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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mexico Drug Tourism

An unidentified man rolls a marijuana cigarette during demonstrations to celebrate International Day for the Liberation of Marijuana in Mexico City, Sunday, May 2, 2004. Mexicans would be allowed to possess small amounts of cocaine, heroin, even ecstasy for their personal use under a bill approved by lawmakers that some worry could prove to be a lure to young Americans. The bill now only needs President Vicente Fox's signature to become law and that does not appear to be an obstacle. His office said that decriminalizing drugs will free up police to focus on major dealers. The Senate approved the bill Friday, April 28, 2006 in the final hours of its closing session. Mexico's lower house had already endorsed the legislation. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Andrew Warner writes a post about Mexico passing legislation that now makes possessing certain amounts of controlled substances legal for personal consumption. The new law marks a significant shift in how Mexico now views personal drug consumption and drug addiction.

Mexicans have long been familiar with the lucrative market for providing alcohol and drugs to its Northern neighbor. This bilateral trade route has history dating back to the Prohibition era. The border towns of Tijuana and Juarez and has always served as convenient venues in that regard. Mexicans are also quite familiar with the deadly aftermath that the Narco Wars has brought to the border regions as drug cartels fight for territory, but the Mexican public has generally regarded the drug violence as an issue that affects those involved in the drug trade and it similartly sees drug consumption and resulting drug addiction as more of a US problem. The increased drug use on both sides of the border seems to prove the simply law "supply and demand" and was reiterated by one of the biggest drug kingpins ever captured.

As the level of drug consumption and drug addiction increase in the US and to a smaller extend in Mexico have seen the border region become a low cost alternative for US owned drug rehabilitation centers south of the border. It should come as no surprise that Mexico's legislative body would seek alternatives to that of the failed US policy on its War on Drugs.

The new drug laws in Mexico seek to better address drug addiction and move towards a more progressive solution rather than a continued criminalization of casual drug use which only leads to increasing the amount of citizens jailed.

From the Washington Post:

Currently, Mexican law leaves open the possibility of dropping charges against people caught with drugs if they can prove they are drug addicts and if an expert certifies they were caught with "the quantity necessary for personal use."

The new bill drops the "addict" requirement, allows "consumers" to have drugs, and sets out specific allowable quantities, which do not appear in
the current law.

The United States and Mexico have significant disparities in the legal drinking age. The price of alcohol as well as the lack of enforcement on alcohol sales has always acted as a lure for those under the age of 21 to cross the border and drink. The border region between the US and Mexico have traditionally seen thousands of American teens and young adults cross the border and engage in binge drinking. The fear in the US is that an alarming number of young Americans already consume drugs that are manufactured in Colombia, distributed through Mexico, but sold mostly in the US.

Will Mexico's new drug policy see an increase in casualties which stem from "drug tourism"? Will casual drug users flock to Mexico in search of alternative venues for their drug use without risking the severe penalties they currently face in America?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Finding Beauty

(This post inspired by the beautiful Zadi Diaz)

Although most of my work as a Consultant involves interpreting complex but mundane sets of rules and regulations that pertain to the Workers' Compensation industry in California, that fact is sometimes lost on a few long term clients. These clients will often seek my opinion in areas in which I'm not quite so comfortable interpreting or analyzing.

This was the case recently when one of my clients who is seeking to re-launch a Spanish Entertainment monthly which he recently purchased. The magazine is titled FamaLatina and sort of an Entertainment Weekly covering the Spanish entertainment industry both in the United States and Latin America.

Ironically, I chose to discuss this potential assignment with some of my male friends who are married and as I related the potential assignment they quickly considered that I was "insane". All considered this a "dream job" and said "Man, just enjoy the duties".

I was requested to evaluate photos of 10 models and pick 6. The selected 6 would grace the covers and pages of the first 3 editions of the magazine. Now, don't get me wrong, I find beauty in all women and that is precisely my dilemma which this assignment presented. How does one select the 6 most beautiful women from a potential field of 10. Ok, I admit perhaps for someone else this would be quite easy, but I'd easily suggest find a way to include all 10.

Karmagrrl posted this video which helped me better understand my ambivalence. One of her commentators provided me a final reason here as to why I could not contribute to the potential insecurities of the 4 models not selected and add to their possible decision to alter or modify their already existing beauty.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Economist Likes Mariachi Music

The April 20th issue of The Economist published an opinion piece on American Politics. The picture has a group of Democratic leaders dressed in Mariachi suits and carrying assorted musical instruments. The image includes actor George Clooney.

