News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hugo Chavez to rule by decree over Venezuela

January 31st, 2007

Caracas, Venezuela - Venezuela's Congress on Wednesday granted President Hugo Chavez powers to rule by decree for 18 months as he tries to force through nationalizations key to his self-styled leftist revolution.

The vote allows anti-U.S. leader Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, to deepen state control of the economy.

The lawmakers, all loyal to Chavez after opposition parties boycotted the 2005 congressional elections, flaunted their populist credentials by taking the unusual step of holding their vote in public in a square in Caracas.

"We in the National Assembly will not waver in granting President Chavez an enabling law so he can quickly and urgently set up the framework for resolving the grave problems we have," said congressional Vice-President Roberto Hernandez.


Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007 10:41 a.m. EST

Thousands Fleeing Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

Each day after dawn, hundreds of Venezuelans gather outside the Spanish Consulate in Caracas, hoping to get papers allowing them to flee the South American country for Spain.

Others form long lines at other consulates, equally fearful of the future of Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez. Two months after Chavez was re-elected to another six-year term, the National Assembly is entrusting him with wide-ranging powers that will allow him to dictate new laws for 18 months.

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Homeland Security memos contradict U.S. attorney

Also reveal smuggler formed 'hunting party' targeting Ramos, Compean
Posted: January 31, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007

In the high-profile case of two U.S. Border Patrol officers imprisoned after shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler, two Department of Homeland Security documents apparently contradict the version of events put forth by the U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the case.

The internal Department of Homeland Security memoranda – which have been denied Congress despite repeated requests by two House members – show that within one month of the shooting incident involving Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, government investigators had identified the smuggler as Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila.

But this seems to contradict U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton's claim that Aldrete-Davila came forward through a Mexican lawyer who offered to identify his client in exchange for immunity.

Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol, says the documents raise questions as to why Sutton chose to prosecute the Border Patrol agents rather than the drug smuggler.

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Police-weapon probe continues


January 31, 2007

TIJUANA – City police officers have their guns back, but Mexican federal authorities said yesterday that an investigation into the firearms used by the municipal force isn't over.

In a statement released Monday night, the Mexico City-based Federal Attorney General's Office said it had inspected 2,059 firearms but was continuing to examine ballistic evidence collected during the confiscations “to determine if the weapons were used in a criminal act.”

– Anna Cearley

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Brothers plead not guilty in cartel case

Pair may be tried with alleged leader

By Onell R. Soto

January 30, 2007

Two brothers accused of running day-to-day operations for the Arellano Félix cartel in Tijuana and Mexicali pleaded not guilty in San Diego federal court yesterday and may be tried with the accused head of the organization.

Ismael and Gilberto Higuera Guerrero oversaw the importation of tons of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States, and kidnapped, tortured and killed cartel rivals in the process, prosecutors said.

The brothers were among 15 people extradited from Mexico 1½ weeks ago in an effort to battle lawlessness along the border and in Mexican prisons.


Big increases in citizenship, other immigration fees planned

By Suzanne Gamboa


6:45 a.m. January 31, 2007

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is proposing to nearly double the cost of becoming an U.S. citizen and drastically raise the cost of becoming a legal permanent resident.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, announced Wednesday it wants to raise the application fee for citizenship from $330 to $595 and the fee for becoming a legal permanent resident from $180 to $1,370.

“As a fee-based agency we must be able to recover the cost necessary to administer an efficient and secure immigration system that ultimately improves service delivery, prevents future backlogs, closes security gaps and furthers our modernization efforts,” said Emilio Gonzalez, CIS director.


Citing persecution, judge grants gay Mexican immigrant asylum in U.S.

Los Angeles Times

By Tami Abdollah

January 30, 2007

An immigration judge granted a Mexican immigrant asylum, citing his sexual orientation and the severe persecution of gays in Mexico, the immigrant's lawyer said Tuesday.

According to court documents, while living in Guadalajara, Soto Vega was beaten by police with a "metal baton or flashlight" and then robbed, called "anti-gay slurs" and told that he would be killed if he was ever seen again.

In 1988, Soto Vega paid a smuggler to sneak him into the United States, and he settled in the Hollywood and Silver Lake areas. In 2001, Soto Vega returned from a brief visit to Mexico after his mother's death, during which he said he was afraid to go outside. He said he found out about the asylum process upon his return and filed an application the following year.

Soto Vega's request for asylum was denied in 2003 by immigration judge John D. Taylor, who said he could return to Mexico since "it would not be obvious that he was homosexual unless he made it obvious himself."

The case was returned to Taylor after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it is the government's responsibility to prove Soto Vega had no "well-founded fear of persecution" in Mexico.

We offer asylum for those fleeing political persecution and those fleeing religious persecution. Now we offer asylum for those fleeing aberrant behavior persecution. Way to go 9th Circus! -mm

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Border security chief must walk a fine line

By Jerry Seper
Published January 31, 2007

It's one of the toughest assignments in America: Keep terrorists from sneaking into the United States while ensuring the border is open to legitimate trade and travel.
But Assistant Commissioner Jay Ahern, who heads the Office of Field Operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), says the agency is up to the task.
"Knowing the destruction that can happen, there is a sense of urgency that drives all of us," Mr. Ahern said during an interview at his headquarters in Washington. "Every day I have a sick feeling in my stomach worrying whether I have addressed every problem, done everything I could to prevent another attack. And I know I'm not alone.

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Juárez postal worker accused of stealing mail from El Paso

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 01/31/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

A Juárez postal employee whose job was to pick up bags of El Paso mail at the border and deliver them to Juárez is accused of stealing 300 of those bags and looting them for checks and cash during the past 10 years, the Mexican attorney general's office in Juárez said.

Federal police said they found 7 tons of opened mail at the Juárez home of Juan Manuel Vargas Lopez this week during an investigation sparked by a Juárez widow, Elda de la Torre Triste.

Attorney general spokesman Angel Torres said the woman reported that she never received a $4,000 or $5,000 check from the U.S. government, possibly Social Security, after the death of her husband.

But U.S. records showed the check had been cashed.

Officials said Vargas, as well as another Juárez postal employee, Oscar Gomez Escarcega, may face two to seven years in prison for mail theft.


3,010 Pounds of Marijuana Seized at Nogales Port of Entry

$3 Million Estimated Value
Monday, January 29, 2007

Nogales, Ariz – Once again, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the Nogales port of entry have prevented a significant quantity of marijuana from reaching the streets of the United States, seizing more than a ton from a commercial truck loaded with produce.

