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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

Nodos Comunes

.. Caosmosis ..

Rage One (blog)

domingo, julio 02, 2006

July 02, 2006 ~ Sunday: Immigrant-Rights-Agenda Report

Join Up!

Table of Contents: Links to Original Articles;_ylt=AtC7DHdsK2pddpdY2S5y5YK9IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA2ZGZwam4yBHNlYwNmYw--
Illegal status hinders Mexican voting bloc: Sunday, July 2, 2006;_ylt=AtxSWQm5wRt_OuXqjASZX3G3IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA--
Mexican migrants in U.S. head to polls By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer: Sun Jul 2, 2006 5:06 PM ET
Nativo López: What’s Next for the Immigrant Rights Movement?
June 30, 2006 | Pages 8 and 9
The tale of two “campaigns” + What’s at stake in Mexico’s election?
June 30, 2006 | Page 4
A New Generation of Immigrant Rights Leaders: Jun 26, 2006
By Eduardo Stanley, Traducción al español
Tom Hayden: Mexico’s Presidential Front-Runner May Roil U.S. Conservatives
= Posted on Jun 26, 2006
McCain blasts fellow Republican: Monday, June 26, 2006
by Mike Sunnucks / The Business Journal of Phoenix
GOP Candidate's Call for Labor Camp Rebuked: Jun. 23, 2006
Republican candidate's call for forced labor camp for immigrants angers two GOP lawmakers
Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in Immigrants: May 31, 2006
By Bill Christensen
Tempers flare in heat: Anger mounts at rally; pro-immigration camp shows up to tell its side = June 25, 2006 By Tim Morgan / BEE Staff Writer
June 25, 2006: Bush's Immigration Plan Stalled as House G.O.P. Grew More Anxious

Illegal status hinders Mexican voting bloc: Sunday, July 2, 2006
By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - A potentially powerful expatriate voting bloc likely will have little effect on Mexico's presidential race because of the illegal status of many who live in the United States.

Thousands of Mexican expatriates streamed into border towns Sunday to vote in their homeland's elections and others were allowed to cast absentee ballots for the first time. Still, many more were disenfranchised by their fear of crossing the border as undocumented residents.

"I really wanted to vote, but I don't have papers so I couldn't go to Mexico" to get a voter card, said Adriana Lopez, 27, a housewife and illegal immigrant in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.

Still, others expressed hope that more would participate next time.

"The main thing is, the door has been opened" for expatriates to vote, Jesus Hernandez, 47, one of only 13,500 Mexicans in California who sent in ballots. "Later, we can reconstruct the procedures to make it easier in the future."

Electoral officials said late Sunday the race was too close to call and they would have to wait for the district-by-district vote count that starts Wednesday to declare a winner.

When Mexico's congress passed a law last year extending suffrage to expatriates, Mexicans in the U.S. hailed it as overdue recognition of the billions of dollars they send home every year.

Their elation faded, however, when they learned that voters would need a current electoral card, and that the application deadline was nearly six months before the election. Furthermore, anyone needing a new card had to apply in Mexico — a risky chore for an illegal immigrant.

"They couldn't go to Tijuana to get their voting card ... so now they can't vote here or there," said Eduardo Ruiz, president of the Los Angeles-based Federacion de Aguas Calientes, which organized weekly trips to Tijuana last year to help people apply.

Of the estimated 4.2 million eligible Mexican voters living abroad, only about 41,000, or 1 percent, requested absentee ballots and, of those, only 28,335 were received by the Federal Electoral Institute.

The Mexican government set up 86 polls along the 2,000-mile border, mostly for migrants who missed out on its absentee ballot campaign. Leaving in the wee hours Sunday morning, dozens boarded buses in Los Angeles and other Southern California cities to head to Tijuana.

Voting was not all smooth at the special polling stations, which apparently received just 750 ballots each to prevent voter fraud. That left hundreds of voters in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, unable to vote.

Mexicans said the new president could play a vital role in helping millions of undocumented workers obtain legal residency. Outgoing President Vicente Fox traveled to the United States in recent months to encourage Congress to reform immigration policy.

"It's important for the new president to fight for rights for Mexicans in this country," said Araceli Rodriguez, of Florida City, Fla., who voted with an absentee ballot. "We're always fighting hard to make it, but we've been living under more pressure, more strain."

Some expatriates argue that more could be done to help them vote.

"If they really wanted us to vote, they would let us do it at a consulate," said Gustino Fermin, 47, who said he didn't have time to return to Mexico for a voting card.

Patricio Ballados, expatriate vote coordinator for Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute, said the agency would consider recommending to Congress that Mexican nationals be allowed to renew their voting cards at consulates.

Apathy also is an issue. Some said that they came to the United States because Mexican governments has failed to create economic opportunities at home, and that they didn't see that changing anytime soon.

"No matter who they elect, the corruption will continue," said Amelia Juantes, 23, who didn't even attempt to get an absentee ballot

Mexican migrants in U.S. head to polls By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jul 2, 2006 5:06 PM ET

TIJUANA, Mexico - Thousands of Mexicans living in the United States traveled by plane, bus and car to Mexican border cities to vote in Sunday's hotly contested presidential election.

The Mexican government set up 86 polling places along the 2,000-mile border, mostly for migrants who missed out on the country's historic absentee ballot campaign.

Across the border from San Diego in Tijuana, a sprawling city of more than 1 million people, out-of-town voters arrived Sunday by bus from Los Angeles and other California cities. Many said they made the trip because they received little information about how to request absentee ballots, lacked the correct voting card, or did not fill out their applications correctly.

Maria Salome Rodriguez, a 38-year-old farm worker, drove eight hours with her husband from Fresno, Calif., and waited for two hours to vote at a polling booth outside Tijuana's airport. She and her husband decided to make the trip to the border after their applications for absentee ballots were rejected because they wrote down the wrong address.

"We want to vote so Mexico can improve and offer jobs to people here, because even though we're far away, our heart is still with our homeland," said Rodriguez, who declined to name the candidate she voted for.

Lawmakers approved a law last year to allow the estimated 11 million Mexicans living in the United States to vote by mail for the first time. But the effort was thrown together to beat electoral deadlines, and only about 32,632 absentee ballots from 71 countries were mailed to the Federal Electoral Institute.

Of those, 479 did not meet requirements and were rejected, electoral officials said.

In addition to Tijuana's regular polling centers for residents, 20 special centers were set up across the city for migrants as well as active-duty soldiers, factory workers and others who have come to the area recently from the interior of the country.

