Monday, April 30, 2007

Tancredo support in N.H. shifts by 50 percent!

But in the wrong direction.

The latest Zogby Poll for likely Republican New Hampshire primary voters has seen Tom Tancredo's support drop by 50 percent in the last three months: from a meager 2% in January to a humiliating last-place finish of 1% in April.

At this rate, Tancredo will soon be in negative numbers.

Tancredo trails Huckabee, Paul, Hunter: every last one of 'em. And that's with Pat Buchanan's sister Bay feverishly working on Tom's behalf, trying to re-create some of that 1992 Pat Buchanan "culture war" magic.

Heck, non-candidate Fred Thompson - whose only claim to fame since 2002 is that he plays a fine, baritone-voiced prosecutor on "CSI" - has six times Tancredo's support.

Sorry, all you Tancredo supporters out there who so feverishly email me, assuring me that Tancredo is going to roll to victory in 2008. Ain't gonna happen. Save your money.


What I don't understand is how the anti-Hispanic crowd can continue to tell us that 95% of Americans are in support of Tom Tancredo when he only has 1% of the vote and is in last place. Hrmmm... Go figure..

Willmar Immigration Raids Result in Mass Lawsuits

News story about Willmar, MN raid and resulting lawsuit by over 60 plaintiffs, confirming ICE agents had no warrants to enter homes. Apparently, after a community meeting gave advice to immigrants not to open doors, ICE was not able to arrest anyone else and discontinued the raids.

Twin Cities Daily Planet: Local News For Global Citizens
By Katrina Plotz , Pulse of the Twin Cities

Maria Diaz’s cell phone woke her up at 6 a.m. on April 10. “They’re raiding houses. They just took my cousin away,” said a frantic voice. Her phone didn’t stop ringing all day. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were conducting house-to-house raids in Willmar at dawn and people were terrified. Located 100 miles west of the Twin Cities, this town of 19,000 boasts 35 different ethnicities. Racial minorities account for 20 percent of the population. Many are immigrants who have a positive relationship with the community and contribute $80 million to the economy, according to MSNBC.

Diaz, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Mexico, has lived in Willmar for 14 years and is a community organizer for Raíces, a project focused on building community and overcoming poverty among rural Latinos. Raíces, which means roots in Spanish, refers to the deep roots that connect Latinos to their families, history and culture. Because of her community work, Diaz knows nearly all the Latinos in Willmar. When ICE agents started hauling people away, she was their first call for help.

Their stories were chilling and similar. Callers described being woken up by loud pounding on their doors and windows. When they opened the door, seven to 10 armed men calling themselves police forced their way inside. They asked for specific people, but demanded identification from every person of color in the house. White people inside were not treated this way. Undocumented individuals were handcuffed and taken away before they could even get dressed. Some were arrested wearing only boxer shorts.

ICE agents conducting the raids acted without warrants, and received information and logistical support from Willmar police. An ICE spokesman said the warrantless raids were legal because “agents were given permission to enter the homes.” According to Diaz, the agents used force and intimidation to gain entry. “They separated people immediately and were very rough. They yelled and used profanity. All the Latinos in Willmar were scared, even the U.S. citizens.”

As raids continued the following day, several families went into hiding. Some fled to other states. ICE agents also confronted Latinos on the street. Diaz said a friend of hers was pulled over for no apparent reason. When she asked why, an agent said, “Are you afraid? Do you have something to hide?” After her driver’s license proved she was a U.S. citizen, he sneered, “Is this yours or someone else’s?” Diaz said several people were questioned simply because they were Latino.

After three days of raids and harassment, local activists organized a community meeting with the help of attorneys from Centro Legal, a Twin Cities-based agency serving mostly Latino immigrants. They gathered in a church on Thursday night and 150 people attended. The attorneys emphasized the following rights: Law enforcement agents cannot legally enter homes without a search or arrest warrant. If apprehended, people have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

Informing people of their rights made an immediate impact. ICE agents arrested only three people on Friday. A woman who attended the meeting called Diaz the next day, exhilarated. “When they came, we didn’t answer the door,” she said. “They pounded for a long time. We were so scared, but we ignored them and they left.” In all, 49 people were arrested, processed at the ICE regional office in Bloomington and jailed. Five people have already been deported.

According to Travis Thompson, an attorney for Centro Legal, “an incredible number of lawful permanent residents were also detained and let go.” He called the raids “home invasions,” and posed this question: “If ICE had probable cause to suspect certain people, why didn’t they get arrest warrants? They could have also obtained administrative warrants, the category an immigration violation usually falls under, where the burden of proof is much less. But they had neither.”

