Daily news updates from CIS
September 29, 2009
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
ATTN Federal employees: The Center's Combined Federal Campaign number is 10298.
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Feds: no plans for cuts on southern border
2. Fed grants targets discrimination against foreign workers
3. Census figures show decline in RI foreign born population
4. Border Patrol figures show increase in AZ border deaths
5. TX Congressional hopeful calls for ban on Islamic immigration
6. CA lawmakers strike out against enforcement
7. CA city pressing to include illegals in Census
8. San Fran. health plan includes illegals
9. NE city policy facing judicial review (story, link)
10. WI city delays license restrictions
11. CA enforcement hawks protest Mexican consulate
12. Hawks perform border recon blitz in S. Arizona
13. CA radio program reaches out to Viet parents
14. CA forum to tackle issue
15. Rate of Cuban arrivals declining
16. WA couple separated by status
17. Friends of Albanian restaurateur protest deportation
18. Afghan immigrant denies bombing charges
19. Would-be Texas bomber deceived associates
20. GA license clerk accused of document fraud
21. Trial begins in deadly TX smuggling case
22. Virginia tip leads to bust of TX drop house
23. Guatemalan surrenders in bid for deportation
24. Suspected illegal detained in roommate's death
25. Illegals booked for TX ranch murder
26. Trial delayed in MS hiring scam
27. SC police mistakenly release illegal (link)
28. USCIS official charged with DUI (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Other federal spokesman says no reduction of border forces
By Jonathon Shacat
The Sierra Vista Herald/Review (AZ), September 29, 2009
Bisbee, AZ -- Federal officials do not intend to cut the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents deployed on the Southwestern border, despite comments to the contrary last week.
In an article published in the Herald/Review on Friday, Lloyd Easterling, acting media director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, stated that some agents will be moved from the U.S.-Mexico border to the U.S.-Canada border in fiscal year 2010, which starts Thursday.
The Herald/Review contacted Easterling to confirm what he had told conservative media outlet CNSNet.com — that the number of agents along the Mexican border will be decreased by 384, for a total of 17,015.
However, on Monday, Matt Chandler, acting deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told the Herald/Review that Easterling’s information was not correct.
According to Chandler, there are 17,415 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, up from 16,090 in January. Officials do not plan to lower that number, he said.
'The numbers reflected in the annual performance report did not reflect initiatives announced by DHS to enhance border security in March,' Chandler said.
Glenn Spencer, president of American Border Patrol, a nongovernmental organization, said he believes the first reports were correct and that a negative public reaction prompted the Department of Homeland Security to change its story.
'In other words, the DHS was making decisions as to manpower requirements based on public opinion, not sound management practices,' he said.
He added that he thinks the confusion over how many agents are needed stems from lack of a clear definition of their mission.
'It might be smart to move some agents to the northern border, but how do we know?' he said. 'The Government Accountability Office has pointed to the inability of DHS to assess the impact of the new fence as a major deficiency.'
Spencer believes if the Department of Homeland Security had built on the U.S.-Mexico border the 700-mile double-fence originally mandated by Congress in October 2006, it could have reduced the number of agents on the Southwestern border by at least 3,000. He said he is unable to prove this, although he could do so with the proper budget.
He said the recent episode of conflicting information from the federal government points to the need for Congress to establish an independent watchdog agency to evaluate the effectiveness of the Border Patrol and report the results to Congress and the public.
'It is time to stop managing the border by putting a finger to the wind,' he said.
Chandler pointed out the department has tripled the number of intelligence analysts working on the Southwestern border, and it has doubled the number of agents working to identify and apprehend violent criminal aliens.
'We have ramped up southbound inspections to search for illegal weapons and cash, seizing more than $33 million thus far in 2009 — up from $6.2 million at this point in 2008,' he added. 'We have added mobile X-ray machines, updated license plate readers at 52 outbound lanes and, for the first time, have begun inspecting all southbound rail shipments into Mexico.'
Return to Top
Grant to help state fight job discrimination
By Erin Kelly
The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), September 29, 2009
The Arizona attorney general's office is one of a dozen groups throughout the nation to be awarded federal grant money to fight employment discrimination against legal immigrants, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
The state's civil-rights division will share $723,000 with 11 other groups, including the University of Iowa, the New York City Human Rights Commission and the National Farm Worker Service Center.
The grant recipients, each of which will receive $48,000 to $87,000, will conduct public education programs for workers and employers explaining federal laws against discrimination. Arizona will receive $60,000.
They will hold seminars for workers, employers and immigration-service providers; distribute educational materials in a variety of languages; and put ads in the mainstream and ethnic media to educate employees and employers about workers' rights. They also will work to help victims of discrimination.
Under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. citizens and authorized immigrant workers are protected against discrimination based on their national origins.
Return to Top
Sharp decline in number of non-citizens in R.I.
By Paul Edward Parker
The Providence Journal, September 29, 2009
As the recession deepened in 2007 and 2008, the number of foreign-born non-citizens living in Rhode Island dropped, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The bureau’s American Community Survey, an annual estimate of population, economic and other data, found that the number of people who are not U.S. citizens in Rhode Island dropped from 72,102 in 2007 to 66,178 in 2008, a decline of 8 percent.
Since the yearly surveys began in 2000, the number of non-citizens living in Rhode Island has mirrored the economy. It dipped from 70,012 in 2001 to 62,960 in 2003, when the so-called 'tech recession' dealt only a glancing blow to Rhode Island. Then, as housing prices skyrocketed, the non-citizen population climbed to 75,532 in 2006, the high point for the data available.
The Census Bureau asks people where they were born and whether they are a citizen. From that information, the bureau classifies respondents into a variety of categories, including 'Foreign born: Not a citizen.' Others encompass the foreign born who have been naturalized as U.S. citizens, as well as citizens by birth. For the non-citizens, the Census Bureau does not inquire about immigration status, so the data does not say how many might be here illegally and how many might be legal permanent residents or those here on shorter-term visas.
Immigration, especially illegal immigration, has been a hot-button issue in Rhode Island at least since March 2008, when Governor Carcieri signed a six-point executive order to crack down on illegal immigration in Rhode Island.
'Unfortunately, over the last few decades, the federal government has consistently ignored the complex issue of illegal immigration,' Carcieri said when he announced the order. 'As a result, the flow of illegal immigrants has become epidemic, with the consequential costs being borne by state taxpayers.'
Carcieri’s order included provisions that certain departments of state government, as well as vendors doing business with the state, use E-verify. The federal program allows employers to screen prospective workers for citizenship and immigration status, thereby blocking those who aren’t authorized to work in the United States. His order does not apply to private employers.
Paul E. Harrington, an economist with the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, said a drop in foreign non-citizen residents often mirror drops in the economy.
'A lot of the immigration you get is just job-based,' he said.
Harrington said that the bad job market doesn’t drive away non-citizens who already live here. 'Among new immigrants, there’s usually a lot of turnover,' he said. Normally, as some leave for various reasons, others replace them. In this tough job market, 'the flow of people coming in has slowed a little bit,' he said.
During difficult times, non-citizens face obstacles to finding work besides just the tight job market overall, said Joseph Chamie, a demographer at the Center for Migration Studies.
'A lot of people are taking jobs that they wouldn’t have taken before,' Chamie said. Immigrants are facing 'competition for jobs that nationals would’ve shunned.'
The federal E-verify program also is squeezing illegal immigrants out of the workforce, he said.
Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for Governor Carcieri, declined to comment on what effect, if any, the governor’s executive order has had on the number of foreign non-citizens living in Rhode Island. 'I’ll leave the trend analysis to the experts,' she said.
Kempe pointed to strictly economic reasons for the declining foreign population in Rhode Island. 'They have fewer roots and fewer ties to the Rhode Island community and, as such, a smaller support network,' she said. 'As jobs are starting to dry up, they look for other places to move to that have a better job market.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Census American Community Survey is available online at: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/
Return to Top
Number of Undocumented Migrant Deaths Mount on Arizona Border
By Maria Leon
The Latin American Herald Tribune (Caracas), September 29, 2009
Tucson, AZ -- The number of deaths of undocumented immigrants in the Arizona desert increased by 20 percent during the 2009 fiscal year, despite extreme vigilance and the efforts of humanitarian organizations.
Since Oct. 1, 2008 until Aug. 31 this year, 191 undocumented immigrants have died, mostly Mexicans, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.
Last year during the same period, 159 deaths were reported.
'I’m sure that once all the deaths in September are added up, we will easily show more than 200 fatalities,' Rev. Robin Hoover, founder and director of Compassionate Borders, a group that every week puts water in the desert for illegal aliens, told Efe.
'In the past few years an average of 180 undocumented immigrants have died each year in the Arizona desert. Again this year we see the percentage of deaths on the rise,' said Hoover, who Sunday led a ceremony in Tucson in remembrance of the victims.