The presidential election is the first since outgoing President Vicente Fox's stunning victory in 2000 ended 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The race was close between former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, and Felipe Calderon, a former energy secretary from Fox's conservative National Action Party. Running in third place is Roberto Madrazo, the candidate for the PRI.

Salome's husband, 49-year-old construction worker Pedro Hernandez, said he was voting for Calderon.

"I could be resting at home but voting for me is a moral responsibility," Hernandez said. "I'm happy to be part of this because we're living a new democracy, and — who knows? — maybe my vote can decide this election."
On the Net:
Federal Electoral Institute (with English link):

Nativo López: What’s Next for the Immigrant Rights Movement?
June 30, 2006 | Pages 8 and 9

NATIVO LÓPEZ is president of the Mexican American Political Association. He was a leading organizer of the huge demonstrations for immigrant rights in Los Angeles on March 25 and May 1. He spoke at a panel discussion about the future of the immigrant rights movement at the Socialism 2006 conference in New York City.
THANK YOU for the opportunity to make a presentation regarding the current status of the immigrant rights movement and attempt to answer the hardest question: What now?

We are in an interesting interlude. Some could paint it in a negative light, but I tend to believe that, in fact, there are very positive things we can draw from the current situation and the double fix the Democratic Party put this movement in, with the help of their auxiliary organizations.

I want to talk about this. Like in any movement, the struggle doesn’t move in a direct path. It’s more of a crooked path.

What the Democratic Party and its auxiliary organizations did for us during the Easter interlude was a big favor. We don’t realize it yet. We don’t understand it completely yet. I’m still analyzing that period--what occurred and where we are today--but I have concluded definitively that they did us a big favor.

What is the favor that they did us? Certainly we know that they betrayed us, as historically has been the case for immigrants, for the working class, for national minorities in the United States.

One has only to look at the 4,000-plus deaths that have occurred on the border since the institution of the Gatekeeper program brought to us by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of the Democratic Party, and your friend, but not mine, President Bill Clinton. We can wail all we want against President Bush, but we absolutely know that the 4,000-plus deaths on the border can be directly attributed to President Clinton and Dianne Feinstein.

The Democrats were a majority in the Congress when that passed. The 1996 immigration “reform” that occurred is the predecessor to the Patriot Act and everything the Bush administration did.

The swelling of the undocumented population in the United States, particularly from India, Mexico, the Philippines, is directly attributable to the legislation that was passed, which made it more difficult for families to reunify by putting a heavy burden on them, a heavy fine and forcing them to leave the country. Therefore, families stayed here to face greater penalties and the possibility of never legalizing their status.

All this is directly attributable to President Clinton, the Democratic Party, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus--those who seek to portray themselves today as the fighters for immigrant rights. It’s a bunch of hypocrisy.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
WHY WAS there so much unity and such a great, aggressive mass mobilization throughout the country at the beginning of 2006?

HR 4437, the author of which was Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, left absolutely no social space--none whatsoever--for the immigrant to accommodate themselves to a truly unjust system, but yet a system that allowed him or her to find a job that perhaps others were not willing to do and still survive and thrive and send money home to their loved ones.

HR 4437 didn’t just put the burden on the immigrant. Had that been the case, employer associations, trade associations, the masses of churches, social organizations and even the Democratic Party would not have come forward to join the immigrant in this fight to defeat that legislation.

There was a situation where most people in society connected in any way with the dynamic of immigration saw the possibility of being criminalized themselves. Therefore, they were willing to come forward and join the immigrant in this fight.

In that sense, Sensenbrenner became a unifying factor, similar to how Gov. Pete Wilson did in 1994, when he was the bandleader for Proposition 187. We were then united on what we did not want. But we were not as united, we’re still not united on what we want.

This struggle surged from the bases, not from the hierarchies. That’s an absolute truth that no one can deny.

To be completely honest with you, I can tell you that even the base leaders of this movement found themselves running a marathon--out of shape and trying to catch up to the masses that were demanding focused and disciplined action against HR 4437.

In fact, on March 25, when over 1 million people marched in Los Angeles, all the organizations in the coalition couldn’t muster more than 500 people for security for the march. But it’s a testament of the great discipline of the immigrant community that it self-secured a situation that could have easily gotten out of hand, had the police, LAPD and other right-wing forces been provoked into action.

After March 25 in Los Angeles, the hierarchies sought to assert themselves at the front of this movement, and to control it and force it and channel it to accept a compromise that they had already cut several years before.

That compromise that they cut several years before is embodied in the legislation called Kennedy-McCain, crafted by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain, which essentially would codify in law more onerous employer sanctions than currently exist in law, and a massive contract-labor program in the United States.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, there is an existing contract-labor program in the United States. It’s called the H2A program. It uses approximately 50,000 to 60,000 contract laborers, predominantly in agriculture. The McCain-Kennedy bill would expand that to half a million workers a year, and perhaps more.

I call it a contract-labor program, because that’s what it is. They like to call it by a benign name--a guest-worker program. As if workers are truly guests in the American house, when we know that the contract workers are treated as less than second-class citizens, and certainly not as guests.

The auxiliary organizations of the Democratic Party sought to assert themselves as leaders in this movement, and it’s time to name names, because this is important. We must be truthful with our community. The deception must end.

The International leadership of the Service Employees International Union; the International leadership and some of the local leadership of UNITE HERE; the leadership of the United Farm Workers were all part of the deal. They were all part of the betrayal. The National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Immigration Capital Coalition, the Center for Community Change.

These organizations, which are based in Washington, D.C.--lobbyists, for the most part--are truly disconnected to the masses of immigrants and do not represent the interests of the masses of immigrants.

They represent the interests of Corporate America, because it’s Corporate America that funds them and dictates to them the policies that they should pursue--beneficial to Corporate America, and perhaps some crumbs fall from the table that would benefit the immigrant community.

Certainly they need a façade to maintain the appearance of credibility, but we know that they’re corporate-funded, corporate-directed, and they were doing the bidding of Corporate America, including those unions.

How is it possible that those three unions bolted from the AFL-CIO to create the new progressive Change to Win coalition, and they accepted the premise that contract labor in massive form could exist in the United States, with those unions be the beneficiaries by cutting deals with Corporate America for yellow-dog collective bargaining agreements, in which they would receive dues money from those contract laborers.

It’s shameful, and Ernesto Galarza, Burt Corona and Cesar Chavez are turning over in their graves. The very thought that leaders of those unions--which are part of the legacy of those three men--would be cutting a deal with Corporate America to support bracero-type programs, when they fought their whole lives to sunset existing bracero programs, which existed for over three decades, and fought to prevent their reinstitutionalization in the United States.

