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Nodos Comunes

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Rage One (blog)

domingo, junio 18, 2006

6-18-2006: Immigrant-Rights-Agenda Report

Table of Contents: Links to Articles
National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
Friday - Sunday July 28-30, 2006
Link> New Analysis of Senate Immigration Bill: June 2006
On the Role of Humane Beings in the Immigrant Rights Movement: 6-18-06,0,6426371,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines
U.S. Keeps Eyes on Mexico Vote: The election to replace President Fox could alter relations between the North American neighbors. The big question is: How much? : June 17, 2006
County's cost for illegal immigrants' care soars: June 17, 2006
Small number of protesters puts Arpaio at loss for words – briefly
: Jun. 17, 2006
Immigrants ripe for fraud: Fri, Jun. 16, 2006
Mexican migrant smugglers up their prices in face of increased border security: Jun. 15, 2006
Deportations stepped up: June 15, 2006
Operation Return to Sender rounds up 2,100 illegal immigrants across the country.
Arpaio planning tent city space for arrested immigrants: June 14, 2006
ICE arrests 55 illegal aliens working at secure construction site on grounds of Dulles International Airport: June 14, 2006
Court bars immigration vote: 06/13/2006
Californian prods his city to curb illegal immigrants: Monday, Jun. 12, 2006
Immigration Estimates For Region Vary Widely From Source to Source
: June 11, 2006
Immigration proposals: House vs. Senate : Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
Comparison of House and Senate proposals for border security and immigration reform.


National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference: Friday - Sunday July 28-30, 2006 / American University / Washington, DC

Together, We Build A New National, Broad-Based, Immigrant Rights / Civil Rights Movement!
Organized by: National Immigrant Solidarity Network
Information Hotline: (800)598-6379 espanol

The success of May 1st's "A Day Without Immigrants" has been an historical turning point for the immigrant rights movement. The National Immigrant Solidarity Network was one of the main groups who helped to organize the historical Los Angeles March 25th "Gran Marcha" and the national May 1st "A Day Without Immigrants" boycott/strike. (Please visit ).

At this point it's vitally important for the immigrant rights movement to keep the momentum going, and there's an urgent need for national meeting in which community/grassroots immigrant activists can meet face-to-face to discuss how to build a new national, broad-based, immigrant rights/civil rights movement, and to set a 6-9 month national strategy for actions.

We envision this is a broad-based, multiethnic conference of organizers, and we are inviting organizers from African American, African immigrant, Asian American, Latino/Latina, Arab-Muslim-North African, progressive labor, interfaith, LGBT, student, anti-war/peace and global justice groups from across the country.

Updated Lists of Workshops and Campaign Proposals
Lists of Participants
Registration to the Conference Donate To Us
Conference Schedule Workshops

Please Subscribe to Our E-Mail Lists!
National Immigrant Solidarity Network E-Mail List
National E-Mail List for Camapign Against HR4437 and Anti-Immigrant Legislation


Link> New Analysis of Senate Immigration Bill: June 2006

Senator Sessions Leads Panel To Discuss Bill’s Implications
Read the Report:

WASHINGTON (June 2006) — Will the recently passed Senate bill actually decrease illegal immigration? How many illegal aliens can be expected to legalize? How much fraud in the amnesty program can we expect in light of past legalizations? What provisions in the 750-page bill have received little media coverage?

A panel of experts led by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies will discuss these and other issues this Thursday, June 15, at 8:30 a.m. in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. The panel will include:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), member, Senate Judiciary Committee, who will discuss the updated numerical impact analysis he released last week on the Senate bill and the CBO projection that the Senate bill will not decrease current levels of illegal immigration.

Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies, who will release a new report that examines the number of illegal aliens expected to receive amnesty, both legitimately and fraudulently. The report will be available on line Thursday morning at

Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations, NumbersUSA, who will discuss little known provisions in the Senate bill that potentially have very large implications.

Michael Maxwell, former Director of the Office of Security and Investigations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, who will discuss the ability of the immigration bureaucracy to handle the enormous increase in workload mandated in the Senate bill.

For more information, contact Dr. Camarota at (202) 466-8185 or

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.


On the Role of Humane Beings in the Immigrant Rights Movement: 6-18-06
Shared by Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta de Aztlan

MaIn Entry: mo·men·tum
Pronunciation: mO-'men-t&m, m&-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural mo·men·ta /-'men-t&/; or momentums
Etymology: New Latin, from Latin, movement
1 : a property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its mass and motion and that is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity; broadly : a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force or moment
2 : strength or force gained by motion or through the development of events : IMPETUS <the campaign gained momentum>

In recent months time-centered on Monday, May 1st, 2006, there has been a strong revival of the immigrant rights movement inside the United States exhibited by mass street marches, community rallies and public demonstrations that happened all across the American landscape for immigrant rights in general and in support of humane immigration legislation by the U.S. Congress.

It is an extension, continuation and intensification of the early Civil Rights/Black Power Movement and Chicano/Farmworkers Movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Many deep social forces are always moving underground. It should not be seen as social phenomena restricted to the United States. At heart it is a part of the whole worldwide movement for basic humane rights in general and a strong response to the growing regional wars fomented by the lawless Amerikan Empire.

Naturally, immigrant rights are a key part of the general agenda of humane rights. We have vital common survival interests with all people on the basis of our human rights and our basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and quality education.

The immigrant rights movement should be supported, developed and further expanded in order to maintain the momentum and not slip back into the dark fearful shadows of White racist Amerika.

The recent mass gatherings for the recognition of immigrant rights were applauded in the hearts of many millions of people worldwide, especially Latino-Indigenous peoples in Mexico, Central America and South America who heard about them. Plus, many humane activists and their supporters who have long been advocating and working for humane rights have been excited, inspired and galvanized by these great marches, yet, the march must go forward!

The whole world is going through the largest migratory movement in history due to regional wars, Third World poverty and bonding family ties after migration. Today there are over 191 million immigrants worldwide, over 12 (twelve) million undocumented immigrants inside the U.S.A. and over twenty (20) million refugees worldwide. We must find fair, humane and rational ways of coping with the worldwide immigration and refugee crisis and always see the Amerikan Empire as the main culprit, not its victims.

