Immigration Reform (9/20/2006)
How open borders turn Americans into roadkill (8/25/2006)
Southern Border Sheriffs Outgunned by Drug Cartels (8/25/2006)
Tancredo confronts 'super-state' effort (6/28/2006)
Southern Border Sheriffs Outgunned by Drug Cartels
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
August 25, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Drug cartels operating along the southwestern U.S. border are a "country unto themselves" with intelligence capabilities, weaponry and communications equipment that far exceed the resources made available to local law enforcement in the U.S., according to sheriffs who have organized a new border security coalition.
Sheriff Leo Samaniego of El Paso County, Texas, told Cybercast News Service that the same infrastructure that facilitates illegal immigration from Mexico creates enormous opportunities for heavily armed criminal enterprises like drug cartels and terrorists.
"A lot of people make their living transporting illegal aliens," Samaniego said. "The 'coyotes' [as human smugglers are called] get them across the border but there is a network of individuals involved in transporting them once they get to safe houses."
The same methods of concealment and transportation are being exploited by the drug cartels, Samaniego explained.
Though immigration violations technically fall within the purview of the federal government, Samaniego says the local officials must often bear the full force of the crimes that attach themselves to illicit border crossings.
Those crimes include drug smuggling, human trafficking, trespassing, destruction of property, vehicle theft and even kidnappings and murders.
Samaniego believes many Mexican drug cartel members actually live in the U.S. and function as part of one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.
"Federal, state and local officers all along the southwest border of the United States are outgunned and outmanned," Samaniego told the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation in July.
Sheriff's deputies are advised to "back off," Samaniego told Cybercast News Service, when they see well armed individuals from cartels and other criminal organizations.
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez of Zapata County, Texas, has been in touch with a number of informants familiar with the drug cartel operations.
"They tell me that what we have are water guns when compared with what the drug cartels are using," Gonzalez said.
The weaponry used by the cartels includes machine guns, grenades and grenade launchers, Gonzalez said, adding that the cartels also have expertise in the use of explosives.
Rick Glancey, who serves as the executive director of the Texas Sheriffs Border Coalition, says local law enforcement is hampered by financial and regulatory provisos that do not apply to cartels, which operate with seemingly unlimited resources.
"They have the ability to purchase military equipment where all we can do is purchase local law enforcement equipment," he said. "We'll never be able to see an even playing field. We just hope to be smarter."
Although law enforcement continues to face daunting challenges, Glancey and Samaniego both said some of the newer initiatives organized through the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition hold enormous promise.
"Operation Linebacker" was launched in September 2005 and holds great promise in the eyes of local law enforcement. Its central objective is to maximize resources on the state and local level. Since the operation went into effect, sheriffs have observed a significant reduction in both illegal immigration and various criminal activities.
"The results have been outstanding," Samaniego said.
Samaniego said that, within just a few weeks after the operation began, some problem areas for illegal immigration in the Del Rio region experienced as much as a 75-percent drop in the crime rate.
"We are proving that if you provide enough resources on the border, federal, state, county as well as municipal, we can make a difference," Samaniego said. "We can shut it down, if we have the manpower."
Governor supports 'Operation Linebacker,' secures additional funding
In response to the success of those border enforcement efforts, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry expanded the concept, launching "Operation Rio Grande." The move assigns Texas Rangers, state troopers and members of the Civil Air Patrol to assist Operation Linebacker.
Perry also announced in June that the state would spend $20 million to continue Operation Rio Grande. The money has paid for body armor, night vision goggles, technology upgrades and overtime expenses.
Sheriffs have received another $10 million in federal funding, primarily from criminal justice grants, for Operation Linebacker since the beginning of the year.
The money pays for additional personnel and equipment. The influx of federal money to the sheriffs is also financing "Citizen Police Academies" to train local volunteers and increase community involvement in border protection efforts.
Members of the sheriff's coalition agree that insufficient communications equipment is a major challenge that must be addressed.
Glancey would like to see some form of satellite communications availability. He's also concerned about the technical capacity cartels have to listen to the conversations of local law enforcers.
"There are some areas from Brownsville to El Paso where we would have to seriously consider the encryption of our signal because of the ability of the cartels and others to tap into our radio frequency," Glancey said.
Using encryption would have another benefit: It would allow sheriffs' deputies to communicate more easily with federal agencies, which already encrypt their radio transmissions.
The border sheriffs' coalition insists that the positive results from Operation Linebacker prove that the right mix of ingenuity and willpower can secure the border and frustrate the drug cartels.
"These operations have proven to be very successful for the border," Gonzalez said. "Texas is the 'can-do state.' We are showing the federal government how it should be done."
Glancey warns, however, that too many of the most important decisions about immigration policy and border enforcement are made by members of Congress from non-border regions. Those officials, Glancey explained, don't always understand the consequences of their decisions.
