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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

Nodos Comunes

.. Caosmosis ..

Rage One (blog)

sábado, mayo 27, 2006

Immigrant-Rights-Agenda Report:
Sabado, May 27, 2006


Comment: As it now stands, the proposed immigration reform bill is repressive, reactionary and simply will not work for immigrants already here now inside the United States under the unjust authority of a mature fascist illegitimate rogue regime. We were better off without a bill and in the on-going strategic Long March towards TOTAL LIBERATION we need a democratic socialist revolution, not mere reforms by the Evil American Empire!

Real reform is helpful to us only IF it is a relevant reform or reformation of property relations that shifts the state power base in our favor. A partial definition of fascism is ‘economic reform’ disguised as progress. It is a re-arrangement of existing property relations between corporate property owners ~the ‘haves’~ and the American immigrant slave labor ~the ‘have-nots’~ designed to confuse immigrant rights advocates and defuse the resurgence of the humane immigrant rights movement.

Keep in mind, the Strategic Border Initiative Plan envisions satellites, manned and unmanned aircraft, ground sensors and cameras tied to a computerized dispatch system that would alert Border Patrol units. "We are launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history," President Bush said in his address to the nation last week.

Demand Total Amnesty!
Build Bridges, Not Walls!
Join the Native Resistance!
Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta de Aztlan
Sacramento, Califas, Divided States


Analysis: Bush's role key in fierce debate: Published 12:01 am PDT Saturday, May 27, 2006
The House and Senate are still far apart on an immigration bill.
By Michael Doyle and Margaret Talev

WASHINGTON -- Now begins the real fight over immigration policy -- and a key test for the nation's weakened president. The Senate's passage Thursday of a bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers is not yet cause for celebration among those who marched and waved flags in nationwide rallies this spring.

Nor does it guarantee a victory for President Bush, who asked the Republican-led Congress more than two years ago for a "comprehensive" bill with a guest-worker program and said in a recent nationwide address there should be some accommodation for otherwise law-abiding immigrants who snuck in years ago but now have jobs and families in this country.

"Now the time has come for the very active participation by the president," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I believe the president will put a very heavy shoulder to the wheel."

The Senate vote does mean Congress almost certainly won't be sending Bush a hard-line, enforcement-only bill as a majority of the House of Representatives favored -- the concern that first sent many immigrant-rights advocates to the streets in protest. But lawmakers from both parties said it may be hard for the House to bend very much in a midterm election year marked by GOP political uncertainty and a growing rift between the president and fellow conservatives.

This split may have been best exemplified Friday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who blasted anew the Senate approach to immigration. Sensenbrenner, who calls the Senate bill amnesty and a pass for unscrupulous employers, said no compromise is possible unless the Senate gets rid of some key provisions in its bill. Agreement will be difficult, Sensenbrenner said, "given the fact the Senate and the House started miles apart and have become moons apart or oceans apart." "I would like to see a bill passed and signed into law," he said Friday, "however, I'm a realist." The opposition of Sensenbrenner, who is the lead negotiator on the House side, while potent, is not necessarily fatal to the bill, proponents of broad-based legislation note.

For many lawmakers now, the pressing questions include:

• Will congressional Republicans, concerned about retaining their majority in the midst of an unpopular war, a flagging president and high gas prices, agree to any immigration compromise at all or punt the debate to another year?

• Which party suffers more politically if Congress fails to act: the Republicans, who control Congress, or the Democrats, who could be cast as obstructionist?

• What would be the implications of postponing a decision if Democrats manage to take control of either chamber come November? "Because of the Senate's actions, whatever Republican fantasies there were about getting a border-enforcement-only bill have gone out the window," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood.

At the same time, Berman acknowledged of House Republicans, "a reasonably comprehensive bill will cause a huge amount of anger in their conference."

Weighing the difficulties, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas called the prospects for a compromise by year's end "a jump ball." He predicted, though, that negotiators could find middle ground in a "temporary worker program without a path to citizenship, as well as a second chance for people who are already in the country living outside of the law." "My sense is that it will be tough negotiations, but that we'll find a way to bridge those differences," Cornyn said.

If the House and Senate are to find a middle ground this year, the debate through which they get there may revolve around the semantics of two words: "comprehensive" and "amnesty."

For Bush and for Senate negotiators, the word "comprehensive" is code for a guest-worker program and legalization options for longtime undocumented workers, on top of border security and employer enforcement provisions.

House negotiators might argue that a bill with a limited guest-worker program and no citizenship or residency opportunities is comprehensive nonetheless. This week, House conservative leader Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., offered a legalization plan that would require undocumented workers to first return to their home country.

Across the board, lawmakers shun the word amnesty as something that failed in 1986. The question will be whether legalization and guest-worker programs being considered this year include enough hurdles to avoid the amnesty label, which opponents apply to any plan that puts undocumented residents on a straightforward path to U.S. citizenship.

"There is no support back home for amnesty," said Pence, who heads the 100-plus-member Republican Study Group.

Senators favoring citizenship provisions hope their willingness to beef up border security and law-enforcement measures sweetens the pot for House Republicans.

"We have made major concessions to those who want to emphasize an enforcement approach," Specter said. "Our leadership position as Republicans is on the line."

There also may be a wartime pitch to sell reluctant House members on the idea of offering citizenship to young adults whose parents brought them here illegally during their childhoods, if those youths enlist in the military. Such a provision is included in the Senate's bill.

Whether the House agrees to retreat from its hard-line stance may depend on two additional factors: which members Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., picks to represent the House in conference committee negotiations, and how successful and engaged Bush and his White House team are with individual House members behind closed doors.

"We will get a bill if the president rolls up his sleeves and gets to work," said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate's top Democratic fundraiser. "We will not get a bill if the president simply goes into the Blue Room and gives another speech."

Hastert has said he is open to a comprehensive approach.

In recent weeks, the White House has begun stepping up its efforts, with Bush delivering a nationally televised prime-time speech and top political operative Karl Rove making repeated visits to Capitol Hill.

But it is unclear how powerful Bush's sway will be with recalcitrant House members. The president's approval rating now hovers barely above 30 percent, according to most polls. In January 2004, when he proposed a comprehensive immigration approach, Gallup pegged his approval ratings at twice that.

About the writer:
The Bee's Michael Doyle can be reached at (202) 383-0006 or

Undocumented residents
House: Creates new felony crime of unlawful presence in the United States, subjecting immigrants living in the United States after entering illegally to prison sentences of one year and a day.
Senate: No provision.

Prospects: House leaders have said they will drop the felony provision, but conservatives could insist on establishing unlawful presence as a misdemeanor.

Guest workers
House: No provision.
Senate: Establishes new non-farm guest-worker program enabling entry of 200,000 immigrants annually, who will be able to seek permanent U.S. legal status. Establishes agricultural guest-worker program.

Prospects: Conservatives may relent on a guest-worker plan but will insist that there be no guaranteed path to U.S. citizenship.

House: No provision.
Senate: Illegal immigrants in the United States longer than five years can obtain legal status, after meeting requirements including paying back taxes and a new total of $3,250 in fees. Those in the United States between two and five years can obtain legal status but must first briefly return to a port of entry for processing. Those in the United States for less than two years remain illegal.

Prospects: The single most contentious issue. Even immigration reform backers say the three-tier system is replete with potential administrative problems.
-- Bee Washington Bureau

Protections for pineros inserted into immigration reform bill: Saturday, May 27, 2006
By Tom Knudson -- Bee Staff Writer

An amendment approved by the U.S. Senate Thursday as part of its sweeping immigration reform package would make it easier for Latino forest laborers toiling legally in the United States as guest workers to battle abusive employers in court.
Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, amendment No. 4055 -- informally known as the pinero amendment -- would allow such workers to seek help from federally funded legal aid lawyers, a right now available only to guest workers in agriculture.

