Homeland Security

Mexico kidnappings for ransom surge to unprecedented levels with estimates of victims in the tens of thousands per year.

MEXICO CITY — Even amid an unprecedented rash of kidnappings in Mexico, the snatching of John Jairo Guzman stood out.

Assailants shoved the 41-year-old Colombian into a waiting vehicle in broad daylight on a recent Friday. Luckily, a passer-by used a cellphone to make a video and posted it on YouTube. Within days, three of the assailants were identified as Mexico City policemen.

The officers are now fugitives. Their boss, a supervisor in the internal affairs unit tasked with cleaning up police corruption, denied knowledge of the crime.
But investigators tracked the GPS trail from his radio and his vehicle, putting him at the scene as well. Another video taken by a passer-by later surfaced in which the chief's vehicle is visible at the Sept. 20 crime scene. The supervisor is now jailed. Guzman, the victim, is still missing.

Related: Police linked to mass killing

Guzman's abduction is one of 1,205 kidnappings that had been reported this year in Mexico through the end of September, marking a sharp rise in such crimes. But since the vast majority of Mexican families refuse to report abductions to authorities, in part due to fear of police involvement or dread that criminals will exact revenge for reporting the crime, experts believe the reality is far worse than the official tally.

"The problem is, I would say, almost out of control," said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a Harvard-trained lawyer who is secretary general of Mexico United Against Crime, a pressure group.

Not only are kidnappings becoming much more common, abduction rings slay more of their victims after they receive a ransom payment than ever before.
"The only thing they want is to get their money," said Jose Antonio Ortega Sanchez, president of the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, another advocacy group. Once payment is made, Ortega Sanchez said, "they just murder them."

The spokesman for President Enrique Pena Nieto on crime issues, Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez, wasn't available Thursday for comment, but he's said previously that authorities have broken up 70 kidnapping rings this year, and that a TV and radio campaign of public service ads urging citizens to tip police to abductions was reaping results.

"At the end of the day, they have substantially increased reports of kidnapping and extortion in comparison to other administrations," Sanchez said.
Sanchez noted, however, that many victims still fail to report kidnappings, and that the real level of abductions is a "black number," or unknown.

A glimpse at the magnitude of the kidnapping surge came Sept. 30, when Mexico's national statistics institute issued an annual report based on extensive house-to-house polling about how often citizens suffer from crime.

The survey found that just over 1 percent of those who'd suffered an abduction reported it to authorities. It estimated the number of kidnappings in the previous year to be 105,682. This includes not only lengthy abductions for ransom, but also what Mexicans term "express kidnappings," in which victims are taken at knife- or gunpoint to ATMs and forced to withdraw cash and turn it over, usually going free after a few hours or a day.

The number also includes migrants taken hostage by organized crime as they travel toward the U.S. border and victims of "virtual kidnappings," in which callers telephone residences, often at random. As screams erupt in the background, callers tell those answering that a child or loved one has just been snatched off the street and demand an immediate bank deposit or payoff.

"The methodology that (the statistics institute) follows is flawless," said Torres Landa. "That number, 105,682, means that there are 12 kidnappings per hour. Twelve kidnappings per hour is credible. ... I frankly believe it."

Even going by official reports of those who file complaints to state and federal authorities, kidnappings are up more than 60 percent this year, Torres Landa said.

Victims range from tycoons to owners of corner businesses.

"Anybody can be kidnapped. In Guerrero (state), you're seeing ranchers being kidnapped who only have six or eight head of cattle," said Eduardo Gallo y Tello, who has been active on the issue since his daughter was abducted and slain 13 years ago.

Anti-crime activists lament both a sharp rise in reported kidnappings and what they say is a lack of government response to the crime wave.
"I've not heard a single authority raise their hand and say, 'I'll be responsible for this problem,' " said Francisco Rivas, head of the National Citizens Observatory, an umbrella group of civil society organizations.

Kidnappings, which arose around 1970 in Mexico, spiked in the latter part of the 1990s but then fell at the turn of the century. They began to rise again around 2007, when organized crime groups took to kidnapping as an alternative revenue source to drug trafficking, and some activists say the groups may be behind roughly half of all abductions.
Pena Nieto came to office 11 months ago promising to reduce soaring homicides, kidnapping and extortion that coincided with his predecessor's all-out war on organized crime. In his state of the union address Sept. 2, Pena Nieto said the murder rate had dropped 13.8 percent. But the figure has been questioned, and his aides have urged Mexican media to downplay coverage of crime.

Ortega Sanchez, of the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, accuses Pena Nieto of engaging in a cover-up.
"The policy of President Pena Nieto is not to talk about (kidnappings) because this frightens investors and frightens Mexicans as well," said Ortega Sanchez. "Mexican media believe this and have stopped talking about it."

