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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Border Fence About As Effective As Katrina Levees—Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

When Woodrow Wilson went to Congress to ask for a declaration of war in 1917, the U.S. Army was ranked 17th in the world, behind Portugal.

On Armistice Day, 19 months later, there were 2 million doughboys in France, where they had helped to break the back of Gen. Ludendorff's theretofore invincible army in its final offensive, and 2 million more in the United States ready to march on Berlin.

No other nation could have done that.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, FDR demanded that a disarmed America "build 50,000 planes" -- a seemingly impossible number, but one America met and exceeded.

Starting from scratch in 1941, the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos designed, built, tested and detonated three atomic bombs by August 1945 to end the war.

After Sputnik humiliated America, Wernher Von Braun and the boys at Redstone Arsenal had a satellite up in three months. In 1961, JFK declared we were going to the moon and would be there before the decade was out. Cynics scoffed. This writer was at Canaveral to watch Apollo 11 lift off in the summer of 1969.

Whatever became of that can-do nation?

In August 2005, Katrina swept through New Orleans and left 30,000 people stranded at the Superdome and Convention Center. Though the floodwater was shallow and stagnant and New Orleans is a port city with boats all over the place, it took six days and the 82nd Airborne to rescue the stranded.

Compare our performance in Katrina with that of the Brits in 1941, who sent hundreds of boats across the Channel to pull 350,000 British and French troops off the continent in one week in the Miracle of Dunkirk. The Brits weren't going to let Goering's fighters deter them from going across and bringing their boys home.

What occasions these reflections is this morning's lead story in The Washington Post: "'Virtual Fence' Along Border to Be Delayed: U.S. Retooling High-Tech Barrier After 28-Mile Pilot Project Fails."

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Homeland Security chief praises Mexico's fight against drug trafficking

ASSOCIATED PRESS

6:23 p.m. February 28, 2008

MEXICO CITY – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the Mexican government's fight against drug cartels, but warned that there has been an “uptick” in attacks on Border Patrol officers by criminal gangs.

Chertoff spoke at a gathering of Cabinet-level representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico to discuss security and economic issues in the Baja California resort of Los Cabos.

The Homeland Security secretary praised Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who has sent thousands of federal police and soldiers to outlying states to try to stem a wave of bloody battles and assassinations linked to disputes between drug cartels.

“I think the Calderón administration has done an exemplary job, a wonderful job, in tackling these organized criminal groups,” Chertoff said.

But he noted that “we have seen an uptick in violence against our Border Patrol by these organized criminal groups.”

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2 killed in Mexico-U.S. border shooting

2008-02-27 22:47:00

The Associated Press
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen shot and killed two men Wednesday at a gas station steps away from an international bridge in the border town of Palomas, across from Columbus, N.M., police said.
Javier Perez, 41, and Adrian Juarez, 25, were getting gas when the assailants, some wearing ski masks and traveling in two cars, pulled up and opened fire on their pickup truck, said Cesar Ramirez, a spokesman for state prosecutors.
Ramirez said investigators had made no arrests and were still trying to determine a motive for the killings.
The border state of Chihuahua, where Palomas is located, has been plagued by drug violence as Mexico’s crackdown on its powerful cartels has stoked turf wars among traffickers that have been linked to hundreds of killings in the past two years.

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Fed up Reynosa residents protest military presence

Jeremy Roebuck, Paige Lauren Deiner and Jared Taylor

February 27, 2008 - 10:36PM

REYNOSA — Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled Reynosa’s downtown plaza Wednesday afternoon to protest alleged abuses by the Mexican military and federal police.

Carrying banners that compared the soldiers to terrorists and bearing crosses with the names of people killed in encounters with authorities, the marchers outlined a list of complaints including unwarranted searches of homes, stolen property and assaults on city residents.

The breaking point, many said, was the shooting of two civilians at a military checkpoint two weeks ago.

“We’re not at war,” demonstrator Sandra Quiñones said in Spanish. “Coming into houses and pointing guns at people — it scares people.”

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Six in custody as ICE dismantles large-scale human smuggling scheme

Ring suspected of bringing hundreds of illegal aliens a month into the Southland

LOS ANGELES - Six suspects are in custody facing federal criminal charges after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents executed a series of search and arrest warrants yesterday targeting a large-scale criminal organization suspected of smuggling several hundred illegal aliens a month into the Los Angeles area.

Yesterday's enforcement actions are the latest developments in a nearly three-year investigation by ICE that began in May 2005 when the Los Angeles Police Department discovered two smuggling "drop houses" in a 24-hour period in South Los Angeles occupied by more than 140 illegal aliens.

According to the 160-page case affidavit, the ensuing ICE investigation uncovered a highly profitable organization run by Guatemalan nationals that provided housing and transportation to illegal aliens who had previously been smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border to Phoenix. After the ring brought the aliens from Arizona to Southern California, they were held in "drop houses" in Los Angeles and Lancaster, Calif., before being loaded into vehicles and driven to cities nationwide. The ring's clients, primarily foreign nationals from Central America, paid the organization from $1,200 to $3,700 each for the domestic portion of their journey.

"This probe has dealt a serious blow to one of the largest human smuggling operations uncovered on the West Coast in recent years," said Jennifer Silliman, deputy special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. "Based on our investigation, we suspect this ring was transporting more than 100 illegal aliens a week into this area. The human smuggling trade is a ruthless, greed-driven enterprise that puts communities at risk and generates billions of dollars in illicit proceeds. That is why attacking and dismantling these organizations is one of ICE's top enforcement priorities."

During yesterday's operation, ICE agents arrested one of the three alleged ringleaders of the Francisco smuggling organization, so-called because the three primary suspects are all named Francisco. Francisco Andres Pedro, 35, of Guatemala, is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court here this morning.

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Few comment at meeting on border fence

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 02/29/2008 12:29:08 AM MST

A few El Pasoans offered comments on a proposed 57 miles of border fence during a meeting Thursday evening, while others demonstrated outside against what they called a "wall."

Officials from Customs and Border Protection and from the Army Corps of Engineers were on hand to answer questions and collect public comments at an East El Paso ballroom.

"We're still in the decision-making process," CBP spokesman Greg Gephart said.

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Marchers decry slow process for citizenship

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 02/29/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

Members of ACORN from El Paso and Las Cruces on Thursday marched to the offices of Citizenship and Immigration Services to protest nationwide processing delays that could keep some immigrants from getting their citizenship in time to vote in the presidential elections.

Belem Lara of Las Cruces, a permanent legal resident for 30 years, said she was beginning to gather her documents to apply for U.S. citizenship.

"It is my dearest wish to be able to vote, and more than anything, to be able to stay in this country," she said. "I fear that I won't be able to vote while I wait for a response."

Delays have not been an overwhelming problem at the El Paso CIS office, and Thursday's protest attracted only about 20 people. ACORN members were to march in protest in other cities such as Los Angeles.

The CIS has acknowledged the delay and said on its Web site that applications filed after June 1, 2007, could take 16 to 18 months to process. This could mean that someone who filed in June 2007 becomes a citizen in December 2008, too late for the November election.

The naturalization process used to take three to four months from application to interview, immigration lawyers said.

El Paso protester Israel Perez said he felt the delays were deliberate.

