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Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Brownsville Herald - Law enforcement agencies seek border-crossers inside refuge

The Brownsville Herald - Online Edition

Last weekend’s operation resulted in the detainment of nine undocumented immigrants, one immigrant-trafficking arrest and vehicle and traffic violations.

The law enforcement team issued state and federal citations totaling $1,272 in fines.

The officials say that because it is dangerous, they hope their efforts will deter undocumented immigrants and immigrant traffickers from the using the refuge as a haven to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

His officers detain about five to 10 undocumented immigrants per month, said Richard Johnston, regional law enforcement officer for U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Using the area as a border crossing path has safety, legal and environmental implications.

“By its very nature, the refuge is not the safest place for someone to be running around,” Johnston said.

He said that law enforcement officers frequently tend to find immigrants wandering dehydrated on the refuge after they get lost and disoriented.

Tourist visitors to the refuge usually know to come prepared with water and walking shoes, but immigrants may be putting themselves in danger by allowing alien traffickers — known as coyotes — to escort them across.

Johnston said that people’s safety is a main concern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was the reason for last weekend’s operation.

In addition to endangering themselves, illegal immigrants may also hurt the refuge’s wildlife by clearing their own paths through brush and trees, said Ken Merritt, project leader for the South Texas Refuge Complex, which includes the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition, those who illegally cross the river into the refuge often leave trash behind, he said.

“The trash load is incredible,” Merritt said. “Just because of the numbers of people coming across, it is a really big issue from a natural resource standpoint.”

Joel Rivera, a deputy constable for Precinct 1, was on-hand during last weekend’s operation to issue state citations when needed.

“Most people in criminal justice will agree that aggressively patrolling an area doesn’t eliminate the crime,” Rivera said. “It just displaces the crime.”

Using wildlife refuge land to cross the border is not just an issue at Santa Ana, Johnston said.

Stretching across 89 miles of the Rio Grande there are between 40 to 50 tracts of wildlife refuge land, Johnston said.

About one-third of the Rio Grande Valley’s border with Mexico is public land, Johnston said.

But efforts were concentrated on Santa Ana because it is the only piece of public borderland open to visitors, he said.

Johnston said U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers want to prevent potential “negative situations” between the visiting public and an undocumented immigrant.

For example, ,Johnston said that a couple of years ago he found two immigrants drunk.

They told him they used alcohol to get the courage to cross the river.

“They (the immigrants) encountered a family, but the family was extremely uncomfortable,” Johnston said. “You don’t come to the refuge knowing that you’ll run into two intoxicated people.”

Such situations are not common, but there is potential for it to happen, Johnston said.




Scotsman.com News - International - American Indians help to catch Poland's smugglers

Scotsman.com News - International - American Indians help to catch Poland's smugglers

American Indians help to catch Poland's smugglers

ALLAN HALL


POLISH border police fighting smugglers of people, drugs, tobacco, nuclear material and weapons are employing American Indian trackers to guard the frontier with Ukraine.

It is a long way from the burning deserts of Arizona to the gateway to Russia. But Poland believes the methods of ruthless international criminals can be combated with ancient methods that are now being passed on to security forces.

The tracking course is part of a larger programme funded by the United States government’s Defence Threat Detection Agency, whose main aim is to search for America’s most elusive enemies: terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.

The three Native Americans teaching the course - two from the Tohono O’odham tribe and one Navajo - have been holding one-week courses in Poland, and are now in the third and last week of their tour, instructing border patrol officers in the tiny town of Huwniki near the Ukrainian border.

The 26 Polish guards taking part will have learned how to

use damaged leaves, broken branches and even compressed pebbles to tell them where criminals may be hiding or which direction they’ve taken.

Border police group leader Jerzy Ostrowski said: "Sometimes quite a simple thing can be a very important sign. A broken branch or even just part of a footprint can tell us where and how many people are going or what they’re doing."

The Native Americans teaching the course normally work as US Customs patrol officers on the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation in Arizona.

The Shadow Wolves unit, based in Sells, Arizona, was founded in 1972 with around 12 Tohono O’odham Indians to patrol its Arizona reservation, which shares 76 miles of border with Mexico.

Bryan Nez, 55, a Navajo and the eldest of the customs officers teaching the course, says he learned his tracking skills at a young age. "When I was nine years old, my grandfather kicked me out of bed and said: ‘Go tracking’, and I’ve been doing it ever since," Nez said.

Compromise Sought on Immigrant License Issue

Compromise Sought on Immigrant License Issue

The controversy over allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses is once again at a full boil, as legislators push the governor to act on the issue.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met on Thursday with the Democratic Latino Caucus in an attempt to hammer out a compromise on the issue. Although both sides described the talks as "fruitful," the negotiations failed to produce an agreement on security and background checks, the governor's top concerns.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he will stand firm on the issue of background checks. "We have to make sure the people are who they say they are, so therefore public safety and national security are paramount concerns," said Margita Thompson, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger.

Caucus members went into the negotiations with concerns that the governor might be backing off a promise to seek a solution to make licenses available to undocumented immigrants.

Those involved in the meeting indicated the Schwarzenegger had put those fears to rest. "The governor did say to the three of us today that he was committed to ensuring that we provide driver's licenses to undocumented persons, so long as we address the security concerns that have been expressed," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles.

The governor will meet with members of the Latino Caucus again next week to discuss the issue. One of the subjects will likely be a bill introduced by state Senator Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles.

Senate Bill 1160 contains language requiring background checks, and would require applicants to bear the cost of fingerprinting and computerized background checks. The bill can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link below.

washingtonpost.com: Gangs Find Bucolic New Turf in Va.

washingtonpost.com: Gangs Find Bucolic New Turf in Va.

Gangs Find Bucolic New Turf in Va.
Shenandoah Area Raises Concern

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 30, 2004; Page C01


STRASBURG, Va. -- As police chief of this idyllic Shenandoah Valley town, Marshall A. Robinson typically spends his days checking to make sure residents have locked their doors, stopping in on seniors who live alone, waving and honking at friends every half-block. But in the past week, he has added a new stop to his rounds: a construction site where he believes members of one of Virginia's most violent gangs are working.

"We're used to our little vandalism, larcenies, smoking a little pot," said Robinson, who grew up in this town of 4,000 that sits beside the Massanutten Mountains, at the northern tip of the Shenandoah Valley. "But now we're into this whole MS-13 thing," he said, using the acronym for Mara Salvatrucha, a violent gang whose members he suspects are mixing among day laborers in Strasburg.

After years of watching news reports about violent gangs in the Washington suburbs -- or "over the mountain," as people here call places like Manassas and Alexandria -- residents of the rural belt that parallels Shenandoah National Park are finding that gang members in the nation's capital are doing what everyone else is doing: migrating farther out in search of a better quality of life.

Their arrival has been marked in subtle ways: "MS-13" spray-painted on the side of a red barn, a game warden harassed by gang members while checking fishing licenses, gang tattoos showing up at county fairs. The ugliest calling card, the one that transformed law enforcement dialogue on the topic, was found in the most beautiful of spots. At a particularly lush curve of the Shenandoah River, in a vast valley called Meem's Bottom, the body of Brenda Paz, 18 years old and four months pregnant, was found knifed and floating last summer. Law enforcement sources said Paz had been providing information in a half-dozen investigations across the country, including a homicide case in Alexandria allegedly involving members of MS-13.

On May 20, federal and local law enforcement officials held a joint news conference 80 miles away in Fairfax County to warn about the spread of gang violence through exurbia and into the rural Shenandoah Valley. They pledged $500,000 in additional funds for a problem that recently escalated with a machete attack on a Fairfax youth and the shooting death of a Herndon teenager, one of at least seven slayings in Northern Virginia linked to MS-13 since 2000.

Law enforcement officials in the Shenandoah Valley say they believe sprawl from the inner suburbs is the main reason for an appearance in the last year or two of violent and largely Latino street gangs. But there are other likely reasons, including a well-established community of Latino immigrants in which to blend, thousands of Mexicans and Salvadorans drawn here for jobs in the poultry, plastics and construction industries. Some investigators fear that gangs want a piece of the region's large drug market, a trade that centers on methamphetamine -- or "meth" -- from Mexico. Others believe gang members are still just young Latinos who see gangs as something socially binding in a segregated place.

At this point, law enforcement officials acknowledge that they do not know precisely what they are dealing with. Only since Paz's slaying has attention turned to the topic, and information-gathering is so new that basic questions are unanswered: How big is this gang population? Are they mostly teenagers or adults? And most, importantly, what motivates them?

"We can't do something until they do something, so for now we are going to take pictures; we are going to identify them," Robinson said. "For now, we're just waiting."

Todd Gilbert, assistant commonwealth's attorney for Shenandoah County, believes that gang members live in the Shenandoah region but that they do not have any real infrastructure -- yet. "Our worst-case scenario would be to get competing gangs. I can almost get a palpable sense it may be coming."

A few months after the Paz slaying, gang graffiti popped up in a dozen places in Woodstock, the second-largest community in Shenandoah County, with 3,500 people. Law enforcement officials began sharing more information with one another, holding training sessions with their counterparts in the Washington suburbs and becoming more aggressive about gathering intelligence.

Although there is disagreement about how well entrenched gang members are in the Shenandoah Valley and what their goals are, law enforcement officials agree that the counties along Interstate 81 -- Frederick, Shenandoah and Rockingham -- have experienced an increase in gang activity. Authorities have inadvertently crossed paths with gang members, either by staking out public events, such as fairs, or by running across them in criminal cases such as domestic disputes or shoplifting.

