Justice Department weighs in on FF: ASenior Justice Department official awknowledged, "that the controversial “gun-walking” tactics were used in a gun-trafficking operation carried out five years ago during the Bush administration, but did not take aggressive steps to ensure that such techniques were not repeated in other federal investigations"
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, awknowledged that they should have stopped the practice during the Bush administration:
“Knowing what I now know was a pattern of unacceptable and misguided tactics used by the ATF, I regret that I did not alert others within the leadership of the Department of Justice to the tactics used in Operation Wide Receiver when they first came to my attention.”
CBS's Early Show, has a great video on "gun walking" during the Bush adminstration, as well as the history of the gun smuggling along the southwest border.
Drug Smuggling Ring Busted In Arizona: "Law enforcement officials on Monday announced the breakup of a large drug-smuggling ring that used lookouts on hilltops in southern Arizona to move huge quantities of marijuana and other drugs across the Mexican border to users throughout the United States.
Over the last month and a half, federal, state and local officials have arrested 76 people, from organizational bosses to stash-house guards to those who transported the drugs in backpacks and in vehicles, the authorities said.
…Arizona officials estimated that the ring had been in operation for at least five years and had generated more than $2 billion in profits by smuggling more than three million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the United States. "
“You have made a great mistake by taking one of us,” said the video’s masked figure. “Release him.”
Or else, the message said, the names of government officials, taxi drivers and journalists who worked with the Zetas would be published online. The goal, they said, was the arrest of these suspected collaborators, but was there a possibility they might be killed by a rival cartel? Yes, said self-identified members of Anonymous, acknowledging the danger."
Fast and Furious Update: Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Fast and Furious program on December 8th. For background please read the following: Simon gives his take on the Fast and Furious program,Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) pushed backa couple weeks ago on the Republican's politically motivated attacks on Holder, and finally John King fact checks some of the more erroneous claims regarding the ATF program.
Alabama Town Sees Decline in Business: Baldwin, Alabama is suffering from the exodus of Hispanics from the state. The shops that cater to a once thriving Hispanic community are slowlyshutteringleaving both hardworking business owners in a bad way. " Now, with much of his customer base having fled the state because of Alabama’s tough immigration law, the Panaderia y Abarrotes (bakery and grocery) known as San Blas is shuttered and Martinez is learning to cut hair. “I’m just trying to pay my bills,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” At least two more Baldwin County businesses that cater to Hispanics will likely close because of the departure of many in the area’s migrant community."
Use of Busing Deters Undocumented Re-Entry: In Arizona the Federal Government is utilizing new techniques to deter the re-entry of undocumented immigrants into the states. The new strategy is allready showing signs of success. The Border Patrol in Arizona is bussing undocumented immigrants to other state to begin deportation proceedings. "Busing illegal immigrants to other border states makes it harder for them to reconnect with the smuggling guides who help migrants illegally cross into the U.S., the Border Patrol says." This is showing results: "Through July, 27 percent of the illegal immigrants bused from Arizona were caught trying to re-enter the U.S., she said. That is down from 33 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2009."
At a hearing yesterday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made her case that the administrations border enforcement policies are working. Meanwhile the new acting director of the ATF pledges to continue to crack down on the sales of U.S. guns to members of the Mexican cartels. Finally Texas Rep Charlie Gonzales, Chairmen of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus lambasted Republican presidential candidate for his comments on erecting an electrified fence which would kill immigrants attempting to enter the country.
The Courier News - ATF boss unfazed by gun probe by Frank Main 10/26/2011 "There was firearms trafficking going on from the United States to Mexico before this case went awry,” Jones said. “And there will be going forward. Our job as a law enforcement agency is to do the best job we can to disrupt and dismantle organizations and individuals who are engaged in that business. And that’s not going to stop.”
CNN - Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rips Cain Border Fence Joke by Deidra Walsh10/17/2011 "Words have consequences, both in shaping ideas and inspiring actions. Whether or not he made his comments in jest, Mr. Cain's words show a lack of understanding of the immigration issues our country is facing and a staggering lack of sensitivity," Gonzalez said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry goes on the O'reilly Factor and takes a brow beating over the DREAM Act. New Visa documents show that Florida Senator Marco Rubio's family left Cuba for economic reasons and not as refugees. Jorge G. Castaneda weighs in on the Republican boycott of the Univision debate noting that the move is as much about the GOP's Hispanic problem as it is Senator Rubio's tenuous standing as a national conservative Hispanic figure. The Obama Administration was in court with gun sellers from the Southwest border region over a federal requirement that merchants report when customers buy multiple high powered rifles.
