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#81 vladzo


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Posted 20 August 2014 - 11:19 PM

‘A cemetery for our people’
A Guatemalan diplomat struggles to save her countrymen in south Texas and nearly loses herself. Part three of Beyond the Border, a four-part series from The Texas Observer and the Guardian.
By Melissa del Bosque, The Texas Observer, and the Guardian US interactive team

It was the phone calls to Guatemala that Alba Caceres dreaded most. For a moment, when the family saw the number was from the United States, they would be certain it was their loved one calling to say everything was fine, and their spirits would be lifted. Then they would hear the news.

"Some mothers in the moment become faint, they scream, they cry," Caceres says. "Others simply say, 'okay, thank you.' Someone else has to take the phone because the mother can't talk anymore. She's in shock. And then there are others that say, 'Tell me. You tell me and I will deal with it, but tell me the truth' – because we mothers are like that. We have to know."

Every call was painful, but they had to be made. As the Guatemalan consul closest to Brooks County, it was Caceres' duty to make sure the bodies of the undocumented migrants who died trying to cross through south Texas made it home to their families.

Alba Caceres attends church in McAllen. In 2011, after many of her countrymen began to go missing in the area, she was tasked with opening the first Guatemalan Consulate in south Texas.

"I remember one woman, a mother searching for her son," Caceres says. "She would call my cell phone morning, noon and night." Smugglers had left the woman's teenage son behind on a ranch somewhere near Falfurrias. The woman was convinced that he was still alive. Caceres, with three children of her own, could imagine her agony.

The woman gave Caceres a street name and a location on the outskirts of Falfurrias. Caceres called the Border Patrol, but they were unable to locate him. Frustrated, she decided to look for him herself – a decision that violated consular protocol. She drove to Falfurrias, to the place where the smugglers told the woman they'd left her son. "The directions the woman had given me did not match and I couldn't find him," Caceres says. "You start to think, how many lies will a smuggler tell someone just so they can calm her down?" A rancher found the boy's skeletal remains two months later, she says.

At least she could take some comfort in telling the woman the truth, in giving her closure and a body to bury at home. The worst were the missing people who had disappeared without a trace. Maybe they were on a ranch in south Texas' Brooks County, yet to be found, or buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Falfurrias and yet to be identified. She had no information to give these families, and that was the saddest feeling. There was no mourning period, no closure, and the lack of certainty could unravel a family. Their grieving was like a wound that never healed.


On a sweltering June day in 2013, Caceres watched as a group of college students lifted white body bags one by one from graves at Sacred Heart Cemetery. She felt lightheaded from the heat and the smell of damp earth, but she couldn't leave. Some of the bones being unearthed belonged to her countrymen. Over the last two decades they had died in Brooks County, felled by thirst and heat, bad health or bad luck, as they hiked through rugged ranchland to circumvent the immigration checkpoint south of Falfurrias.

She imagined they'd been filled with hope that in the United States they would find work and reunite with loved ones. Instead they had been buried here among the hundreds of graves under markers that read "unknown." The least she could do was bear witness to the tragedy that had befallen them so far from home. As a Guatemalan, and a representative of her country, she felt she owed them that much.

How do you tell a mother that these bones you are sending her are her son?” Caceres asks.

Not even county officials knew exactly how many bodies of nameless migrants had been buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery over the decades. No one had paid much attention.

At first, the unidentified bodies were buried in cheap particleboard coffins, but as the number of deaths climbed, bodies were buried in shopping bags, even trash bags. Local funeral homes placed the migrants' clothing, jewelry and other personal items in plastic Ziploc bags alongside their bodies. Until recently, the county kept no record of the items, or of anything else that might be used to identify the bodies later. They were simply buried and forgotten.

Under Texas law, counties are required to conduct DNA testing and autopsies on unidentified remains, but Brooks County, one of the poorest counties in the nation, can't afford the tests. So until 2013, when a professor from Baylor University and her students volunteered to exhume the bodies and do the DNA testing for free, no official effort was being made by authorities to find out who these migrants were, or to get them back to their families.

Caceres had come to watch the first phase of the exhumations, which would take three summers or more to complete. Many of the Guatemalan migrants who died in Brooks County came from impoverished, isolated mountain communities; many of their relatives didn't speak Spanish, but one of the more than 20 indigenous languages in Guatemala. Caceres, the daughter of a community leader in a small town in one of Guatemala's coffee-growing regions, knew how the news of a death would ripple through such small communities, touching everyone.

"We hold a vigil when a person dies," she says. "It is our custom to have an open coffin, to see the body. I've met so many mothers who've said, 'I sent my son in one piece, and I told him not to go.' How do you tell a mother that these bones you are sending her are her son?"

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#82 vladzo


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Posted 20 August 2014 - 11:21 PM

Posted 12 July 2014 - 12:39 PM

Obama makes another humanitarian catastrophe


this time in USA




Obama has become an expert in creating humanitarian disasters. He has already had this experience in Syria and Ukraine, and now it is time for the State of Texas. The U.S. president, bypassing the Congress, amnestied ten million illegal immigrants, which contributed to the uncontrolled growth of the flow of migrants and sharply aggravated the situation in southern states. For this act, Obama may face impeachment.

The scandal broke out on Tuesday. Texas Governor Rick Perry dared not to meet the president, who came to Texas for an official visit. "I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas," Mr. Perry wrote to Obama earlier this week.

The governor expressed his concerns about the growing number of abandoned children, with whom one has to do something - to teach, to heal, to accommodate them. Two years ago, there were 2,500 homeless children reported, but this year the number is 52,000. Perry asked the president to strengthen border patrols, and have Predator drones and National Guard troops involved to monitor the border. In addition, the governor would like to see changes to the federal law that would allow quicker deportation of minors.

The problem is very serious, Alexander Petrov, a historian, Americanist, leading researcher at the Institute of World History believes. Together with immigrants, there is an illegal flow of drugs, weapons and prohibited stimulant drugs in the United States. Child immigration is a complex of problems associated with prostitution and child labor.

"Children's rights are violated, children live in appalling conditions. This is an additional hotbed of crime," said the expert. According to Alexander Petrov, the situation worsened due to the deteriorating economic performance in Mexico and other Central American countries. "We can now see quite a serious influx of immigration in states such as Florida, California, Texas, New Mexico. Texas is a donor state. It is no coincidence that many Texas residents voted for the Republican Party, and some of them even filed a petition for separation Texas from the federation."

Let's go back to Obama. In response to Perry's rant, Obama said on Wednesday said he would not go to the problematic territories to "see the humanitarian crisis," as does not think there is any. Such a trip would turn in a photo session, in which Obama is not interested. Instead, the president preferred to have a beer and play pool, the local press wrote. "This is not theater," he said, adding, "I'm interested in solving the problem."

Obama believes that the election race has started, as he called the Republican Congress to quickly approve the allocation of $3.7 billion for the additional funding of the State of Texas.

The scandal in Texas continued. Republican Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2008, stated that it was time to impeach Obama. "It's time to impeach, and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment," she wrote on Breitbart.Com. The crisis at the border is the last straw, she added. According to Palin, without borders there is no nation, and Obama knows it. "Opening borders to illegal immigrants was intentional. This is fundamental transformation America," she wrote.

Noteworthy, Palin is not the only one, who wants the impeachment of Obama. Many senators and members of the House of Representatives have expressed such an idea before too.

Many Americans also support the idea of ​​impeachment. According to surveys, about 60 percent of the population believe that the country is going in the wrong direction, and the U.S. political elite remains almost indifferent to their opinion. What are real chances for Obama's impeachment? Two-thirds of the U.S. Senate will have to vote for the removal of the President from office. There are very little chances that this will happen, Aaron Blake wrote for The Washington Post. If impeachment becomes a normal way of expressing dissatisfaction with the president, then every American president risks falling under the procedure. If this becomes a norm in Washington, the U.S. government will be even more inefficient than it is now, the journalist wrote.

Will the border be closed? "Closing the border is currently impossible, as it will come into conflict with the policy of imperial messianism, which the United States pursues in the world," Alexander Petrov told Pravda. Ru. "There will be additional leverage involved in terms of bureaucracy. There will be difficulties created in obtaining visas. It stipulates serious intellectual training to screen out the people who either don't speak English or don't represent the value associated with immigration," said the expert.

The conclusion is the following: the leader of the United States is preoccupied with totally unnecessary questions of foreign policy, fueling wars away from the United States, and he does not follow the situation inside his country. Moreover, he does not even try to pretend that he is interested in it. In March, Texas announced an intention to secede from the United States, gaining supporters in the face of 29 states. In Texas, there is a belief that the territory of the republic was illegally annexed by Washington in 1845 and currently remains occupied. The movement of the Republic of Texas formed their own government, the judiciary system and law enforcement agencies. In addition, they periodically file large lawsuits against the U.S. government for "undermining the welfare of Texas."

Lyuba Lulko

Edited by vladzo, 12 July 2014 - 12:40 PM.

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#83 vladzo


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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:41 PM

Defining a Federalist Approach to Immigration Reform: The Left Stands on Firmer Legal Ground Saturday, 23 August 2014 09:50 By Simon Davis-Cohen, Truthout



2014_823_farm.jpgFarm workers tending to the fields in a Central Valley near Stratford, Calif., March 15, 2014. Few groups are more eager for immigration reform than the agricultural interests that rely on migrant laborers, and now with much of the existing work-force aging past 50, farm managers see reform as a moral as well as an economic imperative. (Photo: Matt Black / The New York Times)

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La Gloria corner store is packed with nearly 200 Mexican men, passports and checks in hand. They are temporary workers - blueberry pickers - on contract from Mexico, and today is payday. They're here to wire money home, because, I am told, the local Wells Fargo won't serve them.

That was last summer, in Whatcom County, Washington, the most northwestern county in the nation. La Gloria owner PetraApreza told me she'd never seen anything like it, at least not in Whatcom; the region's berry farm owners have long relied on domestic migrant workers for labor - not guest workers bused in from Mexico.

And just south of Whatcom is the fertile Skagit County, where agricultural (H-2A) guest workers also arrived last year. However, the guests' arrival in Skagit came after more than 300 domestic berry pickers struck at Sakuma Farms Inc., the region's largest producer. Their grievances included wage theft, ethnic and racial harassment, the presence of private security guards, being forced to work while sick and poor living conditions. Thanks to the strikes, the workers won agreements with Sakuma that protected the workers from retaliation, gave them a say in how wages are calculated and abolished the use of security guards on the farm. But the fight did not end there.

Sakuma's next move - to declared a labor shortage and bring in H-2A guest workers - revealed an effort to "shift the whole face of the workforce in Whatcom and Skagit County," said Rosalinda Guillen, executive director of Community to Community, which works closely with the workerst.

The systemic abuse within the H-2A program, and its undermining of US labor has been well documented. 


Recently, the "unskilled" H-2A guest worker program - the progeny of the highly controversial bracero guest worker program (1942-64) - has ballooned from 16,011 workers nationally (1997) to 31,538 (2002) to 65,345 (2012), (not counting some Caribbean nationals); and 1,984 (2009) to 6,251 (2013) in Washington State. Dan Fazio, director of the Washington Farm Labor Association (WAFLA) attributes the expansion to the crackdown on undocumented work seen since 2001. The militarized boarder and programs like E-Verify have made it harder to employ undocumented workers, increasing demand for guests. WAFLA is a guest worker middleman - in 2013 they were responsible for 46 of the 56 standard H-2A applications in the state.

Compared to working while undocumented, says Fazio,t he H-2A program gives workers "higher wages, better benefits, and best of all, the dignity of legal presence." And some farm workers agree. Emiliano Garcia, 65, who in his youth jumped the border annually to work in the fields of Texas and California, tells me that contracted work, during his time, was preferable to taking the risks that came with illegal border crossings and working while undocumented. But that's not saying much.

The recent expansion of the guest worker program, Fazio tells Truthout, is taking place "in spite of, not because of, the government." In Washington, some of this expansion has come from farm-owner-to-farm-owner cooperation. Through WAFLA, growers can provide workers with consecutive contracts, (workers can stay in the country for as long as three years, but no longer than 10 months at any one farm).

And the federal government's refusal to pass immigration reform and the accompanying expansions for guest worker programs - requested by large-scale employers - has only encouraged these non-federal tactics.

The conservative powerhouse that is the Cato Institute, highlighted the concept of state-based visas and state-based guest worker programs in a recent executive summary titled "State-Based Visas: A Federalist Approach to Reforming U.S. Immigration Policy." The summary argues, "A federalist approach to immigration is preferable to one entirely dominated by the federal government." As Cato points out: State-based visas have been proposed in California and elsewhere, and Utah passed a state-based guest worker program in 2011 - though it still awaits a federal waiver. And there are precedents: Canada and Australia sport provincial and regional visa programs.

These state-based approaches require federal approval. However, those wanting to expand guest worker programs are getting impatient, as are a broader swath of immigration reformers.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures,184 state-level immigration-related laws were passed in 2013, up from 156 in 2012. And all but five states passed an immigration-related law or resolution in 2013.

Attempts at a state-based approach to immigration can take on ghastly forms: Consider Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, which tried to criminalize undocumented life. In the hands of the guest worker industry and xenophobes frustrated with the federal government's "stasis" on immigration, "federalism" could be a sharp and very damaging weapon.

However, with the support of century-old law - the Civil Rights Act of 1870 - a growing push from the left is also taking to the states and local governments.

State and local governments are increasingly granting in-state tuition for noncitizens; authorizing drivers licenses and municipal IDs for the undocumented; offering free legal counsel to immigrant detainees; allowing noncitizens to practice law and to vote; and opting out of discriminatory federal initiatives that target noncitizens, like ICE's "Secure Communities." Says Emily Tucker, attorney for the Center for Popular Democracy, a group proposing the concept of state-based citizenship in New York, which would empower the state to loosen, but never to tighten, federal citizenship requirements [note: thanks to the 14th Amendment, states have NO power to restrict citizenship, but Tucker et al. argue that states might have the power to expand on federal citizenship, raising the floor (this specific argument has not been tested in the courts, and it might merely be a symbolic gesture as it has already been found, legally, that noncitizens can be afforded  benefits of citizenship, like the vote, so making them state-based citizens might not actually have much impact): "Localities are realizing that they actually do have a lot of power to change what the day-to-day experience is of an immigrant."

