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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

Nodos Comunes

.. Caosmosis ..

Rage One (blog)

domingo, mayo 21, 2006

Immigrant Rights Agenda Report:
Sunday, May 21, 2006

Join the Immigrant-Rights-Agenda Yahoo Group!

NOTE TO READER: Because of the volume of news on immigrant rights in recent months due to the great marches for immigrant rights inside Aztlan and despite the narrow gatekeepers of Man Stream Media the below is only a sampling of articles.

Check it out, write your own analyses and share with others who do not have Internet Access, including the functionally illiterate who cannot read or write and who you should help become literate. No one has a monopoly on truth, sharing is caring and the truth will help set us free!

For original format and any pictures go to the websource. Pass it on and keep marching forward towards total liberation! Adelante!


At Unforgiving Arizona-Mexico Border, Tide of Desperation Is Overwhelming
= Published: May 21, 2006
Amendments Likely to be Voted On In Senate CIR Debate
ABC, CBS presented immigrant rights as a "passionate" and "personal" issue for Bush; ignored White House support of criminalization = Fri, May 19, 2006
Migrants Forgo Smugglers to Enter U.S.= Friday, May 19, 2006 AM
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer
Mexico Condemns U.S Border Fence Plan = Fri May 19, 2006 AM
By JASON LANGE, Associated Press Writer
Immigration bill carries hefty price tag = Friday, May 19, 2006 AM
Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau
Hagel-Martinez divides the movement / “Our position is no compromise” = May 19, 2006 | Page 4
Immigrant rights and Black politics = May 19, 2006 | Page 5
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR looks at why Black Democrats have been slow at best to embrace the rising movement for immigrant rights.
Senate sides with Bush = Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Vote favors a broad approach to immigration reform.
By Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzapata Bush may not be able to deliver on immigration = 05/17/2006 08:20:29 AM PDT
Immigration bill moves forward By Joanne Kenen = May 17, 2006, 11:53 AM
Some immigrant groups praise Bush = Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Others slam proposed guest-worker plan, stationing National Guard on border
By Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer
Senate approves border fence, endorses citizenship chance = May 17, 9:58 PM EDT
By DAVID ESPO AP Special Correspondent
In pushing for immigration reform, Bush aims to shore up GOP base = May 17, 2006 edition
The hope is that getting it done will help his standing - even if the guest-worker plan irks some Republicans. = By Linda Feldmann | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Immigrant rights groups protest across California = Tuesday, May 16, 2006
- Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer
Economic impact of illegal immigration still unclear = 05/15/2006 08:22:56 AM PDT
As debate resumes, both sides agree definitive study nearly impossible
By Alex Veiga, Associated Press
A Latino movement? Or just a moment? = The Monitor's View = April 13, 2006 edition



At Unforgiving Arizona-Mexico Border, Tide of Desperation Is Overwhelming
= Sunday, May 21, 2006 By GINGER THOMPSON

Picture @ websource: Luis J. Jimenez for The New York Times
With a Border Patrol helicopter buzzing overhead, a Mexican father and son, Raúl and Samuel Calderón, tried to hide. After walking four days in desert heat, they were captured by the Border Patrol in Arizona.

ARIVACA, Ariz., May 18 — All the talk in Washington about putting walls and soldiers along the border with Mexico did not stop Miguel Espindola from trying to cross the most inhospitable part of it this week with his wife and two small children.

Pix @ websource: Luis J. Jimenez for The New York Times
Karla Espindola, left, 6, and brother, Miguelito, 7, illegal immigrants from Mexico, crossing the Arizona desert with a cousin who did not want to be identified. Some 464 migrants died last year on the same trip.
Luis J. Jimenez for The New York Times

Pix @ websource: Illegal immigrants from Mexico trekking through the Arizona desert. Hundreds of thousands cross the border, some in groups of up to 80.

Their 6-year-old daughter, Karla, clutched her mother's back pocket with one hand and a bottle of Gatorade with the other as the family set out across the Sonora Desert on Thursday. Miguelito, 7, lugged a backpack that seemed to weigh almost as much as he did.

"Yes, there is risk, but there is also need," said Mr. Espindola, explaining why he had brought his children on a journey that killed 464 immigrants last year, and a 3-year-old boy this week.

Looking out at the vast parched landscape ahead, Mr. Espindola, a coffee farmer, talked about the poverty he had left behind, and said: "Our damned government forces us to leave our country because it does not give us good salaries. The United States forces us to go this way."

Here at ground zero for the world's largest and longest wave of illegal migration, about the only thing that is clear is that easy answers do not apply. During a drive along a narrow highway that runs parallel to the line, it is hard to see how increased law enforcement and advanced technologies will stop an exodus made up predominantly of Mexicans willing to risk everything.

Meanwhile, it becomes easier to understand the conflicting attitudes about migrants that have not only strained relations between the United States and its neighbors to the south, but also tested America's identity as a melting pot.

In the last five years, Arizona has become the principal, and deadliest, gateway for illegal migrants. It accounts for nearly one-third of the 1.5 million people captured for illegally crossing the border last year, and nearly half the migrants who died, according to the United States Border Patrol.

Those figures have inspired competing responses.

After the 3-year-old boy was found dead this week in the desert, some local law enforcement authorities called for charging his mother, Edith Rodriguez Reyes, with reckless endangerment. The authorities at the Mexican consulate here said Ms. Rodriguez was a victim of smugglers and demanded that she be released. The mesquite-covered landscape here was a base for the Minuteman militias, who have threatened to take the law into their own hands in defense of America's southern border. It is also home to so-called border Samaritans, who scour the desert in search of migrants in distress to deliver water, medical attention and, sometimes, advice on how to avoid detention.

"This is a token deployment of unarmed and grossly inadequate numbers of National Guardsmen," a Minuteman spokeswoman, Connie Hair, told The Arizona Daily Star. Ms. Hair said the troops would be placed in the "same demoralizing position as the Border Patrol, outmanned and outgunned against international crime cartels."

Jim Walsh, a volunteer with the Samaritans, was not optimistic either, but for different reasons. "With this president and this Congress," he said, "it's not going to be too humane."

Worried about the enormous drain on taxpayers, voters here passed a ballot initiative intended to limit immigrants' access to public services. Meanwhile, economists like Marshall Vest at the University of Arizona said the illegal immigrants were an important source of labor for the booming construction and tourism industries that had helped make Arizona the second-fastest growing state, after Nevada.

When Mr. Bush deploys an estimated 6,000 National Guard troops to the border, it is expected that most will be sent here in an effort to seal off the desert. So this is likely to be the place where the successes and failures of the policy will unfold.

Arizona has been hurt by "bad immigration policies," said Laura Briggs, an associate professor of women's studies at the University of Arizona, and a member of the border Samaritans. "There is a long tradition of hospitality in the borderlands, and this rising death toll is stressing everybody out."

Those conflicting interests, and growing frustrations, come to life on Arivaca Road, which runs about 14 miles west of Interstate 19, on the way to Sasabe, Mexico.

Once a bucolic settlement of horse and cattle ranchers, the area around the highway has been overrun, according to residents, by illegal immigrants who move in groups of up to 80 at a time, and up to a thousand a day in the peak winter season. Residents must also contend with the buzz of Border Patrol agents in trucks and helicopters.

Frank Ormsby, a rancher, and his brother, Lloyd, said that after living for more than a decade in the middle of the buildup of the Border Patrol and the growing waves of immigrants, they were just plain sick of all of it. There are more backpacks littering the desert than rocks, they said, and enough money is being spent on equipment for the Border Patrol to rebuild New Orleans.

To them, illegal immigration is a huge business managed by powerful interests to make money and political careers. Among the beneficiaries, Frank Ormsby said, were immigrant smugglers, whose fortunes increased every time a new law enforcement effort was announced, and the Border Patrol, whose budget has increased fivefold in 10 years.

