Posted on November 3rd, 2009 No comments
AP – Tuesday, November 03, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Immigration agents assigned to track down people who have ignored deportation orders have increasingly arrested immigrants with criminal records during the past year, new data show.
Data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show a shift from the prior three years, when more than 70 percent of immigrants arrested by fugitive operations teams had no criminal histories.
About 45 percent of the 35,000 immigrants arrested by the teams during the 2009 fiscal year had criminal convictions. The figure is up from 23 percent during the prior year.
ICE has long claimed it focused on arresting immigrants with criminal convictions who ignored orders from immigration judges to leave the country.
But most people arrested had no criminal histories, which prompted outcries from immigrant rights groups.
ICE director John Morton said earlier this year the agency would focus on finding immigrants with criminal records or who have ignored deportation orders. However, he said other illegal immigrants would be arrested if they were present during the operations,
“The goal is to prevent crime rather than simply to respond to it,” ICE spokesman Brandon Alvarez-Montgomery said.
One reason for the change is that agents are working more closely with local law enforcement to develop leads, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.
Immigrants rights advocates were skeptical of the numbers and wondered whether the data marked a real change in a program they have long criticized as a source of fear in immigrant neighborhoods.
It’s unclear whether the Obama administration has shifted the program’s focus or whether agents in some regions have just been more successful at finding criminals, said Carl Bergquist, policy advocate for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
“I think the jury is still out,” added Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.
Earlier this year, Morton also announced the fugitive teams had stopped using arrest quotas.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, said agents should have discretion about who they arrest, given what he considers the daunting task of finding more than 500,000 immigrants who have evaded deportation orders.
“They’ve got to start somewhere, and they look for people obviously that have national security issues as well as serious criminals,” said Krikorian, whose organization favors stricter limits on immigration.
“As long as they’re not sending the message that other illegal aliens will simply be let go, then I don’t have a problem with it.” he said.Illegal Immigrant Crimes, Illegal Immigrant News coalition for humane immigrant rights, coalition for humane immigrant rights of los angeles, criminal convictions, criminal histories, deportation orders, humane immigrant rights, illegal immigrants, immigrant neighborhoods, immigration agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigration judges, john morton, national immigration project, national lawyers guild, operations teams, policy advocate, rights advocates
Posted on March 23rd, 2009 No commentsExploitation of illegal immigrants has become worse, officials say, and the failure of U.S. agencies to work together has hindered efforts to stop the organizations.But smugglers affiliated with the drug cartels have taken the enterprise to a new level — and made it more violent — by commandeering much of the operation from independent coyotes, according to these officials and recent congressional testimonies.
U.S. efforts to stop the cartels have been stymied by a shortage of funds and the failure of federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate effectively with one another, their local and state counterparts and the Mexican government, officials say.
U.S. authorities have long focused their efforts on the cartels’ trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines, which has left a trail of violence and corruption.Reporting from Washington — Mexican drug cartels and their vast network of associates have branched out from their traditional business of narcotics trafficking and are now playing a central role in the multibillion-dollar-a-year business of illegal immigrant smuggling, U.S. law enforcement officials and other experts say.
The business of smuggling humans across the Mexican border has always been brisk, with many thousands coming across every year.Many of those officials now say that the toll from smuggling illegal immigrants is often far worse.
The cartels often further exploit the illegal immigrants by forcing them into economic bondage or prostitution, U.S. officials say. In recent years, illegal immigrants have been forced to pay even more exorbitant fees for being smuggled into the U.S. by the cartel’s well-coordinated networks of transportation, communications, logistics and financial operatives, according to officials.
Many more illegal immigrants are raped, killed or physically and emotionally scarred along the way, authorities say. Organized smuggling groups are stealing entire safe houses from rivals and trucks full of “chickens” — their term for their human cargo — to resell them or exploit them further, according to these officials and documents.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) said greed and opportunity had prompted the cartels to move into illegal immigrant smuggling.
“Drugs are only sold once,” Sanchez, the chairwoman of the House Homeland Security border subcommittee, said in an interview. “But people can be sold over and over. And they use these people over and over until they are too broken to be used anymore.”
The cartels began moving into human smuggling in the late 1990s, initially by taxing the coyotes as they led bands of a few dozen people across cartel-controlled turf near the border.
After U.S. officials stepped up border enforcement after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the price of passage increased and the cartels got more directly involved, using the routes they have long used for smuggling drugs north and cash and weapons south, authorities said.
Sometimes they loaded up their human cargo with backpacks full of marijuana. In many cases, they smuggled illegal immigrants between the two marijuana-growing seasons, authorities said.
Kumar Kibble, deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office of operations, said the cartels made money by taxing coyotes and engaging in the business themselves.
“Diversification has served them well,” Kibble said.
Unlike the drug-trafficking problem, the cartels’ involvement in human smuggling has received scant attention in Washington.
That is the case even as the Obama administration and Congress increasingly focus their attention on Mexico, fearing that its government is losing ground in a battle against the cartels that has resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 people since the beginning of 2008.
At one of many congressional hearings on the subject last week, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) unveiled a chart that he said described the cartels’ profit centers: drugs, weapons and money laundering.
“I would add one thing, senator,” said Arizona Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard, who then described to Durbin his concerns about the cartels’ movement into illegal immigrant smuggling. “It is really a four-part trade, and it has caused crime throughout the United States.”
Arizona has become the gateway not only for drugs, but also illegal immigrants. Fights over the valuable commodity have triggered a spate of shootings, kidnappings and killings, Goddard and one of his chief deputies said in interviews.
Posted on March 20th, 2009 No comments
HANNIBAL, Mo. (AP) — A Hannibal police officer was finishing up mundane paperwork on a quiet Saturday morning when Manuel Cazares walked into the station, blood splattered on his hands and shoes.
Cazares put his hands out, crossed them, and told the officer to arrest him.
“I killed two people,” he allegedly said.
Details surrounding the allegations are far too common: an abusive relationship, a jilted lover, a sudden attack.
But some in this Mississippi River community of 17,000 best known as Mark Twain‘s hometown aren’t just outraged by the violence. They also question why Cazares was in Hannibal at all.
Cazares admitted after his arrest that he is an illegal immigrant from the Mexican state of Michoacan. The 32-year-old had several run-ins with law enforcement before the homicides, but officials had never questioned his legal status.
Now he is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Feb. 28 deaths of his ex-girlfriend, 27-year-old Amanda Thomas, and 25-year-old Carl Patrick Epley.
“I don’t know how this happens,” said Tina White-Masengill, Thomas’ sister. “My stepdad told police many times, ‘I don’t even think the guy’s a legal citizen.’”
During his three years in Hannibal, Cazares managed to avoid detection, despite a few traffic violations and a property damage conviction after an arrest for allegedly beating up Thomas and tearing up her home. Thomas had a restraining order against Cazares, who got probation in the property-damage case.
Police say his name wasn’t in a database maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Police and Cazares’ boss also say he had authentic-looking identification, including a Social Security card. And police noted that Cazares speaks fluent English.
Cazares’ attorney did not return phone messages seeking comment. Cazares is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.
Hannibal police declined several interview requests from The Associated Press, but said soon after the killing that they had received several angry calls, some with racial overtones.
Days after the killings, rocks were thrown through plate-glass windows at the Mexican restaurant where Cazares worked. The FBI decided against opening a hate-crime investigation after concluding that it was vandalism, not retaliation.
Hundreds of messages related to the case were posted on the Hannibal Courier-Post Web site, with several questioning why authorities hadn’t been able to determine Cazares’ legal status before. One suggested police should conduct raids to seek out other illegal immigrants.
“Of course we have folks who say that’s unconstitutional and racial profiling so we have to ignore the problem until this sort of terrible tragedy takes place,” the posting read. The newspaper eventually took down the postings.
At a news conference, police Capt. James Hark told reporters that tracking illegal immigrants is a federal responsibility. He said the department is sympathetic to the victims’ families, “but, in retrospect, there’s nothing in the system that would have prevented this from happening.”
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the agency seeks to work closely with local police to uncover illegal immigrants.
“When local law enforcement suspect that they have arrested an illegal alien on criminal charges, we encourage them to forward those suspicions to ICE, where we will make the appropriate determination whether that person is in the country legally or illegally, and whether he is deportable,” Rusnok said.
The relationship between Cazares and Thomas had long been rocky, with Thomas seeking restraining orders in 2007 and again early last year. Marion County prosecutor Tom Redington said the first order was dismissed when Thomas failed to appear at a court hearing; the second was dismissed at her request.
Thomas made a third attempt around Thanksgiving and obtained a restraining order that was supposed to keep Cazares away from the small brick duplex where she lived with their 20-month-old son and a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Yet neighbors said they often saw Cazares in the area.
“We pulled up one night and he drives up the street with his car lights off and just sits there watching her house,” said neighbor Charles Thomas, who is not related to the victim.
In early February, Thomas told police she thought Cazares was stalking her. White-Masengill said her sister played cell phone messages for police, including one in which he said, “No one can love you like I do.”
Redington said he didn’t have Cazares arrested immediately because of the “on-again, off-again nature of their relationship.” He asked Thomas to obtain records that would show that Cazares had been calling her, but she never got the records.
According to court records, Cazares offered the following account of the killings in his confession:
Despite the restraining order, he and Thomas had spent the night of Feb. 26 together after she called him. He thought they would be together again the next night.
Instead, Thomas went out. At some point she met up with Epley, a friend from her nearby hometown of Monroe City.
Cazares fumed when a friend told him he saw Thomas outside a bar. He stayed up late drinking beer, then went to Thomas’ home the next morning and found her with Epley.
Cazares said he went to the kitchen, found a knife and stabbed Epley before turning the knife on Thomas.
He then drove around in Thomas’ car before using her cell phone to call his mother. He told her “that I loved her and that I did something that was not right and for her to take care of herself.”
He said he considered suicide, but instead quietly turned himself in.
Posted on February 21st, 2008 1 comment
On February 19th a woman, Alianiss Nunez Morales, was driving a van that T-boned the school bus with such force it knocked the bus over on it’s side. The bus was going south on Hwy. 23 a mile south of Cottonwood, Minnesota and the van being driven by Alianiss was going east on Lyon County Road 24. The accident took place at 3:30pm so the sun was to the back of the van’s driver. The initial story published by the Twin City newspaper (Star and Tribune AKA Star and Sickle) didn’t even publish the driver’s name in the initial story and even went so far as to say as there might not even be anyone at fault…huh?? The bus was carrying 28 students, of which about 14 were injured in addition to the four who died on the spot. A pickup truck was crushed by the bus when it fell over and it is thought another vehicle ran into the back of the bus.
It was quite curious that when the story came out there were suspicions that the driver of the van was an illegal immigrant but the liberal press didn’t want to discuss that possibility. The first news that came out indicated that she didn’t have a driver’s license, only an ID. It was later discovered that the ID was fake and that even the name she was using was false. Two days following the crash (today), it was revealed that she was an illegal immigrant. It was also revealed that she had been pulled over by the police two years earlier for a traffic violation but nothing was done about her illegal status at the time.
Cottonwood is fairly close to Worthington, Minnesota. One of three sanctuary cities in Minnesota, the other two being Minneapolis and St. Paul.
If this woman had been deported two years ago when stopped by the police there would be four children alive today that are dead.