So what is - legally - the difference between sub-federal laws that increase protections for noncitizens and those that discriminate?

It depends on whether federal law is defined as a floor that states and local governments canraise, or if it is a ceiling that cannot be moved. And if federal law is a floor, the question then centers on the difference between lowering and raising the floor. As federal law does provide protections against discrimination, furthering the intent of that law - i.e. imposing greater protections - would be considered a raise of the floor, while passing discriminatory state/local laws contrary to that intent - i.e. a lowering the floor.

This debate was brought to the fore in the Supreme Court's Arizona v. United States (2012) ruling, which struck down portions of Arizona's infamous law. The sections struck down were those that made it a crime for the undocumented to work, made it a crime to be undocumented and not registered as such, and permitted police to arrest persons they had probable cause to think committed a "public offence" that would justify deportation, without a warrant. The court did not strike down the section that requires police to ask for immigration papers from people stopped for unrelated reasons. But rather than articulate how Arizona had lowered the federal floor of discrimination protections, the court remained silent on the floor issue and discrimination. Instead, the court rested its decision and authority on SB 1070's potential impact on foreign relations (a federal matter) and the Constitution's Supremacy Clause.

Writes Lucas Guttentag, founder and former director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project: "The court read federal law as erecting a de facto federal ceiling on immigration enforcement that state laws cannot exceed."

As Guttentag argues in his paper "The Forgotten Equality Norm in Immigration Preemption: Discrimination, Harassment, and the Civil Rights Act of 1870," the Arizona decision overlooked the key Civil Rights Act of 1870, which defines federal immigration law as a floor - that local and state governments can build on. The 1870 Act expanded equal protection for all citizens (freed slaves) to all persons (noncitizens) - in direct response to state-based discrimination against Chinese and other immigrants at the time.

The 1870 Act provides a foundation for the immigration floor/ceiling debate.

Thanks to the Act of 1870, part of that "intent" includes protections against discrimination.

And beyond this contribution to the definition of federal "intent," writes Guttentag, the 1870 Act "helps to distinguish between two types of contemporary subfederal immigration measures;" those that degrade federal protections for noncitizens, and those that complement or bolster them.

A federalist approach to immigration provides space for sub-federal governments to participate. But that space is conditional - floors cannot be lowered, only raised. The 1870 Act helps define that role for sub-federal immigration policies by adding "a grounds for preempting laws that cause discrimination and for validating measures that promote integration and protection," writes Guttentag (my emphasis).

But in Skagit and Whatcom, the debate is less abstract. Beating back the expansion of guest worker programs is at the fore. This year, workers won round two, defeating Sakuma's 2014 H-2A application by proving - through written testimony - their willingness to work.

According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, other than the 438 guest workers requested by Sakuma, two other H-2A applications totaling 26 workers were also submitted in Skagit in 2014. None were requested in Whatcom.

Washington berry pickers are not alone in challenging the exploitation of farm labor. The Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers is famous for the change they've driven into corporate buying standards - to improve the lot of both domestic and guest workers. There, after years of community-based organizing, workers shifted their focus from growers to the corporate buyers that CIW attorney Steve Hitov tells Truthout, "set the terms of the market." This is in line with what guest worker labor organizer Saket Soni said during a June 2014 lecture at Stony Brook University: "We need to bargain with the people who are really controlling the economy, not just the people who are signing checks." And despite the odds in North Carolina, thousands of guest workers have been unionized.

Says Guillen,"In the agricultural industry and in the food system, I believe, organizing strategies should be based regionally." Corporate buyers don't control the Whatcom and Skagit berry market as they do Florida's tomato industry. Håagen-Dazs, which has been pressured to drop Sakuma's account, accounts for a fraction of Sakuma's sales only. For now, in Skagit and Whatcom, "the pressure is on the [check-signing] employer . . . because that's where the authority is," Guillen told Truthout.

The workers and their local allies are demanding a union contract. But it's not coming easily, as many members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, Guillen tells me, have not been hired. The fight continues.

And whether the feds act or not, immigrant and worker-friendly locals like Familias Unidas will remain in the crosshairs of federal and nonfederal forces. And those working locally from the left appear to rest on sturdier legal ground than their counterparts; raising the floor of protections for noncitizens is supported by established legal precedent, while measures like AZ 1070 have been proven unconstitutional and state-based guest worker expansion dependent on federal approval.

Of raising the federal "floor," Tucker says, "I think it's really important for localities and states that have strong immigrant populations to think about the fact that they have the power to impact people's daily lives."

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#84 vladzo


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Posted 26 August 2014 - 12:10 AM

The United States' Continuing Border Crisis:


The Real Story Behind the "Invasion" of the Children Monday, 25 August 2014 11:13 By Aviva Chomsky, TomDispatch |

2014_0825im_.jpgA group of 22 migrants, mostly women and children from Honduras and Guatemala, in custody just after crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas, June 18, 2014. (Photo: Jennifer Whitney / The New York Times)

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Call it irony or call it a nightmare, but the “crisis” of Central American children crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, which lasted for months amid fervent and angry debate, is now fading from the news. The media stories have been legion, the words expended many. And yet, as the “crisis” leaves town, as the sound and fury die down and attention shifts elsewhere (even though the children continue to arrive), the real factors that would have made sense of what’s been happening remain essentially untouched and largely unmentioned. It couldn’t be stranger -- or sadder.

Since late June 2014, the “surge” of those thousands of desperate children entering this country has been in the news. Sensational stories were followed by fervent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations with emotions running high. And it’s not a debate that stayed near the southern border either. In my home state, Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick tearfully offered to detain some of the children -- and that was somehow turned into a humanitarian gesture that liberals applauded and anti-immigrant activists decried. Meanwhile the mayor of Lynn, a city north of Boston, echoed nativists on the border, announcing that her town didn’t want any more immigrants. The months of this sort of emotion, partisanship, and one-upmanship have, however, diverted attention from the real issues. As so often is the case, there is so much more to the story than what we’ve been hearing in the news.

As labor journalist David Bacon has shown, the children-at-the-border story was first brought to the attention of the media by anti-immigrant organizations, beginning with the radical right-wing Breitbart News Network in Texas. Their narrative focused on President Obama’s supposed failure to control the border, his timid gestures aimed at granting temporary legal status to some undocumented youth through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the attempts of Congressional liberals to promote what they called “comprehensive immigration reform,” and of course those children “invading” the U.S.

In fact, there was nothing new about the so-called surge. Rather, the Breitbart Network turned a long-term issue into a “crisis” for political reasons, and the media, politicians, and organizations on both sides of the political spectrum took the bait.

Breitbart’s Texas bureau chief Brandon Darby “ignited a national firestorm,” the network claimed proudly, when he released a set of exclusive photos of overcrowded detention facilities for child detainees. Darby did not explain how he was able to gain access to what he called “internal federal government photos.” He did, however, provide an explanation for what Breitbart called the “invasion”: the children “know they will not be turned away and that they will be provided for.” In other words, it was the fault of Obama, the Democrats, and the liberals. The stage was set for a Republican and populist backlash.

Pro-Obama voices like Deval Patrick and some immigrant rights organizations played right into the sensationalist nativist narrative. “There’s a humanitarian reason to try to find a solution, try to find a way to help,” Patrick stated, insisting that at stake was an issue of “love of country and lessons of faith” -- and that it was explicitly not a political issue.

Massachusetts Republican politicians, like Lynn’s Mayor Judith Kennedy Flanagan, complained instead about the impact on their communities, turning a fiscal problem into an occasion for xenophobia. “It's gotten to the point where the school system is overwhelmed, our health department is overwhelmed, the city's budget is being [un]sustainably altered in order [to] accommodate all of these admissions in the school department,” she stated. State Representative Mark Lombardo concurred: “We just can't afford it. We're not adequately taking care of our own children; our own veterans, our own families who are struggling here in Massachusetts. We gotta put American families first.”

Hundreds of protesters rallied on the Boston Common on July 26th demanding that the country put “Americans before illegals.” It was easy for wealthy liberals, many commentators added, to foist the children on poor communities, but what about the domestic poor, the homeless, the veterans who can’t get access to medical services? Why, under such circumstances, should we direct resources to Central American children? (Such Republican racial identity-based appeals to the white working class date back to the presidency of Richard Nixon.)

Which Central America?

These two seemingly clashing narratives -- the moral, humanitarian imperative to help children in need and the plight of strapped cities and Americans in need -- turn out to neatly complement each other. Both play the game of victimology in the service of party politics. Each asks essentially the same question: Do Republicans or Democrats get more points for defending the neediest victims? Each side claims the humanitarian high ground, while both conveniently avoid looking at the political economy of the problem they lament -- and that they have, over many decades, collaborated in creating.

Unfortunately, many liberals and some immigrant rights organizations have failed to offer their own analysis that reached beyond generalized good will and support for the Democrats. “We stand for justice and we care for all children in need!” the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition declared wholeheartedly, but not very illuminatingly. In addition to “standing up for all kids,” the purpose of its August 7th counter-rally seemed to be simply to support Patrick’s offer to create temporary detention centers in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, by disseminating Breitbart’s dramatic photos and adopting the right’s basic narrative, liberals missed an opportunity to go beyond a sterile debate and take a more meaningful look at the structural issues at stake.

In fact, the so-called “crisis” of these last months is anything but new, while the “debate” over where to temporarily detain the children is beside the point. The number of Central American youths crossing the U.S.-Mexican border has been rising steadily since 2000. Figures for minors apprehended at the border have gone up from a few thousand a year as the twenty-first century began, to 6,000-8,000 annually through 2011, 13,625 in 2012, and 24,668 in 2013. A study released in February 2014 predicted that as many as 60,000 children were likely to be apprehended this year. The overwhelming of U.S. detention facilities was, in this sense, predictable. So Darby’s June news scoop should hardly have been a surprise, if anyone other than specialists had been paying attention.

The situation is not really hard to grasp. There are three main reasons that Central American youth are crossing the border: they are fleeing lack of opportunity; they are fleeing violence; and they are seeking to reunite with parents and other family members already in the United States. Although the media talk about “Central American children,” almost all of the detainees are, in fact, coming from only three of the six countries of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. There are almost none from Belize, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica. Anybody who remembers the 1980s can probably guess why. The enormous quantities of military “aid” that the United States poured into Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras helped create an environment of violently enforced inequality whose bitter fruits are still being reaped.

Under a series of laws and court decisions since the 1990s, minors from Central America are granted special treatment when caught crossing the border. Rather than being deported like Mexican children (who cross in the same numbers and for similar reasons), Central American youth are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which holds them in its own facilities (rather than U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers) and provides them with services while it locates and investigates family members to whom they could be released. At that point, a lengthy hearing process begins to determine whether each minor is eligible for immigration relief. If not, she or he will be deported. These children are termed “unaccompanied” because they cross the border without parents or legal guardians, but the vast majority of them do have family in the U.S. and are coming to join them.

Deval Patrick and Judith Flanagan are talking past each other by focusing on different parts of this process. Patrick offered to find a facility in the state to house the youth during the few weeks when they are in the custody of the ORR and fully funded by the federal government. His “solution” is, in that sense, a cheap kind of “humanitarianism.” Flanagan and the anti-immigrant demonstrators are complaining about the costs to communities like Lynn, where hundreds of undocumented Guatemalan children have indeed been released to family members. They have a point. As many online commentators have indicated, undocumented families tend to live in poor urban areas like Lynn that are already struggling with severe underfunding. In other words, they are the communities least equipped to provide the kinds of locally mandated services like education that the newcomers need.

Why the Children Are Coming?

So what’s the real crisis and can it be solved?

Let’s start with what’s truly at stake here. First, U.S. policies directly led to today’s crises in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Since Washington orchestrated the overthrow of the reformist, democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, it has consistently cultivated repressive military regimes, savagely repressed peasant and popular movements for social change, and imposed economic policies including so-called free trade ones that favor foreign investors and have proven devastating to the rural and urban poor.

Refugees from U.S.-sponsored dirty wars in Guatemala and El Salvador -- mostly peasants whose communities had been subjected to scorched-earth policies and the depredations of right-wing death squads -- began to pour into the United States in the 1980s. The refugee flood from Honduras didn’t begin until the United States supported a military coup against that country’s elected leftist president in 2009. The youths crossing the border today are often the children and grandchildren of those initial refugees, and are fleeing the endemic violence and economic destruction left behind by the wars and the devastation that resulted from them. In other words, the policies that led to the present “crisis” were promoted over the decades with similar degrees of enthusiasm by Republicans and Democrats.

Second, an enormous demand for undocumented labor had already drawn the parents of many of these children to the United States where they clean houses and yards, wash dishes, and grow and process food. Their underpaid labor helps sustain the U.S. economy. For generations, this country’s immigration policy has focused on using Mexicans and Central Americans as “workers” without granting them legal and human rights. But workers are people and people have children. In other words, the present crisis stems in part from the way our economy depends on separating parents from their children in order to exploit their cheap labor -- and then our horror or dismay when they want to be reunited.

Finally, the communities and school systems that the federal government expects to receive the border-crossing youth need more federal support. Many of the locales receiving immigrants are indeed in crisis. If, thanks to federal legislation and federal agencies, these children are being released in large numbers to communities in which schools are already underfunded, then the federal government should guarantee the services that it requires communities to provide them. Instead of spending billions of dollars annually underwriting detention, deportation, and the further militarization of the borderlands, it should direct those funds to fulfilling human needs.

Immigrant rights organizations should be criticizing both parties for their policies in Central America (including President Obama’s free trade agenda), their economic and immigration policies (that criminalize workers), and the ways they are pitting immigrant youth against poor Americans in a struggle for scarce resources.

