Southside Turns 100

Nice piece in the Arizona Daily Star.

Minutemen Defeated

Ernesto Portillo Jr. writes: Randy Graf and the Republicans were not the only ones to get a thumping in Tuesday's election. The Minutemen were thumped, too. Despite the Minutemen's all-out effort to get Republican Graf into the congressional seat vacated by fellow Republican Jim Kolbe, their man lost his bid — in a Republican-dominated district — to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.


Human Rights Award

Robin writes: "It's official. I'm to receive a special human rights award from Mexico. There is a National Human Rights Award which will be shared by Isabel Garcia and Padre Flor Maria Rigoni (north and south borders). I could not receive that because I'm not Mexican. So, the National Commission of Human Rights has created a special award just for me by adding a Latin phrase or two to the name of the award. Plans are for the award to be presented December 11 by Mexico's new president, Felipe Calderon at Los Pinos (Mexican equivalent of the White House)."


Conference On Migrants

Humane Borders, Inc. announces our 2007 Conference on Migrants, January 22-26, 2007, addressing the migration phenomenon in Arizona. More here.

A Doubling Of Deaths

AP in Tucson Citizen: Deaths of illegal immigrants crossing the Southwest border have surged since the mid-1990s, with the majority of the increase between 1998 and 2005 concentrated in Arizona, according to an analytical report to Congress. Meanwhile, the report found the number of deaths among women illegal immigrant crossers has more than doubled in those same seven years - and more than half died in Arizona.

BP: A Dip In Deaths

AP in LA Times: Deaths among migrants illegally entering the United States dropped slightly during the past fiscal year, according to the most recent Border Patrol statistics. Between Oct. 1, 2005 and Sept. 15, 426 people died while illegally crossing the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. That compares with the 446 deaths during the same period the previous year.


County Comes Through

Arizona Daily Star: "The Pima County Board of Supervisors has agreed to continue to pay for water stations in the desert to aid undocumented border crossers. The board voted 4-1 Tuesday to give $25,000 from the contingency fund to Humane Borders, which maintains 80 water stations in Southern Arizona and northern Mexico."


Buried Without Prayers

From ScrippsNews: They're buried without prayers or tears. The concrete markers over their graves etched with acronyms: UNID, DOB UNK, DOD UNK _ unidentified, date of birth unknown, date of death unknown.

The burials are paid for by the counties along the U.S.-Mexico border where undocumented migrants lost their lives while risking the horrific heat of the desert to travel to jobs.


All Kinds Here

Big coverage from the Washington Post. Here's a snippet:
"We've got all kinds here," said Robin Hoover, head of Humane Borders, a Tucson-based interfaith organization devoted to stopping deaths among illegal immigrants as they cross the desert. "We've got people who all say they want to save America -- and they're fighting like cats and dogs."


No Walls, No Reform

According to the AP:
Two weeks on the job, the new head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday he does not favor building a huge wall along the Mexican border.

“I don’t support, I don’t believe the administration supports a wall,” Commissioner W. Ralph Basham said in Tucson, where he met with patrol officials and agents before embarking on a tour across the Arizona desert.
Meanwhile, according to CNN:
In a move that could prevent immigration legislation from passing Congress this year, the House will begin a fresh series of hearings on immigration next month, Republican leaders announced Tuesday.

The hearings will be held in Washington and across the country "so we understand what the American people are saying," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.


Lack Of Imagination

Tucson Citizen: As many as 300 Arizona National Guard members headed to the Mexican border Wednesday, the first deployment under President Bush's plan to free Border Patrol agents for enforcement duties.

Hoover: "This is a political problem that requires a political solution," he said. "Sending troops to the border represents a stunning lack of imagination."


Thank You Paula Mich!

Volunteer Paula Mich on meeting the challenge of vandalism, as quoted on KVOA: "We're going to continue to do this regardless of how many empty tanks we find," Mich said. "We're going to continue to do this."


Desert Heats Up

From the Tucson Citizen:
Over the last two weeks, the Border Patrol has rescued 88 illegal immigrants, 40 percent of the agency's total rescues since the start of the fiscal year on October 1. The agency has recorded 85 deaths in the same period.

Humane Borders founder Robin Hoover said the organization has been refilling its water stations on a daily basis since May 1. Water usage peaks during June and July, when volunteers refill up to 1,500 gallons of water a week.

"We hope to remove a lot of misery and save lives," Hoover said. "We hope that we're useful."


Don't Fence Us In

Robin had the op-ed spot in Thursday's USA Today:
Since 1994, law enforcement has failed to reduce the average number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by even one person per year. Universities attest to the migration pattern.

No matter how many agents, no matter how much infrastructure, and no matter how many tools and toys have been given to do the job, nothing has worked. Nothing.

Welcome Aboard Susan

In the same AP report mentioned below, there's this: Susan Wysoki, a spokeswoman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates tighter border security, acknowledged the groups' humanitarian role, saying “there's no overstepping boundaries when saving lives.”

Drawing Attention

The AP's Arthur Rotstein takes note, here in the San Diego Union-Tribune, that all the wrangling over the latest round of immigration legislation has actually been a boon to humanitarian groups, including us.

Let's Remember

Claudine LoMonaco reported this a while back in the Tucson Citizen, but it's worth remembering:
As the fate of illegal immigrants continues to be debated, their children - many of whom are U.S. citizens - are too often an afterthought, according to a group of Tucson leaders who want to change that.

"Most of the debate is framed in terms of us and them," said University of Arizona Sociology professor Don Grant, who organized a forum last night at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Road. "You have some folks on the left saying how they help us. And then you have people on the right saying how they pose a threat to us."

The next generation cannot be categorized so simply, Grant said.

"In the most real and legal sense, they - the children of immigrants - are actually us," he said.

We Walk For Life

Stephanie Innes, in the Arizona Daily Star: The third annual "Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life" is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Sasabe, more than 70 miles southwest of Tucson. The walk will end with a memorial ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4, at Kennedy Park, on Tucson's Southwest Side.

Some Realist

From the Dallas Morning News:
A day after the Senate adopted an overhaul that both toughens enforcement and liberalizes immigration laws, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner predicted choppy negotiations ahead.

"I would like to see a bill passed and signed into law. However, I'm a realist," the Wisconsin Republican said.


We All Agree, Then?

A quick roundup of opinion about the Bush National Guard plan from the Arizona Daily Star:
"It's an incredibly dangerous precedent for all of us, not just for those of us who live on the border," said Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos.

Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network said, "Putting military troops on the border, further blurring the line between law enforcement and immigration, the disposable-worker program; these are not proposals that actually support the values of this country and the reason people want to immigrate into it."

Garcia and Allen, and the Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Humane Borders, said the temporary-worker plan will do no good without worker-protection guarantees, an element not mentioned in the speech.

Hoover said the National Guard would be better used interviewing illegal entrants already living inside the country to speed up the legalization process.

Arizona's anti-illegal-immigration activists said the president's plan won't accomplish anything.

"They'll be sitting around doing absolutely nothing," said Minuteman Civil Defense Corps President Chris Simcox. "It's smoke and mirrors, it's a joke. And anybody that buys it is the fool that the president thinks they are."

Simcox said the president was clearly pandering for votes and attempting to appease his voting base.


A Better Way To Guard

Robin figures it this way: 6,000 National Guard troops, each working 8-hour days for 250 days, could interview 12 million immigrants living illegally in the United States. If they did that, the United States woould be a whole lot safer than it would be under the plan outlined by the president tonight. (Official White House transcript here.)

What Bush Said

Text of Bush's speech here. The full Senate has started debate on the bill again. Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship.

A complete phone list of every U.S. Senator is here. The subcommittee page is here. Here are the subcommittee members. Members' names link to their contact pages. Contact them. Remember: The reason this law has progressed this far is because somebody's hollering louder than we are. Speak up!

Republican Members

John Cornyn, TX (Chairman)
Charles E. Grassley, IA
Jon Kyl, AZ
Mike DeWine, OH
Jeff Sessions, AL
Sam Brownback, KS
Tom Coburn, OK

Democratic Members

Edward M. Kennedy, MA (Ranking Democrat)
Joseph R. Biden, Jr., DE
Dianne Feinstein, CA
Russell D. Feingold, WI
Charles E. Schumer, NY
Richard J. Durbin, IL


Those Hunter Brothers

Sooner or later, someone was going to pick up on the tale of two Hunters. Here's the AP:
Growing up in Southern California, Duncan Hunter and his younger brother, John, shot geese together and fished for bass.

As adults, they chat by phone nearly every day and meet up for an occasional round of golf. They remain close even though their views are sometimes at odds -- notably on the latest hot-button topic before Congress, immigration.

Many siblings agree to disagree on politics; the Hunter brothers' divide goes deeper than arguments around the dinner table.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is a hero to immigration hard-liners. The California Republican is almost single-handedly responsible for a superfortified stretch of border -- a 14-mile barrier in San Diego that is nearing completion.

John Hunter, toy inventor and physicist, is trying to prevent the deaths that many consider an unintended consequence of his brother's fence. His pioneering work providing water in the California desert to illegal border crossers is revered by liberals.
We like this quote from John:
"We're actionists, not activists," he told 35 volunteers one Saturday morning in Ocotillo, a desert hamlet about 70 miles east of San Diego. "Everyone has an opinion (about immigration), but that's not why we're here. Our only issue is survival."
Full story here, including a quote at the bottom from Robin.


MSNBC Uses Our Maps

MSNBC maps border deaths. Full story here. Humane Borders maps page here.


Call To Elected Officials

Humane Borders calls upon the Governor other elected officials, public administrators, and candidates for offices in the state of Arizona to reach for the moral high ground in the immigration debate. It is time to turn to those who are putting forward the anti-migrant legislation and say, “You are right. We can only manage some of the effects of the migration. As for me and my staff, my household, we’re going to seek to reduce the number of migrants who are dying the in the desert. We’re going to make efforts to reunite the bodies of dead migrants with their families in Mexico. We’re going to let humanitarian groups have access to Arizona State Trust Lands. It’s immoral to be able to on Trust lands and hunt and kill but not to save lives and distribute water. We’re going to work toward putting more cell phone towers in the desert to support all of our first responders, tourists, citizens, and others as well as to enable migrants to call for life-saving help when it is needed. We’re going to commit state resources to find ways to save money by more effectively and efficiently providing life-saving technologies in the deserts.”

These are the voices that need to be heard in this debate. These are the words that are not only right to be spoken, they are words that have political power. It’s time that our leaders speak up and say that they not only love Mexican tomatoes but that they also love Mexicans. It’s time that leaders stand up and support our children walking out of their schools for they are honoring their mothers and their fathers. They are practicing their civics lessons. They are exercising their rights. It’s time that our leaders quit spending so much energy on bills that center on how many dollars are being spent on whom and start spending some energy on human beings in peril.

When we look at the face of the migrant, far too often it is a dead migrant. It’s not a person trying to cheat the system, not a person trying to cheat us. It’s a person who is here to get a better job. We and our neighbors are giving them the jobs. When we look at what is going on, we need to see the people, and our leaders need to see us looking.

Thank God this conversation is going public. Thank God, we have texts like the story of the Good Samaritan, of Matthew 25, and of Leviticus 19 teaching us how to live together as a people. Thank God that we have the opportunity, which we will exercise to vote in every election. Thank God some people listen and some people get it.

More here.

Chavez Week Public Lecture

Robin was invited to speak at Fresno State's recent Cesar Chavez Week gathering. Here's his speech, as it appears on our main site.


Careful What You Wish For

AP: "The only vote of the day came on a proposal by Frist for a study of the number and causes of deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border. It passed 94-0." More of the lovely decorum displayed by our well educated, well spoken, high public policy-minded lawmakers here.

Um, Senator? Please visit our bibliography page here. We have a link to the official GAO report "INS's Southwest Border Strategy: Resource and Impact Issues Remain After Seven Years." Or download it here.

We know what causes the deaths, Senator. How can it be that you and your colleagues do not?

In USA Today Today

USA Today asks: Aren't people who provide humanitarian aid to undocumented immigrants only encouraging more people to cross the border illegally? Robin answers: There is no evidence whatsoever that the presence of some water in the desert encourages migration. If you want to carry that kind thinking to its logical end, then we would have to tear up the interstate highways because people are using interstate highways to smuggle dope. Those are ridiculous reductionist arguments. All of the humanitarian groups that I know of that operate in California and Arizona go to great lengths to warn migrants of the explicit dangers before them. I would say we're actually doing a better job of trying to manage the migration than the folks that are throwing rocks at us.


Cooler Heads May Prevail

From the AP covering the Senate Judiciary Committee:
The panel ... decided on a closer vote to make sure that humanitarian organizations are sheltered from prosecution if they provide non-emergency assistance to illegal residents.
Ummm. what about real emergency assistance? The full Senate starts debate tomorrow on its version of the House bill. Here's our list of key Senate contacts.


500,000 Peacefully March

That's a half-million in L.A. alone, folks. Look at this picture.


Thousands March For Migrants

We knew this was coming. AP reports: Thousands of people across the country protested Friday against legislation cracking down on illegal immigrants, with demonstrators in such cities as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Atlanta staging school walkouts, marches and work stoppages.


Hooover At Fresno State

Humane Borders' president Rev. Robin Hoover will speak at Fresno State March 29 for the Chavez observance. Here's the Fresno State press release.


What Hillary Clinton Said

Nina Bernstein writes in the New York Times:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the Bible yesterday to criticize a stringent border security measure that, among other things, would make it a federal crime to offer aid to illegal immigrants.

"It is hard to believe that a Republican leadership that is constantly talking about values and about faith would put forth such a mean-spirited piece of legislation," she said of the measure, which was passed by the House of Representatives in December and mirrored a companion Senate bill introduced last week by Senator Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and the majority leader.

"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself," she said. "We need to sound the alarm about what is being done in the Congress."
More here, but registration is required.

What Cardinal Mahony Said

Today on the New York Times op-ed page, Cadinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles made a strong case for faith-based humanitarian aid:
I've received a lot of criticism for stating last month that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, would among other things subject to five years in prison anyone who "assists" an undocumented immigrant "to remain in the United States."

Some supporters of the bill have even accused the church of encouraging illegal immigration and meddling in politics. But I stand by my statement. Part of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church is to help people in need. It is our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger. Indeed, the Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities agencies around the country, is one of the largest nonprofit providers of social services in the nation, serving both citizens and immigrants.

Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.

Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress — the law of God.

That does not mean that the Catholic Church encourages or supports illegal immigration. Every day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals and schools, we witness the baleful consequences of illegal immigration. Families are separated, workers are exploited and migrants are left by smugglers to die in the desert. Illegal immigration serves neither the migrant nor the common good.

What the church supports is an overhaul of the immigration system so that legal status and legal channels for migration replace illegal status and illegal immigration. Creating legal structures for migration protects not only those who migrate but also our nation, by giving the government the ability to better identify who is in the country as well as to control who enters it.

Only comprehensive reform of the immigration system, embodied in the principles of another proposal in Congress, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration bill, will help solve our current immigration crisis.

Enforcement-only proposals like the Border Protection act take the country in the opposite direction. Increasing penalties, building more detention centers and erecting walls along our border with Mexico, as the act provides, will not solve the problem.

The legislation will not deter migrants who are desperate to survive and support their families from seeking jobs in the United States. It will only drive them further into the shadows, encourage the creation of more elaborate smuggling networks and cause hardship and suffering. I hope that the Senate will not take the same enforcement-only road as the House.

The unspoken truth of the immigration debate is that at the same time our nation benefits economically from the presence of undocumented workers, we turn a blind eye when they are exploited by employers. They work in industries that are vital to our economy yet they have little legal protection and no opportunity to contribute fully to our nation.

While we gladly accept their taxes and sweat, we do not acknowledge or uphold their basic labor rights. At the same time, we scapegoat them for our social ills and label them as security threats and criminals to justify the passage of anti-immigrant bills.

This situation affects the dignity of millions of our fellow human beings and makes immigration, ultimately, a moral and ethical issue. That is why the church is compelled to take a stand against harmful legislation and to work toward positive change.

It is my hope that our elected officials will understand this and enact immigration reform that respects our common humanity and reflects the values — fairness, compassion and opportunity — upon which our nation, a nation of immigrants, was built.

Give A Migrant A Camera

And look what happens.


Frist Muddies Waters

Charles Hurt writes in the Washington Times:
Adding further pressure to Mr. Specter's committee, Mr. Frist announced that he will bypass Judiciary and introduce his own border-security bill to the Senate floor when Congress returns March 27 from the St. Patrick's Day recess.

"Our country needs security at our borders in order to slow the flow of illegal immigration and make America safer from foreign criminals and terrorists," said Mr. Frist, who has been mentioned as a 2008 presidential candidate. He told reporters that he expects a guest-worker program to be added on the Senate floor.

Mr. Specter called Mr. Frist's proposal to draft a bill on the floor a "colossal mistake." Mr. Frist's bill mirrors the proposal that Mr. Specter offered, but without the provisions dealing with the nation's estimated 12 million illegal aliens or any guest-worker program.
We've compiled a contact list of the Senators on the committee here. Contact them!


Napolitano's Hand

Chip Scutari of the Arizona Republic writes:
Trying to get the upper hand on the brewing battle over border security, Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano Wednesday issued an executive order to expand the National Guard's presence at the state's border with Mexico to combat undocumented immigration.

Napolitano said a measure the Legislature is expected to pass Wednesday violates the state Constitution by usurping her authority to command the National Guard. Republican leaders say if she vetoes the measure, she will violate her promise to beef up border security.

"There is one commander in chief, not 90," Napolitano told reporters Wednesday. "The Legislature is about to send me a bill which they know is unconstitutional because it mandates use of the guard. I've issued an executive order for the guard to be on the border."

Traffic Up Through Sasabe

Arthur Rotstein of the AP writes: "U.S. Border Patrol officials are seeing a significant increase in the number of illegal immigrants being smuggled through what's known as the Sasabe corridor southwest of Tucson." Why?
Since last summer and fall, areas cutting through the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, with its diverse vegetation and shorter distances from the border to well-traveled roads in some instances, have gained currency as smugglers try to evade capture by Border Patrol agents.

CampusTap Immigration

We recently heard from the good folks running CampusTap, a sort of blog/calendar/meetup site for Harvard University students where, "Members of the university contribute content and share their ideas with the university community and the general public through personal blogs and participation in group blogs." They have an excellent section on immigration. So excellent, in fact, they we've loaned them some photos. And we're happy now to include them in our links list, at right.


How Big? Soooo Big

Rep. Kolbe, no friend to the build-a-wall-and-kick-'em-out crowd, took some of his esteemed colleagues on a little tour of the big border recently, far from the hallowed halls of Congress where it's oh-so-easy to hold forth on so much with so little knowledge. As reported by Mike Madden in the Arizona Republic:
During the tour, lawmakers flew along the border between Naco and Douglas in Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopters, with Kolbe and Border Patrol agents pointing out trails used by immigrants to cross into the United States illegally and mountainous terrain that agents can't easily cover. They visited the Naco Border Patrol station Saturday night as agents processed more than 30 undocumented immigrants caught earlier in the evening. They also watched cameras track suspected border-crossers near the Naco fence.
Whether the tour changed any minds is hard to tell. But here's a telling quote:
I just can't get over how massive this is, compared to (the border) in California," said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., a Los Angeles-area lawmaker who co-wrote the House bill's mandate for miles of fencing, including some in Arizona. "In California, it's so tiny. The prospect of a wall is kind of a tough, tough thing (in Arizona).
Yes, Congressman. That's right.


Senate: Work Legally

Arizona Republic's Mike Madden writes:
Millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before 2004 could work legally under a new plan that the Senate will start debating next week. If passed, it would bring sweeping changes to border security and immigration laws.
Everyone knows this will be hard.
"The committee must grapple with a realistic means of bringing out from the shadows the possible 11 million illegal aliens in the United States," Specter wrote.
(They're talking about the Senate version of this bill.)

Knight-Ridder's Dave Montgomery writes:
As a starting point for the Judiciary Committee's deliberations, Specter last week unveiled a 305-page bill that includes a guest-worker program as well as toughened law-enforcement provisions. Specter's compromise package includes elements from two other major bills — one co-sponsored by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and the other by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

The committee took no votes Thursday, but opening statements by members suggested Specter faces an arduous task in trying to find a compromise.
Here's the challenge:
"If we go forward on a temporary worker program, our problems will get worse," declared Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Ash Wednesday, El Tiradito

Tucson Citizen's Claudine LoMonaco writes:
Four-year-old Maya Luna stared through her mop of blond curls as the Rev. Bob Carney gently placed a cross of black ashes on her tiny forehead.

Maya Luna was the youngest of nearly 100 people who observed Ash Wednesday with a special service in honor of the more than 3,000 people who have died trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States.

Thank You Kristin Roth

Arizona Daily Star's Lourdes Medrano writes:
University of Arizona President Peter Likins has issued a formal written apology to a Mexican official whose Spanish-language talk Friday was cut short by immigration restrictionists who loudly demanded that he speak in English or provide an interpreter.
Into the fray steps Kristen Roth:
Kristin Roth, a Humane Borders volunteer who doesn't speak Spanish but attended Farah's talk to show her support, welcomed Likins' apology.

"I'm happy that the president is doing what he can to rectify the situation. It was just shameful that it happened," said Roth, one of several Tucsonans who discussed the incident with Likins Friday.

H.R. 4437: Speak Up!

More from the NYT editorial:
The cardinal's focus of concern is H.R. 4437, a bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York. This grab bag legislation, which was recently passed by the House, would expand the definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor's baby. Similar language appears in legislation being considered by the Senate this week.
Or leaving water to help prevent more death in the desert?

The bill now comes under the jurusdiction of the Senate bJudiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship.

Here is the subcommittee page.

Here are the subcommittee members. Members' names link to their contact pages. Contact them. Remember: The reason this law has progressed this far is because somebody's hollering louder than we are. Speak up!

Republican Members

John Cornyn, TX (Chairman)
Charles E. Grassley, IA
Jon Kyl, AZ
Mike DeWine, OH
Jeff Sessions, AL
Sam Brownback, KS
Tom Coburn, OK

Democratic Members

Edward M. Kennedy, MA (Ranking Democrat)
Joseph R. Biden, Jr., DE
Dianne Feinstein, CA
Russell D. Feingold, WI
Charles E. Schumer, NY
Richard J. Durbin, IL

The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437

From an editorial in today's New York Times:
It has been a long time since this country heard a call to organized lawbreaking on this big a scale. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, urged parishioners on Ash Wednesday to devote the 40 days of Lent to fasting, prayer and reflection on the need for humane reform of immigration laws. If current efforts in Congress make it a felony to shield or offer support to illegal immigrants, Cardinal Mahony said, he will instruct his priests — and faithful lay Catholics — to defy the law.
The House recently passed H.R. 4437. Here is the bill. (If the link doesn't work, go here, copy and paste the bill # into the search field, click the "search by bill number" option and click "search."

Here's the section to be concerned about:

SEC. 274. (a) Criminal Offenses and Penalties-
`(A) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States, or to attempt to come to or enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to come to or enter the United States;
`(B) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, regardless of whether such person has official permission or lawful authority to be in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien;
`(C) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States;
`(D) transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, where the transportation or movement will aid or further in any manner the person's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;
`(E) harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person in the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to be in the United States;
`(F) transports, moves, harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien in unlawful transit from one country to another or on the high seas, under circumstances in which the person is in fact seeking to enter the United States without official permission or lawful authority; or
`(G) conspires or attempts to commit any of the preceding acts,
shall be punished as provided in paragraph (2), regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien.
`(2) CRIMINAL PENALTIES- A person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1) shall--
`(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (D) through (H), in the case where the offense was not committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain, be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(B) except as provided in subparagraphs (C) through (H), where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain--
`(i) in the case of a first violation of this subparagraph, be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and
`(ii) for any subsequent violation, be imprisoned for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(C) in the case where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain and involved 2 or more aliens other than the offender, be imprisoned for not less than 3 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(D) in the case where the offense furthers or aids the commission of any other offense against the United States or any State, which offense is punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year, be imprisoned for not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(E) in the case where any participant in the offense created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person, including--
`(i) transporting a person in an engine compartment, storage compartment, or other confined space;
`(ii) transporting a person at an excessive speed or in excess of the rated capacity of the means of transportation; or
`(iii) transporting or harboring a person in a crowded, dangerous, or inhumane manner,
be imprisoned not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(F) in the case where the offense caused serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18, United States Code, including any conduct that would violate sections 2241 or 2242 of title 18, United States Code, if the conduct occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States) to any person, be imprisoned for not less than 7 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;
`(G) in the case where the offense involved an alien who the offender knew or had reason to believe was an alien--
`(i) engaged in terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)); or
`(ii) intending to engage in such terrorist activity,
be imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and
`(H) in the case where the offense caused or resulted in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for not less than 10 years, or any term of years, or for life, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both.


12 Years, 4,000 Dead

Daniel Gonzalez reports in the Arizona Republic:
In a little while, Enrique Morones would plant the white cross into the ground, a symbolic gesture in memory of the estimated 4,000 migrants who have died crossing the U.S.-Mexican border in the past 12 years.

But for the moment, Morones leaned on the cross like it was a cane, already looking weary though his cross-country journey had just begun.


Chertoff Short Sighted

From an editorial in the U.C.-Irvine student newspaper: Rhetoric aside, Humane Borders is correct to point out that the aborted program might well have saved countless lives. Chertoff’s dismissal of the program as nothing more than a badly conceived attempt to salve our country’s illegal immigration problems, “sin” or not, is short-sighted at the very least.

Pull Yer Boots On

Linda Valdez writes in an Arizona Republic op-ed:
"Both George W. Bush and Gutiérrez's boss, Mexican President Vicente Fox, are ineligible to run for re-election. When they were newer presidents, these two rancher politicians vowed to work together to wrangle a guest-worker program.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Legitimate U.S. concerns about terrorism stalled immigration reform, which is ironic because getting control of the border would serve national security.

Now, immigration reform is likely to become what Gutiérrez calls a "political piñata" in this year's Mexican presidential election and in the U.S. midterm elections.

Imagine what could happen if two lame ducks pulled on their cowboy boots and stomped out a legacy.

More From Sundance

There's a review of the Sundance Film Festival in Indian Country Today by Brenda Norrell that inlcludes this: "Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson was also featured in a film at Sundance: Joseph Mathew's documentary, ''Crossing Arizona.'' The film examines both sides of the immigration debate in Arizona and the failings of U.S. immigration policy."

Bush Reaction

Mike Madden of the Arizona Republic covers the new Bush border clampdown. All sides get their shot. Including us.
"Activists and analysts said Bush's proposal could slow, but would not stop, illegal immigration.

"Since 1993, we've tripled the number of agents and we've multiplied the amount of technology, and we've not reduced the number of people who are coming by one person," said the Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Humane Borders, a Tucson group that provides water stations in the desert.


The Ethical Way

HB President Robin Hoover interviewed in the Chicago Tribune: "This is the ethical way to deal with this issue," Hoover said. "Many immigrants don't have any information. People [smugglers] are lying to them. If we can give them the information in the sending communities, they could make an informed decision whether to come or not."

It's Humanitarian

HB vice president Paul Fuschini, interviewed by ABC News: "We're just trying to save lives. That's what we are, a faith-based group," said Paul Fuschini, vice president of Humane Borders. "This is a humanitarian effort."

C'mon, Mr. Secretary

Linda Valdez, who went with us to Mexico, writing in an Arizona Republic op-ed:
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff condemned Mexico's plan to distribute the maps, which were produced by the Tucson-based group Humane Borders. He said they could "encourage illegal immigration."

C'mon, Mr. Secretary.

What encourages illegal immigration is the availability of jobs in the United States. These jobs offer such hope to poor people that they have found a way around, under or through every one of the enforcement strategies the U.S. government has tried. These strategies have pushed illegal immigrants into tough, desert terrain where hundreds of them die each year.

Violent Discourse

Christian Ramirez, director of the American Friends Service Commitee in San Diego, interviewed by Pacific News Service. "In 2004, the mainstream media began covering border issues, and the language turned to "broken border" "alien invasion." We began to see a very violent discourse, a justified use of violence. "


Tucker Carlson Doesn't Get It

MSNBC's satellite truck was parked outside the church the other day. Inside, Tucker Carlson, complete with bow tie, conducted an inquisition masquerading as an interview. Sample:
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, ‘SITUATION’: Why are you helping people break American law?

REV. ROBIN HOOVER, PRESIDENT, HUMANE BORDERS: That's not what we're doing. We're out here giving real true warnings of what is lying before these folks and trying to counteract the information that the migrants are receiving from the coyotes. We print these warning posters that show them the true distances, as opposed to the coyotes, that tell them that you'll walk a few hours and you're going to be Las Vegas.
Interview transcript and video here.