Morning News, 12/18/09

By Bryan Griffith, December 18, 2009

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1. IA Rep. opposes amnesty
2. CA provides health care
3. Cops accused of cover-up
4. Philly schools and violence
5. Agent accused of corruption

Amnesty - good for country, or good for Democrats?
By Chad Groening
One News Now, December 18, 2009

One of the most outspoken critics of illegal immigration calls the latest amnesty bill submitted to Congress nothing but an effort to create a permanent dependency class in the United States that will permanently support Democrats.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinos)Recently Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) introduced what he is calling the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity," which would effectively give amnesty to over 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. (See earlier article)

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) is staunchly opposed to Gutierrez's bill and says it is only about keeping Democrats in power.

"If I would advocate such a thing from my district, I can tell you that the people in the district would rise up and clamor for me to be removed from office -- but apparently the people in Chicago see some kind of benefit [to Gutierrez's bill]," the congressman contends.
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Program in Calif offers health care to illegal immigrants, uninsured as Congress debates issue
By Juliana Barbassa
The Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2009

Vellejo, CA (AP) -- Dozens of patients file through Sutter Solano Medical Center's emergency room every day in this recession-wracked Northern California city, often without insurance, cash or legal immigration status. They all get health care, no questions asked.

Medical providers in Vallejo teamed up to establish the program, generating community opposition because illegal immigrants were among those who benefited from services funded in part with county money. This led to a civil grand jury investigation, and a Board of Supervisors vote.

The partnership survived, but the skirmish was a reminder of how touchy the issue of health care for illegal immigrants remains for many Americans, whether in towns like Vallejo or in Washington, D.C., where legislators are skirting the matter as they work to overhaul the nation's health system.

The program also serves as an example of how a community has found a way to confront the reality that undocumented immigrants will not be covered by health care reforms.

Illegal immigrants make up about one-third of the approximately 24 million people under age 65 who would remain uninsured even under the health reform bills being debated in Congress. With limited exceptions, they do not qualify for federal health programs, and the bills being debated would not change that.
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Prosecutor in immigrant's beating death suspected cover-up
CNN News, December 18, 2009

Shenandoah, PA -- The Pennsylvania prosecutor who failed to secure felony convictions against two teens in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant says he thought his case was "compromised" from the start.

Like many residents in the small, tight-knit eastern Pennsylvanian community of Shenandoah, Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman knew that an officer investigating the death of Luis Ramirez was in a relationship with the mother of one the teens involved.

Goodman also believed the investigation and evidence hadn't been handled as it should have been.

"They didn't interview the perpetrators, the boys. In fact, not only did they not interview them, they picked them up, gave them rides, helped them concoct stories, brought them back and told the boys what to say," Goodman told CNN.

The son of Shenandoah Police Lt. William Moyer also played on the same football team as the teens who were involved in the July 2008 street brawl, according to court documents.

"It's clear they were trying to help these boys out, for whatever reason -- they were football players, these police officers were trying to help these boys out and limit their involvement in the death of Luis Ramirez."

Early on, Goodman says his office reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office with his concerns. Their investigation led to a federal indictment alleging that the teens, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation with the help of Moyer, Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and Police Officer Jason Hayes, who was dating Piekarsky's mother.

Moyer, Nestor and Hayes pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Scranton on Tuesday. Moyer and Hayes were released; Nestor is being held under a magistrate's order, his lawyer, Patrick M. Rogan said.

"The situation is very tragic in many ways and too many families and I'm not in any way taking the attention away from what happened to the Ramirez family," Rogan said. "But I believe that after a full airing of the case and the situation that my client will be fully exonerated."

Piekarsky and Donchak are also charged with a federal hate crime for fatally beating Ramirez allegedly because of his race.

The two are serving prison sentences after a Schuylkill County jury found them guilty in May of misdemeanor simple assault in Ramirez's death.

They were acquitted of felony charges of ethnic intimidation, a hate crime according to Pennsylvania law, and hindering apprehension.

Piekarsky, who was accused of delivering the fatal kick to Ramirez's head while he was on the ground, also was found not guilty of third-degree homicide.

Anticipating the potential jury verdict, Goodman says his office considered a plea deal.

"We knew there were problems with the evidence, with what the police did, with the reports that were generated," he said. "We knew our case was compromised and we knew we didn't have the strongest case going forward and that's why we entertained the plea deal."

