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Month: February 2011 (Page 2 of 3)

Mom Patrols U.S. Border From Her Den : Immigration Law Answers Blog

A story on CNN describes a woman in Rochester, New York, who patrols the Texas-Mexico border from her home. She does this virtually, by using cameras she can view over the Internet. Here is the beginning of the article:

When her baby girl takes an afternoon nap, or on those nights when she just can’t sleep, Sarah Andrews, 32, tosses off her identity as a suburban stay-at-home mom and becomes something more exotic: a “virtual deputy” patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border.

From her house in a suburb of Rochester, New York, Andrews spends at least four hours a day watching a site called

There, because of a $2 million grant from the state of Texas, anyone in the world can watch grainy live video scenes of cactuses, desert mountains and the Rio Grande along Texas’ portion of the international border.

When Andrews spots something she deems suspicious — perhaps a fuzzy character moving from right to left across the screen or people wading through the river with what appear to be trash bags atop their heads — she and the site’s 43,000 registered users can send e-mail messages straight to local law enforcement, who then decide whether to act.

Texas Border Sheriffs Launch Border Camera Program : Immigration Law Answers Blog

For better or worse, the The Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition has launched a new network of Internet cameras aimed at the Mexican border in the latest effort to bolster local border security efforts with live video steaming. Here are excerpts from a Dallas Morning News article:

Much like during the monthlong test run of border cameras, users watching the cameras will be able to anonymously e-mail law enforcement to report suspicious activity. During the pilot program, 14,800 e-mails reporting suspicious behavior, suggestions for improvement, and other comments were sent to state officials.

That initial pilot project, Texas Border Watch, was riddled with technological glitches. Pictures from the cameras were grainy and some of the Web cameras were placed so high that it was difficult to distinguish from bush from a person. Images from the cameras available Thursday appeared clearer than previous pictures beamed from the border.

State officials canceled the bidding process for a new camera network – the state had hoped to place about 200 cameras along the border – after the bid deadline expired in mid-April. Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry’s office, said the bids “were going to do too little and cost too much.”

The deal between the border sheriffs and BlueServo will allow the company to sell advertising “to defray the infrastructure and costs of operating” the program, according to a statement from the coalition.

To view the cameras, visit BlueServo.

Texas Group Sues To Stop Construction Of Border Fence : Immigration Law Answers Blog

The Texas Border Coalition, which includes the mayors of Eagle Pass, Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo and Hidalgo, filed the suit in federal court in Washington on Friday, asking a judge to block construction of 70 miles of border fences and walls in the Rio Grande Valley.

The lawsuit seeks class-action certification and accuses Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Customs and Border Patrol officials of not telling landowners they had the right to negotiate the price for the federal use of their land, concealing how they decide what constitutes a reasonable price for land seized for the fence and showing favoritism to wealthy or well-connected landowners.

 “What we haven’t done is we haven’t given everybody a veto,” Mr. Chertoff said. “If somebody says they prefer an open border, we don’t necessarily give them the right to make that judgment because the consequences of an open border are smuggling of drugs and human beings into this country.”

But Chad Foster, the mayor of Eagle Pass and chairman of the coalition, said that Homeland Security, under pressure to build a fence, is ignoring less-intrusive and more practical measures to secure the border with Mexico.  

Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said the department had no intention to back down from its plans.

“We’ve nearly bent over backward to work with landowners,” she said in a written statement. “Accusations to the contrary are either ill-informed or just plain wrong.”

Bush Administration To Bypass Laws To Build Border Fence : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Home > Immigration News > Bush Administration To Bypass Laws To Build Border Fence

Posted on April 1, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

Well, this is one way to do it. I’ve written a lot on this blog about the resistance Texas landowners are showing toward the building of a new fence along the Texas-Mexico border. Now comes word today that the Bush administration will plow ahead with the fence regardless of any opposition by landowners, by laws, or by regulations. Here are excerpts from a story today in the Dallas Morning News:

The Bush administration will use its authority to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations in an effort to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest U.S. border by the end of this year, federal officials said Tuesday. Invoking the two legal waivers — which Congress authorized — will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that currently stand in the way of the Homeland Security Department building 267 miles of fencing in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to officials familiar with the plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly about it. As of March 17, there were 309 miles of fencing in place, leaving 361 to be completed by the end of the year to meet the department’s goal. Of those, 267 miles are being held up by federal, state and local laws and regulations, the officials said. One waiver will address the construction of a 22-mile levee barrier in Hidalgo County, Texas. The other waiver will cover 30 miles of fencing and technology deployment on environmentally sensitive ground in San Diego, southern Arizona and the Rio Grande; and 215 miles in California, Arizona and Texas that face other legal impediments due to administrative processes. For instance, building in some areas requires assessments and studies that — if conducted — could not be completed in time to finish the fence by the end of the year. Residents and property owners along the U.S.-Mexico border have complained about the construction of fencing. In South Texas, where opposition has been widespread, land owners refused to give the government access to property along the fence route. The government has since sued more than 50 property owners in South Texas to gain access to the land.

