Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fremont Council Says No to Illegal Immigration Measure

Fremont, Neb.
Posted: 9:52 PM Jul 29, 2008
Last Updated: 9:29 AM Jul 30, 2008
Reporter: Alicia Myers
Email Address:
Fremont Immigration Hearing

Nearly 1,000 people turned out in Fremont Tuesday night, voicing their opinions on a proposed illegal immigrant ban.

The Fremont city council has spent the past few weeks weighing in on the issue that could outlaw things like hiring or renting to illegal immigrants.

Fremont business leaders say they worry a new ordinance targeting illegal immigration could hurt the community. That is exactly how hundreds of residents feel.

Some council members say it is an issue that needs to be looked at for the sake of some supportive residents.

The city council wasn't supposed to vote until the end of August but decided to vote Tuesday night. They were deadlocked at 4-4 before Mayor Don "Skip" Edwards voted against the ordinance.

Testimony took more than three hours. Near the beginning of the testimonies, the length of the line into Fremont High School's auditorium was something you'd normally see waiting outside a headliner concert. Instead, the line was full of people fighting for their rights, as well as their community's well-being, at Fremont's Tuesday evening city council immigration hearing.

"We're here in peace. We want to show them that we want to live in this community," said Gabby Ayala, Fremont resident.

Ayala has been a legal U.S. citizen for many years, but when she came to the states, she said it was a different story.

"I was an illegal immigrant," Ayala said. "I know it's hard. It's scary to go out, and think that people are looking at you because they're wondering if you're legal or not. Thankfully now, I'm a U.S. citizen, and that's why I'm supporting the illegal immigration."

Ayala said the ordinance would tear the city apart, by making it illegal to harbor, hire, or rent to any illegal immigrants.

City Council Chair, Gary Bolton, said while he is not a fan of the local city ordinance, something at the federal level needs to be done.

"Without a doubt, nearly everyone, whether you're in favor of the ordinance or opposed to the ordinance, I think there are those that feel we have an immigration problem in this country," Bolton said.

"I think the country needs to be legalized. Everybody that's supposed to be here should be here, and the rest should leave," said Al Knoell, Fremont resident.

Those opposed say an ordinance like this could divide the city in a negative way.

"We're also concerned that the ordinance would lead to increased discrimination to all immigrants, not just undocumented immigrants, but all immigrants as well as other minorities," said Norm Pflanz, Nebraska Appleseed.

As hundreds gathered, sharing their opinions, Ayala hoped for the best for her community.

"I hope the government does something, and accomplishes something, and gives everybody the chance to become legal in this country," said Ayala.


Immigrant problem is bigger than Fremont, mayor says


Mayor receives standing ovation: Click here to watch the video

FREMONT, Neb. - Five-term Mayor Donald "Skip" Edwards says illegal immigration is a huge problem, but he doesn't think his small city is the place to try to solve an issue facing the entire country.

Fremont police watched over the crowd during the hearing.
At about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Edwards cast the pivotal vote to break a 4-4 Fremont City Council tie and defeat a proposed city ordinance aimed at driving away illegal immigrants by punishing landlords and businesses who rented to and hired them.

"Casting the vote was very emotional for me. I sincerely mean that we do have a problem in this country with illegal immigration," Edwards, 69, said today.

The vote followed a hearing that drew more than 1,000 people to the Fremont High School auditorium, where the council heard impassioned testimony for and against the proposal.

Edwards said that he strongly opposed illegal immigration and that the vote had weighed heavily on him. But he made his decision after consulting with several law firms.

"Trying to enforce this type of ordinance would be very expensive, hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions," he said. "I am of the opinion this is a federal law. I vote no."

Boos from an audience that shrank as the night wore on were drowned out by a standing ovation cheering Edwards' vote.

When the tense meeting ended, the slender, gray-haired Edwards sat for several minutes in a classroom, recuperating from the emotionally charged session that had lasted nearly five hours.

Some City Council members and other city officials offered him words of comfort, encouragement and congratulations.

Afterward, the mayor and council members received police escorts to their cars. Edwards said today that he isn't fearful for his safety because of the vote.

Fremont, a town of about 25,000 northwest of Omaha, has seen its Latino population increase in recent years due largely to the presence of meatpacking jobs. The Latino population in the 4,600-student Fremont Public Schools has been estimated at 15 percent.

Landlords leasing to illegal immigrants would have faced a $100 fine. Under special licensing requirements - which would have applied to every renter regardless of heritage - an occupant would have had to buy a $5 occupancy license, issued only after local police had verified immigration status.

The crowd at Tuesday night's council meeting came from Omaha, Lincoln, Columbus and elsewhere in Nebraska to speak on what would be the state's first city-driven proposal to force out illegal immigrants.

The proposal had elevated tensions, which was reflected by a heavy law enforcement presence - some 50 officers from the Fremont and Omaha Police Departments, the Nebraska State Patrol and the Dodge County Sheriff's Office - and strict procedures.

The auditorium was swept by a bomb-sniffing dog before the public filed in two lines past portable and hand-held metal detectors.

Those testifying lined up at two separate microphones according to their position on the issue and took turns speaking for and against, with comments limited to three minutes each.

More than a dozen officers were scattered throughout the auditorium and, at times, scolded people if they applauded or otherwise tried to react to a speaker.