What I say, brothers and sisters, may be unsettling to some when this is published, but we intend to take our show on the road and tell the truth to the immigrant community, because there is nothing stronger than the truth--that we have been betrayed by these institutions and individuals.

That’s why I say this is a positive occurrence. Because it removes any shadow of a doubt that such institutions represent the legitimate interests of immigrant workers in America.

The illusion will be shattered as it becomes quite apparent to the immigrant community that the nasty compromise the Democratic Party and its auxiliary organizations sought to consummate in the legislation of Hagel-Martinez was nothing but a sham and truly has nothing of merit for the immigrant community.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE MAY Day action, as never seen before, was truly a workers’ action--from the bottom, not from the hierarchy. The message of the Great American Boycott surged from below--it was not imposed from the top.

In fact, the Democratic Party; its auxiliary organizations; the National Council of Bishops, particularly, Cardinal Roger Mahoney; Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus fought tooth and nail, in tandem with corporate Spanish-language radio, to prevent the message of the masses in the Great American Boycott from reaching the ears of all immigrants throughout America, and they failed. They absolutely failed.

The Great American Boycott was successful because literally millions of people went into the streets, repudiating by their actions the message of the hierarchies. Because the message of the Great American Boycott was the message of the masses, and that’s why it prevailed--it was their own message. They imposed their message over the message of the hierarchies, and they won.

They demonstrated to all of America that their message was more powerful than the corporate media, their message was more powerful than the institution of the church, their message was more powerful than the institution of the Democratic Party and its auxiliary organizations. They heeded their own message, and they won.

Easter in 2006 is a day to be remembered, because just before the Easter recess, the immigrant rights movement won. It had definitively defeated HR 4437. It had prevented the Hagel-Martinez from seeing the light of day from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, in that one instance, obeyed the message of the masses to not compromise with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and allow Hagel-Martinez to see the light of day.

Do you all recall that? The national debate on immigration had shifted favorably to us--to the masses of immigrants.

And in that two-week interlude, the cardinals went to Washington, D.C., Mayor Villaraigosa went to Washington, D.C., the Congressional Hispanic Caucus huddled with Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, and Eliseo Medina, international vice president of SEIU; Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers; John Wilhelm of UNITE HERE.

They all huddled in Washington, D.C., and politically, they beat up poor Harry Reid. And Harry Reid cut the deal. We saw Hagel-Martinez debated in the Senate and approved by the Senate. We saw Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the great California liberal, vote for the border wall, vote for National Guard on the border, vote for criminalizing employers with sanctions, vote for criminalizing immigrants with a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony offense, vote for eliminating due process rights to immigrants, vote for a massive contract-labor program. These are the measures they voted for, because this is what is contained in Hagel-Martinez.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SENSENBRENNER AND Sensenbrenner Lite--this is what we have today on the table. We’re fighting not just one set of letters and numbers, we’re fighting two sets of letters and numbers: HR 4437 and S 2611.

But while it is a more difficult fight, the positive thing is that the immigrant will have no illusion that Barbara Boxer or the Democratic Party will fight to obtain what he and she truly deserve--a fair trade, a fair exchange for their labor.

This truly is the basis and the premise of our demand of amnesty for all immigrant workers, fully and immediately. It’s a fair exchange. This is our answer to the hypocrisy of the so-called free traders, the neoliberals of America, when they talk about free trade.

We talk about fair trade and fair exchange--that as an immigrant worker, if I am willing to come to America to work, to create value, to create wealth, to create assets for America, a true fair exchange to me should be permanent residence, immediately and fully for me and my family.

Brothers and sisters, I welcome your questions, but more your comments and your statements and your commitment to continue in this fight--to work with us to implement throughout the United States a popular referendum where we will go to millions of immigrants and ask them what they want in immigration reform. On November 7 of this year, we will ask all immigrants to go to the ballot to vote for true, fair, humane immigration reform.

The Republicans and the Democrats--these phonies will jostle and juggle over who will be the majority in Congress to continue to deny the rights of all working people. Because let us remember that with the Democrats controlling Congress and a Democratic president, they absolutely refused to reform federal labor law in America to allow workers to organize unions with no impediments.

So they’re no better than the Republicans in power. In fact, they do a better job than the Republicans to prevent the working class to truly be free in America.

Our struggle today is to eliminate all the illusions in these Democrats and their auxiliary organizations and some of the union leaders. I say some union leaders, because we have observed that those union leaders who are closer to the base are more true to the base. That also applies to the church--to the parish pastor, who is pastoring on a daily basis and sees the suffering on a daily basis. They’re closer to the truth, because they’re closer to the base.

So our job is to win over those intermediary and base leaders to have no illusions about what their leaders are doing in Washington, D.C. And be true to their constituencies, be true to the base, be true to the immigrants, and work with us to build the strongest, mightiest immigrant rights movement in America, which will spill over across all borders throughout the world.

Because our fight, brothers and sisters, is a fight to carry the message that the working class is an international class, and it has no borders.

The tale of two “campaigns” + What’s at stake in Mexico’s election?
June 30, 2006 | Page 4

LANCE SELFA reports on the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico.

MEXICANS WILL go to the polls on July 2 to choose the successor of President Vicente Fox.

They will have three major choices: Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN), the candidate of the governing right, backed by his cohort Fox; Andres Manuel López Obrador, the populist candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and known by his initials “AMLO”; and Roberto Madrazo, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the party that governed Mexico for almost seven decades before Fox’s election in 2000.

With the election a week away, AMLO and Calderón were in a virtual tie, with Madrazo a distant third, according to public opinion polls. This represents a drop in popularity for AMLO, who was leading in the presidential preference polls for more than a year.

One explanation for this is that AMLO has been attacked from both sides of the political spectrum.

From the right, with Fox’s encouragement, Calderón has accused AMLO of being a radical whose election would lead to chaos and social disorder. This multimillion-dollar negative campaign has had the desired effect.

In April, Fox’s government ordered troops to attack steelworkers occupying their plant in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas on the Pacific coast, and to repress flower vendors in the town of San Salvador de Atenco near Mexico City. In each case, the government used military force against social protests in order to blame the left for the resulting disorder.

