Sunday, January 28, 2007
Democratic state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, an immigrants rights advocate whose proposal targets the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and other groups that patrol the border, said she reported the e-mails to the FBI and Arizona Department of Public Safety.
There were no immediate responses late Monday afternoon from either law enforcement agency on whether they would investigate Sinema's complaint.
Sinema said she has received threats in the past but reported some recent e-mails because, unlike those from the past, they were of a sexual nature.
"This is the really frightening extreme part of our community," Sinema said.
Sinema said the e-mails came after the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps issued a press release criticizing her bill (HB2286) as an affront to members of the group.
The lawmaker said she wasn't accusing the group of being responsible for the e-mails. "It's individuals who are doing this," Sinema said.
Stacey O'Connell, the past president of the Arizona chapter who remains a member the group, said the group had nothing to do with the sexually threatening e-mails.
"That's not coming from any professional member of the Minuteman organization," O'Connell said.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
by Mark Potok
It's the dirty little secret of the white supremacist movement in America. Klan leaders with black girlfriends. A neo-Nazi caught with a black transvestite. A macho skinhead arrested while soliciting sex from Latino men. National Socialists affiliated with Satanists who promote sexual ceremonies involving children.
And now, the arrest of Kevin Alfred Strom, a key "intellectual" of the radical right, for possession of child pornography.
But that's not all.
Just days after the Jan. 4 arrest of the leader of the neo-Nazi National Vanguard group, news emerged that two weeks earlier another National Vanguard member had been arrested for another sexual crime. Police in Brookline, Mass., jailed Matthew Downing, a prominent, 25-year-old activist and organizer with the Boston unit of the organization, on a felony charge of statutory rape.
Officials say that an acquaintance of Downing's, 17-year-old Jeremy Perea, got two teenage girls to come to Downing's Brookline home six days before Christmas. Once they were there, Perea allegedly told them he would not drive them home unless one had intercourse with Downing. They refused, but one of them, a 14-year-old, agreed to perform oral sex on the Aryan activist.
If that wasn't enough for embarrassed movement stalwarts, police in Sharpsburg, Md., on Jan. 10 arrested recent Klan boss Gordon Creal Young, 40, and charged him with seven criminal counts for allegedly forcing an underage girl to perform oral sex on him on two occasions in late October. Young, who was then still the imperial wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, also allegedly told the girl on another day that Klan members always strip females who want to join in order to search their bodies for imperfections. The girl later told a pastor that Young then touched her inappropriately.
Last November, just days after his alleged sexual encounters with the child in his home, Young announced he was shutting down the World Knights in order to become state leader of the National Socialist Movement (NSM). After Young's arrest in January, NSM leader Jeff Schoep E-mailed a local Herald-Mail newspaper reporter to say that Young "is not currently active with the National Socialist Movement," but refusing to discuss the matter further.
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) severely criticized today officials of the Endeavor Alternative School in Kansas City, Kan. for suspending high school junior Zach Rubio for speaking Spanish in the hallway of his school. Although the decision was rescinded by the school district, the action taken against Rubio was in blatant violation of his civil liberties and is a prime example of language discrimination.
The 1st Amendment guarantees to all citizens the right of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to ask for governmental reform. Barring someone from speaking Spanish infringes upon a person’s right to freedom of expression – both oral and written. Moreover, punishing someone for speaking a language other than English has been ruled by many courts as language discrimination and found to be the same as discrimination based on race or national origin.
LULAC is deeply concerned over the explanation of the school’s decision to suspend Rubio for 1 ½ days, noting that “this is not the first time we have [asked] Zach and others to not speak Spanish at school.” This official statement suggests there has been a consistent and unlawful pattern of language discrimination.
“This type of practice is often seen in the workplace, businesses or government services. It is alarming to learn that an educational institution has violated one of our country’s most fundamental rights,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of LULAC. “Ms. Jennifer Watts and her staff acted in poor judgment by disregarding the laws of this country – a law that is taught in every 8th grade class room across the United States – and we are filing a complaint and requesting a full investigation from the Department of Education.”
LULAC National President Hector Flores has written a letter to James Manning, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, requesting an official investigation involving the infringement upon a U.S. citizen’s civil rights and to determine cyclic patterns of discrimination.
What happened in Kansas City is a microcosm of a broader national debate over language in America. LULAC’s position on language is for programs to embrace cultural and linguistic differences as they will serve to enrich the entire student body.
The League of the United Latin American Citizen (www.lulac.org) advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
UPDATED: 7:02 pm EST January 15, 2007
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A jury in Massachusetts ruled on Friday that American Airlines should pay a South Florida man $400,000 in a discrimination case.
John Cerqueira and his attorneys accused American Airlines of racial profiling after he was removed from a plane in Boston in December 2003.
Cerqueira said he had visited family in the Boston area and was trying to fly back to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when American Airlines officials ordered him and two other men off the plane.
"I have a feeling these kinds of incidents of racial profiling happen to people more often than we're aware of," said Cerqueira.
Cerqueira said three Massachusetts state police officers escorted him and two Israeli men off of the plane. They were all questioned and later released.
"We went to the American Airlines ticket counter and they refunded our fares for all three of us and told me I was being denied service," Cerqueira said. "They didn't tell me for how long and I had to figure out a way to get home."
In his suit against the airline, Cerqueira, who is an American citizen of Portuguese descent, claimed he was denied service because the airline mistakenly believed he was of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian decent.
The complaint included an e-mail message, which Cerqueira said is from an airline official, stating, "Our investigation has revealed that our personnel perceived certain aspects of your behavior, which could have made other customers uncomfortable on board the aircraft."
Cerqueira, a computer consultant, said he flies all over the world for his business.
"To be honest, I wasn't able to get back to work for a while after the incident because I was very concerned about my freedom," Cerqueira said. "My job requires traveling so I was very concerned... afraid of traveling."
American Airlines sent NBC 6 the following statement regarding the jury's decision in the case: "While we respect the jury system, we disagree with this verdict. This decision is simply not supported by the facts nor the law. We will evaluate our legal options."
"I am certainly hoping that American Airlines will consider their policies and ensure there are proper checks and balances for situations not to get out of hand the way this situation did on that day," Cerqueira said.
Civil law suit: PDF
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tue Jan 16, 2:32 PM ET
A Florida man removed from an American Airlines flight because he was considered a security threat has won a $400,000 jury award in a case that accused the airline of racial profiling.
John Cerqueira, a U.S. citizen of Portuguese descent, charged that he was removed from a 2003 flight at Boston's Logan International Airport because he appeared Middle Eastern, and was denied service even after police determined he did not pose a threat.
Cerqueira's attorneys said on Tuesday that the suit, which accused the airline of violating his civil rights, was the first of its kind to go to trial. The federal jury in Massachusetts made its decision on Friday.
"It's part of this whole debate about security versus civil rights," said Michael Kirkpatrick, an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, which represented Cerqueira. "We don't think there's any conflict between security and civil rights. And the jury came down on our side in this."
Civil-liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union say racial profiling, or ethnic-based targeting, against Middle Easterners has risen in the United States since the September 11 attacks. Two planes out of Boston, including an American Airlines aircraft, were among the four hijacked in the attacks.
In Cerqueira's incident, police removed him and two Israeli men from a December 28, 2003 flight bound from Boston for Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Israelis, whom Cerqueira did not know, had drawn attention by speaking loudly in a non-English language, according to court papers. Cerqueira charged that he was removed from the plane with the other two because of their similar "color and physical appearance."
Police released all three after questioning them for two hours.
Staff of the airline, owned by AMR Corp., then told Cerqueira that the airline would not let him fly, citing remarks he made on the plane. They refunded the ticket cost and suggested Cerqueira, a regular American Airlines flier, find another way home.
"Mr. Cerqueira was literally just sitting in his seat minding his own business and he was removed from the plane and interrogated, detained for two hours for the sole reason that he appeared to be traveling with two passengers who were seated next to him ... he was caught up in it because of his similar appearance to them," said David Godkin, attorney at Birnbaum & Godkin, a Boston law firm that also represented Cerqueira.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said of the verdict: "This decision is simply not supported by the facts or the law. We will evaluate our legal options."
The two Israeli men were also released but denied further service by the airline, Cerqueira's attorneys said.
"The message is clear, that airlines have to treat their passengers fairly, without discrimination, based on religion or ethnicity or perceived religion or ethnicity," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy group. "Those airlines that fail to do that will pay a financial price."
In other recent incidents, the ACLU accused federal security officials at New York's John F. Kennedy airport in August of unfairly targeting Muslim, Arab and South Asian passengers for extra scrutiny. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official denied using racial profiling but said passengers from "high-risk areas" received close attention.