"There are so many agents they could stand hand-in-hand across the border and stop illegal immigrants if they really wanted to," said Mr. Ormsby from beneath a wide black cowboy hat. "The money we are spending on the Border Patrol, in gas, in equipment, in technology, what do we have to show for it? I see so much waste," he added. "Ray Charles could see it."

A couple miles down the road, two sunburned men, their clothes tattered and their lips severely chapped, look the image of needy. Raúl Calderón, 60, and his 22-year-old son Samuel, had been walking in the desert heat for four days.

Natives of the western Mexican state of Michoacán, they said they had been abandoned by the smuggler — known among immigrants here as "coyotes" — they had hired on the second day of their journey. On the third night, the men said, they lost track of the 10 other people traveling with them in the darkness. And by the fourth morning, they had run out of food and water.

"Our government has forgotten about us," the father said. Then nodding toward his son, he added, "Each generation stays as poor as the last."

Mr. Calderón said his native town of Churintzio had been nearly emptied by migration to the United States. He himself had gone back and forth across the border for much of the last two decades. But he said he had spent the last five years in Mexico, trying to start his own restaurant.
His son, on the other hand, had made enough money working in restaurants between San Antonio and Corpus Christi to return to Michoacán and build a home. Now the two of them were off to the United States again to seek more work, this time in California. Mr. Calderón said he had heard that President Bush "is going to give work permits, and so I have come to get one."

He would not, however, get one this day. Border Patrol helicopters buzzed overhead. A few minutes later came the trucks. And without much of an exchange, Mr. Calderón and his son were taken away.

"It's like saying we're going to stop crime," said a Border Patrol spokesman, Gustavo Soto, when asked whether the presence of the Guard would stop undocumented immigrants from coming. "It's hard to say that we will be able to stop all people from coming across the border. But we can achieve better control."

On the Mexican side of the border, Mexican immigration agents said they felt helpless in stopping the immigrants, even though the law prohibits citizens from leaving through unofficial ports.

Hundreds of people, carrying backpacks and gallon jugs of water, filed into the desert on Thursday. Among them, were Karla and Miguelito, neither one of them more than four feet tall.

In a speech cut short so that the migrants could be on their way before sundown, Mario López, an agent in Grupo Beta, a Mexican government agency that seeks to protect the migrants, advised the men, women and children about the dangers of their illegal journey and advised them of their rights in case they were apprehended by the Border Patrol. "This is a sad reality," he said. "We hate to see our people leaving this way. But what can we do, except wish them luck."

Bush Presses for Legislation

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) — President Bush on Saturday again encouraged the Senate to pass an immigration overhaul bill before its Memorial Day break. Mr. Bush used his weekly radio address to increase pressure on senators debating legislation that couples tighter border controls with a guest-worker program and gives a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.

"The House started the debate by passing an immigration bill," Mr. Bush said. "Now the Senate should act by the end of this month, so we can work out the differences between the two bills and Congress can pass a bill for me to sign into law."

Democrats, in their weekly radio address, criticized the immigration plan. "At a time when our country needed a detailed, long-term solution, we instead received short-term window dressing fixes," said Representative Michael M. Honda of California, who delivered the address.


ABC, CBS presented immigrant rights as a "passionate" and "personal" issue for Bush; ignored White House support of criminalization = Fri, May 19, 2006

Summary: In reporting on President Bush's visit to Arizona to promote his immigration reform proposals, ABC World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas and CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante claimed that Bush was "passionate" about "allowing migrants a chance" but completely ignored the fact that the White House reportedly supported a controversial immigration bill proposed by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) that would have made it a felony to be an illegal resident of the United States.

In reporting on President Bush's May 18 trip to Yuma, Arizona, to promote the immigration reform proposals he laid out in a May 15 speech, ABC World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas claimed that "it was clear he [Bush] is passionate about the very issue that has so many members of his party up in arms: allowing people now here illegally the chance to become American citizens." Similarly, CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante reported: "People who are close to the president say that allowing migrants a chance is a very personal issue for him." Vargas and Plante completely ignored, however, the fact that the White House -- in spite of Bush's "passion[]" for "allowing migrants a chance" -- reportedly supported controversial provisions of an immigration bill proposed by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), including a provision making it a criminal offense to be an illegal resident of the United States. Reports note that the White House even pushed to have that provision -- which makes illegal presence a felony -- lowered to a misdemeanor in order to facilitate criminal prosecutions of illegal immigrants.

From the May 18 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight:

VARGAS: Good evening. We begin at one of the busiest illegal border crossings in the country. President Bush took his campaign for immigration reform to Yuma, Arizona, today. He stood at a place that has been a funnel for illegal immigrants and smugglers and made his case for a new border policy. He is proposing tougher security, including the deployment of more National Guard troops. But when he spoke to our reporter today, it was clear he is passionate about the very issue that has so many members of his own party up in arms: allowing people here now illegally the chance to become American citizens. In Yuma, our chief White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz, reports.

From the May 18 broadcast of CBS Evening News:

BUSH [video clip]: I can understand people being -- get excited about this issue. It's an issue that brings out emotions. People want our borders secure, but we've got to make sure that we treat people with respect and dignity.

PLANTE: People who are close to the president say that allowing migrants a chance is a very personal issue for him, dating back to his experiences as Governor of Texas, and that he'll keep working on it, even if it appears he can't win.

As Media Matters for America noted, however, Bush praised Sensenbrenner's bill when it passed the House on December 16, 2005. In a statement issued that day, Bush applauded the House "for passing a strong immigration reform bill" and urged "the Senate to take action on immigration reform so that I can sign a good bill into law." In a December 16, 2005, statement on the House floor, Sensenbrenner noted that the administration supported an amendment to the House bill to facilitate criminal prosecutions:

SENSENBRENNER: The administration subsequently requested the penalty for these crimes be lowered to 6 months. Making the first offense a felony, as the base bill would do, would require a grand jury indictment, a trial before a district court judge and a jury trial.

Also because it is a felony, the defendant would be able to get a lawyer at public expense if the defendant could not afford the lawyer. These requirements would mean that the government would seldom if ever actually use the new penalties. By leaving these offenses as misdemeanors, more prosecutions are likely to be brought against those aliens whose cases merit criminal prosecution.

For this reason, the amendment returns the sentence for illegal entry to its current 6 months and sets the penalty for unlawful presence at the same level.

Also, the Associated Press reported on May 17 that Sensenbrenner accused Bush of "turn[ing] his back on provisions of the House-passed bill," after advocating some of its more controversial features. According to the AP:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who has pushed a tough border security bill through the House, accused President Bush on Wednesday of abandoning the legislation after asking for many of its provisions. "He basically turned his back on provisions of the House-passed bill, a lot of which we were requested to put in the bill by the White House," Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., angrily told reporters in a conference call. "That was last fall when we were drafting the bill, and now the president appears not to be interested in it at all."

Sensenbrenner chairs the House Judiciary Committee and would be the House's chief negotiator on any final immigration package for Bush's signature. He said it was the White House that had requested two controversial felony provisions in the bill the House passed last winter.

"We worked very closely with White House in the fall in putting together the border security bill that the House passed," he said. "... What we heard in November and December, he seems to be going in the opposite direction in May. That is really at the crux of this irritation," he said of Bush.
Post Comment at Website Source ~ PSL


Migrants Forgo Smugglers to Enter U.S.= Friday, May 19, 2006 AM
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer

TIJUANA, Mexico - Destitute and determined to sneak into the United States, Alvaro Garcia arrived at a Tijuana shelter after a 60-hour bus trip from southern Mexico to rest and inquire about the most porous spots along the border. Planning to cross by himself, he learned from other migrants about Nido de las Aguilas, a shantytown on the outskirts of Tijuana where rugged hills interrupt a metal fence dividing the United States from Mexico.

"I'm willing to do anything to get to the other side," Garcia said. "I just needed to know where to do it."

