The most egregious bull s--- yet
to testify on costs of illegal immigration
By Anne C. Mulkern
Denver Post Staff Writer
Washington - Gov. Bill Owens will tell a U.S. Senate committee meeting in Aurora next week that illegal immigration forces states to spend more on public education and other services.
Owens is one of eight witnesses who will testify before a field hearing of the Senate's Budget Committee. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., asked for and will chair the hearing, which will focus on the costs of illegal immigration.
The meeting is scheduled for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the Aurora Municipal Center City Council Chambers, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway.
Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has called the hearing a political stunt that won't further immigration reform.
Allard voted against an immigration bill that passed the Senate in May; Salazar favored the bill but missed the vote to attend his daughter's high school commencement. The measure called for a pathway to legal residency for many illegal immigrants and a "guest worker" program, both opposed by immigration hard-liners.
Owens is likely to detail for senators what states are doing to deal with illegal immigration, including Colorado's new law requiring that specific identification documents be shown by people applying for certain state services, spokesman Dan Hopkins said.
Federal law precludes such rules in applying for Medicaid and food stamps, Hopkins said, and Owens may suggest that the federal government consider giving states more flexibility in ID requirements for those programs.
Other local witnesses scheduled to appear are Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer; Dan Rubinstein, a Mesa County prosecutor and a board member of the county's Meth Task Force; and Tony Gagliardi, Colorado director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
A pro-immigrant rights group plans to hold a meeting the evening before the Senate hearing. The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker-based social justice group, will gather at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Denver.
People at that hearing will talk about the contributions made by immigrants.
New outlaws plague Arizona desert refuges
Posted 8/22/2006 11:24 PM ET By Tom Kenworthy,
USA TODAY - CABEZA PRIETA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Ariz.
Roger Di Rosa, standing atop a high ridge overlooking a brad basin and the Growler Mountains beyond, recalls what this protected area was like nearly 30 years ago when he did his first tour here in the Southwest's Sonoran Desert. "You could go out and not see another person for a week," says Di Rosa, who now manages the sprawling U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge that covers an area the size of Rhode Island. There's no longer a shortage of people here or on other federal land that makes up 43% of the 1,900-mile boundary with Mexico.
Aggressive crackdowns along the border in recent years in places such as San Diego and El Paso have pushed illegal immigrants and drug smugglers into remote desert areas in southern Arizona. As a result, employees from park rangers to biologists are dealing more with the effects of illegal immigration, instead of protecting wildlife and helping visitors.
Last year, 205,231 illegal immigrants were apprehended on Arizona border lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, according to Di Rosa.
In addition to Cabeza Prieta, several other federal properties along the border in southern Arizona — Organ Pipe National Monument, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, the Coronado National Memorial and the Coronado National Forest — have been hit with immigration-related issues that cut into the time being spent on park issues.
Each year, an estimated 35 tons of marijuana pass through the Coronado National Memorial, east of Nogales, Ariz., the park service reports.
At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument run by the National Park Service, superintendent Kathy Billings says her staff spends about 75% of their time on border issues. Her park rangers, along with U.S. Border Patrol agents, detained nearly 8,000 smugglers and illegal immigrants last year and seized 8 tons of marijuana.
Because of possible danger to visitors, Organ Pipe has closed 90 miles of roads that tourists once used to view scenery and wildlife. A 30-mile iron fence costing $18 million was finished earlier this month along the border to stem illegal vehicle traffic.
System of 'highways'
At Cabeza Prieta, which preserves habitat for endangered wildlife like the desert pronghorn antelope, illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico have created a vast system of "major highways" across wilderness, Di Rosa says. At any one time, there are several dozen abandoned vehicles on the refuge. Fires are normally a rare occurrence here, but 7,500 acres burned last year as stranded illegal immigrants set blazes to attract help as they struggled to survive in the heat. This year, 250 people overcome by the harsh conditions after crossing the border have been rescued on the refuge.
The refuge's two law enforcement agents, working with the Border Patrol, confront organized gangs that smuggle drugs and illegal immigrants and "are better equipped than we are," Di Rosa says.
The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees land along 155 miles of the border, faces similar problems. From 2003 to 2005, the agency removed 700 abandoned cars and 250,000 pounds of trash in southern Arizona, BLM district manager Bill Civish told Congress in June.
Cabeza Prieta was founded in 1939. In 1990, Congress designated nearly all of it as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection.
Not long after, illegal immigration shifted to desert areas as the Border Patrol stepped up interdiction efforts in traditional crossing areas in California and Texas.
Larry Parkinson, head of law enforcement for the Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, calls it the "balloon effect" — squeeze enforcement in one place, and the problem pops out somewhere else.
In 2004, the Interior Department told the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, that between 1997 and 2000 the number of illegal immigrants detained on department lands within 100 miles of the border jumped from 512 to 113,380 and has continued to increase.
For federal land managers along the border, the illegal immigration also means severe budget strains. At Organ Pipe, about half the $3 million budget is spent on immigration issues — from arresting smugglers and illegal immigrants to collecting trash to assessing damage to the fragile environment, Billings says.
