Archive for August, 2006

Yahoo News

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged solidarity on Wednesday with Syria in its struggle against Israel and the United States and predicted the demise of U.S. “imperialism.”

Chavez, a harsh critic of U.S. foreign policy, also said he would seek a front-row seat if President George W. Bush accepted an invitation from Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a televised debate, adding he would be cheering on the Iranian president.

“Syria and Venezuela share the same firm positions and a resistance to imperialism and imperialist aggression,” Chavez told a news conference after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, speaking in Spanish through an Arab interpreter.

“This age will witness the end of American imperialism,” he said, pointing a laser pen at a map of the world showing countries where Washington has intervened militarily or whose governments it has helped to topple over the last 50 years.

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Daily Herald

Her name throws people.

The vision and voice behind the Illinois Minuteman Project and its suburban mobilization is, in fact, Hispanic.

Rosanna Pulido contends her heritage and her gender â?? sheâ??s the only woman to head a state Minuteman branch â?? make her an effective leader for those who say illegal immigration must be thwarted, borders sealed and laws enforced.

So, too, do her ethnic roots confound immigrant activists who wonder why the granddaughter of a Mexican farmer and a Christian who once ministered to Mexicoâ??s poor would put security over solidarity.

Pulido, a 50-year-old Chicago native, shrugs off such criticism. For her, the issue is defined by right and wrong, by patriotism and faith.

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Donna Deleon-Torres worked through manila folders stacked on her desk Wednesday - each representing a student she has served as an academic mentor.

An adviser with the LULAC National Education Service Center, she only has today to submit final reports on each student’s progress to the U.S. Education Department.

After she is done, she will gather up her belongings and clean out her desk.

Deleon-Torres is one of about 65 advisers in the League of United Latin American Citizens’ 16-city program out of a job after the organization’s application for a $3.4 million grant failed to pass federal standards early this month.

After today, the Corpus Christi center, which served about 1,200 high school and middle school students annually, will trim its six-person staff to two - a director and his secretary.

Feliberto Valdez, the center’s director, said he will continue to solicit funding from any possible sources, but without the federal money, the center likely will shut its doors at the end of September.

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World Net Daily

It’s amazing to me that there are still people in denial about efforts to build what is called “the NAFTA superhighway.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., dismissively ridiculed serious questions about the massive, multibillion trade routes designed to connect Mexico and Canada through highways in the U.S. His claim to fame is being chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but professes ignorance of one of the largest public works projects in the history of the country taking place right in his own backyard, right under his nose.

As WND reported earlier this week, another member of Congress, Rep. Jim Oberstar, through an aide, claimed deceptively, “There are no earmarks for a superhighway like that.”

And even activists working on behalf of the project are now dummying up, claiming the whole project is a myth.

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Washington Post

After four months of relative quiet, immigration reform advocates are mobilizing a new round of protests in Washington and other cities to put pressure on a returning Congress and reinvigorate a Latino movement that awakened in massive demonstrations this spring.

The events will begin tomorrow in Chicago, where demonstrators plan to set out on a four-day march to the district offices of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R) in Batavia, Ill., and will continue with one-day rallies throughout next week in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles.

Unlike previous rallies that drew people from the Washington region, the Sept. 7 event will include participants from along the East Coast. Organizers said at least 100 busloads of marchers will roll in.

To encourage local turnout, organizers are intensifying the strategies they used in the spring. They are playing radio promotional spots each hour on some Spanish-language stations. Volunteers are distributing fliers at churches, soccer fields, Metro stations and construction sites.

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TAYLOR, Mich. Authorities say a federal immigration agent has been charged with making false statements and accepting a bribe.

U-S Attorney Stephen Murphy says Ramon Williams of Taylor is accused asking the girlfriend of a deportable immigrant for help finding a job for his wife. In return he wanted favorable treatment for the immigrant.

The 27-year-old is also accused of lying about it in a written statement.

Williams worked deciding on the removal of illegal immigrants.

He is scheduled to appear in U-S District Court for a preliminary hearing next month.

Williams faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine of up to 500-thousand dollars on each count.

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News Channel 5

ROMA - A feared Zeta gang member is in federal custody.