At approximately 6:55 p.m. on Friday, January 26th, CBP officers and canines were performing routine sweeps of all vehicles inside the compound when one of the drug dogs, Rocksey, alerted the officers to the odor of narcotics coming from the back of a tractor trailer filled with yellow squash. Officers opened the trailer and climbed inside to quickly check the contents and see if narcotics were hidden inside. Once inside, they discovered bales of marijuana hidden between the pallets. The trailer was completely unloaded and the officers removed 121 bales of the narcotic, weighing 3,010 pounds. The estimated bulk value of the marijuana is $3 million.

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CBP Border Patrol Makes a Record Drug Bust

Agents Seize More than 2,800 Pounds of Marijuana
Monday, January 29, 2007

Winterhaven Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents from the Calexico, Calif. station seized 2,877 pounds of marijuana on January 28, making it the largest marijuana seizure in fiscal year 2007 in El Centro sector.

At 2:30 p.m., CBP Border Patrol agents observed a Ford F-250 and Chevrolet Silverado illegally enter the U.S. near the Imperial Sand Dunes. Agents began to follow both trucks as they entered Interstate 8 westbound. The F-250 failed to yield to agents’ emergency equipment, but was safely stopped using a controlled tire deflation device. The driver of the Silverado made attempts to evade Border Patrol agents before driving the vehicle into an agricultural irrigation ditch just east of Calexico.

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Committee didn't listen at hearing

Our view: Members' grandstanding may exacerbate volatile border situation

Republican members of the state House of Representatives ignored the commander of the Arizona National Guard on Monday in Phoenix.

Maj. Gen. David Rataczak testified, over and over, that soldiers on the Mexican border did not feel their lives were threatened by Mexicans they saw near the border at 11 p.m. on Jan. 3. Not feeling threatened, they did not fire at anybody. Which is, said the general, exactly how the soldiers were trained to behave.

Presumably, if the hearing conducted by the House Homeland Security and Private Property Rights Committee had been staged for its stated purpose — to gather information about what happened on the border near Sasabe — the general's detailed account would have put the matter to rest.

But it was clear in the packed hearing room Monday that the committee's Republican majority had an entirely different agenda. No matter how many times the general repeated that his troops were under specific orders from the Defense Department and Homeland Security Department to act in a support role to the Border Patrol, as observers, and to "not be involved in direct law enforcement," committee chairman Warde Nichols, R-Gilbert, used the event to make speeches critical of Gov. Janet Napolitano and federal policy.


Creating citizen militia for state spurs debate


Published: 01.31.2007

Arizona may become one of the growing number of states to create its own home-grown security force, manned by citizen volunteers and deployed by the governor to deal with emergencies.

It's a version of a state militia, separate from the Arizona National Guard but available to assist Arizonans in dealing with natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other emergencies.

Supporters say the concept could help Arizona react more effectively to disasters at a time when federal help could be inconsistent at best.

But coming at a time of heightened tensions over Arizona's border with Mexico, some critics believe it is the state's attempt to create its own border patrol. Others say the force is not necessary, noting that the National Guard already exists to deal with state emergencies. Other critics say it would add another layer of law enforcement, requiring an undetermined amount of money from the state budget.

New San Luis port funding closer

Jan 30, 2007

The $42 million in federal funding needed to build a new commercial port of entry at San Luis looks like it may finally be heading here.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the 2007 budget continuing resolution contains funding for the project within a total of $96 million for border construction within the General Services Administration's federal buildings fund.

"All indicators are good," Grijalva said. "We just have to be very vigilant to ensure nothing changes in the next 30 days."


Rock throwers target Guard post on border; No one injured

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Unknown assailants threw rocks at a National Guard border observation post in southern Arizona, breaking two windows on a Guard vehicle, but no one was injured, a Border Patrol spokesman said Tuesday.

Border Patrol agents searched for the rock-throwers following Sunday night's incident but only found their tracks, which led into Mexico, said Sean King, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which covers most of the Arizona-Mexico border.

The Arizona National Guard will assign an officer to investigate what happened as it does with any incident in which its soldiers faced potential danger, said Maj. Paul Aguirre, a spokesman for the Arizona National Guard.

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Man arrested after 68 pounds of meth found in truck

Jan 31, 9:18 AM EST

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A man was arrested after 68 pounds of methamphetamine manufactured in Mexico was found in a truck he was driving, authorities said.

Joshio A. Amarillas, 18, was jailed on suspicion of violating federal narcotics laws.

The wholesale street value of the methamphetamine is $952,000, said Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. Mark Morlock, who works for the multi-agency Counter Narcotics Alliance.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Border Patrol Union Says Agent Is Being Railroaded for Fatal Shooting of Mexican Immigrant

Tuesday , January 30, 2007

Cold-blooded murder.

That's what Mexico claims happened along the Arizona border after an argument between a 22-year-old illegal immigrant and the Border Patrol agent who tried to arrest him.

The local border patrol union claims self-defense and fears the agent is about to be railroaded after Mexican officials were given unrestricted access to the witnesses before U.S. investigators. Union officials claim that access allowed the Mexican officials to frame the agent using false testimony.

"The Mexican consulate was allowed to coach the witnesses," said Brandon Judd, president of Local 2544, which represents 90 percent of the 2,900 Customs and Border Protection agents in Southern Arizona. "Now the agent is in jeopardy because these witnesses were allowed to solidify their stories as the Mexican consulate coached them to do."

The incident happened two weeks ago, when a 39-year-old border agent tried to arrest seven illegal aliens near Naco, Ariz. The agent had three immigrants inside a vehicle and three on the ground, but Francisco Rivera, age 22 refused to comply, the agent said.

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Verdict Reversal for Ex-Border Patrol Agent

Jan 29, 2007 04:28 PM

David Sipe is a once convicted criminal who can honestly say he "didn't do it."

"Relief. Relief. After 7 years, it's gone. It's over."

The ex-border patrol agent gets a 2001 guilty verdict overturned in his retrial for civil rights violations against a smuggler. The incident dates back to April of 2000 in Penitas.

"He was striking me in the side... he was very close to my weapon... and I had to do what I could to control the situation as fast as I could."

Fearing for his life, David subdues the smuggler by hitting him with his flashlight. It results in staples to the smugglers head. A border patrol investigation is launched and deems his actions inappropriate-- even illegal.

"I don't know how they're able to do that... but I don't think that's fair."

Neither did a jury who overturns his conviction from the first trial against him.


Uproar over border agents to get White House review

Tony Snow to meet with congressman, promises look at trial transcript

Posted: January 29, 2007 9:40 p.m. Eastern
By Art Moore

© 2007

Amid growing criticism from congressmen and activists of its handling of the prosecution of two Border Patrol agents, the White House is opening up a line of communication with lawmakers and promises it will review a transcript of the trial.

During a telephone interview today with WND, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., received a call from press secretary Tony Snow, inviting him to meet for a friendly, unofficial discussion about the case.