Centro Legal has filed a lawsuit against ICE on behalf of over 60 plaintiffs, and has obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent more deportations until Thursday, April 26, when they will explain their case to a judge. “Our affidavits indicate that Fourth Amendment violations took place, as well as violations of people’s right to due process, legal counsel and equal protection,” said Thompson. “Law enforcement agents cannot break the law to achieve their ends.”

On Sunday, April 15, 200 people held a candlelight vigil outside the Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul where many immigrants are still being detained. Organized in less than 48 hours by the MN Immigrant Rights Action (MIRA) Coalition, the MN Immigrant Freedom Network and Jewish Community Action, the vigil gave people the chance to speak out and show their solidarity.

“We are against raids and deportations,” said Eduardo Cardenas, a legal immigrant from Colombia. “We want legalization for all.” Francisco Segovia, a legal immigrant from El Salvador, spoke in favor of continued action. “We are not powerless. We need to keep organizing the community and begin a new stage in the struggle.”

Immigrant rights activists are planning a march for May 1, International Worker’s Day. The march begins at 4:30 on the corner of Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis and concludes in Powderhorn Park. All are invited to participate.

submitted: April 28, 2007 - 10:04pm



Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tancredo nets major endorsement

The Denver Daily News has announced that Tom Tancredo has received the presidential endorsement of ...

(Drum roll please ...)

"Klan Politician Watch, a blog dedicated to endorsing or rejecting politicians that either support or hinder the white-supremacist movement in America..."

According to the News' Peter Marcus - who was also kind enough to mention this blog in his article - Klan Politician Watch "recently endorsed Tancredo for president," with the following stirring message:

"These are politicians we support around the nation that we know will save us from the Jew, black and brown plague infestation and their lawlessness."

I swear I am not making this up.

This endorsement may not work that well for Tancredo, since Klan Politician Watch does not have the best track record in endorsing political candidates. Their last high-profile endorsement was former Virginia Sen. George "Macaca" Allen.

The usually feisty Tancredo seems to merely sigh and throw his hands in the air at such questionable support. Naturally, he issues statements that he "wholeheartedly disavows and discourages the despicable organizations ... and their twisted political ideas." And TW has no doubt that he does.

But Tancredo also meekly adds that his racist supporters "cannot be stopped." After all, it's the First Amendment right of groups like National Vanguard, Imperial Klans of America, Stormfront White Nationalist Community, American Renaissance, and the League of the South - all cited in the News article - to rally around their favorite congressman.

That's true, actually. These persons, pathetic and disgusting as they are, do retain their First Amendment rights to spew their venom. Just as Tancredo has his own First Amendment right to choose to speak to Southern secessionists in a South Carolina hall specially decorated with Confederate battle flags for the occasion, and to join his audience afterward in a rousing rendition of that old crowd-pleaser, "Dixie."

And there's the rub about Tancredo. Most everyone agrees that illegal immigration is a serious problem in this country. And reasonable people can differ on whether and to what extent border control versus a "gateway to citizenship" should be the answer, and what the terms of such a gateway should be. There are certainly mainstream politicians - including fellow Republican presidential candidates Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul - who share Tancredo's views on what ought to be done about illegal immigration. But they don't garner nearly as much enthusiastic support from the same fringe groups.

Where Tancredo differs is that he's always the human bullhorn, making wild statements about bombing Islamic holy sites, stopping the "barbarians at the gate," Miami being a "Third World country," etc. And affiliating himself and getting major funding from outright weirdos like John Tanton. Tancredo makes himself a lightning rod for racist support.

He can't stop them, that's true. But you have to ask: Can't he at least stop himself?


ACLU files suit on behalf of child taken in immigration raid

San Rafael citizen seized with parents at dawn, held in S.F.
Inside Bay Area
Article Last Updated:04/27/2007 09:09:55 AM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of a 7-year-old San Rafael boy who was taken from his bed as part of an early-morning Immigration and Custom Enforcement sweep last month.

Kebin Reyes, an American citizen born in Greenbrae, has nightmares from the incident, the boy's father said Thursday.

"Kebin is still showing signs of trauma," Noe Reyes said through an interpreter at a news conference at ACLU offices.

In its suit, the ACLU alleges Nancy Alcantar, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement San Francisco field office director, and officers under her command violated the boy's constitutional rights.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, specifically cites the Fourth and Fifth Amendments — the right to be secure in one's home against unreasonable search and seizure, and that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process.

ACLU attorneys allege the federal government did not have a search warrant for the boy's home. But an ICE spokeswoman said warrants are obtained for all arrests.

Armed with dozens of arrest warrants, federal immigration officers swept into the Canal neighborhood in San Rafael at dawn March 6 and arrested illegal immigrants.

