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.'