WAIVERS PAVE WAY FOR DEVASTATING BORDER WALL, A LETTER TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE*
"...Contrary to what many people want to tell you, not many American
workers would line up to pick (fruit) in 90-degree heat," she said...
in this e-mail:
(1) A bitter crop sown in climate of fear
(2) Immigration issues worry farmers
Farm owners are concerned there might not be enough workers to harvest
York Daily Record/Sunday News
(3)Immigration News Briefs Vol. 11, No. 6 - April 6, 2008
Activists Protest Arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound [New York City]
A bitter crop sown in climate of fear
BY LAURA LEGERE
One early morning last summer, 30 migrant workers walked onto Bruce
Pallman's South Abington strawberry fields and expertly pulled weeds
from the rows.
At the end of the day, they returned to Keith Eckel's Newton Township
farm their home for the six-week harvest season and Mr. Pallman
had a tidy field.
"Instead of stretching it out with five to six guys for five to six
days, we would use Keith's guys and finish it in a day or two," said
Mr. Pallman, a turkey and strawberry farmer. "We're going to miss that."
Since March 24, when Mr. Eckel announced he would shutter his tomato
operation because he can't get enough migrant laborers to pick his
crop, the story and the problem have reverberated across the community
of area farmers. It has also rippled through the network of laborers
who work in their fields.
For both groups, Mr. Eckel's decision changed the economic promise of
current and future growing seasons and signaled a familiar, but
worsening problem tied to a troubled immigration system.
Although no single area farmer relies on as many migrant workers as
Mr. Eckel did, smaller farmers depend utterly on the few they employ,
according to John Esslinger, an educator with the county Penn State
In recent years, it has been harder for smaller farms to fill those needs.
"Even if they have five or six people, they absolutely have to have
those five or six people," Mr. Esslinger said. "They need them as much
to do their farming as, say, the Eckels need 100 or 200 to do theirs."
Farmers say migrants are integral to their operations because local
laborers will not work the short, intense harvest season.
Mr. Pallman said a high school or college student the most likely
local candidate for seasonal work has not applied for a summer job
in his fields in the past 18 years.
Now, he is looking toward a June strawberry harvest without enough
hands to do the work.
He has a building with space to house eight migrant workers and, for
the first time in seven years, no one to put in it.
"We're still looking, but we don't know what we're going to do," he said.
At a press conference in his tomato packing house, Mr. Eckel blamed a
political climate that intimidates immigrant workers and puts
enforcement pressure on their employers for why he could hire only
about half of the laborers he needed last year.
Gary Swan, head of governmental affairs for the Pennsylvania Farm
Bureau, said the same labor concerns that closed Mr. Eckel's tomato
business are being felt across the state.
Although Mr. Swan said he is not aware of any other farmers making the
kind of drastic change Mr. Eckel plans, he said "there are a lot of
fingers being crossed across Pennsylvania about this growing season."
The workers who pick the nation's fruits and vegetables are likewise
making wishful gestures for their futures and contemplating change.
In Georgia, Ramiro Vega and Debbie Peaster, who serve as Mr. Eckel's
labor contractors, are considering getting out of the labor business
entirely and going back to driving a truck.
"Going there to pick tomatoes is what kept us all surviving," Ms.
Peaster said by phone.
Ms. Peaster said for some workers, the promise of higher pay in
Pennsylvania wasn't enough to outweigh the risks of being scrutinized
by immigration enforcement in the state.
"The workers wanted to go," she said, "but with the immigration
problem over there because they're really bad over there they were
scared of being sent back."
George Barron, a Wilkes-Barre-based immigration attorney, stopped
short of attributing the dearth of migrant labor in the state to a
reputation for strict enforcement. But he said that enforcement
efforts in the region have increased dramatically in the last few
years and, more generally, there is a pervasive hostility toward
immigrants in the region.
"I can't say why anyone has decided not to come to Northeast
Pennsylvania," he said. "I can tell you that almost without exception
my immigration clients are aware of what happened in Hazleton" where
Mayor Lou Barletta tried to outlaw renting to or employing illegal
immigrants in the city "and believe that Northeastern Pennsylvania
is less tolerant of immigrants of all types, not only Latinos."
When four of John Roba's regular migrant laborers decided not to
return to his Dalton-based tree farm this year, it forced him to hire
employees through a federal temporary guest worker program that
farmers consider cumbersome and slow.
Mr. Eckel has called the program, known as H-2A, "totally unworkable"
for the scale of his labor needs and the short duration of his harvest
The program allows farmers to recruit workers from abroad, but only
after they have gotten approval from four government agencies, built
federally certified housing, and proven they can't hire locally.
For Mr. Roba, that meant advertising for, then hiring, a local worker
who quit after two days on the job.
