Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aerial Sheriff


[Image: A U.S. Predator drone, photographed by Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force via Wikipedia].

The Send Equipment for National Defense Act, sponsored by Texas Representative Ted Poe, would "require that 10 percent of certain equipment returned from Iraq—like Humvees, night-vision equipment and unmanned aerial surveillance craft—be made available to state and local agencies for border-security operations."

Poe denies that this would militarize the border, as reported by the New York Times; but John Cook, mayor of the border city of El Paso, strongly disagrees, suggesting that only "a whole lot of ignorance" could inspire the plan. Cook points out that "moving war zone equipment to the border would send the wrong signal to Mexico and potentially damage the robust symbiotic economic relationship between the two countries."

This comes at the same time that Miller-McCune warns that "armed police drones"—or weaponized UAVs—might soon be flying through a sky near you. While Miller-McCune focuses specifically on the sheriff of Montgomery County, Texas, it's worth pointing out that so-called Leptron Avengers—"battery-operated helicopters designed to take high-resolution video and photos and that can be equipped with night-vision cameras or thermal-imaging equipment"—have also been requested by the Texas city of Arlington, perhaps making Texas—alongside such places as Syria, North Korea, and China—the go-to site today for witnessing civilian adaptations of military surveillance technology.

[Image: The ShadowHawk unmanned police helicopter by Vanguard Defense Industries, via Miller-McCune].

The current version of this equipment, called the ShadowHawk, "won’t carry weapons," we're told, but "the drone’s manufacturer, Vanguard Defense Industries, boasts that it’s strong enough to carry a shotgun or even a grenade launcher." The firm itself adds that the "ShadowHawk can maintain aerial surveillance of an area (i.e. house, vehicle, person, etc.) at 700 feet without being heard or seen unlike full sized aircraft. Imagine the advantage provided to an entry team in the following scenarios: high risk warrant, hostage rescue, domestic violence, etc."

Mechanized urban surveillance is hardly news. Indeed, the currently existing network of CCTV cameras already installed in cities all over the world is equally "unmanned," in an exactly comparable sense; they are fixed-point drones. One could thus make an argument that the ShadowHawk is simply a camera with wings: you have a camera outside CVS or Tesco, ergo you have a camera in the sky above the city. It's easy to see how "mission creep," as Miller-McCune calls it, could occur.

Or compare this, for instance, to plans aflight in the UK, where police "are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the 'routine' monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance." This will take the form of unmanned airships hovering over the English capital, as if simulating the barrage balloons of World War II.

[Image: Barrage balloons above London, courtesy of Wikipedia].

The drones "are programmed to take off and land on their own, stay airborne for up to 15 hours and reach heights of 20,000ft, making them invisible from the ground," and they will be launched "in time for the 2012 Olympics." (An Afghanistan-based version of this program is described as follows: "This fall, there’ll be a new supercomputer in Afghanistan. It’ll be floating 20,000 feet above the warzone, aboard a giant spy blimp that watches and listens to everything for miles around.")

[Images: From an October 2009 presentation by Major General Blair Hansen to the U.S. Strategic Command and Defense Intelligence Agency].

Briefly, I'm reminded of the opening scene from Christopher Dickey's book Securing the City, in which a helicopter that falls somewhere between aerial war machine and advanced Hollywood film equipment is breathlessly unveiled: "The winter air is cold and the light hard-edged as the unmarked New York City Police Department helicopter meanders through the winds above the five boroughs," we read.
It is a state-of-the-art crime-fighting, terror-busting, order-keeping techno toy, with its enormous lens that can magnify any scene on the streets almost one thousand times, then double that digitally; that can watch a crime in progress from miles away, can look in windows, can sense the body heat of people on rooftops or running along sidewalks, can track beepers slipped under cars, can do so very many things that the man in the helmet watching the screens and moving the images with the joystick in his lap, NYPD Detective David Zschau, is often a little bit at a loss for words. "It really is an amazing tool," he keeps saying.
This technology—whose unlimited vision seems so mind-boggling as to cause aphasia in those who encounter it—should inspire as much moral and political discomfort as an unmanned version of the same helicopter; in other words, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this very kind of spy equipment already exists and has already been deployed. That is, the unnerving implication that we are being watched from above by undetectable robots should not let us forget that being watched from above by human pilots is just as invasive.

In any case, the ShadowHawk, described above, can also be put to use in fire and rescue situations, able to track down "heat sources and cut through the smoke and haze with it’s Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) or SWIR"—short wave infrared—cameras. Indeed, the company points out that "the vast capabilities of the ShadowHawk are ideal for mitigating and handling disasters whether natural or manmade. From locating victims, serving as an airborne communications relay point or conducting damage assessment, the ShadowHawk will significantly expand response capabilities." In light of this, it is foolish to reject, universally and in principle, the very idea of unmanned systems operating in non-military environments; but it's equally foolish to welcome them without a simultaneous demand for strong regulation and oversight.

To be honest, though, it seems only a matter of time before armed police drones are a reality in the United States, and it would thus be great to see a long discussion of the legality—or, at the very least, the societal implications—of such equipment, before we are faced with a scenario none of us adequately understand. For instance, is there a law course somewhere examining the rights and implications of autonomous urban police technologies? Combine this with a look at repurposed military hardware used in patrolling national borders, and the syllabus from such a course would be well worth exploring in detail.

