March 29, 2012
By Michael Martinez and Gustavo Valdes
Latinos, immigrants and Native Americans experience “a pattern of human right violations” in the American Southwest under U.S. immigration policies, Amnesty International said in a new report.
A two-year study focusing mostly on Arizona and Texas found that “communities living along the border — particularly Latinos and individuals perceived to be of Latino origin, and indigenous communities — are disproportionately affected by a range of immigration control measures, resulting in a pattern of human rights violations,” Amnesty International said.
The report cited the failure of federal and state laws to respect immigrants’ right to life and found that U.S. citizens of Latino descent and Native Americans are subjected to “discriminatory profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, that result in their being disproportionately targeted for police stops and searches.”
Other breaches of international human rights standards occurred in the access to justice for immigrant survivors of crime and in accountability for state officials and private individuals accused of abusing immigrants’ rights, the group said.
“All immigrants, irrespective of their legal status, have human rights. Amnesty International’s report shows that the USA is failing in its obligations under international law to ensure these rights,” the report said.
The group’s report, which urged a suspension and a federal review of all immigration enforcement programs, was criticized and dismissed by U.S. officials.
“Amnesty International’s report is based almost entirely on either outdated information or anonymous anecdotes that can be neither investigated nor resolved,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said.
“Moreover, the report does not offer thoughtful, actionable recommendations for improvement but instead calls for the wholesale suspension of immigration enforcement programs nationwide,” Chandler said.
Federal and Arizona authorities disputed the report’s accusations of racial profiling and other findings. The Texas Department of Public Safety declined to comment on an dvance copy of the report until it is formally published, said spokesman Tom Vinger.
“The Amnesty International Report makes a rather general statement of criticism toward all law enforcement in Southern Arizona,” said Bart Graves, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “The Arizona Department of Public Safety does not take part in racial profiling.”
The federal Secure Communities initiative was designed to prevent racial profiling by having the fingerprints of every person arrested and taken into custody checked against FBI criminal records and federal immigration records, Chandler said.
That initiative reduces “the risk of discrimination or racial profiling because the program applies to all who are arrested and booked for a crime, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents,” Chandler said.
The Amnesty International report said monitoring and accountability of immigration and law officers who practice discriminatory profiling is “lacking,” and those officials are “rarely held to account, with the result that such practices have become both commonplace and entrenched,” the report said.
FBI statistics show that bias crimes against Latinos have increased 40% from 2003 to 2007, and about 56% of bias victims don’t file police reports because they often believe police won’t help them, Amnesty International said.
“The fact that local law enforcement officials are used to implement federal immigration programs has exacerbated this problem. Those who do decide to report crimes may still be denied access to justice because law enforcement officials see them not as the victims of crime, but as criminals,” the report said.
“Immigrant victims of crimes such as human trafficking and domestic violence also face obstacles when attempting to access justice and remedies, while the proliferation of recently enacted state laws in Arizona and other states across the country obstructs immigrants’ ability to access education and essential health care services,” the report added.
But the federal government said that under a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy, officers exercise “appropriate discretion to ensure victims and witnesses to crimes are not penalized by removal,” Chandler said. The federal agency also developed a policy to protect victims of domestic violence and other offenses and to ensure the crimes are prosecuted, Chandler said.
The rights group criticized U.S. border policy for pushing undocumented immigrants to use deadly desert routes as a way to enter the country. Amnesty International reported as many as 5,287 migration deaths along the border from 1998 to 2008.
“Increasingly, state laws and local policies are creating barriers to or discouraging immigrants from accessing their rights to education and essential health care services, impacting their U.S. citizen children,” the report said.
At the same time, the U.S. government has reported that 14,500 to 17,000 people are trafficked into the country for sexual or labor exploitation, and while the federal government offers so-called T-visas for such trafficking survivors, only 6% of such visas were actually utilized in 2009, Amnesty International said.
The report also recommended that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection should consult with the 26 Indian nations along the border and respect and facilitate the use of tribal passports, identification papers and immigration documents for travel across the international lines.
For example, the Tohono O’odham nation straddles both countries, including 76 miles of the international line, with 28,000 members in Arizona, the report said. The tribe uses identity cards listing one of five districts to which a U.S.-born member belongs, while the cards for members born on the Mexico side list “ND” for “No District,” the report said.
Customs and Border Protection said it is working with tribes to develop forms of identification, and as of January, the federal government has approved six of 12 tribes’ memoranda of understanding to develop tribal identification that is valid for crossing the border, Chandler said.
