Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Bird-dogging Political Candidates on Immigration Reform

Expand Messages
  • Donna Dove
    The Border Working Group has developed a brief packet of information for grassroots on the recent flurry of immigration reform proposals and how they might
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      The Border Working Group has developed a brief packet of information for
      grassroots on the recent flurry of immigration reform proposals and how
      they might impact border deaths in the Southwest. I'm circulating it to
      everyone so that it can be useful to you for any candidate forums that will
      be happening in your states in the upcoming months - remember, these can be
      useful not only in presidential forums, but also in forums for members of
      Congress! Feel free to contact me for more information, and please let us
      know if you get any questions asked! Also, for more information on how to
      get your message across to candidates, check out the LAWG webpage -
      www.lawg.org - under activist tools - a range of ideas on how to get your
      issues heard!

      Best - Sean

      Immigration Reform and the U.S.-Mexico Border:

      Can it Put an End to the Migrant Deaths?

      Immigration reform is a growing topic of debate in Washington. Many of
      these proposals have the potential to reduce the number of migrants who die
      crossing into the U.S. each year, and to improve the lives of millions of
      people. Included below is a review of the initial proposal set forward by
      President Bush, a series of questions you can ask during debates and town
      hall meetings in your community, and background on our current immigration
      policies.

      On January 8, 2004, President Bush opened the doors to a national debate on
      immigration policy in the U.S. While his proposal leaves much to be
      desired, it provides activists across the country with an opportunity to
      raise the questions of how immigration reform should be properly executed.
      With this in mind, the Border Working Group is excited to provide
      information on how to discuss human rights in the context of immigration
      reform. We hope this will be a useful tool for grassroots activists
      concerned about the lives of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

      As you know, the next few months will provide citizens across the country
      with opportunities to meet with candidates running for President, the U.S.
      Senate and the House of Representatives. These debates and town hall
      meetings can give you an opportunity to get candidates on the record about
      how they intend to stem the death of hundreds of migrants a year. Below,
      you will find a summary of some of the issues any immigration reform
      proposal should address in order to stop these deaths, and questions you
      can ask candidates. At the end of this packet, you can find background on
      how current border security strategies lead to migrant deaths, or visit
      www.lawg.org and check out the Mexico page, or
      www.rtfcam.org/border/border.htm for more background.

      Concerns about President Bush's Immigration Proposal

      Currently, the Bush proposal for immigration reform does not provide
      specific plans that would allow migrants to pursue permanent residency and
      citizenship in the U.S. Unless migrants who want to stay in the country
      can do so efficiently, they will most likely revert to the illegal means of
      entering the country that result in unnecessary deaths.

      · The loss of human life that has resulted from our out of date
      immigration policies is shocking - since 1998, over 2,000 people have died
      attempting to enter the United States undetected. In the Border Patrol's
      FY2003 (Oct '02-Oct '03) alone, at least 346 people died entering the
      country.

      · At the height of the summer months, Border Patrol officials often
      find 5 or 6 bodies a day in the desert.

      · Deaths are not limited just to the hot summer. In the winter
      months, migrants die of hypothermia in the mountains. On December 30,
      2003, Tiburcio Us-Chan of Mexico was found dead in the Arizona mountains of
      hypothermia.

      Currently, the Bush proposal would only allow workers to bring their family
      members to the United States if they can provide financial support for
      them. Current waits to bring a family member into the country can exceed 5
      years. In light of this situation, families may continue to use illegal
      channels to reunite.

      · In the first nine months of 2003, the Border Patrol repatriated
      9,800 minors who crossed the southwest border unaccompanied. In 2002, that
      number was 9,900 children.

      · Many of these minors are very young children. The number of
      repatriated unaccompanied minors under 13 was 1300 in 2002 and 1500 by
      September 2003.

      · While there are no available comprehensive Border Patrol
      statistics available on children who die crossing the border, there are
      dozens of documented cases where minors have died.

      Currently, the Bush proposal contains no details of how it will reorganize
      the U.S. Border Patrol to decrease its southwestern focus on undocumented
      workers to terrorists. Furthermore, the current Border Patrol Southwest
      Border Strategy does not effectively combat terrorism.

