Thursday, July 30, 2009

6 more bodies found in desert

By Brady McCombs
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.30.2009
The searing summer heat in Arizona's desert is taking its toll on illegal border crossers — the same as it has done every year since the start of the decade.
Officials have recovered the bodies of six illegal border crossers since Monday along Arizona's stretch of U.S.-Mexico border, bringing the fiscal-year-to-date total to 164, figures from the Pima and Cochise County medical examiner's records show.
These two medical examiners handle all bodies of suspected illegal immigrants recovered on the border from New Mexico to Yuma County.
With temperatures reaching 107 degrees on Monday and Tuesday in Southern Arizona, it's not surprising that more bodies have turned up. Most of the illegal border crossers found dead in Arizona die from hyperthermia or dehydration. And July is historically the worst month for body recoveries.
The 2009 fiscal-year-to-date total is on pace to match previous-year totals, which have exceeded at least 180 every year since 2004 and at least 130 every year since 2002.
Three of the six bodies this week were discovered on the Tohono O'odham Nation, and two were on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The sixth was found near Naco in Cochise County.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Illegal crossings are down, but not because of border fence

Border Patrol apprehensions may have dipped to the lowest rate in 35 years, but it has nothing to do with border security. Rates of illegal migration are governed by social and economic forces, not by expensive surveillance technology, walls and the Border Patrol. It thus makes no sense to continue to rely on an expensive and failed border fortification as a centerpiece of our immigration policy.

Proponents of more border fortification argue that added manpower, new technologies and a get-tough detention policy have combined to bring the number of border apprehensions down nearly 35 percent over the last three years. But border enforcement is not what's reducing the flow of illegal immigration.

Wayne Cornelius and researchers at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California-San Diego have been collecting data for years on thousands of people who have migrated between the U.S. and Mexico. Their data shows that added enforcement does not deter people from attempting to cross illegally.

Among veteran and first-time migrants interviewed in 2007-08, concerns about the difficulty and danger of crossing had no statistical effect on their plans to migrate. Most (63 percent) were worried primarily about Mexican police or bandits. Only 35 percent said fences, the Border Patrol or National Guard personnel were their greatest concern.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The 800 Mile Wall Trailer

The 800 Mile Wall highlights the construction of the new border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S. This powerful 90-minute film is an unflinching look at a failed U.S. border strategy that many believe has caused the death of thousands of migrants and violates fundamental human rights. Since border walls have been built, well over 5,000 migrant bodies have been recovered in U.S. deserts, mountains and canals. Some unofficial reports put the death toll as high as 10,000 men, women and children. As a direct result of U.S. border policy, migrants are forced to cross treacherous deserts and mountains in search of low skill and low paying jobs in the United States. The New York Times writes, "Current border strategy is serving as a funnel through deadly terrain." The 800 Mile Wall documents, in great detail, the ineffective and deadly results of a failed border policy and offers some thoughts and on how the current human rights crisis may be resolved. Directed by John Carlos Frey and Produced by Jack Lorenz. Running Time: 90 min.

Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act calls for 350 more miles of barriers

While construction on the border fence in Cameron County is at a standstill because of pending lawsuits, at least one local landowner is surprised by a California congressman’s introduction of legislation that calls for more fencing construction along the United States-Mexico border.

The bill, known as the Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act and introduced Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, gives Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discretionary authority to build 350 miles of additional reinforced fencing where she deems is necessary. More than 650 miles of fence have already been approved along the U.S.-Mexico border.

If approved the legislation would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

The location of the proposed fencing would be up to Napolitano, said Joe Kaspar, spokesman for Hunter. He added the DHS would also have the option to decide if it would be second-layer fencing or an additional 350-miles of fence.

Kasper said the legislation has bipartisan support.

Co-sponsoring the legislation are Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Bart Stupak, D-Mich., Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., Ed Royce, R-Calif. and Brian Bilbray, R-Calif.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

At Mexico's edge, deported migrants are left in limbo

NOGALES, Sonora - Deportees arrive here each day by the hundreds, desperate and destitute, escorted off buses by U.S. immigration agents and marched across the border into Mexico.