In November, six Muslim imams were removed from a commercial flight in Minnesota after being accused of "suspicious activity" that they said amounted to no more than saying evening prayers.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Two high ranking members of the racist prison gang Aryan Brotherhood were convicted in Los Angeles, California, of federal racketeering charges stemming from six murders and three attempted assassinations.
Robert Lee "Blinky" Griffin, 59, and John William "Youngster" Stinson, 52, were convicted on January 9 of conspiracy to commit racketeering, and committing violent acts in aid of racketeering. Both men face life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The trial of Griffin and Stinson follows the July 2006 conviction of four other Aryan Brotherhood leaders by a federal jury in Santa Ana, California. Barry Byron Mills, 57, Tyler Davis Bingham, 59, and Edgar Wesley Hevle, 54, were sentenced to life in prison without parole. The fourth, Christopher Overton Gibson, 46, is currently awaiting sentencing.
During the six-week trial prosecutors offered testimony and evidence of an Aryan Brotherhood conspiracy of murder and intimidation from within the California prisons, and that both Stinson and Griffin were among those who took part.
Griffin led the California unit of the Aryan Brotherhood since its conception in 1982 at the state prison in Chino. Stinson rose to power within the gang by aligning himself with Griffin, and was the group's predominant leader by 1994. Both men were already serving time for murder when they joined.
Griffin and Stinson are scheduled to be sentenced on May 14, 2007.
The former leader of the Sharpsburg, Maryland-based World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who disbanded his group in November 2006 to join the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM), is accused of forcing a child to perform oral sex on him.
Gordon Creal Young, 40, of Sharpsburg, Maryland, was arrested on January 10, 2007, on seven criminal counts, including two counts each of second-degree assault and sex abuse of a minor, second-degree sex offense, and one count of causing another person to ingest bodily fluid.
The charges allege that Young forced a child to perform oral sex on him at his home on two separate occasions in October 2006. It is further alleged that Young told the girl that Klan members routinely strip women of their clothing in order to search their bodies for flaws upon joining. The investigation ensued after the girl revealed to a pastor that Young had touched her inappropriately.
Young's capture follows the December and January arrests of three other key white supremacists in Virginia and Massachusetts on charges related to the sexual molestation of children.
Young is being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $350,000 bond.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 8 — Law enforcement officials said Monday that a Hmong hunter found dead Saturday in northern Wisconsin had been murdered after an “accidental meeting” between the victim and another small game hunter.
The killing has reignited racial tension in Wisconsin’s northern woods, where two years ago a Hmong hunter killed six white hunters and injured two others in a confrontation that included racial epithets.
Details remain sketchy about the latest killing, although there have been news reports that the two men had a confrontation.
“While there is much I would like to tell you, there is much I cannot tell you,” Sheriff James Kanikula said at a news conference Monday in Marinette, Wis., The Associated Press reported.
The finding that the death of the Hmong hunter, Cha Vang, 30, had been intentional was based on an autopsy. The case has been turned over to Wisconsin’s newly elected attorney general, J. B. Van Hollen.
The other hunter, James Nichols, 28, of Peshtigo, Wis., is being detained, but has not been charged in the killing. Mr. Nichols is being held on charges of violating parole and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A convicted burglar, he has been in custody since Saturday, when he showed up at a medical center with a gunshot wound.
Many members of the Hmong community here are urging caution.
“There are a lot of rumors, and there is a lot of talking, but I don’t have all the information at this point,” Yia Thao, president of the United Hmong Community Center in Green Bay, said in a telephone interview. “I believe in the law, and I hope that whoever caused the crime, I hope they will be put into justice.”
The body of Mr. Vang, a father of five children age 3 to 10, was found partly concealed Saturday in the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area. The hunting spot is an hour’s drive north of Green Bay, where Mr. Vang lived, and about 250 miles north of Chicago.
He had been hunting small game with friends on Friday, and they reported him as missing when he did not show up at day’s end. A search, which included tracking dogs, took place. The authorities did not find Mr. Vang’s body until after questioning Mr. Nichols.
Hunting is deeply ingrained in both the Hmong and Wisconsin northern woods cultures. Distrust among the Hmong and other residents has been high since Chai Soua Vang of St. Paul killed six hunters and wounded two others in 2004 in north-central Wisconsin. The hunters had ordered Chai Soua Vang off private land. Mr. Vang is serving a life sentence.
About 40,000 Hmong live in Wisconsin, which has the third-highest Hmong population in the United States, after California and Minnesota. Roughly 6,000 live in the Green Bay area. The Hmong, who are from the mountain regions of Laos, were granted refugee status after the end of the Vietnam War.
Cha Vang was among the final wave of Hmong refugees from Thailand and emigrated to Wisconsin two years ago. He spoke little or no English and had recently been laid off from a manufacturing job, said Mr. Thao, of the Hmong community center.
After the killings two years ago, many Hmong felt nervous about hunting. “Everybody was worried,” said Zongsae Vang, a community organizer with the Hmong American Friendship Association in Milwaukee, where most of the state’s Hmong population lives.
Pang Vue Vang, Cha Vang’s wife, does not speak English and she and the children are having difficulty coping with all that is happening, Mr. Thao said. “I see the wife crying all day, and the little one is asking for their dad,” he said.
By ALI WINSTON
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Hal Turner's site under 'attack'
A band of Internet hackers have crashed the Web site of North Bergen white supremacist Hal Turner and blocked his Internet radio broadcasts.
Automated programs - set up by a group of people identifying themselves as "/b/tards" - have sent an avalanche of Internet traffic to Turner's Web site, overloading the Web server. The tactic is known as a "denial of service" attack.
An anonymous message posted Wednesday afternoon on Turner's site read: "We're all just using our free time to attack your site - losing no money and having lots of fun bothering a person selected randomly off the Internet."
The poster claims the attacks aren't associated with the aggressively racist content of Turner's programs: "The invasion has and always will be for the laughs. We don't care about the content - we just need something to fill all the spare time we have."
But several other white supremacist Web sites, including the widely used Web forum Stormfront, also have experienced similar attacks recently.
Turner, a native of Jersey City, still posts on what he calls a "highly content-restricted" blog at Blogspot.com, where he has railed against the hackers and exchanged barbs with them. On Dec. 31, he wrote, "I am, as of now, DEFEATED. My entire existence on the Internet has been utterly wrecked."
But then on Thursday, Turner posted a message claiming his main site was running again and that he had blocked subscribers to Internet providers AT&T and Verizon from his Web site in an effort to prevent more attacks.
As of last night, however, Turner's site - www.halturnershow.com - was still unavailable.
Turner, whose short-wave radio show broadcasting from a Maine radio station ended in 2004, regularly rails against minorities, immigrants and homosexuals. He has advocated violence against these groups and has been profiled by anti-racist watchdogs such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Government officials are also a favored target - recently Turner advocated the assassination of any member of Congress who supports amnesty for illegal immigrants.
He made headlines this summer after hiring a plane to fly a message with an anti-Mexican slur over a pro-immigrant march in Liberty State Park.
That same incident prompted former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Jaime Vazquez to protest in front of Turner's home. When Turner confronted Vazquez, each accused the other of simple assault, but a judge dismissed the charges against each.
Two Minuteman Project volunteers — men who described themselves as members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance — pose near the Mexican border with a handmade sign bearing an image identical to that on Alliance pamphlets and billboards.
The men told fellow volunteers that a total of at least six Alliance members had joined the Minuteman effort in order to recruit new Alliance members and to learn where to conduct their own "Mexican hunts" once media attention flagged.
The men carried assault rifles in their vehicle and boasted that they were scouting "sniper positions."
DOUGLAS, Ariz. | April 22, 2005 -- For months, Jim Gilchrist promised that his Minuteman Project would peacefully observe the Arizona border as a protest against illegal immigration. Volunteers — he said there would be 1,300 of them — would be carefully screened, with FBI help, to keep out white supremacists and racists. No one would be allowed to bear guns except those who had permits to carry concealed weapons.
Gilchrist said that critics who called his group "vigilantes" — naysayers who included President Bush — were absolutely wrong about his volunteers.
Indeed, Gilchrist told USA Today, these men and women sought only to bring attention to a major social problem. Most were "white Martin Luther Kings."
Maybe so. But Gilchrist's accuracy has been less than sterling.
As the month-long April project started, some 300 volunteers showed up — a thousand fewer than predicted. An FBI official denied that the agency was screening Gilchrist's or any other private group's members. At least four-fifths of volunteers did carry weapons, and almost none were checked for permits. Racist talk abounded. And at least some neo-Nazis and other racists did join in Gilchrist's project.