Migrants with money hire smugglers to lead them across the border, especially since 1994 when the United States increased its border patrols and began erecting fences. But some, like Garcia, lack the cash to pay fees of up to $2,500 and must rely on their own wits to get across.

The trip will likely become even more difficult next month, when the first of 6,000 National Guard troops promised by President Bush begin assisting Border Patrol agents. The construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing is a key part of the immigration bills being considered by Congress. The extra security could make sneaking into the United States riskier, especially for those trying to go it alone.

For lone migrants approaching the border, the first stop is usually a shelter where they can find partners for their journey. They learn from other crossers which hills and canyons to take, the best time of day to cross, the places to avoid and where they might hide from the U.S. Border Patrol. But hazards abound. Migrants crossing alone in remote areas often fall prey to bandits who hide in remote canyons, in the barren desert and along the Rio Grande riverbanks. Unfamiliar with the rough terrain, they must survive the desert's harsh heat during the day and biting cold at night.

The bodies of 2,881 migrants have been recovered by the U.S. Border Patrol since 1998, when the agency began keeping record, and many more remain missing. No official figures exist on how many of these were trying to sneak in on their own. But border experts say crossing without a smuggler raises the risk of dehydration or hypothermia after getting lost in the desert, or of drowning in the Rio Grande.

"Those who cross without knowing the area are more likely to drown because the river may seem calm. But it has proved otherwise many times," said Arturo Solis, president of the Center for Border Studies and Promotion of Human Rights in the border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas.

More than 1,200 bodies have been found floating in the Rio Grande near the northern state of Tamaulipas' border with Texas since 1994, Solis said. About half were never identified. Still, the risks are rarely a deterrent for migrants desperate to improve their economic situation and help their families.

Garcia, a 30-year-old construction worker who traveled 2,300 miles from southern Tabasco state to Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego, said the $150 he made per week was hardly enough to support his wife and two children. He decided to head north after racking up a hospital debt of $3,500. "I was told I would have to bring plenty of water, that I'm going to walk a lot and that the journey is dangerous, but I have to at least try," he said.

Experts say migrants who try to sneak into the United States without a smuggler also are more likely to be caught by the U.S. Border Patrol. But then they're simply dropped off on the Mexican side where they quickly try again and again, a process that helps them eventually master the ropes of border crossing.

"They are caught and released, caught and released, and that's how they learn what they need to do to reach their destinies," said Jorge Bustamante, a senior researcher and former president of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.

Jose Olivares, a farmer from the northern state of Zacatecas, crossed successfully on his own near Yuma, Ariz. Once on the U.S. side, he jumped on a freight train heading to Pico Rivera, in southeast Los Angeles County, where he soon found work. Olivares painted houses for $7 an hour until he was detained by police for drinking on the street and deported to Mexico. Waiting to have a warm meal at a migrant shelter, Olivares said he planned to travel to the Yuma border and cross again. "I don't have any money to pay for a smuggler, and I've already crossed on my own," he said. "I already know the way."


Mexico Condemns U.S Border Fence Plan = Fri May 19, 2006 AM
By JASON LANGE, Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY - Mexico and four Central American nations condemned the U.S plan to build hundreds of miles of triple-layered fencing on its southern border, saying it would not stop illegal immigration. In a joint news conference in Mexico City late Thursday, the foreign ministers of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico said that building barriers was not the way to solve problems between neighboring nations.

"The position of Mexico and the other countries is that walls will not make a difference in terms of the solution to the migration problem," said Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a proposal to build 370 miles of triple-layer fencing along parts of the 2,000-mile border separating the U.S. and Mexico. The Senate also agreed to give many illegal immigrants a shot at U.S. citizenship.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Jorge Briz said major immigration reform in the United States was the only way to stop the wave of people heading northward. "All of us are looking for a comprehensive migratory regulation so that millions of Latin Americans can continue working in and supporting the United States economy," Briz said.

Earlier Thursday, Mexico's Foreign Relations Department sent a note to the U.S. State Department outlining the nation's concerns about the proposed barrier.

Honduran Foreign Minister Milton Jimenez said he expected several South American and Caribbean countries to join Mexico and the Central Americans in issuing a joint declaration on the matter soon.

In December, the U.S. House approved a bill to build a fence about twice as long as the one approved by the Senate. The House plan sparked a wave of criticism from Latin American leaders, with Mexican President Vicente Fox comparing such a barrier to the Berlin Wall.

Fox reiterated his criticisms on Thursday. "Building walls, constructing barriers on the border does not offer an efficient solution in a relationship of friends, neighbors and partners," Fox said in the border city of Tijuana. "We will go on defending the rights of our countrymen without rest or respite. With passion we will demand the full respect of their human rights."

On the border with Arizona, bedraggled migrants who had been turned back by the border patrol said that more fences would not keep them from crossing but only make smugglers charge more money for the trip.

"I had to leave my three children, walk for three days in the desert, and now I'm here with more debts than ever," said Edith Martinez, a 40-year-old from Oaxaca who walked back over the border bridge to the Mexican town of Nogales. "Now I have to work in the United States to pay my debts from the trip."
Associated Press Writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report from Nogales. Ioan Grillo contributed to this report from Mexico City.


Immigration bill carries hefty price tag = Friday, May 19, 2006 AM
Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Vote by vote, the cost of immigration reform keeps adding up.
There is new triple-layer fencing, running more than $3 million a mile. There are new vehicle barriers, at $1.3 million a mile. There are thousands of new Border Patrol agents, hired and trained at $170,000 each.

The immigration reform package that the Senate continued amending Thursday is, in short, a bill in more ways than one. Lawmakers intent on demonstrating their commitment to border security are loading it with programs requiring tens of billions of dollars in coming years.

"Yes, I am concerned that there won't be the funding available to meet the commitments in the bill," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said. "These are tough budget times.

"The cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the president's tax cuts are squeezing dozens of programs, and this will be no exception."

All told, the Senate bill so far authorizes $25 billion in additional spending between 2007 and 2011, the Congressional Budget Office estimated this week. By 2016, the additional spending would total an eye-opening $66 billion.

The money would cover new roads, 10,000 detention beds and 370 miles of new fences. It would pay for unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, state grants and more immigration attorneys and judges. It would fund port inspectors and Border Patrol agents.

The immigration bill authorizes this spending, but does not require it. Each future Congress will decide how much money to actually provide, and lawmakers and presidents don't always follow through with these nitty-gritty appropriations.

"The business of passing stuff and then not appropriating for it has really got to stop," Feinstein warned earlier this year.

Immigration reform costs, moreover, extend far beyond what Congress intends to spend. By creating new guest worker programs and welcoming undocumented immigrants, the Senate bill would also add millions of legal U.S. residents who would reap government benefits.

The new residents would require an estimated $54 billion in government services by 2016, the CBO calculated. This covers benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security; it does not include some of the other potential social costs.

"Over the long term, we still have to see what kind of housing we have to provide," noted Graciela Martinez, program coordinator of the Visalia-based Proyecto Campesino.

New legal residents, though, would also be paying an estimated $66 billion during the same period in income taxes and fees. In many cases, moreover, undocumented workers are already paying taxes.

Also on Thursday, President Bush traveled to a blistering stretch of scrub land surrounding the nation's busiest Border Patrol station in Arizona and declared that he supported fencing some but not all of America's 1,950-mile border with Mexico. "It makes sense to use fencing along the border in key locations in order to do our job," Bush said at the headquarters of the Yuma Sector Border Patrol.

Bush has in the past indicated he is opposed to fencing, and White House officials were kept busy on Thursday trying to explain the change in the president's position. Tony Snow, the new White House press secretary, said Bush supported a Senate amendment that would build the fence in areas often used by smugglers and illegal workers. "We don't think you fence off the entire border," Snow said. But, he added, "there are places when fences are appropriate."
About the writer:
The Bee's Michael Doyle can be reached at (202) 383-0006 or . The New York Times contributed to this report.