Some limp along in bedraggled clothing, their feet blistered and flesh torn by cactuses and thorns, their soiled faces downcast in defeat and shame. These are the recent crossers who got caught by Border Patrol agents after hours or days in the desert.

Others, clean-cut in American clothes, were captured after years living illegally in the shadows. Many entered the United States as children, when U.S. businesses welcomed their laborer parents and the government looked the other way. They built careers and started families, raising kids who are U.S. citizens.

They dodged the law until politics changed and police cracked down. They were arrested and told they must leave voluntarily or be jailed with no hope of ever gaining legal status.

They are the collateral effect of America's stepped-up immigration enforcement, dividing families and leaving expelled migrants on a fence between Mexico and the United States - between past and future.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Texans opposing border fence attack Senate plan


Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

July 17, 2009, 9:37PM

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the funds would be better used to support “our understaffed, crowded and overburdened ports of entry.” In an interview, Cuellar called the border fence “a waste of taxpayer's money.”

The Senate wants to continue the Bush administration's push to extend the border fence, but the House passed its version of the Department of Homeland Security spending bill without any money for the fence. The matter now goes to a joint House-Senate panel to iron out the differences.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Walls, Walls and More Walls

by John Carlos Frey

On October 26, 2006 President George W. Bush signed The Secure Fence Act into law. The legislation allowed the construction of more than 700 miles of new border walls between the United States and Mexico. Upon signing the bill president Bush said, "This bill will help protect the American people. This bill will make our borders more secure. It is an important step toward immigration reform." Sen. Jim DeMint (R- SC) and the Senate have recently voted to continue the construction of these walls and possibly refortify or make them double layered. For the past two years I have been working on a new film that highlights the construction of this barrier and studying it’s effectiveness in deterring migrants as well as it’s deadly consequences.

More than ten years prior to the signing of the The Secure Fence Act, the United States embarked on a similar strategy of walling itself off from Mexico and it’s neighbors to the south. New barriers were built in San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX, followed by barriers in Nogales and Yuma, AZ. The walls were built to deter migrants and drug traffickers from entering the United States. It was “an important step toward immigration reform.” Since that time the rate of undocumented migrants coming to the United States from Latin American countries has increased. The number of apprehensions at the border has remained constant. There are more undocumented migrants living within the borders of the United States than ever before. Those initial walls did not work. The only effect they had was to push migration into more inhospitable terrain. They were not a step toward immigration reform nor did they make the borders more secure.

What has happened as a result of the initial walls and increased militarization is the human rights crisis we see today. Nearly five thousand migrant bodies have been recovered in the deserts, mountains, canals and roads of the United States. Several thousand more migrants remain missing. Organized crime at the border has skyrocketed. It now costs over two thousand dollars to hire a “coyote” or “pollero.” Some estimates put human smuggling as more lucrative than drug smuggling. There has been no change in the rate of migration to the United States except the cost of transport and the cost of human life. The United States accepts no responsibility for its border policies being cause to the carnage. It blames Mexico and it’s southern neighbors for the rise in crime and death.

This information may not be new. These stories, studies and facts are well known. What is shocking and unbelievable is that the failed border policies of years past are being repeated and multiplied exponentially. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 and congress’ latest attempt to fortify the border has not taken migrant deaths into account. The nearly 5,000 recovered bodies have not been factored into how the new walls should be constructed. No studies have been done on where the walls should be placed in order to lessen the death toll. Once again migrants will be forced into even more inhospitable and deadlier terrain. Once again death and organized crime will increase. Once again the United States will turn a blind eye to its inhumane approach to “immigration reform.” Once again, death will be the barrier to migration. The new walls, new technology and added border guards will force migrants further from roads, towns and urban centers. They will literally be forced to cross the border in the middle of nowhere. Most of the migrants who have perished on U.S. soil have been found only a few miles from a road or source of water. The new fences and increased security will funnel migrants up to 60 miles away from any human services. As before, the death toll will rise and U.S. will deny responsibility and blame the poor and desperate.

