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Saturday, July 10, 2004

Justice unserved

Justice unserved
We live in a world in which busloads of American senior citizens are ferried daily to Mexican border towns to buy cheap prescription drugs.

American seniors with ailments to treat and, more importantly, dollars to spend have become the centrifugal force around which an entire international industry spins: U.S. tour organizers and guides, as well as Mexican pharmacy chains, physicians and a host of entrepreneurs selling goods in the Mexican "tourist zones" through which those drug customers pass all have benefited enormously from the ready availability of cheap medicines.

In Nogales, Sonora, there are more than 100 pharmacies dispensing prescription drugs. It is a multimillion-dollar business driven by one of the most complex issues of our times: the soaring cost of drugs in this country.

Given all that, the arrest and detention in Nogales, Mexico, of a 66-year-old east Phoenix retiree for failing to observe Mexican laws that have proved extraordinarily malleable and arbitrarily enforced seems strange, indeed.

Raymond Lindell concedes he unwittingly broke the laws of Mexico when he bought 270 capsules of Valium, a powerful prescription tranquilizer. After being arrested seven weeks ago, he now stands accused of illegally buying prescription drugs for transportation across the border. He faces up to five years in prison for his crime.

Certainly, it is foolish to enter a foreign country without some understanding of what that nation deems illegal. But not only were laws governing prescription-drug sales across the border enforced arbitrarily before Lindell happened into what appears to be a sting operation, they continue to be enforced arbitrarily against both pharmacies and tourists.

The arrest of Lindell and about a dozen other Americans in Nogales has simply driven the prescription-drug sales business - as well as the tourist trade generally - to other Mexican border communities. The prescription-drug sales business in Algodones, for example, is thriving while virtually all the Nogales businesses that rely on the tourist trade are suffering terribly. Why is the crackdown occurring only in Nogales?

The most serious of Lindell's mistakes - failing to obtain a prescription from a Mexican physician - also is the most confusing. Customers seeking prescription drugs need only procure a script for a fee to get their prescriptions filled. One East Valley Tribune reporter wrote that the pharmacist who sold her 100 muscle-relaxants wrote out a "prescription" for her for an extra $20. "It will say your name and take once a day or once an hour, whatever you want," she reportedly was told. Small wonder prescription buyers have come to view such laws as procedural red tape.

Still, it is difficult not to sympathize with Nogales Police Chief Ramses Acres, who rightly observed to Republic reporter Dennis Wagner that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Indeed, you can fairly hear the frustration in Acres' voice as he complains about the criticism of the Nogales arrests. Americans complain bitterly about prescription drugs bought in Mexico showing up in their high schools, being peddled by their teenagers. But as soon as he takes action, the complaints multiply.

The ultimate resolution, of course, is a solution to the ongoing American health-care debacle.

In the meantime, a way must be found to free Raymond Lindell. Keeping this retiree in jail serves no country's sense of justice.

Immigrants help give America its identity, not its identity crisis

Immigrants help give America its identity, not its identity crisis
Jul. 11, 2004 12:00 AM


The central thesis of Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington's book, Who Are We?, is his claim that "the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives."

He raises fears that the United States will not remain "a country with a single language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture," but become transformed into two cultures and two languages.

Huntington's polemic is the latest expression in a long history of alarms about immigration to the United States. As successive waves of immigrants arrived in the United States over two centuries - Irish, Italians, Jews, Chinese, Germans, Eastern Europeans and many others - they were always greeted by nativist protests targeted against the different languages, appearances, religions and lifestyles, and against the workplace competitiveness of the new arrivals. Europeans today are familiar with the anger and fear directed at immigrants in various continental countries.

But Huntington says that his analysis is different from the time-worn and predictable screeds, because this wave of immigration is so profoundly different from any before it and therefore more dangerous to American identity. He postulates six reasons why he believes the successes of past immigration are irrelevant to the present situation. They are:


• Contiguity: the fact that the United States shares a porous 2,000-mile border with Mexico.


• Scale: that Hispanics total about one-half of all immigrants entering the United States, so that for the first time in U.S. history, half of those entering the nation "speak a single non-English language."


• Illegality: that estimates of Mexican illegal immigrants, which ranged as high as 350,000 per year in the 1990s, mean that today an estimated 4.8 million Mexicans make up 69 percent of the illegal population.


• Regional concentration: that the proportions of Hispanics continue to grow in the regions of heaviest residence, such as the Southwestern states and California.


• Persistence: that the current wave of Hispanic immigration shows no signs of slowing.


• Historical presence: that because major parts of the American Southwest were once part of Mexico, "Mexican Americans enjoy a sense of being on their own turf that is not shared by other immigrants."

Certain of Huntington's six points are matters of unarguable fact, such as that the United States shares a 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Others points are matters of conjecture, such as whether immigration flows will be persistent or will be sustained at the scale of recent years, because the flows depend on relative economic conditions in the sending nations and on the scale of the demand for workers in the United States in years to come. But it is in drawing his overarching conclusions from these six points that Huntington goes badly off course.

Unfortunately, as with navigating across a great sea, a few degrees of misjudgment here, a few degrees of miscalculation there, and a few degrees of plain old wrong-headedness in the end will bring the ship out in a very strange place.

If Columbus had used Huntington's method of reckoning, there would be no United States to worry about its immigrant history because this land would still be in the hands of the Native Americans, and Columbus would have searched for gold in Antarctica.

Huntington comes out so wrong for an ironic reason: He doesn't ascribe enough strength to America's culture, the attraction of its way of life or the power of its institutions.

Each immigrant has made a personal calculation that life in the United States is better than life in his or her own country and has acted upon that conviction. Today's Hispanic immigrants uproot themselves, disrupt the lives of loved ones, confront dangers and face new circumstances not in order to re-create their own country in the United States, but to learn America's ways of success and progress.

That personal commitment to work and striving repeated millions of times is a powerful source of energy for the American future. In amazingly few years, Hispanic immigrants and their children adapt language, work practices and lifestyles to the American way. They serve patriotically in America's armed forces, they pay taxes, they revitalize neighborhoods, they sustain entire industries and they make consumer products affordable by their hard work.

In characterizing the new Hispanic immigrants strictly in terms of their first language or their lack of Anglo-Protestant lineage, Huntington neglects one of the most powerful dimensions of Hispanic immigration: Hispanics in America are young, statistically more youthful than the national average age.

Therefore, while Japan, Germany, France and Italy project dramatically slower rates of growth for their populations and labor forces - with unknown implications for their economies - the United States is gaining a youthful workforce, new family formations, emerging markets and energetic, ambitious young leaders.

In his hand-wringing over the tainting of Anglo-Protestant bloodlines, Huntington overlooks the impressive evidence from America's most successful cities that diversity of population is a driving force in the new economy. Diversity has become a building block of the new paradigm of economic development, as the interweaving of backgrounds and perspectives contribute to creativity and the convergence of fresh ideas and productive streams of thought generate economic momentum. Metropolitan areas from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles, and many smaller cities in between, are experiencing solid population growth, surging retail trade and exploding entrepreneurship due to Hispanic immigration. That immigrant-fueled diversity is also making it possible for the United States to build bridges of commercial and cultural exchange to other parts of the world.

The greatest error in Huntington's alarmist conclusions, however, is that he misunderstands America's fundamental identity. It is not an identity based on how people look, or what language they learned first, or over how many generations their absorption of Anglo-Protestant values occurred. Rather, America's is an identity based upon acceptance of the rules of law and of democratic processes of lawmaking; of respect for personal liberty and private property; of understanding our system of free enterprise and adopting our national narrative of striving and accomplishment. It has been my experience that those values the newest immigrants accept enthusiastically. After all, those values are why they took the trouble to come.



Henry Cisneros is the chairman and chief executive officer of American CityVista, a joint venture to build homes in the central areas of many of the nation's major metropolitan areas. He formerly was mayor of San Antonio.

Friday, July 09, 2004

ANCHOR BABIES: BORN IN THE USA-ENORMOUS TAXPAYER COSTS - PART II By Stephany Gabbard and Frosty Wooldridge posted Jul 9, 2004, 00:00

ANCHOR BABIES: BORN IN THE USA-ENORMOUS TAXPAYER COSTS - PART II By Stephany Gabbard and Frosty Wooldridge posted Jul 9, 2004, 00:00

DentonRC.com | President touts immigration plan to Hispanic group

DentonRC.com | News for Denton, Texas | AP: Texas

President Bush told the nation's largest Hispanic rights group Thursday that America should make a place, albeit a temporary one, for a huge number of immigrants now working illegally in the country.

In a brief address via satellite from Washington, D.C., Bush also praised the fast-growing Hispanic population as a fertile ground for the creation of small businesses that are helping to fuel the U.S. economy.

"Our economy is stronger and our society is better off because Hispanic businesses are thriving and creating jobs across America," he told delegates to the League of United Latin American Citizens' annual convention.

John Kerry, the expected Democratic nominee for president, is scheduled to address LULAC on Saturday morning.

Bush took a veiled swipe at Kerry on the subject of education, saying that politicians undermine success in the classroom when they criticize his administration's efforts to increase standardized testing for students.

"They are choosing bureaucracy over our children," the president said during his 15-minute speech.

Kerry doesn't oppose testing as a way to boost accountability in public schools, but he says the Bush administration's system is too rigid and too driven by ideology, and that the president's tax cuts have hurt education funding.