Of course, that’s not how the story is being told. Instead, our politicians, the media, and various organizations have simply been posturing. Arguments that take the “humanitarian” position and those that use the “crisis” to try to undermine the administration’s flimsy gestures towards relief for undocumented youth, as well as those that protest the potential impact on communities like Lynn, are sadly incomplete. We are in the midst of a series of crises that are perfectly real. They just aren’t the ones that either side is talking about.

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#85 vladzo


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Posted 26 August 2014 - 09:02 PM

April 1, 2014

Catholics, other Christians support immigration reform,


but say faith plays small role

By Michael Lipka13 comments

FT_Immigration_Views.png prominent U.S. Catholic bishops called attention to immigrationreform today in Nogales, Ariz., along the border with Mexico. The bishops celebrated Mass and said they would “pray for and remember” the migrants who have died trying to cross the border. Their goal, they said, was to highlight “the human consequences of a broken immigration system and call upon the U.S. Congress” to fix it. Immigration reform also came up during last week’s meeting between President Obama and Pope Francis.

It’s not just Catholic leaders who are speaking out over reform. Some large Protestant evangelical organizations are strong supporters of immigration reform, as are some Mormon and mainline Protestant leaders. They have framed the issue as a moral one, with both Christian and Jewish leaders citing a verse from the book of Leviticus: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens.”

Three-quarters of American adults say that immigrants living in the United States illegally should be able to stay, according to our 2014 survey. Catholics as a whole closely resemble the general public on this question, though Hispanic Catholics are much more supportive than non-Hispanic white Catholics of allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country (91% vs. 70%). Like Catholics, majorities of other religious groups also support allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

Half of Americans – including 59% of Catholics – say it’s extremely or very important to them for President Obama and Congress to pass significant new immigration legislation this year. Not surprisingly, the issue is of particular concern to Hispanic Catholics, 73% of whom say passing immigration legislation should be an extremely or very important priority for political leaders this year. Among white Catholics and people from other racial and religious backgrounds, by contrast, half or fewer attach this level of importance to immigration reform.

While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is pushing for legislative action on immigration, it also recently asked Obama to use his executive powers to limit deportations. In February, we asked Americans whether the increased number of deportations of undocumented immigrants in recent years is a good thing or a bad thing. The public is evenly split on this issue (45% say it’s a good thing vs. 45% bad thing), as are U.S. Catholics (47% say it’s a good thing vs. 46% bad thing).

When it comes to prioritizing immigration reform and views of deportations, differences between the parties and among racial and ethnic groups are as large as or larger than the divisions among religious groups. Far more Republicans than Democrats say that increased deportations in recent years have been a good thing, and Hispanics are much more likely than non-Hispanic whites and blacks to say passing immigration legislations is a very or extremely important thing to do.

And a survey we conducted in 2010 found that just 7% of U.S. adults said their religious beliefs were the biggest influence on their thinking regarding illegal immigration. It was far more common for people to cite their personal experience (26%), education (20%) or what they have seen or read in the media (20%) as the most important influence on their thinking about this topic.

Edited by vladzo, 26 August 2014 - 09:06 PM.

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#86 vladzo


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Posted 28 August 2014 - 09:34 PM

The impact of migrants on Falfurrias

At first glance, Falfurrias doesn't look like much – a small residential area, a shuttered movie theater on main street and a lot of open ranch land. But, beneath the small town appearance, the wave of undocumented migrants passing through the area has had an impact.


This small south Texas town, pop. 4,900, along Highway 281, is at the epicenter of a humanitarian crisis; migrants from all over the world travel through the area as they head north.

© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap | Photos: Mae Ryan/The Guardian

Martinez pulls into the long drive that leads to Sacred Heart Cemetery. He’s there to check in with Dr Lori Baker, a Baylor University anthropology professor, and her students. Baker and the students have volunteered to exhume the bodies of hundreds of unidentified migrants so that DNA and forensic tests can be performed on the remains in an effort to return them to their families.

Martinez scans the cemetery for signs of Dr Baker and her students, but a cemetery caretaker tells him that, because of the triple-digit heat, they’ve already gone back to the hotel for the day. Not far from where the team is digging lies the Martinez family plot, where three generations are buried.

Martinez steps out of his SUV and walks to his parents’ graves. His father was a World War II veteran who became partially paralyzed from a stroke after he returned from war, and his mother was a homemaker. Together they raised 10 children. When he was 11, he says, Martinez watched Hurricane Beulah wash their house away. “The water took everything but my parents took it in stride,” he says. With a loan from the federal government they built a small brick home that had electricity but no indoor plumbing. “We did OK for ourselves,” he says. “We didn’t have money, but we never felt poor, if that makes sense.”

The community, predominantly Latino and working class, was always supportive of Martinez and his siblings when he was growing up. “We excelled in running. We were all runners, and my brothers built a dirt track next to the house. You would have to go around it 20 times to make a mile,” he says, smiling at the memory. Martinez had a passion for long-distance running. He’d often run 20 miles a day on the dirt track next to the house. “I was drawn to it because it was self initiated. It took discipline and commitment.”

That commitment won him a track scholarship to Baylor University and pulled him away from his hometown. After college he became a state trooper and worked for years in other parts of Texas. But he always knew he would return home. “At the end of the day, this is a good solid community,” he says. “We just happen to be right smack in the middle of this immigration corridor, and we got nowhere to go. So we’ve got to deal with it.”

After deep budget cuts, officers from outside Brooks County – like Daniel Walden and Cameron Coleman, pictured at right – have volunteered to help the sheriff’s department. Elias Pompa (left) is one of the few remaining deputies on staff. "This office should have 20 to 25 deputies on the road right now, but we're a long way from it," Martinez says. Mae Ryan/The Guardian

Martinez and the sheriff were doing what they could, but there were too many demands for a small department to tackle on a daily basis, especially in a rural, 944-square-mile county: a growing number of sexual assaults of migrant women by smugglers, deaths on Highway 281 and gang-affiliated groups from Houston and other cities moving into the area to set up stash houses and prey on the thousands of migrants being moved through the county.

There were also the high-speed chases with smugglers who drive recklessly through town in SUVs packed with migrants trying to elude deputies and Border Patrol. The pursuits often end in tragedy. “In one vehicle recently there were five deaths. They hit a tree,” Martinez says. “Another time a vehicle went right through a woman’s house and killed her. We try to take one issue at a time because that’s all we can handle.”

Then, in January 2014, a bomb dropped.

 “I get real confused about why this county isn't a 'border' county, despite the fact we have all these immigration issues and a federal checkpoint,” Martinez says.

County officials announced they would have to cut their $4 million budget by half. The oil and gas wells Brooks County depended on for tax revenue were nearly tapped out. The first thing to go for the sheriff’s department would be health insurance for Martinez’s deputies and their families that had been one of the biggest benefits of a job with an average annual salary of $23,000. Martinez, who made $26,000 last year, took a pay cut; because he’d retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety, he still had health insurance through the state. His deputies were not so lucky. “Most of them are just starting their careers and their families,” he says. “So they had to move on.” Martinez had eight deputies last year. This year he has four.

The department spends nearly half its annual budget on body recovery, autopsies and transportation of corpses. Martinez added up the department’s expenditures on recoveries from 2009 to 2013 and came up with $628,000. “That’s a pretty significant amount for a poor county like this,” he says. This year, the department received $152,000 in state funding for the first time to help offset the costs, but the department receives no federal money, unlike border counties, because it is 70 miles north of the international border.

“I get real confused about why this county isn’t a ‘border’ county, despite the fact we have all these immigration issues and a federal checkpoint,” Martinez says. And Brooks County’s border issues are going to get only worse. The federal government announced plans this year to expand its four-lane checkpoint on the highway south of Falfurrias to eight lanes. To Martinez, this means more drug felonies to process, more traffic deaths and more people dying as they hike around the checkpoint. “This is already the second-busiest checkpoint in the country and it’s going to get bigger.”

They would rather be saving lives than recovering bodies, he says. In the past year his department has received more than 600 emergency 911 calls from migrants hurt or dying on isolated ranches. With only a handful of deputies available to respond, Martinez relies on Border Patrol personnel stationed in the area to rescue many of the migrants, who suffer from dehydration and heat stroke. Last year, they rescued more than 350.

Recovering the bodies

Since 2009, the sheriff's department has recovered more than 400 bodies in Brooks County. As migrants filter through the countryside to avoid the immigration checkpoint along Highway 281, they succumb to the harsh elements on the Texas ranches.

These maps exclude bodies whose recovery location is unknown.
Source: Mark Collette/Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Yet the average time for Border Patrol to respond to distress calls on the ranches is two hours or more, according to a recent investigation for Telemundo and The Weather Channel by John Carlos Frey, a reporting fellow for the Investigative Fund. In August, after the broadcast aired, Border Patrol deployed a Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) team to Brooks County. “Now we’re seeing response times of 10 minutes or less,” Martinez says. “When we have resources like this, it makes a difference.” But if history is any indicator, the BORSTAR team, which has been dispatched to Brooks County before, won’t stay for long.

There has recently been help from other sources, though. After the media reported that the sheriff’s department had lost half its workforce, law enforcement personnel from the more populated border cities south of Brooks County contacted Martinez with offers to volunteer. Now he has 15 reserve deputies helping in their spare time.

Martinez would like to have them all patrolling the county at once, but he can deploy only six deputies at a time, because he has just six vehicles. Still, “We have them out there 24-7, and they’re helping us tremendously,” he says. “Response times are quicker and the reports are getting done. The community is happy because they see department personnel out on the streets.”

Driving back into town from the cemetery, Martinez contemplates the future of his hometown. Despite the psychic toll of the crisis and all the other setbacks – the budget cuts, the lawmakers who refuse to send aid to Brooks County – he won’t lose hope. He learned that from his parents a long time ago, after the hurricane took everything they owned. “It’s been a challenge,” he says. “The best thing to do is to learn from it.”

Martinez says he’ll stick with the department even through these bad times. “At the end of the day, I like my job because I know I’ve done something right. Maybe I helped a mom or recovered a body or rescued some people in the brush,” he says. “If you’re here for the hoorays or a pat on the back, then you’re in the wrong business. As a public servant I have to find that from within. It’s just you doing what you got to do, and making it home safe.”

* * *

Texas Observer staff writer Melissa del Bosque is a 2014-2015 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund, a project of The Nation Institute.

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#87 vladzo


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Posted 04 September 2014 - 11:06 PM

How US Intelligence Distorted Its Own Data on Child Migration Thursday, 04 September 2014 11:29 By David L. Wilson, Truthout | News Analysis
  • 2014_904_border_fw.jpg

Immigrants detained crossing the Rio Grande are among the more than 350 being held at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, July 15, 2014. (Photo: Rick Loomis / Pool via The New York Times)

On July 14 the Tea Party-oriented website Breitbart.com published what it said was a leaked July 7 document from the US government's El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) assessing the recent increase in unauthorized immigration by unaccompanied minors and adults with young children.

Entitled "Misperceptions of US Policy Key Driver in Central American Migrant Surge," the EPIC report seemed intended to contradict claims by immigrants and human rights workers that violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are the main forces behind the rise in border crossings. Citing interviews with 230 Central Americans detained at the Texas border, the report blamed the current influx on "misperceptions of recent US immigration policies," notably the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum, President Obama's program suspending deportations for many young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

"These misperceptions are likely fueled by human smugglers and Central American media - providing deliberate, errant, or unwitting reporting to migrants on the [DACA] memorandum and comprehensive US immigration reform," the EPIC report claimed. The "flow to the border will remain elevated until migrants' misperceptions about US immigration benefits are changed."

EPIC's analysis fits in well with conservative views on immigration. Ignoring push factors in countries of origin, immigration opponents regularly insist that any relaxation of our harsh enforcement policies will motivate alien hordes to flood across the border; mere mention of immigration reform is enough to set off an invasion, they believe. Conservative Republicans have picked up the DACA claim: Defunding DACA became a major component of legislation passed on Aug. 1 by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in response to the border situation.

But there's usually no factual basis for the conservatives' claims; in the case of the leaked July 7 report, the intelligence center's assertions are flatly contradicted by its own data.

"Free Pass" or Notice to Appear?

We should always be cautious when a government agency puts out information that could help augment its funding. Claims of crisis at the border have helped US Customs and Border Protection (CPB), one of the two main agencies operating EPIC, arrive at its current annual budget of $12.9 billion. There are a number of problems with the EPIC report, such as manipulations of graphs and statistics pointed out by Newsweek's Louise Stewart. But the biggest problem is with the report's main evidence: the 230 interviews conducted in late May with migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley.

An internal report on the interviews was leaked in June and then distributed to the press by the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). This report suggests that the interview process was neither scientific nor thorough. There are no breakdowns of the interview subjects by age or nationality, and apparently all 230 interviews were carried out in just one day, May 28. The interviewers were largely Border Patrol agents, and as Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), has noted, "the Border Patrol may be among the worst agencies to interview migrant children and assess their motivations" due to the agents' "power over migrants, disposition, and (lack of) training."

But what's most striking about the interviews is that the people questioned apparently said nothing about DACA or immigration reform.

According to the interview report, about 95 percent of the migrants cited a " 'new' US 'law' that grants a 'free pass' or permit (referred to as 'permisos') being issued by the US government to female adult OTMs [other than Mexicans] traveling with minors and to UACs [unaccompanied children]." The interview report explains that the migrants were referring to "the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge."

In other words, the migrants were describing a routine process required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) for unaccompanied children (except Mexicans and Canadians) detained at the border. The process is also frequently applied to women with young children, since the government lacks adequate facilities for holding them. This has nothing to do with DACA or immigration reform, and no major misperception is involved.

"At This Particular Time"?

The interview report does describe a substantial misperception, however. "A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the Unted States urged them to travel immediately" based on false reports that "the United States government was only issuing immigration permisos until the end of June 2014."

This highlights another problem with the EPIC report: It fails to explain what questions the agents asked and what order they asked them in.

