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  • #61
    Enforcement-only legislation will not solve illegal immigration

    Joe Reyna
    Article Last Updated: 02/01/2008 08:19:02 PM MST

    Utah elected officials must understand that illegal immigration is not just a domestic policy matter, but an economic phenomenon across borders where people migrate in response to labor market forces. The only way the United States will be able to manage, if not solve, the immigration problem is through cooperation and negotiation with Mexico and other countries.

    Mexican politicians often argue that there is no bilateral relationship with the United States unless it pertains to America's territorial security. In today's global economy, cooperation is a must between our two countries.

    Although most of the undocumented migrants come from Mexico, millions of people also come from Central and South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. As Mexican Ambassador Carlos De Icaza once stated, "Illegality is something that happens when immigration is left to market forces instead of regulating it through international cooperation."

    We must understand that the American economy is 15 times larger than the Mexican economy. Each year, the American economy requires around 500,000 low-skilled workers, and the government only offers around 5,000 visas. How can this be? There must be a balance between the realities of the market and the security needs of the United States.

    America has created a double standard with illegal immigration. On one hand, migration is encouraged by the labor markets; on the
    other, there is no legal way to meet the market demands, and the states are passing laws punishing the workers. Who are we kidding? We know that our businesses rely on migrant labor, including hotels, restaurants, resorts, offices, construction, transportation, service, farming, manufacturing and housing.

    What American politicians have failed to recognize is that immigration is a shared responsibility, and that international cooperation is essential, especially between countries that are neighbors, friends and partners. Why does it have to be so complicated? Congress could give the market and the industries the capacity to manage their labor demands directly with the source of labor supply through the authorized federal channels.

    There is no question that our economies have done well in large part because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. However, politicians from both sides forgot to include in NAFTA the human element of trade, which is the movement of labor that corresponds to market forces. Now, we are dealing with a huge problem that our inept Congress does not want to fix, leaving it to the states to find home "remedies."

    Immigration issues have a lot to do with the laws of supply and demand of labor. Market forces do not recognize borders. The "invisible hand" does what it must to keep America's economic engine working. If the economy needs workers, it will find workers somewhere, whether they come from Mexico, China, or the Middle East.

    Utah is a magnet for workers because of our strong economy. In our state, more than 50 percent of the estimated 60,000 undocumented workers (families) own their own home. If a mere 10,000 of these families own their home at an average of $180,000 price per home, their real estate market value contributes $1.8 billion to our economy, at a minimum. These payrolls translate into hundreds of millions of dollars in property, sales, local and state income taxes.

    The Hispanic purchasing power in Utah is over $7 billion. Thousands of Utah businesses depend on Hispanic labor. If they suddenly lose their jobs, or are deported, the negative impact on the state's economy would be in the billions of dollars.

    In 2005, for example, undocumented migrant workers contributed more than $7 billion to Social Security that went unclaimed. These contributions would have been useful for the welfare system. I often wonder why we worry about Social Security going bankrupt when we can rely on immigrant workers to help fund the retirement of the baby boomers.

    If the United States is serious about facing the competition from Asian economies, we need to increase our ability to compete in the globalized market by strengthening our relationship with Mexico and Latin America. Instead of fences, let there be more bridges. Fences will not deter illegal immigration. Enforcement-only legislation will not solve the dilemma.

    We cannot deny this fact: They will keep coming as long as there is a demand for foreign workers.

    Comment


    • #62
      http://news.aldiainc.com/press.php?a...42&edition=403

      TOP 5 IMMIGRATION MYTHS OF THIS CAMPAIGN SEASON: Ending the Immigration Spin - Just the Facts

      Wendy Hess

      As the democratic and republican candidates engage in bloody political warfare to determine who will emerge as the candidate for both parties, those of us in the immigration community should be preparing for our own battle on the immigration front. Courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association, the following are the immigration myths that we need to debunk if we are to arrive at any meaningful immigration reform:
      MYTH #1: Enforcement-only policies are a practical solution to the problem of undocumented immigration.

      FACTS: Policies geared only towards "sealing the border" or deporting the undocumented without reforming the immigration system and providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the country would cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars and have a devastating impact on vast swaths of the U.S. economy.

      􀂾 A 2005 study from the Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that it would cost between $206 billion and $230 billion over five years to deport all undocumented immigrants from the United States. Moreover, in a 2006 study, CAP calculates that removing all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. labor force would result in a shortfall of nearly 2.5 million less-skilled workers.

      􀂾 As a 2006 report from the Pew Hispanic Center notes, there were 14.6 million people in families headed by undocumented immigrants as of March 2005, including 3.1 million U.S.-citizen children and 1.8 million undocumented children, as well as adult family members who are legally present in the United States. Attempting to deport all undocumented immigrants would therefore disrupt entire families and communities and decimate industries that depend heavily on immigrant workers, both legal and undocumented.

      ô€‚¾ The Pew report also estimates that the 7.2 million workers among the 11.5 undocumented immigrants in the United States as of March 2005"”while accounting for 4.9 percent of the labor force as a whole"”comprised 24 percent of all workers in farming, fishing, and forestry; 17 percent in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 14 percent in construction; 12 percent in food preparation and serving; and 9 percent in production occupations.

      MYTH #2: Immigrant workers suppress the wages of American workers.
      FACTS: The overwhelming majority of economists agree that immigrants increase the economic productivity and thus the wages of natives.

      ô€‚¾ A 2006 study by University of California, Davis, economist Giovanni Peri found that because immigrant workers generally "complement""”rather than substitute for"”native workers in terms of their education and skills, immigration tends to increase the productivity, and therefore the wages, of natives.

      ô€‚¾ As a result of this "complementarity," the White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded in a 2007 report that roughly 90 percent of native-born workers experience wage gains from immigration, which total between $30 billion and $80 billion per year.

      MYTH #3: The nation spends billions of dollars on welfare for undocumented immigrants.
      FACTS: To the contrary, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive any "welfare" benefits and even legal immigrants are severely restricted in the benefits they can receive.

      ô€‚¾ As the Congressional Research Service points out in a 2007 report, undocumented immigrants, who comprise nearly one-third of all immigrants in the country, are not eligible to receive public "welfare" benefits"”ever. Legal permanent residents (LPRs) must pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems for approximately 10 years before they are eligible to receive benefits when they retire. In most cases, LPRs can not receive SSI, which is available only to U.S. citizens, and are not eligible for means-tested public benefits until 5 years after receiving their green cards.

      􀂾 A 2007 analysis of welfare data by researchers at the Urban Institute reveals that less than 1 percent of households headed by undocumented immigrants receive cash assistance for needy families, compared to 5 percent of households headed by native-born U.S. citizens.