During the religious service, the names of each of the dead was read, while members of the congregation carried white crosses. Victims who could not be identified were simply referred to as 'unknown.'
'In 1995 no deaths of undocumented immigrants were reported, and now we’re getting close to 200 or maybe more,' the minister said.
In his opinion, the deaths of illegal aliens are directly related to the aggressive Border Patrol strategy that obliges immigrants to cross at places farther out in the desert.
'This strategy is designed to cause more deaths,' Hoover said.
The activist said that while the Border Patrol has reported a decrease in the number of people crossing the border illegally, the percentage of deaths has significantly increased.
During the present fiscal year the Tucson Sector has reported the arrests of 226,344 undocumented immigrants, a drop of 24 percent compared with fiscal year 2008.
For his part, Jorge Gomez, spokesman for the Border Patrol in Tucson, told Efe that most of the responsibility for deaths of illegal aliens in the desert must be assigned to people traffickers, better known as 'coyotes.'
'These people don’t care about the lives of immigrants, they just see them as business and don’t hesitate to leave them to their fate in the desert,' Gomez said.
He said that traffickers continue to trick illegals by telling them they will only have to walk a few hours through the desert, when they really end up walking for days.
'No one can carry enough water to survive so many days in the desert,' the agent said.
The Tucson Sector, which includes 90 percent of the border between Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora, is currently guarded by 3,300 Border Patrol agents.
This region annually reports more than 40 percent of all undocumented-immigrant arrests along the entire Mexican border, as well as most of the deaths.
Gomez said that the presence of more agents also allows a larger area of the desert to be covered, which has meant that more human remains have been found.
The spokesman said that during the current fiscal year, which ends Wednesday, 549 rescues have been reported, while last year there were 444.
'We need to reform our immigration policy and give those undocumented immigrants who are already in hiding the chance to come out of the shadows, and also to approve a guest-worker program that allows workers to enter the country legally. As long as we’re unwilling to do that, we won’t see any real changes,' Hoover said.
Gomez said that the final figure for fiscal year 2009 will not be available until mid-October.
Return to Top
Congressional candidate: No more Muslims to U.S.
By Trish Choate
The Reporter News (Abilene, TX), September 28, 2009
Washington, DC -- Big Country congressional hopeful Canyon Clowdus wants no more Muslim immigration to America.
But the conservative Republican doesn’t want to stop at the stance he outlined to radical blog 'Dr. Bulldog & Ronin,' which endorses him for 11th Congressional District representative.
'It’s not just them,' Clowdus told a reporter Sunday night. 'They need to check all immigrants. They used to assimilate.'
Instead, immigrants retain their beliefs, weakening America, Marble Falls businessman Clowdus said.
The 11th Congressional District covers a wide swath of West Texas and stretches down to include Marble Falls. The city is about 200 miles southeast of Abilene and about 50 miles from Austin.
Clowdus wants to halt Muslim immigration to stop what the blog termed a 'Stealth Jihad' and 'creeping sharia' to replace the Constitution with Islamic religious law.
A civil rights advocate said he reads the blog and is disappointed a congressional candidate is lending his credibility to efforts to divide Americans instead of bring them together.
The blog pushes the wrongheaded idea that there is a huge clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam, said Eric Ward of the Chicago-based Center for New Community, a faith-based organization including Christians, Jews and Muslims.
'The truth of the matter is that the only clash that’s going on is amongst extremist elements in Christianity and Islam,' Ward said.
Christians and Muslims have much in common when it comes to values and the wish for an opportunity to work and better their lives, he said.
A San Angelo physician who is Muslim and immigrated to the United States 40 years ago said people with views like Clowdus’ have tunnel vision.
'One-fifth of the world’s population are Muslims,' Dr. Fazlur Rahman, an oncologist, said. 'So for the benefit of Americans, we should understand them, learn their religion, culture and civilization for our benefit.'
Rahman said 6 million Muslims live in the United States.
'They worry about their own future and of their children just like everyone else,' he said.
Rahman became a U.S. citizen decades ago and raised a family in San Angelo. His writings on health care, science and other topics have appeared in The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and other publications. He’s also a trustee of Austin College in Sherman.
Rahman said America has been successful because it is tolerant and multicultural.
There are bad Muslims just as there are bad Christians, Jews and people from all of the religious faiths, Rahman said.
'Every one of them has their fair share,' he said.
Muslims worry about their children’s future just like everyone else, he said.
A spokesman for an Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said the level of anti-Muslim rhetoric is rising, especially from the right.
'Our research has shown that this kind of rhetoric is coming from a minority of Americans, but it’s a very vocal minority,' said Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR asks mainstream leaders to challenge anti-Muslim talk if they hear it because silence equals consent or unspoken approval, Hooper said.
'That’s why it’s the responsibility of people of goodwill in our society and particularly leaders in our society to challenge this kind of hate-filled bigoted rhetoric when it’s used anywhere in our society,' Hooper said.
Dr. Bulldog & Ronin listed CAIR among organizations supporting a 'Stealth Jihad' with 'Islamic Supremacists.'
Dr. Bulldog and Ronin wanted to know how Clowdus would fight this 'creeping sharia' that uses the constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech against Americans.
Clowdus’ reply: 'How about CREEPY Sharia? Fuse lit ... back away from Canyon!'
Clowdus believes there are efforts to override national law with Islamic religious law, he said in an interview.
Hooper said that’s nonsense.
If a Muslim woman is allowed to wear a headscarf in the workplace or a Muslim man is allowed to go to Friday prayers — any accommodation of a Muslim in American society — then that vocal minority views it as a 'creeping sharia,' he said.
'For some reason, it drives these people crazy when Muslims practice their faith,' Hooper said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security doesn’t track immigrants’ religions, said Pat Reilly, a spokeswoman for DHS agency U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
People are identified by country of origin — not religion or ethnicity — in the DHS 'Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.'
Neither U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland nor a second challenger, Chris Younts of San Angelo, share Clowdus’ views on Muslim immigration.
'Congressman Conaway is a strong proponent of immigration reform,' Conaway campaign spokesman Richard Hudson said. 'But he does not have an immigration policy based on religion.'
Younts, a businessman, opposes illegal immigration, but he 'believes that any law abiding citizen of another country should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. as long as they abide by our immigration policies and honor our Constitution,' Younts’ campaign spokesman Ken Burton said.
Conaway and Younts are also conservative Republicans.
Clowdus said that he e-mailed back and forth to Dr. Bulldog & Ronin for the interview posted Aug. 22 and that he doesn’t know the identity of the blog’s authors. The blog bills itself as 'Conservative News, Views & Analysis of Events.'
Earlier in August, the blog endorsed Clowdus as a 'non-politician in Texas who is fed up with all the Lefturds in Washington.'
The blog describes 'Doctor Bulldog' as a theoretical physicist and electronic engineer who has served in the Air Force. He’s worked for private aerospace companies and moved recently from Silicon Valley to the Midwest, the blog said.
Its visitor count lists more than 1.2 million 'Infidels.'
Ward said the blog’s definition of America and American-ness is very narrow and not embraced by most in the United States.
Muslims and Christians have cultural and religious differences, he said. But they don’t outweigh the common ground between them.
Return to Top
California lawmakers want to suspend ALL immigration laws
By Kimberly Dvorak
The Examiner (San Diego), September 29, 2009
California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo-D put forth a resolution that passed in the California Senate condemning specified policies and practices of federal agencies regarding the enforcement of immigration laws. Furthermore Cedillo’s resolution urges Congress and President Obama to declare an immediate moratorium on immigration policies and practices until a comprehensive reform of immigration is enacted.
Although a Joint Senate Resolution does not have the force of law, it is voted on in both California Houses. This resolution has passed in a partisan Democrat vote. The resolution is not typically sent to the Governors desk. Most would consider the document more of a hopeful resolution.
The first paragraph of the resolution reads, 'The State of California values all of its residents, whether they be citizens, legal residents, or undocumented immigrants, and strives to enable all residents to work and live free from discrimination, exploitation, and repressive federal immigration enforcement.'
However Congressman Brian Bilbray-R Calif. reminds Sen. Cedillo that this resolution breaks the laws of the Constitution. 'He should look up the separation of powers section and this resolution is nothing more than political posturing.'
According to Sen. Cedillo’s Press Secretary Xochitl Arellano, Senator Cedillo who campaigned with President Obama has now officially put the President on notice. 'The electronic raids have to stop.'
There are hundreds of undocumented workers losing their jobs on a moments notice, Arellano points out. 'The Obama Administration must stop E-Verify, period.'
When asked about the California’s double-digit unemployment rate and the difficulty U.S. citizens’ face Arellano says, 'We are not responding to that and it doesn’t matter.'
This resolution will surely create a firestorm of backlash from those who demand enforcement of state and federal immigration laws.
One such opponent is State Assemblyman Martin Garrick-R Carlsbad.