On April 2, as the month-long effort got under way, the Minuteman Project held a protest across the street from the U.S. Border Patrol headquarters in Naco, Ariz. Prominent among the demonstrators were two men who confided that they were members of the Phoenix chapter of the National Alliance — the largest neo-Nazi group in America. One of the two, who sat in lawn chairs throughout, held a sign with arrows depicting invading armies of people from Mexico — a sign identical to National Alliance billboards and pamphlets, except without the Alliance logo.
The presence of Alliance members was not much of a surprise, and there were likely more than that pair. "We're not going to show up as a group and say, 'Hi, we're the National Alliance," Alliance official Shaun Walker told a reporter in the run-up to the protest. "But we have members ... that will participate."
In fact, National Alliance pamphlets were distributed in Tombstone and this predominantly Hispanic community just two days before the Minuteman Project got going. "Non-Whites are turning America into a Third World slum," they read. "They come for welfare or to take our jobs. Let's send them home now."
Many other white supremacists had promised to attend, including members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, but it was difficult to know if they showed up.
One well-known extremist did appear. Armored in a flak jacket and packing a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, Joe McCutchen joined other volunteers patrolling the barbed wire fence separating the United States and Mexico near Bisbee, Ariz.
McCutchen is the recently appointed chairman of Protect Arkansas Now, a group seeking to pass legislation that would deny public benefits to undocumented workers in that state. More to the point, he was identified by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens as a member in 2001 — a charge he denies, though he admits that he did give a speech that year to the group that has described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity." As recently as summer 2003, McCutchen wrote anti-Semitic letters to his hometown newspaper in Fort Smith, Ark.
"A lot of these people coming in, they're diseased," McCutchen told one group of fellow volunteers, who treated him like a visiting celebrity. "They've got tuberculosis, leprosy. I mean, you don't even want to touch them unless you're wearing gloves. So why the hell should we pay our taxes to cure them?"
"They're turning our country into a Third World dumping ground," he said. "We're losing our language to them, losing our culture. They're taking over, and if we don't stop [immigration], our society will not survive. That's why I'm here."
Back in March, Gilchrist had also warned that he had been told that leaders of an extremely violent gang made up of Salvadorans — the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 — had ordered its members to teach "a lesson" to the Minuteman volunteers. As it turned out, however, no frightening, brown-skinned gangsters showed up.
But the National Alliance was certainly there.
The day after the Minuteman rally in Naco, the two Alliance members there — one of whom identified himself as "Sam Adams" — were assigned to an observation post about a mile from McCutchen's location. They arrived there after a 10-minute "training session," driving to the post as they blasted white power music.
"We understand why Gilchrist and [project co-organizer Chris] Simcox have to talk all this P.C., crap," said one. "It's all about playing to the media. That's fine. While we're here, it's their game and we'll play by their rules. Once Minuteman's over, though, we might just have to come back and do our own thing."
Friday, January 12, 2007
The introduction Wednesday of an ambitious agricultural guest-worker plan showcases the changed Capitol Hill circumstances that may make 2007 the year for an immigration overhaul.
Some congressional roadblocks are gone. Sympathetic new leaders are in charge. A restored Democratic majority claims new priorities.
"A year does make a difference," insisted Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.
Or so he hopes.
Joined by lawmakers from Florida and California, and backed by hundreds of farm, labor and church groups, Craig is reintroducing a guest-worker plan that's been debated for years. As many as 1.5 million farmworkers and their relatives now in this country illegally could gain legal status under the bill.
The legislation, dubbed AgJobs, would also revise an existing guest-worker program that farmers consider inefficient. It's the first big immigration overhaul bill introduced this year, mirroring legislation passed last year by the Senate but not the House of Representatives.
"I happen to believe we have the votes," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "I believe the bill can move quickly."
The bill is bipartisan, introduced by Republicans Craig and Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Democrats Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., helped negotiate the package and introduced an identical bill in the House.
The legislation would grant "blue cards" to illegal immigrants who could prove they had worked in agriculture for at least 150 days in the last two years. They must continue working in agriculture for several years before attaining permanent legal status.
The Republicans who controlled the House last year refused to bring the guest-worker legislation up for a vote. This year, Democrats control the House by a 233-202 margin.
"With the change in the majority party, I think we're going to see a situation where we get something done this year," said Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
"There's a little bit more impetus with the change of leadership on the congressional side," said Vito Chiesa, a California peach and almond grower.
The Senate will probably move first, since it took the lead last year. As before, the agricultural guest-worker package could be folded into an immigration overhaul plan that extends beyond farm workers. Congressional negotiators have quietly been redrafting such a comprehensive plan.
The broader proposal will be introduced later with its own fanfare. It will extend to millions of illegal immigrants the opportunity to become legal U.S. residents and, eventually, citizens if they can pay fines and cross other hurdles.
As before, both the broader immigration overhaul and the AgJobs proposal will incite vigorous resistance.
"The Senate has already heard a great number of euphemisms about the AgJobs bill, but let's be clear from the start about what we are discussing," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., warned during earlier debate. "It is amnesty for aliens employed unlawfully in the agricultural sector, and it is amnesty for the businesses that hire and exploit them as cheap labor."
If resistance to a immigration overhaul bill grows too stiff, Berman said, the agricultural guest-worker package could be moved as a separate bill.
Source: Copyright (c) 2006, Contra Costa Times
DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- A pizza chain has been hit with death threats and hate mail after offering to accept Mexican pesos, becoming another flashpoint in the nation's debate over immigrants.
"This is the United States of America, not the United States of Mexico," one e-mail read. "Quit catering to the damn illegal Mexicans," demanded another.
Dallas-based Pizza Patron said it was not trying to inject itself into a larger political debate about illegal immigration when it posted signs this week saying "Aceptamos pesos" -- or "We accept pesos" -- at its 59 stores across Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California.
Pizza Patron spokesman Andy Gamm said the company was just trying to sell more pizza to its customers, 60 percent of whom are Hispanic.
Wal-Mart, H-E-B supermarkets and other American businesses in towns along the Mexican border accept pesos. And some businesses in New York and Minnesota communities along the northern border accept Canadian dollars.
The difference here is that many of the pizza joints are far from the border, in places like Dallas, more than 400 miles away, and Denver, more than 700 miles away.
"If people would understand that the majority of our customers are Hispanic, then it might make more sense for a company to sell pizza for pesos," Gamm said. "It doesn't make sense in Connecticut. And it doesn't make sense in North Dakota or in Maine. But it makes perfect sense here in Dallas, in Phoenix, in Denver -- areas far from the border that have significant Hispanic populations."
The company said it has received hundreds of e-mails, some supportive, most critical.
While praising the pesos plan as an innovative way to appeal to Hispanics, a partner in the nation's largest Hispanic public relations firm said a backlash was inevitable.
"Right now there's a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric going around that could make them a lightning rod," said Patricia Perez, a partner at Valencia, Perez & Echeveste in Los Angeles, California.
Pizza Patron proclaims on its Web site that "to serve the Hispanic community is our passion." Its restaurants are in mostly Hispanic neighborhoods, and each manager must be bilingual and live nearby, said Pizza Patron founder Antonio Swad, who is part-Italian, part-Lebanese.
The take-home menus are in both English and Spanish, and the dishes include the La Mexicana pizza, with spicy chorizo sausage; La Barbacoa pizza, topped with spicy pulled pork; and chicken wings flavored with lime, peppers and garlic con queso.
Many Pizza Patron customers have pesos "sitting in their sock drawers or in their wallets," Gamm said. "We're talking small amounts, where it would be inconvenient to stop and exchange on the way back -- maybe 10 or 20 dollars' worth of pesos."
The promotion will run through the end of February and then be re-evaluated, Swad said.
In the first week, payments in pesos have accounted for about 10 percent of business at the five restaurants operated by the corporation, Pizza Patron said. The others are franchised, and the company will not get reports until the end of the week.
The company has set a conversion rate of 12 pesos per dollar, which is slightly higher than the official rate of about 11 pesos per dollar. Any change is given in U.S. currency.
At a Pizza Patron in Dallas, Veronica Verges bought a pizza Wednesday for her son Nathan's fourth birthday. She paid with pesos her father brought home two weeks ago after a trip to see family in Mexico.
She said she is an occasional Pizza Patron customer, but came that day because she could pay with pesos. Her father wasn't going to use them because he had no plans to go back to Mexico anytime soon.
"I would mostly think a restaurant would do this in a border town," she said. "But it got me over here."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Sunday, January 07, 2007
FARMERS BRANCH, TX – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, along with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, filed suit in Dallas federal district court on behalf of Farmers Branch residents and landlords challenging the city’s recently adopted anti-immigrant ordinance.
“Immigration enforcement must be left to the federal government, not each local municipality,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “Otherwise Texas will end up with a patchwork system that is impractical and unenforceable, and in Farmers Branch, private landowners as well as tenants will pay an unfair price.”
