Latino Voices

Latino Voices

EL CAJON HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER JOINS NEW NATIONAL COALITION FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM; LEADERS TO MEET WITH OBAMA IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEKEND

June 2, 2009 (San Diego) – “This economy is built off immigrants, and immigration reform will benefit the economy,” El Cajon resident and Center for Social Advocacy spokesperson Estela De Los Rios said at a press conference Friday in San Diego, where community leaders announced launch of the Reform Immigration For America Campaign (www.immigrationforum.org).

SCHWARZENEGGER DECLARES EMERGENCY, TRAVEL ADVISORY ISSUED OVER SWINE FLU

HUNTER SEEKS CLOSURE OF BORDER UPDATED April 29, 2009 (San Diego)—Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in California to request federal funds for emergency services and supplies to combat the disease. To date, 91 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including 11 in California and five in San Diego County. The first U.S. death, a boy who traveled to Texas from Mexico, was confirmed today and tests are being done on a Los Angeles man who died following symptoms of swine flu.

FILNER INTRODUCES BILL FOR FEDS TO PAY COSTS OF EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AT BORDER ENTRIES

By Miriam Raftery April 18, 2009 (San Diego)—Congressman Bob Filner (R-San Diego) has introduced the “Save Our Border Communities Act, H.R. 670. The bill would require the federal government to reimburse costs for local police, firefighters and other first responders to provide services associated with U.S. ports of entry on the international border. “The federal government has not reimbursed border towns for border-related incidents and the drain on local emergency services is increasingly unbearable,” Filner stated in a newsletter to constituents.

EDITORIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY, REGARDING ALAN BERSIN--A TOP CANDIDATE FOR U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PATROL TOP SLOT

By Ernie McRay Editor’s Note: Alan Bersin has served as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego City Schools and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as California Secretary of Education. He is now in the running to head up the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol. Dear Secretary Napolitano: April 1, 2009(San Diego)--I write this letter because Alan Bersin is rumored to be on a short list of people who seek to run the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

PHOTOGRAPHERS FOCUS ON BORDER WALL'S IMPACT ON WILDLIFE AND ENVIRONMENT

By Miriam Raftery

© Krista Schlyer © Roy Toft

March 1, 2009 (San Diego) — A team of 10 international nature photographers has just completed a three-week trip from San Diego to Texas, photographing and documenting impacts that the U.S.-Mexican border wall and immigration are having on wildlife, ecology, and landscape across the Southwest. To expedite construction of a 700-mile long border fence from California to Texas, Homeland Security under President George W. Bush's administration waived all laws, including environmental protections such as the Endangered Species Act.

CONGRESSMAN FILNER REINTRODUCES THE VISITORS INTERESTED IN STRENGTHENING AMERICA ACT

March 1, 2009 (Washington, DC -- Congressman Bob Filner has re-introduced H.R. 937, the Visitors Interested in Strengthening America (VISA) Act. The bill gives Port Directors the discretion to issue humanitarian visa waivers to Mexican children making brief, pre-scheduled visits to the United States for medical, educational or recreational purposes. This legislation does not affect the number of legal or illegal immigrants living in the United States - the children and accompanying adults will visit for one day and then return home to Mexico.

 

ECUMENICAL GATHERING AT FRIENDSHIP PARK DISRUPTED BY TAUNTING; MINISTER TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

Story and photos by Gayle Early

Rev. John Fanestil apprehended by California Border Patrol agents in full riot gear.

February 21, 2009 (Imperial Beach) On Saturday, about 200 people and 40 civic organizations gathered to protest the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) closure of Friendship Park on Monument Mesa in Border Field State Park. The media also had a strong presence, with reporters coming from as far as Canada. The new border wall runs through the middle of the park, shutting off the section where family members and friends separated by a closed border could greet and touch each other though the fence.

EAST OF THE LINE: LOCAL ECONOMY GETS SHOT IN THE ARM FROM BORDER OPERATIONS

By Billie Jo Jannen

Victor Leon of Potrero and Rudolfo Reyes of Campo put a raked finish on the drying concrete at the base of the border fence in the far western portion of Campo. They are working on the south side of the fence, which is constructed a short distance north of the border inside the border "buffer zone." Workers on the fence have been harassed by suspected smugglers on the Mexican side and there was at least one incident of rock-throwing toward U.S. workers.

February 16, 2009 (Campo) — Of the 670 miles of infrastructure built along the Southwest border as of January '09, about 10.5 miles of primary fencing was in San Diego County and most of that, about 9.75 miles, was in rural East County. An additional 2.6 miles in Marron Valley, south of Dulzura, is funded and expected to be completed this year.