Meanwhile, Snow explained to WND the White House's current stance in a brief interview Sunday.

"What we're doing is getting the entire trial transcript so everybody can see what happened in trial, and we can try to discern the real facts of the case," Snow told WND after a luncheon address at National Review's Conservative Summit in Washington.

He insisted the development does not represent a shift in how the White House is approaching the case.

"I think what's happened is a lot of people have differing accounts of this, and the best way to resolve them is not by having people scream at each other but by finding out what the fact record is, and that's what we're going to do," said Snow.


Feds 'knew smuggler' in Border Patrol case
Critic charges prosecutor lied, made 'deal with the devil'

Posted: January 30, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi

© 2007

New evidence suggests prosecuting U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of El Paso lied about how the government found the fleeing illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, according to a Border Patrol advocate closely following the case of former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Contrary to claims, no Mexican attorney was involved as an intermediary offering to reveal the identity of the drug smuggler and bring him back to the U.S. in exchange for given immunity to testify against Border Patrol, contended Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol.

"It's shocking how much lying Johnny Sutton has done about Aldrete-Davila," he told WND.

"The government made a deal with the devil to put Ramos and Compean behind bars," Ramirez said. "Sutton's story about the lawyer in Mexico is a total fabrication, completely and maliciously false. The government knew Aldrete-Davila's identity from Border Patrol and DHS sources almost immediately after the event."

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A fruitful situation for avocado fans

Beginning Thursday, Mexican growers can ship them to California
Photo by LUIS J. JIMENEZ / Copley News Service
January 27, 2007

URUAPAN, Mexico – Mexican avocado growers will be watching the Super Bowl next Sunday, but not because they're interested in the victor.

They'll be focused on how many bowls of guacamole American football fans will eat that day – and how much of it will come from Mexican avocados.

On Thursday, restrictions will be lifted on imports of the Mexican fruit to the avocado-producing states of California, Florida and Hawaii. For the first time in nearly 100 years, Mexican growers will be allowed to ship their crops anywhere in the United States.

The biggest prize is California, where more avocados are consumed than in any other state, and where growers have blocked Mexican imports since Woodrow Wilson was president.


Mexican Suspects Plead Not Guilty

The Associated Press


January 29, 2007

Four Mexican drug traffickers who were extradited to the U.S. this month pleaded not guilty Monday to an array of federal drug charges.

They include brothers Ismael and Gilberto Higuera Guerrero, top figures in the Arellano Felix drug cartel, based in Tijuana, Mexico. A court-appointed defender entered not guilty pleas on their behalf to charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering charges stemming from a sweeping 2003 indictment that named 11 people.


Venezuela on the Brink of Major Change

Jan 29, 4:54 PM (ET)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Hugo Chavez has just about everything a president could want: popular support, a marginalized opposition, congress firmly on his side and a booming economy as he starts his new six-year term.

Now, he's about to become even more powerful - the all-Chavista National Assembly is poised to approve a "mother law" as early as Wednesday enabling him to remake society by presidential decree. In its latest draft, the law would allow Chavez to dictate measures for 18 months in 11 broad areas, from the "economic and social sphere" to the "transformation of state institutions."

Chavez calls it a new era of "maximum revolution," setting the tone for months of upheaval as he plans to nationalize companies, impose new taxes on the rich and reorient schools to teach socialist values. With near-religious fervor and plenty of oil wealth, Chavez is mobilizing millions of Venezuelans, intent on creating a more egalitarian society.

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Laser visas would be extended under bill

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 01/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced a bill to extend the amount of time a Mexican citizen can stay in the United States on a border-crossing laser visa to make it equal to the time allowed for Canadians on a similar visa, Cornyn said.

The bill, the Secure Border Crossing Card Entry Act of 2007, would allow laser visa holders to stay up to six months, instead of up to one month. Cornyn said the bill would boost commerce and tourism in South Texas.


Mexico turns over 15 alleged cartel members

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
El Paso
Article Launched:01/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

A man identified as a "gatekeeper" for the Juárez cartel and two other alleged members of the drug ring are among the drug lords extradited last weekend by Mexico to face charges in the United States, U.S. officials said.

Mexico extradited 15 men, including Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the kingpin of the Gulf cartel, to Ellington Air Force Base in Houston on the night of Jan. 19 to Jan. 20. U.S. officials said Mexican authorities hoped the move would disturb drug smuggling operations that some of the men had continued to direct from behind bars in Mexico.

Drug Enforcement Administration head Karen Tandy said during a press conference this week that the group included Gracielo Gardea Carrasco, "a gatekeeper who was responsible for controlling drug smuggling across the border for the Juárez cartel."

The suspected drug offenders will be transferred to the states where charges against them were originally filed.

Gardea was indicted in Midland in 2000 on drug conspiracy charges for allegedly smuggling marijuana from Mexico to a Midland gang known as "Los Tres de la Sierra," or the three from the mountain.

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Five held after boy is slain in Juarez gunfight

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 01/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

A 14-year-old boy was killed during a fight between street gangs Sunday night in La Cuesta neighborhood of Juárez, Chihuahua state police said.

Roberto Antonio Chavez Sigala, whose body was found on a street, died of a gunshot wound to the head. An initial investigation discovered Roberto was a member of a street gang involved in a feud with a rival gang.


Truckers accused of smuggling immigrants

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 01/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

Three truck drivers were arrested while allegedly attempting to smuggle undocumented immigrants inside tractor-trailers in a series of busts over the weekend in El Paso, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Fifteen immigrants headed to cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago were found by agents with the Border Enforcement Security Task force. Agents had been doing surveillance at area truck stops. The task force includes ICE, the Border Patrol and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. More information is expected to be released today.

Daniel Borunda


Border agents arrest rape suspect and sex offender, seize several marijuana loads

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles

A Mexican national, accused of raping a child, and a registered sex offender were arrested in separate incidents Sunday by Border Patrol agents, officials said.

Numerous drug seizures were also made by federal officers along the border in the past several days.

Diego Figueroa-Martinez, 21, is wanted on charges of rape in West Valley City, Utah, said Gustavo Soto, a patrol spokes-man.

Agents arrested Figueroa-Martinez near the village of Topawa southwest of Tucson. He was taken to the Pinal County jail to await extradition to Utah, Soto said.

Agents also arrested Jose Tenorio-Gonzalez, a registered sex offender in Illinois, on Sunday morning on Arizona 83 southeast of Tucson, Soto said.

Tenorio-Gonzalez had been deported from the United States, Soto said. He is being held for prosecution.

