Monday, January 18, 2010

Weakened Secretary of Homeland Security is Readying Florida Base to Receive Illegal Immigration from Devastated Haiti

U.S. officials are talking tough for public consumption, but are quietly making arrangements to accomodate a tidal wave of Haitian migration to South Florida. The AP story here quotes officials saying that any illegal Haitian migrants will be intercepted at sea and repatriated to their native country.

That is obviously intended to dissuade Haitians from staging a mass evacuation across the strait, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, already weakened by earlier public relations debacles, can't make it stick. The political pressure will come from several points on the compass, including the Catholic church, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hip-Hop Summit, and the president's own pollsters.

Napolitano obviously understands that she is a paper tiger, as she is already preparing the former Homestead Air Base south of Miami to receive the expected surge of escaping Haitian survivors.

Haitians Seeking U.S. Refuge Will be Returned
By CURT ANDERSON, AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI – U.S. authorities are readying for a potential influx of Haitians seeking to escape their earthquake-wracked nation, even though the policy for migrants remains the same: with few exceptions, they will go back.

So far, fears of a mass migration have yet to materialize. However, conditions in Haiti become more dire each day and U.S. officials don't want to be caught off guard.

Between 250 and 400 immigration detainees are being moved from South Florida's main detention center to clear space for any Haitians who manage to reach U.S. shores, according to the Homeland Security Department. The Navy base at Guantanamo Bay could house migrants temporarily — far from suspected terrorists also being held there — and the Catholic church is working on a plan to accept Haitian orphans.

Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said Monday that orphans who have ties to the U.S. — such as a family member already living here — and Haitians evacuated for medical reasons are among those who can gain special permission to remain in the U.S.

The mass migration plan, known as "Operation Vigilant Sentry," was put in place in 2003 because of previous experiences with Caribbean migrations, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, spokesman for the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast that would manage any Haitian influx.

"There is no new incentive for anyone to try to enter the United States illegally by sea," O'Neil said. "The goal is to interdict them at sea and repatriate them."

The message was underscored by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a weekend appearance at Homestead Air Reserve Base south of Miami, a key staging area for Haiti relief flights.

"This is a very dangerous crossing. Lives are lost every time people try to make this crossing," Napolitano said, addressing Haitians directly. "Please do not have us divert our necessary rescue and relief efforts that are going into Haiti by trying to leave at this point."

Some immigration advocates say the U.S. should shift away from stopping migrants and ease safe passage. They say those on approved waiting lists should be able to join spouses or relatives in the U.S.

"We should be figuring out an orderly transition for people to come here, instead of being panicked about it," said Ira Kurzban, a leading Miami immigration attorney.

The Obama administration's decision last week to grant temporary protected status to Haitians in the U.S. illegally as of Jan. 12 does not extend to those attempting to enter the U.S. after that date.

So far this year, the Coast Guard has intercepted 17 Haitians at sea, all before the earthquake struck. The 2009 total of 1,782 was higher than any year since 2004, when more than 3,200 Haitians were stopped attempting to reach U.S. shores. That was a year of political upheaval in Haiti following the collapse of the government of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Cuba is responsible for the biggest mass migration from any Caribbean nation: more than 125,000 Cubans streamed to the U.S. in 1980 after former President Fidel Castro opened the port of Mariel to anyone who wanted to leave.

U.S. policy notwithstanding, the Catholic Church in Miami is working on a proposal that would allow thousands of orphan children to come permanently to this country. A similar effort launched in 1960, known as Operation Pedro Pan, brought about 14,000 unaccompanied children from Cuba to the U.S.

Under the plan dubbed "Pierre Pan," Haitian orphans would first be placed in group homes and then paired with foster parents, said Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami.

"We have children who are homeless and possibly without parents and it is the moral and humane thing to do," Agosta said.

Officials said many details would have to be worked out and the Obama administration would have to grant orphans humanitarian parole to enter the U.S.


Associated Press writers Matt Sedensky in Miami and Larry Margasak in Washington contributed to this story.

Tough Immigration Enforcement Lands Sheriff Under Investigation by Eric Holder's U.S. Justice Department

Shortly after President Obama took office, his attorney general placed Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio under investigation for racial discrimination and unconstitutional searches.

Arpaio is legendary for his unsympathetic treatment of jail inmates, and more recently he has been publicized as one of the few major western law enforcement official who actively enforced immigration laws.

Within the Mexican-American constituency, which is large and probably decisive in most of the West, this confrontation with Arpaio is pure re-election gold for Obama. He will sew up solid majorities among Mexican-Americans, including Evangelicals, in 2012.

Although Obama needs no help with Black middle-class voters, Holder's attack on Arpaio may help cement Obama's solidarity with the Black underclass that normally does not vote. It will be interesting to see whether Obama and the new class warriors can finally mobilize the Mexican-American and Black lumpenproletariat that has heretofore be reliably inert.