Hagel-Martinez divides the movement / “Our position is no compromise” = May 19, 2006 | Page 4

LEE SUSTAR examines the “compromise” immigration legislation taking shape in the Senate--and a debate among immigrant rights organizations about how to respond.

AS GEORGE W. Bush called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, a split emerged in the immigrant rights movement over so-called compromise legislation in the Senate.

The deal--named for its chief negotiators, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)--has been sharply criticized among activists because it divides undocumented immigrants into three legal categories and includes a guest-worker program demanded by Corporate America.

Yet when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced May 12 that the stalled legislation would be revived, several major immigrant organizations endorsed the bill, including the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The National Immigration Forum (NIF)--whose top officers include the political director of the UNITE HERE union, Thomas Snyder--issued a statement which declared that the “Hagel-Martinez compromise includes the right architecture for real immigration reform.” The other main union on the NIF board, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), views Hagel-Martinez as “a step forward,” according to a union spokesperson.

By contrast, Nativo López, president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and a key organizer of mass marches in Los Angeles on March 25 and May 1, called the proposals “nothing less than a categorization of the immigrant workforce into a bantu apartheid system,” akin to the old racist system in South Africa. “[Immigrant workers] will languish in those categories for years with no absolute guarantee of legal status,” he told Socialist Worker.

Ana Avendaño, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO and director of the labor federation’s immigrant worker program, called the three-tiered structure “punitive and inhuman. The fact that the national Latino organizations and the national immigrant rights organizations have signed on to it is very offensive.”

Because of this support for the legislation, however, Democratic Senate staffers will have the political cover to slam the door on critics of Hagel-Martinez, even as immigrant rights activists from around the U.S. come to Washington for a national day of lobbying May 17. “They’re saying, ‘You can lobby all you want, but the deal is done,’” Avendañao said in an interview.

She pointed out that 85 percent of immigrant children live in mixed households with citizens and non-citizens--and that many of the low-wage workers who would have to travel to the border to apply for legal status under Hagel-Martinez would lose their jobs. “The bottom line is that they need to construct a punitive program that doesn’t sound like amnesty” to get the bill through Congress, Avendaño said.

UNDER HAGEL-Martinez, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. more than five years could apply to become citizens after six years, paying fines and any back taxes, and learning English.

Those in the U.S. more than two years but less than five could apply for status as guest workers, but only after exiting and re-entering the U.S. at a port of entry--a setup, critics say, for instant deportations.

The rest of the undocumented immigrants--more than 2 million people who have come to the U.S. in the last two years--would be forced to leave and could only apply to return under the guest-worker program.

Hagel-Martinez could also put immigrants at risk for deportation if they used false documentation to obtain a job, immigration lawyers say.

And as Hagel and Martinez boasted in a recent article, their proposals would sharply increase enforcement. “The bill adds nearly 15,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next six years,” they wrote. “It dramatically increases the number of immigration investigators (1,000), immigration inspectors (1,250) and customs inspectors (1,000) as well. And it authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to make important improvements and additions to border infrastructure necessary to secure the border.”

Moreover, both the House and Senate bills contain numerous punitive measures, as Dori Cahn reported on the New American Media Web site. If passed, they would lead to deportation of accused gang members who were not convicted of any crime, expand the numbers of “aggravated felonies” that would launch deportation proceedings, restrict the right to naturalization based on past conduct, and otherwise limit access to citizenship.

The three-tiered structure of Hagel-Martinez led to opposition from organizations and unions--including the Laborers International Union--that had earlier supported a guest worker plan in a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). “[Hagel-Martinez] is not good enough for us,” Yanira Merino, the Laborers policy director on immigration, said in an interview. “It still leaves a good number of immigrants without a path to citizenship.”

Nevertheless, SEIU--with the largest number of immigrants of any union--views Hagel-Martinez as a “step forward,” according to union spokesperson Avril Smith.

SEIU, along with the Laborers and UNITE HERE, are part of the Change to Win coalition, a group of unions that split from the AFL-CIO last summer. Now, however, UNITE HERE and SEIU are apparently alone among labor organizations in backing Hagel-Martinez.

SEIU defends its position on the basis that Hagel-Martinez departs from the enforcement-only provisions of HR 4437, proposed legislation passed by the House last December that would make felons of the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S.

SEIU officials are critical of the Hagel-Martinez proposal that would require all those who have come to the U.S. in the last two years to leave the country. “It’s one of the things we would like to see improved, obviously,” Smith said. “We think that all people who are contributing to the economy should have the right to earn citizenship.”

Yet having backed the guest-worker provisions of the McCain-Kennedy bill, SEIU is prepared to accept Hagel-Martinez as a framework for immigration reform. “We think that we need to get control of our borders, and deal with the reality that workers are going to continue to come to this country,” Smith said. “We need to create a safe, controlled and orderly process for that to happen.”

By taking this position, SEIU is creating a split in the immigrant rights movement, says MAPA’s Nativo López.

The NIF, National Council of La Raza, LULAC and SEIU are playing a “dangerous game with the Democrats,” López said. “This game of ‘improving’ Hagel-Martinez is a betrayal on its face, because any compromise based on it would mean dividing families, supporting enforcement measures and undermining the rights of all immigrant workers. We take the position of no compromise, and no division of our families. Better no immigration reform bill this year than this bill.”


Immigrant rights and Black politics = May 19, 2006 | Page 5

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR looks at why Black Democrats have been slow at best to embrace the rising movement for immigrant rights.

“We have a huge problem. This immigration problem is a crisis, and we can’t get around it anymore. It has got to be dealt with...We have not done what we should have done to secure the borders.”

“Let me say at the outset that...a strong border security policy is an absolute necessity for this nation.”

“They [immigrants] have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty and abide by all of our laws going forward.”

WHO MADE these comments? Was it a right-wing Republican congressman? A hate-monger from the racist Minuteman Project?

No, these statements came from liberal darlings of the Democratic Party--Reps. Maxine Waters and John Conyers, and Sen. Barack Obama, respectively--during various interviews about how to deal with the so-called immigration “problem.”

In fact, these comments reflect what has been a generally cool reception to this new civil rights movement for immigrant rights from the old guard of the last civil rights movement. From the NAACP to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)--the self-annointed “conscience of the Congress”--a number of Black political leaders have been notably lukewarm to the new movement.

In fact, Black Democrat and CBC member Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee actually voted for the racist HR 4437 bill--legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner that would brand undocumented immigrants as felons.

When the NAACP finally came out with a statement in support of immigrant rights at the end of March, the organization firmly planted itself on the right wing of the movement by supporting an earned “path to legal permanent residency and citizenship for college-age students.”

What’s behind the Black Democrats’ tepid response to the new movement? There are three explanations.

First, the Democratic Party as a whole has radically shifted to the right over the last 20 years. In the name of “electability,” the Democrats have pandered and acquiesced to the right--all the while abandoning their base--on the key political and social issues of the day: abortion, the death penalty and the criminal justice system, gay marriage, health care, education and, now, immigrant rights.

The Black Democrats are no different. Moreover, they have an additional role to play--helping to patch up the reputation of the party in the Black community and within the broad left, when the Democrats line up with Republicans on important political issues.

Second, a number of Black elected officials feel politically threatened by the rising number of Latinos moving into their districts. As Latinos have displaced African Americans as the largest racial minority in the U.S., there is a fear among Black politicians that the rising political clout of Latinos could erode into their electoral base.

Lastly, many Black elected officials are tailing the genuine anxiety that a number of ordinary Blacks have expressed about low wages and job losses, which they attribute to the presence of undocumented workers.

The media has embellished the idea that Blacks are opposed to immigrant rights--exemplified by major newspapers in both Los Angeles and Chicago focusing on the miniscule handful of Blacks working with the racist Minutemen. In fact, in a recently published poll in California--a state at the heart of the immigration debate--82 percent of Blacks supported offering undocumented immigrants an opportunity to become citizens.