I hope you understand that when an illegal is returned to Mexico, whether its voluntary return or deportation, all the Mexican authorities do is check ID to be sure that those returning are Mexican citizens. There is no punishment in Mexico for those deported. -mm

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22 years for Mexican who killed Tucsonan

Tucson Citizen

A man from Mexico was sentenced to 22 years for gunning down a Tucsonan making a phone call.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell yesterday sentenced Ruben Espinoza-Sanchez, 25, to the maximum sentence for second-degree murder.

A jury in December rejected a first-degree murder charge against Espinoza-Sanchez for the Sept. 14, 2005, slaying of Juan Francisco Favela, 39, of Tucson.

The jury also convicted Espinoza-Sanchez of armed robbery. Fell gave Espinoza-Sanchez the maximum term for the armed robbery, 21 years, but made the sentence run concurrently with the murder sentence.

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Agents snags $3M in pot at Nogales port

Tucson Citizen

More than one ton of marijuana was seized at the border Friday, according to a report from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.

A CBP drug dog led officers to a tractor-trailer filled with squash during a routine sweep at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, said CBP Officer Brian Levin. Agents found much more than squash in the truck.

About 3,000 pounds of pot worth an estimated $3 million was hidden between the pallets, Levin said, adding this is the latest in a series of significant marijuana seizures at the port.

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General: Armed men probably weren't testing troops

The Associated Press
Published: 01.30.2007

Armed men who prompted four National Guard members to pull back from an observation post at the Arizona-Mexico border probably weren't trying to test the reaction of the troops, the head of the Arizona National Guard said Monday.

They likely happened upon the soldiers while walking across rocky terrain from Arizona into Mexico, said Maj. Gen. David Rataczak, speculating that the gunmen were carrying drug money south across the border.

In the face of criticism that the troops set a bad precedent for border security, Rataczak told a homeland security committee at the Arizona Legislature that the troops acted properly in relocating to a nearby site and calling in the Border Patrol to respond.

"They did exactly what they were told to do," said Rataczak, adding that the actions of the soldiers prevented an international incident.

I don't understand why so much attention is given to the reaction of the Guard when armed men crossed the border into the US from Mexico! -mm

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Victim of attack shows police home with 22 migrants inside

Michael Struening
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 30, 2007
12:00 AM

SWAT teams evacuated 22 undocumented immigrants in west Phoenix on Monday night after it was believed that two armed men were holding them hostage, Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said.

Hill said that the situation began at about 3:45 p.m. when a 911 call reported that three men in a white Toyota Tacoma pulled alongside a fourth man and attacked him. The man who was attacked took police to a house on Sells Drive near 83rd Avenue, where it was believed that two armed men were holding several people hostage.

SWAT teams entered the home and evacuated 22 people believed to be undocumented immigrants, Hill said. One possible suspect was apprehended. According to police, no weapons were found in a search of the household.


US-Mexico border tunnels remain unfilled, raise security fears

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Key entrances have been plugged in some of the biggest tunnels used to smuggle people and drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border but the passageways remain largely intact, raising concerns that smugglers might reuse them, according to a published report.

Critics say the unfilled tunnels pose an unnecessary national security risk.

Dozens of tunnels have been discovered underneath the border. Smaller passages are easily destroyed, but larger, more elaborate shafts require costly amounts of material and expertise to fill, authorities say. The task is further complicated if the tunnels run under private property.

Seven of the largest tunnels have yet to be filled in, including the so-called Grande Tunnel found in January 2006 that extends nearly a half-mile from San Diego to Tijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Ballistics data don't support charge against border agents

Investigator: U.S. attorney twisted evidence to fit case – 'guilty of malicious prosecution'

Posted: January 28, 2007 10:45 p.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007

Ballistics reports, used in the trial of Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos, one of two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting fleeing drug dealer Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, do not support the prosecution's claim the bullet was fired from Ramos' gun, according to documents provided to WND from Andy Ramirez, chairman of the Friends of the Border Patrol.

Despite the conclusion of a laboratory criminalist that he could not conclusively link the bullet removed from Aldrete-Davila with Ramos' service weapon, a Department of Homeland Security agent swore, in an affidavit of complaint filed against Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, that Aldrete-Davila was hit by a round fired by Ramos.

"Johnny Sutton and his assistants are guilty of malicious prosecution," Ramirez charged to WND. "The prosecutors lied to the jury and he twisted evidence to make it fit his case. And when he couldn't twist the evidence, the government demanded that the court seal evidence which would have been exculpatory to the defense."

Nearly two years after the conclusion of the trial, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has yet to release a transcript of the trial.

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Twenty-Eight Journalists Killed in Eight Latin American Countries in 2006

Hernán Uribe, Americas Program, International Relations Center (I.R.C.), January 28, 2007

Twenty-eight journalists were murdered, while five others disappeared, last year in eight Latin American countries, according to an overview of 2006 prepared by the Commission to Investigate Attacks Against Journalists (Comisión Investigadora de Atentados a Periodistas, C.I.A.P.), affiliated with the Latin American Federation of Journalists ( Federación Latinoamericana de Periodistas, F.E.L.A.P.). With 10 deaths, Mexico continues to boast the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous nation for journalists to ply their trade.


Mexico returns guns to Tijuana police officers who were disarmed after corruption allegations

Associated Press Writer

TIJUANA, Mexico — Police in this violent border city got their guns back Saturday three weeks after they were forced to turn over weapons to federal authorities because of allegations they were colluding with drug traffickers.

Tijuana Public Safety Secretary Luis Javier Algorri said soldiers returned all 2,130 guns to his department.

He planned to send a letter to the attorney general's office asking for the results of the investigation so he could clear up any doubts about his officers. No one from the attorney general's office was available for comment Saturday.

The officers handed in their guns Jan. 4 after President Felipe Calderon sent 3,300 soldiers and federal police to Tijuana to hunt down drug gangs. The soldiers swept police stations and took officers' guns for inspection to see if they had been used to protect smugglers who traffic drugs into the U.S.

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Mexico's willing drug fighter

Los Angeles Times
By Sam Enriquez
STR, AFP/Getty Images
January 28, 2007

MEXICO CITY - The U.S. war on drugs has seldom seen a more willing recruit than Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Since taking office last month, Calderon has sent thousands of soldiers to half a dozen states, where they have pulled up pot plants and opium poppies by the hectare and searched thousands of vehicles at military roadblocks. He also has fast-tracked the extradition of men reputed to be among the hemisphere's biggest kingpins. But unfortunately for the Mexican leader, who put the drug-trafficking battle at the top of his nation's domestic agenda, the issue that once was a staple of U.S. political speeches has fallen so far off the radar that for the first time in years it didn't warrant a mention in President Bush's State of the Union address. Drug-related violence, meanwhile, has gone from bad to gruesome in Mexico, where traffickers have tossed hand grenades at enemies and left severed heads as messages. More than 2,000 Mexicans died in such carnage last year, according to media tallies.