The lawsuit charges that the Farmers Branch anti-immigrant ordinance runs afoul of federal immigration law and places landlords in the untenable position of acting as federal immigration officers. The complaint also alleges that the ordinance is so poorly drafted that it excludes even some authorized immigrants from renting in Farmers Branch apartment complexes.
“The Farmers Branch law is a botched attempt to force landlords to police immigration” stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel. “The Latino population of Farmers Branch is a strength, not a liability, and city leaders should not be wasting tax money to drive out people who help the city,” continued Perales.
The housing ordinance is scheduled to take effect on January 12, 2007.
The complaint filed today challenging the ordinance is available online here: COMPLAINT
Article Launched:01/02/2007 11:01:54 PM PST
LONG BEACH - Despite passionate and sometimes lengthy arguments, six defense attorneys on Tuesday lost a round of motions to dismiss assault charges and hate-crime allegations against their clients - all of them black youths accused of attacking three white women on Halloween night.
The motions came at the start of the defense case in a Long Beach Superior Court adjudication hearing that could end in all 10 accused juveniles, some of them college-bound athletes, being sent into confinement for months or years.
The juveniles, nine girls and one boy who ranged in age from 12 to 17 at the time, allegedly took part in a mob beating that left three young women badly beaten on Linden Avenue in Bixby Knolls.
In presenting their motions to Judge Gibson Lee, defense attorneys argued primarily for their individual clients, pointing out weaknesses in witnesses' testimony and criticizing how the police set up identification lineups on the night of the incident. But several of them also joined together to address the hate-crime allegations, which affects all 10 juveniles.
According to prosecutors, the mob beating involved some 25 to 30 people and began after two people in the crowd yelled racial epithets, including "I hate f----ing white people."
Jack Fuller, the first to make a motion, argued that the prosecution was attempting to prove guilt by association and holding a number of people accountable for someone else's intent.
According to the law governing hate crimes, he said, race must be a substantial factor in the crime. And, he said, there's no evidence that any of the people involved in the attack heard those racially charged words - "much less joined in them."
Other attorneys agreed, saying that the actual assault could not possibly be attached to the words of one or two people in a crowd, both of whom are still at large. And, attorney Frank Williams argued, a lack of any other obvious motive does not prove that the motive was hate.
But Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bouas argued the racial epithets were "the battle cry" that incited the incident - throwing small pumpkins, lemons and other objects at the women - which then escalated into serious violence.
"It defies logic to say that just because I acted doesn't mean that I should have any hateful intent," she said, adding that the words and the actions were married together. "It was not serendipitous."
Several attorneys seized on the limited amount of evidence that exists against each of their clients. In several cases, a witness who testified early in the adjudication hearing was the only person to tie the juveniles to the crime, using primarily clothing, jewelry and hair styles to make the identifications.
Some youths were also found in a red car with the cell phone of one of the victims inside the vehicle.
"It is not a crime to be a passenger in a red car on Halloween night," said attorney Marc Rothenberg, adding that, if the prosecution is correct, there are another 20 people who participated in the beating still at large.
Bouas said that was irrelevant.
"We aren't concerned about the people that we don't have," she said. "We are concerned about the people that we do have. And the people who we do have (were found with) the victim's cell phone in their car."
Other attorneys pointed out the chaotic nature of the event, questioned police tactics and said they found it impossible to believe that a court could uphold a criminal petition based on the facts presented by the prosecution during the month-long hearing.
The beating has already brought so much tragedy to the victims, their families and the community, Rothenberg said.
"I'm asking the court not to make it a judicial tragedy," he said.
The arguments made by defense attorneys Tuesday seemed especially passionate and lengthy when compared to Judge Lee's quick rulings in each, denying the motion one by one and moving on to the next. At one point, after Lee had denied the fourth motion without comment, family members sitting in the audience let out an audible groan and shook their heads.
Motions from the remaining four attorneys are expected to be decided when the hearing resumes today at 1 p.m.
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Friday, January 5, 2007 - 12:00 AM
Two men accused of racially harassing and beating their supervisor in Bellevue pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday.
The pleas were entered by Randy Welborn, 48, and Randall Stencel, 52, before King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler.
Both men are being prosecuted under a state hate-crime statute that makes a race-related assault a felony.
Each man is accused of malicious harassment and assault following a dispute that took place in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott hotel at 110th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Eighth Street about 3 a.m. Dec. 23.
Both men worked as tree trimmers doing contract work through the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for Puget Sound Energy after the December windstorm, according to court documents.
The incident started as Welborn and Stencel began making comments about "the Mexicans taking all the jobs," Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Hogan said during the men's arraignment Thursday.
The comments led to a supervisor approaching the men and asking them to stop their remarks, Hogan said.
Instead, the men, who are white, began taunting the supervisor, Desmond Lindsey, who is black, Hogan said.
Welborn called Lindsey racial names, talked about "white pride" and the Ku Klux Klan, according to the charges, and then began punching Lindsey in the head. Stencel told Welborn to beat Lindsey, the charges continued, and joined the attack, with Welborn then pushing his thumbs into Lindsey's eyes.
Bellevue police were called and the men were arrested. Both men were believed to be intoxicated, Hogan added.
Lindsey did not appear in court and is believed to have returned to his home in California, Hogan said.
Asplundh spokeswoman Kristin Wild said Thursday that the company had no comment other than the case is under investigation by its risk-management section and that it could not say whether the men have been fired.
Stencel, of Washougal, Clark County, who had been released after posting a $2,500 bond, refused comment when approached outside the courtroom.
Welborn, of Fairview, Ore., remains in King County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, with Kessler denying a motion to reduce bail.
A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17.
Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or email@example.com
January 06, 2007
This arrest was the result of great police work.
A 20-year-old man caught on video delivering a flying kick to an 8-foot menorah in St. James was arrested and charged with a hate crime, Suffolk police said Saturday.
Andrew Cucciniello, of 24 Great Oak Rd., St. James, was to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on a charge of criminal mischief as a hate crime, a felony with a maximum 7-year sentence.
'This arrest was the result of great police work,' Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said in a statement. 'My administration and the Suffolk County Police Department will continue to aggressively pursue perpetrators of such heinous hate crimes. We will simply not tolerate this type of act in our county.'
Police did not say what led investigators to Cucciniello, who was arrested Friday. A woman who answered the phone at Cucciniello's home Saturday night declined to comment.
A man dressed in dark-colored clothing was seen in a blurry, black-and-white surveillance video, running up to the menorah in the St. James Chamber of Commerce display on Lake Avenue about 3 a.m. Dec. 17, jumping about 4 feet high and delivering a toppling kick.
The footage was captured by a camera near the site of the menorah. It is one of several in the county that is installed during the holiday season to monitor activity where religious decorations are displayed.
The menorah was left in five or six pieces on the grass near Lake Avenue and rebuilt the following day about 2 feet higher and twice as wide.
'I feel bad for a person who has that bad of judgment,' said Scott Posner, the chamber's chairman of the board. 'But we harbor no ill will toward ...'
The incident was the first of three menorah desecrations in Suffolk. No arrests have been made in the other cases, in Bay Shore and Islip.
Copyright © 2007 Newsday.com, All Rights Reserved.
Cesar Munoz Acebes -- EFE
WASHINGTON -- The battle over immigration is resuming in a U.S. Congress that is now under Democratic control, yet despite that party's generally more sympathetic stance toward immigrants, many Hispanics view the legislative session with a mixture of hope and apprehension.
The victory of the Democrats in the November elections gave hope to those people supporting regularization of the status of the some 12 million undocumented immigrants who are thought to live in this country.
In the Senate, the Democrats have included immigration reform on the list of their 10 top-priority projects, according to Federico de Jesus, the spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
They express their "commitment" to the issue, but the decision has not resulted in the setting of any time period within which to advance the proposal, De Jesus said.
In Thursday's first full Senate session, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, appealed to his colleagues "to put aside the mean-spiritedness and short-sighted policies driven by fear and recognize (that) the dignity of those whose work contributes to reinvigorating America."
"As the new Congress begins, we have a tremendous opportunity before us to enact fair, comprehensive immigration reform. It is time for bipartisan action. Accordingly, I join with senators from both sides of the aisle to call for comprehensive immigration reform and will work to enact it," he said.
Many Hispanics share those sentiments. "I hope that upon the change in power in Congress there will be reform," said Jose Garcia, a 40-year-old Honduran.
But others are more pessimistic. "I don't think it will happen soon. It's an issue that has to be discussed a lot," said Bolivian Juan Quiros, 45.
"There's a lot of hate of Hispanics," he said.
Those opposing legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants are undaunted by the beginning of Democratic control of the legislature.