Guest workers who labor in the woods planting trees and thinning brush, on public and private land, "have been asked to come to the United States because of a labor shortage," Bingaman said this week on the Senate floor. "They are here legally. They pay U.S. taxes."
His move is the outgrowth of a November series published in The Bee, "The Pineros: Men of the Pines," that reported widespread wage exploitation and hazardous working conditions among Latino forest workers.

A hearing on the issue was held in March before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. At the hearing, "We heard that making H2-B forestry workers eligible for legal aid is the single most effective thing Congress could do to address the problem of exploitation of forestry workers," Bingaman told the Senate.

Michael Dale, executive director of the Northwest Workers' Justice Project in Portland who testified at the hearing and advocated just such a fix, reacted positively to Bingaman's action. "I think it's great," Dale said.

Bingaman's amendment was folded into a larger package of generally noncontroversial amendments and approved by the bill's bipartisan sponsors, Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Its fate remains uncertain because the Senate bill, which calls for an expanded guest-worker program and a path to legalization for millions of undocumented workers, must now be reconciled with a more conservative House immigration bill.

Scott Miller, a legislative aide for Bingaman, said the amendment is a small piece of the debate over immigration reform but an important one for pineros, who are among the country's most neglected work forces. "This will be the first domino that, after three decades, will clean up the industry," Miller said.
About the writer:
The Bee's Tom Knudson can be reached at (530) 582-5336 or


Fence issue divides residents on border: May. 27, 2006 12:00 AM
Susan Carroll +Republic Tucson Bureau

SASABE - Melissa Owen stood outside her picturesque 1920s ranch home at the base of the Pozo Verde Mountains, less than five miles from the border with Mexico. A woman with callused hands from mornings spent in the vineyard, Owen carries around with her a cherished present from her husband: a remote control.

It runs the solar-powered gate for her new, towering perimeter fence topped with concertina wire, the kind designed to keep prison inmates from escaping. In the path of a massive wave of illegal immigration, the Owens are using a fence to protect them from robbers who try to steal their trucks and undocumented immigrants who slip by their windows in the night. advertisement

As border residents grow more and more frustrated with the politics of immigration, some are reaching out to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, whose volunteers plan to start helping build fences today along private border land in Arizona.

And that's just for a start. Fences are at the center of the illegal-immigration debate and are being proposed on nearly every level, from private landowners like the Owens to President Bush.

Over the objections of the Mexican government and environmentalists concerned about protecting wildlife, Congress appears willing to move ahead with at least a limited fencing plan. The Senate has approved a $1.1 billion plan to fence roughly 370 miles of the international line, a move supported by the White House. The House bill approved last December goes even further, with plans to erect 700 miles of barriers with an estimated price tag of $2.2 billion.Additionally, Arizona has its own fence proposal, which includes electronic surveillance.

Owen stares at her fence like a newlywed admiring a wedding ring, but she won't say how much it cost. "It was very, very expensive," she said. "It was my birthday, anniversary and Christmas present combined."

Minuteman fence

In Arizona's border towns, residents are split on whether a fence along the border will really help shut down illegal immigration. The federal government already has built nearly 54 miles of fortified fencing in the Border Patrol's Tucson and Yuma sectors, which account for the majority of the roughly 1.1 million arrests made last year along the entire Southwestern border.

Yet record numbers of undocumented immigrants are still crossing through here, avoiding places like San Diego, which has fortified double fencing. That is intimidating in comparison with the cut barbed wire through much of Arizona.

The Minutemen, a band of volunteers who became cable TV celebrities when they launched civilian patrols in Arizona's desert in April 2004, plan to start building a fence today on the property of a Palominas rancher, to the east of Owen in Cochise County in the southeastern corner of Arizona. According to their Web site, they have received $225,000 in donations, and plan to kick off the project with a groundbreaking ceremony today and the construction of one-eighth of a mile of fencing.

Organizers have tried to keep details of the fencing plans hush-hush for security concerns, spokeswoman Connie Hair said. The group has modified its original design for a fence, originally based on the double fencing topped with razor wire at the Israeli border. At the request of a local rancher, they're planning to build a barbed-wire fence with metal railings to keep smugglers from driving in and keep cattle from wandering north into the United States.

When the Minutemen break ground, Owen won't be there. Owen said she is grateful that the Minutemen have brought so much media attention to the Arizona border, but she simply doesn't agree with them on the fence thing. Fence an acre-and-a-half around her ranch house? Sure, she says, that's logical. But not hundreds of miles of U.S.-Mexican border, and definitely not all of Arizona's open desert, steep canyons and craggy mountain ranges.

"Anybody who thinks they can put a fence along the Arizona-Mexico border hasn't been here," she said.

Owen sighed, frustrated with the federal government. "I doubt there will ever be a fence," she said. "It's just something that sounds good. What needs to be done, (politicians) need to listen to the Border Patrol . . . and give them the support that they need. They have the infrastructure to do it; they just don't have the political will to do it."

Feeling pressure from across the country to tighten border controls, the federal government is sending backup to the U.S.-Mexican border, with Bush calling up 6,000 National Guard troops to help the stressed Border Patrol. The Senate and House both approved fencing proposals, with much of the funding for new barriers earmarked for Arizona, the busiest illegal-immigration corridor in the country.

State lawmakers, frustrated by a perceived slow response from the federal level, are advocating a "smart fence," a ground-based radar system that would track undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers and relay their locations to the Border Patrol. But down on the border, it's the fence that is getting the most attention.

Iris Lynch, who lives far to the east of Owen in Cochise County, said she is tired of hearing all the talk about what the government is going to do. She has been waiting for years for a fence, diligently pulling down the rolling metal shutters on her home near the border each day at dusk. Lynch, 72, has to tell friends who come to visit overnight that they shouldn't go outside to stargaze because it is too dangerous.

Just 10 years ago, Lynch said, before much of the fortified fencing was built near the border town of Douglas, people were "just running through there." Now, she said, they go around the fence. With enough barriers, and agents in places too difficult to fence off, they could funnel the undocumented immigrants to places where they can pick them up, she said. "A fence makes for good neighbors, and we know that," she said. "Let's face it, would anyone want the fences to come down around any of our prisons?"

But the fencing proposals have met with a broad range of opposition. In some Arizona border towns, local mayors are concerned that fences will harm cross-border trade. Mexican President Vicente Fox has assailed the fence proposal, saying it won't fix the illegal-immigration problem. Environmentalists have said they're concerned about the impact on protected habitat and endangered species.

Daniel Patterson, a Tucson ecologist, said he isn't too worried about the Minutemen's fence. His response to their proposal to fence the border was straightforward: "Go ahead and try. Most of the border is public land in Arizona, so what effect will a little wall on a private ranch have? None," he said. "It's just another publicity stunt for these guys, really."

But he is concerned about legislation in Congress that would put up hundreds of miles of barriers along the border, saying it could be "very damaging" to habitat along the border. That kind of opposition just makes Lynch more adamant.

"Some of the arguments are so ludicrous. They say, 'Oh the birds, oh the birds, they won't be able to get over the fence."

Lynch, a Brooklyn native, laughed, but her voice had an edge to it.

Fenced in
Sipping a cup of coffee on her porch, staring at the valley below through her expensive new fence, Owen says she has heard just about enough from the Mexican government on illegal immigration.

"I think that part of what rankles me about this . . . fence is that we're all afraid to somehow put any responsibility on the Mexican government," she said. "Mexico needs to take responsibility for people who cannot make a decent living in their own country. I'm tired of hearing that Mexico is a poor country. It's a country where many people are poor and very few are powerful and rich.

"The fact that I have to spend my money to turn my house into a fortress when the president of Mexico is calling the illegal crossers national heroes is very frustrating. It's very annoying."
She sat back in her chair. "Phew," she said, "I'm really glad I got that out of my system."


House Negotiator Calls Senate Immigration Bill 'Amnesty' and Rejects It = May 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 26 — The leading House negotiator on immigration denounced on Friday the bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate this week, saying House Republicans would never support a bill that gives illegal immigrants a chance at American citizenship.

The negotiator, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he could envision legislation that included a guest-worker program. But he insisted that strong enforcement measures would have to be in place first, including an employment-verification system and tough sanctions on employers who hired illegal immigrants.

Mr. Sensenbrenner said he would continue to reject President Bush's call for a compromise because he believed that the president, who supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, remained out of touch with the public. "The president is not where the American people are at," Mr. Sensenbrenner said at a news conference. "The Senate is not where the American people are at… Amnesty is wrong because it rewards someone for illegal behavior," he said. "And I reject the spin that the senators have been putting on their proposal. It is amnesty."

Mr. Sensenbrenner's stance put him on a collision course with backers of the Senate bill who say they will not accept any legislation that does not legalize illegal immigrants.

"There's going to have to be a path to citizenship," Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said on Friday.

It also highlighted the enormousness of the challenge facing Mr. Bush as he works to persuade reluctant House conservatives to embrace his position. Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, suggested on Friday that the president would embrace the challenge.

Mr. Snow said that Mr. Bush would continue to make his case on immigration and suggested that the president had already addressed Republican concerns about border security by promising to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to help out on the United States-Mexico border.

"I think there are areas on which members of the House are going to agree with the president," Mr. Snow said, pointing to the widening consensus around a guest-worker plan. "There are certainly going to be disagreements, and that's how the process works. They're going to have to get hashed out."

Matthew Dowd, a strategist for Mr. Bush, said in a memorandum that polls conducted for the Republican Party suggested strong support among Republicans and conservatives for a temporary-worker program and for legalizing illegal immigrants.

But House conservatives strongly disagreed. One House aide said on Friday that constituents were furiously calling lawmakers to express outrage about the Senate plan, which would require the government to consult with Mexico before building a fence along the border.

NumbersUSA, a conservative group that supports reduced immigration, said the plan "would create the largest immigration increase in U.S. history — a disaster for American workers and taxpayers."

Mr. Sensenbrenner said the Senate was poised to "repeat the mistakes" of the failed 1986 amnesty law, which was supposed to end illegal immigration by legalizing illegal immigrants, securing the country's borders and cracking down on employers.

Instead, fraudulent applications tainted the process, many employers continued illicit hiring practices, and illegal immigration surged. "I would hope the Senate would take a look back," Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

Separate from the attacks by conservatives, some immigrant groups continued on Friday to criticize elements of the Senate bill, including provisions that would expand deportation and detention and leave some immigrants vulnerable to prosecution for using false documents to escape persecution in their home countries.

Marshall Fitz, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said those issues were of "serious concern" even though the Senate bill would protect asylum-seekers from being deported while their claims were under review by federal courts.

Other advocates for immigrants criticized the bill as favoring illegal immigrants who had been in the country for longer than two years. Those living here for a shorter time would be required to leave.

"Some people might want to hold their nose and swallow it," Mark Stan, program director for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said of the provisions in the Senate bill. "But I think you can't have your eyes shut to some of this."


No Immigration Bill Is Better: By David Bacon = Friday 26 May 2006
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
San Francisco - When the US Senate yesterday passed its version of "comprehensive immigration reform," Senators from both sides of the aisle claimed that despite the enormous controversy it has generated, passing a bill with flaws was better than passing no bill at all. Outside the beltway and its coterie of lobbyists, however, a groundswell of community groups now argue that Congress would do better to pass no bill than a bill that reconciles the proposal just passed by the Senate and that passed last December in the House of Representatives.

In a statement condemning the Hagel-Martinez compromise, S 2611, the proposal that just passed on Thursday, a national group of immigrant rights advocates convened by the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights argued Wednesday that "the rush to reach a bipartisan accord on immigration legislation has led to a compromise that would create deep divisions within the immigrant community and leave millions of undocumented immigrants in the shadows."

"The current Senate bill," said Sheila Chung, of the San Francisco Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, "does not reflect the immigration reform called for by millions of immigrant communities marching the streets."

The United States is currently home to over 12 million people without immigration documents, which makes them and their families subject to deportation, and vulnerable to exploitation at work. Nevertheless, the groups point to provisions of the Senate bill that they say will make immigrants much worse off than they are even at present. Those include:

Under the Hagel-Martinez legalization plan, undocumented immigrants with less than two years in the US (about a million people) would be immediately subject to deportation. Those with two to five years would also have to leave the country, and could apply to reenter through some currently unknown process. The ability of border stations to handle the applications of the 3 to 4 million people involved is extremely doubtful, given the current years-long backlog in normal visa applications.

S 2611, like HR 4437 passed by the House in December, would ramp up the enforcement of employer sanctions. This provision of current law makes it a crime for undocumented people to hold a job, and is used frequently by employers to retaliate against workers who try to enforce labor standards or join unions. The Social Security Administration would become immigration police, forcing all workers to carry a new national ID card, and would require employers to fire anyone whose documents they question. The current Basic Pilot program, which moves in this direction, has shown the SSA database to be rife with errors.

The Senate bill expands current guest worker programs and establishes new ones, allowing employers to recruit workers outside the country on temporary visas. These new contract workers would be vulnerable to employer pressure, since their visa status would be dependent on their employment. Further, as the AFL-CIO‘s Ana Avendaño points out, "this turns jobs which are now held by permanent employees with rights and benefits into jobs filled by temporary, contract employees. It basically takes the jobs of millions of people out of the protections of the New Deal, won by workers decades ago." The labor federation points out that if currently undocumented workers and new immigrants were given permanent residence status instead of temporary visas, they would be able to exercise their rights as workers and community residents.

S 2611 "vastly increases detention and deportation, and further militarizes the border," according to the New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The Halliburton Corporation has already been given a US contract for construction of immigrant detention facilities near the border with Mexico, and proposals have been made for reopening closed military bases to house deportees and detainees. The bill, which makes document fraud an aggravated felony and grounds for deportation, would result in the criminalization of the millions of immigrant workers who have had to provide false Social Security cards to employers in order to get hired.

Stan Mark, AALDEF director, warned before passage of S 2611 that "the upsurge in the mass movement will redefine this debate well into the elections if Congress passes their so called "compromise" of comprehensive immigration reform." He calls instead for eliminating current laws penalizing lack of legal status, especially employer sanctions. "The political climate of the debate," the AALDEF leader says, "has converted this immigration bill into a Trojan horse into which lawmakers have crammed anti-immigrant and undemocratic policies."

The NNIRR declaration, a similar set of principles enumerated by AALDEF, and other programs put forward by groups outside Washington all emphasize the need for positive, pro-immigrant alternatives. They include immediate legal status for the undocumented, easier family reunification and elimination of the backlog in processing visa applications, no expansion of guest worker programs, ending the indefinite detention of immigrants, restoring due process to immigration proceedings, and, instead of the new walls Congress wants to build, ending the militarization of the US border with Mexico.

Since the Senate has approved a bill far removed from these principles, and the House passed an enforcement-only HR 4437 even more hostile to immigrants, immigrant rights advocates believe killing all current proposals is their only option.

That might in fact be the outcome of efforts to reconcile the House and Senate bills, since the most conservative House Republicans oppose any legal status for the undocumented. "It is possible that a reconciliation between HR 4437 and S 2611 will not happen in the conference committee," speculates Evelyn Sanchez of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride. "Should this happen, we will have time to continue pushing for real and fair comprehensive immigration reform. If HR 4437 and S 2611 are successfully reconciled, and the President signs the bill into law, then we have the task of overturning that law."

This is a grim scenario, but despite it, advocates are unwilling to give up. "It's been done before," Sanchez says.
David Bacon is a California photojournalist who documents labor, migration and globalization. His book The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border was published last year by University of California Press.

Fox declares Mexico border control ally = Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, May 26, 2006
His nation 'part of the solution,' he tells state legislators
By Jim Sanders -- Bee Capitol Bureau

Speaking to the California Legislature, Mexican President Vicente Fox on Thursday applauded passage of a sweeping immigration reform bill by the U.S. Senate and said his country is willing to share in border control.