(In addition to the London example, cited above, another rebuke to the moral self-congratulation of the Miller-McCune piece comes from Northern Ireland, where the use of unmanned aerial systems in urban policing might soon take the form of "mini drones" used "to combat crime and the dissident republican threat"—in other words, autonomous police drones are by no means limited to cities in the United States).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Call for Indigenous Convergence to Resist ALEC!

Call for Indigenous Convergence to Resist ALEC! – November 29-December 3 – Onk Akimel O’odham Lands (Scottsdale, AZ)
Un-occupy Our Lands!
Indigenous Peoples Gathering in Resistance to Corporate & State Terrorism
Tues. Nov. 29, 6PM – 9:30PM
At Serena Padilla Residence
Onk Akimel O’odham Nation (Salt River)
9312 E. Thomas Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85256

This is an opportunity to share, connect, and build solidarity.
Dinner will be provided. Please bring your own chairs.
Camping for Indigenous participants available.
Please RSVP with oodhamjeved@gmail.com.
Allies and supporters welcome.


My name is Serena Padilla. I live in Occupied Onk Akimel Jeved, now known as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.
I am in support of an Indigenous convergence before and during the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference, scheduled for November 30-December 2, in hopes to share, connect and build solidarity amongst all the Indigenous Nations that are affected by ALEC.  
At this time, I am opening my grounds to accommodate all Indigenous participants coming to our territory due to the ALEC Conference. I am opening my grounds for camping and access to my outside kitchen. 
I hope this gathering will strengthen our connections as Indigenous Peoples, now and for the future generations to come.

More information: www.azresistsalec.wordpress.com
Energy/Mining Companies & ALEC: http://azresistsalec.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/energymining-companies-and-alec/

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Deputies arrest 10 in employer-sanctions raid on Phoenix company

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies arrested 10 people during an employer-sanctions raid at Prisma Graphic in South Phoenix Tuesday morning.

Deputies converged on the business at 29th Street and Broadway Road at about 7 a.m.

Prisma Graphic employs more than 130 people, according to information on its website. Deputies were looking for 17 people. Ten were arrested -- six during the raid, four later. According to the company president, Simon Beltran, the remaining people have not worked there for about a year.
Beltran said he and his early team leaders were stunned to find deputies surrounding the company's two buildings when they arrived at work, but did everything they could to cooperate.

MCSO reportedly received two separate tips that some of the company's employees are undocumented immigrants who used false or stolen identification to get their jobs. One of those tips specifically mentioned an employee using the Social Security Number of a 14-year-old girl.

According to information provided by one of the tipsters, some of those employees were seen printing out Wells Fargo credit-card information, government hunting tags and Health Net information. MCSO investigators did not find any evidence during the during the operation at Prisma Graphic to corroborate that.

The sheriff said his deputies had developed information about 17 specific people before they ever step foot inside Prisma Graphic.

"We don't racial profile," Arpaio said. "We already know when we come in here who we're going to arrest."

According to MCSO, two of the suspects tried to run but were caught by deputies stationed at the back door.

Arpaio said investigators will keep looking for those other suspects who are no longer employed by Prisma Graphic. He said it's only a matter of time before deputies track them down and take them into custody.

Prisma Graphic CEO Robert Anderson said Wednesday that the six people who were detained on company property were hired prior to 2008, which is when the Legal Arizona Workers Act went into effect, requiring employers to participate in E-Verify. Under the Legal Arizona Workers Act, employers did not have to use E-Verify to substantiate the legal status of people who were already on the payroll.

According to Anderson, the company did its best to verify the immigration status of new employees at the time, requiring them to fill out an employment application, Form I-9 (Employee Eligibility Verification) and provide proper documentation.

Arpaio and his deputies have conducted 54 similar raids in the past few years, the most recent being at C&M Homes, a Mesa construction company, in early October.

"They don't seem to care, these businesses that keep hiring illegal aliens with false ID," Arpaio said at the time. I'm going to keep cracking down. ... I think they should do more, be more vigilant."
Identity theft is a Class 4 felony.

Prisma Graphic opened as a boutique printing shop in Phoenix more than 30 years ago. According to the company's website, the privately-held business had just 30 employees and $1 million in sales in 2000. It has since grown and is now headquartered in an 82,000-square-foot facility, has more than quadrupled its staff and posts $24 million in annual sales.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

ALEC thinks they're meeting in Scottsdale, AZ this November...

ALEC thinks they're meeting in Scottsdale, AZ this November...
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a massive non-profit body that brings corporations and legislators together to draft "model" legislation.  For example, AZ Senator Russell Pearce and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest private prison firm, have been members for years.  ALEC finalized the model legislation which became, almost word for word, Arizona's SB1070, aka "Support Our Law Enforcement."  It's the latest in the historical pattern of colonization, slave codes, convict leasing, and the drug war, that CREATES crimes and therefore criminals, for profit.
With British Petroleum (BP) and the Koch brothers as some of their funders, ALEC has pushed for Three Strikes and Mandatory Minimum sentencing, as well as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.  More than 200 of ALEC's model bills became actual laws throughout the country over the past year.

We're a group of people in occupied Indigenous lands, now called Arizona, who demand the end of SB1070 and 287g, the criminalization—and then the incarceration—of migrants, and the militarization of the border. We oppose private prisons, detention centers, and security companies, not simply because they are private, but because we are sickened by profiteering on human misery.   ALEC desires "free markets" and "limited government," which means they use the state to support profit-making, the continuance of colonization, and neo-liberal policies (NAFTA, CANAMEX, etc.) that draw lines, make laws, and build freeways and prisons to exploit labor and the earth.