Even as officials trumpet new arrests of alleged kidnappers, scattered signs of involvement by corrupt police in kidnapping gangs continue.
In early October, the government announced the arrest of 13 federal police officers in Acapulco, saying they were among an 18-member criminal gang behind four kidnappings and seven murders.

"Almost always in kidnappings, there is a police officer or former police officer involved. This is indisputable," said Isabel Miranda de Wallace, head of a group, Stop the Kidnappings, that she formed after the 2005 abduction of her 25-year-old son. A former state policeman was among those convicted in that case.

She said one of the reasons citizens are reluctant to file reports about kidnappings is the fear that some police are in cahoots with criminals.
"The victims feel vulnerable because they know that whatever they tell police goes straight to the criminals," Miranda de Wallace said.

Another reason is that investigations rarely unfold with rigor, and prosecutions are commonly bungled, experts and activists said. Police have been known to urge victims to lie to help convict presumed kidnappers in other cases by saying they were involved in their own case.

Some 12,000 people are now in prison on charges of taking part in kidnappings, but most are lower-level members of gangs, like guards or food couriers, said Ortega Sanchez.
"They don't catch the leaders, and they form new gangs and keep on kidnapping," he said.

The surge in kidnappings has prompted calls for the government to designate an "anti-kidnapping czar" to force coordination among city, state and federal law enforcement agencies and increase convictions.

"With the creation of an anti-kidnapping czar, we will not see results immediately," Alejandro Marti, father of a kidnapping victim and founder of an activist group, Mexico SOS, wrote in a column in mid-October. But over the longer term, he said, it may help "reduce this crime by a significant amount."

ICE's Chris Crane Blasts Lobbyists Pushing Amnesty

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) National Council president Chris Crane, who represents about 7,000 ICE agents and support staff, wrote to a group of lobbyists, special interests, and political figures on Tuesday to question why they support granting amnesty to America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens.

“Each of you receiving this letter today has played a major role in pushing so-called ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’ the Rubio-Schumer immigration bill or is pressing the House to advance similar legislation,” Crane wrote to the group of special interests. “During recent years, ICE officers have documented extraordinary political abuses at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE that have threatened public safety and undermined the ability of ICE agents and officers to enforce the laws enacted by Congress."

"I cannot recall any of you speaking out publicly against these abuses or requesting a meeting with ICE Officers to address our concerns,” Crane stated bluntly.

Recipients of the letter included Karl Rove; Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue; National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguia; Casa de Maryland executive director Gustavo Torres; National Council of Chain Restaurants executive director Rob Green; American Action Forum president Doug Holtz-Eakin; casino mogul and major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; and corporate executives from companies like:

  • General Electric
  • Disney
  • McDonald’s
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Coca-Cola
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Hyatt Hotels
  • General Mills
  • Wendy’s
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, the Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Eddie V’s, and Yard House)
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Verizon

Also included on the letter were executive of lobbyist associations like the National Association of Home Builders and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“ICE officers arguably know more about our nation’s broken immigration system than any group in the United States,” Crane wrote. “Yet President Barack Obama and the Gang of Eight actively prohibited them from having input. Only influential and affluent groups and wealthy individuals like you were given an opportunity to provide real input on our nation’s new immigration laws."

"As ICE officers fought a very public battle seeking to add measures that would provide for public safety and national security, you did nothing to assist or support us, but in fact—through your advocacy – put officers and the public at risk,” he claimed.

“As a result, the Senate passed an immigration bill that will fail America,” Crane wrote. “While this legislation may satisfy your personal financial or political objectives, it undermines immigration enforcement and worsens the immigration problems currently experienced in the United States.”

Crane added that the letter recipients are using their lobbyist influence to “fight for special protections and legalization for violent criminal offenders and gang members illegally in the United States” but they “must realize that in doing so you sacrifice the safety of every man, woman and child residing in the United States, regardless of citizenship.”

“Certainly you must know that when you fight for legislation that protects criminal aliens who assault law enforcement officers, you increase the risk to every police officer, sheriff’s deputy, and federal agent across our nation; officers whose lives and welfare should hold some value to you and the organizations you represent,” Crane wrote.

Crane said it is up the House of Representatives to protect the safety of Americans from lobbyists.

“Only the U.S. House of Representatives now stands between the American people and the potential destruction of federal immigration enforcement,” Crane wrote. “Yet the groups represented on this letter are spending enormous sums of money or wielding enormous amounts of influence in an attempt to intimidate the House into passing a plan similar to that adopted by the Senate – a bill that not one member of the Senate had the time to read before voting on.”