      · The Southwest Border Strategy, which encompasses Operation
      Gatekeeper in San Diego and Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, was created
      in 1994 to deter migrants. Despite a tripling of Border Patrol staff and
      resources since 1994, the flow of migrants into the U.S. has continued
      unabated.

      · Existing Border Patrol planning documents in the post-September
      11 period make vague references to terrorism, yet all of their concrete
      projects are still aimed specifically at stemming the tide of migrants.

      · According to an Associated Press investigation, the Border
      Patrol's southwest strategy has not stopped even one known militant from
      slipping into America.

      · As the Border Patrol's focus shifts towards anti-terrorism work,
      the southwest border strategy should be reevaluated in order to eliminate
      policies that harm border communities, such as racial profiling and
      militaristic tactics.

      Questions for Candidates to Elected Office

      1.. One of the tragic consequences of our immigration policies and the
      increased presence of the Border Patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border is the
      increase in immigrant deaths: In the past 5 years alone, over 2000 migrants
      have been found dead in the desert. What reforms would you propose to stem
      these deaths? What policies would you reform to allow economic migrants to
      safely enter the U.S.?

      2.. Thousands of unaccompanied minors enter the U.S. each year to reunite
      with their families, either because their parents are here illegally, or
      because the wait for a visa can exceed 5 years. Some die in the deserts,
      others are captured by border patrol agents and placed in the detention
      system with adults. What reforms would you propose that would reduce the
      numbers of unaccompanied children entering the U.S?

      3.. With $3 billion budgeted for border security in 2003, dramatic
      increases in the Border Patrol's budget and staffing, and the accelerated
      construction of border fencing, more immigrants have been forced to enter
      the U.S. by crossing the harsh deserts, which has increased deaths. What
      proposals would you have to reorganize the Border Patrol and to
      demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border? Would you support the removal of over
      80 miles of fencing between the U.S. and Mexico?

      4.. Most Presidential candidates have recognized that U.S. immigrants
      have historically contributed to the social and economic development of our
      country. However, most immigration reform proposals focus on providing
      incentives for immigrants to return to their own countries instead of
      remaining in the U.S. Even those who do not want to stay in the U.S.
      permanently may choose to remain longer than the 3-6 years often proposed.
      Do you have a proposal for immigration reform, and if so would it allow for
      longer periods for temporary workers? How would your proposal address
      issues of long-term residency and citizenship?

      5.. Some politicians have proposed that only immigrants who have
      guaranteed jobs would be able to legally enter the U.S. Unfortunately,
      most migrants depend on informal networks of family, friends,
      and "headhunters" to find the low-paying and labor intensive jobs that they
      fill. What type of system do you propose to allow migrants to gain access
      to job listings, taking into account the low technology environment of many
      of their places of origin?

      6.. Many immigrant workers are in jobs that pay minimum wage and have no
      health care benefits or access to other social services. They have become
      a permanent underclass. Those without legal status are afraid to get any
      medical care or other services because revealing their identity could get
      them deported. What reforms would you propose to ensure adequate services
      for those workers who are filling jobs on the lowest levels that U.S.
      citizens are not filling?

      7.. While much attention is given to undocumented or illegal immigrants,
      little attention is given to business owners who break laws regarding
      wages, benefits, work conditions, etc. while taking advantage of the
      unprotected status of immigrant workers. What proposals would you
      introduce to ensure that the rights of immigrant workers are protected and
      that business owners are made to comply with U.S. wage and labor laws?

      8.. Some have suggested that proposed free trade agreements would stem
      the flow of migrant workers to the U.S. NAFTA has not proven this to be
      true. How would your trade policies ensure that people in other nations
      have access to economic opportunities in their home communities, so that
      they are not forced to travel - often to the U.S. - in search of work?

      Border Policy Background

      The current U.S.-Mexico border enforcement strategy used by the Bureau of
      Customs and Border Protection (formerly the INS) began in September 1993
      with efforts in the El Paso sector to seal the border at traditional
      illegal crossing points. The concentration of agents and vehicles in high
      traffic areas greatly reduced illegal flow at those sections of the border.
      By 1994, the INS had adopted the El Paso strategy as its model for border
      enforcement, replicating it in Tucson (1994), San Diego (1994), McAllen and
      Laredo (1997), and El Centro (1998). Today, the overall plan is known as
      the Southwest Border Strategy.