Kathy Walt, spokeswoman for Perry, told Cybercast News Service that the governor's office will try to devote any excess unspent state funds to Operation Linebacker before the end of the year.
Perry sees enormous potential in the on-going border security efforts modeled after Operation Linebacker. Walt said that she expects additional border security initiatives to be launched in the future.
"We know that by conducting these heavy concentrations of law enforcement," Walt said, "that the mere presence of law enforcement along the border has shutdown a lot of criminal activity."
open borders turn Americans into roadkill
- Illegals drive up highway deaths as U.S. hits
- new highs for unlicensed, uninsured motorists
Posted: August 25, 2006 © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Vitalina Bautista Vargas bids farewell to husband in court (courtesy Chattanooga Times Free Press)
WASHINGTON – Marcos Ramos Medina was driving his 1997 Chevrolet Lumina erratically, according to witnesses, swerving several times across the center line, causing a tractor-trailer rig to jackknife in Yakima, Wash., Aug. 4, 2005.
That was before his car plowed into the 2000 Lexus driven by Peggy Keller, 53, dean of distance education at Yakima Valley College, who was killed in the head-on crash.
Prosecutors in his vehicular homicide trial contended Medina was coming down from a methamphetamine high. When Russell T. "Todd" Sharpe, a six-year Washington State Patrol officer, testified that Medina fought against his restraints while being taken to the hospital for a blood alcohol test and refused to answer questions, the case against the Mexican national with a criminal record who had twice been deported was declared a mistrial because his constitutional right to remain silent had been violated.
"It pains me greatly, but in this case I must exercise an abundance of caution," explained Judge James P. Hutton.
Little caution, critics say, is being exercised when it comes to preventing mayhem on America's highways as the country witnesses record high numbers of unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured drivers – millions of whom are illegal aliens like Medina.
While no one – in or out of government – tracks traffic accidents caused by illegal aliens, the statistical and anecdotal evidence suggests many of last year's 42,636 road deaths involved illegal aliens.
A report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study found 20 percent of fatal accidents involve at least one driver who lacks a valid license. In California, another study showed that those who have never held a valid license are about five times more likely to be involved in a fatal road accident than licensed drivers.
Statistically, that makes them an even greater danger on the road than drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked – and nearly as dangerous as drunk drivers.
While police do not routinely ask drivers about their immigration status, New York's Rockland County District Attorney Michael Bongiorno – who has prosecuted more than 20 felony cases this year involving people accused of both unlicensed driving and drunken driving – estimated that two-thirds of about 70 drivers charged in Spring Valley with misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated and unlicensed driving were illegal immigrants.
"Unfortunately, the undocumented drivers here do that (drive unlicensed) more than the natives,'' said California Highway Patrol Officer Wendy Hahn. "If they've been involved in an incident, they flee because they don't want to deal with immigration.''
Federal immigration officials typically do not get involved when an undocumented person is charged with drunken driving or driving without a license, said Bongiorno and police officials around the country.
While the Census Bureau estimates there are 9 million illegal aliens living in the U.S., other sources put the figure closer to 20 million. Running parallel to those estimates are the best guesses on the number of unlicensed motorists – 17 million.
In addition, the states with the most illegal aliens also have the most unlicensed drivers. Those states are also in the lead for the most hit-and-run accidents, according to reports issued by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Pew Hispanic Center. California ranks at the top with 24.1 percent of the known 11.1 million illegal aliens.
The proportion of unlicensed drivers varies widely state-by-state, with 6 percent in Maine and 23 percent in New Mexico.
Many of those advocating allowing illegal aliens to get driver's licenses make the case by suggesting most unlicensed drivers are so because they cannot get a license.
In California, for instance, the Legislature is considering several proposals that would help illegal immigrants drive. One of them is a bill that would prevent police from seizing vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers. Senate Bill 626 by Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario, would apply to all drivers who have never obtained a California license. Opponents point out those favoring the bill are the same people promoting licenses for illegals.
'Under current state law, police can seize vehicles for up to 30 days if the driver is unlicensed. Under the new bill, if the driver never had a license, the vehicle could be seized for only 24 hours; those who had licenses suspended or revoked would still have the vehicles impounded for up to 30 days.
Who are the people who have never had a license? Disproportionately, critics of the bill say, they are illegal immigrants.
In the Maryland Legislature, Delegate Luiz R.S. Simmons, D-Montgomery, is drafting legislation that would stiffen penalties for unlicensed drivers. His bill requires them to appear before a judge and would make them subject to up to 90 days in jail for a first offense and as much as a year for a second offense. In addition, cars belonging to unlicensed drivers could be impounded for up to a month or forfeited if they were involved in an accident that caused an injury.