According to some experts, these attacks are part of a campaign to instill fear and create the public perception that if AMLO wins the presidency, the country will descend into chaos. The PRI used a similar strategy in 1994, which helped it to win elections after the assassination of its first presidential candidate, followed by the Zapatista uprising. Today, the PAN hopes that history will repeat itself.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
AT THE same time that he has become a target for the right, AMLO has faced a challenge from the left--from the “other campaign” spearheaded by the Zapatistas (the EZLN).
At the beginning of this year, the Zapatistas and their supporters within the social movements and the “non-institutional” left (essentially, the left not in government) have traveled the country holding meetings and discussions with activists.

The “other campaign” wants to help reconfigure the anti-capitalist left with the idea of convening a constituent assembly to reform the Mexican constitution and, possibly, to launch a different organization that can bring together the different social movements.

At these meetings, the main Zapatista spokesperson, Subcommander Marcos--who has renamed himself “Delegate Zero” of the constituent assembly--has repeatedly blasted AMLO for his compromises with neoliberal policies, and for the PRD’s betrayal of indigenous rights. In 2001, PRD representatives in the National Assembly joined with the PRI and PAN to reject proposals granting autonomy to the indigenous people of Chiapas.

Throughout most of the “other campaign,” AMLO has kept his distance from Marcos and his supporters. But when Marcos traveled to San Salvador de Atenco in May to lead protests against government repression and the imprisonment of community leaders, the right lashed out. PAN TV ads linked AMLO with the Zapatista radicals.

For their part, AMLO and his party stayed silent on the events in Atenco, because the mayor who called the police to remove the flower vendors from the town square is a PRD member. Moreover, AMLO wants to present himself as being “tough on crime” and social disorder.

Another big problem for AMLO--at least from the point of view of the left--is that AMLO has recruited many ex-members of the PRI, including some who were involved in the administration of the corrupt and right-wing President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-2004) to run as PRD candidates.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
DESPITE HIS populist rhetoric, López Obrador is no radical. Among his chief advisers is Manuel Camacho Solis, a former ally of Salinas de Gortari. In 2000, he paid more than $4 million in city funds to the consulting firm of Republican Rudolph Giuliani to bring a U.S.-style “war on crime” to Mexico City.

His election manifesto is full of generalities, but it supports the idea of “taking advantage of globalization, and not just suffering from it.” As China has developed by exporting its labor power, he argues, Mexico can develop by exporting its energy resources. He promises more social reform and completion of the San Andrés Accords with the Zapatistas, but none of his proposals challenge capitalism.

Left-wing commentator Alejandro Nadal, writing in La Jornada, worried that AMLO’s election manifesto--and the presence of advisers like Camacho Solis--signals that a number of “corrupt politicians, opportunists and architects of national pacts” are already lining up to jump on López Obrador’s bandwagon.

For these reasons, the respected activist and historian Adolfo Gilly, noting that AMLO’s circle of advisers includes many architects of the PRI’s neoliberal turn, wrote March 3 in La Jornada that “for reasons of morality, if you want to call it that, I will not vote for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, nor for any of [the PRD’s] candidates: you can be sure of that.”

Nevertheless, many activists want to vote for AMLO to strike a blow against the right in Mexico. Perhaps a vote for AMLO can be justified on these grounds. But it must be remembered that AMLO wants to revive the economic and social policies of the PRI of the 1970s, updated to the neoliberal era. Although the Mexican establishment doesn’t like AMLO, neither do they fear him.

Whoever wins, what will take place after the elections will be most important. This year has seen several crucial developments on the left--the “other campaign,” an all-but general strike that closed down the steel industry in April, and important political changes in Mexico’s unions. Meanwhile, north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the massive immigrant rights movement has had a huge impact.

The future for Mexico’s social movements and workers depends on the deepening of these developments, not on who sits in the presidential palace.

A New Generation of Immigrant Rights Leaders: Jun 26, 2006
By Eduardo Stanley, Traducción al español

Editor’s Note: Working class immigrant women are emerging as potent leaders within the immigrant rights movement.

FRESNO, CA-- Margarita paced around the stage and practiced her speech. She had only spoken before small groups, but this was different. Nearly 20,000 people and their families had gathered in front of the Fresno City Council building, singing, dancing, demanding immigration reform, and promising to vote in the future.

“At first I felt nervous, but seeing so many people gave me strength,” says the 27-year-old construction worker. “Now I am more confident of what I am doing.”

Margarita arrived in the United States from Mexico when she was 11, with her mother. She had a humble life in Mexico City: helping with housework, taking care of her sisters, sharing with her aunts, and going to school. Like many girls, she grew up without the presence of her father, who immigrated to the United States, and then forgot the family he left behind.

At age 18, she completed high school and gave birth to her daughter Jesenia. Since then she has shared her life with her husband, Eduardo Ruíz, also from Oaxaca. After working various jobs, Margarita found her calling. “An African-American man offered me work in construction and since then I have not put down a hammer,” she says. “I like machines and heavy tools.” And, she adds, “In spite of my small stature, I am strong.”

In 1994, while the prospect of Proposition 187 shook communities throughout the state, Margarita also underwent her own transformative experience. A school security guard accused her of carrying a firearm. She was detained. “They searched me like a criminal, with guns in their hands,” she says. The episode convinced her of the need to raise one’s voice against abuses of power, she says.

That year she participated together with hundreds of students in the protest marches against Proposition 187, proposed by then-governor Pete Wilson. The measure aimed to prohibit illegal immigrants from accessing state services.

For the last several years, she and her mother have volunteered at a Catholic church in Fresno, where they collaborate on different social programs. There they met an immigrant rights activist who invited them to participate in the Coalition that organized the immigrant marches in Fresno.

“I believe it comes from family,” says Isabel Vasquez, 48, Margarita’s mother. “I read the bible and it speaks about justice but in real life it is very different. You have to achieve it for yourself.” She decided to emigrate to the United States because there were no jobs in her country, and because of this she feels expelled. She adds that the Mexican government not only does not help, but also hurts its people. “I would have been happier in my community,” she says.

She feels she has been strict with her three children but was afraid they would get involved in drugs or sex. However, she does not hide her satisfaction of seeing that her fears were unfounded and that between them there is communication. “I like to participate with my daughter in this movement. In the Coalition we can speak our opinion and they respect us.”

Margarita worries especially about the condition of Latina women, which she considers a product of her machista, or male-dominated culture. She says women who suffer domestic violence feel they cannot escape, but if they are helped they do change. “Then they will see that there is a different world and they can overcome it.”

Even she has proven herself. Today, Margarita works in a firm that installs rain gutters, mainly on new houses, and believes that she is in her own way advancing the cause of immigrant women. “I am the only woman. I feel good, and I believe I can open doors for other women.”