'It’s ridiculous and Assemblyman Garrick has tried numerous times to strengthen immigration laws and how to better identify the ones who reside in the jail system,' says Mike Zimmerman, press secretary for Garrick. 'However, the make up of the state legislation makes it difficult to get any meaningful reform through.'
Zimmerman continues to say a moratorium on immigration enforcement would be a public safety threat and should be very concerning for all citizens in the country.
Tactics like these doesn’t come as a surprise from anti-amnesty and secure border groups like the Minutemen.
'Gil Cedillo has long been a strong advocate for Mexican illegal aliens, but this crosses the line and is a direct attack on American citizens and taxpayers. Cedillo does not speak for most Californians with his seditious words and radical propaganda,' says Jeff Schwilk, Founder of the San Diego Minutemen.
On a national level, immigration organizations that study the issues and their affect on the U.S. population like Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) view Cedillo’s action as unacceptable.
'In the wake of busts across the country of 'separate, unrelated' terrorism busts of individuals who are mostly foreign born, California wants to replace some semblance of order provided by solid programs like E-Verify and 287(g) that better help us find out who is authorized to be here and who has and has not broken the law, with blinders. What are California lawmakers thinking? Would it matter if the Dallas bomber was the LA bomber instead?' Janice Kephart, Director of National Security Policy for CIS said.
To read Senate Joint Resolution 19; info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sjr_19_bill_20090903_introduced.pdf
Return to Top
City wants residents, including illegal immigrants, counted
With funding at stake, Santa Ana works to ensure census is accurate.
By Doug Irving
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), September 28, 2009
Santa Ana, CA -- With lots of money on the line, community leaders here are planning an all-out push in the next several months to make sure every resident gets counted in the 2010 census.
It won't be easy. The city has large numbers of illegal immigrants, as well as a significant population of homeless people – two groups that have been hard to count in the past.
But the stakes are high for getting it right. The federal government uses census data to help distribute hundreds of billions of dollars to cities every year. Census numbers also help draw the lines for Congressional districts.
City officials, business leaders and community activists have begun working to drum up participation in the census next year. Other cities have formed such 'Complete Count Committees,' but the demographics of Santa Ana make its task that much more important, committee members said during a kick-off event Monday.
Undocumented immigrants and other hard-to-count people do use some city services, Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez said, and they need to be counted so the city can get all the federal funding it can.
'They use our sidewalks. They use our firefighters, they use our police force,' Alvarez said. The city, she said, has to prove through the census that 'this is where the money needs to go, because this is where the need is.'
The census every 10 years is meant to be a count of everyone living in the United States, citizen and non-citizen alike. The 2010 census questionnaire, which will arrive in mailboxes early next year, has 10 questions on it, such as name, sex and race.
The U.S. Census Bureau has posted a sample questionnaire – in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, among other languages – on its Web site. Go to www.2010census.gov, then click on 'Materials.'
Federal law prohibits the census from sharing any individual information it collects – even with police or immigration agencies, said Beatriz Fernandez with the Complete Count Committee.
That's a message the city and its committee members will be working to get out in the coming months. On Monday, they talked about going to neighborhood meetings, adopting a snappy census slogan, maybe even hosting a census parade to convince all residents to participate.
'At the end of the day,' Alvarez said, 'we're going to get stuck with that (census) number for 10 years.'
Return to Top
Obama, SF Differ on Health Care
By Bryan Gibel
Mission Local (San Francisco), September 29, 2009
During most of her eight years in the United States, Lisenia Rivera stayed away from hospitals because of her status as an undocumented immigrant. After going to the emergency room for a urinary tract infection last year, she got a bill for $2,000. Since she was pregnant and under the federal poverty line, Rivera, 24, qualified for Medicaid, which covered the cost of her visit. Two months after having her baby, Rivera faced renewed prospects of life without health insurance.
'It was better not to go to the hospital, because I didn’t have money,' Rivera said in Spanish with a Guatemalan accent. 'You might be sick, but the sickness of thinking that you will have to pay the bill is more likely to kill you from stress.'
Rivera, however lives in a city that policy makers have increasingly pointed to as a model for health care reform. And, although President Obama told Congress in September that his proposed renovation of health care will, 'not apply to those who are here illegally,' health care officials in San Francisco said that would be a mistake.
Healthy San Francisco, the city’s public health plan doesn’t restrict coverage based on immigration status, and Rivera, like other undocumented immigrants, gets free or low-cost health care at many city hospitals and clinics. 'We cover the undocumented in our program, so it’s kind of disheartening when so many of the pieces of the program that have made it such a success are being chiseled away at,' said Robert Menezes, the program’s director of marketing and communications.
Some 70 percent of Latino immigrants who arrived in the last 10 years are uninsured, according to a 2008 study by the Health Initiative for the Americas at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. In total, nearly one in four people without health insurance in the country are immigrants from Latin America, according to the study.
'Immigrants, when they are undocumented, usually work in the low paying sector of the economy, which usually doesn’t offer health insurance,' said Xochitl Castañeda, director of the Health Initiative for the Americas.
Castañeda said barring undocumented immigrants from national health reform perpetuates public health threats that know no borders. 'We are going to be facing major public health threats and challenges. The recent H1N1 virus is just an example,' she said referring to the virus more commonly known as swine flu. 'Those threats will not ask if you have insurance, if you have papers or where you come from.'
Nearly half of the 47,000 plus residents of the Mission are foreign born, according to the census. While Healthy San Francisco covers people regardless of immigration status, the city only receives subsidies to help cover health care for low-income citizens and legal residents. 'Anything with state and federal funds attached to it, someone who is undocumented would not be eligible for, except for emergency care,' said Jim Soos, assistant director of policy and planning at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. 'They are more of a financial burden because we are the only ones who can pay for them.'
That translates into large expenditures for the city, said Gregg Sass, chief financial officer for the Department of Public Health. He said the city was awarded $75 million of federal funding to help cover the costs of Health San Francisco, but only received $50 million because many enrollees are undocumented, cannot prove their legal status or exceed the poverty level required for financial support from the federal government.
Although Healthy San Francisco doesn’t get any federal money to serve undocumented immigrants, San Francisco’s federally funded clinics do. One such clinic, the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, is a constant bustle of Spanish speaking patients and health care workers that sees more than 66,000 visits each year. With the help of public and private funding, it offers primary care services to uninsured patients on a sliding fee scale based on federal poverty guidelines, and it doesn’t ask patients about their immigration status. The clinic also seeks to enroll patients in Healthy San Francisco, and signed up more than 2,200 patients for the program as of June.
But increased attention to the question of health insurance for undocumented immigrants in the wake of Obama’s speech to Congress could lead to budget cuts to clinics like the Mission Neighborhood Health Center. 'Unfortunately, the day after the speech, the senate finance committee began to take another look at the package, with a goal of making sure that undocumented people are not covered,' said Dick Hodgson, vice president for policy and planning at the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium.
What will happen to federal funding for clinics that serve undocumented immigrants is still unclear, as Congress has yet to reach a compromise on national health reform. Hodgson said San Francisco’s clinics are committed to caring for low-income patients without asking about their immigration status, regardless of what changes may come from Washington. 'Our clinics have never, to this day, discussed changing their policies for access to services based on documentation or non-documentation status,' he said.
Back in the Mission, Rivera said getting access to health care through Healthy San Francisco and city clinics is part of her life-line. 'If I were to get sick from something, at least they wouldn’t charge me. If you’re in need, they are going to help you,' she said. 'Sometimes I’m afraid they are going to tell me that it’s not true.'
Return to Top
Neb. city's immigration case headed for hearing
The Associated Press, September 28, 2009
Fremont, NE (AP) -- The Nebraska Court of Appeals could hear arguments as soon as November in a case stemming from Fremont's proposed illegal-immigration ordinance.
It is tentatively scheduled for argument when the court meets Nov. 17-19 in Omaha.
The city's request for the Nebraska Supreme Court to take the case directly still stands.
Fremont city leaders are appealing a Dodge County district judge's ruling that the city must hold an election on a proposal that would ban renting to and hiring illegal immigrants in Fremont.
Petitioners turned in enough valid signatures earlier this year to force a special election on the proposal.
City leaders have argued that the proposal is unconstitutional.
Fremont at center of immigration turmoil
By Art Hovey
The Lincoln Journal Star, September 26, 2009
Return to Top
Licensing panel delays action on citizenship proposal
By Georgia Pabst
The Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), September 29, 2009
After protests from Latino advocacy groups, the Milwaukee Common Council's Licenses Committee voted Tuesday morning to put on hold a proposed ordinance that would require all applicants seeking a new or renewed professional or commercial license or permit to show proof of citizenship or legal status to work.
Ald. Tony Zielinski asked for the measure to be placed on hold to give various community groups and constituents more time to review the proposal and comment on it.