Mr. Roba said the program is "the only way you can know absolutely for
certain that your workers are legal," but it took him a significant
monetary investment and several years to prepare for it.
Three weeks ago, four new workers arrived at his farm. For Gustavo and
Victor Cruztitla, it was their first time in America.
Jose Avalos, one of Mr. Roba's foremen and, since 2003, a dual Mexican
and American citizen, said it will take time to train the new men.
"They still got a lot of things to learn," he said. "It's a little
hard for me to have to teach them everything."
At dusk on a recent Thursday, Mr. Avalos stood on a gravel drive near
Heart Lake at Mr. Roba's Lakeland farm, near acres of Christmas trees
and deciduous saplings laid out in rows. Behind him, the four workers
from the H-2A program waited for him near a Bobcat loader that was
Mr. Avalos has worked on U.S. farms since he was 18, harvesting
oranges in Florida, Christmas trees in North Carolina and apples and
cabbages in Virginia.
He said migrant workers don't want to make the trip north to work
short harvest seasons in Pennsylvania, where there aren't many options
for them to find work if one farm fails.
He also said workers are afraid to travel in the state.
"They say they love it here, but it's too hard," he said. "If they get
pulled over, they get in trouble."
Since he settled at Roba's, where he has worked since 1997, he doesn't
follow the harvest seasons anymore. When he travels, he returns home
to his wife and three young children in Mexico. Then he comes back to
"I like to come back to Pennsylvania," he said. "Since I got here, I
don't go no more places."
Not far down the road from where Mr. Eckel recently closed his tomato
empire, a father-and-son team of Mr. Eckel's workers have begun sowing
5 acres of tomato plants of their own.
Ray and Anthony Vega, the uncle and cousin of Mr. Eckel's labor
contractor Ramiro Vega, built their lives by picking fruit and
vegetables across the country and, often, on Mr. Eckel's farm.
Ray Vega, 64, picked tomatoes with his family since he came to America
from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, when he was 4.
Anthony Vega said his mother and father together could pick 700
buckets of tomatoes a day; when his mother was pregnant with him, she
would have an older son carry her bucket so she could keep her pace.
Neither of them can pinpoint exactly what is keeping Mr. Eckel's
migrant workers away, but Anthony Vega mentioned recent raids by the
U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a T.J. Maxx
distribution center in Pittston, a Scranton manufacturing plant and an
East Stroudsburg plastics plant.
And although neither relies on Mr. Eckel's farm for a living anymore,
they both say the closed tomato farm marks the end of an era.
"I couldn't believe that," Ray Vega said of Mr. Eckel's decision. "It
Contact the writer: llegere@...
©The Times-Tribune 2008
Immigration issues worry farmers
Farm owners are concerned there might not be enough workers to harvest
By STEVE MARRONI
For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Article Last Updated: 04/06/2008 06:00:58 AM EDT
[go to original to see photo]
Hector Mateos, 18, trims raspberry bushes at... (Daily Record/Sunday
News - James Robinson)
Kay Hollabaugh's jaw dropped when she learned recently that the
state's largest tomato grower would not plant a crop this year because
there might be too few workers to harvest it.
It begs the question, she said, if the day will ever come when Adams
County's fruit growers face a similar decision.
And while Hollabaugh Bros. Fruit Farm and Market outside of
Biglerville has not had to take such a drastic step, Hollabaugh said
she's noticed fewer and fewer migrant workers, most of whom are
Mexican, coming back to the orchard each year.
"I'm very fearful of what the future holds for us," she said.
"Agriculture is a hands-on business, and if we can't get people to do
the hands-on labor, we will go out of business."
Keith Eckel is a fourth-generation farmer from northeastern
Pennsylvania, and the largest tomato farmer in the state. In March he
said he will no longer grow tomatoes because he cannot find enough
workers to harvest the fruits from his 2.2 million plants. He blames
Congress' failure at immigration reform, and the climate it has
created, which diminished the number of potential workers.
Eckel, who came to Gettysburg this week to take part in a panel
discussion on migrant workers, said there are not enough local workers
willing to do the work done by migrant workers.
It's too much of a risk to plant his $1.5 million tomato crop, and
possibly not have enough people to harvest it.
"The American consumer really needs to wake up to this issue,"
Eckel's decision to stop planting tomatoes, along with ceasing pumpkin
planting, and cutting his sweet corn production in half, resonated
through the several immigration-related events held last month in
"You grow with them"
Five migrant workers snipped away with long-handled shears, pruning
down several lines of raspberry bushes at the Hollabaugh farm recently.
One of the workers, Hector Mateos, 18, said he has gained a connection
to the land.
"When you see these trees, you see them when they are young. You grow
with them," Mateos said. "We grow together."
Mateos has been with the Hollabaughs for four years now and is
following in his family tradition. He worked part-time in the fruit
stand, and full-time during the summers, while he went to Biglerville
High School. After graduating last year, he was hired on full-time.