Jack Martin, director of special projects for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, said in Spanish that many of the new Democrats elected to Congress opposed legalizing undocumented people during their campaigns.
Martin said that the 500,000 members of his organization nationwide will send letters to - and will telephone - their legislators to urge them not to even think about legalizing the "illegals."
He promised that "we're going to fight against amnesty," as conservative groups call it.
But the politicians also will be under pressure from another quarter. The U.S. Chamber of Congress, which with its 3 million members is the largest business federation in the world, committed itself on Thursday to use its influence to promote immigration reform that includes a guest worker program.
"Immigration reform is critical to our ability to find needed workers in the face of changing demographics," chamber president and CEO Thomas Donohue told a press conference in Washington on Thursday.
He warned that the United States needs immigrants to pay for the retirement pensions of the 77 million baby-boomers who are beginning to reach retirement age.
"People who oppose guest worker programs are as dumb as a box of rocks," Donohue said.
At the side of the chamber is a group of organizations defending immigrants - but from the point of view of human rights - such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The chairman of the conference's Migration Committee, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, said in a statement issued Thursday: "Our nation's legitimate security concerns have been distorted by some who would foment anxiety, fear and a distrust of migrants."
The two groups are ready to resume their battle where they left off last year, when one side considered the most drastic measures for restricting immigration in decades and the other pushed for regularizing the status of most of the undocumented people.
Finally, the Republicans in the House prevented the approval of any bill to get immigrants without the proper papers out of the shadows, and the only measure that arrived at the desk of President George W. Bush was one authorizing the construction of a double fence 760 miles long along the border with Mexico.
Democratic Party leaders have promised, however, that now that they are in control things will be very different.
Source: Copyright (C) 2007. Agencia EFE S.A.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
BY RANDY BLAZAK
Randy Blazak is an associate professor of sociology at Portland State University in Oregon and director of the Hate Crime Research Network, which conducts academic work on bias criminality
January 5, 2007
Hate happens in unusual places. As an undercover hate crime researcher, I found it in the expected locales - Klan rallies, skinhead parties and neo-Nazi meetings.
But the more time I spent in such circles, the more I came to appreciate that many hate crimes are committed by people who are not members of organized hate groups. Their justification often starts out, "I'm not a racist, but . . ."
Such people typically feel that the privileges they enjoy - by virtue of being representative of a majority race, religion and/or sexual orientation - are threatened. They fear being reduced to minority status and will commit crimes to stop change.
Indications are that the recent string of menorah vandalism in Suffolk County was the work of people with these kinds of fears. The destruction of three displays during the holiday season, a time when love is celebrated, fits with a pattern we see in hate crimes.
One menorah, outside the St. James Chamber of Commerce, for example, was knocked down while the Christian displays next to it were left untouched. Hate crimes often have a defensive religious motive behind them.
But other issues besides religion are at work among both "regular people" and hate groups. The key motivations sound like the contents of any newsmagazine. They include immigration, gay marriage, U.S. support of Israel and declining wages of workers. Klansmen think there are too many Hispanics sneaking across the border. Racist skinheads think gay marriage is an abomination. And neo-Nazis think the rise of terrorism and the outsourcing of American jobs are both connected to our support of Israel. "Regular people" also vent on such issues.
While crosses are still being burned and synagogues spray-painted with swastikas, hate has gone mainstream. That is, people in at least some otherwise respectable circles see that hatred can be used to affect social policy.
Thus, law-enforcement agencies seeking to curb hate crime have readjusted their techniques for dealing with the issue - adopting policies that respect constitutional rights and simultaneously recognize that hate crimes work as a form of terrorism. The FBI says 8,380 hate-crime incidents were reported to police in 2005. This number is a fraction of the actual number, as most hate crimes are not reported to police. The FBI also says only about 5 percent of hate crimes are committed by active members of hate groups.
Then who commits the other 95 percent? The Suffolk incidents offer some clues. There is no evidence that they were the work of organized groups.
What the FBI data does tell us about hate crimes is that there are patterns and trends. Anti-black hate crimes are the most common, followed by anti-Jewish crimes. Anti-gay hate crimes increase in an election year when an issue, such as a referendum on same-sex marriage, is on the ballot. After the 9/11 attacks, hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims and those who looked like them spiked dramatically. Anti-Hispanic violence has increased with increased rhetoric about the alleged threat of illegal immigration.
Each of these upswings in "regular people" getting involved in terroristic hate crimes is fueled by sensationalized and irrational fears - of gays destroying marriage, of terrorists, of Mexicans taking jobs away.
There is now a new player in the fear Olympics, the "war on Christmas." The United States is a diverse society with many religious traditions. Yet, Santa Claus has been winning the war on Hanukkah.
Americans who are considerate often say "happy holidays" to be respectful of others' different faith traditions. Not Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. He and Fox News anchor John Gibson (author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought") have been waging a two-man war against their imagined war on Santa and the baby Jesus.
The fear that our way of life is "under attack" is a powerful motivator. It worked to justify the invasion of Iraq, just as it works to motivate homophobic violence and anti-Semitic vandalism. Suburbs are the new battleground as straight white Christian men are told that somebody is trying to take their privileges away.
Bigots aren't all inbred sub-moronic rednecks. Just ask Michael Richards. They can be anyone being told to fear some alleged threat. They are the people who say: "I'm not a racist, but . . ."
• New black mayor trounced white opponent in 80 percent white Louisiana town
• His body found in parking lot, bullet wound in chest, near his revolver
• Coroner says gun was pressed to his chest when fired, indicating suicide
• Coroner: Family's belief it was murder is common reaction to suicide
WESTLAKE, Louisiana (AP) -- In the hours before his death on the evening of December 30, the first black mayor of this overwhelmingly white town started learning his new job.
About noon, he set City Hall's alarm system for the first time. He got instructions on how to raise and lower the U.S. flag. He had already ordered a new mayoral letterhead with his name on it and a button-down shirt embroidered "Gerald Washington, Mayor."
A few hours later he indulged in a hobby, placing a $4 bet at a nearby horse-racing track.
But by 10 p.m. Gerald "Wash" Washington was dead in the deserted parking lot of a former high school, a bullet wound in his chest. His gun was found by the body.
The coroner and the sheriff have pronounced Washington's death a suicide -- a finding that has embroiled this oil-refinery town in conspiracy theories, with Washington's kin and friends insisting he had no reason to end his life. (Watch what relatives have to say and why a second autopsy was orderedVideo)
Some have accused police of covering up a murder -- perhaps a racially motivated one.
"This is the South, so of course everybody's going to say it was some white guy shooting a black guy," said Dr. Terry Welke, the Calcasieu Parish coroner who ruled that Washington killed himself.
Welke said soot from the pistol was deep in the wound, indicating the gun was touching Washington's chest when the trigger was pulled. That, he said, suggested suicide. He also said that while most gunfire suicides involve a bullet to the head, it is not unusual for people to kill themselves with a shot to the chest.
But the coroner and the sheriff have offered no reason for why Washington would have killed himself. No suicide note was found. And there is no evidence he bade farewell to anyone, put his financial affairs in order, or gave any other indication he was about to kill himself, authorities said.
Washington's son, Geroski, accused the sheriff's office of doing a sloppy job, and asked the state police to take over the investigation.
"We were dissatisfied with the time frame of the investigation and the way it was opened and closed. We're thinking it's a cover-up because of the quick and fast work they did and didn't do," he told the American Press, the local newspaper.
State police entered the case earlier this week and took the body to Baton Rouge for another autopsy. The state police said it is interviewing friends of Washington's family, but it would not otherwise comment on the investigation.
Popular, with 'a smile that would light up this room'
Gerald Washington, 57, was a Vietnam veteran, a retired refinery supervisor who spent 12 years as a city councilman. He stood about 6-feet-5 and enjoyed rumbling around town on his Harley Davidson, dressed in leather pants and chaps. Colleagues described him as magnetic, outgoing and always friendly.
"He had a smile that would just light up this room," said the outgoing mayor, Dudley Dixon. "He had a just dominating personality."
Washington's popularity was obvious: He defeated a white opponent in last fall's election with 69 percent of the vote in this town, which is 80 percent white. Westlake, population 4,500, is near Lake Charles, about 200 miles west of New Orleans.
On the day of his death, Washington met Dixon about noon at City Hall, where he learned about the alarm system. The men lowered the flag to half-staff, to commemorate the death of former President Ford.
A passing motorist called 911 just before 10 p.m., after spotting Washington's body in the parking lot of the school administration building that used to be Mossville High, where Washington went to school and played basketball. Washington lay on his back, in a T-shirt and baseball cap, the coroner's office said.