At the front we see Al Gore carrying a guitar which is a traditional instrument in Mariachi music, but what about Kerry with a banjo? Towards the back we see an image of former Pres. Clinton with a saxaphone an instrument he is known to play. Does Kerry play the banjo?

Perhaps the image is meant to tie into this nations heated debate on immigration, but the article does not address that specific issue.

Michael Shaw of The Huffington Post provides his take on the article and the image here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Border Patrol a Sept. 12th Response to Illegal Immigration

A new Flash based game titled Border Patrol is making the rounds on the racist blogs and websites as well as making it onto the local news. If it were not for the current debate on illegal immigration the shooter type game would not be garnering this much attention. The objective in Border Patrol game simply says: "Keep them any cost!".

The player then proceeds to try to shoot as many Mexican Nationalists, Drug Smugglers and Breeders (a pregnant mother with kids) as possible.

The first phase of the game starts off with a pregnant mother running accross a desert screen with child and an infant in tow. A bullet riddled "Welcome to the United States" sign with a makeshift sign stating "Welfare Office...this way" is posted this side of a small river. If you shoot the immigrants the more they come and faster accross your screen. If you stop shooting the immigrants begin to run slower somehow making themselves easier targets. At the end you obtain a score consisting of how many of the 88 illegals you shot. A message reads: "Alright Paco Got a Greencard?".

I visited which is a resource for commentary on video games from a critical perspective. Here are some of the commentary regarding Border Patrol.

Chico Queiroz says:
In some ways, Border Patrol reminds me of September 12th. Both make comments on US policies towards foreigners, and both have only one possible action: shooting.
Matt Barton wrote:

In the virtual world it represents, it seems that not shooting the immigrants causes the game to assume you yourself an immigrant (I got a low score and received the message, "Do you have a greencard, paco?")

A member named Karl Rove said:

My complaint is that this game isn't realistic at all. I once shot a pregnant woman crossing the border at it made a much bigger mess.

Big Ice D said:

Um... anyone doubting if this is racist or not should take a look @ the flag on the sign post. It has a star of David in place of the 50 stars and 13 bars, suggesting the stereotype that Jews control our nation.Imagine if it were a flash game where you flew planes driven by Saudi's into buildings full of Americans, trying to rack up a body count. That would end this "is it racist/offensive" argument right away.

DG said:

All this hatred towards Mexican immigrants and none towards the cheapskate farm and factory owners that hire them. Someone mentioned something about supply and demand. Perhaps if American business owners were willing to pay a living wage, perhaps there would be no need for Mexicans to "do the jobs Americans won't."
I'm very concerned about creating a permanent labor class that has none of the benefits of citizenship. You should be too.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Minutemen and Illegal Immigrants

Next week the Senate and Congressional leaders will return to the drawing board and attempt a fix to illegal immigration. It is doubtful that during an election year coupled with partisan bickering that this important, yet divisive issue will be resolved.

In the meantime Latino organizers are divided as to how to proceed with the May 1, 2006, conomic boycott. Immigrants are being asked to stay home, not go to work, not attend school and not engage in any purchases of goods and/or services. The intent of the protest is to send a message that demonstrates just how much illegal immigrants contribute to the nations economy.

The possibility of an amnesty even if it is being proposed at a time when the State of Georgia just passed a new laws that will negatively impact illegal immigrants is likely to draw in new illegal immigrants. This mixture of good and bad news will certainly contribute to a heated and controverial summer that will result in further protests and more economic boycotts. The prospect of a possible amnesty even if it is uncertain may lead to increased illegal immigrantion as more attempt to enter the United States via its vas 1,952-mile border.

The increased immigration as a result of an amnesty occured in 1986 and if this happens again it will likely lead to more migrant deaths in the deserts of Arizona before the end of this year. As I've previously reported more than 3000 immigrantes have died trying to enter our borders. The increase int migrant deaths is related to increased vigilance and security fences in the Border of San Diego and Tijuana.

Encouraged by the border fences of San Diego the Senate now proposes to spend more than $2.2 Billion Dollares to construct more than 700 miles of fencing in five zones at the border of Mexico and Arizona. The anti-immigrant group the Minutemen Project who advocate for fencing the entire border have sent a letter President Bush indicating that if he does not build the fence, they will.

The last time such an ambitious fencing project the US Government contructed 170 miles of fencing at the California border. The fencing in San Diego is believed to have contributed to moving immigrant traffic to the remote regions of Arizona. The 700 mile Arizona fence has already drawn harsh criticism from environmental groups who indicate that the fence will affect wildlife habitat in those regions. If the building of the fence goes thru it will bring the total miles of fence to approximately 900 miles. The border between Mexico and United States consists of 1,952-miles.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Immigration Saga in Costa Mesa

How much longer before can Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor continue to put his city through the Immigration Saga?