At least two other studies - one by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and one by the American Immigration Council, both focusing on unaccompanied minors - asked general, open-ended questions about the causes of migration. In both studies, the reason the greatest number of child migrants gave was the need to escape violence. In contrast, the Border Patrol agents apparently started off by asking: "Why did you chose this particular time to make your journey to the United States?" This is the question to which interview subjects responded that they hoped to get "free passes."

The second most common reason for leaving "at this particular time" was "related to the increased gang-related violence in Central America," the interview report says. "Many subjects stated gang members were extorting them, if they had a small business, or forcing their minor children to join their gang. They felt they were in danger if they remained in their country and decided to immigrate." A third reason many immigrants gave was that "they had only recently secured sufficient funds to make the journey to the United States."

It was at this point that the agents finally asked the immigrants a general question about root causes: "What factor(s) influenced your decision to migrate to the United States?" Having already discussed the permisos, the immigrants naturally brought them up again and then talked about poverty and violence. From this the agents concluded that the permisos were the "primary reason." The EPIC report then repeated the phrase "primary reason," implying that it referred to DACA and immigration reform.

Repeating the Amnesty Distortion?

The omissions and distortions in the EPIC report continue a long history of distortion by immigration opponents. For decades they have claimed that the 1986 amnesty for undocumented immigrants caused the dramatic upsurge in unauthorized immigration during the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, demographic studies found that the amnesty program had no long-term effect on the increase.

Despite the lack of evidence, the supposed link between legalization and increased immigration has entered popular culture, and for many people the very word "amnesty" has become a sort of obscenity.

Will this happen again with the child migration "crisis"? The political context is very different now. Immigrants have become more vocal and militant, as we saw in the massive May 1 demonstrations in 2006 and as we continue to see in the actions of the youth activists known as Dreamers. The claim that the child migrants came because of DACA and the possibility of immigration reform has met with a vigorous response. Experienced observers of Central America like Judy Ancel, Dan Beeton, Laura Carlsen, Dana Frank, and Ryan Grim and Roque Planas have emphasized the primacy of violence and poverty as root causes, linking them to the US-funded Central American wars of the 1980s, the US-promoted "free trade" policies of the 1990s and 2000s, the ongoing US-sponsored "War on Drugs," and the US government's quick acceptance of the 2009 military coup in Honduras.

Anti-immigrant conservatives probably hurt their own cause when they decided to make an issue of child migration: They may actually have helped start a long-overdue discussion of the link between immigration and US foreign policy.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Edited by vladzo, 04 September 2014 - 11:07 PM.

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#88 vladzo


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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:19 PM

Home» Amnesty With Open Borders Equals National Suicide
Amnesty With Open Borders Equals National Suicide

Our President has made no secret of what his end game is. Remember him with Joe the plumber? He just wants to spread the wealth around. He is perhaps not an avowed socialist but he is certainly an announced one. Yet, he has won two elections one way or another and he is coordinating the end game of the Cloward-Piven Strategy. This is not a conspiracy...it's a strategy....and it breaks my heart that as America dozed on the couch watching the game these Progressives have turned the American dream into a nightmare.

Now the Southern border has been all but erased by a pre-arranged catastrophe. What does America's Community Organizer in Chief say in response to Republican reticence in voting millions to pay for lawyers to argue against our own laws? He tells us he is going to unilaterally grant amnesty through executive edict to millions if not tens of millions while holding the door open to millions more. Of course, he will wait till after the2014 midterms are over so that his party can campaign against amnesty while planning to grant it afterwards.

Does the GOP move to block this unconstitutional act of national suicide? Do they mount a national campaign to harness the vast majority of citizens who want to save America for Americans? No, the congressional Republican leaders let everyone know they are for amnesty too.

How can they not know that amnesty for millions of undocumented democrats is suicide for the GOP? Call it executive action. Call it comprehensive immigration reform. Call it anything you want. Amnesty under any other name is amnesty and amnesty with open borders is a siren call to the tens of millions who haven't already come to come now. Our leaders are actually working on a plan to merge the United States with Canada and Mexico into a new super state of North America. Our children and grandchildren will grow up in a third world hellhole that was once the land of the free and the home of the brave.

My question is….How can the GOP be so stupid….or…Why are Democrats smarter than Republicans?

I was a fourth generation Republican who cut my teeth in Nixon's first presidential campaign, worked for Goldwater, Reagan, and all the following place holders until the impeachment debacle and the explosion of government growth and spending under Hastert, Lott, and Bush. When the Republican Senate refused to impeach President Clinton for crimes he later admitted and when they then became Democrat Lite as the party of power and profit, I mailed my membership card to the party that was no longer the Grand Old Party of my great grandfather and became an Independent.

For most of my life I was a party man: accepting some things I didn't agree with for the greater good of electing a party with a platform I could agree with. However, once it became apparent that as far as the budget went we had elected the foxes to watch the hen house that the conservative social agenda received a tip-of-the-hat during elections followed by no action, and that the only victims of the impeachment were those who brought the charges the scales fell from my eyes. Once I saw that the Republicans had lost their moorings and were swilling at the public trough, I realized the platform we conservatives battle so hard for and hold so dear is merely a mirage held in front of social and fiscal conservatives to keep them loyal to a Party captured by the Progressives.

Back in the Dream Time, when my mind was still locked in the glow of Ronald Reagan and all his example and message meant to America even then I wondered, "What's wrong with these leaders of ours? Why do the Democrats always seem to outsmart them at every turn?"

Even Reagan, the best of the best, was hoodwinked by Tip O'Neal in the amnesty bargain: we would grant amnesty and then seal the border. The problem is the illegal immigrants got the amnesty, however America's border was never sealed. He also signed several tax deals with the Democratic majority. We the People lost many deductions in exchange for lower rates. The deductions never came back even though the rates started rising again as soon as the Gipper said good night and George the First forgot to read his own lips.

George Bush the Elder was out maneuvered by the Progressives so many times that 20% of his base ran to Perot opening the door for Clinton and the first attempt to ram national health care down America's throat. That time they overplayed their hand and the last great strategist among the Republicans, Newt Gingrich, was able to sell a Contract with America and bring the first Republican majority in Congress in 40 years.

Newt kept the promises and brought some fiscal sanity back to Washington. Within a few short years, the Republican led Congress ended welfare as we had known it for generations and balanced the budget. Unfortunately, the Party of Lincoln then nominated someone who campaigned as if he had voted for Lincoln. The 1996 Republican campaign would have had to improve several thousand percent to make it to dull. Suddenly, with an assist from the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media, it was Clinton who had been dragged kicking and screaming to the benefit and spending cutting table who was the author of everything positive Congress had accomplished. The Republicans had been outmaneuvered and outsmarted again.

According to every one of the serial re-counts, Bush the younger won Florida and legitimately the presidential race of 2000. Yet, to this day people talk of him being selected not elected. After the dastardly deeds of 9-11 the rhetorically-challenged George captured the hearts of America and the admiration of the Western world by taking a bullhorn and talking to a crowd at ground zero. Yet, by fighting and winning America's first preemptive war and then losing the peace through the lack of planning he soon lost the PR campaign which led to the Pelosi-Reid Congress and eventually absolute triumph of Progressivism in 2008.

The Progressives immediately took the reins of single-party rule and imposed their radical agenda to transform America into a Nanny-state based upon the re-distribution of wealth. This wanton destruction of the traditional American society based on limited government and free enterprise sparked a vast rebellion in the silent majority and the resulting teanami of 2010 brought a Republican majority back to the People's House and an expanded minority to the Senate.

And what was the first thing these political savants did? They struck a deal that anyone who was paying attention could see was tailor made to save the discredited Obama presidency and set the stage for him to follow in Mr. Clinton's footsteps taking credit for anything good the recent election might have made possible. What were these so-called leaders thinking? They turned the victory of the grassroots into capitulation by the elites to the elites; nor did they sign a deal that extended uncertainty and raised estate taxes, they gave the Administration cover for a stealth stimulus filled with pork designed to help re-elect the President.

So, "Why are Democrats smarter than Republicans?" The answer is they aren't. It isn't a matter of intelligence it's a matter of people with dedication to something larger than themselves as opposed to people with dedication to seeing themselves as something larger than they are.

The leadership of the Democrats are committed radical Progressives. They have a long term agenda to transform America into a socialist welfare state with an unlimited government, and they never lose sight of that goal. They're willing to commit political suicide, or more accurately they're willing to encourage their followers who do not inhabit safe seats to commit political suicide. They never take their eyes off the ball. They're constantly pushing to move closer to the goal line even if it's one inch at a time.

By comparison, the leadership of the Republicans is composed of professional politicians. They're pragmatists who do whatever they have to do and say whatever they have to say to retain their seats, their power, and their perks. They believe the inside the beltway press who tell them how visionary they are to compromise, losing sight of those back home in fly-over country who instead believed the campaign promises and expect their representatives to stand up for principles.

The outraged public may rise up and throw out the democratic majority of Harry Reid. They may increase the majority for John Boehner. What will be the result? Will America reject the creeping socialism that is sapping our energy and subjecting us to the rule of bureaucrats and their regulations? Will America get back on track?

No, in the unfolding amnesty debacle, the Party of Lincoln once will once again choose to be on the receiving end of Pickett's Charge instead of behind the spit-rail fence chanting "Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!" as their enemy wastes itself in a senseless charge against an immovable barrier. Once again the leadership of the right will embrace the left, reaching across the aisle in a bi-partisan enactment of America's Día de Muertos to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ronald Reagan, Dr. Robert Owens, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, Obama, Cloward-Piven Strategy, amnesty, progressive agenda, Obama agenda, North American Union, NAFTA

Read more at http://freedomoutpos...J7mmVhkzykuv.99

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#89 vladzo


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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:21 PM

Home» Militia Threatens to Block Border Traffic in Texas
Militia Threatens to Block Border Traffic in Texas

We reported some time back that militia groups setup a command center in Texas in response to the flood of illegal immigrants pouring across the US/Mexico border. Last night, new broke that the militia had threatened to block ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley area.

The militia group referred to as "Secure Our border – Laredo" is calling on members to guard private property voluntarily along the Rio Grande to help protect some of the residents from drug cartels and gang members, as well as illegal immigrants seeking to cross over into the US.

KRGV reports:

In Starr County, international bridge authorities met with Customs and Border Protection officials Thursday. Their goal was to discuss the potential problem and find a plan of action.

Starr County has international bridges in Rio Grande City, Roma and Falcon Dam.

Officials received word that members of a militia plan to protest illegal crossings by blocking traffic on Sept. 20.

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said members of the group have a right to express their opinion. His is concerned about the group's intent, though.

"What can we expect? I don't know. The unknown becomes an issue that we really got to prepare for," Villarreal said.

"I'm a 100 percent sure that with the National Guard, with DPS, with Border Patrol and local law enforcement, we'll communicate and we'll handle whatever comes," he said.

"The level of communication that exists doesn't get talked about enough. It's an extraordinary amount of communication," Villarreal said.

Villarreal said he was worried about safety.

"If they're here to block traffic, to be a hindrance between traffic and the port of entry, that causes a problem. It's a huge safety issue," Villarreal said.

The problem is that none of these groups has been effective in doing the job of securing the border. This was demonstrated by James O'Keefe recently in a recent video.

Additionally, Villarreal said it might impact the local economy. "A port of entry is not just a port of entry for people; it's also a port of entry for commerce. There are hundreds of millions of dollars that transact at the ports of entry. If their intent is to cause a disruption at a port of entry, it's not only a matter of people, it's a matter of commerce as well," he said.

The State of Texas also provides for open carry, which apparently is a problem for Temple Police, and Villarreal says that makes him nervous about violence. Apparently, concerns about the violence of Border Patrol and drug cartels were not mentioned.

"This is not a 'go-in-guns-blazing' kind of thing," said group spokeswoman Denice Freeman. "This will be handled with the utmost professionalism and security and safety for everyone involved."

That is at best questionable.

In August, it was reported that a Border Patrol agent opened fire on an armed militia member as he chased a group of illegals near Brownsville, Texas. Consider he did not fire at the illegals he was chasing and fired four shots at the militia member, who immediately dropped his weapon and identified himself as militia.

What's interesting is the incident occurred on private property and the militia member had permission to be there. Yet, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said, "We really don't need the militia here. It just creates a problem from my point of view, because we don't know who they are."

Apparently, Border Patrol can distinguish illegals, but they can't distinguish militia who are on private property? Do I have that right? This is the same Border Patrol that have been told not to use their firearms, but to run, throw rocks and hide, yet militia, guarding the border on private property, shouldn't be there? Something is not right with this picture.

Just this week Border Patrol told the militia to leave law enforcement of the border to the professionals. Frankly, I think that is why they are there. They have seen how this administration's policies have been left to the "professionals" and aren't happy with it.
Tens of thousands of illegals have been allowed to cross the borders, board airplanes and moved to highly populated cities with many of them carrying infectious diseases we haven't had to deal with in years.

While the numbers are not exactly, Texas is spending approximately $1.3 million per week on state troopers and nearly $12 million per month on the National Guard to do the job the Federal Government's Border Patrol is supposed to be doing. The militia members are doing it for free.

I'd say the outcry of the American people has been, "Someone needs to do something," and these guys are doing just that. They haven't broken any laws and they are guarding the border on private property to repel invaders. Sounds to me like that is all that is necessary. They are doing exactly what militia are supposed to do. If you are looking to see how you might help as a militia member in patrolling the US border, click here for more information.

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#90 vladzo


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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:24 PM

Numbers in One Day – Legals must Wait
Illegal Aliens in the US Get Passport & Social Security Numbers in One Day – Legals must Wait

I spent three hours yesterday at the Romanian Embassy trying to obtain a passport renewal for my 82-year-old mother who wants to travel to visit her sister and brother she had not seen since 1996. It may be her last trip.

Because her passport expired in 1998, it appears that it must be verified that she is still a Romanian citizen and that she has not given up her citizenship to another country without their knowledge, even though I provided them with her resident alien U.S. re-entry permit (a form of passport for legal immigrants), which also expired in the late 1990s, and her resident alien card.

