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Month: February 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Texas Landowners Find Appraisers Scarce In Border-Fence Cases : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Home > Immigration News > Texas Landowners Find Appraisers Scarce In Border-Fence Cases

Posted on December 2, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News reports that Rio Grande Valley property owners are having trouble finding property appraisers – key witnesses in hearings that will determine how much the government pays for the land it uses to build the border fence. This is going to be a major problem in the battle between the property owners and the U.S. government over the construction of a border barrier. Here are excerpts:

The limited supply of qualified appraisers for this sort of work in the valley, the cost of bringing in an appraiser from elsewhere, and the fact that the government grabbed the valley’s premier appraisal firm for its side could lead to fewer landowners holding out for a trial, said lawyers involved with the cases.

The Justice Department expects about 270 condemnation lawsuits against valley landowners. Most have settled, but federal lawyers say about 80 holdouts could carry their cases all the way to trial, scheduled to begin next spring.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is trying to complete 670 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. It will not meet its end-of-year deadline, but has promised to have all sections under contract by then.

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Corruption Hits The Ranks Of The U.S. Border Patrol : Immigration Law Answers Blog

A disappointing and disturbing article has been published by the New York Times concerning corruption within the Border Patrol. Fortunately, the vast majority of those serving our country in the Border Patrol are honest, hard-working people. But as the Patrol expands rapidly, there seems to be an alarming increase in the number of “bad apples” in the agency. Here are brief excerpts from the artice:

Mr. Villarreal and a brother, Fidel, also a former Border Patrol agent, are suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border. The brothers quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to have fled to Mexico.

The Villarreal investigation is among scores of corruption cases in recent years that have alarmed officials in the Homeland Security Department just as it is hiring thousands of border agents to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes.

Increased corruption is linked, in part, to tougher enforcement, driving smugglers to recruit federal employees as accomplices. It has grown so worrisome that job applicants will soon be subject to lie detector tests to ensure that they are not already working for smuggling organizations. In addition, homeland security officials have reconstituted an internal affairs unit at Customs and Border Protection, one of the largest federal law enforcement agencies, overseeing both border agents and customs officers.

While the corruption investigations involve a small fraction of the overall security workforce on the border, the numbers are growing. In the 2007 fiscal year, the Homeland Security Department’s main anticorruption arm, the inspector general’s office, had 79 investigations under way in the four states bordering Mexico, compared with 31 in 2003. Officials at other federal law enforcement agencies investigating border corruption also said their caseloads had risen.

The federal government says it carefully screens applicants, but some internal affairs investigators say they have been unable to keep up with the increased workload.

The Border Patrol alone is expected to grow to more than 20,000 agents by the end of 2009, more than double from 2001, when the agency began to expand in response to concerns about national security. There has also been a large increase in the number of customs officers.

Violence Against Border Agents Up 47% In Past Six Months : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Home > Immigration News > Violence Against Border Agents Up 47% In Past Six Months

Posted on April 9, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

Here’s a troubling bit of news from today’s Dallas Morning News: Violence against U.S. Border Patrol agents is up 47 percent for the first six months of the fiscal year, as surveillance toughens along the 2,000-mile stretch of U.S.-Mexico border, David Aguilar, the nation’s top Border Patrol official, said Tuesday.

“As we continue to gain control of our borders, we fully expected the violence to go up,” said Mr. Aguilar, in Dallas for a quarterly gathering of about 50 sector chiefs and other leaders. In the past six months, there have been nearly 500 incidents against Border Patrol agents, as varied as rock-throwing, physical assaults and gunfire. Smugglers “frankly thought they owned” the border region, and could operate with impunity, Mr. Aguilar said.

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Tancredo Is Just Joking, Right? : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Posted on April 29, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

I don’t know if his plan is to keep other citizens of Texas out of Brownsville or to keep Brownsville residents out of the rest of Texas, but Congressman Tom Tancredo made a very strange statement in Brownsville yesterday. Here’s the story from the Channel 5 TV station in Weslaco:

BROWNSVILLE – A Colorado Congressman is under fire this morning for making a controversial statement to some Brownsville landowners.

Republican Tom Tancredo supports the border wall. The U.S. representative attended the hearing in Brownsville yesterday.

During the hearing, he told the Brownsville landowners, “I suggest that you build this fence around the northern part of your city…” implying that all of Brownsville should be on the Mexican side of the wall.

Right now NEWSCHANNEL 5 is working to get clarification from Congressman Tancredo.

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The Mexico Trucker Blog : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Posted on November 11, 2007 by Robert A. Kraft

I’ve written before about the perceived problems with relaxed restrictions on Mexican trucks entering the United States and going beyond the previously set mileage boundaries. There’s a blog with a great deal of information about this situation and other, related matters. Check out the Mexico Trucker blog.

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Teamsters Protest Allowing Mexican Trucks Into United States : Immigration Law Answers Blog

The Teamsters’ union and truckers in general have been protesting the recent change in U.S. policy that now (as of last Thursday) allows Mexican trucking companies to drive anywhere into the United States. Previously, the law required Mexican trucks to drive no farther than about 25 miles into Texas, and somewhat farther into Arizona. The change is a part of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

While there very well may be economic self-interests at play in these protests, the Teamsters say their primary concern is the safety aspect of allowing Mexican trucks onto U.S. highways.

The U.S. plans to grant permission to approximately 100 Mexican trucking companies by the end of 2007. This is part of a one-year pilot program intended to discover whether it would be safe to eventually allow all Mexican trucking companies into the United States.

Despite assurances from the U.S. government that all Mexican trucks will be inspected for drugs and for illegal immigrants, that the trucks will meet safety regulations, and that the drivers will be well-trained, there is considerable uncertainty among many Americans.