After the 2002 murder of a park ranger by a smuggler, Organ Pipe doubled its law enforcement staff to 14 rangers. Now there are 12 and should be 21, according to the monument's assessment of what it needs.
The park service has increased spending on homeland security and border protection by about $121 million nationwide since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. While most of the costs have been covered by increased congressional appropriations, at least $21 million has not, according to the park service.
At Cabeza Prieta, the basic work of the refuge — protecting wildlife — has been compromised, Di Rosa says. The traffic is disrupting migration patterns and destroying habitat used by the desert pronghorn antelope, which numbered only about 20 here during a 2001-02 drought but is slowly increasing with the aid of a captive-breeding program. "We are not fulfilling our mandates for managing wilderness or the refuge," Di Rosa says.
Business owners sue firms
accused of hiring illegal aliens
By Peter Prengaman AP Published August 23, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- Business owners frustrated by lax enforcement of immigration laws are taking their fight to court, accusing competitors of hiring illegal workers to achieve an unfair advantage.
The legal action is an attempt by business and anti-illegal-immigration groups to create an economic deterrent against hiring illegal employees.
In the first of a series of lawsuits, a temporary employment agency that supplies farm workers sued a grower and two competing companies on Monday.
Similar cases claiming violations of federal anti-racketeering laws have yielded mixed results. The California lawsuit is thought to be the first based on a state's unfair-competition laws, legal analysts said.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Global Horizons claimed in the lawsuit that Munger Brothers, a grower, hired illegal alien workers from Ayala Agricultural Services and J&A Contractors. All the defendants are based in California's farm-rich Central Valley.
The suit claims that Munger Brothers had a contract with Global Horizons to provide more than 600 blueberry pickers this spring, but nixed the agreement so it could hire illegal aliens.
"Competitors hiring illegal immigrants is hurting our business badly," Global Horizons President Mordechai Orian said. "It's to the point that doing business legally isn't worth it."
Ayala Agricultural Services manager Javier Rodriguez had not seen the suit but said the company does not hire undocumented immigrants.
"If somebody doesn't have a green card or work documents, we don't hire them," he said.
Messages left with Munger Brothers and J&A Contractors were not returned.
With an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States, undocumented workers are a large part of the nation's work force.
But immigration law enforcement at work sites is limited. In fiscal year 1999, authorities arrested 2,849 persons at work sites compared with 1,145 arrests last year, according to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
To prove competitors hire illegal aliens, businesses could use public records involving prior violations, testimony from former employees who have worked alongside illegal aliens, and recovered W-2 tax forms that show people working under fake names and Social Security numbers, said David Klehm, the lead lawyer for cases in Southern California.
Companies planning to file additional lawsuits include farms and factories that depend heavily on immigrant labor, Mr. Klehm said.
Legal analysts said the cases could be difficult to win. Under the California statutes, plaintiffs must prove a competitor directly harmed their business.
"Unless you've got smoking-gun evidence, it's hard to tie economic loss of one business to another's practices," said Niels Frenzen, a law professor at the University of Southern California.
He thinks it is the first time the unfair-competition law has been used to target illegal immigration.
The Global Horizons lawsuit came after a settlement was reached in a Washington state class action suit involving employees of Zirkle Fruit Co. who sued their employer for driving down wages by hiring undocumented workers.
Based on federal anti-racketeering laws, the case was settled for $1.3 million in January after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's decision to dismiss it.
| 2 Border
Patrol agents face 20 years
in prison - Officers prosecuted for wounding
drug trafficker who was given full
immunity in exchange for testimony
Posted: August 7, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
When Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos pulled the trigger last February, all he knew was that his partner was lying on the ground behind him – bloodied from a struggle with a fleeing suspect – shots had been fired and now, it appeared, the drug smuggler he was pursuing had turned toward him with what looked to be a gun in his hand.
In the split-second he had to respond, Ramos determined the course of his and his partner's lives – federal prison for the next 20 years for assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharging of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, violating civil rights and obstruction of justice.
Ramos, 37, is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.
On February 17, he responded to a request for back up from agent Jose Alonso Compean, 28, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso.
Ramos, who headed toward Fabens hoping to cut off the van, soon joined a third agent already in pursuit.
Behind the wheel of the van was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila's van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.
Unable to outrun Ramos and the third agent, Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on the levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler's attempt to get back to Mexico.
"We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn't stop, and he just kept running," Ramos told California's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Aldrete-Davila crossed a canal.
"At some point during the time where I'm crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired," Ramos said. "Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler."
At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.
"I shot," Ramos said. "But I didn't think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn't look like he had been hit at all."
The commotion and multiple calls for back up had brought seven other agents – including two supervisors – to the crossing by this time. Compean picked up his shell casings, but Ramos did not. He also did not follow agency procedure and report that he had fired his weapon.
"The supervisors knew that shots were fired," Ramos told the paper. "Since nobody was injured or hurt, we didn't file the report. That's the only thing I would've done different."
Had he done that one thing differently, it's unlikely it would have mattered to prosecutors.
Over two weeks after the incident, Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, received a call from a Border Patrol agent in Wilcox, Ariz. The agent's mother-in-law had received a call from Aldrete-Davila's mother in Mexico telling her that her son had been wounded in the buttocks in the shooting.