Except for an elderly man wearing a veterans cap - who was kicked out by police after he yelled, "Bring it on!" - the hearing was generally orderly.

People began arriving before 5 p.m., and the last of 75 speakers finished about 11 p.m.

Councilman Gary Bolton, who voted against the ordinance, said he, too, was frustrated with the failure of federal officials to enforce immigration laws. But he said the ordinance would be costly to the city.

Councilman Scott Getzschman said many of his constituents asked to put an end to the proposal and the heightened tensions it had raised in Fremont.

The debate also brought e-mails, letters and talk show requests from across the country.

Also voting against the ordinance were council members John Anderson and Jon Gilfry.

Voting in favor, without comment, were Charlie Janssen, Mary Marsh and Scott Schaller. Bob Warner, who proposed the ordinance, said he believed the ordinance could be enforced.

During the hearing, supporters of the ordinance cited crime, disease and abuse of public assistance as reasons that the City Council should pass the ordinance.

"Yes, I'm frustrated," said Susan Smith of Fremont, contending that illegal immigrants are the main cause of disease coming into the United States.

Robert Hollister of Omaha wore a T-shirt that said, "Illegal aliens harm U.S. economy and ecology," and his wife wore one that said, 'Where's the fence?"

"The federal government's dropped the ball," Robert Hollister told the council. "The Unicameral's dropped the ball."

John Wiegert, a Fremont resident who teaches in Yutan, said the ordinance was needed to alleviate a burden on schools and emergency rooms.

"Racism has nothing to do with this ordinance," Wiegert said. "This ordinance is about what is legal and what is illegal. If the federal government is not going to watch out for us, then we need to watch out for ourselves."

Others questioned why their city should pay to defend an ordinance that attorneys have told the council is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Several said that they were embarrassed by the proposal and that it made Fremont look intolerant.

"We do not feel this ordinance will benefit Fremont in any way," said Christy Fiala, a Fremont native who said she represented a coalition of local churches, schools and social service agencies. "Rather it will negatively impact Fremont."

Severiano Franco of Lincoln said the council could distinguish itself by enacting the ordinance. "You'll be No. 1," he said, "You'll be the biggest bigoted, racist city in the state."

Stacey Escobedo of Fremont said she and her husband have spent $7,000 and seven years trying to remedy his immigration status. Her husband, who entered the United States on a legal visa that has since expired, has adopted her children.

"I'm very irritated," she said. "This ordinance is disgusting."

Before the mayor's tiebreaking vote, Fremont City Attorney Dean Skokan informed everyone that by law, Edwards could abstain from voting and effectively kill the ordinance, which required a majority vote to pass.

Edwards said that he had a sense heading into the meeting that council might deadlock.

"I didn't know absolutely for sure that it would wind up 4-to-4, but I knew in my mind there might be a chance. Yes, it was unusual, because our council usually has a pretty good consensus on issues . . . But you just get those gut feelings," he said today.

"It was a tough issue and a tough decision to make. But I always pray about it and try to look at the whole picture and how it will affect Fremont," he said.

Edwards, now in his 20th year as mayor, said he wasn't concerned about political fallout.

"I never pay attention to that," he said. "I love this community dearly, and that's I why I continue to do this job."

Getzschman said Edwards had showed true courage and leadership by casting a vote when he wasn't required to do so.

"He's a very grounded person, and Skip is one of the most dedicated civic leaders in Fremont. He literally eats, drinks and sleeps Fremont, Nebraska," the council member said. "He has a true passion for his job. He prayed, he soul-searched and made a decision that he felt in his own mind was in the best interest of Fremont."

World-Herald Video:
• Vote on the ordinance
• Council member Bob Warner defends the measure
• Public input during the hearing
• Differing views outside the hearing

Source: Omaha

Right-Wing Pathologies Revealed After Adkisson Shooting at Unitarian Church

By John Dolan, AlterNet. Posted July 29, 2008.

When Free Republic forum posters learned that the gunman was from their own demographic, out came the conservative madness.

A classic drama full of hatred, ignorance and irony played out this week in the forum section of right-wing Web site Free Republic, as "Freepers" tried to make sense of a church shooting in Tennessee that killed two parishioners and wounded many others. The grotesque irony of the FR discussions is that, after early posters had indulged all their bigoted guesses about the identity of the killer, they found out the gunman was actually straight out of their own demographic: a 59-year-old white man named Jim Adkisson, who left a four-page letter ranting against liberals, was known by his acquaintances to hate "blacks, gays and anyone who was different from him," left a pile of books by O'Reilly, Savage and Hannity behind in his car, and even wore a red-white-and-blue shirt to his church killing spree.

It's morbidly fascinating to watch the FR threads as the posters wriggle and bluster to try to accommodate this most inconvenient truth. And if you have the stomach to read them, you can learn a lot (perhaps more than you'd like) about the pathology of the contemporary American Right. For myself -- and I realize this will be the most profound heresy to progressives committed to the populist line -- reading these posts is a timely slap in the face, a painful reminder that maybe, just maybe, heartland Americans aren't such wonderful people at all. What you see in these posts is the oldest, deepest and meanest strain in American culture: the Ulster America founded by violent sectarians who moved westward again and again, from Scotland to Northern Ireland and then to the southern United States, then again westward into the American continent, to find a place where they could hone their hair-trigger intolerance without fear of interference from warmer, more humorous people. But that's me, and I'm often accused of "cynicism," whatever that means. At any rate, I'll present a little background on the site and then discuss a few of the posts. Make of them what you will.