The evil anti-immigrants and anti-amnesty positions held by many reactionary right-wing elements veiled in the name of fighting terrorism and protecting the Amerikan borders come from global economic insecurity, subconscious racism and xenophobia (fear of foreigners) primarily targeted against Mexican immigrants.

We must comprehend connected reality. The present Fuhrer-Puppet Bush and his Oval Office Cabal is an illegitimate rogue regime; the U.S. Congress is controlled by rabid right-wing racists who refuse to pass humane immigration legislation; both the Democratic Party and Republican Party are reactionary and incapable of providing true leadership; there is no strong alternative Vanguard Party; the silence of the corrupt established Churches has been criminal; and the scattered White-dominated Liberal-Left Wing Movement inside the United States is more preoccupied with foreign affairs and other ’issues in question’ than concerned about on-going attacks upon native immigrants in our own backyards!

Recall: ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deports some 150,000 migrants a year and deported 881,478 people through 2005, figures that do not include, for example, the 1.2 million people who were arrested at the U.S.-Mexican border itself last year.

All humane beings who uphold sublime respect for humane rights must embrace all our human family members who are undocumented immigrants inside the United States. When called to do so as our humane consciousness dictates we should give refuge to the refugees, safe sanctuary to immigrants and help them any way we can within our powers. We are ultimately one family of human beings upon one Mother Earth!

We must link up with the Immigrant Solidarity Network for immigrant Rights, overcome petty internal divisions, build up working coalitions and form strong alliances with all progressive organizations, activist groups and natural allies to build up our native resistance!

American-Latinos, especially the ’lost tribe’ of Chicanos who are of Mestizo-indigenous ancestry, have a Special Role to fulfill in keeping the Movimiento going. We need to help create central-city communes, community education programs (including English-Spanish literacy classes), and be prepared for all external attacks as we expect more backlashes in the name of fascist-inspired ‘law and order‘ to come, especially in order to distract public opinion away from the on-going evils of the Amerikan Occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Naturally, our individual perspectives are limited by direct personal experiences, geographical locations and subjective analyses. If there is ever to be a meaningful resurgence of the Chicano Movement then now is the time for old guard Chicanos to stand up, get involved and seize the time!

All of us need to examine ourselves, do daily inventory and eradiate any remnants of sick racism, divisive cultural nationalism and backward useless tradition still dwelling within us and keeping us divided along shallow superficial lines.

Using Internet Power, other forms of mass communication and student-type exchange programs, we must communicate and reach out to all peoples with whom we share common concerns, and especially other immigrant rights groups across the country and in other countries.

Those of us here now inside the United States are in a unique position with a unique responsibility. What we think, say and do HERE NOW can have a worldwide impact due to the interconnections of connected reality. We are not isolated alone and millions of people all over the world are with us. All along the way immigrant rights activists and all humane beings should unite with all socialist democracies of Latin America and study the principles of scientific socialism as a logical economic alternative to corporate capitalism. It is the Amerikan Empire that must be toppled!

The People’s Liberation Movement is a dynamic social process that develops in stages, goes through changes, overcomes all challenges and must constantly be open to better and better scientific refinement. Liberation includes all lines, all angles, all methods and all tactics. Whatever works, works.

Flexible improvisation will give us new tactics and once the general strategy is understood the tactics applicable to our situation are a product of our creative imagination. We must be honest, open and willing to change with the times because the times are definitely changing!

Venceremos Unidos! United We Will Win!
Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta
Sacramento, California, USA
Immigrant Solidarity Network

U.N. Refugee Agency

The Border War Comes Home: Our Lives are on the Line= May 18, 2006

U.S. Keeps Eyes on Mexico Vote: June 17, 2006

The election to replace President Fox could alter relations between the North American neighbors. The big question is: How much?

By Héctor Tobar and Paul Richter, Times Staff Writers

MEXICO CITY — When an estimated 40 million Mexican voters go to the polls next month to pick their next president, the result could affect the lives of 296 million people north of the border.

A victory by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on July 2 would add an emphatic exclamation point to a series of Latin American elections that has seen voters roundly reject the "Washington consensus," the model that emphasizes fiscal discipline and the free market.

A victory by conservative candidate Felipe Calderon might make Mexico a stronger U.S. ally than ever before.

"I suspect the Bush administration would prefer Calderon," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "There's a greater likelihood of continuity with Calderon. It would eliminate any concern about making connections to other leaders in South America that they have doubts about."

Still, analysts in the United States and Mexico note that Lopez Obrador has not made Washington or U.S. business a target of his stump speeches.

"Both Lopez Obrador and Calderon have been very moderate and very mature in the way they've handled the topic of the relationship with the U.S. in the campaign," said Gabriel Guerra Castellanos, a former Mexican diplomat and presidential spokesman. Both candidates have resisted the temptation to play the Yankee-bashing card with voters, he said.

Once trailing badly in the polls, Calderon surged into a virtual tie in March, when he began attacking Lopez Obrador as a dangerous radical, saying his proposals to increase spending on social programs and public works projects would bankrupt the country and bring back hyperinflation.

Last week, a prominent business group in the northern state of Nuevo Leon said it would go on a "tax strike" if Lopez Obrador was elected.

On the campaign trail, Lopez Obrador says he wants to win by a wide margin so the economic elite "doesn't try to haggle us out of our victory." Recent polls suggest Lopez Obrador has reclaimed his lead.

With Mexican voters more polarized between rich and poor than at any time since the 1910 revolution, there's talk that the United States' most populous neighbor — and the main source of its legal and illegal immigration — could descend into political anarchy and economic crisis in the hours after election night.

"The democracy Mexico has built is fragile," said Enrique Krauze, a historian and essayist here. "If the result of the election isn't respected by all parties, there could be chaos. Politics is the fastest theater in the world. Anything could happen."

For seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, ruled Mexico with a firm hand. The party kept together a country with strong regional and class divisions.

The election of Vicente Fox of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, in 2000 put an end to the "big finger" system by which each president handpicked his successor. But Fox proved to be an ineffective leader. He couldn't push through the tax reform that was at the heart of his economic plan, and failed to get a new airport built for Mexico City.

Nor has Fox been able to make good on a key promise he made at the beginning of his presidency: that his friendship with a like-minded President Bush would quickly bring a comprehensive immigration reform law in the United States.

"There's widespread agreement that things cannot continue as they are," with legislative gridlock and a weak president, Guerra said. "No matter who wins the election, we will see a more effective executive."

