Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama to send more National Guard troops to U.S.-Mexico border

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post staff writer
Tuesday, May 25, 2010; 4:10 PM

President Obama will deploy an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border and request $500 million in extra money for border security, according to an administration official. The decision comes as the White House is seeking Republican support for broad immigration reform this year.

The official said the new resources would provide "immediate enhancement" to the border even as the Obama administration continues to "work with Congress to fix our broken immigration system through comprehensive reform, which would provide lasting and dedicated resources by which to secure our borders and make our communities safer."

The 1,200 troops will join about 340 already working in the border region, the official said. They would provide support to law enforcement efforts against drug trafficking by increasing monitoring of border crossings and performing intelligence analysis.

The move by the president is a direct appeal to Republicans in Congress, who have argued that the federal government must get serious about securing the border before they will support broader changes to the system.

Arizona's two Republican senators -- John McCain and Jon Kyl -- asked Obama to send guard troops to the border in a letter last week. McCain announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce an amendment that would fund 6,000 troops on the southwest border.

"The violence has crossed the border and escalated to a point where many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property," McCain and Kyl wrote last week. "It would be irresponsible not to do everything we can to stop the escalating violence along the border with Mexico."

Republican senators said Tuesday that they were underwhelmed by Obama's proposal. The president told GOP lawmakers during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he was committing greater resources to border security than his predecessor, President George W. Bush, "but I don't think that's the point," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). "The point is, how much do we need to get the job done?"

Upping the ante, Senate Republicans offered an amendment this afternoon to an emergency war spending bill to provide an additional $2 billion in border funding -- four times the size of Obama's proposal. The funds are aimed at improving security and stopping the flow of illegal immigration. "We need to regain the public's confidence and trust. It needs to be credible," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

Many conservatives favor construction of a massive border fence, something that Obama opposes. In an ad for his primary campaign, McCain said the government should finish "the danged fence," something he had called ineffective during his 2008 campaign for the presidency.

The idea of sending troops to the border is not unprecedented. In May 2006, in an address televised live from the Oval Office, then-president Bush called for the short-term deployment of up to 6,000 National Guard troops, though he said they would not be involved in direct law enforcement activities.

Called "Operation Jump Start," the troops were sent to the border for two years but have largely been pulled back.

Then, as now, the troop deployment was fueled by concerns about the security of people living along the border and by political pressure aimed at setting the stage for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration policy.

That effort failed in 2007, but during his presidential campaign, Obama said he would continue to push for an eventual "path to citizenship" for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Handyman dies protecting Centreville family he worked for from armed home invaders

By Tom Jackman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jose Rosales was a devout Christian. He sent every spare penny he made as a landscaper and handyman back to his family in Guatemala, and he was so strong and industrious that he did the work of three men. He had the complete trust of the Brar family who hired him.


In turn, Rosales appreciated the steady work the Brars gave him in their construction and real estate businesses and around their 10-acre Centreville property and 9,000-square foot mansion, especially in tough economic times.

So on Monday morning, when two armed men broke into the family's four-car garage, Rosales stood between them and the Brars. "Get away from my brother and my mom," he said.

Then, the stocky Rosales decided to fight back. He jumped one of the invaders and wrested his gun away, sources familiar with the case said Tuesday. But the other man turned his gun on the family's mother. He threatened to kill the matriarch if Rosales didn't give the gun back. Rosales did, the sources said.

And then the gunmen shot and killed Rosales.

"Without Jose, I firmly believe I would not be alive right now," said Robbie Brar, a member of the stunned family, who spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday. "In a situation where most people probably run away, not only did he not run away, but he stood strong to protect people that are not related to him. He's a guardian angel."

The two intruders fled as soon they killed Rosales. Nothing was taken from the home, the sources said. Police said they did not know whether the family was targeted or the crime was random.

Fairfax County police said that the Brars did not know the intruders and that they do not know why the gunmen went to the Tudor-style mansion on Compton Road about 10:30 a.m. Monday. The police have no suspects. But they are looking for an older model white Toyota pickup. A witness reported seeing a man jump into the truck's bed on Compton Road near Bay Valley Lane about 10:50 a.m., and then seeing the man pull a tarp over himself as the truck sped east toward Union Mill Road, police said.

Jose Ramiro Rosales Cardona, 39, was the father of two sons, now in college in Guatemala, his friends said. When he wasn't working, he was studying to become a minister or spending time with a church group in Manassas discussing the Bible, playing the guitar and singing Christian songs, his friends said.

Fairfax police declined to discuss Rosales's actions Tuesday. But two sources familiar with the investigation used the same words: "He is a hero."