Caught up in the sweep was Kebin, who was with his family in an apartment on Belvedere Street when officers made the arrests. Agents were targeting Noe Reyes, who was in the United States illegally from Guatemala and had been ordered deported in 2000, according to ICE.

Noe Reyes gave the ICE agents his son's U.S. passport identifying Kebin as a U.S. citizen, according to the ACLU. An ICE agent then told Noe to awaken his son, saying they would take them in for only an hour or two. Noe Reyes asked several times to make a phone call to arrange for a family member or family friend to care of Kebin. Each of the requests was denied, and Kebin watched as his father was handcuffed and taken away.

Immigration officers then told Kebin to place his arms behind his back, like his father, but he was not put in handcuffs. The pair were taken to San Francisco, according to the ACLU.

ICE officials said they took Kebin to San Francisco for his well-being until a relative could pick him up.

"He was not arrested," said Lori Haley, immigration spokeswoman. "We didn't want to leave that little boy alone."

The agency's policy on dealing with children is to allow the adult being detained to make arrangements for the minor's care. If that's not possible, the arresting officer's supervisor makes arrangements, which vary according to the situation.

At the ICE processing center in San Francisco, additional requests to make a phone call were denied, and the boy and his father were placed in a locked room for about 10 hours and given bread and water, according to the ACLU.

Kebin was released that evening after his uncle learned about the incident from neighbors. The uncle had to wait several hours before Kebin was finally released, ACLU attorneys said.

"ICE's treatment of children is not in line with American values of decency and fairness," said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney with the ACLU. "In addition to Kebin's case, we have heard reports of children left without care after their parents are detained, immigration agents targeting areas around elementary schools, and children too upset to participate in class after witnessing early morning raids in their communities. The human cost of these tactics is unacceptable."

The suit seeks unspecified damages and would require federal immigration officials to develop a policy on caring for children they might find during enforcement so cases like Kebin's aren't repeated, attorneys said.

Immigration attorneys and others said Kebin's case is the most serious example of children being harmed by immigration policy.

The sweep was part of a stepped-up Immigration and Custom Enforcement program called Operation Return to Sender, which aims to arrest people in the country illegally.

About 18,000 people have been detained by this enforcement action since it began last year. From Massachusetts to Colorado and California, children have been left without their parents when the adults were seized, civil rights attorneys said.

Noe Reyes is dealing with his immigration issue in court and has a hearing set for June. Kebin's mother lives outside the country.

Kebin's citizenship does not give his parents any legal standing as residents in the United States, ICE officials said.

"Having a child here is a risk people take," Haley said, "and then they are faced with decisions."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Prado at


Black, Latino drivers fare worse in traffic stops

Study: Minorities searched, jailed more often than whites when pulled over

The Associated Press
Updated: 3:52 p.m. ET April 29, 2007

WASHINGTON - Black, Hispanic and white drivers are equally likely to be pulled over by police, but blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched and arrested, a federal study found.

Police were much more likely to threaten or use force against blacks and Hispanics than against whites in any encounter, whether at a traffic stop or elsewhere, according to the Justice Department.

The study, released Sunday by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, covered police contacts with the public during 2005 and was based on interviews by the Census Bureau with nearly 64,000 people age 16 or over.

“The numbers are very consistent” with those found in a similar study of police-public contacts in 2002, bureau statistician Matthew R. Durose, the report’s co-author, said in an interview. “There’s some stability in the findings over these three years.”

‘Driving while black’
Traffic stops have become a politically volatile issue. Minority groups have complained that many stops and searches are based on race rather than on legitimate suspicions. Blacks in particular have complained of being pulled over for simply “driving while black.”

“The available data is sketchy but deeply concerning,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau. The civil rights organization has done its own surveys of traffic stops, and he said the racial disparities grow larger, the deeper the studies delve.

“It’s very important to look at the hit rates for searches — the number that actually result in finding a crime,” Shelton said. “There’s a great deal of racial disparity there.” He called for federal legislation that would collect uniform data by race on stops, arrests, use of force, searches and hit rates.

“This report shows there are still disturbing disparities in terms of what happens to people of color after the stop,” said Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s racial justice project. He also said better reporting is needed.

Other factors could play a part
Like the 2002 report, this one contained a warning that the racial disparities uncovered “do not constitute proof that police treat people differently along demographic lines” because the differences could be explained by circumstances not analyzed by the survey. The 2002 report said such circumstances might include driver conduct or whether drugs were in plain view.

Traffic stops are the most frequent way police interact with the public, accounting for 41 percent of all contacts. An estimated 17.8 million drivers were stopped in 2005.

Black, Hispanic and white motorists were equally likely to be pulled over by police — between 8 percent and 9 percent of each group. The slight decline in blacks pulled over — from 9.2 percent in 2002 to 8.1 percent in 2005 — was not statistically significant, Durose said, and could be the result of random differences.