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Article Lists The 28 Laws Waived To Build Hidalgo County Border Fence : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Home > Immigration News > Article Lists The 28 Laws Waived To Build Hidalgo County Border Fence

Posted on April 15, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News today reports that 28 separate federal laws or regulations were waived in order for Homeland Security to build the Texas-Mexico border fence. It looks like the waivers will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Here are exerpts:

The U.S. Supreme Court may get a chance to join the fractious debate over building fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. A legal challenge by two environmental groups seeking to limit enhanced Department of Homeland Security powers to suspend more than 30 laws to build the fence is gathering support in Congress. But at least one constitutional expert said that although the legal challenge underscores the broad array of powers Congress has delegated to Homeland Security, “environmentalists face an uphill battle.” “There is a legitimate legal gripe here, in that there are serious questions about how much power Congress can delegate to other branches of government,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law authority at George Washington University Law School. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the waiver of about three dozen environmental laws to expedite construction of the border fence in Texas and Arizona on April 1. “This blanket waiver of laws like the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act is a clear and disturbing abuse of the secretary’s discretion,” said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee. “Congress’ efforts to seek justification for this waiver from DHS have been stonewalled, which leads me to believe none exists.” Congress also denied oversight by federal appeals courts to any challenges, except for a request to the Supreme Court to review. In his announcement of the most recent waivers, Mr. Chertoff said that Homeland Security remains committed to environmental responsibility and that the agency “is neither compromising its commitment to responsible environmental stewardship nor its commitment to solicit and respond to the needs of state, local and tribal governments, other agencies of the federal government and local residents.” He stressed that his agency will continue to work closely with the Department of Interior and other federal and state resources management agencies to ensure that impact to the environment and cultural and historic artifacts is properly analyzed and minimized. But the size and scope of the use of waivers to clear the path for construction of the border fence is virtually unprecedented, Dr. Turley said. More troubling, he added, is the apparent dismissal of due process as “endless debate or protracted litigation.” Mr. Chertoff has said the waivers are necessary because “criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.” But Dr. Turley said Congress has in recent years “become almost waiver happy.” “They see it as a form of no-cost legislating,” he said. “But there is no evidence Congress considered the implications of giving Homeland Security such broad waiver power.” There are indications that Congress may be trying to regain some of the authority it gave away. Hidalgo Couny: Laws in suspension: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived the following laws for construction of the border fence in Hidalgo County, Texas: 1. National Environmental Policy Act 2. Endangered Species Act 3. Federal Water Pollution Control Act 4. National Historic Preservation Act 5. Migratory Bird Treaty Act 6. Clean Air Act 7. Archaeological Resources Protection Act 8. Safe Drinking Water Act 9. Noise Control Act 10. Solid Waste Disposal Act 11. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 12. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act 13. Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act 14. Antiquities Act 15. Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act 16. Farmland Protection Policy Act 17. Coastal Zone Management Act 18. Federal Land Policy and Management Act 19. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act 20. Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 21. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 22. Administrative Procedure Act 23. Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 24. Eagle Protection Repatriation Act 25. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 26. American Indian Religious Freedom Act 27. Religious Freedom Restoration Act 28. Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977 SOURCE: Federal Register Online

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I Agree With Governor Rick Perry! : Immigration Law Answers Blog

I agree with Governor Rick Perry! Now that is a statement you will not see very many times. But in an article in today’s Dallas Morning News Perry is quoted as taking a reasonable approach to border enforcement and a guest worker program. Here are excerpts from the article:

Lawmakers in Washington have failed to see the economic benefits of legal immigration and how a temporary worker program can coexist with greater border security, Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday as he concluded a three-day energy trade mission to Mexico.

Mr. Perry spoke passionately about the two pressing issues between the nations: an immigration overhaul and securing the border without building fences between neighbors.

“We know how to deal with border security, and you don’t do it by building a fence,” Mr. Perry said at a news conference before meeting with President Felipe Caldern.

Border crime can only be reduced with “boots on the ground” and perhaps some limited fencing in urban areas, Mr. Perry said. Last year, he said, half a dozen police surges at key points along the border reduced crime up to 60 percent.

What Does A Fence On The United State-Mexico Border Have To Do With Goats? : Immigration Law Answers Blog

That was the lead sentence of a recent article in the Biloxi Sun Herald. It has to do with an odd quote from Mississippi Senator Trent Lott. Here are excerpts from the article:

Sen. Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., was talking to reporters Wednesday about the immigration bill, when he said, “If the answer is ‘build a fence’ I’ve got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain’t no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence.”