Pearl-handled revolver and betting slip near body
Near the body was a pearl-handled revolver. On Washington's body investigators found a betting slip from Delta Downs from 4:44 p.m.
The coroner said the reaction of Washington's family to the suicide finding -- disbelief -- is not unusual.
"Almost every case of suicide is like that," he said. "Suicides give us more grief than anything else."
That explanation hasn't dampened rumors in town, particularly among blacks, that it should be a murder case.
"Someone lured him to Mossville," said Pat Hartman, 61, a lifelong resident of Mossville, the neighboring town where she and Washington went to school. "Why would he want to go to Mossville, to kill himself at his alma mater?"
"That boy didn't kill himself. Somebody killed him."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A report released this week by the Texas Comptrollers Office found that undocumented immigrants contributed $17.7 billion to that states economy and that state revenues collected from undocumented immigrants exceeded what was spent on services for them by $424.7 million.
The report found that undocumented immigrants in Texas generated more taxes and other revenue than the state spends on them. These findings run in direct contradiction to a recent report from The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), “The Cost of Illegal Immigration to Texans” which claimed that "Texas’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers more than $4.7 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration."
Comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, was quick to point out that this was the first time any state agency in the country presented "a comprehensive financial analysis of the impact of undocumented immigrants on a state’s budget and economy, looking at gross state product, revenues generated, taxes paid and the cost of state services."
The report titled "Undocumented Immigrants In Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy" found that "“the absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received."
Much has been written in recent months about the costs and economic benefits associated with the rising number of undocumented immigrants in Texas and the U.S. as a whole. Most reports tie the costs of the undocumented population to education, medical expenses, incarceration and the effects of low-paid workers on the salaries of legal residents. Revenue gains to governments resulting from undocumented immigrants consist primarily of taxes that cannot be avoided, such as sales taxes, various fees and user taxes on items such as gasoline and motor vehicle inspections.
This financial report focuses on the costs to the state of Texas; that is, services paid for with state revenue, including education, healthcare and incarceration. What government- sponsored services are available to undocumented immigrants is often determined by federal restrictions on spending (Exhibit 1). The report also identifies areas of costs to local governments and hospitals. Finally, it analyzes the $17.7 billion impact on the state’s economy as well as state revenues generated by undocumented immigrants.
The Comptroller’s report estimates that undocumented immigrants in Texas generate more taxes and other revenue than the state spends on them. This finding is contrary to two recent reports, FAIR’s, “The Cost of Illegal Immigration to Texans” and the Bell Policy Center’s “Costs of Federally Mandated Services to Undocumented Immigrants in Colorado”, both of which identified costs exceeding revenue.
The immigration debate has become more heated in 2006. Congressional hearings were held across the U.S. to discuss the impact of undocumented immigrants on the economy and the culture. At the same time, two distinctly different pieces of legislation were voted out of the U.S. House and Senate.
The Comptroller’s office estimates the absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our Gross State Product of $17.7 billion. Also, the Comptroller’s office estimates that state revenues collected from undocumented immigrants exceed what the state spent on services, with the difference being $424.7 million (Exhibit 1Cool.
The largest cost factor was education, followed by incarceration and healthcare. Consumption taxes and fees, the largest of which is the sales tax, were the largest revenue generators from undocumented immigrants.
"Undocumented Immigrants In Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy"
The study did show that unlike the state, local governments and hospitals incur costs that are not reimbursed by the state or federal government.
While not the focus of this report, some local costs and revenues were estimated. State-paid health care costs are a small percentage of total health care spending for undocumented immigrants. The Comptroller estimates
cost to hospitals not reimbursed by state funds totaled $1.3 billion in 2004. Similarly, 2005 local costs for incarceration are estimated to be $141.9 million. The Comptroller estimates that undocumented immigrants paid more than $513 million in fiscal 2005 in local taxes, including city, county and special district sales and property taxes.
While state revenues exceed state expenditures for undocumented immigrants, local governments and hospitals experience the opposite, with the estimated difference being $928.9 million for 2005.
The $1.3 billion in uncompensated costs to local hospitals attributed to undocumented immigrants represents 14% of the total $9.2 billion in uncompensated care reported for uninsured and underinsured individuals who could not pay for the services they received. As healthcare professionals are quick to point out, the problem of uncompensated care is systemic and not limited to the undocumented. Studies show that the undocumented generally utilize health services at a much lower rates than legal residents and that the chief causes of increasing rates of uncompensated costs are the ever increasing numbers of uninsured coupled with limited payment schedules of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
Original Report: PDF
Jan. 5, 2007 -- Kevin Alfred Strom, a major American neo-Nazi leader for almost 20 years, was arrested by federal agents in Virginia Thursday night and charged with possession of child pornography and witness tampering.
Court records indicate federal agents found pornographic pictures had been on Strom's computer hard drive between October 2005 and last August. Strom was also charged with trying to intimidate an unnamed witness against him.
Strom, founder of the National Vanguard white supremacist group, took a "leave of absence" from his post as leader of that group last July 18, citing "health and family matters." In a statement at the time, Strom said he had "made mistakes, sometimes serious ones," during his life, but he gave no further hint of trouble.
Strom goes before a federal judge today for arraignment.
Born in 1956, Strom had already joined the extreme-right John Birch Society before he finished high school. In the late 1970s, he became a follower of William Pierce, founder of the notorious National Alliance neo-Nazi group. In that role, he started a radio show, and became known as the group's second "intellectual," after Pierce, though he was attacked for an allegedly effeminate voice and manner. When Pierce died in 2002, Strom remained with the Alliance for a time, but broke away to form National Vanguard after a 2005 dispute with other Alliance leaders.
Strom's interest in young girls was well known. While living at the Alliance's West Virginia compound in the 1990s, and later, living with his then-wife Kirsten Kaiser in Minnesota, he hosted a website with a huge section devoted to "feminine beauty." In practical terms, that meant he posted dozens of photographs of attractive, very young, white girls, many in bikinis. He was particularly fond of the then-child actress Brooke Shields, who he ran several photographs of astride a horse.
"The beauty of the women and girls of our race has inspired our greatest poets, artists, and writers throughout our history," Strom wrote on his site at the time. "[I]f anything is sacred, our girls and women are, and they must be protected from the degradation and degeneracy that is inherent in multiculturalism."
"The website had some National Socialist stuff, but it also had all these pictures of girls who were about 12," Kaiser, 44, told the Intelligence Report after learning of the arrest of Strom, whom she divorced in 1999 after having three children by him. "He used to talk about [the 18th century composer Antonio] Vivaldi, too, saying the reason he was able to write such wonderful music was that he worked at an all-girls school [in Venice]. Kevin also used to say that the only sport he was interested in was nymphet baseball, whatever that means. And he had all these paintings all over the house of water nymphs. He really liked that stuff."
Kaiser, who wrote the 2003 book Bondage of Self about her experiences with Strom and the Alliance, said she was contacted last November by Strom's current wife, Elisha Strom. Elisha, 31, told her that she had left her husband, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., last summer. Then she made a surprising statement.
"She said that for the first two years of her marriage she tried to figure out what was wrong with her [because Strom showed no sexual interest in her], and for the second two years she tried to figure out what was wrong with him," recalled Kaiser, who was interviewed by the FBI about her ex-husband's sexual proclivities last November. "The fact is, he wasn't interested [sexually] in me, either, once we got married, and I never could figure out what was wrong with me."
Strom's group, National Vanguard, grew rapidly when it was first formed in 2005, setting up 15 chapters in just its first month of existence and absorbing hundreds of disgruntled former National Alliance members. But it has shrunk in recent months, and is far less active than its neo-Nazi competitors.
Updated: 9:37 p.m. CT Dec 14, 2006
LINCOLN, Neb. - A Lancaster County judge has ruled that a former state trooper fired for joining a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan should not be reinstated.
The decision by District Court Judge Jeffre Cheuvront vacates an arbitrator's ruling that Trooper Robert Henderson should not have been fired.
The 49-year-old was dismissed in March after patrol officials discovered he had joined a racist group and posted messages on its Web site.
The arbitrator cited a lack of evidence that Henderson treated people differently because of their race while working as a trooper.
The state attorney general's office appealed that decision, and Cheuvront ruled Wednesday in the state's favor.
The judge said Henderson violated the state's public policy against discrimination.
"The patrol has a well-deserved reputation as an institution with the highest integrity, and this ruling confirms the patrol's ability to take actions necessary to maintain the public trust," Attorney General Jon Bruning said after the ruling was announced.
Henderson's lawyer, Vincent Valentino, had said the state has tried to "demonize him beyond belief."
Calls to Valentino's office and home went unanswered Thursday evening.
Henderson told an investigator he joined the Knights Party in June 2004 as a way to vent his frustrations about his separation with his wife. She left him for a Hispanic man.