Only one person in the northern Shenandoah Valley has been charged specifically with being involved in MS-13 or Surenos (SUR-13), Gilbert said: Juan Jose Valencia Ramirez, 19, who police said spray-painted a gang tag on a dumpster in Woodstock this year. He was charged with damaging property and with doing so as part of a criminal gang. He agreed to a plea agreement that convicted him of property damage but gave him a year-long sentence with six months suspended -- much longer than the typical penalty without the gang association, he said.

Capt. Garlan Gochenour, commander of a regional task force focused on drugs and gangs, said his group has handled dozens of cases in the past year involving gang members -- even if the people were not charged with being in a gang.

To whatever degree drugs are a factor, Shenandoah Valley is the place to be, Gochenour said. Shenandoah County is one of the country's meth hubs, and aspiring drug dealers find it a more pleasant business climate, with less violence involved in staking out turf than in the city. According to Gochenour, methamphetamine was selling for about $32,000 a pound in Shenandoah County in the late 1990s but is now about $4,000 a pound as the supply has grown.

The region had its biggest crackdown ever on MS-13 and SUR-13 early this month, when authorities raided 10 apartments, trailers and houses in Woodstock in the middle of the night and arrested 47 people, including 17 on immigration violations and 30 on drug-related charges. Although no one has been charged with gang-related crimes, officials said they believe many are gang members. They also said they learned more about the gang infrastructure during the investigation, which was extended for months when officials realized the gang connections.

Gangs are not new to the region. There have long been biker gangs, and last year, Shenandoah County was at the center of a six-state investigation of the Warlocks biker gang that led to 34 arrests, mostly on drug and weapons charges. In the mid-1990s, authorities in Winchester cracked down on a street gang that was mostly involved in petty crime. The difference with gangs such as MS-13 and SUR-13 is their record of brutality, officials say.

"Usually, gang violence is associated with drugs, money and violence. With these people, it seems to just be about violence," said Capt. Allen Sibert, who works on drug and gang cases in Warren County.

Selling these ideas won't be easy in cheery Shenandoah Valley, where road signs direct travelers to caverns, fishing holes and covered bridges and where crime is uncommon.

Rick Lambert, whose family owns the red barn that was tagged six months ago, smiled in the most undisturbed manner when asked how he felt about being targeted by an MS-13 member.

"A week later, we got an apology letter," Lambert said of the 17-year-old, who offered to pay for the damage. "But we said we were tearing it down anyway."

Lambert surmised that the barn was targeted because Lambert's Moving and Storage is "on the outskirts of town. Nobody bothers us."

Lambert's casual attitude was mirrored even at Valley Vista apartments, the complex where six apartments were raided a few weeks ago and where officials said MS-13 members live.

"The only problem we have is sometimes they drink in the parking lot and play loud music," said Maria Duque, 16, who translated from Spanish the opinion of her 48-year-old father, Virgilio, about young men in the complex. The family moved to Woodstock from Mexico five years ago, she said, and has never seen any evidence of gangs, she said.

Then Maria Duque and her parents got into their van, which was parked in front of a clean red brick wall. Just a few months ago, before it was cleaned, the wall was scrawled with black writing: "MS-13."

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Immigrants Drain $30 Billion in Cash Annually by Joseph A. D'Agostino

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Immigrants Drain $30 Billion in Cash Annually by Joseph A. D'Agostino



Immigrants Drain $30 Billion in Cash Annually

by Joseph A. D'Agostino
Posted May 28, 2004

In the past nine years the cash that immigrants send from the United States back to their home countries has almost doubled, but the Bush Administration is planning to use the upcoming G-8 summit to discuss ways to increase the outward flow of cash.

"Technological advances in communication and data transfer--and a surge in labor mobility--have fueled enormous growth in remittances," Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Bodman said at a May 17 conference at which a new study on remittances was released. "Since 1995, annual remittances from the United States have nearly doubled. . . . In recognition of the importance of remittances around the world, the G7 is committed to facilitating remittance transfers and increasing options available to recipients to help them improve their own economic livelihood. This is a top priority issue for this year's G8 Summit to be held in Sea Island, Georgia, next month."

The study, based on a survey of 3,800 Latin American immigrants living in the United States conducted by Bendixen & Associates, found that legal and illegal immigrants send a combined $30 billion annually to their home countries. Mexico alone receives $13.3 billion a year.

The largest amount in remittances ($9.6 billion) comes out of California. That is followed by New York ($3.6 billion), Texas ($3.2 billion) and Florida ($2.5 billion). The study says of those surveyed 24% were Latin American-born U.S. citizens, 39% were legal residents, and 32% were "undocumented" aliens. It estimated that 16.7 million people of Latin American origin now live in the United States. Sixty-one per cent of those surveyed said they send money overseas at least once a month. The typical individual transaction ranges from $150 to $250.

"It's money flowing out of some of the poorest communities of the United States," said Steve Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies. Camarota said that statistics on remittances are hard to generate accurately due to the large number of illegal immigrants in the United States and to the "informal banking arrangements" that often serve as conduits for money sent home. He said there was no reliable way of estimating how much of the $30 billion was taxed by the United States and how much went under the radar screen. "It's certainly not being taxed in the way money spent here would be in sales taxes, etc," he said. "Roughly half of what illegals make is on the books and half off."

Asked if remittances were helping poor Latin American countries stay afloat, Camarota replied, "Does it stymie development in the home country? Everyone sees their economic future dependent on immigration to the United States."

"It encourages governments in other countries to push harder and harder for open borders," said Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus. "They want those funds to keep flowing."

In fact, Georgetown Prof. Manuel Orozco reported in a presentation to the Inter-American Development Bank on Sep. 17, 2002, that Haiti depends on remittances for 24.5% of its GDP, El Salvador for 17%, Nicaragua for 22%, Jamaica for 15%, the Dominican Republic for 10%, and Mexico for 1.7%. Since $30 billion out of Latin America's total remittance receipts of $38 billion come from the United States, these countries are heavily dependent on immigrants to America.

Tancredo advocates taxing remittances or reducing our foreign aid to those countries that receive significant sums in remittances from the United States. "It is in our interest to encourage savings and investment inside this country," he said. "It is also in our interest to discourage illegal immigration into this country." Remittances provide a financial incentive for families to send members here, he said.

A White House fact sheet dated Jan. 13, 2004, boasts of Bush's success in increasing remittance flows: "Bilateral efforts to promote competition in the market for remittance services and to bring those without bank accounts into the formal financial system have produced dramatic results since 1999: The cost of sending remittances from the United States to Mexico has fallen by 58%. Remittance flows have grown at a rate of 10% annually."

A January 2000 study by J. Edward Taylor, University of California, Davis, found that some U.S. taxpayer money is finding its way into remittances. "There is no evidence that means-tested income transfers [i.e., most welfare] increase remittances to Mexico," he wrote. "However, there is a positive association between non-means-tested transfers and remittances. Other things being equal, households that received Social Security or unemployment insurance were 10 to 15% more likely to remit, and their monthly remittances were $150 to $200 higher than those of households not receiving non-means-tested public transfers."

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Copyright © 2003 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.

Utah's Top Prosecutor Talks to Latinos about Immigration

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Utah's Statewide Newspaper

Utah's top prosecutor discusses immigration issues with Latinos





By Rhina Guidos
The Salt Lake Tribune

Walking a political and semantic tightrope in front of a mostly Latino audience, the state's top federal prosecutor said Friday he doesn't support immigration raids in the workplace, but he also didn't condone illegal immigration, calling life in the United States without legal documents "a house built on sand."
Paul Warner, U.S. attorney for Utah, told of his sons' LDS missions that took them to mingle with Latino families in the United States and in Mexico. To those who attended the meeting of the nonprofit Alianza Latina at the City-County Building, he spoke of his fondness for Latinos.
But Warner said since the attacks of Sept. 11, life for one group of Latinos -- those who enter the country illegally -- will be more difficult as law enforcement casts a wider net for terrorists. The crackdown is leading to more deportations of undocumented workers whose only crime is using false papers to seek a better life.
"I understand what Latinos who are here illegally want," Warner said. "They want to work, they want to feed their children . . . they want a better life for their children. I want the same for my children."
But he has to enforce the law, he said, and since September 2001, raids on such places as the Salt Lake City airport and trucking companies have netted large numbers of undocumented workers. Though not terrorists or felons, they must be prosecuted.
But there are some groups, he said, that want him to prosecute every illegal worker.
"The fact is that even if I wanted to do that, and I don't want to, I don't have the people to do that," he said.
Audience members told Warner that efforts to weed out terrorists also are leading some Latino Americans to distrust authorities. The new policies also result in discrimination against Latinos, they said, along with attacks on them by political hopefuls, some of whom are scaring the community by painting Latinos as terrorist threats.
Daniel Advincula told Warner of being stopped by police three times in one day in February while he and his wife looked for land to build a home in Draper.
Residents reported them as "looking suspicious," Advincula said.
Tony Yapias, director of the State Office of Hispanic Affairs, told him of radio ads in the 3rd Congressional District that he said are being used to scare community members into thinking that Latinos could become terrorists.
Yapias asked him if he knew of any Latino terrorists in Utah.
"I know of no terrorist . . . no terrorist that I have run into had a Latin ethnicity," Warner responded, adding that immigration is a political issue and he wasn't going to take sides.
West Valley resident Carlos Pérez told Warner that Latinos, too, love the United States and they are worried about terrorist attacks.
"We want to cooperate," he said, but immigration efforts are leading to a distrust and gaps between Latinos and law enforcement authorities.
"This is producing a sentiment of xenophobia, like it was once Europe," Pérez said. "And we have to be careful."