Whether maintained by the state or corporations, we're against all systems of control.  We are for freedom of movement for all people.
ALEC should know there are a million better things to do with their time than plotting mass incarceration.  But there’s nowhere we’d rather be than confronting their meeting. We're calling for four days of action here in occupied Onk Akimel O’odham lands from November 29th - December 3rd, 2011, with an emphasis for action on November 30th (N30!).  We encourage a creative diversity of tactics on N30, the 12th anniversary of the Seattle uprising against the WTO.  No matter the acronym, ALEC is no different than all the other gangs of businessmen, politicians, and bureaucrats that we’ve been resisting for over 500 years.

In solidarity with everyone locked up and locked down in AZ, and all O’odham, Yaqui, Lipan Apache separated by the border, and anyone dispossessed by the wealthy and powerful… 

Project Baldwin

see also: azresistsalec.wordpress.com

Monday, August 8, 2011

MUSIC VIDEO:Shining Soul: 'Papers' Militarization of Border


WEBSITE: http://shiningsoul-music.blogspot.com/
DOWNLOAD AT: http://shiningsoulmusic.bandcamp.com/

"The militarization of the U.S./Mexico border
has led only to cultural and environmental destruction
of the indigenous peoples whose land is on or near
the border, such as the O'odham, Yaqui
and Lipan Apache Nations.

Border Militarization brings death and terror
to indigenous peoples from other parts
of the continent migrating to this land.

The immigration struggle is also
an Indigenous struggle. '


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NOLA Anarcha- Why Anarchists Should Protest the ALEC Conference

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is coming to town! They are a bunch of nasty fuckers who bring corporations together with state legislators so corporate lawyers can hand pre-written bills to the politicians, who then try to get the bills passed in their state legislatures.

ALEC has been making the news a lot recently, with NPR pieces[pt.1, pt.2] about how, in meetings with private prison corporations, they wrote the infamous SB1070, the anti-immigrant law that anarchists and others have been fighting against in Arizona.

Leaked documents from inside ALEC prompted an interview segment on Democracy Now! The documents show that ALEC, in partnership with it's corporate members, actually wrote many pro-corporate laws that have since gone into effect, including free trade agreements that were a main focus of the anti-globalization movement many anarchists participated in after the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999.

And on the Huffington Post, an article explains how ALEC is carrying forward the ideological program of deregulation and privatization pushed by Milton Friedman. This simplistic, fundamentalist capitalist ideology has had many negative local effects, as was mentioned in a recent article on this blog.

Now, anarchists have no illusions about the fact that big business owns and runs the government, but at least corporate power usually fears public anger that arises from the blatant merger of State and corporate power enough to put on a political puppet show for us! Mostly, the way elites legitimize the unequal and unjust system that they preside over to the rest of us is to make sure that it at least has the appearance of people, through elected politicians, getting to decide democratically what happens in our country. ALEC doesn't bother with that populist song and dance, they facilitate the outright penning of legislation by corporations themselves becoming law. So we end up with things like Immigration Policy, brought to you by Corrections Corporation of America! etc...

While ALEC's dealings aren't a meaningful divergence from the normal machinations of power, it is easier for people to see that the system's a sham, and easier for them to finger the true culprits, when corporations are writing their own legislation. This is why the anti-ALEC organizing to confront those economic power structures is worth supporting.

Of course, there will surely be those in the protest calling for the political charade to be played out fully once again, for the kabuki theater to re-close the curtains that shields us from what's happening backstage, so we can once again be whisked away to fairyland, where democracy exists and people power is in charge, and we can return to our peaceful slumber, dreaming the American Dream.

But, there will be also be people protesting who know returning to the democratic facade is not going to solve any of our problems, and that confronting the corporations behind the curtain of our "democracy" is the first step to destroying their control of our lives and communities.

In that spirit, anarchists should come out to the locally-organized ALEC protests in New Orleans (August 5th, 2pm, 500 Poydras St.). Come out not to demand stricter adherence to lobbying laws, more transparency, or less corruption. Come out to demand an end to the power of corporations, and their use of State violence to increase their wealth, and thereby control over our economy, society, and lives. Come out to say that it doesn't matter whether that power is hidden behind the veil of democracy, or is blatantly transparent, as it is with ALEC, that either way it has to be dismantled. Anarchists should come with flags, in black, or with banners and signs to show our united stance, to show that we are not in favor of a return to the democratic political farce, but organizing for an end to capitalist control.

Not only should anarchists participate in the protest on August 5th, but we should organize other actions to confront the corporations who are members of ALEC during the conference, from August 1st-6th. ALEC's members include oil companies responsible for ruining the Gulf and Wetlands, big banks who own hundreds of foreclosed homes in our city while people sleep on the streets, and private prison companies directly profiting from tough on crime laws, the creation of a racist, militarized police state, and booming incarceration rates, which Louisiana leads the nation in. Let's get creative and use their conference to catalyze our own actions to take back our city from these profiteers of human suffering!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Private Prisons in a Wider Context: Video

From Chaparral Respects No Borders:

It has been encouraging to see the awareness about the role of private prison companies in influencing criminalization of people grow and grow in the last year.  SB 1070 and the relationship between various legislators like Russell Pearce and private prison companies like CCA and Geo Group within the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and between governor Jan Brewer and CCA, has been exposed recently.  People had already started to address the connection between Wells Fargo and private prison-run detention centers that hold thousands of migrants in other parts of the country and a tiny bit here in AZ.  Now there are country-wide campaigns popping off against private prisons companies and against ALEC.