She moves quickly, climbs stairs, takes measurements, cuts the material and installs it. Always with a smile on her lips, she only interrupts her work for a few minutes to speak with her family on the telephone. “For a while I was chosen to supervise a group of 25 workers, but because they were men they resisted my instructions,” she says. She laughs, tosses her head back and adds, “They pretended not to hear me and even made jokes about the boss.”

But she managed. ”I do not feel discriminated against. They know what I can do,” she says. “I have a strong character. I do not like injustices. If I see my neighbor’s husband hitting her, I get involved.”

Although she loves her job, organizing has gotting Margarita to thing about bigger plans. “I would like to form a women’s coalition, so our voice can be heard.” She believes women are more convincing and visualizes a march of women, with their children. “We are going forward,” she says.

It is not surprising, because for Margarita, learning about human and labor rights is like learning to handle tools: Both things, she says, have a constructive purpose.

Tom Hayden: Mexico’s Presidential Front-Runner May Roil U.S. Conservatives
= Posted on Jun 26, 2006
AP / Guillermo Arias

Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a rally, Friday, June 2, in Zamora, 380 kilometers from Mexico City. Elections will take place on July 2.

By Tom Hayden

Editor’s note: In this column, veteran social activist Tom Hayden reports on Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Mexico City mayor who is waging a progressive populist campaign for his country’s presidency, and whose plans are sure to incense U.S. conservatives in border states: redrafting the free-trade aspects of NAFTA that force Mexicans to emigrate northward; turning every Mexican consulate in the U.S. into a legal aid center to defend immigrant rights; and vocal opposition to the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though the progressive media and bloggers are paying scant attention, a progressive populist is the front-runner in Mexico’s July 2 election, a man who would demand a revision of NAFTA, add a powerful workers’ voice to the roiling U.S. debate on immigration, and foster the new nationalism spreading in Latin America.

The candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, currently leads by 3 to 4% in official polling, while his internal surveys indicate a margin as high as 10%. Obrador represents the historical party of the left, the PRD. His closest rival is Felipe Calderon of the neo-liberal PAN. The traditional governing party, the PRI, continues to trail badly while retaining significant power at state and local levels.

The United States is not happy over the latest challenge to its faded hegemony over Latin America but is keeping a discreet profile. The only well-known American consultant involved with the candidates is ex-Clinton advisor Dick Morris, who assists the conservative Calderon.

Lopez Obrador benefits immensely from popular approval of his tenure as mayor of Mexico City, where he fought successfully for the elderly and ran a more efficient administration than most of his predecessors. As a candidate he promises to stop privatization of oil and gas industries and to offer free medical care and food subsidies for citizens over 65. He has tapped a passionate popular solidarity with his modest lifestyle and outspoken preference for Mexico’s poor, who are more than half the country’s population. Speaking under the blazing sun rather than the shaded canopies usually reserved for the powerful, he is often paralyzed by the frenzied joy of the crowds he draws.

Mexicans close to the campaign said in interviews that Lopez Obrador would insist on basic revisions to NAFTA, the trade pact that has only widened inequality in Mexico since 1994. As the Los Angeles Times noted in 2002, “few would argue that NAFTA has been anything but devastating for Mexican farm families.” In 2003, farmers stormed the doors of the Mexican legislature on horseback and threatened to seize customs checkpoints at the U.S.-Mexico border (L.A. Times, Jan. 1, 2003). With the situation worsening, Lopez Obrador would preserve subsidies for Mexican farmers that were set to expire under the NAFTA agreement.

He would make a priority of labor standards for immigrant workers, turning every Mexican consulate in the U.S. into a procuraduria, a kind of legal aid center. He also opposes the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border as an inhumane affront.

There would be major consequences for the American immigration debate with a new Mexican government that forcefully defended workers’ rights and blamed NAFTA and U.S. multinationals for the conditions forcing Mexican workers to emigrate northward. Pro-immigrant and anti-corporate forces in Mexico would be fortified. A majority in the U.S. Congress might consider seriously reforming NAFTA for the first time. Right-wing conservatives would become more frenzied about the radical “threat” on the border.

“Neo-liberalism is a failure for us,” said one of the Mexico City sources. “It is destroying our strategic national industries and resources: energy, phones, even privatizing health and education, the whole reform model achieved by the Lazaro Cardenas government since the 1930s.”

Lopez Obrador has survived the intense fear-and-loathing campaign generated by the Mexican businesses and right-wingers who charge that he would become Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro rolled into one populist nightmare. Fear is their brand, because their alternative is the widely unpopular gospel of free trade and free markets.

At the same time, Lopez Obrador has largely weathered the critique of subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas, who are carrying out their la otra campana [the Other Campaign], a speaking and organizing tour that rejects all political parties and seeks to unify Mexico’s social resistance movements. When pressed, Marcos will deny that the Zapatistas are urging a “no” vote on Lopez Obrador, saying they only are stressing that the presidential election will bring no fundamental change to the people of Mexico. The intensive and massive support for Lopez Obrador represents a “popular will” that the Zapatistas cannot ignore, according to a continuing Zapatista supporter I interviewed who also is working hard for Lopez Obrador. Similarly, the attachment of the independent media to the Zapatistas may have caused a lack of attention to the popular movement to elect Lopez Obrador.

Complicating the scene is the Zapatistas’ designation of election day, July 2, as a “national day of direct action,” a defiance of federal election laws. That could give the right a pretext to bring out police and troops to crush anyone blocking roads.

“The country is a powder keg that could ignite on election day,” warn activists who accompanied the recent Zapatista campaign and witnessed the police repression in May of flower vendors in San Salvador Atenco, where a land resistance movement had succeeded in becoming virtually autonomous from the state. The Zapatistas forged an alliance with the community and, for the present, Marcos and his associates have camped out in Mexico’s urban jungles instead of their traditional bases in the mountains of Chiapas.

Another flash point is Oaxaca, where teachers have camped in a tent city during a yearlong campaign for pay increases. The armed forces recently tried to dislodge the protestors, using gas from helicopters, and the resistance broadened to 70,000 in the colonial town square. Talks through a federal mediator have broken down and the standoff continues. Lopez Obrador supports the teachers.

Apocalyptic scenarios are never to be ruled out in Mexico. If Lopez Obrador wins by a close margin and sectors of the elite and armed forces refuse to accept defeat, much of Mexico might become like Oaxaca and San Salvador Atenco, with people pouring into the streets in a prolonged confrontation.