Crane said that America’s future depends on these lobbyists being stopped.

“It is a sad day in America when the political class in Washington, and groups that can deliver votes and money, have more influence in writing our immigration laws than everyday American citizens and the law enforcement officers sworn to protect them,” Crane wrote. “I hope you stand with law enforcement and stand for the rule of law -- if for no other reason than out of compassion for the lives that we can protect if we finally begin to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.”

Crane then turned his attention to directly questioning the intent of these lobbyists’ and special interests’ push for amnesty.

“Are you really willing to support an immigration plan that will put officers and the public in danger simply because it includes special items that advance the financial or political interests of your group or company?” Crane asked. “Are we in law enforcement not worthy of your respect? Do you believe that our experience and advice is without value in creating new immigration legislation?"

"I am requesting a meeting with each of you to discuss the answers to these questions, as well as to speak to you about the field experience of immigration officers and agents who daily witness a side of our nation’s immigration crisis that many in the media and indeed our government actively work to conceal from the American public,” he said.

Many of these special interests actually met with President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House to plot out an immigration push on Capitol Hill. Obama met with McDonald’s, Marriott, and other CEOs and executives on Tuesday at the White House to plan an amnesty strategy.

“What's been encouraging is, is that there are a number of House Republicans who have said, we think this is the right thing to do, as well,” Obama said about the meeting, according to USA Today. “And it's my estimation that we actually have votes to get comprehensive immigration reform done in the House right now.”

U.S. Immigration Officers Give Frightening Warning

Chris Crane, president of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council, which represents immigration enforcement officers, recently called on Congress to resist immigration reforms that harm his officers’ ability to do their jobs:

ICE officers are being ordered by [Administration] political appointees to ignore the law. Violent criminal aliens are released every day from jails back into American communities. ICE Officers face disciplinary action for engaging in routine law enforcement actions. We are barred from enforcing large sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, even when public safety is at risk. Officer morale is devastated.

If this were the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service, or the military, Congress would be outraged, the President would react firmly and swiftly, and pundits and groups from across the country would be demanding this problem be fixed. Sadly, though, nothing is being done to fix this broken and dangerous state of affairs.

In fact, the situation is even scarier. As the ICE letter points out, President Obama continues to order ICE officers to ignore ever-growing sections of immigration law and undertake actions that create a risk to public safety. The Senate has passed a gargantuan immigration bill that includes mass amnesty, tons of handouts to special interests, and enough waivers and exemptions to make Obamacare officials jealous.

Notably, the Senate bill does little to actually support the hard-working men and women of ICE and other immigration enforcement agencies. Even worse, amnesty would make the work of ICE even more difficult by encouraging more illegal immigration and adding new classes of provisional immigrants who have special rules that apply to them.

It is sad that it has come to this: “ICE officers are pleading with [Congress] to…stand with American citizens and the immigration officers who put their own personal safety at risk each day to provide for public safety.” U.S. law enforcement officers should not have to beg Congress just to enforce existing laws.

Congress should reject amnesty, which would only further harm our immigration officers’ effort, and instead use the budget process to give ICE and other immigration agencies the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. Then Congress should demand that President Obama uphold immigration law, not selectively enforce it.

Report: Deportations plummet in 2013, lowest since 2007

 

Authorities deported fewer illegal immigrants in fiscal 2013 than at any time since President Obama took office, according to secret numbers obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies that suggest Mr. Obama’s nondeportation policies have hindered removals.

Just 364,700 illegal immigrants were removed in fiscal 2013, according to internal numbers from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement that CIS released Wednesday — down 11 percent from the nearly 410,000 who were deported in 2012.


SPECIAL COVERAGE: Immigration Reform


Homeland Security officials didn’t dispute the numbers, but said their own counts are still preliminary.

The administration has testified to Congress that it has enough money to deport 400,000 every year, but Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at CIS, said Mr. Obama and the Homeland Security Department have placed so many illegal immigrants off-limits for deportations that they cannot find enough people to fulfill that quota.

“The policies that they’ve implemented, especially prosecutorial discretion and the new detainer policy, are dramatically suppressing interior enforcement,” Ms. Vaughan said. “Even though they are finding out about more illegal aliens than ever before, especially more criminal aliens, the ICE agents in the field have been ordered to look the other way.”

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the agency has not tried to hide its new priorities, which have led to changes in the demographics of deportations.

“Over the course of this administration, DHS has set clear, common sense priorities to ensure that our finite enforcement resources are focused on public safety, national security, and border security,” she said.

“ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration enforcement strategy to focus on convicted criminals, public safety and border security and our removal numbers illustrate this,” she said.

The CIS report is bound to shake up the immigration debate going on in Congress.