Milwaukee would be the first city in the state to enact such an ordinance, according to City Clerk Ron Leonhardt. He proposed the ordinance after receiving a city attorney opinion that the city should enact such a law to comply with federal law. He said notices were sent out to various community and business groups about the proposal on Sept. 10.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant worker rights group, said her organization, which has led thousands in marches for immigration reform, did not learn of the proposal until Monday night.
'This is very disturbing,' she said. Such an ordinance would reduce the tax base and increase poverty, she said.
'What will the city get in return?' she asked.
She also questioned the requirement that the city enact such an ordinance.
Tony Baez, president and CEO of the Council for the Spanish Speaking, said he did not receive a notice about the proposal until Monday and it didn't specify a time when a hearing would be held.
'Those of us who could contribute to the discussion were unaware and there is substantial discussion about immigration at the federal level,' he said.
He also questioned the city attorney's opinion, which cited an opinion from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen about the U.S. Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act that was enacted in 1996.
'Why wait so long?' Baez asked, noting that Van Hollen's opinion was issued in October 2007 and open to interpretation.
Darryl Morin, the state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who was at the hearing, said after the meeting that he was very concerned with the proposed ordinance. He said he was talking with officials of the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House to seek guidance.
Ald. James Bohl, chairman of the committee, said the city is obligated to uphold federal law.
The city's Public Safety Committee was scheduled to take up the proposed ordinance Thursday, but that issue has been postponed as well.
Return to Top
Anti-illegal immigration groups protest Mexican consulate
After reports of suspected corruption at a Mexican Consulate in Dallas, a local group rallied this morning at Santa Ana consulate office
By Cindy Carcamo
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), September 29, 2009
Santa Ana -- Holding signs that say Mexican officials and their people are corrupt, members of Latino Americans for Immigration Reform rallied in front of the Mexican Consulate this morning – one of several rallies that began after media reports of suspected corruption at a consular office in Texas.
'I do believe the same thing that's happened in Dallas is the same thing happening here,' said Lupe Moreno, president of the anti-illegal immigration organization.
The Mexican Consulate's press officer in Santa Ana was not immediately available for comment.
About 10 people showed up to a 7 a.m. protest in front of the Mexican Consulate's office in Santa Ana.
The first protest was Aug. 22, after the Dallas Morning News reported that Mexican leaders in Dallas had called for a national investigation of Mexican consulates across the United States.
The announcement came in the wake of an investigation into suspected financial irregularities at the consulate in Dallas, according to the news report, which cited Mexican officials.
The investigation triggered the pending departure of Consul General Enrique Hubbard who took over the Dallas position more than two years ago, according to the report.
Mexican officials are investigating a suspected passport scheme that over a seven-year period robbed the Mexican government of tens of thousands of dollars in fees, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Moreno, whose organization has about 50 members, said the corruption allegations in Dallas add more fodder to calling for an end to illegal immigration.
'If the government is corrupt, the infrastructure is corrupt,' Moreno said. 'The people are corrupt, too, and they bring their corruption with them. If they weren't corrupt they wouldn't be here illegally.'
Return to Top
Watch draws dozens to border
With Palominas at its center, ‘Operation spike’ honors activist who died
By Jonathon Shacat
The Sierra Vista Herald/Review (AZ), September 27, 2009
Palominas, AZ -- Dozens of people are participating in an event in southern Cochise County to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border for illegal activity and report it to the authorities.
The border watch event, called Operation Spike, officially started Sept. 19 and is expected to continue until Oct. 15, or possibly be extended to the end of October, depending on the turnout and results, said Al Garza, president and founder of Patriots Coalition.
Garza, who lives in Huachuca City and formerly was affiliated with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said the event has been successful so far. In one sector alone at one time, there were 45 participants. Members of Minuteman of One, Patriots Coalition and other like-minded groups are involved.
He said he would not be surprised if as many as 200 or 300 people take part in the event by the time it concludes. Participants are monitoring activities within a
50-mile radius of Palominas. The Herald/Review agreed not to identify specific locations of the efforts.
Woody Mitchell, the co-chapter director of Patriots Coalition, who was an original Minuteman and lives in Sierra Vista, said the suspected drug smugglers and other illegal immigrants are using sophisticated means, such as radios and Global Positioning Systems.
'They have spotters up there. They know where we are,' he said. 'You can see them backing up across the border, waiting for us to either be gone, or looking for another spot to come.'
Last weekend, participants saw groups of 15 and 17 individuals along the border. Garza said those people are 'distractors' and their presence generally signifies there is a big load of drugs nearby. He later learned about 65 people were spotted, with some carrying backpacks and four ninja-dressed individuals carrying AK-47s.
'They were not in the United States. They were still in Mexico,' he said. 'But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the hell they are up to. They are trying to figure out a way to get in.'
He added that this particular information was forwarded to Border Patrol officials, but he does not know what happened subsequently.
Omar Candelaria, a public information officer for Border Patrol in Tucson, said people can observe the border area and report sightings, as long as they don’t break the law or try to make an apprehension.
'But we don’t encourage people going out and actively looking because they are not trained as Border Patrol agents are trained,' he said. 'If something happens, they might put themselves in danger or they might endanger somebody else.'
Garza said, 'We are past Minutemen. We are seasoned and we know what to look for. We know what to find. We know when we see something what to expect of it.'
Operation Spike is being held in memory and honor of Hoyt Spike of Tucson. Spike, one of the original Minutemen, was supposed to be involved in this event, but he died as a result of a heart attack just a few days before it was to start, said Garza.
'I almost called this thing off,' he said. 'But he wanted this thing so badly that I felt compelled to not only call it Operation Spike, but to honor him by, no matter how many people showed up, to make sure that this thing went ahead and took off as anticipated, and it did.'
Patriots Coalition was formed a couple of months ago. Operation Spike is the group’s first border watch event. Garza stressed that his organization is 'very transparent.'
'We are an educating organization. We educate the public, especially the unsuspecting public that are totally in oblivion, about what is really going on. We teach them about the aspects and the devastations created by open border policy and, obviously, the illegal immigrants that are coming through,' he said.
'On the other hand, we also teach other groups about being humane,' he continued. 'We have trained two units of search and rescue teams to make sure that lives are saved. The elements of the desert, and the mountains as well, are pretty dangerous.'
Mitchell said a lot of the organization’s members can sympathize with the illegal immigrants who are seeking a better way of life. But they want them to enter the country legally.
Lee Robinson, 59, a participant at the event, said he grew up near Erie, Pa., and came to Arizona for the original Minuteman event in 2005. He has remained along the southwest border ever since, and now lives in Columbus, N.M.
'Over in New Mexico, since Border Patrol tripled their numbers, illegal immigration is down to a trickle,' he said. 'That is why I am here in Arizona. They are still coming through certain spots in Arizona like mad.'
Return to Top
Radio program eases transition for Vietnamese parents in Garden Grove
'Youth and Education' aims to bridge a cultural divide by providing tips on helping students on a wide range of questions.
By My-Thuan Tran
The Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2009
Annie Mai knows what it's like to be the only Vietnamese student in class. She understands what it is to have parents who work long hours and are unable to help their children with schoolwork. And she can relate when a child must translate for her parents during teacher conferences.
Mai was 7 when her family arrived in Orange County in 1979 and was immediately confronted with such challenges. Now an education consultant for the Garden Grove Unified School District, she knows that Vietnamese families still face many of the same difficulties.
The 48,000-student district has struggled to reach out to the Vietnamese community since refugees began settling in this middle-class suburb after the war, dramatically changing its demographics. In Garden Grove schools, the proportion of Vietnamese has shot up from 3% of students in 1977 to nearly 30% today.
Mai, a former teacher in Garden Grove, believes that the district has found a way to better connect with Vietnamese parents: through a talk show program on Radio Bolsa, KALI-FM (106.3), at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
'Sometimes Vietnamese parents aren't going to come to the school, they're not going to ask the teacher, they aren't going to share with an administrator,' said Mai, one of the hosts. 'But they will listen to the radio show.'
Called 'Youth and Education,' the program is geared toward Vietnamese-speaking parents who are unfamiliar with the U.S. school system and want tips on helping their children through school. Topics include getting kids ready for the year and finding financial aid for college. There are also shows about special education and online bullying.
The show reaches out to parents like John Nguyen, 48, who immigrated to the U.S. in his 30s and is now raising two sons who go to Ethan Allen Elementary School in Garden Grove. Nguyen, his wife and mother-in-law listen to the radio show every week.
'The show brings up topics that I never thought of before,' said Nguyen, who owns a graphic design business. 'I never went to high school or middle school here, like a lot of Vietnamese parents. That's why there are a lot of things we don't know.'
Nguyen said he had learned about after-school programs, programs for gifted students and how to prepare students to transfer to other schools. Nguyen, a PTA member, has also been a guest on the show, encouraging Vietnamese parents to volunteer at schools.