      A 2007 analysis of U.S. Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes clear that it is the U.S.-born, U.S.-citizen children of undocumented immigrants who are eligible for programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The analysis found that, between 1995 and 2005, the share of low-income, non-citizen immigrant children (either undocumented or legally present) who received Medicaid or SCHIP dropped from 36 percent to 30 percent. In comparison, there were increases in the Medicaid or SCHIP participation of low-income citizen children, whether they lived in immigrant-headed households or households headed by native-born citizens (rising from 45-47 percent in 1995 to 53-54percent in 2005).

      MYTH #4: Undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.

      FACTS: The exact opposite is true: both undocumented and legal immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

      􀂾 According to a 2007 study by University of California, Irvine, sociologist Rubén G. Rumbaut, among men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the U.S. prison population), the incarceration rate for the native-born (3.5 percent) was five times higher than the rate for immigrants (0.7 percent) in 2000.

      ô€‚¾ The study also found that incarceration rates were lower for immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala"”who account for the majority of undocumented immigrants. In 2000, only 0.7 percent of foreign-born Mexican men and 0.5 percent of foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men were in prison.

      MYTH #5: Immigrants don't "assimilate" into U.S. society.

      FACTS: Immigrants learn English and climb the socioeconomic ladder over time, and their children and grandchildren make even greater strides.

      􀂾 A comprehensive 2007 study released by the Russell Sage Foundation found that:
      "¢ Among Latino immigrants who arrived in California between 1960 and 1970, the poverty rate declined from 23.9 percent in 1970 to 16.8 percent in 1980 and 12.6 percent in 1990.
      "¢ Latino immigrants in California exhibit exceptionally large gains in homeownership"”a key indicator of entry into the middle class. Homeownership rose from 16.4 percent of Latino immigrant householders in California who arrived in the U.S. in the last 10 years to 64.6 percent among those who have lived here for 30 years or more.

      ô€‚¾ A 2007 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that among "adult first-generation Latinos, just 23% say they can carry on a conversation in English very well. That share rises sharply, to 88%, among the second generation of adults, and to 94% among the third and higher generations."

      Comment


      • #63
        http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/5514972.html

        AP Texas News

        Suit filed over Dallas suburb's illegal immigrant ordinance

        Feb. 5, 2008, 1:53PM

        By ANABELLE GARAY Associated Press Writer
        © 2008 The Associated Press


        FARMERS BRANCH, Texas "” A resident of this Dallas suburb's effort to keep illegal immigrants out filed another lawsuit Tuesday over a new city rule barring home rentals to people who can't prove their legal status.

        The suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of real estate broker Guillermo Ramos, alleges the Farmers Branch City Council violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when it drafted and approved the new rule late last month.

        The law requires prospective tenants to get a city license to rent houses and apartments. It was set to take effect 15 days after a ruling on a similar ordinance currently being contested in court.

        Opponents allege that while the council was supposed to discuss legal challenges against a previous ordinance, it actually drafted a new, more sweeping anti-illegal immigration measure behind closed doors, according to the suit.

        City spokesman Tom Bryson did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the suit Tuesday.

        There also were only a few days for residents to analyze and deliberate the proposal, opponents say.

        Council members didn't announce until five days before they were to meet that a new ordinance had been drawn up. It wasn't posted on the city's Web site until the Friday before the council met. The following Tuesday, the council approved the measure unanimously, without changing a word of the proposal.

        Farmers Branch's efforts to pass immigration-related laws began nearly two years ago.

        Council members unanimously passed a 2006 ordinance barring apartment rentals to illegal immigrants. The rule was revised last year to include exemptions for minors, seniors and some mixed-immigration status families. Residents endorsed the law 2-to-1 in May during the nation's first public vote on a local government measure meant to combat illegal immigration.

        A federal judge blocked Farmers Branch from enforcing its ordinance after finding that city officials tried to regulate immigration differently from the federal government. The case remains in court

        The city then hired a law firm and consulted with University of Missouri law professor Kris Kobachto to rework the ban and address the challenges to it. They came up with the latest ordinance.

        Farmers Branch faces a court challenge by apartment landlords and advocacy groups who say the previous ordinance was unconstitutional. Ramos also sued over the city's original rental ban, also contending the council violated open meetings laws.

        Comment


        • #64
          Gov't proposes change in foreign farm worker pay

          Wednesday, February 6, 2008

          WASHINGTON (AP) "” Foreign farm workers who come to the United States legally could be paid less under changes to government regulations aimed at getting companies to stop hiring illegal immigrants.

          The Labor Department planned Wednesday to propose changes to the foreign agriculture worker program, among them how the base wages for H2-A visa holders are determined. Streamlining the hiring process for H2-A visa holders could help turn employers away from hiring illegal workers, officials said.

          Right now, the base pay for H2-A agriculture workers is set by the Agriculture Department's Farm Labor Survey and varies by state. Within a state, the pay is the same regardless of what job a worker performs.

          However, the Labor Department wants to use the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Employment Survey, which would allow officials to consider what workers do and their skill levels. It also would allow officials to divide the country into more than 530 areas and to pay wages appropriate to each area.

          "Because of the increased precision, there are going to be wages that will likely decrease," said Leon R. Sequeira, an assistant secretary for policy at the Labor Department. "There also are wages that are going to increase."

          Sequeira, who said getting more foreign workers into the system will give them labor protections that illegal immigrants don't now enjoy, expects final regulations by the end of the year.

          Under the H-2A program, farmers may apply to bring in foreign workers if they can show the supply of U.S. workers is inadequate. The new regulations, which were to be proposed by the Labor and Homeland Security departments, would be the first changes to the H-2A visa system in 20 years.

          More than half of U.S. farm workers admit on Labor Department surveys that they are not legally authorized to work. Some groups believe it's actually about 70 percent.

          Employers consider the H2-A program burdensome and many hire undocumented workers rather than use it. Critics say employers don't like the program's wage, housing and other requirements. Labor officials plan to change the application process to make it easier for employers to hire foreign farm workers.

          Congress failed to pass immigration changes last year, ending plans to provide workers "” some already in the country illegally and some who would come from abroad "” through guest worker and legalization programs.

          "The current program is cumbersome and difficult to use for farmers and ranchers trying to do the right thing," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. "I am pleased the administration is taking action to streamline and modernize the program and I look forward to working with them on a final product."

          Sharon Hughes, executive vice president of the National Council of Agricultural Employers, said the regulations should be revisited "to make them more workable for the current agriculture situation."

          The H-2A system requires that above-average wages "” called the adverse effect wage rate "” be paid to those workers.

          "Employers that bring in guest workers should not be allowed to undercut the average wage by paying a lower amount," said Bruce Goldstein, executive director of Farmworker Justice, which advocates for farmworkers. "We'll need to look closely at this proposal to make sure farmworkers will not be hurt by these wage changes."

