5/11 Immigrant News Alert!: SLOVE Act, PATRIOT Act--2 Years Later
- Immigrant News Alert!: SLOVE Act, PATRIOT Act--2 Years Later
May 11, 2004
By: National Immigrant Solidarity Network
May 11 News: http://www.actionla.org/ISN/News/May%2011%2004--News.htm
Call to Action!
Aug 30-31 Immigrant-Worker Solidarity Day Of Action and Conference During
Anti-RNC Mobolization, New York!
We Demands: No to Immigrant Bashing! Yes to Multiethnic Unity! No to
Sweatshops! Yes to Workers' Rights!
For More Information: http://www.actionla.org/ISN/RNC/index.htm
What's on the May Immigrant News Alert!
1) Sign On to Support the Solve Act (National Immigration Forum)
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is circulating the
following sign-on letter for organizations wishing to support the SOLVE
Act, S. 2381 and H.R. 4262, The deadline for signing on to the letter is
Wednesday, May 26, so there is time to circulate this letter to your networks, if
you haven't done so already......
2) PATRIOT Act--2 Years Later (National Asian Pacific American Legal
We attached a “Question and Answer” fact sheet from NAPALC entitled, “The
USA PATRIOT Act: Two Years Later: Questions and Answers For Concerned Communities
”. Feel free to distribute. We will be posting this on our website at
For the full report, please visit:
Recent Immigrant Related News:
Arrests soar at key border crossings
Patrol officials credit enforcement, activists blame well-traveled rumors
By James Pinkerton
The Houston Chronicle, May 9, 2004
REYNOSA, Mexico -- Rusbi Morales left Guatemala on April 12 with 60 others
from his village after hearing media reports of a guest worker program in
the United States. He hoped to enter legally, get a job and start sending
money home to his wife and five children.
Early last week, Morales said, he and his group waded the chest-deep Rio
Grande near Roma and began walking north, guided by a smuggler. But the
smuggler abandoned the group in the brush, and they were detained by the
Border Patrol after dawn Wednesday as they walked along a back road.
"I came with the idea of getting involved in this program, but it wasn't
possible. We didn't accomplish anything," said Morales, a 42-year-old
campesino, or field worker.
Morales isn't the only one who has heard rumors that amnesty may be
included in a guest worker program as part of a proposed overhaul of
national immigration laws. And many immigration activists believe the
well-traveled rumors are an important factor in the dramatic increase in
arrests of illegal immigrants at key Texas border crossings in recent months.
However, U.S. Border Patrol officials say stepped-up border enforcement is
responsible for a 25 percent increase in arrests in the first six months of
the fiscal year -- a reversal of a steep decline in apprehensions on the
U.S.-Mexico border since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"There are more Border Patrol agents on the front line than ever before,"
said Mario Villarreal, an agency spokesman in Washington. More than 9,900
of the Border Patrol's 11,000 agents are now stationed on the southwest
border, he said.
"The primary reason there is an increase in arrests along the southwest
border is the strong enforcement operations we have and the enhanced
operational effectiveness by the agents on the front line," Villarreal
said, adding that arrests are traditionally higher during the first months
of the year because of harvest schedules and the holidays.
Adding to the migrants' urgency are reports about further hardening of the
border in Arizona, a hot spot for illegal entry for the last two years,
where 200 more agents and enhanced surveillance equipment will be in place
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a
Washington think tank, said increased enforcement is part of the reason for
the rise in arrests but that suggestions of government programs for amnesty
are attracting immigrants as well.
"The point is not that an illegal alien in Michoacan is saying, `Wow, did
you read about the proposal in the New York Times?' But word gets back, and
often gets exaggerated and turned into rumors that leads people to believe
they need to get in while the getting is good," Krikorian said.
The Border Patrol said there were 535,000 apprehensions along the entire
southwest border in the last six months, a 25 percent increase.
The upswing in activity is evident at the two most populated regions of the
Agents who patrol the sprawling McAllen sector's 284 miles of Rio Grande
have increased their arrests by 19 percent since October, while their
counterparts in El Paso have seen a 20 percent increase. Arrests in the
Laredo sector are up slightly, and they remain the same as last year in the
remote Marfa and Del Rio sectors, officials said.
"You'll see this (increase) during a presidential election year because of
all the talk about who will be in the White House and whether there will be
any changes in the benefit programs," said Assistant Chief Harry Beall of
the McAllen sector. "There is some misunderstanding that there may be an
amnesty program, but what they're getting off on is the guest worker
In January, President Bush proposed a guest worker program for illegal
immigrants, an effort to contend with an estimated 7 million people who are
in the United States illegally. The program would allow illegal immigrants
to work in the United States for as long as three years. Democrats last
week introduced a plan calling for legal residence for illegal immigrants
and their families.
The Border Patrol released Morales, the Guatemalan arrested Wednesday, with
10 others only because they claimed to be Mexican citizens. Border Patrol
authorities allow Mexican citizens without a criminal record to voluntarily
return to Mexico, but officials are required to detain nationals from other
Forty others in the group were placed in detention, and another 10
disappeared in the brush when agents in five Border Patrol vehicles
corralled the group, Morales said.
Morales and his companions, from the Guatemalan town of San Marcos near
Mexico's southern border, spent the night at the Albergue Guadalupe, a
refugee shelter maintained by the Catholic diocese in Reynosa. All 70 beds
in the shelter were full.
"We're not looking to be citizens. We just want to work for a short time
and get a temporary work permit," said Morales, adding that the few jobs
available in the Guatemalan countryside pay $3.75 a day.
"I was looking for anything I could get, anything they wanted me to do;
nothing professional, because I'm not one," said Morales. "I can work in a
factory, or in a restaurant as a waiter -- something simple."
Magedelina Amores, a 41-year-old single mother, recounted nights of
sleeping outside and hitching rides on trains and buses from the Guatemalan
border. But the hardest thing was parting with her 13- and 18-year-old
children, knowing she might not return.
"When we left Guatemala we said goodbye to our families, because we didn't
know if we would see them again. We could die on the road or drown in the
river," said Amores, who waded the Rio Grande on Monday.
Among the 70 migrants at the shelter were two women from Honduras who were
deciding whether to attempt the hazardous river crossing.
"I'm trying to see what the possibilities are to cross, because I've
suffered so much to get here," said Marta Isabel Mendez, 26. "I will either
drown or live, one or the other."
Mendez, who left a young son and daughter in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, decided
to make the trip north after spending fruitless months looking for work.
She lost her sewing job at a clothing factory that declared bankruptcy in
"I want to work -- work for two years and then return to my country. It can
be anything, as long as it is decent and honorable. I'll even take out the
trash," said Mendez, who left her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter in
Her companion was 23-year-old Marcely Ordonez, a teacher who could not find
a steady job in the Honduran capital.
"To find work as a teacher you have to have a godfather, as they say,
someone who is powerful, with connections," said Ordonez, who brought
2-year-old son Marcello with her.
"In Honduras, I read in the newspaper they needed 5,000 teachers in Austin.
But so far, I haven't found a way to get in touch with them," she said.
Michael Wyatt is a legal aid attorney who works in employment claims and
has spent the last decade representing farm workers who are predominantly
immigrants. He believes Mexico's worsening economy, more than talk of guest
worker or amnesty programs, is what is fueling immigration.
"If anyone in Washington wants to address immigration issues ... they
should focus on assisting Mexico in rebuilding its economy," he said. "It
doesn't matter if we have a 10-foot high, electrified fence topped with
coiled barbed wire surrounding our entire country, people are going to come
here if that's what it takes to feed their family."
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
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