Category: Immigration

Source: Washington Times

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.

The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

They warn travelers that they are entering an “active drug and human smuggling area” and they may encounter “armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.” Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to “use public lands north of Interstate 8” and to call 911 if they “see suspicious activity.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.

“Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona,” he said. “They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.

“This is going on here in Arizona,” he said. “This is 70 to 80 miles from the border – 30 miles from the fifth-largest city in the United States.”

He said he asked the Obama administration for 3,000 National Guard soldiers to patrol the border, but what he got were 15 signs.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer condemned what she called the federal government’s “continued failure to secure our international border,” saying the lack of security has resulted in important natural recreational areas in her state being declared too dangerous to visit.

In a recent campaign video posted to YouTube, Mrs. Brewer – standing in front of one of the BLM signs – attacked the administration over the signs, calling them “an outrage” and telling President Obama to “Do your job. Secure our borders.”

BLM spokesman Dennis Godfrey in Arizona said agency officials were surprised by the reaction the signs generated when they were put up this summer.

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Source: AP

The first bullets struck El Paso’s city hall at the end of a work day. The next ones hit a university building and closed a major highway. Shootouts in the drug war along the U.S.-Mexico border are sending bullets whizzing across the Rio Grande into one of the nation’s safest cities, where authorities worry it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed.

At least eight bullets have been fired into El Paso in the last few weeks from the rising violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous places. And all American police can do is shrug because they cannot legally intervene in a war in another country. The best they can do is warn people to stay inside.

“There’s really not a lot you can do right now,” El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said. “Those gun battles are breaking out everywhere, and some are breaking out right along the border.”

Police say the rounds were not intentionally fired into the U.S. But wildly aimed gunfire has become common in Juarez, a sprawling city of shanty neighborhoods that once boomed with manufacturing plants. It’s ground zero in Mexico’s relentless drug war.

More than 6,000 people have been killed there since 2008, when the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels started battling each other and Mexican authorities for control of the city and smuggling routes into the U.S. Nationwide, more than 28,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched his offensive against the cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Until now, communities on the U.S. side of the border have been largely shielded from the violence raging just across the river. But the recent incidents are the first time that live ammunition has landed in American territory.

On Saturday, as gunmen and Mexican authorities exchanged gunfire in Juarez, police in El Paso shut down several miles of border highway. Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said his agency asked for the closure — a first since the drug war erupted — “in the interest of public safety.”

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Source: AP

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday mobilized members of the California National Guard as part of a federal effort to deter drug trafficking and illegal immigration along the border with Mexico.

His order supports President Barack Obama’s plan to have 1,200 National Guard troops assist with federal border protection, customs and immigration agents.

The move comes amid a national debate over an Arizona law that directs police to conduct immigration checks when they are questioning people about possible legal violations. There must be a “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally.

Obama asked California to deploy 224 Guard members for as long as a year, but California National Guard spokesman Lt. Patrick Bagley said as many as 260 soldiers and airmen will head to the border by Oct. 1.

The higher number is because California has more members qualified to perform the specific duties needed to support federal border protection, customs and immigration agents, Bagley said. The number and assignments resulted from talks with officials in other states and the federal government.

The California soldiers and airmen — all of whom have volunteered for the mission — will be selected by mid-August. They will get up to three weeks of training in August or September, expanding on routine training they already receive.

California is responsible for its entire border with Mexico, but Bagley said the Guard members will be assigned to specific locations as needed based on discussions with federal officials.

It’s the second time Schwarzenegger has ordered Guard members to the border. He backed a similar federal effort in June 2006. Guard members will be based in many of the same armories they used the last time, Bagley said.

Source: Washington Examiner

The Mexican government is opening a satellite consular office on Catalina Island — a small resort off the California coast with a history of drug smuggling and human trafficking — to provide the island’s illegal Mexican immigrants with identification cards, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier, a copy of which was obtained by The Examiner, listing the Catalina Island Country Club as the location of its satellite office. It invites Mexicans to visit the office to obtain the identification, called matricular cards, by appointment.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican whose district includes Catalina Island, said handing out matricular cards will exacerbate an already dangerous situation.

“Handing out matricular cards to Mexicans who are not in this country legally is wrong no matter where it’s done,” he said. “But on Catalina it will do more damage. It’s a small island but there’s evidence it’s being used as a portal for illegals to access mainland California.”

Rohrabacher added, “If there were a large number of Americans illegally in Mexico and the U.S. consulate was making it easier for them to stay, Mexico would never permit it.”

Mexican officials with the consular office in Los Angeles could not be reached immediately for comment. The matricular consular identification card, is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals residing outside the country, regardless of immigration status. The purpose is to provide identification for opening bank accounts and obtaining other services. But the cards are usually used to skirt U.S. immigration laws, since Mexicans in the country legally have documents proving that status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

In 2004 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI officials called the card an unreliable form of identification. The agency said that Mexico lacks a centralized database for them, which could lead to forgery, duplication, and other forms of abuse.

Officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said their agency was asked by Mexican officials not to enforce U.S. immigration laws on the island while the cards were being issued.

“It amazes me every time that the Mexican government has the gall to tell us what to do,” said an ICE official, who asked not to be named. “More surprisingly is how many times we stand by and let them. This is just an example of one of hundreds of requests we’ve had to deal with.”

In April, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies seized a boat carrying large quantities of marijuana and detained three Mexican nationals who said they were being smuggled into the United States.

The island has a sizable Mexican migrant population. Most are undocumented low-income workers.

1:15pm UPDATE:

Mexican government officials have moved their satellite consular office from the Catalina Island Country Club to a Catholic Church – citing protection under the Geneva Convention.

Yahoo News

An Arizona state official has threatened to shut off Los Angeles’ Arizona-based electricity supply in retaliation for the city’s decision to boycott the state. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce told L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a letter that 25 percent of L.A.’s electricity comes from Arizona, and he’d “be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements.”

“I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands,” Pierce wrote to Villaraigosa (PDF). “If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”

[Video: Boycott us and we’ll cut your power, Arizona official says]

Conservative websites like Hot Air are playing up Pierce’s letter, but it seems like the move could also hurt Arizona. Los Angeles could procure utilities from another state, and Arizona-based utilities would lose the city as a customer. California gets about a third of its electricity from Arizona, Fox News reports, most of it from a nuclear power plant outside Phoenix, coal-fired power plants and two hydroelectric power generators. APS, the energy company that owns the nuclear power plant, has not returned a call seeking comment.

Last week, L.A.’s City Council voted to end city travel to Arizona and future contracts with the state in protest of the state’s new immigration law, which critics say will promote racial profiling. Arizona could lose $52 million in contracts from L.A.

Mayor Villaraigosa was in Washington visiting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, but an aide released a statement in response to Pierce’s letter, NBC’s L.A. television affiliate reported: “The mayor stands strongly behind the City Council, and he will not respond to threats from the state that has isolated itself from an America that values freedom, liberty and basic civil rights.”

UPDATE: It appears Pierce’s plan isn’t tenable. Alan Bunnell, a spokesman for APS, the energy company that owns the nuclear power plant, tells Yahoo! News that California owns a stake in most of the Arizona-based plants that provide them with energy, including the nuclear facility in question “They actually are owners in them, it’s not like they have contracts with them,” Bunnell said.

Source: CBS NEWS

Despite their expectation that it will burden police departments and disproportionately affect certain ethnic groups, a slim majority of Americans believe the controversial illegal immigration measure recently signed into law in Arizona is “about right” in its approach, according to a newly-released CBS News/New York Times poll.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed say the law, which critics say essentially mandates racial profiling, takes the right approach, and nine percent say it should go even further.

Thirty-six percent say the law goes too far.

Two in three Republicans say the law takes the right approach, along with roughly half of independents. Among Democrats, support for the law stands at 38 percent. Americans living in the South and Midwest are more likely than those in the East or West to support the measure.

One in two Americans say it is “very likely” that the law “will lead to police officers detaining people of certain racial or ethnic groups more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups.” Another 32 percent say that prospect is “somewhat likely.” Just 15 percent do not expect some racial or ethnic groups to be affected more than others.

Most also expect the measure to burden police departments: Seventy-eight percent say it is likely the law will place a burden on police resources, including 34 percent who find that prospect “very likely.”

Eighty percent say the law will make (legal and illegal) immigrants there less likely to report crime, including 55 percent who say it is “very likely” there will be lower rates of crime reporting by immigrants.

Roughly 70 percent say it is at least somewhat likely that the measure will both reduce the number of illegal residents and new illegal immigration into the country, including 29 percent who say it is “very likely” that will happen. A slim majority say it is at least somewhat likely the measure will reduce crime.

The poll of 1079 adults nationwide was taken between April 28th and May 2nd.

Read the Complete Poll

The Challenge of Immigration:

Sixty-five percent of Americans say illegal immigration is a “very serious problem,” up five points from two years ago. Just one in ten says it is not a problem.

In addition, more than three in four (78 percent) say the United States should be doing more to stop illegal immigration. A mere 17 percent say the country is doing all it can.

Most Americans say laws on illegal immigration should be set by the federal government. Fifty-seven percent want the federal government to dictate immigration law, while 34 percent say it should be left to the states.

(Credit: CBS)

Opposition to illegal immigration appears to be grounded at least to some extent in concerns about the economy: Nearly three in four Americans (74 percent) say illegal immigrants who use government services but don’t pay taxes weaken the economy. Just 17 percent say illegal immigrants strengthen the economy by taking on low-wage jobs.

Most Americans do not want to deport working illegal immigrants, however. Just 32 percent say they should be required to leave the United States.

Forty-three percent say they should be allowed to keep working and be offered a path to citizenship, while 21 percent say they should be allowed to stay in the country as guest workers.

Source: AP

An “English-only” ad in the Alabama governor’s race has drawn the state into the national debate over immigration.

The ad by businessman and gubernatorial candidate Tim James has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube. In it, James says the state should give its driver’s license exam in English only and drop the 12 other languages now being used. He says, “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it.”

Some of James’ opponents say he could reverse years of Alabama recruiting foreign manufacturers, including carmakers from Germany, Japan and South Korea.

The ad comes as Congress debates immigration reform and activists try to stop an Arizona law that makes being in the state without legal immigration status a crime.

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