Of the six, two tribes, the Kootenai of Idaho and the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona, have fully approved Enhanced Tribal Cards that are accepted as documents to enter the United States, Chandler said.
learn more at CNN
December 5, 2011
By Stephen Dinan
“This is actually laughable. What are they thinking?” –KTRN
Already unhappy with the Obama administration’s handling of illegal immigrants in the U.S., liberal lawmakers on Friday asked the government to go even further and make American aid to Mexico based on that country treating immigrants better.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, Arizona Democrat and a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led a letter signed by more than 30 lawmakers, including Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Howard L. Berman, that accused Mexican authorities of everything from kidnapping and robbery to extortion of migrants crossing Mexico on their way to the U.S.
In the letter the lawmakers asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to put pressure on Mexico to clean things up.
“The current levels of abuse against migrants in transit in Mexico represent a humanitarian crisis that has been recognized by international human rights organizations across the globe,” they wrote, adding that because of its location and ties, the U.S. has “a clear interest and responsibility” to push Mexico.
Mexico has regularly fought for better treatment of its citizens who live illegally in the U.S., but reports have exposed rough treatment by Mexican authorities of Central American migrants who cross Mexico on their way to try to enter the U.S. illegally.
In addition, illegal immigrants are preyed upon by smugglers and sometimes fellow migrants themselves.
One worker at a shelter for illegal immigrants in Mexico told Amnesty International in 2010 that six out of every 10 women and girls who pass through the facility have faced sexual violence.
November 3, 2011
Children of illegal immigrants living in Florida are suing the state for charging them out-of-state tuition.
Wendy Ruiz, a sophomore at Miami Dade College, is one of those behind the lawsuit.
She is paying $5,000 more than she technically has to, because her college insisted upon charging her out-of-state tuition when her parents were unable to produce legal immigration documents.
Ruiz was born in the United States, and has lived in Florida her entire life. As such, she is both an American and Florida citizen in the eyes of the law.
“It’s so unfair,” she told CBS Tampa. “I was born here. This makes no sense.”
Rather than keeping quiet, Ruiz chose to take action. She and five other college-age Floridians are now involved in a class-action lawsuit that seeks to overturn the rule.
Miriam Haskell of the Southern Poverty Law Center is working on the case.
“We believe strongly that young people … should be treated equally, and have a right to access education,” Haskell stated to CBS Tampa. “(This policy) is deterring not just Wendy and the four other plaintiffs, but scores of others in Florida.”
Gerard Robinson, the Florida Commissioner of Education, and Frank T. Brogan, the Chancellor of the State University System, are listed as the defendants in this case.
When CBS Tampa called the Florida Department of Education, the press office said they could not comment on pending litigation.
Haskell said that the case has been filed in federal court.
“This policy violates the federal constitution. This is not a state statute,” she said. “It violates the equal protection clause, which guarantees equal rights for all United States citizens. The constitution doesn’t make exceptions based on who the parents are.”
In the meantime, Ruiz is doing her best to continue with her education despite the thousands of dollars she must now pay in tuition costs.
“I have financial aid … (but) the rest I pay out of pocket,” she said. “During the week I work at the school in administrative services, and on the weekends I tutor, I babysit … I’ve been a waiter, and had other jobs.”
To make time for her jobs, Ruiz said that she has assumed part-time student status, and is presently taking eight credits in the form of three courses.
Haskell noted that, though sometimes grueling, Ruiz is still fortunate.
“Some are able to make ends meet. Some try to do later education, or take a longer time with their education,” she said. “But hundreds are completely deterred from going at all. Three of the plaintiffs (in this case) are unable to attend at all.”
The hope is to resolve the issue and see this rule reversed before it reaches trial.
“We’ve reached out to them, and given them the opportunity to talk with us before moving forward,” Haskell said. “(They have not done so) yet, but it hasn’t been too long.”
September 23, 2011
The Washington Times
By: Seth McLaughlin
Rick Perry went out on a limb Thursday by refusing to back off his support as Texas governor for granting in-state tuition to some of the children of illegal immigrants, and painting critics of the law as heartless — remarks that landed him in the crosshairs of his GOP rivals.
The three-term Texas governor said he still supports the program “greatly” and that the Lone Star State needs “to be educating these children because otherwise they’ll “become a drag on society.”
“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Mr. Perry said.
The stance also put Mr. Perry at odds with a chunk of the audience, which booed, and opened him up to attacks from the Republican field, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who said the law carries an annual price tag of $22,000 per student and acts as a magnet for illegal immigrants.