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NAFTA: Winners & losers

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

By Ralph R. Reiland

Monday, January 29, 2007

With Mexico, the tariff-cutting provisions of NAFTA were supposed to make Mexicans richer and us richer. We'd get cheaper products and lose some jobs, but with cheaper imports we'd have more money left in our pockets to spend and create more jobs. There'd just have to be some labor mobility, some flexibility and retraining.

NAFTA's strategy for labor mobility in Mexico called for the nation's unemployed and underemployed masses to migrate for work in the maquila factories along the U.S.-Mexican border, assembling, for instance, duty-free imported parts and materials from the U.S. and then exporting the assembled products back to the U.S., tariff-free.

As a bonus, the predicted increase in jobs and prosperity in Mexico under NAFTA was expected to reduce illegal immigration. In 1994, the year NAFTA was put into effect, Attorney General Janet Reno predicted that illegal immigration would fall by two-thirds within six years. "NAFTA is our best hope for reducing illegal immigration in the long haul," she declared. "If it fails, effective immigration control will become impossible."

Initially, things worked fine. Mexican employment, as planned, expanded in the low-wage maquila industries, the country's export platforms -- until the jobs began leaving for China, where factory wages were only one-fourth as high as Mexico's.

Today, after 13 years of "free trade" under NAFTA, real wages in Mexico's manufacturing sector are lower than before the agreement and more than a third of Mexico's farm jobs have disappeared, sending millions of rural laborers and bankrupt small-scale farmers into Mexico's cities and across the border into the United States.

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Language barrier stings prosecutors

Richard Ruelas
Jan. 29, 2007
12:00 AM

The three men gave brief, sometimes- disjointed statements to officers. Then they entered a courtroom where a judge entered a plea of not guilty on their behalf. That was nearly a year ago. Since then, the three human-smuggling suspects have sat in jail while attorneys and court staff try to figure out what language they speak.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the charges against the men will be dropped if the courts can't find someone to translate trial proceedings into the men's indigenous languages by Feb. 14.

It would be another blow to Attorney General Terry Goddard's plan to target smugglers by investigating their wire transfers.

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ICE agents arrest man selling fraudulent resident alien cards

Syracuse man also tried to sell phony social security card

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE arrested 41 year-old Ariel Ruiz, of Syracuse after he agreed to sell fraudulent resident alien cards and social security cards to an undercover agent.

The arrest occurred yesterday in Batavia as Ruiz was in the process of delivering nine resident alien cards and nine social security cards to the undercover agent. After he was arrested agents found three additional resident alien cards and four additional social security cards. Ruiz has had his initial appearance in federal court in Buffalo and has been released on bond.

He is charged with possessing, manufacturing and selling counterfeit alien registration cards (18 USC Section 1546), social security cards (42 USC Section 408), and counterfeit documents in order to defraud the government (18 USC Section 1028). When he was arrested Ruiz told ICE agents that he is a pastor of the Iglesia Nueva Esperanza in Syracuse.

Now there's a good testimony for ya! -mm

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How Will Illegal Immigration End?

By Victor Davis Hanson
The Washington Times | January 29, 2007

We hear all sorts of solutions for ending illegal immigration. Build a wall. Beef up border security. Fine employers, and create a massive guest-worker program. Or America could insist on tamper-proof identification cards, or detention, deportation or even amnesty for some illegal aliens -- or all of these measures somehow combined.

But ultimately the solution lies in the hope that a Tijuana might become as prosperous as a San Diego -- now a few miles away but a world apart.

So how will Mexico ever achieve parity with the United States?

The Mexican government must begin selling off inefficient state enterprises, especially in gas and oil. It should offer greater protection of property rights and ensure title searches. Mexico must stop the old nationalist rhetoric and welcome foreign investment, create a transparent judicial system and allow land to be freely bought and sold.

Most importantly, the Mexican bureaucracy must end endemic corruption that so exasperates foreign investors who would otherwise bring to Mexico efficient job-producing businesses.

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Ex-agents' pleas to press yielded many supporters

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
El Paso
Article Launched:01/29/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

Lawyers routinely advise their clients not to talk to the press, lest they say something that could be used against them.

The lawyers for two former El Paso Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean did just that. But their clients, who were convicted of violating the civil rights of a drug smuggler they shot in the buttocks in 2005 near Fabens as the man was fleeing to Mexico and were also found guilty of tampering with evidence for not reporting the shooting, did not heed their advice.

The agents and their family members spoke to the press, did live interviews with cable networks and reached out to elected officials. In turn, their supporters have used a network of conservative Web sites to promote their cause nationally and as high up as the office of President Bush. And yet, the agents were convicted and sentenced, and have started serving their time in prison.

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Agents searching jails to find illegal immigrants

By Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
Daily Bulletin
Article Launched:01/29/2007 12:00:00 AM PST

SANTA ANA - Juan Martinez was looking forward to returning to his construction job after finishing a month long sentence for violating probation on drug charges.

But when he was finally released from the Orange County jail, he was met by immigration agents - not his mother. The 23-year-old illegal immigrant was set to be deported with $68 in his pocket and few prospects.

Martinez is among tens of thousands of illegal immigrants being identified at jails and prisons across the country.

Considered strategic chokepoints in the search for illegal immigrants, the lockups are being monitored by an increasing number of federal agents who screen foreign-born arrestees and deport those without proper documentation.

Federal authorities are also enlisting the help of local authorities to check out immigrants who are arrested.

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CBP "Frontline News"

In this issue...

1. New passport rules for air travel going smoothly

2. CBP officer honored for lifesaving intervention

3. E-manifest enforcement begins

4. Noteworthy seizures this week

5. Rescues


Legislators to grill Guard chief on gunmen at border incident

By Jacques Billeaud


PHOENIX — Advocates for tougher immigration enforcement plan to confront the commander of the Arizona National Guard about why troops backed off recently as gunmen approached their post near the Mexican border.

Maj. Gen. David Rataczak is to testify today before the Legislature's homeland security committee in a hearing about the Jan. 3 encounter at an observation post.

While National Guard officials and supporters say the troops did as they were supposed to, critics question the point of having the troops on the border if they can't confront such dangers.

The encounter has broader border security implications because armed people will know the National Guard will retreat, said state Rep. Warde Nichols, the committee's chairman.

"From every account I can get, it appears they were testing our resolve and what our men at the border would do," said Nichols, a Gilbert Republican.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Shots fired at Andrade port of entry

Jan 27, 2007

A suspected smuggler smashed his vehicle through the barricade at the U.S. Port of Entry at Andrade, Calif., Friday night and exchanged gunfire with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

"The incident began last night when Border Patrol agents observed a group of suspected undocumented aliens load into a white minivan near the Andrade port of entry," said Vincent Bond, CBP spokesman in California.