An even darker projection, commonly if privately expressed by many Mexicans, is that Lopez Obrador will be assassinated if he comes close to the ring of power. Luis Donaldo Colosio, a presidential candidate in 1994, was assassinated in broad daylight. That election ushered in the NAFTA era and the simultaneous Zapatista uprising.

If the supporters of Lopez Obrador sense that the election is stolen from them, they will not go quietly like Al Gore’s Democratic Party in 2000. It is accepted across Mexico that the 1988 presidential election was crudely stolen from the then-PRD candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, son of Lazaro Cardenas. At that time, the lack of popular organization and fears of a massacre led the PRD candidate to accept the fraudulent outcome. “Not this time,” I was told. “The people won’t let this election be stolen.” The street demand to defend the vote could bridge the differences, at least temporarily, with the Zapatistas.

Indeed, a fusion of popular mobilization and electoral politics has saved Lopez Obrador before. In 1998, his campaigners blocked roads and oil fields after he lost a gubernatorial race in Tabasco described as “fraud-ridden” by the New York Times (March 16, 2005). Only last year, the major parties tried to force him off the ballot by indicting him on a spurious corruption charge involving the construction of a road to a private hospital. Presidential candidates are disqualified if they are indicted. So Lopez Obrador’s destiny was in doubt until hundreds of thousands of people rallied in the streets. Lopez Obrador announced he would go to jail rather than submit, leaving his enemies to ponder the prospect of 1 million Mexicans marching on his prison site. The charges went away.

This fusion of direct action and constitutional politics makes this a unique campaign in a country long ruled from the top down by chicanery and fraud. It appears that mass mobilization is necessary to make electoral politics work at all, and to defend the vote even when politics succeed.

Close supporters of Lopez Obrador dismiss these extreme scenarios, not wanting to increase tensions any further. They insist that their candidate will win decisively by peaceful means. They also are quick to reject any allegations that they are closet chavistas or fidelistas. Having an electoral strategy by itself separates them from the Zapatistas. While naturally part of the progressive trend now sweeping Latin America, they insist on a unique Mexican identity in the tradition of Morelos, Juarez, Zapata, Madero and, perhaps most of all, Cardenas. That tradition alone always has constituted a challenge to the United States.

In the new Latin American spectrum, it is indeed difficult to identify Lopez Obrador with any particular pole. That he and his supporters seek proper relations with the superpower on the border, rather than starting an ideological war, is understandable. That they would launch demands to reform NAFTA will make sense to many, and remove the underpinning of support that the Vicente Fox regime has provided. The call for a kind of “new New Deal” to increase jobs and lessen the causes of migration will stand as an alternative model to neo-liberalism in crisis. Poverty and history both will compel Lopez Obrador to a greater independence from the U.S. than the Mexican state has shown for decades.
Tom Hayden is the editor of “The Zapatista Reader” (2001) and many articles on Latin America. His most recent book is “Radical Nomad,” a biography of C. Wright Mills (Paradigm). He is a member of The Nation’s editorial board.

McCain blasts fellow Republican: Monday, June 26, 2006
by Mike Sunnucks / The Business Journal of Phoenix

Arizona Sen. John McCain has come out against the Republican gubernatorial candidacy of Don Goldwater.

Goldwater -- nephew of late, former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater -- favors a hard-line approach to illegal immigration and border security. That includes construction of a border wall and putting some illegal immigrants who are arrested for crimes into work details to help build fences and walls.

McCain issued a statement Friday denouncing Goldwater's call for a border wall and work camps and urged fellow Republicans to take a similar stance.

The senator called Goldwater an "inappropriate messenger" for the GOP on the issue -- a major concern for Arizona's business community.

McCain -- who is eyeing a 2008 White House run -- favors a more moderate immigration approach including a business-backed guest worker program and legal path for some illegals already in the U.S. President Bush also backs that approach.

The Goldwater campaign said Friday it was disappointed that McCain did not contact them before issuing the official denouncement.

McCain could endorse conservative attorney Len Munsil in the September Republican primary for governor. Munsil is the former head of the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative advocacy group and the main supporter of a proposed state ballot question banning gay marriage.

The Republican senator supports that state measure, but opposes a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano is heavily favored in this year's governor's race against potential Republican challengers such as Munsil, Goldwater and Scottsdale businessman Mike Harris.

Napolitano favors McCain and Bush's immigration and border security efforts despite their partisan differences.

There are 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and Arizona is a top crossing point for Mexican migrants, drug smugglers and other traffickers.

GOP Candidate's Call for Labor Camp Rebuked: Jun. 23, 2006
Republican candidate's call for forced labor camp for immigrants angers two GOP lawmakers

A Republican gubernatorial candidate's call for creation of a forced labor camp for illegal immigrants drew rebukes Friday from two GOP lawmakers, who labeled it a low point in the immigration debate.

Don Goldwater, nephew of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, caused an international stir this week when EFE, a Mexican news service, quoted him as saying he wanted to hold undocumented immigrants in camps to use them "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."

The article described Goldwater's plan as a "concentration camp" for migrants.

Goldwater, a candidate for governor in Arizona, said in a statement Friday that his comments were taken out of context. He said he was calling for a work program for convicted nonviolent felons, similar to "tried and tested, effective and accepted practices" used by state and local jails.

But two Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jim Kolbe, called Goldwater's comments "deeply offensive" and asked state Republicans to reject his candidacy in the Sept. 12 primary.

"That Mr. Goldwater is either unaware of or indifferent to the loaded symbolism, injustice and un-Americanism of his 'plan' to address the many serious issues caused by illegal immigration reveals his flaws as a candidate and a stunning lack of respect for the basic values of a generous and decent society," McCain said in a statement.

Kolbe said that if the comments are true, Goldwater "has demonstrated his complete unworthiness for public office, and I am confident he will be soundly rejected by Republicans from the party of Barry Goldwater, who consistently demonstrated his compassion and respect for all people. This is a sad day in the national debate on immigration policy."

McCain and Kolbe favor a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants.

Goldwater made a similar comment at an April anti-immigration rally.

"Build us that wall _ now!" Goldwater said, referring to a proposal to add 700 miles of fences along the U.S.-Mexico border. He promised then that if elected, he would put illegal immigrants in a tent city on the border and use their labor to build the wall.

Barry Goldwater, the former Arizona senator, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1964.

Proposal to Implant Tracking Chips in Immigrants: May 31, 2006
By Bill Christensen

Scott Silverman, Chairman of the Board of VeriChip Corporation, has proposed implanting the company's RFID tracking tags in immigrant and guest workers. He made the statement on national television on May 16.

