Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"U.S. to Illegal Immigrants: Drop Dead."

As Spring arrives and the days become warmer my mind begins to focus on Summer. I think of Summer and the promise of scorching 100+ degree days in our deserts of Arizona. While the heat begins to rise in our deserts our Congress is involved in its own intense and heated debate over illegal immigration. No matter what position one might take on the issue of illegal immigration the fact remains that this year over 300 men, women and children will die as they make a desperate attempt to illegally enter our country.

During the period of 1998-2004 over 3000 deaths were recorded in the surrounding desert areas of Tucson, Arizona. The deaths are a result of a shift in migration patterns by illegal immigrants as they sought alternative routes due to an increased border patrol presence and fences built on the border between San Diego and Tijuana. The beefed up Border Patrol presence and fencing resulted in the smugglers and immigrants moving further inland to desolate areas in their effort to reach the U.S. undetected.

The majority of the immigrant smuggling trade is now transacted in the Naco, Arizona and Naco, Sonora, Mexico region. It is no small secret that the Mexican town of Naco functions mostly as launching point from which Mexican and Central American immigrants attempt their perilous journey into the United States. The deaths have continued for the past 10 years and they have attracted the attention of various groups such as No More Deaths an organization that has openly provided humanitarian aide despite the risk of arrest and fines for their actions. A list of some of the dead is provided here.

As the Senate prepares to tackle the most sweeping immigration reforms in years, a top Democrat has vowed to do everything in his power, including filibuster, to thwart Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist's proposed overhaul. Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has stated that he would "use every procedural means at my disposal" to prevent Frist from bypassing the Judiciary Committee. Majority Leader Frist has made clear the Senate will take up his proposal next week in the event the 18-member committee fails to complete a broader bill.

Whether or not Congress can agree on a comprehensive immigration bill remains to be seen. In the meantime a bill approving a new 700 mile long fence on the Mexican border with Arizona has been passed. The bill will force employers to check the Social Security numbers of new hires against a national database. The bill also contains all sorts of punitive measures - such as making it a felony for illegal immigrants to be here and making it a felony for anyone who knowingly helps an illegal immigrant.

Twenty years after passing the most sweeping immigration reform our leadership in Congress now fails to reach common ground on immigration reform and has enacted potentially dangerous and regressive immigration policies.

In California issue of illegal immigration has been a hotly contested debate especially since then Gov. Davis granting Illegal Immigrants Drivers Licenses. The much touted accomplishment of Sen. Gil Cedillo were short lived as Gov. Schwarznegger citing Homeland Security issues forced the Assembly to cave and grant a repeal of the same law.

As we continue this contentious debate angry voices will rise from both sides, as surely as the heat in the Arizona desert. Indeed protest and demonstrations are already being scheduled in major cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona.

The images to come will likely be seized upon by our mainstream media and used to boost ratings but will fail to provide any real contribution towards healthy dialogue that could contribute towards resolving the issue of illegal immigration. The images that our mainstream media is likely to provide will be those of groups engaged in heated exchange of words - such as inviduals from the Minuteman Project and Immigration Watchdog locked in angry shouting matches with pro immigration groups the likes of NCLR and MALDEF.

As insults get traded and angry voices rise during our Nations debate on illegal immigration, the death toll will also rise in the sorching heat of the Arizona desert.

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