“If you’re a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more,” Mr. Romney said, alluding to the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at the University of Texas over four years. “That doesn’t make sense to me. That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that education, to get the $100,000 break. It makes no sense.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania piled on the criticism and called Mr. Perry “soft on illegal immigration” and alluded to a Perry speech from 2001 at which the Texan extolled the virtue of studying a “binational health insurance” program between border areas of Texas and Mexico.
“I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for binational health insurance,” the former Pennsylvania Senator quipped, sparking laughter from the audience. “So I think he’s very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also said it was time to end “the magnet” of U.S. health and education benefits, which she said attracts illegal immigrants.
The dust-up over illegal immigration came toward the tail end of the debate here at the sprawling Orange Country Convention Center, where the candidates generally agreed over the notion of defeating Mr. Obama in the 2012 election and over devolving federal powers to the states, including such whole agencies as the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.
During the two-hour affair, the contenders fielded various questions over health care, the economy and foreign policy — and each each of them appeared to score points with the audience along the way.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is running third in many national polls, vowed to veto every single bill that violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.
“Government is too big in Washington, D.C.,” the 12-term Texas Representative said. “It’s runaway. We have no controls of the spending, taxes, regulations, no control on the Federal Reserve printing money.”
Mrs. Bachmann promised to repeal ‘Obamacare’ and continued to attack the executive order Mr. Perry signed in 2007 that mandated that young girls be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted HPV virus, which is known to cause cervical cancer.
Defending himself, Mr. Perry stumbled over his history with a woman who later died of cervical cancer, identified later as 31-year-old Heather Burchman.
“I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31 year old young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer,” said Perry. “I spent a lot of time with her. She came by my office. She talked to me about this program. I readily admitted we should have had an opt-in but I don’t know what part of opt out most parents don’t get and the fact is I erred on the side of life and I will always err on the side of life as a governor as a president of the United States.”
But Mr. Perry, according to an ABC News fact-check, only met Ms. Burcham after he issued his executive order in February 2007. The meeting occurred when Ms. Burcham was lobbying against a movement in the Texas Legislature to reverse the governor’s order.
On Fox News after the debate, Mrs. Bachmann brought up the misstatement and told host Sean Hannity that it will be a problem for Mr. Perry.
Former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain, a crowd favorite, won applause for sharing his story about how he survived Stage 4 cancer, but would be dead under President Obama’s health-care plan. He said “Obamacare” would have resulted in delays for bureaucratic approval on his treatment schedule.
He also pushed his plan to replace the current tax code with three 9 percent levies — on businesses, personal income and sales.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he’d tie unemployment benefits to jobs training program, while Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman called for the troops to be brought home from Afghanistan.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson made the most of his first appearance in a post-Labor day debate, calling for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and vowing to veto any bills where spending exceeds revenues.
The former two-term governor also sparked laughter from the audience after telling the audience, “My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready projects than this president.”
Fireworks, meanwhile, continued to go off between Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney, who traded barbs over Social Security, illegal immigration and jobs — all in attempt to cast their top rival as the proverbial flip-flopper.
Mr. Romney delivered the opening salvo, suggesting Mr. Perry is retreating from statements he made in his book, “Fed Up,” where Mr. Romney said he suggested Social Security is unconstitutional and should be returned to the states.
“There’s a Rick Perry out there that’s saying that it — almost to quote — it says that the federal government shouldn’t be in the pension business, that it’s unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states,” Mr. Romney said. “So you’d better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that.”
Mr. Perry retorted that Mr. Romney is hard to pin down when it comes to mandating health insurance, which he did as governor of Massachusetts in 2006.
“As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said that it was exactly what the American people needed to have — that’s “Romneycare” — given to them as you had in Massachusetts,” Mr. Perry said. “Then in your paperback, you took that line out.”
Mr. Romney shot back, “I said no such thing” and went on to defend his plan, casting it as something much different than the president’s health care overhaul.
Later on, Mr. Perry tried to land a haymaker, but stumbled through what appeared to be a rehearsed line.
“I think Americans just don’t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they’re dealing with,” he said, alluding to Mr. Romney’s stances on guns and abortion, which have evolved over time. “I mean, we’ll wait until tomorrow and see which Mitt Romney we’re really talking to tonight.”
Mr. Huntsman summed up the feisty exchanges in the final minutes of the debate. “I’m tempted to say that when all is said and done, the two guys standing in the middle here, Romney and Perry, aren’t going to be around because they’re going to bludgeon each other to death.”
March 14th, 2011
By: Dave Gibson
Los Angeles Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has just released data from the Department of Public Social Services which shows that in November 2010, $53 million in welfare benefits ($22 million CalWORKs and $31 million in Food Stamps) were given issued to illegal aliens for their U.S.-born children in Los Angeles County.