Black Americans are twice as likely as white workers and one and a half times as likely as Latino workers to be unemployed. Black unemployment has fluctuated between 9 and 10 percent since 2001.

There is a reality that all low-wage workers--Black, white and Latino--are in a competition with each other for jobs. But Black joblessness is not caused by undocumented immigrants. The main factors in Black unemployment, first and foremost, are racial discrimination in hiring, the erosion of jobs in manufacturing, and incarceration.

When the federal government cut funding for job training from $245 million to $45 million in 2002, this had a lot more to do with younger Blacks losing jobs than the presence of undocumented workers.

Granting amnesty and full legalization to those who want it would go a long way toward dismantling the two-tier wage system that drives down wages for all workers--citizens and non-citizens alike.


Senate sides with Bush = Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Vote favors a broad approach to immigration reform.
By Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The Senate showed its cards on immigration Tuesday, aligning itself with President Bush's call Monday night for comprehensive reform that goes beyond simple border security.

In the first significant vote since resuming the immigration debate, conservatives and a handful of populist Democrats failed 40-55 to postpone guest worker and legalization proposals. The result foreshadows Senate approval of a complete immigration package next week, and thereby sets up a certain run-in with the House.

"It was a huge test vote; I was nervous as a cat," acknowledged Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. "I thought that was the toughest vote for most people; I think (our support) will grow from here."

Martinez co-authored the centerpiece compromise of the 616-page immigration bill, offering a route to legal status for most of the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. The amendment rejected Tuesday would have postponed such legalization and guest worker plans until the Department of Homeland Security certified all border security measures were in place.

"We have not enforced our border, and therefore its security is not respected," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "What comes first is securing the American border."

The Senate could still face two dozen more amendments before it finishes tinkering with the immigration bill. Senators soundly rejected other amendments Tuesday as well, including one that would have eliminated a guest worker program altogether.

The Senate agreed, though, to scale back the guest worker plan to admit 200,000 immigrants a year, rather than the 325,000 originally proposed in the bill.

"It seems to me that 200,000 guest workers a year are ample," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Still, coming one day after President Bush's high-profile national television address, it was the early afternoon rejection of Isakson's amendment that sent the loudest signals across Capitol Hill.

Thirty-six Democrats, 18 Republicans and one independent joined to defeat Isakson and, implicitly, support a comprehensive approach.

"It means that an enforcement- only bill can't get out of the Congress," said Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa. "It's pretty clear that enforcement only will not work (politically)."

White House spokesman Tony Snow noted that Bush did not explicitly endorse the Senate bill in his Monday night address.

Instead, Snow indicated the president is saving his energy for the closed-door conference committee sessions between House and Senate negotiators. The action in the Senate, coupled with the lukewarm response to Bush's speech in the House, underscored how difficult it will be for Congress to produce a compromise that can reach the president's desk.

With conservative activists including National Review editors and Rush Limbaugh lambasting the speech, the White House sent Vice President Dick Cheney to calm the party's base.

In a radio interview on Limbaugh's nationwide radio show, Cheney said the White House is well aware of "legitimate concerns out there on the part of a lot of folks" and is moving quickly to address them. Cheney said the president has "given serious consideration" to erecting a wall along parts of the southern border to keep illegal immigrants out.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who opposes the guest worker and citizenship expansions being proposed, conceded Tuesday that the bill is heading to a conference. That's putting a premium on who gets to negotiate the final deal.

Republicanswhofavor a comprehensive bill, Radanovich noted, are hoping GOP leaders will pick as negotiators sympathetic lawmakers including Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah.

Bush acknowledged Tuesday that "this is a difficult debate for members," but he did not reveal how he intended to change any minds.

Administration officials did, however, shed some more light on the new plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border.

The three-week shifts will take the place of the skills-training sessions Guard members must complete annually. This strategy is intended to minimize the strain on Guard units juggling duty in Iraq and in disaster- prone states, but it also prompts critics to question how much the constantly revolving troops could actually accomplish.

The National Guard's bureau chief, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, explained there would be a "continuity of force" to help things run smoothly. This would be a core of Guard personnel that would remain on their jobs through 2008 and coordinate with the relevant Border Patrol and U.S. customs officials.

"The dozer operator may change every two or three weeks, or the medic may change every two or three weeks, but the people that are coordinating that and working the project will remain in place," Blum said.

Pentagon officials said the force of 6,000 will remain at full strength for a year, and pledged to cut the number of guardsmen by half in the second year of the border mission, after which it is expected to end.

About the writer:
The Bee's Michael Doyle can be reached at (202) 383-0006 or The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post contributed to this report.

Bush may not be able to deliver on immigration = 05/17/2006 08:20:29 AM PDT

PRESIDENT Bush has outlined one of the most reasonable, balanced and comprehensive immigration reform packages in the current national debate. The question is: Does he have enough clout and credibility left to get it through Congress?

A significant segment of W's traditional conservative constituency will be among the hardest to convince. As a lame-duck president with diminished popularity and a cargo ship full of other problems, he must seek allies among moderates and Democrats to have a chance to succeed. Handicappers might give generous odds against that happening.

Bush has taken a big chance on this volatile issue. The result is a moderate middle ground between the extremes of building a wall along the Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out and giving them all amnesty.

He proposes securing the 2,000-mile border by adding 6,000 more Border Patrol agents, improving electronic surveillance and rotating 6,000 members of the National Guard along the border to handle nonlaw enforcement functions while the Border Patrol gradually grows. It won't stop illegal immigrants from coming, but it could slow the flow.

The president should have consulted the nation's governors before volunteering the National Guard for border duty. That failure justifiably annoyed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others. Many unexpected demands have been made of Guard members since we invaded Iraq. Such units have served two, three or more tours in that war-torn country. States also rely on the Guard to fulfill needed functions that have gotten short shrift since the invasion of Iraq. Bush should have talked to governors before adding another duty to the Guard's bulging portfolio.

As is always the case with sketchy proposals, the devil is in the details. The administration must reassure the states whose Guard members go to the border that the federal government will pay the costs and provide backup if state emergencies arise.

Bush also proposes creating a temporary worker program with "biometric" ID cards, holding employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants, giving law-abiding illegals a chance to earn citizenship, and he asked us to honor "the American tradition of the melting pot."

His plan parallels parts of a program proposed by the Senate. But it contradicts the tougher build-a-wall-and-make-'em-criminals bill passed by the House of Representatives. It seems doubtful that chamber will reconsider and adopt the president's plan.

Skeptics also see Bush's outline as an attempt to divert attention away from other problems. That may be partly true, but the president has been a consistent advocate of a reasonable immigration policy.

It's one of the issues Bush has been right on. Growing up in Texas and serving two terms as its governor made him aware of the importance immigration plays in border states and our nation's economy. Some have urged the president to become a leader on this issue. He is trying to do so. But can he still deliver?


Immigration bill moves forward By Joanne Kenen = May 17, 2006, 11:53 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a compromise that would bar illegal immigrants with criminal records from becoming legal residents or U.S. citizens.

The 99-0 vote on the amendment blocking felons and people with three misdemeanor convictions was a key hurdle for the bipartisan immigration bill, which would tighten border security while creating a guest worker program and a path toward citizenship for many of the nation's estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants.

The immigration bill nearly died in the Senate last month but partly because of prodding by President George W. Bush, the Senate has worked out some compromises and is increasingly likely to pass the measure next week.

But it still faces very tough negotiations with the U.S. House of Representatives, which approved a much tougher bill that cracks down on illegals and does not give them options for becoming legal.

Bush made a rare nationally televised speech on immigration on Monday backing the thrust of the Senate bill and his top political aide Karl Rove came to the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the issue with House Republicans.