However, as horrible as the conditions in private prisons are (and they do tend to be several times worse than state-run facilities), and as obvious as it is that SB 1070 passed with great influence on the part of those who stand to make millions off of putting people in cages, I would hate to see the focus be solely on this most recent phenomenon.  An anti-private prison campaign can easily fall into the same traps as the "go after the real criminals" message, as though there's nothing wrong with the "criminal" "justice" system.  As though the criminalization of people who cross a man-made line is not similar to the criminalization of so many of the people in prisons today and historically.  We should also consider the limitations of previous nation-wide anti-private prison campaigns like the one that targeted Sodexho in the early 2000's. A focus only on the privatization of prisons can only divert energy from addressing the prison system in general; the various reasons people end up in jail or prison, and the ways in which the system will never and is not meant to address the real ills of our society.

I put together the following video to provide a complex yet still simplistic (limited by time and resources) history of criminalization of people for the benefit of the few.  Please share it with anyone you think would be interested.  This video is a follow up from several of my blog entries including No Borders or Prison Walls and What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive? On Private Prisons' push for SB1070

Please also view the 2nd part.  It all ties together, and there's some good commentary towards the end.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Operation Chinga La Migra by LulzSec


##################### CHINGA LA MIGRA BULLETIN #1 6/23/2011 ####################

We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement. We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.

The documents classified as "law enforcement sensitive", "not for public distribution", and "for official use only" are primarily related to border patrol and counter-terrorism operations and describe the use of informants to infiltrate various gangs, cartels, motorcycle clubs, Nazi groups, and protest movements.

Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust "war on drugs".

Hackers of the world are uniting and taking direct action against our common oppressors - the government, corporations, police, and militaries of the world. See you again real soon! ;D

LulzSec releases ‘classified’ data of ‘racist’ Arizona law enforcement


The group of rogue and jocular hackers known as Lulz Security - or LulzSec - released data Thursday night it claims belongs to Arizona law enforcement in a campaign dubbed "Operation Chinga La Migra."

"We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement," the group said on their website.

LulzSec is targeting the state's law enforcement because they are against SB1070, Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law.

They called Arizona a "racial profiling anti-immigrant police state."

"We're trying to track down whoever did it and secure our system," Steve Harrison, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, told the Phoenix New Times. "Right now we think they got into our computers through our e-mail."

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said it was not aware of the cyber attack until LulzSec tweeted Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Twitter account.

"The media has been giving me a lot of heat lately but nothing compared to tent city!" Arpaio tweeted Thursday. LulzSec responded, "Media? Heat? You? Chinga La Migra!"

LulzSec announced Tuesday that it would team up with hacker activist group Anonymous, as the manhunt for people involved with both groups continues. LulzSec has also claimed responsibility for the Sony hack that compromised millions of peoples' personal information, as well as several government hacks. The group burst onto the public radar with a well-publicized hack of PBS NewsHour's website in early June.

The group has quickly become an Internet sensation, with over a quarter of a million Twitter followers and numerous LulzSec-inspired songs on YouTube.

"Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarrassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust war on drugs," LulzSec announced.

The package of data was uploaded to the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.

"Hackers of the world are uniting and taking direct action against our common oppressors - the government, corporations, police, and militaries of the world."

Updated June 23, 2011 at 9:16pm EST.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

LGBT immigrants abused while in U.S. custody

The Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) on Wednesday filed 13 complaints alleging human rights abuses against LGBT immigrants recently and currently held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers.

According to the NIJC, the individuals who filed complaints all came to the United States to escape persecution in their native countries, and have since faced continued abuse in the immigration system.

The NIJC is asking the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the treatment of LGBT people in DHS custody, craft policies to address violations and oversee implementation.

According to the NIJC’s complaint (PDF), some of the people held are legal residents who were previously convicted of a crime -– in some cases, just a misdemeanor; others are felons who were transferred to ICE custody after longer prison sentences; and others were undocumented aliens or people who have overstayed their visas.

All are, or were, held based on civil and not criminal offenses, reports the NIJC.

The alleged abuses against LGBT individuals include denial of medical care, discrimination and sexual assault.

In one case, according to the NIJC complaint, Steve, a gay Peruvian asylum seeker, was held in solitary confinement for six weeks “on the sole basis that he is HIV-positive.”

“Officers frequently prohibited Steve from leaving his cell to get his HIV medication,” the report alleges. “Steve was traumatized when he sought medical treatment and an officer refused to remove the shackles from his feet, waist, and hands despite pleas from his doctor.”

The report describes sexual assaults by fellow inmates followed by repeated denials for transfer from the victim as well as a transgender inmate being denied her hormone treatment, despite her use of hormones for ten years prior to detainment.

“The administration should take immediate steps to apply the protections of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which would provide protections and remedies for individuals who are victims of sexual assault, to all immigration detention facilities,” the group said.

Heartland Alliance has established a letter campaign to President Barack Obama and DHS. (You can add your signature to the letter here.)

NIJC, based in Chicago, provides direct legal services to and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Comatose Border Patrol Victim Spared Deportation, Removal from St. Joseph's (For Now)

by Stephen Lemons

Jose Gutierrez, who is in a vegetative state, with part of his skull removed

Saint Joseph is traditionally the patron saint of workers and immigrants. The latter is because the father of Jesus was forced to flee to Egypt to save the Christ child from Herod the Great's wrath. Once King Herod was dead, Joseph moved his family back to Israel, settling in Nazareth.

