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A Few New Ideas for the Immigration Policy Debate

[A Two-part Series]

Part II

Shedding Light on the Issue of Immigration and Crime, and a Novel Proposal for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy

 

Do Immigrants (legal or illegal) commit a lot of Crime?

Where immigration is concerned most rule-making as laws are simply arbitrary beliefs of what is valued as a society depending upon which group is in power—in this case whites with a slim majority over minorities. And, solving the problem of immigration may simply mean reversing the creation of deviance through over-criminalization of people coming across the border.

    It is a fact that both legal immigrants and illegal immigrants commit less crime than do native born in the United States. The Cato Institute has done some remarkable research on the issue of immigrants and crime.

The following is a research article written by Alex Nowrasteh and published for the Cato Library. The study is dated July 14, 2015. The title of the article is “Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says.”

“The alleged murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has reignited the debate over the link between immigration and crime. Such debates often call for change in policy regarding the deportation or apprehension of illegal immigrants. However, if policies should change, it should not be in reaction to a single tragic murder.  It should be in response to careful research on whether immigrants actually boost the U.S. crime rates.

With few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.  As described below, the research is fairly one-sided.

There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality.  The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population.  It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.  However, there are some potential problems with Census-based studies that could lead to inaccurate results.  That’s where the second type of study comes in.  The second type is a macro level analysis to judge the impact of immigration on crime rates, generally finding that increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.

Type 1: Immigrant Crime – Censuses of the Institutionalized Population

Butcher and Piehl examine the incarceration rates for men aged 18-40 in the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses.  In each year immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives with the gap widening each decade.  By 2000, immigrants have incarceration rates that are one-fifth those of the native-born.  Butcher and Piehl wrote another paper focusing on immigrant incarceration in California by looking at both property and violent crimes by city.  Between years 2000 and 2005, California cities with large inflows of recent immigrants tended to  have lower violent crimes rates and the findings are statistically significant.  During the same time period, there is no statistically significant relationship between immigration and property crime.

Ewing, Martinez, and Rumbaut summarize their findings on criminality and immigration thusly:

“[R]oughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18-39 are incarcerated compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.  The disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial census.  In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”

They continue by focusing on immigrant incarceration rates by country of origin in the 2010 Census.  Less educated young Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men (poorly educated young men are most likely to be incarcerated) make up the bulk of the unlawful immigrant population but have significantly lower incarceration rates than native-born men without a high-school diploma.  In 2010, 10.7 percent of native-born men aged 18-39 without a high school degree were incarcerated compared to 2.8 percent of Mexican immigrants and 1.7 percent of Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants.  These are similar to Rumbaut’s older research also based on Census data from 2000.  Controlling for relevant observable factors, young uneducated immigrant men from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala are less likely to be incarcerated than similarly situated native-born men.

However, studies of immigrant criminality based on Census data alone could fail to give the full picture.  First, many of the answers given to the Census may have been educated guesses from the Census workers and not the inmates.  Second, the government has done a very poor job of gathering data on the nationality and immigration status of prisoners – even when it has tried.  That biases me against the accuracy of prison surveys by the Census Bureau.  Third, incarceration rates may better reflect the priorities of law enforcement than the true rates of criminal activity among certain populations.

Type 2: Macro Level Analysis of Immigrant Criminality

To avoid the potential Census data problems, other researchers have looked at crime rates and immigration on a macro scale.  These investigations also capture other avenues through which immigration could cause crimes – for instance, by inducing an increase in native criminality or by being easy targets for native criminals.

The phased rollout of the Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program provided a natural experiment.  A recent paper by Thomas J. Miles and Adam B. Cox used the phased rollout to see how S-COMM affected crime rates per county.  If immigrants were disproportionately criminal, then S-COMM would decrease the crime rates.  They found that S-COMM “led to no meaningful reduction in the FBI index crime rate” including violent crimes.  Relying on similar data with different specifications, Treyger et al. found that S-COMM did not decrease crime rates nor did it lead to an increase in discriminatory policing that some critics were worried about.  According to both reports, the population of immigrants is either not correlated, or negatively correlated, with crime rates.

Ousey and Kubrin looked at 159 cities at three dates between 1980 and 2000 and found that crime rates and levels of immigration are not correlated.  They conclude that “[v]iolent crime is not a deleterious consequence of increased immigration.”  Martinez looked at 111 U.S. cities with at least 5,000 Hispanics and found no statistically significant findings.  Reid et al. looked at a sample of 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and found that levels of recent immigration had a statistically significant negative effect on homicide rates but no effect on property crime rates.  They wrote, “[i]t appears that anti-immigrant sentiments that view immigrants as crime prone are not only inaccurate at the micro-level, they are also inaccurate at the macro-level … increased immigration may actually be beneficial in terms of lessening some types of crimes.”  Wadsworth found that cities with greater growth in immigrant or new immigrant populations between 1990 and 2000 tended to have steeper decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

Using panel data on U.S. counties, Spenkuch finds that a 10 percent increase in the share of immigrants increases the property crime rate by 1.2 percent.  In other words, the average immigrant commits roughly 2.5 times as many property crimes as the average native but with no impact on violent crime rates.  He finds that this effect on property crime rates is caused entirely by Mexican immigrants.  Separating Mexicans from other immigrants, the former commit 3.5 to 5 times as many crimes as the average native.  However, all other immigrants commit less than half as many crimes as natives.  This is the most deleterious finding that I discovered.

Stowell et al. looks at 103 different MSAs from 1994-2004 and finds that violent crime rates tended to decrease as the concentration of immigrants increased.  An immigrant concentration two standard deviations above the mean translates into 40.5 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 compared to a decrease of 8.1 violent crimes in areas that experienced a change in immigration concentration two standard deviations below the mean.  It is easy to focus on the horrible tragedies when somebody is murdered by an immigrant but it’s very hard to imagine all of the people who weren’t murdered because of the lower crime rates created by increased immigration.  In their summary of the research on this topic, they write:

“[T]he weight of the evidence suggests that immigration is not associated with increased levels of crime.  To the extent that a relationship does exist, research often finds a negative effect of immigration on levels of crime, in general, and on homicide in particular.

Some immigrants from certain countries of origin may be more crime prone than others, as Spenkuch finds above.  To test this, Chalfin used rainfall patterns in Mexico to estimate inflows of Mexican immigrants.  The idea is that lower rainfall and a decrease in agricultural productivity in Mexico would push marginal Mexican immigrants out of Mexico and into the U.S. labor market.  Mexican rainfall patterns and the subsequent immigration had no effect on violent or property crime rates in major U.S. metropolitan areas.

These trends have also been found on the local level.  Davies and Fagan looked at crime and immigration patterns at the neighborhood level in New York City.  They find that crime rates are not higher in areas with more immigrants.  Sampson looked at Chicago and found that Hispanic immigrants were far less likely to commit a violent criminal act then either black or white native Chicagoans.  Lee et al. found that trends in recent immigration are either not correlated with homicides or are negatively correlated in Miami, San Diego, and El Paso.  The only exception is that there is a positive relationship between immigration and black homicide rates in San Diego.

Numerous studies also conclude that the high immigration rate of the 1990s significantly contributed to the precipitous crime decline of that decade.  According to this theory, immigrants are less crime prone and have positive spillover effects like aiding in community redevelopment, rebuilding of local civil society in formerly decaying urban cores, and contributing to greater economic prosperity through pushing natives up the skills spectrum through complementary task specialization.

Note on Illegal Immigration

The public focus is on the crime rates of unauthorized or illegal immigrants.  The research papers above mostly include all immigrants regardless of legal status.  However, every problem with gathering data on immigrant criminality is multiplied for unauthorized immigrants.  There is some work that can help shed light here.

With particular implications for the murder of Kate Steinle, Hickman et al. look at the recidivism rates of 517 deportable and 780 no deportable aliens released from the Los Angeles County Jail over a 30-day period in 2002.  They found that there is no difference in the re-arrest rate of deportable and no deportable immigrants released from incarceration at the same place and time.  Their paper is not entirely convincing for several reasons, the most important being that their sample does not include the higher risk inmates who were transferred to state prison and were subsequently released from there.  There are also findings in their paper that seem to contradict their conclusion that isn’t adequately accounted for.  This is only one study of one sample in one city, but the results should be incorporated into any argument over sanctuary cities.

Conclusion

Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions.  There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality.  One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.

Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes.  According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals. This could explain why immigrants are less likely to engage in “anti-social” behaviors than natives despite having lower incomes.  It’s also possible that more effective interior immigration enforcement is catching and deporting unlawful immigrants who are more likely to be criminals before they have a chance to be incarcerated.

The above research is a vital and missing component in the debate over the supposed links between immigration and crime.”

This alone is sufficient to ask the following question: If immigrants are more law-abiding as people than those who were born in the United States, then why is the government working to over-criminalize everyone who comes across our borders? The motivation is the same as before. That is, people who are already citizens by being second, third or fourth generation immigrants seem to have no qualms about casting aspersions at newcomers like Hispanics or Muslims. The new kid on the block has always been treated suspiciously. In addition, the psychological and sociological nature of “White Fright”/”White Flight” appears to show its ugly face again as to why such a large portion of a largely white electorate wants to discriminate against Hispanics, and the Muslim population of refugees who want to settle in the United States.

The belief that Donald Trump will better protect the United States through a ban of immigrants from Mexico/South America or from Muslim countries has not been well thought out, is discriminatory, and goes against the very laws (like the U.S. Constitution) he swore at inauguration he would uphold.

A Novel Proposal for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy—Basic Ideas

What is the basic program overall?

The operation of passports, visas and green cards should probably remain the same. However, whether one is already inside the country or outside, the issue of people wanting to seek full American citizenship is a separate issue altogether. There needs to be a re-definition or new definition of citizenship. It is my idea that two levels of citizenship should exist.

The first level would be called Temporary Citizenship, granted to all for 2 years while they relocate within the United States, seek jobs, receive humanitarian aid, and vetted initially in one of two locations (to be described in detail shortly).

The first location will require staffing and resources to open. But the original Ellis Island in New York needs to be re-opened. Both Ellis Island locations will need the resources of the United States government. Since American business owners are the beneficiary of this new untapped source of labor, they will be asked to contribute their fair share to this immigration plan.

The second level of citizenship would be called Full Citizenship and would occur after a temporary citizen passes the current requirements for Full- Citizenship.

Most naturalization applicants are required to take a test on:

  • English
  • Civics (U.S. history and government)

If these requirements are met, the vetted new immigrants would be given official notice that they are now a citizen of the United States of America.

It has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island (the one in New York). Trump’s plan to simply build a wall between Mexico and the United States is “not too bright” and won’t achieve its objectives.

A much better way to achieve this goal is both humanitarian and intelligent: (1) Enact amnesty as the policy of the United States in order to encourage, not discourage, people who want to become American citizens, (2) establish a new singular entry point along our southern border similar to the original “Ellis Island” that operated between 1892 and 1954. The new “Ellis Island” would function to welcome people from Mexico as well as South American countries, (3) in addition to opening a new “Ellis Island” along our southern border (soon to be called The Freedom Bridge), there needs to be a re-opening of the original Ellis Island for immigrants wanting to come into the country from elsewhere in the world, and (4) reduce the many hurdles and obstacles reflected in prior amnesty programs. Amnesty needs to be simplified not encumbered with needless over-regulation.

Once released to enter American soil, immigrants would all be given assistance in relocating across the country with federal, state and local job counseling, employment services and temporary housing and some monetary assistance, and offered educational programs and family services. County health departments would initially serve to provide health care to all newly arriving immigrants and their family members.

I am recommending that the federal government set aside, in the annual federal budget, an investment in helping newly vetted immigrants. Investing in people rather than wasting taxpayer money on some worthless, ineffectual wall, will generate over the long haul, a real return on one’s investment such as more people succeeding and paying federal, state and local taxes. Immigrants represent a real and potential source for expanding our economy and well-being. Where would the money for assistance come from?

The current 2017 fiscal year budget for the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department is 48.9 billion in discretionary funding, and 11.3 billion in mandatory funding over the next ten years. A modest annual investment of $2 billion dollars from this federal agency could be allocated each year to help provide newly entering immigrants to have all the services needed to give them a leg up on becoming a fully functioning American citizen.

Should there be amnesty? The answer is absolutely yes. But it still needs to be a program that facilitates rather than throws up unnecessary and capricious roadblocks all along the way. This mercurial and temperamental inclination of our nation’s representatives is to over-control people. It smacks of an authoritarian regime rather than a country bent on helping our citizens (or to be citizens) achieve the American dream.

What I did not like about the Amnesty proposals of 2012 by the Obama administration is that there were still too many hurdles or hoops to jump through to become a citizen of this great country of ours.

Paying the U.S. supposedly $5000 in back taxes, for those already illegally in the country, seemed like an unnecessary and somewhat arbitrary notion of creating hurdles that really block, rather than facilitate, becoming a citizen who will, in short order, be paying taxes anyway. So, what do I propose that would make sense?

What about El Paso, Texas

Under my system, one of the border agent’s duties would be to provide transportation to newly arriving immigrants from Mexico and/or South America. Instead of arresting people coming across the border they would be assisted by the border patrol in their journey to peacefully reach El Paso, Texas. This would mean helping people trying to cross the border anywhere along the way between El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California.

Instead of calling it Ellis Island II—– I think a more appropriate name would be “The Freedom Bridge.” What kind of city is El Paso, Texas?

“El Paso, Texas is about 300 miles south of Albuquerque and 300 miles east of Tucson. The metropolitan population of the city is about 830,000 and the 2010 US Census Bureau reports a population of about 650,000. Major industries in El Paso include manufacturing, cold storage, and call centers.

The El Paso economy is largely based on how well and how safe Ciudad Juarez is at any time. El Paso also benefits from its vicinity to the border and despite its rowdy neighbor Juarez; El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States.

Recent trends in El Paso include a new triple-A baseball team with a new ballpark downtown. The triple-A team was previously in Tucson. The new ballpark has spurred some new development downtown including two proposed hotels. The office and industrial markets are currently steady with a few projects under construction. The multi-family and retail markets are doing well around Fort Bliss, which recently received a large influx of personnel returning from missions. New single-family residential projects are at the lower end of the price range and are building on the existing finished lot inventory. Overall, the market appears to be steady and recovering slowly from the long recession.”

All crossing the border into the United States would be shown respect and dignity and afforded common humanitarian aid. Arrival at the new Ellis Island”  would be the beginning of their journey toward citizenship. The new Ellis Island would not be a detention facility, but like its predecessor of 1892 to 1954, it would be a processing facility.

     Any decisions to deport someone could only come from legal due process with the right of any arriving immigrant to receive legal counsel. A lot of legislation will have to be passed before this plan can take effect.

The perfect city, in my opinion, for such an “Ellis Island facility,” is El Paso Texas with its bridge separating Juarez, Mexico from the city of El Paso. Juarez could be a staging area to ready tired travelers prior to their journey across the bridge (The Freedom Bridge) to the United States.

Crossing the bridge itself will have symbolic significance all by itself. The bridge to freedom will soon have as much significance as those passengers, back at the beginning of the 20th Century, who embraced the view of the Statute of Liberty as their ships docked in New York so long ago.

Mexico is not going to pay for the wall; perhaps however, they might be willing to assist this transition by providing much humanitarian aid to those who show up in Juarez as a staging area with food, water, sleeping bags, and written material to let them know what to expect once they cross the bridge.

Every potential citizen from Mexico or South America who goes through the new Ellis Island would be issued a red, white, and blue card as proof that they had come through the new Ellis Island in El Paso, Texas.

Each card would have a thumbprint and a one-of-a-kind identification number on the card besides full name, and city of origin. This would all be part of the vetting process. The green card system that currently exists could and should continue to operate for those immigrants who desire only a temporary stay in the United States. Passports and Visa’s would also continue to operate as they had in the past.

The “Ellis Island” card would be carried on the person to offer up should they be (legally or illegally) stopped by any law enforcement agency. After two years the card would simply be a souvenir to keep after full citizenship is achieved. Those who fail to meet full citizenship requirements by two years would be allowed to receive a one-time additional two year extension of temporary citizenship. Therefore, full citizenship would have to be earned in four years from date of vetting completion.

What about illegals who are already here in America?

With Amnesty the law of the land, former illegals would be free to come out of the shadows. Instead of a few U.S. cities being a sanctuary, the entire country would become a sanctuary welcoming all to our shores, the only restriction being they must be vetted and not exceed in total 1 million a year.        .

It should be pointed out that the number of illegals coming to the United States each year from south of the border has been dropping for several years (Trump gives himself credit for this) even though the decline in people coming across our southern border preceded his even becoming a candidate for the highest office in the land.

In addition, there are some walls erected along the southern border already. Tunnels have been created in various spots to go under the walls, rendering wall structures practically worthless. The new Trump plan to put concrete 6 feet below the wall won’t work either. This is because people will simply dig holes below the concrete plus the cost of such use of concrete along a 2,000 mile border would be astronomical.

Every sociologist knows that deviance, legally defined, is as much the product of the “rule–makers” as it is the “rule-breakers.” This notion is based on Labeling Theory in sociology. One day an illegal alien is a violator of immigration laws, but just as easily could be a non-violator without the stigma of a label defining that person as a rule-breaker. It all depends on who sets the rules and the defining of a behavior (with value judgments like “good” or “bad”) as such in the first place. By analogy it is no different in concept than to define the Japanese or Germans as our enemy but, since the end of WWII, they have become our ally.

Paying for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy    

As mentioned earlier $2 billion dollars would be needed annually (a modest investment by comparison to the total 2017 Fiscal Year Budget proposed). It should come from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on an annual basis. So, how do we pay for the construction of a new Ellis Island and refurbishing and re-tooling of the original Ellis Island in New York?

The cost of creating, re-creating and operating two Ellis Island facilities on an annual basis is estimated to be, as a minimum, about 500 million dollars.  The cost of Trump’s wall has been estimated to be, at a minimum, about 25 billion dollars. The cost of two Ellis Island facilities would be 1/50 the cost of building a wall under the Trump plan. What this means is that the total cost of my idea would be approximately, $2.5 billion dollars a year. Once again, total cost of my proposal is 1/10 the cost of Donald Trump’s proposed wall. In terms of cost effectiveness my plan is significantly better and more cost effective.

Final Thoughts

People of every group in America believe in the value of every human being, no matter what their social status in life. Consequently, the whole concept of Amnesty needs desperately to be implemented in the United States. It is what a civilized people would do.

By accepting the 11 million undocumented people, predominantly from Mexico and South America, then ICE resources currently dedicated to removing illegals who are already in the country  would be better spent providing backup to overworked, underappreciated border patrol officers. A comprehensive immigration plan has been absent from the American consciousness for a very long time.

Both Presidents Bush and Obama wanted a comprehensive immigration plan but were unsuccessful in getting it legislatively passed. The current President has no interest in a comprehensive immigration plan. Until the current president is impeached, leaves office, or dies in office, it is unlikely a comprehensive immigration plan will ever become a reality.

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The Political, Social, and Economic Issues in 2012:

How Do the President and Mitt Romney Stack Up?

 

 

Introduction

There is perhaps no better way to clarify how you should vote in 2012 than to lay out the plan and beliefs of each candidate regarding the critical issues of our time. As we get closer to Election Day, I hope you keep these differences between the candidates in mind. Initially, I had planned to discuss the fine points and relative value of Supply Side Economics (Republican approach to the economy) versus Demand Side Economics (Democratic approach to the economy). Instead, I have decided to cover a broader set of issues.

Back in March 2012 I began writing a six part series on Election Year Politics and the Economy. There, in the broadest sense, I covered the basics of economics and I would encourage you to review them once again. We are told incessantly by the media and party leaders that the crucial issue in 2012 is the economy. However, many many other issues are important to various segments of the population, as well as important to the voting public as a whole.

Consequently, I have layed out how each candidate views a variety of social, political, and economic issues. In this way, the larger broader view of election year politics will be covered. With this broader view, coupled with the specifics of economic theory covered in the six part series, each reader should be adequately prepared with knowledge to vote for the candidate of his or her choice on November 6, 2012.

In a final Conclusions Section I will tell my cyberspace audience how I will vote this fall and my reasons for doing so.

 

Critical Issues of Our Time

 

 The following shows how Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stand on a selection of issues. This information comes mostly from the Associated Press but also from this Blogger.

 ABORTION & BIRTH CONTROL

OBAMA: Supports abortion rights Health care law that requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans.

ROMNEY: Opposes abortion rights. He previously supported them. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court ruling. Said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.

WAR

OBAMA: Ended the Iraq war. He increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all out by the end of 2014. He approved U.S. air power in NATO-led campaign that helped Libyan opposition topple government. There are major cuts coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of agreement with congressional Republicans to cut $487 billion in military spending over a decade.

ROMNEY: Endorses 2014 end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan, subject to conditions at the time. He would increase strength of armed forces, including number of troops and warships, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016.

TERRORISM

OBAMA: Approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden and set policy that U.S. would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice that had essentially ended later in George W. Bush’s presidency. He largely carried forward Bush’s key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite promise to close the prison. Expanded use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen.

ROMNEY: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, Romney refused to rule out use of waterboarding torture to interrogate terrorist suspects. Despite the fact the war crimes tribunal executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding following the ending of WWII, Mitt Romney in 2011, said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture. The fact that the United States itself strongly supported all of the Geneva Convention laws prior to the Bush administration, Mitt Romney ignores the fact that the use of torture by the Bush administration dishonored and disgraced our country. Evidently, Mitt Romney would do the same by ignoring both national and international laws that forbid it.

IMMIGRATION

OBAMA: Issued directive in June that immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children be exempted from deportation and granted work permits if they apply. He took the temporary step after failing to deliver on promised immigration overhaul, with the defeat of legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the armed forces. Says he is still committed to it. Government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama.

ROMNEY: Favors U.S.-Mexico border fence and opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. He opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Establish an immigration-status verification system for employers and punish them if they hire non-citizens who do not prove their legal status. He would end immigration caps for spouses and minor children of legal immigrants.

GUNS

OBAMA: Has not pushed for stricter gun laws as president. Signed laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains. Favors “robust steps, within existing law” to address gun issues, White House says. He voices support for renewed ban on assault-type weapons but has not tried to get that done. He previously backed stronger gun controls.

ROMNEY: Opposes stricter gun control laws. He suggested after the shooting in a Colorado theater that he favors tougher enforcement of existing gun laws. As Massachusetts governor, he vowed in 2002 to protect the state’s “tough gun laws,” and in 2004 signed a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons.

FOREIGN POLICY

OBAMA: Opposes near-term military strike on Iran but holds that option open if it proves the only way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He declined to repeat the Libya air power commitment for Syrian opposition. Instead Obama seeks international pressure against the Syrian government. Chastised Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in disputed areas and pressed both sides to begin a new round of peace talks based on the land borders established after the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. He signed into law to expand military and civilian cooperation with Israel. Sought penalties against China for unfair trade but opposes branding China a currency manipulator.

ROMNEY: Appears to present a clearer U.S. military threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving of such a step. “Of course you take military action” if sanctions and internal opposition fail to dissuade Tehran from making a nuclear weapon, he has said. Has spoken in favor of covert action by the U.S. and regional allies in Syria but “the right course is not military” intervention by the U.S. Associates himself more closely with hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges more military assistance to Israel and agreed with Israel’s position that Jerusalem is the capital, disregarding the Palestinians’ claim to the eastern sector. Branded Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the U.S. and threatened to label China a currency manipulator in a move that could lead to broad trade sanctions.

DEBT

OBAMA: Fourth-straight year of trillion-dollar deficits is projected. He won approval to raise debt limit to avoid default. He calls for tackling the debt with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. Central to Obama’s plan is to let Bush-era tax cuts expire for couples making more than $250,000.

ROMNEY: Defended 2008 bailout of financial institutions as a necessary step to avoid the system’s collapse, but opposed the auto bailout. He would cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by end of his first term, down from 23.5 percent now, with largely unspecified spending cuts. He favors a constitutional balanced budget amendment.

ECONOMY

OBAMA: Term marked by high unemployment, a deep recession that began in previous administration and has created a sustained gradual recovery. Responded to recession with a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan. Continued implementation of Wall Street and auto industry bailouts begun under George W. Bush. Proposes tax breaks for U.S. manufacturers producing domestically or repatriating jobs from abroad, and tax penalties for U.S. companies outsourcing jobs.

ROMNEY: He advocates lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. He would replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. He proposes repeal of the law toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector, and the law tightening accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals.

EDUCATION

OBAMA: Has approved waivers freeing states from the most onerous requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. “Race to the Top” competition has rewarded winning states with billions of dollars for pursuing education policies Obama supports.

ROMNEY: Supported the federal accountability standards of No Child Left Behind law. He has said that student testing, charter-school incentives and teacher evaluation standards of Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition “make sense” although the federal government should have less control of education.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

 OBAMA: He ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but has pushed for more oil and gas drilling overall. He achieved historic increases in fuel economy standards that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles.

He achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source. Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions.

ROMNEY: He supports opening the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska.

Wants to reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development, and accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records. Says green power has yet to become viable and the causes of climate change are unknown.

GAY RIGHTS

 OBAMA: Supports legal recognition of same-sex marriage, a matter decided by states. He opposed that recognition in his 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2004 Senate campaign, while supporting the extension of legal rights and benefits to same-sex couples in civil unions. He achieved repeal of the military ban on openly gay members. He has not achieved repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and affirms the right of states to refuse to recognize such marriages. His administration has ceased defending the law in court but it remains on the books.

ROMNEY: Opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage and says it should be banned with a constitutional amendment, not left to states. “Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state.” He also opposes civil unions “if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” but says states should be left to decide what rights and benefits should be allowed under those unions. Says certain domestic partnership benefits —largely unspecified — as well as hospital visitation rights are appropriate but “others are not.” Says he would not seek to restore the ban on openly gay military members.

HEALTH CARE

 OBAMA: Achieved landmark overhaul putting U.S. on path to universal coverage now that Supreme Court has upheld the law’s mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance.

Under the law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small business gets help for offering insurance and Medicaid will expand.

ROMNEY: Promises to work for repeal of the law modeled largely after his universal health care achievement in Massachusetts because he says states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured.

Proposes to guarantee that people who are “continuously covered” for a certain period be protected against losing insurance if they get sick, leave their job and need another policy. Would expand individual tax-advantaged medical savings accounts and let savings be used for insurance premiums as well as personal medical costs.

SOCIAL SECURITY

OBAMA: Has not proposed a comprehensive plan to address Social Security’s long-term financial problems. In 2011, he proposed a new measure of inflation that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits. The proposal would reduce the long-term financing shortfall by about 25 percent, according to the Social Security actuaries.

ROMNEY: Protect the status quo for people 55 and over but, for the next generation of retirees, raise the retirement age for full benefits by one or two years and reduce inflation increases in benefits for wealthier recipients.

TAXES

 OBAMA: He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and ensure they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. He supports extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making under $200,000, or $250,000 for couples. But in 2010, agreed to a two-year extension of the lower rates for all.

He wants to let the top two tax rates go back up 3 to 4 percentage points to 39.6 percent and 36 percent, and raise rates on capital gains and dividends for the wealthy. Health care law provides for tax on highest-value health insurance plans. Together with Congress, he built a first-term record of significant tax cuts, some temporary.

ROMNEY: He would keep Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes and drop all tax rates further, by 20 percent, bringing the top rate, for example, down to 28 percent from 35 percent and the lowest rate to 8 percent instead of 10 percent. Curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest.

He would end Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals, eliminate capital gains tax for families making below $200,000 and cut corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent. Does not specify which tax breaks or programs he would curtail to help cover costs.

  

Conclusions

Mitt Romney as a Choice in 2012:

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more: it is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Shakespear’s MacBeth

 

This fall I’m voting to re-elect President Barack Obama to a second term as our president. While Mitt Romney appears to be a good and decent man, he does not have the experience, attitudes, or mental acuity to convince me he is more qualified to be the President of the United States.

I don’t like President Obama’s 2011 measure to eliminate inflationary increases for Social Secuirty recipients, and I do like Mitt Romney’s plan to eliminate Capital Gains taxes on those making $200,000 or less. I also don’t think the President was aggressive enough on banning assault rifles, while Romney succeeded in getting assualt rifles banned in his state of Massachusetts.

That’s it folks. The President, on balance, is still the right choice this fall because of all his tremendous accomplishments while in office.

The Accomplishments of President Barack Obama

By some accounts (Florida Professor of American Studies Robert P. Watson of Lynn University) President Obama’s accomplishments now total 244 since he took office. Here are just a few of the significant accomplishments of the president during his first term in the White House.

  • Overhauled the food safety system;
  • Approved the Lily Ledbetter ”Equal Pay” for women rule;
  • Ended “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” discrimination in the military;
  • Passed the Hate Crimes bill in Congress;
  • Saved the auto industry from bankruptcy which included General Motors and Chrysler;
  • Appointed two progressive women to the U.S. Supreme Court including the first Latina;
  • Pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, outlawing denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, extending until age 26 health care coverage of children under parent’s plans, steps toward “Medicare for All;”
  • Expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) health care for children. This helped to cover 4 million more lower-income children;
  • Pushed through a $789 Billion economic stimulus bill that saved or created 3 million jobs and began task of repairing the nation’s infrastructure;
  • Overhauled the credit card industry, making it more consumer friendly;
  • Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess appointment to keep it on track in the face of  GOP attempts to derail it;
  • Also outmaneuvered GOP in naming two members of the National Labor Relations Board blocked by the Republicans in their attempt to shut down the NLRB;
  • Won two extensions of the debt ceiling and extensions of unemployment compensation in the face of Republican threats to shut down the U.S. government;
  • Pulled troops out of Iraq and began drawing down of troops in Afghanistan;
  • Signed an omnibus public lands bill that allowed for 2 million more acres to be declared wilderness. It added 1,000 miles designated for scenic rivers, and added lands for national trails;
  • Signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act;
  • Signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expanded the scope of AmeriCorps;
  • Signed an executive order easing restrictions on the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research;
  • Created greater transparency in government by creation of White House visitor logs, a ban on lobbyist gifts, or allowing lobbyists from serving on advisory boards, and restrictions on the hiring of lobbyists.
  • Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion as a guarantee that the Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the spill would be compensated.
  • In 2011 President Barack Obama gave the order for Navy Seals commandos to take out Osama Bin Laden, the architect of 911. They were successful and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
  • President Barack Obama achieved, as of October 2012, the lowest unemployment rate (7.8%) since he took office. Remember folks, the unemployment rate during the recession, which the President inherited, reached a peak of (10.0%) on October, 2009. C’mon Man, give credit where credit is due! We’re now in an expansionary economic cycle. Guess what economic cycle comes after the expansinary one? That’s right genius—you guessed it—PROSPERITY!

At the value judgment level, I simply prefer the values of the democratic party than I do those of the Republican party. It seems to the objective observer that Republicans are always playing “catch-up” to the rest of society. Problem is “the Party of No” never really seems to catch-up. In addition,“Trickle Down (Supply Side Economics)” just doesn’t work because tax cuts for high income individuals, corporations, and large businesses don’t necessarily lead to economic expansion thereby creating jobs and lowering unemployment.

Why? Because there are other choices for using tax cut windfalls besides reinvestment in one’s business that might lead to job creation. One can simply save the money for a reserve or a rainy day. Or, one can invest their tax windfall in the stock market or other investments. Or, one can spend the tax windfall on hefty bonuses for executives, and salary increases for managers or staff, or one can actually plow the tax windfall back into the business.

Point is—there are many choices for what to do with a tax cut windfall. Current Republican rhetoric would have you believe that tax cuts always lead to job creation and lowering unemployment. It can, but what Republicans try to hide from the public and the voter is that, in reality, there are many other choices for spending a tax cut windfall, not just job creation.

For all these reasons around economics and taxes, as well as the President’ many other significant achievements while in office, I’m giving my support and vote in the coming election to the President of the United States—Barack Obama.

Read Full Post »

     This is the final Blog on my Five Part Series dealing with the issue of immigration. The purpose of all of these articles is more than a simple recitation of the facts. Central to all of this is to provide a well-rounded comprehensive look at the issue. The goal has been to foster better public understanding of this complex, and at times, bewildering major public dilemma. What I have done is to look at immigration under the microscope. And initially, I discovered both push and pull factors as to why there is so much illegal immigration.

      As I twisted the eyepiece for visual clarity, I discovered that the issue of immigration currently creating a political stalemate between liberals and conservatives—has three major components: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” The “Good” is a thriving Mexican economy the people of Mexico can be proud of (11th largest economy in the world; Annual GDP {1.085 Trillion}with a growth rate of 4.1% in 2010; National debt of only 272 billion; and an unemployment rate of only 6.2% ).

      The “Bad” is a high rate of poverty—13% of Mexico’s population is in poverty, particularly in rural areas; an underemployment rate of 21%; and droves of illegal immigrants who cross into the United States each year. Then there is the “Ugly” because of extensive human rights abuses, torture, murder, kidnappings, child abductions, violence and uncontrolled drug crime involving the many cartels in Mexico. In addition, Mexico suffers from widespread political corruption from the top of government all the way down to local levels involving political officials and even the Mexican police.

      I don’t mean to be unkind in my comments—but Mexico the last two decades appears to be a “Hellish Cauldron” of human rights abuses. If HELL itself has a training ground for “scum of the earth”— evidently it can be found in Mexico. The people of Mexico are a good and decent people and deserve much better than this. Latin American countries in general have had a terrible record of human rights abuses over the decades. It now seems Mexico wants to join them.

     What you are about to read is the true story of a country on the brink of a major social disaster of immense proportions. As I said in Part I of this series, it is hoped that the reader will come away with a more well-rounded perspective on the immigration issue, but also a more in-depth understanding of the violence and human rights abuses that are currently plaguing a troubled Mexico. I cannot measure the impact such later events as violence and human rights abuses are having on motivating people to cross the border into the United States from Mexico—but rest assured, such factors are motivating some individuals not to have second thoughts about leaving their native country.  Perhaps people lose pride in their native country when they’re sitting on a powder keg and someone is aiming a gun at their head.

Through a comprehensive look at this issue from all sides, perhaps now we can finally make sense of this.

 Connections

      Back in January 2010 I started looking around for another charity for which to contribute money. I was struck immediately with just how many good causes there are. I began however to limit my search to those that relate to my own life, namely cancer and diabetes. I had contributed to the American Diabetes Association for almost two decades. But, I wanted to find a charity or organization I was really passionate about, not just intellectually interested in.

     When I looked back at all the Blog articles I had written since May 2008 I realized that the one issue that really got my blood running hot was the issue of torture. I was angry at the Bush administration and the complicity of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for enacting procedures to torture prisoners of war. Their actions disgraced our country.

      I then remembered that Amnesty International is one of the most respected organizations dealing with the issue of torture and human rights abuses worldwide. Recently, through publications and reports by Amnesty International, the horrendous issues of human rights abuses, torture, murder, kidnapping, and intimidation and threats, in general has surfaced center stage in neighboring Mexico. Although most Americans are currently occupied with immigration issues, and only secondarily aware of the drug wars going on in Mexico, the issue of human rights abuses doesn’t seem to show up on many individual’s radar screen. This is unfortunate and needs to be rectified right here and now.

      The purpose of this Blog is to educate readers and help them understand the terrible tragedy of crime and human rights abuses occurring in Mexico. Part of that understanding is to first look at the backdrop of both Mexico’s culture and its economy. In this way one is getting the “wide angle view” of the human rights abuses being committed fostered by lawlessness, drug cartels, and ineffectual law enforcement, all of which is occurring nonetheless in a very prosperous economy and a fascinatingly diverse culture. 

 Some Cultural and Economic Facts on Mexico 

 Overview of population

     According to the latest official estimate, which reported a population of 111 million, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican annual population growth has drastically decreased from a peak of 3.5% in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. Life expectancy in 2006 was estimated to be at 75.4 years (72.6 male and 78.3 female). The states with the highest life expectancy are Baja California (75.9 years) and Nuevo León (75.6 years). The Federal District has a life expectancy of the same level as Baja California.

     The lowest levels are found in Chiapas (72.9), Oaxaca (73.2) and Guerrero (73.2 years). The mortality rate in 1970 was 9.7 per 1000 people; by 2001, the rate had dropped to 4.9 men per 1000 men and 3.8 women per 1000 women. The most common reasons for death in 2001 were heart problems (14.6% for men 17.6% for women) and cancer (11% for men and 15.8% for women).

     Mexican population is increasingly urban, with close to 75% living in cities. The five largest urban areas in Mexico are Greater Mexico City, Greater Guadalajara, Greater Monterey, Greater Puebla and Greater Toluca. These areas represent 30% of the country’s population.

     Migration patterns within the country show positive migration to north-western and south-eastern states, and a negative rate of migration to the Federal District. While the annual population growth is still positive, the national net migration rate is negative (-4.7/1000), attributable to the emigration phenomenon of people from rural communities to the United States.

     Mexico is ethnically diverse, and the constitution defines the country to be a multicultural nation. Mexican nationality is relatively young, stemming back only to 1821 when Mexico achieved independence from the Spanish Empire, and it consists of many, separate regional and ethnic groups such as the various indigenous peoples and European immigrants. The majority of Mexicans are Mestizos which makes up the core of the Mexican cultural identity.

     In 2004, the Mexican government founded the National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) which launched the Mexican Genome Diversity Project. In May 2009, the Institute issued a report on a major genomic study of the Mexican population. Among the findings, it was reported that of the 80% of the population that is mestizo, the proportions of European and indigenous ancestry are approximately even, with the indigenous component slightly predominating overall. The proportions of admixture were found to vary geographically from north to south, as previous pre-genomic studies had surmised, with the European contribution predominating in the north and the indigenous component greater in central and southern regions. One of the significant conclusions of the study as reported was that even while it is composed of diverse ancestral genetic groups, the Mexican population is genetically distinctive among the world’s populations. They include:

Mestizos

      Those of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry form the largest group, comprising up to 60-80% of the total population.

            Amerindians

     Descendants of the Native American peoples who inhabited Mesoamerica comprise around 15%-30% of the population. The CDI identifies 62 indigenous groups in Mexico, each with a unique language.

            Whites

     Around 9-16% of the population is of white European descent. Whites are mostly descendants of the first Spanish settlers; although there are Mexicans of French, Italian, Portuguese, Basque, German, Irish, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and British descents from contemporary migration.

            Others

      Approximately 1% of Mexico’s population is composed of other types of ethnic groups. These include Asian-Mexicans and Afro-Mexicans. They are descendants of slaves brought to Mexico. They live in the coastal areas of the states of Veracruz, Tabasco and Guerrero and are mostly of mixed ancestry.

 The Economy of Mexico 

      Although the Mexican Peso has historically been a relatively unstable currency, it has in recent years become a secure stable currency and has maintained a low inflation rate becoming increasingly prominent on the international level.

     The economy of Mexico is the 11th largest in the world. Since the 1994 crisis, administrations have improved the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. Mexico was not significantly influenced by the recent 2002 South American crisis, and has maintained positive rates of growth after a brief period of stagnation in 2001. Moody’s  (in March 2000) and Fitch IBCA (in January 2002) issued investment-grade ratings for Mexico’s sovereign debt.

      In spite of its unprecedented macroeconomic stability, which has reduced inflation and interest rates to record lows and has increased per capita income, enormous gaps remain between the urban and the rural population, the northern, central, and southern states, and the rich and the poor although there has been a large growing middle class since the mid 1990’s. Some of the government’s challenges include the upgrade of infrastructure, the modernization of the tax system and labor laws, and the reduction of income inequality.

     The economy contains rapidly developing modern industrial and service sectors, with increasing private ownership. Recent administrations have expanded competition in ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution and airports, with the aim of upgrading infrastructure. As an export-oriented economy, more than 90% of Mexican trade is under free trade agreements (FTAs) with more than 40 countries, including the European Union, Japan, Israel, and much of Central and South America.

     The most influential FTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect in 1994, and was signed in 1992 by the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2006, trade with Mexico’s two northern partners accounted for almost 50% of its exports and 45% of its imports. Recently, the Congress of the Union approved important tax, pension and judicial reforms, and reform to the oil industry is currently being debated. According to the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s largest companies in 2008, Mexico had 16 companies in the list.

     Mexico has a free market mixed economy, and is firmly established as an upper middle-income country. It is the 11th largest economy in the world as measured in gross domestic product in purchasing power parity. According to the latest information available from the International Monetary Fund, Mexico had the second-highest Gross National Income per capita in Latin America in nominal terms, at $9,716 in 2007, and the highest in purchasing power parity (PPP), at $14,119 in 2007.

     After the 1994 economic debacle, Mexico has made an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy. Oil is Mexico’s largest source of foreign income. According to Goldman sachs, BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, India, United States, Brazil and Mexico. Mexico is the largest North American auto producing nation, recently surpassing Canada and the United States.

     Mexico is the first and only Latin American country to be included in the World Government Bond Index or WGBI, which list the most important global economies that circulate government debt bonds.

     According to the director for Mexico at the World Bank, the population in poverty has decreased from 24.2% to 17.6% in the general population and from 42% to 27.9% in rural areas from 2000 to 2004. As of January 2009 4.6% of the population is impoverished if measured by food based poverty and 15% of the population is considered to be impoverished by asset based measurments (living on less than $10,000 per year).

     Nonetheless, income inequality remains a problem, and huge gaps remain not only between rich and poor but also between the north and the south, and between urban and rural areas. Sharp contrasts in income and Human Development are also a grave problem in Mexico. The 2004 United Nations Human Development Index report for Mexico states that Benito Juarez, a district of Mexico City, and San Pedro Garza, in the State of Nuevo Leon, would have a similar level of economic, educational and life expectancy development to Germany or New Zealand. In contrast, Metlatonoc, in the state of Guerrero, would have an HDI similar to that of Syria.

     Electronics now play an important role in the Mexican economy, with over 600 new electronics related companies formed since 2000.

     GDP annual average growth for the period of 1995–2002 was 5.1%. The economic downturn in the United States also caused a similar pattern in Mexico, from which it rapidly recovered to grow 4.1% in 2005. Inflation has reached a record low of 3.3% in 2005, and interest rates are low, which have spurred credit-consumption in the middle class. Mexico has experienced in the last decade monetary stability: the budget deficit was further reduced and foreign debt was decreased to less than 20% of GDP. Along with Chile, Mexico has the highest rating of long-term sovereign credit in Latin America.

     The remittances from Mexican citizens working in the United States account for only 0.2% of Mexico’s GDP which was equal to US$20 billion dollars per year in 2004 and is the tenth largest source of foreign income after oil, industrial exports, manufactured goods, electronics, heavy industry, automobiles, construction, food, banking and financial services. According to Mexico’s central bank, remittances fell 3.6% in 2008 to $25bn.

     Ongoing economic concerns include the commercial and financial dependence on the US, low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution (the top 32% of income earners account for 55% of income), and few advancement opportunities for the largely Mayan population in the southern states.

     Now that we have a view of a very prosperous Mexico, and understand Mexico’s very diverse culture, it’s time to look at the very ugly side of this country. 

 Human Rights Abuses in Mexico 

     All human rights abuses are criminal acts whether one is discussing kidnapping, murder, torture, unjust imprisonment, or simple intimidation and scare tactics. However, there is no perfect way to classify different human rights abuses. So, I’ve elected to classify and discuss this issue along the following victim-related dimensions and categories involving the Mexican people: (1) Human Rights Defenders and Workers, (2) Indigenous People and Migrant Workers, (3) Journalists, (4) Police and Corrections Staff, (5) Politicians, (6) Children, and (7) Women in general.

 Human Rights Defenders and Workers

      One of the most horrendous abuses of the last three years in Mexico was the wanton murder of Fernando Mayen. Mayen was shot in the head three times, and his body was found in his car on a highway. He was a lawyer from the San Luis Ayucan community in Mexico who was leading a campaign to suspend work on a local landfill project. Fernando’s neighbors were concerned that the toxic waste being illegally dumped into the landfill would leak poison into their water supply—and risk their health and lives. Soon after Fernando won a court order to suspend work on the landfill he began to receive death threats. Eight months later he was murdered. To date, no one has been charged with the crime and, according to relatives, few steps have been taken to investigate it.

Indigenous People and Migrant Workers

      Two leaders from the Organization for the Future of Mixtecos Indigenous Peoples in Guerrero State were abducted during a public event. The two leaders were Raul Lucas Lucia and Manuel Ponce Rosas. Some 30 minutes later, the wife of Raul Lucas Lucia received a phone call. The caller warned her: “Keep quiet or we’ll kill your husband. This is happening to you because you’re defending Indians.” She immediately filed a report about the abduction, but no investigation was opened and no one took steps to locate the two men. A week later, the bodies of both men were found in Tecoanapa, a 30-minute drive from where both were grabbed. Relatives who identified the bodies said that both bore injuries and their hands and feet were tied together behind their backs.

     One of the greatest social tragedies in Mexico today is the ongoing widespread abuse of migrants who transit the country. There is a bit of irony in what is happening. Mexican authorities are very vocal in criticizing the new strict immigration law in Arizona. Yet, they are disingenuous and relatively mute on the abuse of thousands of undocumented migrants who transit through Mexico, including women and children, who fall victim to beatings, abduction, rape and even murder. Criminal gangs are reportedly responsible for the majority of these crimes, but there are also reports of abuses by state officials. Evidently, migrants who suffer these abuses rarely file criminal complaints because they fear being deported. Most irregular migrants are from Central America and many start the perilous Mexican passage of their journey by crossing into the border states of Chiapas or Tobasco from Guatemala. 

     In August, 2010 72 migrants were summarily lined up—and then gunned down in cold blood. In all, 58 men and 14 women were murdered. Suspected in this massacre was the Zetas cartel, a group of former Mexican army special forces known to extort migrants who pass through its territory. This massacre occurred at a ranch in San Fernando, a town in the northern state of Tamaulipas about 100 miles from Brownsville, Texas.

     The Zetas brutally control some parts of the Tamaulipas that even many Mexicans do not dare to travel on the highways in the state. Many residents in the state tell of loved ones who have disappeared from one town to the next. Many of these kidnappings are never reported for fear that police are in league with the criminals. Of the 72 migrants who were killed, 27 had been identified and their bodies returned to their home countries in Honduras and El Salvador.

     Later, in early September 2010, six of the gunmen responsible were identified. According to Alejandro Poire, a spokesman for Mexico’s president on security measures, all of the suspects are dead. Of these, three were killed in confrontation with the Mexican navy after the bodies were discovered, and three others were found dead inside a vehicle on the side of the highway.

 Journalists

 Lydia Cacho is a journalist and activist. She has been attacked, harassed, threatened and arbitrarily detained for highlighting the problems of child pornography and trafficking of women in Quintana Roo State. She received a death threat in which the one making the threat sent to her Blog said: “Dear lidia cacho [sic] get ready to have your throat cut, your lovely head will be left outside your apartment, let’s see how brave you are.” Despite promises of security measures, none have been implemented, no investigations initiated, and no one has been brought to justice. 

Police and Corrections Staff

      Following the mass murder of 72 migrant workers in Mexico, the lead investigator and a second investigator of these crimes disappeared. President Filipe Calderon said a body of one of the men had been found. Later he corrected himself and said the lead investigator was missing but that there was no information about his death. However, the Mexican media reported two bodies had been found and that one of them belonged to Roberto Jaimie Suarez Vasquez. The other investigator wasn’t named by the media but they said it was most likely that of a municipal police officer in San Fernando.

     In another incident the government-run Notimex agency reported that Luis Navarro Casteneda, director of the Atlacholoaya Prison in the Mexican state of Morelos, was abducted as he reported to work on a Saturday morning. Later his dismembered body was found in four locations in the city of Cuernavaca. There were written messages left with the body remains and Navarro’s abandoned Toyota truck was found near the prison. No arrests have been made in the case.

Politicians

      A former Mexican presidential candidate who has remained a power broker in the ruling party was missing amid signs of violence, according to the federal Attorney General’s Office. Prosecutors said that the car of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos “Jefe Diego” was found near his ranch in the central state of Queretaro. It said some of his belongings were found inside the car as well as unspecified “signs of violence.” It is unconfirmed that traces of blood and two bullet impacts were found in his vehicle.

      The Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that federal sources said Fernandez de Cevallos had been kidnapped, but a federal prosecutor’ spokeswoman said she couldn’t confirm that.

     According to information revealed by Panista Manuel Espino through his Twitter account the body of former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez was found in a military camp in Queretaro. “They are telling me that he is in fact dead and his body was found in a military camp in Queretaro,” reads one of the posts in Espino’s social network. Minutes later, through the same medium, the Panista clarified that this is the information that he has but can not be confirmed. “The Public Ministry is the only one who can confirm this, but I share what I am being told by friends who have spoken with a family of DFC (sic).”Fernandez de Cevallos, 69, was the 1994 presidential candidate of the National Action Party that now governs Mexico and he has continued to be an influential figure, as well as one of Mexico’s most successful attorneys.

      The bearded, cigar-chomping candidate jumped out of obscurity during Mexico’s first televised debate by presidential candidates in 1994, striking a chord with the middle class with his calls to topple a party that had held power since 1929. He finished second to Ernesto Zedillo that year, but his party finally won the presidency six years later when Vicente Fox was elected.

      Fernandez de Cevallos served as a senator and congressman while also winning some of the country’s largest court judgments, often in suits against government agencies.

Kidnapping and Murder of Children

MEXICO
Children in the Line of Fire in Ciudad Juárez
By Daniela Pastrana
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico, May 10, 2010 (IPS) – In Ciudad Juárez, the most violent city in Latin America, Mexico’s war on drugs has left at least 110 children dead in the past three years, and over 10,000 have lost parents. Civil society organizations are urging the authorities elected in an upcoming ballot to meet the needs of this vulnerable population.

     An air of despair hangs over this border city. Deserted streets and empty houses — about 100,000 of them — testify to the defeat of a society that has gone through horror, indignation, rage and exhaustion in the past two decades.

     When night falls there is a kind of voluntary curfew, in contrast to the lively night life that used to animate the city centre. Few people walk the streets, even in daylight, and most people think twice before answering phone calls from numbers they do not recognize. One-third of the shops are closed in this northern Mexican city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

     Verito is seven years old. In December, her school teachers were forced to hand over their extra month’s salary, paid before Christmas, in “protection money” to an organized crime group so that the pupils would not be harmed.

“They say they threatened the head teacher with putting bombs in the school, and that’s why they cancelled classes,” she says.

She knows that there are people in her city who kidnap and kill children. And that “all” adults “pay their dues” to drug mafias: “They have to pay money,” she explains, before talking about her dream of a city “that is the same, but without violence, without the news.” Her account is part of “Un, dos, tres, por mí y por todos mis amigos” (One, two three, for me and all my friends), a project that includes a book and a DVD recording voices, drawings and photographs of Ciudad Juárez four-to-eight-year-olds, compiled between 2008 and 2010 by civil society organizations belonging to the “Infancia en Movimiento” (Childhood in Movement) initiative.

     The strategy against drug trafficking adopted by the Mexican government has in the last three years led to the deaths of at least 110 children who were caught in the crossfire between federal police, the armed forces and drug cartels in this city in the state of Chihuahua.

     Non-governmental organizations estimate that about 10,000 children have lost at least one parent in the war on drugs, on the basis that each of the 5,000 murder victims of reproductive age probably had two children, in line with demographic statistics. But there are no official figures.

     “It’s tragic that there isn’t even an official estimate of the number of children who have lost a parent to the violence,” Lourdes Almada, the technical secretary of the Children’s Board of the Citizens’ Council for Social Development, told IPS. “Children who have suffered violence in their families or close circles are not receiving assistance from anyone,” she added.

     Since 1993, when the ongoing wave of murders of factory women began in Ciudad Juárez, the city has earned a world reputation for gender violence, which has claimed over 1,000 women’s lives so far, and for the entrenchment of criminal organizations. “Ciudad Juárez is different from other places in the country because the drug traffickers here have overstepped all the boundaries. It’s very difficult to react to the violence against children,” Juárez filmmaker Ángel Estrada, who directed the documentary film “Escenarios de guerra” (Scenes of War) told IPS. The film, which premièred here Apr. 28, is about the impossibility of doing theatre in such a violent city.

     In 2005, Ciudad Juárez was in an uproar over the deaths of two girls: seven-year-old Airis Estrella Enríquez, whose body was found in a barrel filled with cement, and 10-year-old Anahí Orozco, whom a neighbour raped and killed before setting fire to her body, while her mother was working in a “maquiladora”, a factory that assembles goods for export.

     That same year, six other children were murdered, but still no funds were made available for protecting children. Now local newspapers are reporting news like the murder of a family while they were at a wake for a teenager killed in Parral, a city in southern Chihuahua.

     The murders of 16 young people at a party in the neighbourhood of Villas de Salvárcar in February brought a flurry of federal officials to the city where they spent many hours in meetings, but with no results.

     “Underneath all this there are decades of neglect and of a lack of efforts towards human and social development,” said Almada. “The explosion of violence in Juárez is the result of an economic model that does not take people into account.” Another form of violence in Ciudad Juárez is reflected by the fact that in the course of 2008 and 2009, 300,000 direct, indirect and temporary jobs were lost, among a population of just over 1.2 million.

     Lay-offs have been heavy at the maquiladoras, a mainstay in Ciudad Juárez, which employ mostly women. These factories, which enjoy tax breaks and other benefits, have shed 120,000 jobs, for each of which an estimated 1.5 jobs are lost in the informal economy.

     “What is happening in Ciudad Juárez is an expression of social exclusion,” Nashieli Ramírez, head of Ririki Intervención Social, a social organization, and coordinator of Infancia en Movimiento, told IPS. “It is going to happen all over the world, not just in Mexico, with this rush to urbanization that cannot be understood except from the marginalization and social exclusion that we will all experience.” And so we go on, “without any options for young people, with children who can’t play in the streets, isolated families and single mothers,” she added.

     It is an enormous challenge. Ciudad Juárez has one of the highest proportions of children in this country of over 107 million people, and yet it has the lowest indicators of care and protection. The infant mortality rate is over 25 per 1,000 live births, while the index for countries like Costa Rica or Cuba is below 10 per 1,000.

     The city holds the national record for women’s participation in the workforce, and one-quarter of working mothers leave their children alone for three or four hours a day.

     Children in Ciudad Juárez candidly say they have seen three, four or five people killed on the streets. Seven-year-old Alicia says she feels unsafe in public places, and eight-year-old Irving Leonardo draws a picture of himself “in a drug traffickers’ hotel with gold taps.”

     Faced with this situation, organizations devoted to children’s welfare are launching a campaign, Hazlo Por Juárez (Do It for Juárez), financed by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, aimed at influencing the political platforms of candidates running for the Juárez mayor’s office and the Chihuahua state government in the upcoming Jul. 4 elections.

     “We are going to launch a social movement in Juárez, and we want it to have an impact across the country,” Ramírez said. “We cannot lose another generation. We have to open the door to a different future,” said Almada.

Mexico kidnap gang kills boy, 5, with acid

     Mexican gangsters who kidnapped a five-year-old boy killed him by injecting sulphuric acid into his heart after his mother publisized his abduction, police said last week.

     The brutal murder of Javier Morena, snatched from his family’s fruit stand in a working-class district of Mexico City, marks a horrific escalation in the terror tactics employed by kidnappers. They have increasingly switched their attention to the poor as the wealthy protect their families with squads of armed guards.

     Miguel Mancera, Mexico City’s attorney-general, displayed the syringe said to have been used by five gangsters under arrest over Javier’s death. They allegedly confessed that they had wanted to be known as the “Vitriol Gang”, after an alternative name for sulphuric acid, to distinguish themselves from dozens of others. The acid was siphoned off from old car batteries.

     The boy vanished two weeks ago while playing at the central market in Iztapalapa, a “barrio” or slum of more than 1m people. His mother, Laura Vega, who lives in a breeze-block house with a corrugated iron roof, feared he had been kidnapped but realized she would be unable to afford a ransom. After a frantic three-day search through the alleys and child brothels of Iztapalapa, she broke the barrio code of silence and reported Javier’s disappearance to the police. His picture was broadcast on television, prompting a taxi driver to say he had driven the tearful boy and a teenager claiming to be his brother to a house outside the city. Police raided the building but it was too late. Mancera said that the moment Javier’s picture had been shown, the kidnappers plunged the needle into the boy’s heart killing him instantly. They buried him on a hill outside the city. The police recovered his body hours later. Police said the gang had been preparing to demand a £12,000 ransom, but did not know where to send their demand as the boy was too terrified to speak.

     Last Monday Javier was reburied in a white coffin near his home. His mother told reporters she did not know why the gang had targeted her family, as they had little money. “He didn’t have to die like that, so far from his family,” she said. She added that the kidnappers should face the death penalty so that they would suffer “the way my son suffered”. However, capital punishment was abolished in Mexico three years ago.

     In 2003, when the British director Tony Scott came to Mexico City to film Man on Fire, in which Dakota Fanning plays a kidnapped child, the abduction rate was 20 victims a month, largely children. Police now put the rate at 65 a month. The Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies says that this is an underestimate because few families call in the police. It puts the true figure at closer to 500 a month.

     Experts say the crime wave reflects increased violence in the drug trade, in which 4,000 have died in battles between cartels and the police this year.

     Although the rich may be protected, they are not immune. Javier Morena’s death recalled the recent kidnapping of Fernando Marti, the 14-year-old son of a sports equipment tycoon, who was snatched at a police checkpoint while being driven to school. It prompted a 100,000-strong protest march at the government’s inability to protect children.

     The family paid a £1m ransom but the boy’s decomposing body was found days later in the boot of a car. It now appears that the police uniforms worn by the gang were genuine: the plot is alleged to have been organized by a Mexico City police commander.

Women

     The phenomenon of the female homicides in Ciudad Juárez, called in Spanish the feminicidios (“femicides”) and las muertas de Juárez (“The dead women of Juárez”), involves the violent deaths of hundreds of women since 1993 in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, a border city across the Rio Grande from the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. The estimated homicide toll is speculated by authorities to be about 400, but many local residents believe that the true count of los feminicidios stands at an estimated 5,000 victims. Most of the cases remained unsolved as of 2003, and are still unsolved today.

According to the Organization of American State’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:

     The victims of these crimes have preponderantly been young women, between 12 and 22 years of age. Many were students, and most were maquiladora workers. A number were relative newcomers to Ciudad Juarez who had migrated from other areas of Mexico. The victims were generally reported missing by their families, with their bodies found days or months later abandoned in vacant lots, outlying areas or in the desert. In most of these cases there were signs of sexual violence, torment, torture or in some cases disfigurement. According to Amnesty International as of February 2005 more than 370 young women and girls had been murdered in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua.

     In November 2005 BBC News reported Mexico’s human rights ombudsman Jose Luis Soberances as saying that 28 women had been murdered so far in 2005. Despite past and current unsolved murders in August 2006 the federal government dropped its investigation, concluding that no federal laws had been violated.

     The most prominent suspects in the Juarez serial case were arrested, following the discovery of body clusters in the areas noted in parentheses.

1995 – Abdul Latif Sharif was arrested, charged, and convicted of the 1995 murder of Elizabeth Castro Garcia (Lote Bravo).

1996 – Several members of Los Rebeldes, a Juarez street gang, were arrested (Lote Bravo).

1999 – Los Choferes, bus drivers on routes between the maquiladoras and residential districts, were arrested (Lomas de Poleo).

2001 – García Uribe and González Meza were arrested for the murder of eight victims found in a cotton field near the Association of Maquila Workers in East Juarez (Cotton Field).

Protest by the families of some of the victims, demanded the punishment of the killers.

     A group of mothers, families, and friends of the victims, called Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa A.C. (“Civil Association for the Return Home of Our Daughters”) was formed to raise awareness about the situation and put pressure on the Mexican government to pay attention to these cases, some of which have gone unsolved for 13 years. Members of the group, including co-founder Norma Andrade, demand that proper investigations be carried out.

     Another family organization, Voces sin Eco (“voices without echo”) was founded in 1998. They painted pink crosses on black telephone poles to draw attention to the problem and align themselves with family values.

     Pink crosses and offerings for the murdered women of Juárez at Olvera Street,Los Angeles, on the Day of the Dead.

     In 1999, Stephen L. Rush founded a non-profit organization to establish a base for Human Rights in Mexico and to find a way to stop the sexual murders, for what would come to be known as the Save Juarez Project.

     In 1999, singer Tori Amos reacted to the accounts of the murders with her song “Juárez” on the album To Venus and Back.

     In 2000, El Paso post-hardcore band At the Drive-In released a music video for their song “Invalid Litter Dept. ” that details the deaths. The video features several photos of newspaper clippings and articles about the murders.

     In 2001, filmmaker Lourdes Portillo released one of the first documentaries dedicated to the victims of the murders, Senorita Extraviada.

     An informal group, which the press named Las Mujeres de Negro (“the women in black”), originated in November 2001 in the city of Chihuahua, following the discovery of eight corpses together. They attended the protest, which interrupted the celebration of the Mexican Revolution, wearing black tunics (as a sign of mourning) and pink hats. Since then, they have marched across the desert from Chihuahua to Juárez and planted crosses (sometimes with plastic limbs attached) in prominent places.

     In 2001 Gabriella “Azul Luna” Parra founded Las ViejasKandalosas, a collective of artists with a mission to denounce the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico through art. She organized various multimedia shows, the first being EsesKandalo in 2001 at Self-Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles. In February 2002 she and Lorena Mendez-Quiroga led a caravan (from Los Angeles to Ciudad Juarez) to the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) Museum in Ciudad Juarez for a ViejasKandalosas three-day protest event that included a bi-national exhibit, a press conference with Diana Washington Valdez, and a candlelight procession through the streets with community and visiting artists.

     In 2002, Mexican journalist, novelist and essayist Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez published Huesos en el Desierto, (“Bones in the Desert”) one of the most comprehensive researchs on these murders and its social and political causes in book form. Sergio González Rodríguez claims that, during the course of his research for the book, which discovered links between organized crime, local entrepreneurs and local and federal authorities, he suffered death threats, and was kidnapped and tortured.

     In 2002, U.S. border journalist Diana Washington Valdez published an investigative newspaper series in the El Paso Times about the murders titled “Death Stalks the Border.”

     In 2002, as part of the art activists from Los Angeles that caravanned to Ciudad Juarez for the INBA protest exhibit, Rigo Maldonado and Victoria Delgadillo, co-curated the first internationally acknowledged exhibit on these femicides at the Social & Public Arts Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, California. The exhibit was called Hijas de Juarez, and included 45 major artists from the Los Angeles area. In 2002, details and images of victims were not readily available via the internet or libraries prompting both curators, the SPARC gallery coordinator Jennifer Araujo, artist/filmmaker Patricia Valencia and her friend/writer Max Blumenthal to regroup in Ciudad Juarez to collect data and interview victim families. In 2003, Victoria Delgadillo & Rigo Maldonado’s written account on the curatory process for this exhibit was published in Aztlán an Academic Chicano Journal, through the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) press.

     The article was entitled “Journey to the Land of the Dead: A Conversation with the Curators of the Hijas de Juárez Exhibit” [Volume 28, Number 2 / Fall 2003]. For their work on the Hijas de Juarez exhibit and for creating public awareness through art, Rigo Maldonado and Victoria Delgadillo received awards from the Instituto Cultural de León, Guanajuato (Mexico) in 2003, La Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa (Mexico) in 2003, and the Los Angeles City Council (United States) in 2002.

     In the same year Polish journalists Eliza Kowalewska and Grzegorz Madej released a TV series about crimes in Juárez. Journalists cooperated with crime experts Robert Ressler and Candace Skrapec. This series was shown on Polish television TVN in 2003.

     In 2003, journalist Max Blumenthal won the Online News Association independent feature award for his investigative article in Salon.com, “Day of the Dead”, which examined the murders and the connection between them and the policies of the corporations with factories in the border city.

     In November 2003, UCLA Chicano Studies Professors Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Chon Noriega organize a conference called “The Maquiladora Murders, or who is Killing the Women of Juárez?” at the University of California, Los Angeles, bringing victim families, and other notable guest speakers to present to students and community members.

     In 2003, Eve Ensler demanded justice from the Special Prosector and vowed to return with support from around the world, and established a V-Day march in February 2004 with over 7,000 participants including actresses Sally Field and Jane Fonda.

     In 2004, Roberto Bolario’s’s novel 2666 (transl. to English 2008) centered around the horrible murders in a fictitious town called Santa Teresa, widely acknowledged as an alias for Ciudad Juarez.

     In 2004, Mexican norterio group Los Tigres del Norte released a song called “Las Mujeres de Juárez” (The Women of Juárez) on their Pacto de Sangre album. Juarez mayor Hector Murguia denounced the song, saying that it painted a false picture about the “real face of Juárez.”

     In 2004, Greek documentary team Exandas, released a production titled “Juárez, City of the Dead, women” featuring interviews with several relatives, maquiladora workers and owners and showcasing police corruption, evidence tampering practices and collaboration with one of the Mexican drug cartels, whose members emerge as the most likely culprits.

     In 2004, USA musician Bugs Salcido released a concept album titled “The Juarez Murders” featuring David Lowery, David Immergluck, Martin Pradler, Jeff Trott, & Alan Weatherhead. Proceeds from sales of the album and from his live concerts have gone to aid the families of the victims and the rape crisis center in Juarez. “. . .I do hope that ultimately, people are left with a feeling of hope after hearing this music,” says Salcido.

     In 2005, native of the El Paso/Juárez border, Alicia Gaspar de Alba author of various works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and artist in Las Hijas de Juarez exhibit publishes her novel “Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders”, which she had been researching since 1998.

     In 2005, Diana Washington Valdez published “Cosecha de Mujeres: Safari en el desierto Mexicano” [Oceano/Mexico/Spain], an investigative book in Spanish exposing the murders. It was a finalist for the Ulysses Lettre Award for international reportage.

     To protest the lack of progress in the cases, a huge free concert was held by famous Latin artists such as Alejandro Sanj, Alex Ubago, Manu Chao, Lila Downs and others on September 18, 2005 in Mexico’s City’s central Zocalo square.

     On May 30, 2005, President Vicente Fox told reporters that the majority of the Juárez killings had been resolved and the perpetrators placed behind bars. He went on to criticize the media for “rehashing” the same 300 or 400 murders, and said matters needed to be seen in their “proper dimension”.

     In 2006, Diana Washington Valdez published The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women [Peace at the Border/California/First Ed.], an investigative book in English about the Juárez women’s murders, drug cartels and government corruption in Mexico. The ebook version was titled Harvest of Women: Safari in Mexico.

     In 2006, Los Angeles filmmaker Lorena Mendez produced Border Echoes, a documentary about the Juárez women’s murders based on nearly 10 years of investigation. She collaborated with Diana Washington Valdez for the film. Azul Luna co-produced.

     In 2006, Gregory Nava directed a movie called Bordertown with Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas. As a blogger I saw this movie and highly recommend it to others. Basically, A journalist investigates a series of murders near American-owned factories on the border of Juarez and El Paso.  Lauren, an impassioned American reporter for the Chicago Sentinel heads to Juarez, a Mexican border town, in order to investigate a series of mysterious slayings involving young factory women from all over Mexico. As she discovers hundreds of victims, she gains the trust of local factory workers but falls into danger. Written by Jlo-fan

     In 2006, a book of poems on the Juárez women’s murders was published by White Pine Press: Secrets in the Sand: The Young Women of Juárez by Marjorie Agosin

     In 2007 The Daughters of Juárez by 11-time Emmy award-winning journalist Teresa Rodriguez was published, the most recent book on the murders. Teresa Rodriguez is a reporter for Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States. There, she co-anchors the critically acclaimed and award winning news magazine Aqui y Ahora. She has been investigating and reporting on the Juárez murders for over 13 years.

     In 2007, Toronto filmmakers Alex Flores and Lorena Vassolo released Juarez, a documentary film about the murders.

     In 2008, the artist Swoon displayed a paper-cutout memorial of victim Silvia Elena in the Chelsea art gallery Honeyspace. She displayed another version of the piece on a wall in San Francisco’s Mission District.

     In 2009, Backyard (El traspatio) was released in Mexico. Directed by Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro) and screenwritten by Sabina Berman. This film was part of the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival, where an extra screening had to be scheduled because of the interest it generated.

     In 2010, a book of poems on the Juárez women’s murders was published by University of Arizona Press: Each and Her by Valerie Martinez.

     In the Juarez newspaper NORTE, for the date of January 4, 2010, a special report/section was included “Informe Anual Operativo Conjunto Chihuahua ” by the government, with a subsection at page 2 on “Murders of Women” from 10-2004 through 11-2008, during which period there were 53 victims, with 36 cases resolved with convictions or detention, or order of arrest. Most of these murders were by persons with a connection to the victim. This represents the results of enhanced investigation and prosecution since the 1990s.

Unfortunately many websites and publications, including the book Daughters of Juarez, deal (when they deal with facts and not merely rumours) with the earlier years. Of course, meanwhile, Juarez is suffering from other murders. The same newspaper, on the same date, reported 2660 murders during 2009, mostly drug war related. Norte, on page 3, for January 5, 2010, reports already 37 murders for the first four days alone of 2010.

Summary

     This Five-Part Series started out to look at the problem of illegal immigration and all its complexity. It is my hope that the reader will come away, after reading this series, with an honest and  comprehensive understanding of this troubling issue. Covered were topics like the policy debate, the causes and impact of illegal immigration, the new Arizona law SB 1070, and this article on human rights abuses in Mexico.

     I do not know how the carnage going on in Mexico with kidnappings, murders, and other human rights abuses has influenced millions of people to flee their country, and to seek employment and safe refuge away from all the violence in Mexico. Most of the violence occurring in Mexico is due to the Mexican drug cartels. The corruption of some mexican officials in both high and low social positions has made it an almost impossible situation to rectify.

     I am reminded of a drastic solution that was fictiously carried out in the 1994 Movie, A Clear and Present Danger. The cartels in that movie were the Columbian drug cartels. In a nutshell a Black-ops team is assembled to start taking down the drug cartels, their equipment, and drugs. Missiles were used to destroy a family estate where many members from different cartels and their families had assembled. There is much collateral damage due to this covert secret operation ordered by the President of the United States and his administrative types.

     I’ll leave it to you movie watchers to see what else happens, but the movie does raise an interesting question. If the Mexican government can’t deal with the intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by the drug cartels could the United States government today successfully work out a secret agreement with the Mexican government to take down the Mexican Drug Cartels? I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do have many other related questions.

For example, if  assassination squads and Black ops were coupled along with strategic pinpoint missile attacks by the United States, would the threat of drug cartels diminish? Could the CIA assist the U.S. military by providing intelligence information as to the location or whereabouts of those involved in the drug trade? Would Mexico instituting martial law help? Would high six figure bounties placed on the heads of these cartel leaders help bring them down? The Mexican government has invited the FBI into their country before when special investigative help was needed. The American DEA has worked in joint drug operations with Mexican police and Mexico’s equivalent of their DEA on many an occasion.

     However, the Mexican government does not want American troops on Mexican soil under any circumstances. They respect their own country’s soverignty. Problem is they don’t seem to respect ours. We can help the Mexican government and its people only if they really care enough to seriously address their own problems. It seems every other week I hear of a Mexican mayor in some city or community that was assassinated. Let that happen in this country and our police would be on top of the situation in no time. Extra resources would be allocated because media and political pressure would be brought to bear on local law enforcement.   

     Perhaps the greatest contribution the Mexican government can make in stemming the outflow of illegal immigrants to the United States is to seriously address its underemployment problem which affects 21% of their population. Their entire educational system in Mexico needs to be radically overhauled. Enough said on Mexico’s inadequacies. What can the United States do to prevent the impact of Mexico’s Drug Cartels and what can the U.S. do to end illegal immigration to this country? The demand side of drug abuse must be addressed at some point even if it’s treated as a long term priority. But a primary top priority now must be to secure our own borders, no matter what it takes. Any effort to do less is pure “stupidity”.

     The soverignty of the United States is our most important priority. The American people are telling our government through surveys, time and time again, that this is really important. It’s time for the U.S. government to start listening to the American people, and then take effective action. America may have the best politicians money can buy. But it’s long overdue for politicians to do their job. It is only then that the problem of illegal immigration will finally disappear from the American conscience.        

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     Part IV of this series looks at the new Arizona law on immigration. Its basic provisions are described as well as some difficulties and legal issues attendant to it. Since most Americans are only aware of “rhetoric-plaqued” information and mis-information promulgated by the media, it is important that the reader be given an honest, accurate portrayal of the facts.

What is the Arizona Law all about?

     The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070, often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative act in the state of Arizona. It is the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades.

     The act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law, authorizes state and local law enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. The paragraph on intent in the legislation says it embodies an “attrition through enforcement” doctrine.

     Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law simply enforces existing federal law. The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There have been protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities, including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona. Polling has found however that the law has widespread majority support in Arizona and nationwide.

     U.S. federal law requires aliens 14 years old or older who are in the country for longer than 30 days to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. The Act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, and obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”, to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien.

       Any person arrested cannot be released without confirmation of the person’s legal immigration status by the federal government pursuant to § 1373(c) of Title 8 of the United States Code. A first offense carries a fine of up to $100, plus court costs, and up to 20 days in jail; subsequent offenses can result in up to 30 days in jail (SB 1070 required a minimum fine of $500 for a first violation, and for a second violation a minimum $1,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 6 months). A person is “presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States” if he or she presents any of the following four forms of identification: a valid Arizona driver license; a valid Arizona nonoperating identification license; a valid tribal enrollment card or other tribal identification; or any valid federal, state, or local government-issued identification, if the issuer requires proof of legal presence in the United States as a condition of issuance.

     The Act also prohibits state, county, or local officials from limiting or restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law” and provides that any legal Arizona resident can sue such agencies or officials to compel such full enforcement. If the person who brings suit prevails, that person may be entitled to reimbursement of court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

     In addition, the Act makes it a crime for anyone, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, to hire or to be hired from a vehicle which “blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic.” Vehicles used in such manner are subject to mandatory immobilization or impoundment. Moreover, for a person in violation of a criminal law, it is an additional offense to transport an alien “in furtherance” of the alien’s illegal presence in the U.S., to “conceal, harbor or shield” an alien, or to encourage or induce an alien to immigrate to the state, if the person “knows or recklessly disregards the fact” that the alien is in the U.S. illegally or that immigration would be illegal.

     Violation is a class 1 misdemeanor if fewer than ten illegal aliens are involved, and a class 6 felony if ten or more are involved. The offender is subject to a fine of at least $1,000 for each illegal alien involved. The transportation provision includes exceptions for child protective services workers, and ambulance attendants and emergency medical technicians.

     On April 30, the Arizona legislature passed, and Governor Brewer signed, House Bill 2162, which modified the Act that had been signed a week earlier, with the amended text stating that “prosecutors would not investigate complaints based on race, color or national origin.” The new text also states that police may only investigate immigration status incident to a “lawful stop, detention, or arrest”, lowers the original fine from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $100, and changes incarceration limits for first-time offenders from 6 months to 20 days.

Why Arizona felt the Need to Pass SB 1070

     One of the basic assumptions people make is that people from Arizona were fed up with the U.S. government’s inability to get the job of immigration reform going. Consequently, this served as the state’s primary motivation for passing SB 1070. Too many felt the federal government had been “impotent/and or incompetent ” for decades when it came to either enforcing or reforming federal immigration laws. This assumtion is in fact true. However, the motivations to pass SB 1070 run deeper than that. Arizona is the first state with such a law as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. Prior law in Arizona, and the law in most other states, does not mandate that law enforcement personnel ask about the immigration status of those they encounter. Many police departments discourage such inquiries to avoid deterring immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating in other investigations.

     Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants, a figure that has increased fivefold since 1990. As the state with the most illegal crossings of the Mexico-United States border, its remote and punishing deserts are the entry point for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans. By the late 1990s, Tucson Border Patrol Sector had become the location for the most number of arrests by the United States Border Patrol.

     Whether illegal immigrants commit a disproportionate number of crimes is uncertain, with different authorities and academics claiming that the rate for this group was the same, greater, or less than that of the overall population. Perception bias leads many on both sides of the debate to reject, not recognize, or rationalize crime rate statistics.

     There was also anxiety that the Mexican Drug War, which had caused thousands of deaths, would spill over into the U.S. Moreover, by the late 2000s, Phoenix was seeing an average of one kidnapping per day, earning it the reputation as America’s worst city in that regard.

     Arizona has a history of passing restrictions on illegal immigration, including legislation in 2007 that imposed heavy sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants. Measures similar to SB 1070 had been passed by the legislature in 2006 and 2008, only to be vetoed by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. She was subsequently elevated to Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration and was replaced by Republican Secretary of State of Arizona, Jan Brewer. There is a similar history of referenda, such as the Arizona Proposition 200 (2004) that sought to restrict illegal immigrants’ use of social services. The ‘attrition through enforcement’ doctrine is one that think tanks such as the Center for Immigration Studies have been supporting for several years.

Launching of SB 1070

     Impetus for SB 1070 is attributed to shifting demographics leading to a larger Hispanic population, increased drugs-and human smuggling-related violence in Mexico and Arizona, and a struggling state economy and economic anxiety during the late-2000s recession. State residents were also frustrated by the lack of federal progress on immigration, which they viewed as even more disappointing given that Napolitano was in the administration.

     The major sponsor of and legislative force behind the bill was State Senator Russell Pearce, who had long been one of Arizona’s most vocal opponents of illegal immigration. He had successfully pushed through several prior pieces of tough legislation against those he termed “invaders on the American sovereignty”.

     Much of the drafting of the bill was done by Kris Kobach, a professor at the University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Law and a figure long associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He had written immigration-related bills in many other parts of the country. Pearce and Kobach had worked together on past legislative efforts regarding immigration, and Pearce contacted Kobach when he was ready to pursue the idea of the state enforcing federal immigration laws. The Arizona State Senate approved an early version of the bill in February 2010. Saying, “Enough is enough,” Pearce stated figuratively that this new bill would remove handcuffs from law enforcement and place them on violent offenders.

     The killing of 58-year-old Robert Krentz and his dog, shot on March 27, 2010, while doing fence work on his large ranch roughly 19 miles (31 km) from the Mexican border, gave a tangible public face to fears about immigration-related crime. Arizona police were not able to name a murder suspect, but traced a set of footprints from the crime scene south towards the border, and the resulting speculation that the killer was an illegal alien increased support among the public for the measure. For a while, there was talk of naming the law after Krentz. Some state legislators (both for and against the law) believed, however, that the impact of the Krentz killing has been overstated as a factor in the bill’s passing.

     The bill, with a number of changes made to it, passed the Arizona House of Representatives on April 13 by a 35–21 party-line vote. The revised measure then passed the State Senate on April 19 by a 17–11 vote that also closely followed party lines. All but one Republican voted for the bill, ten Democrats voted against the bill, and two Democrats didn’t vote.

Opinion polls

     A Rasmussen Reports poll done nationally around the time of the signing indicated that 60 percent of Americans were in favor, and 31 percent opposed, to legislation that allows local police to “stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.” The same poll also indicated that 58 percent are at least somewhat concerned that “efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants will also end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens.”

     A national Gallop Poll found that more than three-quarters of Americans had heard about the law, and of those who had, 51 percent were in favor of it against 39 percent opposed. An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll indicated that 71 percent of Americans said they supported the notion of requiring their own police to determine people’s status if there was “reasonable suspicion” the people were illegal immigrants, and arresting those people if they could not prove they were legally in the United States.

     A nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll found similar results to the others, with 51 percent of respondents saying the Arizona law was “about right” in its approach to the problem of illegal immigration, 36 percent saying it went too far, and 9 percent saying it did not go far enough. Another CBS News poll, conducted a month after the signing, showed 52 percent seeing the law as about right, 28 percent thinking it goes too far, and 17 percent thinking it does not go far enough. A 57 percent majority thought that the federal government should be responsible for determining immigration law.

     A national Fox News poll found that 61 percent of respondents thought Arizona was right to take action itself rather than wait for federal action, and 64 percent thought the Obama administration should wait and see how the law works in practice rather than trying to stop it right away. Experts caution that in general, polling has difficulty reflecting complex immigration issues and law.

     Another Rasmussen poll, done statewide after several days of heavy news coverage about the controversial law and its signing, found a large majority of Arizonans still supported it, by a 64 percent to 30 percent margin. Rasmussen also found that Brewer’s approval ratings as governor shot up, going from 40 percent of likely voters before the signing to 56 percent after, and that her margin over prospective Democratic gubernatorial opponent, State Attorney General Terry Goddard (who opposes the law) widened.

     A poll done by Arizona State University researchers found that 81 percent of registered Latino voters in the state opposed SB 1070. This would suggest that race is a more important factor among some groups in society than is the fact that the law applies only to illegals who break our laws. Every time an illegal enters this country he is violating the soverign territory of the United States.

Opinions Expressed by Mexico Government

     Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s office said that “the Mexican government condemns the approval of the law [and] the criminalization of migration.” President Calderón also characterized the new law as a “violation of human rights”. Calderón repeated his criticism during a subsequent state visit to the White House.

     The measure was also strongly criticized by Mexican health minister Jose Angel Cordova, former education minister Josefina Vazquez Mota, and Governor of Baja California Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan, with Osuna saying it “could disrupt the indispensable economic, political and cultural exchanges of the entire border region.” The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory for its citizens visiting Arizona, saying “It must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time.”

     In response to these comments, Chris Hawley of USA Today said that “Mexico has a law that is no different from Arizona’s”, referring to legislation which gives local police forces the power to check documents of people suspected of being in the country illegally. Immigration and human rights activists have also noted that Mexican authorities frequently engage in racial profiling, harassment, and shakedowns against migrants from Central America.

Reaction Among U.S. Government Officials

     In the United States, supporters and opposers of the bill have roughly followed party lines, with most Democrats opposing the bill and most Republicans supporting it. The bill was criticized by President Barack Obama, who called it “misguided” and said it would “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” Obama did later note that the HB 2162 modification had stipulated that the law not be applied in a discriminatory fashion, but the president said there was still the possibility of suspected illegal immigrants “being harassed and arrested”.

     He repeatedly called for federal immigration reform legislation to forestall such actions among the states and as the only long-term solution to the problem of illegal immigration. Governor Brewer and President Obama met at the White House in early June 2010 to discuss immigration and border security issues in the wake of SB 1070; the meeting was termed pleasant, but brought about little change in the participants’ stances.

Legal Challenges to SB 1070

     I think it’s fair to say that the initial reaction to the Arizona law has bordered on hysteria. This hysteria was reinforced by the media in such a way as to bring out rhetoric , but nothing approximating a well-reasoned concrete analysis of the facts.

     Many organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced their intention to file legal action against the Arizona Statute based on constitutional grounds. The ACLU criticized the Arizona Statute as a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which gives the federal government authority over the states in immigration matters and provides that only the federal government can enact and enforce immigration laws.  

     Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional scholar and dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law says that “The law is clearly pre-empted by federal law under Supreme Court precedents.” However, that legal argument is countered by one of the bill’s author, Kobach, who says the law embodies the doctrine of “concurrent enforcement” – i.e., that the state law parallels applicable federal law without any conflict – and he believes it would thus survive any challenge: “There are some things that states can do and some that states can’t do, but this law threads the needle perfectly…. Arizona only penalizes what is already a crime under federal law.” State Senator Pearce noted that some past state laws on immigration enforcement had been upheld in federal courts. In Gonzales v. City of Peoria (9th Cir. 1983), the Court held that the Immigration and Naturalization Act precludes local enforcement of the Act’s civil provisions but does not preclude local enforcement of the Act’s criminal provisions. The U.S. Attorney General may enter into a written agreement with a state or local government agency, under which that agency’s employees perform the function of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States; however, such an agreement is not required for the agency’s employees to perform those functions.

     However, various legal experts were divided on whether the law would survive a court challenge, with one law professor saying it “sits right on that thin line of pure state criminal law and federally controlled immigration law.” Past lower court decisions in this area were not always consistent and a decision on the bill’s legality from the U.S. Supreme Court is one possible outcome. Other lawsuits have been filed over the new Arizona law, many involving many other legal issues such as racial profiling, local police responsibility in immigration laws, resource issues, Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection Law, First Amendment (free speech), and the  Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure).

     It is possible that all the suits would be combined into one case for the courts to hear. Kobach remained optimistic that the suits would fail, saying “I think it will be difficult for the plaintiffs challenging this. They are heavy on political rhetoric but light on legal arguments.” In late May 2010, Governor Brewer issued an executive order to create a legal defense fund to handle suits over the law. Brewer got into a dispute with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard over whether he would defend the law against legal challenges, as a state attorney general normally would. Brewer accused Goddard, who opposed the law personally and was one of Brewer’s possible rivals in the gubernatorial election, of colluding with U.S. Justice Department as it deliberated whether to challenge the law in court.

Discussion and a Suggestion

     In its final form, HB 2162 limits the use of race. It states: “A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.”

      The U.S. and Arizona supreme courts have held that race may be considered in enforcing immigration law. In United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, the U.S. Supreme Court found: “The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.” The Arizona Supreme Court agrees that “enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors.” Both decisions say that race alone, however, is an insufficient basis to stop or arrest.

     Every year in the United States millions upon millions of people fill out two important legal documents: (1) Federal Income Tax Form 1040, and (2) their respective State Income Tax forms. Anyone who fails to either pay their taxes or file correct income tax forms is already under the watchful eye of both federal and state governments. Everyone is required to sign their tax forms, creating the conditions for checking the truthfulness of the statements signed off on.

     Consequently, it would be useful as an investigatory tool if both federal and state individual income tax forms were modified to include a section verifying country of origin, hospital where born including address or midwifery verifications, photocopy evidence of a legitimate birth certificate, and a box to be checked indicating US citizenship/non-citizen status. Those tax returns that are deemed suspicious could then be further investigated.

     State governments could take a leadership role here and start modifying its individual income tax forms accordingly. Getting the federal government to modify the individual federal income tax form 1040 will take (no pun intended) an act of Congress. Where state governments are concerned, perhaps Arizona could be the first state in the nation to modify its individual state income tax laws to incorporate the changes I’ve recommended.

Note: Much of the material written in this Blog was obtained from Wikipaedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

 

 

 

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     In Part III I will attempt to evaluate the impact of immigration, specifically illegal immigration. It is perhaps linguistically amusing to note the definition and how such a word as “Impact” is defined, and how it fits so well into this discussion of illegal immigration.  Impact is defined as the collision of one body against another; collision; or the  force of a collision, or to press closely or pack in. And indeed, there is a kind of social collision going on all across the nation right now as the issue of illegal immigration is debated.

      No where is there a better way to measure such a social collision and impact than to evaluate the differing attitudes and beliefs regarding this issue. Like many social issues, “attitudes and beliefs” (for better or worse) seem to trump facts, logic and reason. This is not surprising given that all facts are valued in a different way or evaluated always within a social context. Writers like myself can impart facts but public opinion is usually all about “feelings.” So if feelings are the measure of impact—what is the impact?

      I have chosen to communicate such impact through a social science research methodology known as public opinion polls. They have their strengths and weaknesses and sampling errors, but I think that collectively (A kind of Meta-Evaluation Assessment) they can give the reader direction of opinion that is both reliable and valid.

     There are literally hundreds of polls that have been conducted at national, state, and local levels on the complex issue of illegal immigration. In terms of a sociological analysis, the issue divides people by all the relevant social and demographic variables sociologists and political analysts use: political party, age, race, gender, and  geographical area.

     I had to make some choices here to report. I chose to use American National polls, California polls, and a Zogby International Poll of people from Mexico to evaluate the perceived impact of illegal immigration. The results follow.

 AMERICAN NATIONAL POLLS

   The general public overwhelmingly favors immigration reform. Poll after poll shows that Americans want well-enforced, sensible, and sustainable immigration laws.

  • 89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem (30% “extremely serious,” 33% “very serious,” and 26% “somewhat serious.” (Time Magazine, Jan. 2006)
  • 82% think that not enough is being done along the borders to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the country. (New York Times/CBS, May 2007)
  • 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”. (Polling Company, Sept. 2006)
  • 62% oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens of America. (Quinnipiac Univ., Feb  2006)

     These are only a few examples of the many statistics demonstrating that Americans want lower immigration, greater enforcement, and more commitment to making immigration work in the best interests of the nation.

Categorical Issues found in National Polls

     A Rasmussen Report Poll conducted November 5, 2008 of 1,000 likely voters asked: “Is the government doing enough to secure the border?”

  • 79% responded “no,”—” it is not doing enough”.
  • 10% responded “yes.”
  •      It also asked, “Which is more important: securing the border or legalizing undocumented workers?”
  • 65% responded that gaining control of the border is more important.
  • 26% responded that legalization is more important.
  • Rasmussen Report Poll conducted from October 24-25th of 800 likely voters found that:
  • 51% opposed the DREAM Act (a form of amnesty for former and present illegal alien students) concept.
  • 68% believe the passage of the bill would encourage more illegal immigration in the future.
  • 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.
  • 77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

 Legal Immigration

  • 47% want to decrease immigration. (Gallup, June 2003)
  • Only 12% support increases in immigration. (Zogby Intl. and Hamilton College, Feb. 2003)
  • 20% believe immigration should be stopped immediately, and 52% believe that “Some immigration is okay, but it should be limited and people immigrating illegally should be vigorously prosecuted.” (Zogby Intl., Feb. 2000)
  • 72% completely or mostly agree that “We should restrict and control people coming into our country to live more than we do now.” (Pew Research Center, Oct. 1999)
  • 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. (Time/CNN, Sept. 1993)

 Immigration and Terrorism

  • 58% think that immigration should be decreased. (USA Today/CNN/Gallup, Oct. 2001)
  • 83% think that it is too easy for people from other countries to enter the U.S. (CBS News/New York Times, Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2001)
  • 77% think not enough is being done to control the border and to screen people allowed into the country. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)

 Labor Issues

  • 72% said the U.S shouldn’t allow more immigrants into the country because they take American jobs. (Wall Street Journal/NBC News, Dec. 1998)
  • 86% agree that “allowing companies to hire additional temporary foreign professionals reduces employment opportunities for U.S. technical workers.” (IEEE-USA/Harris Interactive, Sept. 1998)
  • 62% agree that immigrants take the jobs of U.S. workers. (Newsweek, July 1993)

 Illegal Immigration and Amnesty

  • 55% consider illegal immigration a “very serious problem.” (Roper ASW for Negative Population Growth, March 2003)
  • 65% disagree with granting amnesty to illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. (Zogby Intl., May 2002)
  • 55% think that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is a bad idea. (Zogby Intl., Sept. 2001)
  • 65% believe that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would encourage further illegal immigration, and that for this reason amnesty should not be granted. (Harris Interactive for FAIR, August 2001)
  • 67% think the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. (Gallup, August 2001)

 CALIFORNIA POLL DATA

     A Field Poll by the Field Research Corporation of 570 registered California voters taken from March 20-31, 2007 found that:

  • 83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.
  • 77% believe that illegal immigration is either a “very serious problem” (48%) or a “somewhat serious problem” (28%).
  • 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.
  • 63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  • 53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

     A Field Poll released March 4, 2005 with a +/- 4.1% age point margin of error found:

 “A new bill currently in the U.S. Congress would effectively block states like California from providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, by requiring all states to verify that applicants for driver’s licenses are American citizens or living in the country legally.” The results were that 59% favored this action (vs. 38% opposed). Republicans supported by 78%-19%, Non-partisans by 57%-42%, and Democrats by 53%-41%. Latinos opposed by 53%-45%.

     A question also probed the issue of California adopting a measure to allow driver’s licenses for “undocumented immigrants.” The similar results were opposition by 62%-35%. However opinions were nearly equal on whether the state should issue a different non-ID license to the illegal aliens.

  • 65% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for services and benefits provided by state and local governments, except for emergency services.  53% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes granting government benefits and services to illegal immigrants.  73% said that illegal immigrants should not be eligible for in-state tuition at state universities, and 68% opposed granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (Luntz Research, October 2003)

     A Zogby International Poll of 802 registered California voters in Feb.-Mar. 2002 for Diversity Alliance probed attitudes towards immigration. The organization reported the following findings:

Q. State legislators have proposed a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Knowing that in California, driver’s licenses can be used as one form of identifcation to apply for welfare benefits, do you support or oppose a law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?
A. Oppose = 67%, Support = 29%, Not Sure = 4%.
Immigrants were stronger opponents than U.S.-born respondents (71% to 67%).

Q. The state legislature proposed a law giving illegal immigrants reduced tuition to state colleges and universities. Do you support or oppose such a law?
A. Oppose = 72%, Support = 25%, Not Sure = 3%.

Q. Do you agree or disagree that employers should be required to certify that there are no American workers available for a job before an employer imports workers from overseas?

A. Agree = 68%, Disagree = 27%, Not Sure = 5%.
Immigrants were stronger supporters of a certification requirement than native-born respondents (83% to 68%).

Q. Do you think a three-year moratorium on legal immigration would be beneficial or harmful to Californians?
A. Beneficial = 43%, Harmful = 40%, Not Sure = 16%.
Immigrants viewed a moratorium as more harmful than did U.S.-born respondents (46% to 40%).

  • 62% of citizens and 71% of immigrants oppose a law that would grant driver’s licenses to illegal residents. (Zogby Intl., March 2001)
  • 82% believe that population growth over the next two decades will make the state a less desirable place to live. (Public Policy Institute of California, May 2001)

     A statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California released in December 1999 found immigration as the second most important issue facing California (after education).

     Eight percent of respondents identified immigration as their greatest concern compared with 28 percent for education and seven percent for crime, the third most frequently volunteered response. Other results offer a mixed picture. While most respondents see the state headed in the right direction (62% – 31%), more respondents indicated that they think the state will be a worse place to live in 2020 than a better place (43% – 25%). Some of the reasons for concern may be the growing wealth gap in the state and concern about the environment. By 72% to 23%, respondents said they expect to gap to continue to grow. By a margin of 60% to 37% respondents said they expect the quality of the natural environment to get worse rather than get better. Interestingly, 22 percent of the respondents did not want to hazzard a guess about the state’s population size, and among those who did guess, only 13% chose the correct answer (30-35 million) while 46% underestimated the population and only 19% overestimated it.

 Californians are ambivalent as to whether “the increasing diversity that immigrants bring” improves or threatens American culture. About the same number think immigrants “improve” – 39% and “threaten” – 38%. (The comparable national public opinion is “improve” – 30% and “threaten” – 42%). And they are ambivalent about whether “legal immigration is a problem.” They divide 47% to 48% saying it “is” or “is not” a problem. However, most Californians (86%) say “illegal immigrants are a problem.” A majority of Californians (54%) favor changing the law so children of illegal immigrants born here are not automatically U.S. citizens — 40% are opposed. But, most Californians (53%) would not bar illegal immigrants from attending public schools — 41% would bar them.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, Nov.2, 1997)

 THE MEXICAN PEOPLE SPEAK

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

* Interest in going to the United States remains strong even in the current recession, with 36 percent of Mexicans (39 million people) saying they would move to the United States if they could. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that about one-third of Mexicans would go to the United States if they could. At present, 12 to 13 million Mexico-born people live in the United States.

* An overwhelming majority (69 percent) thought that the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) should be to Mexico. Just 20 percent said it should be to the United States. The rest were unsure.

* Also, 69 percent of people in Mexico felt that the Mexican government should represent the interests of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) in the United States.

* A plurality, 39 percent, of Mexicans thought that in the last year fewer people they know had gone to the United States as illegal immigrants compared to previous years. Only 27 percent thought more had gone. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* A plurality, 40 percent, also thought that in the last year more of the illegal immigrants they know had returned to Mexico compared to previous years. Only 25 percent thought the number returning had fallen. The rest thought it had stayed the same or were unsure.

* Both the bad economy and increased immigration enforcement were cited as reasons fewer people were going to America as illegal immigrants and more were coming back to Mexico.

     The following discussion wasn’t written by me. It came at the end of the survey and I thought it articulated very well the assessment of the data by the author and his opinion on the issue of illegal immigration and immigration policy.

Discusssion:

     As the nation begins debates the issue of immigration, the perspective of people in Mexico is important because Mexico is the top sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants. In 2008 one of six new legal immigrants was from Mexico and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 6 out of 10 illegal immigrants come from that country. Asking people in Mexico their views on immigration can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty for illegal immigrants and other questions related to immigration.

     This survey is the first to ask people in Mexico if they thought legalizing illegal immigrants in the United States would encourage more illegal immigration. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2009 and consisted of 1,004 in-person interviews of adults throughout Mexico. The findings show that a majority of people in Mexico think that an amnesty would make it more likely that people in Mexico would come to the United States illegally. This is especially true for people who have a member of their households living in the United States. It is important to note that respondents were asked specifically about whether an amnesty would make illegal immigration more likely, not just immigration generally. Other questions in the survey explore attitudes about migration to United States generally, recent trends in migration, and loyalty to the United States.

     The results may give pause to those lawmakers who think that an amnesty/legalization for illegals immigrants would reduce illegal immigration in the future. The findings of this survey indicate that an amnesty would encourage more illegal immigration, at least from Mexico.

Methodology:

     The in-person survey done in Mexico for the Center for Immigration Studies by Zogby International was of 1,004 persons 18 years of age and older. The sampling framework was the most recent (2009) electoral sections defined by the Federal Electoral Institute. A multi-stage sampling procedure was employed that first randomly selected 100 electoral sections proportional to size. Second, two house blocks were randomly selected from each section. Within each block five households were selected using a systematic random procedure. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.1% for a 95% confidence level. Margins of error are larger for sub-groups.

The above is a press release dated October 14 from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: center@cis.org http://www.cis.org

SUMMARY AND AN OPINION

Summary

     The data make it clear that the vast majority of Americans want immigration reform. The data also makes it clear that the majority of Americans  oppose illegal immigration (and a good percentage want no immigration at all) and do not favor giving amnesty to illegal aliens.

     These are the highlights that I surmise constitutes the best summary of the data you’ve just read:

American National Polls

89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem. 

 68% feel that the number of immigrants who cross the border, whether legal or illegal is “too high”.

 73% think that the U.S. should strictly limit immigration. 

 71% believe that illegal immigrants should not qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.

77 % oppose making drivers’ licenses available to illegal immigrants.

California Polls

      83% support the legalization of illegal immigrants who are employed and have resided in the United States for “a number of years,” and a lower share (67%) agree to a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants.

     Even in California however :

 71% agree with strengthening border patrols.

63% support stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

53% favor deporting illegal immigrants.

Poll Conducted in Mexico 

 Mexicans also Feel Mexican-Americans Should Be Loyal to Mexico 

     A new survey conducted in 2009 by Zogby International finds that people in Mexico think that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. As the top immigrant-sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants, views on immigration in Mexico can provide insight into the likely impact of an amnesty, as well as other questions related to immigration.

     The results are available online at the Center for Immigration Studies’ website. Among the findings:

* A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally. Just 17 percent thought it would make Mexicans less likely to go illegally. The rest were unsure or thought it would make no difference.

* Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.

* Two-thirds of Mexicans know someone living in the United States; one-third said an immediate member of their household was living in the United States.

Opinion

      Up until this point I have shyed away from giving an opinion in deference to a complete, objective presentation of facts. Before I undertook to write a five-part series on the topic of immigration (specifically illegal immigration) I honestly had a complete open mind (or no opinion at all) as to the immigration debate. Subsequently however, by learning many facts on this complex issue, I have begun to form an opinion about immigration and what is going on. It’s led to the observation that there exist a major disconnect between what the American people want on immigration and the political establishment in Washington and California. I like to think that my opinion is well-reasoned based on only the facts; however, you be the judge of that assumption.

    What does all this mean? How can one make sense of the impact of illegal immigration on the American people? When a citizen breaks the law and is on the run, most people don’t question whether law enforcement has the right to apprehend the offender and make an arrest for some offense. If law enforcement has the legal right, if not moral obligation, to bring offenders to justice, why then does it matter whether the offender is a citizen or an illegal alien? This is more than an opinion—it is the law.

     This is not the view of just some off-beat moronic right-wing conservative group, it is the opinion of a wide and diverse group of Americans who support our laws once a soverign democratic nation has spoken.

     Right now, we have a U.S. president who is doing a really fine good job on many issues like healthcare, financial reform and the economy. However, he appears to have some “CHINKS IN HIS ARMOR” or weaknesses in his moral compass on some very important issues.

     He has failed to bring to justice war criminals who committed crimes against humanity. The offenders ran the entire gamut of CIA lackeys, military personnel, and members of the Bush administration. He also dragged his feet on promises he made during his election campaign to the Gay and Lesbian citizenry, and now he wants to ignore the vast majority of Americans who want no amnesty for illegals, and who want our borders protected.  We also have a California governor who is “illegal alien-friendly” and doesn’t understand that illegals are law-breakers and are violating the soverign territory of the United States. To use the colloquial language of the street—“ illegal aliens are dissin’ us (i.e., disrespecting the American people).

     As a writer with a very pro-liberal outlook on civil rights in general, it is nevertheless appallingly clear that there is a major “disconnect” between what Americans want and the politicians who we elect to serve us. Just like Meg Whitman running for Governor of California this fall, it is clear—“we have the best politicians money can buy.” 

    And, it isn’t only politicians who are dragging their feet on supporting a viable, legal, and social policy on illegal immigration. American business is also dragging its feet. Why? Because cheap labor has been their major incentive. Consequently, the nation has been “importing” poverty for decades since data shows that 70% of all illegals have no high school diploma,  and virtually no skills.

     Right now the vast majority of Americans are against illegal immigration, in favor of protecting our borders, and opposed to amnesty. Nevertheless this majority are being vilified in the media and scapegoated by a sizeable minority of pro-illegal immigration folks. But you have to ask yourself this question. How do other countries (whether developed or undeveloped) deal with their own illegal immigration problem? Last year and in 2008, my wife and I visited Mexico as part of a Princess Cruise and the excursions the ship provided. Both times we were asked to whip out our passports upon entry into Mexico. I suspect that Mexico (just like the United States), despite its current political rhetoric castagating the new Arizona law, actually respects the soverign nature of its own country and borders as well. In my humble opinion the Mexican people are a good and decent people. We Americans are very lucky to have such good people living south of the border. For this reason, I think the opinion of the Mexican people is very important in order to have a comprehensive view of this issue. I found the survey data from Mexico itself very telling. The survey of Mexican citizens shows that Mexicans want all their citizens (including illegals) to be loyal to Mexico, and the majority feel that if the U.S. grants amnesty to illegals it will only further increase illegal immigration.

     If there is some sort of compromise reached by the U.S. Congress on the many issues of immigration, it will need to be looked at very closely. Like many other political issues compromise is mostly welcome, but not always welcome. I think immigration is one issue where the soverign nature of the United States needs to be protected and respected with no compromises at all. We’ve had enough “feet-dragging” by the U.S. Congress already. Too much compromise will also weaken our resolve to eliminate future illegal immigration.

     Where border protection is concerned modern technology needs to be employed. If border protection is deemed really important (and the American people seem to think so) then it is imcumbent upon the U.S. government to make the resources available to do the job. And, I want a four-star general to be put in charge (and responsible for) the securing of our borders. It makes no sense to me to allocate our “brightest and our best” field commanders to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq when we can’t even secure our own borders at home.

 

 


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