"Mexico wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem," Fox said in a 20-minute speech to a joint session of the state Senate and Assembly, marking his first official visit to California's Capitol in five years. "We are your partners in security against terrorism," Fox said. "We are your allies in the war on drugs and crime. We are your partners in the drive for economic prosperity. Let us work together, as neighbors, friends and partners."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger later met privately with Fox for 10 minutes to discuss economic issues, immigration, environmental matters and a potential trade mission, among other topics.
Schwarzenegger stressed that both the United States and Mexico must pass laws cracking down on the digging of border tunnels to smuggle people and drugs, according to a summary of the meeting released by the Governor's Office. The Republican governor told the Mexican leader that he was prepared to commit National Guard troops to support the work of border guards, but only temporarily, the administration said.

Fox also met privately Thursday with Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, the Legislature's Latino Caucus and state Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, the leader of efforts to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Outside the Capitol, a small group of protesters held signs reading, "It's Not Too Late to Save Our State" and "Stop Illegal Immigration Now."

Assembly Republican leader George Plescia, whose caucus is a loud critic of illegal immigration, was rebuffed when he asked that Fox meet separately with a small group of GOP legislators.
"Yes, I'm disappointed," he said Thursday morning. "We have a big voice, and it would have been nice to let him know that there are differing views."

Assemblyman Chuck Devore of Irvine and about a half-dozen other GOP lawmakers boycotted Fox's visit to the Capitol.

State Sen. Dave Cox of Fair Oaks and several other Republican legislators attended the speech wearing yellow buttons that read, "No mas" -- meaning "No more… "No more illegal immigration," Cox said. "No more having the president of Mexico try to dictate what America's policy will be toward immigration."

Inside the Capitol, Democrats reacted warmly to Fox's speech, while GOP lawmakers tended to give Fox's speech only tepid applause -- or none at all.

Fox did not comment specifically on President Bush's call for sending 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border. But the Mexican leader said an immigration crackdown will not solve border woes. "Mexico believes that it will take more than just enforcement or building walls to truly solve the challenges posed by the migration phenomenon, and that a comprehensive reform is in the interest of both nations," he said.

Fox hailed Thursday's U.S. Senate action as historic and long-awaited. The Senate legislation proposes to strengthen border controls while creating temporary guest-worker programs and a mechanism for granting U.S. citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. "It is a moment that millions of families have been hoping for," Fox said of the U.S. Senate's 62-36 vote for the hotly contested legislation. "This will have a strong impact on the destinies and lives of millions of families."

Upon his arrival at Sacramento International Airport, Fox said news of the U.S. Senate vote "fills us with happiness… It has to do with our countrymen," he said. "It has to do with their work. They have fought to arrive at this moment.“

Inside the Capitol, Fox told lawmakers that his country is committed to:

• Recognizing the United States' sovereign right to enforce its laws and to protect its borders and its citizens.

• Expanding Mexico's economic growth and social opportunities so that "migration is no longer a necessity."

• Developing and enforcing migration laws that fight human smuggling and drug trafficking while respecting human rights on both sides of the border.

Fox, who is in his final year in office, said his country is willing to adjust its "migration policy" to share in border control. The Mexican president did not elaborate on what responsibilities should be shared, or what controls he would advocate. Fox said only that policies should regulate the "movement of people across our border in a manner which is legal, safe and orderly."

Fox also praised Mexicans who currently reside in the United States. "Mexico is proud of its people here, whose working spirit and moral values contribute every day to building citizenship and community in this great nation," he said.

Aside from immigration, Fox stressed that Mexico has made significant improvements in education, housing, job growth, democracy, human rights and governmental accountability.
Fox's driving message was that Mexico and California, major trading partners, have much in common and plenty to celebrate. "Let this historic occasion mark my country's pledge to a stronger relationship between Mexico and California," he said.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, applauded the tone. "It was very statesmanlike, a message of mutual responsibility and mutual respect," he said.

Núñez hailed Fox's commitment to share responsibility for border control. "This is the first time that a president of the nation to the south has taken responsibility, in part, for the immigration phenomenon," he said.

But Plescia characterized Fox's address as a "campaign speech." "I don't think they're very serious," Plescia said of Fox's call for shared border control.

Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, called Fox's four-day trip to the United States a "propaganda tour" in which he is using West Coast visits to convey a message to Congress.

Schwarzenegger, in a prepared statement after his meeting with Fox, did not indicate that their session was confrontational.

"We are working on the immigration issue and both sides know it's a complex problem," he said, "but Mexico and California are true partners and true friends."

Fox and Schwarzenegger also issued a joint statement saying California and Mexico will host a biannual conference involving government officials, environmental experts and technology industry leaders.

After their meeting, Fox and Schwarzenegger and their wives, Marta Sahagún de Fox and Maria Shriver, viewed the "Latina: The Spirit of California" exhibit at the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts.

The foursome emerged from the tour to a serenade of mariachi music in an adjoining courtyard, where in the gathering twilight the two leaders spoke warmly of the relationship between their two countries, with Fox again sounding a note of appreciation for the Senate's vote on the immigration bill.

"This will be an example for the rest of the world," he said.

The Mexican president is expected to address the California Chamber of Commerce and Latino business leaders before flying to Los Angeles today.
About the writer:
The Bee's Jim Sanders can be reached at (916) 326-5538 or Andy Furillo and Clea Benson of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.


While Some See Compromise, Critics Say Senate Immigration Bill Punishes Undocumented Immigrants: Thursday, May 25th, 2006

The Senate version of the immigration bill is expected to be voted on as early as today. While the bill is being hailed as a compromise solution to immigration, many immigrant advocates point to a number of adverse provisions in the bill that they say will actually bar millions from legalization and threaten their civil liberties. [includes rush transcript]
We take a look at the Senate immigration bill, which is expected to be voted on as early as today. The bill, which has caused much debate in Congress, would heighten enforcement measures, establish a temporary guest worker program, punish employers who hire undocumented immigrants and open a route to citizenship for at least some undocumented immigrants. But many immigrant advocates point to a number of adverse provisions in the bill that they say will actually bar millions from legalization, threaten their civil liberties and declare English the country's national language.

If passed, the Senate bill would have to be reconciled with the draconian Sensenbrenner bill passed by the House in December. That bill focuses strictly on enforcement and would consider undocumented immigrants to be felons. It would also make it a crime for priests, nuns, health care workers and other social workers to offer help to undocumented immigrants. The passage of the Sensenbrenner Bill sparked the massive protests in support of immigrant rights that recently took place around the country

To discuss this legislation we host a roundtable discussion:

Stan Mark, program director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Steven Forester, senior policy advocate for Haitian Women of Miami

AMY GOODMAN: To discuss this legislation, we're joined in our Firehouse studio by Stan Mark. He’s the program director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. In Miami, we're joined by Steve Forester. He’s the senior policy advocate for Haitian Women of Miami, which is an immigration advocacy and social services agency in Florida. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!

STAN MARK: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Stan Mark, can you start off by explaining your reaction to the Senate bill expected to be passed today?

STAN MARK: I believe that the only thing that's comprehensive about this legislation, although it's supposed to be a compromise -- it's been advocated as comprehensive legislation -- is the fact that it's comprehensive enforcement, as mentioned earlier by Juan. There are so many provisions in there, I don't even know where to begin, but essentially what happens is there is a limit of due process, undermining due process, judicial review, administrative review, provisions there to allow for indefinite detention, which is contrary to current Supreme Court precedent.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?

STAN MARK: There was a decision earlier, about 2001 but prior to 9/11, that essentially said that the ICE and the Department of Homeland Security could not detain people for more than six months without some kind of a hearing. If the provision that's in the compromise gets through, it will allow the ICE or the Department of Homeland Security to actually detain people beyond that point and without judicial and administrative review.