"I'd seen some talk that maybe this was going to be a highly contentious meeting, the readout I get is that it was not at all, it was respectful, people were obviously having exchanges of views on things," White House spokesman Tony Snow said of Rove's talks. "Do not assume that all positions are absolutely chiseled in stone."

The issue is extremely sensitive in a congressional election year when Republicans face many challenges to maintaining their control of the House and Senate.

Conservatives oppose any hint of an amnesty for illegals, while many business groups do want a pool of foreign workers and Hispanic groups are flexing political muscle demanding legalization. Another large rally and march to the Capitol was planned for Wednesday afternoon.

An earlier version of the amendment on criminals by Republicans Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record) of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas was seen as a "poison pill" that could have sunk the whole bill.

The compromise version kept the ban on felons and people with three misdemeanor convictions. To win backing, it granted waivers under some circumstances for illegal immigrants who had ignored deportation orders. For instance, they would be allowed to stay in the United States if their departure would cause "extreme hardship" to family members who are in the country legally.

"This amendment simply closes a loophole and strengthens the bill, and it will help keep Americans safe by ensuring that no felons or repeat criminal offenders will receive amnesty or citizenship," Cornyn said.

The Senate was to consider several other amendments Wednesday and Thursday, including some that could shape the temporary or guest worker program.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Thomas Ferraro))


Some immigrant groups praise Bush = Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Others slam proposed guest-worker plan, stationing National Guard on border
By Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer

Immigrant rights groups in Washington applauded President Bush on Tuesday for backing a guest-worker program and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, but activists in San Francisco and across the country denounced Bush's call for National Guard troops on the border.

They want "immediate legalization" and "full rights for all immigrants."

On the other end of the political spectrum, grassroots organizing by the Minutemen and others who have been calling for militarization of the border appeared to pay off in the president's call Monday for 6,000 National Guard troops to supplement the U.S. Border Patrol.

But restrictionist groups continued to criticize the president on immigration and called his announcement a "sham" and a "photo op."

Pro-immigrant groups in Washington affiliated with the new "We Are America Alliance," including the Service Employees International Union and the National Council of La Raza, said the president's speech was an important step in pushing the Senate to pass a "comprehensive" immigration-reform bill preferable to a measure approved by the House in December, which critics say provides "enforcement only."

"We are encouraged that the president understands it will take a comprehensive solution to address the complex immigration crisis our country now faces," SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina said in a prepared statement. "We urge our lawmakers to continue to work together in a bipartisan way to improve the current bill so it protects all working people, makes our country more secure, and provides an earned path to citizenship for hardworking immigrants."

But many of the millions of street protesters at this spring's huge immigrant-rights marches have unapologetically called for amnesty for the estimated 12 million immigrants in the country. Protests today in cities across the country, including San Francisco, are alternately billed as "national lobbying day" and a "national day of action" to speak out against some of the proposals afloat in Congress. Other events are scheduled this weekend, on Memorial Day weekend and in June.

Peter Camejo, the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate, said the debate in Washington doesn't address the aspirations of many illegal immigrants. He compared the current political divide to the situation a decade before passage of the Civil Rights Act.

"If you asked in 1950, or even 1960, what Washington was willing to pass on civil rights, it would not be what African American people wanted," Camejo said. "Because they wanted complete and total civil rights, including the right to vote. The people who have suffered discrimination are not going to accept anything like this."

At a lunchtime news conference Tuesday outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's downtown San Francisco office, Jose Sandoval, leader of a San Jose immigrant rights group, Voluntarios de la Comunidad, called for permanent residency for all immigrant workers and criticized the bill in the works in the Senate.

"We pay taxes, and we're saying, 'No taxation without representation,' " he said. "The Senate bill doesn't give legal status to everyone who's here."

In its current version, the bill would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the United States more than two years to apply for legal residence permits, which pave the path to citizenship.

Sandoval and other immigrant activists also opposed a guest-worker proposal that appears in some versions of the Senate bill and is supported by the SEIU and other groups as a legal way for future immigrants to work in the United States.

For Luis Magaña of Stockton, it was a grim reminder of the bracero program under which his father labored for many years. Many historians have said the program was fraught with abuses, especially because it tied workers to a single employer and withheld part of their wages to encourage them to return to Mexico.

"My father was a victim," said Magaña, who said he has no faith that a new temporary-worker program would be more fair. "He didn't have the full rights of a normal worker in the United States. ... They haven't spelled out the details, and there's no discussion with the people who will be affected."

Judy Golub, the new executive director of San Francisco's Immigrant Legal Resource Center, handed out flyers outside Feinstein's office detailing elements of the Senate proposal that immigrant activists deem unacceptable. Just weeks ago, Golub was working in Washington for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

"In Washington, they're talking about problems in the bill, but they're trying to get a bill through," she said. "There are differences in how to do this, but they're differences in the family."

Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy at the National Council of La Raza, agreed.

"People will have differences of opinion not only in terms of substance, but also in terms of tactics and strategy," said Waslin. "The people working in D.C. doing lobbying activities are only supplemented by the millions of people who came out in the streets."

Bush, meanwhile, is seeking consensus among Republicans, who are deeply divided over immigration. His call for 6,000 National Guard troops to enhance law enforcement at the border didn't seem to win him any support from immigration restrictionists.

Dan Stein, director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, called Bush's announcement "a baby step" but stressed that enforcement should not be tied to amnesty or a guest-worker program "to satisfy the cheap-labor lobby."

People who have participated in civilian patrols along the border over the past year were even more critical.

"We're disappointed. ... We were hoping for a state of emergency," said Chris Simcox, director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona. "We need troops directly, physically on that border. We don't need more beds for detaining people. We need to deter them with a gauntlet, a formidable presence on that border."

Although the Senate could vote on a bill this month, it's unlikely the debate will be resolved this year, said David Reimers, a professor emeritus of history at New York University and an expert on American immigration history.

"I wouldn't be surprised if nothing happened, besides Bush sending the Guard to the border," he said. "My guess is we'll muddle through for a while. The best way to get rid of (illegal immigrants) is to have a major depression. It will take a long time before they reach a happy compromise."

E-mail Tyche Hendricks at


Senate approves border fence, endorses citizenship chance = May 17, 9:58 PM EDT
By DAVID ESPO AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate agreed to give millions of illegal immigrants a shot at U.S. citizenship and backed construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday. Prospects for legislation clearing Congress were clouded by a withering attack against President Bush by a prominent House Republican.

"Regardless of what the president says, what he is proposing is amnesty," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the lawmaker who would lead House negotiators in any attempt to draft a compromise immigration bill later this year.

Bush stood his ground. "The Republican Party needs to lead on the issue of immigration," he told an audience of GOP donors, "...America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society and we don't have to choose between the two."

The blast by Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, came on the day the White House dispatched top presidential aide Karl Rove to ease the concerns of rebellious House Republicans and GOP senators clashed on the Senate floor.

"This is not amnesty, so let's get the terms right," Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska lectured fellow Republicans who condemned the bill. "Come on. Let's stop the nonsense."

"It sort of reminds me of the famous line, `Methinks thou dost protest too much,'" responded Sen. David Vitter, R-La..

Rhetoric aside, the votes on the Senate floor gave fresh momentum to legislation that closely follows Bush's call for a broad bill. The measure includes steps to secure the borders, the citizenship-related provisions for illegal immigrants and a new guest worker program for as many as 200,000 people a year. Senate passage appears likely next week.

The political wheels turned as demonstrators massed within sight of the Capitol demanding greater rights for immigrants, the latest evidence of rising passions in connection with efforts to write the most significant overhaul of immigration law in two decades.

With the administration eager to emphasize its commitment to border security, officials continued to flesh out details of Bush's Monday night announcement that he would send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to states along the Mexican border.

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, raised the possibility that Guard members could be sent over the objections of a state's governor.

"If a governor truly did not want this mission performed in their state, then the option is there for the president and the secretary of defense to federalize the Guard. And then the mission would be conducted, and then it would be without the control of the governor," he said.