The show is making a difference, said Garden Grove administrators, who are looking at replicating the program for Spanish- and Korean-speaking parents.
Parents 'feel more connected to the Garden Grove school district,' said Debbie Youngblood, director of kindergarten-through-12th-grade education. 'We're helping them navigate the educational system better.'
Vietnamese parents in neighboring Westminster and Fountain Valley also tune in to Radio Bolsa. The show even gets calls from out-of-state parents who access the show through the Internet, Mai said.
A frequent topic is how to balance Vietnamese and U.S. cultures.
'How can I make sure my kid keeps practicing Vietnamese?' one parent asked during a recent show. 'He keeps speaking to me in English, and I'm afraid he's losing his language.'
The hosts suggested playing games with children, such as asking them to translate songs they learned in school.
Language and cultural barriers have been a constant challenge for both teachers and Vietnamese parents, many of whom experienced different learning styles and parent-teacher interactions in their homeland.
'Things like prom, sports, theater class -- those are things that most parents learned growing up in the U.S.,' said Lan Nguyen, one of two Vietnamese members of the Garden Grove Board of Education. 'Many immigrant parents did not know what to expect from school. They didn't know what they needed to do, and they don't understand how to help their children.'
Vietnamese parent participation at open houses and school events has been a challenge, Nguyen said, even though Garden Grove Unified has a Vietnamese community liaison, translators for conferences and Vietnamese-language outreach meetings.
The lack of participation stems from a culture in Vietnam in which parents are largely removed from their children's classroom education, Mai said.
Recently, she and other hosts tried to tackle those issues with a segment about the differences between the Vietnamese and U.S. schools.
'In Vietnam, the teacher has the complete and full responsibility for the education of your children,' said Quyen Di, a lecturer at UCLA, who was the in-studio guest. 'Here it's not necessarily the case.'
He urged parents to attend open houses and conferences even if they didn't feel completely comfortable speaking in English. 'Vietnamese parents tend to say, 'The way the teacher teaches is good enough. I don't have an opinion,' ' he said. 'But you should have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the school.'
Mai said she had seen more parents attending sports games and open houses since the show started.
'It's really been incredibly empowering to our parents,' Mai said. 'They're much more aware. They're asking their children more questions. It's opening a lot more dialogue.'
Return to Top
Immigration reform topic at panel discussion in Claremont
By Monica Rodriguez
The Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), September 28, 2009
Claremont, CA -- Immigration reform and its effect on communities will be discussed Wednesday evening at Our Lady of the Assumption Church.
The panel discussion, 'Who Wins, Who Loses,' will begin at 7 p.m.
The panel will include Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, also known as CHIRLA. Salas is an activist, organizer and advocate for immigrants.
Esther Lopez, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Civil Rights and Community Action Department, will also be on the panel.
Lopez has supervised the Illinois Office of New Americans Immigrant Policy and Advocacy, where she developed community outreach strategies and managed the agency's monitoring of national immigration reform.
The panel discussion is part of the Town Hall series organized by the Latino/Latina Roundtable.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church is at 435 Berkeley Ave.
Return to Top
Fewer Cubans are migrating to U.S.
The reason behind the decline in Cuban migration is anyone's guess, though many say the economy and enforcement may be big contributing factors.
BY Alfonso Chardy
The Miami Herald, September 29, 2009
A year ago, U.S. Coast Guard vessels plying the waters between Florida and Cuba were busy stopping dozens of Cuban migrants each and every month.
Today, Coast Guard cutters are still operating in the Florida Straits -- but Cuban migrants are harder to find.
That's because fewer undocumented Cubans are leaving the island for the United States, not only through the traditional route across the Florida Straits but also through the newer route across the Yucatán Channel to the Mexican border.
The sharp decline is evident in the number of Cubans intercepted in the Florida Straits and those landing on South Florida beaches.
Consider: In the 12-month period between Oct. 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2008 -- the federal fiscal year -- almost 2,200 Cubans were interdicted in the Florida Straits and almost 3,000 landed on area beaches. But with less than a week left in the current fiscal year, less than 1,000 Cubans have been stopped at sea and less than 600 have made it to land.
And even the number of Cubans arriving at the Mexican border, the most popular route, is down from the previous fiscal year: 5,621 versus 10,030.
No one knows precisely why fewer Cuban migrants are arriving in the United States.
But U.S. officials, experts on Cuban affairs, recently arrived Cubans and community leaders cited several possibilities: the U.S. recession, stepped-up enforcement in the Florida Straits, Mexico's toughened migrant policies or less restrictive U.S. Cuba policies. Others suggest that we should not read too much into the current numbers.
``I just don't find the numbers tell any part of the story definitively,'' said Phil Peters, vice president of the Lexington Institute where he monitors Cuban affairs. ``To me, it's normal ups and downs, fluctuations in the migrant flow.''
Similar declines in the Cuban migrant flow have occurred before -- but mainly after a mass migration event.
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cuban nationals who reach U.S. soil are entitled to stay regardless of whether they have a visa. And under the wet-foot/dry-foot policy enacted under the Clinton Administration, only Cubans intercepted at sea are repatriated. Those who touch U.S. soil stay.
Rosa Martín Vergara, who arrived by plane from Cuba less than a month ago, said fewer Cuban migrants are taking to the sea because of the risk involved in making the voyage, and Mexico's recent crackdown on undocumented Cubans.
``These and other factors are probably deterring many people from leaving,'' she said in an interview Friday at the downtown Miami office of Catholic Legal Services.
In October, Mexico and Cuba worked out an agreement under which Mexico would repatriate undocumented Cuban migrants. Until then, undocumented Cuban migrants discovered in Mexico were fined and given temporary transit visas that enabled them to reach the border.
Up until recently, Cuban migrant landings from Key West to Palm Beach were almost a daily affair. While many Cuban migrants arrived on rafts or homemade boats, in recent times the bulk traveled aboard go-fast boats.
Officials at the Coast Guard and at Immigration and Customs Enforcement credit increased enforcement. ``For years now, we have been working better and smarter with our DHS and local partners and we were able to maximize our resources and minimize duplication of effort, sharing information,'' said Victor Colón, assistant chief patrol agent with the U.S. Border Patrol Miami Sector.
At the Coast Guard, Capt. Peter Brown, chief of response operations for the Miami-based Seventh Coast Guard District, said more prosecutions have occurred partly because of a change in the law that enabled authorities to charge suspected smugglers with failure to stop -- even if they are not carrying migrants.
Cuban affairs experts and Cuban exile community leaders cited other possible reasons.
Ramón Saúl Sánchez, president of the Democracy Movement and a fervent advocate of Cuban migrants, said it was possible that President Barack Obama's April decision to lift all travel and money remittance restrictions might have played a role in persuading would-be migrants to stay home.
Under President Obama, Cuban exiles can now visit relatives on the island or send them money without limits. Under President George W. Bush, exiles could only travel to the island once every three years and could send only $300 every three months.
``The new policy of allowing more family contact helps to strengthen family ties and relatives miss each other less since people here can travel back and forth more frequently,'' Sánchez said.
Jaime Suchlicki, director of the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, said the lower figures may mean something entirely different -- something analysts have not yet fully understood.
``Repression may be tighter in Cuba,'' Suchlicki said. ``Maybe some Cubans have some hope that there may be some reforms introduced under Raúl Castro. But people are leaving, but we don't know how many are leaving. Other governments may be giving visas. There are many things we don't know.''
Return to Top
Couple split, stranded by border
Man denied entry into Canada, where his wife is barred from entering U.S.
By Lornet Turnbull
The Chicago Tribune, September 29, 2009
Blaine, WA -- When the strain of separation becomes too much and they need to hold one another, David Williams and his wife, Janeane Ardiel, meet in a sort of no man's land here at Peace Arch International Park, just feet from a concrete boundary marker separating Canada from the U.S.
Married for five months, the couple -- he American, she Canadian -- are stranded on either side of the border, unable to cross into the other's country.
Williams, 45, who lives in Bellingham, Wash., can't travel into Canada because a 6-year-old DUI conviction makes him inadmissible.
And his wife, also 45, was denied entry to the U.S. in July after border officers in Blaine noticed her almost-weekly trips and told her they believed her intent was to live in the U.S., not just visit.
'It is like being severed from my lifeline,' Ardiel said.
The couple have filed paperwork to resolve her legal status in the U.S., where they hope to eventually settle.
In the meantime, they have discovered a quiet place where they can meet -- a metal picnic table in the shadow of this beautiful park's looming white arch.
The site is a common meet-up spot for separated Canadians and Americans who may visit the park without officially leaving their respective countries.
Len Saunders, the couple's immigration attorney, who first told them about the picnic table, said clients use it because it's the most neutral spot within the park, almost on top of the boundary line.
'It's a sort of no man's land,' he said. 'I'm sure there are cameras everywhere, but I've never seen an officer out there.'
Williams and Ardiel recently met here for the second time since her July 22 ban from the U.S.