"I think they're thinking Mexicans can sway the election," Perez, a U.S. citizen, said.

Federal officials blamed the holdup on an onslaught of applications this year. Many were made by people wanting to beat a steep increase in filing fees that took effect July 30, 2007.

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Suspect says he was told to leave SUV with cash in Juárez

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 02/29/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

The man caught at the border allegedly smuggling nearly $2 million in cash on Monday had been instructed to drop his cargo at a Juárez mall, court documents obtained Thursday showed.

The plan fell apart for Saul Sanchez, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., who drove a currency-laden Ford Expedition from Kansas to the Bridge of the Americas.

First, he was was denied entry to Mexico because his vehicle did not have the proper permits, according to a court affidavit. Sanchez had to turn around and head back into the U.S.

When he tried to re-enter the U.S., Customs and Border Protection officers found the money stashed inside the panels of all four doors and the rear cargo door. Sanchez was arrested and charged with bulk cash smuggling.

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Kin's account of migrant's death conflicts, agent's lawyers contend

ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN

Published: 02.29.2008

Lawyers for a Border Patrol agent on trial in the shooting death of an illegal immigrant tried Thursday to point out contradictions in eyewitness testimony from the dead man's brother.

Under cross-examination by the defense, Jorge Dominguez Rivera testified that he didn't know whether Agent Nicholas Corbett had hit Dominguez's brother with a gun butt or his hand just before the fatal shooting in January 2007.

Defense lawyer Sean Chapman was trying to show that Dominguez's testimony differed from what he told Cochise County sheriff's investigators a year earlier. At that time, Dominguez appeared to say his brother had been hit with the gun butt.

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Appeals to stop state sanctions law denied

Mary Jo Pitzl

The Arizona Republic
Feb. 29, 2008 12:00 AM

Prosecutors are free to file complaints for violations of the state's employer-sanctions law, as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday denied requests for emergency injunctions to block the law.

The law has been in effect since Jan. 1, but the county attorneys who are charged with enforcing the law have said they couldn't bring any prosecutions until March 1 at the earliest.

In its order, the three-judge panel rejected requests for emergency stays filed by a coalition of business groups and Hispanic civil-rights groups.

That means the groups' arguments that Arizona's law is unconstitutional will be heard later this year.

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Mexican Border Patrol: Grupos Beta

Their mission: Turn back migrants, save lives
No guns, no radios: This is Mexico's border patrol

Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 29, 2008 12:00 AM

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Sonora - Mexico's unarmed border patrol faces a daunting challenge: Arrest often-dangerous smugglers and persuade people, who have invested their life's savings to cross the border illegally, to head back home.

The border agents patrol without weapons or radios in parts of the Altar Desert so remote that their cellphones don't work. Here, drug smugglers roam freely with military-style automatic rifles and satellite phones.

Called Grupos Beta, the agents are parts federal police, medic and social worker. They exist to deter hundreds of thousands of compatriots from dangerous border crossings and to rescue them when the harsh landscape and climate prove too much. Agents also arrest the coyotes who guide immigrants into the United States, violating laws of both countries.

Yet questions linger about the role and effectiveness of the Betas, who were disarmed in 2000 because of abuse allegations. Grupos Beta has fans and foes on both sides of the border.

Detractors portray the Betas as a Band-Aid against illegal immigration at best and at worst as adding to the problem. Supporters, including U.S. Border Patrol agents, point to the nearly 5,700 rescues by Betas last year along the U.S.-Mexican frontier. Human-rights groups say the Betas have overcome their image as armed thugs preying on immigrants to become respected as an elite corps of lifesavers.

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Agents in Ariz. Intercept over $2.5 Million Worth of Dope in Multiple Drive-Through Loads

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yuma, Ariz. – Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Wellton Station seized three drive-through narcotics loads early Tuesday morning.

About 12:15 a.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to the Wellton Station detected a possible drive-through narcotics load in a remote desert area 40 miles south of Wellton, Ariz. Agents discovered an abandoned black Chevrolet Silverado near the “Tule Well Cabin” filled with 61 bundles of marijuana. Agents subsequently detected tire tracks for additional vehicles continuing north from the abandoned vehicle.

Additional agents responded north of the area of detection to interdict the vehicles traveling northbound. They successfully deployed a controlled tire deflation device on a white Ford F-250 pick-up truck. The truck was able to continue north a short distance until it came to a stop revealing 65 bundles of marijuana - the occupants fled the scene and are actively being sought by Border Patrol agents and CBP pilots at this time.

A third vehicle, a white Jeep Cherokee was found abandoned three miles north of the black Chevrolet Tahoe and was loaded with 65 bundles of marijuana.

Upon further investigation, it was determined that in the smugglers’ haste to bring their contraband into the U.S., the Ford F-250 crashed into the Chevrolet Tahoe and Jeep Cherokee while driving with its headlights off. This effectively brought the two vehicles that had been hit to a halt undermining the attempt of the smugglers.

Records checks revealed that the Ford F-250 and Chevrolet Silverado were reported stolen out of California. The Jeep Cherokee was not reported stolen but is registered out of Phoenix, Ariz.

The marijuana’s total weight is about 3,340 pounds with an estimated value of $2,670,000.

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Neglected horses seized by YCSO

BY SARAH REYNOLD, SUN STAFF WRITER

2008-02-28 10:27:00

Ten neglected horses were in the care of a rescue program Thursday after being seized from the former home of an illegal immigrant who had been deported, according to the Yuma County Sheriff's Office.

YCSO personnel arrived on the scene in the 6700 block of Hope Avenue Wednesday night in response to a neglected animal case, according to YCSO spokesman Capt. Eben Bratcher.

Deputies found 11 horses on the property, located off 8th Street near Somerton Avenue. One was in what Bratcher described as "extremely poor condition" and a veterinarian was called.

"The vet decided the horse needed to be euthanized immediately," Bratcher said.

The other 10 animals were turned over to the Triple R Ranch, a local horse rescue program.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wait May Foil Immigrants' Right To Vote

BY SARAH GARLAND - Staff Reporter of the Sun

February 27, 2008
The federal government is struggling to deal with an unusual increase in applications from immigrants who want to become American citizens, resulting in waits of at least 16 months that are threatening to prevent immigrants from voting in November's presidential election.

New numbers released yesterday show a surge in citizenship applications last summer to be much more concentrated during the month of a fee hike by the federal government than previously thought.

The fees to apply for American citizenship rose to $675 from $400 starting July 30, 2007. In July 2007, applications jumped by more than 600% from the previous year. In that one month, 460,294 people applied to become citizens, according to numbers obtained from the federal government and released yesterday by the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration think tank whose chairman is the Bishop of Brooklyn, Nicholas DiMarzio.

"It's a really dramatic increase," a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, Doris Meissner, who was commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration, said. "It's the volume that is unusual."