Because the main highway from Mexico into the U.S. runs through the Texas cities of Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth, we may find out fairly soon whether Texas drivers will be exposed to unusual dangers from the Mexican trucks.

New Passport Requirement Won't Apply To Kids? : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Posted on February 22, 2007 by Robert A. Kraft

The Associated Press is reporting today that the Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce that the new passport requirements for reentry into the United States, due to become effective in 2008, will not apply to children aged 15 or younger. Children will need a certified copy of their birth certificates, but not a passport.

There may be another exemption for children aged 16 through 18 if they are traveling with school, religious, cultural, or athletic groups and under adult supervision.

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Anti-Immigrant Mob Creates False Heroes : Immigration Law Answers Blog

CNN columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. has another provocative column online. I may have to just put all his columns here since he’s had so many good ones recently. This one is titled “Anti-Immigrant Mob Creates False Heroes” and is about the two border patrol agents imprisoned for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler.

Navarrette talks about what many of the “anti-immigrant” people don’t mention when they show their outrage about these agents being imprisoned just for “doing their jobs.” The agents tried to cover up the incident. They picked up their shell casings and filed a report that made no mention of the shooting. Here are excerpts from the article.

The world is upside down. A posse of Republican lawmakers who, when opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, like to talk about how rules must be followed and how we shouldn’t reward lawbreakers. They’re now demanding that a pair of convicted felons be rewarded with a presidential pardon.

Ex-Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were sentenced to 11 years and 12 years in prison, respectively, after a jury convicted them of shooting an unarmed suspect and then covering it up.

Compean fired at least 14 rounds and Ramos fired once, hitting Aldrete-Davila. The agents then collected the shell casings, failed to report the shooting, and filed reports that made no mention of the incident.

None of this is heroic, except to the anti-immigrant mob, which has been making excuses for Compean and Ramos while accusing U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, whose office prosecuted the case, of being an agent of the Mexican government.

As his name gets dragged through the mud, you’d think that Sutton might hold a grudge. Not so.

“I have a lot of sympathy for some of the folks who are worked up because the narrative that they read is so different from the reality of what the jury heard,” Sutton told me.

But what about those unsympathetic Republican hacks, Minutemen vigilantes and conservative bloggers who are using this case to further their own agendas? For Sutton, it’s a reminder that there is no substitute for the American justice system. While not perfect, that system is designed to dole out justice based on facts and law, not politics.

“It’s why we litigate these things in a courtroom and not on cable television or the Internet,” he said.

Be glad that’s so.

Columnist — What Will Democrats Do About Immigration? : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Columnist Reuben Navarrette, Jr. has written an interesting article for CNN, wondering what action, if any, the Democrats will take on immigration reform, now that they are officially in power in both the House and the Senate. Navarrette says almost 70% of Latinos voted Democratic in the 2006 election, but warns Democrats what might happen if immigration reform is not passed soon. The article concludes:

In the days after the election, there were newspaper articles in which sources in Congress said Democrats might want to put the immigration issue on the back burner and — certainly in the so-called 100-hour agenda to be kicked off this week — concentrate on easy victories such as raising the minimum wage, expanding stem cell research, lowering prescription drug prices and tightening congressional ethics rules.

But lately, there’s been talk of a bipartisan coalition in Congress that could approve an immigration bill that gives illegal immigrants a path to legal residency and perhaps even defund 700 miles of border fencing approved in the last session.

Sources in Congress are saying that the process will begin in the Senate as early as this month. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, are expected to introduce legislation. It should pass.

Then all eyes will be on the House, which could take up the issue later in the year. What if House Democrats get cold feet and fail to deliver, and Latinos hold them accountable? Let’s just say, they may not want to unpack those boxes just yet. In two years, they may have to find their way back to those smaller offices.

Border Vigilante Found Guilty In Civil Suit : Immigration Law Answers Blog

The Douglas Dispatch has a story about local rancher Roger Barnett, who was sued for threatening a hunting party of Latinos with a rifle in 2004. Here are excerpts from the newspaper article:

The jury assessed a total of $210,000 in damages, but found Barnett only partially to blame for the incident. As a result, he will have to pay approximately $98,000 to principal plaintiff Ronald Morales, his father, and three girls.

Speaking after the verdict, Morales said he felt justice had been served.

“We came to court and spoke the truth, and the jury heard that truth,” he said. “Hopefully this sends a message that you can’t point a gun at little kids – or anybody for that matter – and then threaten to shoot them.”

Morales sued Barnett after the rancher confronted Morales’ hunting party on Oct. 30, 2004, and accused the group of trespassing on his property outside Douglas.

During the incident, Barnett took out an AR-15 assault rifle from his pickup and pointed it toward the group, which included Morales’ father, Arturo Morales; his daughters, Angelique and Venese Morales; and the girls’ friend, Emma English.

The hunters, all of whom are Americans of Mexican decent, said Barnett insulted them with racial slurs and threatened to shoot them – charges Barnett denied. Ronald Morales said he tried to get the county attorney to press criminal charges against Barnett, but was told no jury would convict him.

Morales’ attorney, Jesus Romo Vejar, said he hoped the local prosecutor would now reconsider filing criminal charges against Barnett, and he hoped others who had had problems with the rancher also would be encouraged to file civil claims.

Barnett estimates he has detained and turned over to the Border Patrol between 10,000 and 12,000 illegal immigrants during the past decade.

The five members of Morales party sued Barnett for assault, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury found in favor of all five of the plaintiffs on the claims, but split responsibility between Roger Barnett, Ronald Morales and Arturo Morales.

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