The racial disparities showed up after that point:
# Blacks (9.5 percent) and Hispanics (8.8 percent) were much more likely to be searched than whites (3.6 percent). There were slight but statistically insignificant declines compared with the 2002 report in the percentages of blacks and Hispanics searched.
# Blacks (4.5 percent) were more than twice as likely as whites (2.1 percent) to be arrested. Hispanic drivers were arrested 3.1 percent of the time.
# Among all police-public contacts, force was used 1.6 percent of the time. But blacks (4.4 percent) and Hispanics (2.3 percent) were more likely than whites (1.2 percent) to be subjected to force or the threat of force by police officers.

People interviewed described police hitting, kicking, pushing, grabbing, pointing a gun or spraying pepper spray at them or threatening to do so. More than four of five felt the force used was excessive, but there were no statistically significant racial disparities among the people who felt that way.

2002 report overlooked
Two years ago, the Bush administration’s handling of the 2002 report and its finding of racial disparities generated considerable controversy.

Departing from normal practice, the earlier report was simply posted on the statistics bureau’s Web site without any press release announcing it.

The bureau’s director at the time, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, appointed by President Bush in 2001, wanted to publicize the racial disparities, but his superiors disagreed, according to a statistics bureau employee. Greenfeld told his staff he was being moved to a new job following the dispute, according to this employee, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

This time there was a press release.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mancha v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Court where filed: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division
Date filed: 11/01/2006
Status: Ongoing

» Mancha v. ICE complaint

Plaintiffs: Marie Justeen Mancha, through her Next Friend Maria Christina Martinez; Maria Christina Martinez; Ranulfo Perez; Maria Margarita Morales; Gladis Alicia Espitia, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated; and David Robinson
Defendants: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Michael Chertoff, Julie L. Myers, Marcy Forman, Kenneth A. Smith, Gregory L. Wiest, John P. Torres, John Mata and John Does 1-30
Date(s) of Disposition: none.

Federal immigration agents conducted illegal searches and relied on racial and ethnic profiling while carrying out a massive series of raids terrorizing residents of several southeast Georgia towns in southeast Georgia over the course of two weeks in September 2006, according to this federal lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The plaintiffs are five U.S. citizens of Mexican descent and a landlord who suffered damage to his rental properties when ICE agents broke into numerous trailers that were rented by Latinos.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Three Men Convicted of Committing Federal Hate Crime in Utah

Department of Justice
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2007
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Salt Lake City, late Friday night, convicted Shaun A. Walker of Mill Point, W.Va., and Travis D. Massey and Eric G. Egbert, both of Salt Lake City, of assaulting a Mexican-American man in 2002 and conspiring to violate the civil rights of individuals for racially-motivated reasons in 2002 and 2003. The jury also found the defendants guilty of violating the victims’ federally protected right to enjoy a place of public accommodation free from violence based on their race.

Walker is a former leader of the West Virginia-based National Alliance, a white separatist group; Massey was also a member of the group.

The jury found the three men guilty of beating James Ballesteros, a Mexican-American, on New Year’s Eve 2002. The evidence at trial established that just before midnight, Walker, Massey and Egbert entered the O’Shucks bar in downtown Salt Lake City and shouted racial epithets at several patrons, including Ballesteros. As Ballesteros attempted to leave the bar, the defendants beat him to the ground by brutally punching and kicking him.

The conspiracy charge on which all three defendants were convicted also included an allegation that Massey participated in a similar assault against an unidentified Native American man outside the Port O’Call bar in Salt Lake City in March 2003.

“Racial violence is offensive to our nation’s fundamental values,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting the federal laws prohibiting violent acts motivated by hate.”

Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 165 defendants in 105 cases of bias-motivated crimes.

The case was investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake City Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos A. Esqueda and Trial Attorney Stephen J. Curran of the Civil Rights Division.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Students attend school's first integrated prom

By Kristi Keck
• Students of Turner County High School voted to have school-sponsored prom
• In the past, parents have organized private, segregated dances
• Principal Chad Stone says the official prom will become a yearly event
• Senior Class President James Hall led the movement for the integrated prom

ASHBURN, Georgia (CNN) -- Students of Turner County High School started what they hope will become a new tradition: Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday.

In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.

"Whites always come to this one and blacks always go to this one," said Lacey Adkinson, a 14-year-old freshman at the school of 455 students -- 55 percent black, 43 percent white. (Watch students arrive at danceVideo)

"It's always been a tradition since my daddy was in school to have the segregated ones, and this year we're finally getting to try something new," she said. (Audio slide show: A town breaks with tradition)

Adkinson's sister, Mindy Bryan, attended a segregated prom in 2001.