Rosales had been in the United States for at least eight years, his friends said, and most recently rented a room in a Manassas Park home. He came to the United States to work and support his family. Brar said Rosales hoped one day to return to Guatemala, build and own a home, and resume farming, as his family once did.

"He was an excellent person," said his housemate of two years, Jose Molina. "Never any problems. Always spending time at the church."

Rosales was part of a small church, Mision Evangelica San Juan, that met in the home of its pastor, Jaime Zuniga. He was there four times a week, Zuniga's brother Luis Zuniga said, and everyone at the church knew him as "Brother Jose."

"Every day that he has time," Luis Zuniga said, "he's here to talk about God. . . . Anybody who talks with him, the first thing he says is, 'Jesus Christ loves you.' "

On the day that Rosales died, Zuniga said, he was supposed to lead the Bible study. Instead, an overflowing group of Rosales's friends filled the house Monday after learning of his death.

Zuniga said Rosales was an accomplished guitarist and would join Zuniga on piano and another guitarist to form a trio. Rosales hoped to record a CD of his guitar playing sometime, Zuniga said.

The group had been looking at properties in Manassas to buy for a permanent church. Now the group will try to send the money to Rosales's family, Zuniga said.

Brar, 28, said his family has a number of construction and real estate ventures in Northern Virginia, in addition to a check cashing and mortgage store in Manassas.

The family regularly hires laborers to do landscaping and maintenance. About a year and a half ago, Brar said, he met Rosales and soon came to "trust him with anything."

The Brars would hire Rosales to paint, build, clean or mow lawns. "He pretty much could do anything," Brar said. "He painted like a professional. He did landscaping like a professional."

Sitting in the truck with him at jobs, Brar learned of Rosales's two children in college, his sick mother in Guatemala, his background as a farmer. When it came to religion, Brar said, "he was very tolerant of others' beliefs. He was a very intelligent guy." Brar said Rosales had some medical education, as well as police and military training before leaving Guatemala for work in America.

Rosales's focus was on becoming a pastor, Brar said. "I never saw him angry," Brar said. "He always spoke with respect to every single person he came across."

Brar said that when it came to money, "pretty much everything but his food and rent money he sent to his ill mother and children."

Brar did not want to discuss the specifics of the attempted home invasion. But, he said, "I believe Jose was sent into my life a year and a half ago by some higher power." Brar, his parents and younger brother were home at the time of the attack.

Brar said he plans to help Rosales's family "like he helped my family. Now I'm the brother and the son. Money comes and goes. We're going to help his family out however we can."


General President's Office

Yanira E. Merino

Immigration Coordinator

905 16th Street N.W.

Washington, DC 20006

202- 942-2284

202-737-8320 (Fax)

For Immediate Release

Anti-Immigrant Group Recommends Economic Self-Destruction for Arizona

May 18, 2010

Washington D.C. - In data released "exclusively to," the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - architects of the new Arizona law SB1070 - claim that unauthorized immigrants in Arizona are costing the state's taxpayers $2.7 billion per year for education, medical care, and incarceration. The release of this "fiscal analysis" takes advantage of the absence of any legitimate economic analysis by the state on what SB1070 will cost. However, judging from FAIR's track record when it comes to these kinds of state estimates, it is likely that their numbers are virtually meaningless. In its most recent state studies on unauthorized immigration in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, for instance, FAIR has dramatically exaggerated the fiscal "costs" imposed by unauthorized immigrants by including schooling and medical care for their native-born, U.S.-citizen children in its estimate, and conveniently forgetting to account for the economic role that unauthorized workers play as consumers who help support local economies.

FAIR's latest data fails to account for the property, sales, and income taxes paid by unauthorized immigrants. Nor does the data account for the consumer purchasing power of unauthorized immigrants - what they spend on goods, services, and housing - which actually creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue. They seem to forget that deporting workers also means deporting consumers and taxpayers.

However, in all fairness, they do acknowledge that the costs of implementing SB1070 will add to the economic strain on the state. In the absence of any state-generated fiscal data on the cost of the law's implementation, some Arizonans have pointed to a fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden in response to similar legislation proposed in 2006. The Yuma county snapshot of enforcement costs is a sobering reminder of the overwhelming financial costs - up to $100 million for just one Arizona county - that will ensue if the state attempts to enforce its new law. Ultimately, this law will cost Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. Yet those costs are only part of the story and don't even account for lost revenue from losing a part of the workforce, not to mention a growing boycott and expensive lawsuits from which the state will have to defend itself.

For further information see:


For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at or 202-507-7524.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC, formed in 2003 is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

A division of the American Immigration Council.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010

The 800 Pound Gorilla That Sits in the Middle of Arizona

By Mark H. Ayers

The current firestorm that has erupted as a result of the enactment of the “Show Me Your Papers” law in Arizona has further enflamed the already contentious debate about illegal immigration.