For those who want to do their own analyses before reading on, here are the Web addresses of the three FR threads discussing the Tennessee shootings, in the order they appeared:;s=tennessee%20church

For those unfamiliar with online right-wing culture, Free Republic is a far-right Web site established in 1996. It soon found a huge, loyal audience among the right wing's most rabid, ignorant and openly fascistic voices -- or as FR calls them, "grassroots conservatives." Even other right-wing Web sites shun FR, and you'll often observe posters to these sites worrying, when online discussions become openly racist or fascistic, that they're becoming too much like "the Freepers," as FR's ranting posters proudly call themselves.

The same hatred of "liberals" that drove the Tennessee killer is on display, with unconscious irony, in the house advertisement appearing at the top of one of the forums on the church shooting. A bald eagle stands before an American flag, with the caption, "Driving liberals crazy and having fun doing it!"

The first posts reacting to the church shooting are smug gloats. Many posters were absolutely certain that the gunman would turn out to be a Muslim:

Source: Alternet

Lawmakers to push for U.S. apology for slavery

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Five states did something over the past 12 months that no state had done before: expressed regret or apologized for slavery.

This year, Congress, which meets in a Capitol built partly by slaves, will consider issuing its own apology.

"We've seen states step forward on this," says Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, citing the resolutions of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey. "I'm really shocked, just shocked" that the federal government hasn't apologized. "It's time to do so."

Harkin says he and Sen. Sam Brownback R-Kan., will propose as early as March an apology not only for slavery but for subsequent "Jim Crow" laws that furthered racial segregation. So far, they have 14 Senate backers, including Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. A similar House measure introduced last year has 120 co-sponsors.

"I think 2008 will be the year," says Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. He says an apology could begin a dialogue about race that Obama could continue as the nation's first black president.

"The success of the Obama candidacy underscores the irrelevance of an apology" because it shows "enormous progress" in race relations, says Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group that describes itself as opposed to racial preferences. "Haven't we already moved beyond it?"

Congress has apologized before, but not for slavery.

It apologized to Japanese-Americans in 1988 for holding them in camps during World War II and gave each survivor $20,000. In 1993, Congress apologized to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of their kingdom a century earlier. In 2005, the Senate apologized for not enacting anti-lynching legislation.

The Senate has no record of any prior effort to apologize for slavery. In the House of Representatives, Tony Hall, an Ohio Democrat, proposed one in 1997 and Rep. John Conyers, D- Mich., has tried since 1989 to pass a bill that would create a commission to study slavery's impact and possible remedies, including reparations and cash payments.

Apologies are controversial because they could lead to reparations.

They "carry weight" as a step toward racial healing and don't have to "open the door" to reparations, says Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University.

Other proponents say an apology should lead to remedies.

"A mere apology doesn't do anything for me," says state Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, a Democrat who is lobbying for such a resolution in Missouri.

An apology is a necessary first step because it recognizes a wrongdoing, says Hilary Shelton of the NAACP.

He says it's "hollow," though, unless it leads to a remedy for African-Americans, who still suffer economically and educationally from the aftereffects of slavery and segregation.

Remedies don't have to be monetary payments but could be government programs to help the disadvantaged, Cohen says.

An apology is counterproductive, Clegg says. "It taps into white guilt and helps perpetuate social programs the civil rights establishment likes, such as racial preferences and ultimately reparations," he says.

Clegg says that an apology serves "no legitimate purpose since the villains and victims are long since deceased" and that such an action could instead be divisive and "keep racial wounds alive."

The state apologies have not given a boost to the reparations movement, says Ronald Walters, author of a new book titled The Price of Racial Reconciliation.

Last February, Virginia became the first state to issue a form of apology, expressing "profound regret," as did Maryland lawmakers a month later. The three states that followed expressed regret and apologized.

Alabama and New Jersey added language saying the apology cannot be used to sue the state.

The House proposal does not include such a disclaimer, but the Senate one does, saying its apology cannot be the basis for claims against the United States.

Harkin says his proposal does not address reparations.

"We're just apologizing," he says. "You can't undo the past, but you can recognize a wrong was done."

Source: USA Today

Sunday, July 27, 2008

American Legion Immigration Report Replete with Falsehoods

by Sonia Scherr, July 16, 2008

Since its founding nearly 90 years ago, the American Legion has been a fixture of community life. It has hosted Memorial Day parades to remember those who died in America’s wars. It has held bingo nights and dances at its 14,000-plus posts worldwide. It has supported thousands of Boy Scout groups, sponsored a baseball program that’s produced numerous professional players, and helped children living in poverty or with special needs. From World War II to the war in Iraq, the legion has fought to improve benefits for veterans and their families.

Now, America’s largest veterans organization has launched another campaign — a hard-line attack on undocumented immigrants that’s at odds with the legion’s mainstream image. As part of this effort, the legion, which purports to speak for 2.7 million members, recently issued a booklet that regurgitates discredited and often completely false information about how “illegals” are bringing crime, disease, and terrorism to this country, even as they wreck the economy for natives.