"There was not anybody that I can remember that was black," she said. "The white people have theirs, and the black people have theirs. It's nothing racial at all."
Breaking away from traditions

But this year's upperclassmen -- 213 students total --voted to have just one official prom.

"It's been a dream of all of ours," Senior Class President James Hall said.

"We didn't want to put emphasis on integrated blacks and whites coming together. We just wanted to put emphasis on this was our first school prom," Principal Chad Stone said.

The theme of the first official prom: Breakaway.

"It was fitting already because we are breaking away from the past traditions here in Turner County School," Hall said.

Another tradition that ended this year -- having two separate homecoming queens.

"You pick the homecoming queen for their personalities and being a role model," explained Roshunda Pierce, 16, as she waited to get her nails done for prom.

In the past, two queens were chosen -- one white, one black.

But not everyone in the town of 4,400, famous for its peanuts and Fire Ant Festival, was breaking with the past.

The "white prom" still went on last week.

"We did everything like a regular prom just because we had already booked it," said, Cheryl Nichols, 18, who attended the dance.

Nichole Royal, 18, said black students could have gone to the prom, but didn't.

"I guess they feel like they're not welcome," she said.

Nichols said while her parents were in support of the integrated prom, some of her friends weren't allowed to go.

"If they're not coming tonight it's because either they had to work and they couldn't get out of it or because their parents are still having an issue because they grew up in south Georgia," she said.

"I've asked, 'Why can't you come?' and they're like, 'My mommy and daddy -- they don't agree with being with the colored people,' which I think is crazy," she said.

Stone said he doesn't plan to stop the private proms.

"That's going to be up to the parents. That's part of being in America. If they want to do that for the kids, then that's fine," he said.
Looking toward the future

Outside the prom on Saturday, parents and relatives of students talked as the students filed into the Turner Civic Center.

"If they are picking so much for it to be united, why was there a prom last week for the white, when they are supposed to be united for tonight?" asked Lisa Hall.

Valerie McKellar echoed that sentiment as she watched white and black students pose together.

"That is so fake. There is nothing real about that," she said.

"That's just like you're cooking a half-baked cake, putting the icing on it, and when you cut the cake, the cake ain't no good. That's how this prom is," she said.

McKellar said the prom was a good step, but more needs to be done.

"There is a time and season for all things, and right now it's time for Turner County to make a change."
A success in the students' eyes

Inside the auditorium, students put the controversy aside and danced for hours. Stone said he was pleased with the outcome. About 150 students, including some dates from other schools, attended.

Students leaving the prom praised the evening.

"We been separated for a while. I sure appreciate how the school got all of us together, and we had a blast" said John Holmes, 16.

Aneisha Gipson, who was crowned prom queen, said the night could not have been better.

"Amazing. It was absolutely amazing. It was perfect."

Superintendent Ray Jordan said he couldn't be more proud of Stone and his students.

"If I could write this story it would be a story of celebration of students making a difference for themselves and for future students. I believe they wanted to leave their mark, and I certainly believe they've done that."


Monday, April 23, 2007

Racial Profiling Doesn't Work

A strong reason for law enforcement officers to target minorities, particularly Black and Hispanic motorists, is the common belief that they are more likely to be violating laws, particularly drug laws than non-minorities. Minority communities have long perceived that they are being targeted and evidence has accumulated that at least some of that perception is reality. But what of the perception, by many in society and in police departments alike, that minorities are more likely to be violating drug laws?

Since 1995 direct evidence has accumulated concerning the assertion that minorities are more likely to have contraband when they are stopped and searched by the police. The first report of these data came from Dr. John Lamberth in the case brought by Robert Wilkens against the Maryland State Police. Lamberth reported that Blacks and Whites were equally likely to have contraband found when they or their cars were searched. Since that time, at least nine other studies have been released that show the same phenomenon. The results of all of these studies are shown in Figure 1 below:

These studies are impressive in the breadth of situations and location they encompass. The largest one, of course, is a survey by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics in which 1,272,282 searches are detailed. This survey covers all encounters of citizens with police during 1999. There are, however, other types of search activities, e.g. Customs in Airports, and locations, e.g. a report from the London Metropolitan Police. The most impressive finding of these studies is their consistency. In every one, minorities are no more likely to be carrying contraband than non-minorities, and in several of the studies they are statistically significantly less likely to have contraband found following a search.

This overwhelming evidence against the proposition that minorities are more likely to commit crimes that can be discerned during vehicle searches points out how counterproductive racial profiling is. That is, by concentrating on minorities, law enforcement ineffectively use valuable time and resources by engaging in search activities that are likely to be unproductive. There is, however, even more direct evidence that racial profiling is wasteful of police resources.