Proponents of the Arizona law flatly state that it was needed because of the federal government’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration reform that would address issues related to border security.

Critics, on the other hand, say the Arizona law is nothing more than a pathway to provide state and local police carte blanc authority to racially profile and harass Hispanics.

Either way, because of this firestorm, there are discussions now underway in Washington, DC relating to the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

On April 30, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and several of his fellow Senate Democrats introduced a framework for an overhaul of immigration laws in light of the Arizona law. The Senate Democrats’ approach would impose tougher sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants, create new identification cards for immigrant workers, reform temporary worker programs, and provide a sensible pathway for responsible immigrants to become full-fledged U.S. citizens.

For his part, President Barack Obama voiced his support for the plan, saying it is "a very important step in the process of fixing our nation's broken immigration system."

In truth, the entire debate around the issue of immigration never seems to effectively address the real problem - our collective national addiction to cheap labor and low wages. In America today, it’s all about next quarter’s profits and the bottom line. While exploitative businesses and their apologists hide behind empty slogans like “free markets,” we know the only freedom they are fighting for is the freedom to exploit workers, steal wages and cut corners.

It's no secret certain industries, such as construction, rely heavily on illegal labor. In recent years, prior to the economic downturn, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, undocumented workers accounted for as much as 25% of the entire U.S. construction workforce. And in the residential construction sector, that number has been even higher.

In many states, attempts have been made to require employers to check prospective employees on their legal status through the production of a driver’s license, state ID card, or other positive means of identification. But this is hardly a fool-proof method of dealing with the problem, as evidenced by the results of an undercover operation spearheaded by Jobs for Georgians and the North Georgia Building Trades Council, and as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“Jose Alvarez first asked about a bricklaying job with M&D Masonry at the Atlanta airport in March, and the foreman assured him that being an illegal immigrant wouldn’t be a problem.

‘Do you have a picture ID?’ said Bob Beaty, hiring foreman for the Americus, GA-based masonry company working on the new $1.4 billion international terminal.

‘But it’s not legal,’ Alvarez told him.

‘I know, I know, none of our guys are, but if you have a picture ID, you can get on here,’ Beaty said. ‘Everybody turns in a Social Security number and we take taxes out for that number. I know none of those numbers are right.’

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of our national immigration problem.

And when states move to address these issues, they are inevitably thwarted by those whose business models are now predicated upon an addiction to cheap, easily exploitable labor.

This was the case in 2006, for example, when the state of Colorado attempted to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers. Governor Bill Owens was initially supportive of the bill, but when business leaders told him the price of a house might go up by 5 percent because some homebuilders could lose their exploitable labor, he backed away.

You can be sure, with talk about immigration reform heating up, that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are all gearing up to engage lawmakers, because their “race to the bottom” business model relies upon the continued exploitation of workers who do not have the same right to join a union or recourse under the law as U.S. workers.

Let us examine what this “race to the bottom” approach (predicated upon the exploitation of undocumented workers) has done to the U.S. construction industry, and to U.S. construction workers. For starters, real wages for construction workers were lower in 2006 than they were in 1973! Adjusted for inflation, construction workers in 1973 earned the equivalent of $22.13 an hour in today's dollars. However, actual average hourly pay for construction workers in 2006 was only $18.29 – 17 percent below the 1973 rate, adjusted for inflation.

Additionally, even when contractors are making money, workers are not seeing the gains. According to the federal government's economic census, contractors' profits grew between 1977 and 2002. However, workers did not get their fair share of the gain; instead the proportion of construction receipts spent for payroll and benefits actually declined by almost 14 percent during the same period!

With those types of statistics in mind, it is simply idiotic for us, as a nation, to pass law after law – like the one in Arizona – and arrest someone with brown skin who can't produce an ID; or confiscate their cars; or deport people and break up families; when we don’t have the sense or the courage to address the real issue - companies maximizing profits at the expense of workers, using a business model that relies on the lowering of standards and wages industry-wide by exploiting a workforce without the legal standing to demand justice.

Instead of demagoguery and divisiveness, we need comprehensive immigration reform that stops this exploitation. America’s Building Trades Unions and this great country were built by immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Whether it’s a temporary worker program that denies full rights and wages to those working in this country or the “Show Me Your Papers” law, anytime we treat immigrants like second-class citizens, we undermine our core values as Americans, and undermine the American Dream for all of us.

America's building trades unions will never stop in their quest to expose organizations like the Home Builders and the ABC for what they truly are – defenders and practitioners of an abhorrent business model that is contrary to our American beliefs.