Thousands protest sheriff's immigration efforts

By JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press

PHOENIX – Thousands of immigrant rights advocates marched in front of a county jail in Phoenix Saturday in a protest that was aimed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration efforts and was marked by a clash between a small group of protesters and police officers.

Organizers say the protest was meant to show officials in Washington that Arpaio shouldn't handle immigration enforcement, and that Congress and the Obama administration need to come up with a way for immigrant workers to come to the country legally.

The three-mile walk that started in a west Phoenix park ended by afternoon at the Durango Jail Complex, a collection of five jails, where officials played music, including a record by singer Linda Ronstadt, to drown out noise made by protesters. Ronstadt took part in Saturday's protest.

Protesters chanted "Joe must go" as they approached the jail complex. One person carried a sign that said "We are human" and bore a picture of a lawman with a wolf's face. A family of five wore T-shirts saying "Who would Jesus deport?"

For his part, Arpaio said he wasn't bothered by the protesters and that they should be directing their frustrations at Congress because it has the power to change America's immigration laws.

"They are zeroing in on the wrong guy," Arpaio said. "They ought to be zeroing in on the president."

The demonstration was peaceful until police say protesters near the end of the procession started throwing water bottles at officers. Phoenix Police Lt. Pat Hofmann said officers used pepper spray as they tried to separate protesters from an officer who was trying to take away the bottles.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said on-scene supervisors described a group of demonstrators purposefully disrupting the demonstration by assaulting several police officers and a police horse.

He said one demonstrator struck a police sergeant on the head and chest with a flagpole. Two others threw water bottles, possibly containing rocks, at other officers, but missed.

Hill also said a police officer on horseback was assaulted while her horse was mobbed, punched and pushed. The officer used pepper spray to stop the assault.

"Most regrettably, a nearby 2-year-old child was hit by some of the pepper spray," said Hill, adding that the Phoenix Fire Department was called to the scene to treat the girl. "I am told she was released and was expected to be OK."

No one else was seriously injured, he said.

Phoenix police said Saturday night that five people were arrested during the protest and taken to Maricopa County Jail. Four were booked on suspicion of aggravated assault on police. The other faces disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Though the scene of the disturbance was cleared within minutes, the aftermath was chaotic. Protesters yelled obscenities at police officers in riot gear. One officer shook his pepper spray canister as he ordered people to keep moving. One protester wore goggles, and several others wrapped bandanas around their mouths.

Critics have accused deputies working in Arpaio's immigration efforts of racial profiling, which the sheriff denies. He says his deputies approach people when they have probable cause to believe they had committed crimes.

Ten months ago, Arpaio learned he was under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for alleged discrimination and unconstitutional searches. He says the investigation was prompted by his immigration efforts, although federal authorities haven't provided details.

Since early 2008, Arpaio has run 13 immigration and crimes sweeps involving officers who flood a section of a city — in some cases heavily Latino areas — to seek out traffic violators and arrest other violators.

Arpaio's power to make federal immigration arrests was stripped away three months ago by officials in Washington, but he continues his immigration efforts through the enforcement of two state laws.

A federal grand jury also is investigating Arpaio and his office on allegations of abusing his powers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haitian Catastrophe is Immigration Policy and Enforcement Game-Changer

The recent catastrophe in Haiti is shaping up as an immigration policy and enforcement game-changer. The Obama regime has already halted deportations of illegal alien Haitians, even those already in detention. Now Haitian activists and their allies are urging relocation of large numbers of orphaned Haitian children to South Florida.

Operation Pierre Pan May Start at Miami Hospitals: Miami advocates are pushing to relocate Haitian children to the U.S.
By Todd Wright
Jan 15, 2010

Some of Haiti's most fragile - its children - have arrived at Miami area hospitals and for a few, Miami may become their new home. So far, 23 patients from the earthquake have been treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital, with countless more likely to be airlifted from the island for treatment. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has contacted all the children's hospitals in Florida and requested that they receive critically injured Haitian children in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Nelson on Friday said he also plans to introduce a "major Haitian relief bill."

But the injured won't likely be the only children coming to Florida.

"Operation Pierre Pan," as its being called, is an effort to relocate the thousands of children likely orphaned by the natural disaster in Port-au-Prince. Many of the children could already have relatives in Miami and around the U.S.

A similar effort occurred decades ago when "Operation Pedro Pan" was launched to help the children of Cuba during the political upheaval in that island neighbor. Some 14,000 children were relocated to the United States, many of them settling in South Florida.

While advocates mobilize for a push to help find the children new families if not reunite them with stateside relatives, there are several hurdles that need to be overcome.

The movement would need the approval of the U.S. government to at the very least grant the orphans temporary status in the country.

Still, agencies in Miami-Dade and Broward are gearing up for the possible influx of children in need of a home, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

We've already begun to make preparations and are willing to do our part," said Mark Riordan, Broward County spokesman for the state's Department of Children and Families.