Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Death Rate Climbs Despite Economic Decline and Drop in Migration and Apprehensions

September 30, 2009

SAN DIEGO – U.S., Mexican and international officials must recognize the deaths of migrants occurring during unauthorized crossings of the U.S.-Mexican border as an international humanitarian crisis and respond with reforms that make human life a priority, according to a new report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH). The report, Humanitarian Crisis: Migrant Deaths at the U.S.-Mexico Border, finds that border deaths have increased despite fewer unauthorized crossings due to the economic downturn.

The release of the report marks the 15th anniversary of the border enforcement policy Operation Gatekeeper that concentrated border agents and added walls and fencing along populated areas, intentionally forcing migrants to hostile environments and natural barriers that increase the incidence of injury and death.

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Border Deaths Are Increasing

Rise Is Despite Fewer Crossers, U.S. and Mexican Groups Say

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Despite a 50 percent drop over the past two years in the number of people caught illegally entering the United States from Mexico, the number of those who died while trying to cross the border increased this year and is the highest since 2006, according to new U.S. data and a study by human rights groups in both countries.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Mexico's human rights agency allege that consistently high numbers of border deaths -- hovering around 350 to 500 a year, depending on which government's figures are used -- are a predictable but largely unrecognized result of border security policies.

"Border deaths have increased despite the economic downturn, fewer migrant crossers, and a steady drop in apprehensions," Mexico's National Human Rights Commission and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California say in a report set for release Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. The rising fatality rates "signal an escalating humanitarian crisis that is not going away and requires more effective governmental responses," the groups say.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Number of Undocumented Migrant Deaths Mount on Arizona Border

Number of Undocumented Migrant Deaths Mount on Arizona Border

By Maria Leon

TUCSON, Arizona – 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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Boeing's 'virtual fence' on Mexican border is full of holes, critics say

After 3 years and $500 million, Boeing getting a chance to fix glitchy border system

Tribune reporterAlong the boundary between Arizona and Mexico recently, Border Patrol agent Michael Scioli weaved his SUV through unforgiving rock formations and hills of desert brush. Illegal immigrants covertly were crossing the border nearby, but Scioli's agency doesn't always have the manpower to know exactly where.

Scioli then passed a 98-foot-tall tower fitted with cameras, a high-tech extra set of eyes that he and other agents presumably would welcome. "Don't have much to say about that," the agent said tersely.

The tower is part of a network of cameras and sensors rolled out with great fanfare by Chicago-based Boeing Co. three years ago but now is largely disowned by Border Patrol agents and lambasted by lawmakers and government watchdogs.

The so-called virtual fence, which has received $500 million from the Department of Homeland Security, should have been fully in place already in southern Arizona. Instead, the department scrapped the first attempt, which cost Boeing at least $40 million in overruns.

Now, Boeing is trying to revive the troubled project after the U.S. government gave the company a second chance this month.

Homeland Security officials say technology is a necessary tool to track not only illegal immigrants but also violent Mexican drug smugglers and even potential terrorist threats.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Up to 5,600 Mexicans died at US border in 15 years: report

Fri, Sep 25, 2009

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO(AFP) - More than 5,000 Mexicans may have died in the past 15 years while making the often perilous journey to try and sneak into the United States, Mexico's National Human Right Commission said Thursday.

"The estimate on the number of victims is not certain, and ranges from 3,861 to 5,607," CNDH president Jose Luis Soberanes said, presenting the report based on official figures and completed in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Some rights groups say up to 10,000 people may have lost their lives during the same period in trying to reach the United States, now home to an estimated 12 million immigrants.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Border Fantasies


Published: September 21, 2009

Members of Congress who voted for the Southwest border fence as the fix for illegal immigration professed shock — shock at the news that the project is running years behind, and billions of dollars ahead, of the Bush administration’s early, rosy projections.

Auditors reported last week that the high-tech, 28-mile “virtual” section of the fence was running a mere seven years behind this month’s planned opening. Initially, designers talked of using off-the-shelf technology for the radar, cameras and other sensors, but problems cropped up. (Imagine, discovering that cameras tremble in rough weather.) “I’m trying to figure out why this is so difficult,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas. “These are basically cameras on a pole.”

The current cost estimate for the Buck Rogers barrier? $1.1 billion.

Investigators from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report that the larger, actual fence — covering a 600 mile-plus stretch between San Diego and Brownsville, Tex. — cost $2.4 billion to build and will cost an extra $6.5 billion in upkeep across two decades.

Investigators also concluded that there’s no good way of gauging the effectiveness of the fence.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

GAO: Border fence will cost billions

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Maintaining the border fence between the United States and Mexico will cost $6.5 billion over 20 years, the Government Accountability Office says.

The uncompleted fence, which will eventually stretch 661 miles, has already cost $2.4 million, the GAO report released Thursday said. Construction of the last few miles has been delayed by legal battles with property owners.

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Billions for a US-Mexico border fence, but is it doing any good?


The cost for adding 600 miles of new barriers is $2.4 billion so far. The new fencing has been breached more than 3,000 times, a government report finds.

Some $2.4 billion has been spent since 2005 on a still-unfinished project to erect more than 600 miles of new fence along the US-Mexico border – a finding that is being met with surprise, anger, and consternation by immigrant groups and at least some border residents.

A report, released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), also says $6.5 billion will be needed to maintain the new fencing over the next 20 years. So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair.

The US Border Patrol, for its part, agrees with some findings but says several conclusions are unknowable because building the wall has no precedent. And the agency defends the new fencing as effective at deterring illegal immigration.

The report has stirred a range of reactions.

"When our nation is in the midst of an economic crisis, we wonder how many teacher salaries, police officers, miles of road, or school books could be financed instead of throwing large amounts of money for bricks to fix a problem that requires serious, long-term solutions," says Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, in a statement.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Immigrant Rights Activists Join Hands Across the Border

By Mariana Martinez, La Prensa
Jessica Rodriguez holds crosses during a rally in a busy Tijuana intersection to raise awareness of missing persons and in conjunction with Amnesty International's Day of the Disappeared. Rodriguez' husband has been missing for for two years. (Photo by David Maung)

Jessica Rodriguez holds crosses during a rally in a busy Tijuana intersection to raise awareness of missing persons and in conjunction with Amnesty International's Day of the Disappeared. Rodriguez' husband has been missing for for two years. (Photo by David Maung) They say power is in the numbers, and that is exactly the hope for family members of kidnapped and disappeared in Tijuana, who have signed a cooperation pact with the immigrant rights group and the search and rescue team of Desert Angels.

The pact was sealed between the Citizen Committee against Impunity lead by Fernando Ocegueda in Tijuana and San Diego based Desert Angels founder Rafael Hernandez.

It might be a strange mix, but their struggles are quite similar, because both groups are trying to find missing persons and face hardship in the legal responsibility “gray zone” created at the border.

The Citizen Committee against Impunity has just recently celebrated the International Day of the Disappeared, a date observed by many in Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

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Border mayors want Congress to strip a fence provision out of a spending bill for border security

WASHINGTON — A group of elected officials from Texas cities and counties along the U.S.-Mexico border urged Congress on Wednesday to strip a provision requiring the building of more border fencing from an annual spending bill.

The Texas Border Coalition wants a House-Senate conference committee to remove language from the spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would require the government to replace vehicle barriers and a high-technology “virtual fence” with pedestrian fencing.

Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, the coalition's chairman, said the current fence, at a cost of $3.5 billion, has only forced narcotics traffickers and smugglers of undocumented immigrants to develop counterstrategies to move contraband and people into the United States.

With the recent building of some pedestrian fence, Foster said narco-traffickers and smugglers now are shifting their focus to busy land ports.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A bad sign - illegal immigrants are leaving

By Jeff Jacoby
September 6, 2009
Boston Globe
WHAT EVER HAPPENED to the furor over illegal immigration? Two years ago, the denunciation of “crimmigrants’’ was approaching fever pitch, especially in conservative precincts, and woe betide any candidate who appeared before a Republican audience and failed to denounce “amnesty’’ with every ounce of conviction he could muster.

Now, however, the hysteria seems to have cooled a bit. There was no bellowing when President Obama reiterated during a Mexican summit last month that he intends to press for “a pathway to citizenship’’ for the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States. News stories highlighted instead his acknowledgment that overhauling immigration law would have to wait until next year at the earliest.

Perhaps the brawl over the issue has been upstaged by the brawl over ObamaCare, in which immigration has been reduced to a supporting role. Or maybe the lowering of the decibel level is a reaction to something else: a significant decline in the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States.

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