          In 2007, the highest adverse effect wage rate was $10.32 in Hawaii and the lowest was $8.27 in Arizona. In North Carolina, where the largest number of H-2A visas are issued, the adverse effect wage rate was $9.02.

          The federal minimum wage is $5.85 an hour. The highest state minimum wage is in Washington state at $8.07 an hour.

          Comment


          • #65
            Associated Press, 02/01

            FARMERS BRANCH, Texas"”A city attorney who likened counting Hispanic voters to guessing the number of "beans in a jar" has apologized for the analogy that some Hispanics deemed offensive.

            Hispanics noted that "beaner" is a derogatory term for people of Mexican descent. Attorney C. Robert Heath used the analogy in a response to a voting rights lawsuit filed by several Hispanic voters last year in the Dallas suburb, which has become known for passing tough laws cracking down on illegal immigration.

            "It was just an analogy, and obviously it was ill chosen because it was offensive to some persons," Heath said. "That was entirely unintentional, and I apologize for it."

            The lawsuit seeks to force election of city council members by single-member districts. The Hispanic plaintiffs say the new system would allow the creation of a Hispanic-voter majority, increasing the chances that a Hispanic could be elected.

            The city maintains that its count shows the proposed district would not have a Hispanic-voter majority.

            In court papers, plaintiffs attorneys substituted the phrase "pebbles in a jar." In a footnote, they said they would "assume that the defendants' reference to 'beans in a jar' was not an indirect racial slur ... but simply a manifestation of the lack of sensitivity that exists in the Farmers Branch community."

            Heath said he was thinking of accountants, often called "bean counters," when he was writing the brief.

            City officials have denied racism as motivation in their continued attempts to crackdown on illegal immigrants. The city has passed laws recently that would bar landlords from renting apartments and houses to most illegal immigrants.

            Under Farmers Branch's latest ordinance, the city would forward information collected for the rental license to the federal government. Anyone deemed an illegal immigrant would have their rental license revoked, banning them from leasing in the city.

            Comment


            • #66
              CNET News.com Staff, for News.com, February 4, 2008

              Real ID became law not through the usual legislative process, but instead as part of a mammoth Iraq spending and Asian tsunami bill, the "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005."

              The following is the full, unedited text of the bill:


              TITLE II--IMPROVED SECURITY FOR DRIVERS' LICENSES AND PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS

              SEC. 201. DEFINITIONS

              In this title, the following definitions apply:

              (1) DRIVER'S LICENSE--The term "driver's license" means a motor vehicle operator's license, as defined in section 30301 of title 49, United States Code.

              (2) IDENTIFICATION CARD--The term "identification card" means a personal identification card, as defined in section 1028(d) of title 18, United States Code, issued by a State.

              (3) OFFICIAL PURPOSE--The term "official purpose" includes but is not limited to accessing Federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, entering nuclear power plants, and any other purposes that the Secretary shall determine.

              (4) SECRETARY--The term "Secretary" means the Secretary of Homeland Security.

              (5) STATE--The term "State" means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States.


              SEC. 202. MINIMUM DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS AND ISSUANCE STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION

              (a) Minimum Standards for Federal Use

              (1) IN GENERAL--Beginning 3 years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section.

              (2) STATE CERTIFICATIONS--The Secretary shall determine whether a State is meeting the requirements of this section based on certifications made by the State to the Secretary. Such certifications shall be made at such times and in such manner as the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, may prescribe by regulation.

              (b) Minimum Document Requirements--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:

              (1) The person's full legal name.

              (2) The person's date of birth.

              (3) The person's gender.

              (4) The person's driver's license or identification card number.

              (5) A digital photograph of the person.

              (6) The person's address of principle residence.

              (7) The person's signature.

              (8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.

              (9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

              (c) Minimum Issuance Standards.

              (1) IN GENERAL--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person:

              (A) A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth.

              (B) Documentation showing the person's date of birth.

              (C) Proof of the person's social security account number or verification that the person is not eligible for a social security account number.

              (D) Documentation showing the person's name and address of principal residence.

              (2) SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

              (A) IN GENERAL--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall comply with the minimum standards of this paragraph.

              (B) EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL STATUS--A State shall require, before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person--

              (i) is a citizen or national of the United States;

              (ii) is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the United States;

              (iii) has conditional permanent resident status in the United States;

              (iv) has an approved application for asylum in the United States or has entered into the United States in refugee status;

              (v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States;

              (vi) has a pending application for asylum in the United States;

              (vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States;

              (viii) has approved deferred action status; or

              (ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States or conditional permanent resident status in the United States.

              (C) TEMPORARY DRIVERS' LICENSES AND IDENTIFICATION CARDS

              (i) IN GENERAL--If a person presents evidence under any of clauses (v) through (ix) of subparagraph (B), the State may only issue a temporary driver's license or temporary identification card to the person.

              (ii) EXPIRATION DATE--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall be valid only during the period of time of the applicant's authorized stay in the United States or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, a period of one year.

              (iii) DISPLAY OF EXPIRATION DATE--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall clearly indicate that it is temporary and shall state the date on which it expires.

              (iv) RENEWAL--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph may be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary driver's license or temporary identification card has been extended by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

              (3) VERIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall implement the following procedures:

              (A) Before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, the State shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented by the person under paragraph (1) or (2).

              (B) The State shall not accept any foreign document, other than an official passport, to satisfy a requirement of paragraph (1) or (2).

              (C) Not later than September 11, 2005, the State shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Secretary of Homeland Security to routinely utilize the automated system known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, as provided for by section 404 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 3009-664), to verify the legal presence status of a person, other than a United States citizen, applying for a driver's license or identification card.

              Comment


              • #67
                Bush administration to make dramatic changes to increase numbers of legal foreign workers to harvest crops By Nicole Gaouette (nicole.gaouette@latimes.com) | LA Times, Feb 6

                WASHINGTON "” The Bush administration today plans to announce the most significant overhaul in two decades of the nation's agricultural guest worker program, in a bid to dramatically increase the number of legal foreign laborers available to harvest crops.

                The revised regulations, many months in the works, would make it easier for growers to bring foreign workers to the United States and could alleviate the critical farmworker shortage largely caused by the U.S. crackdown on illegal border crossings.

                After Congress failed to overhaul immigration laws last summer, the White House announced a 26-step plan to tackle immigration issues through administrative fixes. Altering the legal-farmworker program would mark the most significant achievement to date.

                "There is huge potential here to replace the massive illegal workforce with a legal one," said Leon Sequeira, an assistant secretary at the Department of Labor.

                The greatest effect would be in California, the nation's largest agricultural state. Some farmers have had to plow rotting crops back into their fields for lack of workers at harvest time. But lawmakers and growers said Tuesday that more than an administrative fix was needed to solve the state's chronic farm labor shortages.

