September 2007

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a plan to build fencing along parts of the United States-Mexico border is a “terrible idea” that overlooks local communities. Pelosi made the comments during her trip to the Rio Grande Valley for the sixth annual Hispanic Engineering, Science & Technology Week conference hosted by the University of Texas-Pan American. “I have been against the fence, I thought it’s a bad idea even when it was just a matter of discussion,” said Pelosi, D-California. “These are communities where you have a border going through them, they are not communities where you have a fence splitting them.”

The Department of Homeland Security this week announced plans to erect about 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S. border by the end of 2008.

Also during her Thursday trip, Pelosi touted legislation that would make it easier for some illegal immigrants to receive higher education benefits. The legislation, known as the DREAM Act, would eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing illegal immigrants with in-state tuition rates. It would also allow permanent residency for illegal immigrants who entered the country as children and have been admitted to an institution of higher education. “It just isn’t fair,” Pelosi said. “Those young people who came to America one way or another … their opportunities are curtailed because of the situation. And it’s not only harmful to them – it’s harmful to the country.”

Pelosi spoke about her plans to add 100,000 new scientists, mathematicians and engineers to the work force by 2010. “Some of the best contributions (to science) have come from the very young,” Pelosi said. “This is an issue of the highest priority and it’s important that we do so involving the children of America.” Pelosi said she supported U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa’s efforts to make college more affordable for children from poor and middle-class families.

President Bush this week signed legislation co-sponsored by Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, that increases grants for the poorest college students and cuts the interest rates by half on federal student loans over the next four years.

This week’s conference drew more than 5,000 area students for activities designed to inspire them to pursue careers in science, mathematics and technology. “The purpose of this conference is to generate interest, momentum, excitement among the young people looking into careers in science and technology,” said Roland S. Arriola, vice president for community engagement at UTPA. “What we are hoping is that if you increase the base, there is going to be more industry coming into the Valley.



White British schoolchildren are now a minority in parts of England, and make up just one in ten pupils in some areas, according to new government figures. The data from the Department for Children, Schools and Families reveals the extraordinary demographic changes that are taking place in 21st-century England and highlight dramatic variations in the ethnic make-up of the school population across England. They also show that more than one in ten pupils in primary and secondary schools in England do not have English as their mother tongue. This rises to more than half of primary pupils (53 per cent) in Central London.

As the numbers of nonwhite and non-native-speaking pupils are much higher in primary than in secondary schools, the figures also suggest that the full extent of current demographic changes in England’s schools have yet to make themselves felt.

Damian Green, the Conservative immigration spokesman, said that the changes were putting an extra burden on teachers. What was important, he said, was whether or not these children arrived in school able to speak English. “If they can’t, and they are being taught in overcrowded classrooms, this makes it much harder for teachers to do their job.” The Conservatives have complained that schools do not always intervene early enough to teach pupils English, often preferring to teach them in their own languages initially.

The latest figures, from January 2007, show that more than a fifth of pupils are now of ethnic minority origin. Nationally, 21.9 per cent of primary school children are from ethnic minority backgrounds, up from 20.6 per cent in 2006. There was a similar rise in secondary schools. The figures also show that the number of primary school pupils who do not speak English as their first language increased by about 7 per cent on the 2006 figures to 447,000, or 13.5 per cent of the total. Figures for secondary schools showed a similar rise in the number of pupils not speaking English as their first language, to 342,000 or 10.5 per cent of the total.

The Government has said that English should be the main language of teaching in schools, and children should become fluent as quickly as possible. Research suggests that although pupils who are not native speakers struggle at first, most make up any lost ground by the time they reach secondary school.

Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, said that the Government had put guidance in place to help teachers to support children who have English as an additional language. He said that a new statutory duty on schools to promote community cohesion had focused the minds of head teachers on these issues. “Schools are the building blocks of our communities so it’s vital that they promote tolerance, respect and understanding across society,” Mr Knight said.


Illegal immigrants living in states and cities that have adopted strict immigration policies are packing up and moving back to their home countries or to neighboring states. The exodus has been fueled by a wave of laws targeting illegal immigrants in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere. Many were passed after congressional efforts to overhaul the immigration system collapsed in June.

Immigrants say the laws have raised fears of workplace raids and deportation. “People now are really frightened and scared because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Juliana Stout, an editor at the newspaper El Nacional de Oklahoma. “They’re selling houses. They’re leaving the country.”

Supporters of the laws cheer the departure of illegal immigrants and say the laws are working as intended. Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican author of his state’s law, says the flight proves it is working. “That was the intended purpose,” he says. “It would be just fine with me if we exported all illegal aliens to the surrounding states.” Most provisions of an Oklahoma law take effect in November. Among other things, it cuts off benefits such as welfare and college financial aid.

There’s no hard demographic data on the trend, partly because it’s hard to track people who are in the USA illegally. But school officials, real estate agents and church leaders say the movement is unmistakable. In Tulsa, schools have seen a drop in Hispanic enrollment…..