Calderon is something of an unknown quantity as a leader. He was president of the PAN and was briefly energy secretary under Fox, but has never held elective office. He has promised to continue Fox's free-trade policies.

In the recent presidential debate, Calderon said he would negotiate a new accord with the U.S. and Canada to stimulate investment in the areas of Mexico that have sent a lot of migrants north. He said Mexico needed to keep close economic ties with the U.S. "The world has changed ... and we have to change our mentality," Calderon said. "It's not enough to put your head in the sand and close yourself off."

Lopez Obrador took a different tack. He suggested that keeping a strong economy at home was the best way to reduce immigration. "I believe the best foreign policy is a domestic one," he said during the debate. "If we do things right in Mexico — if we clean our house, if there is progress in our country, if there is justice, security and political and social stability — we will be respected abroad."

Stephen Johnson, a Latin American specialist at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said Calderon would appeal more to the Bush administration because his platform "has a more detailed free-market economic approach." But there is only a remote chance that a Lopez Obrador victory would bring a radical shift in the relationship with the U.S., Johnson testified to Congress this spring. Mexico "is not a country that would be comfortable going back to one-party rule or to an extensive government presence in the economy," Johnson said. Nevertheless, some of Lopez Obrador's more radical supporters expect him to move in that direction, and "it will be his dilemma to find a way to deal with that."

During the debate, Lopez Obrador hinted at a more confrontational approach to Washington if he became president, saying he would order all 45 Mexican consulates in the United States to establish extensions of the attorney general's office to defend the rights of immigrants against discrimination.

"The next president of Mexico is not going to be a puppet of any foreign government," Lopez Obrador said. "We will have a relationship of mutual respect with the North American government."

The biography of Lopez Obrador, the son of merchants from the southern state of Tabasco, contains elements similar to those of the leftist and populist leaders who have recently come to power in the region.

Like Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Lopez Obrador is the candidate of an established leftist party with a proud tradition of resistance to authoritarianism.

Like Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, he is a veteran politician with experience as an elected executive — Lopez Obrador was mayor of Mexico City until last year.

Lopez Obrador is a dark-skinned leader in a country where the fair-skinned tend to dominate the political class — something he shares with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. And like Evo Morales of Bolivia, he has credentials as an activist and street fighter — Lopez Obrador was bloodied by police during demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud in Tabasco.

If Lopez Obrador were to win, it would mark a turn to the left, "but to the European social democratic left of Brazil, Chile and Argentina, rather than the more populist, authoritarian left of Chavez and Morales," said Robert A. Pastor, director of the Center for North American Studies at American University and a National Security Council official in the 1970s. A Lopez Obrador victory "would be a reflection of the fact that the principal challenge in Mexico remains poverty and inequality," Pastor said.

Bush administration officials have avoided public comment on Lopez Obrador's candidacy except to say they would cooperate with whoever wins the race. Many regional experts doubt that a victory by the populist candidate would cause a major disruption in the relationship.

U.S. analysts point out that it would be difficult for any Mexican leader to radically alter the country's growing interdependence with the United States. If Lopez Obrador were elected, he would need strong U.S.-Mexican economic ties to helped pay for increased social benefits he has promised the poor, they say.

"There may be changes in style and some shift in direction, but in macroeconomic terms I don't think you'll see major changes in Mexico's overall economic orientation," said Peter DeShazo, a senior U.S. diplomat for Latin America until 2004.

Lopez Obrador has criticized some aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Among other things, he says he would renegotiate provisions that are to open Mexican markets to U.S. corn and beans in 2008.

Still, "the reality is that Mexico is the third-largest trading partner to the United States, and that's important to both countries," said DeShazo, who directs the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

DeShazo said that the new Mexican president would face a divided legislature, just like Fox did, and would "need to build consensus to get anything done."

Pamela Starr, Latin America specialist with the Eurasia Group, a global risk analysis firm, said Lopez Obrador probably would surprise many observers as president, even those followers who expect him to carry out a messianic revolution. "I think his enemies will be surprised that he won't be a spendthrift," Starr said. "He will sustain macroeconomic stability. His supporters will be surprised that he is not going to aggressively go after the monopolies and the elite. He's too much of a pragmatist to do that."

>Tobar reported from Mexico City and Richter from Washington.


County's cost for illegal immigrants' care soars : June 17, 2006

The Harris County Hospital District's unreimbursed costs of caring for illegal immigrants approached $100 million last year, a 77 percent increase in three years.

"The costs are increasing because the population of undocumented immigrants is increasing and the cost of health care is rising," said hospital district spokesman Bryan McLeod.

The unreimbursed costs rose from $55 million in 2002 to $97 million in 2005, the hospital district said in a report released Friday. Last year's figure represented 13 percent of the district's $760 million operating budget. The district treats about 300,000 patients annually, but lacks enough funds and facilities to care for all of the county's uninsured and underinsured residents, estimated to number between 800,000 and 1.2 million, McLeod said.

Commissioner Steve Radack, who requested the report on the district's costs of treating undocumented immigrants, said county residents are shouldering a burden created by the federal government. The federal government doesn't prevent illegal immigration, but hardly reimburses local counties where the immigrants most frequently settle and use public health care facilities, he said. "The federal government allows people to come here illegally," Radack said. "Because of that the cost shouldn't fall on the local taxpayer."

The district treated more than 57,000 illegal immigrants last year, at a cost of $128 million. The federal and state governments reimbursed about $28 million, and the patients themselves paid about $3 million. Over the past 11 years, the district has paid about $607 million in unreimbursed costs for treating undocumented immigrants.

The district does not directly ask patients if they are in the country legally, but infers their status from other information gleaned during patient screenings, officials said.

Radack said it would be inhumane for the hospital district to stop providing treatment to illegal immigrants. And untreated infectious illnesses among immigrants might spread to the broader population, he said.

"You would create a tremendous health crisis," he said.

Under federal law, emergency rooms are required to treat anyone who shows up and needs immediate care. Local emergency rooms often are backed up with patients, including many without health insurance who come to the emergency room as a last resort when they need nonemergency care. Regional health care officials have been strategizing for years on how to move those not needing urgent care to other settings so emergency rooms can treat true emergencies.