“Now people are at least as smart as goats,” Lott continued. “Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it.”

“I’m not proposing an electrified goat fence,” Lott added quickly, “I’m just trying, there’s an analogy there.”

Asked for clarification as to what exactly the analogy was, Lott spokesman Lee Youngblood said that the senator supported a variety of measures in the immigration bill, including unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, radar and more border patrol agents, as well as a fence to reduce the flow of illegal immigration.

“A fence in and of itself is not enough,” said Youngblood. “You can have technology to support the fence and to supplement the fence.”

Acknowledging the flak he’s taken, Lott said Wednesday, “I keep trying to tell everybody ‘calm down, calm down, let me be the one that offends the left, the middle and the right.’ I’m doing great, aren’t I? But it gives you a level of utopia that is just so blissful.”

“I don’t worry about offending anybody anymore, ” said Lott, “because I’ve already offended everybody.”

Passport Rules Changed Again — Security Affected? : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Various wire service reports say the  Bush administration will delay for at least six months a rule that U.S. citizens must show passports when crossing the border by land or sea.

The announcement marks the second time in a month that officials have scaled back security plans in response to complaints.

Beginning in January, land and sea travelers returning from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be allowed to present a birth certificate and driver’s license in lieu of a passport.

Starting next year, travelers also will no longer be able to make an oral declaration of U.S citizenship to re-enter the country.

The modification is expected to last at least until the summer of 2008, when officials hope to require passports or similar documentation at all land and sea crossings.

The problem is caused by the government’s inability to produce passports sufficient to meet the demand, an indication to some people of extremely poor planning on the part of the Administration. Surely they have know for many months that there would be a flood of passport applications right before the new restrictions took effect.

Now we have to face the question of whether our border security is being made more vulnerable because of this bureaucratic bungling. This delay could cause our borders to be more porous, as terrorists will be able to use false documents to sneak across the border.

Texas Governor Takes Surprising Stand In Favor Of Immigrants : Immigration Law Answers Blog

Texas Governor Rick Perry, normally an ultra-conservative, surprised most members of his conservative base yesterday. In a speech to border officials, Governor Perry said that  ideas such as a fence along the border, cutting off public education for illegal immigrants, and changing the law to take away birthright citizenship are “divisive.”

Perhaps now that the election is over, and Perry won a multi-candidate race with far less than a majority of the total vote, he is moderating his political views in order to attract more of the Latino population.

Whatever his motivation, and whatever his sincerity, those of us who try to help immigrants appreciate his new positions.

The decision by the Supreme Court will certainly reduce the number of people who are deported from the United States each year for minor drug offenses. The Supreme Court also made it easier for some immigrants convicted of drug possession under state law to remain in the country.

For more information about immigration news, immigration laws, immigration policies, proposed immigration laws, border enforcement, green cards, citizenship, employment visas, family visas, naturalization, and other immigration subjects, please visit Immigration Law Answers and DFW Immigration Law Blog.

Candidates' Views On Immigration Reform : Immigration Law Answers Blog

As election day rapidly approaches, it is important to understand the viewpoints each candidate for Texas Governor has on current immigration laws and proposed immigration reform. Understanding each candidate’s viewpoint will help you make a better decision on November 7, 2006.

Currently, the U.S. is home to approximately 10 million undocumented workers and their families. It is estimated that there are over one million illegal immigrants living in Texas. Each candidate has developed a plan to deal with illegal immigration and secure the Texas border.

Current Republican Governor Rick Perry wants to take action to tighten border security. This will include using the National Guard to patrol the U.S./Mexico border. He will ask for $100 million to fund border security efforts and will authorize the building of “border jails” to hold illegal aliens.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an Independent and former City of Austin Mayor, states that she will provide double the power of the Texas Rangers so that they can lead state border security measures and she will provide them with $15 million to do so. She believes that Texas must do more to protect the borders along the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico by taking all necessary steps to prevent illegal immigration.

Kinky Friedman, an Independent candidate, would like to send 10,000 Guardsmen to the border. He also wants to impose fines of up to $50,000 on companies that hire illegal immigrants, and require foreign workers to buy a taxpayer ID card and pass a criminal background check. He would also like to make the Mexican government fund the cost of illegal immigration in Texas.

Chris Bell, a Democrat and former Congressman from Houston, said that he wants to focus on employers who hire illegal workers, but has said that trying to deport illegal immigrants already here would be difficult. He also supports the McCain-Kennedy bill that would provide a so-called “pathway to citizenship” for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country, provided they had jobs, learned English, paid fines, and met certain other requirements.

Each candidate for Texas Governor has a different stance on illegal immigration and immigration reform, and your vote will help determine the future of immigration in the United States.

If you have any questions on how to become a citizen or where and how to vote, please contact us or visit

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