NEWSCHANNEL 5 has learned federal agents busted a man named Maximiliano Castillo-Jimenez. They say the gang member ran an illegal immigrant stash house in Roma.

The man is reportedly part of a notorious group of ex-Mexican military commandos. It’s very rare a Zeta is arrested.

Sources tell us Castillo-Jimenez is from the Miguel Aleman area in Mexico and was part of the Zeta’s human smuggling operation.

While no one will talk on camera about the arrest, a DPS officer who works in criminal intelligence admits the Zetas are getting more dangerous on this side.

He says, “The people we are encountering nowadays are more violent then we saw ten or twenty years ago… They are a big threat.”

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Lansing, MI — A Polish citizen is facing a federal trial after investigators say he helped at least 150 people from New Jersey, mostly illegal immigrants, get fraudulent driver’s licenses in Michigan.

Wojciech Ostrowski, 35, oversaw a scheme in which hundreds of Michigan licenses were issued for applicants purportedly living at just a handful of real and fictitious Lansing-area addresses, authorities say. Most of the applicants actually were illegal Polish immigrants from New Jersey.

Authorities allege in court records that Ostrowski and another man who may have fled the country brought the people from New Jersey to the Lansing area between June 2002 and July 2004. In exchange for $1,000 or more, they helped them complete driver-proficiency road tests and fill out driver’s license applications using fake addresses.

Michigan secretary of state workers mailed the licenses to Lansing-area post office boxes specified by the applicants, and the licenses eventually got to the applicants back in New Jersey.

Ostrowski’s court-appointed attorney, Roman Kosiorek, said he did nothing illegal.

‘He had nothing to do with any plan or intent to defraud anybody,’ Kosiorek said. ‘People asked him to drive to Michigan and they offered him gas money and that’s what he did.’

Until his arrest, Ostrowski had lived in Garfield, N.J., which has a significant Polish immigrant community. He had been in the U.S. legally but overstayed his visa, authorities said.

After reviewing departmental procedures and working with law enforcement, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in 2004 began requiring that adults applying for their first driver’s license or personal ID card show documentation indicating they live in Michigan.

Applicants previously were required to show documents proving identity. They must keep doing that but also provide at least one document - such as a utility bill or bank statement - with their name and Michigan address.

The tightened requirements have helped combat identity fraud, Land spokeswoman Kelly Chesney said Wednesday. The secretary of state’s office canceled roughly 300 driver’s licenses as a result of an investigation related to Ostrowski.

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East Valley Tribune

A custodian at Saguaro High School accused of raping a 14-year-old girl on the Scottsdale campus is an illegal immigrant from Mexico and shouldnâ??t have been eligible to work in the United States, an immigration official said Wednesday.

Russell Ahr, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the paperwork that Roberto Lemus-Retana provided to ABM Janitorial Services, the company that contracts with the Scottsdale Unified School District, is counterfeit.

Lemus-Retana was charged Wednesday with seven felony counts of sexual assault-related offenses with a minor and is being held without bail in the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix.

The charges stem from his arrest about 5:30 p.m. Friday at Saguaro High School. Police said the arrest came after the freshman girl told them Lemus-Retana made unwanted advances to her in a locked bathroom and forced her to have sex in a computer classroom.

Lemus-Retana admitted to having sex with the girl, but said it was consensual and she told him she was 17, according to a court document.

The incident, which has shaken students at the school, has caused district administrators to rethink security measures. For instance, custodians are now required to work in pairs.

Lemus-Retana had been arrested in Mohave County on suspicion of driving under the influence May 14, and supplied a driverâ??s license at the time. He was removed by U.S. Border Patrol agents four days later from that countyâ??s jail to be returned to Mexico, Ahr said. The ICE spokesman could not confirm that Lemus-Retana left the United States.

Lemus-Retana didnâ??t have a Social Security number and was not a U.S. citizen when he was arrested May 14, and he shouldnâ??t have had a valid one when he was hired by ABM, Ahr said.

Peterson said the school district became aware of the DUI arrest this week, but a misdemeanor DUI would not have prevented Lemus-Retana from working in the district.

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NJ Herald

Newton — The town is reviewing the merits of an anti-illegal immigration ordinance that, if passed, would become the second of its kind in the state.