The legion’s 34-page booklet, A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States, asserts that “poverty, political instability, disease and war” are “on our back doorstep” because of porous borders and the failure of the government to stringently enforce immigration laws. But in making its case, the legion repeatedly cites dubious sources, ignores well-known facts and makes baseless claims — such as the false assertion that the undocumented infected more than 7,000 people in America with leprosy during a recent three-year period.

“They’re sort of trotting out old tropes to do with immigration,” said Richard Wright, a Dartmouth College geography professor who specializes in immigration. “These are hackneyed stereotypes that have no place in a policy document.”

That’s not all. On April 28, when it released its booklet — which was actually a repackaged version of a May 2007 legion “white paper” — the group announced that its campaign would include letters to the editor, news releases from posts around the country, and six 60-second radio spots. These spots revisit some of the nastiest claims in the report, portraying undocumented immigrants as sex offenders, gang members, terrorists and murderers. Remarkably, they are delivered by Richard Fatherly, Kansas City chapter media adviser for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps — a group whose members President Bush once denounced as “vigilantes.”

The Intelligence Report sought comment from the American Legion and was directed to Robert Caudell, assistant director of its Americanism and Children & Youth Division. Caudell requested a detailed list of false or misleading claims, but then declined to address those claims once he had received it. Instead, he E-mailed a general statement pointing to the legion’s recommendations to the government and arguing that the Intelligence Report was simply interpreting the same facts and statistics differently than the legion. “It’s quite the same when two individuals witness an identical incident,” Caudell wrote. “Each has his perspective, his personal assumptions, and often a disparate ability to describe the event.”

That’s not the way Hispanic veterans organizations see it. Felix Vargas, a retired Army colonel and the director of government relations for the largest such group, American GI Forum, told the Intelligence Report that the booklet was misleading and untruthful and called it a slap in the face to Hispanic legionnaires. “We didn’t need this distraction,” said Vargas, who served as an Army Ranger and Special Forces commander in Vietnam. “The legion crusade is a disservice to both the veteran community and the nation.” Added Eric Rojo, the president of Hispanic War Veterans of America and another retired colonel: “Their position is absurd and ignorant. Someone didn’t sit down and check the facts.” And John Amaya, a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, noted that 11% of the first 4,000 American casualties in Iraq have been Latinos — and many of them are the children of undocumented residents of the United States.

The American Legion actually has been engaged with nativist groups for some time. In 2004, its national convention in Nashville, Tenn., featured Dan Stein, leader of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a strident nativist group that opposes both legal and illegal immigration. In March 2007, it held a forum on illegal immigration spotlighting nativist heavyweights like the leaders of NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies. It has allowed its posts to be used for gatherings of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. And this spring, it gave its “National Commander’s Public Relations Award” to CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who has himself regularly presented false data about immigrants.

At times in its history, the legion has made other forays into nativist politics. In 1937, the legion published A Review of Alien Isms, Revolutionary Communism and their Active Sympathizers in the United States, which linked immigrants to what was seen as the ultimate evil “ism”: communism. The book claimed that immigrant children accounted for most of those attending communist summer camps and that other supposedly subversive groups were also heavily populated by immigrants. It demanded enhanced border patrols, immediate deportation of the undocumented and slashing of all immigration quotas by 90%. After World War I, when anti-Asian sentiment was sweeping the country, the legion on the West Coast championed policies that discriminated against Japanese-Americans. This attitude also affected the national legion, whose committee to investigate Asiatic immigration included a Seattle attorney who had served as president of his city’s Anti-Japanese League, according to Tom Heuterman’s book The Burning Horse.

What follows is a sampling of the kind of claims that the American Legion is making with regard to undocumented immigrants, along with the actual situation, as revealed by statistics and interviews with non-partisan experts.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: American prisons “are crowded or full because of the illegals convicted of committing crimes against the people of the United States.” Non-citizens make up fully 30% of the American prison population.

THE TRUTH: As with many of its claims, the legion offers no source for this figure other than to claim that it has been “widely reported.” A 2005 report by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office says that immigrants — both documented and undocumented — constitute 27% of federal prisoners. But fewer than 13% of incarcerated people in America are in federal prisons, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. When both federal and state prisoners are counted, about 6% are non-citizens; that is actually less than expected, because documented and undocumented immigrants make up roughly 8% of adults residing in the U.S.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: Based on the same General Accounting Office (GAO) report, the legion states that 49% of all incarcerated illegal immigrants had prior felony convictions.

THE TRUTH: The GAO report contains no such information, despite the fact that the American Legion report specifically cites it. What it does say is that of the offenses for which undocumented immigrants were arrested, just 12% were violent crimes.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program aimed at catching child predators arrested more than 6,000 “illegal aliens” in its first two years. The legion also asserts that 240,000 undocumented immigrants are sex offenders.

THE TRUTH: While it’s true that Operation Predator made 6,000-plus arrests in its first two years, those arrested consisted of both documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as American citizens, according to ICE. About 85% of those arrested were foreign nationals (many of them documented), but this was no surprise, given that the operation specifically targeted foreign-born predators whose status made them deportable, along with U.S. citizens who engage in child sex tourism abroad. With regard to the total figure of undocumented sex offenders, the legion cites a self-published article from independent criminal profiler Deborah Schurman-Kauflin stating that 240,000 undocumented immigrants are sex offenders. Schurman-Kauflin based that figure on the assumption — for which she provided no specific source — that sex offenders account for 2% of all undocumented immigrants. She didn’t respond to an E-mail from the Intelligence Report seeking clarification.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: Thousands of immigrants from countries with terrorist connections have been caught trying to enter the United States illegally. This claim is immediately followed by several paragraphs about illegal crossing of the Mexican border, suggesting that those “from countries with known terrorist connections” are entering the U.S. via Mexico.