There is a large statue of St. Joseph outside of his namesake hospital in Phoenix, which was founded in 1895 by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy, but St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center does not always pity the poor immigrant as it should.

This morning, Shena Wilson, the wife of Jose Gutierrez Guzman, kept watch over her husband in the hospital's intensive care unit, under the guard of two U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers. Not that Gutierrez was in any condition to escape their clutches.

At that time, Gutierrez was, for reasons unknown, not listed as a patient in St. Joseph's directory. Nevertheless, he lay comatose with part of his skull removed. He sustained Taser marks, a broken tooth, and a severe head injury after his run in with the Border Patrol near the San Luis, Arizona port of entry. He also has two black eyes.

No wonder CBP wanted to boot him from the country, stat.

According to New Times' sister paper LA Weekly, the CBP has stated that "the man struck his head on the ground during the incident." That's a lot of damage from a trip and fall. Unless, gravity received a little help.

Gutierrez had lived in the United States since he was nine, Wilson told me.

He was deported this past March 21, although he was a resident of Los Angeles, held a steady job as a film engineer, and fronted for LZ10, which the LA Weekly describes as a "popular Spanish-rock band." Wilson told me Gutierrez was desperate to get back to the United States, as Mexico is not his home and as his daughter was in the hospital.

But Gutierrez did not make it back to Los Angeles. After receiving substantial injuries while in CBP custody, he was hospitalized. Wilson's lawyer, Brian Lerner, told me the Border Patrol and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wanted to again deport Gutierrez. But Lerner obtained a stay from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, blocking this.

When I spoke with him, Lerner informed me that St. Joseph's wanted to remove Gutierrez in his vegetative state to Mexico, and that he was seeking further relief from the Ninth Circuit to prevent such action.

"Their words were that they were going to `transfer' him back to Mexico," Lerner said of his discussions with the hospital.

St. Joseph's spokeswoman Carmelle Malkovich e-mailed me the following statement after I called her for comment:

The situation related to our patient Jose Gutierrez continues to be very fluid. Earlier today we learned that the federal government will not be prosecuting Mr. Gutierrez, and he is no longer in their custody. Homeland Security personnel have left the hospital and he is now here as a regular patient.

This means that the federal authorities are no longer directing his location and gives us very different options for transitioning the patient to serve his long term care needs.

Because of this change, any plans to transfer the patient anywhere today have been cancelled.

We will continue to focus on the safety of the patient as he recovers. St. Joseph's is not licensed to administer long term medical care. We will work with his family to transition him to the next level of care. Mr. Gutierrez's condition has improved and he no longer needs acute care, which is the only type of care we are licensed to provide.

No other details have been confirmed at this time.

Suzanne Pfister, VP of External Affairs with St. Joe's, denied that the hospital wanted to remove Gutierrez on its own, and that it had just been following the lead of the CBP.

Lerner disputed this, stating that St. Joe's "backed down." He found Pfister's characterization "a little disingenuous."

He said that he'd been preparing to ask the Ninth Circuit to step in once more and halt any action by the hospital when he received word that St. Joe's had relented.

Lerner related that Gutierrez would likely be transferred to a California facility next week sometime.

He warned that if St. Joe's attempted to remove Gutierrez to Mexico, "I can get to the Ninth Circuit very quickly."

St. Joseph's is a not-for-profit facility. Malkovich at one point described it to me as "private." It's exempt from corporate taxes, and it receives untold millions in federal grants and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

Nevertheless, St. Joe's has been known to remove from the U.S. severely ill folks who happen to be undocumented. Back in 2007, I wrote about the death of Joe Arvisu, a North High School student with leukemia who suffered a head injury, became a patient at St. Joe's and was ultimately shipped back to a hospital in Mexico, where he died.

Lerner believes St. Joe's would have put Gutierrez in an ambulance headed for Mexico, despite Gutierrez being in a coma, had he and Wilson not put up a fight.

He promised that "a lawsuit will go forward" on the matter once Gutierrez is back in California and his condition is stable.

CBP did not return repeated calls for comment. Can't say that I blame them. This was turning into a public relations disaster for both CBP and St. Joe's.

Local pro-immigrant advocacy group Puente deserves credit for alerting the local media and for protesting St. Joe's last night and this morning. Such activism and media scrutiny doesn't hurt. In this case, it likely helped, particularly in regard to St. Joe's actions.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

U.S. Border Patrol agent in Yuma sector indicted on drug charges

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was indicted Tuesday on charges of trafficking marijuana along the Mexican border, authorities said.

A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Michael Angelo Atondo after fellow Border Patrol agents found him with 44 bundles of marijuana in his vehicle in a remote area April 4, according to Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sherwood gave this account:

Atondo set off a sensor several miles away from his Wellton-area patrol zone in an area just east of San Luis. When agents arrived, he was standing in uniform next to his Border Patrol vehicle, which was backed up to the border fence.

Parked on the other side were two Jeep Cherokees backed up to the fence. When the Border Patrol agents approached the three vehicles, the Jeeps fled deeper into Mexico.

The agents discovered 44 packages of marijuana in the back of Atondo's vehicle, each weighing totaling about 745 pounds.

The haul had an estimated wholesale value of $371,000.

