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Sunday, March 11, 2001

Atlanta

Hit-run judge 'felt sorry for' Mexican defendant, dismissed fatal hit-and-run case

A Fulton County judge who dismissed a fatal hit- and- run case told the jurors that she "felt sorry for" the defendant and mentioned that he could be deported if convicted, a juror said Friday. The juror, Beverly White, said Superior Court Judge Alice Bonner visited with the jury to explain that she was dismissing the case against Rosendo Abarca, a Mexican national, because the judge said the prosecution was 15 minutes late for trial. White - who said the judge lambasted the district attorney's office for perpetual tardiness - said she feels the trial should have continued. "She proceeded to tell us that she felt sorry for the defendant because he was poor and, if convicted, he could be deported, which I thought it was unusual for a judge to do," said White. "I didn't understand how that case would be dismissed and there wasn't anything for the victim's family. I thought that was out of order."

We Get E-Mail

Re: Report from behind the lines

I just returned from a week in the states of Baja Sur, Sinaloa, and Jalisco, Mexico. Of some note is the absence of any young people between the ages of about 14 to 25 years in all the small villages we visited. The villages were all almost totally devoid of any people in this age range. -- Where can they all have gone? -- Also of some note are the large number of older middle-aged men just idly standing in the shade of a tree or on a street corner doing mostly nothing or waiting for day-labor. -- We visited a brick factory, a furniture factory, a glass-blowing factory, and a number of other small family-run businesses and we were told the average wage was less than 50 cents (US) per hour.

Come One, Come All!

Census shows sprawl spreading nationwide

Figures from some of nine states, including Virginia, that received their detailed population tallies last week show America may be on its way to becoming an endless chain of strip malls and housing developments from the Atlantic to the Pacific, demographer Martha Farnsworth Riche said. "It doesn't look like anything is going to stop it," said Riche, a former head of the Census Bureau. "You see people talking about ways to stop it or manage it, but they rarely get those proposals moving through the political process." The Census Bureau is scheduled to send data to 13 more states this week, and all 50 must have them in hand by April 1.

America's Worst Leader

2 Jackson pals won clemency

Wielding clout to the last moments of President Bill Clinton's term, Rev. Jesse Jackson successfully pressed for clemency for two longtime supporters, including one whose looting of government programs for the poor and for mentally handicapped children was described by a judge as "evil itself." A second Jackson ally pardoned by Clinton helped bring down a bank, an insurance company and a newspaper, according to prosecutors. Both clemency requests went directly to the White House, skirting the normal process that would allow federal prosecutors to weigh in and possibly oppose the pleas for mercy.

Anchorage

Russian white-slavery ring busted in Alaska

A reminder of the reality that "coyotes" are not just Mexicans bringing Mexicans occurred three weeks ago - when three men and a woman were indicted in Alaska on charges of trafficking in women for sex, plus kidnapping, transporting minors for sexual activity, slavery, and visa fraud -- It is the first indictment under a new federal statute passed last fall to deal with the trafficking of an estimated 50,000 people to America yearly for sex-slave operations that mostly service other illegals.

Chicago

Hispanics changing city's ethnic landscape

Maria del Carmen Magana frowns slightly when she remembers arriving in Chicago from Mexico eight years ago. She thought it was ugly. "The buildings, the houses, everything--and scary," said the single mother, who moved with six children from Moroleon to try the American dream. Census 2000 figures for Illinois are expected to show this week that Hispanics -- mostly of Mexican descent -- represent about one-fourth of Chicago's population, with an ever- growing number in the suburbs.

Taco with your reconquista?
Look what has shown
up on the Oregon coast
(There's another one in Reedsport)

Denison, Iowa

Some Iowans Skeptical of English- Language Bill

Denison High School Spanish teacher Georgia Hollrah has strong views about attempts to spell out an official language in Iowa. "It will encourage people to be bigoted," Hollrah said. The "official language" bill currently before the Iowa Legislature states that English would be the only language in official government use. There are several exemptions in the bill, including teaching other languages and assisting crime victims, or anything else that would violate federal law or constitutional rights. [There is a message board on this site for your comments]

Oregon Migrant Flood

Groups adapt to Latinos' needs

A member of a Gresham-based Latino parents' group on school issues, Tomasa Mendez usually sits quietly while more outspoken leaders discuss their children's education. At a recent meeting, when facilitator Francisco Lopez of El Programa Hispano asked her opinion, her eyes crinkled in laughter and she melodramatically ducked her head into her hands to express her reluctance. Lopez waited. Eventually, Mendez spoke, in Spanish: "People say about this group: It's not my problem; I don't want to come. I think we should all bring someone next time, so we can grow."

New York Times

Nafta's Powerful Little Secret

Their meetings are secret. Their members are generally unknown. The decisions they reach need not be fully disclosed. Yet the way a small group of international tribunals handles disputes between investors and foreign governments has led to national laws being revoked, justice systems questioned and environmental regulations challenged. And it is all in the name of protecting the rights of foreign investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement. -- The corporations - American, Canadian and Mexican alike - that directly invest in neighboring countries are thrilled that Nafta provides some protection. But foes of the trade pact say some of their worst fears about anonymous government have become reality.

Picky Migrants On The Dole

Immigrant tastes may change WIC food program's menu

Pressed by immigrant participants who have limited use for tuna or peanut butter in their native dishes, a federal nutrition program may broaden the foods available to mothers and children this year. The WIC program provides vouchers that can be traded in for designated nutritious foods and infant formula to 12,972 people in Davidson County, Tennessee, including a growing number of immigrants and refugees. If some local WIC providers and customers get their way, international staples will join the roster alongside milk, canned carrots and frozen juice concentrate.

Newsday Editorial

Fund 'Community Center' for illegals

The Suffolk County Legislature has a chance to do the right thing when it is presented with a resolution by Legis. Brian Foley, to put $80,000 into the start- up of a community center for Farmingville [taxpayer funds to be used to benefit illegal aliens]. The center, which would also be supported by private philanthropy, is to include a shape- up site to get day laborers off the street. But it also would provide services for others in the community,including mothers seeking health insurance, via New York's Child Health Plus program, for their children. No doubt legislators and Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney already are being inundated with appeals to stop the Community Opportunity Center for a variety of reasons. It would offer services to workers who are in the United States illegally.

Reconquista Drops Council Bid

Speculation Swirls Over Polanco Exit From Race

Until the day he pulled out of the race for City Council, state Sen. Richard Polanco was seeking donations and solidifying support for his campaign. Then, nothing. Polanco -- one of the most powerful and polarizing political figures in Sacramento and Los Angeles -- abruptly announced in a written statement Feb. 21 that he was withdrawing from the race. Over the next few days he and his aides gave shifting reasons for his decision: He wanted to give full attention to his legislative duties. He wanted to step back from political life and go to work in the private sector when his term ends next year. He had lost the "fire in the belly." Those explanations ignored other recent developments, some of which had the potential to embarrass the senator or disrupt his political aspirations.

We Need Guest Workers?

Demand for foreign skilled workers drops in wake of high- tech woes

Last year, high-tech companies urgently pressed Congress to raise the limit on the immigration of foreign skilled workers, warning that without the boost, they would suffer dangerous workforce shortages. Now with projected earnings plummeting, the same firms that scrambled for workers from overseas are curbing their hiring, announcing massive layoffs and failing to take advantage of the new cap. Companies are "nowhere near" reaching even last year's quota of 115,000 for specialty-occupation worker visas, which Congress raised to 195,000 in October, said Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) spokeswoman Eyleen Schmidt recently.

Heading For A Train Wreck

The surge of Hispanics is changing the way we think of ourselves as a nation

Hispanics are streaming into the Hoosier state ­ and most of the other 49 states as well; the number of Hispanics doubled in states like Virginia and Wisconsin. In Hamilton County, where Westfield sits, the Hispanic population has increased 143 percent in 10 years. Behind the dry columns of numbers in last week's Census Bureau population report lies a story of a profound and dramatic change in American life. Census takers last year counted 35.3 million Hispanics ­ 1 out of 8 people in the United States ­ an astonishing 58 percent increase over the 22.4 million Hispanics counted 10 years earlier. The number of Hispanics here today is greater than the entire population of Canada.

Bill Clinton's Treachery

A Choice of Two Destinies

The next mayor of Los Angeles will preside over an unprecedented demographic change: Latinos will become the majority population in the city. The larger question is: What does the future hold for a city that is half Latino? Will Los Angeles, with its Latino majority, remain a vibrant, productive and magical force that lights the country's imagination? Or will the Latino majority become a dead weight, dragging the region down into mediocrity, dysfunction, poverty and racial antagonism? There are two U.S. cities that offer radically contrasting models for what L.A.'s demographic shift can mean to the region: Miami and San Antonio. The population of each is more than 50% Latino. But the role of Latinos in each's civic life is quite different, and for different reasons.

New York

Uninsured immigrant's [illegal alien's] legal limbo

Increasingly, Jamaica and other New York hospitals are spending millions of unreimbursed dollars caring for legal [immigrants] and undocumented immigrants [illegal aliens], who sometimes end up stranded for months, even years, in hospital beds needed for the critically ill. Prophete, despite her legal status, received a level of care not ordinarily available to Medicaid patients or even most insured citizens. "I'm not the INS," said David Rosen, Jamaica Hospital's president and chief executive. "I'm not the Border Patrol. Don't stick this problem on me. I'm dead in the water and Congress is busy waving the American flag." Rosen added, "What's at the root of this immigrant problem is that Congress systematically excluded them. It leaves us holding the bag. It leaves these patients in Never-never Land."


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