illegal immigration

OFIR President attends National Sheriff's Border School and Tour

El Paso, Texas hosted the Border School event that brought 60 Sheriff's from across the country to learn "What happens on the border, doesn't stay on the border".  Two sheriff's from Oregon attended.  OFIR salutes Morrow County Sheriff Kenneth Matlack and Multnomah County Under Sheriff Tim Morrow. 

Photos posted in the OFIR photo gallery. Read more about OFIR President attends National Sheriff's Border School and Tour

Illegal migrants across U.S. taking protests to defiant new level

A growing number of undocumented immigrants in Arizona and other states are taking immigration protests to a new extreme, staging acts of civil disobedience by deliberately getting arrested in order to be turned over to federal immigration officials.

Often wearing T-shirts declaring themselves "undocumented and unafraid," the protesters have sat down in streets and blocked traffic, or occupied buildings in several cities including Phoenix and Tucson.

Dozens of protesters have been arrested, but in almost every case, federal immigration officers have declined to deport those in the country illegally. Protesters say they are planning more acts of civil disobedience, including possibly in Phoenix.

The acts are intended to openly defy stepped-up immigration enforcement that has led to record deportations over the past three years.

In Arizona, protesters are focused now on enforcement of a portion of the state's Senate Bill 1070 immigration law.

By getting arrested, immigrants say they are making a point: Illegal immigrants who are part of this country shouldn't have to live in fear of being deported and deserve to live here legally. They also think immigration authorities are less likely to deport illegal immigrants arrested in public because the government doesn't want the negative attention.

"Honestly, I can tell you I have never felt as free as when I was sitting in the middle of the street and when I was chanting 'undocumented and unafraid,' " said Daniela Cruz, 21. She is one of six undocumented immigrants arrested in March after blocking an intersection in front of Trevor G. Browne High School in west Phoenix.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say unwanted publicity has nothing to with the agency's decision not to take action against the protesters. In most cases, the agency has issued statements saying the protesters simply did not meet the agency's priorities of deporting criminals, recent border crossers and egregious immigration violators.

Still, undocumented immigrants could be taking a chance if getting arrested leads to a criminal record that could prevent them from gaining legal status in the the future.

Frustration spurs action

The rise of civil disobedience shows how some immigrant groups are turning to more-extreme measures out of frustration that the marches, work stoppages, voter drives and boycotts of the past have not worked. Reforms that include a proposed legalization program for millions of undocumented immigrants have not passed Congress, and deportations keep going up.

Last fiscal year, ICE deported a record of nearly 397,000 immigrants. ICE is on a pace to deport as many or more this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Comprehensive immigration reform likely won't be addressed again until next year at the earliest.

"Immigration reform has been on the national agenda for more than 10 years with no progress, and so, I think that is one of the reasons we are seeing an uptick in the level of civil disobedience," said Chris Newman, legal-programs director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an advocacy group in Los Angeles that has worked with groups that engage in civil disobedience.

Carlos Vélez-Ibánez, director of Arizona State University's School of Transborder Studies, said the rise in civil disobedience is the result of a new crop of leaders who are inspired by some of the tactics of the civil- rights and Chicano movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

"In this case, people are putting themselves in harm's way to make the point of the unfairness of these laws," Vélez-Ibánez said.

Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that supports tough immigration enforcement, doesn't think civil disobedience now will sway public opinion to the degree that the civil-rights movement did.

"It's not clear to most Americans that this is analogous to the civil-rights movement," Camarota said. "In the civil-rights movement, you had American citizens demanding equality. In this case, you have people who aren't supposed to be in the country demanding the rights of citizens, and to most Americans, or at least a large fraction, that is not roughly the same thing."

Groups use e-mail, social media

Groups such as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, Dream Activist and Puente Arizona, which is based in Phoenix, are only a few years old or less. But they have quickly built national followings through the use of websites, Facebook, e-mail blasts, Twitter and YouTube videos to promote civil disobedience. They also attempt to rally public support for individual cases of undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

Jonathan Perez, 25, a member of National Immigrant Youth Alliance, said he has seen an evolution in the undocumented-immigrant movement.

"Two or three years ago, people wouldn't come out. They were even afraid to be on camera," said Perez, an undocumented immigrant from Colombia who lives in Los Angeles.

Then, growing numbers of undocumented students known as "dreamers" began appearing on television and in front of Congress to tell their stories in hopes of generating support for the Dream Act, a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship if they attended college or joined the military.

The turning point came in May 2010, when a group of protesters dressed in caps and gowns staged a sit-in at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain, Perez said. Among the four protesters arrested were three who were in the country illegally. It was the first time students had deliberately gotten arrested and risked deportation in an act of civil disobedience, according to Perez and other activists familiar with the incident.

Protests heat up

Since then, civil disobedience in Arizona and around the country has steadily increased.

Among the most recent examples:

On July 24, four undocumented immigrants were arrested after stopping traffic at an intersection outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix. They were protesting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tough stance against illegal immigrants on the same day he was at the courthouse defending himself against a racial-profiling lawsuit accusing his office of targeting Latinos to search for illegal immigrants.

On Sept. 4, 10 undocumented immigrants, including three from Arizona, were arrested when they blocked a busy intersection in downtown Charlotte, N.C., on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. The protesters said they wanted to push President Barack Obama to legalize illegal immigrants instead of deporting them.

On Sept. 7, four undocumented immigrants and two supporters were arrested while blocking traffic in Los Angeles. They were trying to pressure Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to stop working with federal immigration authorities to identify and arrest illegal immigrants.

More civil disobedience may now be on the way. Local police are about to begin enforcing the so-called "show me your papers" provision of SB 1070 following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that rejected an argument that the provision is unconstitutional.

That provision requires police officers to check the legal status of a person stopped or arrested under certain conditions during investigations or traffic stops.

To protest the law, organizers from Puente Arizona say they are considering civil disobedience, including getting arrested by blocking streets.

"It's empowering," said Carlos Garcia, director of Puente Arizona. "But what it really comes down to is challenging the law itself and us being able to tell the stories of undocumented people and why they are risking everything."

In July, Puente created a Facebook page to drum up support for the "UndocuBus." About two dozen undocumented immigrants rode the 1970s-era passenger bus on a six-week trip across the country that began in Phoenix and ended in Charlotte. Along the way, the bus, painted bright turquoise with butterflies and the slogan "No papers no fear" on the sides, made stops in 15 cities, including Knoxville, Tenn.

In that city four of about 50 protesters blocking a city street were arrested on Aug. 28. They were protesting the local sheriff's participation in a federal program that gives local police the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

The UndocuBus' trip culminated with a protest that blocked an intersection near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Among the 10 people arrested there was Phoenix resident and UndocuBus rider Gerardo Torres, 41, an undocumented immigrant from Aguas Calientes, Mexico.

Torres, a handyman, said it wasn't until the night before, during a meeting at a local church, that he decided to get arrested.

"I wanted to prove the point to the (undocumented) community that when we are together and we are united, we have a lot of power," said Torres, who said he has been living in the country illegally since 1993, when his six-month tourist visa expired.

Torres conceded, however, that he knew the chances of being put into deportation proceedings were slim because he has no criminal record.

Since June 2011, ICE has revamped its deportation priorities to focus more attention on removing illegal immigrants with criminal records instead of those with clean records and strong community and family ties.

After spending about 10 hours in jail, Torres was released. ICE declined to pursue deportation against the 10 protesters.

ICE officials declined to be interviewed.

In a written statement, Amber Cargile, an ICE spokeswoman in Phoenix, said the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinions."

"We recognize that our nation's broken immigration system requires serious solutions, and we continue to work with Congress to enact reform," Cargile said.

Since the acts of civil disobedience started, immigrant groups say, ICE has taken deportation action against only one protester, Miguel Guerra-Montana, 35. The Phoenix resident is one of four undocumented immigrants arrested after they sat down and blocked an intersection in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix.

In the statement, Cargile said ICE issued Guerra-Montana a notice to appear before an immigration judge and released him on bond after a federal database check revealed he had entered the country in January 2002 on a visitor's visa but failed to leave after the visa expired.

"ICE uses discretion on a case-by-case basis, taking enforcement action based on the merits of an individual's case and a comprehensive review of specific facts," Cargile said. An immigration judge will decide whether Guerra-Montana should be deported.

Guerra-Montana said he wanted to be placed in deportation proceedings. That would give him the chance to ask an immigration judge to let him remain in the U.S. legally. He has hired a lawyer and plans to argue that he should be allowed to stay because he has lived in this country for more than 10 years and two of this three children were born here.

He sees that as a better alternative than being stopped by police and turned over to ICE.

"I did this because I was tired of always having to hide," he said.

Although ICE has not pursued deportation against most of the protesters, they are still taking a chance by getting arrested.

In September, Cruz, the undocumented immigrant arrested in March for blocking the intersection at Trevor G. Browne High School, went to court to fight two misdemeanor charges. A judge found Cruz guilty of the two charges. Now, she has a criminal record.

Cruz said she doesn't know if her record will hurt her chances of applying for any future legalization program or for President Barack Obama's deferred-action program, which lets young undocumented immigrants apply to stay and work temporarily in the U.S. without the threat of deportation. The guidelines for applying rule out undocumented immigrants convicted of felonies, serious misdemeanors or three or more misdemeanors. Department of Homeland Security officials have said applicants for deferred action with records of disobedience will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

But Cruz has no regrets.

"To me, even after I was found guilty, it was more than 100 percent worth it," she said. "We showed our community that once we come out, we are a lot safer."
  Read more about Illegal migrants across U.S. taking protests to defiant new level

Two Woodburn men arrested for organized theft crime

A three-month long investigation lead to the arrest of two Woodburn men accused of buying and reselling stolen property.

Woodburn Police Capt. Jason Alexander said that Mario Paniagua, 35, and Adolfo Zarate Cabrera, 33, would send men to steal things from other stores and then resell the items in La Tienda Mexicana La Azteca, 153 Grant St.

Police served a search warrant at the store and a residence at 12549 McKee School Road, where they seized a significant amount of stolen property, police said.

The two are charged with racketeering, money laundering and attempted first-degree theft.

Police began an investigation in June when a person was arrested at a Fred Meyer for shoplifting, and gave information about La Tienda Mexicana La Azteca purchasing stolen goods.

Fred Meyer's Organized Retail Crime Section and Canby Police Department assisted in the case.

If anyone has information in the case, they are asked to contact Detective Aaron Devoe at 503-982-2345. Read more about Two Woodburn men arrested for organized theft crime

Supporters, opponents of rule affecting non-citizens speak out

Testimony on a provision banning non-citizens from serving as the City of Keizer’s youth councilor ranged from blasting the group for lost opportunities to support for the rule of law.

A work session Monday night at the Keizer Civic Center drew more than 50 people for what might ordinarily be a little-discussed topic: Rules and procedures for the city council.

Of course, this was no ordinary meeting: It was held at the behest of CAUSA, an immigrant rights group who requested to speak with Mayor Lore Christopher.

Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA, questioned the timing of the decision: It came the same night Hugo Nicolas, a former Keizer youth councilor, received an award from the City of Salem and within days of speaking to numerous media outlets about his status as an illegal immigrant.

Lopez also asked how it would be enforced.

“How are you going to make a determination? Based on the color of skin? Or their last name?” Lopez said.

The council’s supporters came back to one theme: The rule of law, and whether allowing students whose parents brought them to the country illegally bends those laws too far.

State Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer, compared the situation to relatives who own land in another part of the state and live there part-time.

“They could contribute to their community all day long and they couldn’t run for city council because they don’t live there full-time,” Thatcher said. “There just has to be lines that are drawn (and) what you’re drawing is sensible.”

Nicolas himself addressed the council, saying he felt shame as he came to the Keizer Civic Center to volunteer as a police cadet or in the youth council role, then go home to a crowded house, with relatives sleeping in the garage.

“Here in Keizer and around the country we share a city, but not a community,” Nicolas said. “… We learn to only share a common fear.”

Councilor David McKane said earlier in the meeting the revised council rules had been in the works for about a year, and that the changes were not associated with Nicolas personally.

“It has nothing to do with you and people that say that should be ashamed,” McKane said.

Peter Dane testified that rules should maintain accountability for parents to follow the law for the sake of their children.

“To keep demanding more loopholes in the law … is selfish and egregious,” Dane said.

Dennis Koho, a former mayor who is unopposed in his candidacy for city council, said a system shouldn’t penalize children for their parents’ decision as of where to live.

“We can best help those future leaders by being inclusive rather than saying we’re only going to take a look at a certain type of young person,” Koho said.

Eduardo Angulo, chairman and executive director of the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality, said volunteer opportunities for immigrant children help bolster the area, comparing it favorably to troubled neighborhoods in southern California and New York City.

“You’re excluding a great deal of the population of Latino youth … who could be part of the solution,” Angulo said.’

Judy DeSpain said Nicolas was a victim of his parents’ lawlessness.

“Illegal immigrants cannot have the same rights as U.S. citizens,” DeSpain said. “To do so means our laws and citizenship are meaningless for all.” Read more about Supporters, opponents of rule affecting non-citizens speak out

OFIR President to give Border Tour presentation in Eugene

Alert date: 
September 11, 2012
Alert body: 

If you missed the OFIR meeting in May, please join Lane912 and others, this Tuesday, September 11th at 6:00pm to watch this disturbing presentation showing what is really happening on our southern border.  OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll participated in a private, behind the scenes tour of the Arizona-Mexico Border, travelling and talking with experts in Law Enforcement, the environment and more.

Admission is free.  Your participation is welcome.  Eugene IZZY's Restaurant at 950 Seneca Rd. in Eugene.

Police arrest home robbery suspect in Welches

Clackamas County sheriff's deputies are starting to unravel a bizarre robbery spree in Welches.

Saturday they arrested 20-year-old Sergio Cruz-Hernandez for robbing a home on East Twinberry Loop early that morning. Neighbors say the homeowner was stabbed twice during the robbery and was taken to Emanuel Hospital to recover.

Jeff Harum said he woke up to screaming around 4 a.m. as his neighbor's wife came running down the street pleading for help.

"She was yelling 'they've come back. They're back again. They have my husband,'" Harum said.

The same house had been burglarized the week before. The volunteer firefighter who lives there awoke to a man standing in his room. Although the intruder had a gun and demanded cash, the homeowner was able to convince him to leave empty handed.

Harum believes the same man came back this weekend.

"This is insane for the same guy to come and hit the same house twice," Harum said.

Saturday the intruder was armed with a knife. Harum said his neighbor was taken to the hospital with two stab wounds.

"We're all pretty tight here, and we realize we kind of (have) to police ourselves and keep an eye on it," Harum said.

The scare was the second call deputies responded to that morning, according to a sergeant on the scene.

Just two blocks away, Victor Ruiz said a man broke into his trailer and tried to molest his 16-year-old sister while she was sleeping.

"She was screaming and then she ran into my room and said somebody was in her room," Ruiz said.

When he tried to run after the intruder, Ruiz said he couldn't find anyone.

Later Saturday, deputies took Cruz-Hernandez into custody and charged him with first-degree robbery. He was booked in the Clackamas County Jail. Deputies plan to press more charges after further investigation, according to reports.
  Read more about Police arrest home robbery suspect in Welches

OFIR VP published in Washington Times

Rick LaMountain is a talented writer often published in The Oregonian.  LaMountain has a gift for making a clear point and did just that, in a well sourced commentary about unions and their involvement in illegal immigration issues. Read more about OFIR VP published in Washington Times

Friday, September 7, 5th Congressional District Debate

Alert date: 
September 5, 2012
Alert body: 

-Election 2012-

5th Congressional District Debate:   Lugo, Schrader and Thompson

Salem City Club is pleased to host a debate between the three candidates seeking to represent Oregon's 5th congressional district in U.S. House of Representatives. Join us on Friday, September 7 at noon when we open our 45th season with this dynamic program. Congressional District 5 encompasses Tillamook, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, and Clackamas counties, rural, metro, coastal, and suburban neighborhoods.

For more information please visit the Salem City club website.

NOTE:  Incumbent Kurt Schrader has a D grade on immigration issues according to NumbersUSA.  Oregon deserves better!