McLeod said emergency rooms would become even more overburdened if the district stopped treating illegal immigrants in district clinics and hospitals, and they all started showing up at emergency rooms for nonemergency care.


Small number of protesters puts Arpaio at loss for words - briefly
: Jun. 17, 2006 By- William Hermann

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio seemed nonplussed when the crowd he expected to protest his policy of arresting illegal immigrants turned out to be seven people. "Where's the big protest?" Arpaio said to folks holding signs at his downtown Phoenix offices. Phoenix Copwatch spokesman Sean Whitcomb said most members were working.

"But we're here to say you're misusing the law meant to go after immigrant smugglers," Whitcomb said.

In August, Arizona legislators passed an anti-human-smuggling statute. Later, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said undocumented immigrants suspected of paying coyotes could be prosecuted as conspirators.

"I have the right to enforce the law; you have the right to protest," Arpaio said. "I arrest more illegal immigrants each day than you have protesters."


Immigrants ripe for fraud: Fri, Jun. 16, 2006
Scam artists are promising to deliver legalization through programs that don't exist
By Jessie Mangaliman / Mercury News
Email: or (408) 920-5794.

One day in May while waiting at a bus stop in Gilroy, two neatly dressed men carrying briefcases struck up a conversation in Spanish with Miguel Hernandez. The pair showed the 28-year-old immigrant from Guanajuato a stack of forms labeled “immigration'' in English, and spoke with confidence.

“They said there's going to be a new law to legalize people,'' said Hernandez, who came to the United States illegally more than two years ago. ``They told me that they could fill out my forms for $1,500 to $1,800,'' he said through a translator, ``and I could be the first to get my documentation.''

Fortunately, an English teacher Hernandez consulted told him what he suspected all along.

“It's a scam,” said Ed Sanchez, the former executive director of the Gilroy Citizenship and Educational Program. “And it doesn't surprise me in the least that this happened.”'

The congressional debate on the future of Hernandez and 12 million undocumented immigrants is far from settled, but already, scam artists are preying on immigrant vulnerabilities by promising to deliver legalization through programs that don't exist.

“Whenever there's uncertainty,'' Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Martha Donohoe said, “there's people waiting to profit.''

Congressional or regulatory change on immigration, draw out notarios, self-described immigration consultants, and sometimes unscrupulous attorneys, who exact thousands of dollars from unsuspecting immigrants by promising what they want the most but cannot legally have -- a green card, or permanent residence in the United States.

Last year, a San Jose couple was sentenced to state prison after being convicted of fraud and other charges in one of the Bay Area's largest immigration fraud schemes. Noel Ramayrat and Mercedes Alcantara were convicted of stealing more than $500,000 from hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines. They falsely promised, according to court records, jobs and legalization to undocumented immigrants.

No fraud schemes have been reported in the United States since Congress started discussing immigration reform, said Sharon Rummery, San Francisco spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

High alert: Still, in Santa Clara County -- known for being tough on immigration fraud -- Donohoe said the county's consumer protection unit is paying close attention. Early warnings are useful to immigrants, but they also warn scam artists that prosecutors are on high alert.

“Not everyone knows how the legislative process works,'' said Lynette Parker, supervising attorney at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, a legal clinic in San Jose that helps immigrants. “People are calling us and asking, ‘Am I going to be eligible?' ''

Hernandez, who worked in a shoe factory in Guanajuato, said he knew that Congress was still debating reform. “What I've heard is they may approve the law,'' he said wistfully. “Of course that's what I hope.”'

Although no amnesty program is in place, inquiries from immigrants are beginning to flow in to advocates and lawyers across the country about the unsettled legislation.

“It's something that needs to be taken seriously,'' said Crystal Williams, deputy director for programs at the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C. ``We're keeping our members well-informed of immigration law. They should all be aware that there is no amnesty.''

Sanchez has received about a dozen calls in the last month. Adriana Gonzalez, immigration and citizenship program director at the Center for Employment Training in San Jose, has received queries about ``what kind of form'' to submit for legalization.

“Unfortunately in times like these,'' Gonzalez said, “many unscrupulous people take advantage of uninformed immigrants.''

False rumor: Immigrants have also called Sanchez to inquire about something they've heard: that if they called their congressman, they'll get an orange card and they'll get residence status. It's false. The orange card refers to a proposal introduced by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who could apply for legalization, if such a program were approved by Congress.

“Immigrant communities want to believe there's going to be something. There are a lot of rumor mills,'' said Nora Privitera, a lawyer with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco. “It's a golden opportunity. It's a complete rip-off.''

In April, the CIS issued the first government warning, sending it to immigrant organizations around the country. ``If there's something you want very badly, and you're willing to pay money to get in line,'' said Rummery of CIS, ``you're ripe to be exploited. We're telling immigrants and everyone who works with them, keep your money in your pocket,'' she said.

The one-paragraph warning is posted on the CIS Web site ( Sanchez made copies and distributed them to English and citizenship classes in Gilroy. Gonzalez did the same in San Jose.

Privitera and other immigration lawyers at the ILRC distributed fliers warning of fraud in Spanish and English to immigrant communities. The same warning was sent by e-mail to clients and other immigrant advocacy groups.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have yet to call a conference committee to work out the differences between the competing immigration reform bills. Their differences could not be more stark in their proposed solutions to solving illegal immigration. The House wants to make it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant. The Senate wants a path to legalization and eventually to citizenship.

“We don't know what the final version is going to be,'' Parker said. “We're all sitting tight; we're all watching and waiting.''


Mexican migrant smugglers up their prices in face of increased border security: Jun. 15, 2006

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico - Smugglers in sunglasses and muscle shirts reclined on withering patches of grass in a tree-covered plaza, blending into clusters of migrants and offering them "safe" trips into the United States. But on this sweltering day, there were no takers. None of the Mexicans hoping to reach the United States could pay the $3,000 the smugglers demanded to hide them in a car and drive them across the border, a trip that just weeks ago cost $2,000.

The sharp increase in smugglers' fees is due to the arrival of National Guard troops at the border and plans by Washington for even greater border security, all of which will make the sometimes deadly trip into the United States even more difficult and dangerous. The higher fees have convinced some to cancel plans to sneak into the United States, while others have decided to go it alone. advertisement

Mexican and U.S. authorities are already seeing a drop in illegal migration, although it isn't clear if that will last. Border experts argue the downturn may be temporary while smugglers search for new routes through deadlier terrain and migrants come up with the money to pay the higher fees.

