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I don't want to go on being just a root in the shadows,
vacillating, extended, shivering with dream,
down in the damp bowels of earth,
absorbing it, thinking it, eating it every day.

-Pablo Neruda from 'Walking Around'

Border issues in the news...

Body of suspected illegal immigrant found by ranch hand

A ranch hand found the body of a woman who officials suspect had died while crossing the border illegally on Monday night in the Altar Valley southwest of Tucson.

At about 6 p.m. Monday about one mile east of milepost 16 on Arizona 286, a man working on a ranch discovered the body of an adult woman, said Rob Daniels, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. He reported it to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

They called the Border Patrol, which sent agents on all terrain vehicles to the area, he said. Officials from the Pima County Medical Examiner’s office also went and conducted an initial exam that indicated that she had died about a week ago from exposure to the elements, Daniels said.

They didn’t find any identification on or near the body and don’t know her name, age or where she is from.

From Jan. 1 through April, Southern Arizona medical examiners have handled the bodies of 44 illegal border crossers, compared to 57 at the same time the previous year, information from the Arizona Daily Star’s border death database shows.

Article from Arizona Daily Star by Bady McCombs

Border crosser dies; pregnant woman thrown from car

Agents found the body of an illegal immigrant Monday afternoon on the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation.
The discovery of the body was the latest incident in a busy weekend for agents who also performed three rescues of illegal immigrants and seized more than 1,900 pounds of marijuana along Arizona's stretch of U.S.-Mexican border.

Further, a suspected drug smuggler threw a pregnant passenger from a car Saturday night shortly before he died in a car wreck while trying to elude U.S. Border Patrol agents north of Lukeville.

Friend left behind

Agents encountered a man walking on Federal Route 1 south of Arizona 86 on the western part of the reservation about 3 p.m. Monday who told them his friend had been left behind, Daniels said. He said his friend had passed out.

Agents followed the man back to where he had last seen his friend. About 3:20 p.m. they found his body. The dead man was an adult, but officials haven't determined his age or hometown.

May is traditionally the month when border deaths increase in Arizona as temperatures start to hit triple digits.

Continue reading this article by Brady McCombs at the AZ Daily Star

Arizona slams door on illegal immigrants

Some citizens have been bruised, too, as the state cracks down.

PHOENIX — As it has become the favorite entry point for undocumented migrants trying to sneak into the United States, Arizona has become a laboratory for whether a state can single-handedly combat illegal immigration.

In recent years it has barred illegal immigrants from receiving government services, from winning punitive damages in lawsuits and from posting bail for serious crimes. A new state law shuts down businesses that hire illegal workers. And the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and three-fifths of the state's population, dispatches his deputies and volunteer "posses" to search for illegal street vendors or immigrants being smuggled through the county.

"What I love about what Arizona is doing is we don't have to rely on the federal government," said state Rep. Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican who has authored most of the toughest measures. "It has truly woken up the rest of America that states can fix that problem."

The campaign has had an effect: Illegal immigrants complain it's impossible to find good work and are leaving the state.

It has also taken a toll on some U.S. citizens.

Juan Carlos Ochoa, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in an upper-middle-class subdivision near Phoenix named Laguna Hills, can't find a job because a government database classifies him as a possible illegal immigrant. Pauline Muñoz, a 39-year-old mother of six who was born in Phoenix, has been afraid to leave her apartment since being held by sheriff's deputies for 15 hours for a driving infraction -- an example of what she believes is racial profiling.

And businesses that cater to immigrants both legal and illegal report a huge drop in sales, increasing the drag on the state's already troubled economy.

"There used to be so many people they would fight for parking out there," said Omar Flores, 31, manager of La Mexicana market in western Phoenix. Now the grocery store is mostly empty.

Economist Dawn McLaren of Arizona State University said that part of what's pushing immigrants out is the collapse of the state's housing-based economy. In the construction sector, which employs many immigrants, 10% of jobs have vanished over the last year as home prices have plunged.

The economic woes are magnified by the employer sanctions law, which has led some businesses to say they won't expand in Arizona, McLaren said. "It exacerbates the downturn," she said.

No one knows how many immigrants have left the state, and the most recent government figures show Arizona growing robustly -- as of July, Maricopa was the fastest-growing county in the nation.

But enough immigrants have left that the government of Sonora, the Mexican state bordering Arizona, has complained about how many people have arrived on its doorstep.

Pearce says the overall effect has been undeniably positive for Arizona. "Smaller class sizes, shorter emergency room waits," he said. "Even if [illegal immigrants] are paying taxes -- and most of them aren't -- the cost to taxpayers is huge."

The biggest effect has come from the new employer sanctions law, which took effect in January.

The law is fairly straightforward.

Any business caught hiring illegal immigrants is put on probation. If it is caught doing the same thing again, the state revokes its business license.

The only defense for an employer is if it used E-Verify, a federal pilot project to allow businesses to confirm the legality of their laborers.

The law did what it was supposed to with Jorge Hernandez, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico. He had been working in a Phoenix tire shop for years when in December his bosses told him they'd have to let him go because of the new law. Now he struggles to support his family by working as a day laborer and is thinking of leaving.