                The proposed changes to the program, which would relax the requirements for the H-2A visas granted to foreign farmworkers, come against a backdrop of growing anger over illegal immigration and tension among the presidential candidates over the issue.

                The new regulations could be a boon to growers, who have long complained that the program is too cumbersome and leaves them little choice but to turn to illegal immigrants.

                The simplified rules are certain to generate outrage among anti-immigration activists, who say the program steals jobs from Americans. At the same time, advocates for farmworkers charge that under the new rules, growers could exploit workers by paying them less than they do now.

                The proposed changes, which would take effect after a 45-day period of public comment, would modify how foreign laborers are paid and housed, and slightly expand the types of industries that can use the program. The administration would also ease the standards farmers must now meet to show they have tried to hire U.S. citizens first.

                "The overarching departmental goal is to encourage the use of the H-2A program to provide agricultural employers access to legal workers," said the Labor Department's Sequeira.

                Sequeira noted that, of the nation's 1.2 million farmworkers, more than half tell Labor Department surveyors that they are in the U.S. illegally. Many advocates believe the actual percentage of illegal workers is close to 70%.

                Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was skeptical that the proposed changes would make much difference, noting that only about 2% of farm jobs are now filled through the notoriously bureaucratic program. "Growers frequently cannot get labor through the H-2A program when they need it. Simply tweaking regulations can't fix that problem," she said. "I'm afraid that these H-2A modifications make a bad situation worse -- by lowering wage rates and undermining existing labor protections for U.S. and foreign farmworkers."

                Feinstein pushed for Congress to pass a farm labor bill that was negotiated over years by worker advocates, industry groups and unions, but failed to move forward this year in the politically fraught uproar surrounding immigration. That bill, called AgJOBS, would create a new guest worker program that would allow laborers to eventually become citizens.

                "The key to real reform is AgJOBS. Growers support it. Workers support it. And bipartisan majorities in Congress support it," Feinstein said. "It would provide incentives for a stable, reliable agricultural workforce and provide long-term H-2A reform."


                'A question of execution'

                In addition to the Labor Department, the departments of State, Homeland Security and Agriculture have a role in the program. Labor and Homeland Security focused on making the program easier for growers to use, strengthening worker protections and improving enforcement, but critics questioned how these proposals would actually work.

                "It's going to be a question of execution," said a Senate aide briefed on the changes. The aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record, expressed concern about some proposals, including a change to the way workers are paid.

                One of the proposed changes would set wages based on a worker's occupation and skill level. "Depending on how it's done, it has the potential to lower farmworkers' wages, potentially significantly," said the aide.

                Other changes would give workers more time to search for a new H-2A job after their existing one ends. Employers would have to certify under penalty of perjury that they wouldn't change the terms of work after they hired the temporary workers.


                Tracking program

                Homeland Security would create a pilot program to track whether H-2A workers leave the country when their visas expire.

                Employers that violate the program's regulations would face substantially higher fines and penalties. Growers would also be forbidden from passing along to workers any costs incurred from participating in the program.

                Farmworker advocates called those provisions promising, but harshly criticized administration proposals to ease regulations concerning U.S. workers, including one that requires growers to go through several steps to show they have tried to hire an American before they can bring in H-2A workers.

                "These employers routinely violate the law already and we need more law enforcement under the H-2A program, not less," said Bruce Goldstein, of Farmworker Justice, an advocacy group affiliated with the National Council of La Raza. "They're just looking for some formula to lower wage rates of both U.S. workers and foreign workers.

                "There is no economic or moral justification for these harsh changes."

                But growers singled out the same proposal for praise and cautiously commended the overhaul.

                "Government is infamous for having different agencies not work together well, not understanding each other's roles and not particularly caring," said Michael Gempler, current president of the National Council of Agriculture Employers.

                "As a result the consumer suffers, so this is a very valuable thing to do."

                Comment


                • #68
                  Russom Ghebrai's Hospital Says It Needs Him. The U.S. Says He Has to Go By Susan Levine | Washington Post, Feb 6

                  Russom Ghebrai walks the corridors of Greater Southeast Community Hospital with quiet authority. Seventy hours a week, he dons the white coat of his profession and attends to patients on the fringes of medical care.

                  On the eighth floor is a 36-year-old man with HIV and kidney failure. Next door to him, a parolee with heart problems. Patient after patient, typically indigent, uninsured and suffering a tangle of diseases and complications.

                  "We are blessed to see you," he tells them.

                  In the eyes of his colleagues, Ghebrai is a physician of dedication and skill. But to the U.S. government, he is a deportable alien. Having denied a claim for asylum, it has ordered him and his wife to return to their native Eritrea. They must provide proof to officials by Monday that they have applied for Eritrean passports and begun arranging their travel.

                  Ghebrai's case skews the images often invoked in the debate over immigration. He is a doctor serving some of the most medically needy residents of the nation's capital. At a hospital that almost closed last year, in part because of its inability to attract doctors to care for this population, there is amazement.

                  "We have somebody who wants to stay in this for the long term," said Wietske Moore, a family nurse practitioner, "and we're then going to kick him out?"

                  It was Ghebrai's wife, Minya, who filed for asylum, recounting her arrest, detention and torture at 19 by soldiers for the authorities who then controlled Eritrea. Ghebrai arrived several months later and his name was added to her request, as sometimes occurs with spouses. Both were allowed to remain while the case was pending.

                  But repeatedly the government deemed her story not credible, based on discrepancies in their testimony and issues with documents their attorneys submitted. One judge questioned the couple's identities and marriage.

                  Haunted by nightmares and flashbacks dating back two decades, Minya is a changed person today. With every denial, she has become more despairing.

                  In the rare moments when her husband lets down his guard at work, the strain shadows his face. "Help me, God," he prays daily.


                  'Chain of . . . Failures'

                  Both entered the United States on legitimate visas: she as a business visitor, he as an exchange visitor.

                  Minya fled Eritrea in 1994, not long after being pulled from her workplace by security forces, interrogated about her past political activities and warned to watch her step. Her husband says that was when he learned she had been imprisoned a half-dozen years earlier.

                  Eight months pregnant, Minya left their young daughter with Ghebrai and flew to the United States from Asmara, a capital slightly smaller than the District.

                  He followed in 1996 after receiving an opportunity to train at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Los Angeles. He was a senior doctor in Asmara's biggest hospital, which had swelled to 800 beds during the years of fighting between Eritrean rebels and Ethiopian troops. But his position offered little safety. Officers came around to press him about his wife's whereabouts. He sent their daughter to relatives in Kenya.

                  They have yet to be reunited.

                  "Why don't you bring her here?" wonders the couple's 5-year-old son, who, like his 13-year-old brother, was born in the United States.

                  Minya filed for sanctuary several months after her visa expired. The claim for her and her husband rested on her history in the Eritrean Liberation Front, a revolutionary group that fought for independence from Ethiopia but these days is one of many organizations targeted by Eritrea's leaders. U.S. law specifies that asylum can be granted for past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on political affiliation.