Mayor Mansoor has still yet to announce whether he will seek a second term as Mayor of Costa Mesa. Will his bold stance on illegal immigration be the end of his political career?

Costa Mesa's Pioneering Migrant Stance Is Costly - Los Angeles Times

"For some city officials, several hours are consumed each day handling
the flood of calls and e-mails. The Police Department estimates it has
spent 539 hours — at a cost of $44,000 to taxpayers — being on duty
during demonstrations and providing extra security at council meetings.
The city's attorney has billed about $30,000 to research legal issues
related to the policy."

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Costa Mesa Police Chief John D. Hensley

A few weeks back I wrote a post about Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor. The post was about how Mayor Mansoor was seeking to have Costa Mesa, California become the first city to enforce federal immigration laws at the local level.

This is a related post because the individual who would have been tasked with implementing Mayor Mansoor's controversial proposal has just decided to step down. Mayor Mansoor talks about his proposal here. The Chief of Police of Costa Mesa announced his decision via an email in which he stated that he and his wife, Jody, had made the decision after "much consideration and most importantly prayer."

The departure of Chief Hensley has led to speculation as to his real reason for stepping down. Hensley recently turned 50 and became eligible for retirement, he can now receive up to 90% of his salary during retirement. However, the timing of his retirement announcement and the fact that he has only held his for 3 years has led some to speculate that has chosen to step down rather than go through a difficult implementation of the narrowly approved measure that would call for the Costa Mesa police to ally itself with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau.

The measure has drawn both praise and criticism from groups on both sides of the issue concerning illegal immigration. The praise and an honorary membership has come from The Minuteman Project and harsh criticism including a call (recently rescinded) for an economic boycotts from pro-immigration group Hermandad Nacional Mexicana. The proposed measure has also drawn increased attendance to the Costa Mesa city council meetings and resulted in a few heated and angry exchanges from those in attendance and the city council members. The exchanges have often been directed at Mayor Mansoor and his allies, but angry exchanges have also been made by city council members, videos here and here.

Costa Mesa has a population of approximately 110,000 and a police force of 160. Police Chief John D. Hensley's departure has only added to the difficulties now faced by the city similar to those faced by our nation as it tests its own ambivalence to enforce laws that traditionally have fallen upon federal authorities.

From the Mercury News:

Police Capt. Ron Smith said Thursday that his department has tried to remain neutral in the controversy and had no choice but to follow the City Council's lead. He said about 30 out of 163 officers would receive the federal immigration training when the policy goes into effect.

Smith said he believed immigrants' fear came about because Mansoor had originally proposed a much broader policy that would have allowed police to check the immigration status of those arrested for less than an aggravated felony.

"Now nobody understands what's going on. What I'm trying to do is put the facts out there," he said. "My officers tell me ... there is tangible fear here."

The departure of Chief Hensley adds to Mayor Mansoor and the Costa Mesa city council's difficulties they have already faced in implementing the anti-immigration measure. The difficulties are further complicated by the fact that the mayoral and two council seats come up for re-election December 2006. Mayor Allan Mansoor has not indicated whether or not he will seek a second term. The November elections are likely to produce a number of hotly contested council seats along with that of the Mayor's. The new council and potentially new Mayor of Costa Mesa may decide that it is far easier to take the city in a different direction which removes it from the national spotlight and away from the controversy of illegal immigration.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Big Brother at WalMart and Sam's Club

At a time of war and while the civil liberties of our citizenry are threatened. At a time when the Bush Administration continues to insist that warrantless wiretaps are constitutional a bizarre story on the unintended consequences of "spying" comes to us by way of Pennsylvania.

This story involves Glenn Harcsar an English Teacher and his eight-months pregnant wife. Harcsar and his wife were stopped while shopping at a Sam's Club in Monroeville, PA.

“You've been identified by our scanning system. You're not going to be allowed to purchase these items and you must leave and never come back. Otherwise, you will be prosecuted.”
Harscar reported that security personnel told him they had him on tape at there store, as well as stores in Tarentum and Greensburg. Harscar was informed he would not be allowed to purchase the items contained in his cart and requested to leave. The General Manager and security personnel did not provide Harscar an explanation on what he had done wrong, nor why he was being asked to leave the store.

So far WalMart and Sam's Club have refused to explain exactly what happened. Harcsar was given an apolgy and offered a "letter" which he can carry and show security personnel in the event he is ever stopped at one of their stores. No details concerning Sam's Club and WalMart's "scanning system" were provided.