Immigrant-rights advocates argue that Mr. Obama is removing too many people and have called for him to halt all deportations until Congress acts.

Indeed, immigrant-rights advocates cheered the new numbers, saying that if ICE confirms them, it will mean Mr. Obama is beginning to curb excessive enforcement.

“The dragnet deportation of 400,000 immigrants annually does nothing to make our streets safer, and constitutes a huge expenditure of government resources,” said Ruthie Epstein, policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union.

But those who want to see a crackdown say the administration is already ignoring most illegal immigrants, and said the latest numbers back that up.

Ms. Vaughan said that ICE agents and officers are encountering more immigrants than ever, including those with criminal records, which makes the drop in deportations more surprising. She said there’s a “target-rich environment” but the administration has hamstrung deportations.

The 364,700 deportations are the lowest since fiscal year 2007, which was in the middle of the last time Congress debated immigration.

Mr. Obama and his appointees at the Homeland Security Department have issued several policies designed to put illegal immigrants in the interior of the U.S. off-limits from deportations.

Probably the most famous of those is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which applies to so-called Dreamers, the young illegal immigrants who were usually brought to the U.S. as minors by their parents and are considered among the most sympathetic cases in the immigration debate.


Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/30/deportations-plummet-2013-lowest-2007/?page=2#ixzz2jJj4nPkx
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Mexican cartels hiring US soldiers as hit men

Mexican cartels are recruiting hit men from the U.S. military, offering big money to highly-trained soldiers to carry out contract killings and potentially share their skills with gangsters south of the border, according to law enforcement experts.

The involvement of three American soldiers in separate incidents, including a 2009 murder that led to last week’s life sentence for a former Army private, underscore a problem the U.S. military has fought hard to address.

"We have seen examples over the past few years where American servicemen are becoming involved in this type of activity," said Fred Burton, vice president for STRATFOR Global Intelligence. "It is quite worrisome to have individuals with specialized military training and combat experience being associated with the cartels."

"It is quite worrisome to have individuals with specialized military training and combat experience being associated with the cartels."

- Fred Burton, STRATFOR Global Intelligence.

The life sentence handed down in El Paso District court July 25 to an Army private hired by the Juarez Cartel to be the triggerman in a 2009 hit in this border city is the most recent case.

Michael Apodaca, 22, was a private first-class stationed at nearby Fort Bliss Army Base and was attached to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade when he was recruited and paid $5,000 by the Juarez Cartel to shoot and kill Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Galeana, a cartel member who had been outed as an informant for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Apodaca, who was the triggerman in the May 15, 2009, hit, was sentenced in El Paso District Court July 25.

Last September, Kevin Corley, 29, a former active-duty Army first lieutenant from Fort Carson in Colorado, pleaded guilty in federal court in Laredo, Texas, to conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire for the Los Zetas Cartel after being arrested in a sting operation. Ironically, that cartel was itself founded by Special Forces deserters from the Mexican Army.

Arrested with Corley in connection with the case was former Army Sgt. Samuel Walker, 28. He was convicted of committing a murder-for-hire in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in prison June 21.

Walker served in Afghanistan with Corley’s 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division platoon between 2010-2011. Shortly after their return, they made contact with the undercover DEA agent they thought was a member of Los Zetas.

According to his plea agreement, Corley was introduced to undercover agents posing as members of Los Zetas cartel in September 2011; he admitted to being an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army responsible for training soldiers. He told his contact he could provide tactical training for members of the cartel and purchase weapons for them. In later meetings, Corley discussed stealing weapons from military posts and military tactics. On Dec. 23, 2011, he agreed to perform a contract killing for the cartel in exchange for $50,000 and cocaine.

Burton said some soldiers become corrupted by gangs after joining, while others are gang members who enlist specifically for the training they can get.

“There has been a persistent gang problem in the military for the past six to eight years,” Burton said, adding that cartels greatly value trained soldiers from the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala as sicarios – hit men.

More recently, the May 22 murder of Juan Guerrero-Chapa, 43, a former lawyer for the Gulf Cartel, in a mall parking lot in an affluent suburb of Fort Worth has raised concerns due to the military precision with which it was carried out.

"Obviously, the nature of this homicide, the way it was carried out indicates –– and I said indicates –– an organization that is trained to do this type of activity," Southlake Police Chief Stephen Mylett said following the attack. "When you're dealing with individuals that operate on such a professional level, certainly caution forces me to have to lean toward that this is an organized criminal activity act.”

While Mylett acknowledged the murder was a “targeted affair conducted by professional killers,” he would not confirm or deny suspicions that current or previous military was involved.

“The case is still being investigated,” Mylett said.