As she reached him and they hugged, Ardiel broke down in sobs.
Though they speak every day, the separation has been tough.
'I can tell her I love her 100 times on the phone,' Williams said. 'It's far different when I can do it looking into her eyes.'
With citizenships in different countries, Williams, a chef, and Ardiel, a 911 emergency operator, knew they wouldn't be able to live together right away.
Both previously divorced, the two started talking three years ago when Ardiel's sister, visiting one of Williams' friends in Florida, told Williams she had the perfect woman for him.
They met for the first time in January 2007 when Ardiel flew down to Florida.
By then, the two say, they were already in love.
They met up every few months. When he tried to drive into Vancouver, B.C., for the first time to visit her there, he was denied entry at the border, he said, because of a 2003 DUI conviction.
Last October, he left Florida -- a state where he had lived since he was 13 -- and his job as a chef so he could be close to Ardiel.
In Bellingham, despite 26 years in the kitchens of restaurants, he first earned a living working as a day laborer and washing dishes in restaurants before landing a position as a chef.
He and Ardiel were married in Bellingham in April.
Ardiel got to visit him in Bellingham every week. When she tried to visit on July 22, she was pulled aside. Her car was searched. She said the contents of her purse were emptied onto the counter, and officers discovered a copy of her marriage certificate.
That Ardiel had a husband in the U.S., combined with the frequency of her visits, raised a red flag with border officers. She was fingerprinted, photographed and told she could not try to enter again for six months.
She called Williams, crying.
'We're thinking those were going to be six very long months,' Williams said. 'We began discussing what steps to take next.'
For now, Saunders, the attorney, is working to help Ardiel convince U.S. authorities that she has no intention of illegally staying in the U.S.
Return to Top
Friends take a stand
By Korie Wilkins
The Detroit Free Press, September 29, 2009
As the proprietor of a popular Ferndale restaurant, Alex Stolaj is as known for his tasty fare as his friendly nature.
And now, the dozens of people who flood Sam's Ferndale Grill on Woodward aren't just lining up for food -- they are standing up for Stolaj, who is in federal custody and slated to be deported to his native Albania.
More than 500 people have signed a petition in support of the 40-year-old Stolaj, who is married with a 10-year-old daughter. And Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey, a longtime customer and friend of Stolaj, has contacted Democratic U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin on his behalf.
'We hope his immigration issues can be settled quickly and positively, so that he can stay here in Michigan like so many hardworking immigrants have done over the past 300 years,' Covey said.
According to Stolaj's sister Violeta Sterbyci, 33, of Shelby Township, Stolaj was arrested Aug. 31 in the restaurant and taken to the St. Clair County Jail.
Stolaj had been fighting deportation, after being accused four years ago of paying off an immigration worker for a green card. Sterbyci said the family denies the allegations and says there is no proof that Stolaj, who came to the United States in 1996, broke the rules.
Michael Gilhooly, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that Stolaj is in custody but declined further comment. Stolaj's family said his wife, Diella, and daughter, Mariana, who live in Sterling Heights, cannot sleep and spend their days worrying and praying.
Customers like Mike Regan, 63, of Shelby Township are worried, too. He signed the petition and said he'd be willing to tell a judge that Stolaj should be allowed to stay in the United States.
'It's ridiculous that our government is going after someone like Alex,' Regan said. 'He works, he pays taxes, he provides jobs to people.
'It makes no sense.'
Return to Top
Afghan immigrant pleads not guilty to bombing conspiracy
Denver airport shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi appears in federal court in New York and is being held without bail in what authorities call the first Al Qaeda-linked plot on U.S. soil since 9/11.
By Tina Susman
The Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2009
New York -- An Afghan immigrant charged with conspiring to bomb U.S. targets in an attack possibly coinciding with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks pleaded not guilty today in federal court.
Najibullah Zazi of Aurora, Colo., was ordered held without bail in what authorities have called the first Al Qaeda-linked plot on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks. He appeared beside his attorney, J. Michael Dowling, wearing orange sneakers, black trousers and a tunic. Zazi, 24, his heavy beard neatly trimmed, did not speak, and there were no family members in the packed courthouse.
Prosecutors said the case against Zazi would be 'voluminous' and that the conspiracy charge against Zazi is 'international in scope.' Zazi is charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, which could bring a life sentence if he is convicted.
The airport shuttle driver was arrested in Denver this month and initially charged with lying to federal agents investigating the alleged plot. His father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, also of Colorado, and a New York imam, Ahmad Wais Afzali, were arrested at the same time and also charged with lying to agents. Both have since been freed on bail.
Only the younger Zazi, who has traveled twice to Peshawar, Pakistan, since August 2008, has also been charged with conspiring to detonate explosives, using chemicals purchased in large supplies from beauty supply stores. The items include hydrogen peroxide and acetone, which can be used to manufacture explosives.
After today's brief hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, Zazi's attorney challenged prosecutors to produce his client's alleged co-conspirators, saying that without them, the conspiracy charge would collapse.
'I've not seen any evidence whatsoever of an agreement between Mr. Zazi and anyone else,' said Dowling.
'What I have seen is that Mr. Zazi traveled to Pakistan, which is not illegal,' he said. Asked about the beauty shop purchases, he also said those were not illegal.
'Unless Mr. Zazi has an agreement with one or more people to commit an unlawful act, this conspiracy charge cannot be sustained,' said Dowling.
Zazi's next court appearance was scheduled for December.
Return to Top
Friends of Fountain Place bomb plot suspect confounded by jihadist label
By Marjorie Korn and Jason Trahan
The Dallas Morning News, September 29, 2009
More details emerged Monday about the Jordanian teenager accused of trying to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper that would appear to contradict the FBI's assertion that Hosam 'Sam' Maher Husein Smadi was an Islamic fundamentalist bent on bloodshed.
A California woman described the 19-year-old Smadi as an easygoing youngster who came to this country three years ago not to destroy it, but to get over the painful loss of his mother to cancer. The woman, Temina Elrabodi, and her husband, Hana, are from Jordan and agreed to let Smadi live with them at their San Jose home when he entered the United States.
Temina Elrabodi described Smadi as a 'very sad kid' and said he lived with them for about three weeks until her husband helped him find a job at a restaurant and he began attending high school.
'In my country, Jordan, everybody knows each other,' she said. 'Everybody wanted to help him, to take him away from the situation.'
Meanwhile, Ellis County Courthouse records confirmed Monday what Smadi's father told reporters last week – that his son had gotten married since coming to the United States. According to the records, Smadi wedded Rosalinda Duron on July 16, 2008.
Ellis County Justice of the Peace Linda Sibley said that she didn't specifically recall Smadi's brief $60 service – she said she does hundreds a year – but as a rule, hers have Christian elements in them and she said that Bible passages were probably read during the ceremony.
'I'm a United Methodist lay leader,' Sibley said. 'I'm not comfortable with just civil, per se. My weddings have a prayer and Jesus mentioned in it. If someone says they don't want God mentioned at all, our clerk says, 'Our judge isn't the person for that, she's pretty devout' and they give them the numbers for other JPs.'
Reached at her Waxahachie home Monday, Duron, 20, declined to comment. She told The New York Times over the weekend that she and Smadi separated after three months but remained friends. It is unclear if the couple have divorced.
Her grandfather, Genaro Duron, told WFAA-TV (Channel 8), however, that Smadi offered Duron $5,000 to marry him. She refused, the grandfather said, and made a counteroffer of $10,000. It is unclear if any money ever changed hands.
Duron's MySpace page shows her and someone who appears to be Smadi mugging for the camera, wearing shirts that say Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, the Ellis County eatery and gas station where he worked for a time.
Smadi was arrested Thursday and accused in Dallas federal court of attempting to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. The FBI says it encountered Smadi more than six months ago talking about violent jihad, or holy war, on an extremist Web site. Three undercover agents began corresponding with him and eventually agreed to supply him with a fake bomb inside a late-model Ford Explorer. Agents say they tried to dissuade him from violence, but he was adamant, authorities said.
Smadi was arrested after he parked the SUV with the inert explosives under the 60-story Fountain Place office building, walked to meet up with one of the undercover agents and called a cellphone number that he thought would trigger the blast.
Smadi was being held at the Seagoville federal prison Monday. He has not responded to interview requests, and his court-appointed attorney also did not return a phone message.
On what appears to be Smadi's MySpace page, his last log-in was the Thursday of his arrest. His status: sick & high. There are various marijuana-smoking references on his page, which also features songs by the rapper Lil Wayne and an online 'Mobsters' game.
Friends in Italy, where Smadi lived since at least spring 2008, say that he was nice and they never heard him espouse any anti-American sentiment or talk of violence.
Josh Childress lived with Smadi for about three months in Italy last year. Childress said he remembered Smadi as a generous, thoughtful friend who helped him out when he needed a place to stay.
