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Fwd: [isn] A Protest Over Bus and Train Citizenship Checks

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  • Al Soto
    Papers please ...soon...coming to your sidewalks of America...especially along...Hidelburg Strassa...and Heil Hitler Street... Review, Opinion, Commentary Al
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2008
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      "Papers please"...soon...coming to your sidewalks of America...especially along...Hidelburg Strassa...and Heil Hitler Street...
      Review, Opinion, Commentary
      Al Soto (c) 04/08/08

      abeltranjurisdr@... wrote:
      To: isn@...
      Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2008 18:23:47 -0400
      From: abeltranjurisdr@...
      CC: Abeltranjurisdr@...
      Subject: [isn] A Protest Over Bus and Train Citizenship Checks

      April 2, 2008,  5:01 pm

      A Protest Over Bus and Train Citizenship Checks


      Protesters chanted in front of Pennsylvania Station before marching to the Port Authority along Eighth Avenue. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

      Can you be asked to demonstrate your citizenship or residency if you are riding on Amtrak or Greyhound inside the United States?

      The answer, apparently, is yes — according to the United States government’s border and transportation officials.

      But the frequency of this practice in New York State has raised protests from immigration advocates, who demonstrated in a march on Wednesday afternoon between Pennsylvania Station and Port Authority Bus Terminal.

      It used to be a practice that was heard about only once in a while near upstate cities like Buffalo and Syracuse, said Maria Muentes, a spokeswoman with Families For Freedom, a group that helps people fight deportation. “Now we’re seeing it several times a week.”

      The group had one instance in which a family was stopped and the mother detained on the train between New York and Chicago. “They should warn people that this could happen,” Ms. Muentes said.

      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 manpower on the Canadian border has increased. In the last few years, the number of agents along the northern border has tripled, according to Ramon Rivera, an agency spokesperson.

      That is still but a fraction of the southern border — 3,000 agents for a 4,000-mile border compared with 13,000 agents on the 2,000-mile Mexican border.

      Amtrak has agreed to cooperate with border inspections on a random basis within 75 miles of the border, said Cliff Cole, an Amtrak spokesperson. “We’re merely facilitating their request to board the train,” he said. 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 Dustin Clark, a Greyhound spokesman. And the bus company plays no role in the inspections. “The frequency and timing is up to the law enforcement,” he said.

      While Ms. Muentes said anecdotal reports showed that the agents were focusing on Latinos in the inspections, Mr. Rivera said, “We don’t racial profile in the United States Border Patrol.”

      So what exactly are the agents looking for?

      If you are a permanent resident in the country, that is a green card holder, you are obligated to keep your resident alien identification card (which is not green, by the way) with you at all times.

      But how does one exactly prove citizenship? It’s not like we’re walking around with citizenship cards, despite attempts at a national ID card, or a proxy for one. Hardly anyone carries birth certificates (which don’t have photos anyway, and even if they did, who looks the same as when they were one-day old?). And driver’s licenses, which may or may not become de facto national IDs, are not equated to legal residence as the furor over issuing licenses to illegal immigrants have shown.

      “All you have to do is state you are a U.S. citizen,” Mr. Rivera said of the Border and Customs Patrol.

      That’s it? That seemed suspiciously simple. What if people lie?

      And indeed they do. Each year, “We have thousands of people falsely claiming to a U.S. citizens,” he said.

      Well, then a simple declarative statement of citizenship doesn’t seem to be a very effective filter, does it?

      That’s where the biometric fingerprints, background checks and interviews come in, he explained.



      http://www.suntimes .com/news/ metro/870611, CST-NWS-stay01. article

      Reversal of fortune for former sex slave :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro
      & Tri-State

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

      Reversal of fortune for former sex slave
      LEGAL BATTLE | She finally wins clearance to stay in this country

      April 1, 2008

      BY ANNIE SWEENEY Crime Reporter

      For four years, she has told her story over and over, reliving every
      dehumanizing detail.

      Today, the petite woman who was forced onto the international sex
      slave pipeline and escaped to Chicago can't stop smiling. A U.S.
      Immigration judge has ruled she can stay in the country.

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

      [see original for photo:]

      Attorney Dawn Connelly (left to right) and law students Adisa
      Krupalija and Jonathan Huckabay have worked pro bono to win asylum for
      an Eastern European woman who was held as a sex slave in Italy.
      (Sun-Times library)

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

      "Wow,'' she said, pumping her arms in the air like Rocky as she
      describes the tearful phone call from her attorney, Dawn Connelly, and
      an even more emotional one home to her mother.

      "Only God gives back to them all the good they did for me," the woman
      said of Connelly and her team of attorneys, Adisa Krupalija and
      Stephanie Poulos. "The words are not enough.''

      The woman, who lives in Chicago, agreed to tell her story and allowed
      the Chicago Sun-Times to attend her immigration hearing on the
      condition her name and personal details are withheld.

      The ruling has been called "ground-breaking' ' because the woman was
      never trafficked into the United States. She wound up in Chicago
      because a Good Samaritan who stepped forward to help her had friends
      here, and they were willing to take her in.

      Her argument to stay, supported by immigration- rights organizations
      and experts, was that as a trafficked woman she is at great risk of
      retribution or being forced back into sex work by the offenders.
      Furthermore, she is from a country that has a poor record of
      protecting trafficked women, according to an expert who testified on
      her behalf.

      In fact, the men who forced her into the sex work have threatened her
      family, even physically attacking one of them, according to court records.

      ". . . The evidence has established that women who have been
      trafficked for prostitution in [her home country] is a group that is
      socially visible or recognizable, '' U.S. Immigration Judge O. John
      Brahos said in his ruling. "She faces a reasonable possibility of
      future persecution. ''

      Mary Meg McCarthy, director of the National Immigrant Justice Center,
      celebrated Brahos' ruling for its strong message.

      "Under our laws you are entitled to a safe haven,'' McCarthy said. "We
      offer refuge for people who have been repressed. . . . We stand up as
      a country that embraces the recognition of individuals' dignity no
      matter what is happening."
      Seeks to become nurse

      The woman left her home in Eastern Europe in 2002 after being offered
      a baby-sitting job in Italy. But once there, she was told she'd have
      to work as a prostitute.

      When she resisted, she was beaten, raped and the men threatened her
      family. Finally, she relented.

      After a brief, yet dehumanizing, time on the street, she walked into a
      small store and met a man from her hometown. Together, the two plotted
      her escape. He secured a fake passport and put her on a plane to Chicago.

      The woman testified before Brahos in early December. She was steady
      and firm, but deeply pained by what she was forced to do.

      "Representing her was the most meaningful thing I have done as a
      lawyer,'' said Connelly, who took the case pro bono. "It's been an
      unbelievably long process but . . . she got the freedom she deserved,."

      Since arriving in Chicago, the woman has gotten a job and an apartment
      and built a small group of friends.

      But without legal status, she could not secure student loans to attend
      school and become a nurse. Even in court as she sensed that Brahos was
      sympathizing, she held herself back from hoping too much.

      "It's a feeling like you want to be happy, like it will take a
      second,'' she said. "But you're not sure it's going to take longer.''

      Last week, sitting in a sun-filled coffee house, everything seemed
      possible. She blew kisses through the window pane to a small child
      playing on the street. She was free of a six-inch think binder of
      paperwork on her case she had often carried.

      She plans to stay in Chicago and take some nursing classes. And she's
      going to start each day looking forward, she said, for her family, her
      friends and mostly for herself.

      "To show who I am,'' she said. "To myself."

      © Copyright 2008 Digital Chicago, Inc.

      http://www.suntimes .com/news/ metro/870611, CST-NWS-stay01. article


      Say NO to "SAVE"

      Write Your Representatives Now

      UPDATE: Tuesday, supporters of the SAVE Act filed a discharge petition
      in the House of Representatives in an attempt to force a vote on the
      House floor! Tell your members of Congress NOT to sign the petition.

      The SAVE Act is an enforcement- only immigration bill that would
      require approximately six million employers to verify the work status
      of more than 130 million workers within four years using a system that
      has an error rate of almost 10%!

      If this law were in place now, the errors in the SSA database alone
      could result in 2.5 million people a year being misidentified as
      unauthorized for employment, even US Citizens!

      It would make it easier for the government to put religious and
      humanitarian workers behind bars for so-called alien smugglingӔ and
      waste millions of tax-payer dollars on enforcement, detention and
      deportation programs that have been tried for the last twenty years
      and failed to end unauthorized immigration.

      ============ ========= ========= ========= =========

      http://www.immigran tslist.org/ page/speakout/ Save

      http://www.immigran tslist.org/


      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:

      Wednesday, April 2, 2008 (SF Chronicle)
      States take on immigration
      Ruben Navarrette Jr., San Diego Union-Tribune

      More and more states are doing the job that Congress failed to do by
      trying to formulate immigration policy - either by scaring off immigrants
      or bringing in more of them.

      According to the Associated Press, about 350 immigration-related bills
      were introduced in state legislatures in the first two months of this
      year. Legislators in states across the country are doing everything they
      can to make illegal immigrants feel unwelcome - by denying them driver's
      licenses, college admission, medical care, etc.

      The irony is that, in many of these states, it is illegal immigrants who
      helped fuel growth, construction, development and economic prosperity.
      Show me a state where people feel overrun by illegal immigrants, and I'll
      show you one where individuals, businesses and municipalities have, in
      recent years, lined their pockets thanks to illegal labor.
      Talk about ungrateful.

      Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in California have gone from ungrateful to
      untruthful. Not only do they deny that illegal immigrant labor has been a
      net positive for the state - and specifically to many of the farmers,
      ranchers, hoteliers and restaurateurs who tend to contribute to Republican
      campaigns. Now the legislators are claiming that illegal immigration has a
      "negative impact" on the state budget, which is $8 billion in the red.
      Recently, Republicans in Sacramento unveiled nearly two-dozen enforcement
      bills intended to improve the state's bottom line by cracking down on
      illegal immigrants. Predictably absent from their proposals is any mention
      of getting tough on employers, lest those employers return the favor by
      getting tough on Republican lawmakers running for re-election.

      Luckily, at least one California Republican is still thinking straight. In
      answering a question about how the state should handle the financial costs
      of illegal immigrants, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said last week that it
      would be a "big mistake" to blame California's gargantuan budget woes on
      people who are in the country without proper documents.

      "There is always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at
      various different elements of what creates this budget mess, and some may
      point a finger at illegal immigrants," Schwarzenegger said. "I can
      guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don't
      think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in."

      Schwarzenegger is right about that. And that is no surprise. When it comes
      to immigration, the governor - himself an Austrian immigrant - has a
      common sense not usually found in politicians. I've seen this in
      interviews over the last few years where Schwarzenegger has stressed that
      Americans need to channel their anger and frustration at government and
      not at the immigrants themselves, acknowledged the xenophobia wrapped up
      in the immigration debate, and pointed out that many of those who come to
      the United States illegally do so because the law doesn't provide a way
      for them to come legally.

      In fielding the budget question, Schwarzenegger could also have pointed
      out that the state would be in even worse economic shape if not for the
      prosperity and productivity enjoyed by those who do business in
      California. Whether you're talking about hotels in San Diego, restaurants
      in Los Angeles, farms in Fresno, or wineries in Napa, there are plenty of
      employers who contribute generously to the state's tax base - and they are
      able to do so in part because they have access to illegal immigrants.
      While Congress and the states fiddle over this issue, these employers know
      that a labor shortage could put them out of business.

      That's why some states - instead of trying to get rid of immigrant workers
      - are actively trying to bring in more of them. In Colorado and Arizona,
      lawmakers are considering state-run guest-worker programs to import more
      immigrant laborers. The Arizona plan would allow employers to use Mexican
      consulates to recruit workers, as if they were glorified unemployment
      offices. In Colorado, the idea is to help locate workers to harvest chili
      peppers, tomatoes and watermelons - the kinds of swell jobs that clueless
      cable news demagogues assure us Americans would gladly do if wages were

      Coincidentally, Arizona and Colorado also happen to be replete with people
      who are concerned about immigrants, both legal and illegal, and the
      cultural changes they bring about. Is the assumption that immigrant guest
      workers wouldn't bring about the same changes?

      By holding up two signs at the border - "Keep Out" and "Help Wanted" -
      Americans send mixed messages about illegal immigration. And now
      individual states are doing the same.

      You see, it doesn't really matter which level of government tackles this
      problem. The contradictions remain.

      Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s e-mail address is ruben.navarrette@....

      Copyright 2008 SF Chronicle

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