"With all this new security, it is obvious the migrant flow will have to move to more dangerous routes, and smugglers are using this argument to increase their prices," said Francisco Garcia, a volunteer at a migrant shelter in Altar, a farming town of 7,000 that has become a major gathering point for those heading to Arizona.

Smugglers' fees jumped in 1994 after the U.S. sent more agents to what were then the busiest illegal crossing points along the Texas and California borders. The measures funneled migrants into the hostile Arizona desert, making smugglers even more valuable and transforming them from an underground network to a booming illegal industry.

In the past 12 years, the average price for helping migrants move north through the Arizona desert increased sixfold, from $300 in 1994 to $1,800. Suddenly, smugglers are charging as much as $4,000, migrant rights activists say.

Deaths also have skyrocketed. More than 1,900 people have died crossing the border since October 1998, when the U.S. Border Patrol started keeping count. Some believe the death rate will increase as migrants become desperate, trying to cross through unknown terrain alone or paying smugglers to take them on even more dangerous routes.

Security is only going to get tougher. The U.S. is deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in the coming weeks, and it plans to expand the Border Patrol from just over 11,000 agents to about 18,000 by 2008. There are also proposals to build 700 miles of additional border fence.

Despite all the risks, Andres Flores, a 29-year-old construction worker who was deported to Tijuana from Los Angeles a week ago, planned to cross by himself through the desert near San Luis, Ariz. Sitting in the central plaza in San Luis Rio Colorado, Flores said smugglers offered to guide him through the hills near San Diego for $2,000, a trek that previously cost about $1,200. Flores traveled to San Luis Rio Colorado because he believed it would be cheaper.

"Here, they want $3,000 but I don't have to walk," Flores said. "If I had the money, I would pay it because I want to get back to my job."

Those identified by several migrants as smugglers refused to talk to The Associated Press.

Francisco Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales, across the border from Arizona, said the increased security and rising smuggling fees are discouraging many from attempting the crossing. Loureiro said some smugglers have also began asking for half of the money up front. Before, migrants often didn't have to pay until they reached their destination.

"They tell me that if they had $4,000, they wouldn't be trying to sneak into the United States, because with that money they could open a small business," Loureiro said.
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Deportations stepped up: Thursday, June 15, 2006
Operation Return to Sender rounds up 2,100 illegal immigrants across the country.

BOSTON - A swarm of federal immigration agents sped silently, headlights off, down a Boston side street early Wednesday and surrounded an apartment house.

"Police! Policia! Police!" yelled Daniel Monico, a deportation officer, holding his badge to a window where someone had pulled back the curtain. "Open the door!"

Moments later, agents led a dazed-looking Jose Ferreira Da Silva, 35, out in handcuffs. The Brazilian had been arrested in 2002 and deported, but had slipped back into the country. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.

In a blitz that began May 26, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested nearly 2,100 illegal immigrants across the country. Officials said the raids are aimed at child molesters, gang members and other violent criminals, as well as people such as Da Silva who sneaked back into the country after a judge threw them out.

The crackdown is called Operation Return to Sender.

"This sends a message," said Monico, standing outside the gray Victorian apartment where Da Silva had been hiding. "When we deport you, we're serious."

The operation has caught more than 140 immigrants with convictions for sexual offenses against children; 367 known gang members, including street soldiers in the deadly Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13; and about 640 people who had already been deported once, immigration officials said. The numbers include more than 720 arrests in California alone.

More than 800 people arrested already have been deported.

"This is a massive operation," said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. "We are watching the country's borders from the inside. The problems with immigration aren't going to be solved overnight," Raimondi said as the team sped toward another raid. "You start chipping away at it ... The more teams we get up and running, the more dangerous people we are going to get off the streets."


Arpaio planning tent city space for arrested immigrants: Jun. 14, 2006
By William Hermann / The Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies are arresting enough illegal immigrants that at least 11 more large tents are needed at the Tent City Two complex outside the Towers Jail to house them, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday.

Tent City One is outside the nearby Estrella Jail in southwest Phoenix. There are about 2,000 inmates in the two tent facilities and about 10,000 inmates in all Maricopa County jails.

"We've been arresting about 100 people a month since the county attorney ruled that people involved in smuggling conspiracy could be prosecuted," Arpaio said. "We might arrest as many as 1,200 in the next year.''

In August, Arizona legislators passed an anti-human smuggling statute that gave prosecutors a tool to go after coyotes, or smugglers, who traffic in undocumented immigrants. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas later issued an opinion saying undocumented immigrants suspected of paying coyotes could be prosecuted as conspirators.

"The law is clear and I intend to enforce it," Arpaio said. "But we're going to run out of room (in the jails) at this rate." .

Arpaio said he doesn't expect putting up the new tents to be costly, even though concrete pads must be poured and electricity must be run to each unit. The tents are 18 feet by 52 feet. "We already own the old military tents, and we'll use inmate labor for most of the work, so our biggest expense will be materials and we can take that out of operating expenses," Arpaio said.

But a shower and toilet facility will need to be built as well, and that will cost about $250,000, he said. Arpaio said another new measure would create even more room for inmates. "We're going to triple-bunk them, three high in the bunks," Arpaio said. "When you consider it gets about 140 degrees in the tents by about two in the afternoon on a hot summer day, that means really, really hot in that top bunk."

That inmates must put up with wretchedly hot conditions in the tents, "doesn't bother me a bit," he said. "When people complain about those poor inmates being hot in tents I just say we send our soldiers to Iraq to defend our country and they stay in tents and it gets even hotter over there," he said. "That shuts up the critics fast."

County Board of Supervisors member Mary Rose Wilcox agrees that more space is needed for inmates, but she isn't convinced tents are the answer. "We have to be careful of any treatment that could be considered inhumane," Wilcox said. "If the sheriff needs space we should give it to him, but we should be housing people in a humane manner. I also don't think that undocumented people should be blamed for needing the space. There are lots of other people in the jail."

Radio talk show host (KNAI-FM) and former state legislator Alfredo Gutierrez said putting more and more illegal immigrants in jail, "is a disastrous idea.”