While living with him, there was another side to Smadi that few saw, Childress said. He said at one point Smadi was down on himself, depressed that he was away from his family and his homeland in Jordan.
On Monday, Childress spoke of Smadi almost as if he had an alter ego.
'I knew Sam,' said Childress. 'I didn't know Hosam.'
The FBI and U.S. attorney's office have said that Smadi is in the U.S. illegally, but they did not release any more details. Immigration officials have said little about Smadi's case, other than that he has a detainer on him, presumably for immigration violations. His 18-year-old brother, Husein, was also arrested last week in California by immigration agents, but authorities have not linked him to terrorist activities his brother is accused of.
The boys' father in Jordan told reporters last week that his two sons traveled to the U.S. on student visas and lived in California. He said that Hosam Smadi had no animosity against America and was innocent of the charges against him.
Temina Elrabodi said she was surprised to learn of Smadi's arrest but said she didn't keep up with him after he moved out of her home.
'After that I don't know where he go, which place he live, nothing,' Elrabodi said.
'It's a very sad situation.'
Return to Top
Illegal aliens charged $2K for driver's license
By Marcus K. Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 29, 2009
A Marietta driver's license examiner was charged with extortion and conspiracy for selling Georgia driver's licenses for $2,000 to illegal immigrants and others who didn't qualify.
Gbemisola Wellington-Salako, 35, was indicted Monday and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn Brill. Wellington-Salako was granted $20,000 bond.
'The sale of any official government document to those who are not qualified is a major public safety issue,' GBI director Vernon Keenan said. 'This type of activity facilitates fraud related crimes that could impact homeland security.'
Three men also were charged in connection with the scheme, court authorities said.
Wellington-Salako, a driver's license examiner with the Department of Driver Services, in April 2008 allegedly was paid $600 toissue a license to Jules Armand Che Siewe Achou, 32, a native of Cameroon who didn't have legal immigration status in the U.S.
She later plotted with (co-defendant) Achou, the indictment alleges, to issue licenses to people who didn't qualify, charging them $2,000 per license, court authorities said.
The indictment later alleges co-defendants Nambaladja Souleymane Fofana and Mohamed Cellou Bamba helped Achou find customers and in return receive a share of the money.
Wellington-Salako issued approximately 40 bogus licenses between April 2008 and September 2009, court officials said.
She issued licenses to a pair of undercover agents on Sept. 11, in exchange for $5,000, and was arrested on state charges.
The Department of Drivers Services investigators joined with Immigration and Customs Enforcement fraud investigators to conduct the investigation.
Achou and Bamba were arrested when they met to divide the agents' payment with Fofana. All three remain in the Cobb County jail and will be transferred into federal custody within weeks, U.S. Attorney spokesman Patrick Crosby said.
The four defendants were indicted on Sept. 23, charged with extortion, conspiring to transfer fraudulent identification documents, and several counts of transferring or attempting to transfer fraudulent identification documents.
The extortion charges carry a penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The fraud charges carry 15-year prison sentences with a $250,000 fine.
Return to Top
Trial starts in deadly immigrant smuggling case
By Christopher Sherman
The Associated Press, September 28, 2009
McAllen, TX (AP) -- A man accused of running stash houses for illegal immigrants smuggled into Texas stood trial Monday for his role in the 2004 deaths of nine immigrants who drowned after the car they were being transported in plunged into a canal.
Jorge Hernandez Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of bringing in and harboring illegal immigrants. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison, since immigrants died as a result of the illegal immigrant smuggling conspiracy.
Armando Campos, who drove the car that crashed, testified Monday that he had his lights off to avoid detection on the night of Aug. 9, 2004, and misjudged the turn for a bridge over a canal near the Rio Grande. The car plunged into the water upside down, trapping the immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador.
Campos testified that he had been working as a driver and scout for the smuggling operation for several weeks, shuttling immigrants to stash houses run by Hernandez on a daily basis. Campos spent several months in jail on state charges before they were dismissed in exchange for his willingness to testify against others higher up in the organization.
Jose Antonio Arispe Elizondo, another driver and scout working for the operation, testified that he would pick up loads of illegal immigrants after receiving a call from Hernandez or the man in charge of the Mexican side of the operation.
Arispe scouted the pick-up spot for Border Patrol before heading to a nearby store to wait for Campos to collect the immigrants. Campos had just relayed by phone that everything was fine before the line went dead. Arispe returned to the site and saw immigrants running away from the canal. Campos, who had escaped the car that sat submerged in the canal with only two wheels protruding from the dark water, ran to Arispe's car and they left without making any effort to rescue the immigrants. Arispe is serving an eight-year sentence for his role. He was sentenced along with two others in September 2007.
Border Patrol agents on horseback later found the car and pulled nine bodies from the canal.
Arispe testified that Hernandez paid him $75 per immigrant for transporting them to his safe houses in Edinburg. From there they were driven to Houston.
Hernandez's trial is scheduled to last three days.
Return to Top
N.Va. Woman Aids Rescue Of Immigrants
Reporting Ransom Led To Stash House in Texas
By Josh White
The Washington Post, September 29, 2009
Eleven undocumented immigrants who were taken hostage by a violent Mexican smuggling cartel along the Texas border were saved last month after a Virginia woman reported to police that the group had her brother and was demanding thousands of dollars for his release. It was the third time this year that such ransom demands of a Northern Virginia resident have led federal agents to rescue hostages in secretive border stash houses, according to federal authorities.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents rescued Oscar A. Bertothy of Honduras and 10 others who were crammed into a second-floor room -- naked and with their mouths taped shut -- at a stash house in Houston on Aug. 29, according to federal court documents released last week. It was just one day after Bertothy's sister, of Springfield, called Fairfax County police to report that members of the cartel had extorted $3,000 from her and wanted more or they would kill Oscar.
Such hostage-taking cases have increased along the southern U.S. border in recent years as Mexican cartels seek to boost profits by extorting the vulnerable immigrant relatives of those they help across the border. Many of those relatives are fearful of calling the police and know that, if they don't pay, their loved ones could be tortured or killed.
ICE officials and local police encourage those who receive ransom demands to report the situation immediately, as they have been able to quickly track the whereabouts of their loved ones. A Washington Post story, published five days before Bertothy's sister went to police, highlighted ransom victims in Prince William County and Alexandria who reported nearly identical schemes, ultimately saving dozens of hostages and leading to the arrest of their captors.
In Bertothy's case, his sister called the Fairfax County Police Department on Aug. 28 and said her brother had been smuggled into the country from Mexico and was being held against his will. Officer Don Gotthardt, a police spokesman, said there had been a demand for money and threats to do bodily harm.
'We contacted federal authorities immediately and assisted them in the initial investigation,' Gotthardt said. 'We encourage the citizens of Fairfax County to report any criminal activity.'
Although immigration officials realize that both the victims and the kidnappers have broken the law, they say they want to save lives first and sort out immigration status second.
After Fairfax police contacted the FBI, that agency contacted ICE in Northern Virginia.
Bertothy's sister came forward to police after paying two ransom demands of $1,500 each, sending the money to Mexico via wire transfer. After a third demand -- this time for $3,000 and accompanied by beatings of Oscar she could hear over the phone -- she called police for help. Authorities later recorded calls between the Springfield woman and the captors and worked around the clock in Virginia and Texas to track the calls to Houston.
Agents were at a house on Ashford Green Lane in Houston within 36 hours.
Three men were arrested there. They are alleged to have beaten hostages, sexually assaulted them, and held them naked and at gunpoint to prevent their escape, according to federal court documents.
ICE Special Agent Billy Bickham wrote in a criminal complaint that at least one victim was stuffed in a trash bag and held in a closet for days and that the victims generally were 'in a state of terror' while held in the Houston home.
The defendants have been indicted on charges that could lead to sentences of life in prison.
'It is imperative that the families of victims contact ICE or their local law enforcement agency as soon as possible to assist in bringing the situation to a successful conclusion,' said James Dinkins, special agent in charge of the office of investigations for ICE in the District and Virginia. 'In this case, within 36 hours of ICE receiving the tip, 11 hostages were rescued from a deplorable situation.'
One of the men charged in the case -- identified in court papers and a Justice Department statement as Alex Julca, 24, a U.S. permanent resident of Houston -- told ICE officials that he needed cash and agreed to rent out a room in his house for $400 a month, only later learning that the renter, known only as 'el Pelon,' was keeping as many as 20 hostages in the room at a time. Julca told authorities that two other men acted as guards, made ransom demands and carried a gun. According to one victim who spoke to ICE, el Pelon allegedly has ties to 'the Z's,' a powerful militant smuggling cartel known in Spanish as los Zetas.
Julca's attorney, Houston assistant federal public defender Peter Bray, declined to comment on his client's pending case.
