas bordering the US, more than 5,300 people were killed last year. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department has, thus far, refused to issue a warning asking Americans to avoid this very dangerous and often deadly part of the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tancredo, Cornym, Rorabacher thrilled with commutation of border agents’ sentences

Tom Tancredo, who until this month was a Colorado congressman, says he's ecstatic over President Bush's decision to commute the sentences of two former Border Patrol Agents on his last day in office.

By the end of March, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos will finally get to be home with their families. More than 80 members of Congress had signed a petition asking for their release and urged the president to free the men. 
Tancredo was one of the lawmakers who spearheaded the release effort, and has since formed the Rocky Mountain Foundation to continue to pursue a border enforcement agenda.

"I am ecstatic. I'm just glad as I can possibly be -- and I thank God,"
Tancredo said. He will continue to work to get the two men a full pardon so they can return to their jobs, “but it is more important that they are finally getting out of jail.”

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said “I am extremely pleased the president answered my plea, and that of like-minded colleagues and millions of Texans and Americans, in commuting the sentences of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean. This case cried out for a commutation and the president has now acted to right the wrongs of their excessive and unjust sentences.”

Said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California: “Our prayers have been answered! This is not just a day of celebration for the families but it is a victory for all Americans. The hearts of all patriotic Americans are filled with joy at the announcement that our brave border defenders, Ramos and Compean, will be freed from unjust captivity. “

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush finally commutes sentences of Ramos and Compean

With less than 24 hours left in his presidency, George W. Bush at last granted clemency to two former Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. The two had received lengthy prison sentences after being convicted of shooting a fleeing Mexican drug dealer.

Clemency for the two former agents was a major goal of USBC and attracted considerable support among all advocates of tougher border security, who had repeatedly argued that the agents were just doing their jobs.

A large number of senators and representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, had supported clemency for the two men. A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2007 emphasized that the drug dealer had crossed the United States-Mexican border illegally and drove a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth almost $1 million.

The commutation granted by President Bush means the prison sentences of Ramos and Compean, both from El Paso, Texas, will expire on March 20, but leaves intact the three years of post-imprisonment probation and fines of $2,000 each. Both had been in prison since early 2007. Much of that time was spent in solitary confinement, which was said necessary to protect the former law enforcement agents from other inmates.

Bush commuted the sentences before he received a recommendation from the Justice Department's pardon attorney. "The Office of the Pardon Attorney was still in the process of reviewing the clemency requests from Compean and Ramos at the time these commutations were granted," a Justice official says.

In fact, the Justice Department was still reviewing the applications and had not made a recommendation to the White House.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Time is quickly running out for Bush to pardon Border Patrol agents

With just over 48 hours remaining in office, President Bush is being urged by lawmakers to commute the sentences of two former Border Patrol agents serving time in federal prison.

Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos are each serving sentences of more than 10 years for shooting a Mexican drug runner. They were wrongly convicted for protecting the United States against a criminal illegal crossing the US border.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who has taken up the cause in the House, held a press conference last week urging U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the prosecutor in the case, to support commutation.

Rohrabacher said: “We are asking Sutton to look into his heart as a prosecutor and advise the President to commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean so they will not spend the next ten years in solitary confinement.”

Republican Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California sent a letter to President Bush in 2008 asking for a commutation of the sentence. The letter followed a Senate hearing examining the case.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Former NFL player finds dream fulfilled as US border agent

Many young men dream of playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears or the Washington Redskins. But Jamaal Green, a defensive end for each of those teams in the past five years, dreamed of working in law enforcement. That dream came true last February when he became a U.S. Border Patrol agent in the El Paso area.

Born and raised in Camden, N.J., Green said it was never his boyhood dream to play football. After being urged to play by a coach, he was named to the New Jersey All-State first team, earned a full scholarship to the University of Miami, and was picked during the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Later he played for the Bears and the Redskins.

Many of Green's coworkers have asked him why he gave up the glamorous life of an NFL player to become an agent. While at the Border Patrol academy, Green said he received calls from the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans with offers to join their respective practice squads. He declined.

'Agent Green is representative of our expanded recruitment efforts that continue to be conducted throughout the nation,' said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. 'His background speaks highly of the quality of our employees and the varied work experiences that support our national strategy of protecting our nation's borders.'

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Border Chief wins $61,000 bonus despite delays in building fence, failure to support agents

The Bush administration has awarded a $61,200 bonus to Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar, despite agency criticism by Congress for delays in the border fence project and for accelerating a hiring program that auditors say threatens to reduce the quality of field supervision.

Aguilar has also been criticized by border agents for not supporting former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. His non-support was greeted with a unanimous "no confidence" vote by the union representing non-supervisory border agents.

The presidential merit bonus, equal to 35 percent of Aguilar's $172,000 annual pay, is almost double the size of the $36,658 base starting salary for a Border Patrol agent.

The bonus angered many field agents, some of whom told the chief in an unsigned letter that the agency has been damaged and field agents jeopardized by his "politically expedient decisions."