Officials with the DEA and IRS launched an investigation.

Atondo was charged with conspiracy to commit importation of marijuana, importation of marijuana, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

If convicted, Atondo could spend up to 40 years in prison on each count, as well as a $2 million fine and four years of supervised release.


Monday, February 28, 2011

UnDeveloping Controls: States of Internment and Humanity at the Crossroads

This is the text of a leaflet against proposed anti-immigration legislation in Indiana. The leaflet was found somewhere but it is unclear how it got there or who wrote it.

UnDeveloping Controls: States of Internment and Humanity at the Crossroads

“We want the rule of law restored.” –Indiana Senator Mike Delph, author of anti-immigration Senate Bill 590

There is no homeland or nation at the crossroads, just spaces of flight that intersect. The misery of the modern world finds expression in the ongoing flows of global exodus. A population on-the-run is objectified for segregation. So the rule of law restores itself through an elaboration of lies. Race is an old lie, developed in the earliest days of established authority to divide and enslave. “Illegal alien” is a crude maneuver of the political machinery as it wets its appetite for another racialized scapegoat, to obscure the ineptitude and coercion of a dictatorial market, or to avert a rebellion from developing in its place.

In the halls of the politicians’ assembly, legislative measures are developed to further the management of internal populations, to expel some while caging others. “Reasonable suspicion” is a cloak for racist assumptions in the application of the rule of law. The undocumented immigrant faces a perilous journey to escape war, poverty, misery, and persecution only to find the American Dream gasping in democracy’s concentration camps. Precarity wears the mask of normalcy as it circumscribes individual and social possibility.

The rule of law is an elaboration of lies, giving reason to a system of authority and money that progresses without apparent end. There are no outsiders, just nations and states, lives lived in exile or escape. Democracy promises us an enlightened freedom and delivers us to atomized existences fed from the trough of mass production and consumption. The competition of the market is a starvation internalized, provoking another exodus of the will for human solidarity and mutual sustenance.

The citizen differs from the undocumented immigrant only by the manufacture of division: national identity and identification, the political unity of consensus and conformity. Nation-states are evolved strategies of social control through which hierarchy assumes power over fixed territory. Borders are the spatial demarcations of confinement and expulsion, lies in the sand, future ruins of the current crisis of disempowerment and economized distrust. A world of classes, borders, and armed guards is a humanity interned by state violence and deception.

Solidarity is borderless and holds human division in contempt. We are all strangers in a world of identity checks, private property, and states of internment. The ‘path of least resistance’ conceals the brevity of authority’s ascendancy. From the crossroads of shared experience, humanity learns from false freedom and life-as-repression: liberation is an elaboration of rebellion. Rebellion is liberation from control.

Oppose SB 590 and the state’s rule of laws! Our humanity will not be divided into competition, containment, and the fictions of race. Solidarity to those without papers! Abolish all states and dismantle the borders!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arizona to countersue feds over immigration issues

Arizona is suing the federal government, claiming the feds have failed to secure the border and protect the state from "an invasion" of illegal immigrants.

Gov. Jan Brewer said the intent of the lawsuit and the state's first priority is to force the federal government to protect Arizonans.

"The first and foremost issue we're facing right now is the security, safety and welfare of our citizens," Brewer said. "The federal government needs to step up and do their job."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Phoenix as a countersuit to the lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed against Arizona challenging the constitutionality of its immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.

"Arizona did not want this fight, we did not start this fight," Brewer said. "But now that we are in it, Arizona will not rest until our borders are secure."

The lawsuit alleges that the federal government has failed in five areas:

-To achieve and maintain "operational control" of the border.
-To protect Arizona against "invasion."
-To enforce immigration laws.
-To uphold the 10th Amendment, which states that "powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution ... are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

"What we're seeking is to force the federal government to do its job," Attorney General Tom Horne said, adding that the Obama Administration is "actively" not enforcing immigration law.

Horne said there have been similar cases filed out of other states over the years.

"We hope this one will be successful," he said.

The White House declined to comment and referred calls to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who wrote SB 1070, was at Brewer's announcement of the lawsuit, as was Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix.

Sinema called the move a distraction from other issues and a waste of time.

"Gov. Brewer should be focused on solving the problems in our own house," Sinema said. "We need Congress to act. The state of Arizona doesn't have the power to do it."

Sinema, an attorney, said the invasion allegation in particular would likely fail in court.

"While we all agree the immigration crisis is a massive crisis, I don't think it qualifies as an invasion," she said.

Pearce dismissed criticism that the Legislature is focusing on immigration issues instead of jobs or the budget.

"This is about our budget," Pearce said. "This is about the health and safety of the citizens of Arizona."

He said he applauded the governor and attorney general for filing the lawsuit.

"The federal government has been derelict in their responsibilities," he said. "This is way overdue."


Los Angeles gets tough with political protesters

For acts of political protest that his predecessor treated as mere infractions, Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is seeking jail time.

Hamid Khan, Alma Soto Chloe Osmer and Garrick Ruiz

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is throwing the book at dozens of people arrested during recent political demonstrations — a major shift in city policy that has him pressing for jail time in types of cases that previous prosecutors had treated as infractions.

Some of the activists arrested, including eight college students and one military veteran who took part in a Westwood rally last year in support of the DREAM Act, face up to one year in county jail.

Trutanich's aggressive stance is the latest episode in the city's decades-long legal struggle over the rights of protesters. The Los Angeles Police Department's treatment of demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention and at a 2007 May Day rally at MacArthur Park led to lawsuits against the city.