Some critics and immigration advocates have suggested the United States Customs and Immigration agency was unprepared for the large number of people who applied before the increase in fees went into effect. The long wait — now at least 16 months for applicants who filed to become naturalized citizens after June 2007, up from six months for those who applied before — is threatening to prevent many immigrants from voting after they had specifically applied in the hopes of participating in the presidential election. Legal permanent residents who applied after June 2007 have received letters advising them that they can expect to schedule their interview with immigration officials in about 500 days.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez: NAFTA a success, should be strengthened

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax
ASSOCIATED PRESS
1:50 p.m.
February 27, 2008

MEXICO CITY – U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Wednesday that NAFTA has been a boon for the United States, Mexico and Canada, but the three signatory countries should help small Mexican farmers who have suffered from the pact.

When the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994, it contained a provision letting Mexico levy protective farm tariffs temporarily while upgrading its agricultural industry. That phase-in period ended Jan. 1, and Mexican farms – mostly tiny plots of 12 acres (5 hectares) or less – still lag behind.

Gutierrez, in Mexico City for a conference on strengthening Mexico's transportation, energy and environmental infrastructure, said NAFTA has brought economic gains to all three nations – such as helping lower U.S. unemployment from 6.9 percent in 1993 to 4.9 percent last year. More than 30 percent of U.S. foreign trade is through the trade pact, he said.

“If NAFTA weren't a success, the numbers wouldn't be like that,” Gutierrez said.

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Big expansion ahead at border entry

Plans aim to ease wait and increase security
By Janine Zúñiga
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 27, 2008

Federal officials are planning a major expansion of the San Ysidro port of entry to accommodate the growing number of travelers – more than 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians daily – heading into the United States.

Construction may begin this summer on the $577 million project that will increase the number of lanes in each direction and realign southbound lanes. The project will include larger, more sophisticated administration buildings, as well as primary and secondary inspection areas.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who has lobbied state and federal officials for the project's funding since taking office, said yesterday the expansion is “critically important to our region's future economic health.”

“We need to move this project forward,” said Sanders, speaking at the border.

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Hazelton: Immigration's New Frontline

By Tom Fitton

FrontPageMagazine.com | 2/28/2008

You may recall that in July of 2007, a federal judge ruled against two City of Hazleton, PA, ordinances dealing with the employment and harboring of illegal aliens. But that was not the end of the story. The lawsuit is now on appeal. And, on February 14, 2008, we filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in support of Hazleton. (By the way, want to take a guess at which organization is leading the legal campaign against Hazleton? You guessed it. The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU].)

Here’s our argument in a nutshell: “…The regulation of the landlord-tenant and employment relationships – are well within the traditional police and licensing powers of the City. Because the ordinances do not seek specifically to regulate immigration, they are not preempted by federal immigration law,” Judicial Watch argued in its brief. “In fact, the ordinances work in harmony with federal law and are entirely consistent with purposes set forth by Congress in enacting legislation concerning immigration. They also fit comfortably within well-established case law authorizing local government actions.” (You can read the rest here.)

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5 bodies, 2 heads and 3 torsos dug up

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 02/28/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

JUAREZ -- Excavators could still be heard Wednesday digging up the Juárez patio where five bodies, two heads and three torsos were unearthed in the past few days.

The white house with pink window trimming, on a small residential street off Tecnologico Avenue, was guarded by heavily armed federal police officers.

Behind the house on the property are a paved patio, which was hidden from sight Wednesday by blue and black tarp, and a conspicuous three-story concrete warehouse.

Andres Rodriguez, who works at a grocery store on an adjacent street, said that more police and forensic technicians had been going to the house every day.

"I didn't really realize what was going on. It's a sad world we're living in," he said.

On Jan. 25, about 1,500 pounds of marijuana were found during a police raid on the house.

On Feb. 21, police were back and uncovered one body in a grave. The next day, they found three bodies in another grave.

On Feb. 23, they found a body in a third grave.

Last Monday, they made a gruesome discovery in a fourth grave -- two heads and three torsos.

The identities of the victims were not released Wednesday.

Authorities said Tuesday they still had half the patio to tear up.

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Marijuana found in 2 couches, dresser

El Paso Times Staff

Article Launched: 02/28/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

Two couches and a dresser stuffed with marijuana were stopped at the border in two incidents Tuesday in El Paso, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

The couches came across the Zaragoza Bridge about 8 p.m. Twelve large bales of marijuana weighing 386 pounds were found. The driver of the truck, Guadalupe Terrazas De Yong, 39, of Juárez, was arrested.

CBP officers also found 71 pounds of marijuana hidden in a dresser at the Bridge of the Americas and arrested a 24-year-old Juárez man.

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Witness: Agent shot surrendering migrant

ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN

Published: 02.28.2008

A man fatally shot last year by a U.S. Border Patrol agent was starting to kneel in the act of surrendering when he was hit in the back of his head or neck, pushed down and shot, his brother testified Wednesday.

Jorge Dominguez Rivera, 25, told a federal jury that his brother, Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, did not threaten agent Nicholas Corbett with a rock, contrary to what Corbett's lead attorney said in opening statements.

Sean Chapman told jurors that his client was justified when he fired the fatal shot because Dominguez was threatening to "crush his head with a rock," and that Corbett had made a split-second decision to act in self-defense, as he had been trained to do.

Now let me get this straight - the prosecution's chief witness against one of our nation's brave men defending and protecting our border against an invasion of drugs and people bent on violating our nation's sovereignty is the brother of the man who was shot while attacking this agent who has also violated our nation's sovereignty and is someone who stands to gain a whole lot of money through a resulting civil suit, even though he should have no right to do so as a criminal, if this border agent is convicted? What's wrong with this picture? -mm

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Border Patrol agents save diabetic migrant

CARLI BROSSEAU
Tucson Citizen

Border Patrol agents on Tuesday rescued a diabetic illegal immigrant abandoned by his traveling partner because he couldn't keep up, an agency spokesman said.

The 40-year-old Mexican man was found unresponsive near an empty cattle tank southeast of Ak Chin on the Tohono O'odham Nation, Agent Mike Scioli said. Ak Chin is about 50 miles west of Tucson.

The man was taken to University Medical Center for treatment of hypothermia and problems related to the diabetes, Scioli said.

Agents found him after a five-hour air and ground search prompted by the report from the traveling partner, who was already in Border Patrol custody, Scioli said.

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Drug traffickers sentenced in digging, operating tunnel

Associated Press
Feb. 28, 2008
12:00 AM

Four drug traffickers have been sentenced for their roles in digging and operating a drug tunnel between the U.S. and Mexico.

Rigoberto Gaxiola Medina, who authorities say is linked to the dangerous and powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, was sentenced to 11 years after being convicted of ordering the construction of the 330-yard-long, 2-yard-wide tunnel leading from a house in Nogales, Sonora, to a house in Nogales, Ariz., the federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

Roque Duarte Munoz, who was in charge of receiving the drugs on the U.S. side, and Juan Francisco Quintero Arce, who was responsible for transporting the drugs through the tunnel, also each received 11 years in prison.

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Murder suspect in custody following arrest in Mexico

Lindsey Collom
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 28, 2008
12:00 AM

A man extradited from Mexico in connection with the fatal shooting of his ex-wife and serious injury of her son had been deported in 2003 and voluntarily returned to Mexico three times before that.

Ramon Bojorquez-Vasquez, 44, is being held in a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He was arrested in Hermosillo, Sonora, and returned to Phoenix Tuesday. Authorities say Bojorquez-Vasquez fled to Mexico after Elia Cruz Cabada, 49, was shot to death inside her Phoenix home on April 7, 2005. Her then-16-year-old son had also been shot, but survived.

A confidential source told authorities about Bojorquez-Vasquez's location in Mexico, and he was arrested in January 2007. Authorities detained him until he waived extradition and was turned over to U.S. marshals.

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Border Patrol Agents Rescue 10 Aliens from Cargo Trailer

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Laredo, Texas – Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo North station rescued 10 illegal aliens from a smuggling attempt Tuesday.

Agents working at the checkpoint on Interstate Highway 35 north of Laredo conducted a routine immigration inspection on a tractor trailer that drove into the facility late Tuesday night. While agents interviewed the driver a Border Patrol canine alerted agents to the trailer, indicating the presence of hidden contraband or people.

Agents examined the trailer and noticed that a security seal on the door was broken. After opening the trailer, agents discovered 10 adults hiding among the cargo. All of the people were identified as illegal aliens. None of them required or requested medical attention.

The driver and the aliens were turned over to ICE agents.

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'Virtual Fence' Along Border To Be Delayed

U.S. Retooling High-Tech Barrier After 28-Mile Pilot Project Fails

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2008; A01

The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday.

Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee.

Though the department took over that initial stretch Friday from Boeing, authorities confirmed that Project 28, the initial deployment of the Secure Border Initiative network, did not work as planned or meet the needs of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The announcement marked a major setback for what President Bush in May 2006 called "the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history." The virtual fence was to be a key component of his proposed overhaul of U.S. immigration policies, which died last year in the Senate.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mexican Congress approves judicial reform, but nixes searchs without warrants

By E. Eduardo Castillo
ASSOCIATED PRESS
8:36 p.m.
February 26, 2008

MEXICO CITYMexico's lower house of Congress on Tuesday approved a sweeping judicial reform that would introduce public, oral trials and guarantee the presumption of innocence, but lawmakers deleted a proposal to allow police to search homes without a warrant.

In the 462-6 vote with two abstentions, legislators approved the reform bill, which would also allow information from recorded phone calls to be used as evidence in criminal cases if at least one of the conversation's participants agrees.

The reform must still be approved by the Senate and then by at least 17 of Mexico's 31 states.

The original proposal, submitted last year, would have allowed police to enter homes without a judge's warrant if they believed a person's life or safety were in danger, or if a crime was being committed inside.

But human rights groups harshly criticized the proposed expansion of police powers, and legislators finally agreed to drop that clause.

In case you were unaware, in Mexico, if you are accused of a crime, it is your responsibility to prove you are innocent. The state does not have you prove you guilty because, in Mexico, you are guilty until proven innocent. -mm

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Local ICE Fugitive Operations Team arrests 34 in 4-day operation

11 teams in regional efforts make 225 arrests in six states

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that its local team of officers that track down criminal and fugitive aliens arrested 34 aliens as part of a four-day, six state operation that ended Monday.

"Fugitive aliens" are illegal aliens who fail to leave the country after having been ordered to do so by a federal immigration judge.

Eleven fugitive operations teams made 225 arrests in: Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin. Of the 34 aliens arrested by ICE's Kansas City Fugitive Operations Team, 10 were fugitives, and two were aliens with criminal convictions. The arrests took place in the following Missouri cities: Springfield, Neosho, Carthage, Joplin, Webb City, Monnet, Branson and Willow Springs. Those arrested are from the following countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and The Philippines.

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Federal, state cooperation shuts down fraudulent documents operation

Suspect manufactured phony immigration documents, Social Security cards and driver's licenses

WILMINGTON, Del. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday the arrest of a Mexican national on federal charges that he was producing and misusing immigration documents. Pedro Altatenco-Luna has had his initial appearance in federal court for the District of Delaware and was ordered held in custody. Altatenco-Luna has been charged by the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware with violations of Title 18 USC 1028, Producing Identification Documents and Title 18 USC 1546, Fraud and Misuse of Immigration Documents.

The investigation was sparked when the Delaware State Police (DSP) became suspicious of a package identified through an undisclosed narcotics interdiction initiative. Further investigation by the DSP led to the discovery of approximately 200 suspected fraudulent I-551 resident alien cards (so called green cards). Also included in the package were homeland security document laminates with official seals and similar laminates for Mexican drivers licenses.

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Cuba's New and Improved Tyrant

By Humberto Fontova
FrontPageMagazine.com | 2/27/2008

With Raul Castro's ascent to power in Havana, the news media have dutifully presented him as a potential Gorbachev. The Chicago Tribune headline blares, "Cubans Hope Raul Castro Brings Reform." True, the Associated Press reporter acknowledges, Raul has been a hardliner by his brother Fidel's side for five decades; however, he also introduced small farmers markets into the Cuban hinterlands! The AP gushes Raul "encouraged Cubans to open a fearless and critical debate, as long as they remember that the final decisions will be made by the island's Communist leaders." However, the story also mentions in passing that the younger generation set to replace Raul is so fervently Communist that they call themselves, "Young Talibans."

One would think after the media's sorry track record with the Castros, they would not resort to lionizing Fidel's murderous brother.

In 1956, when Fidel Castro's motley band of 82 guerrillas were training in Mexico for their "invasion" and "liberation" of Cuba from Batista, a trainee named Calixto Morales, suffering from a recent injury, was forced to briefly hobble away from one particularly strenuous training session. He was trussed up, dragged in front of what a guerrilla leader called a "court martial," and quickly sentenced to death by firing squad.

Fortunately the "maximum" guerrilla commander showed up in time and ordered his brother to rescind his hasty death sentence. Morales, after all, had the proper "revolutionary" attitude and had merely suffered an unfortunate accident.

Raul Castro had done the hasty sentencing. His big brother Fidel had ordered the pardon.

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Police say American woman was kidnapped

El Paso Times Staff
Article Launched: 02/27/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

A California woman who was found wandering the streets of downtown Juárez had been kidnapped by a taxi driver at the El Paso International Airport, beaten and abandoned in Juárez, Juárez police said.

El Paso police and FBI officials said Tuesday they did not know about the case.

Police said they took Kimberly Citwood, 23, of Santa Rosa, Calif., to the U.S. Consulate in Juárez. Consulate officials could not be reached Tuesday.

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Backyard grave in Juárez contains multiple bodies

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 02/27/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

A macabre discovery of up to nine bodies was made by Mexican federal police in a clandestine grave found in the backyard of a Juárez home, federal authorities said Tuesday.

More bodies could still be discovered because investigators so far have only dug up half of the property at a home in the 1800 block of Cocoyoc street in the Cuernavaca area of Juárez.

The federal public safety office reported nine bodies had been found, while the federal attorney general's office, known as the PGR, reported that five bodies had been found plus two severed heads and three torsos.

Last week, federal police raided the home and seized more than 1,000 packs of marijuana and arrested two people, Francisco Javier Chavez Nieto, 47, and Sulema Yanir Felix Pinuelas, 37, officials said in a news release.

The first body was discovered last Thursday, and other corpses were found in each of the past four days.

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CBP Officers in El Paso Seize $1.8 Million in U.S. Currency

CBP Officers Find 2,366 Pounds of Marijuana in Separate Incident
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

El Paso, Texas – On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the El Paso port of entry intercepted a vehicle containing $1,858,085. The money was concealed in the door panels and the rear cargo door of a 1992 Ford Expedition. The seizure is the largest currency seizure made at the El Paso port of entry in more than a decade and possibly the second largest ever.

The seizure was made shortly before 11 a.m. when the vehicle carrying a family of three entered the Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) port of entry from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection booth noticed that the driver of the vehicle was nervous during a routine inspection. The CBP officer began to search the vehicle using a "Buster" density meter and received high readings consistent with hidden contraband. The CBP officer examined a door more closely and spotted bundles of U.S. currency wrapped in clear plastic tape behind the panel.

CBP officers took custody of the driver and continued their inspection of the vehicle. They discovered bundles of currency concealed in all five doors of the vehicle. Denominations discovered included $100’s, $50’s, $20’s, $10’s and $5’s.

"This is an exceptionally significant currency seizure," said Gene Garza, CBP acting Director of Field Operations in El Paso. "The majority of currency seizures made at this port of entry are of the five figure variety. Taking almost $2 million away from a criminal organization in an instant really hits hard."

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Border Patrol Agents Seize Nearly a Ton of Drugs in Arizona

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tucson, Ariz. — Border Patrol agents from the Tucson sector seized nearly a ton of marijuana during routine weekend patrols.

On Sunday evening, agents assigned to the Casa Grande Station spotted horse tracks on the Tohono O’odham Reservation near the village of Cowlic. With the assistance of CBP Air assets, agents were able to arrest one rider and seize 22 bundles of marijuana. Two other riders and all six horses were able to avoid capture. The rider caught with the drug load was identified as a 27-year-old Mexican national. While he will be processed for Expedited Removal, the marijuana weighing more than 800 pounds was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Yesterday at approximately 5 p.m., agents assigned to the Ajo Station responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle, south of the village of Gu-Vo on the Tohono O’odham Nation. About an hour later, agents spotted a vehicle matching the earlier description of a grey Chevy Avalanche near the village. They followed a dust cloud for a few moments until they discovered the abandoned truck, with a large number of marijuana bundles in the back. Agents searched for the driver, unsuccessfully, before they moved the truck and the drugs back to the Ajo Border Patrol Station for further processing. A total of 26 bundles weighing more than 1,100 pounds were processed and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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CBP Arrests Frequent Traveler for Alleged Smuggling Attempt

Monday, February 25, 2008

San Ysidro, Calif. – A 24-year-old San Diego woman registered to participate in the SENTRI program was arrested Saturday evening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the San Ysidro port of entry after they found two undocumented male migrants hidden in the vehicle she was driving, officials announced today.

The driver, a United States citizen, entered the port in a 2006 Dodge Ram through a designated SENTRI lane at about 10 p.m. The woman accompanied by her young son, presented U.S. passports and SENTRI cards for the two of them to the primary officer.

During the primary inspection, the CBP officer reached behind the driver’s seat and felt a person. Officers subsequently escorted the driver and vehicle into the secondary inspectional area for case processing.

In the secondary lot, officers discovered two undocumented male migrants hidden behind the seat of the vehicle. Officers confirmed that the undocumented migrants, a 32-year old and a 22-year old, were citizens of Mexico. They were taken into CBP custody for processing.

The 32-year old will be a material witness in the prosecution case.

The driver was arrested and charged with alien smuggling. She was transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await arraignment in federal district court. Her SENTRI privileges have been revoked and the vehicle was seized by CBP. The driver’s minor son was turned over to a family member.

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Opening statements Wednesday in Border Patrol agent's trial

Associated Press
Feb. 27, 2008
07:01 AM

TUCSON - Opening statements and the first prosecution testimony kick off the trial Wednesday of an U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona charged in the shooting death of an illegal immigrant.

Eight men and five women jurors, including one alternate, were chosen Tuesday in Tucson, Ariz., to hear the case against agent Nicholas Corbett.

He is charged with second-degree murder, negligent homicide and manslaughter in the January 2007 death of Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, 22, of Puebla, Mexico.

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Border agents bigger targets for violence

Mimi Hall
USA
Today
Feb. 27, 2008
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Violence against government agents working along the U.S.-Mexican border is escalating in response to government efforts to crack down on illegal drug- and human-smuggling rings, Homeland Security officials say.

Since 2004, the number of assaults has more than doubled, from 384 that year to 987 in fiscal 2007. And this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, is set to significantly outpace the last one. There have been 409 reported assaults so far this year compared with 275 during the same period last year.

Most of the assaults involve "rockings," in which drug and human smugglers throw rocks, bricks and other objects at agents.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said more serious incidents have been reported.

"We've had occasions of people shooting at agents, trying to run agents down with vehicles, throwing large rocks or pieces of brick or concrete at agents, which actually can be fatal, and I've seen some pretty serious injuries that have resulted from it," he said. "The levels have consistently increased."

He said the escalation is the result of stepped-up enforcement that aims to put smugglers out of business. Since the 9/11 attacks raised fears of terrorists slipping into the United States across its land borders, Homeland Security has nearly doubled the size of the Border Patrol; 18,000 agents will be on the job by year's end.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mexican prez: Closing border a 'mistake'

But Bush administration believes Calderon making good efforts toward security
Posted: February 25, 2008 10:45 pm Eastern
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

The White House believes the president of Mexico is "making very good efforts in trying to help secure the border," even though Felipe Calderon has described the two nations' economies as "complementary" and has warned anyone believing closing the border between the two will solve the "lack of competitiveness" in the U.S. is "making a very, very big mistake."

Mexican President Calderon recently spent nearly a week in the United States lobbying for his nation's interests. According to a recent Bloomberg report, Calderon said the number of people abandoning his nation and moving into the United States as illegal aliens soon will be reduced by new job creation in Mexico and economic growth there.

"It's possible to transform Mexico from a nation that loses its best people to migration into a nation capable of generating opportunity for Mexicans on their own soil,'' he told an audience at Harvard.

"We are neighbors, we are friends and we must be allies," he said. "Whoever is the next president of the United States, this country can count on Mexico to deal in that direction."

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Immigration puts hold on illegal in fatal bus crash

Suspect in accident that killed 4 kids identified as 24-year-old from Guatemala

Posted: February 25, 2008 10:42 pm Eastern
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities have placed a hold on a woman who was driving a van that allegedly barreled through a stop sign and hit a school bus, killing four Minnesota school children.

The announcement came as Minnesota authorities confirmed the woman was identified as Olga Marina Franco, 24, from Guatemala. She first had given the name Alianiss Nunez Morales, and provided her age as 23, her home country Mexico.

The Lyon County attorney, Richard Maes, has charged the woman with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide, driving without a license and running a stop sign. But if and when those counts are resolved, she still faces custody, because of the paperwork filed by ICE to keep her behind bars, according to a report from Associated Press.

Federal officials confirm they have developed probable cause to believe she is an illegal alien, a status confirmed earlier by state officials.

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Study shows impact of illegal immigration

2008-02-24 20:59:00

Recently, some San Luis Rio Colorado, Son. officials complained about the impact on their community of Arizona's sanctions against illegal aliens. The magnitude of the Mexican migration north should be one of absolute disgrace to the Mexican government.

The brazen confrontation exhibited by the Mexico government in regard to this glut of migration should have been confronted by overwhelming law enforcement and economically years ago in Mexico.

While the Mexican government must take responsibility for this human tragedy there is still a large quantity of shame left. In the United States, the right looks for low cost labor, while the left looks for more social programs and votes.

Each element willingly exploits human misery in seeking their ends and its added cost to the American people, along with missed opportunity of its children.

A real look at immigration in America is now available, "The Immigration Solution : A Better Plan Than Today's," by Heather MacDonald and Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute and Victor Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Their work discusses the immigration problem from areas which are not acceptable to public policy. These are the problems being omitted by the San Luis officials when they look for a solution.

The study of Southern California's Mexican teen birth rate was the highest in the country at 93 births per 1,000 girls. It also says that among Hispanic teens the stigma of single parenthood has vanished.

Crime reports show "28 percent of Mexican American males in San Diego between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having been arrested since 1995" - twice that of any other immigration group. Latino gang members fatally gunned down two grandmothers who had confronted them while they were spraying gang graffiti. From this we see the growing gang mentality.

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Texas man pleads guilty in sex trafficking case

© 2008 The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — A 48-year-old San Antonio man will likely spend 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in a sex trafficking case involving teenage girls from Mexico, officials said.

Timothy Michael Gereb pleaded guilty Monday to transporting undocumented immigrants for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and a separate count of sexual trafficking of a minor.

The sexual trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, but Gereb's guilty plea means he will likely serve 10 years. U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez set sentencing for March 12.

"The risk was just too high to go to trial," said Mike McCrum, one of his lawyers.

As part of his plea, Gereb acknowledged that in May 2007 he and four other defendants conspired to bring in girls from Mexico to work as "escorts," according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation.

The girls were smuggled into the country from Nuevo Laredo and brought to the San Antonio area. Prosecutors said Gereb and the other defendants were setting up a house for prostitution, and that the girls were sexual slaves.

Isabel Ochoa, 59, and her daughters Consuelo Pilar Ochoa, 32, and Maria De Jesus Ochoa, 29, pleaded guilty in October to transporting or harboring the teen girls.

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Jury selection to start in Border Patrol agent's trial

Associated Press
Feb. 26, 2008 06:23 AM

TUCSON- Jury selection starts Tuesday in the trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged in the shooting death of an illegal immigrant.

Prospective jurors answered a questionnaire in advance and will face further questioning from U.S. District Judge David Bury.

Once jurors are seated, they'll hear Cochise County special prosecutors seek to convict agent Nicholas Corbett on a single charge of second-degree murder, negligent homicide or manslaughter.

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English-learner case strains Arizona's coffers

Deadline creates dilemma for cash-strapped state

Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 26, 2008 12:00 AM

State government, already strapped for money, could be staring down a bill for millions of dollars for failing to fund a program to teach English to students struggling to learn the language.

And the financial cost to the state will grow even more, as legislative leaders and the state schools chief indicated Monday that they will appeal the English-language issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

The latest developments in the case of Flores vs. Arizona underscore the financial and philosophical issues at stake.

On the one hand, lawmakers face a March 4 deadline to fund English-language programs adequately. That's a deadline they said Monday that they can't meet.

That will send attorney Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest back to a federal judge in Tucson to seek sanctions. Those penalties could be similar, if not identical, to fines that were imposed on the state two years ago for dragging its feet on the English-language issue: $500,000 a day, climbing over time.

On another front, state officials will appeal Friday's ruling from a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court rejected their arguments that they have resolved the dilemma about English-language instruction and thus should be removed from the requirements imposed by Judge Raner Collins of U.S. District Court.

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Police fear violence from border-related kidnappings

Ransoms high, cases rising

Lindsey Collom
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 26, 2008 12:00 AM

The brother of a drug pusher taken from a roadside stop. Three suspected coyotes bound and beaten as a fourth points out their boss' west Phoenix address. A low-level smuggling boss forced from his home at gunpoint as his wife and young children watch.

These are the victims when criminals kidnap other criminals for up to six-figure ransoms.

Phoenix police investigated 40 percent more border-related kidnappings in 2007 than the previous year. Police say the uptick means more kidnappings are taking place and more people are reporting them.


Authorities worry the escalating violence could harm innocent people, be they caught in the crossfire or targets for abduction.

"There's extreme violence from both sides, lots of money and lots of weapons," said Phoenix robbery Sgt. Phil Roberts. Some battles have erupted in gunfire on city streets. "The immediate danger is that innocent people will get caught up in it."

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Iraqis nabbed in Mexico, headed to U.S. with fake IDs

Authorities suspect European ring selling counterfeit Bulgarian passports for $10K
Posted: February 21, 2008
10:48 pm Eastern
WorldNetDaily

WASHINGTON – Two more Iraqis with false Bulgarian passports were detained by Mexican officials in Monterrey – bringing the total to four this month.

Wisam Gorgies, a 34-year-old man, and Rana Nazar Peyoz, a 26-year-old woman, reportedly flew from Madrid and landed in Monterrey, according to reports in two Mexican newspapers today.

Following questioning, the pair admitted they intended to reach the United States. They were taken to Saltillo in the state of Coahuila, for final determination of their status.

Mexican officials said the are investigating "a network that could be made up of Mexicans operating in Greece who are selling false Bulgarian passports for $10,000 to European and Middle Eastern citizens."

Earlier this month, El Universal, a daily in Mexico City, reported two other Iraqis, Markos Ramy, a 25-year-old man, and Sollem Pate, a 20-year-old woman, presented Bulgarian passports upon arrival at the Monterrey airport after a flight from Spain.

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Exclusive: Drug Smugglers Dig Record Number of Tunnels in 2007

The Number of Tunnels Found by Authorities in 2007 Was a Record 19
By RICHARD ESPOSITO

Nineteen tunnels were discovered beneath the United States southwest border in 2007, surpassing a record of 17 set in 2006, federal authorities reported today.

Seventy-three tunnels -- ranging from crude to sophisticated -- have been discovered since 1990, half of those since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security reported in an intelligence assessment released today.

None of the tunneling discovered was attributed to terrorists, but the enhanced security of overland routes since the 2001 attacks was cited as a reason drug smugglers burrowed for alternatives.

A tunnel discovered in Tecate, Calif., in December 2007 stunned the quiet border community known for its namesake brewery and probably led to the retaliatory death of a Mexican police commander, the report stated.

Fourteen of the tunnels were discovered criss-crossing the Nogales, Ariz. to Nogales, Mexico. border. DHS assessed that the massive storm drainage system beneath those cities provided easy access for tunnel builders, resulting in 37 tunnels built and discovered since 1995.

The majority of the tunnels appeared to have been built to smuggle drugs, notably large shipments of marijuana. In one such tunnel, 3,000 pounds of marijuana was found by Nogales police and a Customs Border Patrol canine unit.

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Tijuana no longer life of the party

Violence has further sapped tourism from the famously tacky town
By Richard Marosi
February 24, 2008

TIJUANA
, Mexico

Marcos Rojas, a waiter at Mr. Tequila Restaurant, roams the Plaza Viva Tijuana, eager to pour double-shots for partying tourists. This downtown gateway once was crowded with Southern California day- trippers, Midwestern families and busloads of German and Japanese tourists.