Silverman was being interviewed on "Fox & Friends." Responding to the Bush administration's call to know "who is in our country and why they are here," he proposed using VeriChip RFID implants to register workers at the border, and then verify their identities in the workplace. He added, "We have talked to many people in Washington about using it...."

The VeriChip is a very small Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag about the size of a large grain of rice. It can be injected directly into the body; a special coating on the casing helps the VeriChip bond with living tissue and stay in place. A special RFID reader broadcasts a signal, and the antenna in the VeriChip draws power from the signal and sends its data. The VeriChip is a passive RFID tag; since it does not require a battery, it has a virtually unlimited life span.

RFID tags have long been used to identify animals in a variety of settings; livestock, laboratory animals and pets have been "chipped" for decades. Privacy advocates have long expressed concerns about this technology being used in human beings.

In a related story, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe allegedly remarked that microchips could be used to track seasonal workers to visiting U.S. senators Jeff Sessions (Alabama) and Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania). "President Uribe said he would consider having Colombian workers have microchips implanted in their bodies before they are permitted to enter the US for seasonal work," Specter told Congress on April 25.

Implanting microchips in human beings for the purpose of monitoring is not exactly news for science fiction fans; Alfred Bester wrote about "skull bugs" in his 1974 novel The Computer Connection:

" don't know what's going on in the crazy culture outside. It's a bugged and drugged world. Ninety percent of the bods have bugs implanted in their skulls in hospital when they're born. They're monitored constantly."
(Read more about Alfred Bester's skull bugs)
VeriChips are legal for implantation in people in the U.S.; see VeriChip RFID Tag Patient Implant Badges Now FDA Approved. See also a related story on a Proposed National Worker DNA Fingerprint Database. Read more at RFID implants for guest workers, Latin leader keen on ID chips and Chip implants for migrant workers?.

Note: The source for this story was inadvertently omitted; read the press release at; also, see the Silverman interview transcript. This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.

Tempers flare in heat: Anger mounts at rally; pro-immigration camp shows up to tell its side
= June 25, 2006 By Tim Morgan / BEE Staff Writer

The nation's immigration policy was debated Saturday on the northwest corner of Briggsmore and McHenry avenues — frequently nose to nose and punctuated with four-letter epithets.

Groups from the polar extremes of the immigration issue demonstrated at midday Saturday, undeterred by the 90-degree heat.

A group called Save Our State has held controversial demonstrations against illegal immigration in Southern California in the past year. It held its first rally in Modesto, advertising it as "our fight to save America." The group has just started a chapter in Modesto, according to Debbie Monk, an events coordinator for the group.

Two other groups, Aztlan Rising and Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians Collective, held a counter demonstration after discovering Save Our State's plan.

Starting around 11 a.m., each side mustered about three dozen supporters with signs, flags, banners and a bullhorn.

The groups started on opposite sides of Briggsmore Avenue on the west side of McHenry but soon merged on the northwest corner of the busy intersection. About a dozen Modesto police officers stood by, frequently stepping in to separate the protesters when the rhetoric got heated.

"A lot of our taxes go to welfare payments for illegals," Monk said.

"Illegals work under the table for cash and pay no taxes. Many of them have 'anchor babies' so they can stay. It's got to stop."

An anchor baby, she explained, is a child born in the United States to illegal immigrants. Children born in the United States have citizenship, creating a path for the parents to stay, Monk said.

Felt need to give other side

Signs carried by the Save Our State side read, "It's not illegal immigration — it's an invasion," "No Amnesty for Illegals" and "Deport Illegals."

Doug Anderson of Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians Collective said his group decided to counter-demonstrate because the Save Our State position is illogical.

"They are attacking other working-class people," he said. "All workers need to be in solidarity against the forces affecting our lives. We would all be in a better place no matter what side of the border we are on."

Ricardo Gil Jr. of Aztlan Rising said his group promotes indigenous identity. "They wrongfully call us Hispanics and Latinos," he said. "They forget where we came from. We have the right to live anywhere on the continent. We have lived here 50,000 years."

The signs on the counterdemonstration side read, "Columbus was an illegal alien," "Where's your green card, pilgrim?" and "You are on Indian land."

Some of the demonstrators weren't affiliated with any of the groups.

Terry Stewart of Modesto said he came to demonstrate after reading about the issue on a forum. Stewart said he was protesting the cost of illegal immigration: "The taxes we pay to ensure that illegal immigrants get a fair education."

Illegal immigrants get in-state tuition rates at state schools, but students from other states pay a higher rate, he said. "That's not fair."

Community activist John Mataka of Grayson said he came when he heard the Save Our State group was coming.

"We are against that kind of racism and immigrant bashing," he said. "This will be a majority Mexican community soon, and we want to let them know we aren't going to let them come here and talk smack against our Mexican and brown brothers."

Some seemed to have come for the confrontation. James Glenn of Fremont, wearing an American flag T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, instigated several shouting matches.

"You're illegal. Your mama's illegal; your daddy is illegal. Go home!" Glenn yelled at the counter-demonstrators. "You're a queer; your mama's a queer; your daddy's a queer. We all know where you live. Send them home."

He was answered with chants of "Europeans, go home."

Glenn later described himself as "just a worried American."

Police officers stood by and intervened when the verbal assaults appeared to be veering toward the physical. "We aren't going to let anything happen," Modesto police Sgt. Clint Raymer said. "It will stay peaceful."

Many cars passing by honked in solidarity with one side or the other, some waving American or Mexican flags. By 2:30 p.m., the demonstrators had left, neither side convinced by the other, and the corner returned to its usual traffic din.
Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at 578-2349

June 25, 2006
Bush's Immigration Plan Stalled as House G.O.P. Grew More Anxious

This article is by Adam Nagourney, Carl Hulse and Jim Rutenberg.

WASHINGTON, June 24 — For the White House, the Congressional picnic last week seemed like the perfect setting to mend strained relations with Republican allies on Capitol Hill: President Bush and his advisers eating taquitos and Mexican confetti rice on the lawn of the White House with Republican Congressional leaders.

But moments before Mr. Bush was to welcome his guests, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert told the president that House Republicans were effectively sidelining — and in the view of some Congressional aides probably killing — what had become Mr. Bush's signature domestic initiative of the year: an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

That disappointing news for Mr. Bush signaled the apparent collapse of a carefully orchestrated White House strategy to push a compromise immigration bill through Congress this summer — and in the process invigorate Mr. Bush's second term with a badly needed domestic victory.