The plea deal never panned out, but Goodman says he does not fault the jury for reaching its verdict.
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Attacking immigrant students not new, say those involved
By Kristen A. Graham and Jeff Gammage
The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 18, 2009

Soon after Superintendent Arlene Ackerman arrived in Philadelphia in 2008, officials set up what was to be a friendly meeting with parents and representatives from immigrant groups.

The meeting lasted two hours and focused on one issue, according to people present: Immigrants were being beaten and harassed in city classrooms. What would the district do?

Then, in October last year, five Asian students from South Philadelphia High School were attacked near the subway station outside the school.

Leaders of the Asian community quietly met with district officials, who promised better security. A Chinese student group formed.

As that school year unfolded, immigrant students were attacked at Fels, Furness, and South Philadelphia High Schools. In the summer, members of the Asian community met with district leaders and the new South Philadelphia principal.

Officials promised to monitor the targeted students, especially at South Philadelphia, and said conditions would improve, according to people who attended.

But little changed, and on Dec. 3, 30 more Asian students were attacked. Seven required hospital treatment, and 50 students launched a boycott that lasted seven days.

"This particular incident was horrible because of the magnitude, but this isn't new," said Zac Steele, an organizer with Juntos, a South Philadelphia Latino advocacy group. "The school district knows about all of this. They've known."

Through a spokeswoman, Ackerman said she had put fixes in place after her first meeting with the immigrant community - more translators and bilingual security officers. No one told her more was needed.

"To her understanding, things had been put in place and there weren't any great issues outstanding," spokeswoman Evelyn Sample-Oates said. "She didn't know of any breakdown, that there were issues remaining. A big part of this is that a lot of the students don't report violence because they're afraid."

While the latest confrontation involved mostly African American students allegedly beating Asian students, immigrants of all races have long felt unsafe in city schools, dozens of students, recent graduates, teachers, and activists said in interviews.

Immigrants are easy targets, said Wei Chen, a South Philadelphia senior and president of the South Philadelphia High School Chinese-American Student Association.

"They think the new students cannot speak the language and will not report [the assault] to the school," he said through an interpreter.

"Most immigrants at South Philly High, if not all of them, have been intimidated or beaten up," said a newcomer from Honduras, a recent graduate.
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War Without Borders
Hired by Customs, but Working for the Cartels
By Randal C. Archibold
The New York Times, December 18, 2009

San Diego -- At first, Luis F. Alarid seemed well on his way to becoming a customs agency success story. He had risen from a childhood of poverty and foster homes, some of them abusive, earned praise and commendations while serving in the Army and the Marines, including two tours in Iraq, and returned to Southern California to fulfill a goal of serving in law enforcement.

But, early last year, after just a few months as a customs inspector, he was waving in trucks from Mexico carrying loads of marijuana and illegal immigrants. He pocketed some $200,000 in cash that paid for, as far as the government could tell, a $15,000 motorcycle, flat-screen televisions, a laptop computer and more.

Some investigators believe that Mr. Alarid, 32, who was paid off by a Mexican smuggling crew that included several members of his family, intended to work for smugglers all along. At one point, Mr. Alarid, who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison in February, told investigators that he had researched just how much prison time he might get for his crimes and believed, as investigators later reported, that he could do it “standing on his head.”

Mr. Alarid’s case is not the only one that has law enforcement officials worried that Mexican traffickers — facing beefed-up security on the border that now includes miles of new fencing, floodlights, drones, motion sensors and cameras — have stepped up their efforts to corrupt the border police.

They research potential targets, anticorruption investigators said, exploiting the cross-border clans and relationships that define the region, offering money, sex, whatever it takes. But, with the border police in the midst of a hiring boom, law enforcement officers believe that traffickers are pulling out the stops, even soliciting some of their own operatives to apply for jobs.

“In some ways,” said Keith Slotter, the agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s San Diego office, “it’s like the old spy game between the old Soviet Union and the U.S. — trying to compromise each other’s spies.”

James Tomsheck, the assistant commissioner for internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection, and other investigators said they had seen many signs that the drug organizations were making a concerted effort to infiltrate the ranks.

“We are very concerned,” Mr. Tomsheck said. “There have been verifiable instances where people were directed to C.B.P. to apply for positions only for the purpose of enhancing the goals of criminal organizations. They had been selected because they had no criminal record; a background investigation would not develop derogatory information.”
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