Governor Perry: "We could either kick these individuals to the curb and then pick up the cost of what it was going to be at that particular point in time because the federal government requires us to give them education, to give them the health care. We made the decision in Texas and this is a straight up state issue that people of the state of Texas and it passed out of 181 votes, only four dissenting votes that we wanted taxpayers, not tax wasters. And that's the reason that Texas did this. And I realized this is a strict state-by-state issue and I respect other states as they make the decision.
"But the visa documents cast clearer divisions between his parents, who came for economic reasons, and the Cubans who scrambled to leave their homeland but thought they could soon return. And the documents come to light amid new discrepancies since Rubio's time line came under scrutiny last week."
"Consequently, Republican candidates who view Rubio as a ticket to Latino votes could be in for a rude shock. Yes, his backing might be a good first step toward securing the nomination. But to the extent that the candidates are seen as having cast their lot with Rubio, they could be hindered in reaching out to other Latinos. Those of us from abroad who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. are saddened by such splits and fights among the Latino community."
"The Justice Department responded to a lawsuit seeking to block the two-month-old requirement by asking a judge to uphold its legality, arguing the measure could help stop the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels. It requires sellers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives information about purchasers who buy two or more semi-automatic rifles greater than .22 caliber within five days."
The United States deepens its involvement in the battle against organized crime in Mexico. Simon shares his belief that the Obama Administration's immigration law enforcement will promote future broader reform. As the GOP presidential candidate race continues, Romney and Perry continue to squabble over whose immigration policies most benefited immigrants. As the GOP boycott a Univision debate Simon warns that this may further damage the parties standing with the Hispanic community.
National Journal - White House Immigration Message: We're Toughby Fawn Johnson 10/18/2011 "The administration’s goal is to belie accusations from critics that the United States border is out of control, an argument that helped kill major immigration legislation in 2007. Simon Rosenberg, president of the NDN strategy group, is one of a several political operatives pushing for a broad immigration fix to point out that the White House, at the time under President Bush, too easily conceded the point."
Washington Post (Blog) - Illegal Immigration Spat Continuesby Jennifer Rubin 10/24/2011 Rick Perry's campaign has begun floating the story that "Romneycare" benefits immigrants who are in the country illegally, while Romney vehemently denies such allegations and continues to attack Perry for passing a state version of the DREAM Act.
Real Clear Politics - GOP Debate Boycott Centers on Univision, Rubioby Erin Mcpike 10/25/2011 “Antagonizing Univision is a very risky strategy for the Republicans,” said Simon Rosenberg, the president of NDN (the New Democratic Network, a progressive think tank). “It’s sort of like NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox combined in the Spanish world.” And he added that generating antipathy “will damage the Republicans’ ability to reach Hispanic voters.
This week Congressman Adam Schiff released a statement on the Fast and The Furious program lambasting his Republican colleagues for their politically motivated attacks on Attorney General Eric Holder. Simon went on Fox News to discuss the merit of the subpoena, and finally John King of CNN refutes the notion that the Attorney General knew any more about the Fast and Furious program then Congress did.
Simon Rosenberg on Live with Megyn Kelly on Fox News - 19/10/2011 Simon goes head to head with Megyn Kelly, defending the Attorney General and pushing back on the notion that Fast and Furious is a new program germane to the Obama Administration. In the segment Simon notes that President George W. Bush had a similar program and once the current administration realized there was a problem they shut it down.
CNN - John King USA - The Truth on Fast and Furious -17/10/2011 CNN anchor John King rejects the Republican analysis that Attorney General Holder was purposely misleading Congress on the Fast and the Furious scandal. “The truth is,” King concluded, “it’s a stretch– and a huge stretch to say anything beyond that.”
The Immigration issue has emerged as a defining one in the GOP presidential primary race. As such the last Republican debate was immigration heavy. Mitt Romney’s campaign advertisements have focused heavily on the issue. As such the GOP focus on immigration has begun to alienate Hispanic voters.
Also among the primary candidates a renewed call for a border fence between the United States and Mexico raises some eyebrows.
In other news, the media examines the legitimacy of the GOP subpoena of Attorney General Eric Holder on ATF’s Fast and Furious program.
New York Times – Some Cheer Border Fence as Others Ponder the Costby Julia Preston 10/19/2011 “Proposals for an imposing border fence have drawn cheers at Republican rallies. Border security appears to be an area where some Republican candidates are ready to set aside their priority on fiscal discipline… Based on what studies do exist, the analysts say that building and maintaining a fence through the remote or hostile terrain along the border would run into billions of dollars, with no documented impact on diminishing illegal crossings. “
NPR – Immigration Debate Intensifies In GOP Raceby Associated Press 10/20/2011 “Obama campaign manager Jim Messina seized on the issue Wednesday.”Romney’s been taking hard-right positions on the campaign trail on immigration. He didn’t object to having undocumented workers working for him because it’s illegal; he objected because he thought it would hurt his political career,” Messina said.”