THE TRUTH: A 2006 report by the Nixon Center, which appeared in the peer-reviewed Terrorism and Political Violence journal, found that the suggestion that terrorists were entering the U.S. through Mexico, while frightening, was entirely untrue: “Despite media alarms about terrorists concealed in the illegal traffic crossing the Mexican border, not a single subject entered from Mexico.”

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: “More Americans are killed by illegal aliens than die in the Iraq War.”

THE TRUTH: The legion cites no source for this allegation. Its claim appears to come from a February 2007 article by the editors of Family Security Matters, which frequently publishes breathless “exclusives” such as the one about Latinos titled, “Illegal Aliens Bring a Taliban Culture to the United States.” The February 2007 article attributes its data to an article on the far-right WorldNetDaily website, which in turn cites blogger Matt Johnson. In 2005, Johnson claimed — based, absurdly, on murder rates in immigrants’ home countries — that undocumented immigrants kill 1,806 to 2,510 people every year. Applying that claim to the FBI’s most recent murder total (15,854 murders in 2006) would mean that the undocumented, who number about 12 million people or 4% of the U.S. population, are responsible for 11.4% to 16.1% of U.S. murders. In plain English, that means the legion is claiming that undocumented immigrants murder U.S. citizens at a rate of three to four times that of the general population. In fact, nonpartisan studies have shown that immigrants of all kinds are significantly less criminal than their native-born American counterparts.

The legion quotes a 2005 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons saying that many illegal immigrants “harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue and Chagas disease. The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical consequences.” The legion also claims that drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have risen 25% recently.

THE TRUTH: The “journal” the legion cites is a pseudo-scientific publication known for articles like the recent piece attempting to refute the well-established fact that the HIV virus causes AIDS. And the 2005 journal article’s author, the late Madeleine Cosman, was a lawyer and medievalist with no medical expertise at all. She was also a rabid migrant hater, as evidenced by this 2005 comment about all Mexican male immigrants to the U.S.: “Most of these bastards molest girls under age 12, some as young as age 5, others age 3. Although, of course, some specialize in boys, some specialize in nuns, [and] some are exceedingly versatile and rape little girls age 11 and women up to age 79.” It is true that certain diseases like Chagas disease, are more prevalent among immigration populations. But the legion’s claims are wildly overstated, suggesting real and widespread threats to the health of the general public. As an example, in the case of drug-resistant tuberculosis, the Centers for Disease Control reports that there were only 116 cases in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Overall, tuberculosis cases in the United States are at an all-time low since national reporting began in 1953.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: “Between 2000 and 2003, leprosy infected over 7,000 people in the U.S., brought to this country by illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean.” That compared to 900 cases in the prior 40 years.

THE TRUTH: The legion’s claim is based on a misreading of a New York Times article cited by Cosman in her journal article. In fact, just 453 cases were diagnosed in those years, according to the National Hansen’s Disease [leprosy] Program. As program director James Krahenbuhl told the Times: “It’s not a public health problem. That’s the bottom line.” The legion’s claim has been popularized nationally by CNN host Lou Dobbs, who refused to retract his assertion even after it had been debunked by “60 Minutes” and many others.

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: “Illegals cost Americans jobs.”

THE TRUTH: A 2006 Pew Hispanic Center study found that, overall, large increases in states’ immigrant populations did not correspond with more unemployment for their native-born workers. While some scholars have said that undocumented workers depress wages for native-born high school dropouts, most have failed to establish a link between immigration and job loss, said Richard Wright, the Dartmouth College professor. In fact, many experts have argued that immigration can lead to a net gain of jobs. Said Wright: “The actual effect on the economy is at worst minor, at best beneficial.”

THE LEGION’S CLAIM: “Illegal immigration … causes an enormous drain on public services.” Citing the partisan Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restricting immigration, the legion says undocumented immigrants don’t pay nearly enough in taxes to compensate for the burden they place on public resources.

THE TRUTH: Undocumented immigrants are barred from receiving most forms of public assistance, other than public school education and emergency medical care. But they do pay taxes, including sales taxes, and often, through phony Social Security cards, payroll taxes. In 2005, The New York Times reported that undocumented immigrants contribute some $7 billion a year to the Social Security system that they will never be able to claim. Local and state governments, however, do not receive any benefit from that money and may, as a result, spend more on services to the undocumented than they get back in local taxes from them.

Source: SPLCenter

Mexican files $75K claim against Gilbert police

Armando Rodriguez-Morales got justice in court. And now, the 60-year-old Mexican citizen wants Gilbert police to pay.

Charges against Mexican motorist dropped

Morales, his wife and two family friends have filed a $75,000 notice of claims against the town stemming from a December traffic stop when they were left stranded on the side of the road in a high-crime area of Mesa after an officer had their car improperly towed.