                  The law also addresses religious beliefs. Although the evangelical church where the couple worships would be banned in Eritrea -- U.S. officials and international human rights groups have accused its rulers of using violence to repress religion -- no lawyer raised faith as an issue.

                  "You can get arrested for being at a prayer meeting," said Dan Connell, an expert on Eritrea who lectures on journalism and African politics at Simmons College in Massachusetts. The dates Minya cites for her detention and abuse are "absolutely credible," falling within a decade of terror and secret jails, he said. Many citizens still live in fear, he added. "This is a consolidated dictatorship."

                  The application wended its way through a multi-stage system of both administrative and judicial review. Jan Pederson, the attorney now representing the couple, describes their decade-long legal journey as "a chain of multiple failures."

                  The first immigration judge they encountered held multiple hearings and then was put on leave because of a derisive quip to a Ugandan woman in another case. His replacement decided that the couple needed to retell their stories and then seized on inconsistencies in Minya's testimony, particularly the number of times she said she had been raped in prison. Unless she was lying, he concluded, that was something she would never confuse or forget. The day he denied her and her husband asylum, he punched "Play" on a tape recorder and let it announce his ruling as he exited the courtroom.

                  Immigration judges have considerable discretion on the issue of credibility. Inconsistencies are not automatically reasons for asylum to be refused. Yet their next attorney, who argued the case before an immigration appeal board, failed to address conflicting details on several key points of their previous testimony. His lapse proved devastating.

                  The board turned them down. And last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit dismissed their petition without scheduling arguments. A few weeks later, that lawyer was suspended for his incompetent counsel in their case.

                  The Baltimore office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in charge of the couple's removal. "It can be very unpopular when someone's been told they do not have the right to live here," acknowledged Dorothy Herrera-Niles, the assistant field office director.

                  The office has been generous in its handling of the case. Because of Minya's emotional state and their two young children, neither Ghebrai nor his wife was taken into custody. In mid-January, however, at what they expected to be a perfunctory visit to the ICE office, Minya was handed a copy of the Eritrean Embassy's one-page passport renewal application and given 30 days to return it.

                  She was shaking when she left. "I wish I'd never been born," she said.

                  "We can't change the judge's decision," Herrera-Niles said later. "She's had her due process, and it's basically just time for her to go."

                  They have almost no options now. Pederson, who had been counting on psychological evaluations confirming Minya's diagnosis of acute post-traumatic stress, hopes to convince the Baltimore immigration director that there are humanitarian reasons to grant her clients what is known as "deferred action." That would put their deportation on hold, but with no guarantees.

                  Pederson also has advised Ghebrai to look toward Canada.


                  'He Contributes So Much'

                  Their pastors at Immanuel's Church in Silver Spring are rallying around them as the couple searches for strength and direction. The Sunday after Minya's appearance in Baltimore, the scripture from Revelation that greeted them at the morning service seemed prophetic: "See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."

                  Doctors and nurses at Greater Southeast are lending support, too. Ghebrai, 47, began working at the hospital in 2005 after finishing a residency program at Howard University Hospital that qualified him to practice in this country. In his early years here, the internist supported his family in part by pumping gas.

                  "He contributes so much," Chief Medical Officer Cyril Allen said. "He was just as important to the hospital staying open as anyone."

                  Allen and other principals at the hospital have written testimonials on his behalf.

                  Last week, Greater Southeast elevated Ghebrai's stature, naming him director of one of its physician groups. Given the uncertainty of his future, he wasn't sure he should accept the title.

                  Finally, he agreed, adding another responsibility to his burden: the demands of his work, the concerns about his patients and, above all, his worries for his family.

                  "We just need peace," he said. "Whatever it is, we need peace."

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    By CURT ANDERSON | Associated Press, Feb 6

                    MIAMI -- A man acquitted of terrorism conspiracy charges after a lengthy criminal trial has been accused of nearly identical offenses by federal immigration officials who want to deport him to Haiti.

                    The immigration charges were filed Tuesday against Lyglenson Lemorin, 33, a member of the so-called "Liberty City Seven" group accused of plotting with a man they thought was from al-Qaida to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices in Miami and elsewhere.

                    Lemorin was acquitted in December after a two-month trial, with jurors deadlocking on the remaining six defendants. Prosecutors are trying the six before a new jury, with testimony in its second day Wednesday. Lemorin is expected to testify for the defense in this trial.

                    Lemorin is a permanent legal U.S. resident with no criminal record, but a day after his innocent verdict he was taken to an immigration center and officials announced they would begin deportation proceedings.

                    Immigration law provides for a much lower burden of proof than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required for a verdict in a criminal case, making it easier for the government to deport someone using the same facts that led to an acquittal in a criminal trial.

                    A deportation hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but Lemorin's attorney, Charles Kuck of Atlanta, said a decision was not expected immediately.

                    "The government is going to have to prove its case," Kuck said. "We are going to go ahead and contest the charges."

                    Earlier this week, about a dozen people carrying signs saying "Free The Liberty City Seven" conducted a brief protest outside the federal courthouse in Miami, with many saying it is wrong for the government to pursue Lemorin after he was acquitted.

                    "We think this is setting a horrible precedent," said Max Rameau, a community activist who organized the protest.

                    Immigration documents accuse Lemorin of conspiring or planning to engage in terrorist activity and gathering information on potential attack targets. They also claim that Lemorin was "a member of a terrorist organization" and is likely to get involved in terrorism again if he remains in this country.

                    Jurors in the criminal trial rejected virtually the same charges against Lemorin, was arrested in 2006.

                    He and his family distanced themselves from the Miami group by moving to Atlanta after a ceremony in which the men pledged loyalty to al-Qaida.

                    That ceremony was led by a man known to the group as Brother Mohammed, an FBI informant posing as an al-Qaida operative. The group's alleged ringleader, Narseal Batiste, testified in the first trial that he was never serious about any terrorist attacks and that he only went along in an attempt to con Brother Mohammed out of $50,000.

                    Batiste and the other five remaining suspects face up to 70 years in prison if convicted of four terrorism-related conspiracy charges.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      By JILL P. CAPUZZO | NY Times, Feb 6

                      DANBURY, Conn. "” When baseball season begins, Mayor Mark D. Boughton will probably throw out the first pitch again for this city's Dominican baseball team. On Sundays, he sometimes can be found on the sidelines at the soccer games organized by many of the ethnic communities here. And he makes it a point to be at the annual Hajj festival held by the sizable Muslim population.

                      But on Wednesday night, Mr. Boughton, who governs a city of nearly 80,000 residents "” 90,000 when illegal immigrants are included "” and the Common Council are expected to approve a plan that would require the local police to work with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in rounding up workers who are in the country illegally.