But empty bars and shuttered businesses now outnumber people.

Rojas, who earns tips by making a show of slamming tequila shots on the table and pouring them down customers' throats, says it has been a week since he performed one of his signature tricks, twirling a tourist on his shoulders. "Look around, it's dead," he said.

In the sleepy plaza, down the lonely pedestrian promenade leading to the heart of the tourist district on Avenida Revolucion, bored waiters and strip-club hawkers compete for the trickle of customers, while old-time merchants wax nostalgic for the days when a downtown dotted with attractions drew millions of visitors.

Tijuana's recent wave of violence appears to have driven another nail into the coffin of a tourism industry already hobbled by its reputation for tacky tourist traps, rowdy bars and long waits at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing.

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Migrant rate of crime even with numbers

Michael Kiefer
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 25, 2008
12:00 AM

Despite public perception and stepped-up enforcement of immigration laws in recent months in Maricopa County, undocumented immigrants are not charged with a disproportionate number of crimes in Maricopa County.

According to the Sheriff's Office, only 10 percent of the people booked into county jails are subject to ICE holds, meaning that they will be turned over to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency when their cases are resolved.

The number corresponds closely to the estimated percentage of illegal immigrants thought to live in Maricopa County.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Carpentersville resident's identity stolen -- this one 7 years old - by an illegal alien

By Gene Haschak | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 2/23/2008 12:27 AM

Another Carpentersville resident has gotten a notice from the IRS, demanding back taxes on income.

The IRS says the resident owes taxes on $60,000.

Only this victim is 7. Yes, a second-grader.

He's the latest Carpentersville resident, police said Friday, to fall victim to identity theft.

He may, however, be the youngest.

His identity has been in use by someone else since 2001.

Detectives accused a Streamwood man of using the boy's personal information not long after the boy was born in 2001.

Cirilo Centeno, 29, of 1101 Sunnydale Blvd., was charged with felony identity theft, an offense that could land him in jail for between four and 15 years if he is convicted.

According to a report, Centeno showed police a Social Security card bearing the name of the victim and Centeno's photo.

Centeno said he has used the Social Security card with the victim's information to obtain a truck, three separate jobs, gas and electrical service for his home, a credit card, unemployment benefits twice for a total of six months, and over $60,000 in pay and services, police said.

Centeno said he bought the card for $50 from a friend and used it because he is in the country illegally, police said.

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Joe’s Immigration Reform Fantasy Comes True—Almost!

By Joe Guzzardi

In my recurring fantasy, I’m on national television debating patriotic immigration reform with a well-known reconquista like Maria Hinojosa, or possibly the Senate’s most outspoken pro-open borders advocate, Teddy Kennedy.

That day has yet to come. But in the meantime, something almost as good has happened.

Bill McIntosh, a journalist at Univision, the notorious reconquista Spanish-language TV channel, submitted a list of ten questions to me about former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda’s interview with Miami Herald reporter Casey Woods. Their topic: Castañeda’s new book, Ex-Mex. [A Mexican View of U.S. Immigration Debate, Casey Woods. Miami Herald, February 17, 2008]

McIntosh’s questions and my replies have been submitted to Univision for possible posting in Spanish on its online website.

Before I start, one note not covered by McIntosh’s questions: Woods asked Castañeda why he wrote his book. Replied Castañeda: "I thought it was important that there be a Mexican viewpoint in the U.S. immigration debate"

This is a shaky foundation for Castañeda’s tome, since "Mexican viewpoints" on immigration are repeatedly heard throughout the U.S. They often drown out the American perspective.

Ethnic identity groups like La Raza work closely with U.S. Senators in drafting amnesty bills. Newspapers continuously quote local Hispanic open border organizations in their stories, thus providing the immigrant’s angle. And the MainStream Media (MSM) editorializes endlessly about why "comprehensive immigration reform" a.k.a. amnesty should be passed.

For Castañeda to claim that the "Mexican voice" is missing in the "U.S. immigration debate" is insulting—as were most of his other comments.

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Mexico City mayor wants to revive Aztec language

By Mica Rosenberg
REUTERS
1:33 p.m. February 22, 2008

MEXICO CITY – Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants all city employees, from hospital workers to bus drivers, to learn the Aztec language Nahuatl in an effort to revive the ancient tongue, the city government said Friday.

Leftist Ebrard, seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, presented his government's development plan this week translated for the first time into Nahuatl.

“This publication is not just a symbolic act, it is the first step to institutionalizing the use of Nahuatl in the government,” his office said a statement.

The next step will be offering Nahuatl classes to city government officials, including the mayor and his cabinet, and distributing booklets about indigenous culture to 300,000 public servants, said Rosa Marquez who runs the program.

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U.S. drug czar: Marijuana now biggest moneymaker for Mexican cartels

By Mark Stevenson
ASSOCIATED PRESS
5:15 p.m. February 21, 2008

MEXICO CITY – Marijuana is now the biggest source of income for Mexico's drug cartels and the U.S. is committed to cracking down harder on traffickers, U.S. drug czar John Walters said Thursday.

“We're trying to increase the force with which we're attacking this problem,” Walters said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “This is a focus because of the overlooked importance marijuana has in the violence.”

Walters made the comments following a meeting with Mexican officials who want the U.S. to prosecute marijuana cases more zealously to reduce the amount of cash gangs can spend on guns.

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora discussed the subject with Walters and U.S. federal prosecutors from the border region Thursday during a meeting in the Baja California resort of Los Cabos.

Walters said the U.S. government is seeking additional resources to prosecute traffickers of marijuana, which now earns cartels about $8.5 billion or about 61 percent of their annual estimated income of $13.8 billion. Cocaine sales earn the cartels about $3.9 billion, and methamphetamine about $1 billion, he said.

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Mexico's human rights commission investigates army in shooting death

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax
ASSOCIATED PRESS
8:22 p.m. February 20, 2008

MEXICO CITY – Mexico's human rights commission on Wednesday said it was investigating allegations that soldiers opened fire on a car at a checkpoint south of the Texas border, killing a man and wounding a U.S. citizen.

Jose Antonio Barbosa Ramirez solicited the National Human Rights Commission's help after the Mexican army opened fire on a car he was traveling in with his brother-in-law, Sergio Meza Varela, early Saturday morning in the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state, the commission said in a statement.

The statement said the men had been drinking and doing drugs and decided to drive around the city. At about 4 a.m. Saturday, they were chased by a military-style Jeep and ended up at an army checkpoint where they attempted to flee by putting the car in reverse.

Barbosa, who said he was a U.S. citizen living in Reynosa, then felt a pain in his arm, lost control of the car and crashed into a pole. The soldiers fired more than 10 shots at the pair, the statement said.

Meza died at the scene, and Barbosa suffered a fractured arm and gunshot wounds in his arm and back, the commission said.

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Mexican drug hitmen kill singer near U.S. border

February 20, 2008

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Drug hitmen have killed a popular Mexican singer along with his manager and assistant near the U.S. border, authorities said on Wednesday, the latest murder among musicians who sing "narcocorrido" ballads glorifying drug traffickers.

more stories like this

The body of Jesus Rey David Alfaro, known as "The Little Rooster," was one of six that turned up tortured, murdered and pinned with threatening messages for Mexico's army last week in the border town of Tijuana near San Diego.