The claim was filed May 15. Morales, who lives in Hermosillo, Mexico, couldn't be reached for comment.

Lawyers believe Morales could get more in the case, the claim states. However, to avoid the cost of litigation and court delays, they decided to settle for less. Morales is seeking $45,000 for himself and $10,000 each for the others.

On Dec. 14, while on holiday DUI patrol, officer Chad Wright pulled over Morales at a Mesa intersection for "illegal backing," meaning his vehicle rolled backward after stopping. Morales had a Mexican driver's license, and his vehicle had Sonora license plates. Wright decided the license and insurance papers were falsified and ordered the car towed. Both were later verified by the Mexican consulate.

Morales was visiting from Mexico for a wedding. He and the others were left stranded with their luggage near Broadway Road and Mesa Drive. Gilbert police later released the car and the San Tan justice of the peace dropped all charges.

The incident quickly caught the attention of Mesa Police Chief George Gascón after members of the Morales family sent a complaint to city officials. Gascón forwarded the complaint to Gilbert, prompting an internal investigation of Wright. The inquiry found Wright violated multiple department policies, including violations of abuse, loss of Morales' property and not reporting facts properly or accurately.

In the claim, lawyers said Wright stopped the car because he suspected the driver and occupants were illegal immigrants. "Officer Wright's conduct and statements on the night in question leave no doubt that his actions were racially motivated," the claim said.

Wright was cleared of the racial profiling charge. But after reviewing Wright's traffic stop records, the Tribune learned he ticketed Hispanic drivers at a rate nearly double the department average.

Wright, an eight-year veteran, was removed from traffic duty after the investigation and reassigned to patrol. He also was given a written warning.

"I do believe his extensive commitment to removing impaired drivers has narrowed his focus," Cmdr. Ken Buckland wrote in a report. "This I believe, ultimately led to his less than favorable decisions in this case."

Source: East Valley Tribune

Pa. teens charged in fatal beating of immigrant

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 25, 7:49 PM ET

PORT CARBON, Pa. - Three white teens were charged Friday in what officials said was an epithet-filled fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant in a small northeast Pennsylvania coal town. Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16, and Colin J. Walsh, 17, were charged as adults with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the July 12 attack on Luis Ramirez.

A third teen, Derrick M. Donchak, 18, was charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. All are from Shenandoah, where the attack occurred.

Additional charges are expected in the case that has roiled Shenandoah, a small, economically depressed town where police have reported friction between whites and a growing Hispanic population.

The suspects played football at Shenandoah Valley High School; Donchak, now enrolled at Bloomsburg University, was the quarterback last season.

"As a result of this crime, a young man has lost his life. Many other lives have been devastated, and the borough of Shenandoah has been filled with tensions between many ethnic groups," Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman said.

"Now that the criminal charges have been filed, we must let this case be handled in the criminal justice system," he said.

According to a police affidavit, the defendants and three 17-year-olds encountered Ramirez, 25, and a teenage girl in a park the night of July 12.

The youths goaded Ramirez and the girl, saying, "You should get out of this neighborhood" and "Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here," documents said. After Ramirez and the girl began walking away, someone yelled an ethnic slur at him, court documents said. He responded, "What's your problem?"

A fight ensued, during which police said Walsh punched Ramirez in the face. The victim fell and hit his head on the street, leaving him unconscious, after which Piekarsky kicked him in the head, police said.

All three suspects used ethnic slurs during the fight, which ended with Ramirez in convulsions and foaming at the mouth, authorities said. The attackers fled the scene; Ramirez underwent surgery but died July 14 of head injuries.

Piekarsky and Walsh were being held without bail, while Donchak was held on $75,000 bail.

Lawyers for Piekarsky and Walsh said their clients are not guilty and that there was no evidence to support the homicide charges. They also said they would try to have the case removed to juvenile court.

Roger Laguna, Walsh's lawyer, said the police affidavit "pretty much describes chaos, and what you have then after the fact is somebody trying to sort through that and attribute certain acts to certain individuals."

He said that although slurs might have been used, the fight was not motivated by ethnicity.

"I think any time there's a fight and any time you have one ethnic group fighting another, there's going to be racial slurs," he said. "I've seen that since I was a kid on a playground 20 years ago, but they never called it ethnic intimidation until very recently."

Frederick Fanelli, Piekarsky's lawyer, said he is "surprised and disappointed" that his client faces a homicide charge, attributing Ramirez's death to a "street fight that ended tragically."

Donchak declined to comment.

Ramirez, who entered the U.S. illegally about six years ago, worked in a factory and picked strawberries and cherries.

Crystal Dillman, the victim's 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up in Shenandoah, has said Ramirez was often called derogatory names and told to return to his homeland. The couple had two children together, and Dillman also has a 3-year-old who thought of Ramirez as her father.

"I plan on moving out of this town as fast as I can. Not because I'm scared. I just don't want to see my children have to deal with what their father dealt with," Dillman said.

Preliminary hearings for all three suspects were set for Aug. 4.

Goodman said a fourth teen will be charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation and that charges also will be filed against a man who provided alcohol to the defendants hours before the attack.

Source: Yahoo

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hispanic leaders fear for safety

Ugly side of debate emerges in threats

Kristin Collins, Staff Writer
For North Carolina's Hispanic leaders, the biggest hazards of the job were once long hours. Now, they include death threats.