                      "The intention is to target criminal aliens," the mayor said in an interview. "It's not going to be the horrible thing the opponents think it's going to be. On the other side, it's not the sweeps and roundups the far right want it to be."

                      During Mr. Boughton's six years in office, the city has tried to shut down the backyard volleyball games that have became a popular, and sometimes raucous, pastime among the Ecuadorean community. Last year, the Council passed an ordinance requiring a parade permit for gatherings of more than 25 people, a measure that was intended to stop the celebrations that have bubbled up on Main Street when Brazil's team was in the World Cup soccer tournament.

                      And in September 2006, undercover police officers assisted federal agents in picking up 11 immigrants in a city park, telling them that they were being taken to a job site. Instead, the workers were arrested and turned over for deportation.

                      Now comes what is viewed as the most aggressive move yet: a proposal to have Danbury police officers work with federal agents in enforcing the nation's immigration policies.

                      While Mayor Boughton said the proposal was brought to him by other Council members, he "” like the police chief and the city attorney "” has been a vocal supporter of the collaboration with federal agents.

                      Such arrangements have not always worked out well. Last fall in Greenport, on Long Island, a cooperative effort between federal agents and the local police so enraged Nassau County officials that they threatened to stop working with immigration agents. In a search for gang members, armed squads burst into homes at night, terrorizing families and arresting anyone who lacked identity papers, even if the agents had raided the wrong house.

                      Danbury is a study in contrasts, which are perhaps most apparent on two streets named for the hills they climb. On Deer Hill Road, expansive homes line both sides of the street where factory owners once lived when this town was known as the "Hatting Capital of the World." (Danbury turned out five million hats annually at the turn of the 20th century.)

                      Not far away is Town Hill Avenue, where two-family houses have been converted into four- and five-family residences, evidenced by the multiple satellite dishes that line the rooftops. In 2005, a neighborhood inspection team was formed, in part to ferret out illegal attic and basement apartments that often house dozens of illegal immigrants and are rife with fire code violations. One row of houses is known as "the barracks."

                      Below the hills sits a compact city with its Main Street, now mostly home to Brazilian restaurants, ethnic hair salons and Western Union outlets; the growing campus of Western Connecticut State University; a regional airport; one of the country's busiest shopping malls; and the corporate headquarters of Ethan Allen furniture and Praxair, a manufacturer of industrial gases.

                      Despite protests from a vocal minority who say that deputizing local officers will lead to racial profiling and the erosion of community trust, the Common Council voted, 19 to 2, in favor of the immigration crackdown in a preliminary decision last month.

                      "Every single person in Danbury is either an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant, and yet there is a lot of vitriol against immigration," said Councilman Paul Rotello, who voted against the proposal. "For all Danbury's cosmopolitan airs, it really is a working-class place, and nothing is more threatening to the working class than immigration."

                      From the city ordinances aimed at immigrant communities to his frequent appearances on the Lou Dobbs and Joe Scarborough television programs, Mr. Boughton has gained a reputation as an official willing to take on the t***** issue of immigration.

                      Yet the mayor said he did not set out to make it the central theme of his administration. "It's not my cause," Mr. Boughton said. "It's not something I woke up to and said, ˜Let's take on illegal immigration.' "

                      Al Robinson, whose blog, HatCityBlog.com, is largely devoted to the mayor's activities, says Mr. Boughton underwent a transformation in 2005 after being criticized by many residents here for proposing a day labor center to stop workers from gathering in Kennedy Park.

                      "He just didn't know the level of anti-immigration feeling in the area," Mr. Robinson said. "It almost seemed like overnight he switched his whole policy from someone interested in helping immigrants to someone who just wanted to enforce immigration law."

                      Mayor Boughton said the crackdown is supported by what he calls "the middle 60-70 percent" of the city's residents. And last year, he received 65 percent of the vote for mayor, giving him a fourth two-year term. He is the city's longest-serving Republican mayor.

                      "There's no question that illegal immigration has a profound impact on the entire community," Mr. Boughton said. "The expenses, health care, the schools, social service programs, and that's a direct reflection on the federal government's failure to get the job done."

                      If that is the case, Danbury has its work cut out. According to the Census Bureau's 2006 population estimates, Danbury has a greater proportion of foreign-born residents than any other city in Connecticut, 34 percent of the population, up from 27 percent in 2000. Statewide, 12.9 percent of the population was born outside the United States.

                      Mayor Boughton, 43, takes pride in the city, where he can trace his ancestry back 300 years. The men in his family, of English and French Huguenot descent, were carpenters for generations, until his father, Donald, broke the mold and entered politics, serving one term as mayor in the 1970s.

                      Mark Boughton taught social studies at Danbury High School for 14 years before following his father into politics and winning election to the Connecticut General Assembly, where he served in the House from 1999 to 2001.

                      As mayor, Mr. Boughton attends three or four social events on most Saturday nights.

                      The mayor denies claims that his stance against illegal immigration is an attempt to position him for higher office. Still, he said, "if an opportunity arises, obviously I'll look at it."

                      "I have ambitions," he said. "I wouldn't want somebody in my position not to have ambitions. But right now, my No. 1 priority is the city, to leave the city better off than what I inherited."

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer
                        45 minutes ago



                        WASHINGTON - President Bush is asking Congress to spend money to help businesses root out illegal workers but he did not request additional funds to help legal immigrants become American citizens more quickly.

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                        In his budget proposal issued this week, Bush asked for $100 million to expand E-Verify, the system employers use to check whether they are hiring documented workers. He didn't ask Congress to allocate money to chip away at millions of citizenship and other immigration applications that flooded the government last summer, before an increase in the agency's filing fees.

                        Instead, Citizenship and Immigration Services will rely on $468 million in fees to pay for reducing the backlog by 2010. Those funds are a portion of the total fees that came in with the applications this summer.

                        Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the summer's fee increases will give the agency the money it needs to get back on track.

                        "People always argue well you ought to fund this, you ought to fund that. That's great, but the pie is only as big as it is and no one ever comes up with this slice they want to give back in return for this," Chertoff said.

                        A total 7.7 million applications for various immigration benefits poured into Citizenship and Immigration Services in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2007. That's 1.4 million more than the previous fiscal year.

                        "The backlogs are pretty much back where they were when they started and the agency is back to doing what it used to do, which is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Right now they are taking resources from permanent residence to do citizenship," said Crystal Williams, associate director for programs at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

                        The immigration agency increased fees in July largely to raise about $1.5 billion to pay for modernizing computer equipment, hiring and training more workers, improving field offices and other spending.

                        Becoming a citizen now costs $595, up from $330. The price to get a green card is $1,010, up from $395. Applicants for both pay another $80 each for digital fingerprinting, a $10 increase.