“Andrew Thomas and Joe Arpaio have finally figured out a way to bankrupt the county," Gutierrez said. "After the taxpayers pay money to appoint lawyers for all these people and after most of those people are found guilty, it will cost millions. Arpaio has had multimillion-dollar judgments against him and the county for his ruthless, odd behavior. But this is the most futile yet."


ICE arrests 55 illegal aliens working at secure construction site on grounds of Dulles International Airport: June 14, 2006

Latest arrests are part of ICE's ongoing efforts to protect nation’s critical infrastructure sites

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced the arrest of 55 illegal aliens who were performing contract work at a construction site in a secure area at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.

ICE agents conducted the operation early this morning as the illegal workers were being bused to the construction location. As the buses attempted to enter through a security checkpoint, the aliens were intercepted by ICE agents who examined their work and immigration documents.

One of the illegal workers was in possession of an airport security badge, known as a Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge, that grants unescorted access to the airport tarmac. The workers arrested today were employed by two construction firms that are involved in a building project at Dulles airport.

"Unauthorized workers employed at sensitive sites and critical infrastructure facilities -- such as airports, seaports, nuclear plants, chemical plants, financial institutions, water and food processing plants and defense facilities -- pose serious homeland security threats. Not only are the identities of these individuals in question, but these aliens are also vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists and other criminals given their illegal status in this country," said ICE Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers.

The arrests were the result of an investigation that began several weeks ago and included the Transportation Security Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. The investigation continues.

As a result of prior coordination with ICE’s Detention and Removal Operations, the majority of the aliens will be flown tonight to an ICE detention facility in El Paso for removal proceedings. The arrested aliens are from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Bolivia.

Recent Arrests at Naval Surface Warfare Center

In another worksite enforcement operation earlier this week, ICE agents teamed up with investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to arrest 14 unauthorized workers who were performing contract work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. All of the individuals were arrested administratively and are in removal proceedings.

There is no indication that any of the individuals arrested in the operations at Dulles International Airport or the Naval Surface Warfare Center were involved in any terrorist activity. The arrests at these two locations were the latest in a string of operations and investigations by ICE designed to remove illegal workers from sensitive sites and critical infrastructure locations around the country.

-- ICE -- : U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of four integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.


Court bars immigration vote : 06/13/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT
By Michael Riley, Denver Post Staff Writer
Contact: 303-820-1614 or

Colo. justices keep initiative off ballot; services for illegal immigrants would be cut. Backers of the measure call the decision "raw politics." Critics say unintended consequences have been avoided.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that a proposed initiative to eliminate state services to illegal immigrants won't be on the November ballot, dealing a major setback to a three- year effort to get the proposal before voters. Ruling on what supporters called "a technicality," the decision was nonetheless critical, suggesting the measure's effects were so broad that it could prevent illegal immigrants from taking title to property they paid for or having access to civil courts.

The decision incensed illegal-immigration opponents, who directed their anger at the court but then vowed to immediately ask the body to reconsider its decision, the only option left to get the measure before voters before 2008. "This is outrageous judicial activism. ... It's raw, naked politics," said Dick Lamm, the former Democratic governor who is among the leaders of Defend Colorado Now, the group backing the proposal.

The decision's impact is likely to stretch beyond Colorado, analysts say, as activists in several states push similar initiatives as a way to pressure federal lawmakers to take tough action against the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

The measure's opponents - who had vowed to raise whatever it took to defeat the proposal - say that cross-country effort has been dealt a serious blow and that taxpayers in Colorado have been saved millions in hidden costs and spared dangerous unintended consequences.

"Let's assume you're driving a trash truck down an alley in Denver, Colorado. Are you to decide which homes to pick up garbage from and which homes not to pick up garbage from?" said Federico Peña, the former Denver mayor who has led the fight against the measure.

Peña said that under the initiative's provisions banning all but emergency services for the undocumented, everything from school vaccinations to entry into recreation centers, could be subject to citizenship verification. "This amendment was not drafted carefully, and I think perhaps it was done so intentionally so people wouldn't understand how onerous this could have been," Peña said.

At this point in the initiative process, the court can rule only on the narrow question of whether it deals with a single subject, a requirement of the state Constitution. The court found that the initiative dealt with at least two subjects: decreasing taxpayer expenditures that benefit undocumented immigrants and denying administrative services to that group. But experts say that the decision was also unusual in important ways.

The author, Justice Alex Martinez, at one point also suggested the initiative would be unenforceable and possibly unconstitutional, criticisms that are more than procedural. And the court took three months to release its finding, well past the deadline to recast the initiative's language in time for this November's ballot.

Initiative supporters seized on those points and noted that of the two Republican-appointed justices, one - Nathan Coats - dissented and the other - Allison Eid - didn't participate in the case. All four of the justices in the majority - Martinez, Mary Mullarkey, Gregory Hobbs and Michael Bender - were appointed by Democratic Gov. Roy Romer.

"I think perhaps they delayed it unnecessarily," said Fred Elbel, a Defend Colorado Now organizer.

But the Colorado judges aren't the only ones who have had trouble with the broad scope of the proposed initiative.

In Arizona, where a similar initiative known as Proposition 200 was passed in 2004, the state's attorney general recently ruled it applied only to welfare services, while supporters said it should go much further. The success by anti-illegal-immigration forces in Arizona led to a nationwide strategy to pass similarly worded initiatives across the country. Colorado was chosen as the next target, according to Wade Henderson, of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in Washington, because it is known to have a hard-core base of anti-immigration activists.

"This action in Colorado will have ripple effects well beyond the state's borders," Henderson said. "Arizona was a shot across the bow, but Colorado was seen as more important in some ways,
partly because this was the first effort after Arizona to see where this thing was going to go, and partly because it is the home of Dick Lamm and Tom Tancredo."

On Monday, Tancredo, the Littleton Republican who is one of the most vocal congressional critics of current immigration policy, called the court's decision an "arrogant usurpation of citizens' constitutional prerogatives."

Other supporters were equally incensed. "I'm angry beyond words," said state Rep. David Schultheis, a Republican who sponsored a slew of immigration bills in the 2006 legislative session. "The courts are wielding power they shouldn't be wielding," he said.

The issue almost immediately became fodder for this year's political campaigns.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez released a statement saying that if elected, he'd work to enforce the sanctuary cities ban in Colorado and work to end nonemergency benefits to all illegal immigrants.