"We believe Alfaro had links to the Arellano Felix cartel," said an official with the Baja California state attorney general's office who declined to be named.

The official was referring to Tijuana's main drug smuggling cartel, which is fighting a gory turf war with traffickers from Mexico's Pacific state of Sinaloa, led by the country's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

At least half a dozen Mexican folk singers, who play narcocorridos and upbeat, brassy "grupera" music, have been killed since Mexico's drug war flared in 2006.

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Murder trial begins in AZ for illegal immigrant shooting

Reported by: Associated Press
Last Update: 2/23 1:42 pm

A murder trial tinged with international controversy that begins this week will determine whether a U.S. Border Patrol agent was justified in shooting an illegal immigrant near the Mexican border.

Jury selection will start Tuesday in federal court in the case of Agent Nicholas Corbett, who is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide in the Jan. 12, 2007, death of Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera.

Corbett's lawyers contend that he acted lawfully in self-defense after being threatened; prosecutors contend the shooting wasn't justified.

The case stands in contrast to that of El Paso, Texas, agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who are serving prison terms after a jury convicted them in 2006 of assault, obstruction of justice and civil rights violations in the wounding of a drug smuggler.

Border Patrol brass in El Paso supported that prosecution, after an internal investigation determined the agents had acted inappropriately.

Robert Gilbert, who became chief of the El Paso sector a few months before the agents' federal trial, said after the case that Ramos' and Compean's actions would not overshadow the agency's "long-standing tradition of honor, service and integrity to the country."

Now the Border Patrol's Tucson sector chief, Gilbert has attended Corbett's court proceedings in a show of support for the agent.

Again, with the persecution and prosecution of a Border Patrol agent who was defending our borders. Enough already! -mm

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Mass grave found in Juárez backyard

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

Article Launched: 02/23/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

A clandestine grave with an unknown number of bodies was discovered by federal police investigators in a Juárez backyard, Mexican officials said Thursday.

Police excavated the yard of a house at 1847 Coyococ street and found human remains buried 5 1/2 feet deep. Police officials said in a news release that they did not know how many bodies were buried there and that they continued digging.

Federal police officials arrived in Juárez this month to help local police confront a wave of drug-related killings. The federal officers, as well as Mexican soldiers, have been conducting checkpoints in Juárez and raids on suspected drug stash houses.

More than 60 homicides have occurred in Juárez since Jan. 1, although none since last weekend.

In January 2004, the bodies of 12 men were found buried in the backyard of a Juárez house. The men had been tortured and killed.

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Juárez violence affects El Paso

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 02/24/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

The violence in Juárez used to be, for most El Pasoans, a case of "not my problem."

But a recent El Paso Times/NewsChannel 9 Poll suggests that might no longer be so.

The poll found that 62 percent of El Paso voters believed violence in Juárez was spilling over into El Paso, and that 54 percent said Juárez violence was having an impact on business in El Paso.

In addition, 46 percent of El Paso voters said the United States should increase its involvement in Mexico's drug war.

Erica Miranda, a computer engineering student at UTEP, said she didn't go to Juárez nearly as much as she used to.

"I try not to go because I'm scared. A couple of years ago, I was not as scared. But now I'm in my 20s and I'm more aware. I don't know anybody who goes to Juárez anymore, except teen agers who don't know it's dangerous," Miranda said in an interview separate from the poll.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 65 homicides have occurred in Juárez, compared with one in El Paso. Compared with last year's homicide count, January and February have been particularly deadly in Juárez.

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Chertoff to announce OK of virtual fence along Az border

The Associated Press

Published: 02.22.2008

A 28-mile "virtual fence" that will use radars and surveillance cameras to try to catch people entering the country illegally has gotten final government approval.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Friday was to announce approval of the fence, built by the Boeing Co. and using technology the Bush administration plans to extend to other areas of the Arizona border, as well as sections of Texas. These projects could get under way as early as this summer, officials said.

The virtual fence is part of a national plan to secure the southwest border with physical barriers and high-tech detection capabilities intended to stop illegal immigrants on foot and drug smugglers in vehicles. As of Feb. 8, 295 miles of fencing had been constructed.

The virtual fence already is working.

On Feb. 13, an officer in a Tucson command center — 70 miles from the border — noticed a group of about 100 people gathered at the border. The officer notified agents on the ground and in the air. Border Patrol caught 38 of the 100 people who tried to cross illegally, and the others went back into Mexico, a Homeland Security official said.

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U.S. raises fines for illegal hiring by 25% for illegal hiring

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The government will raise by 25 percent the fines it levies against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stepped up its enforcement of the sanctions law in the past year, leading to a dozen major busts. Currently, fines range from $275 to $11,000.

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Arrested migrants urged to be silent

Arrested migrants urged to be silentAdvocates insist they're not trying to beat system

Daniel González
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 24, 2008 12:00 AM

Community groups are responding to a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants with a controversial plan of their own: They are giving undocumented people advice on how to avoid being deported.

Immigration advocates say they are simply trying to protect the rights of illegal immigrants, not teach them how to beat the system.

Critics say the advice amounts to helping people who have broken the law.

"It shows blatant contempt for the rule of law in this country and blatant contempt for local police working with federal authorities to clean up this mess," said Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a civilian border-watch group.

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Body shop owners among six arrested by ICE in alien smuggling probe

California ring allegedly outfitted vehicles with hidden compartments to bring aliens into U.S.

LOS ANGELES - The father and son owners of an Oxnard, Calif., body shop were among six suspects arrested this morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on charges of running a human smuggling ring that outfitted vehicles with hidden compartments and used those vehicles to bring illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico.

Edgar "Chucky" Eduardo Aceves, 26, and his father, Eduardo Aceves-Murillo, 45, both of Oxnard, are charged in a six-count indictment that was returned yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges the Aceves with conspiracy to bring and transport illegal aliens for financial gain and related violations. Also named in the indictment are Eduardo's daughter, Claudia Aceves, 22; two other Oxnard residents, David Fernandez, 29, and Gladys Anilu Leal, 24; and Jose Enrique Rodriguez, Jr., 23, of National City, Calif.

The defendants are accused of using the specially equipped vehicles to smuggle illegal aliens -including convicted criminals and unaccompanied juveniles - into the United States through ports of entry along the California-Mexico border. Based on evidence the organization knowingly smuggled criminal aliens into the country, the United States Attorney's Office is charging members of the Aceves family with conspiring to smuggle previously deported aliens who had been convicted of aggravated felonies. This case marks the first time the charge, which carries enhanced penalties, has been used in the Central District of California.

"Criminal aliens are a known threat to residents of the United States," said United States Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien. "My office devotes significant resources to identify, prosecute and incarcerate illegal aliens who commit other crimes while in this country. This alien smuggling ring knowing helped at least two criminal aliens enter the United States, and that conduct will lead to longer sentences."

The indictment describes 25 smuggling incidents involving the Aceves organization going back nearly three years. The defendants allegedly charged aliens up to $3,000 to transport them from Mexico to Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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