Illegal immigrants also are leaving Georgia, where a law requires companies on government contracts with at least 500 employees to check new hires against a federal database to make sure they are legally authorized to work.

Mario Reyes, senior minister at the Tabernacle of Atlanta, says his church lost about 10 families this summer. His daughter, a real estate agent, is helping them sell their homes. Churches across the city report similar losses, says Antonio Mansogo, a board member of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders. “There’s tension because you don’t know when immigration (agents) might show up, and a lot of people don’t want to take those chances,” he says.

Real estate agent Guadalupe Sosa in Avondale, Ariz., outside Phoenix, says migration from the state began about three months ago, shortly after Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, signed a law that will take effect in January. Employers who hire illegal immigrants can lose their business licenses. Of the 10 homes Sosa has on the market, half belong to families that plan to leave because of immigration tensions….

Colorado has approved several immigration measures. One gives employers 20 days to check and photocopy documents such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, which new workers present to prove their legal status.


Post below lifted from Ace. See the original for links

Last week NY Governor Eliot Spitzer(D) announced that the state would no long require proof of citizenship or legal residence to get a drivers license. This week, county clerks who issue the licenses in NY voiced concern as did NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Many of us think the whole idea is crazy and ill-fated,” said Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola. “I myself will not process any driver’s license renewal or driver’s license verification for someone who cannot prove legal status.”

The Democratic governor’s decision comes as the Department of Homeland Security is pushing all 50 states to tighten their identification standards. Merola said Spitzer’s approach “is going just the opposite way” as the federal government. ….

Bloomberg said Wednesday that the city’s lawyer “does believe that in fact this would make New York’s state driver’s licenses ineligible to be used to get on an airplane. People would need other form of identification, generally a passport, and that would be a very big problem.” “I’m really skeptical that we should be issuing driver’s licenses willy-nilly,” he added Thursday, “because it then leads to lots of other problems in terms of voter registration and other things. But it’s the governor’s call.”

Spitzer replied with some of that hyper logic liberals are always claiming they suffer from by saying it’s `morally wrong’ to oppose his plan. Thanks to Spitzer things will be easier for illegal aliens but actual citizens will have to find a new way to get acceptable ID to do basic things like get on an airplane or enter a federal building.

Democrats vow to pass measure aiding 1 million youths

The prospects for immediate Senate action on the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants, disappeared Wednesday amid Republican opposition. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged that senators would vote on the the measure, which is strongly opposed by anti-illegal immigration groups, before the Senate finishes its work for the year in mid-November. “All who care about this matter should know that we will move to proceed to this matter before we leave here,” he said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had sought to attach the DREAM Act to the defense authorization bill. But Reid announced Wednesday night that Democrats were shelving the effort because of difficulties getting past legislative roadblocks. “Unfortunately, some Republicans are opposed to this proposal and are unwilling to let us move forward on this bill,” Reid said.

Durbin and immigrant rights advocates were dismayed by the setback but vowed to find other means to pass the legislation, which they have sought since 2001. “There is no question that this issue doesn’t stop here,” said Cecilia Muñoz, senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza. “The longer we wait, the more talented young people we close the door of opportunity to.”

The bill — officially the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — would allow illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and who have lived here at least five years, to receive conditional legal status if they have graduated from high school and have a clean record. After six years, they could become permanent legal residents if they serve in the U.S. military for at least two years or complete at least two years of college. As with most green card holders, they could apply for citizenship after five years. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that slightly more than 1 million high school graduates and children still in class could gain legal status under the legislation.

With conservatives being barraged with calls, faxes and e-mails from anti-illegal immigration groups that view the DREAM Act as amnesty, some Republicans who supported the measure in the past have been reluctant to do so now. Durbin needed 60 votes to surmount an expected filibuster. Some Senate Republicans, including Texans Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, objected to the measure being brought up on a defense bill. “Putting extraneous things on this bill isn’t helpful,” Hutchison said.

Other Republicans aren’t ready to revisit a debate that imploded in June when the Senate scuttled an overhaul endorsed by the White House that would have given most illegal immigrants a chance for legal status. “People, I think, want to let the immigration thing cool off a bit before we jump back in,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who helped derail the comprehensive immigration bill.

Josh Bernstein, federal policy director for the National Immigration Law Center, predicted DREAM Act supporters eventually will prevail. “The politics is right and the commitment is there,” Bernstein said. “We’re not giving up.”


U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has made repeated requests for the number of prosecutions of employers who hire illegal immigrants during the tenure of Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie Myers. When McCaskill suggested at Myers’s confirmation hearing on September 12th that her vote hinged on obtaining the statistics, Myers said she would provide the information at a later date. With less than 24 hours before the scheduled committee vote, McCaskill is still waiting. “Frankly, I don’t understand how the person responsible for immigration enforcement can tout her record of going after employers who hire illegal immigrants, but not have a shred of proof that a single employer has gone to jail even for a day,” McCaskill said.