Sanchez followed up with a call of his own to the smuggler in Mexico.
In a move that still confuses Ramos and Compean, the U.S. government filed charges against them after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.
At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof told the court that the agents had violated an unarmed Aldrete-Davila's civil rights.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot them in the back while fleeing if you don't know who they are and/or if you don't know they have a weapon," said Kanof.
Kanof dismissed Ramos' testimony that he had seen something shiny in the smuggler's hand, saying that the agent couldn't be sure it was a gun he had seen. Further, Kanof argued, it was a violation of Border Patrol policy for agents to pursue fleeing suspects.
"Agents are not allowed to pursue. In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not," she told the Daily Bulletin.
Those shell casings Compean picked up were described to the jury as destroying the crime scene and their failure to file an incident report – punishable by a five-day suspension, according to Border Patrol regulations – an attempted cover up.
The Texas jury came back with a guilty verdict. Conviction for discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence has an automatic 10-year sentence. The other counts have varying punishments. Ramos and Compean will be sentenced next month.
"How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people?" said Ramos, who noted that he only did on that day what he had done for the previous 10 years. "Everybody who's breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?"
He also noted that none of the other agents who had responded to the incident filed reports that shots were fired and, besides, both supervisors at the scene knew they had discharged their weapons.
"You need to tell a supervisor because you can't assume that a supervisor knows about it," Kanof countered. "You have to report any discharge of a firearm."
"This is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have ever seen," said Andy Ramirez of the nonprofit group Friends of the Border Patrol. "This drug smuggler has fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you."
The El Paso Sheriff's Department has increased its patrols around the Ramos home. The family is receiving threats from people they believe are associated with Aldrete-Davila.
Panel: Senate Bill Would 'Cede Control' of Border
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
August 17, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Key provisions of the border security bill passed by the U.S. Senate are "meaningless" according to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding a field hearing on the bill in El Paso, Texas, Thursday. Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) warns that the Senate is trying to "cede control" of the country's southern border security to the Mexican government.
The Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437) has already passed the House of Representatives but has not been reconciled with the competing Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The House bill directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to "construct double-layered and reinforced fencing and additional barriers, roads, lighting, camera and sensors along designated stretches of the southern border which are the major points of current illegal border crossing."
The proposal includes 72 miles of fence in California, 342 miles in Arizona, 70 miles in New Mexico, including the border area just west of El Paso, Texas, and 370 miles of fencing in Texas.
Conversely, the Senate bill authorizes only 370 total miles of fencing and makes construction of any fences conditional upon consultation with the Mexican government.
A statement issued by Sensenbrenner's office indicates that the committee is particularly displeased with that part of the Senate's proposal.
"Mexico is unlikely to provide its approval for new fences because its political leaders have made it a top priority to stop any more fence construction," the committee statement said. "Consequently, the Senate's fence provisions become meaningless, and an important precedent [would be] established to cede control of security on the Southwest border to Mexico."
The House committee is also concerned that the Senate bill would inhibit local sheriffs and police departments that want to help enforce immigration laws. Local law enforcement officials operating along the Mexican border strongly object to the proposed restrictions and have told other members of congress that such provisions would undermine security.
Rep. Edward Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, recalled that it was local law enforcement officials who stopped four of the 19 hijackers for speeding prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"All four terrorists could have been arrested if the officers ... realized that they were here illegally," Royce told Cybercast News Service in an email.
Royce also warned that the Senate bill could discourage local police from detaining aliens who have remained in the country illegally after their visas have expired.
"Afraid of being blamed for making a wrongful arrest and getting sued, many law enforcement agencies may stop helping the federal government enforce immigration laws altogether," Royce added. "Instead of tying the hands of local law enforcement, we should be encouraging them to cooperate with immigration officials to help enforce our immigration laws."
Sheriff Leo Samaniego of El Paso County, Texas, will testify at Thursday's hearing. He told Cybercast News Service that the border can be protected if enough personnel and resources are deployed.
"Can we secure the border?" Samaniego asked, rhetorically. "You betcha!"
"Operation Linebacker" is a prime example, Samaniego said, of how local law enforcement agencies can work together to support the federal government border enforcement efforts. The program allows sheriffs to hire additional personnel to target illegal aliens who get past the U.S. Border Patrol.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry secured grant funding for Operation Linebacker which resulted in more resources for sheriffs operating along the border. Although it has only been active for a few months, the operation has resulted in a dramatic reduction in criminal activity in participating counties.
Samaniego estimates that the $100 million-a-year for border county law enforcement agencies in the House bill would be sufficient to fund initiatives like Operation Linebacker all along the southern U.S. border. The Senate bill is problematic, he says, because it would only provide about $50 million.
Moreover, the Senate's funding would be available to any community within 100 miles of the Mexican or Canadian borders. That feature would "dilute" the impact of bill, Samaniego said, because the funding would be allocated to so many agencies.
is the greatest sadness that the Politicians who let this happen are
the best we have, for the
alternative to them is true devastation. Ed.]
Member Dies During Hot Border Duty
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