A task force consisting of the Southlake Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, FBI, DEA, and Department of Homeland Security is investigating the case.

But an expert on Mexican cartels, who declined to be identified, said the “operation was brilliant and disciplined.”

“I would be asking the question -- if military was involved -- if I was leading the investigation based on the MO, geography and precision,” said the expert. “I don't have any information to confirm, but we know that a hit team came in and out and there was also a stand-alone recon team.”

Using American servicemen could make it easier to carry out a murder in the U.S. since they can more easily move across the border. And the lure of quick money has proven tempting for theses soldiers given the dismal military pay scale.

Apodaca’s fee for killing Galaena was nearly three times his monthly pay. A sergeant like Walker makes around $2,500 per month, and Corley $4,500. Both hoped for $50,000 each and drugs from their “Los Zetas” connection.

Growing ties between U.S.-based gangs, which have long infiltrated the military, and the Mexican cartels could be making American soldiers even more readily available to the cartels south of the border. The FBI National Gang Intelligence Center reports its concern with gang members with military training poses a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of their distinctive weapons and combat training skills and ability to transfer these skills to fellow gang members. As of April 2011, the NGIC has identified members of at least 53 gangs whose members have served in or are affiliated with U.S. military.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Hispanic prison gangs along the Southwest border region are strengthening their ties with cartels to acquire wholesale quantities of drugs. There are also strong indications that in exchange for a consistent drug supply, gangs smuggle and distribute drugs, collect drug proceeds, launder money, smuggle weapons, commit kidnappings, and serve as lookouts and enforcers on behalf of the cartels, according to law enforcement sources.

The NDIC has also found that gang-related activity and violence has increased along the Southwest border region, as U.S.-based gangs seek to prove their worth to the drug cartels, compete with other gangs for favor, and act as U.S.-based enforcers for cartels which involves home invasions, robbery, kidnapping and murder.

Army officials have sought to address the issue of gang and cartel influence within their ranks with tighter recruiting standards. A spokesman told FoxNews.com that current recruiting efforts are much more stringent than even four years ago, and that anyone sporting a gang-related tattoo is no longer accepted for enlistment.

“A person like Michael Apodaca would not even be allowed to enlist today,” Army Maj. Joe Buccino, spokesman for the Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, told FoxNews.com. “We’re more selective than during the height of Iraq.”

Multnomah County: Mexican Drug Cartels Issue a Prescription of Death

A well known fact, most of the illicit drugs killing Oregonians are produced, manufactured and smuggled into the state by drug cartels operating out of Mexico.

On June 4th the Oregon Medical Examiner (OME) reported 223 deaths in 2012 were caused by the illicit drugs; the preceding number of drug deaths being third highest number since 2002. The types of drugs by the numbers that killed 223 of the state’s residents last year were 147 from heroin, 19 from cocaine, 93 from methamphetamine or 33 from a combination of the preceding drugs.

When it came to illicit drug related deaths in the state last year, according to the OME, Multnomah County had the dubious distention of leading all 36 Oregon counties with 103 illicit drug related deaths (80 heroin, 15 cocaine, 28 methamphetamine or 18 from a combination of drugs).

Putting these numbers into perspective, Multnomah County residents are approximately 19.05 percent of Oregon’s population of 3.83 million, yet the county experienced 46.13 percent of the states illicit drug deaths.

Not only last year, but over the last seven years Multnomah has led all Oregon counties in OME reported illicit drug related deaths by number and percentage:

- 2006 the county had 95 drug deaths (44.60 percent);
- 2007 the county had 101 drug deaths (47.64 percent);
- 2008 the county had 106 drug deaths (46.28 percent);
- 2009 the county had 94 drug deaths ( 44.13 percent);
- 2010 the county had 87 drug deaths (43.50 percent);
- 2011 the county had 119 drug deaths (49.58 percent);
- 2012 the county had 103 drug deaths (46.13 percent).

Totaling the preceding numbers from seven years of OME reports, Multnomah County had 705 of the 1,530 illicit drug related deaths recorded in the state; 46.08 percent of the states drug deaths.

Moving beyond the OME report’s body counts, a look at the current Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) prison population gives a picture of who is most likely dealing the drugs killing the state’s residents.

On May 1st in the DOC prison system there were 166 foreign nationals (prisoners with immigration detainers) incarcerated for drug crimes, 151 of those prisoners declared their country of origin being Mexico, that’s 91.00 percent of the foreign nationals in prison for drug crimes.

Locally, cases adjudicated in Multnomah County Circuit Courts have sent 46 Mexican nationals (30.46 percent of Mexicans convicted in the state for drug crimes) to serve time in DOC prisons.