      During the strategy's implementation over the last decade, border
      enforcement spending and the number of agents patrolling the border have
      tripled. Sophisticated technology such as ground sensors, surveillance
      cameras, heat detecting scopes, and reinforced fencing are used to prevent
      and detect illegal crossings. In addition, 4,000 new Border Patrol
      positions were created between 1995 and 2000. This rapid influx of agents
      resulted in a Border Patrol force with relatively little experience, posing
      hazards for both migrants and veteran officers. The increase in complaints
      of INS misconduct during this period raises questions about the training
      and supervision of new recruits.

      This blockade strategy was designed to deter illegal entries by forcing
      migrants to cross either at ports-of-entry, where they could be easily
      apprehended, or in remote areas difficult to pass through. But despite the
      costly buildup of equipment and personnel, there is no evidence that these
      tactics reduced unauthorized immigration. An overall increase in
      apprehension rates since the strategy began suggests that, even with the
      increased risks, people haven't stopped trying to cross the border.

      The architects of the border blockade strategy badly miscalculated by
      assuming that migrants would not attempt to use more treacherous crossing
      routes. The strategy has not succeed in stopping migrants from trying to
      cross the border, but it has driven them into areas where they are less
      likely to be apprehended, such as the southwest desert. Crossing in these
      remote areas makes migrants easy prey for border bandits, and often leads
      crossers to seek help ­­­­from unscrupulous smugglers. The greatest danger,
      however, is exposure to the elements: an unprecedented number of deaths due
      to hypothermia, dehydration and other environmental causes have accompanied
      the border blockades. Every year hundreds are discovered in deserts,
      mountains, or rivers, along highways or railroad tracks, and sometimes even
      trapped inside trucks or freight trains. Official statistics indicate that,
      since 1998, more than two thousand migrants have lost their lives trying to
      cross the Unites States-Mexico border, though many more remain uncounted,
      their bodies unfound.

      The INS border blockade strategy is inhumane and ineffective. It has failed
      to reduce undocumented migration, it has redirected migrants to their
      peril, and has led to an

      increase in civil rights violations by a dangerously inexperienced Border
      Patrol force. Despite these failures, these deadly policies continue, with
      a proposed budget of $3 billion for border enforcement in 2003 alone.

      The lives and rights of migrants should be protected. Creating more avenues
      for legal migration and revisiting the current border enforcement strategy
      would keep undocumented people from taking perilous crossing routes and
      prevent deaths. Ultimately, people will continue to come north as long as
      economic circumstances leave them no other option.

      Sean Mariano Garcia
      Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group
      T: 202/546-7010 F: 202/543-7647 sgarcia@...
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Latin America Working Group
      Action at home for just policies abroad www.lawg.org
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      ----------

      Hi all,

      The Border Working Group has developed a brief packet of information for grassroots on the recent flurry of immigration reform proposals and how they might impact border deaths in the Southwest. I'm circulating it to everyone so that it can be useful to you for any candidate forums that will be happening in your states in the upcoming months - remember, these can be useful not only in presidential forums, but also in forums for members of Congress! Feel free to contact me for more information, and please let us know if you get any questions asked! Also, for more information on how to get your message across to candidates, check out the LAWG webpage - www.lawg.org - under activist tools - a range of ideas on how to get your issues heard!

      Best - Sean

      Immigration Reform and the U.S.-Mexico Border:

      Can it Put an End to the Migrant Deaths?



      Immigration reform is a growing topic of debate in Washington. Many of these proposals have the potential to reduce the number of migrants who die crossing into the U.S. each year, and to improve the lives of millions of people. Included below is a review of the initial proposal set forward by President Bush, a series of questions you can ask during debates and town hall meetings in your community, and background on our current immigration policies.





      On January 8, 2004, President Bush opened the doors to a national debate on immigration policy in the U.S. While his proposal leaves much to be desired, it provides activists across the country with an opportunity to raise the questions of how immigration reform should be properly executed. With this in mind, the Border Working Group is excited to provide information on how to discuss human rights in the context of immigration reform. We hope this will be a useful tool for grassroots activists concerned about the lives of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.



