10.28.2005

Marta's Story

Margaret Regan in Tucson Weekly: "On a blistering day in late September, a party of some 50 undocumented migrants slowly made their way through the dangerous desert country southwest of Tucson..."

The Central Americans were rescued by BORSTAR. Here's how Regan describes BORSTAR's birth: "BORSTAR, as it's called, was founded in 1998, the same year the feds initiated Operation Safeguard in Arizona. (The similar Operation Gatekeeper started in California and Texas in 1994.) By erecting border fences and strengthening surveillance in border towns, Safeguard cut down on urban crossings, but it pushed migrants farther out into dangerous country like the Buenos Aires wilderness. The new search-and-rescue group was organized specifically to save migrants in distress."

That's right: The Border Patrol instituted a policy that it knew would put human lives at risk, even death.

10.25.2005

White House Whipsaw

From today's White House press briefing: Q -- Scott, a two-part. The Army Times reports that the U.S. Border Patrol is now getting help from the Army to slow illegal immigration, and that armored vehicles from a reconnaissance squadron based in Fort Lewis, Washington, were stationed along a 20-mile stretch between Columbus, New Mexico, and Playas, watching for illegal immigrants. And my question: Why is the Commander-in-Chief using the U.S. Army, after telling us that 2,000 new Border Patrol agents approved by Congress for this year weren't needed?

Click here to read the reply.

Yes, That Seoul Times

The Seoul Times is on the story: "No one wants to cause people to die. Yet, the vandals who destroyed a water station on the Mexico-Arizona border could become responsible for people dying of dehydration. The vandalized water station is one of many set up on U.S. Bureau of Land Management, near Tucson, Arizona. They are the work of Humane Borders, a humanitarian group trying to save the lives of undocumented migrants who cross into the US in remote areas. As the American government has eliminated the "easy" entry points into the country through Operation Gatekeeper, migrants have been resorting to more difficult and deadly routes. The Arizona desert is one of them."

10.23.2005

Wall Street -- Main Street

BusinessWeek looks at the Wall Street -- Main Street divide in two different stories a week apart. Here, "The contrast between Kolbe's hardline rhetoric and his actual record is symptomatic of the predicament in which the Republican Party finds itself. Despite ringing GOP calls to crack the whip, business lobbies, particularly those representing the retail, construction, tourism, and landscaping industries, are pushing to keep a steady flow of low-wage workers into the labor pool. If the liberal approach of Arizona's usually conservative congressional delegation is any guide, business seems to be prevailing so far." And here, "In the nearly two years since he first pitched the idea of reforming immigration laws, President George W. Bush's more tolerant approach toward illegal immigrants has fallen flat with the party's conservative faithful while warming the hearts and opening the wallets of the party's business allies. Now the White House is preparing to regroup under a tougher banner ... The ultimate goal: by recasting the Administration's moribund amnesty proposal of January, 2004, as a drive to reassert control over the southern border, the Administration might still be able to satisfy demands from the party's business wing for a continued supply of migrant labor.

10.20.2005

Old Stereotypes Don't Apply

"The norm these days is couples such as Inez and Chico, who both came to the United States as illegal immigrants from Mexico. They live in Tucson, own a business and home and have two American-born daughters." And so begins a new series in the Tucson Citizen. More: "The predominance of families with roots in U.S. communities complicates any plan to send illegal immigrants back. Whether Congress decides to try to force many of these families to return to their home countries or chooses to allow most to stay, the impact on Arizona promises to be wrenching. With one of every 11 residents an illegal immigrant, Arizona stands to be as deeply affected by their fate as any state." Or, as this story says, a migrant shortage imperils southern Arizona crop harvests.

10.19.2005

Glenn Spencer's Watching

Now that's a professional looking rig. But seriously, what's the point? Is American Patrol trying to intimidate somebody?

Senate Hearings/Bush Push

The day after the Senate hearings and new White House positioning, the New York Times (reg.req.) writes: "President Bush vowed on Tuesday to get tough on illegal immigrants even as he urged Congress to adopt a temporary-worker program that would allow some to remain in the United States for as long as six years." The story goes on to sum up appearances by Chertoff and Chao: "Similar sentiments were voiced earlier in the day by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that increasing enforcement along the nation's borders would not alone repair the nation's immigration system. They urged the adoption of a temporary-worker program." The usual arguments were made back and forth, but Chertoff summed things up this way:"'It's a three-legged stool," Mr. Chertoff said. "It requires tough enforcement at the border, tough interior enforcement and a temporary-worker program to deal with the very real draw.'"

The story made no mention of other testimony, but you can read the official statements of Sharry here, Krikorian here and Massey here. Transcrips are also available of official statements by Chertoff, Chao, and Senators Cornyn and Kennedy at the hearings' official page here.

For coverage contrast, here's the right-leaning Washington Times: "President Bush said yesterday that his goal is eventually to expel "every single" illegal alien from the United States as his administration pressed Congress to pass a guest-worker program ... The sudden hard line comes as Mr. Bush is trying to assuage his conservative political base, much of which is upset over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court."

You can read Bush's full statement here, made during the signing ceremony for the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for 2006. After reviewing a laundry list of border enforcement policies and increased spending, Bush said this: " Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to put food on the table. But because there is no legal way for them to do so, through a temporary worker program, they're putting pressure on our border. It makes sense to have a rational plan that says, you can come and work on a temporary basis if an employer can't find an American to do the job."

10.18.2005

Judiciary Committee Hearings

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Comprehensive Immigration Reform II take place today at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Dirksen Building, Room 226. You can listen to it live online here. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Frank Sharry from the mainstream National Immigration Forum, Mark Krikorian from the hardliner Center for Immigration Studies and Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey are scheduled as witnesses.

NBC's First Read: "The immigration issue may break through today. Homeland security chief Chertoff and Labor Secretary Chao testify at a Senate Judiciary hearing on immigration reform nearly three months after both skipped an earlier hearing on the subject. Today's hearing comes after the release of a new Tarrance Group (R) poll showing that more than 70% of likely GOP voters would favor a plan providing illegal immigrants with a way to earn legal status, while also increasing border security and imposing tougher penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Also today, off the Hill, Senators McCain and Kennedy discuss their immigration reform legislation at the US Chamber of Commerce at 12 noon."

Late update: Here the Dobbs transcript.

10.15.2005

Dirty Little Secret

About's Deborah White quotes Robin Hoover: "Our nation virtually posts two signs on its southern border: 'Help Wanted: Inquire Within' and 'Do Not Trespass.' Without the help of immigrant labor, the US economy would virtually collapse. We want and need cheap immigrant labor, but we do not want the immigrant."

Can You Hear Me Now?

Alexis Blue, Tucson Weekly: "Years after Humane Borders, along with its California-based counterpart organization Water Stations Inc., began constructing water stations along migrant paths in the desert, they have proposed another way to help cut down on the number of deaths in the desert: building more cell phone towers."

10.13.2005

Springsteen On The Border

A northern correspondent and his wife saw Bruce Springsteen in a stunning solo performance last night at the University of Minnesota. About 2/3 the way through the show he introduced Matamoros Banks, from the Devils And Dust CD, with a short speech about death in the desert, the hands of migrants being on every American's dinner table, and how this country needs a humane migration policy. (This is familiar ground for Springsteen, who wrote several poignant border stories on a previous album, The Ghost of Tom Joad.)

10.06.2005

Disciples World Visits The Border

The editors of Disciples World magazine paid a visit to the borderlands this summer. Read account of their day with Samaritans here, a Humane Borders water station trip to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument here, and their experience with March for Migrants here.

10.01.2005

Migrant Memorial Service

JD Wallace, KOLD-TV: "The announcement of more than one hundred names and a list of more than two hundred lives was the center point of Humane Borders' fifth annual Migrant Memorial Service at First Christian Church on Sunday afternoon. "People are dying, they're not just names being read, they're not just migrants walking through the desert, there are lives being lost for the cause of a better life,” said Bethany Deborde, a Humane Borders volunteer."