                        Congress gave the immigration agency $100 million a year over five years through 2006 to reduce the immigration backlogs. Agency Director Emilio Gonza*** announced in September 2006 the backlog had fallen to about 139,0000 cases. About 1 million applications in the backlog that were incomplete, from people still awaiting visas or whose FBI name check was delayed, were not counted.

                        The administration deserves credit for securing the $500 million from Congress for the backlog, said Doris Meissner, former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner under President Clinton.

                        "They broke through the idea that this should just be purely financed by the applicant fees themselves," said Meissner, a senior fellow with Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "But it was finite."

                        Since 1988, the work of Citizenship and Immigration Services and its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, has been largely paid for by revenue from application fees. Congress has provided money for specific projects over the years, but generally those have been limited to a few years. Sometimes fee money has been diverted for things like detention centers.

                        The result has been an agency constantly shifting resources to respond to the latest crisis, critics say.

                        "Every time the system breaks down, they are incentivizing people to say, 'Screw the system, I'll just overstay my visa.'" said James Jay Carifano, a research fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

                        Immigration officials say they will be able to chip away at the backlogs as 1,500 new workers are hired and trained. Things should be back where they were before the application spike by 2010, the agency's spokeswoman Chris Rhatigan said.

                        Williams thinks that's an optimistic prediction. The 7.7 million applications the agency received last year amount to about three years of work, she said.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN | Associated Press, Feb 8

                          EDINBURG, Texas -- Federal officials agreed Friday to a plan to build up levees to 18 feet high along the Rio Grande that would eliminate the need for a section of a U.S.-Mexico border fence that could have stranded dozens of homes.

                          Earlier plans had the fence winding through Hidalgo County towns like Granjeno as far as two miles inland from the river, cutting off swaths of property between the fence and the river and cutting water access to farmers and ranchers.

                          The county's plan to modify the existing levees along the U.S. side of the river is a compromise that will keep the border secure and remove the threat of the fence stranding property, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

                          The levees are currently sloped and are about 15 feet high, depending on erosion.

                          "When completed at the end of the year, they will serve both functions" of border security and flood control, Chertoff said at a border patrol station in Edinburg, the Hidalgo County seat.

                          "It's a great example of where we are able to dovetail what we need with what the community needs," he said.

                          Residents and elected leaders throughout the Rio Grande Valley had bristled at the idea of a border fence, fearing both the loss of private land and the message it would send to their sister communities in Mexico.

                          Last fall, Hidalgo County chief executive J.D. Salinas and his Cameron County counterpart, Carlos Cascos, suggested the levee compromise, figuring they could fix two problems at the same time.

                          "I think that's a big victory for all of us here," Cascos said.

                          "Great, great, great," said Granjeno resident Gloria Garza, whose house backs up to the levee. "Our prayers have been answered."

                          Gov. Rick Perry, who with local officials has opposed the fence, thanked Chertoff for being receptive to local feedback.

                          But the 22 miles of combined levee and border wall under the compromise would be a small portion of the 370 miles of border barriers that Homeland Security is charged with building by the end of the year.

                          The city of Eagle Pass, about 200 miles west, has been faced with land-seizure orders for a fence that will be built through the city of 26,000. No compromise plan is in the works.

                          Chertoff said the compromise could be workable for other communities along the border, but they would have to be able to meet the end-of-the-year deadline.

                          Hidalgo County had already been working to improve its levees when Congress and President Bush approved the border fence to combat illegal immigration and smuggling. The county will contribute about $45 million from a local bond issue, while the federal government will adds about $66 million.

                          A "legislative fix" allowing the local and federal funding contributions to the project will be required for the agreement to move forward, Chertoff said.

                          It was the most conciliatory atmosphere between border communities and Homeland Security since the border fence dispute began more than a year ago, and an about-face from last month, when Chertoff said people worried about the impact of increased security on cross-border travel should "grow up."

                          Chertoff had also filed more than 50 lawsuits against landowners along the U.S.-Mexico border to get access to their land for surveys. Eight more were filed in Cameron and Starr counties on Friday.

                          One of Friday's lawsuits was against the Texas Southmost College District, which oversees the combined University of Texas at Brownsville campus and Texas Southmost College in Brownsville. The college's president, Juliet Garcia, has been one of the fence's most outspoken critics.

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            By JOCHEN SCHOENMANN | Associated Press, Feb 7

                            LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany -- Police searched Thursday for the cause of a blaze that killed five children and four adults _ all ethnic Turks _ amid heightened tensions between the Turkish community and German officials.

                            Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the site Thursday as part of a previously scheduled trip to Germany to offer condolences to the injured and victims' families and urge caution among Turks who have been quick to suspect a racial motive behind the blaze.

                            "Our grief is great; as a nation, our grief is great. But our German friends whom I have spoken to are also grieving," Erdogan told several thousand people, mostly Turks, gathered at the perimeter of the site.

                            The building in the southwestern city of Ludwigshafen was inhabited by two Turkish families and all nine victims were Turkish citizens.

                            The blaze has unleashed a wave of criticism from some of Germany's 2.7 million-strong Turkish community, while newspapers in Turkey have charged that German rescue workers failed to respond swiftly enough and blamed the incident on far-right extremists.

                            Erdogan fought to counter such claims, calling on German and Turkish media to use restraint in their reporting and expressly thanking German rescue services for their efforts.

                            "If it hadn't been for the work of the police or the firefighters, the losses would have been greater," he said.

                            Kurt Beck, governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, where Ludwigshafen is located, also insisted the victims' nationality played no role in the sadness and shock felt in Germany.

                            "I assure you that we are mourning as deeply and intensively as when we would had the victims been German citizens," Beck said. "We will do everything in our power to get to the bottom of this terrible accident."

                            Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged calm, expressing understanding for the Turks' outrage while insisting that Germans were equally concerned by the high number of fatalities.

                            "Our shock and sadness is not determined by nationality," Schaeuble told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspapers.

                            Police found graffiti scrawled on the building _ the German word for hate, "Hass" _ next to the entrance to a ground-floor Turkish cultural center in the building. But they said it had been scrawled well before the fire and was not thought to be related to the blaze.

                            "At this point, we don't see any connection with it and the fire," said police spokesman Volker Klein.

                            Erdogan said Turkey was confident that German officials would carry out a swift and thorough investigation and said four experts had traveled with him to Germany to take part in the probe.

                            The blaze comes amid a downturn in German-Turkish relations, soured by a tightened immigration laws in Berlin and a recent state election campaign by a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, Roland Koch, blaming a rise in youth crime on recent immigrants.

                            Kenan Kolat, head of Germany's Turkish community, condemned the jump to conclusions and finger-pointing by some, but traced it to the recent political developments.

                            "It simply should not happen," he told SWR radio. "But the mood, such as it is, is of course due to the many things that have happened in the past months, from changes to the immigration laws and now Koch's campaign in Hesse."