      As you know, the next few months will provide citizens across the country with opportunities to meet with candidates running for President, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. These debates and town hall meetings can give you an opportunity to get candidates on the record about how they intend to stem the death of hundreds of migrants a year. Below, you will find a summary of some of the issues any immigration reform proposal should address in order to stop these deaths, and questions you can ask candidates. At the end of this packet, you can find background on how current border security strategies lead to migrant deaths, or visit www.lawg.org and check out the Mexico page, or www.rtfcam.org/border/border.htm for more background.



      Concerns about President Bush's Immigration Proposal



      Currently, the Bush proposal for immigration reform does not provide specific plans that would allow migrants to pursue permanent residency and citizenship in the U.S. Unless migrants who want to stay in the country can do so efficiently, they will most likely revert to the illegal means of entering the country that result in unnecessary deaths.



      · The loss of human life that has resulted from our out of date immigration policies is shocking - since 1998, over 2,000 people have died attempting to enter the United States undetected. In the Border Patrol's FY2003 (Oct '02-Oct '03) alone, at least 346 people died entering the country.

      · At the height of the summer months, Border Patrol officials often find 5 or 6 bodies a day in the desert.

      · Deaths are not limited just to the hot summer. In the winter months, migrants die of hypothermia in the mountains. On December 30, 2003, Tiburcio Us-Chan of Mexico was found dead in the Arizona mountains of hypothermia.



      Currently, the Bush proposal would only allow workers to bring their family members to the United States if they can provide financial support for them. Current waits to bring a family member into the country can exceed 5 years. In light of this situation, families may continue to use illegal channels to reunite.



      · In the first nine months of 2003, the Border Patrol repatriated 9,800 minors who crossed the southwest border unaccompanied. In 2002, that number was 9,900 children.

      · Many of these minors are very young children. The number of repatriated unaccompanied minors under 13 was 1300 in 2002 and 1500 by September 2003.

      · While there are no available comprehensive Border Patrol statistics available on children who die crossing the border, there are dozens of documented cases where minors have died.



      Currently, the Bush proposal contains no details of how it will reorganize the U.S. Border Patrol to decrease its southwestern focus on undocumented workers to terrorists. Furthermore, the current Border Patrol Southwest Border Strategy does not effectively combat terrorism.



      · The Southwest Border Strategy, which encompasses Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego and Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, was created in 1994 to deter migrants. Despite a tripling of Border Patrol staff and resources since 1994, the flow of migrants into the U.S. has continued unabated.

      · Existing Border Patrol planning documents in the post-September 11 period make vague references to terrorism, yet all of their concrete projects are still aimed specifically at stemming the tide of migrants.

      · According to an Associated Press investigation, the Border Patrol's southwest strategy has not stopped even one known militant from slipping into America.

      · As the Border Patrol's focus shifts towards anti-terrorism work, the southwest border strategy should be reevaluated in order to eliminate policies that harm border communities, such as racial profiling and militaristic tactics.



      Questions for Candidates to Elected Office


      1.. One of the tragic consequences of our immigration policies and the increased presence of the Border Patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border is the increase in immigrant deaths: In the past 5 years alone, over 2000 migrants have been found dead in the desert. What reforms would you propose to stem these deaths? What policies would you reform to allow economic migrants to safely enter the U.S.?


      2.. Thousands of unaccompanied minors enter the U.S. each year to reunite with their families, either because their parents are here illegally, or because the wait for a visa can exceed 5 years. Some die in the deserts, others are captured by border patrol agents and placed in the detention system with adults. What reforms would you propose that would reduce the numbers of unaccompanied children entering the U.S?


      3.. With $3 billion budgeted for border security in 2003, dramatic increases in the Border Patrol's budget and staffing, and the accelerated construction of border fencing, more immigrants have been forced to enter the U.S. by crossing the harsh deserts, which has increased deaths. What proposals would you have to reorganize the Border Patrol and to demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border? Would you support the removal of over 80 miles of fencing between the U.S. and Mexico?


      4.. Most Presidential candidates have recognized that U.S. immigrants have historically contributed to the social and economic development of our country. However, most immigration reform proposals focus on providing incentives for immigrants to return to their own countries instead of remaining in the U.S. Even those who do not want to stay in the U.S. permanently may choose to remain longer than the 3-6 years often proposed. Do you have a proposal for immigration reform, and if so would it allow for longer periods for temporary workers? How would your proposal address issues of long-term residency and citizenship?