The job is hard work, especially during the harvest. He can put in
long days, working sometimes from six in the morning until six, or
later, in the evening, he said. It's a job many domestic workers just
won't do, which is why farmers say they need migrant workers.
Mateos thinks it deflates the argument when those staunchly against
immigration say "they're taking our jobs."
"They think we're coming to take their job," he said. "They don't
realize the work we have to do."
Enrique Ruiz Sanchez, the consul of Mexico in Philadelphia, said at
one of the Gettysburg panel discussions recently that the idea
migrants and immigrants are taking American jobs is no more than a
myth. He said there is no statistical correlation between immigration
Kay Hollabaugh remembers a time when carloads of migrant workers would
roll in, looking for work. Slowly, fewer and fewer showed up. She
fears soon there won't be enough to do that work.
And what about local workers?
Eckel was right, she said.
"Contrary to what many people want to tell you, not many American
workers would line up to pick (fruit) in 90-degree heat," she said.
Around harvest from August to October, the busiest time, the
Hollabaughs employ about 25 migrant workers. Last year, with an Easter
freeze and a drought, the harvest was not as big as usual, so the
workload was more manageable. But, she's not sure what will happen in
a fruitful year.
"It all comes down to being able to harvest in a timely and quality
fashion," said Will Lower Jr. of Boyer Nurseries and Orchards.
"There's only a certain window in which you can harvest."
Lower said Boyer Nurseries is fortunate to have a stable, migrant work
force, many members of which have been there for years. But, there are
fewer coming around, and if there is not legislation like a
guest-worker program helping farmers, Lower believes Eckel's
announcement may be the harbinger of bad things to come not only for
agriculture, but for consumers, too.
Copyright ©2008 York Daily Record/Sunday News
Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 6 - April 6, 2008
1. LA Area Warehouses Raided
2. Day Laborers Arrested in Northern California
3. Nightclub Security Guards Arrested in Dallas
4. Idaho Pallet Company Raided
5. Activists Protest Arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound
6. Laws to Be Waived for Border Fence
Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update
on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339
Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;
weeklynewsupdate@.... INB is also distributed free via email;
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You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and
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Immigration News Briefs is posted at
http://immigrationnewsbriefs.blogspot.com Starting with 2008, INB
issues on the blog include clickable links to all available cited
sources. Please use the blog to access sources and back issues and to
search by key word.
*1. LA Area Warehouses Raided
On Apr. 1, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested
44 workers at the warehouses of three distribution companies--Samsung,
Frontier and Imperial CSS--in an industrial park in Torrance,
California, just south of Los Angeles. ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice
said all but two of the 44 people arrested are Mexican. Kice said 17
of those arrested were released for humanitarian reasons. [Diario Hoy
(LA/Chicago) 4/2/08, 4/3/08; La Opinión (Los Angeles) 4/3/08; Free
Speech Radio News 4/2/08] The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles
reported that its personnel were able to speak with 34 of the arrested
Mexicans and offer them orientation about their legal situation. [El
Financiero (Mexico) 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC] William
Jarquin, the consul of El Salvador in Los Angeles, said he was
informed that two of those arrested were Salvadoran, and that one of
the two had been released. [Diario Hoy 4/2/08]
At least 11 of the Mexican workers who were arrested on Apr. 1 were
deported that same night, said Angélica Salas, executive director of
the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). She
added that it "seemed strange" that they were "deported so quickly,
because that doesn't happen unless they have final orders of
deportation, and none of these people even had the chance to talk to a
Salvadoran immigrant Nemesio Hernández said he was arrested on Apr. 1
despite having valid Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Hernández
explained his situation to the ICE agents but they threw him violently
to the floor, handcuffed him and jailed him for seven hours, said his
sister, Isabel Hernández. He was then released without so much as an
apology. [La Opinión 4/3/08]
Miguel Angel Reyes, a Mexican immigrant who had worked for four years
at Imperial CFS, described how managers there collaborated with ICE to
carry out the Apr. 1 raid: "The managers said we were going to have a
meeting. They had us sit down in the lunchroom and then Immigration
began to ask for California identification. They put us on the floor
one by one. After about two hours they started to take everyone in the
van." Reyes said many of the workers did not try to escape because
"the managers said everything was fine, that it was a routine check,
that nothing was going to happen. When I turned around, all the
immigration agents were right there in front of me." [Diario Hoy
Salas said that according to workers at the raided companies, ICE
agents only checked the documents of the workers who appeared to be of
Latin American origin. [La Opinión 4/3/08] CHIRLA organized a press
conference and demonstration on the afternoon of Apr. 1 outside the
federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles where some of the
arrested workers were apparently taken. The protest was attended by