The United Nations has criticized the U.S. government for the way it treats migrants and the way it manages its borders. The country of Mexico has not been consulted about the building of this new 700-mile barrier separating it from the United States. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the United States reports the current border walls are not effective and do not deter illegal immigration. Experts and scholars from all over the world say the new border walls will not stop migrants from attempting to cross. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has admitted publicly that border walls are ineffective. The U.S. Congress recognizes that a border wall is not a solution to the immigration problem but there has been no other suggestion or remedy. A bigger wall, a longer wall, a stronger wall, an ineffective and deadly wall is all congress has been able to come up with.

As a filmmaker and a storyteller I am not so much concerned with politics and legislation. I am not so concerned with contracts that are being awarded to multi-billion dollar corporations to install and maintain border security infrastructure. I am most concerned with the people who attempt to cross the border. Those are the stories that are not being told to lawmakers. Their voices, suffering and death remain silent.

The United States prides itself on being a nation of immigrants. It prides itself on being the refuge for the sick, the tired, the wretched and the poor. Today the great country of the United States is not living up to her own standards and founding principles. She lives in fear and she lives in greed. She would rather put a wall around her riches and turn her back on the desperate and the dying. She has eroded her morality for the gain of ill perceived security. The standards by which the United States lives can be measured by her actions at the border. U.S. border policy is no less than warfare against the stranger for political gain.

It is easy to criticize. It is easy to point out flaws and blame government for the ills of society. It is more difficult to do something about it. It is a demand of a civilized society to right what is wrong and shed light where there is ignorance and deception. If we are to call ourselves people of conscience or a just society, can we watch another 5,000 migrants die on U.S. soil? What if the number was 10,000? Some estimates already say there have been 10,000 deaths at the border in the past 10 - 15 years. What if the number was 50,000 or 100,000 bodies recovered at the border? What number would make us wake up? What number would make the Mexican government rise up in vehement protest against the new barrier? How many more dead bodies would finally wake the humanitarian citizens of the United States?

I was born in Tijuana, MX and grew up several hundred feet from the border fence in San Diego, CA. I cannot be witness to another 5,000 or 5 of my brothers and sisters dying without sounding the alarm. I will continue to expose hypocrisy in the halls of government and I will illuminate the stories and faces of the migrant. I will reveal greed and indifference by expressing poverty and pain that are a result of it. I am writing this article in the hope that we will not just read it and say, “oh that’s terrible” or “what a shame.” Let’s us not fall back upon the complacency of our comfort. Let us find ways to honor the sanctity of all human life – especially our neighbors. To live a life of faith is not only to profess it but also to embody its power and create a life and society that exemplifies it. I work for nothing more than to walk along the dirt roads where I grew up and see one nation embracing its neighbor, with liberty and justice for all.

Border Fence Goes Broke

AUSTIN (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry's border Web camera program is out of money after a first year that fell far short of the goals for arrests and reports of illegal crossings.

An internal report showed that just 17 of 200 cameras — one for every 70 miles of the 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border — were installed with a $2 million federal grant received last year.

Reports obtained by the El Paso Times indicate that nearly 125,000 people registered as "virtual Texas deputies," but those extra eyes led to just eight drug busts and 11 arrests. The cameras were expected to generate 1,200 arrests.

About 300 illegal immigrants were reported to the U.S. Border Patrol, far short of the 4,500 expected.

Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition chief Don Reay says the goals were unrealistic.

Perry wants another $2 million for the project, and his office revised a report to make it look like the program had come closer to achieving its goals.

Instead of 200 cameras, the new report said the sheriffs coalition was expected to install only 15, making it appear the group exceeded its goal. The target number of arrests was revised to 25, much closer to the 11 actually made.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Volunteers Fined for Leaving Water on Migrant Routes in Arizona

TUCSON, Arizona – Thirteen members of a group trying to prevent deaths among undocumented migrants were fined for leaving gallons of water inside the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which lies in southern Arizona on the border with Mexico.