According to Bond, the suspect fled and led agents on a short pursuit along Interstate 8 before returning to the port of entry.

The suspect then smashed his vehicle into the barrier and attempted to drive over CBP officers, Bond said.

A CBP officer fired his weapon and hit the van when the suspect drove it at the officers.

Bond said no Border Patrol agents or bystanders at the port of entry at the time were hurt.

The driver of the van fled into Mexico, where Bond said the suspect was apprehended by Mexican authorities.

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Does this remind you of anyone?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mexican President calls border wall with US 'offensive'

Mexican president calls border wall with United Mexico's president said on Friday the building of a fence along the border with the United States was "offensive" to the relationship between the two countries, and he hoped to convince the U.S. that Mexican labor had been good for the American economy.

"My goal is to win the debate about immigration within America," Felipe Calderon said in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"I want to make American public opinion understand the value that Mexican labor has had in the growth of their economy."

The Mexican leader said there was no way to completely stop immigration between the two countries without solving the fundamental realities that drive Mexicans to seek better economic opportunities available in their wealthier northern neighbour.

Offensive!!! I'll tell you what is offensive, people living off of $50 a week and the government doing nothing to change it, a society where you must realize that every law enforcement officer and every politician and government employee is not only corrupt but on the take, a country where law enforcement is arbitrary and more often than not for monetary gain (La mordida-a bribe), a government that not only permits but encourages the violation of another country's sovereignty while violating the human rights of those who do the same to their country to the point of murder. This is offensive Mr. Calderon. -mm

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Funds set up for Border Patrol agents

Supporters of jailed men have 3 ways to financially help their families

Posted: January 26, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2007

Funds for donations have been set up on behalf of the families of two Border Patrol agents jailed for their actions in the shooting and wounding of a Mexican drug smuggler who was granted full immunity to testify against them.

The funds are meant to benefit agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos, who were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October and reported to prison Jan. 17.

Supporters of the men believe they were wrongly convicted and the sentences handed down far too stiff. Calls from members of Congress and countless Americans for President Bush to pardon the two former agents thus far have been unsuccessful. While efforts continue, supporters of the two men have established funds for people to help their families while they are incarcerated as well as to help pay legal bills.

A labor union, the National Border Patrol Council, is soliciting donations on its website.

"All donations that are designated for Agents Ramos and Compean will be used to fund their legal defense and assist their families in their hour of need," the site states.

"Donations to the fund can be made by check payable to 'BPA Legal Defense & Relief Fund.' Checks should be mailed to: BPA Legal Defense & Relief Fund, P.O. Box 47208, Tampa, FL 33647."

A separate website run by Ramos' family also seeks donations from supporters.

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Calderón says new Congress should aid immigration issues


January 27, 2007

Mexican President Felipe Calderón said yesterday that his country has a better chance of resolving disputes with the United States over immigration now that Democrats control the U.S. Congress.

“With the new composition of the U.S. Congress there are greater opportunities and more potential for making progress on the immigration issue,” Calderón said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

At the Institute of the Americas in San Diego on Thursday night, former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner said she would put the chances of getting an immigration bill passed during President Bush's term at “slightly more than 50-50.”

Calderón said it was essential to convince Americans that Mexico and the United States have “complementary” economies. “Mexico has manpower, and America has much capital,” he said.

You know that you are in trouble when Mexico is glad to have the Democrats in power! -mm

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A crackdown on cartels

Published January 27, 2007

For more than three years, Osiel Cardenas Guillen ran his drug cartel from a maximum-security cell in Mexico, making a mockery of the Mexican prison system and thumbing his nose at U.S. prosecutors who wanted him to stand trial here. In May, Cardenas openly sponsored a Day of the Child party in the border town of Reynosa, complete with truckloads of toys tagged with notes saying they were from the jailbird Cardenas. A paid ad in the next day's paper read, "Osiel makes thousands of children happy."

This week, Mexican authorities handed him over, along with three other kingpins and another 11 drug-related criminals wanted for crimes in the U.S. The move severs ties between incarcerated drug lords and their lieutenants on the outside. It also sets them up for tougher sentences, including forfeiture of millions of dollars gained from drug trafficking. Still better, it sends a message to Mexico's drug dealers and its citizens: There's a new sheriff in town.

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Mexican Police Investigated for Bribery

The Associated Press
January 26, 2007

Six federal police officers involved in President Felipe Calderon's anti-drug operation were being investigated for extortion on Friday after they were videotaped taking money from a driver in the border city of Tijuana, officials said.

The men, part of a force of more than 3,300 police and soldiers sent to Tijuana to clamp down on drug gangs and corruption, will be punished if found guilty, the Public Safety Department said in a statement.

A videotape recorded by the Tijuana city police department shows the officers at a checkpoint stopping a motorist and searching his vehicle. After a discussion, the motorist was shown giving the police a handful of cash including at least one $100 bill.

And this comes as a surprise? -mm

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Member of notorious Franco human smuggling organization receives life sentence for role in violent hostage-taking incident

Phoenix, AZ - A member of the notoriously violent Franco human smuggling organization has received a life prison sentence for his role in a hostage-taking incident here four years ago involving more than 50 illegal aliens who were held at gunpoint and beaten.

Jesus Medina-Nevarez, aka Pablo Medina-Nevarez, 25, of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus seven years by U.S. District Judge Roger G. Strand. Medina-Nevarez was convicted last year of conspiracy, hostage taking, harboring illegal aliens, and possessing and using a firearm to commit violence. The investigation leading to the guilty verdict and sentence was conducted by U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, and the Phoenix and Peoria Police Departments.

At the trial, tearful victims described how Medina-Nevarez and at least seven others, held them at gunpoint inside a Phoenix residence. The aliens were beaten with fists, kicked, pistol whipped, and threatened with death. Medina-Nevarez burned one victim’s face with a cigarette. Other victims had plastic bags put over their heads and were beaten until they could not breath.

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Member of notorious Franco human smuggling organization receives life sentence for role in violent hostage-taking incident

Phoenix, AZ - A member of the notoriously violent Franco human smuggling organization has received a life prison sentence for his role in a hostage-taking incident here four years ago involving more than 50 illegal aliens who were held at gunpoint and beaten.

Jesus Medina-Nevarez, aka Pablo Medina-Nevarez, 25, of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus seven years by U.S. District Judge Roger G. Strand. Medina-Nevarez was convicted last year of conspiracy, hostage taking, harboring illegal aliens, and possessing and using a firearm to commit violence. The investigation leading to the guilty verdict and sentence was conducted by U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, and the Phoenix and Peoria Police Departments.