Henderson posted four messages to the Knights' Web site, according to the investigator's report. The group describes itself as the most active Klan organization in the United States.
Valentino has said the state, instead of firing Henderson, should have found another position for him within the patrol besides a trooper. Henderson's family includes black and Hispanic members, a fact Valentino pointed out when arguing that his client is not racist.
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
As the power of the centralized Hammerskin Nation declines, a rise in independent skin crews may bring a new era of violence.
Last Memorial Day weekend, three racist skinheads stood side-by-side to pose for a photo at the Imperial Klans of America compound near Dawson Springs, Ky., where the IKA hosts the annual white power gathering Nordic Fest. Two of them -- Eric Fairburn and Brien James, both founders of the Hoosier State Skinheads -- flipped off the camera while holding a red, white, and black flag upside down. The flag displayed the marching hammers symbol of Hammerskin Nation, a coalition of regional skinhead groups that dominated the United States skinhead scene for almost a decade. By posing with the flag upside down, Fairburn, James, and their accomplice declared the reign of Hammerskin Nation finished. Lest there be any mistaking their intent, the skinhead in the middle, a member of the Keystone State Skinheads, held his arms downward, fists closed, a deliberate inversion of the Hammerskin Nation signal of crossed arms up.
The photo is a remarkable symbol of the rapid and treacherous balkanization under way among organized skinheads in America, as well as a telling indicator of how the skinhead scene in this country, now more than ever, is less the revolutionary political movement its adherents claim than a disjointed criminal subculture. The skins in the photo are behaving like gangbangers, not race warriors. They're "dissing" the Hammerskins, their fellow Aryans, right down to the gang signs.
These trends parallel an alarming resurgence in skinhead activity nationwide, which continues to intensify. At the beginning of 2002, there were 18 skinhead crews active in the United States, most of them under the control of Hammerskin Nation. That count has now more than tripled to 59 active crews, only six of which belong to Hammerskin Nation.
As the power of the Hammerskins has waned, the skinhead scene has entered a free-for-all phase, with new and unaffiliated local, state, and regional crews proliferating rapidly. More and more of these newcomers subscribe to the ultra-violent ethos and disorganized crime profiteering of a chaotic band of Midwest-based gangster skins known as the Vinlanders.
While there's no skinhead census, and no official statistics on skinhead-specific crime, cops on the street that specialize in tracking skins say the facts are clear. "Skinhead activity has easily doubled in the last couple of years, and the Vinlander influence is huge," says Matt Browning, a detective with the Mesa, Ariz., police department who has investigated white power gangs in his region and their nationwide connections for 10 years, including two years undercover. "They're more violent, they're more technically savvy than before in terms of using the Internet to organize, and, while they're still motivated by race and politics, it's also about money now."
Bloodshed and Retaliation
The ongoing devolution of the skinhead scene began with what will live in infamy in skinhead lore as "the pool cue and blowtorch incident." It happened in mid-1999, when Hammerskin Nation's power was peaking, with about 600 Hammerskins distributed across five regional divisions. To become a Hammerskin, a skinhead who wanted to join had to be a "prospect" for one year, then a "probate" for six months. All this time, and forever after, they were required to pay $10 a month in dues to their local chapter, and $10 a month to Hammerskin national leaders in Dallas, who asserted dominion over skinheads nationwide, portrayed Hammerskin Nation as elite, and enforced strict codes of conduct.
Early that summer, these leaders issued a direct order to the members and two probates of the Indiana chapter of the Northern Hammerskins that set in motion a cycle of bloodshed, retaliation, and dissent that continues to shape the level and nature of skinhead criminal activity in this country and abroad.
The order was simple: Hammerskin leaders had determined that a certain Hammerskin was no longer worthy of membership due to his persistent sexual propositioning of a fellow member's wife. They directed the Indiana Hammerskins to seek out this offender, inform him of their decision, and then "remove" his Hammerskin "colors," meaning any patches, pins or other markers indicating his affiliation.
Looking back, the Dallas shot callers may wish they'd been more specific on the meaning of "remove." When a pack of five Indiana Hammerskins tracked down the offender, they not only roughed him up and tore off his colors, they held him down, burned off his Hammerskin tattoos with a blowtorch, and then shoved a pool cue up his rectum.
The Hammerskin leaders were outraged and banished the attackers for exceeding their orders. Basically, the five Indiana skinheads were punished for being too violent. Eight of the other Indiana Hammerskins turned in their patches in protest of the punishment and together, the 13 former Hammerskins formed a new, rogue crew they called Outlaw Hammerskins, which represented the first serious challenge to Hammerskin Nation authority.
From their very beginning, the Outlaw Hammerskins represented a new breed of racist skinhead. They avowed white power, yet listened to black gangsta rap. They had neo-Nazi tattoos, yet dripped with gold chains. They wore Doc Martens, but also gold teeth. They formed close ties with the Hell's Angels, working security at the outlaw biker gang's events (the father of Jeremy Maske, one of the founding Outlaw skinheads, was the president of the Indiana chapter of the Hell's Angels at the time).
Within a few months, the Outlaw Hammerskins had chapters across Indiana and Wisconsin. Their creed was "take it to the extreme." If another skinhead crew mocked them for being "whiggers" (white "niggers"), Outlaw Hammerskins would beat them down. If attacked with fists and feet, Outlaw Hammerskins would retaliate with bats and knives. If a rival pulled a knife, an Outlaw Hammerskin pulled a gun.
"We do remain open and hospitable to other racialists who pass through our cities and states. However, we do not tolerate disrespect," they announced on their website. "Meaning we don't talk shit. There is no 'next time.' We'll light you up on the fucking spot."
On Memorial Day weekend 2000, less than a year after the Outlaw Hammerskins formed, three vanloads of Outlaw Hammerskin hooligans showed up at the Imperial Klans of America compound, looking to start trouble at Nordic Fest, which at that time was heavily attended by Hammerskin Nation skinheads. The Outlaw Hammerskins skins were heavily armed, and when IKA security refused to allow them into the festival, they fired a volley of shots into the air, putting Hammerskin Nation on notice.
The following year, Outlaw Hammerskins showed up in force at Nordic Fest, making it clear the event was no longer Hammerskin Nation's exclusive skinhead stomping ground. In part because of this loss of face, Hammerskin Nation membership numbers began to wither. Today, Hammerskin Nation is more like Hammerskin Hamlet. It's down to about 150 members. "Hammers have been dropping their patches all over the place," says Detective Browning. The decline of the Hammerskin Nation has been fueled by the insurrection of the Outlaw Hammerskins, lawsuits filed by hate crime victims, and widespread discontent with Hammerskin Nation's elitism among working-class, anti-authoritarian racist youths.
Still another big factor was the collapse of Panzerfaust Records, a hate rock music company that distributed popular Hammerskin Nation-affiliated bands like Max Resist, Bound for Glory, and the Mid-Town Boot Boys. Panzerfaust's owner, Anthony Pierpont, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hammerskin Nation festivals and legal battles after he founded the label in 1998, but had to scuttle the company last year after the Intelligence Report revealed he's of Mexican descent. (Despite being a "mud person," Pierpont is still active in the business side of organized hate. His most recent venture is manufacturing T-shirts for National Socialist Movement commander Jeff Schoep and National Alliance chairman Erich Gliebe; see Nazis Falling).
Rise of the Regional Crews
Infighting caused the Outlaw Hammerskins to implode in 2002, but by then they'd made an indelible mark on skinhead culture. Instead of leading to a return to power for Hammerskin Nation, the demise of the Outlaw Hammerskins sparked the still-ongoing surge of independent, regional crews that have continued the Outlaw Hammerskin tradition of openly challenging and disrespecting Hammerskin Nation and its only ally, the Portland, Ore.-based regional crew Volksfront.
Two of these new, unruly crews, the Hoosier State Skinheads and the Ohio State Skinheads, rose directly from the ashes of the Outlaw Hammerskins. The Hoosier State Skinheads were co-founded by former Outlaw Hammerskins Brien James and Eric Fairburn. James and Fairburn also attended the first meeting in Central Ohio in 2003 of the Ohio State Skinheads, whose founders include other former Outlaw Hammerskins. (Ohio State Skinheads now has three local chapters in Ohio).
The largest statewide crew now active is the Keystone State Skinheads, which formed in September 2001 in Harrisburg, Pa. (One of its five founders, Steven Smith, is a former Aryan Nations member who was recruited into the neo-Nazi movement while an Army soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.) The Keystone State Skinheads now has nine chapters across Pennsylvania and sponsors regular concerts and "white power picnics." Its logo is a pit bull or bulldog in a circle made of chain against a red, black, and white background (see logos chart).
