Tag Archives: border surge

More Border Surge Realities

ef6ca-shrp2Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron offered up even more strong evidence regarding the lack of a need for Rick Perry’s Border Surge. Long story short:  The image provided by Rick Perry and other politicians about violence on the border doesn’t match up to crime stats.

The statistics also inject hard numbers into a debate that has been raging since a spike in unaccompanied children crossing the border captivated public attention last spring. The spike started subsiding before the surge and continued to trend downward, leading Republicans and Democrats to argue about the role the extra troops played.

Republicans also have said the surge was needed to combat crime brought by foreign gangs and drugs, while Democrats have questioned the value of the more than $100 million price tag for a region they described as safe.

State officials have largely used anecdotes to illustrate how the surge has succeeded in combating organized crime. A classified report to lawmakers obtained by the Chronicle in February listed examples of encounters with cartel members, immigrant “stash houses” and more, but it lacked detailed data.

The numbers DPS has released have mixed state efforts with federal and local law enforcement and concerned illegal immigrant apprehensions, drug seizures and interactions with gang members, which do not speak to overall crime rates.

Surely, the waste of tax dollars at the hands of Republicans should speak volumes as to future political implications, whether they affect Rick Perry’s presidential bid, or the future of Abbott, Patrick, and the rest of these alarmist Republicans who will blame immigrants for just about any problem caused by Republicans. Unfortunately, when top-of-the-ballot Democrats attempt (miserably) to co-opt the issue for their own political gain, it’s hard to participate in the usual point-and-blame game Dems usually play against Republicans.

Of course, there are those Dems who seem to do it correctly.

“DPS has been unwilling to release this information, and now we know why,” said state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston. “These numbers show that what our Republican leaders have been telling us has not been true.”

Of course, we need solutions; in this case, to stop the waste of our tax dollars on political war games that make for great campaign photo ops. Unfortunately, that takes ejecting the current people in positions of power. It is said that voting matters, but it takes strong, progressive-minded politicians who are willing to fight for what is right to earn those votes.

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Obama: I’ll See Your Surge

While the Republicans in DC are talking and talking and talking about immigration, it is President Obama who has called for a border surge. I guess he didn’t want to get outdone by Rick Perry’s $1.3 million per week surge. But this whole game of “quien es mas anti-immigrant” is enough to make one ill–and quite cynical about the offerings of both political parties. The “surge” part is mostly about judges to speed up deportations, since the Border Patrol seems to be catching all these kids; although, Republicans blame Obama’s DACA for the surge, which is a bunch of BS, but great stuff for the TV talking heads.

As children from Central America keep pouring across the nation’s southwest border, the Obama administration announced Friday that it will respond with a “surge” of immigration judges and U.S. attorneys to speed up the deportation of some undocumented immigrants.

The other part of the “surge,” basically, has the President throwing money to Central American countries considered “friendly,” yet whose problems have long been simmering and cause for the influx of these Central American children.

• A $9.6 million grant to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to build and improve their “repatriation centers,” where deported immigrants are received after they’ve been flown back home.

• The creation of a $40 million program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to improve citizen security in Guatemala. Administration officials say the violence in Central America is one of the main reasons so many kids are racing to the U.S.

• A new $25 million USAID program to curb violence in El Salvador.

• An $18.5 million grant to Honduras to help community policing and gang-prevention programs there.

That first dot means that kids and their parents will be deported. The grant programs mean that as long as these countries’ leaders stay in place and do as told by the U.S., they’ll keep getting these dollars. Or, at least that’s how “aid” money is usually doled out. How effective this cash will be is up in the air, obviously.

Elise Foley at HuffPost has more information on the “surge,” which includes opening more “family” prisons, like that God-awful one in Taylor, TX.

Family detention of undocumented immigrants was widely criticized when it was used more commonly. The T. Don Hutto facility in Texas hosted families and wasdescribed in 2007 as prison-like, with few services like education or recreation for children. The government announced in 2009 that families will no longer be housed there.

Immigrant advocates argue that the government should not detain families, and instead should use alternatives to detention, until their deportation cases are settled.

“It’s a real step backwards for immigration policy,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which advocates for alternatives to detention. “Detention should always be used as a last option … the harm that comes from children from being detained is well-documented, and if we don’t have to do this, we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Just because Dubya Bush isn’t running ICE doesn’t make these new concentration camps, I mean “family” centers, kinder and gentler.

It is safe to say that as we move toward November, 2014, both political parties are in a political crisis when it comes to immigration reform and Latin American affairs. It doesn’t help for 2016, either.

 

 

 

3rd Centavo: Guerra ~ S.744 Will Worsen Immigrant Situation

by Dr. Rey Guerra

The national mainstream media has been bringing a lot of attention to the United States Senate’s version of a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill (Officially: S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). Here locally, a delegation of 5 congresspersons held a townhall meeting that I’m not sure adequately characterized the content of the bill or Houstonians’ attitude toward the bill. Although it’s refreshing to see CIR being covered in the mainstream media and by our local leaders, there’s a whole lot that’s not being discussed…like what’s actually in the bill.

What’s missing from the mainstream coverage is an analytical breakdown of the bill’s content. I say ‘mainstream’ because the analytical breakdown very much exists, it’s just not being discussed and/or being used as a basis for supporting or not supporting the bill.

From a moral, humane, or civil rights perspective, it’s an easy case to make that the bill will put everybody, including current US citizens, in a worse position.

From a political perspective, I’m not sure that there is reason for Republicans or Democrats to support the bill, or, I don’t see there being a sound analytical reason for either party to support it; not if each is basing their support on true party principles.

The following is my take on why the bill is so damaging. I downloaded a .pdf version of the bill that is 1198 pages long. Reading the entire bill is kind of daunting, and the painful badness of the bill is replete, so I’m breaking the piece up into several part in hope that light can be brought onto its darkness.

Part I: The Border Trigger

Although many estimates are higher, it seems the general consensus is that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. When all is said and done, “triggers” associated with the bill could result in as little as 2 million undocumented immigrants and as many as 6 million qualifying to become legal US residents (2 million under DREAM and AgJobs provisions). According to analysis from Peter Schey of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, of the remaining 9 million, as many as half would be left in limbo–either deported, pushed back into hiding, and most certainly in a worst socioeconomic state than they are in now. Schey later describes a grim scenario, that the triggers are set up in such a way that 20 years from now, it is very plausible that nobody will have benefited from the bill.

Of all of the onerous triggers, the one that is the most ambiguous, and the easiest to deny all that apply, is the border security trigger. The bill states that the DHS Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens until

  • a comprehensive border security strategy has been submitted to Congress and is substantially deployed and substantially operational. Substantially in this case is 90% effective. Note that the bill does not allow the border security strategy to even be defined by a commission any SOONER than 5 years after the enactment of the bill.
  • a southern border fencing strategy has been submitted to Congress, implemented, and is substantially completed. Substantially in this case is at least 700 miles of fencing, but may be more, at the discretion of Secretary.

Again, an issue here is that a commission to recommend a border security strategy can’t even issue recommendations on how to secure the border until 5 years after the bill is enacted.

Also, even after the report is issued, it is quite possible that a 90% effectiveness may not be achieved for 10 or 20 years or EVER…and remember, under this bill, no immigrant can achieve legal status until 90% effectiveness is achieved.

The ‘‘effectiveness rate’’ is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries during such fiscal year. Analysis done by professors at UC San Diego suggest that the DHS does not currently collect the data to measure effectiveness, nor does it know how in the way that the bill requires. They also suggest that the difficulties involved in meeting the 90% border enforcement may be so formidable that the entire legalization program may be rendered moot.

With respect to the fence, no empirical evidence exists, anywhere, that suggests that building a fence slows, let alone stops, immigration rates. Immigrants are leaving a country and family that they love just as much as you and I love our family. If your wife and your children’s survival depends on your getting on the other side of a fence, I imagine that you will find a way to get over that fence.

The Border Trigger is bad, very bad, but it’s only one of many mechanisms in S.744 that will, by design, keep the vast majority of undocumented immigrants from achieving legal status and create a large sub-class; a sub-class of families and workers that can’t vote, are exploited for their labor, are discriminated against because of their being in a ‘legal’ pergatory, and can’t leave for fear of becoming ineligible to one-day, perhaps in several decades, become ‘legal.’

In Part II, I’ll get into the remaining triggers.

Dr. Rey Guerra is an engineer in the renewable energy field and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Civic Coalition, a group dedicated to resolving social, economic, and civic issues through education, training, and advocacy.

3rd Centavo is an opportunity for guest bloggers to sound-off (with a progressive bent) on various issues.