Another of the men charged in the case -- Rigoberto Vargas-Jaimes of Mexico -- told authorities that he was smuggled illegally into the United States on Aug. 15. Unable to pay his smuggling fees, Vargas-Jaimes was enlisted to help feed and guard hostages, something authorities have said is a relatively common occurrence. He was charged with harboring illegal immigrants.
Adrian Almaguer, a Houston attorney who represents Vargas-Jaimes, said the cartels have 'gotten a bit wise' to the fact that such crimes carry federal penalties and have changed their tactics, often using people they have smuggled into the country, such as his client, as guards.
'They use third parties to guard these folks and make phone calls because they know if they get caught, they'll be the ones who go to jail,' Almaguer said, adding that his client wanted to come to the United States to get a job and support his family back in Mexico. 'It's very compartmentalized.'
Those who are rescued are often returned to their home countries after they provide officials with testimony against their captors.
Return to Top
Identity theft suspect hopes to be deported for trip home
By Norman Miller
The MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA), September 29, 2009
Framingham, MA -- A Framingham man who told police he can't afford to return to his native Guatemala, turned himself in Saturday on identity theft charges so he could eventually be deported, police said.
Carlos F. Boc, 29, told officers he had no job or money and was worried about surviving the winter, police spokesman Lt. Paul Shastany said.
Just after 8:30 Saturday night, Boc went to the front window at the Framingham Police station and spoke to Officer Joe Godino.
'He said he needed help in returning to his home country,' Shastany said.
Boc then showed documents, including a birth certificate and a Social Security number of another man, as well as a driver's license with his picture but the other man's information. Boc said he had stolen his former roommate's identification after the man moved back to Puerto Rico two years ago, Shastany said.
Boc also provided proof of his real name. Boc told police he came to the United States from Guatemala 13 years ago, but could not afford to return. Illegal immigrants convicted of a felony are subject to deportation. He entered this country illegally through Mexico, police said.
'He said he had no job and no money, and he was afraid for his safety in the winter,' said Shastany. 'He said the only way to get home was to tell the truth and prove who he was. Godino told him 'Due to what you just advised me, you committed a crime.' Boc said, 'I know.''
Boc, who lists his address at 107 Second St., was charged with identity fraud, forgery and uttering, police said.
Boc had an automatic plea of not guilty entered on his behalf yesterday in Framingham District Court. He was ordered held on $200 bail. He is due back in court on Oct. 13 for a pretrial conference.
Return to Top
Man hit with beer bottle has died; roommate charged
By Abby Jordan/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA), September 29, 2009
Marlborough, MA -- A man who police say may have gone nearly a week before receiving medical treatment for injuries he suffered in a fight has died, and the man charged with striking him with a beer bottle has been ordered held without bail.
Yesterday in Marlborough District Court, prosecutor Gina Kwon said Noe Martinez may face additional charges once police complete their investigation into the death of his roommate, 38-year-old Romero Mejia.
Martinez, 34, of 475 Lincoln St., was arraigned yesterday on charges of aggravated assault and battery and assault with a deadly weapon related to the Sept. 18 fight.
Kwon said Mejia, who did not receive treatment until last Thursday, died at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester this weekend of brain injuries that may have been linked to the fight.
Police are investigating whether Mejia might have suffered other injuries from the time after the fight and until he received treatment. According to Martinez's attorney, Neil Daley, police are interviewing witnesses to the fight.
An autopsy on Mejia was scheduled for yesterday.
According to a statement released Friday, police went to 475 Lincoln St. on Thursday after receiving a call of an unknown nature. They found Mejia unconscious and he was taken to UMass Memorial.
In court yesterday, Kwon said Mejia told police at the hospital that Martinez struck him in the eye with a beer bottle during the fight.
After his arrest, Martinez admitted he struck Mejia but was defending himself against attacks from Mejia and Mejia's friends, according to Daley.
In a police report, Daley said, police said that when they arrested Martinez, he had bruises and other injuries.
In court yesterday, Martinez had bruises on his face.
Judge Robert Gardner scheduled a dangerousness hearing for Martinez for tomorrow. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said, has also requested that Martinez be detained.
Return to Top
Fight over horse training and $10 ends with murder
By Jared Taylor
The Monitor (McAllen, TX), September 29, 2009
Alton, TX -- A dispute over $10 and who was the best horse trainer led to a ranch hand’s murder Friday afternoon, sheriff’s deputies said.
Three ranch workers were drinking beer and barbecuing about 4 p.m. Friday at the No Que No Ranch near the intersection of 8 Mile Line and Texan Road, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
An argument unfolded over small debt that David Bello Crisolis owed one of his friends.
'Then they started arguing over who the best horse trainer was, who the best ranch hand was,' Treviño said.
The argument 'got the best' of Daniel Chavez Muñoz, a 67-year-old ranch worker who told investigators he then shot Crisolis with a 12-gauge shotgun.
The other ranch hand present, 49-year-old Juan Cruz Paredes, told deputies he helped stab Crisolis, as well.
The duo then dumped Crisolis’ body at the edge of a citrus orchard near the intersection of 10 Mile Line and Texan Road. A group of kids found the body shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday.
Deputies found a blue Chevrolet pickup truck with a window busted out nearby and located its owner, a nearby ranch owner, who said Chavez was the caretaker of his property.
Justice of the Peace Luis Garza pronounced the death of Crisolis, from Veracruz, Ver., Mexico, deputies said.
Investigators found Chavez and Cruz on Sunday, when they admitted to the murder.
Chavez had previously been deported by federal authorities five times prior to his murder arrest, Treviño said.
'We find that somewhat unusual,' Treviño said of Chavez’s previous deportations, adding that the murder arrest was 'by far' his most serious criminal offense.
The sheriff said he notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the three ranches where the men — all of whom were in the United States illegally — were employed for further investigation, declining to disclose the names of the property owners.
Despite that, he maintained that deputies would not directly enforce or arrest people for breaking federal immigration laws.
'Our deputies do not enforce immigration laws,' Treviño said. 'But once an individual lands in our jail, regardless of who arrested him, and he is a candidate for deportation, (federal authorities) will be contacted.'
Justice of the Peace Ismael 'Melo' Ochoa charged Chavez and Cruz with murder during an arraignment Monday afternoon. The first-degree felony charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10,000 fine upon conviction.
Both men remained at the Hidalgo County Jail late Monday evening in lieu of $500,000 bonds.
Return to Top
Trial delayed in massive illegal immigration case
The Associated Press, September 29, 2009
Jackson (AP) -- A trial related to the nation's largest workplace raid on illegal immigrants has been postponed until January.
Jose Humberto Gonzalez is accused of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, some with stolen identities, to work at Howard Industries in Laurel. The plant was raided Aug. 25, 2008. Nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants were detained.
Gonzalez was first indicted in May on conspiracy and employee fraud charges. A new indictment was issued Sept. 16 and included charges of aggravated identity theft.
Gonzalez asked for a continuance of the Oct. 19 trial date to prepare against the new charges. The trial is now set for Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg.
Return to Top
Illegal immigrant inmate wrongly released
The Myrtle Beach Sun-News (SC), September 29, 2009
A prisoner at the Brunswick County Detention Center was accidentally released from jail Sunday night after stealing another inmate's identity, according to Beth Boling, spokeswoman for the Brunswick County Sheriff's office.
Rosher Rodriquez-Aguilar, 27, was being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was under $4,000 bond for a charge of failure to appear since being jailed on Sept. 17, Boling said.
Officials learned that Rodriquez-Aguilar had been planning to switch identities for two weeks, Boling said.
A reward is being offered for the arrest of Rodriquez-Aguilar.
. . .
Return to Top
Official faces drunken driving charges
By John R. Ellement
The Boston Globe, September 29, 2009
A civil federal immigration official pleaded not guilty yesterday to a second drunken driving offense in Quincy District Court, where he was arraigned after authorities said he led Weymouth police on a chase early Sunday in which speeds topped 100 miles per hour.
Omar Hernandez was freed on $1,000 cash bail by Judge Diane E. Moriarty, who also barred him from driving.
According to his Registry of Motor Vehicles record, Hernandez has amassed a four-page list of traffic infractions, including a 2006 conviction for drunken driving, a 2003 charge of driving with an open container of alcohol in Hull, and three speeding tickets since 1999.
He also has been involved in at least four accidents for which he was at least partially at fault in Boston, Saugus, Malden, and Quincy between 1999 and 2006, the Registry records show.
In a brief telephone interview, Hernandez’s lawyer, Christopher P. Ryan of Quincy, declined to comment following the arraignment of the 32-year-old resident of Weymouth.
When stopped by police in Quincy in October 2006, Hernandez refused to take a chemical breath test and had his license suspended for 180 days. Under Melanie’s Law, Hernandez’s license is now suspended for three years because police said he refused to take the test Sunday.
. . .
Return to Top
Center for Immigration Studies
1522 K St. NW, Suite 820
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076
In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only. Ref.: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml