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Monday, October 31, 2005

Supreme Court Immigration Case

From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to clarify the rights of longtime illegal immigrants to seek permission to stay in the United States.

Justices will decide if a provision in a 1996 federal law that tightened restrictions on illegal immigrants applies to people who were already in America when the law took effect.

The law says that once someone illegally re-enters the United States after being deported, they have limited options to become legal residents...

The court's decision will affect many people _ perhaps hundreds of thousands of immigrants, Washington lawyer David Gossett told the justices.

Sam Alito

President Bush has nominated Circuit Court Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. to be the next Supreme Court Justice. He's not Miguel Estrada, but he is conservative and the son of an immigrant. I'll take him over Harriet Miers any time.

Anti-Terrorist Tools At Work

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Detentions of American citizens by immigration authorities for offenses large and small are becoming routine -- and have begun to stir a debate over the appropriate use of the latest technologies in the war on terror. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, immigration computers have been hooked up to the expanding database of criminal records and terrorist watch lists maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The computers are now in use at all airports, most border crossings, and even in domestic immigration offices, where clerks decide on applications for permanent residence and citizenship.

The screenings are mainly meant to trap foreigners, and especially foreign terrorists, but they have also proved to be a tool in the hunt for American citizens wanted by the police. In 2003, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says that it alone caught 4,555 Americans this way. In 2004, the number rose to 6,189.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hispanic Jews

From the New York Times:

It is difficult to know precisely how many Hispanics are converting or adopting Jewish religious practices, but accounts of such embraces of Judaism are growing more common in parts of the Southwest. In Clear Lake, a suburb south of Houston, Rabbi Stuart Federow has overseen half a dozen conversions of Hispanics in recent years. In El Paso, Rabbi Stephen Leon said he had converted almost 40 Hispanic families since moving to Texas from New Jersey 19 years ago.

These conversions are the latest chapter in the story of the crypto-Jews, or hidden Jews, of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, who are thought to be descended from the Sephardic Jews who began fleeing Spain more than 500 years ago. The story is being bolstered by recent historical research and advances in DNA testing that are said to reveal a prominent role played by crypto-Jews and their descendants in Spain's colonization of the Southwest.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Immigration Laws Are Unrealistically Strict

Tamar Jacoby:

Existing immigration policy is a disaster: hypocritical and ineffective.

The law sounds tough. The only problem is it's so tough that it's unrealistic — and as a result, millions of people, immigrants and native-born alike, end up ignoring or subverting it.

Employers who can't find either American workers or the foreign workers they need to keep their businesses running learn not to ask too many questions about whether an employee's ID is fake. Hard-working immigrants are forced to live on the wrong side of the law, on the run and vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.

Hat Tip: Tom Galvin

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miguel Estrada

Well, Ms. Harriet Miers has withdrawn and fate has handed President Bush yet another opportunity to do the right thing. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I will again say that the President's best choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court is Miguel Estrada. I hope Mr. Bush will listen to conservatives this time and nominate Mr. Estrada, a man widely recognized as one of the best constitutional lawyers in the country.

Missionaries Chased Out of Venezuela

From the New York Times:

Amid rising tensions in Venezuela between President Hugo Chávez and various religious orders, the Utah-based Mormon Church has withdrawn all 220 of its American missionaries from the country, a spokesman at the church's headquarters in Salt Lake City said Tuesday...

The development comes two weeks after Mr. Chávez ordered the expulsion of the Florida-based New Tribes Mission, an evangelical group that he accused of aiding the Bush administration in what he claims is a plan to invade Venezuela. "They are agents of imperial penetration," he said in an Oct. 12 speech.

Relations between American evangelicals and Mr. Chávez's fiercely nationalist government have been severely strained since August, when Pat Robertson, the conservative televangelist, told viewers of his program, "The 700 Club," that the Bush administration should assassinate the Venezuelan leader.

Viva Ozzie!

As you probably know by now, Ozzie Guillen's Chicago White Sox have swept the Houston Astros to win their first Major League Baseball title since 1917:

The Sox are fun to watch along with their activist manager, 41-year-old Ozzie Guillen. They don't play some trendy concept like "small ball," but rather the game that had gone out of fashion during the Balco Decade.

While the Yankees have rounded up a slugger at virtually every position and seem to collectively wait for somebody to hit a six-run homer, the White Sox were built to make things happen more immediately.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Immigration Reform Debate

From Bloomberg News:

The U.S. Senate will debate an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws early next year, including a measure to establish a guest-worker program, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said the Senate would consider comprehensive changes to immigration laws, including increased border security, workplace enforcement and the worker program, shortly after lawmakers return to work in January.

Grilled Governator

What happened when California Governor Arnold Schwartznegger went to L.A.'s Univision studios to take some questions from the hand-picked audience? Find out.

El Salvador's Success Story

Former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores:

By far, El Salvador’s greatest success has been its fight against poverty. The one constant concept that has inspired the social strategy of the past three and the present administration has been that the antidote against poverty is opportunity.

This concept presumes that what the poor need is an opportunity to succeed. The concept of integration, breaking the isolation of poor communities through education, roads, telecommunications, social services, job opportunities, and micro-credit is based on the objective of creating opportunities.

Because opportunity is choice and choice is freedom, and it is this enhanced freedom that allows a person to unleash his creative energies and resolve his problems.

This a short excerpt from a great speech that should be read again and again by people interested in improving conditions in Latin America. There are so many great nuggets of wisdom in the speech that I wish I could post the whole thing, but then I would rob you of the opportunity to discover them yourself. Click on the link, read the speech, print it, save it, share it and repeat!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fighting Corruption in Central American

From USInfo:

The United States will help El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras combat bribery and corruption by extending the Good Governance Program to the three countries, according to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

In an October 21 announcement in El Salvador, Gutierrez said the program will reinforce the benefits the nations accrue under the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Good Governance Program -- in cooperation with foreign governments and with the private sector (both foreign and domestic) -- develops joint projects and programs to enhance the rule of law and business environments.

Consumer Spending in Latin America

From MarketWatch:

Red-hot commodity prices and stabilizing interest rates have emboldened Latin America's growing middle class, prompting U.S. investors to look beyond the region's export companies and focus on consumer spending.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Go Sox!

Yet another reason to root for the White Sox:

My team did not make it to the World Series this year, so I'll be pulling for the Chicago White Sox. I want Fidel Castro to angrily toss his Soviet-era transistor radio out the window when he hears that two more Cuban defectors earned World Series rings...

Victory for the White Sox would be a great accomplishment for a fine team, and for a franchise that has suffered through 88 years without a title. Yet more profoundly, it would be another defeat for Castro and his twisted efforts to dominate every individual born on the little island he has ruled since 1959 — the last year the White Sox were in the World Series.

Latin American Markets

The bull ride may be over:

The old adage that all good things must come to an end has some investors in Latin America on edge after almost three years of exceptional stock-market gains.

Who's Rebuilding New Orleans?

Take a wild guess:

Immigrant workers - some in the country illegally - have been pouring into New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

While no one knows how many Hispanic workers are in New Orleans, teams of Mexican and Central American laborers drawn from around the United States appear throughout the city. Wearing white protective suits and yellow boots, they pressure wash mold-infested rooms, tear out Sheetrock, rip down soaked insulation and empty rotten shrimp from refrigerators.

They retire at night to downtown or outlying hotels paid for by contractors, sometimes four or more to a room, or in tents in city parks. They are some of the more visible occupants of a half-empty city.

Muslim Terror in the Caribbean

Chris Zambelis for Mexidata.info:

Security threats emanating from the Caribbean Basin typically revolve around its position as a key trans-shipment point for South American narcotics to the United States and Europe, as well as illegal immigration, money laundering, and other forms of banking and document fraud. Indeed, organized criminal networks from as far away as Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia, in addition to U.S. and South American organizations, have a formidable presence in the region.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, however, many observers began to look at the region’s potential as a base of operations for radical Islamist terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda to stage attacks against the U.S. and its interests in the Western Hemisphere. Upon cursory examination, the region’s geographic proximity to the U.S., porous borders, widespread poverty and endemic corruption, energy reserves, not to mention the tens of thousands of Americans and Europeans who vacation there at any given time of the year, make it an attractive target.

Get Back to Work!

From AdAge Magazine:

Blog this: U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs.

About 35 million workers -- one in four people in the labor force -- visit blogs and on average spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week engaged with them, according to Advertising Age’s analysis. Time spent in the office on non-work blogs this year will take up the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs. Forget lunch breaks -- bloggers essentially take a daily 40-minute blog break.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

'Destination America'

Oh my! How times have changed:

The most shocking image in David Grubin's "Destination America" is a headline from a Connecticut newspaper, The Bridgeport Telegram: "Stricter Immigration Laws Needed to Purify Stock of U.S. Population - Davis," with an article written by James J. Davis, secretary of labor from 1921 to 1930.

If "Destination America," a four-part PBS mini-series that begins with Parts 1 and 2 tonight, has a point of view, it is that immigrants have come to the United States for countless reasons and that immigration policies have usually been developed and adjusted according to our needs and whims at the time.

There was a time when, as the narrator says, "if you could get here, you could stay here."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bush Gets Tough

This looks very much like a change in tone in response to conservative opposition to the president's immigration reform proposals:

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.

In an afternoon speech at the White House signing ceremony for the Dept. of Homeland Security appropriations bill on Oct. 18, President Bush is expected to praise the U.S. Border Patrol for its capture of 1.1 million aliens along the border with Mexico over the past 12 months. He will also propose more border agents, aircraft, and dollars for the effort, aides say.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Martinez & Obama Join Forces

Isn't bipartisan cooperation nice? If only there were more of it:

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, the first Cuban-American elected to the U.S. Senate, said Friday he was teaming up with the only black member of the chamber to introduce an immigration enforcement bill.

Martinez, a Republican, said he expected to announce the details of the bill later this month with Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois...

Martinez said he and Obama spun their ideas out of Senate debate on two immigration reform bills that seek to create guest worker programs for undocumented immigrants and tighten border enforcement.

Go SOX!!

I'm a Mets fan, but watching the White Sox play in the postseason, I've come to appreciate their style. I'm hoping that they do well in the World Series (apparently, I'm not alone):

The Sox have connected with Hispanic fans since the South Side became home to Latin American immigrants and baseball icons. But this Sox team has generated new fervor because of its playoff run and public face, a Venezuelan skipper who can talk strategy and spew expletives in two languages.

The Sox have capitalized on the popularity of Ozzie Guillen, their current manager and former shortstop, by reviving Spanish-language radio broadcasts and forming a Hispanic advisory committee to connect with a group that represents 80 percent of the Chicago area's growth since 2000.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa on Che

Alvaro Vargas Llosa appeared on Marketplace, the business radio show on NPR, and attempted to explain the phenomenon of Che Guevara as a cultural icon.

Gutierrez Selling CAFTA

From Bloomberg News:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is ushering executives from Ford Motor Co., Hewlett- Packard Co. and 17 other companies around Central America this week in an effort to make good on promises to expand trade with the region.

The trip comes two months after the U.S. ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The measure passed only after President George W. Bush promised reluctant lawmakers and manufacturers that Cafta would create U.S. investment opportunities in Central America, increase U.S. exports, and foster political stability in a region once wracked by civil war.

Gutierrez said the mission is aimed at turning those pledges into reality.

No Jail Space for OTMs

From the Houston Chronicle:

More than 47,600 illegal border crossers from "countries other than Mexico," so called OTMs, have been caught in South Texas this year. But 42,000, or more than 88 percent, have been promptly released and most have simply melted into society, failing to show up for required immigration court hearings, according to the Texas governor's office.

Alarmed that OTMs from not only Central America but also such nations as Syria, Yemen and Iraq are being freed, Texas lawmakers last year demanded that the Bush administration do something.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry reiterated that concern last week when he unveiled a $9.7 million border security plan.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hispanic Homeownership

From HispanicBusiness:

In 2001, when Hispanics made up approximately 12.9 percent of the U.S. population (it is 14.1 percent currently), the Hispanic percentage of homeowners was about half of that -- around 7 percent -- in three of four residential property categories. The exception being the 2- to 4-unit or multifamily category, where 13.7 percent of all owners were Hispanic.

Humanitarian Parole

From the New York Times:

The story of immigrants coming to the United States has always been filled with heartbreak - asylum seekers facing torture at home; quotas excluding the deserving; the sick seeking care they will never find. "Humanitarian parole" holds out another option, the possibility of case-by-case compassion at the discretion of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, a chance to come when other measures fail or take an entire childhood to yield results.

But for those rejected, it can be especially painful - another door, sometimes the last door, shut. An exceptional measure limited to "urgent humanitarian reasons" or "significant public benefit," humanitarian parole operates as a mysterious contest of human suffering, lawyers and scholars say, seeming to give extra points for narrative novelty or news media buzz.

Of 6,718 requests for humanitarian parole received by the government since January 2000, officials say, 5,253 were rejected and 1,465 approved.

Border Crime

From the Washington Post:

The top law enforcement officials from the United States and Mexico vowed Thursday to boost police presence and cooperation along their shared border to combat a surge in violence fueled by the illicit drug trade.

Russian Missiles in Nicaragua

From USAToday:

Nicaraguan military officials have assured Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that a cache of about 1,000 Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles is secure, even though its destruction has been stalled.

Rumsfeld, at a two-day conference with Central American defense and security ministers, told reporters that the Nicaraguan military has done all it can to address the issue, which is a subject of continuing concern to the United States.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Immigrants and Divorce

From the New York Times:

Tens of thousands of married immigrants tearfully kiss their spouses and children farewell and sneak across borders or fly in on tourist visas they will probably let lapse, to secure gritty jobs with wages that go much further back home.

Stays that some thought would last a year or two stretch to 5 and 10 years or longer as illegal immigrants come to realize that making the journey home might mean never returning to the United States. After a time, their spouses and family back home become strangers, or they succumb to loneliness and meet other lovers. Some seek out citizens of the opposite sex for sham marriages that they hope will lead to the brass ring of legal residency. And then there are the immigrants, legal or not, who end up in legitimate marriages here that cannot withstand the isolation and bewilderment that come with being in an unfamiliar country.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Latino Workers in New Orleans

From the L.A. Times:

With 140,000 homes destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is undergoing the nation's largest reconstruction effort and its new workforce is largely Latino. No one knows how many immigrants have descended here since Katrina ravaged the city five weeks ago, but their presence is visible throughout the city...

The influx of Latino workers is raising concern among city officials. Last week, Associated Press reported, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin asked local business people, "How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?"

According to census figures, in 2000 there were about 15,000 Hispanics in New Orleans, or 3% of the population. Latino leaders and academic experts say the newcomers are likely to change the face of the city.

Mayor Nagin is not exactly the most sensitive public official, is he? Mexican workers are coming in to rebuild his city while everybody else is fleeing, and he's worried that there will be too many Mexicans in New Orleans. What a dimwit!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Local Politics and Illegal Immigration

From the New York Times:

Suburban politicians once had to master a small but demanding catalog of local issues. Taxes, garbage, crime and schools were always the big ones. But recently a volatile new issue has been showing up on the local meet-the-candidate circuit, and it is pretty much the opposite of the familiar and the local. It is illegal immigration.

Though municipal officials have no statutory control over immigration, a rising population of illegal immigrants in suburban communities... has prompted some of those officials to attack the problem with the limited means at their disposal. In the process, they have won and lost political support; grappled with issues beyond their usual bailiwicks; and, whether intentionally or not, begun incorporating immigration into the calculus of local politics.

Venezuela Nukes

From the Teheran Times:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday his government is starting research into peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Chavez did not give details, but he has previously said he is interested in developing nuclear power just like Iran and Brazil are doing. "Brazil has advanced in its nuclear research, nuclear power, and that's valid. Argentina too, and we also are starting to do research and projects in the area of nuclear energy, with peaceful aims of course," Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV program "Hello President."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gutierrez to Central America

From the Department of Commerce:

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez will undertake an October 15-22 trade mission to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to promote the benefits arising from a U.S. free-trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic, known as CAFTA-DR.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Diverse Minutepeople

From the Washington Post:

The civilian patrols of recent months have failed to stem the tide of illegal crossings, but they have ratcheted up pressure on Washington to better police U.S. borders and fueled tension in border towns about potential violence. But as the patrols continue, they are targeting a wider circle of volunteers.

Urban dwellers, young women, some Hispanics have joined. Their gripes are often the same as those of the gun-toting veterans, though their backgrounds are different.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Jobs in Latin America

Marcela Sanchez:

Ideally, a balance would be struck between measures to protect workers and incentives to facilitate more job creation. Unfortunately, according to World Bank data, Latin America suffers from the greatest imbalance by keeping strict regulations to protect those already employed and making it more expensive for employers to hire new workers. In the end, piecemeal jobs are created.

Today, an estimated 23 million people in Latin America are jobless and 103 million work in an informal job sector that includes people selling goods on the street as well as day laborers. In some Latin American countries, this informal sector makes up to 60 percent of the labor force. This labor crisis explains why in opinion polls, Latin Americans want jobs over anything else, including personal safety, and would even consider a system different from democracy if it gave them jobs.

Latino Muslims

From MSNBC:

The exact number of Latino Muslims is difficult to determine, because the U.S. Census Bureau does not collect information about religion. However, according to estimates conducted by national Islamic organizations such as the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) there are approximately 40,000 Latino Muslims in the United States.

Likewise, it is difficult to break-down the number of Latino converts to Islam into male versus female. But, according to anecdotal evidence and a survey conducted by the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), whose mission is to promote Islam within the Latino community in the United States, the number of Latinos converting to Islam tilts slightly in favor of women — with 60 percent women to 40 percent men.

Easy Prey

From CNN:

The slayings of five Mexican immigrants and wounding of six others during a string of mobile home robberies early Friday has terrified Hispanics who come to this rural south Georgia community to work in the fields of cotton and peanut farms.

Investigators suspect at least two men committed the attacks at four mobile home parks -- three in Tift County and one in neighboring Colquitt County -- and targeted Hispanics not out of hatred, but because they're easy prey.

"They're ready-made victims," said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "They're reluctant to go to the police. They speak very little English. What little cash they have, they keep on their persons or in their homes."

Hispanic Boom

From the Orange County Register:

The Hispanic boom of the first 20 years of the 2000s will be just as powerful as the baby boom of the 1950s and '60s, offering a major business opportunity for those who figure out how to target the community, a series of speakers said at a UCLA conference Wednesday...

[T]he Hispanic community is growing at three times the rate of the rest of the population. It is on average 11 years younger – 26 years old for Hispanics vs. 35 for the nation as a whole. It also has a greater opportunity for income growth, which will give Hispanics more disposable income to spend on goods.