If Only This Were Texas …

Jun 29th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration


While I recognize that elected officials aren't always the sharpest knife in the drawer, I take absolute exception to this elected idiot up in Wisconsin who supports a boycott against Arizona on the grounds that Arizona does not border Mexico and therefore faces no illegal immigration issues. Years ago, I used to cover the board of supervisors meetings up in Flagstaff, Ariz., the representative for the Navajo reservation slice of the county used to fall asleep before the meetings even began. A colleague and I begged the editors to let us write a story about the snoozing supervisor but he felt that was too mean-spirited and told us to let it go. I had thought I'd seen the worst of ineptitude with that woman. And then someone sent me this. "If this was Texas, which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico, and they were calling for a measure like this saying that they had a major issue with undocumented people flooding their borders, I would have to look twice at this.  But this is a state that is a ways removed from the border," she says. Hunh.

The News Media and its Low-Hanging Fruits

Jun 20th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration


The restrictionists from Phoenix are at it again, this time threatening to set up snipers in ski-masks along Interstate 8 south of Phoenix to stop "the invasion." Sure you will. You ain't gonna do shit; I know it, cops know it, readers know it and you know it. The media started announcing the fiasco last week and continued propagating the nonsense this week. Keep in mind, nobody actually did anything, just wrote an e-mail. Does that give the media any pause? Hell no. J.T. Ready, a former Minuteman Project supporter, the recipient of not one but two court-martials before he was tossed out of the Marine Corps,  merely wrote an e-mail, announcing he wants to place teams of men along Interstate 8 and take out drug smugglers as they make their way up into Phoenix. This is the kind of rhetoric that I find frustrating with journalism in general; the kind of mindless shrieking that makes its way into the newspapers, television stations and news Web sites and evolves a non-issue into something tangible that then merits more attention. Why? Because it's been covered in the past. It's a perfect public relations gig. There is no cost involved, a man must simply lobby off an outrageous email, make sure some journalists read it, then sit back and let the news mediums send it out virally. Instant credibility; it's been reported in the news, it must be true. In the age of the Internet, it's even easier than before. Do a Google search for this "Minuteman Project on steroids," garbage and you'll see a great example of how a simple e-mail can earn as many individual news stories as a tangible, tactile event. Like Chris Simcox before him, J.T. Ready is not a public figure who merits media attention - he's a guy with a keyboard and an opinion. Yet because the news media have given him his wanted attention, he now merits further news coverage. In 2002, when Simcox launched his first militia activity, three "vigilantes" showed up - and 12 reporters were there to greet them, a ratio of three reporters to every one nut. When I first reported on the activities of the Minuteman Project in 2005, as many reporters showed up for the group's first meeting as actual volunteers. Yet, the national media's attention on the low hanging fruits launched the group into the spotlight - and drove up donations. That right there is the key to announcements like J.T. Ready's. The Arizona Republic has a fine story this morning on the political rhetoric surrounding the Arizona border and how it doesn't reflect the reality of the border. Yet, here is the same newspaper reporting on this e-mail, propagating the same level of fictions as the politicians it seeks to criticize. Here is the Phoenix New Times, again with the same email. They take it a step further, calling for the FBI to investigate. Over an e-mail. J.T. Ready isn't going to do a goddamned thing but write more e-mails and continue screaming impotently into the ethersphere of the Internet. The news media covering the U.S.-Mexico border needs to move away from covering the things people say and focus on the things people do. And we wonder why there's no serious discussions on addressing the border. Pathetic.