The agents' four-page letter focuses on two major topics: a virtual fence project along the Arizona-Mexico border that it called "ineffective and too costly," and changes at the Border Patrol Academy to meet a presidential mandate of hiring 6,000 more agents by the end of 2008. The letter accuses Chief Aguilar of ignoring top Border Patrol executives who unanimously opposed the academy changes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hispanics preferred in Dallas transit hiring

The Dallas, Texas transit agency, DART, has been accused of hiring discrimination, with at least one woman claiming she was fired after complaining about being ordered to hire under-qualified Hispanics for jobs.

African-American community leaders have asked Dallas City council members to investigate.

Former DART employee Rebecca Williams is among at least five people who have filed federal discrimination complaints against their old bosses, with Williams claiming she was fired after complaining about being ordered to hire Hispanics.

Community leaders have met with DART officials looking for answers and found nothing but frustration.

They took their complaint to City Hall hoping that city council members would take an interest, but only council member Dwaine Carroway appeared to reach out. Carroway and other council members' powers are limited to appointing eight of DART's 15 board members.

The issue appears to be headed to court.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Possible ICE leader urges pardon for Ramos and Compean

A candidate for Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has urged President Bush to pardon ex-Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Miguel Contreras, a retired federal investigative official, said he wrote the letter hoping that Bush will grant the two El Pasoans a pardon or reduce their sentences.

"I reviewed everything I could find related to their cases, and based on my extensive experience, Compean and Ramos should be released and reinstated to their former jobs," said Contreras, who lives in Yuma, Arizona.

Contreras, a security consultant, has worked for 30 years for various law enforcement agencies and departments, including ICE, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"I don't know Miguel Contreras, but I am thankful, because every little bit helps," said Joe Loya, Ramos' father-in-law. "We understand more pardons and commutations are coming down January 15, and we are praying Compean and Ramos are included.

If Bush's term expires without his acting on the case, then it's possible the Obama administration might consider it. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, was among more than 100 U.S. lawmakers who signed House Resolution 563 in support of a congressional pardon for the two men; the entire House has not voted on the proposal.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bush's 'midnight regulation' will hurt citizens and hurt farm workers

Opponents of illegal immigration and advocates for farm workers are blasting a 'midnight regulation' by President George W. Bush which would change the Labor Department’s H-2A Temporary Agriculture Worker Program, making it easier for agricultural employers to hire foreign workers.

The change would both undermine worker protections and set wage levels so low that U.S. workers could not compete with foreigners for jobs. The regulation allows agricultural employers to hire temporary foreign workers if not enough domestic workers are 'able or willing' to fill farm jobs.

Bush’s regulation is expected to take effect January 17, three days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office. ‘Midnight regulations’ are rules pushed by the executive branch in the waning days of a lame-duck president's term, but the incoming president is free to revise or revoke such last-minute changes.

The number of workers covered by the H-2A visas is only a small segment of the larger farm worker contingent that's close to 1.6 million, more than 80 percent of whom are foreign-born, said Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery and Landscape Association. Of those who are foreign-born workers, he said, nearly 75 percent are in the U.S. illegally.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tancredo’s biggest regret - the continuing imprisonment of Ramos and Compean

By repeatedly making provocative statements during his 10 years in Congress, Tom Tancredo believes he spurred activism and helped block legislation that would have allowed illegal immigrants to eventually gain legal status.

"I have a sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel good," said the Colorado Congressman.

Tancredo leaves office this month. He plans to consult and to continue work on immigration issues and to spend time with his grandchildren.

Tancredo said he regrets not succeeding in his effort to help win release of U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who are serving time in prison for shooting and wounding a drug smuggler.

"I think about those guys in prison, and I'm just sick at heart," Tancredo said. "I've done everything I can."

When he left Capitol Hill for the last time in late November, Tancredo gathered with his staff. As they exchanged goodbyes, Tancredo offered his version of high praise.

"We really started something," Tancredo said.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Business organizations sue Homeland Security to abolish E-Verify requirement

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association have sued the Department of Homeland Security to block a new E-Verify requirement.

Beginning January 15, federal contractors will be required to check the immigration status of their employees using the department’s E-Verify system. On December 23, the group filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Maryland, asking the court to halt the implementation of the rule and to declare the rule invalid.

They claim the requirement is contrary to the statute authorizing E-Verify and that the law states that Homeland Security “may not require any person or other entity to participate” in the program, according to court documents.

They claim the rule is vague and will force companies to verify all employees on E-Verify to avoid potential suspension and debarment. In addition to facing financial and time burdens, companies could be vulnerable to lawsuits by employees who feel they’ve been discriminated against, the plaintiffs say.

The department has 60 days to respond to the suit’s arguments.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Mexican already deported 10 times arrested on multiple sexual assault charges

A Mexican national who has been deported from the country 10 times has been arrested for several alleged sexual assaults in San Diego dating back to 2004.

Carlos Ceron Salazar was booked into San Diego Central Jail for a December 2006 attack on a woman jogger in San Diego's Miramar Lake Recreation area.

The victim told officers that she was grabbed by the neck and forced to the ground. The woman bit the attacker so hard on the hand that when he jerked it away two of her teeth were pulled out. She got away and called for help.

DNA linked Salazar to the Miramar Lake assault and to a September 2004 assault in nearby Poway, California. Salazar also is a suspect in a December 2005 sexual assault attempt.