Vitter led the drive to strip from the bill a provision giving an eventual chance at citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country more than two years. His attempt failed, 66-33, at the hands of a bipartisan coalition, and the provision survived. In all, 41 Democrats joined with 24 Republicans and one independent to turn back the proposal. Opponents included the leaders of both parties, Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev. Thirty-one Republicans and two Democrats supported Vitter's amendment.

The vote to build what supporters called a "real fence" - as distinct from the virtual fence already incorporated in the legislation - was 83-16. The fence would be built in areas "most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens," as determined by federal officials. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimated the cost at roughly $3.2 million per mile, more than $900 million for 300 miles.

The provision includes a call for construction of 500 miles of vehicle barriers, adding to a system currently in place.

It marked the first significant victory for conservatives eager to leave their stamp on a measure that looks increasingly like it is headed toward Senate passage.

Construction would send "a signal that open-border days are over. ... Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors," Sessions said. He said border areas where barriers are in place have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.

"What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics," countered Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said if the proposal passed, "our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries."

All Republicans and more than half the Senate's Democrats supported the proposal. A core group of bill supporters who have held off other more serious challenges in the past two days made little attempt to fight this one, judging it far less damaging than the attack on the citizenship provision or an attempt on Tuesday to strip out a guest worker program.

Supporters of the Senate measure credited Bush's prime-time Monday night speech with giving fresh momentum to the effort to pass long-stalled legislation.

Across the Capitol in the House, the story was different.

Sensenbrenner's remarks were unusually sharp, given his chairmanship. "He said four times this is not amnesty. Well, it is an amnesty, because it allows people who have broken the law to stay in the country," he said of the positions Bush staked out in his speech earlier in the week.

In a conference call with reporters, Sensenbrenner also said Bush had "basically turned his back" on a tough border security bill after requesting that certain provisions be included before passage last year.

The House legislation passed over strenuous Democratic opposition. It would make all illegal aliens subject to prosecution as felons and calls for construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border - more than twice as long as the barrier the Senate backed during the day.

Several members of the rank-and-file have criticized Bush for his proposals. To calm their concerns, Rove attended the regular closed door meeting of the rank and file, where participants said he sought to reassure lawmakers about the administration's commitment to securing the borders.

Associated Press writer Fred Frommer contributed to this story.


In pushing for immigration reform, Bush aims to shore up GOP base = May 17, 2006 edition
The hope is that getting it done will help his standing - even if the guest-worker plan irks some Republicans. = By Linda Feldmann | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – Viewed through a political lens, President Bush's push for immigration reform this week could be seen as part of an effort to bring Republican voters back to his side.
The problem is that the GOP is deeply divided on the issue - so when Mr. Bush makes some Republicans happy by sticking to his proposed guest-worker program, he turns off the "secure the border first" advocates. A lot. Overall, immigration has never been Bush's strongest issue. A May 11-12 poll for Newsweek shows that 41 percent of Republicans agree with the president's position on immigration, down from 46 percent in January 2004.

That's just a five-point drop. Ultimately, then, there is little evidence that the noisy debate over immigration is the principal culprit behind the decline in support for Bush among Republicans, which has helped sink his overall job approvals into the mid- to low 30s. So how does his advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform, which has emerged as Bush's signature initiative of the year, help the president among his core Republican constituency?

It's not Bush's specific prescription that will help him, GOP analysts say, it's the act of getting something done. Right now, says Republican pollster Whit Ayres, the operative word is "frustration."

"It's not just frustration with the president, it's frustration with the fact that Republicans control the presidency and the Senate and the House, and Republican base voters wonder why we can't get action on critical initiatives," Mr. Ayres says.

Wednesday, when the president signs legislation prolonging tax cuts, he will have accomplished one of his principal reelection promises - and probably have helped himself among GOP voters.

But the push for broad immigration reform is what has members of both parties talking and arguing. Bush's latest proposal, unveiled in a nationally televised speech Monday night, includes deploying as many as 6,000 National Guard troops along the US border with Mexico for at least a year while the number of border patrol agents can be expanded. In calling, too, for a guest-worker program, Bush stated forcefully that he opposes "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, maintaining that his proposal for an earned path to citizenship for illegals would not move them ahead of those who have followed the rules for legal immigration.

In making the speech, his first from the Oval Office on a domestic policy matter, Bush has inserted himself forcefully into the details of a domestic issue in a way that departs from his usual pattern. Typically, the president proposes broad principles and lets Congress work out the details. Now, after that technique failed with Social Security reform, the White House knows Bush must be his own best advocate - especially as he nears the start of the final quarter of his presidency and seeks to delay as long as possible anything that looks like lame-duck status.

"It's crunch time," said Tony Snow, White House press secretary, looking ahead Monday morning to the president's speech.

When asked about the political implications of Bush's plan, Mr. Snow offered this reply: "Good policy is good politics." Later that morning, at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, presidential adviser Karl Rove presented the same argument on immigration reform: "This is about getting the right policy, and the politics will take care of itself."

In his address Monday, Bush himself used a phrase - "rational middle ground" - not often heard in his policy proposals.

"There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation," Bush said. "That middle ground recognizes there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently, and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record."

Not since the early days of his presidency, when he forged a compromise with Democrats on education reform in producing the No Child Left Behind Act, has Bush set himself up for this kind of thread-the-needle legislative workmanship. The trick this time, however, will not be to get enough Democrats to go along. Rather, it will be to fulfill the congressional Republicans' own rule of getting "a majority of the majority" to sign on.

Bush "is trying to get something done, which is the most important thing," says Charles Black, a Washington lawyer and longtime GOP adviser. "He wants a comprehensive reform ... because it's the right thing, but also because you're not going to get pieces of the plan through Congress without the others anyhow."

He adds that in pushing comprehensive reform, versus just a border crackdown, Bush could jeopardize some support with his political base, but at the same time gain support of Hispanic voters. Since the immigration debate has intensified, Bush's approval among Hispanics has declined, from 39 percent in January to 30 percent in April, according to independent pollster John Zogby. The Hispanic vote is growing fast and thus is politically crucial.

Bush can get a compromise bill that most voters will accept, Mr. Black says. "People prefer something to nothing," he says. "Republican rank-and-file voters want border security as a top priority, and they want some enforcement. But if you have those two things [in the bill], a guest-worker program is acceptable to them."


Immigrant rights groups protest across California = Tuesday, May 16, 2006
- Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer

(05-16) 13:27 PDT SAN FRANCISCO - Grassroots immigrant rights activists in San Francisco and several other California cities staged a series of press conferences today to slam President Bush's call for National Guard troops to patrol the border.

They also denounced both the immigration bill now under consideration in the U.S. Senate and another the House passed in December as punitive, and they called for legal permanent residency for all the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the United States.

Activists in San Francisco -- who represented community networks of primarily Mexican immigrants from San Jose, Salinas, Sacramento, Stockton and other cities -- rallied outside the Financial District office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, with signs and banners that read "Do Not Militarize the Border" and "No Human Being Is Illegal."

Leaders said they would continue marching in the streets until their message is heard by senators in Washington, D.C., debating whether to provide legal status to many illegal immigrants, create a temporary guest worker program for future immigrants and beef up immigration enforcement at the border and in American workplaces.

The guest worker proposal particularly rankled Luis Magaña, a community organizer from Stockton whose father worked for years under the Bracero program, which brought in temporary workers from Mexico from 1942 to 1964. Magaña called the Bracero program abusive.

"If a program doesn't give us the full rights accorded other workers in the United States, then we're against it," he said. "They haven't spelled out the details and there's no discussion with the people who will be affected."

E-mail Tyche Hendricks at .



Economic impact of illegal immigration still unclear = 05/15/2006 08:22:56 AM PDT
As debate resumes, both sides agree definitive study nearly impossible
By Alex Veiga, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The debate over immigration reform resumes on Capitol Hill this week — so brace for a barrage of conflicting claims over whether the millions of people here illegally drain or fill the government's wallet.