A pair of the state's most prominent advocates, Andrea Bazán and Tony Asion, say that for the past several months, each time they have spoken publicly, they have gotten a raft of profanity-laced messages, some of them exhorting them to return to their home countries and others denigrating Hispanics. Several legislators say they have also gotten messages recently that cross the line into racism, and one got a menacing voice mail.

Threats of violence are becoming common enough that Bazán, president of the philanthropic Triangle Community Foundation, has requested protection at some public appearances. Asion, director of the Raleigh Hispanic advocacy group El Pueblo and a former police officer, said he has received two handwritten death threats at his office since May.

"This is not about immigration," Bazán said. "This is not about debating policy. This has moved on to another sphere. This is hate."

Bazán and others say they've gotten disturbing hate mail before. A 2005 effort to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants brought reams of it, but that furor died down fairly quickly. Now, they say, threats and racist messages are becoming routine.

State legislators who supported a bill this year that would have guaranteed illegal immigrants the right to attend state colleges got a raft of messages, some of which smeared immigrants.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat who sponsored the bill, said she received one phone message warning that "my days are numbered." She said the message, which included profane insults, felt like a threat.

"I have not seen anything like what illegal immigration elicits," Harrison said. "It's revealing a very ugly side of humanity that I've never seen before."

Beyond the crackdown

Immigration has become an especially controversial subject in North Carolina and across the nation, fueled by the failure of a federal immigration reform bill last year.

Since then, sheriff's departments have started enforcing immigration law, the state's community colleges have barred admission to illegal immigrants, grassroots groups opposing illegal immigration have grown and some politicians have made an immigration crackdown the centerpiece of their campaigns.

Even those who have advocated a crackdown say they don't condone hate mail or threats.

"Certainly, any kind of threatening or antagonistic tone to any debate is unwarranted," said Brian Nick, spokesman for Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who has joined with sheriffs to push for the deportation of illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

But some say anti-illegal immigration activists have given the impression that Hispanics are to blame for all of society's ills, including crime, illness and unemployment.

Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights for the Anti-Defamation League, a New York group founded in 1913 to combat prejudice against Jews, said the ideas and language that have come to define the debate could fuel fringe groups.

"When you describe immigrants as Third World invaders or murderers, or say that they are swarming or coming in hordes, this is dehumanizing language," Lauter said. "That kind of rhetoric inspires others who might act out on hate."

William Gheen, a Raleigh man who has built a grassroots organization to oppose illegal immigration, often accuses Hispanic immigrants of carrying deadly diseases, raping and murdering Americans, plotting to merge the American and Mexican economies, or even reconquer parts of the Southwest for Mexico. He organizes e-mail campaigns against those he doesn't agree with.

Gheen said he does not condone violence or racism and has never made threats, and he dismissed claims that groups such as his could spark threats. "The only violence I'm seeing are the dead, maimed and raped Americans ... that are victims of illegal aliens," Gheen said.

However, other anti-illegal immigration activists say the movement has developed an ugly side.

"Something has gotten distorted, and it's creating a lot of hate," said Jim Gilchrist, the Southern California founder of the Minuteman Project, which organizes citizen patrols of the Mexican border.

Gilchrist said there are extremists on both sides of the issue and that he has received threatening messages from people on the pro-immigrant side of the debate. But lately, he said, he gets more hate mail from people on his side of the issue. He said groups are now fighting among themselves, and some have adopted messages that he considers racist.

Gilchrist said one California Minuteman chapter made a fake video depicting its members shooting a Mexican crossing the border illegally.

Blogs as soapboxes

Bazán said that in the past few months, she has gotten several nasty calls at home and has been the subject of violent talk on blogs, where she was referred to as a target.

The talk frightened her enough that she sent her children to stay with her ex-husband and stayed away from home for several days in June, when it was announced that she was the new board chairwoman of the well-known Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza.

On the day of the announcement, a person commenting on one blog about her new post commanded others to "buy guns" and referred to Hispanic immigrants as "monkeys." "The time is coming to fight back and yes many will die in this fight," the comment read.

Bazán said she has met with Durham police to make them aware of the threats.

When she speaks publicly, a guard often protects her. She had a full-time private guard last week at a La Raza convention in San Diego.

Bazán, along with some other Hispanic advocates, said they have begun reporting messages they consider hateful to the state Human Relations Commission.

G.I. Allison, director of the commission, which was formed to ensure equal opportunity in housing and other areas, said he receives regular complaints of hate messages and threats against Hispanics. The commission recorded 38 hate incidents in the first half of this year, but it doesn't track how many are against Hispanics.

Asion said he frequently receives messages that he considers racist, but the recent death threats were the most troubling.

The author claims to be watching Asion, threatens bombings and dismemberment, invokes the Ku Klux Klan and commands Asion to "go home Mexico."

Asion said he hasn't gone to police because there is little they can do. But he said he now fears for his staff members.

"I tell my folks, if you get a box and it doesn't have a return address, you don't know where it's from, don't open it," Asion said. "These are the times that we're living through."

Source: News Observer

Friday, July 04, 2008

Second man pleads guilty to Boulder bias crime

Abraham Paquet to be sentenced in August

By Laura Snider
Thursday, July 3, 2008

Abraham Paquet

Both of the 19-year-old men accused of assaulting a Hispanic man outside of a Boulder convenience store in March, calling him a racial slur and asking him, “Why are you stealing our jobs?” have pleaded guilty to committing a bias-motivated crime.