Six days after the Myers hearing, McCaskill sent a letter formally requesting the information Myers had promised during the hearing. Shortly thereafter, staff at ICE indicated during verbal conversations with McCaskill’s staff that the information would require significant time to obtain. Therefore, McCaskill asked that the committee to delay the vote on Myers’s confirmation until adequate information had been supplied.

McCaskill also asked for the total number of persons charged criminally as a result of ICE workplace enforcement actions at the hearing on September 12th. Myers confirmed at that time that there had been a total of 716 arrests made during fiscal year 2006, including illegal immigrants and any alleged arrests made of employers. Friday, McCaskill requested that Myers turn over the names of those individuals, so McCaskill’s staff could try to determine if any employers had been charged. ICE has yet to provide that basic information as well.

McCaskill continued, “I’ve been more than patient. Information about a case in Missouri was requested this past summer. My staff gave ICE time to come up with statistics about employer arrests before the hearing two weeks ago. We even asked for the names Ms. Myers cited in her hearing so that we could attempt to investigate these cases ourselves. Still, nothing. This is unacceptable.” Specifically, McCaskill has asked for the number of employers who, as a result of ICE’s workplace enforcement actions, were arrested in 2007, served jail time in 2007, or were fined in 2007. She also requested similar statistics for the entire Bush Administration.


This sounds pretty frivolous. Do illegals have ANY constitutional rights?

HARTFORD, Conn. – Lawyers for 10 Latino men arrested in Danbury in the past year filed a civil rights lawsuit Wednesday, accusing city and federal officials of a plot to harass immigrants through illegal arrests and intimidation. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, alleges authorities violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free speech, free association and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Nine of the 10 were arrested during a sting targeting day laborers, while the 10th was arrested during an unrelated traffic stop

Professors and students at Yale Law School, who are representing the men, put much of the blame on Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who denied the allegations. “The arrival of new Latino immigrants, and the failure of the federal government to address immigration’s local effects, has sparked a backlash from Mayor Boughton’s administration, which has targeted, harassed, and intimidated these new city residents through a number of discriminatory policies,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs say police officers have made civil immigration arrests despite not having the authority to do so. They also say the city has discriminated against Latinos in enforcing city ordinances, shutting down neighborhood volleyball games and encouraging police harassment of day laborers. “These policies aim ultimately to drive unwanted immigrants from Danbury and to deter future immigrants from making Danbury their home,” the lawsuit says.

Nine of the men were day laborers arrested in a sting operation on Sept. 19, 2006. They were waiting at a park and got into a vehicle driven by a man who they thought had hired them to demolish a fence, but who was actually an undercover Danbury police officer, according to the lawsuit. When the men arrived at the purported work site, they were arrested and shipped to detention centers around the country. All nine are free on bond and their immigration cases are pending. The lawsuit says the 10th plaintiff was deported to Ecuador earlier this year after a racially motivated traffic stop by Danbury police.

The plaintiffs say police did not know who the nine laborers were before the sting and had no probable cause or warrants to justify the arrests. All nine were shipped to detention centers as far away as Texas and were denied access to phones to call their families and lawyers, the lawsuit says.

Boughton disputed the allegations Wednesday. He said local police provide support to federal operations and that they comply with the Constitution. “Frankly, we are not going to be bullied by Yale or by anybody else as it relates to the equal application and the neutral applications of the laws of the city of Danbury,” Boughton said at an afternoon news conference. Boughton sparked controversy in 2005 when he proposed deputizing state police as federal immigration agents, but Connecticut’s public safety commissioner rejected the request.

Danbury has been transformed in recent years with waves of new immigrants from Brazil, Ecuador and other countries. Boughton has said that the influx has strained schools, created overcrowded housing and led to other problems such as unlicensed and unregistered drivers. The mayor has called for federal legislation that secures the country’s borders, heightens enforcement and reimburses cities for what they spend on services for immigrants. He also wants a path to citizenship for the nation’s illegal workers.

Lawyers for the 10 Latino plaintiffs declined to say whether they are in the country legally, citing the pending federal immigration cases.

Mike Gilhooly, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said ICE officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on the allegations. He offered only a general statement. “All enforcement actions undertaken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are done fully within the law and fully within the policies and procedures,” Gilhooly said.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the actions of Danbury and federal immigration officials unconstitutional. It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The 10 plaintiffs are Juan Barrera, Jose Cabrera, Daniel Chavez, Jose Duma, Jose Llibisupa, Isaac Maldonado, Edgar Redrovan, Nicholas Segundo Sanchez, Juan Carlos Simbana and Danilo Brito Vargas. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the nine plaintiffs arrested in September. Barrera, 42, told The Associated Press through an interpreter Wednesday that he supports the lawsuit because he wants to make it clear that he and the other plaintiffs are not criminals. He said he just wants to contribute to society and be able to work. “I was treated poorly,” he said about his arrest and detention in the September sting. “I asked what I did wrong, what did I do. I was just looking for work. They never explained why I was being treated like this.”


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