The record amount is an increase of almost $3 million from November 2009, and represents 22 percent of all CalWORKs and Food Stamp issuances in L.A. county.
In 2009, CalWORKs and Food Stamp benefits given to illegal aliens totaled almost $570 million. The total amount issued to illegal aliens cost in 2010, is estimated to be well over $600 million.
On Monday, Supervisor Antonovich told reporters: “When you add this to $550 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for healthcare, the total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers exceeds $1.6 billion dollars a year — not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education.”
In August 2009, Antonovich made public the-then staggering amount which the taxpayers spent on illegal aliens, living in L.A. County. In June 2009 alone, the county paid out $48 million to the children of illegal aliens, an increase of $10 million over June 2007.
$26 million of that total came in the form of Food Stamps, while another $22 million was given to the illegal alien families in welfare checks.That is in addition to the more than $1 billion that the county spends annually on the medical treatment, education, emergency services, and incarceration of illegal aliens.
These figures continuously rising amounts explain why not only L.A. County, but the entire state of California are now in financial ruin.
In 2003, the American Southwest saw 77 hospitals enter bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills incurred by illegal aliens. A staggering 84 hospitals in California, have been forced to close their doors because of the growing crisis. Hospitals which manage to remain open, then pass the unpaid costs onto the rest of us, which translates into more out-of-pocket expenses and higher insurance premiums for all Americans.
With 20 percent actual unemployment, huge trade deficits due to the loss of our manufacturing base, and a soaring national debt, we simply cannot afford to pay the bills for this nation’s illegal alien population.
If we are to once again find ourselves on firm financial footing, we can no longer accept elected representatives who choose to better represent a foreign national population, rather than those of us who actually pay their salaries.
Illegal immigration is slowly but surely destroying this nation.
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June 3, 2010
The Washington Examiner
By Sara A. Carter
The Mexican government is opening a satellite consular office on Catalina Island — a small resort off the California coast with a history of drug smuggling and human trafficking — to provide the island’s illegal Mexican immigrants with identification cards, The Washington Examiner has learned.
The Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier, a copy of which was obtained by The Examiner, listing the Catalina Island Country Club as the location of its satellite office. It invites Mexicans to visit the office to obtain the identification, called matricular cards, by appointment.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican whose district includes Catalina Island, said handing out matricular cards will exacerbate an already dangerous situation.
“Handing out matricular cards to Mexicans who are not in this country legally is wrong no matter where it’s done,” he said. “But on Catalina it will do more damage. It’s a small island but there’s evidence it’s being used as a portal for illegals to access mainland California.”
May 6, 2010
The Washington Post
By Mary Fitzgerald
A report that found that illegal immigrants in the United States cost the federal government more than $10 billion a year — a sum it estimated would almost triple if they were given amnesty — has drawn criticism from immigration advocacy groups.
For its report, the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based group that advocates tougher immigration policies, used Census Bureau figures to compare the revenue that illegal immigrants contribute through taxes with the cost of government services they use.
February 22, 2010
Immigrants who come to Canada from sunnier parts of the world are at risk of health problems caused by a lack of vitamin D unless they take supplements, doctors and nutritionists warn.
“This is a really great example of how … immigration to Canada could be dangerous or bad for your health,” said Dr. Kevin Pottie, who teaches family medicine at the University of Ottawa.
Pottie said when he tests his immigrant and refugee patients, almost all of them show inadequate levels of vitamin D, especially in winter.
Vitamin D is needed to maintain healthy bones. A deficiency may lead to osteoporosis in adults, making them susceptible to breaking bones. Children with a deficiency can develop rickets, a disease in which bones grow soft, leading to skeletal deformities. Some studies also suggest that a lack of vitamin D could be linked to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer and some forms of mental illness.
People can get some of their vitamin D by consuming food such as milk and fatty fish. But humans’ own bodies can produce far larger amounts if their skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun, said Reinhold Vieth, a University of Toronto researcher who studies vitamin D. The ability to produce vitamin D varies with the colour of a person’s skin.
“A white person like me, if I lie on my lawn chair for 10 minutes on [my] front, 10 minutes on the back, I’m going to be putting into my body 100 glasses of milk worth of vitamin D,” Vieth said.
People whose ancestors come from sunny places such as Pakistan or Somalia often have darker skin to protect them from sunburn and other sun damage.