Ruben Navarette - Eliminating the causes of illegal immigration

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Utah's Statewide Newspaper

Navarrette: Eliminating the underlying causes of illegal immigration





By Ruben Navarrette
Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- Americans are never going to stand a chance of controlling illegal immigration until they're honest with themselves about what really causes it.
It used to be that anti-immigrant groups were content to limit the blame to the immigrants themselves for entering the country illegally.
Then, they blamed Third World countries such as Mexico. If these countries offered more opportunity, they said, the people who live there wouldn't feel as though they had no choice but to leave.
Then, the anti-immigration lobby turned its sights on Latino advocacy organizations, claiming these groups were formulating policies to encourage as much immigration as possible to increase their own political influence.
Now there's a new foil: President Bush, who has put forward a plan to reform the country's immigration system. It would, among other things, grant temporary work visas to millions of illegal immigrants now living in the United States and allow for new batches of immigrants to come in and take, as Bush puts it, "jobs that Americans don't want."
The plan is stalled in Congress, and it probably won't shake loose until after the November election.
No matter, say the anti-immigration folks. In their minds, even the prospect of some sort of legalization provides enough of an incentive for huge numbers of people to try to cross the border. They point to estimates by the Border Patrol that apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexican border are up 30 percent over last year. That, they say, is the result of people from Mexico and Latin America making a conscious decision to brave the dangers -- from dying of heat exhaustion in the desert to being killed or left for dead by smugglers -- because they want a shot at amnesty.
"We've created an incentive to take foolish risks," Mark Krikorian of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies told The New York Times. "In effect, we're saying if you run this gauntlet and can get over here, you're home free."
It's funny. Over the years, I've interviewed dozens of immigrants waiting for work on street corners who, I'd wager, wouldn't offer such a rosy assessment of their situation. Once people get here, they still have to find work, and they often end up with jobs that are considered at the bottom of the barrel. Once they're employed, they still have to collect their wages.
Americans take that sort of thing for granted. You work. You get paid. Nothing to it.
Unfortunately, that's often not the case for immigrants, especially if they're in the country illegally. In fact, Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network, recently put together a chilling report on "Latino slaves in the United States." Anchor Jorge Ramos talked to Mexican immigrants who were imported into the United States and then held against their will until they paid off their passage. Some young women thought they were coming to the United States to work in factories, but instead were forced into prostitution. Some men worked to pay what they owed, only to learn that their debts had been paid off long ago and the employer hadn't told them. Clearly for some Americans, hiring illegal immigrants is a really good deal.
Which brings us back to the question of who or what is to blame for illegal immigration. I don't care what the anti-immigration lobby says. I'm not buying the argument that it's President Bush and his plan, and neither should you.
After all, people were emigrating to the United States long before Bush took office. They've come for generations -- many of them illegally. They're determined and courageous and sometimes ingenious. They're also nonpartisan. They come whether the White House is controlled by Republicans or Democrats.
They come because they are students of economics: They know about supply and demand, and they know they can earn in a day in the United States what it would take a month to earn in an underdeveloped country such as Mexico.
Most of all, they come because they are virtually assured of finding a job -- perhaps a dangerous, low-paying, highly exploitative job, but a job nonetheless. And why, despite all their bluster, are so many Americans still willing to hire immigrants -- even the illegal kind? Scratch that -- especially the illegal kind.
It's because hiring these people is the next best thing to having free labor. Although, the folks at Univision have another name for the term.


baltimoresun.com - 2 arrested in killings of three children

baltimoresun.com - 2 arrested in killings of three children

By Ryan Davis, Stephanie Hanes and Allison Klein
Sun Staff
Originally published May 28, 2004, 10:34 PM EDT
Two Mexican immigrants who joined relatives grieving for three slain children Thursday night were arrested at the crime scene and charged Friday with the killings, police said.

Baltimore police said Friday night that they still did not have a motive for the decapitations -- killings so horrific that a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood remained shaken Friday. But among the theories being explored was revenge over an unpaid debt for transportation into the United States as undocumented immigrants.

Police say the two charged were an uncle and a cousin of the victims. A fillet knife with at least a 10-inch blade was used to decapitate one child and partially behead the other two.

The suspects, both from Baltimore County, were identified shortly after the killings by a woman at the apartment complex in the 7000 block of Park Heights Ave. where the children were killed, a police source said. The woman told city police that she had seen two suspicious men, dressed in black, canvass ing the Samester apartment complex this week.

She said she would recognize the men, and then she saw them at the crime scene.

Officers arrested Adan Espinoza Canela, 17, a butcher at a Baltimore slaughterhouse, and Policarpio Espinoza, 22, who was involved in the family business of selling food from a truck, said Detective Irv Bradley.

Police officials described the men as "emotionless" at their arrest, just hours after the Thursday afternoon killings. Both were charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a deadly weapon, said a spokesman for the state's attorney's office. They are being held at Central Booking and are expected to have a bail review hearing Tuesday.

"This is an act of someone who obviously has no conscience," Deputy Police Commissioner Kenneth Blackwell said at a news conference Friday.

Police sources said one motive that detectives are exploring is whether the killing is related to a debt the family owed for being brought across the border. The family is undocumented, officials at the Mexican Embassy in Washington said.

Federal immigration officials assisted at the crime scene.

The dead children were identified Friday by police as Alexis Espejo Quesada, a 10-year-old boy; Lucero Quesada, a 9-year-old girl; and Ricardo A. Espinoza, a 9-year-old boy. But city officials acknowledged Friday that they remained unsure of the spellings.

Ricardo and Lucero are siblings, and Alexis is their cousin, officials said.

Ricardo and Lucero's family has been in the country about seven years, the last three in Baltimore, officials and neighbors said. Alexis' family arrived about five months ago, said embassy spokesman Miguel Monterrubia.

The mother of one of the vic tims also has a 2-year-old daughter, who was with a babysitter at the time of the attack, Bradley said.

Police had previously misidentified the children as two girls and a boy. They were in third and fourth grades at Cross County Elementary School.

The day after their deaths, the children's classmates were comforted by grief counselors. Their mothers traveled to the Mexican consulate in Washington, preparing to ship the bodies back to their native Veracruz, Mexico, for a funeral.

As many as 10 people may have lived inside the apartment where the children were killed, said Antonio Williams, the chief who oversees the detective divi sion.

On Thursday, the children arrived home from school about 3:30 p.m. Neighbors said they typically go outside to play among the trees and cicadas in the complex's grassy courtyard.

On Wednesday, they collected cicadas in a pickle jar with holes on the top, said Tyler Ramseur, a neighbor who frequently saw them playing in the courtyard.

Another neighbor, Tamiko MacDonald, didn't see them outside Thursday. "They never came," she said.

According to people familiar with the case, the children apparently let their attackers into the apartment because they knew them. The attackers used the knife to behead the children, according to police.

About 5:20 p.m., the mothers returned home and discovered the children. Two children lay in one bedroom; one in another.

A neighbor helped the women, who speak little English, to call 911. He reported that a woman had discovered her family dead.

The scene was so grisly that the first officer on the seen was overcome and had to walk away. A priest from St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Central Park Heights cried as he gave the children the last rites.

At the time, the mothers pointed police to a man whom officers detained and described as a "person of interest." Police spokesman Matt Jablow said that person was released without being charged.

Shortly after the killings, police found the knife, which apparently has a clublike handle, wedged between a wooden fence and a garage in the rear of the complex.

Police removed large amounts of evidence from the first-floor apartment, Williams said.

After being taken to headquarters, one of the suspects incriminated the other about 2 a.m., a police source said. Detectives consulted with the state's attorney's office and decided to charge them. Williams described Canela and Espinoza as the "main suspects," but did not rule out more arrests.

Friday, detectives executed search warrants on a Baltimore County house, just northwest of the city line, where the Espinoza and Canela lived.

They resided on leafy Bedford Road with a number of relatives -- including three or four children, police and neighbors said.

Property records show that Victor Espinoza and Carmelo Juarez -- relatives of the two men, according to police -- bought the house in October 2002 for $134,000. Neighbors said it seemed as if 10 people might be living in the home.

Enez and Dilworth Sladden, who regularly visit their daughter next door to the Espinoza family, said the older couple seemed to work hard, leaving the home early each morning in the camperlike food truck.

But a couple of men, who looked to be 20-something, seemed to hang out all day, drinking and smoking, Dilworth Sladden, 70, said. Sladden said he didn't know the family well, in part because they did not seem to speak English, and he does not speak Spanish.

"I'd say 'que pasa' and they'd wave," Sladden said.

As police searched the home, city housing officials said they were helping the victims' family settle into an apartment in Baltimore County.

It remained quiet after school in the courtyard at the apartments where the children had lived. Exceptions were the cicadas and the reporters, including many from Spanish-language networks and publications.

Starr Davis, an 11-year-old girl who identified herself as Lucero's best friend, said the two girls liked to play house.

"She always called me mommy," Starr said.

Starr's mother, Nancy Davis, said the kids were "always dressed to go somewhere." Davis said she would frequently drive the family to church.

"It's so hurtful," Davis said. "You see them one day and they're gone the next. You're not supposed to go like this."

Sun staff writers Richard Irwin, Kimberly A.C. Wilson, Michael Dresser and Frank Langfitt contributed to this article.