A reasonable solution, to reduce future drug deaths, to keep the Mexican drug cartels in-check, to keep the drug cartels from easily distributing cartel drugs, drugs that are killing far too many of the county’s residents, Multnomah County’s elected officials, the county commissioners and sheriff, shouldn’t equivocate about providing the resources to enforce of the state’s drug laws.

Furthermore, the county commissioners and sheriff should put aside any pretense of political correctness about offending the county’s Hispanic community, many whom are undocumented residents, and fully cooperate with all federal law enforcement agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency, because the illicit drugs poisoning and killing the county’s residents don’t discriminate against any one communities race, religion, country of origin or immigration status.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com.

Source: Boehner Says No to Immigration Bill Without House GOP Support

House Speaker John Boehner appears to have put to rest rumors that he may break what is informally called the “Hastert Rule,” an unwritten guideline that a majority of the majority party should be needed to bring a bill to the House floor, in order to pass a version of amnesty like the “Gang of Eight” bill currently moving through the Senate.

A source with direct knowledge of these matters told Breitbart News that Boehner has decided to abide by the Hastert Rule in regards to immigration reform. “No immigration bill will be brought to the floor for a vote without a majority of the Republican conference in support,” the source told Breitbart News on Monday.

Around Washington, conservatives have worried that Boehner may back down from conservative principles on immigration and support the Gang of Eight bill. They fear he may rush the bill to the floor if the Senate passes it and try to move it through the House with a majority of Democratic votes.

Even though those rumors continue to fly, signs now indicate that Boehner will not break the Hastert Rule and will only bring a bill to the floor with the support of the majority of Republicans.

Reports from Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker and David Drucker at the Washington Examiner appear to support the idea that Boehner will not break with Republicans. It did take Rep. Steve King (R-IA) banding together more than 50 of his colleagues to call for a special GOP conference meeting on the topic, at which they expressed their dissatisfaction with the Senate bill and their hope that Boehner will stick to the Hastert Rule.

In addition to King’s efforts, conservative groups have circulated letters around Washington calling on the conference to formally codify the Hastert Rule into the House GOP conference rules so that it must be followed, instead of just being a guideline.

 

 


 

Border apprehensions wildly exaggerated in formula behind Senate bill, say critics

The 90 percent apprehension goal set by Senate and House bills seeking to rein in illegal immigration while establishing a path to citizenship for those crossing into the U.S. from Mexico is based on fuzzy math, according to critics.

The goal, which is supposed to give teeth to legislation some view as amnesty, would depend on a Department of Homeland Security formula for determining the success rate of catching illegal border crossers. That formula requires visual or physical evidence for determining someone got past the border patrol, evidence that simply isn’t left behind in most cases. The result, say critics, is a wildly exaggerated success rate for catching illegal border crossers.

“To calculate it, border patrol officers go out and look for physical evidence of crossings… you know, ‘I saw this person cross and I didn't get him.’ Or, ‘I saw footprints in the sand,’” John Whitley, an economist who analyzed such statistics while he served as the director of the DHS’s Program Analysis & Evaluation department under President Bush, told FoxNews.com.

The problem is that, no matter how hard border patrol officers try to find physical evidence of successful illegal crossings, they can’t find everything.

“We know that this method of calculation understates the number of successful crossings, because you're excluding anyone you don't have physical evidence for,” Whitley said.

Using that method, Department of Homeland Security data already indicate a border security effectiveness rate of 84 percent -- close to the 90 percent target.

Some congressmen are concerned about the numbers.

“To just look for footprints and have a guesstimate – that would be outrageous,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told FoxNews.com.

“We can't go along with a bill that says, ‘Hey, we have a 90 percent requirement for security’ – when there is no way to verify whether or not the 90 percent is accurate.”

In addition to not being accurate, the DHS methodology presents other problems, according to critics. For instance, an administration looking to artificially inflate the border effectiveness rate could simply call Border Patrol officers off from looking for signs of successful crossings and assign them to other tasks.

“There is no way we could trust this Department of Homeland Security to verify,” Gohmert said. “And there are independent sources that we could trust. We could have drones and other monitoring where we can find out exactly how many make it across without being apprehended.”

Other methods of estimating border crossings show a much lower apprehension rate.

“Survey data, recidivism data, and press reports about the Vader radar system all put it in the 50 percent range,” Whitley said, referring to the DHS’s new airborne Vader radar system which, during a test last winter in the Sonora Desert, indicated that the Border Patrol caught 1,874 people but missed 1,962 who successfully crossed.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

But groups that support more immigration said that border enforcement should not be a priority in the first place.