“But as you move north, that skin colour makes it harder and harder for you to make vitamin D,” Vieth said. “Basically, what we’re doing is transplanting people from an area for which their skin is optimized in terms of its colour to an area where their skin is often too dark to be healthy.”
Diet and clothing
Skin colour isn’t the only factor that puts immigrants at risk; diet and culture also play a role.
Vieth co-authored a study of healthy University of Toronto students that found those of South Asian descent were almost six times more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than those of European descent. Students of European descent got an average of 231 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily from food and supplements — 73 per cent more than the East Asian students and 40 per cent more than the South Asian students, said the study published in 2008 in the journal BioMed Central Public Health.
November 22, 2009
by Paul Harris
Human trafficking has become a major issue in the Midwest heartland of America, causing some campaigners to dub it a modern form of slavery.
Figures from the State Department reveal that 17,500 people are trafficked into the US every year against their will or under false pretences, mainly to be used for sex or forced labour. Experts believe that, when cases of internal trafficking are added, the total number of victims could be up to five times larger. And increasing numbers of trafficked individuals are being transported thousands of miles from America’s coasts and into heartland states such as Ohio and Michigan.
“It is not only a crime. It is an abomination,” said Professor Mark Ensalaco, a political scientist at the University of Dayton, Ohio, who organised a recent conference on the issue. In Ohio a human trafficking commission has just been set up to study the problem, while in the northern Ohio city of Toledo a special FBI task force is tackling the issue. For many local law enforcement officials, it is a bewildering new world.
In one recent incident a 16-year-old Mexican girl was found to have been trafficked across the US border. Doctors noticed the heavily pregnant girl showed clear signs of physical abuse when she was brought into a hospital in Dayton to give birth. The police were called but the couple who had brought her had already fled. When the girl’s story emerged, it became clear she had been kept against her will in the nearby city of Springfield and used for labour and sex. “I thought slavery ended a few centuries ago. But here it is alive and well,” said Springfield’s sheriff, Gene Kelly.
He emphasised the risks to the girl’s baby after it had been born if the doctors had not been so alert: “Like the mother, the baby could have ended up a victim for years to come. Who knows? Future labour? Future person to traffic?”
Ohio anti-trafficking campaigner Phil Cenedella, founder of Combating Trafficking Anywhere, believes that the baby was destined to be sold off by her captors. “They would have put the kid on the black market. It is crazy that this is happening.” Human trafficking – defined as forcing someone against their will to work for no reward – has been dubbed modern slavery. At the Dayton conference, it was discussed as a growing social problem, not in some far-off foreign land, but among the cornfields of Ohio.
“The problems are broader than we realised,” said Ohio’s attorney general, Richard Cordray. “What we want to do is find and disrupt these networks.”
One of the country’s leading anti-trafficking advocates is Theresa Flores, a former victim. Flores puts a different kind of face on human trafficking in America. She is white, middle-class and blond and looks the epitome of a suburban American woman. She grew up in a wealthy suburb of Detroit in Michigan and did well at school. Yet Flores tells a nightmarish story of two years being drugged, raped and sold for sex.
Flores, whose ordeal was turned into a book called The Sacred Bath: An American Teen’s Story of Modern Day Slavery, was attacked and raped when she was 15. Her assailant used the threat of photographs he had taken during her rape to force her into having sex with strangers. She became the effective prisoner of a drugs gang that used her as a prostitute and kept her earnings, or gave her away free to gang members as a “reward”. “People don’t think that trafficking looks like me or that it can happen to someone who came from a nice neighbourhood. But it does. People need to see outside that box,” said Flores.
Flores said that her lowest point came when the gang took her to a seedy motel where she was raped by as many as two dozen men. She woke up alone, abused and with no clothes. “I was told I would die if I told anyone. It happened over and over for two years as I became a sex slave for those men,” she said.
Anti-trafficking campaigners point out that cases in the US come in a wide variety of forms involving men, women and children. One major area is that of trafficked labour with people used for domestic work or, more commonly, for back-breaking labour in agricultural industries. But trafficking cases have also occurred in businesses such as restaurants, hair salons and beauty parlours. The overwhelming majority of the rest are sex cases, usually involving young women or children forced into prostitution. The methods used to keep people vary. They include confiscating the passports of those brought in from a foreign country or the threat of extreme violence. Other tactics are to threaten family members if a victim does not comply or, as in Flores’s case, to use blackmail.
Trafficking represents a new challenge to law enforcement, especially in regions which have traditionally not thought of it as a major problem. That is especially true where it happens within an immigrant community. Languages are a problem as well as cultural issues and a natural fear that many immigrants – some of them possibly illegal – have of contacting the police.