The Romanians must check that she is a legal entity and that she exists as a Romanian citizen still, for the fee of $81 in cash, according to the condescending clerk in the consular office. How do they know that she has not sworn allegiance to another country in the interim?

After an alleged wait period of 60 days, she will be eligible for a new passport, providing that the right paperwork, filled out correctly, according to bureaucratic speak (name and surname, her deceased parents, my deceased father, her life story, etc.) will be filed. I have no clue what the fee will be or how long that would take. Hopefully, her siblings will still be alive and mom will be ambulatory and/or able to travel.

But that is not all. I must then proceed with the renewal of her U.S. re-entry permit, facing the legal immigration bureaucracy gauntlet of the United States. I have no idea how long that would take, considering the backlog of 4 million legal immigrants who are awaiting patiently the resolution of their cases, and the priority that the flood of illegal aliens from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador are receiving.

If mom was an illegal alien freshly arrived from Mexico, she would be getting her passport and visa on the same day, and from the Social Security office.

That is exactly what happened to a busload of Mexicans who arrived from Laredo in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the video posted by therightscoop.com (see below), an American citizen confronted some of the members of the group who spoke no English, had been in the U.S. one day, but already had Social Security numbers and new Mexican passports issued not by the Mexican Consulate, but by the Social Security office in Memphis.

As the videographer says in his citizen video, "They should get these [passports] in Mexico. We need jobs, we have no money in our country, we are giving it all away, and look at this, our tax dollars hard at work, there's your bus full of people, there's the Social Security office, and they are giving passports away to illegals.

Chances are, after writing about this egregious issue and the concerned American citizen videographer, my mom will never get travel papers from the United States.

We have to stop the flood of illegal aliens into our country who claim bogus refugee status. They are here for jobs because of bad economic conditions in their countries, and to receive welfare from the strapped American taxpayers. American businesses want illegals here for cheap labor, replacing American workers. We have our own severe economic problems in the United States and our middle class is struggling under the heavy burden of taxation, the loss of jobs, and the lack of job creation.

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#91 vladzo


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Posted 17 September 2014 - 12:41 AM

New York homeless children's search for shelter often ends in handcuffs

Shelter that filed nearly 1,600 missing persons complaints is accused of practice that criminalises children for no wrongdoing

9c06fe95-644f-497f-bbfc-fe4b12a046eb-460new york city homeless panhandle Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A New York City shelter that houses homeless children before placing them in foster care filed almost 1,600 missing persons complaints to the local police precinct, and often had the children brought back to the facility in handcuffs once they were found, according to an investigation by local news site DNAinfo.

The shelter for the Administration of Children’s Services filed 1,583 missing persons reports between February 2013 and March 2014 when children didn’t return as expected, the investigation found. In some cases, two reports a day were made about the same child.

“They could care less if the kids are dead or alive,” Rosemarie Rutigliano told DNAinfo. Rutigliano’s 16-year-old daughter went missing for two weeks after she walked out of the facility. Her daughter returned to her mother’s home two weeks later.

A spokesperson for ACS said staff at the facility currently file missing person reports and ask for a family court warrants when children don’t return as expected. When a warrant is issued, police arrest the child and bring them back to the facility – sometimes in handcuffs. Critics say the practices criminalizes children when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Staff at the facility allow children as young as 12 to come and go as they please, and the shelter is not locked.

ACS spokesperson Chris Mckniff told the Guardian the administrators are attempting to avoid warrants for children, but couldn’t answer whether that would necessarily decrease the number of children brought back to the facility handcuffed.

Instead, Mckniff said the family court was responsible for handcuffing children. “That’s part of the instructions that come from the family court, whether it’s handcuffs or no handcuffs,” said Mckniff.

Mckniff said the facility has changed procedures and now calls police after waiting up to 24 hours.

“So [when] a child a 16-year-old child wants to go to the store, this is not something where, I don’t think the children’s services needs to get involved,” said Mckniff, referring to children in ACS custody coming and going from the facility. “We engage the young person before they leave, we ask them where they’re going, what time they’re going to be back, um, in certain circumstances we’ll encourage them not to go, but again, this is not a locked facility,” said Mckniff.

The OCFS, a New York state office, did not immediately return calls to the Guardian for comment, but told DNAinfo that it “conducts regular site visits”.

DNAinfo also discovered that the shelter has operated without a proper certificate of occupancy since it opened in 2001 in a converted office building. A certificate of occupancy, often called a “C-O-O”, proves a space is safe to use for a specific purpose.

“If they want to use the second floor the way they want to use it, they need to modify the [certificate of occupancy] to reflect that,” New York City Department of Buildings spokesperson Alex Schnell told DNAinfo Tuesday morning. “They’re in the process of modifying it.”

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#92 vladzo


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Posted 08 October 2014 - 12:33 AM

English as a Second Language:


Should we be Alarmed over this Development?


It appears that decades of open borders and political sensitivity has finally caught up with us. After sifting through the 2013 census data, the Center for Immigration Studies has found that 61.8 million U.S. residents, speak a foreign language at home. That is 1 in 5 people, and a 2.2 million increase since 2010. The data was compared to the 2010 statistics, and it was found that the largest increases were for Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.


So should we be alarmed over this development? After all, we are a nation of immigrants. Each and every one of us could probably trace our lineage to an immigrant. Many of you reading this right now have ancestors that arrived to this country within the last century.

However, it should be noted that we aren’t just a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of assimilated immigrants. If you read the data provided by this study, you’ll find that our system of assimilation is completely broken.

  • Of the school-age (5 to 17) nationally, more than one in five speaks a foreign language at home. It is 44 percent in California and roughly one in three students in Texas, Nevada, and New York. But more surprisingly, it is now one in seven students in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Nebraska and Delaware; and one out of eight students in Kansas, Utah, Minnesota, and Idaho.
  • Many of those who speak a foreign language at home are not immigrants. Of the nearly 62 million foreign-language speakers, 44 percent (27.2 million) were born in the United States.
  • Of those who speak a foreign language at home, 25.1 million (41 percent) told the Census Bureau that they speak English less than very well.

So if you counted only school age children, the ratio is actually higher than 1 in 5. Nearly half of the people who speak a foreign language at home, were born here. The fact that these rates are higher among children, is a strong indicator that our nation is failing to assimilate its immigrants.

While it would be expected that the children of immigrants would speak their parents tongue, especially at home, the number of people who have a poor grasp of the English language is astounding.

In addition, this growth isn’t a recent trend. The number of people who speak a foreign language at home, as well as our population of foreign born residents, has been growing for decades

  • The percentage of the U.S. population speaking a language other than English at home was 21 percent in 2013, a slight increase over 2010. In 2000, the share was 18 percent; in 1990 it was 14 percent; it was 11 percent in 1980.

So will we be able to assimilate these immigrants in the years ahead? It’s possible. Historically, there have been times when the United States was teeming with foreigners. Between the late 1800′s until around 1910, the foreign born population peaked at nearly 15 percent. However this was followed by many decades of decline. We had several generations of very low immigration rates. We had time to teach them our culture, language, and history. By the 60′s and 70′s, the millions that immigrated here at the turn of the century had fully integrated into our society.

The problem we’re facing now is that our institutions have completely failed to assimilate this wave of immigrants. How can we teach our children to be Americans, when they are scolded for wearing the American flag in school, and their textbooks give biased lessons on Islam?


How can our military, which has long been an avenue for citizenship, continue to do so if they allow illegal aliens and gang members into the ranks?

How can we even begin to teach immigrants about the American way of life, when it is easier to ignore our laws, sneak across our sovereign borders, and still receive welfare benefits and special treatment?

If our country can’t assimilate this wave of foreign born people, then our society is going to be in a lot of trouble. From Africa, to India, to the Middle East, the world is full of multiethnic nations that are tearing themselves apart. This trend won’t be limited to poor third world countries either. In Europe, the rise of secession movements in Britain, Spain, France, and Italy are on track to break those nations apart, while the millions of Muslim immigrants that they have failed to assimilate, are building their own separate societies within Europe.

So what do you think? Will America experience ethnic conflict in the near future? Can we take control of our borders and begin the process of integrating our immigrants, or is it too late?


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#93 vladzo


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Posted 18 November 2014 - 10:08 PM

Gang violence in El Salvador fuelling country’s child migration crisis
Warring gangs and crime are prompting more youngsters to leave their families and homes and seek refuge in the US
Calle 18 gang members at Quezaltepeque jail, west of San Salvador. Photograph: Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images

Nina Lakhani in San Salvador


Tuesday 18 November 2014 14.12 EST


Reinaldo Menéndez threw himself into his grandmother’s outstretched arms, relieved to be back on Salvadorian soil after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the United States.

The 16-year-old had left his home in El Congo, a small town 35 miles west of the capital, San Salvador, three weeks earlier, after members of the MS-13 street gang threatened to kill him outside his school. Reinaldo lived with his grandmother in a neighbourhood controlled by rival gang Calle 18, making him an inadvertent enemy of MS-13.

“I want to go to school but the gangs won’t let me cross into the neighbourhood, so we decided I should try to reach Arkansas, where my mum lives,” he said. “I don’t really know my mum because she left me with my grandmother when I was just a few months old to find work, but at least in America it would be safe to go to school.”

In the end, Reinaldo only made it as far as the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, before immigration officials boarded his bus and detained him and several other undocumented migrants.

He is one of 3,743 child migrants repatriated to El Salvador between January and September this year – more than double the 1,800 who were returned in 2013. Of these, only 38 were deported by the US, even though the country’s border patrol registered a record 15,800 unaccompanied Salvadorian children and 14,070 families between October 2013 and August 2014.

The vast majority were apprehended by Mexican authorities, who are receiving extra funding, training, and pressure from the US to help curb the flow of migrants. Twice a week, Mexico busses the children back to the Migrant Return Centre in San Salvador where they are given two pupusas (stuffed tortillas) and a drink, a medical check, a brief interview by immigration and child protection officials, group therapy with Save the Children, some toiletries and a sack of food staples. They are then handed over to a relative and sent on their way.


But the dire security situation in El Salvador – 10 murders a day in 2014, gangs on every other corner, ghettoised neighbourhoods, a growing presence of international organised crime gangs, and high levels of intra-familial violence – means half the children sent back from Mexico plan to try again, according to Elizabeth Kennedy, a Fulbright researcher who has interviewed hundreds of child deportees this year.

“People in the US need to understand that desperate people take desperate measures, and while life at home remains miserable and dangerous, these children will keep trying,” she said.

Immigration is one of the most politically explosive issues in the US, but reforms are imminent. President Obama is preparing to announce an executive order, bypassing Republican-controlled Congress, which could give temporary legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented adult migrants.

Last week, the vice-president, Joe Biden, announced plans to offer refugee status to a few thousand under 21s from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras whose parents have legal residency in the US. While the news was welcomed, it amounts to a drop in the ocean as 66,000 unaccompanied children illegally crossed into the US this past year.

In El Salvador, the government blames the child migrant crisis on misinformation about US immigration laws spread by coyotes – illegal guides who charge between $7,000 and $9,000 (£4,300-£5,600) for each person. It also says only 15% of young migrants are driven out by violence, arguing that the main reason children leave the country is to be reunited with relatives in the US, where 2.5 million Salvadorians live.

But 60% of children interviewed by Kennedy gave violence, crime and gangs as a reason for leaving, compared with 35% who spoke of reunification.

“One in three children had been directly threatened with death if they didn’t join the gang. This persecution makes them eligible to apply for asylum. One in five had quit school out of fear, and one in 10 is a prisoner in their own home, too scared to go out day or night. Deporting children back into these harmful situations is a violation of international law,” said Kennedy.

“The children tell me about the violence in their lives because I take the time to ask,” she added.

Jeanne Rikkers, a youth violence prevention expert at the human rights organisation Fespad, said: “Children are living in a constantly violent atmosphere. They don’t feel secure, physically or economically, and they don’t feel protected by state institutions.”

According to a poll published by newspaper La Prensa Grafica last month, 43% of El Salvador’s population want to leave the country. The two most common reasons given were insecurity (30%) and economic woes (24%).

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén’s leftwing FLMN government is under huge pressure from the public and opposition parties to mount another mano dura (iron fist) security crackdown to deal with the endemic violence.

But Sánchez, who wants to focus on social and economic development programmes, continues to publicly underplay the devastating impact of crime on ordinary people’s lives.

Rikkers added: “Neither the US nor the Salvadorian government will admit the role violence plays in driving people out, as this would mean admitting -broken foreign policies and a broken state.”

At the Migrant Return Centre, Reinaldo vowed to never again leave his grandmother. But the joy of being reunited soon dissipated as reality hit home: his life was still at risk. “I’ll stop going to school or maybe we can move or find another school far away without any gangs,” he said. “We’ll think of something.”

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#94 vladzo


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Posted 05 December 2014 - 12:40 AM

Paving the Way to War —

Obama’s Anti-Immigrant Reform

Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 8:58PM

Barack Obama’s latest immigration reform is a major step by the U.S. ruling class toward an eventual world war. In itself, the initiative is narrow and limited, a temporary reprieve from deportation for up to five million undocumented immigrants. But by bypassing Congress, Obama made an important statement. He is concentrating the power of the presidency, an essential prerequisite for pursuing broader international conflicts.
Obama’s immigration plan springs out of the U.S. military’s need to recruit masses of Latin, black, and Asian youth to fight imperialist wars in the Middle East and South Asia. (Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was seen as too weak in pushing for war, resigned under pressure on November 24.) The bosses’ dilemma is that they also need to terrorize young people to try to weaken working-class resistance — hence the racist murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and, more recently, of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn (see page 8). The “tragedies” and “mistakes” and “accidents” committed by the capitalists’ killer cops are fundamental to the profit system. The rulers know that racism is their main tool to divide and intimidate the working class. Racism enables them to pay lower wages to black and Latin workers, and to immigrants in particular. Super-exploitation produces super-profits, and lowers standards for white workers as well.
The bosses’ goal is to make life seem so hopeless that these unemployed youth see joining the military — and doing battle for Big Oil and the military/industrial profiteers — as their only option.
The insatiable drive for maximum profits lies at the root of all the evils of capitalism: racism, sexism, mass unemployment, poverty, sub-human wages and imperialist war. For workers to have a decent life, the entire system must be destroyed. This can be achieved only by winning hundreds of millions to the goal of communism, under the leadership of the international, revolutionary, communist Progressive Labor Party.
Deception by Deporter-in-Chief
His November 20 address notwithstanding, Obama remains the deporter-in-chief. In 2013, he deported a record 438,421 undocumented immigrants; his administration has expelled two million in all, a record pace. His new scheme grants a fleeting three years of “legality” to fewer than half the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today.  
Obama has tacked on various border enforcement measures that focus, as he put it, on “deporting felons, not families.” But targeting “criminal aliens” has historically served as a pretext for draconian enforcement measures that promote anti-immigrant dragnets and force undocumented workers into poverty and exploitation... the expulsion machine will keep humming for the around six million that remain “deportable” (The Nation, 11/21/14).
In part, Obama’s selective reprieve is designed to maintain immigrant workers’ fear of challenging sub-minimum and unpaid wages. While the reform is touted as a boon for workers, it will actually accelerate racist deportations, arrests, and exploitation. Immigrant families will continue to be ripped apart, just as black families were under slavery in the U.S. These are the “family values” of capitalism.
Anti-worker motives also underlie Obama’s promise of temporary residence to 3.5 million undocumented parents of U.S.-born children. U.S. war planners, their eyes fixed on an inevitable conflict with China and Russia, are delighted. According to Pentagon officials, “[The] order would remove a major obstacle currently barring children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants from joining the military….” (Military.com, 11/21/14). Obama’s move boosts the U.S. military-age population by around one million, a significant plus for ruling-class strategists.
As he eases entry for select groups, Obama is following the script in a 2011 RAND study, “Global Demographic Change and Its Implications for Military Power.” As RAND, a war-oriented think tank bankrolled by both the federal government and private-sector imperialists noted, “A full-fledged intervention by one state into another is ill-advised for countries that lack the requisite manpower.” But the U.S. also enjoys substantial advantages, including “size, affluence, high immigration levels, and...birthrate.” Obama’s “Open Door” cynically targets immigrant youth and workers, particularly those from Mexico, to kill and die in the next big war.
Obama Skirts Congress, Showing Rulers’ Disarray
The end run around Congress reveals the disarray and fragmentation of the U.S. ruling class. Obama’s ability to pull it off shows the continued dominance of the finance-capital wing of U.S. imperialism, a faction led by the Rockefellers, ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase. For these mega-capitalists, Congress plays a critical role in fooling workers into believing they have “a voice in government.”
But Congress can also be obstructive. It gives voice to smaller bosses who think their profits don’t depend on U.S. control of Iraqi oil or U.S. readiness to confront China and Russia. Almost any multi-millionaire with an open checkbook — like car alarm salesman Darrell Issa or exterminator Tom DeLay — can rise to a seat in the House of Representatives. So can protégés of the billionaire Koch brothers or casino baron Sheldon Adelson, whose profits come mostly from domestic exploitation.
For now, however, the bigger bosses behind Obama have undercut these small fry with the “executive action” on immigration. Republicans may denounce Obama as a “prince,” and a “dictator,” but they are out-shouted by the top capitalists’ vast media apparatus. In the New York Times and on network television, there is almost nothing but praise for Obama’s unilateral, war-enabling, “humanitarian” action.
For all workers, regardless of where they happen to have been born, the only solution to capitalist exploitation is a communist revolution. That is why we ask you to join and build Progressive Labor Party and help us free our class from the murderous, profiteering bosses.

Edited by vladzo, 05 December 2014 - 12:41 AM.

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#95 vladzo


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Posted 10 December 2014 - 01:07 AM

House Passes Bill to Block Executive Amnesty –
Obama Promises Veto
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The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to block President Obama from changing immigration law by using his Executive power.

The final vote was 219-197 with 3 Republicans voting present. All but 3 Democrats voted against the House bill, thereby siding with the President's use of Executive power to create new laws and basically crown himself king. Interestingly, 7 Republicans also voted no with the Democrats. You can see the Roll Call for the House vote here.

It seems patently ridiculous that this type of vote is necessary considering the length that the Constitution goes to instructing us that it is the legislatures job to make law, not the President's… but apparently we forgot this somewhere along the line. Now, the President will veto this attempt by House Republicans to block him from amnestying 5 million illegals without the consent of Congress. So, what will the GOP do next?

Probably nothing.

In plain English, Boehner is saying that the GOP is powerless for now. In the Senate conservatives like Ted Cruz are pushing to pass a bill that would defund the President's amnesty efforts – but the establishment GOP (embodied by Boehner) are terrified that another shutdown could doom the GOP's newly won momentum. The concern is valid, but more than a little disheartening. If GOP leaders will constantly be acting from a position of fear rather than a position of leadership… what can we ever hope to accomplish?

John Boehner said he would not commit to bringing up a bill to strip critical funding from the Department of Homeland Security in the next Congress. Instead, the speaker of the House says there are "lots of options" for blocking President Obama's executive order on immigration. At a Thursday press conference in the Capitol, Boehner did not guarantee the House would vote to block or cut off funding from DHS once Republicans had control of both houses of Congress in 2015.

"There are a lot of options on the table," said Boehner in response to a question from THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals of what we could or couldn't do. But I do know this. Come January, we'll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate, and we'll be in a stronger position to take actions."

Boehner and House Republican leaders are pushing to pass a short-term funding package before the end of the current budget resolution next week.

It seems, for now, that our current crop of GOP leaders have decided that staying in power is more important than stopping the terrible actions the Democrats have committed over the past few years… Obamacare and Amnesty included.


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Edited by vladzo, 10 December 2014 - 01:08 AM.

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#96 vladzo


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Posted 19 December 2014 - 12:19 AM

ome Illegal Immigration Texas Sheriff Nails Obama’s Illegal Immigration Stance Perfectly!

Texas Sheriff Nails Obama’s Illegal Immigration Stance Perfectly!

This past Wednesday many of our nations sheriffs joined together to express their opposition to President Obama’s plan to push an Executive Amnesty plan that would legalize almost 5 million lawbreakers.

Jackson County, Texas Sheriff Andy Louderback gave the perfect analogy to describe president Obama’s disastrous perspective on border security and illegal immigration. He said that the President’s plan to give amnesty to some 5 Million illegal aliens was basically “a large welcome sign and a saloon door mentality on our border!”

“What we’re facing in Texas and in this nation is a large welcome sign and a saloon door mentality on our border. Sheriffs in this country support the rule of law. Everybody here, behind me, to my left, to my right, supports the rule of law.”

“We do not support this amnesty. We cannot support this amnesty.”

Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu agreed saying;


“Instead of putting illegals first and their rights, what about putting Americans and our rights and our security once first – put our security first? We ask Congress to stand up to this president and to enforce all of the laws and to secure our border.”



Sadly, it does not seem that the current crop of GOP leaders has the intestinal fortitude (or even the basic desire) to stand up to President Obama on this (or any other important) issue. It seems that only our conservative stalwarts are willing to take a stand for us… and that should speak volumes to us about the GOP in general. The establishment has decided that we conservatives just don’t matter.



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#97 vladzo


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Posted 10 January 2015 - 10:33 PM

Mexico: The Murder of the Young

Saturday, 10 January 2015 09:43 By Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books | Excerpt



2015_0110mexico.jpg(Photo: MOD)

Something terrible has happened, something big, and now, at 10 o'clock on a bright late-October morning here we are, members of a press gang piling into a car in Mexico City, on the search. We hustle our gear into the car and lock ourselves into the seatbelts eagerly. The story! We are bound for the state of Guerrero, southwest of Mexico City, and for the normal rural - teachers' college - in the town of Ayotzinapa.

Everyone knows what happened; no one understands why. One month ago, on Sept. 26, 43 students were abducted in one of the poorest states in the Mexican republic, from one of its very poorest public vocational schools - an all-male teachers' college. The nearby town of Iguala, where the crime took place, is not huge (pop. 130,000), and one would think that 43 is a lot of people to hide, particularly if they are active young men.

This is by no means the largest or even necessarily the most horrifying mass killing to have taken place in Mexico in recent years, but it is the most known: We know the perpetrators (the local police and the local drug gangs), the victims (43 young men whose pictures are now everywhere), and their families, stoic hard workers - campesinos, many of them - who have refused to back down from their demand that their missing children be returned to them alive. But one month later the youths are still missing and there is a national outcry, and also marches, vandalism, protests, petitions, and shame, too, as the government sinks in disgrace, its inability to guarantee the safety of its citizens or prosecute its criminals more evident by the hour.

Iguala is less than three hours' drive from Mexico City, halfway along the express highway to Acapulco. The disordered capital city thins out, grows flatter, as we speed toward its southern edge and at last we leave behind the garish street signs and cinderblock houses of the city margins. The highway opens. Banks of yellow flowers cover the fields like sunlight. The story!

Iguala is as flat, noisy and colorless as every other provincial Mexican town that has made the transition from village to sprawl in the last 50 years. When the only way to get to Acapulco was the old two-lane road that passed through here, Iguala was prosperous. Now there are some maquilas - assembly factories - Coke and Pepsi bottling plants, nearby gold mines, and, it would seem, a lot of drug activity related to the poppy fields in the mountains further south. And ever since Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the drug baron who ruled all of Guerrero, was killed by Mexican navy troops in a prolonged shootout in Cuernavaca five years ago, there has been an unending, self-cannibalizing war for supremacy among the various groups he had trained, commanded, and kept in check. Prominent among these are the United Warriors - Guerreros Unidos, or GU for short - who rule the area around Iguala, and the Rojos, or Reds, whose domain is the town of Tixtla and extends to the area around Ayotzinapa, about three miles down the road.

My colleagues in the car keep busy thumbing on to the various Internet rumor and information streams. There is the recurrent rumor that bodies have been found, this time in a town near Iguala called Cocula. Some buildings are said to have burned in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, down the hill from Ayotzinapa. There are marches in solidarity with the forty-three students planned for today in Mexico City. Which of these events will yield a story? We rely mostly on rumor and tweets from colleagues, because throughout Mexico's history the government - every government - has considered it unnecessary to provide reliable, verifiable information. In the end we decide to stick with the one event that has been formally announced: prayers in Iguala for the three normal rural students who were killed one month ago at the start of the terrible events in that city.

Everyone in Mexico knows about the normales rurales because their students and faculty are often protesting, blocking roads, waving red flags with hammer-and-sickle logos or images of Che, calling for revolution, denouncing corruption and inequality, and, since the students come from the lowest-income stratum of Mexico, crying out against their own isolation and poverty, always uselessly. It's understood that the students - mostly campesinos, or the children of migrants to the city - will receive a poor education, just enough to qualify them to pass on their limited body of knowledge to the next generation of children of other poor families. Of the several government-run normales rurales in Guerrero, the Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa is the poorest.

The students are rowdy and deeply resented by the citizens of Chilpancingo, and also by the people of Iguala, because the Ayotzinapos have a habit of coming into town, covering the walls with graffiti, commandeering buses from the bus station, and asking for money that is not willingly given. That was their stated intention on Sept. 26, when about eighty first-year students left the Ayotzinapa campus in two buses, looking to commandeer more so they could block off roads and collect funds from the fuming drivers, enough to pay for the third-year students' annual study trip to nearby schools, and for their own journey to Mexico City to join a protest march there. Wherever they show up, the Ayotzinapa students are generally an alarming but not dangerous presence, and it's safe to say that they are not remotely as feared as the marauding Guerreros Unidos, a gang that not only presides over the region's drug traffic, but runs local kidnapping and extortion rings and keeps the area in a state of terror.

I have been away from Mexico, so my colleagues fill me in on the story's background: José Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, was elected two years ago as the candidate of the leftist opposition, for reasons not even his sponsoring party can explain. He resembles a ventriloquist's puppet, but he has been accused by a political rival of shooting dead two local leaders who stood in his way. His wife, an aging brunette in tight dresses and too much makeup, is the sister of three GU leaders, two of whom have already been killed.

Corruption in Iguala defies belief. The police are entirely in the pay of the GU. The students who cannot be found were last seen in the late evening of Sept. 26, some hours after Mayor Abarca turned the municipal police force on them. That evening the Iguala first couple were at a party to celebrate her first-year report as head of the local family welfare institute. According to the most accepted version of events, someone told the mayor that the Ayotzinapos were in town; he told the police to handle the matter. The police chased the student buses and opened fire, then cornered them and opened fire again.

Three students and three bystanders died that evening. The police rounded up 43 students who did not manage to run away, and, according to necessarily confused and fragmented reports, sometime before midnight the students who are now missing were handed over to men in civilian clothes who drove them away in vans or trucks.

It is understood by everyone that the police were in cahoots with the men in civilian dress, and that the latter were members of the Guerreros Unidos. Like everyone else, my colleagues, who have been working the story for weeks, know that the boys are dead, and that it's just a question of when and how they will be found. They know this not because they have a source, or evidence, but because we know this sort of thing in Mexico. This is how life has been over the last 10 years or so, ever since the reckless Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico from 2006 to 2012, unleashed his own version of the drug wars on his country. Some 70,000 dead later, the homicide rate is diminishing. The level of atrocity is inconceivable.

Today's religious service in Iguala is being held at the intersection of a downtown street with the ring road that circles the city; the spot where local police killed two students (a third student's body would be found the following morning). Their fate is known, and so prayers for their souls can be said.

We wheel into the ring road just in time to slip behind a procession of buses (were these commandeered also, we wonder?) that stops to let out several dozen mostly very young people. They form orderly rows and walk in silence to where a table is being covered with white cloth and a priest is donning a white chasuble in front of a bullet-pocked wall.