Thursday, Abraham Paquet, of Broomfield, pleaded guilty to harassing Ivan Ponce De Leon-Najera, 26, of Louisville, outside a convenience store and also to stealing a 15-year-old’s skateboard earlier on the same day.

All other charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Both crimes are punishable by six to 18 months at the Boulder County Jail and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.

Paquet is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 22.

In May, Joshua Ruzek also pleaded guilty to committing a bias-motivated crime and, at the same time, admitted to tampering with the jail’s sprinkler heads while in custody, causing the jail to flood. He is now serving 18 months for harassing Ponce De Leon-Najera and six months more for criminal mischief.

The two men were arrested after officers saw them attacking Ponce De Leon-Najera outside the PDQ store at 5200 Manhattan Circle on March 11.
E.W. Scripps Co.

© 2006 Daily Camera and Boulder Publishing, LLC.

Source: Daily Camera

Thursday, July 03, 2008

ADL: Pat Buchanan Promotes New Book on Racist Radio Show

NEW YORK, June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan "stooped into the cesspool of extremism" by appearing on a radio show run by a well-known white supremacist.

On June 29, Buchanan appeared on "Political Cesspool," a Tennessee-based AM radio show run by white supremacist James Edwards, to promote his book, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World.

"While parading himself as a moderate, to sell his book Pat Buchanan has stooped into the cesspool of extremism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

Edwards regularly invites anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists to voice their views on his show. It was Buchanan's second appearance on the program, which is also available via the Internet.

"It's not as if he did this by accident," said Mr. Foxman. "Anyone who would have made inquiries into the nature of this program would have realized that it is an outlet for racism, anti-Semitism and hate."

During the interview, Buchanan posited that World War II was unnecessary and that the British "blundered ... to bring about a war with Germany," a war that Hitler did not want. Buchanan also stated that, "Had there been no war, there would have been no Holocaust."

Buchanan, who has a long history of racist and anti-Semitic comments, defended the American aviator Charles Lindbergh against charges of anti-Semitism, saying that "...his reputation has been blackened because of a single speech he gave and a couple of paragraphs in it where he said that ... the Jewish community is beating the drums for war ... but frankly, no one has said what he said was palpably untrue."

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

SOURCE Anti-Defamation League

Source: PR Newswire

Let's not be fooled by white pride rally

Supporters of a so-called "white pride" group are expected to gather Saturday at 2 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Hudson to stage what is being billed as an annual "Close the Border" demonstration.

If it is anything like the group's event two years ago at Library Park, participants will meet to drum up support from passing motorists while holding signs containing messages like "Keep NH safe, deport illegals."

North East White Pride has a soft spot in its heart for Hudson because it was one of the New Hampshire communities that received national attention in 2005 – New Ipswich was the other – for charging suspected illegal immigrants with criminal trespass under state law.

A Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court judge ultimately dismissed the charges on the grounds that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration law in this country.

In fact, group member Rob O'Donovan of Haverhill, Mass., made that very point when posting the announcement of the demonstration on the organization's Web site,

(You won't have any trouble figuring out if you've found the correct site – it's the one with the Web address plastered over a black-and-white photo of Nazi soldiers.)

For his part, O'Donovan rejects descriptions of his organization as a home for racists and white supremacists and claims "we don't hate anyone."

But one look at the group's Web site suggests otherwise, particularly the online comments and the images that accompany them.

If it's true, as the saying goes, you are known by the company you keep, O'Donovan's protestations ring pretty hollow.

Meet some of the members:

• "KKK4Life," who identifies himself as a 21-year-old male from Somerville, Mass., includes in his posting links to the official Web sites of the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party and – not surprisingly – an anti-Barack Obama site that carries the heading: "Defeat Obama '08 / An Obama Nation is an Abomination."

• "Ulfar1-4/88," an 18-year-old male from the Clinton-Worcester area of Massachusetts, refers to Nashua and other sections of the country as being "infested" – and he's not talking about mosquitoes.

• Then there is "jezabell," who identifies herself only as a woman and uses a photograph of a noose as her identifying icon. She also uses the tag line of her posting to share her attempt at humor:

Q: How do you smile and wink at a (n-word) at the same time?

A: Through the scope.

And, yes, the word in parentheses is ours, not hers.

The fact that O'Donovan himself once tried to organize a Martin Luther King Day protest in 2006 in front of the Museum of African American History in Boston also suggests that illegal immigration is just a convenient front for an organization with much broader tentacles.

Frankly, while we would prefer they find somewhere else to preach their message of hate, it would be hypocritical for us to suggest they don't have the right to do it here. The First Amendment says that they can, and that's certainly as it should be.

But perhaps they wouldn't be quite so anxious to return next year if they sensed they weren't welcome here in Hudson – or anywhere else in the state, for that matter.

So if you happen to see them on Saturday afternoon, please don't be fooled by their "immigration reform" ruse. This is a hate group, pure and simple, and perhaps the best message we could send them is our silence.

No honking horns. No waves. No shouts of support.

That would speak volumes to what we think about bigotry and intolerance in our community.

Source: Nashua Telegraph