“Government obsession with the particulars of border enforcement metrics misses the point,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration analyst at the CATO institute. “We know from experience that increasing legal immigration opportunities, especially for lower-skilled guest workers, is the best way to eliminate unlawful immigration. Border Patrol should operate as a funnel to channel would-be unlawful immigrants into the legal market rather than an agency that separates willing workers from willing employers.”

Policy questions aside, the formula some say is flawed makes the pending Senate bill being touted by Marco Rubio R-Fla., and others problematic, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

“It doesn’t make sense if you’re allowing the Department of Homeland Security to judge themselves,” a GOP Senate staffer told FoxNews.com. “They can game the system, game the statistics, and then end up meeting the requirements.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he would introduce an amendment that would put Congress, not the DHS, in charge of making the determination about whether the border is 90 percent secure.

“My amendment requires Congress to vote every year on border security. If Congress votes that the border is not secure, elements of immigration reform will cease to go forward and visa programs will be slowed," Paul said in a press release.

As of now, the 90 percent goal remains only that, a goal – and the path to citizenship provisions for illegal aliens would be implemented even if the 90 percent target were not met. The only consequence of not meeting the target is the creation of a government committee that would issue a report with recommendations for meeting the target.

Gohmert says he does not want the bills to pass.

“Let's secure the border. And then we can get a deal worked out very, very quickly after that. But not until the border is secure.”

The writer of this piece can be reached at maxim.lott@foxnews.com or on twitter at @maximlott
 

Cartel towns pose challenge for immigration reform

Just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, stands a dormitory-style shelter filled with people recently deported from the U.S. and other migrants waiting to cross the border.

The long rows of bunk beds offer immigrants a place to rest on their long journey. But the shelter is no safe haven in a town controlled by the Gulf cartel. Armed men once showed up and took away 15 men, who were probably put to work as gunmen, lookouts or human mules hauling bales of marijuana into the United States.

As Congress takes up immigration reform, lawmakers may have to confront the reality of this place and others like it, where people say the current system of immigration enforcement and deportation produces a constant flow of people north and south that provides the cartel with a vulnerable labor pool and steady source of revenue.

"This vicious circle favors organized crime because the migrant is going to pay" for safe passage, said the Rev. Francisco Gallardo, who oversees immigrant-assistance efforts for the Matamoros Catholic diocese.

If Congress sends more resources to the border, the government will also need to account for shifting patterns in immigrant arrests.

The cartel controls who crosses the border and profits from each immigrant by taxing human smugglers. At the shelter, the cartel threat was so alarming that shelter administrators began encouraging immigrants to go into the streets during the day, thinking they would be harder to round up than at the shelter.

There have been record numbers of deportations in recent years and tens of thousands landed in Tamaulipas already this year, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo. Arizona is often singled out as the busiest border crossing for immigrants entering the U.S., but more and more migrants are being caught in the southernmost tip of Texas, in the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector.

Apprehension statistics are imperfect measures because they only capture a fraction of the real flow, but the arrest numbers are definitely shifting.

Arrests in the Tucson, Ariz., sector dropped 3 percent last year, while Rio Grande Valley arrests rose 65 percent. In March alone, the Border Patrol made more than 16,000 immigrant arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector, a 67 percent increase from the same month last year, according to the agency.

Immigrant deaths are also up. The sector reported last month that about 70 bodies were found in the first six months of the fiscal year, more than twice as many as the previous year.

The makeup of the immigrants apprehended here is changing, too, driven by people flowing out of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The Border Patrol made 94,532 arrests of non-Mexican immigrants along the Southwest border last year, more than double the year before. And nearly half of those came in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

The Border Patrol is responding by redirecting personnel, including sending most new graduates from its academy to the Rio Grande Valley, according to senior Border Patrol officials.

When immigrants from Central America and Mexico arrive in Matamoros ahead of their trip to America, they are met by smugglers who have to pay the cartel tax for every person they take across the border.

Attempts to cross alone are met with violence. Some immigrants are kidnapped and their families extorted by the organization.

Reported murders in Tamaulipas, the state that borders Texas from Matamoros to Nuevo Laredo, increased more than 250 percent in the past four years, according to the Mexican government. Official statistics are generally thought to undercount the real toll. Soldiers recently killed six gunmen in a clash in Matamoros.

And yet, even with the high-degree of danger for immigrants crossing this part of the border, they keep coming.

Central American migrants continue to use the route up the Gulf Coast side of Mexico and through Tamaulipas because it's the shortest to the U.S., said Rodolfo Casillas Ramirez, a professor at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Mexico City. The smugglers choose the route, and even if immigrants have heard about the violence in Tamaulipas, "they trust that the premium they've paid includes the right of passage," he said.

They continue to leave their home countries for economic reasons. Although the U.S. economy has provided fewer jobs for immigrants during the Great Recession and a long, slow recovery, opportunities south of the border have been even more limited, Casillas said.

That's why the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Roman Catholic priest who founded a shelter for immigrants in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, said the answer is in regional development, not increased border security.

"This situation has grown because ultimately the migrants are merchandise and organized crime profits in volume," he said during a recent visit to Matamoros.

Rep. Filemon Vela, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee whose district includes Brownsville, said the immigration-reform debate has so far left out discussion of the security and economic development in Mexico.

"The incentive for people to cross over illegally from Mexico will never subside until these individuals feel safe and until they are able to feed themselves and their families," Vela said.

At the 150-bed shelter, more than half of the immigrants have just been deported from the U.S., Gallardo said. The others are immigrants preparing to cross. He said shelter workers constantly chase out infiltrators who are paid by smugglers to recruit inside.

At Solalinde's shelter in southern Mexico, threats from organized crime forced them to bring in four state police officers and four federal ones, who have lived at his shelter for the past year as protection. Solalinde now travels with bodyguards after having fled Mexico for a couple of months last year following threats.

One immigrant at the Matamoros shelter was a 48-year-old man who would only give his name as "Gordo" because he feared for his safety. He said he had arrived two days earlier after traveling from Copan, Honduras. Gordo said he had lived in Los Angeles for 10 years but had been in Honduras for the past four. He was trying to make it back to California, where he has a 15-year-old daughter.

Asked about his prospects for successfully crossing the river, he said: "It's difficult, not so much for the Border Patrol" but for the cartels.
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Associated Press Writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

Judge lets Ariz. immigrant license policy stand

A judge on Thursday refused to halt Gov. Jan Brewer's order that denies driver's licenses for young immigrants in Arizona who have gotten work permits and avoided deportation under an Obama administration policy.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a request from immigrant rights advocates for a preliminary injunction and threw out one of their arguments, but their lawsuit remains alive as they pursue arguments that the young immigrants are suffering from unequal treatment.

Arizona's refusal to view those in President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as legal residents has become the most visible challenge to his announcement in June that some young immigrants would be protected from deportation. The Department of Homeland Security has said immigrants with work permits issued under the policy are lawfully present in the U.S.

Campbell rejected the argument by immigrant rights advocates who said Brewer's policy was unconstitutional because it's trumped by federal law.

"This portion of the ruling is not only a victory for the state of Arizona _ it is a victory for states' rights, the rule of law and the bedrock principles that guide our nation's legislative process and the division of power between the federal government and states," Brewer said in a statement.

But the judge said the immigrant rights advocates are likely to succeed in arguing that the state lets some immigrants with work permits get driver's licenses but won't let immigrants protected under Obama's program have the same benefit.

Cecillia Wang, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups representing the immigrants, said those who challenged Brewer's policy will examine their options in court for protecting the young immigrants.

"It's keeping people out on a limb," Wang said of the ruling.

Last summer, the Obama administration took administrative steps to shield thousands of immigrants from deportation. Applicants for the deferment program must have come to the U.S. before they turned 16, be younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, be in school or have graduated from high school or GED program, or have served in the military. They also were allowed to apply for a two-year renewable work permit.

Arizona's policy allows anyone with lawful immigration status to get a driver's license, and more than 500 immigrants with work permits have obtained Arizona driver's licenses in recent years. But Arizona officials have said they don't want to extend driver's licenses to those in the new program because they don't believe the youths will be able to stay in the country legally.

Brewer's lawyers argued that Obama's policy isn't federal law and the state has the authority to distinguish between immigrants with work permits who are on the path toward permanent residency and those benefiting from Obama's policy. The state's lawyers argued Arizona isn't violating its own policy by refusing to grant licenses to the immigrants in the program, because the youths haven't been granted legal protections by Congress.

Immigrant rights advocates filed their lawsuit in November on behalf of five young-adult immigrants who were brought to the U.S. from Mexico as children. They were granted deferred-deportation protections under the Obama administration's policy but were denied driver's licenses in Arizona.

The lawsuit said Brewer's policy makes it difficult or impossible for such young immigrants to do essential things in their everyday life, such as going to school, going to the grocery store, and finding and holding down a job.

A similar lawsuit was filed in Michigan after officials there initially decided to deny young immigrants licenses, but the case was dropped when the state changed its policy last month. At least 38 states have agreed to give driver's licenses to immigrants benefiting from the Obama policy, but Nebraska and Ohio officials have also balked.

Brewer has clashed with the Obama administration in the past over illegal immigration, most notably in the challenge that the federal government filed in a bid to invalidate Arizona's 2010 immigration law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law's most contentious section, but threw out other sections.

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