"I've been in Arizona for 11 years," he said. "This is the worst one. For those years I worked every day. I had money, I had a car."

Hernandez dreams of moving to New Mexico, where friends have told him the economy is stronger and sentiment against illegal immigrants weaker. "They don't have E-Verify there," he said in Spanish.

E-Verify has at least one significant flaw -- its treatment of naturalized U.S. citizens.

Read the full article By Nicholas Riccardi in the LA Times.

Too tough on illegal immigration

Excessively harsh laws do nothing to bring about real reform.

It's getting ugly out there for illegal immigrants. States and cities are cracking down with harsh new ordinances, and the courts are upholding them. Not only are deportations at record highs, but immigrants are being detained at places previously understood to be off-limits, such as schools. The debate about illegal immigration, labor, social justice and international trade has devolved into open season on illegal immigrants.

Arizona penalizes employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, suspending their business license for 10 days for the first offense, revoking it permanently for the second. Valley Park in Missouri fines businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Oklahoma not only forbids their hiring and bars them from receiving tax-supported services -- except healthcare -- it also makes it a felony for anyone to transport, shelter or conceal illegal immigrants.

It's nothing new for states and municipalities to try to regulate immigration. California pioneered that trail in 1994 with the passage of Proposition 187, which sought to discourage illegal immigration by denying noncitizens a range of public services. Last year, Hazleton, Pa., caught the nation's attention when it tried to criminalize landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that hire them. Until recently, however, the courts stood as a bulwark against this spate of angry -- and often unconstitutional -- ordinances, ruling that immigration is federal territory.

Not anymore. In Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma, business groups or immigration advocates sued to block the new laws, and in each case federal judges upheld them. The Oklahoma ruling is particularly pernicious. With the spirit of Dred Scott hovering over his pen, Judge James H. Payne wrote that illegal immigrants do not have the right to sue: "An illegal alien, in willful violation of federal immigration law, is without standing to challenge the constitutionality of a state law, when compliance with federal law would absolve the illegal alien's constitutional dilemma."

Unfortunately, Payne's dehumanizing tone echoes the callous treatment that too often is accorded illegal immigrants. In Roswell, N.M., an 18-year-old pregnant student was turned in to immigration officials by her high school's security officer and ultimately deported. In East Oakland, Calif., a pregnant mother was arrested at her daughter's elementary school, even though immigration officials say schools should be off-limits and pregnant and nursing women should not be arrested.

That illegal immigrants living in the United States place an economic burden on schools, hospitals, prisons and other public services is undeniable, but it's also true that they contribute to our economy and our society in myriad ways. Bullying them into leaving is counterproductive and downright mean. It's also shortsighted. Many immigrant families are blended, made up of legal immigrants, illegal ones and U.S.-born citizens. Harsh laws and deportations may satisfy the popular hunger for instantaneous immigration reform, but the result will be a legacy of anguish and resentment among millions of people who aren't going anywhere.

From a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed.

U.S. immigration law drives husband, wife apart

EL NACIMIENTO, Mexico - The bathroom situation in the village was worse than Mike Brown imagined. No running water to flush the toilet. Heating water on the stove to bathe. And the flimsy curtain over the doorway provided little privacy.

At first Brown didn't think he would last the full two weeks living in this rustic ranching village made up of 100 or so small adobe, brick and stick houses in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa. The trip alone from Mesa was hard enough. Twenty hours in his pickup, the last 15 miles a bone-rattling drive up a winding, rutted road into the mountains where men with automatic weapons have been known to rob travelers.

But he was determined to make the best of it. He had no choice.

t was the Christmas holidays. Brown was visiting his wife, Virginia Carrillo, and son, Bryan. Their separation began in September the day the family applied for legal status for Carrillo, Brown's illegal-immigrant wife.

They hoped Carrillo would qualify for a green card based on her marriage and child to Brown. Instead, Carrillo was barred from returning to the U.S. for 10 years.

Now, the family is forced to live separately on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Brown, 44, lives in Mesa. Carrillo, 29, lives in Mexico, staying with her parents in the village where she grew up. She is raising Bryan, a U.S. citizen who turned 3 in December.

As the Browns' case shows, the days when illegal immigrants could marry U.S. citizens and easily get green cards are long over. In 1996, Congress passed a law that made it much tougher for illegal immigrants who marry U.S. citizens to acquire legal status, part of an effort to crack down on illegal immigration and sham marriages.

To apply, illegal immigrants must now leave the country first. But once they do, they risk being barred from re-entering the U.S. for up to 10 years unless they can prove that the separation would create an extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen spouse.

More than a decade after the law went into effect, Americans remain largely unaware of the tougher rules, which even when followed can have disastrous results, as the Browns discovered.

"Just getting through these four months has been difficult," Brown said, sitting at the kitchen table in El Nacimiento, a plate of machaca and eggs getting cold in front of him. "I can't begin to think that it could be 10 years until we reunite."

Read the full article by Daniel González in the The Arizona Republic

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