                            As part of their investigation, police are working with information from two girls, ages 8 and 9, who said they saw a man setting fire to something with his lighter and then throwing it next to a baby carriage in the hallway of the building.

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb 9

                              More than 100 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a printer supply manufacturer Thursday in the San Fernando Valley, taking into custody about 120 employees accused of being in the country illegally and arresting eight on federal criminal charges, the authorities said. The raid was at the offices of Micro Solutions Enterprises, said Virginia Kice, a customs spokeswoman. The eight people were arrested on suspicion of providing fraudulent information to get their jobs, Ms. Kice said.

                              Authorities raid Southern California printer supply company By ALEX VEIGA | AP, Feb 7

                              More than 100 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a printer supply manufacturer in the San Fernando Valley on Thursday, taking into custody about 120 employees for being in the country illegally and arresting eight on federal criminal charges, authorities said.

                              The raid at the offices of Micro Solutions Enterprises began around 3:30 p.m., said Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, who said the basis for the criminal warrant that led to the raid was under seal.

                              The eight people were arrested for allegedly providing fraudulent information to get their jobs, Kice said.

                              All of the 120 people taken into custody for illegal immigration status were interviewed for what Kice called "humanitarian issues." About 40, including the elderly and those with children, were released to await a hearing before an immigration judge, Kice said.

                              Approximately 80 more remained in the custody of immigration officials for potential deportation.

                              The American Civil Liberties Union said it is offering free legal representation to anyone taken into custody.

                              "We're very concerned that people who were detained be given the opportunity to meet with a lawyer who can advise them of their rights," said ACLU lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham. "Some of them may be eligible for release on bond."

                              Arulanantham said ACLU attorneys who rushed to the scene of the raid were not allowed to talk to detainees.

                              Micro Solutions Enterprises, which manufactures and distributes toner cartridges, inkjets and other printer accessories, is family owned and operates facilities in California, Pennsylvania, Mexico and Canada, according to its Web site.

                              A message left after hours with the company was not immediately returned.

                              --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                By Declan McCullagh | News.com, Feb 8


                                Police Blotter is a weekly News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

                                What: Minnesota man charged with alien smuggling says data from a location tap of his T-Mobile phone should not be used against him in court.


                                When: U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in Minnesota rules on January 31.


                                Outcome: Prosecutors can use location information.

                                What happened, according to court documents: Federal prosecutors have been arguing that they should be able to track the locations of Americans through their cell phones without showing any evidence of criminal activity--in legalese, no "probable cause"--because cell-tracking technology is not that precise. Police Blotter was the first to report on this trend nearly three years ago.


                                In one case in Texas, for instance, prosecutors claimed in a legal brief (PDF) that: "It is true that cell-site data provides information about the location of a cell phone user. However, cell phones do not permit the detailed continuous tracking of movement..."

                                That was then. Now that the Federal Communications Commission's E911 requirements have led to the adoption of assisted GPS and triangulation through cellular towers, "detailed continuous tracking of movement" has become commonplace. (The Sprint Navigation and Verizon's VZ Navigator feature are two examples.)

                                This bring us to a case where Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) obtained latitude and longitude data from T-Mobile showing the location of one of the company's subscribers. ICE obtained a court order in October from a magistrate judge requiring T-Mobile to disclose the location "at such intervals and times as directed by the law enforcement agent serving this order," which would include a real-time feed as the subscriber is traveling.

                                To comply with E911, T-Mobile uses a GSM technology called Uplink Time Difference of Arrival, or U-TDOA, which calculates a position based on precisely how long it takes signals to reach towers. A company called TruePosition that provides U-TDOA services to T-Mobile boasts of "accuracy to under 50 meters" that's available "for start-of-call, midcall, or when idle." The company also says: "U-TDOA systems typically deliver locations to the network in less than 10 seconds from the initiation of the call, often before the voice conversation even begins."

                                The T-Mobile subscriber Le Guo Wu was subsequently charged with aiding and abetting alien smuggling as part of a marriage fraud scheme. Homeland Security says Wu recruited Americans to enter into sham marriages to allow Chinese citizens to enter the country. Wu allegedly offered one confidential informant $13,000.

                                When Wu found out location information would be used against him in court, he objected to it, saying the court order was granted based on the unconfirmed claims of informants and the location data therefore should be suppressed. A brief he filed in November said: "The affidavit submitted in support of the application for the order is largely based upon information supplied by two anonymous informants--CRI and CW. However, the affidavit fails to adequately establish the credibility and reliability of the two informants. The substance of the affidavit is really little more than a repetition of the largely uncorroborated assertions of CRI and CW."

                                So far he's had little luck with that argument. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in Minnesota rejected the suppression request on January 31, saying there was "ample evidence" the order was reasonable. Magnuson also denied suppression requests for e-mail evidence obtained from Wu's Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail accounts.

                                In this case, police did prove they had a reasonable belief that a crime had been committed--again, probable cause--and obtained a court order signed by a judge. That means the privacy concerns in this case were not as severe as some of the earlier ones.

                                What's worth watching is whether the Justice Department tries to obtain similar location tracking by-the-minute-and-by-the-meter data in the future without demonstrating probable cause first. Notes Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center: "From the privacy perspective, you're going for two things, judicial review and an appropriately high standard."

                                Excerpt from October 25, 2007, court order to T-Mobile, which was originally sealed:
                                T-Mobile shall disclose at such intervals and times as directed by ICE, latitude and longitude data that establishes the approximate positions of the Subject Wireless Telephone, by unobtrusively initiating a signal on its network that will enable it to determine the locations of the Subject Wireless Telephone...

                                It is further ordered that pursuant to the same authority that T-Mobile shall initiate a signal to determine the location of the subject's mobile device on the service provider's network or with such other reference points as may be reasonable (sic) available and at such intervals and times as directed by the law enforcement agent serving this order...

                                It is further ordered, pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 USC 1651(a), that T-Mobile shall be paid compensation by ICE for reasonable expenses directly incurred in providing the facilities and assistance described above...

                                It is further ordered pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 USC 1651(a), that T-Mobile, its representatives, agents, and employee(s), unless and until otherwise ordered by the court, shall not disclose in any manner, directly or indirectly, by any action or inaction, the existence of this order...

                                Excerpt from January 31 court opinion by Judge Magnuson saying the T-Mobile tracking was perfectly reasonable:
                                Turning next to the application for the latitude/longitude order, this probable cause is based largely upon information gathered by the agents after consensually monitored calls by the CRI and CW. During the calls, Wu discussed the scheme and made identical statements to the CW and CRI. The phone numbers were interconnected and it was clear they were used for the purpose of communicating about the scheme. There is more than ample evidence in this affidavit for the request given the information gathered within control of the agents, in combination with the common facts listed earlier. They are mutually confirming facts and it all points toward probable cause.

                                Comment

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