"Today's decision may be one of the central differences between me and my opponent, Mr. Ritter," Beauprez said. "I will absolutely appoint judges who will revere, respect and apply the law - not invent it."

A spokesman for Bill Ritter, the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor, declined to comment.

For their part, organizers for Defend Colorado Now said that the issue has a momentum of its own and that they don't plan to stop because of the court's decision. The group has already collected more than 30,000 of the nearly 68,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot, and volunteers will continue to comb the state in the days ahead.

"This setback on a legal technicality does not reduce tremendous grassroots support of voters saying enough is enough," said John Andrews, the former state legislator and another Defend Colorado Now organizer. "The will of the people won't be denied forever," he said.
Justice Alex Martinez, writing for the majority:
Although there is a requirement for the general assembly to act, the nature of the mandate is unclear. ... \[T\]he Initiative declines to describe "non-emergency services" by definition, category or purpose. We cannot discern how the general assembly or courts would "enforce" this initiative.

We conclude that these two purposes - decreasing taxpayer expenditures and denying access to certain administrative services - are incongruous. The theme of restricting non-emergency services is too broad and general to make these purposes part of the same subject.

Justice Nathan Coates' dissent:
The substantive provision of Initiative #55 contains a single mandate clearly expressed in a single concise sentence. Consistent with federal law, government is required to restrict non-emergency services to those whose presence in this country is lawful.

Whatever one may think of the merits of Initiative #55, when evaluated in terms of the historically and purposefully limited scope of the single-subject requirement, it clearly treats a single subject and therefore cannot be kept from the voters on that basis alone.


Californian prods his city to curb illegal immigrants: Mon, Jun. 12, 2006
BY VINCENT J. SCHOOLS / Chicago Tribune

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Joseph Turner was fed up with what he saw happening in this community where he has spent all of his 29 years. "It bothers me that people come into this country and fail to adopt our culture and language," Turner said, talking about a measure he brought before the city council in this fast-growing city in California.

There is a "myth that illegals are a benefit to this country," he said. "We are importing millions of people who are poor and uneducated and then say that this is good for our country."

So he proposed an ordinance that would make it a felony to rent a house or apartment to an undocumented immigrant. He proposed that anyone who picked up an illegal immigrant at a home improvement store as a day laborer would have his car impounded and be charged with a felony.
The city council rejected the measure 7-4, but that was not the end of it.

The city's charter allows residents to bring an ordinance before the council, which if rejected can go to a citywide vote. But the person presenting the measure must gather sufficient signatures to require a vote, the charter says.

Turner collected some 2,200 signatures and thinks chances are good voters will approve the measure. But whether there will be a vote is unclear; the council has asked for a judge's decision on holding an election. Council members who voted for Turner's ordinance say they did so to save the city the cost of a special election and because they believe the measure would wind up in court to test its constitutionality.

"I voted to adopt it as an ordinance to get it into the courts and avoid a $300,000 election," said Neil Derry, a councilman in this city of about 200,000 people.

While he said there were parts of Turner's proposal that he liked, other aspects bothered him.

"Some parts are impossible to enforce," Derry said. "Our cops don't have the ability to go out and find out if someone has the right to work or not." And he said the city did not have the resources to check the legal status of everyone renting a house or an apartment.

Chas Kelley, another councilman who voted for Turner's proposal, said he wanted to get the issue before the courts. He added that he hoped to play down media coverage because he said it would "drag the city's good name through the mud."

Still, like Derry, Kelley found some of Turner's ideas valid. And he denied suggestions by immigrant rights groups that the measure was racist.

For his part, Turner contends that the current wave of immigrants is different from the immigration to the United States seen in the late 19th century and the first part of the 20th century.

"The nation of immigrants is an old and tired argument," he said. "Immigrants from previous generations came here to be Americans. We don't have the same sense of assimilation today."

Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy research for the National Council of La Raza, a Washington, D.C.-based Hispanic rights organization, called such views misguided. Saying it was clear that the nation has a problem with illegal immigration, she said it was up to the federal government to reform the system and that it is wrong to take out frustrations on the immigrants themselves.

Turner said he has been campaigning against illegal immigration since he was in high school, saying that it only has served to "subvert the sovereignty of the nation." And he said he has taken to calling the state he lives in Mexifornia.


Immigration Estimates For Region Vary Widely From Source to Source
: Sunday, June 11, 2006

By Karin Brulliard and Krissah Williams / Washington Post Staff Writers

Nine years after Haydee Salguero left Guatemala for the United States, she became a U.S. citizen and gave up her Guatemalan passport. But ask her what she is, and Salguero doesn't hesitate.

"Guatemalan, of course," said the 32-year-old legal assistant, who lives in Fairfax County. Salguero said things will be a bit fuzzier for her first child, who is due to be born in the United States in October. The baby will be American on paper, she said, but both Guatemalan and American "in spirit."

For the U.S. Census Bureau, the official scorekeeper of the U.S. public, it's a simpler issue: "Guatemalans" are people born in Guatemala. The census counts of the immigrant population reflect the number of people here who were born outside the United States. Those figures are used to track the flows of immigration and to determine funding for government programs serving immigrants.

But as Salguero illustrates, the notion of nationality can rest on more than birthplace -- and it's a key reason why foreign embassy counts of their compatriots in the United States can greatly differ from census data. When embassies are asked for estimates, many count U.S.-born children as immigrants because they might be entitled to claim citizenship in their parents' homeland as well.

For example, just how many Salvadorans live in the Washington region?
The 2000 Census says 105,000.

The Current Population Survey, conducted monthly by the Census Bureau, says the number averaged about 130,000 over the past three years. But ask Salvadoran Ambassador René A. León, and the figure skyrockets to nearly 500,000.

"The expansion of services has been so demanded that we opened a consulate in Woodbridge," León said. "If we count the number of passports we issue, we cannot be serving a universe of Salvadorans in this area of less than 400,000 to 500,000. It would be impossible to be serving less than that."

At the height of a national debate about the future of U.S. immigration, estimates of how many illegal immigrants reside in this country vary widely. They range from the commonly cited 11 million -- derived by the nonprofit Pew Hispanic Center from census and immigration data -- to 20 million, which the investment firm Bear Stearns came up with last year after looking at school district figures, remittances and other micro-trends.