The law would deny businesses permits and city contracts for five years for employing illegal immigrants and fine landlords up to $10,000 for allowing them to rent. It also would make English the town’s official language.

‘I have nothing but respect for people who come here legally and work hard,’ said Newton Councilman Philip Diglio, who presented councilmembers with a draft of the ordinance at Monday’s public meeting. ‘I have nothing against any particular nationality or sex, but if you want to work here, if you want to live here, you have to do it legally.’

Diglio said illegal immigrants in Newton create a host of social problems, including criminal activity. He pointed at the recent arrest and conviction of three Mexican illegal aliens who got in a drunken brawl over a prostitute.

‘In my view, this is probably the worst year in terms of crime I’ve seen,’ he said.

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Tham Hin Refugee Camp, Thailand (AP) — As he prepared for a new life in the United States, A Ngar Nyunt was a little disappointed to learn he would have to give up chewing betel nuts, a traditional habit in his native Myanmar.

The teeth-staining nuts aren’t available in America — one of the things the 38-year-old refugee learned in a course about his homeland-to-be. But A Ngar Nyunt said it was a small sacrifice for getting his wife and 8-year-old son out of the overcrowded camp where they have lived for years.

The goldsmith is among 2,600 Myanmar refugees scheduled for resettlement under a U.N. program to alleviate the hardships of mostly ethnic minorities who fled persecution only to languish in fetid camps just over the Thailand border.

Before leaving, the new immigrants are required to spend months learning basic English and becoming acquainted with American culture. They are taught how to flush a modern toilet, how Americans greet each other and how to use a toothbrush.

‘I feel happy and content,’ said A Ngar Nyunt before leaving the Tham Hin Refugee Camp for California on Tuesday. In California, he will receive temporary housing, a stipend, English classes and vocational training to help him adjust and find a new livelihood.

The U.S. plans to take thousands more from camps along the border, home to about 140,000 refugees who have fled Myanmar’s military dictatorship.

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RockyMountain News

A litany of testimony at a Senate Budget Committee hearing in Aurora Wednesday painted a bleak picture of the financial burden to Colorado taxpayers because of illegal immigrants.

Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer and three law enforcement officials testified that illegal immigrants cost millions of dollars a year to educate and to process through the criminal justice system.

Prosecutors from Weld and Mesa counties complained that the state’s methamphetamine epidemic is being fueled by drugs produced by Mexican gangs, mostly from below the border.

And others criticized federal mandates requiring governments to provide certain services regardless of a person’s immigration status.

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TORONTO, Canada — Canada will arm its border guards starting in 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.

Canada has unarmed guards along its 4,000-mile (6,435-kilometer) border with the United States, but Canada’s will now be armed, as their U.S. counterparts are.

The government plans to arm and train its 4,500 border agents over the next 10 years. Harper said some will be armed starting in September 2007 and about 150 will receive guns by the end of March 2008.

The Canadian side of the U.S.-Canada border is monitored by the Canada Border Services Agency. They have been demanding guns to help them deal with cross-border criminal activity.

Officers abandoned their posts in British Columbia earlier this year when they were told that two murder suspects from California were headed their way, in an embarrassment to the former Liberal government. The men were apprehended by armed U.S. law enforcement officers.

Canada’s Conservative party defeated the Liberals in elections last January and promised that they expected to arm border guards soon.

Harper also reiterated Wednesday that $101 million Canadian ($81 million U.S.) will be spent to hire 400 additional officers. They will be used, among other things, to double up on Canada-U.S. border crossings that only have a single officer on duty.

“Arming CBSA officers and eliminating situations where these officers work alone will allow them to do their job better and more effectively,” Harper said in a statement.

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Daily News

THE city of Maywood - a 1.2-square-mile town with an official population of just over 28,000 about eight miles south of downtown Los Angeles - is a pocket for illegal immigrants, lauded by immigrant advocates and decried by detractors. In this 96 percent Hispanic town, signs advising pedestrians to use crosswalks are printed in Spanish and English, and many storefronts’ signs are in Spanish as well. The last census says 55 percent of residents are foreign-born, and 92 percent speak a language other than English at home.
Earlier this year, the Maywood City Council passed a resolution opposing the Sensenbrenner immigration bill after it passed in the House, and the town was designated the first “sanctuary city” in the state. The city also nixed police checkpoints so as not to net illegal immigrants without driver’s licenses, and disbanded its traffic division for the same reason.