Volunteers from the No More Deaths organization tried to place bottles and gallons of water along the routes most frequently used by immigrants.

The group acted ahead of a weekend when temperatures in southern Arizona are forecast to exceed 110 F (43 C).

From the time they arrived at the refuge, the volunteers were shadowed by agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service, according to a press release from No More Deaths.

Federal officials confiscated all the water the volunteers placed at four strategic points between the town of Arivaca and Interstate Highway 286.

“They followed us every step of the way, grabbing the water that we left there,” Maryada Vallet, a volunteer paramedic with No More Deaths, said.

Among the volunteers fined for littering were two Protestant ministers and a Catholic priest.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Activist Question

Tensions between humanitarians and federal officials are on the rise along the border

This is a place of ghosts. Ask anyone who walks these trails, in the bare-knuckle desert.

Here among high scrub, south of Arivaca, sunlight glances off water bottles, candy wrappers, tennis shoes, rosaries and a tiny picture of the Virgen de Guadalupe in yellowing, cracked plastic. Such things are hastily abandoned in the headlong passage between life and death, the fate of their owners unknown.

Officially, migrant deaths here each year number in the hundreds. Humanitarians who hike this country call those numbers bullshit. They say the desert is haunted by thousands of unfound dead people. Out here, a corpse gets about two weeks, tops. By then, sun and scavengers have sealed the deal.

A handful of rescue volunteers have come across bodies, but everyone has seen the bones. And in a place where mortality crunches underfoot, folks can get a bit touchy.

Take the feds and the humanitarian outfits. They've never shared much in the way of mutual adoration. Sure, everyone pledges bonhomie—each appreciates the other's "tough job" or "dedication" or "good intentions." But those are just words muttered to reporters. As it happens, the thing keeping them at odds also binds them together: death all around. Death behind that shrub or in that wash, or settled in the shade of that half-buried boulder.

Death is the third partner in a relationship that nobody wants. The humanitarians provide assistance, food and water to migrants. The feds mostly leave them alone to do so.

Until recently.

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Senate Adopts Border Fence

By Douglas Rivlin, NEWS JUNKIE POST Immigration Expert

The Senate debated a bill today to fund the Department of Homeland Security and the leading opponents of immigration reform (and immigration) in the Senate used the opportunity to force votes on several immigration-related measures.

The Senate adopted an amendment (sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions) that would extend the use of a flawed federal database to check the work eligibility of employees called E-Verify. Senators also voted for an amendment (sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint) to extend the border fencebetween the U.S. and Mexico. These measures to look ‘tough on immigrants’ for the C-SPAN cameras will probably do damage to the economy, environment, and well-being of the country when we want our Senators to be doing all they can to help in these tough economic times.

As the National Immigration Forum said in a statement today:

A border ‘fence to nowhere’ is not a serious response to an immigration system two decades out of date and in need of top-to-bottom reform. It is a sideshow to the legitimate immigration reform debate, employing a fifth century approach to a 21st century immigration and border security reality.

A huge expansion of the E-Verify program is sure to put more American citizens out of work. Since the database is so flawed and correcting data so difficult, it will no doubt hurt the economy while doing next to nothing to prevent the employment of immigrants here illegally.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Border Agents Dump Agent Orange-Like Chemical

Friday, July 03, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Border Patrol has temporarily postponed -- but refused to cancel -- plans to use helicopters to spray herbicide along the banks of the Rio Grande between the cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in order to kill a fast-growing river cane that provides cover for undocumented migrants, smugglers and other border crossers.

The controversial plan has drawn fire for its similarities to the U.S. government's defoliation strategy during the Vietnam War, in which the government sprayed more than 21 million gallons of "Agent Orange" and other herbicides in order to eliminate hiding places for Vietnamese guerillas. An estimated 4.8 million Vietnamese citizens and thousands of U.S. soldiers were exposed to the dioxin-based chemical, resulting in more than 500,000 birth defects and 400,000 deaths and disabilities among adults.

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