The U.S. Attorney's Office has closed its long-running, abuse-of-power investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Alert date: 
August 31, 2012
Alert body: 

The Feds have shut down an ongoing criminal investigation of Sheriff Arpaio.  No charges will be filed. 

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have conducted a personal vendetta against the Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the State of Arizona because of their willingness to enforce laws against illegal immigration. The battle has often been front-page news.

On Friday, a day when politicians are prone to release unfavorable news, the Justice Department quietly announced that they are dropping the criminal investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for alleged abuse-of-power charges. Unfavorable news for the Justice Department is good news for American citizens.Read the full story.

 

Feds shut down criminal investigation of Arpaio; no charges to be filed

In a 5 p.m. Friday news release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the United States Department of Justice, announced her office "is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Federal prosecutors have advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of the decision.

In a four-page letter to Montgomery, Scheel explained the reasoning for the decision.

Federal prosecutors decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters. The U.S. Attorney's Office had already made public it would not pursue charges on those matters.

Scheel wrote that the agency declined to initiate any state criminal charges arising from its broader appointment to pursue state charges that may have come up in connection with the federal investigation. Several federal attorneys had been deputized to handle state crimes arising from the investigation.

"Law enforcement officials are rightfully afforded a wide swath of discretion in deciding how to conduct investigations and prosecutions," she wrote. "Unfortunately, such discretion can act as a double-edged sword: although it empowers fair-minded prosecutors and investigators to discharge their duties effectively, it also affords potential for abuse. Our limited role is to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes."

Scheel wrote that federal prosecutors reached the same conclusion on potential federal criminal violations, specifically related to the allegations involving retired Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe. Attorneys considered whether former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon committed perjury in causing a complaint to be filed to avoid a court hearing, and whether their pursuit of criminal charges amounted to a violation of federal criminal civil rights laws.

Scheel wrote that the agency was mindful that a disciplinary panel had concluded Thomas, Aubuchon, Hendershott and Arpaio conspired in a criminal manner to violate Donahoe's civil rights. "However, our obligation is different from the State Bar disciplinary panel, under its rules and burdens of proof, has reached certain conclusions about the conduct of Thomas and Aubuchon," she wrote. "We must weigh the evidence and law under the far heavier burden associated with criminal prosecution. Based on this review, we have concluded that allegations of criminal misconduct under federal statutes are not prosecutable."

She wrote it was "not enough to show that Judge Donahoe was subjected to conduct that was abusive or even unconstitutional. While Judge Donahoe suffered severe turmoil resulting from the criminal charges, as evidenced by the record in the Bar proceedings, we don't believe there is sufficient evidence to meet our burden that he suffered the sort of complete job depreciation contemplated by existing precedent."

"I'm just pissed," said Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek. "If (former Deputy County Attorney) Lisa Aubuchon and (former Sheriff's Chief Deputy) David Hendershott are not prosecuted for perjury, then this is all about politics. This is about a Justice Department that is afraid to do their jobs."

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, one of those who has sued Arpaio alleging she was improperly investigated, said she was shocked when contacted by The Republic. "I can't imagine why they would do that when there's so much evidence there, particularly from the Thomas case and all the testimony that came out. I just am floored," Wilcox said.

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre commended federal prosecutors for their handling of the investigation that began in 2008. MacIntyre also said the U.S. Attorney's Office recognized that many of the allegations related to the anti-corruption enforcement unit Arpaio started with former County Attorney Andrew Thomas were handled in the State Bar proceeding that resulted in Thomas being stripped of his license.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office and its investigators recognized what Sheriff's Office has said all along: we did not make any prosecutorial decisions, even through things were referred to the then-county attorney," MacIntyre said. "The sheriff and the Sheriff's Office commend the U.S. Attorney's office for having the honesty, the integrity and the strength of character to make the statement that they do today: clearing this office and dispelling the shadow that's been lingering over it for over three years."

Thomas, a onetime Arpaio ally, was disbarred earlier this year. During the disbarment proceedings, testimony was given that Arpaio or his subordinates had abused the power the office. The investigation began in December 2008.

Bill Solomon, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said he could not comment any further on the agency's decision. He said the agency would not immediately release records pertaining to the closed investigations. Read more about Feds shut down criminal investigation of Arpaio; no charges to be filed

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - illegal immigration