For a Soldier’s Father, Deportation

When Pfc. Armando Soriano was killed in Iraq, his mother benefited from a loophole on immigration law that allows soldiers’ family members to apply for legal residency. But the rules work on a case-by-case basis, and his father, who has been in the U.S. illegally since 1999, faces deportation because he once snuck back into the country. One of Soriano’s sisters is also not a citizen. Such cases are increasingly common as more foreign-born fighters join the military en route to citizenship.

Young Immigrants Take a Hard Road North

A growing number of youth and children throughout Central America are migrating on their own to Mexico and the United States, doing odd jobs and pickup work along the way. The Christian Science Monitor reports the number of migrant children increased from 3,000 in 2004 to 5,000 last year; many are repatriated, but often set out again, following parents and siblings who have already headed north. No social services exist to serve these “little kangaroos,” who face extortion, violence and muggings as they travel, and are treated with suspicion by locals who feel they sow violence. Sources:
“In Central America, child migrants now face perils alone”
Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 2007

Migrants Face Dangerous Waters and a Cold Shoulder

If they survive the voyage, Africans fleeing to Europe on wooden boats do not always get a warm welcome. Malta took 25 shipwrecked Somalis ashore last week, but only after coming under fire late May when a Maltese fishing boat refused to rescue a another group of migrants, and left the task to Spain. A Maltese ship has since found 18 other bodies floating in the Mediterranean; while 233 migrants were brought ashore in the last week alone, the Times of Malta reports. In response to the surge, the European Union is boosting patrols off the coast of Africa to intercept migrant boats. Hundreds of protestors at an E.U. immigration summit in Greece called for a different solution that includes legalization and ending war and poverty in Africa.

Between America and Mexico, a Broken Border

A heavy crackdown in immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border has resulted in more arrests, but has not deterred Mexicans from trying to cross, or from dying along the way. Immigrants attempting to cross the desert in the hot summer months have only a 50 percent chance of survival. Border agents near Yuma, Arizona, are working with their Mexican counterparts to add rescue beacons to the desert and paramedics to save lives on enforcement missions. Meanwhile, more Mexican immigrants are drowning in the Rio Grande than in the winter months. Border agents found another body there last week.

Immigration Officials in the Spotlight

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s “Operation Return to Sender” has arrested 18,000 undocumented immigrants since June, provoking an inquiry by the ACLU into reports that agents illegally entered homes, posed as police officers, and racially profiled suspects. In McHenry County, Indiana, activists accuse county jail officials for dehumanizing treatment of 36 Mexican detainees by writing numbers on their hands instead of using their names, shackling them in cells and jailing them with criminals. The practices stopped when the Mexican Consulate stepped in, and I.C.E. disavowed any knowledge of it. And Mexican federal police detained 22 immigration agents suspected of accepting bribes to help 81 Chinese nationals, who were found “hiding” in the Cancun airport, sneak into the United States, the Associated Press reports. Sources:
“Immigrant sweeps rouse ACLU”
San Mateo County Times, March 7, 2007
“Enraged activists: Jail marked illegal workers’ hands”
NBC5 (Chicago), March 9, 2007
“81 Chinese immigrants arrested”
Associated Press, March 10, 2007

Immigrant Labor: California’s Undocumented Economy

The coastside town of Pescadero worries that new immigrant restrictions will stifle the economy, and cost its schools as much as 60 percent of their students. Family farmers there are already losing workers to the higher- paying construction industry, the San Mateo County Times reports, and fear the new rules will put them out of business. In San Diego, competition is stiff for a pool of up to 400,000 undocumented workers in restaurants, construction, agriculture and childcare. The underground economy produces affordable services and housing, KPBS TV reports, driving a regional biotech and telecom boom. And at nearby Pitzer College, protestors say the arrest of 761 immigrants under “Operation Return to Sender” unjustly targets “good people” who contribute to the community, according to the San Bernardino County Sun.