The decision by the House leadership to defy the president after he had put so much prestige on the line — including a rare prime-time Oval Office speech for a domestic initiative — amounted to a clear rebuke of the president on an issue that he has long held dear.

An account of the administration's push for the initiative, based on interviews with members of Congress and senior White House and Congressional officials, shows that Mr. Bush's immigration measure was derailed by an overly optimistic assessment by the White House of the prospects for building a bipartisan coalition in support of the bill. It was also hurt by a fundamental misreading of the depth of hostility to the measure among House Republicans.

It was undone as well, White House and Congressional leaders acknowledged, by a sharp division over whether to focus on the short term or on the party's long-term political prospects. Mr. Bush's aides saw the House bill, which would make it a felony to live in this country illegally and would close off any chance to win legal status, as a threat to their attempts to broaden the party's appeal to Hispanic voters.

House Republican leaders saw Mr. Bush's approach — calling for tougher enforcement as well as avenues to legalize the illegal workforce and create a possible path to citizenship — as a threat to House Republicans already fearful of losing control of this fall's elections by angering voters who viewed the plan as amnesty.

Mr. Bush's first attempt to advocate for the measure was described even by allies as initially muddled and tentative, permitting opponents to build a case against it before he made his Oval Office address. Republicans' apprehensions were cemented in June, when, in a special election for a vacant Congressional seat in California, Brian P. Bilbray, who ran on a pledge to build a fence along the border with Mexico, was elected after running against the president's position on immigration.

Coming in the same week that the White House showed effectiveness in rallying Republicans behind the war in Iraq, the setback raised questions about Mr. Bush's chances to achieve major domestic victories from a solidly Republican Congress. Unless a compromise is reached, it will mark the second time in two years, after Social Security in 2005, that Mr. Bush has failed to steer his major domestic initiative through the friendly terrain of a Republican Congress.

"This immigration legislation is very important, and if he doesn't get something in his administration, it will hurt his legacy domestically," said James A. Thurber, a presidential scholar at American University.

White House officials said they could point to several areas of progress in Congress — on extending tax cuts, pushing a line-item veto and overhauling the pension system. They said that they were under no illusions about the difficulties facing the immigration plan, but that it would never have gotten this far without the president, who will keep pushing for it. Aides say it is still possible to reach a compromise after the November elections, if not before. "We believe by being patient and sticking with it, in time people are going to be pretty happy with what the president proposes," said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman.

But several analysts were skeptical, noting that in just the past week a Republican candidate for governor in Arizona called for building prison camps for illegal immigrants. And the first campaign advertisement for Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who many believe is the most endangered Republican in the Senate, featured him talking about stringent border measures.

From the start of the year, after House Republicans passed a tough immigration measure that Mr. Bush's political advisers worried would undercut their effort to appeal to Hispanic voters, the White House tentatively pushed a more moderate, "comprehensive" bill that was gathering support in the Senate.

But Mr. Bush was criticized by both sides as not taking a public stand on specifics and permitting conservative members of the House to define the debate. Aides said the president was trying to stay above the discussion to remain flexible enough to broker a compromise.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said that in one strategy session Mr. Bush told the senator he could not be identified as publicly supporting the Senate bill, which sought to tighten border control but also give illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens after paying fines. "Don't quote me, Arlen," Mr. Specter recalled the president saying, implying that Mr. Bush had spoken approvingly of the bill.

In April, Mr. Bush brought Joshua B. Bolten on as the new chief of staff, shaking up a White House that had been criticized as adrift. With a new team in charge, Mr. Bush took a more forceful stand, using the issue as a way to reassert his leadership. In a speech televised in prime time, he supported the enforcement measures advocated by conservatives and called for sending National Guard troops to the border, but he also said that some illegal immigrants should be allowed legal status.

White House officials now credit Mr. Bush's address with providing impetus for passage of a compromise bill by the Senate that had earlier faltered, opening the door for a final compromise with the House, in a process that now hangs in the balance. Some officials privately had said failure to produce compromise before Congress's summer break would seriously hinder their effort.

But House Republicans said they never stopped pressing the case to the White House that the bill was a political disaster for endangered incumbents, and they were baffled at what they said was the failure of Mr. Bush's aides to appreciate their conviction.

One lawmaker said House Republicans who had attended two closed-door briefings on the issue by the White House deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and others, kept waiting for the administration to reverse their concerns that passing the bill would hurt Republicans; in the lawmakers' view, the administration never made a convincing case.

White House aides said Republicans had overestimated the bill's political liabilities and underestimated the long-term damage it could do to the party if Republicans were identified among Hispanics as anti-immigrant. "This is a bad trajectory for the Republican Party right now," said a senior Republican official who was granted anonymity to discuss the unusual friction in the Republican ranks.

Positions hardened when lawmakers went home for recess at the end of May and were confronted by constituents agitated over the issue. They returned to Washington to the news that Mr. Bilbray had narrowly won the seat vacated by Randy Cunningham, a Republican now jailed after a corruption scandal.

When House Republicans met for a conference that Wednesday, conservative members seized on the Bilbray victory as vindication of their argument that embracing the Senate and White House position would be poison in the fall elections, according to one participant in the meeting who was granted anonymity because the meetings were private.

Mr. Hastert and the House majority leader, John A. Boehner, told Mr. Bush in the Oval Office that the already long odds for passage of an immigration bill before the summer break had faded even more. But, aides said, the president, who has been concerned about the issue since his days as governor of Texas, where immigration is an important political and cultural issue, responded that he would not let up.

Over the next few days, Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, the head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, went to Mr. Boehner and Mr. Hastert and, using polling data and pointing to what he described as politically implausible sections of the bill, warned of the consequences of enactment of the Senate legislation.

"Reynolds made clear to the leaders that the House had already staked out its position, and from a political standpoint it would be irresponsible to accept a bill that was much different," said Carl Forti, his communications director. He said Mr. Reynolds had told House leaders that supporting the bill would be "suicide for some of our members."

The White House and its supporters pointed to a poll that found strong support among Republican voters for a bill that allowed illegal immigrants to "earn" legal status. And senior White House aides argued that fellow party members were over-interpreting the meaning of Mr. Bilbray's victory in a traditionally solid Republican area. "We're happy he won," Mr. Snow said Friday. "But he barely got 50 percent."

When Mr. Hastert announced that he was postponing action on the bill until after a series of hearings around the country, the White House described the delay as temporary.

But in the Senate, the reaction to the House move was quite different.

"Thank God for the House," said a senior Senate Republican strategist, who was granted anonymity in order to discuss the party's concerns about the debate.


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