dozens of people, including family members of the workers arrested
that morning and workers who had been arrested in a Feb. 7 raid at
Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys. [CHIRLA Email Alert 4/2/08;
Diario Hoy 4/2/08; Free Speech Radio News 4/2/08] One woman who
attended the protest, María Cruz, said her husband had been arrested
on Apr. 1 at the Amay's Bakery and Noodle Co. factory in central Los
Angeles. He had been a legal resident in the US for 25 years, but in
2001 authorities dug up a 20-year old felony case they said made him
deportable. Cruz said her husband suffers from epilepsy; the family is
worried that his condition will be exacerbated by the stress of
detention. [Diario Hoy 4/2/08; Free Speech Radio News 4/2/08]
ICE spokesperson Lori Haley claimed the operation in Torrance was
simply a routine inspection of customs bonded warehouses. "We do this
type of routine audit to make sure everything is safe and sound," said
Haley. "In the course of the inspection, we found people who were in
the country illegally and we arrested them." [Diario Hoy 4/2/08]
The raids in the area south of Los Angeles continued on Apr. 2 with
operations at the warehouses of Nippon Express Inc. on Francisco
Street in Torrance and The Trading Center in Long Beach, and at a
factory in Wilmington where some 25 ICE agents detained at least 10
workers, most of them women. [Diario Hoy 4/3/08; La Opinión 4/3/08; El
Financiero 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC; TelemundoLA.com
Kice confirmed that the warehouse "inspections" would continue. "ICE
and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] are carrying out routine
inspections at import-export companies in various communities of Los
Angeles... to identify any security vulnerability," said Kice. [Diario
Hoy 4/3/08] By Apr. 3, as word spread about the raids, many Los
Angeles-area immigrants reportedly stayed home from work. [El
Financiero 4/3/08 with information from Notimex/MVC]
Following the February raid at Micro Solutions, groups including the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, the
National Lawyers Guild and the National Immigration Law Center sought
a restraining order in federal court against federal immigration
officials who they said repeatedly blocked attorneys from accompanying
workers during meetings and interrogations. On Mar. 12, the two sides
finalized a settlement guaranteeing that the workers arrested at Micro
Solutions can be accompanied by an attorney to all meetings and
interrogations. ACLU staff attorney Ahilan Arulanantham said the
groups hoped that the case would set a legal precedent. "The
government would have a hard time explaining why the rights of these
people are different from those of others" detained in similar raids,
he said. [Los Angeles Times 3/14/08]
*2. Day Laborers Arrested in Northern California
On Mar. 28, local police officers in Fremont, California (in the Bay
Area, southeast of San Francisco) carried out a sting operation
against day laborers who were waiting for jobs outside a local Home
Depot outlet. The Fremont Police Department cited about 15 workers for
trespassing and took 13 of them who had no ID to the Santa Rita Jail
to be identified, according to Detective Bill Veteran. There, the
laborers were apparently handed over to ICE.
The raid was carried out in response to complaints from Home Depot,
Veteran said, because some of the laborers allegedly harass customers
and drink in public. "As a matter of courtesy, we alert ICE when we
conduct" these kinds of operations, said Veteran. The Immigrant Legal
Resource Center in San Francisco said it will look into whether the
operation violated the Constitution and will consider legal options.
According to information received by Larisa Casillas, director of the
Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (BAIRC), the workers were told at
the time of their arrest that they would be placed in deportation
proceedings. Casillas said her organization has received other reports
indicating that people detained for traffic violations in Fremont are
also being placed in deportation. Bay Area advocates are seeking to
meet with Fremont police to discuss the issue. [Email message from
Casillas received as forward on 4/2/08]
*3. Nightclub Security Guards Arrested in Dallas
Late on Mar. 29, a Saturday, agents from a task force led by ICE
raided 26 mostly Latino night clubs, restaurants, pool halls and other
businesses in Dallas, Texas, arresting 49 immigrants who were working
as security guards. All of those arrested were employed by two local
security companies. Jamille Bradfield, spokesperson for the Dallas
County district attorney's office, said the names of the security
companies were not being released yet because "we don't want to
compromise the investigation." Authorities recovered four pistols
during the operation. Five of the workers are being held on $250,000
bail each at the Dallas County Jail; they face felony charges of
document tampering in order to get licensed as a security officer and
to carry a firearm, Bradfield said.
Four of the 49 workers arrested were from El Salvador; the others were
Mexican, authorities said. One of the Salvadorans has legal status in
the US, immigration officials acknowledged; it is not clear whether he
is facing any charges. Of the 45 Mexicans arrested, 29 accepted the
government's offer of "voluntary return" and were swiftly returned to
Mexico, officials confirmed on Mar. 31. None of the 29 would have
faced criminal prosecution, according to ICE Dallas spokesperson Carl
Rusnok. "Voluntary return is offered to noncriminal aliens or
low-level criminal aliens"--such as for violations that usually result
in a ticket, explained Rusnok. The US attorney's office is evaluating
what charges to pursue against the other arrested workers; in the
meantime they are being held at the Bedford Jail, which ICE contracts
to use as a short-term detention facility.
The raids were carried out with the participation of the Dallas County
district attorney's office, the US Department of Labor's Office of
Inspector General; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives; the Dallas Police Department; the Texas Department of
Public Safety; the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; and the US
Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.
[Dallas Morning News 3/31/08, 4/1/08]
Norma Núñez, owner of the Palacio nightclub, said agents blocked
everyone from leaving while the club was being raided, but did not
question or arrest her customers. [El Hispano News 4/1/08]
*4. Idaho Pallet Company Raided
On Apr. 2, ICE agents arrested at least 13 Mexican immigrants working
at a pallet manufacturing company in Homedale, Idaho. Maria Andrade,
an immigration attorney and volunteer coordinator of attorneys helping
the detainees, said that other arrests may have occurred as a result
of the raid and that as many as 20 people may be in custody. The
workers were all employed by Specialty Inc. Wood Products. They were
expected to be placed in removal proceedings for violating immigration
law. Two of the workers were released for "humanitarian reasons" and
will make an appearance at a later date before an immigration judge,
according to ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers. The rest of the workers
were being held at Ada County Jail. Since Idaho has no immigration
detention facility, the workers will likely be sent to Arizona or
Washington state, Andrade said.
Family members of the arrested workers joined community members in
protesting the raids at a demonstration and press conference in
downtown Boise on Apr. 3. "What we need to realize is that people come
to this country as immigrants, as undocumented workers because they
are poor, because...they have no other recourse," said Ed Keener of
the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho. [ICE News Release 4/3/08; Idaho
Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX 4/4/08;
Fox 12 News (Boise) 4/4/08]
ICE initiated the investigation that led to the raid after receiving
information that unauthorized workers might be employed at the wood
products company. "Subsequent investigation revealed that some of the
workers may have secured their employment by using false Social
Security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents," ICE said
in a news release. The company's owner is cooperating with ICE on this
investigation, according to the news release. [ICE News Release
"We've been going through an audit for about a year now," said Ed
Leavitt, the CEO of Specialty Inc., on Apr. 3. "We totally didn't
expect this." Leavitt said those arrested represented less than half
of his workforce and that the arrests would have only a minor impact
on the plant's operation. "We're back up and running and, in fact,
hired 17 more people this morning," Leavitt said. [Idaho Statesman -
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX 4/4/08]
*5. Activists Protest Arrests on Amtrak, Greyhound
On Apr. 2, several dozen demonstrators gathered in front of Penn
Station in Manhattan to protest the collaboration of the Amtrak train
company with border and immigration agents who arrest passengers
traveling between US cities. With chants of transportation, not
deportation!" and "immigrant rights are human rights," the protesters
then marched to Port Authority to condemn the Greyhound bus company's
collaboration with similar immigration sweeps.
The protest was organized by Families for Freedom, a New York-based
multi-ethnic defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting
deportation. The protesters are demanding that Amtrak and Greyhound at
the very least warn passengers about the raids in advance, publicly
apologize and provide ticket refunds to those who have been arrested.
[El Diario-La Prensa (NY) 4/3/08; Demonstration announcement from
Families for Freedom, received via email 3/26/08; Immigration News
Briefs editor's first-hand experience of demonstration 4/2/08]
A woman named Sonia, who spoke at the demonstration, said she was
arrested by immigration officials along with her husband and two sons
while returning to New York City from Chicago on Amtrak as the train
passed through upstate New York. She spoke about the terror of being
grilled by immigration officials and separated from her family. "This
is the last thing I expected coming home. They seemed to be
approaching all of the Latinos on the train and asking them for
papers. One family even had work permits but immigration officials
told them that this was not enough and they were detained also. I'm a
customer, I paid just like everyone else, but my family and I were
treated like we are less than human beings," Sonia said. After being
detained at the Amtrak station, Sonia and her 17-year-old son were
released while her husband and 18-year-old son were detained at the
Buffalo Federal Detention Facility for several days before being freed
on bond. [Families for Freedom Press Release 4/2/08; EFE 4/2/08]
Amtrak has agreed to cooperate with border inspections on a random
basis within 75 miles of the border, said Cliff Cole, a spokesperson
for the company. "We're merely facilitating their request to board the
train," he said of the Border Patrol agents. The train between Chicago
and New York, called the Lakeshore Limited, passes within 75 miles of
the border, he said. Greyhound also said it simply complies with law
enforcement requests, be it local, state or federal. "We are under no
obligation to inform customers of law enforcement activity at any
time," said Greyhound spokesperson Dustin Clark.
Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of
Homeland Security, said the stops are just part of routine practice
that has gotten more frequent as the agency has tripled its number of
agents along the Canadian border over the past few years. [New York
Times Cityroom Blog 4/2/08]
*6. Laws to Be Waived for Border Fence
In an Apr. 1 statement, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
said the federal government plans to speed up completion of 470 miles
of border fence in the southwestern US by the end of 2008 by using two
waivers to bypass some three dozen federal and state environmental and
land-management laws. The move is permitted under an exemption granted
by Congress in the Real ID Act of 2005.
One waiver will be used to complete a 22-mile combined river
levee-fence project in Hidalgo County, Texas. The second waiver covers
an additional 470 miles of fencing--through 2008 and future years--in
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi who chairs the House
Homeland Security Committee, said the administration's use of the
waivers exceeds what Congress intended when it approved the measure.
"Today's waiver represents an extreme abuse of authority," Thompson
said in a statement. "Waiver authority should only be used as a last
resort, not simply because the Department has failed to get the job
done through the normal process."
The waiver allows the agency to skip carrying out detailed reviews of
how the fence will affect wildlife, water quality and vegetation in
the ecologically sensitive affected border areas. Two environmental
advocacy organizations, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club,
filed a petition in March asking the Supreme Court to review the
constitutionality of the waiver provision. [Los Angeles Times 4/2/08;
Washington Post 4/2/08; Houston Chronicle 4/1/08]
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E-Verify nabs U.S. citizens
Arizona slams door on illegal immigrants
Some citizens have been bruised, too, as the state cracks down.
By Nicholas Riccardi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 5 2008
PHOENIX - -; As it has become the favorite entry point for undocumented
migrants trying to sneak into the United States, Arizona has become a
for whether a state can single-handedly combat illegal immigration.
The complete article can be viewed at:
Visit latimes.com at http://www.latimes.com
Critics say crackdowns amount to racial-profiling
Former Austin imam facing deportation, family says*
*This article can be accessed if you copy and paste the entire
address below into your web browser.
AP story -
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WAIVERS PAVE WAY FOR DEVASTATING BORDER WALL
A LETTER TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE*
APRIL 4, 2008
FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT
FERNANDO GARCIA, (915) 204-0337,
ADRIENNE EVANS (915) 276-0402,
BILL GUERRA ADDINGTON (915) 539-4158
*This letter was signed by over 25 human rights and environmental
groups and activists, as well as border residents and concerned U.S.
April 1, 2008 was the beginning of a very sad time for millions of us
on the border, in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, and
throughout the U.S. The Bush administration issued two waivers on
April 1 that circumvent dozens of U.S. environmental and other laws to
pave the way for wall construction to begin immediately on the Texas
border, and to continue on the New Mexico, Arizona and California borders.
With such an action, spearheaded by DHS Secretary Chertoff, the
Federal Government shows a major failure to work and consult with
border communities on the wall issue. Clearly, Chertoff is flexing
his muscle upon the border residents. Instead of dialogue and
consultation we, at the border, will receive imposition and
We on the border know that a wall won't work, and that it is not a
real solution. Many others know this also. We, the undersigned
individuals and organizations, are trying to educate the public and
elected officials about how the wall and militarization of the border
will profoundly impact the wildlife, the environment, our river and
the lives and rights of people on both sides of the border. The
executive branch of our government and the U.S. Congress, by their
actions, do not seem to care about any of that.
We believe that Americans must realize before it is too late that
their government is wasting taxpayer money in building an 18-foot-high
barrier along sections of the border, as well as in increasing the
militarization of the border communities, in a vain attempt to close
In three Texas counties, DHS intends to combine walls with the
existing flood control levees. By building this structure before it
has been thoroughly evaluated for safety and effectiveness, DHS is
recklessly endangering lives and property of border residents in these
We all now must endure an unimaginably difficult time during which our
nation's fears are manifested in an ancient, ugly form -- a wall -
and manifested even more by increased militarization. In China,
Berlin, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland, WALLS DIDN'T WORK.
They definitely don't work in the U.S. either. They, primarily,
decimate human rights and show intolerance and rejection. They kill
hundreds of people annually in the U.S. because they drive people
crossing the border to walk through more remote areas of desert where
many then die of dehydration and exposure.
After lessons are learned, most walls are taken down. Thereafter, the
wall builders are ridiculed, if they are acknowledged at all. Walls
have failed to keep people out (or in) but, however, have damaged both
human and riparian habitat permanently.
The Rio Grande is a very sacred and special place, with several
wildlife refuges that will be devastated by a wall. In New Mexico,
California, and Arizona, there are many special and sacred places
along the border, including wildlife refuges and tribal lands, where
a wall has already been built, unbeknownst to most Americans. Many of
us have lived, farmed, and ranched along the border for generations.