The Ohio State Skinheads, Hoosier State Skinheads, and Keystone State Skinheads are all also part of the Vinlander Social Club, a.k.a. the Vinlanders, a skinhead "warrior clan" devoted to drinking, fighting, and a racist variant of Odinism, a form of ancient paganism once practiced by Vikings. Fairburn, James, and other Hoosier State and Ohio State Skinheads founded the Vinlanders in 2004; today, that group has about 200 full members. Unlike Hammerskin Nation, which requires even probationary members to renounce their allegiance to any other skinhead crew, the Vinlanders allow and even encourage dual membership. A Vinlander can be an Ohio State or Hoosier State Skinhead, and vice-versa.
"Everyone [in Arizona] wants to be Vinlander now," says Detective Browning. "The Vinlanders have very quickly gone from a little skinhead group in the Midwest to a national force with a great web presence. The bigger they become, the more power they have, and they're getting bigger."
On Oct. 22, 2005, on the Logan, Ohio, property of Ohio State Skinheads member Kevin Kislingbury, the Vinlander Social Club hosted the first official Blood and Honour council, a unity meeting of regional skinhead crews also known as the Council of 28. The meeting was attended by at least 60 representatives of more than a dozen skinhead crews, including Hoosier and Ohio State Skinheads, Keystone State Skinheads, the New Jersey Skins, the Canyon State Skins (Arizona), and the Maryland Skins (one of the fastest growing state crews), as well as the Imperial Klans of America and the National Alliance.
Conspicuously absent at the Blood and Honour council was anyone representing Hammerskin Nation or Volksfront.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the council members decided they would meet once a year in the future, and that any group "meeting the council criteria" would send two representatives. They also established a "uniform code of appearance and conduct" for "large scale public actions," and designated the neo-Nazi National Alliance as their official "political outlet."
The former Outlaw Hammerskins also reversed themselves on the issue of hate rock, according to the minutes, deciding by majority vote to "explore the option of holding events for the general public for profit." This was a major shift. Hammerskin Nation and Volksfront have a long history of organizing hate rock festivals to raise money and also of channeling hate rock CDs and neo-Nazi flags, shirts, pins, patches, and other paraphernalia to countries where such items are banned. But when the Outlaw Hammerskins broke away, they announced they would have nothing to do with the shady business of hate rock or recruitment commerce. With the exception of the Keystone State Skinheads, the council crews had all followed suit.
So what changed their minds?
Perhaps the hate rock company representatives who also attended the Council of 28 convinced the skinhead leaders there that if they would just put down their mead drinking horns and pick up their thinking caps, they could make serious money. "The Vinlanders have the backing of the hate rock record labels now, the labels are bringing money to the table," says Detective Browning.
White power music, after all, is a more lucrative underground trade in Europe than dealing in hashish, according to Interpol. The demand for American skinhead music is tremendous there both because there are far more skinheads and because it's illegal for hate rock bands to perform, record, or even rehearse in most European countries. So while skinheads in Europe for the most part consider their American counterparts to be drunken buffoons -- and with good reason -- they are dependent upon the disorganized crime of U.S. skinheads to supply them with merchandise they otherwise couldn't have.
For these reasons, U.S. skinheads wield huge influence overseas, especially in Germany and the former Soviet Union, where there are 30,000-50,000 skinheads in Moscow alone, according to Russian police. They terrorize and kill non-whites and Jews at a rate unimaginable in this country. In Russia, skinhead culture, much of it exported from the U.S., has brought death and destruction for a generation. (There is also some European influence on U.S. skinheads. For example, the Burnden County Hooligans, a New Jersey crew, consists entirely of Polish-speaking immigrants).
Skinhead criminal activity in the United States is still far less severe than in Moscow or, for that matter, Prague or Paris. But as independent crews continue to proliferate, and the ultra-violent skins of the Vinlanders and similar groups vie with the leftovers of Hammerskin Nation, it seems likely that skinhead activity here will grow, as it has recently after about a decade in remission.
So far, most of the serious violence has been contained within the white power world (for example, the vicious beating the Vinlanders gave a National Socialist Movement speaker and two of his comrades at this year's Nordic Fest). But as any gang cop knows, the most dangerous member of a street gang is not the "O.G." ("Original Gangster") with a well-established street reputation, but the newbie looking to do whatever it takes to make a name for himself and his gang. The skinhead scene in this country has become a land of the white power up-and-comers, each of them a human hand grenade, just looking for an excuse to pull their own pin.
Laurie Wood contributed to this report.
This particular checkpoint is on Murfreesboro Road near the intersection of Thompson Lane, an area where a lot of Hispanics live. Police say the checkpoints have nothing to do with race, and that the locations of the checkpoints are decided based on crime rates.
Police say no one should worry about the checkpoints. They're to keep the public safe, and keep drunk drivers off the streets. They say they don’t ask for identification, and only stop a car if they see a visual indication that the driver has been drinking.
Just recently, the Davidson County sheriff's department announced deputies will have the authority to check immigration status of those booked into Metro jails. Some fear sobriety checkpoints will lead to police asking for proof of legal residence, regardless of whether the driver is intoxicated.
Copyright 2007 by WKRN Nashville Tennessee. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
As a Mexican-American, I'm hearing from a lot of U.S.-born Hispanics who are convinced that the immigration debate is a proxy for an assault on them, their language and their culture. The Senate fed that perception last month when it voted to declare English the "national language," and turned the debate over immigration into a debate over language.
Correction: This was always a debate about language — and culture and ethnicity. The Senate just made it official.
For many Americans, the problem isn't just that people are coming into the country illegally. It's that once they get here, these folks change their surroundings, maintain their Spanish and transform Main Street into Little Mexico. Those changes terrify many Americans, who complain about feeling like visitors in their native land.
And how do they respond? A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that tension over illegal immigration has contributed to a spike in hate groups and hate crimes. In fact, says a spokesman for the center, the immigration issue is a recruitment tool for racists and reactionaries.
I could have told them that. As one of the few Hispanic syndicated columnists, I'm treated like a piata. There was the reader who accused me of supporting "the Mexican invasion because you're Mexican" and the gentleman who suggested that by supporting comprehensive reform, I was probably "protecting some relatives."
There was even a woman who called to complain about a column I had written and ended up screaming into the phone about how "you people never understand" the immigration issue.
I understand this much: As the national mood on immigration reform turns vile and even in some cases violent, there is the very real possibility of a backlash by assimilated, U.S.-born Hispanics.
It makes sense. There is so much bad out there — from death threats received by California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to the deliberate burning of a Mexican restaurant near San Diego, to the beating and sodomizing of a Hispanic youth in Houston by two young thugs who, according to police, yelled racial slurs — that it is bound to repel the good-hearted.
Recently, my cousin called me in a rage after stumbling on to a video game in which players shoot Mexican immigrants crossing the border. The game refers to some Mexicans as "breeders" and splatters blood when players hit their target. Even as an assimilated Mexican-American with limited exposure to Mexico, my cousin said, the ugliness of it made him want to defend Mexican immigrants just as he would a member of his immediate family.
Other Mexican-Americans tell me the same thing. A lot of them use the same word: defend. They want to defend immigrants.
Granted, 40 million Hispanics aren't monolithic. Note the emergence of You Don't Speak for Me, a group of Hispanics who oppose illegal immigration. Also note that in a poll last year by the Pew Hispanic Center, U.S.-born Hispanics were divided. Fifty-five percent said illegal immigrants help the economy by providing low-cost labor, while 34% said they hurt the economy by driving down wages.
Here's the deal. The U.S-born Hispanic community is no different from the American community. There are the extremes, but the majority of folks are in the sensible center. Whenever someone does something dumb or hurtful, they recoil.
When protesters waved the Mexican flag, some folks in the middle moved to the right. But now that they've read about hate crimes and racist video games and English being declared the national language, some are likely to move to the left and toward a greater identification with immigrants.
That's what I saw at a taping in Los Angeles of the 2006 ALMA awards, which honor Hispanics in entertainment. In a 90-minute ceremony to be aired on ABC on Monday, there were at least a dozen references to immigration and many references by presenters to Mexican immigrants as familia (family).
Actor Jimmy Smits noted the irony of playing, on NBC's The West Wing, a Hispanic who gets elected president while, as he put it, "out in the streets, my people were yelling si se puede (yes, we can)."
I got stuck on the "my people." Smits isn't Mexican-American. His father was born in the Dutch Suriname, in South America, and his mother is Puerto Rican. No matter. In this fight, he identifies with Mexican immigrants.
Something significant is happening in the Hispanic community. People say the immigration issue woke the Sleeping Giant. But mark my words: It's not just the giant whom immigrant-bashers should worry about. It's his familia.
Ruben Navarrette is a member of the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist.