Mara Salvatrucha 13
NATIONAL TERROR ALERT
by Shelly Feuer Domash
from El Salvador to L.A. and across the United States, Mara Salvatrucha 13 is
increasingly well organized and deadly.
Within one hour, two people were found murdered miles apart in suburban Nassau
County, N.Y. After an intensive investigation, police officials learned the
murders were the work of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha 13. It also
soon became apparent the gang was sending a bold message to its members and
associates. That message: “If you are not loyal, you are dead.”
But there was another message in
the brutal slayings for the people of Long Island. And that message was that
gang violence had moved into the upper middle class enclaves of the Island,
into the kinds of communities where the locals assume that crime is somebody
Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) is
unfortunately becoming everybody’s problem. This plague that came to Long
Island from El Salvador by way of the streets of Los Angeles follows the same
migratory patterns as the Salvadoran immigrant community that it preys upon,
fanning out across the United States from ethnic enclaves in California.
Until recently, MS-13 wasn’t
that big a player in East Coast gang culture. The reason for its weak position
in the East Coast crime world was obvious: It wasn’t very well organized.
MS-13 was comprised of a group of cliques that operated independently of each
No more. Law enforcement
officials now report that gang members from across the country have come
together to unite affiliated groups up and down the East Coast. The leadership
for these cliques is now coming from as far away as California and even from
Robert Hart, senior agent in
charge with the FBI, says that when individual groups of MS-13 unite, the
results can be devastating. “The cliques, instead of operating independently
of each other, are beginning to come together,” Hart explains. “The difference
is by doing that, obviously you have a much tighter organization, much
stronger structures and, instead of having various cliques doing whatever they
want, wherever they want, there is one individual who is the leader and is
able to control the payment of dues and the criminal acts they engage in. The
result is very, very similar to what you would see in what we refer to as
traditional organized criminal families.”
Los Angeles and New York law
enforcement and even politicians are aware of the impact of MS-13 on their
streets and on their crime statistics. So they’ve taken action. The results
are usually not stellar, but at least these cities have recognized that MS-13
is a problem. Unfortunately, the leadership of MS-13 is not stupid. Once the
heat comes down hard in L.A. and New York, they head for new turf, choosing
Midwestern and Southern and suburban cities where gangs “are not an issue” and
local officials and authorities are in denial.
And once MS-13 takes hold in a
community, it grows fast. The gang reportedly has some 300 members in suburban
Long Island. A few years back it didn’t have any.
Once MS-13 shows up on the
radar, some local officials and authorities will take action. In Nassau
County, for example, a joint gang task force headed by the FBI and comprised
of local police departments, has arrested 16 leaders of MS-13. They were
charged with two murders, assault, conspiracy, and firearms violations.
Such investigations aren’t easy
because MS-13 has a pretty strident zero-tolerance policy toward anyone who
informs the cops of their activities.
Court papers reveal that one of
the Nassau County defendants was captured in a secretly recorded telephone
conversation detailing how he killed a male victim because he had provided law
enforcement officials with information and that he had “put one in his chest
and three in the head.” In another recorded conversation, a second defendant
said he killed a young female because, in part, she had also provided
information to law enforcement.
The senseless violence of MS-13
has shocked the local citizens of Nassau County, so the Nassau County
Executive appointed a “gang czar” to deal with the increasing gang problem.
A seasoned, dedicated officer,
the new “czar,” in reality, will find it difficult to accomplish what he has
been mandated to do. His department, like many across the nation, is at its
lowest staffing levels in recent history, and he has been given no additional
personnel or resources to combat the problem. The public was placated by the
appointment, but while politicians put Band-Aids on deep cuts, the problem
continues to escalate on Long Island.
And Long Island is not alone.
Nationally, police departments are dealing with the surge in violence
emanating from MS-13 members.
In Charlotte, N.C., 53 gang
members were arrested as part of Operation Fed Up, which targeted MS-13
members. Officials in the medium-sized Southern city say MS-13 has been
involved in at least 11 murders in the Charlotte area since 2000. And with a
membership estimated at 200, MS-13 is by far Charlotte’s largest gang.
Some 400 miles north of
Charlotte, the northern Virginia and southern Maryland communities around
Washington, D.C., have become MS-13 turf. Local authorities estimate that
there are between 5,000 and 6,000 MS-13 members in the metropolitan area.
And where MS-13 goes, violence
follows. In July 2003, an 18-year-old federal witness was stabbed to death;
last May, a 16-year-old boy had his hands almost completely chopped off with a
machete; and a week later a 17-year-old was shot and murdered. All three
crimes were tied to MS-13 members.
The rapid increase in MS-13
activity along the corridor between Charlotte and D.C. is simply explained by
Det. Tim Jolly, a gang specialist with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Department. The area has the nation’s second highest population of Salvadoran
Gang of Chameleons
One of the more unusual aspects
of MS-13 when compared to other street gangs is that it is extremely flexible
in its activity. While some gangs are only into drugs, MS-13 will do any crime
at any time.
Sgt. George Norris, supervisor
of the gang unit in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Police Department, says
MS-13 doesn’t sling drugs in his jurisdiction. “We see mostly citizen
robberies, auto theft, shootings and cuttings, and homicides,” he says, adding
that drug sales by MS-13 may be just a matter of time.
Violent and Vicious
When MS-13 moves into a new
community it tends to announce its presence with violence. The same can be
true when a new leader takes over the local cliques.
Norris says gang members from
other areas had once been able to join the new gang by simply being “jumped
in.” But now that new leaders have moved into Prince George’s County and
consolidated the cliques, the gang’s local culture has become more violent and
“According to one of our
informers, things have changed,” says Norris. “Now in order to get your
letters or clique [symbols] tattooed on you, you have to also put in some
violent act to show your commitment.”
And MS-13 violence is not
restricted to civilians, rival gang members, and clique traitors; the gang
will go after cops. Threats against police officers, known to gang members as
“green light” notices, have increased so much in the past few years that the
Virginia Gang Association has warned officers in Virginia and states to the
north and south to be wary of MS-13 members.
says he is aware of the threats against police officers in his community and
in Virginia. Prince George’s County’s Norris says he’s heard them, too. “If
you do something to them, their natural response is, ‘OK, I’m going to kill
you,’” he says. “Or at least they talk like they will.”
Norris dismisses some of MS-13’s
threats, but that doesn’t mean that officers should take all MS-13 threats
lightly. The gang is extremely violent and it has attacked and will continue
to attack anyone who gets in its way. That includes law enforcement officers.
Roots of Evil
Named for La Mara, a street in
San Salvador, and the Salvatrucha guerillas who fought in El Salvador’s bloody
civil war, Mara Salvatrucha 13 was organized in Los Angeles in the late ’80s.
At first, the gang’s primary purpose was to defend Salvadoran immigrants from
being preyed upon by other L.A. street gangs.
But like any other street gang
that was created to defend a particular ethnic group, MS-13 was quickly
perverted until its primary purpose was preying upon the Salvadoran community.
It also violently defends its turf against any other gang that might seek to
slice away a piece of its action.
Gang members sometimes wear blue
and white, colors taken from the national flag of El Salvador. They can also
sport numerous body and even face tattoos. However, some members are much less
visible and therefore much more dangerous.
Recent reports indicate that
MS-13 has expanded from California to Alaska, Oregon, Utah, Texas, Nevada,
Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia,
Washington, D.C., and Florida. The gang has also been exported back to Central
It’s estimated that there are
36,000 MS-13 members in Honduras alone. In Honduras, according to a March 2004
report prepared by the Washington, D.C.-based, right-wing think tank the
Maldon Institute, MS-13 has, with increasing frequency, resorted to leaving a
dismembered corpse, complete with a decapitated head, as a calling card.
Recently, according to the report, such a grisly message was left with a note
for the Honduran president.
The note is supposed to have
stated the gang’s displeasure with an August 2003 law that made it illegal to
be a part of a gang. Under Honduran law gang leaders can be sentenced to
prison for up to 12 years and rank-and-file members from six to nine years,
just for being in the gang. A gang member can be arrested for simply having a
El Salvador has also launched a
crackdown on MS-13. A police offensive called “Operation Strong-arm” has
resulted in the arrest of more than 4,000 gang members.
For MS-13, these are small
losses. The gang is nothing if not mobile. When it feels heat in the U.S., it
moves to another state. When it feels heat in El Salvador and Honduras, it
sets up operations in Mexico.
The Maldon Institute report
indicates that MS-13 “appears to be in control of much of the Mexican border
and, in addition to its smuggling and contraband rackets, the gang collects
money from illegal immigrants that it helps [move] across the border into the
The ultra-conservative Maldon
Institute is known for doomsday predictions when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico
border. But there can be no denial that MS-13 is very active in smuggling
people, drugs, and guns across the border. And independent reports indicate
that many illegal immigrants have been assaulted, robbed, and even raped by
Mexico is now taking steps to
fight back against MS-13. In December, Mexican authorities arrested 224 gang
members in response to what they called a threat to national security. Among
the arrests were members of MS-13 who were charged with trafficking in drugs
and firearms across Mexico and Central America.
Illusion of Cooperation
While some of the Central
American countries appear to be cracking down on MS-13, serious problems still
exist. And they are being missed by politically correct reporters who want to
tout U.S.-Latin American cooperation.
For example, on Long Island, the
media was quick to cover an agreement between El Salvador and Suffolk County
to share information on MS-13. What the local reporters didn’t cover was a
much more serious issue. If these gang members commit serious offenses, they
can return home, and there is no extradition agreement. And, of course, they
are doing so in increasing numbers.
“I would say that between
Honduras and El Salvador, there are seven or eight people we are seeking to
take into custody,” says Lt. Dennis Farrell, head homicide investigator for
the Nassau County Police Department. “Proportionally, if you take that across
the country, the numbers are astronomical, the number of people who have
probably fled to these two countries.”
Farrell says that two gang
members who his detectives are looking to arrest for two separate murders are
now living in the same town in El Salvador. He calls the situation extremely
frustrating. “You undertake a very in-depth and comprehensive investigation,
pursue all possible leads, build a case, essentially conduct a successful
investigation, only to have it thwarted by the fact that after having
identified the killer or killers, you are unable, under the present
international agreements, to return them to Nassau County to face murder
“Even more than that
frustration, how about the injustice and sense of desperation on the part of
families who have lost loved ones? Where is the measure of justice? There is
really no justice for those families, and absent some reworked or new
initiative between our state department and those sovereign states, I don’t
see any change in this condition in the foreseeable future,” Farrell adds.
In addition to extradition
treaties, many gang investigators believe stricter and more uniform laws are
needed here in this country. According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Jolly, one
of the reasons MS-13 has migrated to the East Coast is the strict anti-gang
laws on the West Coast. He also believes that, with the stricter gang laws in
Central America, many MS-13 members may be coming back to the United States
With the number of MS-13 members
growing nationwide (some cliques now even accept non-Hispanic members), and
the violence escalating, the future for law enforcement appears grim.
“They adapt to what the police
do,” says Prince George’s County’s Norris. “They will change the way they
operate, depending on the way things are enforced by the police. If there is
no enforcement, they will wear their colors and bandanas because in the
communities they are in it is common knowledge and the people fear them, so it
is a form of intimidation.
“Once the police recognize and
confront them, they will change and wear different colors from the blue and
white, no bandana on their head, maybe now in their pocket, and instead of the
number 13 they will wear 67 or 76 because it equals 13. They adapt so it is a
continually evolving thing.”
While the nation focuses on
terrorism, the issue of gang violence has taken a lower priority. But to many,
the violent acts of MS-13 members are more of an everyday threat that is being
Shelly Feuer Domash
is a Long Island-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to POLICE
From Wikipedia, the free
Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, MS,
In the early
1980s, a violent
Salvador which would last more than
Approximately 100,000 people were killed in the
war, and more
than one million people fled from El Salvador to the
immigrants initially settled primarily in
southern California and
Some of the
immigrants had ties with 'La Mara', a violent street gang from
Salvador. Others had been members of paramilitary groups like the
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) during the
FMNL was made up of Salvadorian peasants who were trained as guerilla
fighters. Many were adept at using explosives, firearms, and booby traps.
Most of the Salvadorian refugees settled in the established
neighborhoods of the "Rampart" area of
Angeles. However, Salvadorians were not readily accepted into the Los
Angeles Hispanic community, and were frequently targeted by local Hispanic
gangs. As a result, in the late 1980s, some refugees and refugee members of
La Mara and FMNL formed what is now known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS)
street gang in Los Angeles. Like many other street gangs, MS initially
formed for protection, but quickly developed a reputation for being
organized and extremely violent. MS membership continues to be fed by
refugees from groups like FMNL.
Since its inception in California and Washington, DC, Mara Salvatrucha
has expanded into
is unique in that, unlike traditional
gangs, it maintains active ties with MS members and factions in
Salvador. Mara Salvatrucha is literally an international gang.
Mara Salvatrucha gang members maintain contact between groups in the
United States and
Salvador for several specific reasons. In
Salvador, a hand grenade sells for $1.00-$2.00 U.S.
and an M-16
rifle will sell for approximately $200.00-$220.00 U.S. dollars. This
communication and alliance provides a mechanism for MS gang members to
access military-style munitions and also establishes a network to traffic
illegal firearms into the
military weapons seem to be readily available to this gang, street
intelligence indicates they often have difficulty obtaining handguns, which
are not readily available in El Salvador. This creates a demand for small
arms by MS members in the U.S. and El Salvador. This demand is so high that
MS members will often take handguns as payment for drug transactions. The
guns are then sent back to
Salvador, or used in the
MS is also involved in exporting stolen
U.S. cars to
South America. The cars are often traded for
cartels. It is estimated that 80% of the cars driven in
Salvador were stolen in the
United States. Car theft is a lucrative business for MS.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang is involved in a variety of criminal
enterprises. As with members of other gangs, MS members seem willing to
commit almost any crime, but MS gang members tend to have a higher level of
criminal involvement than other gang members. MS members have been involved
in burglaries, auto thefts, narcotic sales, home invasion robberies, weapons
smuggling, car jacking, extortion, murder, rape, witness intimidation,
illegal firearm sales, car theft and aggravated assaults. In terms of drug
trafficking activities, common drugs sold by MS members include cocaine,
marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine. Mara Salvatrucha gang members have
even placed a “tax” on prostitutes and non-gang member drug dealers who are
working in MS "turf." Failure to pay up will most likely result in violence.
Originally, only Salvadorians could become members of Mara Salvatrucha.
However, MS now includes members from
Mara Salvatrucha also has a few African-American members. MS has broken the
race barrier for membership, but most new members are still selected because
of their ethnic (Central American) background. The majority of MS gang
members are between the ages of 11 and 40 years old.
Mara Salvatrucha members identify themselves with tattoos such as the
number “13," or
Spanish. MS gang members will also use the
meaning "southerner" to identify themselves. Sometimes sureño is abbreviated
to SUR. These terms make reference to the fact that MS gang members like to
claim they are from
southern California as opposed to
northern California, and are rivals with northern
California gangs. Often, this rivalry is taken outside the state of
California. Additionally, Mara Salvatrucha gang members have several
ongoing rivalries with large southern California gangs, including the 18th
Street gang, and in California, commonly attack 18th Street gang members on
sight. There are many
gangs, including MS, which use the number “13,"
and the terms sureno and SUR as identifiers, including street/prison gangs
outside of California. Thus, it is important to identify specific tattoos
used by the Mara Salvatrucha gang, which include “M” or “MS,” in addition to
the 13 or SUR identification. Another common tattoo seen is “Salvadorian
Pride.” There is also a good chance that the member will also have the name
of his particular clique tattooed on his/her body. Other tattoos encountered
with MS members have included pentagrams and other occult symbols. These can
be confusing when found in conjunction with gang tattoos and can cause
misconceptions of Satanic involvement by the gang. The most common hand sign
used by MS members is the letter M formed by using three fingers and
pointing the hand downward. This handsign can resemble the pitchfork sign
used by Folk/People Nation gangs from the Midwest, and can be made with the
fingers pointing up or down. The symbols used as tattoos are also used in
graffiti and personal writings.
In general, Mara Salvatrucha members show no fear of law enforcement.
They are not easily intimidated and frequently act defiantly. Mara
Salvaltrucha gang members have been responsible for the execution of three
federal agents and numerous shootings of law enforcement officers across the
country. MS gang members have been known to booby-trap their drug stash
houses using antipersonnel grenades on the assumption that these structures
will be searched by law enforcement. MS members at one time often bragged of
assaulting law enforcement officers as a means of showing their loyalty and
commitment to the gang. However, these claims have never been confirmed.
Today, assaults on law enforcement officers are not required for membership,
but are always an option. Thus, officers dealing with MS members (or any
street gang members, for that matter) should always use extreme caution.
enforcement and the courts have used two primary methods to deal with
criminal activity by MS: arrest/incarceration and deportation. Between April
1994 and August
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested and deported more than
100 MS gang members to El Salvador. Many Mara Salvatrucha gang members are
currently in the
United States illegally and are concerned about deportation. If a gang
member is deported to El Salvador, there is a chance they will be targeted
by the Sombra Negra (Black Shadow) death squad. Sombra Negra and similar
groups are legendary in Central America. Gangsters and citizens alike
believe that the Sombra Negra is made up of rogue cops and military
personnel who target unwanted criminals and gang members for vigilante
"justice." While the presence of these death squads is officially denied by
the governments of
Central American countries, many MS members in the
these groups exist, and fear that they will be targeted after being
deported. Honduran MS gang members have the same fear. Sombra Negra has
claimed responsibility for the deaths of several MS gang members in El
Salvador. The existence or belief in the existence of these death squads
could also be a chief motivation for hardcore MS gang members to come to the
|| Dec 2 2004, 4:12 am
|From: "HymieGoldstein" <drn...@aol.com> -
|Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 05:12:10 -0700
|Local: Thurs, Dec 2 2004 4:12 am
|Subject: Bush's Open Borders
Focused as we are on Fourth Generation war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it
easy to forget that the phenomenon is vastly larger than any single war
opponent, even Islam. An article in a local Washington paper, The
reminds us that 4GW is also being fought on American soil, by parties
have nothing to do with the armies of the Prophet.
The article, by staff writer
was titled "Police: MS-13
threatened Maryland officers:"
The notorious E1 Salvadoran
gang known as MS-13
has threatened to execute
Prince George's County police officers as tensions continue to escalate
between officers and gang members, police said.
which stands for
has increased its presence in
Prince George's County with more than 600 active members.
Some of those MS-13
gang members recently confided to police about carrying
out a deadly ambush plan that targeted county police officers.
If members of a gang based on a foreign ethnic identity ambush cops,
more than a crime: it is an act of war, Fourth Generation war to be
Hopefully, it will not happen in Prince George's County. But it has
elsewhere in the United States. It is not for nothing that the Los
Sheriff's Department is a more avid student of 4GW theory than any
Future historians will find it interesting that at the same time a
supposedly conservative President has enmeshed us in Fourth Generation
abroad, he has opened the flood gates to importing Fourth Generation
at home. President Bush's first act upon reelection was to resurrect his
proposal for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. It is a safe bet that MS-13
gang members would be among those who benefit from such an amnesty if
Congress were so foolish as to allow it to become law.
- MS 13
following information is the product of a research group. Although it appears
to be accurate and thorough, law enforcement sources may disagree with
portions of the content.
Mara Salvatrucha Introduction
A dismembered body of an
adolescent male was found in northern Honduras, at the end of February 2004
together with a message for Honduran President Ricardo Maduro. The message
warned that if the government continued to target street gangs, 'more people
will die. This is another challenge ' the next victims will be police and
Two weeks after his inauguration
in January, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger received a similar message on a
note attached to the body of a dismembered dead man.
Both messages were signed �Mara Salvatrucha 13�
(MS13), the name shared by the largest group of criminal street gangs in the
United States and Central America. These gangs are called 'Maras' after an ant
that attacks in swarms and devours everything in its path. It originated among
Salvadoran emigrants in Los Angeles some 19 years ago in the mid-1980s. The
name 'Salvatrucha' loosely refers to 'Salvadoran guerrillas' or fighters. The
number '13' is considered a 'good luck' number. In just under two decades, the
Maras have proliferated throughout Central America and have moved into many
cities in the United States and Canada.
In the United States, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a �violent street gang�
as a �criminal enterprise having an organizational structure, acting as a
continuing criminal conspiracy, which employs violence and any other criminal
activity to sustain the enterprise.�
Mara Salvatrucha 13 falls within
this definition. Numbering more than 250,000 gang members in Central America
and significant numbers in the tens of thousands in the United States, it has
created an international group of criminals within the country. Many of these
are second generation illegal immigrants, male, mostly over the age of 11 but
generally under 21.
In the Los Angeles area, there
are said to be at least 10,000 MS13 members with 95 percent of the homicide
arrest warrants against them still outstanding. In Northern Virginia there are
3,500 MS13 members reported by the police, with a concentration of 1,500 in
Fairfax County alone. Research for this report has established significantly
large MS13 gang concentrations in 15 states and some Canadian cities.
A Fairfax County police official
said of MS13, 'We know it is a losing battle. When we run them out of here,
we just move them to another location. We just contain what we have. We know
we can't get rid of them.'
The National Drug Intelligence
Center (NDIC) has noted the following information through the review of survey
responses received from 301 law-enforcement agencies throughout the country:
Hispanic gangs, such as Mara Salvatrucha 13 and its offshoots
were reported in 167 jurisdictions in 41 states and make up 29
percent of all gangs reported within the continental United States.
NOTE: The numbers given in this report of 'gangstas'
are spectacular. They were taken from international, national and domestic
police reports and the media. We believe them to be good estimates but they
ignore the mobility and cross-border nature of the problems. In Central
America, as elsewhere not every member of a gang is a killer, many just 'hang
out,' and do odd jobs of a non-criminal nature for their gang leaders in the
villages and barrios where they live. However, every one of them has to be
considered potentially armed, dangerous and capable of committing brutal
The story of Mara Salvatrucha 13 is inevitably
also the story of El Salvador and the results of its twelve-year civil war.
From 1980 until 1992, the fighting between the Salvadoran government and the
communist rebels claimed over 75,000 lives and sent more than one million
refugees and immigrants to the United States and to its neighbors throughout
Central America. In the United States, most of the Salvadoran expatriates
initially settled in one of two areas, concentrating either in Los Angeles or
in Northern Virginia.
In Los Angeles, the Salvadorans settled in the
Rampart area and were rejected as outsiders by the local Hispanic [Chicano or
second and third generation Mexican American] community. They were often the
targets of Latino and black street gangs. In response, some of the Salvadorans
began to form their own gangs for self-protection. These new protective gangs
were not dissimilar in their origins to those of many other ethnicities who
have emigrated in waves and experienced similarly directed violence ' the
Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese and many others. The Salvadoran gangs found
what they were seeking ' instant street protection and respect, an alternative
caring 'family' and financial security. The costs were carried by an alien
society who had refused to accept them.
The act of emigration itself combined with the
ethnic concentration in Los Angeles meant that a self-selecting group had
risen to power to form the 'protection' for the whole. Some arrived in the
United States having had ties to La Mara, a violent street gang in El
Salvador. Many had actually seen fighting in El Salvador's civil war.
Exmembers of the paramilitary Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN)
[Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front] also numbered among the early
founders of Mara Salvatrucha. The FMLN had fought an insurgency against the
Salvadoran government, using guerilla tactics and urban terrorism, and as a
result many Salvadorans arrived in Los Angeles as 'veterans,' already adept in
the use of explosives, firearms and booby traps.
The development of the MS in El Salvador and
Central America is said to have been an unforeseen consequence of the Rodney
King riots of 1990 in Los Angeles. In the wake of these riots, a task force
was formed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which deported
at least 1,000 MS members to El Salvador. There were many other unnumbered
'voluntary departures.' In San Salvador, the MS cadre had two ambitions '
first, to become involved in a criminal enterprise and become financially
secure; second, to return to the United States.
Those that remained or returned to the United
States wanted financial security, respect based on fear from their immediate
community and power. To achieve this, MS has had to eliminate or control other
ethnic gangs, with Mexican criminal groups being a major and continuing
Since its inception, MS has expanded beyond its
'hubs' of Los Angeles and Northern Virginia, though its numbers in these
cities continue to grow at alarming rates. Nationwide, however, MS has
expanded into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois,
Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. They also are
spreading in Canada and Mexico. Some reports place MS 'cliques'[sub-units of
gang members] in 49 states ' with Hawaii escaping the infestation to date.
This simple gang-clique structure essentially
comprises the entirety of the formal Mara Salvatrucha 13 organization. In
Virginia, for example, it is known that MS members attend monthly gang
meetings, and then once a month [generally on a Saturday] also attend a
separate clique meeting. These smaller 'cliques' can range in size from a
dozen to 80 members, and each will feature its own distinct name. The actual
nickname given to a member is usually based on his clique membership.
The straightforward, fundamental approach to
'organizing' a gang has many advantages and may in fact have its roots in
advice brought back from FMLN experience and training provided by the Cuban
Direcci'n General de Inteligencia (DGI) [Main Directorate of Intelligence].
This apparent simplicity combined with the almost unrivalled brutality of MS13
should not lead to any false conclusions regarding a lack of sophistication.
To the contrary, the simple nature of the organization lends itself well to
flexibility, and the wide geographic distribution of the cliques also has
resulted in an extensive range of options available from the collective talent
pool. By some accounts, many cliques 'specialize' in a field or 'occupation,'
from the street-level professions of car jacking and narcotics sales, to
computer hacking, wire fraud and other similar 'white collar' crimes.
Recently, truck hijacking has become popular with MS13. For example, a truck
loaded with nationally advertised toilet articles or paper products can be
hijacked by a clique and 'redistributed' to a network of corner stores owned
and operated by Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. Sold at heavily
discounted prices, the MS13 thieves have quickly earned the Robin Hood label
of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
An additional and perhaps inevitable
consequence of the scale of the MS13 phenomenon is the extent to which they
adeptly use computers and other technology, much like any other large
organization. Dealers, car jackers and lookouts carry wireless phones, pagers,
radios and police scanners. Virtual communications suites are publicly
available, and it is possible that MS has access to the type of electronics
and communications advice on which they may have received training in the past
for paramilitary endeavors.
On the internet, MS13 is not hard to find.
Their unabashed contempt for most authorities is reinforced in the photographs
they post on their own websites, hailing their achievements against the
police, taunting rivals or simply speaking in bravado-soaked language to
communicate with one another. These are hi-tech gangs who e-mail, instant
message and use online chat rooms ' interactions that are perfectly normal to
their generation of gang members. However, there does not yet appear to be a
realization that their careless use offers an opportunity for exploitation by
the law-enforcement community.
The MS13 expansion can be traced in part to the
movement of the Salvadoran population throughout the United States. Often
working as day laborers or in similar undocumented 'hired-help' positions,
Salvadorans moved to Tennessee to help in the construction of the Titans'
stadium, to Pennsylvania for work in the mushroom farms, to the Midwest for
agricultural jobs and to the East and Northeast in search of unskilled factory
or service-oriented work. In each instance, the gang may have been brought
east from Los Angeles by teenage children or parents and then later, as they
became established, developed the larger gang structure in their new
Mara Salvatrucha 13: a
In Central AmericaMS13 and its contemporaries
are so prolific and brazenly aggressive against seemingly ill-fated government
countermeasures as to cause the United States� gang problems to pale in
comparison. There are an estimated 250,000 gang members in Central America; by
contrast there are 108,000 police officers. These are official numbers
resulting from a recent survey, however estimates vary considerably. Some put
80,000 gang members in Guatemala alone.
El Salvador: In El Salvador, MS13
members execute their enemies in broad daylight aboard city buses and trains,
either then fighting their way out or simply walking away unmolested. The
latter is often more common. Given the statistics, it is not difficult to
understand why: in the first 35 days of 2004 alone, three witnesses in three
different murder cases involving gangs were each killed. At least one, who had
testified against MS13 in the murder case of a six-year old boy, was in turn
himself gunned down.
El Salvador has attempted a political solution
to MS13, with President Francisco Flores initiating the 'Mano Duro' [firm
hand] law on a countrywide basis against the gangs to strong opposition from
the Marxist and liberal opposition parties. Police and military teams conduct
night raids in search of gang members as part of 'Mano Duro,' designed to
clear the streets of any gang activity. At the time that the law was being
debated President Flores said of Mara, 'If someone is against them, they
identify them in the community. They come; they take them out on the street '
kill and mutilate them.'
In January 2003, Flores initiated an
international agreement with Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua for
cross-border 'hot pursuit' and immediate extradition of those suspected of
being Mara members. This comprehensive security agreement allows au thorities
to arrest suspected gang members in any of these countries, regardless of
their nationality. The agreement also has established procedures for a
framework of crossborder intelligence-sharing and the creation of a
centralized database on the Maras.
However, presidential elections will take place
this month and opposition forces are making heavy use of charges that Mano
Duro encourages extra-legal forces ' in the Salvadoran case, the Sombre Negro
death squads. The director of El Salvador's National Civil Police has called
for the Legislative Assembly to grant immediate approval of a law to protect
witnesses and victims of gang violence.
To date, 8,500 gang members have been arrested
and charged under Mano Duro legislation, but only some 400 have been
convicted. Salvadoran judges allege that the law is unconstitutional.
Mara�s main rivals, in El Salvador and
elsewhere including the United States, are Mexican street gangs and more
specifically the Mexican 18th Street gang. Several Latin American governments
are said to be covertly hiring 18th Street to combat Mara. This could be one
possible reason for the recent attempted assassinations of Honduras President
Roberto Maduro and National Congress president Porfirio Lobo. A police
official said the government has been trying to eliminate MS13 from Honduras
and assassination was Mara's way of responding.
Heavily-armed Mara members have challenged
government crackdowns on gangrelated violence, drug trafficking and other
criminal activities. In recent months, Salvadoran police have arrested nearly
8,000 suspected Mara members and Honduran authorities have arrested more than
1,000 youths as suspected members of Mara.
Salvadoran police have attempted in recent
years to intensify their efforts against the gangs, but they fail to keep pace
with the criminals. El Salvador officially suffers some 10,500 gang members,
according to a Central American police study conducted in the fall of 2003.
Non-governmental organizations in El Salvador claim the number of gang members
is closer to 30,000. Mara Salvatrucha is by far the dominant gang, not just in
El Salvador, but throughout the region, which includes Guatemala and Honduras.
Honduras: Honduras faces a gang
situation of nightmare proportions, and MS13 is the main problem. There are at
least 36,000 gang members in Honduras. A particularly grisly Mara Salvatrucha
13 calling card has been left with increasing frequency in Honduras: a
dismembered corpse, complete with decapitated head, packed into a suitcase to
deliver a message, often a note. Recently the notes have consisted of warnings
to the Honduran President Maduro.
The MS members arrested recently in Honduras
possessed detailed information about the daily movements of both President
Maduro and National Congress president Lobo. The information the police seized
reportedly included the private office and home telephone numbers of officials
and extensive details about the daily movements of their wives and children.
Police said the plot to kill Lobo called for a gun or grenade attack in the
street or in a restaurant. The MS gunmen also had detailed intelligence, which
indicates the gang has achieved an extraordinary degree of organizational
sophistication that normally is not found in poor Central American youth
gangs. It also suggests that MS has links to larger, more experienced
Colombian and Mexican crime syndicates that could be supplying the Maras with
such intelligence, because recent crackdowns against the Maras also are
affecting the drug-trafficking activities of the large Colombian and Mexican
Both Roberto Maduro and Guatemalan President
Oscar Berger threaten the Colombian and Mexican syndicates, because they have
vowed to root out drug-related corruption in Honduras and Guatemala.
Guatemala: Guatemala is currently
undergoing efforts to reform its National Civil Police. Nevertheless, its
commissioner warns that it is still rife with corrupt agents. Reforms need to
be effective and swift. Guatemala has some 100,000 gang members, including
MS13 and MS18, second in numerical size to Honduras.
It is well established that MS13 runs drugs,
guns, stolen cars, all as contraband for sale and trade within their own
network of contacts in North and South America. It is perhaps equally likely,
and the belief of top law enforcement in Central America, that MS and its
contemporaries are really 'the muscle' in a grander scale of operation, much
of which is controlled by political figures. These would be the more usual
suspects like mafias and cartels that traffic in narcotics, people and
children. The use of Mara gangs as brutal hired guns presents a dilemma for
Central American law enforcement who are now responding to President Maduro's
statement, 'If war is what they want, war is what they will get.'
There is no anti-gang legislation in Guatamala.
However, the National Progressive Party has proposed a law supporting the
president's �Clean Sweep program that would incarcerate gang members from 8 to
12 years. Human rights groups claim that both convictions and Clean Sweep are
uncivilized and believe that rehabilitation for gang members is necessary. To
date, the Anti-Crime Alliance has returned 320 gang members to society.
Nicaragua: In Nicaragua, the activities
of MS13 provide a mirror image to that found in other parts of the region,
with Managua and Le'n experiencing heavy concentrations of gang activity.
Recently, Nicaragua's National Police Chief
Edwin Cordero warned that MS and other Central American gangs have organized
procedures for moving new recruits from Nicaragua to El Salvador and Honduras.
The new recruits are trained in Mara organization and tactics and then sent
home to establish new branches. Cordero also said that the Maras are combining
organizational skills used by U.S. street gangs, such as the Crips and Latin
Kings with indoctrination and training skills that former Central American
Marxist groups Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua and the
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador ' used during the
Mexico: Mexico is in a difficult
position, both politically and geographically, when dealing with MS13. With
unrest rife in the state of Chiapas and the threat of Zapatista action both a
constant and substantial pressure, the Mexican government has all it can do
without fending off several thousand heavily armed Salvadoran gangsters.
However, Mexico can hardly turn its back on its Northern neighbor, whom they
are heavily reliant, and simply ignore a steady flow through of illegal
gangsters into the United States. The latter is very nearly the situation as
the Mexican authorities are simply ill equipped, overwhelmed and uninterested
in keeping undesirables out of the United States.
Last month in Mexico City, Federal Attorney
General Rafael Maduro de la Concha told reporters that he had never heard of
MS13 and that those few who were in Mexico City were �stuck there� on their
way to the United States because of a lack of money.
By comparison, Chiapas State Attorney General
Mariano Herr�n Salvatti has called for �head-on combat� against the Maras.
Along with State Secretary for Public Security Horacio Schroeder, they have
launched �Project 02� as a part of the major offensive against MS in Chiapas
along the Guatemalan border. Project 02 involves the Mexican Army 4th
Motorized Cavalry Regiment, the National Migration Institute, Beta Sur, the
State Investigative Agency, the State Sectoral Police, Ministerial Police and
Mixed Operation Units. Operations of this combined task force began in 2003,
which initially received favorable media attention. However, as a result of a
December execution- style death of a Honduran MS leader who was being sought
by the police, attention from the press ceased.
The problem is that many Salvadorans who enter
Mexico, heading north for the United States, either through a lack of funds or
change of intentions, end up remaining in Mexico. Mexico appears powerless to
extradite them and is equally unable to combat them on a large-scale,
law-enforcement basis, or at least do so and win with measurable results.
Mexico also harbors the great fear that a recent anti-gang law jointly adopted
between Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador will force expatriate
gang members north into Mexico. In the already unstable south, Mexico City can
ill afford to counter such a move.
Mara Salvatrucha 13 appears to be in control of
much of the southern Mexican border, and in addition to its smuggling and
contraband rackets, collects money from illegal immigrants that it helps
secrete across the border into the United States. A staging point for illegals
is operated by MS13, known locally as migrant hunters, out of Chiapas, moving
people and contraband into the United States before it is diverted to its
final destination. For all practical purposes, MS13 has control of the
railways to the North along the border, and is able to collect a tax-like fee
from the precarious roofriders who risk their lives atop the trains to reach
the United States.
It is reported that recruiting for MS13 among
Mexican adolescents in Chiapas alone has reached the level of 700 a month.
United States: A key factor that
separates Mara Salvatrucha from traditional American street gangs is the
active link maintained between MS members in the United States and those in El
Salvador. The ties between the gangs in the two nations are active, strong and
appear to be maintained for several mutually beneficial reasons, as each side
provides the other with an asset or a �commodity� not readily available in
their respective country.
In El Salvador, the availability of
military-grade munitions at bargain-basement prices provides the MS in the
United States with cheap and relatively easy access to heavy firepower.
Spending U.S. currency in El Salvador, a hand grenade sells for $1 to $2, and
an M-16 rifle for $200 to $220. On the United States end of the pipeline,
there are a number of high-demand items, but topping the wish-list for the
Salvadoran MS are handguns, automobiles and personal computers, none of which
are easily found in El Salvador. In fact, demand for handguns is so high that
they are often accepted as payment for drug transactions, then either sent
back to El Salvador as bartered-wealth or for actual use. The situation is
much the same with automobiles, which are stolen in the United States and
exported to South America where they are often traded for drugs in deals with
cartels. These transactions are so prolific and so vital that an estimated 80
percent of the cars driven in El Salvador were reported as stolen in the
The ramifications of this pipeline of drugs,
guns and contraband are far reaching. For the Salvatruchas still in El
Salvador, it means access to U.S. dollars, stolen cars, small arms and
high-value technical items. For those in the United States, it offers access
to an unlimited arsenal at subsidized prices, allowing U.S. Salvatruchas to
outgun and overpower nearly any potential adversary, including law-enforcement
personnel not fully aware of the arsenal available to or the ferocity of their
Illegal immigrants in the United States are
responsible for most of the violent crime in large cities like New York, Los
Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Houston and Austin. However, immigrant advocacy
groups have barred police departments and other government agencies from
reporting violations of immigration law to federal authorities in those areas,
according to Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald in her article, The
Illegal Alien Crime Wave, published in the winter 2004 City Journal.
Police report that they routinely see
previously deported illegals from gangs such as MS13 back on the streets in
the United States. However, unless officers witness such individuals felons by
their very presence in the United States committing another illegal act in
plain view, they are not allowed to make an arrest.
In New York, a gang of five Latinos four
of them illegal abducted and raped a 42- year-old mother of two in
Queens. Three of the illegals had been arrested on previous occasions for
assault, armed robbery and drug offenses. However, the New York Police
Department did not notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service because
of sanctuary policies instituted by Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael
Operations and characteristics: As
previously discussed, MS13 supplies its arsenal and narcotics stock from El
Salvador, but its criminal activities within the United States far exceed the
bounds of smuggling and gunrunning. As a criminal element, Mara Salvatrucha is
a force to be reckoned with, existing as both a nation-spanning gang and as a
strictly local street-thug posse. In fact, there seems to be no national
command structure within the United States that would imply cohesiveness as
the cliques spread nationwide. That said, national trends do become readily
apparent and may well even be coordinated, but again, this does not support a
command-and-control hierarchy in any sense.
In Del Ray, a section of Alexandria, Virginia,
MS13 is believed to have been involved in the still unsolved murder of Nancy
Dunning, 56, wife of the Fairfax County Sheriff, James Dunning, in the family
home. Sheriff Dunning has a high profile position as the official responsible
for the County Detention Facility that houses both local and federal offenders
awaiting trial or deportation. The death of Dunning is attributed by
Alexandria police as probably related to an incident in her business career in
In the Washington metropolitan area, MS13
activity dominates the region. Of some estimated 5,000 gang members in
Washington D.C. [particularly Adams Morgan], Maryland [particularly Montgomery
County], and Virginia [Fairfax County], the top three gangs Mara
Salvatrucha 13, Vatos Locos and Street Thug Criminals (STC), respectively have
memberships of some 4,500 (MS), 150 (Vatos Locos) and 100 (STC). It is noted
that there are street gangs operated by other ethnic groups such as Vietnamese
and other Southeast Asian and Chinese youth gangs supplementing the home-grown
criminal gangs. Congress has allocated a mere $2 million for purposes of
law-enforcement information gathering on gangs generally.
Recruitment of new members starts as early as
elementary school. Targets for potentially new Salvatruchas are usually
Hispanic children somehow isolated from the group, either with family
problems, social difficulties or a newcomer to the area. Typically, MS plays
the role gangs have often taken in the lives of their members and answers some
unfulfilled need for attention, acceptance or love. Oftentimes a recruit will
be built up, told how great he is and what an asset he would be, in a classic
good cop approach. Everything changes in the moment of initiation. Members and
ex-members alike have described variations of a crude initiation rite that
consists of beating up the new recruit, sometimes for 13 seconds, after which
he is accepted as a new member of the gang.
Women are not allowed as members of MS13 either
in the United States or elsewhere. They are frequently attached, however, in
an arrangement of relationships that seem to range from servitude to
accessory. Women provide services for gang members, from carrying weapons to
acting as decoys, to providing sex and writing computer programs. Women are
also the targets and ultimately the victims of MS13. A common revenue source
for MS is a tax on prostitutes operating in MS territory, usually about $50 a
week, a sum that does not alienate the women and affords them protection.
However, they are encouraged to pay through intimidation and violence.
Protection rackets are much the same, and variations of both are common.
In every country in which they operate, MS has
had problems of women becoming jealous of one another or one becoming an
informant for the police. When discovered, the informant is brutally tortured,
killed and dismembered. In Guatamala, MS has developed the tactic of sending
letters to the police, accompanied by the head of a 13-or 14 year old girl.
The MS members identify themselves with a
number of different tags or
tattoos. A number 13 or variation of the two digits 1 and 3, the word suerno
[southerner] or sur, an abbreviation of the same word. These terms reference
the fact that MS members like to claim their home as Southern California, as
Northern California is the territory of
gangs. Other common tags are M or MS. Many of these will often be worn at
once, but it is important to note that there is no single signature that
always uniquely identifies an MS13
member. The 13 and sur tattoos are relatively common among Hispanic gangs,
including prison gangs both inside and outside of California. A more reliable
indicator would be a combination of known symbols and tags. (NOTE -
The photographs that appear in this article were not
part of the original work.)
As a general rule, Mara Salvatrucha exhibits no
fear of law enforcement whatsoever and in the past has not hesitated to kill
an officer. MS13 gang members are responsible for the execution of three
federal agents and numerous shootings of law-enforcement officers across the
The MS members have been known to booby-trap
their drug-stash houses with antipersonnel grenades under the assumption that
they will be searched by law enforcement. Based on their continued
relationship with the FMLN, it is reasonable to assume that there continue to
be new members with paramilitary experience who are themselves skilled in
demolitions and small arms, and perhaps most importantly in the training and
instruction of these weapons to others. It therefore follows that anyone
conducting dealings with Mara Salvatrucha 13 should use the utmost caution and
assumes the presence of very dangerous situation.
Just as the migration of Salvadoran immigrants
does not produce an entire �New San Salvador� overnight, the proliferation of
the Salvatruchas, which appears to have accompanied the movement of
Salvadorans needs to be remembered in the early stages of dealing with newly
reported or emergent cliques. Not every Salvadoran immigrant who calls himself
a Salvatrucha is necessarily a member of the MS13. Hence, La Mara, Mara 18, or
simply Salvatrucha need not refer specifically to MS13, and in fact both La
Mara and Mara 18 are each themselves different gangs entirely. To an observer
or officer who is acquainted with the threat presented by Mara 13, hearing �Salvatrucha�
from a suspected gang member is a chilling experience.
Conclusions The Mara Salvatruchas 13 are
now the problem of the United States. They fight and kill in broad daylight in
America�s cities and towns even as they live and die in the seemingly grayest
areas of U.S. law. Very often they are illegal immigrants, but even those who
are not, because of their age and ethnicity are unlikely to attract much
scrutiny until an incident of such magnitude or tragedy takes place to focus
public attention on the problem.
Traditionally, the methods available to the
United States for use against MS13 are arrest, incarceration and deportation.
In the case of deportation back to El Salvador, this can be an effective
threat and weapon against the Salvatruchas, as upon the arrival of convicted
gangsters in El Salvador, they find themselves the targets of the Sombra Negra
[Black Shadow] a rumored vigilante group said to have been operating for some
years. The story of the Sombra Negra is a chilling one for potential deportees
because the rumors of vigilante justice band are frighteningly � suspiciously
� like the stories of the death squads of the 1980s.
It is worth noting that following the end of
the 12-year Salvadoran civil war, the insurgent FMLN ' a Cuban-orchestrated
cohesion of five Communist groups, which was in turn supplied with arms from
Cuba, China and the Soviet Union ' disarmed and became a political party.
While the opposition Alianza Republicana Nacional (ARENA) [National Republican
Alliance] party has held the presidency since 1989, there are elections
scheduled for March 21. FMLN leader Shafik Handal will stand as a candidate.
The 72 yearold is the former head of the Salvadoran Communist Party. He has
spoken openly about turning El Salvador into a Socialist state, and recently
sent Fidel Castro a letter in support of the jailing of 75 peaceful
oppositionists in Cuba. His party is an essential part of the MS13 network
that continues to send rifles and assorted munitions to the Salvatruchas of
Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.
The gangs are the perfect instrument for the
same organized crime rackets that have traditionally operated throughout the
Americas. With young, enthusiastic memberships who maintain virtual blood
loyalties to the point of brutally punishing any attempts to leave the group,
a ready-made force of gunmen, smugglers, thieves, dealers and above all
expendables, is made available to the cartels, mafias, and similar
organized-crime syndicates of the modern world. Their young soldiers are of
the best kind as they are fighting for their own territory, their own turf and
for themselves. The overwhelming majority of them will never even know of any
employment by outsiders, and in fact the majority of members will never
technically be employed.
In May 2003, some 19 years after MS13 emerged,
top law-enforcement officials from across the country met to conduct the first
session of a new policing organization designed to share information,
intelligence and tactics in combating gang violence.
One solution is the Clear Law Enforcement
for Alien Removal Act, or CLEAR. The legislation, which has 112 cosponsors
in the House of Representatives, would require that state and local
governments provide the Department of Homeland Security with information about
illegal aliens that police arrest or interrogate in the course of their duties
and would end the current federal policy of catching and releasing immigration
violators on grounds that there is no place to hold them. One of the outspoken
critics of the legislation is Maryland�s Montgomery County Executive Doug
Duncan, who has a reliance on the Hispanic and liberal vote in his county.
Their force of numbers and disproportionate
weight of influence through the application of the force of fear imposed by
the use of weapons cripples the development of half a dozen countries in
Central America, threatens an entire generation of Hispanic youth and could
engulf the United States.
The United States has not yet dealt with large
numbers of heavily armed streetwise thugs who would prefer to confront
authorities with high-powered rifles instead of highpowered lawyers, and who
value their own lives so little that they would expend them almost casually
for the sake of depriving their enemy, the police of their lives.
Both in Central America and the United States,
the question is being asked by the lawenforcement community, �How does a
police force seeking to act within the law and respect human rights
successfully combat an enemy, consisting of pre-teen to teenage children armed
with heavy weapons, all of whom will kill a police officer, without thought,,
and who if arrested can only be held in custody for a few hours?�
Finally, it should be considered that if
relatively small countries, such as in Central America, having suffered only
two decades of civil war, can produce such sociopaths among their youths,
there is an even more serious threat to our society. Young people with no
moral education, adhering to no social contract as is commonly understood but
trained to kill from African, Balkan, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and other
areas have come to maturity. Many are the second or even third generations who
have grown up knowing only war-like skills.
In short, these are youths who do not have an
issue with stealing, killing, beating, and dismembering. They are trained
survivors, and care only for efficiency and expediency. If they need
something, they take it. If they are disturbed or threatened, they kill. This
is all they know and this is in what they excel. Civil societies are
incredibly soft, slow moving targets for them, so alien to their experience as
to have no bearing on their reality. A 12- year Salvadoran boy may have killed
more people than most North Americans have disposed of garden pests. In the
next 10 years, over 50 percent of the developing world will be under the age
of 15, with no hope of work, and plenty of training in killing. Will the human
rights and immigration policies of the United States remain as they are in
- end -
Gangs in the United States
Bush Anti-Gang Plan in
Budget, Impact Questioned
State of the Union Address:
Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC) talks about the community plan for keeping
young men out of gangs, which will be led by First Lady Laura Bush.
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Wed Feb 9,12:29 PM ET
By Alan Elsner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A project to spend $150 million over the next three
years to combat youth gangs was a rare new initiative in President Bush (news
- web sites)'s budget this week but some experts are skeptical it can have
In last week's State of the Union
address, Bush put his wife Laura in charge of the effort he said would "help
organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of
manhood that respects women and rejects violence."
The money would go to community and religious groups that mentor children,
provide youth activities and work with former prisoners and drug addicts. At
the same time, Bush's proposed 2006 budget, submitted to the U.S. Congress on
Monday, slashed spending for several existing anti-poverty programs among more
than 150 that would be eliminated or sharply curtailed.
"I'm very skeptical about this latest initiative. At best, it's a partial
Band-Aid," said Greg Scott, a sociologist at Chicago's DePaul University who
has studied gangs.
Scott said such initiatives have dated back to the 1960s with a record that is
"spotty at best."
Michael Kharfen of "Fight Crime, Invest in Kids," a national anti-crime
organization, said he also was dubious.
"It looks on the surface that the administration is taking money from existing
programs already working on gangs and kids in trouble to fund this new
initiative and that won't help communities," he said.
Kharfen said Bush's budget included a $56 million cut for the Juvenile Justice
Accountability block grant that funded several such programs.
First lady Laura Bush has already begun traveling around the country to tout
the initiative. On Tuesday, she was at George Washington Elementary School in
"Children who are overly aggressive in the first grade are more at risk later
in life. Boys especially are a greater risk than girls for violence, learning
disabilities and juvenile arrest," she said.
The Department of Justice (news - web sites) estimates gang membership
nationwide at around 750,000. Although crime rates have been falling for more
than 10 years, gang violence is increasing as a proportion of overall violent
Some gang experts applauded the White House initiative as a promising start.
But Steve Nawojczyk, a gang researcher and educator from North Little Rock,
Arkansas, said, "We need much more. We need after school programs, community
policing, more parental involvement, more in-school programs, more one-on-one
mentoring and more neighborhood involvement."
Jared Lewis of "Know Gangs," a group that organizes education sessions about
gangs for law enforcement officials and social service workers, said too much
focus in the past has been on identifying gang members and sending them to
prison. Ninety percent then return to their communities and many resume their
activities. Some 650,000 will be released from prison this year.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of money invested in locking up gang members
but very little for rehabilitation and follow up care," Lewis said. "Any sort
of resources from the government is a benefit but we see to see much more
money going into that."
No street cred
EVIDENTLY every State of the Union speech must have a jarring, incongruous
moment that comes out of nowhere. Last year's was President Bush calling for
steroids testing in Major League Baseball - not a bad idea but totally out of,
well, left field.
This year's came when the President announced that his wife, Laura Bush, would
lead a national effort to reduce gang activity in urban America.
The First Lady smiled sweetly, acknowledged the applause of official
Washington, and accepted the first great charge of her husband's
administration - stewardship of a $150 million, three-year program to assist
at-risk youth between 8 and 17.
If some thought that Hillary Clinton's assignment to tackle health-care reform
during President Clinton's first term was a stretch, the prospect of Laura
Bush, the soft-spoken librarian from Crawford, Texas, lecturing Crips and
Bloods about the evils of gangs is a Saturday Night Live skit waiting to
Without a doubt, the First Lady radiates empathy and concern for the
disadvantaged. Among all of her husband's advisers, she is the one whom we
most easily can imagine relating to society's outcasts in a non-condescending
But as nice a woman as she must be, Mrs. Bush isn't our first choice for
heading up a federal anti-gang initiative. The government's gang czar should
be someone with street credibility and a whole lot of law enforcement
experience. For all of her good qualities, Mrs. Bush has neither.
Street gangs and the pathologies that create them are a complex phenomenon in
urban and suburban America. Anyone who takes them on needs to be more than a
good role model.
Niceness is no substitute for a familiarity with the conditions that drive
young people into violent gangs. An initiative without a clear vision of how
to deal with the problem is doomed to operate on only a symbolic level. The
President obviously loves his wife, but he didn't do her any favors by putting
her in charge of such an important effort. What's next - naming Barbara and
Jenna Bush to run the Department of Education?
Eastie gang linked to al-Qaeda
Boston Herald ^ | January 5, 2005 | Michele McPhee
Posted on 01/05/2005 4:01:55 AM PST by
A burgeoning East Boston-based street gang made up of alleged rapists and
machete-wielding robbers has been linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network,
prompting Boston police to ``turn up the heat'' on its members, the Herald has
MS-13, which stands for La Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent
organization with roots in El Salvador, and boasts more than 100 ``hardcore
members'' in East Boston who are suspected of brutal machete attacks, rapes
and home invasions. There are hundreds more MS-13 gangsters in towns along the
North Shore, said Boston police Sgt. Detective Joseph Fiandaca, who has
investigated the gang since it began tagging buildings in Maverick Square in
In recent months, intelligence officials in Washington have warned national
law enforcement agencies that al-Qaeda terrorists have been spotted with
members of MS-13 in El Salvador, prompting concerns the gang may be smuggling
Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the country. Law enforcement officials
have long believed that MS-13 controls alien smuggling routes along Mexico.
The warning is being taken seriously in East Boston, where Raed Hijazi, an al-Qaeda
operative charged with training the suicide bombers in the attack on the USS
Cole, lived and worked, prosecutors have charged.
Also, the commercial jets that hurtled into the World Trade Center towers
in New York City were hijacked from Logan International Airport.
``The terrorist aspect, especially when you think in terms of 9/11 and how
intent these terrorists are, will turn the heat up on our efforts with
MS-13,'' Fiandaca said. MS-13 members congregate near the Maverick Square
train station sporting white and blue bandannas, their skin inked with spider
webs and ``laugh now, cry later'' clown faces.
``MS-13 is the most dangerous gang in the area,'' Fiandaca said. ``They are
big. They are mobile. Now they have a terrorist connection.''
The theory that Salvadoran criminals manage to smuggle people over the
border was bolstered this month when two Boston men described as MS-13 leaders
were spotted on the North Shore days before Christmas - a year after they were
deported by Boston Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement
investigators for gang-related crimes.
One of the two men, Elmer ``Tiger'' Tejada, 24, who had been deported after
being convicted of a slew of crimes, including attempted murder charges for
hurling a machete at Chelsea cops, was busted in Lynn on New Year's Day.
Tejada is described as ``an original MS-13 member'' from East Boston, sources
A manhunt has been launched for the second fugitive, who is in the country
illegally, Boston police said.
The growing number of MS-13 members, and the degree of violence the gang
engages in, prompted investigators from 14 local and national agencies to form
the North Shore Gang Intelligence task force in 2000, Fiandaca said.
Among the most notorious local crimes attributed to MS-13 was the gang rape
of two deaf girls, one 14, the other 17, in a Somerville park in 2002. Three
MS-13 gang members were charged in the brutal rapes, during which one victim
was knocked from her wheelchair before the assault.
- Sgt. Bill Valentine (Ret)
Al-Qaeda and Prison Inmates
MARA SALVATRUCHA–MS 13
President George Bush glossed over the issue of immigration during his State
of the Nation speech Wednesday night, barely touching on the subject. Yet
weeks prior to giving the speech, he had, on occasion, floated trial
balloons suggesting we pass legislation granting legal status to millions of
illegal aliens here who have blatantly broken our laws in sneaking into this
country, most of whom are from Mexico. “It’s a compassionate way to treat
people who come to our country,” he said during a news conference in
January, “It recognizes the reality of the world in which we live There are
some people...there are some jobs in America that Americans won’t do and
others are willing to do.”