AMY GOODMAN: ICE being Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

STAN MARK: That’s right, Enforcement. That's correct. And there are other provisions in the bill that undermine judicial review and federal jurisdiction over these -- any type of deportation removal cases. It's a total evisceration of what our current system allows for, and it undermines due process and any type of defenses that people may have in removal proceedings and accelerates and expedites removal for certain people. In addition, I think the -- you know, looking at the bill itself, if you look at individual provisions, it's one thing. But if you take it as a total package, it certainly is overwhelming and severely detrimental and undermines our ability to represent or defend any of the people who are in detention.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, even on the issue of legalization, as I understand the final version now, it would still call for only seven million of the eleven million people to get on the path immediately to citizenship and for another --

STAN MARK: Actually, our position is that it's more than 50% of people would be ineligible for legalization. I think some litigators and some people who have followed this much more closely, in terms of their past experiences with the litigation program from ’86, predict about two to three million people who may get through the first level. As you know, there's a three-tier system. The first-tier system does allow people to, you know, eventually over a period of perhaps more than ten, fifteen years to actually get citizenship, and the first step, of course, to legalization. The second tier does not necessarily allow very many people to get through at all.

And, as a matter of fact, the third level actually creates a guest workers program, which we believe is tantamount to legalized slavery, as a famous official Department of Labor official, Lee G. Williams, in the early 1960s, heading the Department of Labor when the Bracero Program, the last major guest workers program that went through, was finally terminated, he called it, quote, “legalized slavery.” And we believe that any type of guest workers programs that reinstitutes those types of provisions or those provisions instituting programs like the Bracero Program should be --

JUAN GONZALEZ: Am I correct in this also that those people who have been in the country a year or less would have to be deported?

STAN MARK: That's correct.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In that sense, that there’s at least a million people?

STAN MARK: Right. Theoretically they could register and become so-called temporary workers, but most people -- there would be no reason for them to do that, because they wouldn't gain very much in wages and better working conditions, but they would expose themselves to being on the database and perhaps being removed later on. And they also would give up all their rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Why would a guest worker program be legalized slavery? What does it mean, a guest worker program?

STAN MARK: Well, in terms of -- most guest workers programs in the past have and, I think, would be perpetuated in any type of guest worker program today, the lack of -- the absolute control of the workplace by employers with the government-sanctioned program itself being put in place, people would have very little rights to move from job to job. Their ability to depend on employment would be tied to that type of job. They wouldn't be able to go from place to place. And historically these types of programs open them to the most -- make them most vulnerable to exploitation and really abuse by employers with very little avenues or options to get out of that kind of a situation.

AMY GOODMAN: We wanted to turn also to Miami, a large Haitian community there. Steve Forester has worked with the Haitian community for many years. Steve, I remember speaking to you more than ten years ago during the first coup against the president then, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when tens of thousands of Haitians were fleeing the brutality there and coming into this country. Some were caught at Guantanamo who had HIV/AIDS. Now you're dealing with another situation with this bill. Can you talk about that?

STEVEN FORESTER: Well, there are many problems with this bill. The first problem is the cutoff date, January 7, 2004. About 1.6 million people who arrived thereafter are left out. For the persons in the two- to five-year category before that, you only got three months to apply for this thing. There's no confidentiality in your application procedure and no right of appeal, unless you deport yourself, as I understand it.

Now, in terms of the people that we're particularly concerned about, there are many problems. You know, a lot of Haitians have green cards, just like all Americans -- I'm sorry, nationalities, there are green cards all over the place. There's a vast expansion of the definition of aggravated felony in this bill that means that you can be deported if -- let’s say you’ve had a green card for ten to twenty years; thirty years ago you pled guilty to a bogus shoplifting charge. There's a vast expansion of that definition of aggravated felony to include the most minor misdemeanors, no matter how remote. In terms of specific Haitian concerns, you mentioned the people who came through Guantanamo with HIV. Those people are barred from legalizing. There's no waiver provision. That's a sentence of death. They're living healthy productive lives here, but if they're deported to Haiti the lack of medical care will mean simply they're not going to make it.

And there are two other groups we are very concerned about. There's a bar to legalization for persons who have what's called final orders of deportation and also persons who came into the country fleeing persecution with a fraudulent or phony document. Now, remember those two years you were just referring to. President Clinton was saying things like “They're chopping people's faces off.” The United States led an international political and economic boycott of the Cedras dictatorship that killed thousands of people from ‘91 to ‘94. Yet our Coast Guard was still repatriating every boatperson caught trying to flee. The only way out, especially if you were politically active, was to fly out with a phony document. At Miami International these people said, ‘My true name is such-and-such. I need political asylum.’ This bill bars them from legalizing. That’s wrong. It violates basic American traditions.

Also, persons who have been here for years and came forward early on to comply with U.S. law and identify themselves and were placed in proceedings, and it's gone through the process, and now they have orders of deportation that are final, those persons also barred from legalizing. So this bill is riddled with problems. It's going to be a nightmare in enforcement, and probably millions of people are going to be left out.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Steve Forester, who is speaking to us from Miami. He works with the Haitian Women of Miami, concerned about the situation of Haitians under what could be this new bill if it's passed by the Senate. Of course, then, there has to be a negotiation that takes place. Can you talk about going back in history and looking now, mentioning Guantanamo? People may not remember before the current detainees were held, there were Haitian detainees, those that were believed to be HIV-positive or who had AIDS, who were fleeing the coup in Haiti, 1991 to ‘94. How does that connect to today?

STEVEN FORESTER: Well, as you say, on September 30 of ‘91, I guess it was, President Aristide was overthrown in an extremely bloody coup, and for three years there was the Raul Cedras military dictatorship. Everyone -- the Haitian military knew precisely who had supported Aristide, because in the very brief seven-month period of his presidency, people all over the country had come out of the woodwork and joined community groups and plastered Aristide's photo all over their houses. So when the military crackdown occurred, they knew exactly who to target all over the country, and thousands of young people were killed in Haiti.

And others fled. They fled by boat. And at first, they were taken to Guantanamo. A small number were let in at that time. Others, and among them were HIV-positive persons who eventually were paroled in, and those are the people who have been here more than a decade, who – they’re not large in number, a couple hundred, but, of course, the test of a great nation is how it treats the most vulnerable. These people have been leading productive lives here. Under this bill, there is no possibility for them, other than deportation, and, of course, lacking the care necessary, that’s a sentence of death.

We’re also concerned for the people, because this Guantanamo phenomenon, when they took some people to Guantanamo, only lasted five or six months. Then we continued the Coast Guard interdiction and repatriation of every boatperson trying to flee. Haiti was a pressure cooker, if you will. And the only escape route for the most politically active and for anyone who needed to get out of that hellhole at the time under this military repression, there was a business profiting on the misery of these people. They flew out with a phony document, landed at Miami International Airport, gave their true names -- that’s the only reason they were paroled into the community as they were, right away -- and said, “I need asylum.” Now, those people had been here twelve, thirteen, fourteen years. They have U.S.-born children. They own houses, businesses, pay taxes and send remittances back to Haiti that support thousands of relatives there. Those persons, they are barred from legalizing.

So you have somebody like Gary Joinville deported two years ago, an electrician, lived here since ’93 with a wife and three U.S.-born children. He now is unemployed in Haiti, because he was deported. The three U.S.-born children, who are the future of this community, not born in Haiti, don’t speak Creole, as American as apple pie, if you will, they’re constantly asking their mother, “When’s daddy coming back?” Well, there are a few thousand people in this situation, who had to flee repression using a bad document.

We made Raoul Wallenberg an honorary U.S. citizen for helping people flee with bad documents, as we should have. And it is wrong to violate American tradition and asylum law and say that the very use of a document to flee repression, in a repressive government that doesn’t give travel documents to those it’s persecuting, is going to bar you from legalizing. That’s wrong. It’s wrong to bar from legalizing anyone who came forward early on and now has a final order of removal. They played by the rules. They went through the process. There’s been a notorious history of discrimination in the processing of Haitians. And now they’re to be deported, too.

So we’re very concerned about the gaps. It’s going to be necessary, hopefully with a Democratic congress, to come back and try to fix some of these things. But as it stands now, this is bad for all kinds of people, not to mention, as I mentioned at the beginning, people of all nationalities who have green cards. There's a vast expansion, because of this sort of rightwing zealotry in enforcement stuff and scapegoating immigrants, there’s a vast expansion of the definition of aggravated felon, so that that term, a term of art in immigration law, civil law, now includes the remotest misdemeanors of the most minor nature, so that even if you’ve got a green card, if I understand correctly, were this to become a law, you'd have to watch out, and even if you had a green card for ten or fifteen years. That applies to Haitians and everyone else.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I’d like to ask Stan Mark, what do, then, immigrant rights advocates do in this situation, because clearly you have millions of undocumented immigrants that are desperate in this country for some kind of legalization? Suddenly this watered-down or rightwing version in the Senate will now have to compete with an even more rightwing version in the House, and as I've been saying, there are some advocates who say, “Defeat the entire thing and just wait until after the November elections to see a new congress,” rather than take this poison pill that appears to be developing in the Senate and the House.

STAN MARK: Well, I think that with the vote on closure and the possibility of this really devastating bill passing through, the obvious thing is to oppose passage of it on the vote in the Senate, but at the same time to really look affirmatively and reframe the debate and link up with the mass movement, which has an upsurge. People didn't march and demonstrate for this kind of a compromise bill. Clearly it does not meet the needs of people in our communities, both undocumented, documented and citizens. It will bust up families, and many, many people who believe at this point that there is a possibility to legalize, I think, are fooled by this compromise, and we have to get the word out. For example --

JUAN GONZALEZ: But there are lots of groups, immigrant groups in Washington and lots of Democratic Party leaders who say anything is better than nothing. And so, you're getting now a debate, obviously, that’s percolating, as to what’s --

STAN MARK: Well, within the supporters of this compromise, I think there's probably some belief that this is the best we can do, but frankly, it's worse than anything getting through, as far as we're concerned. And I believe that the opportunity with the mass movement and the major marches and demonstrations could help reframe this debate in the next session and perhaps actually ask for things that are very principled and that would help our communities in a better way. I mean, one thing that I really am concerned about is people believe that this legalization program will benefit a lot of people. If you’ve used false Social Security numbers, if you had used false names in your documentation in any way, shape or form when you’ve hired in employment, you would not be allowed to participate in this kind of a legalization program, which would knock out many, many people in our communities. So it's a bad deal for everybody in the community.

AMY GOODMAN: Stan Mark, I want to thank you for being with us, program director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Steven Forester from Miami, a senior policy advocate for Haitian Women of Miami. We thank you both for joining us.


Immigrant rights activists vow to press forward: 05/25/06 12:49
Author: Rosalio Muñoz and Emile Schepers

Led by President Bush and the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Senate Republicans closed ranks and turned their backs this week on the millions who demonstrated for immigrant rights this spring.

As the World was going to press, the Republican-led Senate was moving to pass S 2611, the hotly debated “compromise” immigration bill, after defeating Democratic-led efforts to ensure a path to citizenship and stronger civil rights and labor protections for most undocumented workers. The Senate vote was expected on or before May 26.

The legislative package, S 2611, known as the Hagel-Martinez compromise, was patched together in early April before the Senate’s spring recess in an attempt to reach a bipartisan consensus on issues relating to legalization for the undocumented, a temporary worker program and border and interior law enforcement. During the recess, most Senate Republicans, including their leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), were seeking even harsher restrictions on immigrants.

Mass nationwide demonstrations and boycotts by millions in April and May generated pressure on the Senate to adopt even stronger pro-immigrant rights measures than embodied in the compromise, and with continued mass lobbying pressure in mid-May, resulted in proposed amendments by liberal Democrats prioritizing legalization and immigrant rights.

On May 15 President Bush launched a public relations blitz to prioritize enforcement issues in the Senate debate, featuring deployment of the National Guard on the border with Mexico. Administration political guru Karl Rove made visits to the Heritage Foundation and congressional Republicans.

Bush staged a second press conference at the border at Yuma, Ariz., May 18, and dedicated his May 20 national radio address to border enforcement. The Heritage Foundation began projecting that major legalization would result in tens to hundreds of millions of documented and undocumented immigrants coming into the country in coming decades.

The Bush blitz was timed to coincide with the reopening of Senate floor debate on S 2611 on May 15, with Frist planning for a final vote by May 26. During the first week, restrictive and punitive Republican amendments dominated the debate, with most being narrowly defeated. This set the stage for the defeat of major pro-immigrant amendments this week.

The pro-immigrant amendments, led by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to provide legalization for most immigrants who arrived in the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, 2006, were introduced on May 22. Frist rushed through their defeat May 23. The Feinstein amendment lost by a vote of 61-37, with only one Republican in favor.

Then, in quick succession, amendments by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to get a better deal for people seeking asylum, Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to beef up enforcement against labor abuses, and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to give relief to families with U.S. citizen members which are being broken up by the deportation of a family member, were all shot down by the Republicans. By opposing these amendments, “moderate” Republicans like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) revealed their loyalty to corporate interests rather than to either immigrant or non-immigrant workers.

When and if a bill is passed by the Senate, a conference committee of selected House and Senate members would be established to reconcile its provisions with the draconian Sensenbrenner bill, HR 4437. The joint House-Senate bill, which could come to vote in June, is expected to be enforcement-heavy and to contain weaker, if any, legalization provisions. If the joint bill wins approval of the full House and Senate, it will likely resemble Bush’s original January 2004 proposal for harsh enforcement and a guest worker program.

Immigrant rights groups are looking to return to street heat and mobilizations for citizenship, voter registration, education and turnout to influence the continuing legislative process and the Nov. 7 elections. The We are America Coalition, which includes labor, religious and immigrant rights groups, says that July 1 will be a kickoff for massive voter registration drives all over the country. There will be a drive for naturalization of eligible non-citizens, major rallies around Labor Day, and then large-scale campaigns to mobilize the pro-immigrant vote in November.

Senate passes landmark immigration bill: Thursday, May 25, 2006
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senators are challenging House Republicans to give ground on their enforcement-only fix for the country's immigration problems and consider offering citizenship to millions of immigrants illegally in the U.S.

Senate passage of its immigration bill by a 62-36 vote on Thursday sets up a confrontation with the House, where many lawmakers equate the citizenship offer with amnesty.

President Bush said the House "began a national dialogue" when it passed an immigration bill last year and he said he "looked forward to working together" with lawmakers to produce a bill he could sign.

An effective measure, he said in a statement, would protect U.S. borders, make employers responsible for people they hire, create a temporary worker program, deal with the illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and "honor America's great tradition of the melting pot."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he hoped the House would see the legislation as a rare opportunity. "We should seize this moment so America can move forward," he said.

Yet House Majority Leader John Boehner said House negotiators will oppose "troubling policies that encourage open borders and invite more illegal immigrants into our country."

"Our most important priority is to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration," said Boehner, R-Ohio.

GOP Rep. Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he would vote against any legislation that included amnesty or legalization for illegal immigrants. King is expected to be among the House negotiators.

Lawmakers on both sides expect difficult talks at reconciling the bills.

"We have a start," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "It is still a 50-50 proposition."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who voted for the Senate bill, said he would seek to have negotiations begin soon.

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who sponsored an early version of the Senate bill in the House, urged House Speaker Hastert to follow Frist's lead "so we can begin the difficult task of reaching a consensus."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. argued for finishing the bill before the November elections.

"This is one problem that is not going to wait until the next election," Graham said. "If you win or lose because you make a hard decision, so be it."

Politics has been an undercurrent as the Senate has tried to write legislation that would satisfy unions, immigration hawks, businesses and advocates for Latinos, and other interests. Several leaders involved in the debate, including Frist and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are considering 2008 presidential runs.

Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the electorate. Thousands, including some illegal immigrants, joined street protests to denounce the House bill and call for broader legislation.

"The Latino community and the rest of the country want effective immigration reform that brings order and fairness to our system," said Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza president.

Senate leaders agreed that their success in conference will depend greatly on Bush.

"Now the time has come for very active participation by the president," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. "I believe the president will put a very heavy shoulder to the wheel."

A chief architect of the Senate bill, Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he would "welcome the strong leadership of the president of the United States in this undertaking."

The House bill, which passed on a largely party-line vote last year, is generally limited to border enforcement. It would make all illegal immigrants subject to felony charges. It has no provision for either a new temporary worker program or citizenship for men, women and children unlawfully in the country.

The Senate bill, in contrast, would mark the most far-reaching changes in two decades by:

-Urging the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents this year and 14,000 by 2011.

-Endorsing Bush's plan for a short-term deployment of National Guard troops to states along the border with Mexico.

-Calling for the construction of 370 miles of fencing on the border.

The guest worker program would admit 200,000 individuals a year. They eventually could apply for a green card, which confers legal permanent residency.

A separate program envisions admission of an estimated 1.5 million immigrant farm workers who also may apply for permanent residency

For illegal immigrants, those in the country for five years could stay, keep working and eventually apply for citizenship. They would have to pay at least $3,250 in fines and fees, settle back taxes and learn English.

Illegal immigrants in the country for more than two years but less than five would have to travel to a point of entry before re-entering the United States legally and beginning the lengthy process of seeking citizenship.

An immigrant in the country illegally for less than two years would be required to leave with no guarantee of return.


Senate votes to hike illegal worker fines: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 · PM

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted Tuesday to fine employers who hire illegal immigrants up to $20,000 for each unauthorized worker, providing teeth to a broad immigration bill before sending it to a final vote later this week.

Employers would have to check Social Security numbers and the immigration status of all new hires within 18 months after money is provided to the Homeland Security Department to expand the electronic system for screening workers.

"This is probably the single most important thing we can do in terms of reducing the inflow of undocumented workers, making sure we can enforce in a systematic way rules governing who gets hired," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

The amendment passed 58-40. Opponents said the verification system would take years to implement and complained that workers deemed illegal could still hold onto jobs until their appeals are exhausted.

Employers who don't use the new computerized system could be fined $200 to $600. The system would include information from the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security Department.

The $20,000 fines for hiring illegal immigrants once the new screening system is in place would be double the present level. Repeated violators could be sentenced to prison terms of up to three years.

The House passed a bill in December that would impose fines on employers of undocumented workers ranging from $5,000 to $40,000. But, unlike the Senate bill, the House measure would require employers to screen all employees - an estimated 140 million people - instead of only new hires.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., scheduled a test vote for Wednesday that sets up the bill's final passage, likely Thursday. Its most controversial provision would put more than half of the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants on a path toward citizenship without ever having to leave the U.S.

Critics call that amnesty and Republican leaders refused to even allow it to be considered in the bill the House passed in December.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who heads a group of 100 conservatives in the House, said Tuesday he plans to offer a bill this week that would let employers rehire illegal workers now on their payrolls after they have returned home and applied for a new "W" visa to return.

"The solution is to set up a system that will encourage illegal workers to self-deport and come back legally as guest workers," said Pence, who earlier voted for the enforcement-only House bill.

The Senate defeated an effort Tuesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would have let all illegal immigrants remain, in contrast to the Senate compromise that would require more than one-third of them to leave.


Senate Vote Saves Immigration Bill Chances: Tuesday, May 23, 2006
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Senate rejected a California Democrat's plan to allow the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country to remain, work and eventually become Americans, preserving a fragile bipartisan coalition needed to pass the bill.

Several lawmakers who voted against the proposal offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record) on Tuesday said they did so reluctantly, but out of necessity to ensure survival of the broader immigration bill. The legislation is expected to win Senate passage Wednesday or Thursday.

"This legislation is on the edge of the ledge as it is," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, one of the Republicans supporting a delicate compromise that has kept the bill alive — letting two-thirds of illegal immigrants stay but making the other third leave.

Feinstein's amendment, defeated 61 to 37, would have supplanted the compromise that allows illegal immigrants here five years or more to stay and work six years and seek legal residency after paying back taxes and fines and showing they were learning English.

Those in the country two to five years under the compromise would have to go to a point of entry, exit and file an application to return as a guest worker. Those here less than two years must leave the country, but could apply from their native country to return as a guest worker and wait in line to get a visa.

"I have come to believe that the three-tiered system is unworkable, that it would create a bureaucratic nightmare and it would lead to substantial fraud," Feinstein said Tuesday.

Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record), D-Iowa, said the compromise bill could mean losing Latinos in his state who have helped revive some of its small towns by buying homes and starting small businesses.

Feinstein offered the plan just before Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist set the stage for a preliminary vote Wednesday that could quickly bring the bill to a final vote. The bill appears headed for passage.

A bigger fight on the bill is still to come — when the House and Senate meet to negotiate a compromise bill. The House passed an enforcement-only bill that makes illegal immigrants felons, cracks down on hiring of illegal immigrants and steps up border security. It offers no path to citizenship or a guest worker program, which critics say is amnesty.

"If we are lucky, the House of Representatives will say it's got to be better," Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala., said of the Senate bill after predicting Monday it would pass.

Feinstein's proposal faced an uphill climb. Republican Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record) of Texas said it suffered the same "infirmities" as the bipartisan bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which offered citizenship for all illegal immigrants.

Feinstein's proposal required all illegal immigrants to register with the Department of Homeland Security, get fingerprinted and go through criminal and national security background checks.

They would get an "orange card" encrypted with identifying information and signifying they are legal workers after passing the background checks, demonstrating an understanding of English, U.S. history and government and paying back taxes and a $2,000 fine to apply.

They would go to the back of the line and could apply for legal permanent residency when a number they are given is reached.

Also Monday, the Senate showed support for President Bush's plan to deploy National Guard troops to the border by endorsing an amendment authorizing governors to order their state's Guard units to perform duties in border states.


Mexican Migrants Heading North: Tue May 23, 2006 AM
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer

TIJUANA, Mexico - Before Israel Morales boarded a plane from Mexico City to Tijuana, his mother slipped a tiny plastic bag containing a coin, lentils and an image of Christ into his pocket, so he wouldn't be without money, food or faith.

Then his 10-year-old son wrapped his arms around him and wouldn't let go.

"The hardest part is leaving your family behind, hearing your child cry as you walk away, even if you're leaving so he can have a better life," said Morales, a truck driver who was planning to jump the metal fence dividing Mexico and the United States.

"For children this is hard to understand."

Migration to the United States has long been a fact of life for many Mexicans. In some villages, mariachi music and feasts are customary sendoffs for those heading north. But tighter border security is now keeping many migrants away from their homes for longer stretches, making their last moments in Mexico more somber occasions.

Many spend time with loved ones, reassuring their children that better days will come. Others go to churches and shrines, praying for a safe journey. Then there are the young boys who parade through town saying goodbye to neighbors they might not see again for years.

Eduardo Orozco went to Tijuana's cathedral to ask for divine protection.

"I asked God to take care of me and to protect me from snake bites," Orozco said, his backpack stuffed with water, canned tuna, crackers and chocolate. "I asked him to help me because this time I'll have to make it."

Orozco, a 30-year-old construction worker, was preparing for his third attempt to sneak into the United States through a hilly section of California. He said a Los Angeles contractor had promised him a job paying $300 a week, twice what he earned in Guadalajara.

With about half of Mexico's 107 million people living in poverty, the promise of better paying jobs has lured millions of migrants north — so many that about 10 percent of Mexico's population now lives in the United States.

Earlier this month, President Bush unveiled a plan to bolster security along the border by sending 6,000 National Guard troops to patrol the area. Congress is also debating the most far-reaching immigration bill in two decades. It would strengthen border enforcement, create a guest worker program and eventually offer the possibility of citizenship to many of the millions of men and women already in the country illegally.

Because of these measures, many migrants are making fewer passages back and forth between the United States and Mexico. When they do undertake the sometimes dangerous journey, some count on divine protection, stopping at churches, makeshift altars and the tombs of saints on the way.

The Roman Catholic Church offers a half-dozen patron saints for travelers, but many Mexican migrants turn to someone not recognized by the church: "Juan Soldado," or Soldier John.
Soldado was a soldier who was falsely accused of the rape and murder of a girl and executed by a Mexican firing squad in February 1938. He is worshipped as a man wronged by those in power.
Migrants have filled the wall of a small chapel built around his tomb in Tijuana with flowers, locks of hair, marble plaques and handwritten notes thanking him.

In one note written in pencil and taped to a wall, a woman credits him for helping her get to the United States: "I thank you Juan Soldado for the miracle of having crossed safely with my children to Los Angeles and for now having my papers and being able to come see you."

Another man left a copy of his tourist visa, which he credited Soldado with helping him get. One woman offered a foot-long braid, nailed to the wall with a note thanking him for helping her brother obtain his freedom after being accused of smuggling migrants.

Migrants make the trip knowing that death — or even a new life in the United States — may keep them from returning. That was on Morales' mind as he left his son behind: "I wanted to leave him with good memories because you never know when or if you'll come back."


Could Fox's Calif. Visit Mend Rift With Mexico? = May 21, 2006

Mexican President Vicente Fox’s visit to California this week comes at a critical time, when a proposal to station U.S. National Guard troops along the border might weaken the position of Fox’s party in that country’s July 2 presidential election.

Fox is scheduled to speak to a joint session of the California legislature in Sacramento on Thursday, followed by a meeting with Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez in Los Angeles on Friday.

Fox is also expected to meet with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and members of the city’s Mexican American community, including Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, an economics professor at UCLA.

The impact of Bush’s proposal to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the border “actually may have one of its most important repercussions” in Mexico, Hinojosa-Ojeda told KCBS reporter Henry Mulak, “undercutting the ruling party in Mexico in the next elections, and making it more likely that the left-wing candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will win.”

Hinojosa-Ojeda and Fox will discuss ways to improve the situation created by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the professor believes has helped double the number of immigrants—both legal and illegal—coming into the United States from Mexico.

The elimination of tariffs between the U.S, Canada, and Mexico has strengthened the reach of U.S. agribusiness, to the detriment of local farmers south of the border.

“One of the biggest problems in Mexico is that it's being flooded by very cheap corn from the United States,” Hinojosa-Ojeda said. “This therefore creates the inability of the countryside to survive as a productive area. Therefore, more migration.”

Hinojosa-Ojeda said the California visit was an opportunity for leaders in Sacramento to try and refocus the relationship between leaders in the U.S. and Mexico onto more productive solutions to the problems confronting our entwined economies.

(jro) Joe Rogers
(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


National Guard unit split on border duty: Saturday, May 20, 2006

WESLACO, Texas -- In the Rio Grande Valley, an area known for both blended cultures and intense U.S. patriotism, National Guard soldiers recently back from Afghanistan are taking stock of President Bush's plan to use their ranks to patrol the Mexican border.

Bush has promised that 6,000 National Guard troops would help out to secure the border. The deployment would last two years, with no clear end date, according to a Pentagon memo obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

"This is one battalion that can always be counted on," said Maj. Albert Lara. "Military service is a big tradition in Hispanic communities."

But not all his soldiers were as eager to get right back to work building triple-layer fencing and handling other logistical duties.

"Today's a last day for a very long time," 24-year-old Spc. Joe Pena said, his companions nodding in shared relief on Friday when they marked the official end of their yearlong deployment. "We're not looking to wear this uniform much longer."

Pena says he disagrees with having the National Guard patrolling the border.

ANALYSIS: Governor battered by border fight: Sat, May. 20, 2006
By Edwin Garcia / Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is finding out just how hard it is to take a centrist view on the polarizing issue of sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. The left wants him to refuse President Bush's request this week to do so. The right wants him to do whatever it takes to secure the border. But the governor continues to refuse embracing either side's all-or-nothing approach. He has said he doesn't like the idea of sending Guard troops to the border, but he's also said he would consider doing so, if it was a temporary solution.

And therein lies his problem. The governor is getting toasted as a waffler who is either pandering to both conservatives and liberals, especially Latinos -- or scared to rile either in an election year.
But maybe, as some are now starting to suggest, it's the governor who's actually taking the thoughtful approach to a divisive and complicated issue.

``The rhetorical fringes are not going to solve this problem, and it's important enough that it needs to be more than a political issue, it deserves a solution,'' said Republican consultant Wayne Johnson. ``And because it deserves a solution, the way you show leadership is you walk away from the rhetorical dichotomy and come up with solutions.''

His prediction: ``My read of this governor is that the issue is important enough to him personally that it's not going to be driven by politics -- I think he's going to make his decision, then he's going to drive it.''

But when?

The governor's administration insists the holdup is what it always has been -- a lack of hard facts from the Bush administration on exactly what they want the Guard troops to do and for how long.
In a televised speech Monday, Bush announced plans to deploy 6,000 members of the Guard to the states along the Mexican border for one year, but a Pentagon memo obtained Friday by the Associated Press said it would be for at least two years. The troops, made up of civilians who receive orders from governors, are expected to work surveillance, install fences and build patrol roads, among other duties.

Schwarzenegger has written Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to ask details of Bush's proposal. He wants to know, for example, if civilian contractors for the federal government can handle the job, how long the mission will last, and just who is footing the bill.

``One question that's very reasonable for the governor to ask, which does not appear to have been answered very well by the federal government, is, who's going to pay for the National Guard?'' said Republican strategist Karen Hanretty. ``California doesn't always get reimbursed for costs associated with illegal immigration.''

And as long as Schwarzenegger doesn't have those answers, said a spokeswoman for the governor, Katherine McLane, he won't commit to fully agreeing or disagreeing with the troop deployment.
``Governor Schwarzenegger has requested information from the federal government in order to make an informed decision,'' McLane said. ``He has yet to receive the answers that he's asked for.''

But that stance appears inconsistent -- and politically convenient -- to some legislators.

``In the past few days, Governor Schwarzenegger has sent mixed messages on the president's plan,'' Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, in remarks prepared for today's Democratic weekly radio address. ``First he said he `didn't think it was the right way to go.' Forty-eight hours later, he said he favored California's National Guard being posted on the border on a `temporary basis.' ''

Nation, like many other Democrats, opposes deploying the troops. ``It's unfair to our citizen soldiers and their families to again expand National Guard duties when they have already made substantial sacrifices for our state and nation,'' Nation said. He also said he worries about the state's ability to deal with unexpected natural disasters with a stretched-thin National Guard.

If those arguments sound familiar, they are also the two reasons the governor has stated for why he's philosophically opposed to sending the guard to the border -- long-term.

Still, the governor's opened himself up to criticism, in great part, by sounding so forceful in one of his initial comments: ``Let there be no mistake -- the federal government is responsible for securing our nation's borders. It is a role that cannot and should not be abdicated to state and local governments.''

And then sounding far less so on Thursday: ``If that will help to prevent people from coming across the border for right now, then we are more than happy to join in and to help temporarily.''

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez says the governor's comments are inconsistent, but even he sees some wisdom in the governor's stance. ``I think the governor's doing the right thing in examining it,'' Núñez said. ``He's being circumspect.''

Schwarzenegger's aides maintain the governor's message has not waffled.

``Governor Schwarzenegger has been totally consistent in his position from the day the president rolled out his proposal,'' said communications director Adam Mendelsohn. ``And that is, no action will be taken until the federal government answers some very important questions.''

But, whether it's for political or intellectual reasons, it's hard to imagine that the governor will fully embrace either polarized position -- no matter how much information the Bush administration provides.

``It's a political hot potato,'' said Republican consultant Kevin Spillane, ``and nobody wants to hold on to it.''

Contact Edwin Garcia at or (916) 441-4651.

NNIRR Statement: Fair and Just Immigration Reform for All: April 2006


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