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Another side to discussions on border wall by Fernando Garcia

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  • peaceandjustice2005
    in this e-mail (1)Another side to discussions on border wall http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_9588412 (2)Barbara Lee Lashes Out at ICE
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 15 9:32 PM
      in this e-mail

      (1)Another side to discussions on border wall


      (2)Barbara Lee Lashes Out at ICE





      Another side to discussions on border wall

      By Fernando Garcia / Guest columnistArticle Launched: 06/15/2008
      12:00:00 AM MDT

      Whether the construction of the border wall will be finished at the
      end of this administration is still unknown, but one fact that has a
      large degree of certainty is the profound damage already made by
      Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol officials to the
      public debate on issues concerning the rights and opinions of border

      In a desperate attempt to expedite the construction of the wall,
      current administration officials have not only been willing to
      bypass more than a dozen laws and provisions, but now they have
      tried consistently to convince public opinion, and themselves, of
      the community support behind the construction of the border wall.

      Moreover, they have created a quite artificial consultation process
      to manage the congressional mandate of including border communities
      in the discussion of this issue.

      Sadly, they have done all of that at the expense of misrepresenting
      the opinions and sentiments of people living on the border,
      specifically those in El Paso and Southern New Mexico.

      Just recently, Border Patrol officials of the El Paso Sector,
      including Chief Manjarrez with a column on the June 8 Times Opinion
      page, have lined up to argue that border residents of our area
      have "overwhelmingly" showed support for the border wall at
      community forums they have organized.

      But let's see ...

      For instance, the format of such community forums only had the
      intention to show case DHS projects and to inform about border fence
      plans and designs had already been approved.

      The possibilities to have substantial discussion and to get
      residents' opinions were conveniently minimized; since, of course,
      taking the risk to have critical community input might have
      derailed, or at least questioned the whole border wall strategy.

      It is precisely here where the consultation becomes artificial.

      As if by just mentioning the amount of such forums that had taken
      place without mentioning the formats and mechanisms will do the

      Moreover, almost all community forums organized by DHS experienced a
      low turnout, showing a concerning disconnection between border
      residents and the Border Patrol.

      Therefore, it is surprising and, honestly, quite daring to assume
      and publicly declare that the majority of border residents support
      the border fence based on a fictitious consultation process and on
      misleading perceptions.

      Fortunately, facts and reality cannot be overshadowed just by
      mentioning unnamed and unscientific polls and surveys or by the sole
      intention of a government institution's propaganda.

      Unfortunately, a real community consultation on the border wall was,
      is, and will continue to be missing, at least for now and for the
      rest of this administration.

      Finally, DHS and immigration officials could take the political
      decision to ignore the dissenting expressions on the border wall.
      They could dismiss the multiple actions (lawsuits and resolutions)
      taken by many border counties and cities, including El Paso County,
      that questioned the DHS border wall strategy.

      They could try to obliterate those 6,000 residents of El Paso County
      that, in just one week, signed a community petition to challenge the
      construction of the border wall and its impacts on their lives and

      They could, at the end, decide to complete the construction of the
      border wall against the will of border communities.

      But what they cannot, and should not, do is to misrepresent the
      opinions of border residents to build an ill-conceived border wall.

      At least, not in our name.

      Fernando Garcia is executive director of th e El Paso-based Border
      Network for Human Rights.





      Rep. Lee lashes out against ICE

      By Matt O'Brien

      Contra Costa Times

      Article Launched: 06/13/2008 09:47:38 PM PDT

      [go to original for photos]

      OAKLAND — Pledging to "take them on big-time," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-
      Oakland, sharply criticized the federal Immigration and Customs
      Enforcement agency Friday and declared she would push for measures
      to reduce the fear she said agents have caused East Bay immigrant

      The Oakland Democrat told a packed North Oakland church that she
      wants to "ensure that ICE is following the rules and that those
      rules are well-known and publicized — especially when it comes to
      actions at schools, hospitals, religious centers and other critical
      community institutions."

      Her comments followed a furor in Oakland and Berkeley last month
      when federal operations to arrest illegal immigrants, which ICE says
      were routine, caused panic because agents were seen in the vicinity
      of public schools.

      ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said the sightings that caused
      panic "turned out to be entirely erroneous. It's very unfortunate
      that some people in positions of authority perpetuated those rumors."

      But the circumstances surrounding those and other arrests continued
      to invite condemnation and confusion from local officials this month.

      Noel Gallo, an Oakland school board member, told Lee Friday that he
      believed ICE agents "purposefully" parked near the Stonehurst
      Elementary School on May 6. And he argued that it was not in dispute
      that last year at Melrose Elementary School, ICE agents followed a
      parent toward the principal's office and later escorted her out of
      the school.

      "I am concerned that these intimidation tactics are, quite frankly,
      inhumane," Lee said. "Some, I think, could be politically motivated.
      And they are all, I think, totally unacceptable."

      What remains unclear is whether ICE has the sort of rules about
      sensitive locations that Lee said she wants to make sure are

      ICE's predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, had a
      written policy expressly stating that the service "attempt to avoid
      apprehension of persons and to tightly control investigative
      operations on the premises of schools, places of worship, funerals
      and other religious ceremonies," according to copies of agency
      memorandums from the 1990s.

      But Kice said that past policies were not necessarily transferred to
      ICE when it formed under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland
      Security in 2003.

      "We're a new agency," Kice said. "We have a completely new mission.
      We have established operating procedures."

      Declining to speak about internal policies, Kice said that the
      agency's publicly stated policy "is that we conduct enforcement at
      appropriate times and appropriate places." She also said the agency
      tries to avoid interaction with third parties that could jeopardize
      the safety of agents or their targets.

      Kice said that ICE's Northern California fugitive operations
      division arrested 2,121 illegal immigrants between Oct. 1 and May
      31. Of those, 1,471 were considered fugitives, or people who have
      ignored a prior deportation order. Another 167 were not fugitives
      but had criminal charges. And the remaining 583 were in the country
      illegally and were picked up in the course of the operations.

      Lee became the latest Bay Area lawmaker to lambaste the 5-year-old
      immigration agency in recent weeks, although it was not immediately
      clear how she would go about introducing any changes to current

      Last month, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, invited San Rafael
      educators to testify at a congressional hearing about the impacts
      that Marin County immigration raids have had on local schools. At
      the same time, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, has been leading an
      inquiry into ICE's medical treatment of detainees.

      Lee said she has raised her concerns with the House Appropriations
      Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which this week proposed a draft
      $4.8 billion budget for ICE in the coming fiscal year, which is $60
      million more than what was requested by the Bush administration. Of
      that, $800 million would be allotted to efforts focused on
      identifying and deporting dangerous criminals. Legislators also
      added a clause to the proposal that would force ICE to cancel
      contracts with private detention facilities that receive poor

      Reach Matt O'Brien at 925-977-8463 or


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