We urge the American public to hold on to images of the border, its
people, and the environment as worth protecting, and to keep in mind
that the wall is temporary because it was born of a failed policy.
We the undersigned ask Americans not to let a wall divide our border
community. Even though the executive branch of the current
administration has exercised undue power to bring about the
construction, we the people must call, write and organize to stop the
wall. If it is built, we must demand that it be taken down. We ask
the American public to keep foremost in their minds the fact that the
border area encompasses one community that includes both sides.
By our actions and our words, we must hold to peace along the border.
Compassion, understanding and hope must inform the struggle that is
by necessity taking place on many levels right now along the
U.S.-Mexico border. We demand that our border communities not be
devastated by a wall and by militarization.
We will not remain silent as our country's constitutionally-guaranteed
freedoms and even its laws are swept aside in the name of greed, fear
and anti-immigrant fervor under the guise of "improving national
security." Our country was founded on Constitutional protections as
well as immigration, both of which are historically the very basis of
what makes us American.
Americans need to wake up to the fact that signs of tyranny and
imposition now exist in the United States of America, in the form of a
Cabinet member, Michael Chertoff, who is allowed to use his
legislatively-granted power to waive all U.S. law in order to
implement a failed anti-immigrant policy. That cannot be allowed to
go on any longer.
We the undersigned ask that Americans write their Congressional
Representatives as well as their President and demand that the impacts
of wall-building and militarization of the border be fully studied and
fully acknowledged, and that humane, affordable, wise and workable
solutions be found and implemented instead.
Fernando Garcia, Director, Border Network for Human Rights, El Paso, Texas
Eve Trook, co-founder, No Wall - Big Bend Coalition and member,
Veterans for Peace, Alpine, Texas
Adrienne Evans, co-founder, No Wall - Big Bend Coalition, Terlingua,
Luissana Santibanez, immigrant rights activist, Grassroots Leadership
Austin, Austin, Texas
Iris Rodriguez, La Nueva Raza Turk. Austin, Texas
Christy Pipkin, The Nobelity Project, Austin, Texas
Louis Black, Editor, The Austin Chronicle
C. Denby Swanson, writer, Austin, Texas
Joe Ely, musician/artist, Austin, Texas
Sharon Ely, artist, Austin, Texas
Alice Guynn, poet, Austin, Texas
Mary Jo Galindo, Ph.D., Archaeologist, Austin, Texas
Librada Perez Giese, Austin, Texas
Antonio Diaz, Spokesperson, Texas Indigenous Council, San Antonio, Texas
Ruben Solis, Spokesperson, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas
K. Sheridan Coffey, member, San Antonio Audubon Society, San Antonio,
Anne M. Goodwin, San Antonio, Texas
Jill Goodwin, Texas citizen, San Antonio, Texas
Marisa Treviño, Publisher, Latina Lista
Peter and Sherry Dana, immigrant activists, Georgetown, Texas
Elizabeth H. Mealy, Ph.D., Georgetown, Texas
Scott Nicol, professor and co-founder, No Border Wall Coalition, and
member, Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club Group Executive
Committee, Weslaco, Texas
Stefanie Herweck, co-founder, No Border Wall Coalition, Weslaco, Texas
Martin Hagne, Executive Director, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, Texas
Wayne Bartholomew, Executive Director, Frontera Audubon Society,
Weslaco, Texas and board member, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor,
Mary Lou Campbell, member, Sierra Club, Frontera Audubon Society, No
Border Wall Coalition, Mercedes, Texas
Alice Hempel, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Kingsville, Texas
Betty Perez, No Border Wall Coalition, rancher, native plants grower,
member of the Sierra Club, Friends of Santa Ana National Wildlife
Refuge and the Wildlife Corridor, Valley Nature Center, La Joya,
Gerard Vaello, member, No Border Wall Coalition, Border Ambassadors,
Holy Spirit Peace & Justice Group, McAllen, Texas E. Elizabeth Garcia,
co-founder and spokesperson, CASA (Coalition
of Amigos in Solidarity and Action), Brownsville, Texas
Elsa Duarte-Noboa, educator/activist, Brownsville, Texas
Julio Noboa, professor/activist, Brownsville,Texas
Francisco Solis Garcia, Jr., Aventura Boats, Brownsville, Texas
Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr., Border Ambassador and Freedom Ambassador,
Del Rio, Texas
Sarah Boone, Border Ambassador and Freedom Ambassador, Del Rio, Texas
Bill Guerra Addington, and spokesperson, El Paso Regional Group of
the Sierra Club, Sierra Blanca, Texas, co-founder of Sierra Blanca
Legal Defense Fund
Heather McMurray, environmental activist, teacher, and member, El Paso
Regional Group of the Sierra Club, El Paso, Texas
Briana Stone, Director, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, El Paso,
Guillermo Glenn, Director, Asociacion de Trabajadores Fronterizos, El
Iliana Holguin, Executive Director/Attorney at Law, Diocesan Migrant
& Refugee Services, El Paso, Texas
West Cosgrove, Community and Religious Activist, El Paso, Texas
Dr. Kathleen Staudt, Professor and community activist, El Paso, Texas
Ruben Garcia, Director, Annunciation House, El Paso, Texas
Veronica Escobar, El Paso County Commissioner, Precinct 2, El Paso, Texas
Jose Rodriguez, El Paso County Attorney, El Paso, Texas
Trinidad Lopez, Mayor, City of Socorro, Texas
Fr. Arturo Banuelas, St. Pius X Church, El Paso, Texas
Adriana Cadena, Community Activist, El Paso, Texas
Tony and Christian Perez-Giese, El Paso, Texas
Martha Ryan Stafford, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Diane Walker, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Kassi Williams, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Butch Hancock, musician/artist, Terlingua, Texas
Joanne James, clergywoman, Terlingua, Texas
Sally Bergmann Cervenka, Terlingua, Texas
Mimi Webb Miller, Terlingua, Texas; Los Angeles CA
Allison K. Fullwood, artist, Terlingua, Texas
Gary Oliver, cartoonist, Marfa, Texas
Andrew Stuart, journalist, Marfa, Texas
Verena Zbinden, Marfa, Texas
Evelyn Luciani, citizen, Marfa, Texas
Eleanor Taylor, peace activist, Ft. Davis, Texas
Jan Woodward, CFO, Woodward Ranch, Brewster County, Texas
Simone Swan, founder, Adobe Alliance, Presidio, Texas
Jesusita Jimenez, Project Manager, Adobe Alliance, Presidio, Texas
Julia West, teacher, Presidio, Texas
Mary Schwartze, mother of two and nature enthusiast, Alpine, Texas
Linda Shank Eller, mother, grandmother, CPA, Alpine, Texas
Redford Citizens Committee For Justice, Redford, Texas
The Rev. Melvin Walker La Follette, Redford, Texas
Barbara J. Baskin, Redford, Texas
Don Dowdey, Chair, Big Bend Regional Sierra Club, Alpine, Texas
Fran Sage, Member, Big Bend Regional Sierra Club, Alpine, Texas
Dallas Baxter, journalist, Alpine, Texas
Jerry Mitchell, contractor, Alpine, Texas
Hiram and Liz Sibley, Alpine, Texas
Rachel and Chris Sibley, Austin, Texas
Roger Siglin, Alpine, Texas
Susan Curry, citizen activist, Alpine, Texas
Tom Curry, artist/builder, Alpine, Texas
Dee Perkins, Alpine, Texas
Glen Perkins, builder, Alpine, Texas
Judy Ford, Alpine, Texas
Molly Walker, Alpine, Texas
Dr. Marilyn Dell Brady, Alpine, Texas
Karen Nakakihara, Alpine, Texas
James Wightman, Tax Consultant, Alpine, Texas
Patricia Manning, Environmental Science Technician, Alpine, Texas
Michael Stevens, guitar builder, Alpine, Texas
Alice Stevens, Plant Nursery owner, Alpine, Texas
Pilar Pedersen, Alpine, Texas
Gaylan Corbin, Alpine, Texas
Amelie Urbanczyk, Alpine, Texas
Mary Ann Matteson, Alpine, Texas
Pollyanne Melton, realtor, Alpine, Texas
Wendy Lynn Wright, artist, Casa Piedra, Texas
Marilyn Lamin, teacher and storyteller, Bedford, Texas
Nat Stone, The Rock House Project, Zuni, New Mexico
Marcy Campbell Krinsk, San Diego, California
Lily Keber, documentary filmmaker. New Orleans, Louisiana
D. A. Vickers, Media Credit Manager, Detroit, Michigan
Mary Goodwin, Apple Valley, Minnesota
Maya Zniewski, mom, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Brian Cutean, human being, Portland, Oregon
Liz and Jeff Gordon, Lewes, Delaware
La Clinica de Inmigracion de San Jose, Inc., Del Rio, Texas
Casa de la Cultura, Familias Unidas of Val Verde County, Del Rio, Texas
Alpha Hernandez, Val Verde County, Del Rio, Texas
Lily Keber, documentary filmmaker. New Orleans, Louisiana
D. A. Vickers, Media Credit Manager, Detroit, Michigan
Mary Goodwin, Apple Valley, Minnesota
Maya Zniewski, mom, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Brian Cutean, human being, Portland, Oregon
Jennifer Johnson, Policy Associate, Latin America Working Group,
Rev. Dr. Mari E. Castellanos, JWM/United Church of Christ, Washington D.C.
Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
Oakland , CA