It is a compact, silent, organized crowd; small, slender, dark-skinned people carrying wax candles and enormous bunches of white chrysanthemums. At the head of the march walk older adults who look hammered into the ground by defeat, overwork or extreme grief. Behind them walk the students, including delegations from teachers' colleges in Oaxaca, Michoacán, and further north. The delegates look like children barely on the edge of adolescence, but in fact they are old enough to vote. It is their back-country manner, their unguarded eyes, that make them look whole ages younger than their city cousins. The women wear jeans and plastic shoes and cover their heads against the sun with a sweater or, occasionally, a traditional rebozo. The men wear ranchero hats and tennis shoes or, here and there, leather-strap Indian huaraches - sandals with thick rubber soles. The front row of the procession unfurls banner-size portraits of the missing youths, presumably taken from their student credentials. They look just like their fellow students gathered here: serious, uncertain, so very very young.

Three shy girl students from Oaxaca stand, arms interlaced, heads reclined on each other, toward the back of the crowd. Their names are Delilah, Bonfilia and Yanira, and they have come to express their solidarity and their fear that the improved future they thought within reach is being ripped away from them, courtesy of the educational reforms that President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law last year. The reforms are urgently needed, but the normales rurales, and also the million-strong official teacher's union, have been marching against them for months.

It's not difficult to understand why: Until last year graduates from the appallingly staffed and equipped normales rurales were guaranteed a job at a state primary school somewhere, but according to the reform's most important new regulation, teachers will now have to take a standard qualifying exam in order to apply for a job or keep one. "But the test has questions about things we've never even been taught," Bonfilia whispers, eyes down.

My travel companions come up to murmur that the morning's most important rumor seems reliable. It appears that the bodies of the 43 students have at last been located in the environs of Cocula, a town about 25 kilometers away. It is said that the president himself is planning to hold a press conference the next day about the finding. We are off like a shot.

The site where the bodies are supposed to be is close to the forested hills where 28 bodies were found three weeks ago, one of my friends says. He had spent days there trying to hike around the police tape, but as it turned out, none of the remains belonged to the students, and now those bodies, 28 people with no name, are hardly mentioned at all. We drive through Cocula, a charming small town with a traditional central plaza and a kiosk for the band to play on Sundays, stopping frequently to ask for always contradictory directions. Where is the garbage dump of Puente Río San Juan? Several U-turns later we finally start heading uphill on a dirt road that recent tread marks in the mud tell us is the right one.

Enormous dragonflies buzz escort alongside the car, there is not a human being in sight, tagged, well-fed cattle contemplate us quietly, and we think: This is the road. This is the road they were driven on. This wind-whipped slope is where the road ends, where the trucks stopped, and where the boys were forced out, frog-marched further through bramble and underbrush - sobbing? silent? praying? - to an unknown spot in the dark. This is where the road ended.

The road turns into a path that, we gather, eventually leads to a ravine used as a garbage dump by the Cocula sanitation department. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, known for its work identifying the victims of atrocities through DNA samples, has been asked by the parents to be in charge of that task in Iguala, so if the rumor is true that the bodies are in this ravine, the team members must be somewhere in the neighborhood. But it is impossible to know because by the time we get to the area the sun is setting and a long convoy of dark-windowed government vans, trucks, pickups and cars is rattling back down the hill toward town.

The entire judiciales (federal investigators) who take their orders directly from the national Attorney General's Office, and are often as feared as the traffickers. My driving companions, photographers all, race uphill to the last police checkpoint to see what, if anything, can be photographed, while I stay behind, taking note of the jewel-green landscape and a couple of tarantulas making their way slowly across the path and up our car's tires. A judicial with a terrifyingly burned face stops to offer me a ride in his pickup truck. "You shouldn't be out here at this hour, señora."

On the following day my friends and other photographers will force their way past the police tape to take ludicrous pictures of the Argentine and local forensic teams dressed up like spacemen, poking at the rubble with sticks. We laugh: obviously, there are no bodies here; there is no story. The government has set us up, and all of Mexico with us. Snookered again!

As it turns out, there probably once were bodies at the Cocula garbage dump. Perhaps even the bodies of 43 teenagers from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers' college who were last seen being herded into trucks by the local police. On Nov. 7, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam will provide a detailed account, complete with video footage of grotesque reenactments by three of the alleged perpetrators of the massacre, of how 43 boys at this site were shot to death or suffocated that grim night, then stacked up like cordwood and set to burn for long hours under a watchman's eye. But in Cocula, the current government will pay the price for decades of state manipulation of the press and public opinion. Murillo will not be believed by the indignant young people who are demonstrating against the government all across the country. Most critically, he will not be believed by the missing students' families - or much of the press - and instead of dying down, the nationwide marches and protest will only increase in number and fury.

It is night - 7 o'clock - by the time my colleagues and I finally get back on the road leading from the Cocula dump to Iguala. There are houses and lights frequently along this road and we feel cheerful to be back on it. In the back seat are a couple of local reporters who have hitched a ride with us. "A month ago there's no way you could have been out at this time of night," one says. "The Guerreros Unidos were watching everywhere." They had checkpoints? "The municipal police had checkpoints," he answers. "But they all belonged to the GU."

I wonder if the Coculenses are feeling relief, or gratitude, now that navy and army troops are wheeling around town in ski masks, in what seems like dozens of pickup trucks with M-50 machine guns mounted on the back. Or perhaps the many halcones - hawks - the Guerreros Unidos paid to act as lookouts - ice cream vendors, garbage collectors, shopkeepers, or housewives looking out a window - are in a rage at their loss of income in this black hole of a land.

"Did you get a look at the municipal palace?" a colleague says, back from hunting for a local newspaper while the rest of us wait for our dinner in a garish neon-lit Iguala restaurant. After the chilaquiles and beef jerky we set off to look for a hotel room and stop for a moment, stunned, in front of the charred, skeletal remains of the municipal palace. It could collapse if one blew hard enough on it now, but just a month ago Iguala was the center of power of Abarca and his wife, which is presumably why the government building was methodically set on fire, office by office, in the course of a midday protest march five days ago. In the days to come government and political party offices elsewhere in Guerrero will suffer the same fate and, in spreading waves, throughout the country. It seems that the local teachers', campesino, and student movements agreed to march past the Municipal Palace on Oct. 22 so that a combined delegation of their number could slip into the mayor's headquarters unnoticed and avenge the students' fate by burning it down to its skeleton. That, at least, is what a well-informed local reporter and gadfly tells me, although in Mexico City, where demonstrators in the Zócalo will attempt to set fire to the 19th-century door of the National Palace, there are attempts by more well-mannered sympathizers to quell the escalating violence during the marches.

Right next to the palacio's charredruins, a group of exhausted-looking campesinos is sitting on folding chairs. They are members of yet another Guerrero militant organization, and they tell us that they have formed a search committee for the students, going door to door, town to town, armed with sticks and perhaps firearms, demanding information in their own communities. So not only the government is looking for the youths, or failing to find them.

There is no history of passivity by the inhabitants of the state of Guerrero in the face of the violence that has been exercised against them over the generations. The list of massacres and assassinations of leaders in this rough, scrubby, stingy land goes on and on, and so do the stories of strikes and protest movements that are not peaceful but enraged. Guerrilla organizations course through the history like a fever - two prominent guerrilla leaders from the 1960s, Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez, were, in fact, campesino rural teachers, graduates of Ayotzinapa, which has long been seen by the government as a breeding ground for subversives.

Even now, a few dormant guerrilla groups have been stirring back to life since the events of September, and they may find a more receptive population now that it seems that all of Guerrero is a burial ground for victims of the drug traffickers, who necessarily act in connivance with local and perhaps federal security forces. There is a lot of loose talk about Marx and socialism in the protests, but the list of concrete demands belongs to the campesinos and harks back to Emiliano Zapata in the early 20th century: agricultural assistance, redistribution of fertile land, universal education and suffrage, eight-hour workdays, adequate supplies of fertilizer.

Iguala is packed tonight with federales, judiciales, soldiers, navy troops. The judiciales, particularly, have taken over the hotels, but at last we find two empty rooms for three of us in two hotels. I fret about my hotel, looking at the clutch of judiciales milling around the entrance; these people are going to party all night long. Not this time, one colleague assures me; they've got them sleeping in shifts in the same room; they stumble in dead tired and sleep like logs. But thumping norteño music plays all night long in the room next to mine, the same song, "Maldita sea mi suerte" - Cursed Be My Luck - over and over, louder each time.

Tuesday, Oct. 28

It's noon, and I'm sitting in a breezy open corridor at the Ayotzinapa Escuela Normal Rural, in conversation with two boys, one a little pudgy and with the thin beginnings of a beard, the other small, slight, and smooth-faced. They live in a world of their own that has suffered first brutal assault and now the daily probing and picking apart by reporters, at least three or four of whom are constantly finding their way to the hillside campus. The students' response has been to veil themselves in secrecy: Large parts of the campus are off-limits to outsiders, and students are not supposed to give their names, so I'll say here that I talked to Pudgy and Skinny.

It does not strike these boys as strange that a school designed to train elementary school teachers should approve of an annual hazing ritual that involves getting first-year students to commandeer buses illegally from an interurban bus station and drive them to a toll station on the Acapulco-Mexico City highway, where they will engage in a kind of ritual battle with local and federal security forces. In 2011, police opened fire on the students at the climax of one such confrontation, killing two, but the hazing ritual has not been suspended.

Skinny and Pudgy are convinced that without this kind of pressure the state and federal governments would forget to provide for the school's miserly operating budget every year or fail to authorize 140 places for an entry-level class. Besides, as one student has told another reporter, it doesn't matter if passengers are inconvenienced when the buses are commandeered, because passengers who can afford to ride on buses obviously belong to "the rich class."

Skinny and Pudgy recite the story of the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos: "Ayotzi means turtle in Nahuatl," Skinny says, which explains the enormous papier-mâché tortoise on top of a wall decorated with a Maoist-style mural of the people's struggle. The normal was founded in 1926 as part of the new revolutionary government's ambitious effort to bring education to all Mexicans, they say. "So we are the heirs of 88 years of struggle!" Pudgy declares. "The school is a product of the Mexican Revolution, so it could not be otherwise."

For them, Ayotzinapa's heroic identity clearly makes up for what to an outsider is the school's shocking physical condition. Murals - of Che, of Marx and Lenin, of leering capitalist devils clutching bags of gold - are on every wall, but the classrooms are littered with trash and the dormitories are a mess of wall-to-wall rotting mattresses competing for space with mounds of clothes. It's not only the poverty, it's the sense of abandonment, a sort of generalized orphanhood, that surprises.

"More or less all of us who are here come from the countryside," Pudgy says, and I struggle for a while to understand their parents' financial situation by asking the boys what their families' annual income might be. This is not how they add up their lives, and also not a topic they like to discuss. Eventually I narrow down the question to how much Skinny's family gets paid for the year's crop of maize, marigolds, beans, whatever, and he stares at the ground for a while before answering: "We can grow enough to eat, mostly."

It's time to go. The story is shifting from Ayotzinapa and Iguala to Mexico City, where it has been announced that on Wednesday, Oct. 29, President Peña Nieto, having at last taken the measure of popular outrage, will be meeting with the relatives of the missing students. Tomorrow he will spend long hours listening to these tough, grief-stricken people, forced by circumstances to tolerate their unyielding demands - we want our children back, and we want them alive - and undisguised contempt for the dignity of his office.

On Thursday, as many people in Mexico are tending to their flowery altars for the Day of the Dead, lighting candles and preparing to welcome the souls of their departed loved ones back into their homes, Carmen Aristegui, a crusading television journalist, will interview the fathers of two missing boys, and also Omar García, a personable and articulate student leader from Ayotzinapa. He was on one of the buses that traveled to Iguala on Sept. 26 and he speaks clearly as he tells the story whose outlines we more or less know.

For a moment we listen to him merely as an act of obligation: how the buses were fired on by the municipal police, how the students carried a gravely wounded comrade to a hospital, how army troops eventually showed up there, not to protect them but to carry out an interrogation. How one soldier looked at the defiant students and said, "This is what you get. That's what happens to you for doing what you're doing." But the army is like that, García goes on:

"I come from the Sierra - the mountainous region of Guerrero - where there is so much organized crime. And ever since I was a child I've often seen how they kill each other, and how people have to flee to the United States, or how some kids have to join the criminals - and there goes the army, as if nothing were happening! The army just gets its cut and leaves. I was a peon for those people too - in my village we all came up like that, going off to work as peons for the ones who plant poppy and all that. I'm not embarrassed to say so, because that's how it was. The army always reached an agreement with the narcos, and it was the army who showed the boys how to shoot. So these are things that get registered in children's memory: Those who don't get the opportunity to study end up going to the United States or with the narcos. Inevitably."

Aristegui is listening to García as we all are, in dumb shock. What is this story we are trying to tell and cannot understand?

© 2015, The New York Review of Books. Distributed by The New York Times

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 07:48 PM

Mothers Vow to Renew Hunger Strike at Private Immigrant-Family Prison in Texas

Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00 By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report


2015_0410karnes.jpgProtesters with WeAreUltraViolet hold electric lights in support of closing the private, immigrant-family prison in Karnes, Texas, January 22, 2015. (Photo: WeAreUltraViolet)

Asylum-seeking mothers incarcerated at a privately operated detention camp in Karnes, Texas, alleged they were threatened with deportation and separation from their children after initiating a four-day hunger strike last week. The mothers have since vowed to renew the strike April 14.

The mothers broke their fast Saturday, April 4, to give officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) an opportunity to respond to their demands - and it seems that, in at least one instance, perhaps they have.

ICE officials reportedly released one family detained at the detention camp after members were allegedly isolated in the jail's medical clinic last week, according a group advocating on behalf of the family.

Kenia Galeano was one of the 45 asylum-seeking mothers who participated in last week's hunger and work strike to protest deteriorating conditions at the Karnes jail, according to lawyers and detainee advocates.

Advocates with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which organizes pro bono representation for asylum-seeking mothers at the Karnes jail, said Galeano was granted a bond of $7,500 on Wednesday, which, Truthout confirmed, a staffer with RAICES paid in full Thursday.