Trutanich said in an interview that recent demonstrations, conducted without permits, had cost the city thousands of dollars for police response and disrupted traffic. Organizers of illegal protests should face consequences, he said.

"My whole deal is predictability," he said. "In order for us to have a civilized society, there has to be a predictable result when you break the law. I want to make sure that they don't do it again."

The new policy, he added, was designed with an eye on what he called "professional" protesters who demonstrate repeatedly — sometimes for pay, he said — and never seem to be punished for their illegal activities.

"There's a right way and a wrong way" to protest, Trutanich said. "When you break the law, it's a not a mainstream 1st Amendment activity. You have the right to protest; you don't have the right to break the law."

Critics, including civil liberties advocates and at least one City Council member, accuse him of overkill and say his policies could imperil legitimate free speech.

"We should be incarcerating those who are truly public threats as opposed to students who are raising their voices out of passion for a cause," said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who has met with Trutanich on behalf of the DREAM Act supporters.

Reyes said the city should give people arrested in certain forms of protest a chance to work out deals with prosecutors to avoid jail time and criminal records.

Until recently, that was city policy — first-time offenders arrested in protests were typically granted what is known as a city attorney hearing, an informal alternative to a court date where defendants could negotiate deals.

In 2009, under Trutanich's predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo, all but one of 12 students arrested at a protest over fee hikes at UCLA were offered plea deals that reduced their charges to an infraction with a $100 fine.

"Our policy was that this is an exercise of 1st Amendment rights, and if this was your first time, you would get a hearing," said Delgadillo, who said his policy was based on the belief that a protester demonstrating for a political cause is different from a typical criminal.

John Raphling, an attorney who is representing a protester charged with three misdemeanors after a May 21 demonstration at City Hall over rent hikes, said Trutanich's approach is aimed at quashing dissent. "It's saying, 'You better not step out of line, you better not speak out,'" he said. "Why is he taking an approach that's a hundred times more harsh than anyone before?"

Others accuse Trutanich of acting from political motives, noting that he has flirted with a run for L.A. County district attorney — a motivation Trutanich denies.

The effect of his new approach can be seen in the prosecutions of those who took part in at least four demonstrations last year — including 10 people arrested at an August rally for laid-off janitors in Century City and 24 arrested at three protests against Arizona's controversial immigration bill, as well as the DREAM Act supporters.

At the May 20 rally for the passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants enrolled in college or serving in the military, nine people walked into the street in front of the Federal Building in Westwood, locked their hands together and sat down. They included recent graduates and current college students, one an honors student in her last year at UCLA, and a Navy veteran, Jonathan Bribiesca Ramirez.

The protest snarled rush-hour traffic on Wilshire Boulevard for hours. When police ordered the protesters to disperse, they refused. They were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and blocking the sidewalk or street — misdemeanors that carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail.

As he has in the other protest cases, Trutanich has denied city attorney hearings to the DREAM Act protesters. Their trials are set to begin in March.

In at least one other case, however, the city attorney's office has offered to dismiss charges against some members of a group of protesters, according to their attorney, Cynthia Anderson-Barker. That case involved five students at Cal State Northridge who marched against budget cuts as part of an apparently spontaneous protest. The university's provost, Harold Hellenbrand, wrote a letter to Trutanich asking that the charges be dismissed.

Felipe Plascencia, who along with several other attorneys from the Mexican American Bar Assn. is representing the students in the DREAM Act demonstration for free, said he was shocked to learn that Trutanich was pressing ahead with those cases, as well as Trutanich's suggestion that the protesters were "professionals."

"I have not seen any evidence of that whatsoever," Plascencia said. "These were college students trying to prove a point. It's an injustice for [the city attorney's office] to have dragged on for this long."

Protest, he said, is an American value and has long played a prominent role in L.A. city affairs. In 2006, some 500,000 people marched downtown to protest a proposed federal crackdown on illegal immigration. "The whole foundation of this country was rebelling against an unjust system," he said.

Plascencia also heads the Mexican American Bar Assn. PAC, which supported Trutanich with endorsements and fundraising in his campaign for office. He has lobbied Trutanich to reduce or drop the charges against the DREAM Act protesters and says he hopes they will eventually be dismissed.

For now, however, the various protesters facing charges say their lives have been on hold. Garrick Ruiz, 34, is one of them. In May, he and 13 others locked their hands together outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in protest of Arizona's SB 1070, a measure that requires police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop and subsequently suspect may be in the country illegally.

"We knew we were doing something against the law and that we would have to go through the court system," Ruiz said. "That (Trutanich) has taken this path and sought this level of prosecution has been a shock."

This is not the first time Ruiz has been arrested for protesting. He was jailed for demonstrating at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 — and later saw his charges reduced to an infraction.

Last month, Ruiz and the group that staged the Arizona-law protest held a noisy demonstration outside Trutanich's City Hall office. They said his efforts will not deter them.

"If he thinks this is going to stop protest, then he doesn't understand why we did what we did," Ruiz said. "I had to do something, regardless of the personal cost."



Sunday, January 30, 2011

SB 1070's copycats see trouble now

As state legislatures convene this month, lawmakers across the country who had vowed to copy Arizona's strict measure cracking down on illegal immigrants are facing a new reality.

State budget deficits, coupled with the political backlash triggered by Arizona's law and potentially expensive legal challenges from the federal government, have made passage of such statutes uncertain.