In 1998 the Customs Service of the U. S. Government decided that their low hit rate and complaints from minorities that they were being targeted warranted a re-evaluation of their search procedures. The Service adopted reforms designed to eliminate racial, ethnic and gender bias in their search activity, while instituting stronger supervisor oversight for searches. While the Service has not released their search criteria, we can look at the results of their experience and view the results, which are contained in Figure 2 below.

The Figure, which is a comparison of searches and hit rates of minorities for 1998 and 2000, makes clear several important concepts. The most important point about the 1998 data are that the “hit rates” for Blacks and Whites are virtually identical, while the hit rate for Hispanics is considerably lower than for the other two groups. Another important piece of information from a management and resource utilization point of view is that contraband was found in less than 4 out of a 100 searches.

The 2000 data are intriguing. Searches dropped by a startling 75%. The total number of hits, however, was essentially the same as in 1998. The hit rate for Blacks, Whites and Hispanics went up almost 300%. This, of course, is another way of saying that the Customs Service cut its workload of searches by three quarters without reducing the number of successful searches for contraband carrying passengers. This, of course, occurred while reducing by three quarters the number of innocent people who the Service subjected to the indignity of a search. For our purposes the most important statistics from Figure 2 are the hit rates which are essentially the same for Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. So while the Customs Service changed its tactics and increased its hit rate, there was no difference in the percentages of people found to be carrying contraband by race.


Public favors giving illegal immigrants a break

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — While Congress and the White House remain divided over what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the USA, a new poll shows the American public appears to have reached a consensus on the question.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who is drafting legislation to grant illegal immigrants an opportunity to stay in the USA, said: "As with so many issues, the American people are ahead of Washington on immigration reform. They know that only a plan that offers a path to earned citizenship will fix our broken system."

Disagreements about the fate of the nation's illegal residents were a major factor in the deadlock that kept Congress from enacting an immigration bill last year, despite the support of key Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as President Bush. The president and members of his Cabinet, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, have said it would be prohibitively expensive to deport all the nation's illegal residents.

But many conservatives strongly oppose to putting illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. "You'd be rewarding them for breaking our laws," said Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif.

Supporters of a plan to give illegal immigrants a chance to stay in the USA expect smoother sailing for legislation in a Democratic-controlled Congress. Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have said they want to work with Bush to enact legislation this year. Reid has set aside the last two weeks of May for debate on an immigration bill; House Democrats hope to act before the August recess.

Even so, immigrant rights advocates have been taken aback by some cracks in last year's bipartisan coalition.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who co-sponsored last year's Senate-passed immigration bill with Kennedy, has stepped back from the leading role he had played in the talks as he focuses on his presidential campaign. Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group, told reporters this week that McCain's absence from talks "destabilizes the debate."

A leaked White House proposal recommended making illegal immigrants pay a $10,000 fine in order to have a chance at citizenship. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel called it a negotiating document. "It is neither wise nor realistic to round up and deport millions of illegal immigrants, and the president believes this issue should be addressed without amnesty and without animosity," he said.

But Sharry expressed concern. "We're in a very different posture than we thought we would be," he said.


Bashing 'illegals'

A lesson for Don Brown on taxes they pay

When children do something wrong and stupid then have to cope with the consequences, they unholster the standard disclaimer: "I didn't mean to do it." It's in the nature of children, of course, sometimes to do wrong and stupid things. When politicians do something wrong and stupid then have to cope with the consequences, they unholster a standard disclaimer of their own: "It was meant as a joke." State Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, used words to that effect to explain why he sent a racist cartoon, through his government e-mail account, to fellow legislators.

The cartoon read, "Don't forget to pay your taxes -- 12 million illegal aliens are depending on you!"

Brown thought he was being "cute." Racism often seems that way to those too dense to know the difference between a joke and an offense. The line can sometimes be blurry. It's what gives jokes their power -- to amuse, to speak certain truths, and to offend. It's a good idea for government officials not to tread the line when obvious sensitivities radiate from the subject matter, which is why Brown's fellow-Republicans were first to call his stunt racist, not funny.

Why, you ask? Because the "joke" hinges on false assumptions and bigoted stereotypes, its thrust clearly aimed at brown-skinned immigrants who supposedly take advantage of taxpayers' largesse because the immigrants don't themselves pay taxes while taking advantage of the country's social services.

The joke's premise is a lie. Of course illegal immigrants pay taxes -- property taxes, sales taxes, Social Security taxes, gas taxes, excise taxes, and even, for millions, income taxes: Since 1996, the IRS has been allowing illegal immigrants to file taxes by assigning them so-called tax-payer identification numbers. The rule was designed to cover non-Americans making income in the United States, such as foreign investors, but the IRS says the majority of the 11 million numbers issued goes to illegal immigrants. Applications for such numbers spiked by 1.5 million last year. Between 1996 and 2003, The New York Times reported, filers with tax-payer identification numbers reported nearly $50 billion of tax liability. The numbers demolish assumptions -- like the cartoon's, like Brown's -- that illegal immigrants don't feel a responsibility to pay their fair share.

Other numbers, like what immigrants, documented or not, contribute to the nation's economy, including the food and orange juice they harvest before it reaches dinner tables like Brown's, demolish the cartoonish assumption that migrants are an unproductive drain on the economy. What people who may laugh at Brown's cartoon also don't know is that Congress in 1996 eliminated legal immigrants' access to all but emergency federal benefits. An immigrant must wait at least five years before tapping into social services like welfare programs or Medicare and Medicaid. After the five-year wait, it's up to the immigrant's home state's laws (most states, including Florida, provide benefits).

For all of Brown's ignorance, worse than his sending the e-mail in the first place were his subsequent reactions besides trying to childishly explain the stunt as a joke. First, he half-heartedly apologized to his e-mail's recipients, but only "if you found the content of that e-mail to be offensive." That "if" compounds the offense, because it means Brown doesn't get it -- which Brown himself proved he doesn't: A few days after his half-baked apology, he redacted it, saying he wasn't apologizing, neither for the cartoon's message nor for using such terms as "illegal aliens."

Brown's suggestion that the state study the economic impact of illegal immigration in Florida isn't a bad one, so long as it's an academic study free of Brown's stereotypes. The impact on the state's image of stupid jokes and of legislators who peddle them, of course, needs no studying. It only needs the right reflexes at election time.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Center wins justice for Billy Ray Johnson

April 20, 2007 — A civil jury in Linden, Texas, today awarded approximately $9 million in damages to Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally disabled black man who was taunted, knocked unconscious and dumped along a desolate road by four white men in September 2003.

The Center brought suit on his behalf in 2005 after the men responsible for the crime received only misdemeanor convictions and light jail sentences — 30 days for three of them and 60 days for one.

"On behalf of Billy Ray Johnson, we thank the jury — the conscience of Cass County — for returning a just and fair verdict," said Morris Dees, the Center's founder and chief trial attorney, in a statement to the media after the verdict.

"The defendants in this case treated Billy Ray like trash. They broke his body and threw him in a ditch alongside a deserted road. The jury told all of Texas and, indeed, the entire country that Billy Ray is a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity, that the life of each of us — rich or poor, black or white, abled or disabled — is truly precious. It's a message, I hope, that we always remember."

Johnson, 46, who suffered serious, permanent brain injuries from the attack, will require care for the rest of his life.

The case exposed deep racial fault lines in the East Texas community. Many blacks viewed the episode as a vicious hate crime, but predominantly white juries acquitted two of the defendants of felony charges. Many whites in the town expressed sympathy for the defendants and indifference to Johnson's injuries.

After a four-day trial that began on April 17, the jury of 11 whites and one black deliberated less than four hours before returning a unanimous verdict finding James Cory Hicks and Christopher Colt Amox responsible for Johnson's injuries.

Two other defendants, Dallas Chadwick Stone and John Wesley Owens, earlier reached confidential settlements in the lawsuit.

Jurors said afterward they hoped the verdict sends a message to children in their community and to the nation as a whole.

"Billy Ray is not an 'it,' like one of the defendants said," one juror said. "He is a human being. We hope that our verdict sends a message to the nation about this community."

Another said, "No one — no one — should have to go through what this man went through. And no amount of money can fix that."

All four men were at a "pasture party" on the night of September 28, 2003, when Johnson — 42 at the time but childlike and naive — was picked up from town and brought to the party, where about a dozen people were sitting on tailgates drinking beer.

After a period in which they teased and taunted Johnson, the defendants began talking about beating him up. Amox, who had been a high school pitcher, punched Johnson in the face, knocking him unconscious. Instead of taking Johnson to the hospital, the men threw him into the back of a pickup truck and left him by the side of a remote rural road.

The Cass County juries that heard the criminal cases against Amox, who was 20 at the time, and Hicks, then 24 and a jail employee, acquitted them of serious felony charges and instead handed down lesser convictions with a recommended sentence of probation.

Stone, then 18, and Owens, then 19, were allowed to plead guilty to an "injury to a disabled individual by omission" charge. They testified against Amox and Hicks.

A judge sentenced Owens, Stone and Amox to 30-day terms in the county jail and Hicks to 60 days.

Johnson had no criminal background, history of violence or trouble of any kind, lived with his mother and brother before the assault. Now he lives in a Texas nursing home.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Racial slur on sofa label stuns family

Mother had to explain to daughter, 7 origin of 'totally unacceptable' word on wrapping of furniture built overseas
Apr 06, 2007 04:30 AM

When the new chocolate-coloured sofa set was delivered to her Brampton home, Doris Moore was stunned to see packing labels describing the shade as "Nigger-brown."

She and husband Douglas purchased a sofa, loveseat and chair in dark brown leather last week from Vanaik Furniture and Mattress store on Dundas St. E.

Moore, 30, who describes herself as an African-American born and raised in New York, said it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out the label just after delivery men from the Mississauga furniture store left.

"She's very curious and she started reading the labels," Moore explained. "She said, `Mommy, what is nig ... ger brown?' I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes."

She said yesterday each piece had a similar label affixed to the woven protective covering wrapped around the furniture.

"In this day and age, that's totally unacceptable," Moore said.

Douglas explained the origins of the word to daughter Olivia, telling how it was a bad name that blacks were called during the days of slavery in the United States.

"It was tough, because she really didn't understand," Moore said. "She'd never heard that word before and didn't really understand the concept of it."

Moore, who has a younger son and daughter, said she's heard the word used many times, although it has never been directed in anger at her.

"But it's a very, very bad word that makes you feel degraded, like you're a nobody," she said.

Moore said she called the furniture store the following day and three other times since, and feels discouraged that no one has returned her calls.

When interviewed yesterday by the Star, Romesh Kumar, Vanaik's assistant manager, passed the buck to his supplier, Cosmos Furniture in Scarborough.

"Why should I take the blame?" he said. "I'm a trader, I don't manufacture. I sell from 20 companies, maybe 50 companies. How can I take care of all of them?"

He said that he would check similar stock and make sure other labels were removed.

"That's terrible, that's a racial ... something?" Kumar said. "This is entirely wrong, but it's not my fault. It's my job to sell good product to people."

He said the best he could do is to give Moore the telephone number of his supplier, so she could take it up with him.

The owner of Cosmos Furniture, Paul Kumar, no relation to Romesh, said he was upset to learn packing labels on products he sold carried a racial epithet.

"I import my products from overseas," he said. "I've never noticed anything like that. This is something new to me."

He passed the blame to a Chinese company, but apologized for the labels. He said he would contact the furniture maker in Guangzhou and demand they remove all similar labels.

Moore said she's not sure she wants the sofa set in her home.

"Every time I sit on it, I'll think of that," she said.


32-year-old woman found hanging

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Investigators have identified a woman whose nude body was found hanging in a tree on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in southern Arizona.

The woman was identified as 32-year-old Marisol Padilla.

Tribal police and the FBI were investigating Padilla's death. Her body was found Saturday and had a bullet wound, but officials don't believe that was the cause of death, said Tohono O'odham Police Department Chief Richard Saunders.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah McCarley said the agency is investigating the death as a homicide.

A passer-by found the body about noon Saturday on the reservation's San Xavier District. The woman's body was suspended in the tree with wire, Saunders said.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

White Supremacist Roy Warden Jailed

By Alexis Huicochea
Arizona Daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.01.2007

Anti-illegal-immigration activist Roy Warden was arrested Saturday morning after police say he threatened passers-by during a demonstration Downtown Monday afternoon.

Warden, 59, was booked into the Pima County jail on suspicion of three counts of disorderly conduct, one count of threatening or intimidating and one count of unlawful assembly, said Officer Frank Amado, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

According to Amado, for the last three Mondays, Warden has been demonstrating in the plaza in front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., at lunchtime, which caused numerous complaints.

On the third Monday — March 26 — Warden "engaged in prolonged disruptive behavior to include threats towards bystanders in the area," Amado wrote in a news release.

Tucson police were contacted at that time but did not arrest Warden until after they collected evidence and witness statements to present to the city prosecutor, Amado said.

The city prosecutor advised police they had enough evidence to make an arrest. On Saturday about 10:30 a.m., an officer working in the area of Roger and Flowing Wells saw Warden and took him into custody without incident.

He remained at the jail Saturday afternoon in lieu of $1,285 bond.

In January, Warden was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation for an incident outside the Mexican Consulate last June in which he pushed one person and made threats to two others.

He was convicted of one count of assault and two counts of threats and intimidation.

At the time of the sentencing, Warden was told he was not allowed to possess a firearm or go within 500 feet of any public demonstration during his probation.

Last year, Warden was acquitted of other charges stemming from another altercation over immigration issues.

He was arrested after he burned a Mexican flag at Armory Park in April while surrounded by hundreds of people who marched to protest immigration legislation they said was unfair.