"Kenia's release underscores the fact that jailing children with their mothers for five months only benefits private, for-profit prisons. These refugees, who fled their countries because of extreme violence, did not want to come here," said Jonathan Ryan, who is the executive director of RAICES, in a press release. "They simply had no other choice. As a nation, we should immediately end this uncivilized practice of jailing children." 

An ICE spokeswoman told Truthout that the release of Galeano and her 2-year-old son "is not something [ICE] can confirm for the safety and security of the individual," in an emailed statement.

At least 78 women initiated a hunger strike during Holy Week last Tuesday, but that number dropped to about 45 after ICE officials allegedly threatened some of the hunger-striking mothers, and jail guards reportedly isolated three of the women, including Galeano, who were seen as "ringleaders," in a medical clinic that was kept dark and frigid.

An open letter, handwritten in Spanish, declared the 78 mothers' motivations for hunger striking last week.

"We came to this country with our children looking for help and refuge, and we're being treated like criminals, and that's not what we are, we're not a threat to this country," the women, many of whom have been incarcerated between six to 10 months now, wrote. "Our children do not eat well. Every day they lose weight, and their health deteriorates. We know any mother would do the same as we do now for our children. We deserve to be treated with dignity and to be respected."

In the letter, the hunger strikers wrote that women and children were still being incarcerated at the Karnes jail, despite having passed what's known as a "credible fear" interview, which is a critical, legal step in determining whether their asylum claim is valid. The letter also stated that some of the mothers had been forced to sign voluntary deportation forms.

Last week's hunger strike has prompted a federal probe into the undocumented women's allegations of retaliation by ICE and Karnes officials. Investigators from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties allegedly met by phone Thursday with two of the detained women, who said they and their children were put into isolation inside the jail's medical unit last week because they were seen as leaders of the protest. The medical clinic contains only a bed, a toilet and a sink, advocates told Truthout.

Advocates, Attorneys Allege Retaliation, Isolation in "El Cuarto Oscuro"

Jail guards allegedly retaliated against three of the Central American women, Monday, March 30, even before the hunger strike officially began the following Tuesday. The women and children who reported being isolated in the medical unit included Galeano and her son; Delmi Cruz and her 11-year-old son; and Polyane Oliveira and her 10-year-old daughter.

"They were all placed in, essentially, the 'dark room,' and what that encompasses, one of the mothers explained to us, is that the lights were only turned on in the room whenever they were being fed," said Mohammad Abdollahi, who is advocacy director with RAICES. "They had no contact with the outside."

Abdollahi said ICE officials told the mothers that because they weren't taking solid food, they would become mentally unfit to care for their children, and so ICE would be justified in separating their children from them.

In addition to threats of separation and deportation, advocates said ICE officials also shut down the commissary so that the mothers would be forced to drink the jail's tap water, which has been highly chlorinated due to heavy industrial hydraulic fracturing operations in Karnes County.

The mothers, who are paid $3 a day to work at the jail, typically opt to buy clean water for $2.50 at the commissary, as well as other pre-packaged snacks and microwavable food items for their children. Advocates and attorneys have described the standard food provided at the prison as inedible and inappropriate for the children, who have been raised eating an entirely different cuisine.

Advocates have been reporting that children incarcerated at Karnes have been losing weight and displaying other signs of malnourishment and depression, including some children whose hair has begun to fall out "in chunks."

Well before last week's hunger strike, human rights groups who have visited the Karnes jail described the conditions there as "deplorable," saying detainees did not have adequate access to legal counsel and that those who had valid asylum claims were not being provided with sufficient information about the process for pursuing them. They said many interviews with asylum officers had been rushed.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Washington, DC, 58 percent of the children and families fleeing violence in Central American countries have "legitimate" claims to asylum and international protections under international law.

ICE denies the hunger strike ever occurred at the Karnes jail last week and maintains that immigrant-family detention camps do not have solitary confinement areas. But attorneys and advocates told Truthout that confinement in the medical clinic has been used commonly as a punishment tool by Karnes officials.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so," ICE officials wrote in a statement released to Truthout.

Advocates told Truthout that ICE officials have denied the women were on a hunger strike because they witnessed - and filmed - the women buying snacks for their children from the commissary.

A 2011 ICE procedural handbook states that detainees who don't eat for at least 72 hours are to be placed in the medical department "for evaluation and possible treatment by medical and mental health personnel." The handbook says staff may also place a detainee in the medical department even before 72 hours. The handbook also states that hunger-striking detainees can be placed in a "single occupancy observation room."

"It's not really about medical purposes, because the women inside have been complaining about weight loss for six, seven months," Abdollahi told Truthout. "Weight loss as a result of the hunger strike isn't anything different than what the women are already facing inside."

Fleeing From Threats, Violence in Brazil Only to Face More in the US

Many of the asylum-seeking mothers and children from Central America currently incarcerated in jails such as the one at Karnes have fled extreme violence in their home countries, including rape and death threats. This has been the case for at least one of the women who was allegedly put into isolation in the Karnes medical clinic last week, according to the woman's husband.

Polyane Soares de Oliveire dos Santos originally lived in Brazil but emigrated to Boston, where she lived with her husband long before she was incarcerated at Karnes. Oliveire's husband, who requested his name be withheld, told Truthout that Oliveire returned to Brazil to reunite with her 10-year-old daughter and care for her ailing mother.

Oliveire wasn't planning to return to the United States because she had anticipated the difficulties of obtaining the proper immigration documents. Oliveire's husband told Truthout that after her mother got well, she began working as a housekeeper on a farm in Brazil. However, after a few weeks of work, her employer began to rape and abuse her.

After she threatened to go to the Brazilian authorities and report the rape, the farmer threatened to kill her. At that point, Oliveire decided to flee the country with her daughter. According to advocates, she turned herself over to authorities when she arrived at the Southwest US border and was sent to Karnes shortly after, where she and her daughter passed a "credible fear" interview. She has been incarcerated at Karnes for eight months now.

"She tells me over the phone ... '[The farmer] raped me while I was working for him on his farm. ... Once I'll be deported to Brazil, he might kill me,'" Oliveire's husband says.

He said she and her 10-year-old daughter have been re-traumatized since coming to the US to seek asylum, through their incarceration at Karnes. He worries about his stepdaughter's mental health and said that when the little girl was interviewed by ICE officials last November, they treated her as an adult, asking her if she had ever killed anyone or if she was a member of a gang.

"[The girl] got so frustrated. She started to really cry a lot, and she was by herself, and then they asked the mother to come in and comfort her, and after she stopped crying, they came again with the same questions," he said.

After the family obtained "credible fear" status, an immigration judge assigned Oliveire's young daughter a $2,000 bond, but the family never attempted to post the bond because they already knew ICE officials would refuse to release Oliveire and her daughter.

Many of the women participating in last week's hunger strike are not eligible for bond from an immigration judge because they are classified in a "withholding only" status, which means they have previously been deported out of the US.

Attorneys told Truthout that even though many of the mothers aren't eligible for bond due to their withholding status, their children are. In some cases, immigration judges have granted the children bond under the condition that ICE would release the children into the custody of their mothers, but ICE officials have refused to release the mothers, and refuse to release the children to any other designated family member. This is just the legal conundrum Oliveire and her young daughter face at Karnes.

Because ICE policy has been a no-bond policy, a bond re-determination hearing has been routine for jailed asylum-seekers. Attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch previously told Truthout that ICE seems to set bonds based on bed space. When more beds are available, she said, the bonds are set higher, between about $7 and $10,000. RAICES has said bond has been set as high as $15,000. When there's less bed space, the bonds are between $3 and $5,000, Lincoln-Goldfinch said.

Oliveire's husband told Truthout that the couple's children, who remain in his custody, have been quiet and have been having trouble in school since Oliveire and her daughter were detained at Karnes. "They need their mother," he told Truthout.

He supports his wife's hunger strike because he believes it's one of the only ways the women have to make their voices heard.

Oliveire told him on Sunday that ICE officials were going to meet this week with those who participated in the hunger strike to determine what their punishment would be, giving them a choice of either a week without food from the commissary or a week without phone calls.

A Pattern of Cracking Down on Mothers and Their Attorneys

Oliveire's attorney, Virginia Raymond, has said Oliveire's alleged isolation last week is part of a larger pattern of ICE officials cracking down on the incarcerated mothers, as well as their advocates and attorneys. Raymond said ICE officials have banned at least two paralegals from visiting the jail, including her own paralegal, Victoria Rossi.

Raymond says the other paralegal, RAICES' Johana De Leon, is being accused of organizing last week's hunger strike. She believes her own paralegal was banned from the detention camp for publishing an article in the Texas Observer describing the conditions inside. ICE allegedly told Raymond, however, that Rossi was banned because ICE had only authorized her to visit the jail as an interpreter, rather than a paralegal.

Advocacy organizations as well as dozens of pro bono attorneys representing asylum-seeking families held at Karnes have signed an open letter to ICE officials, calling for an end to their interference in legal processes and to the alleged retaliatory measures taken against the women and their attorneys.

Raymond also told Truthout that authorities have stepped up security measures at the Karnes detention camp, including installing a second set of metal detectors last week. "It's just more intimidation, more security, more distrust," Raymond said.

Raymond alleged ICE officials have interfered in attorneys' immigration cases, asking probing questions about how many people are representing a Karnes client and curtailing entry for legal staff.

"At the same time [ICE officials] were accusing Johana De Leon of RAICES of organizing a fast, they were denying that a fast was taking place," Raymond said.

Additionally, Raymond pointed out that ICE officials have investigated a San Antonio resident, Yasmina Codina, a volunteer with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, who visited the facility last Tuesday to deliver clean drinking water to the hunger-striking mothers inside.

In a letter to Joaquin Castro, a Texas House representative from her district, Codina writes that shortly after she left the Karnes detention camp Tuesday, she was notified by her supervisor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she is a graduate assistant, that ICE officials had called asking questions about her activities outside of work and school.

"[Karnes] is a really ugly place right now," Raymond told Truthout.

"Deplorable" Conditions Reported at Such Camps Amid Expansion of Family Detention

The Karnes County Civil Detention Center, about 50 miles southeast of San Antonio, was originally opened in 2012 to detain adult men, but was converted last summer into a private immigrant detention center holding children and families fleeing poverty and violence in Central American countries. The jail currently incarcerates about 300 families and is owned and operated by the private prison corporation GEO Group.

The company has come under fire in the past for its conditions and practices, which have sparked lawsuits as well as previous hunger strikes at its jails and have resulted in the company having at least one of its contracts canceled at the Coke County juvenile detention facility.

The Karnes jail is part of an expansion of immigrant-family jails across South Texas, facilitated by the Obama administration as a response to the Central American refugee influx that reached its peak last summer, when more than 68,541 unaccompanied, undocumented minors crossed the Southwest border last year. Another 68,445 undocumented women traveling with children were counted, but those numbers have slowed considerably since last summer.

A federal court in Washington granted a preliminary injunction in February to temporarily halt the Obama administration's policy of incarcerating asylum-seeking mothers and children as a deterrent to other potential migrants.

But despite the recent ruling, the practice of family detention has kept pace, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the nation's two largest private prison companies, are predicting an increase in contracts with ICE at the state and federal level in 2015 to lock up asylum-seeking families.

CCA officials reported that its new immigrant family jail in Dilley, Texas, has already generated more than $21 million in revenue in the last quarter of 2014. The jail is expected to officially become the nation's largest immigrant detention facility, as the population is anticipated to swell to fill its 2,400-bed capacity later this spring.

But similar signs of trouble are already beginning to surface at the Dilley jail. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an international human rights group, and RAICES has already reported an attempted suicide last month at Dilley Family Detention Center, about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio.

Those who have already toured the new Dilley jail have said that, like the Karnes jail, detainees confined there have few due process protections and that their asylum cases have been rushed.

President Obama, responding to pressure from immigrant-rights activists, took executive action to offer temporary deportation relief to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants in late November and created a temporary work status, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, for the undocumented parents of US-born children.

But the president's action has faced congressional and legal challenges, including clashes in the House over attempts to repeal the president's executive actions. More recently, a Texas federal judge has maintained a temporary injunction on the president's executive action this week, rejecting a Department of Justice request that he allow the order to move forward.

In the meantime, the women incarcerated at the Karnes immigrant-family camp feel they have no other choice but to pursue their hunger strike.

"[ICE officials] don't respect any law ... they are a kind of a God to play with young kids' and womens' lives. That's a life that they are playing with. If they get deported, their lives are in danger," Oliveire's husband told Truthout. "They don't care. They don't care about them."

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Edited by vladzo, 10 April 2015 - 07:50 PM.

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#99 Shura


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Posted 11 April 2015 - 02:33 AM

Sad part about this massive story is the fact that Latinos, are NOT emigrating to United States they are returning to their homeland which was taken away from them after the Spanish war. They know it and love it as Aztlan. The situation is very similar to the demise of Palestinians.

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#100 vladzo


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Posted 20 April 2015 - 08:41 PM

  • Join us in welcoming author Francisco Jiménez as he reads from his new book Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University.

    Thursday, May 28
    7 – 9 pm
    Rinconada Library, Embarcadero Room

    1213 Newell Rd.
    Please Click Here to RSVP”  
    Sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the MidPen Media Center‘s Made Into America project.

    “Taking Hold….” summary
    Jiménez leaves everything behind in California-a loving family, a devoted girlfriend, and the culture that shaped him-to attend Columbia University in New York. Carrying memories of years of poverty and prejudice with him, he enters into a world culturally different from his own. Will he find community? Will he be able to excel among his Ivy Leagues classmates? How will he support his family back home now that his devoted father is too ill to work?

    Continuing the best-selling life stories told in The Circuit, Breaking Through, and Reaching Out, Jiménez chronicles his efforts and struggles as he continues his education at Columbia University. Francisco Jiménez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and recently retired from Santa Clara University after over forty years, where he was most recently the chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department.

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Edited by vladzo, 20 April 2015 - 08:42 PM.

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