In the nine months since the Arizona measure, SB 1070, was signed into law, a number of similar bills have stalled or died, or are being reworked. Some have faced resistance from law enforcement officials who question how states or communities could afford the cost of enforcing the laws.

And some state legislators have backed away from the most controversial parts of the Arizona law, which has been challenged in court by the federal government and others. A federal judge has put on hold some of its provisions, including those that would require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws, allow for warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry registration papers. The case is awaiting a ruling before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

"Obviously most places were not going to pass Arizona bills," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter immigration laws.

"There's always an initial flush of enthusiasm and then the reality of politics sets in. ... These states are bankrupt. They need to decide what battles they want to fight."

"I won't be surprised to see more state task forces looking more fully at this issue," said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Currently, Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas and South Carolina are among the states where Arizona copycat bills have been drafted.

In Florida, an Arizona-style bill that appeared headed for passage a few months ago now appears to be on life support. Even its primary Senate sponsor has expressed concern that the provision allowing police to check a person's immigration status during a traffic stop could amount to racial profiling.

In Utah, a state dominated by conservative Republicans, a couple of bills similar to Arizona's statute are in the legislative pipeline. But in November, state leaders from business, law enforcement, education and the Mormon Church urged moderation - and with some success. They drew up the "Utah Compact," which declares immigration a federal issue and urges legislators to focus resources on local crime.

There could be a political downside to enacting tougher laws headed into the 2012 presidential election.

At a recent conference organized by the new Hispanic Leadership Network, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who has criticized the Arizona law, noted the importance of Latino voters.

"Hispanics will be the swing voters as they are today in the swing states," said Bush. "If you want to elect a center-right president of the United States, it seems to me you should be concerned about places like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Texas, places where but for the Hispanic vote, elections are won and lost."


Monday, January 24, 2011

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

ICE's "Secure Communities" program goes into effect throughout Wisconsin

January 12, 2011 - Voces de la Frontera

Yesterday the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) announced that its so-called "Secure Communities" program, a merger of the criminal justice and immigration systems, is now in effect in all Wisconsin counties. Secure Communities allows information on arrests from local jails to be shared with ICE, using biometric data, or fingerprints. ICE agents can ask law enforcement agencies to hold long-time legal residents and undocumented immigrants, and then transfer them into ICE custody to face deportation.

Around the country, activists have united in opposition to Secure Communities, concerned about the program encouraging racial profiling amongst law enforcement, as well as undermining the public's trust and safety by creating new fears of immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes.

In addition, Secure Communities has already proven statistically troubling in the areas of the country where it is in place. As of December 2010, ICE reported that over 25% (13,054 of 50,972) of all deportations nationwide were of non-criminal immigrants, despite assurances by the Obama administration to focus ICE's efforts on criminals.

"Voces de la Frontera strongly condemns Wisconsin's participation in a program that actually makes communities less safe. The justification is that these partnerships will result in "smart" enforcement which prioritizes individuals who are a danger to the community. However, the reality is this casts too wide of a net, abusing due process rights so that someone who is innocent of a charge will still end up in deportation proceedings," says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera.

"Wisconsin should follow the lead of other states such as New York and Colorado, which have revised a memorandum of agreement to ensure that smart enforcement is a reality."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Todos Somos Arizona January Update

from comrades in Cali: Todos Somos Arizona

January 2011

Since Todos Somos Arizona was created in April 2010, upon the signing into law of Arizona’s SB 1070, we have been busy! Our goal has been to call attention and inspire resistance to laws such as SB 1070, and to call for an end to the criminalization of immigrants and communities of color. It is to these racist laws and policies that place a target on the backs of immigrants and people of color, that we say, “it is our moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Check out these highlights:

  • May 6, 2010: We organized a protest, where 14 people staged a sit-in in front of the Federal Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles blocking buses used for deportations from accessing the facility for several hours.
  • July 18, 2010: We convened a community town hall to educate each other on immigrant rights, histories of migration, current laws that legalize racial profiling and criminalize our communities.
  • July 26th, 2020: Dozens of activists participate in banner drops protesting Arizona’s SB1070 and calling for an end to the criminalization of immigrant communities.
  • July 29, 2010: On the day SB 1070 took effect, 10 more people from our collective engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the Los Angeles headquarters of G4S/Wackenhut Corporation, a private prison and security corporation that lobbied for and stands to profit from SB 1070.

Since then, the 24 Todos Somos Arizona demonstrators along with many others struggling for social and economic justice in Los Angeles have become the targets of an unprecedented politicized prosecution by the Los Angeles City Attorney that seeks to criminalize dissent at a moment when dissent is most necessary. For their decision to stand peacefully for justice, they have been charged with multiple misdemeanors and threatened with the possibility of up to one year in jail. The charges and potential jail time in these cases are far more severe than anything faced by those who took similar actions in Santa Ana, Arizona, and elsewhere.

What does this mean? We have more work to do!

Todos Somos Arizona is organizing an action, in collaboration with the other local groups being targeted by the City for their acts of protest, to denounce this criminalization of dissent and continue to call for end to the criminalization of immigrant communities and communities of color!


WHAT: Street theater demonstration in front of City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich’s office

WHERE: City Hall East.

WHEN: January 18, 2011

TIME: 9:30 a.m.

And please stay tuned for upcoming Todos Somos Arizona events!

In Solidarity,

Todos Somos Arizona