Bush touted his tax cuts to Thursday's audience, saying they have helped Hispanic businesses and the rest of the economy.

With a population of nearly 40 million, Hispanics are the nation's largest minority group.

The research group HispanTelligence predicts that by 2010 the number of Hispanic-owned enterprises will grow from about 2 million to 3.2 million, and that their combined revenue will jump 70 percent to more than $450 billion.

But at the other end of the economy are Hispanics working in the United States illegally, and for them Bush said he will urge Congress to approve a temporary-worker program that would allow them to fill jobs unwanted by Americans.

"I know this proposal would be good for our economy," Bush said. "It will bring millions of hard-working people out of the shadows of American life. ... America is the nation of the open door, and it must stay that way."

Hector Flores, LULAC's national president, said afterward that he's glad the president is thinking about immigration, but said his plan doesn't go far enough.

"We need a fair and just immigration law," said Flores, who supports "earned legalization" for those undocumented workers — particularly those from Latin America — who have been in the country for many years.

"They are no different than other immigrant groups coming to America through Ellis Island," Flores said, referring to past waves of U.S. workers from abroad. "I'm not advocating an amnesty (for all illegal immigrants), but I don't think a temporary guest-worker program is the answer, either."

Bush, who pleased the LULAC crowd by peppering his speech with a little Spanish, has led the Republican Party's efforts to gain stature among Hispanic voters, who have traditionally cast their ballots for Democrats.

He got 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2000 presidential election, well up from the 21 percent received by GOP nominee Bob Dole in 1996.

Deutsch firm on rejecting illegal workers

Deutsch firm on rejecting illegal workers
Deutsch firm on rejecting illegal workers

By Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 9, 2004



Saying illegal immigrants should be returned home "by plane or by boat," Democratic U.S. Senate contender Peter Deutsch opposes giving any kind of legal status to undocumented farmworkers.

Deutsch, a Broward County congressman since 1992, was responding to a question Wednesday from The Palm Beach Post editorial board about the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act, a bill making its way through the Senate that spells out a process for illegal farmworkers to attain legal status.

He said he is against creating levels of "sub-citizenship" and believes the issue of illegal immigrants is an enforcement problem that the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be held accountable for.

"Sending people back is the law," Deutsch said. "It's a discouraging thing to say we should encourage illegal activity."

His comments drew fire Thursday from growers and advocates of the undocumented laborers they employ.

Walter Kates, labor relations director for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, said it is unrealistic to think that all of the illegal farmworkers in this country can be rounded up and sent home.

He said giving migrant workers a way to attain legal status, but not citizenship, will help stop abuses in the industry and allow growers to have a more reliable source of labor.

Farmworker advocates agreed.

"Even conservative Republicans are saying we can't, and we aren't, going to deport the millions of undocumented workers who are here," said Bruce Goldstein, co-executive director of the Washington-based Farmworker Justice Fund Inc. "It's unrealistic, a pipe dream and a way of avoiding immigration issues."

Florida agriculture, a $7 billion-a-year industry, relies on an estimated 300,000 undocumented farmworkers.

"We have in agriculture a workforce estimated to be 70 percent undocumented," Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, said in support of the Senate bill in December. "That's problem number one: We have an illegal workforce that is feeding our nation."

The bill, introduced by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was negotiated over several years by representatives of both the farmworkers and growers and has bipartisan support in the Senate.

That means it also has bipartisan opposition.

"This whole integration issue is not Republican or Democrat. We have people from both sides in support of the bill and against it," said Kates, who said he was disappointed in Deutsch's position on illegal farmworkers, but not surprised.

Deutsch's major opponents in the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Bob Graham -- former Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas -- both support the farmworker bill.

"I'm in favor of having a strong immigration policy but the flip side of that is we've been inconsistent in how we enforce it," Penelas said. "The reality is these people are here now and they are working and this is a way to incorporate them into society."

The bill targets only agricultural workers, guaranteeing them wage rates and giving them permanent residency if they follow specific standards. For example, a worker who completes 2,060 hours of agricultural labor, or 360 workdays, during a six-year period is eligible.

Mexican ID card reviewed - 07/09/04 Mexican ID card reviewed

Mexican ID card reviewed - 07/09/04
Friday, July 9, 2004
Wayne Smith

Salvador Salcedo, assistant general manager of Plaza Mexico in Eastpointe, has had the Mexican matricula consular card since he came to the United States in 1991. "It's like a passport. It has all of your information on it."
By Edward L. Cardenas, and Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News
Wayne Smith
The card allows Mexican citizens to open bank accounts, use a public library and conduct government business.
Getting a matricula consular

The matricula consular proves the residency of Mexicans living abroad. It can be obtained locally at the Mexican Consulate, 645 Griswold, Suite 830, Detroit. Phone (313) 964-4515.

To get the card, the following is needed:

* Proof of Mexican nationality, including birth certificate and certificate of nationality.

* Official identification with photo.

* Proof of local address, such as utility bills.

* Payment of a $26 fee.

Source: Mexican Consulate

Mexicans living in Macomb County would be able to use a popular Mexican ID card to conduct government business under a plan to be considered by the county board.

The move would make Macomb only the second county in southeast Michigan to accept the card, in addition to Wayne, according to the Mexican Consulate in Detroit.

A committee of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners on Monday will discuss whether to recognize the Mexican Consular Identification Card as an accepted form of identification for thousands of Mexicans living in the county.

“The previous identification cards by the Mexican government had significant flaws in them,” said Douglas Fouty, program director in the Macomb County Human Resources Department. “This has greater quality and background security features that make the card more reliable.”

The card, known as a matricula consular card, allows Mexican citizens to open bank accounts, use a public library and conduct government business.

The matricula consular, which is valid for five years, is issued to Mexican nationals who have lived in the country for at least six months and comply with identification requirements. The card can be obtained in 45 cities throughout the United States, including Detroit.

Of the 12,400 Hispanics living in Macomb County — about 1.5 percent of the county’s population — about 7,700 identified themselves as Mexicans, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

The matricula consular card is available to all Mexicans living abroad, whether they are in the country legally or not, said Gerardo Macias, community affairs coordinator for the Mexican Consulate in Detroit.

Macias’ staff has been visiting cities across the state to urge Mexicans to sign up for the card.

The Mexican government has offered the card for years, but it was revamped after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to include security features such as magnetic strips and computerized signatures.

“It looks like a (Michigan) state identification, and it is very secure,” Macias said.

Macomb County’s personnel committee will consider the resolution at a meeting Monday in the Administration Building in Mount Clemens.

If approved by the committee — and the full Board of Commissioners later this month — Macomb would accept the card for county business such as obtaining birth and marriage certificates, tax records, court files and other documents.

Sheriff Mark Hackel, after meeting with members of the Mexican Consulate this spring, already has told his staff to accept the card as identification by Mexican citizens.

Other local law enforcement agencies that accept the card include Allen Park, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Census figures probably underestimate the number of Mexicans living and working in Macomb County, according to those who work with the local Mexican community.

Lori Johnson, a nurse at New Haven Community Services who is active in Hispanic issues, said many Mexicans who visit her clinic have received the card. She encourages those who haven’t to apply for one, she said.

“We are telling these people to get the card at whatever cost,” Johnson said.

Salvador Salcedo, assistant general manager of Plaza Mexico in Eastpointe, said he’s had a Mexican matricula consular card since he came to the United States from Mexico City in 1991.

The 42-year-old from Detroit said he doesn’t need to use the card as much now that he’s a naturalized citizen, but it comes in handy when he visits Mexico.

“It’s like a passport,” he said. “It has all of your information on it.”

If Mexican citizens don’t have the matricula or another valid form of identification, they can be fined as much as $50 by Mexican authorities when they return home, he said.

Salcedo said he thought the county’s proposal to accept the identification card is a good idea. The card also makes life easier for Mexican immigrants here in Metro Detroit, he said.

“A lot of Mexican immigrants don’t have a driver’s license, so they can’t cash a check at a bank,” he said. “But they can if they have a matricula consular.”

MySA.com: Bush defends ed, job policies

MySA.com: Metro | State
Bush defends ed, job policies
Web Posted: 07/09/2004 12:00 AM CDT

Rebeca Rodriguez
Express-News Staff Writer

In a nod to the nation's growing Hispanic population, President Bush defended his record on education and jobs to more than 1,500 convention-goers Thursday while vowing to make America "a welcoming place for Hispanic people."

Bush spoke during a live satellite feed to delegates at the 75th annual convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens at the Convention Center.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts is slated to address the convention Saturday morning, also via satellite, capping a busy week of activity in both campaigns.

Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, was scheduled to speak at the event Wednesday, but her appearance was canceled after Kerry announced North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his running mate.

With less than four months remaining before the election, both presidential campaigns are ratcheting up their cross-country stumping and are expected to focus heavily on so-called swing states, which include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio.

Electoral votes in those states, many of which have substantial Hispanic populations, could be pivotal in deciding the presidency in November.

In his 15-minute speech Thursday, Bush aimed for inclusion, telling participants that "in the United States, our aspirations matter more than our origins" and that "el sueño americano es para todos " (the American dream is for everyone).

He hailed his tax cuts and said the No Child Left Behind Act has helped improve educational achievement for all students, including Hispanics.