Though there is absolutely no government data on the identity of Maryland's unlicensed drivers – or those in any other state – Simmons's bill has been attacked by immigrant rights' activists, who say it targets Latinos.
Whether they are mostly illegal aliens or not, one thing is certain – there are more unlicensed drivers on the road than ever before. So prevalent is the trend that many police departments have cut back on sobriety checkpoints in favor of checkpoints to check the documentation of drivers.
A WND statistical study of police reports of dozens of such checkpoints around the country show that close to 10 percent of drivers stopped are either unlicensed or have suspended licenses. Even at sobriety checkpoints, far more drivers are found to be unlicensed than intoxicated.
While some say the answer to the illegal alien-unlicensed driver crisis is permitting illegals to get licensed, others say the solution is decreasing the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Rules determining who is eligible for a driver's license vary by state. Eleven states do not require legal immigration status to obtain a license. The rest do require proof of legal status, either by state law or the documents required to apply. The eleven states are: Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. Tennessee and Utah have introduced a separate "certificate for driving" for state residents who cannot prove they are lawfully present in the United States. But Tennessee stopped issuing the certificates in February after reports that undocumented immigrants were coming from out of state and using false documents to apply.
The Real ID act, scheduled to take effect in 2008, will prohibit all states from issuing licenses to illegal aliens or the licenses will not be accepted as identification for federal purposes.
In addition to being unlicensed, most illegal alien drivers are uninsured – making the accidents they cause even more injurious. Statewide, more than one-third of California drivers are without insurance, according to the California Department of Insurance. In some low-income and minority neighborhoods, the rate is over 50 percent. In San Jose, for instance, 55 percent of all drivers on the road have no auto insurance. In some parts of Los Angeles, Imperial, San Diego and Alameda counties, the rate reaches as high as 90 percent.
The situation isn't much better in other states with high populations of illegals. In Texas, 27 percent of drivers are uninsured. In Florida, the estimates are between 15 and 25 percent. In Colorado, 32 percent.
Even though citizens and legal residents are victimized by the high percentage of uninsured drivers, illegal aliens themselves are often immune to the pain.
Take the case of Victor Manuel Caballero. Even though he entered the country illegally from Mexico five years ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that he could collect damages for being hurt in an auto accident from a special state fund set up to benefit those hurt in accidents with uninsured drivers.
Caballero would hitch a ride to his computer job with a co-worker, 19-year-old Ricardo Martinez. One morning, Martinez fell asleep at the wheel, veered off the road and struck a parked tractor trailer. Martinez walked away from the accident, but Caballero was badly hurt.
Surgeons repaired injuries to his abdomen and intestines over a week in the hospital at a cost of $38,300 in medical bills and $1,482 in lost wages. He had no medical insurance. The driver, Martinez was not only unregistered, he had no auto insurance. It turns out he was illegal, too.
The $38,300 in hospital bills was paid by a special hospital charity fund. And because of his successful lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court, Caballero was eligible for up to $15,000 for "pain and suffering."
There are no official statistics about highway carnage and illegal aliens. But there is an increasing awareness among law enforcement officials – and victims of traffic accidents – that illegal aliens are playing a disproportionate role in the road mayhem.
Earlier this month, a court in Chattanooga, Tenn., heard the case of an illegal alien convicted of running her car into a house and killing a 91-year-old woman. A judge ordered Vitalina Bautista Vargas deported. Amazingly, the family of the victim remained compassionate and merciful.
"They wanted one of the conditions to be that she learn how to drive," prosecutor Jay Wood said.
Prosecutor Wood said federal officials insisted that she be deported. He said as a convicted felon, she will not be allowed to apply to re-enter the country for at least 10 years.
Louella Winton, the victim, was asleep in her bed when the car crashed into her house. The vehicle knocked the victim through the bedroom wall and threw her against the wall of the house next door.
According to surveys conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Hispanics believe it takes 6-8 drinks to affect driving, while Americans, indoctrinated for years against drunk driving, believe it takes just 2-4 drinks.
In 2001, MADD reported 44.1 percent of California's drunk driving arrests were of Hispanics, while, officially, they made up just 31.3 percent of the population.
THE NEW WORLD
Thursday, June 28, 2006
Tancredo confronts 'super-state' effort.
Demands full disclosure of White House work with Mexico, Canada
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Responding to a WorldNetDaily report, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., is demanding the Bush administration fully disclose the activities of an office implementing a trilateral agreement with Mexico and Canada that apparently could lead to a North American union, despite having no authorization from Congress.
As WND reported, the White House has established working groups, under the North American Free Trade Agreement office in the Department of Commerce, to implement the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, signed by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, March 23, 2005.
The groups, however, have no authorization from Congress and have not disclosed the results of their work despite two years of massive effort within the executive branches of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Tancredo wants to know the membership of the SPP groups along with their various trilateral memoranda of understanding and other agreements reached with counterparts in Mexico and Canada.