Friday, May 28, 2004

tomflocco.com - Sleeping With The Enemy--9/11 Immigration Fraud

tomflocco.com - Sleeping With The Enemy--9/11 Immigration Fraud

April 10, 2004 Letter To Chairman Thomas Kean & 9-11 Commission, Washington, DC ( via facsimile, E-mail & FedEx overnight express) "...Muslim Moroccans were using illegally obtained permanent U.S. residence (green cards) to aid and abet Osama bin Laden terrorist subversives operating out of Orlando and Miami....Since April of 1998, I have repeatedly sent an aggregate total of hundreds of letters, memoranda, emails and official case notes to dozens and dozens of accountable officials: to INS Commissioners Ziglar, Garcia and Aguirre, DOJ OIG Glen Fine, DOJ Attorney General John Ashcroft, DOJ FBI Directors Louis Freeh and Robert Mueller, DOJ Criminal Division, OSC Elaine Kaplan, President George W. Bush, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and dozens of other congressmen, only to have this sensitive information continually handed over to the known conspirators providing them unending opportunities to destroy incriminating material evidence, such as video tapes, and pay off or threaten informants and witnesses."
Mary Schneider, Dept. of Homeland Security / Citizenship & Immigration Services (DOJ/INS), District Adjudications Officer, Orlando, Florida & Designated Federal Whistleblower: [Mary Schneider v. DOJ, M.S.P.B., Docket No. AT-1221-00-0263-W-2 and Mary Schneider v. Department of Homeland Security, Docket No. AT-0752-03-0875-I-1]

Sleeping with the enemy

Homeland Security whistleblower told Congress, Bush, Ashcroft, Mueller, and Ridge that Florida immigration officials accepted sham marriage bribes linked to a congressional office, al Qaeda operatives, and 9/11 terrorism

by Tom Flocco

ORLANDO, FL--Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Posted 10:30 PM EDT--TomFlocco.com--An illegal Moroccan Muslim reportedly linked to Osama bin Laden’s brother and 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta allegedly engaged in immigration felony fraud, bribery, and perjury in conjunction with United States immigration officials who allegedly conspired with this and other illegal Muslim extremists and aliens to approve sham-marriages for the purpose of acquiring permanent green cards to stay in the U.S. prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Mary Schneider, a citizenship and immigration services district adjudications officer for the Department of Homeland Security in Orlando told TomFlocco.com in a series of interviews over the past few days that the illegal Muslim was reportedly associated with Osama bin Laden's brother who was residing in the Orlando area just prior to the September 11 attacks.


Evidence regarding the Moroccan's communications with Osama bin Laden’s brother in Florida was revealed by one of his five American wives.

Schneider, a designated federal whistleblower protected by congressional statute, said that outside informants also told her that the illegal Muslim lived in Orlando with lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and other al Qaeda operatives.

Osama bin Laden's brother was allowed to leave the country shortly after 9/11 without a full and complete interrogation and investigation of his activities with illegal Muslims living in central Florida. Congress and the 9/11 Commission have failed to pursue this critical issue in a public forum.
The informants told Schneider that "bin Laden’s brother had made inquiries a year or two prior to 9/11 on how to bring in Muslims from Saudi Arabia and Brazil to attend a flight school in the Daytona Beach area," she said.

The revelations implicate Brazil as a South American staging point for al Qaeda terrorism while also providing evidence that one or two years prior to the attacks, high government officials and members of Congress could have taken serious steps to strictly enforce immigration laws and seal American borders, but strangely, they failed to do so despite known worldwide terrorism threats.

TomFlocco.com has obtained copies of Schneider’s repeated written warnings which were continually ignored over the last six years by members of Congress and officials in both the Bush and Clinton administrations. The warnings fully explain the al Qaeda immigration fraud in Florida which supported 9/11 terrorist operations. They also raise questions as to whether the 9/11 Commission will call senators and congressmen to publicly testify about their knowledge of pre-attack immigration fraud--given Schneider’s clear evidence.

The immigration official says the felony immigration conspiracies remain ongoing up to the present; and the problematic nature of her explosive allegations is exacerbated by the fact that the government not only suppressed her evidence, but had prior knowledge of the fraud while still failing to take steps to protect the American people.

Moreover, Schneider said "Orlando supervisors Susan Dugas, Stella Jarina and supervisory special agent Richard Walker allowed all conspirators in this sham marriage ring to leave the INS premises without consequence and the next morning I was given a written reprimand and admonished for having mentioned this ring to the investigations section." [Deposition of Susan Dugas, 2-11-2003]

Terrorists in Central Florida

In his book, "American Jihad -- The Terrorists Living Among Us," Steven Emerson wrote that "(Osama) bin Laden was able to set up a whole array of cells in Orlando." Channel 9 Eyewitness News reported on February 1, 2002: "Emerson believes a large infrastructure of bin Laden followers are still here (in Orlando). There is no way the hijackers connected to Florida acted alone. There were other people on the ground assisting them. These people didn’t necessarily know of the ultimate target, but they were part of a terrorist infrastructure."

"According to Christine Sharrit--an outside informant and victim of a sham marriage to the illegal Muslim, he lived with Mohammed Atta several years prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center, and every Sunday for a period of time, he picked up a Muslim--reverently referred to as 'the Czar,'--at the Orlando International Airport," said Schneider.

"Christine Sharrit’s husband is a critical suspect with highly probable knowledge of 9/11 conspiracies and activities of seditious factions in Florida, specifically in Orlando," said Schneider.

The immigration officer further held that "this individual has direct links to 9-11 terrorists in an Orlando al Qaeda cell group besides Mohammed Atta; and he bribed immigration officials in my office for a green-card to stay in the country before the attacks. Now the government wants to get him out of the country before he’s brought before a grand jury to discuss his activities prior to 9/11 and which immigration officials he bribed."

"His case had been pending in my office to pursue what appeared to be blatant felony fraud in four marriages to four different American woman in four attempts to obtain a green card," said Schneider, referring to an obvious loophole in immigration law which Congress has allowed--placing legitimate U.S. citizens at risk of catastrophic terrorism.

"The illegal Moroccan Muslim’s case was surreptitiously removed from my office and kept secured at first in Supervisor Susan Dugas’s office and later in Officer in Charge Stalla Jarina’s office for the past six years without denying his application for a permanent green card; but it’s now being processed in order to remove him from the U.S. within the next three weeks," she said.

Court records obtained by TomFlocco.com show that an October, 2001 lawsuit was filed by Schneider [ Mary Schneider vs. John Ashcroft, Attorney General U.S. DOJ and James W. Zigler, Commissioner, U.S. INS ] and brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida [case no. 01-4157-CIV-Lenard/Simonton]. The records were acquired via the Federal Judiciary's center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records. [http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov]

The court document lists a case file of a Middle Eastern individual named "Abad" [ INS case file A-29-384-379] who is the subject of both a plaintiff court exhibit and a document and videotape production request sought from officials at DOJ and INS by Schneider’s attorney.

Chat room links fraud to congressional office

Scores of letters written to senators, congressmen, and executive branch officials indicate that Schneider repeatedly apprised them over a three year period prior to 9/11 that "outside public informants Bonnie and Ed Sharrit had copies of two money orders in the amounts of $1,500, each of which this illegal Moroccan Muslim purchased from a Tampa bank and made out to her INS supervisors Susan Dugas and Stella Jarina."

"The Sharrits also had knowledge that the Moroccan was in possession of INS Officer in Charge Jarina’s private phone number, a number I did not have access to for two years as a staff employee," the immigration officer told us.


Schneider also said the Moroccan’s case involved her personal felony impersonation by someone connected to the Orlando International Airport immigration inspections booth which resulted in harassing phone calls to the Sharrits.

"Supervisors Dugas and Jarina took no action to deny the Moroccan’s application to remain in the country despite the prior felony fraud sham marriages, and without removal (deportation) proceedings," said Schneider, adding "the lack of prosecution and denial of his green card application allowed him to continue living, working and possibly assisting terrorists in the United States."

The informant couple faxed Schneider the transcript of a May 23, 1999 AOL chat room conversation discussing the arrest of an Orlando taxi driver, an Egyptian named Ihab Ali--taken into custody in New York City for his involvement in the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Chat rooms are a primary choice for terrorist communications.

Schneider said that during the ensuing trial held in New York City, another defendant revealed that Orlando resident Ihab Ali was one of Osama bin Laden’s trusted lieutenants and apparent pilot at one time--operating out of an apartment near the Orlando International Airport, according to the Orlando Sentinel. (10-25-2000)

Ali graduated from Orlando’s Oak Ridge High School in 1981 after emigrating from Egypt to the United States with his parents and two sisters in 1977-78.

He received his commercial pilot’s certificate from Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma and was known for helping to slam one of Osama bin Laden’s planes into a sandpile just off a runway in Khartoum, Sudan in 1992, according to the St. Petersburg Times. (10-28-2001)

Bonnie Sharrit, one of the informants, related additional information that further chats indicated that chat room participant "the Manoman," was taken into custody just after Schneider faxed the AOL chat room transcript to the New York City FBI Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force--the agency that had arrested Ihab Ali.

"I had also faxed the 5-23-99 chat room transcript to Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) Alan Hazen at the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in Fort Lauderdale," said Schneider, adding "Mr. Hazen’s office had feigned an (non) investigation several months earlier in February and March, 1999 into the bribery conspiracies and had issued letters of exoneration to the corrupt officials."

Schneider told us, "I had many illegal Muslims, and when I did not approve their documented felony fraud sham marriages for green cards, they would contact Nancy Abernathy in (former) U.S. Representative (and current 2004 U.S. Senate candidate) Bill McCollum’s congressional office. Miss Abernathy would feign an official congressional inquiry through Susan Dugas and Stella Jarina, and the cases were then surreptitiously removed from my office, after hours, and approved (for a green card and permanent residency)."

Thus far government officials have not been required to explain to Americans how Homeland Security immigration officials and at least one congressional office could be allegedly linked to felony fraud briberies for green cards which likely supported terrorist operations in central Florida. This, when other senators, representatives and high agency officials have been apprised of this Florida conspiracy cover-up over a period of years.

At 4:42 pm Eastern on 5-23-99, "Manoman" [not long before authorities arrested him] continued his participation by providing the following information found in the AOL chat room text sent to Schneider by outside informant Bonnie Sharrit:

"Guess good ole ‘Billy Mc’ (former Florida Republican U.S. Representative and 2004 Senate candidate Bill McCollum) is involved again. He will probably free the innocent taxi driver...Seems they all come here, get okayed and go to NY to get caught. What are our government employees doing to us?"

"...I bet this cabbie made at least $100,000 driving this bastard around. I heard from a friend who dates a Moroccan here in Orlando that the guy she dates drove this person and his comrades and that he made $10,000 every time he drove them to Miami--that is one way..."

A second chat room participant who Schneider believes was one of the outside informants who whited out the identifying address said:

"You are all right. Let’s expose everyone starting with ‘Bill ole boy’ (2004 Senate candidate Bill McCollum), and all those at immigrations; after all those government employees make big bucks to stamp ‘approved....’ They get their checks to hide the foreigners who kill us, why not just bring them all here and have our little hell war here in Florida. The FBI and drug agents are just as much to blame."

"My friend works at Trans Star with illegals; first of all why do they have a job here anyway if they are illegal. I cannot comprehend that part, anyhow, he was waiting in holding and heard two illegals talking about going to immigrations the next day to get their green cards. The one said it cost him over ten thousand dollars and the other said he could set him up with a guy who only charged three thousand. They said that this guy gives up to fifteen hundred dollars to (bribe) immigration people to stamp their green card. Is this for real or just talk?"

At 4:44 pm Eastern, "The Manoman" replied to the informant, offering what amounts to a full confession regarding incredible immigration fraud which he linked to Orlando’s Disney World Theme Park, particularly at its Epcot Center, but also allegedly involving the office of former United States congressman and current U.S. Senate candidate Bill McCollum--all of which may have served to support terrorist operations in Florida before the September 11 attacks.


But no one is asking--even as the DOJ' John Ashcroft and the FBI's Robert Mueller take to the airwaves to warn Americans of coming terrorist attacks this summer. And given what has been allowed to take place in Orlando, Florida tourists could have second thoughts about visiting an area infested with unprosecuted terrorist cell groups.

Indeed, some American families may be wondering why Orlando's al Qaeda cell groups have not already blown up DisneyWorld, felony immigration fraud notwithstanding.

Questions can also be raised as to whether Walt Disney World is knowingly participating in immigration fraud, supporting terrorist operations in central Florida, or acquiring illegal and cheap foreign Moroccan labor via its "Treasures of Morocco" exhibit at Epcot Center. Are American tourist families walking among Al Qaeda "Treasures" at Epcot Center?


Given the "Manoman" discussion in the chat room text provided by informant Sharrit, it would seem that Americans may become concerned that Orlando--and Walt Disney World in particular--is a waiting and prime terrorist bombing target; but both the Clinton and Bush administrations have failed to warn parents planning vacations about the concentration of al Qaeda cell operations in central Florida:

"Lady this is all for real. I am one. It cost me ten thousand dollars to get my green card. I married a gay gal from (Walt) Disney(land). She got three thousand. My contact went to immigrations and paid three thousand dollars for them to stamp me. Then the lawyer charged two thousand for the divorce and the contact got the rest and all are happy. I know for a fact that five immigrations agents, Stella (Jarina), Susan (Dugas), Tim, Paul, and Lou all make over six figures a year just off my contact."

"Nancy (Abernathy), over at Billy’s office (former Florida Congressman and current Senate Candidate Bill McCollum) makes more from what I hear. If they do not get a stamp and are trying to do it the right way, all they have to do is go to Bill’s office and good old Nancy will see to it that they are approved."


"This is a fact girl, I have been there and done this and so have all my roommates and to date I have twelve roommates. All illegals who become legal by who we know, not because we work for it. I work at Epcot (Disneyland) and tell everyone I meet what I know because I now see where it is wrong...No better place to wash money, sell drugs, wash gold and silver and steal gold and silver, find out about up to date US weapons, planes, combat ideas and other military plans than Orlando and New York.

My country has three homes here in Orlando and six in Miami where all this is brought into. I have been there and done it. I had a chance to drive these people, our country helps set things up."

In one of her numerous letters to federal legislators and other officials, Schneider expressed concern that "the courageous Sharrits have been repeatedly monitored, harassed and their family threatened by authorities while corrupt officials are protected and promoted after committing possible treason. Our soldiers are dying at the hands of seditious Muslims while our officials here in America are aiding and abetting illegal Muslims, some of whom are suspected of terrorism."

Quickly and quietly, however, the Bush administration has moved Abad to the front of the deportation line. This, despite hundreds of other prior cases awaiting removal proceedings--begging the question as to whether the administration desires to remove the Muslim operative from the United States before the American people have the opportunity to hear his public testimony before the 9/11 Commission or learn of a grand jury indictment.

While Mary Schneider bravely alerted scores of senators and congressmen, no one really knows if the administration has already allowed Abad to skip the country undetected--the public none the wiser.

FBI: "Forget the briberies and keep quiet"

According to her letters to the government, informants Bonnie and Ed Sharrit told Mary Schneider that their daughter Christine had been married in the Orlando area to the illegal Moroccan named Abad who is linked to Osama bin Laden’s brother.

Their daughter, informant Christine Sharrit, said that Abad had previously lived with Mohammed Atta, the alleged 9/11 lead hijacker. It appeared that Abad had preyed upon Christine Sharrit’s vulnerabilities, utilizing her as a tool to bypass U.S. immigration laws to remain in the country.

Given his background, Schneider is concerned that Abad is likely to have participated in supporting terrorist activities prior to the September 11 attacks and that high government legislators and officials are continuing to look the other way while immigration agency supervisors accept bribes from illegal aliens to obtain permanent residency.

The Sharrits said that incriminating material evidence was confiscated from their home by FBI agents who told them it was for their "protection" that they removed the evidence, after which they gave the couple an ominous warning: "Forget about the briberies and keep quiet." This, despite the fact that their daughter had become involved in an apparent sham marriage with an illegal alien linked to 9/11 terrorism.

We recently authorized a paid search for a Sharrit-Abad marriage certificate from the Florida Division of Vital Statistics in Jacksonville which had not come back before publication of this article. But it is also possible that the records have been expunged by the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to conceal corruption.

Informant Christine Sharrit, the couple’s daughter, told Schneider that immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center in the Fall, 2001, investigative authorities were interested enough in the young woman--a member of the armed forces--that officers from Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense Criminal Investigations Division (DOJ-CID) sought her out and questioned her about her Muslim husband Abad while she was on active duty overseas.

While questioned, Sharrit said CID investigators showed her a photo of a middle eastern man and asked her whether she recognized him. She told them he appeared familiar as one of the six or seven Arabs with whom Abad was sharing an apartment prior to their wedding in early 1997.

Incredibly, the CID investigators told her that the individual in the photo she found familiar was 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. She said she was in shock to learn that Rumsfeld’s CID investigators already knew a great deal of information about her husband’s background, where he had previously resided, but also that he had engaged in a fifth bigamist marriage after their wedding--all of which she was totally unaware.

The CID’s contact with Christine Sharrit regarding her knowledge of the activities of Abad prior to 9/11 raises serious questions as to what the CID knows about the Moroccan’s links to bin Laden, Mohammed Atta and al Qaeda cell groups in central Florida--but also why the administration is in such a rush to get Abad out of the country before the public hears his testimony.

Thus far Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigators have not been questioned about Abad’s links and activities related to Mohammed Atta and Osama bin Laden’s brother, and why they are failing to warn Americans about strong evidence of al Qaeda cells in Orlando and central Florida--a busy summer family-tourist haven.

Current advice today from DOJ’s Ashcroft and the FBI’s Mueller consisted of imploring Americans to "be on the alert" instead of sealing the country’s borders, enacting intensive immigration law enforcement, and severely punishing public officials who engaged in obvious felony fraud and bribery to assist terrorist operations in Florida before and after 9/11.

Questions also remain as to why high officials in the Bush administration allowed bin Laden’s brother to leave the country without an intensive and thorough investigation regarding his Orlando, Florida links to Abad and other al Qaeda operatives in Florida.

Schneider’s multiple communications over the past six years indicate that certain members of both the Senate and House of Representatives have committed gross malfeasance and failure in their oversight responsibilities during the Clinton and Bush administrations regarding clear, credible, extensive and ongoing patterns of immigration fraud which enabled the propagation of terrorist cell groups in Florida and other states.

Jeb Bush took control of hijacker flight records

Lead hijacker Mohammed Atta took numerous taxicab rides in August, 2001, just before the 9/11 attacks, to and from Huffman Aviation Flight School in Venice, Florida--just south of Sarasota, according to MadCowMorningNews.com. The website reported that Yellow cab driver Bob Simpson said Atta was accompanied by Huffman’s owner Rudi Dekkers during two of the trips which were confirmed in the cab company’s Sarasota office log books.

WKMG TV-6 in Orlando reported that Mohammed Atta was using a pay phone at Orlando International Airport (OIA) in late August, 2001--just before the attacks--according to a surveillance camera tape. Officials said Atta had called a number in the Middle East from the airport at the exact time that a Saudi name "al-Qahtani was turned away from entering the U.S. at OIA by immigration agent Jose Melendez-Perez. (1-19-2004)

According to Mad Cow Productions, Simpson took Atta and Dekkers once to a restaurant in Venice and another time, he picked the two up at the residence of former Huffman employee Charlie Voss, in whose home hijackers Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi lived for a week when they arrived in Venice.

Also confirmed by the Yellow cab office manager was the fact that the FBI "expressed a keen interest" in the cab rides Atta had taken with the company’s other driver, who worked nights.

Huffman’s Dekkers issued what may have been a false statement in sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in March, 2002 that "his relationship with the terrorist ringleader had been distant and had ended the previous December, 2000--nine months before the attacks.

MadCowMorningNews also reported that the day after the 9/11 attacks the local police in Venice had collected all the files detailing Dekkers’ relationships and business with the hijackers.

Curiously however, one local law enforcement official said, "The FBI took all our files, everything." Then he added, "they loaded two Ryder trucks right outside that (police station) window, then drove them right onto a C-130 military cargo plane at Sarasota airport which flew out with [Governor] Jeb Bush aboard." And there went all the hijacker evidence.

Governor Jeb Bush has never been asked to publicly testify by anyone about where he took all the Florida flight school records pertaining to both dead and remaining Muslim pilots still in Florida.

The documents, confiscated by Governor Bush, would reveal whether the alleged hijackers possessed the necessary skill to fly jumbo jets, but also information regarding their test scores, personality ratings, residences, financial payment records and flight training after-action reports, etc. All this, while also having met in private with his brother, President George W. Bush, the night before the attacks at the Colony Beach and Tennis Club at Longboat Key, Florida.

9/11: No Grand Jury, No Prosecutors, No Justice, No Accountability

The Sharrits said for a period of time prior to the September 11 attacks, their daughter’s husband was engaged in a suspicious activity picking up another Muslim referred to as the "Czar" each Sunday at Orlando International Airport.

The couple added that a bag found in the back seat of the car driven by their daughter’s husband contained thousands of dollars at a time when he was unemployed and that he had also been stopped by the local sheriff / police and found to have marijuana debris in his car. The Sharrits reported the illegal Moroccan’s highly suspect activities to the Drug Enforcement Administration officials without receiving any response.

Astonishingly, Schneider told us that "a government form completed by acting supervisory special agent Richard McGahey, dated just two weeks prior to 9/11 indicated that the Orlando U.S. Attorney’s office refused to prosecute a felony fraud sham Muslim marriage conspiracy involving 50 Muslim marriages which in some cases I had documented discrepancies and conflicting answers in videotaped, separate in-depth testimonies."

[This is documented on Orlando INS investigation form G-164, ORL-INV-0**, dated August 28, 2001, for Operation " * ** "--14 days prior to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.]

Curiously, neither the Congressional Joint 9-11 Intelligence Committee investigation nor the 9/11 Commission have heard the public testimony of Mary Schneider regarding why United States Attorneys in Florida refused to prosecute and fully investigate potential Muslim terrorists just two weeks before 3,000 Americans were murdered.

Commissioner Jamie Gorelick has referred to 9/11 warnings in President Bush's intelligence briefings during the summer before the attacks as "frantic" and "enough to set your hair on fire." Bush’s August 6 briefing said "al Qaeda was already in the United States." One would think so--given the unprosecuted shenanigans in Florida. But Mary Schneider’s warnings started three years before 9/11.

The 9/11 mass murder has not merited so much as a grand jury investigation with career prosecutors uninfluenced by politicians.

And sadly, even the loyal gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight opposition party failed to mount a media blitz when the President and Vice-President were permitted to testify quietly together and in private with the 9/11 Commission--a mockery of the American judicial system that would be laughable in any courtroom or even a television or movie drama.

"By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down." Proverbs 29: 4 NIV

Letter from Mary Schneider to Members of the Congressional Select Committee on Intelligence, May 9, 2004: "...In my letter to you members on January 19, 2004, I again apprised you, for the third time, of the following: This same illegal Moroccan Muslim case, ***** ******** ********, was also referred to in my letter dated August 9, 2003, to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, in which I apprised him of over 70 illegal Muslim cases surreptitiously removed from my office and illegally approved or never denied (green cards). RIDGE DID NOT RESPOND TO MY CONCERNS, NOR TAKE ANY KNOWN ACTION....Three months after 9/11, out of extreme concern and alarm for this nation’s national security, I wrote you three times, on 12/8/2001, 12/17/2001 and again on 1/27/2002, regarding the above entitled matter of our national security, that of illegal Muslims bribing Orlando officials for green cards with the ensuing, supreme privilege of United States citizenship..."

Dos Mundos Bilingual Newspaper-Mexican Carves Path for Future Invasion

Dos Mundos Bilingual Newspaper

Hector Barreto: He was “just” an immigrant

By Carmen Cardinal


Like many newcomers to this country, Hector Barreto came to find a better way of life.

He always planned to return home to his beloved home town of Guadalajara, Mexico, someday, but for much of his life, he was as native to our community as anyone, etching his way through the land of milk and honey and pursuing the American dream.

Perhaps what separated him from other newcomers was the vision that he brought with him. He dared to dream.

He had a way of turning his dreams into realities. That’s what dreams are for. Like many other immigrants, his life started out hard, with a lot of backbreaking and thankless jobs. It was his dream to be his own boss. Eventually, he opened his own restaurant, which would inspire many other Mexicans like him to follow their dreams.

The Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce began in 1978, helping those budding entrepreneurs who needed a united voice. It was his voice that they first heard.

He dreamed of a nationwide Hispanic organization that would address the needs of the struggling Hispanic entrepreneurs, to break language barriers and give credibility to those valiant souls who dared to take their place in America’s business communities. He lived to see the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) grow and prosper and become a force to claim a place in Corporate America. He proudly bore the title of chairman emeritus for the USHCC.

He was an inspiration to anyone who met him, even to those who thought he was too ambitious for his own causes and those of other Latinos. He never seemed to stop and many did not understand his tireless drive.

After all, many thought, he was just an immigrant. Many immigrants to this country are content to eek out a living, staying one step ahead of the law and enjoying their time off after a hard day. They seek to evade society and not be part of it. At least, that’s what many expect from immigrants.

But not Hector Barreto.

Not only did he want to eek out his place in this great nation, he wanted to gouge out a slice of it for future generations to follow.

He was always working on a project. One would always start a greeting to him by asking, “What are you working on now, Hector.”

There would always be an answer.

What audacity would it take for a mere immigrant to help found the USHCC; and to dare to gain an audience with presidents of the United States and of Mexico on behalf of Hispanic entrepreneurs.

He dared to plan to unite entire hemispheres of the planet, forming alliances with all the countries of North, Central and South Americas. That’s what he was devoting his efforts towards during his end of days.

He had great plans for the Latino communities in Kansas City. He envisioned a corridor of Latino owned businesses, thriving and partnering with businesses in Latin America. With the great influx of Latinos to this area, it is finally happening.
Successful entrepreneurs in Kansas City, like Manny’s Restaurant owner, Manny Lopez, and Taqueria Mexico’s owner Ricardo Romo, all point to Hector and say “he was my mentor.”

He was a pioneer in Kansas City, plowing fertile soil for those who followed, along with Ana Riojas, Frank Perez, and other early leaders.

This immigrant would push on, eventually becoming an advisor to the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. He was able to communicate with Reagan on terms that, as a proud Irishman, Reagan could understand. It was the start of a friendship and a strategic partnership.

From Reagan, he went to advise George H.W. Bush. Bush appointed him to various task forces, councils and advisory boards, including his appointment as president of the National Economic Development Agency.

Barreto became a tireless advocate for closer commercial ties between the United States and Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

Hector Barreto has been honored in his lifetime by many civic and business organizations, including Dos Mundos as the recipient of the Allegria Award given to a community member who served others beyond the call of duty.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Most important, he was inducted into the hearts of the many Kansas Citians who met him and were inspired and mentored by him. Our community will be sadder for his loss. He will be greatly missed.

AP Wire | 05/28/2004 | Saudi Man Held on Immigration Charges

AP Wire | 05/28/2004 | Saudi Man Held on Immigration Charges

Posted on Fri, May. 28, 2004



Saudi Man Held on Immigration Charges


Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - A Saudi believed to have indirect ties to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers was arrested on immigration charges and could face deportation, authorities said.

Hasan Saddiq Faseh Alddin, 34, was a roommate of a close friend of Saudi hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid al-Midhar in the 1990s, the Department of Homeland Security said in a news release. The two hijackers died aboard the American Airlines jet that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Alddin's onetime roommate left the United States the day before the terrorist strikes, officials said. A Homeland Security spokeswoman, Lauren Mack, declined to elaborate or identify the roommate.

Alddin, arrested Thursday near his home in Vista, a San Diego suburb, was placed in deportation proceedings and is being held without bail. Theimmigration charges resulted from two convictions for domestic violence.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington was unaware of the arrest, said a spokesman, Nail Al-Jubeir.

Alddin entered the United States in August 1994 on a student visa, married a U.S. citizen and became a legal permanent resident in 1999, the department said. Foreign nationals are subject to deportation for domestic violence.

Officials said it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

Last week, authorities deported a former San Diego State University student who was at one time suspected of helping the hijackers. Mohdar Abdullah, 26, spent nearly three years in jail before being returned to Yemen.

After his arrest, investigators had said Abdullah was a friend of Hani Hanjour, al-Midhar and Alhazmi. Those allegations were not addressed when he pleaded guilty to lying to a U.S. immigration officer and received a six-month sentence.


BW Online | May 31, 2004 | Working...And Poor

BW Online | May 31, 2004 | Working...And Poor

Working...And Poor
In today's cutthroat job market, the bottom rung is as high as most workers will ever get. But the political will to help them seems a long way off

Katrina Gill, a 36-year-old certified nursing aide, worked in one of the premiere long-term care facilities near Portland, Ore. From 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., she was on duty alone, performing three rounds on the dementia ward, where she took care of up to 28 patients a night for $9.32 an hour. She monitored vitals, turned for bedsores, and changed adult diapers. There were the constant vigils over patients like the one who would sneak into other rooms, mistaking female patients for his deceased wife. Worse was the resident she called "the hitter" who once lunged at her, ripping a muscle in her back and laying her flat for four days.
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Last month, Gill quit and took another job for 68 cents an hour more, bringing her salary to $14,400 a year. But like so many health-care workers, she has no health-care benefits from her job. So she and her garage mechanic husband pay $640 monthly for a policy and have racked up $160,000 in medical debts from their youngest son Brandyn's cancer care.

In New York City, Joseph Schiraldi, 41, guards one of the biggest terrorist targets in the world: the Empire State Building. For eight hours a day, he X-rays packages, checks visitors' IDs, and patrols the concourse. But on $7.50 an hour in the priciest city in the U.S., he's a security officer without security -- no pension, no health care, and no paid sick days, typical for a nonunion guard.

Bellingham (Wash.) day-care teacher Mandy Smith can't afford child care for her 6-year-old son, Jordan, on her take-home pay of $60 a day. Neither can commercial cleaner Theresa Fabre on her $8.50 an hour job. So her son, Christian, 9, waits for her after school in a crumbling upper Manhattan library where the kids line up five-deep to use one of two computers. The librarian doubles as a de facto babysitter for 40 or so other kids of the working poor.

Over the past year, the loss of lucrative white-collar work offshore has dominated news headlines, provoking economic anxiety among middle-class families who fear they may be next. But there's an equally troubling yet more often overlooked problem among the nation's working poor -- for whom the raises come in dimes, the sick days go unpaid, and the benefits are out of reach.

Today more than 28 million people, about a quarter of the workforce between the ages of 18 and 64, earn less than $9.04 an hour, which translates into a full-time salary of $18,800 a year -- the income that marks the federal poverty line for a family of four (table). Any definition of the working poor, of course, involves some blurry lines. Some, like Gill, who make just above the $9.04 wage, often bounce around the threshold with their chaotic hours, slippery job security, and tumultuous lives.

There's also the fact that about one-third work only part-time, and more than a third are 18- to 25-year-olds, who may still live at home but may eventually work their way up the ladder. Some perhaps moonlight with a second job. And others may have spouses whose incomes lift their families up. But most poor workers tend to marry people with similar backgrounds, leaving both to juggle jobs as janitors, health aides, and retail workers that don't raise them into the middle class.

Overall, 63% of U.S. families below the federal poverty line have one or more workers, according to the Census Bureau. They're not just minorities, either; nearly 60% are white. About a fifth of the working poor are foreign-born, mostly from Mexico. And the majority possess high school diplomas and even some college -- which 30 years ago would virtually have assured them a shot at the middle class.

TOIL AND TROUBLE
Now, though, most labor in a netherworld of maximum insecurity, where one missed bus, one stalled engine, one sick kid means the difference between keeping a job and getting fired, between subsistence and setting off the financial tremors of turned-off telephones and $1,000 emergency-room bills that can bury them in a mountain of subprime debt.

At any moment, a boss pressured to pump profits can slash hours, shortchanging a family's grocery budget -- or conversely, force employees to work off the clock, wreaking havoc on child-care plans. Often, as they get close to putting in enough time to qualify for benefits, many see their schedules cut back. The time it takes to don uniforms, go to the bathroom, or take breaks routinely goes unpaid. Complain, and there is always someone younger, cheaper, and newer to the U.S. willing to do the work for less. Pittsburgh native Edward Plesniak, 36, lost his $10.68-an-hour union job as a janitor when the contractor fired all the union workers to make way for cheaper, nonunion labor. So far, Plesniak has been able to dredge up work only as a part-time floor waxer. The pay: $6.00 an hour, with no benefits. "I feel like I'm in a nightmare," says the married father of three. "And I can't wake up."

What's happening in the world's richest, most powerful country when so many families seem to be struggling? And what can be done? There's no question that robust growth is a potent remedy: Recall that the full-employment economy of the late 1990s reduced the ranks of the working poor. Five years of a 4% jobless rate bid up wages across the board. That brought a healthy cumulative 14% pay hike, after inflation, to those in the bottom fifth between 1995 and 2003, when they averaged $8.46 an hour, according to an analysis of Census data by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal Washington research group. The share of the workforce earning subpoverty pay actually shrank eight percentage points, to 24% last year, or 5 million fewer than in 1995.

That's real progress, certainly. But it still leaves many workers earning less than what it takes to lift a family above the poverty line. In other words, the boom didn't last long enough to bring more people into better circumstances. Now, in the current recovery, there has been brisk growth again, as well as high productivity and job creation. But so far, wages at the low end haven't budged much. Many of today's economic gains are flowing to profits and efficiency improvements, and the job market isn't tight enough yet to lift pay for average workers, much less for those on the bottom. Of course, if the recovery continues apace, a strong labor market could bump wages up.

Perplexing, too, are signs that many jobs the working poor hold won't, over time, lead them out of their straits. Five of the 10 fastest-growing occupations over the next decade will be of the menial, dead-end variety, including retail clerks, janitors, and cashiers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, while full employment in the 1990s may have brought higher pay for people like health aides and maids, the ladder up into the middle class has gotten longer, and they are more likely than in other periods to remain a health aide or a maid.

A 2003 study of 1990s mobility by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that the chances that poor Americans would stay stuck in their strata had increased vs. the 1970s. Given the economy's strong showing in the '90s, that's a concern. "If current trends persist, a greater and greater share of wealth will keep going into the hands of the few, which will destroy initiative," worries James D. Sinegal, CEO of Costco Wholesale Corp., which offers above-average pay and benefits in the retail sector. "We'll no longer have a motivated working class."

So although a fast-growing economy and full employment are necessary for powering wages at the bottom, they may not be enough in today's economy. To survive in waves of increasing global competition, U.S. companies have relentlessly cut costs and sought maximum productivity. That has put steady downward pressure particularly on the lowest rungs of the labor force, while rewarding the growing ranks of educated knowledge workers. In this increasingly bifurcated job market, workers who lack skills and training have seen their bargaining power crumble relative to those higher up the scale.

For one thing, globalization has thrown the least-skilled into head-on competition with people willing to work for pennies on the dollar. And a torrent of immigration, mainly poor rural Mexicans, has further swelled the low-end labor pool. Together, these trends have shoved many hourly wage occupations into a worldwide, discount labor store stocked with cheap temps, hungry part-timers, and dollar-a-day labor in India, Mexico, and China, all willing to sell their services to the lowest bidder. Against such headwinds, full employment offers only partial protection.

What's more, other traditional buffers don't help low-end workers as much anymore. While labor unions were largely responsible for creating the broad middle class after World War II, bringing decent wages and benefits to even low-skilled employees such as hotel and garment workers, that's not the case today. Most U.S. employers fiercely resist unionization, which, along with other factors, has helped slash union membership to just 13% of the workforce, vs. a midcentury peak of more than 35%.

GRAVITATIONAL PRESSURE
The federal minimum wage, too, long served as a bulwark against low pay by putting a floor under the bottom as the rest of the workforce gained ground. At $5.15 an hour, it remains 30% less than it was in 1968, after inflation adjustments. It hasn't moved in nearly seven years, victim of a divided political Establishment in which programs for a relatively powerless group often get jammed up in bipartisan gridlock.

Add to all this the fact that a college degree, the time-tested passport to success, is today less available to those without family resources. The cost of college has exploded, leaving fewer than 5% of students from bottom-earning families able to get that all-important diploma. The result: The pattern of low skills crosses the generations. Columbus Harris, 50, a $6.75-an-hour driver for the elderly in Pine Bluff, Ark., couldn't help his kids with college. So his middle son Christopher joined the Army to get an education. "I worry about the fact that a lot of the gains in educational attainment are concentrated among the youngsters from rich and upper-middle-class families," says Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

There are no easy policy prescriptions for improving the working poor's prospects. Measures with any real impact are almost always costly and ignite political fights over priorities. Lifting the minimum wage by $1.50 an hour, for example, would boost the incomes of more than 10 million workers. A majority of the gains would flow to adult women over age 20, mostly nonunionized workers in retail, according to an analysis by the EPI. To support the wage floor over the long term, the minimum would need to be linked to some measure of national living standards, such as inflation or average wages, to keep many families from simply slipping back into working poverty after a few years. Yet trying to hike the minimum wage always sparks a monumental battle in Washington. That's just what's happening now, after Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D.-Mass.) proposed to lift it to $7.00 an hour.

Writing some new rules for globalization would shore up low-end workers, too. Some Democrats advocate linking trade pacts to labor rights, by, for example, requiring countries that want favored trade status to allow workers to form unions. The idea isn't to eliminate low-wage competition -- an impossibility, in any case -- but simply to blunt its sharpest blows, particularly on less-skilled, predominantly male factory workers. Many economists calculate that globalization has been responsible for about one-fifth of the decline in blue-collar pay since 1973. But just think back to the fight over NAFTA a decade ago to see how far such proposals might go in Congress.

Curbing the flood of unskilled immigrants, assuming it could even be done, also would ease some of the gravitational pressure on low-end pay. Slowing the pace of entry, or shifting the flow toward higher-skilled workers, would mitigate the stiff wage competition among everyone from janitors to sales clerks. Yet if anything, political momentum seems to be moving in the opposite direction, such as President Bush's proposals earlier this year to set up a temporary worker program.

A hike in unionization would also give the working poor some leverage over wages. The rule of thumb used to be that union workers earn about one-third more than nonunion ones. But the differential has ballooned with the collapse of pay scales at the bottom. Today, blue-collar workers in a union make 54% more than unorganized ones and are more than twice as likely to have health insurance and pensions, according to an EPI analysis. Because unions boost workers' bargaining power and help them win a greater share of productivity gains, any resurgence would give low-wage workers more clout to deal with the effects of factors such as globalization, immigration, and technology. Still, the U.S. isn't likely to alter the laws governing unionization any time soon. Employers have body-blocked such attempts since the late 1970s, arguing that profits and economic growth would suffer. Today, labor law reform still goes nowhere, snagged in the broader political deadlock that grips the U.S.

America's divisions surface only sporadically as a pressing issue. Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) put them at the core of his Presidential campaign, castigating the "two Americas" divided into rich and poor. This prompted John Kerry to adopt a populist tone for a while. Some Democrats urged him to target policies perceived as unfair to both low- and middle-income workers, from trade pacts to tax cuts for the wealthy. Kerry still mentions these issues, but they're hardly a central plank of his platform. Of course, that could change if Edwards ends up joining the ticket. A recent poll found that 78% of voters care more about fighting poverty than they do about gay marriage. "The issue is sitting out there for a candidate to seize on, but voters want to hear new solutions," says Democratic political consultant Tom Freedman.

WHERE HOPE LIES
Still, historically, class-based appeals have had scant resonance in U.S. politics. In addition, there's little sustained outcry from the working poor themselves, who often are overwhelmed by their personal difficulties and politically disengaged. Only about 40% of them vote, vs. 74% of the investor class, according to the Russell Sage Foundation. "If you look at families in the bottom 20%, they are dropping out of the political system like flies," says foundation President Eric Wanner.

A few initiatives, though, have broad enough appeal to win support from both sides of the divide. Lawmakers from both political parties are struggling to devise ways to help the uninsured get health coverage. While they're split on this subject, too, nearly everyone agrees that something should be done. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers poor kids, was established by Democrats and Republicans alike, though a lot of children remain uncovered. Any expansion, or a broader solution that involves expanding Medicaid, would help many working poor adults, among the most likely to need coverage.

Similarly, the 1996 welfare reform effort has brought a rough consensus today that Congress should help welfare moms with child care so they can work. Washington could broaden eligibility for child-care help to include more working-poor families, too. Richer educational loan programs would also help. Given the country's soaring deficits, though, Congress isn't inclined to devote big resources to such projects. One place to look for money might be in the tax code, but in an election year, the high-profile investor class and the organized elderly are likelier to get any new largesse than the working poor.

Government may be stalled, but some employers are stepping up, at least in small ways. A number of leading companies, including Bank of America Corp. and Marriott International Inc., have programs to aid their low-wage workers -- they offer small emergency loans or grants to employees who face sudden crises, help them with child care, or find creative ways to make their workdays more flexible. "Assuming employers have answered the question as to whether they're paying market-based wages and benefits, there are still a lot of other things they can do, some of them relatively low cost," says Donna Klein, president of Corporate Voices for Working Families, a business group in Washington that sponsored a recent study on programs for low-wage workers.

Still, even those who push above a poverty-level wage can fall into a trap. Between $7 to $10 an hour, they make just enough to start losing what little safety net there is, says Ron Haskins, a former Republican staffer who helped spearhead the 1996 welfare reform, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. They often become ineligible for food stamps or child-care assistance, and the earned income tax credit starts phasing out for a single parent at $13,730. "For them, Horatio Alger does not apply," says Haskins.

Women, especially single ones, have the most difficulty. Often, their wages barely cover the cost of child care. Low-income women's pay is actually up since 1973, but they still average just $7.94 an hour, much less than their male counterparts. That's one reason the U.S. has the highest child-poverty rate in the industrialized world. "Our low-income mothers work twice as hard as those in any other industrial country -- but their kids are the worst off," says Syracuse University public policy professor Timothy M. Smeeding.

THE WAL-MART EFFECT
Lately, there's a new name for the downward pressure on wages: the so-called Wal-Martization of the economy. Most recently, the dynamic played out starkly in the five-month Southern California supermarket strike that ended in February. The three chains involved, Safeway (SWY ), Albertson's (ABS ), and Kroger (KR ), said they had no choice but to cut pay and benefits drastically now that 40 Wal-Mart Stores (WMT ) supercenters would be opening up in the area. The reason: Wal-Mart pays its full-time hourly workers an average of $9.64, about a third of the level of the union chains. It also shoulders much less of its workers' annual health insurance costs than rivals, leaving 53% of its 1.2 million employees uncovered by the company plan.

Now, after the strike, new hires will have lower wages and bear a much higher share of health costs than current union members, making health insurance too pricey for many of them, too. Eventually, many grocery jobs could wind up paying poverty-level wages, just like Wal-Mart's. "I used to load workers into my truck to take them down to United Way," says Jon Lehman, a former manager of a Louisville Wal-Mart who now works for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union. In his 17 years with Wal-Mart, he kept a Rolodex with numbers for homeless shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens. "They couldn't make it on their paychecks."

It's a prospect that deeply worries workers like Sherry Kovas. Over 26 years, she worked her way up to $17.90 an hour as a cashier at Ralph's Grocery Co. (KR ) store in the posh California enclave of Indian Wells. To Kovas, the Medici-like lifestyles of her customers -- the personal chefs, the necklaces that would pay her yearly salary -- never seemed so much an emblem of inequality as a symbol of what was possible. Now, though, after the banks foreclosed on some strikers' homes and the repo men hauled away their cars, there's already talk of grocery store closings in the area because of the new Wal-Mart supercenter up the road. "They say Wal-Mart's going to kill us," says Kovas, who fears losing the three-bedroom modular home that she, her five-year-old son, husband, and mother-in-law share. "But I'm 44 years old. I'm too old to start over."

The U.S. has long tolerated wider disparities in income than other industrialized countries, mostly out of a belief that anyone with enough moxie and hustle could lift themselves up in America's vibrant economy. Sadly, it seems that path is becoming an ever steeper climb. Strong recovery and vigorous growth will again get wages growing. But as a new phase of prosperity begins, it may be time for some added advantages for those struggling in a brutal global economy. Otherwise, the outcome could be more polarization and inequality. The farther down that road the country goes, the harder it will be to change course.


By Michelle Conlin and Aaron Bernstein

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Children crossing

Children crossing

Children crossing
But at the border intersections, they go unprotected until the politicians find courage

May. 28, 2004 12:00 AM


U.S. immigration policy isn't just about words on paper or officers in uniform.

It confronts some of the most basic human drives: hunger, thirst, parent/child relationships.

At Arizona's southern border, those human needs intersect with other, more complex concepts: supply and demand, cheap labor, greed.

It's no accident that the intersection forms a cross. Arizona's southern deserts have become graveyards.

Migrants are dying in the desert at three times the rate of last year - and last year broke the record set just the year before.

The grim seasonal procession of death is a horror of sun-baked corpses made worse by political inaction.

Or, more accurately, wrong action.

A new $10 million Arizona Border Control initiative will make it harder to cross the border illegally. But the only one smiling is the smuggler, who gets to charge more for a journey that gets riskier with each new enforcement strategy.

All the attempts to close the border - the new personnel, the fences, lights, sensors and technology - have not stopped illegal immigration. Border enforcement can't stop it as long as jobs for immigrants remain plentiful and the bogus papers necessary to obtain those jobs are easy to get.

What has changed is the old pattern of migration, in which people came here to work but went home regularly to see family. Now they stay. Going back and forth is too dangerous and expensive.

Now they send for their children.

Immigrant parents are entrusting their children - some just babies - to the same smiling smugglers whose increasing ruthlessness is recognized by law enforcement. And there are more of them than before.

When caught, many children are sent to shelters in Mexico. Growing numbers wind up in U.S. custody. Some become the littlest corpses on Arizona's deserts.

That's more than just a tragedy. It is a flesh-and-blood reason why President Bush and Congress have to show the courage to make immigration reform a reality - despite the risks and challenges that path represents in this presidential year.

There are plenty of reform proposals, including two separate guest-worker plans championed by members of Arizona's delegation. Sen. John McCain and Reps. Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe have one; Rep. Raul Grijalva is working with Sen. Edward Kennedy on another. President Bush has also voiced support for a guest-worker proposal.

The buzz about reform has reached Mexico.

Some undocumented migrants have said they want to get into the country before any "amnesty" goes into effect. Amnesty is not likely, but the reaction to reform proposals south of the border adds urgency to the need for action.

The United States needs a realistic process to legalize workers who are currently here and get willing new workers safely to the employers who want them. Reform can restore the traditional patterns of migration so that children are not put in danger.

It will be controversial and difficult. But politicians have to start now. Because now is when men, women and children are dying in Arizona's deserts.