Questions to Consider

Jun 9th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration, Politics


Monday's border shooting has become a question of mere yards, but those yards change everything and the FBI appears to be changing its initial assessment of what exactly happened when the Border Patrol agent shot and killed the teenage boy. El Universal reports that the mother of the 14-year-old boy slain at the U.S.'s border with Ciudád Juárez  claims the agent walked into Mexico and shot the boy at close-range. First question is, how would she know? Tearful interviews make great drama but unless she witnessed the shooting herself, she's a poor source. Maybe she did, that's not clear in the story or any others that I've read so far. This leads me to a few other questions this morning on the logistics of the area and I'm hoping a few of you readers can explain some of the geography of the shooting scene. Yesterday, the FBI reported the agent was kneeling by a suspect when the first rocks came flying, the first from behind. The Chihuahua Attorney General's Office claims a .40-caliber spent casing was found by the boy in Mexico, suggesting a near-execution on Mexican soil. Then it's suggested that Mexican cops walked over to the U.S. side, picked something up and returned to the boy's body in Mexico so obviously, someone is lying and let's be honest, cops from both countries are capable of telling incredible lies. What is the boundary under Puente Negro? is it chainlink fence or it merely a canal that can be walked across? Throughout much of the border, Homeland has erected remote video surveillance cameras, are there any cameras mounted under the bridge? Is the FBI changing its version of events? The FBI maintains the agent was defending himself and shooting at suspected migrant smugglers throwing rocks at him. Yesterday, the FBI was reporting the rock-throwers had surrounded the agent. Today, the FBI is saying the assailants had retreated to Mexico and thrown the rocks from across the line. FBI Yesterday:
"The subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him. The agent then fired his service weapon several times, striking one subject who later died."
FBI Today:
Other suspects ran back into Mexico and began throwing rocks, the FBI said.
So which is it? The context of both scenarios are completely different. The first implies an immediate threat the agent needed to counter. The second implies the agent was at risk but not immediate and I do believe U.S. Border Patrol policy prevents agents from firing their weapons at targets across the border. If I'm wrong on that policy, feel free to correct me. This killing isn't even 48 hours old yet but ambos gobiernos should be able to give the most rudimentary information: was the agent in Mexico? Were the rock-throwers in Mexico? Until either question is answered, we still don't know what happened. The lack of real information isn't slowing down the rhetoric from the usual suspects, of course. The Mexicans were quick to condemn what they deemed an "over-reaction" by the agent and Amnesty International has hopped aboard that train. I'm guessing neither entity will have much to say if it is determined the boy was indeed trying to hurt the agent. I'll remain open to facts before blaming either side.

Border Patrol Panicking?

Jun 8th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration, Politics


The U.S. Border Patrol will have some serious questions to answer to in the wake of three shootings since Saturday that has so far left one child dead along the U.S.'s southern border.

In the first instance, the Arizona Daily Star reports, agents working on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in southern Arizona shot two men they claim were drug smugglers throwing rocks at the agents. These types of encounters are more common than one may realize and if the agents were telling the truth, well-deserved. You don't brings rocks to a gunfight, after all. That of course, is assuming the agents were telling the truth.They've been known to lie on these matters in the past.

If You’re a White European, Stay Out of Arizona

May 21st, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Immigration, Politics


The United States just eliminated the only paperwork proof for white Europeans who find themselves encountered by a cop in Arizona enforcing the new immigration laws. Ah, desmadre, where would I be without you? This comes from an immigration lawyer here in Tucson, Rachel Wilson.  (Gracias, comadre.) It creates a spectacular mess for Arizona in its enforcement of SB 2162. The Homeland Security Department eliminated the paper arrival/departure record requirement for foreign nationals entering the country under the visa waiver program. Millions of foreign nationals from predominantly European countries travel here under the visa waiver program. And they can no longer readily prove it if they are stopped by a cop in Arizona who asks them about their legal status. The form eliminated was called the I-94W and supplied travelers a paper record of when they arrived in the U.S. and when they're supposed to leave. That form would have been enough for a cop in Arizona to determine the person is here legally. And it just got dumped. In its place is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, a database that travelers are supposed to log in to prior to leaving their country for the U.S. However, it's a digital file in a federal database. This means that a cop who stops a European traveler will have to then call Homeland Security and ask them to access the database. Meanwhile, the European is sitting there, detained by a cop. It's possible that local law enforcement agencies will have access to ESTA. I find it unlikely however, because, from the federal point of view, determining legal status is a federal duty, not a job for local cops. The intent, according to DHS, is to streamline the flow of travelers. But if their intent was also to take a huge economic swipe at the state of Arizona for trying to enforce federal immigration laws, someone in Washington is slapping themselves on the back in congratulations. Arizona cops are right now, being trained in immigration law and under 2162, they're not supposed to use race or color to build reasonable suspicion to ask someone about their status. What the U.S. government just did was make white Europeans as undocumented as illegal migrants. How will Arizona law enforcement look in the eyes of the courts and the public if they ignore white Europeans? Not good. Not good at all. Downright selective in fact. Holy hell, I love watching a train wreck. And the U.S. just put a penny on the Arizona rail. Here's the list of countries: Andorra, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Norway,  Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Italy,   San Marino Brunei  Japan   Singapore Czech Republic  Latvia  Slovakia Denmark, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, South Korea Finland, Luxembourg, Spain France  Malta   Sweden Germany, Monaco  Switzerland, Greece,  the Netherlands, United Kingdom

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