At the trial, tearful victims described how Medina-Nevarez and at least seven others, held them at gunpoint inside a Phoenix residence. The aliens were beaten with fists, kicked, pistol whipped, and threatened with death. Medina-Nevarez burned one victim’s face with a cigarette. Other victims had plastic bags put over their heads and were beaten until they could not breath.

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ICE special agents arrest 5 members of alleged alien smuggling conspiracy

Man who allegedly fired at Socorro police barricaded himself in ‘drop house’

Five members of an alleged local alien smuggling organization were arrested Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, following a multi-agency investigation into a shooting incident.

In addition to ICE, other agencies also involved in the investigation included: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol, El Paso County Sheriff’s Department and Socorro, Texas, Police Department.

The law enforcement agencies responded to a reported shooting incident between a 22-year-old man and a Socorro police officer early Tuesday morning in San Elizario, Texas. When the officer conducted a routine traffic stop on a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the driver fired at the officer; the officer returned fire. No one was injured during the shooting incident.

ICE agents arrested two women and two men at a house in San Elizario, where the alleged shooter had barricaded himself. The house in the 1200 block of Las Pompas was used as a “drop house,” or location where the alien smuggling organization harbored illegal aliens waiting to be taken to their final destinations. The alleged shooter, Luke Herrada, was later arrested by Socorro police after he fled the drop house. He is charged with criminal attempted capital murder and jailed in lieu of $250,000 bond.

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Alien hiring fine fails on Hill

By Charles Hurt
Published January 26, 2007

Senate Democrats quashed a proposal yesterday that would have dramatically increased civil fines on employers who hire illegal aliens.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, offered the amendment to the bill now being debated that would increase the federal minimum wage.
Ridding the economy of illegal aliens, he argued, would do far more to help low-income wage earners than simply raising the minimum wage. Not only do aliens displace U.S. citizens in the work force, he said, they also artificially suppress wages.

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Operation Wrangler in progress in El Paso

Article Launched: 01/27/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

Operation Wrangler, the border security program announced by Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, is under way in El Paso, Police Chief Richard Wiles said Friday.

The Texas-wide program pays for an extra 30 local police officers, who are placed on major roads as part of efforts to interdict drug and human trafficking. The operation does not include traffic checkpoints, Wiles said.

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Juarez police investigate shooting

Article Launched: 01/27/2007 12:00:40 AM MST

Juárez police Internal Affairs investigators are looking into the slaying of a municipal police officer, city officials said Friday.

Edgar Valencia Salgado, 27, was fatally shot in the face by two masked men outside his home as he got into his vehicle to go to work Wednesday night. The internal investigation is being done to determine whether any "public servants" were involved in the crime.

Daniel Borunda

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2 boys arrested for smuggling marijuana

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 01/27/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

Two teenagers were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle more than 200 pounds of marijuana in separate cases at the Paso del Norte Bridge, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said on Friday.

The first seizure was made Jan. 20, when border officers found 48 pounds of marijuana hidden in the bumper of a 1997 Mitsubishi driven by a 17-year-old boy from El Paso.

On Wednesday, officers discovered 164 pounds of marijuana in the rear quarter panels of a Chevrolet Avalanche driven by a 16-year-old boy from Juárez.

Both teens, whose names were not released, were turned over to the El Paso Police Department.

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Officers say mother, daughter had cocaine load

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
El Paso

Article Launched:01/27/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

An El Paso mother-and-daughter pair traveling together were found to be smuggling 72.1 pounds of cocaine in their van Jan. 20, officials with Customs and Border Protection said.

Martha Vasquez de Barron, 44, drove a 1998 Ford van to the Paso del Norte Bridge last Saturday with her daughter, Ana Avalos, 26, as passenger. Officers were suspicious of the duo when they gave contradictory answers to routine questions, officials said.

After a search, officers discovered the 33 cocaine-filled bundles in a hidden compartment in the dashboard of the van. The women were arrested.

Family smuggling is "something we don't see often but more often than we used to," said CBP spokesman Roger Maier. "It used to be that a typical smuggler was a young single male driver, but now we get juveniles, family units and elderly smugglers."

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Murder suspect extradited to U.S. from Mexico

By Darren Meritz / El Paso Times
El Paso
Article Launched:01/27/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

A suspected California gang member wanted for the past seven years for his alleged role in a murder-for-hire plot has been extradited from Mexico and was turned over to El Paso police Thursday.

Rafael Guillen, 31, is accused of participating in a scheme to kill Mercedes Caballero, who was found stabbed to death and bound with duct tape on the floor of her Lower Valley home in January 2000.

According to a 2002 indictment, Ana Pineda-Montti agreed with Primavera Baltazar -- who has since been sentenced to life in prison for the crime -- to employ Guillen to commit the slaying. Pineda-Montti believed her lover was having an affair with Caballero, Esparza said.

U.S. drug investigators have linked Pineda-Montti, a native of El Salvador, to the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel. El Paso police spokesman Javier Sambrano said Pineda-Montti previously was apprehended by Mexican authorities in connection with the slaying but was released because officials could not extradite her to the United States.

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Activists rally against sweeps targeting illegal immigrants

By Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Daily Bulletin
Article Launched:01/27/2007 12:22:42 AM PST
Photo by Marc Campos/Staff Photographer

POMONA - A group of about 200 people marched through downtown Friday calling for an end to recent immigration sweeps.

Day laborers, college students, clergy and others walked from the 1600 block of West Mission Boulevard to Gordon Street chanting slogans and holding signs in both English and Spanish.

Talk Back on immigration: Beyond Borders Blog
Beyond Borders Special Section: Complete immigration news & Multimedia
Photo Gallery: Pomona Immigration March

Among the marchers was Roberto Aguila of Pomona, who is here illegally and works as a day laborer.

The general construction worker said he joined the march because the sweeps are unfair and he would like the nation's leaders, including President Bush, to address the immigration issue.

"President Bush must realize there should be legalization soon so people can get driver's licenses and identification cards and go out on the street without fear," he said.

Aguila said he came here from the Mexican state of Jalisco in 1992. He has returned to his native country twice but found he needed to come back.

"There is work (in Mexico) but the wages are low and the cost of everything high," he said.

Let me get this straight, their country is incapable or unwilling to make the necessary changes to help its own people so the U.S. is obligated to allow them to violate her sovereignty, break the law and then provide benefits for them. I don't think so! -mm

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Senate minimum-wage bill adds illegal-worker penalty


WASHINGTON — Federal contractors caught hiring illegal immigrants would be banned from government work for up to a decade under sanctions the Senate added unanimously to a minimum wage bill.

The Senate's action Thursday, pushed by Republican senators, was this Congress' first foray into immigration regulation, and it prompted an outcry of opposition from business groups.

By a vote of 94-0, the Senate approved an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would impose a contract ban on companies, even if they inadvertently hired illegal workers, from seven to 10 years. The ban would not be subject to appeal in court, but the federal government could waive it for national-security reasons.

Companies that use a pilot electronic employment verification system would be exempt from the sanctions.

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Payson weighs migrant plan

The Associated Press
Published: 01.27.2007

Leaders in a northern Arizona town hope to discourage illegal immigrants from living in their community through a proposal that would strip employers and landlords of their business licenses if they hire or rent to such immigrants.

The proposal being drafted for the Payson Town Council represents one of the most advanced attempts by an Arizona municipality in recent years to confront illegal immigration.

Payson Mayor Bob Edwards said local employers complained that they followed the federal law requiring workers to be in the country legally while unscrupulous businesses benefited from the lower wages accepted by illegal immigrants.

"We want to make Payson the place not to come to if you aren't here legally," Edwards said. "We don't want to get ugly about it, but we want to send the message that enough is enough."


Mexican meth ring broken, police say


Published: 01.27.2007

A "Mexican cartel" that police say flooded Tucson streets with hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine has been busted, said Tucson Police Department Capt. David Neri.

What police call the Patricia Loya drug-trafficking organization has been under investigation since September. The investigation was closed Jan. 17 and resulted in 24 arrests or indictments, police said.

In addition to 1.5 kilograms of meth, authorities seized 1.8 kilograms of cocaine, two weapons and 10 vehicles, the police report said.

The organization is named for one of the alleged main players, Patricia Loya, 47, who was arrested on 17 counts, all related to drug trafficking.

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Activist to try hunger strike over anti-migrant laws

Beth Duckett
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 27, 2007
12:00 AM

A Phoenix immigration reformist has staged a new platform to protest against the state's mounting anti-immigration sentiment.

And his method of expression is likely to catch some attention.

Elias Bermudez, president of the Immigrants Without Borders group in Phoenix, is going on a hunger strike for seven days to express his frustration with state anti-immigration laws and deportations and push for a federal immigration reform.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Arizona will continue to enforce the law despite anti-immigration advocates like Bermudez, spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.

Bermudez and his followers hope the government can step up and find alternatives to dealing with immigration issues. Namely, they want Congress to approve an immigration reform that would legalize million of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

They want from the U.S. what their own governments would not give to others. In fact, in Mexico, you cannot even stage a protest if you are not a citizen. They will thrown you in jail and it is not a jail with heat and A/C or cable and computers. One prison on the border in Mexico was built to house 800 men but has a current population of 1700! -mm

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California Latinos fearful after immigration raids

Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:13 PM ET

By Tim Gaynor


The-seven day Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweep, dubbed "Operation Return to Sender," targeted jails across five counties in the Los Angeles area, where police took 423 of what they called "criminal aliens" into federal custody for deportation, after being held on charges unrelated to their immigration status.

Federal agents from seven teams also fanned out in local communities, where they nabbed 338 undocumented immigrants, more than 150 of whom were classed as "immigration fugitives" -- foreign nationals who ignored final deportation orders.

The raid was the latest in a series of get-tough enforcement measures by ICE in the United States, but the largest action of its kind in California, where more than a third of the population is Hispanic.

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Scared Smithfield workers stay home

By Jennifer Plotnick
Staff writer

TAR HEEL — The 21 Smithfield Packing Co. employees arrested by immigration officials while they worked Wednesday are in the process of being deported.

The 20 men and one woman arrested were moved Thursday from the Mecklenburg County Jail to Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., nearly 700 miles from Tar Heel.

Meanwhile, church officials within the region’s Hispanic community and spokespeople with the United Food & Commercial Workers union said the workers’ families didn’t know where they were and other immigrant workers were terrified of more arrests.

Production at the plant was substantially diminished Thursday as workers stayed away.

“There are hundreds of immigrant families who will have to decide, ‘Do I show up to work (Friday) and risk being arrested by immigration?’” said Eduardo Pena, a spokesman for the union, which became an unofficial hub of information for workers Thursday, he said.

The workers are going through “removal proceedings,” said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Immigrant students in Arizona brace for higher tuition

By: JACQUES BILLEAUD - Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Illegal immigrants who are students at Arizona public universities and community colleges are regrouping in the face of a new law that denies them cheaper in-state tuition and financial assistance provided by the state.

Out-of-state rates make tuition three times more expensive, so advocates for immigrants say those students are seeking help from foundations, charities and other private sources. Some plan to sit out a semester to earn enough money to return to school.

Erika, a 20-year-old student at Phoenix College who declined to provide her last name for fear of deportation, said she took a reduced class load at the community college this semester to lower her costs.

"I am part of Arizona," said Erika, who was 9 years old when her parents brought her to Arizona from Chihuahua, Mexico. "I work here. I study here. I pay taxes, and I am not going to be considered an in-state student."

The law, approved by state voters in November, doesn't prevent illegal immigrants from attending college, but it bars them from getting state-funded scholarships, tuition and fee waivers and other financial assistance. Illegal immigrants are already prohibited from getting federal financial aid, which university officials said accounts for the majority of assistance for students.

An excellent example of arbitrary law enforcement - they have enough evidence to prove that these students are illegally in the country and must pay a higher tuition rate but they are still allowed to stay in the state and attend the university. Can you say "political schizophrenia"? -mm

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Mexican national sentenced to 14 years for illegal reentry, selling illegal drugs

Springfield. MO - A Mexican national was sentenced in federal court here today to more than 14 years in prison for illegally reentering the United States, and for participating in a conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman, Western District of Missouri.

Rafael Rosales-Martinez, 54, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning to 170 months in federal prison without parole.


GOP renews 'amnesty' defiance

By Charles Hurt
Published January 25, 2007

House Republicans opposed to amnesty vowed yesterday to fight President Bush's proposal to legalize millions of illegal aliens as outlined in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

"The president worked hard to get a Congress that agrees with him on this and now he's got it," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, in reference to the Democratic takeover of both chambers of Congress in the November elections. "But we're still going to fight him on it."

Mr. Bush on Tuesday reissued his call to welcome foreigners with a guest-worker plan, and he called for a path to citizenship for millions of those here illegally.


Woman slain in Juárez was U.S. citizen

Article Launched:01/25/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

A woman killed in a shooting in Juárez was a U.S. citizen, a spokeswoman for the Chihuahua state investigators said Wednesday.

Vanesa Flores, who police said ran a business in El Paso, was slain Sunday when gunmen opened fire while she was riding in a Hummer on Avenida de las Torres in Juárez. She died at the scene.