On Saturday, Save Our State showed up to protest that policy in front of Maywood City Hall, numbering several dozen with “Don’t tread on me” and American flags. “Not anti-Hispanic, anti-illegal alien,” read one sign; “Maywood is part of the U.S. and its elected officials need to act accordingly,” read another. One man held a small sign that read “traitors,” and the group was fronted by a banner championing Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo for president. (”Tancredo? Who’s that?” a confused counter-demonstrator asked me.)

Police in riot gear manned a buffer zone on blocked-off Slauson Avenue, surrounding the anti-illegal-immigration demonstrators who were being faced down by a few hundred counter-protesters and neighboring residents who pulled out Mexican flags and joined the event. I had gotten wind of a socialist organization calling people out for the demonstration, hence showed up to find the counter-protest to be an eclectic mix of white guys in Che T-shirts and Latinos - wearing shirts ordering people to not call them Latino or Hispanic (too European), but Mexican - denouncing white people.

And if immigration proponents have been trying to pass off reconquista claims - the belief that immigrants want to take back “Aztlan” - as paranoid, these protesters weren’t helping. One sign proclaimed “Stolen continent” - yet displayed two continents, North and South America. “White racists this is our continent” read one sign. Another said, “We will never live in peace until we get the European squatters off our lands.”

I squatted in the middle of the counter-protesters for a couple of hours, reading their literature, listening to them talk, trotting next to protesters trying to circumvent police lines and confronting a fleet of motorcycle cops on the next side street over.

And if what I witnessed is what the immigration debate has come down to, it’s nothing less than vicious and hate-filled. This is where intelligent discourse flies out the window, and people start drawing territorial lines within communities.

A couple of times, unwelcome people came into the counter-protesting crowd to take photos or video, and were quickly surrounded by an angry crowd and pelted with water bottles and debris. Shouts of “you little white b-” were directed at a blond woman; a man yelled “Get out of here, this is our town” through a bullhorn to others.

Some wearing lucha libre masks and some with bandannas obscuring their faces, counter-protesters tried to get close to the SOS demonstrators by cutting down side streets leading to Slauson, and were angry when the cops were already there. Others manned the front lines with signs depicting Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Nazi, chanting “Minutemen! Resist! They’re the real terrorists.”

Toward the end of the counter-demonstration, those protesters raised the Mexican flag on the pole in front of the U.S. Post Office. Don Silva of SOS said one woman with his group was assaulted while trying to move through the opposition crowd, and some of their cars had tires slashed and were vandalized.

Maywood, regardless of its demographics, is still within the United States of America, and still falls under the laws of this country. Lobby against those laws if you feel they’re unfair; that’s the beauty of our system.

But when you have virulent protests that include a pre-teen boy yelling “f- that white b-” at a passing fair-skinned woman - me - something is seriously wrong. Especially when it comes from the side holding a banner that proclaimed “Say NO to racism.”

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Herald Today

MIAMI - Sen. Edward Kennedy, one of the authors of a landmark Senate immigration bill, urged President Bush on Tuesday to become “more engaged, more involved” in pushing for comprehensive immigration reform - or millions of undocumented immigrants will fail to win legal status.

The Massachusetts Democrat’s remarks during a telephone press briefing marked the first step in a renewed push by immigration reform advocates to persuade Congress to act on stalled immigration reform legislation before the November elections.

Meanwhile, immigrant rights activists announced a new round of pro-legalization rallies and marches timed to coincide with the end of the congressional recess after Labor Day weekend.

A big rally was announced for Washington, D.C., on Thursday, and a march is being planned for downtown Miami on Sunday, though the event could be postponed because of Hurricane Ernesto.

Carlos Pereira, executive director of the Miami-based Immigrant Orientation Center - Centro de Orientacion del Inmigrante - said South Florida advocates plan to meet tonight to decide if the march can still be held Sunday.

“It depends on what happens with Ernesto,” Pereira said Tuesday as the storm approached.

In his briefing, Kennedy said immigration advocates fear that if Bush does not become more personally involved in the issue, pending bills in Congress will die and lawmakers may have to start all over again next year.

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