Romney Immigration Campaign Advertisements (Presented Without Comment)
Given the overwhelming evidence that the Administration has made the border safer, and the immigration system better, today’s hearing on border safety highlighted the ways in which alarmists are presenting anecdotal evidence as fact, and what verifiable statistics actually show to be occurring along our border.
The basis of this hearing was a report which sought to focus issues faced by border communities, who are purported to be facing a Narco-Terrorist threat to the United States from cartels in Mexico. Over the course of this hearing the overwhelming anecdotal unsubstantiated evidence was tempered by repeated admissions that the real violence had been relegated to the Mexican side of the border.
Much of the testimony regarding border violence focused on anecdotal reports. In fact much of the written testimony steered clear of citing any statistics indicating that the the American border was violent. Any actual statistics regarding violence along the border focused almost entirely on the state of Texas as a whole. Any actual statistics cited from the witnesses invariably highlighted the violence in Mexico. So if anything the hearing reinforced the Administration's basic argument that the border is safer today than in year's past, and that despite the violence in Mexico there has been little spillover of it into the US.
What the facts show is a drop in violence along the border: The FBI report on Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime shows that nationally, including border states, all four categories of violent crime declined overall compared to 2008, robbery, 8.1 percent; murder, 7.2 percent; aggravated assault, 4.2 percent; and forcible rape, 3.1 percent. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in metropolitan counties. The same report shows that in Texas, violent crime rates declined,by 3.5 percent to 123,668 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2009. From 2009 to 2010 in the 4 Texas border states, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen all saw drops in violent crime.
Additionally questions were raised about what constituted a border community. The report itself purports to deal with the “border counties,” yet much of the testimony dealt with issues that were faced by cities far away from the border. The Majority members of the committee tried repeatedly to include places like Austin, TX which is 233 miles from the border, as part of the communities in the southern part of the state. Austin has a much higher level of violence than border communities, which are experiencing record low levels of criminal violence.
On this point, while the testimony of the majority witnesses only occasionally cited verifiable statistics on crime, when they did, their analysis was based upon statistics which were related to the flow of drugs into the United States and not actual violence along the border. Most of these references, were to a GAO report which highlighted a rise in seizures of narcotics entering the United States. Which to these ears sounds like a success of the border patrol more then anything else.
In regards to any dead bodies found on the Texas border, Michael Vickers, a vocal border alarmist and witness before the committee, recounted grisly tales of finding dead bodies on the border. He admitted that the bodies were immigrants trying to avoid the Border Patrol. From his written testimony:
Most unsettling are the dead bodies showing up on the ranches. 51 Illegal aliens’ deaths have occurred so far this year with another 31 reported still missing and nearly 500 total deaths since October 2004. Some are murdered but at least all are a result criminal homicides.
In his testimony Vickers main complaint regarding the dead immigrant bodies accumulating in his his communitty, was the monetary cost of disposing of them.
For their part the generals responsible for writing the report repeatedly acknowledged that the relationship between the United States and Mexico was critical to the future of both countries. General McCaffery was adamant that that the flow of guns south of the border was having a terrible effect on Mexico.
Given what the two generals had seen in crafting their report they made three main recommendations: more money for resources for the border, more support for Mexican Authorities in Mexico, and finally reform of our broken immigration system which would give Mexican migrants protection from being taken advantage of by American businesses and cartels alike.
Given the overwhelming evidence that the the Administration has made the border safer, and the immigration system better, today's misguided hearing in the House Committee on Homeland Security is out of sync with the reality of the current dynamic on the southwest border. The El Paso Times explores the political dimensions of the report at the heart of today's congressional hearing.
In other news, immigrants on the ground in Alabama speak out about the civil rights crisis they face. A member of the Democratic Oversight Committee expressed his outrage over the subpoena of Attorney General Eric Holder Committee's in the wake of the ATF Fast and The Furious scandal.
"Perry, who is running for president, has repeatedly said that Texans are living in fear because the federal government is doing a poor job of securing the border. Federal officials argue increased resources along the border have made it safer than ever before. The authors of the mostly anecdotal report praised the state's border security efforts while criticizing the federal government. They commended Staples, who plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2014, and outlined Perry's involvement in Texas' border security efforts."
Department of Justice officials made a surprise appearance at a community forum in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday evening, encouraging residents to report civil rights violations in the wake of the state's harsh new immigration law.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Mo.), the ranking Democrat, called the subpoena "a political stunt." Cummings re: @thejusticedept subpoena: "Rather than legitimate fact-gathering, this looks more like a political stunt," the House Oversight Democrats's account tweeted.