He also resurrected his proposal for a guest-worker-style program that would give temporary legal status to immigrants who work in jobs that are difficult to fill with U.S. citizens.

Although Bush did praise the dedication of U.S. troops in Iraq, he veered from mentioning the war on terror by name, choosing instead to focus on domestic issues.

"He completely skirted the issue (of the war) because he knows that issue is affecting him right now," said Jose Fernandez, a delegate from Florida.

Recent surveys, such as the Battleground 2004 poll out of George Washington University, show Bush and Kerry running virtually neck-and-neck.

That makes courting swing states and special-interest voters particularly crucial.

For Hispanics, Bush's focus on immigration is a positive first step, said Gabriela Lemus, LULAC's director of policy and legislation.

"I don't know that any other president has been that open about it," Lemus said. "But we've been given a very vague proposal, and what we need is something more concrete."

Bush's defense of his educational policies fell flat with convention-goers, who did not applaud when he mentioned No Child Left Behind.

"Hispanic children are not being educated like Bush thinks," said Samuel Esquivel, LULAC's state director for Arizona. "He was just campaigning."

Many said they were looking forward to hearing more about Kerry's commitment to education Saturday.

Bush said last year's tax cuts, which many Democrats have criticized, helped spur economic growth.

Laura Medrano-Carrillo a LULAC national vice president for the Northeast, said Bush's brief speech was too general and parroted what he has been saying for months.

On the flip side, Kerry's campaign failed to see the value of addressing the convention in person, said Medrano-Carrillo, a Massachusetts resident.

"They just blew it," she said. "They missed a big opportunity to meet the grass roots."

Although the Democratic Party long has considered itself the political bastion of Hispanics and other minorities, that is changing as the needs of voters become as diverse as the populations to which they belong.

"It's no longer use us and forget us," said Fernandez of Florida.

Democrats "cannot take us for granted anymore," he said.

The Times & The Sunday Times, Malta Immigrant numbers swell

The Times & The Sunday Times, Malta
Immigrant numbers swell
Another 26 illegal immigrants were brought to Malta yesterday by the Armed Forces of Malta in a group made up of 17 men, nine women and a baby.

The baby was the second to be found among a boatload of immigrants in two days. On Wednesday, a group of 26 included an eight-month-old infant.

The newest arrivals bring to 217 the number of illegal immigrants reported to have landed here since the beginning of June.

The AFM said a fishermen on board a trawler reported spotting a boat, with a number of persons on board, drifting about 55 nautical miles south of Malta yesterday morning. A patrol boat was deployed to take the immigrants on board and bring them to Malta.

They were taken to the Maritime Squadron base at Hay Wharf where they were handed over to the police.

Tallahassee Democrat | 07/09/2004 | Egyptian man faces charges of illegal-alien smuggling

Tallahassee Democrat | 07/09/2004 | Egyptian man faces charges of illegal-alien smuggling
By Catherine Wilson

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


MIAMI - An Egyptian man described by U.S. authorities as one of their most-wanted alien smugglers was ordered Thursday to be sent to Washington to face charges that he ran a ring that illegally moved people from the Middle East and Latin America to the United States.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube ruled that Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah was the man named in the indictment and ordered him to be shipped to the District of Columbia for trial.

Assistant federal defender Orlando do Campo objected that Abdallah has a common Arabic name and was living in a large Egyptian community in Guatemala City, Guatemala, before he was arrested in Ecuador on his way to Egypt. He was flown to Miami last week.

"As far as we know, he has no connection to any of these activities," do Campo said outside court.

Four farmworkers identified a photograph of Abdallah from Guatemalan government files as the man who smuggled them into the United States, immigration agent Lloyd Temple testified. The smuggler used more than five Arabic and Hispanic aliases.

"The question is whether they were smuggled in by my client," do Campo said. He said it was in the best interests of the farmworkers to implicate Abdallah because they avoid immediate deportation as federal witnesses.

When charges were announced last week, Michael J. Garcia, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said putting Abdallah out of business "makes America a safer nation."

None of the illegal immigrants Abdallah allegedly dealt with was accused of being involved in international terrorism.

The Seattle Times: Mexican smugglers stay busy quietly mining their business

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Mexican smugglers stay busy quietly mining their business
MEXICALI, Mexico — Jose Mendoza came to this sun-baked border city to work at a used-car lot for his friend Raul "El Chino" Zepeda. When he arrived, he found the yard littered with junked automobiles and the inside of the office splattered with mud.
Zepeda was not selling cars; he was spending his time in a hole behind the office, working with two other men to dig a tunnel to California, authorities allege.

According to Mexican court records and attorneys, Zepeda had a message for his friend: Keep quiet and work, or you will die.

Working 10 hours a day as Mendoza stood lookout, Zepeda and his helpers dug through the floor of a windowless room behind the office, 15 feet down a shaft, then north toward Calexico, Calif., prosecutors allege.

Advancing one to two feet a day, working in shorts and boots in the desert heat, the men labored undetected for four months, under the border road, beyond the border fence, on toward a safe house that Zepeda had bought on the U.S. side.

They had nearly made it when a water crew in Calexico accidentally dug into the passage and alerted U.S. authorities.






Today, Mendoza, Zepeda and two other men are in an overcrowded Mexicali jail, accused of tunneling by pick and shovel 700 feet from the car shop to a neighborhood of pastel-colored homes in Calexico.

The dig was among a surge in tunnel discoveries since border security tightened after the 2001 terrorist attacks. In the past three years, authorities have unearthed 13 subterranean incursions into the United States, most of them along the border between San Diego and Calexico. By comparison, 15 were found in the 12-year period before the attacks.

Last Friday in San Ysidro, Calif., when a U.S. Border Patrol bus sank into a shallow passage near a parking lot by the border, another tunnel was found. The 15-foot-long, unfinished tunnel had been started in a garbage-strewn lot in Tijuana. Its opening was covered by an old mattress. The tunnel stretched 10 feet into the United States.

U.S. authorities worry that tunnels — used primarily to smuggle drugs — also could pass weapons or terrorists. Tunnels typically are found through tips from informants or by chance, as with Zepeda's alleged work or another tunnel found in Calexico when its earth ceiling collapsed as a Border Patrol agent drove over it.

After the discovery of the Calexico tunnels, which were a few blocks from each other, federal authorities sank sensors into the earth, marking the first attempt to use sophisticated mining technology to detect the work of manual laborers driven underground by greed or fear.

Neither Zepeda, the short and burly alleged ringleader of the Calexico tunnel crew; nor Mendoza, 55; nor their alleged accomplices, Joaquin Lazaro, Mendoza's 25-year-old former taco helper from Oaxaca, Mexico, and Guillermo "El Loco" Liera, 43, a car mechanic from Mexicali; had any experience tunneling.

The men claim they helped build the tunnel under orders from drug traffickers. Mexican authorities believe that they were out for profit, and have charged them with conspiracy and racketeering.

Along the border, the feats of the tunnel builders fascinate Mexican and U.S. law-enforcement authorities.

Tunnels under the border have stretched as long as 400 yards, and have turned up under lift-up staircases, fireplaces and storm drains. They start and end in nondescript houses, businesses or farms tucked among thousands of other buildings along the border.

Some are equipped with sophisticated ventilation and lighting systems. Cart and rail networks are sometimes used to carry dirt and drugs. In 2002, tunnel builders dug under a parking lot used by federal customs agents in Arizona. Last year, Tijuana smugglers popped up from a storm drain in a parking lot in San Ysidro, a few feet from the busiest border crossing in the world.

"It was extremely clever. A feat of engineering," said Misha Piastro, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, standing over the storm drain used as the tunnel exit.

The Tijuana passage was unearthed about the same time that Zepeda and his crew were hard at work in Mexicali, 120 miles east.

Zepeda, a small-time drug smuggler who had served time in an American jail, claimed in his initial statements to Mexican police that he had been forced to dig the tunnel to pay drug traffickers who had accused him of stealing some of their cocaine.

He has since recanted his initial account, saying through his attorney that it was obtained through torture. The men said they were promised $200 to $300 a week to sell and fix used cars. But authorities say the men knew what Zepeda was really up to.

He had rented an auto yard under a McDonald's sign on traffic-clogged Avenida Cristobal Colon, across the street from the fenced border with Calexico.

He told Mendoza, who suffers from heart problems, to attend to occasional customers. Meanwhile, in the windowless room behind the office, the digging began.

The deeper into Calexico they went, the more fearful they became of being buried alive, said Mexican authorities. The fears were well-founded, experts said.

"It's a dangerous activity — what they were doing," said Nicholas Crawford, director of the Center for Caves and Karst Studies at Western Kentucky University.

Another challenge, experts say, was determining directions underground. The men did not appear to have used compasses or laser equipment that could have kept them on a straight path.

Zepeda said he intended to come up in a house he had purchased on Second Street. But the tunnel veered at several points as it inched under the border road, which is patrolled by border agents.

When the Calexico water crew discovered the work Sept. 12, Mexican police found Mendoza and Lazaro sleeping in the office just outside the tunnel opening, authorities said. Zepeda and Liera were arrested later when they showed up for work.

Mexico closer to South America than ever - PRAVDA.Ru

Mexico closer to South America than ever - PRAVDA.Ru
Mexico closer to South America than ever
07/09/2004 12:50
In an attempt to reduce the excessive dependence of the Mexican economy on the United States, Mexico"s President Vicente Fox discussed further political and trade integration with his South American counterparts at Mercosur block summit in Argentina this week.

Brazil and Argentina welcomed Fox decision to associate Mexico to the Mercosur trade block which also comprises Paraguay and Uruguay and has Peru, Chile and Bolivia as associated members.

Mexico"s move toward its Southern neighbours comes after one decade of alignment with Washington, in which the country entered into the NAFTA trade block after its worst financial crisis in years. Ties with the White House where at their best when George W. Bush announced the US had no better partner in the world than Mexico. That was in 2000. However, September 11 attacks made Bush to change its view on foreign affairs and Mexico lost its privileged position.

Then, as money and migration yank Mexico toward the north, President Vicente Fox began seeking balance in the South. According to last estimations, as much as eighty-nine percent of Mexico's legal exports go to the United States, while ten percent of its population lives there. The largest share of its income from tourism and foreign remittance - and the huge market in illegal drugs, for that matter - comes from the United States. That explains why Fox is anxious about reducing the huge dependence of his country on US economy.

While Mexico"s domestic front is on fire after Fox"s powerful spokesman resigned amid a scandal with the political ambitions of President"s wife, its leaders look for a new level of cooperation with their Latin fellows. In declarations to the Argentine press, Fox said Mexico wanted to enter into Mercosur as an associated member. Argentina and Brazil welcomed Fox"s realignment, as well as they did when Venezuela, Peru and even Cuba asked the same.

Now Mercosur, despite its internal trade disputes, includes most powerful Latin American economies: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay, while Venezuela and Mexico wait for their formal membership approval. However, Venezuela does not lose time: President Hugo Chavez, announced the creation of a joint oil company with Argentina (Petrosur) which also leaves the door open to the further participation of other State controlled Latin American companies ( i.e. Brazil"s Petrobras and Mexico"s Pemex).

However, Mercosur ambitions go beyond boosting trade records. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico do not hide their intention to look for a new permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council for Latin America, even if they have been rivals in competing for the possible position. Russia, according to PRAVDA.Ru sources in Argentina, would support the initiative.

Hernan Etchaleco

Thursday, July 08, 2004

City native reflects on immigration - - The Times Republican

City native reflects on immigration - - The Times Republican
City native reflects on immigration



By C.J. BACINO

Editor's Note: This is the article written by Marshalltown native C.J. Bacino that appeared in "Fringe" Magazine. Bacino is currently working on a documentary on immigration to Marshalltown.


In his 1929 autobiographical novel, Look Homeward Angel, Thomas Wolfe wrote of his search and desire for comfort, peace, ease and reassurance. He ultimately surmised one of the most quotable statements of twentieth-century literature: "You can never go home again."

The angel Wolfe referred to was more concrete than ethereal. "For six years it had stood on the porch, weathering. It held a stone lily delicately in one hand. The other hand was lifted in benediction."

I left my hometown in 1988 to go to college in Chicago. This year, at age thirty-four - and like so many others before me - I too attempted to go home. Not because I had to. Not to spend time with my aging parents. Certainly not for a vacation. I went home specifically to test Thomas Wolfe's notion. The stone angel with its funereal lily-of-the-past in one hand and hope for the future in the other was the perfect metaphor.

Home for me is Marshalltown, Iowa. Located in the middle of the state, Marshalltown has a population of about 25,000 and was established in the mid 1800s. Like most medium-sized towns in the Midwest, Marshalltown tracks its roots to the railroad and is supported on an economy of agriculturally-related businesses and manufacturing. The stereotypical Main Street with its American Flag-draped street lights runs by the Courthouse Square. In the summertime, Marhalltonians bring their lawn chairs and mosquito repellent to the square to hear the municipal band play all of the great Sousa marches.

Growing up in Marshalltown, I always felt safe. I spent my nights playing hide-and-go-seek with the neighborhood kids until my dad whistled from our front door for my return. In the summer, we spent our days swimming at the public pool in Riverview Park or riding our bikes along brick sidewalks under giant Iowa oak trees. You didn't dare do anything wrong because your mom would certainly hear about it in church or worse - you'd be "written up" in the local newspaper, The Times-Republican.

Marshalltown has always prided itself on its schools. From Mrs. Devolder in the first grade to Mrs. Mitchell in high school (Iowa's Teacher of the Year in 1997 and fourth nationally), I always had great teachers. As students, there were few differences between us. Except for the occasional son of a doctor or daughter of a lawyer, we were all pretty much from the same economic background: middle class. We all spoke the same language. And we were all white.

But something happened to Marshalltown in 1991. The local packing house was having difficulty finding labor for what were becoming increasingly undesirable jobs. The result was an influx of Mexican immigrants. The first wave took Marshalltown by surprise. They were mostly single men, sometimes living with as many as fifteen in one house. Because of a variety of shifts, they were coming and going at all hours of the day and night. They parked their cars on their front lawns. They chased women. They loved to drink. Mother Marshalltown's proud banner of conservative morality was beginning to tear.

As the years passed, the demographics of the Mexican inhabitants began to change. "Hispanic Origin" citizenship swelled to between fifteen and twenty percent of the total population. Cavorting single men were replaced by families with traditional family values. The Mexican population at the packing house grew to an estimated ninety percent, with a total payroll of nearly $60 million. Many workers were promoted. Others left the packing house and found work in manufacturing or opened businesses of their own, including several stores and restaurants on Main Street. All along, the unemployment rate remained below three percent, the overall crime rate never significantly increased, and overall property values never declined. In fact, they increased substantially.

But the haze of resistance and ultimate fear of an integrating culture still hovered over Marshalltown. "Mexican go home!" wasn't shouted as much as it was whispered. To understand, one must be able to communicate. The language barrier remains a premier obstacle.

In addition to viewing Spanish as an important part of their cultural heritage, all of the Mexican immigrants I spoke with noted the importance of learning English in order to be successful anywhere in America. Marshalltown, in its typical Midwestern "help thy neighbor" fashion, has responded with a variety of programs.

St. Mary's Catholic Church offers classes in English as does Iowa Valley Continuing Education. The programs at Iowa Valley include several levels of English as a Second Language as well as vocational training in areas such as electrical engineering. Childcare is provided and all of these courses are offered for free, minus the cost of books. The classes are open to all citizens of Marshalltown, regardless of race. The program at Iowa Valley is obviously successful; almost 1,000 adult students passed through the doors last year.

Perhaps the most significant change is happening at my alma mater, Woodbury Elementary School. A full-fledged bilingual program has been established where students are taught the same curriculum in English and Spanish. Standardized test scores are increasingly in line, an amazing accomplishment for tests the U.S. Government requires be given in English. In truth, the program is so successful that there is talk of extending it through middle school and several white families in Marshalltown are now on a waiting list to have their children bused to Woodbury in order to become dual language educated. What was once the least desirable elementary school in Marshalltown has become the crown jewel in an already premier school district.

In addition to formal education, other advancements are being made to overcome the language barrier. It's not uncommon to see Spanish language signage in Marshalltown, including at white-owned retail establishments and restaurants. A special medical clinic has been established for Spanish speakers and the local hospital and emergency responders all provide interpreters.

The Chief of Police in Marshalltown has a particularly daunting challenge. Because of instances of corruption within local law enforcement agencies in Mexico, many immigrants arrive with a basic mistrust for the Marshalltown Police Department. One Mexican immigrant I spoke to told me a story of a friend-of-a-friend who was pulled over for "no other reason than being Mexican." The Chief of Police would very much like to eliminate even the perception of such an incident. In his own words, his primary goal is "to provide equal protection to all citizens, regardless of immigration status." He worries that some Mexican immigrants may not feel comfortable contacting the police in the event of an emergency. To this end, he is actively trying to recruit Spanish-speaking officers of Mexican origin. His office has also produced a Spanish language video, "Bienvenitos a Marshalltown," which explains common city procedures and ordinances. In Marshalltown, it's important to keep a mowed and uncluttered lawn. It's also important to know what to do in the event of a tornado. The video is free to anyone who wants a copy and is shown regularly at the packing house's new-hire orientation.

If all of this isn't beginning to speak of "the little city that could," Marshalltown recently sponsored a Hispanic Heritage Festival on - yes - the courthouse lawn. The event was heavily attended by both Hispanic and white citizens and the city is looking forward to making it an annual event.

Of course the true test of successful cultural integration does not lie in civic programs, but in the minds and hearts of the community's citizens.

Margie and Andy Andrews are an aging white couple who were born and raised in Iowa and have lived in Marshalltown for most of their lives. Andy retired from the Marshalltown Fire Department and now spends his days wearing overalls and "tinkering" in a shed attached to the back of his garage. Margie used to peddle samples at a local grocery store, enjoys a good piece of gossip and says "worsh" instead of "wash." Their four children have all grown up and left Marshalltown and they eagerly await every return visit. Their political views lean toward the far right and they're quick to criticize the city for any kind of "unnecessary" spending. They live in a neighborhood that was once entirely white. Today, it's heavily inhabited by Mexican immigrants.

Considering Margie and Andy's profile, many people quickly assume that the Andrews' must have a negative reaction to the subject of Mexican integration. When asked by acquaintances why they don't relocate to another, "more desirable neighborhood," Margie answers simply, "Because this is our home and we love it here."

Margie and Andy's next door neighbor, Sara Martinez, is a Mexican immigrant. Listening to the three of them talking on the Andrews' front porch about the begonia Sara gave Margie and Andy last year, it's clear to see that any negative assumptions made about the Andrews are undoubtedly false. When asked about racism, all three share the same sentiment: "There are good people and there are bad people. Race has nothing to do with it."

You could not say that the cultural integration of Mexican immigrants has been perfect or even easy for Marshalltown. Nor could you say that the integration has been successfully completed. Indeed, you couldn't make such statements about any community in America. Perhaps the reason is best explained by the President of Marshalltown's Chamber of Commerce: "We operate on a twenty-sixty-twenty theory. Twenty percent of the people are on board from the beginning. Sixty percent can be persuaded. Twenty percent will never go along." His statement refers to all of the racial groups in Marshalltown.

What you can say, however, is that Marshalltown has made more effort and progress in less than 15 years than most communities in America have made in over a hundred.

And so I consider Thomas Wolfe's angel with the past in one hand and the future in the other. And then I think about my own father who is the son of Sicilian immigrants. He grew up in the same impoverished neighborhood occupied by many of today's Mexican immigrants. His family faced the same misunderstandings and language barriers. Today, he resides in a more affluent location, drives a Cadillac, enjoys a high profile career and was once elected as President of the Kiwanis Club. When I think of the Mexican immigrants in Marshalltown, I have every reason to believe that their joumey - from past to future - will be the same.

As for the question of going home, I can only say that I partially agree with Thomas Wolfe. In my old neighborhood I saw two boys playing. One was white, the other Mexican. But there they were, riding their bikes under the giant Iowa oaks.


C.J. Bacino lives in Santa Fe. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico, former Diversity Consultant to New York Life Insurance, and is currently working on a documentary film about the Mexican immigration into Marshalltown, Iowa.

Pacific News Service > News > Collision Coming Over Farm Worker Legalization

Pacific News Service > News > Collision Coming Over Farm Worker Legalization
Editor's Note: Unions and farm workers are facing off with the Bush administration over a bill in Congress that would legalize undocumented agricultural workers living in the United States. The administration resists legalization in favor of "guest worker-only" proposals -- a tenuous position in an election year where every Latino vote counts.

SOLEDAD, Calif.--Farm worker unions and the Bush administration are heading rapidly towards confrontation over immigration.

After three years of arm-twisting, unions like the United Farm Workers, Oregon's Union de Pineros and the Ohio-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee finally have a bill in Congress -- called AgJOBS -- that would legalize over 1 million agricultural workers living without visas in the United States. But immigrant advocates say the administration, despite a proclaimed interest in Latino votes, has instead played to its right-wing Republican base by launching a national wave of immigration raids.

The unions have even agreed to expansion of already-existing guest worker programs, widely condemned for the extensive rights violations of immigrants imported as temporary workers. But they face the administration's "guest worker-only" proposal, and Bush's declaration that he will not sign any bill granting legal status to the country's 12 million undocumented residents.

Some immigration activists even believe that the raids are intended to send a dual message -- placating anti-immigrant voters while threatening mass deportations if immigrant communities resist a huge expansion of guest worker programs.

Since the wave of raids began in June, the number of deportations has mushroomed. They started in Ontario, Calif., on June 5, when 79 immigrants were arrested and deported. The following day in nearby Corona, another 77 people were picked up. The next raid, netting 15 in Escondido, near San Diego, escalated into the deportation of 268 more by mid-June. Reports of raids spread to urban areas in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, traditionally avoided by the Border Patrol because of their long history of organized resistance.

In upstate New York, agents seized eight workers in a big General Electric research facility in Niskayuna, where they were removing asbestos without adequate protection. The fibers cause a virulent form of cancer, mesothelioma, and the contractor employing the workers, LVI Environmental Services, is under federal investigation for using illegal removal procedures.

The Border Patrol announced that the deportations were part of an ongoing investigation into the asbestos abatement industry in upstate and central New York. The Laborers Union has been organizing immigrant asbestos workers throughout New York and New Jersey in one of the labor movement's most successful unionizing drives. The raids will slow that movement by increasing the fear of deportation among workers already risking their jobs by protesting dangerous conditions.

That fear is spreading in California's farm worker towns as well. "It's no secret that a very high percentage of farm workers are undocumented," says Efren Barajas, a UFW leader. "When people are afraid of being deported, they don't fight about bad working conditions and miserable wages."

In the week before July 4, the UFW organized six simultaneous marches through California valley towns, including a five-day peregrination up the Salinas Valley. They combined protest over the raids with a call for passage of the farm worker AgJOBS legalization bill.

Unions have become some of the strongest supporters of legalization because fear of deportation undermines the organizing efforts of immigrant workers. Two decades ago, most unions saw undocumented workers as job competition and even strikebreakers.

But in the 1990s that attitude changed, as immigrants became a large part of the workforce in many industries and unions began organizing them. The UFW was a leading voice at the AFL-CIO's Los Angeles convention in 1998, which adopted a new pro-immigrant position, including a call for amnesty. "The way we see it, they come to this country to make life better for their families," Barajas says. "They're hard-working people, who pay taxes like anyone else. They're not going away, and making people legal is the right thing to do."

But legalization for farm workers has a price. In three years of hard negotiations with growers, farm worker unions got agreement to a broad amnesty, but had to agree to relax restrictions on growers' ability to import temporary contract workers.

East Coast growers have been accused of massive abuse of guest workers under the existing H2-A program. The North Carolina Growers Association is being sued by North Carolina Legal Aid for maintaining a blacklist of workers who protest bad conditions.

Farm worker advocates say they've negotiated labor protections into the compromise, giving guest workers the right to go to court, but doubt remains that this will enable them to challenge their employers. And unions hope the program won't expand out of the Southeast, where most guest workers are currently employed.

"Our interest is legalizing people," Barajas says. "We had to swallow some things in the bill to get that... If we legalize millions of farm workers, it will be much better than what we have now, and we don't see any other way to get that."

And there lies the coming confrontation with Bush. The administration proposes vast new guest worker programs, and says it will not agree to any amnesty. Unions say they've already lined up a veto-proof majority in the Senate, but Congress' Republican leadership will undoubtedly protect the president in an election year, and prevent a vote that might force his veto.

But because it is an election year, Latino votes count for legislators, even if they've lost their importance to Bush. "If Bush doesn't see that," Barajas laughs, "perhaps we should have a new president."

PNS contributor David Bacon (dbacon@igc.org) is a freelance writer and photographer who writes regularly on labor and immigration issues.

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- Newly found border tunnel began in same building as one last year

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- Newly found border tunnel began in same building as one last year
July 8, 2004

PEGGY PEATTIE / Union-Tribune
A Mexican federal investigator examined the ladder that descended about 25 feet into a border tunnel discovered yesterday by contractors working for the Border Patrol. The tunnel started in the same Mexican house where a drug-smuggling passage was found last year.

Authorities discovered another illegal tunnel connecting Tijuana and San Ysidro yesterday, this one originating in the same Mexican house where a sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnel was found last year.

The discovery, about 1:30 p.m., came after contractors working for the Border Patrol began digging on a narrow road along the border fence at a spot where it dipped slightly, about 200 yards from the San Ysidro border crossing.

The digging was prompted by the discovery Friday of another makeshift tunnel beneath the road.

Smugglers for years have used cross-border tunnels to transport drugs and people.

It was unclear last night how far into the United States the tunnel found yesterday runs or what it might be used for.

Mexican authorities were surprised to find that the tunnel originated at the same opening in the same building they raided last year.

The building had been locked up at the time to prevent more tunneling, but the locks weren't in place yesterday when Mexican authorities walked inside.

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said workers had not yet filled in the tunnel found last year because of engineering issues.

Agent Mark Pothier said the tunnel found yesterday appeared to be from new digging. Nobody was in the house, and the agents did not find any drug paraphernalia.

A Border Patrol agent said the tunnel, about 3 feet below the road, was lined with a 36-inch-diameter plastic pipe and had a lighting system. The lights were not on when the agents pierced the tunnel.

The lighting system was plugged into an outlet at the Mexican house, but power there had been cut off.

The tunnel discovered Friday didn't have any reinforcement, was just a few inches below the road and ran from a hole under a mattress in a vacant Mexican junkyard to a cement levee about 10 feet inside the United States.

Fourteen tunnels – including this newest one – have been discovered on the U.S.-Mexican border since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when the government stepped up border enforcement.

The tunnels are being found much more often than between 1990 and 2001, when 15 tunnels were found.

"We are seeing a trend," said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The tunnel found in April 2003 was near where agents found a truck loaded with 3,300 pounds of marijuana. The truck had a hole built into the bottom.

That tunnel, about 3 feet wide with an electrical wiring system and walls made of plastic tubing and wood, ran from the rented house to a border parking lot used by tourists who walk into Mexico.

Three people were convicted in that case, one in Mexico and two in the United States. Officials suspect that tunnel was the work of one of Baja California's drug cartels.

Yesterday afternoon, investigators were looking around near the spot where that tunnel ended.

One Reporter's Opinion - Talk Radio: The Great Communicator

One Reporter's Opinion - Talk Radio: The Great Communicator

One Reporter's Opinion - Talk Radio: The Great Communicator
George Putnam
Saturday, July 9, 2004
It is this reporter's opinion that we are witnessing a broadcasting phenomenon: instant communication, instant reaction. They call it TALK RADIO. The politicians have discovered its value more than most. They know there is nothing as formidable as a potential voter - telephone in one hand, ballots in the other - and the demand to be heard.

Several examples come to mind. In January of 2004 President Bush launched his ill-fated worker program. He proposed that foreigners - illegal aliens - be brought into this country for a three-year work period and that at the end of three years if all went well, they would add another three years. There was such an uproar on talk radio that Bush almost immediately withdrew his proposal. Those opposed to his plan charged that, though the president didn't call it that, it was amnesty - that he was actually handing out citizenships by the back door.
Story Continues Below


Talk radio ended the president's proposal. Have you heard of it since?
Here in California Governor Schwarzenegger, striving to balance his budget, proposed a way to cut back costs at the dog pounds. His idea was to shorten the waiting period for the euthanization of the ill-fated animals from a six-day waiting period to three days. Animal activists and others went berserk and again, talk radio carried the message and the governor ran for cover, returning things to the way they were.

Another big issue - driver's licenses for illegal aliens (previously rejected) - was rejuvenated and the governor, through talk radio, was hit by overwhelming opposition.

By far the biggest uproar came in June when the Temecula border patrol station formed a special mobile patrol group to conduct a series of illegal alien sweeps in three inland communities. A 12-man group made more than 450 arrests resulting in praise and scorn. These border patrolmen who had taken an oath to protect our borders - our sovereignty - were under severe attack for doing their assigned duty.

Activists launched a vicious attack on the border patrol for simply doing their job - for doing what the government pays them to do. A Cardinal Barnes led the attack, directing that pro illegal alien activity be supported by the Catholic Church and it was discovered that the Mexican consulates were spearheading the opposition activity. Then Undersecretary of Homeland Security Asa Hutchinson, bowing to pressure from the Mexican government, told members of Congress that the raids had been executed without the approval of higher ranking officials, that they'd violated policy and the chain of command.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, Robert Bonner issued a directive that future enforcement operations in the outlying areas surrounding checkpoints would have to be approved by border patrol headquarters IN WASHINGTON. Morale at the Temecula border patrol station sunk to its lowest level. The woman director of that installation resigned after 23 years of dedicated duty. And when talk radio called border patrol agents, they were told the agents had been muzzled; they were not to speak on the subject. But it didn't stop there.

The White House entered the fray. Citizens had been calling, e-mailing, and faxing Asa Hutchinson in support of efforts to round up and boot out illegals in such great numbers that Hutchinson complained he was overwhelmed, that he couldn't get his work done. Trey Bohn, a White House media spokesperson, called several talk show hosts demanding they remove Hutchinson's e-mail address and phone numbers from their Web sites. These calls are coming from the White House daily. Talk radio is refusing to budge.

If you are as concerned as we are, it's time to speak up and remind the president that Article 4, Section 4 of our Constitution is explicit: "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against INVASION and against domestic violence."

Why has no action been taken to terminate the illegal invasion of the United States by foreign nationals? Are we bowing to the Mexican government? Why has there been no deportation of those who are here illegally? Why has there been no criminal action taken against those who employ them? As this is written, California Congressman Rohrabacher is putting forth legislation that will stop an ill-conceived plan that could afford the benefits of Social Security to illegal aliens from Mexico - another outrage! What next?

Talk radio today is the greatest weapon in the battle for our sovereignty at the grassroots and the heart of America. It is the great communicator that keeps its citizens informed and provides them with a forum wherein we all have the opportunity to have our voices heard. It provides the best opportunity to speak up as often as possible while America continues to be under attack.

Here are some phone numbers for citizens to voice their opinions on this subject:


Border Patrol phone: 619-216-4182
Border Patrol fax: 619-216-4047
Washington office: 202-927-1422
Asa Hutchinson: 202-282-8010

You have the telephone, you have the ballot - now do what is right!! Speak up America!

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: City Starting Task Force

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: City Starting Task Force

Reported By Roxanne Lerma

JULY 7, 2004 - A high speed chase tore through the city of La Joya, late Tuesday night.

The scene plays out all too often in western Hidalgo County.

"Over and over again. It's a very common occurrence here in La Joya," said La Joya Police Chief, Isidro Casanova.

Once again, an accused illegal alien smuggler was behind the wheel..

"I was scared and that's why I ran, " exclaimed Alberto Paz, the accused suspect.

When it was all over, the pursuit ended with Paz and three other immigrants in custody. One was hiding in the trunk.

"I had a job in construction, but I gave it up because my friends asked me to try and get them from Starr County to McAllen," said Paz.

Chief Casanova says the run-ins with smugglers are stretching his resources. The expressway in La Joya has become a major pipeline for immigrant traffickers. Two, even three times a week officers are involved in a pursuit, and immigrant traffic stops happen daily.

Casanova says, "this is just a very small amount of illegal activity that we're catching compared to what is actually going through!"

Chief Casanova says the situation has gotten so bad, that he is considering partnering up with U.S. Border Patrol to begin some sort of joint task force to stem the flow of illegal crossings.

"It's getting to be a real headache for us," claimed Casanova. "It's a real big problem that we're having now and we need to come up with some kind of structure that we can use to try and deter this problem."

Casanova is still trying to iron out the details, but Paz says they need to come up with a plan quickly.

Paz said, "that's our job-- to run from the law."

Paz was arraigned late Wednesday on charges of evading arrest. He will now be transported to Border Patrol to face federal smuggling charges.

The other three immigrants were deported back to Mexico.

Immigration is changing the face of suburban US - JULY 8, 2004

Immigration is changing the face of suburban US - JULY 8, 2004
By William G. Holt III

ATLANTA - Globalisation and the offshoring of jobs have brought about the decline of many old industrial towns in the United States heartland.

At the same time, however, globalisation has also brought migrants from different corners of the world to help revive other areas.

Atlanta, in America's Deep South, offers a good example of the positive effects of job migration.

In suburban counties of metropolitan Atlanta, the low taxes, low-cost real estate and good schools that once attracted businesses like General Motors are now drawing new immigrants and foreign business.

Although immigrants have historically settled near their urban workplaces, in Atlanta many new immigrants are passing up city life to settle in the suburbs of DeKalb County.

This new pattern of settlement is dramatically changing the face of American suburbia and aiding in the economic revitalisation of cities like Atlanta.

People from places such as Mexico, China, Vietnam, Nigeria and Bosnia are now calling the Atlanta metropolitan area home. These new immigrants range from venture capitalists to small business owners to service workers, all looking for opportunities in Atlanta's booming economy.

In the past, vibrant immigrant communities could be found only in urban areas.

When the first large waves of immigration began in the 1800s, new arrivals congregated in city centres where they could rely upon networks of mutual assistance.

In densely populated and fairly homogeneous neighbourhoods, people 'fresh off the boat' could solicit the help of their compatriots in seeking jobs and negotiating the American legal and social systems.

Newcomers could also find familiarity and comfort among people of their own linguistic, cultural and religious background.

Enclaves known as 'Little Italy' or 'Chinatown' developed over time into distinctive features of many American cities.

Today, the labour markets in the American North-east and Mid-west, which absorbed earlier waves of immigrants, are saturated.

While New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco - the largest points of entry in 2000 - still have vibrant ethnic enclaves, first-generation immigrants looking for new economic opportunities are turning to cities that have not historically received large numbers of immigrants.

Through word of mouth, in the 1980s Mexican immigrants displaced by the oil bust in Texas and Louisiana found work in Georgia, working in construction and low-end service jobs as many northern companies relocated.

Lured by aggressive state and local marketing groups, these companies found cheaper non-union labour, lower construction costs for infrastructure, few government regulations, and higher standards of living for relocated workers from more expensive northern cities.

The relocations created a steady demand for entry-level service workers in every industry, from fast food to landscaping. Working-class immigrants have made the most of these opportunities, filling a real need for labour.

For white-collar immigrants as well, Atlanta's growth has meant more professional-level jobs and research positions at institutions like Coca-Cola or the Centers for Disease Control.

These middle-class immigrants are more likely to locate in the new suburban developments further outside the city than in DeKalb's suburban ethnic enclaves.

However, their growing numbers have created numerous ethnic immigrant community organisations, from religious institutions to community centres.

While economic opportunities are still more prevalent in urban areas, immigrants are forming residential communities outside of major cities.

Many immigrants coming to Georgia are not settling in Atlanta proper, but rather in its adjacent suburbs.

These suburbs first sprang up in the 1950s as working-class white enclaves for the employees of General Motors and other industrial plants. Industrial workers were looking to own their own homes, and higher wages made that possible.

But when companies began shipping industrial production work overseas in the 1970s, there was little demand for the modest homes of retiring workers.

As stores left and apartment demand fell in the 1980s, landlords began to rent to immigrants. Those moving to Atlanta discovered cheap rents and relatively easy entry to these abandoned suburbs, now located within the I-285 Beltway that encircles the city.

Immigrant entrepreneurs saw the demand for new shopping centres, as growing affluence from the emerging immigrant middle class created the need for ethnic restaurants and markets.

Later, the demand for ethnic goods spread to the general metropolitan population seeking unique places to shop and dine.

The success of the immigrant influx may have been just what Atlanta needed.

Until the 1990s, the city's claims of internationalism were based more on civic promotion campaigns than reality.

In the early 1970s, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce launched the slogan, 'Atlanta: The World's Next Great International City'. Although elites in other American cities laughed at this boosterism, Atlanta's efforts enabled it to land the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

As the international press turned their gaze on Atlanta, civic leaders bristled at criticisms comparing Atlanta to more 'international' previous Olympic host cities, especially Barcelona.

Critics charged that Atlanta's rapid development and lack of regard for historic structures had created a soulless landscape lacking the charm and character of other American cities like New York, San Francisco or New Orleans, all characterised by their urban ethnic immigrant enclaves.

Today, however, Atlanta has attracted the same diversity, but in a different form - suburban enclaves made up of a mix of ethnic groups.

The grassroots success of small-scale immigrant entrepreneurs in redeveloping shopping centres and apartment complexes piqued the interest of Atlanta's leaders, who saw the potential of immigrant communities to serve as a catalyst for metro-wide economic development.

Marketing the 10km-long Buford Highway corridor as 'the international village' to reflect the ethnic mix of Mexican, Central American, Chinese and Korean settlements, the DeKalb County government has tried to use international immigration to reverse the area's slow decline.

As the successes of the area's 700 ethnically-owned businesses have increased and the scale of projects grown, it has attracted larger international investments.

Numerous banks and supermarkets have jumped in to serve the growing Mexican population and the diverse Asian community.

The International Village at Chamblee, a US$72-million (S$124-million) project, is a 500,000 sq ft mixed-use centre featuring shops, offices, restaurants and a hotel.

Most recently, the Atlanta metro region is vying to become home to the new Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a planned 34-nation free trading group stretching from Canada to Chile.

Local government and business leaders estimate that the FTAA would create 11,000 new jobs with a US$500 million annual economic impact on the Atlanta region.

Local officials believe that the International Village location represents the ideal of what may be achieved through global trade and immigration.

As other second-destination cities turn to Atlanta for advice on how to attract foreign investment and spur local economies, it remains to be seen whether the success of the DeKalb County suburbs can be repeated elsewhere.

Some immigrants have expressed concern that their local communities will become commodified, stereotypical ethnic villages designed to entertain suburban residents instead of vibrant enclaves focused on local residents.

And other newly ethnic suburban areas have failed to attract a similar level of international and local investment. Many immigrants trapped in low-wage jobs can afford cheap suburban living spaces, but lack the spending power to be seen as investment-worthy consumers.

Still, Atlanta's success shows that as immigrants move to second-city destinations and settle outside metropolitan areas, their arrival can bring increased international attention and investment to an entire region.

The writer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Yale University. Rights: Yale Center for the Study of Globalisation

Sumner sting leads to takedown of massive drug pipeline

Sumner sting leads to takedown of massive drug pipeline
It's Sumner County's biggest cocaine bust ever - 27 kilos valued in the millions of dollars. But this bust happened three years ago, and it's only going public now because it was part of a huge federal investigation. That investigation shut down one of the busiest cocaine drug operations in Middle Tennessee.

Sumner County Deputy Chief Bob Barker said, "They knew how to move the drugs and when to move them."

The buyer shown in survaillance tape Wednesday was an undercover Sumner County Sheriff's Department agent. The drug dealers were part of an organized ring that brought massive amounts of cocaine up from Mexico through El Paso, TX and untimately up to Middle Tennessee.

"It was very well financed," said Barker.

This group had been under investigation by several federal agencies, but no one had been able to bring them down. One key to success this time was the Sumner County undercover agent who set up the deal with one of the drug runners.

Agent Tim Bailey said, "I showed him half a million dollars in cash for the pending cocaine purchase."

The two drug runners were busted after unloading the coke. That springboarded a three year multi-agency federal investigation. Ultimately, Randall Parker and Kenneth Kimball, who were considered the drug organization's leaders, were arrested and convicted. Both were recently sentenced to life in federal prison. Case closed - with investigators now looking towards the next case.

Barker said, "Every time you lose or you convict one group, it doesn't take long for other people that are waiting in the wings to take their place."

Custody fights take heavy toll

Custody fights take heavy toll
By Jennifer Mena
Los Angeles Times

July 8, 2004

GUANAJUATO, Mexico · One night as she was practicing her penmanship, 10-year-old Daniela Cazares overheard her grandmother and uncle talking in hushed tones in the bedroom next door.

Her mother had called, she heard them say. She had threatened to kidnap Daniela and bring her back across the border to southern California.

"If my mom loves me, why would she do this?" Daniela recalls wondering.

Daniela was born in Orange County, 2,000 miles from this city of Colonial churches and winding cobblestone streets. Her mother, Maria Gutierrez, who works as a $14-an-hour nanny in Tustin, sent her to Mexico nine years ago when she felt overwhelmed by financial worries and health problems.

Now, Gutierrez wants the girl back. Her grandmother, Maria del Carmen Ramirez, will not let her go.

Ramirez and other relatives have decided Daniela is better off in Mexico than she would be in the United States, where they fear she could be lured into a world of drugs and sex.

Gutierrez, 37, has few legal avenues to get her daughter back. She said she made the kidnapping threat out of desperation, never intending to do any such thing.

Many immigrant parents are waging similar cross-border child custody battles with their families, according to Mexican government officials and U.S. legal experts. No one has an accurate tally because the complaints are not filed in courtrooms; instead, they fester unresolved for years, exacting a heavy emotional toll.

Families quarrel over which country provides a better quality of life and whether an aunt, grandmother or neighbor can truly replace a mother.

The custody disputes are commonplace -- and destructive -- said Jorge A. Bustamante, a professor of sociology at the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana and an expert on migration.

"When children are separated from their parents, we are creating problems that can potentially affect the communities where these children live," he said. "Every child deserves to be with their mother, if that mother is kind and loving."

Battling relatives don't turn to the courts for various reasons. It is expensive. They find it distasteful to air family feuds before a judge. And many, like Gutierrez, won't pursue litigation in the United States because they are here illegally.

Gutierrez settled in Orange County after a hair-raising trip across the border. She disguised herself as a boy and joined a group of young men dashing across the desert at night.

She gave birth to a son in 1989 but soon left the child's father to marry another man, Guadalupe Cazares, who treated the boy as his own.

In 1994, five months after Daniela was born, Cazares was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Gutierrez feared her husband, who had struggled with alcoholism, would be in jail for months. She had no job at the time and had been suffering seizures.

She worried that she would be unable to feed her children. So she sent Daniela and her half-brother, Dany, to stay with her mother in Mexico.

Cazares, it turned out, was released within days, and Gutierrez asked her mother to return the children. Home, she said, was Orange County.

"My mother obviously didn't see it that way," Gutierrez said. "Once I began asking for them back, she kept putting me off. `Just let them finish this school year, just a little while longer,' she'd say."

By 2000, Gutierrez had been working as a nanny for several years, and her seizures were under control. She said she told her mother that if Dany, then 10, wasn't returned, Cazares would divorce her.

The grandmother permitted a family friend to bring the boy back to the United States, where he now lives with his mother and stepfather in a two-bedroom apartment in Orange.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Co. newspaper.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Business: Mexico's president heads south for visit

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Business: Mexico's president heads south for visit
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

Wednesday, July 7, 2004 · Last updated 11:48 p.m. PT

Mexico's president heads south for visit

By JOHN RICE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

MEXICO CITY -- As money and migration yank Mexico toward the north, President Vicente Fox was in the south of the hemisphere on Thursday, seeking a little balance.

Mexico boasts of being Latin America's richest nation and its top exporter. Yet those accomplishments have come at the cost of increasingly dramatic dependence on its wealthier northern neighbor.

Eighty-nine percent of Mexico's legal exports go to the United States. Ten percent of its population lives there. The largest share of its income from tourism and foreign remittance - and the huge market in illegal drugs, for that matter - comes from the United States.

Less than one third of one percent of Mexican exports go to the giant of South America's markets, Brazil.

So in purely economic terms, it might be generous to say that Fox's talks Thursday with South America's Mercosur trading bloc, led by Brazil, mean little in the short run.

Mercosur itself "is a failed customs union," said Robin Rosenberg, a trade expert at the University of Miami. "It's had more major trade disputes than countries that don't even have trade agreements."

Only days before Mercosur met to celebrate its unity this week, Argentina announced trade restrictions on Brazilian electronics.

But Mercosur means a lot to Mexico's profoundly rooted sense of itself as a Latin American nation, to its ability to negotiate with richer countries and to its lost leadership as a leader in Latin America.

It's an identity reinforced in many ways, from a shared history and literature to a common interest in this week's Copa America soccer tournament in Peru that has drawn vastly more news coverage here than Fox's trip.

"Mexico needs desperately to show its Latin American counterparts that it is not enslaved to its North American trading partners," Rosenberg said.

He said that Mexico - which was seen as a beacon of independence and a haven for refugees in Latin America during much of the 1970s and 1980s - had largely surrendered the role of regional leader to Brazil when it entered the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the United States in 1994.

Mexico wants to regain some of that influence - and wants even more to lessen its dependence on the ups and downs of the American economy and the uncertainties of U.S. politics.

One way is to reinforce Mexico's historically and emotionally strong ties with Latin America and build alliances that have more strength in dealings with outside forces such as the United States.

"It's clear that if we are united politically, our weight as a region internationally will be much greater," said Miguel Hakim, Mexico's deputy foreign secretary for Lain America. "That is what Mexico is seeking in its connection with Mercosur."

Mexico and Brazil are united in their call for a new permanent member of the U.N. Security Council from Latin America, even if they have been rivals in competing for the possible position.

Hiring site works, but some still use street

Hiring site works, but some still use street
PORT CHESTER — On a recent Thursday morning, some 15 day laborers stood outside the Don Bosco Center, waiting for employers to pass by and offer the opportunity for a day's or a week's work.

At 9:30, after the sun broke through the morning clouds, two vans and a Jeep pulled up. One driver requested a painter; another needed a few hands for a moving job. The third driver wanted three painters for permanent work and a fourth worker for a permanent plastering job.

Since it opened a year ago, the center has placed more than 250 workers in permanent or temporary jobs, provided English and job skills classes, and protected workers from contractors who don't pay up.

It has not, however, ended laborer gatherings in other parts of the village that have prompted complaints from neighbors.

The hiring center is one of three in Westchester County, with centers in Mount Kisco and Ossining and others under consideration in Yonkers and Mamaroneck. The centers are designed to offer a safe haven and an alternative to street corners for workers, many of whom are undocumented.

"People have been very responsive, contractors as well as workers," said Grace Heymann, executive director of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition, a nonprofit group in White Plains that runs the Don Bosco Center.

'Workers feel safer'


The center, situated in a large hall at 22 Don Bosco Place, started with a group of around 15 and has grown to attract around 50 laborers a day. On a good day, as many as 20 or 30 men may find work, said Peggie Lieb, a caseworker who helps manage the site.

The laborers, who are all male, are mostly undocumented immigrants from Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and other Hispanic countries. For them, the center is a comfortable zone that provides bathrooms, coffee and shelter on rainy or cold days. The center also offers English classes, house painting workshops and social service referrals, while setting guidelines for fair wages.

"Workers feel safer," Heymann said. "Nobody's harassing them or telling them to move. It's a place where the services are designed to meet their needs."

At the center, laborers agree to work for the same rates — $10 an hour for general labor, or between $12 and $15 an hour for skilled labor, such as roofing or landscaping.

The opening of the center had not stopped day laborers from seeking work on Westchester Avenue, Broad Street and Poningo Street in Port Chester.

"Workers are still hanging around different locations in the village," said Chief Joseph Krzeminski of the Port Chester police. "It hasn't really significantly reduced that situation."

The police continue to receive complaints, Krzeminski said, about traffic congestion, loitering and littering on street corners where groups of workers gather.

But increasingly, contractors are relying on the Don Bosco site, said Tony Rivera, a bilingual police officer in Port Chester who regularly visits worker sites. Rivera said that in the first two weeks of June, he had seen only one contractor pick up a worker outside of the Don Bosco Center.

Valentin Alarcon, 41, a Guatemalan immigrant who waited for work outside the Don Bosco Center one day recently, praised the facility.

"Here is better because they have more control," he said, noting that in other areas men would swarm a car when a contractor pulled up. "There's more protection here and the police don't bother us."

Several workers said that police sometimes tell them to move from street corners, but Rivera said that happens only when there is a traffic hazard. Rivera said he encourages workers to visit the center but cannot force workers to leave the street.

A few workers said they preferred the center, because contractors who use it could be counted on to pay up, which they said was not always the case on the street. The center gives workers booklets to log work hours and job locations, and staffers will pursue contractors for unpaid wages.

But Sergio Morena, 47, who supports a wife and daughter in Mexico with his earnings as a day laborer, said he prefers to take his chances in the street because he does not like the lottery system that the center uses to distribute jobs.

"If they don't pick me, I lose a day," said Morena, who pulled a few business cards out of his pocket to show the names of contractors who have picked him up on the street for painting and landscaping jobs.

Heymann said workers have a right to find work wherever they wish. "You can never have something that works for everybody," she said. "Sometimes people don't want to be part of a lottery or something organized."

The Westchester Hispanic Coalition spoke out against a proposed law in Mount Kisco last year that would have banned picking up laborers anywhere else in the village outside of a hiring site on Columbus Avenue. That plan was dropped in July 2003 after civil rights attorneys deemed the proposed law unconstitutional.

Throughout the year, around 200 laborers have found work through the Don Bosco Center, caseworker Lieb said.

Also, around 60 laborers have been able to find permanent work. That is precisely the goal of the program, said the Rev. Tim Ploch of Holy Rosary Church, which provides the space for the hiring site.

"The goal is to see this program eliminated because there's no need for it anymore and everyone has gotten what they need," he said.

Finding something permanent is a dream for Bonafacio Lopez, 60, who recently arrived from Guatemala, like everyone around him, in search of economic opportunity.

"Working is a privilege," Lopez said. "It's dignified. Instead of stealing and doing bad things, you do something good."

cantonrep.com Former farmworker assumes complicated role

cantonrep.com

NEW CARLISLE — On a dusty road that bisects the rows of young maple trees, five Mexican workers take time from the backbreaking labor in the orchard to chat with Benito Lucio.

His khakis and crisp white shirt set him apart from the others, who wear bandannas and hats to shield themselves from the hot sun.

But Lucio knows all about their hard work. For years, he spent summers toiling in these Ohio fields before attending college and “leaving the migrant stream.”

Quickly, talk turns to immigration.

“My son has been waiting for years,” one worker said. He applied to come to the United States but hasn’t heard anything.

Lucio explains the application forms and tells the men they have to pay attention to the dates and deadlines. And they have to keep checking with immigration officials.

“I can’t tell them enough how important it is to be diligent. There are dates and priority numbers, and they need to pay attention or they’ll have to start all over again,” he said. “They have to document everything.”

Lucio, 48, is Ohio’s migrant advocate, a position set up in every state to ensure that the thousands of migrant workers coming here each summer are treated fairly.

He investigates complaints of worker abuse and connects workers with growers. And Lucio coordinates interactions between dozens of advocate agencies.

This can be tricky.

He is both advocate and bureaucrat, a dual role that earns him both praise and criticism from his constituency. His job is complicated as well by the nature of his clientele, whose members often are here illegally and, therefore, are difficult to track.

He’s empowered to document problems in an industry where it’s impossible even to get an accurate count of the work force.

The Ohio Migrant Census that Lucio put together showed there were 15,193 migrant workers in the state. But that excluded a host of categories, including farmers already living in Ohio, dairy workers, residents of unlicensed migrant camps and the thousands of undocumented workers.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates 65 percent of workers nationally are here illegally; Lucio and others say that’s a conservative estimate.

“It can be a real challenge. But I’m not in the business of immigration. I don’t ask them about their status, but sometimes they tell me anyway,” he said. “Then I can’t really help them. And that’s hard.”

Critics say the watchdog for migrant labor should not also work for a government agency that prompted the complaints in the first place. They argue that the monitor advocates are forced to follow regulations that do not work for an undocumented migrant population.

Lucio acknowledged his job is unlike that of other activists.

He tries to solve issues through legal channels and documentation.

“Twenty years ago, I wasn’t like this. I wanted to go in and storm the world, too. But there are better ways to solve problems,” he said.

In 1974, farmworker advocates sued the U.S. Department of Labor, saying that state employment offices were pigeonholing Mexican workers into certain agriculture jobs.

Baldemar Velasquez is the leader of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, a Toledo-based union that was among dozens of plaintiffs at the time.

Velasquez said he remembers as a kid going with his father to the unemployment offices in Texas and Florida.

“He’d go there after he lost his job in the factory. When he got in line for factory jobs, they’d tell him, ‘You’re in the wrong line. You need to be in the line for farmworkers.’

“They had another line just for Mexicans,” he said.

To settle the class-action lawsuit, the federal government required every state to have a monitor advocate who would look out for farmworkers. Ohio’s position is part of the Department of Job and Family Services.

The system doesn’t work like it should, Velasquez said.

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee and a few other activist groups often are at odds with the state-monitor advocates. Velasquez said the position is good for helping workers find food, shelter and other immediate needs. But, he said, it doesn’t solve the underlying problems, including inequality for migrant workers.

“When I think of advocacy, I don’t think of referring someone to a food pantry. To me, that’s not enough,” he said.

Some advocates also question whether Lucio’s by-the-book approach works with a largely unregulated industry such as migrant farming.

Shelley Davis, co-executive director of the Farmworker Justice Fund, a national advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said she worries that a state employee can’t freely fight for workers’ needs.

“There are good people in those positions,” she said. “I’m just not sure how well it works in practice.”

A second-generation Mexican-American, Lucio had been traveling to Ohio since 1968 to pick cucumbers and tomatoes with his parents and six younger siblings. Every summer he’d work the fields in Wood County and play sports with the local boys.

“I grew up in a time where if you spoke Spanish, you were punished,” he said. “We were told, ’You’re migrant workers. You’re never going to make it.’ We heard that so many times as kids it was a joke.”

Then a worker in the migrant-education program befriended Lucio and told him about college. Lucio enrolled at Bowling Green State University, where, although he had spent much of the previous six years in Ohio, he had to pay out-of-state tuition.

His migrant-worker status was the problem.

Lucio said university officials helped change that. Now the Ohio Board of Regents allows migrant workers and their dependents to pay in-state tuition if they work for three years in Ohio.

Lucio dropped out a year later and was hired to recruit students for the same education program that told him about Bowling Green.

“I’m not sure how I got the job. All I knew was sports and picking pickles,” he said.