The fence, itself, stands 18 feet above the ground, according Agent Jerry Conlin of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is sunk into a footing of concrete - six feet deep and two feet wide - and made up of steel tubes filled with concrete, called bollards. The bollards stand upright in steel framework with their feet buried in the concrete.

FRIENDSHIP PARK

Despite Border Patrol Ban, Communion Celebrations Continue at Historic Border Park--”For Now

(Karl W. Hoffman)

Editor's Note: Impacts of the border wall are important nationally and internationally, as well as for people in San Diego County. Each Sunday afternoon, Friends of Friendship Park gather at the historic venue to celebrate communion through the U.S.-Mexico border fence. Rev. John Fanestil, a pastor in the United Methodist Church and Executive Director of Foundation for Change, sent this poignant report to East County Magazine on closure of Friendship Park to the public.

SHOULD PRESIDENT BUSH PARDON BORDER PATROL AGENTS RAMOS AND COMPEAN?

Border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean

January 5, 2008 (San Diego's East County) — Assemblyman Joel Anderson has written a letter to President George W. Bush requesting a pardon for Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compeon.  Both are currently in prison, serving 11 and 12 year sentences after being convicted by a jury of shooting the unarmed Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the rear, then attempting to cover up their actions.  Davila was later sentenced to two years for marijuana smuggling.

"The sentencing and imprisonment of Ramos and Compean and the severe impact on their families has demoralized the rest of the U.S. Border Patrol which is the nation's first line of defense against the massive influx of illegal aliens into the U.S.," Anderson wrote, noting that the East County Assembly district that he represents is significantly impacted by illegal immigration.  "These men have already served nearly two years in prison, subjecting their wives and children to extreme emotional and financial hardship."

Tecate, our Neighbors South of the Border

By Dennis Moore

December 7, 2008 (Tecate) — Between the desert and the sea beats the heart of Baja California: Tecate, Mexico (not to be confused with the American city by the same name just across the border).  Located in the northern central part of the state, Tecate is the ideal starting destination to every other city or point of interest in the region including Mexicali, Ensenada, La Rumorosa, Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and San Diego, California.

 La Rumorosa, a solid rock mountain range between Tecate and Mexicali, affords breathtaking scenery to the desert below.  During wintertime, the snow-covered mountains of La Rumorosa bring a winter wonderland atmosphere to the area,  the Mexican counterpart to Vail or Aspen, Colorado.

HUNTER OPENS DOOR FOR SMALL BUSINESS CONTRACTORS

Border Fence creates opportunities for some, but draws criticisms from others, with waivers of environmental reviews

by Gayle Early

Gayle Early.

October 1, 2008 (El Cajon) - Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office hosted an informal briefing by the Army Corps of Engineers on September 18 on the status of the border fence construction and possible subcontracting opportunities for local businesses. Mary Spencer, the Army representative in the Small Business Association, also offered pointers on how to apply for contracts.

NEW BLACKWATER PROTESTS MARK ANNIVERSARY OF NISOUR SQUARE SHOOTINGS

Congressman Bob Filner and Assembly candidate Ray Lutz of East County speak out against Blackwater at Otay Mesa Rally

Story and photos by Gayle Early

Sign from a military families organization opposed to Blackwater.

October 1, 2008 (Otay Mesa) – In September 2007,  17 people were shot to death in the Nisour Square traffic circle in Baghdad, Iraq, by Blackwater Worldwide security guards contracted by the U.S. State Department. Two dozen more civilians were seriously injured, including a lawyer shot in the back four times as he tried to run away. Marking the anniversary, about 150 protestors demonstrated outside Blackwater West’s new Otay Mesa Naval Training Facility on Sunday, September 14, raising concerns about the private military contractor’s presence in San Diego and along an international border already rife with tension.

DYING TO COME TO AMERICA - Immigrant Death Toll Soars; Water Stations Sabotaged

By Miriam Raftery

Border AngelsSeptember 1, 2008 (Holtville)--“These people came here looking for opportunity. Not one of them expected to die,” said Enrique Morones, erecting a hand-made wooden cross at a gravesite marked only by a brick engraved with the name Jane Doe.

A few years ago, there were twenty bricks in this pauper’s graveyard at Holtville in Imperial County, final resting ground for immigrants who died crossing the U.S.-Mexican border in San Diego and Imperial Counties.  Now there are 656. 

New Border Patrol Facility Opens

By Miriam Raftery

Border Facility Opens
New Campo Border Patrol facility (photo credit: Leon Thompson)

Public reactions varied to a new Border Patrol/Homeland Security facility in East County varied sharply.

One local conservative blogger thought it was a casino under construction, adding that it resembled “a palace.”

But an immigrant rights supporter observed, “It looks like a prison.”

Beauty, it appears, is in the eye of the beholder.

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