Illegal immigrants cost $20 billion each year in education, health care and other public services. They contribute more than $7 billion annually in Social Security taxes for benefits they will never claim.

Those are just some of the statistics that lawmakers and interest groups from both sides will trot out starting today, when the Senate begins discussing what will be the most sweeping immigration reform legislation in 20 years.

Do illegal immigrants take more than they contribute? Or is it the other way around?

Answers often reflect the opinions of who is talking as much as the reality of illegal immigrants in the United States today, according to academics who study the issue.

"Because of the politically charged nature of this, people are going to cherry-pick their results," said V. Joseph Hotz, a labor economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who does not believe a definitive study is possible.

One reason is the nature of the population in question.

"Anything that is illegal, the data is going to be suspect," said Vernon Briggs, a labor economist at Cornell University who has been studying immigration issues for 40 years.

That won't stop Congress from wrestling with that bottom line and other issues.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has said he is committed to passing immigration reform legislation by Memorial Day. The bill up for debate would include additional border security, a new guest-worker program and provisions opening the way to eventual citizenship for many of the illegal immigrants in the country.

The House passed a bill late last year that would criminalize illegal immigrants and those who offer them assistance.

Pressure to act quickly has intensified. A majority of Americans now cite anxiety over immigration as one of the most important problems facing the nation, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos. Yet compiling hard data has been difficult.

Even the number of illegal immigrants in the country is debated. The generally accepted figure is about 11 million, but but could be as high as 20 million.

In diverse areas such as Los Angeles, illegal immigrants can rent an apartment and open a checking account with little more than an ID from their home country. That kind of anonymity hampers researchers trying to tally how many are here — and how much they cost in public services.

To fill in the blanks, researchers often assume the bulk of illegal immigrants have little or no formal education or skills, are likely to live at or below the poverty level, contribute little in the form of taxes and take advantage of public services.

One report both sides cite as one of the most definitive is nearly a decade old. In 1997, the National Research Council concluded that all immigrants — not just those here illegally — had a negative fiscal impact on state and local services but at the federal level received less in services than they paid in taxes.

In California, the state with the highest population of foreign-born residents, citizen households were saddled with an annual tax burden of $1,178 from the use of public services by immigrants, according to the study.

Pro-immigrant groups counter that whatever the answer — whether immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in services or the other way around — the economic importance of illegal immigrants is undeniable.

"You don't know whether a guy who is loading boxes on a truck or onto a ship on the docks pays his taxes or not," said Benjamin Johnson, director of the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, which calls itself nonpartisan but pro-immigrant. "But you know what that worker means as a cog on the economic wheel."


A Latino movement? Or just a moment? = The Monitor's View = April 13, 2006 edition

The turnout surprised everyone. More than 500,000 Latino protesters in Los Angeles last month. Nearly as many in Dallas Sunday. On Monday, hundreds of thousands nationwide. It's big, it's unprecedented - and no one knows what it portends.

Quite unexpectedly, a population living in the shadows of American society has emerged into full view and found its voice. Illegal immigrants and their supporters are on the march, galvanized by a House immigration bill heavy on enforcement and offering no path to citizenship.

Most of the protesters are Latinos. And for many, this is their first American political experience - the largest showing of such power from a group that has overtaken African-Americans in number.

The demonstrators identify with the civil rights marches of the '60s, singing "We Shall Overcome" in Spanish. They talk about the beginning of a national movement. "Today, we march; tomorrow, we vote," enthused, young faces chanted. On May 1, they plan a national boycott of jobs and commerce.

But is this a movement in the making or just a moment ?

It's a stretch to compare the protests to the civil rights movement. That struggle emerged from an entirely different history, including slavery and decades of statutory discrimination that took years of court and legislative action to overturn. What Congress is grappling with is more of a policy decision - a complex one, but a regulatory one nonetheless.

At the same time, the civil rights movement benefited from strong leadership. The Latino protesters are a grass-roots phenomenon, spurred on by Spanish-language media, and loosely organized. Churches, unions, and community groups, seeing this wave coming, have grabbed their surfboards and are riding it.

Nor is this the only Latino wave. A poll by the Pew Hispanic Center last August shows one-third of Latinos born in the US believe illegal immigration hurts the economy by driving down wages. About 60 percent favor banning driver's licenses for illegals.

At this point, the demonstrators' message also registers more as a protest against the specifics of a certain bill, than an agreed agenda on how to get to their goal of citizenship. If that goal is ever reached, is that the movement's end? Latinos, to date, have coalesced around single issues, but haven't shown much political unity on the national level. In 2004, they accounted for only 8 percent of the vote. Illegal migrants, of course, can't vote.

Which is another reason why it's so hard to gauge the protesters' influence on Congress. One sympathetic sentiment - "we are not criminals" - is apparently being heard. Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican who sponsored the House bill, described as "overkill" the provision that makes it a felony to be an illegal immigrant or to assist one.

Yet many politicians are rightly standing firm for stronger enforcement of the law. And protesters may find they spark a backlash in advocating citizen rights for lawbreakers.

At this early stage, it's impossible to say where this new Latino movement, if that's what it turns out to be, is headed. It's fighting for more than 11 million illegal migrants. It wants its voice heard. For now, that's all that can be known.

Urgent Action Alert!
The Upcoming Battle Against Anti-Immigrant Legislation,
And A Call for A National Immigrant Solidarity Movement

A Call From National Immigrant Solidarity Network
May 14, 2006


Next week will be a key moment in immigrant rights/civil rights work.

Tomorrow evening (Monday, 5/15), President Bush will deliver a prime time televised address, announcing the deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S-Mexico border. Also at some point in the next two weeks, U.S. Senate leaders are expected to approve parts of the so-called compromise immigrant legislation (such as the HEGAL-MARTINEZ Bill).

This is a critical moment for the immigrant struggle. Despite millions of people across the country on May 1st marching in the streets for immigrant rights, the right wing anti-immigrant forces in Congress and President Bush want to "talk tough on immigration."

We should brace ourselves for the ultimate showdown of the immigrant struggle soon, and we should mobilize ourselves quickly to respond to the racist anti-immigrant xenophobia that will go down.

We suggest organizing the following actions:

1) A local press conference, rally or vigil to denounce the racist anti-immigrant proposals from Congress and the President.

2) Legislative actions, including calling, writing and faxing your elected officials.

3) An emergency community meeting to strategize rapid response to a possible nationwide crackdown or attack on immigrants.

4) We are calling for multi-ethnic, broad-based national mobilization on Memorial Day weekend (5/27-29). Organize creative local actions against the possible passage of any anti-immigrant legislation and further government-sponsored immigrant crackdowns.

We urge you to support the Nine Points for Immigrant Rights, proposed by the Los Angeles March 25th Coalition:

- No to the anti-immigrant HR4437 and any other "copycat" legislation from Congress
- No to militarization of the border
- No to criminalization of immigrant communities
- No to the planned immigrant crackdown across the country
- No to the guest worker program

- Yes to amnesty for undocumented immigrants
- Yes to immigrant family reunification
- Yes to a humane path to citizenship
- Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers

On May 1st, we showed the world that our force, our strength and our voice cannot be silenced from this moment on! This is the birth of a new civil rights movement for the 21st century, and we will fight for our demands until we prevail.

United We'll Win! Together We'll Achieve Our Dreams!


Immigrant Solidarity Network

Border01 · US-Mexico Border Actions Yahoo Group

STOP THE FTAA! U-S-Mexico Border Action Project

Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice

National Network for Immigrant Refugee Rights
Join the Immigrant-Rights-Agenda Yahoo Group!

Submitted c/s by Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta de Aztlan
CASA Email:
Humane-Rights-Agenda Blog
De Todos Para Todos Blog

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