Locally, in an area where census figures suggest that one in five residents was born abroad, the estimated number of Peruvians, Mexicans and others also can differ by tens of thousands -- depending on the source.

Embassy officials acknowledge that their population calculations are extrapolations based on the number of passports, visas or identification cards they issue. They say the census vastly undercounts immigrant populations, which have skyrocketed since 2000, when the most accurate and detailed figures were released. The Census Bureau acknowledges that it missed some people in 2000 -- but not many, it says. The agency says its count fell short by about 0.6 percent for the total population, about 0.8 percent for blacks and 1.2 percent for Hispanics.

But Audrey Singer of the Brookings Institution says the undercount could be especially pronounced for Mexicans and Central Americans, many of whom travel regularly to their homelands and might have missed census surveys while out of the country, or opted out because they do not consider themselves U.S. residents.

There isn't even agreement on who should be counted as an immigrant. The census applies a traditional definition: those who are foreign-born. But many embassies and consulates include the U.S.-born children of immigrants in their population count.

"They use an American passport. . . . They are still Peruvians for us," said Manuel Talavera, general consul for Peru, who estimates that 70,000 of his compatriots live in Virginia, Maryland and the District. The Current Population Survey places the figure in the Washington region at 23,000.

Jeffrey S. Passel, a researcher with the Pew Hispanic Center, said about 80 percent of immigrants' children are born in the United States. Illegal immigrants' fear of revealing their status may also result in conflicting data.

The 2000 Census, for example, taken in April of that year, counted 1,500 Salvadoran immigrants who lived in the District and attended public school. In the next school year, D.C. public schools data counted 929 students who said they were born in El Salvador. Fairfax and Prince George's counties' counts of Salvadoran students that year also were far lower than census figures.

Passel surmised that, to some degree, those gaps might be attributed to parents who listed their children as U.S.-born out of fear that their immigrant status would exclude them from school; others might have been confused about the difference between public and private schools when filling out the census forms. But the reason for such a significant difference is unclear, he said.

Embassy officials say that no matter the number, their communities' populations have shot up exponentially in recent years. Talavera, for example, said the Peruvian Embassy issues 40 percent more national identity cards than it did in 2001.

Evidence indicates that the rise has been sharp. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, between January 2000 and this March, 7.9 million immigrants moved to the United States, making it the highest five-year period of immigration in the nation's history.

Still, experts reject claims that immigrant population figures could be several times higher than the census numbers or than the data derived from the less comprehensive Current Population Survey, which polls 50,000 U.S. households each month.

"It's unlikely that if the survey is showing 50 or 60,000 [people in a particular immigrant group] that there are 200,000," Passel said. "Let's put it that way."

León said the numbers he sees say otherwise, although he acknowledges having no official count. In addition to passports issued, he bases his calculations on the number of Salvadorans who registered with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for temporary permission to live in the United States after earthquakes rocked El Salvador in 2001. Nationwide, the number of registrants is 244,000. But, León surmises that only half of the people eligible for the temporary residence program after the disaster signed up for it.

Then the ambassador points to a study showing that $1.2 billion flowed into Latin America from immigrants living in the District, Maryland and Virginia in 2004. Most of that went to El Salvador, León said, noting that Salvadorans living in Virginia send home more money annually than those in any state except California. The number of Salvadorans in the Washington region must be far higher then census-based estimates to have sent such a large sum in just one year, the ambassador said.

And he has more anecdotal evidence: Business strips in Woodbridge and other parts of suburban Washington are crowded with small companies owned by Salvadorans.

"The core economic data [prove] that fact. Look not only at the number of companies owned by Salvadorans but the payrolls of most of the construction companies, hotels, restaurants and landscaping companies. They are filled with Salvadorans," he said.

The Salvadoran Embassy will begin issuing country identification cards to its nationals in the Washington region this year, and León said he hopes a tally based on the number of identification cards issued will provide more definitive data.

Of course, there is power in numbers. León said his higher count indicates the Salvadoran community's "high value" and vitality to the Washington region.

"The more numbers you have, the more visibility you have, the more power and clout you potentially have," said Peter Skerry, a Boston College professor of political science who studied the census undercount.

But in today's highly charged climate about immigration, that notion is open to debate. A Guatemalan official said he would more likely play down the Guatemalan population's size in the United States when talking to politicians who favor strict immigration controls, figuring they might be more friendly to a smaller group.

Enrique Escorza, the Mexican general consul in Washington, oversees a region that includes the District and all of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. He puts the Mexican community in that region at 250,000, more than twice the 2000 Census count for the same area.

Guatemalan and Bolivian officials, whose regional populations were 20,000 each in the 2000 Census, offer estimates of about 70,000 each -- albeit cautiously.

"Don't take me seriously," said Oswaldo Cuevas, general consul for Bolivia in Washington. "Talking about numbers -- it's our vulnerability."

The population puzzles are faced not only by Latin American immigrants. The embassies of India and the Philippines are among those that refuse to guess, referring only to the 2000 Census figures, which put the region's Indian-born population at 46,000 and Philippines-born population at 32,000.

"It is an incredibly complicated exercise," said Venu Rajamony, spokesman for the Indian Embassy.

Staff writer Dan Keating contributed to this report.

Immigration proposals: House vs. Senate : Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
Comparison of House and Senate proposals for border security and immigration reform.


Press Office: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Public Notice : April 7, 2006
USCIS Warns of Potential for Immigration Fraud

Washington, D.C.– Although Congress has been debating immigration legislation, all customers should be advised that currently no temporary worker program exists for aliens unlawfully present in the United States. Congress has not passed any legislation that would create a temporary worker program. Therefore, there are no benefits currently available because this program does not exist. Customers should not pay any fees or fines to any person or organization claiming they can help apply for or receive benefits for a temporary worker program. Be wary of persons or organizations that claim they can assist in applying for benefits that do not exist.

On March 1, 2003, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services became one of three legacy INS components to join the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is charged with fundamentally transforming and improving the delivery of immigration and citizenship services, while enhancing the integrity of our nation's security.


Pew Hispanic Center

Center for Immigration Studies
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U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Home Page
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Solidarity Across Borders
Email: or 514-848-7583

U.N. Refugee Agency
Poverty Drives Immigration (May 17, 2006)

5/27: Center for Human Rights & Constitution Law's Response to Senate Immigration Bill: Released 29 May 2006
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