Tancredo's decision has been endorsed by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project.
"It's time the Bush administration to come clean," Gilchrist told WND. "If President Bush's agenda is to establish a new North American union government to supersede the sovereignty of the United States, then the president has an obligation to tell this to the American people directly. The American public has a right to know."
Geri Word, who heads the SPP office, told WND the work had not been disclosed because, "We did not want to get the contact people of the working groups distracted by calls from the public." WND can find no specific congressional legislation authorizing the SPP working groups nor any congressional committees taking charge of oversight. Many SPP working groups appear to be working toward achieving specific objectives as defined by a May 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force report, which presented a blueprint for expanding the SPP agreement into a North American union that would merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a new governmental form.
Threatens Immigration Reform, Says Congressman
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
September 20, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Immigration reform may still be alive on Capitol Hill, but "elitism" inside the U.S. Senate chamber and in various media outlets remains an obstacle to the passage of meaningful legislation, according to some lawmakers and public policy experts.
House Republicans who favor an "enforcement-first" approach to immigration reform have successfully re-launched reform efforts with a bill authorizing 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the most porous sections of the American-Mexican border. The Senate is taking up the legislation this week.
But, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the "elite opinion" of President Bush and senators is still at odds with the sentiments of most Americans on the immigration reform issue.
"I have never seen such a disconnect between American people and the elite in our country as on the issue of illegal immigration," King said during an immigration forum organized by House leaders on Capitol Hill. "If we are going to restore the confidence of the American people we have to show we can secure borders. People ask me -- if you can't secure the border, how can you win the war on terror? If we are going to control our destiny as a nation, we must control our borders."
John Keeley, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), shares King's assessment. He told Cybercast News Service that there is "no other domestic issue where there is this gap between the elite and public opinion." Keeley identified a mix of media outlets, special interest groups and public officials as being part of the elite.
The list of elitists identified by Keeley include the following: the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), President Bush and U.S. senators who support more lenient immigration legislation such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Keeley described the elite as a "motley crew" that has very little in common ideologically, but nonetheless favors open borders and "unfettered immigration" for their own purposes.
He also said some U.S. senators view contemporary immigration as a civil right and feel that illegal status is more of an "administrative nuisance as opposed to a legitimate distinction."
The Secure Border Act of 2006 (H.R. 6061) passed the full House last week. The legislation calls for reinforced fencing and the creation of a "virtual fence" comprised of cameras, ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to move legislation involving additional border security measures to the House floor on Thursday, according to Kevin Madden, his spokesman.
This additional legislation would provide criminal penalties for the construction of tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico and for the expedited removal of criminal aliens. Another bill would reaffirm the authority state and local officials have to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
Madden also said he was encouraged by the actions taken thus far on the Senate side and sees an opportunity to get border security legislation passed that will make its way to the president's desk.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has employed legislative tactics that would allow for the Senate to take up H.R. 6061 as early as Wednesday.
Carolyn Weyforth, a spokeswoman for Frist, told Cybercast News Service in an email that the majority leader hopes that the House will take action on border security measures before Congress recesses in October.
"Senator Frist still believes that we need to address immigration reform in a comprehensive way. However, border security is the most pressing aspect of immigration reform right now. Not enforcement-only, but enforcement-first," she said.
John Hambel, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, which organized the Republican forum on Sept. 12, said the House leadership is pursuing a legislative strategy that focuses on the enforcement questions already resolved in talks with senators.
"All of these provisions, in one form or another have been passed by the Senate," Hambel said. "We are trying to short-circuit any problems by taking something they (the Senate) have already passed as part of their larger immigration reform package and we are picking those border security provisions that are immediate and should be non-confrontational."
But with such a short legislative calendar remaining, Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has little faith that immigration reform will be passed this year.
"My own opinion is that somewhere along the line, it will fall apart, and nothing serious will be passed, and I'll be surprised if anything at all is passed," he told Cybercast News Service.
Sabato also commented on the different positions that President Bush and members of his own party, especially in the House, maintain.
"They're all operating from self-interest," Sabato said. "Bush has taken the self-interest of the Republican Party in the long-term as his mission, and that's why he has the position he has on immigration. The Republican Party in the House has its mission the preservation of its current majority in this election and both positions make perfect sense politically from their perspective."
However, Marc Short, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), said it is a mistake to conclude that President Bush is not supportive of at least some of the provisions in the House bill. "There's some reporting that suggests whole-hearted endorsement (by the president) of the Senate bill," Short said. "That's not been our impression."
Jeff Lungren, who serves as the communications director for the House Judiciary Committee, agreed and pointed out that a number of the enforcement provisions in the House bill were added at the request of the White House.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hutchison and U.S Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) have submitted their own compromise plan on immigration.
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