      5.. Some politicians have proposed that only immigrants who have guaranteed jobs would be able to legally enter the U.S. Unfortunately, most migrants depend on informal networks of family, friends, and "headhunters" to find the low-paying and labor intensive jobs that they fill. What type of system do you propose to allow migrants to gain access to job listings, taking into account the low technology environment of many of their places of origin?


      6.. Many immigrant workers are in jobs that pay minimum wage and have no health care benefits or access to other social services. They have become a permanent underclass. Those without legal status are afraid to get any medical care or other services because revealing their identity could get them deported. What reforms would you propose to ensure adequate services for those workers who are filling jobs on the lowest levels that U.S. citizens are not filling?


      7.. While much attention is given to undocumented or illegal immigrants, little attention is given to business owners who break laws regarding wages, benefits, work conditions, etc. while taking advantage of the unprotected status of immigrant workers. What proposals would you introduce to ensure that the rights of immigrant workers are protected and that business owners are made to comply with U.S. wage and labor laws?


      8.. Some have suggested that proposed free trade agreements would stem the flow of migrant workers to the U.S. NAFTA has not proven this to be true. How would your trade policies ensure that people in other nations have access to economic opportunities in their home communities, so that they are not forced to travel - often to the U.S. - in search of work?






















      Border Policy Background






      The current U.S.-Mexico border enforcement strategy used by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (formerly the INS) began in September 1993 with efforts in the El Paso sector to seal the border at traditional illegal crossing points. The concentration of agents and vehicles in high traffic areas greatly reduced illegal flow at those sections of the border. By 1994, the INS had adopted the El Paso strategy as its model for border enforcement, replicating it in Tucson (1994), San Diego (1994), McAllen and Laredo (1997), and El Centro (1998). Today, the overall plan is known as the Southwest Border Strategy.



      During the strategy's implementation over the last decade, border enforcement spending and the number of agents patrolling the border have tripled. Sophisticated technology such as ground sensors, surveillance cameras, heat detecting scopes, and reinforced fencing are used to prevent and detect illegal crossings. In addition, 4,000 new Border Patrol positions were created between 1995 and 2000. This rapid influx of agents resulted in a Border Patrol force with relatively little experience, posing hazards for both migrants and veteran officers. The increase in complaints of INS misconduct during this period raises questions about the training and supervision of new recruits.



      This blockade strategy was designed to deter illegal entries by forcing migrants to cross either at ports-of-entry, where they could be easily apprehended, or in remote areas difficult to pass through. But despite the costly buildup of equipment and personnel, there is no evidence that these tactics reduced unauthorized immigration. An overall increase in apprehension rates since the strategy began suggests that, even with the increased risks, people haven't stopped trying to cross the border.



      The architects of the border blockade strategy badly miscalculated by assuming that migrants would not attempt to use more treacherous crossing routes. The strategy has not succeed in stopping migrants from trying to cross the border, but it has driven them into areas where they are less likely to be apprehended, such as the southwest desert. Crossing in these remote areas makes migrants easy prey for border bandits, and often leads crossers to seek help ­­­­from unscrupulous smugglers. The greatest danger, however, is exposure to the elements: an unprecedented number of deaths due to hypothermia, dehydration and other environmental causes have accompanied the border blockades. Every year hundreds are discovered in deserts, mountains, or rivers, along highways or railroad tracks, and sometimes even trapped inside trucks or freight trains. Official statistics indicate that, since 1998, more than two thousand migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Unites States-Mexico border, though many more remain uncounted, their bodies unfound.



      The INS border blockade strategy is inhumane and ineffective. It has failed to reduce undocumented migration, it has redirected migrants to their peril, and has led to an





      increase in civil rights violations by a dangerously inexperienced Border Patrol force. Despite these failures, these deadly policies continue, with a proposed budget of $3 billion for border enforcement in 2003 alone.



      The lives and rights of migrants should be protected. Creating more avenues for legal migration and revisiting the current border enforcement strategy would keep undocumented people from taking perilous crossing routes and prevent deaths. Ultimately, people will continue to come north as long as economic circumstances leave them no other option.





      Sean Mariano Garcia
      Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group
      T: 202/546-7010 F: 202/543-7647 sgarcia@...
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Latin America Working Group
      Action at home for just policies abroad www.lawg.org
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.