It seems he is not giving much thought
to the impact on our schools, hospitals, the job market, law enforcement and
prisons, these aliens are creating. He will though, because organized
opposition from the House Republicans is gaining momentum. With the new
Congress commencing, key Republicans indicate they will push legislation to
tighten the Mexican border near San Diego and to introduce legislation
prohibiting states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
When we first invaded Iraq, in a news conference he said of other countries,
“You are either for us or against us.” Oil rich Mexico refused to help us,
so by his reasoning, that country was against us. Yet now, he continues to
pander to Vicente Fox. Why?
What drives President Bush? Is he poll-driven like Bill Clinton? Possibly,
but now in his second term he is unable to run for President again, and it
seems he will spend much of his current term dealing with Iraq. And across
the border, Iran looming on the horizon, may become an even bigger headache.
Iran, a cauldron of terrorism and hate, will surely succeed in developing
nuclear weapons while he is still in office.
President Bush should reflect back to
March, 2001, when he granted “temporary protected status” to as many as
300,000 illegal immigrants from El Salvador, many of whom were hardened
veterans of that country’s civil war, a war that raged for 12 years, and
ended in1992. That bloody war pitted government troops against leftists
guerillas, and incurred in excess of 100,000 casualties, along with sending
hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing northward. A large percentage of
these refugees that had fought in their homeland, and who had been trained
by U.S. Army advisers in El Salvador on the finer aspects of explosives,
weaponry, infiltration and warfare, made it into the U.S. And in so doing,
became the nucleus of a new formidable street gang, now pervasive throughout
the United States.
With the arrival of the first wave of these people in Los Angeles, the area
of Rampart Division became the first stop. At that time, Rampart was the
home base of the violent Eighteenth Street gang. The newcomers who had been
part of the bloody civil war in their homeland, were quick to seize upon the
opportunities afforded them in their new home. After all, doesn’t everyone
come here to make a better life? We keep hearing that from the politicians.
Many of the Salvadorans jumped in with the Eighteenth Street gang, but the
majority of them decided to form their own street gang limiting membership
to Salvadorans only. Thus, Mara Salvatrucha was born. The name “Mara
Salvatrucha–13,” breaks down into: “Mara” which is equivalent to “barrio, or
neighborhood as used by U.S. Hispanic gangs, “Salva” refers to El Salvador,
and “trucha” translates into “beware of.” The “13,” only denotes their
preference in claiming southern Hispanic, as opposed to 14, which denotes
northern Hispanic allegiance.
“Beware of the Salvadorans.” Many people, including the police were soon to
The MS-13 took to street crime like a duck to water. Drugs, weapons, robbery
and burglary, witness intimidation, extortion, car jackings, became
commonplace with them, as did rape, arson, murder-for-hire, and bloody gang
fighting for control of turf.
The MS-13 soon took on their own identity, and earned a reputation from the
other street gangs as being a particularly unmerciful gang which would
retaliate violently when challenged. After establishing themselves in L.A.,
they set up beach heads in other large cities, the first being Washington
D.C., followed by New York City. Today, many of our major cities has an
In L.A., the MS-13 was cutting into the profits of long established Hispanic
gangs. Gang meetings were held to decide how best to deal with the
Salvadorans. A showdown was inevitable, and it happened on a balmy afternoon
in a park frequented by MS-13 members and family who were having a picnic
and drinking beer. Many of the other picnickers were Mexican American gang
members. The Salvadorans decided to deride the other gang members by burning
a Mexican flag they picked up.
The Maravilla, a pervasive L.A. based street gang that dates back to the
1920s, and which has about a dozen chapters were among those in attendance.
Fights broke out, and Maravilla declared war on MS-13, as did the burgeoning
Eighteenth Street gang. The long established Mexican Mafia got into the fray
and subsequently demanded a 10% tax from MS-13 on all profits they gained
from street crime. The Salvadorans told La eMe to go to hell. For the next
year, the MS-13 fought a defensive battle against the others, but did not
Their resolve so impressed La eMe, that a truce was called. Secret meetings
were held between the two gangs. It was agreed that the Salvadorans would
sell drugs and weapons for La eMe, and provide muscle and tax collectors.
But the Maravilla, who would not call off the war, and who resented La eMe’s
pact with MS-13, also refused to pay taxes. This became contentious with La
eMe, who put out the green light on Maravilla. Today, in Los Angeles where
Maravilla is entrenched, graffiti is splashed around proclaiming Maravilla
is “TAX FREE.”
The MS-13 and Maravilla continued to wage war. Fighting between the two
groups broke out in other cities where they had a presence, including Reno.
In Reno, on August 13, 1995, Juan Mauricio Castillo, A.K.A. “Little Boy,”
age 15, who was identified as an MS-13 gang member, fired a .380 pistol in
the direction of rival Maravilla gang members who had gathered at Horseman’s
Park to play soccer. Tragically, his aim was poor and the rounds went past
them and struck a 12 year old girl in the head killing her.
At trial, Little Boy who had turned 16, was hammered with two life terms
running wild. As of this writing he is confined at Ely state prison, resting
well we hope.
THE AL-QAEDA CONNECTION
Across the nation, in Boston, the MS-13 are reported to have over 100
hard-core members who are active in violent street crime and home invasions.
On these sorties it is reported they carry razor sharp machetes along with
firearms. In 2002, in a Somerville park, three of the Salvadoran gang
members were charged with the bloody rape of two local deaf girls, ages 14,
and 17. One of the girls was kicked out of her wheel chair prior to the
More ominous, are reports that link MS-13 with al-Qaeda terrorist
organizations. Intelligence sources in Washington have alerted Boston area
authorities that al-Qaeda terrorists under surveillance in El Salvador have
been seen meeting with local Mara Salvatrucha leadership in that country.
This gives rise to the suspicion that the Salvadorans may be smuggling
Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the U.S. They have the established
alien smuggling routes through Mexico, and the ability to do so.
Boston police have reported that two MS-13 leaders whom they deported back
to El Salvador a year ago, have again surfaced in Boston, where they were
spotted recently on the North Shore. One of the men, Elmer “Tiger” Tejada,
was initially deported after a crime spree which included charges of
attempted murder of a police officer when he hurled a machete at Chelsea
The Boston police continue to track this al-Qaeda connection. Raed Hijazi,
an American born in the Bay area, and a one time student at Sacramento City
College, is alleged to have ties with al-Qaeda. Hijazi at one time drove a
cab in Boston and is alleged to have sent money he earned to a terrorist
cell in the Middle East. After he left the U.S. he was charged with training
the suicide bombers that attacked the USS Cole.
He was next heard of in October, 2000, when Syrian authorities arrested him
in Damascus and turned him over to the Jordanians. Jordan had charged him
with conspiracy to commit mass murder by placing bombs in the Radisson Hotel
in downtown Amman that was expected to be full of American tourists during
the Millennium celebrations in 1999. In addition, he was charged with
conspiracy to murder U.S. and Israeli citizens at two Christian Holy sites,
and two border crossings into Israel. At trial, he was found guilty and
sentenced to death by hanging. As of yet, this sentence has not been carried
The FBI has not revealed any connection between MS-13 and the al-Qaeda to
the public. However many other reports do. In December of last year, an
MS-13 gang member and a Muslim from Bangladesh were arrested crossing the
Rio Grande together. This prompted Congressman Solomon Ortiz, (D-TX)
co-chairman of the House border caucus, to state publicly that meetings
between the two groups have taken place, and that the Mara Salvatrucha have
a network for illegal entry into this country that stretches all the way
from El Salvador to the U.S. border, and that they may already be smuggling
terrorists into our country.
The Boston authorities who are tracking this connection, want to remind us
all that the jets that were hijacked and became suicide bombers resulting in
a loss of life of 3,000 innocent persons, were boarded by the terrorists at
Logan International Airport, Boston.
Today, MS-13 are recruiting nationwide, and are not now limiting their
membership to Salvadorans only. Other Hispanics are welcome if they can
measure up to the ruthlessness of the Salvadorans. Identification of the
Mara Salvatrucha gang members can be made by their tattoos. Though most of
them carry generic gang tattoos, i.e., happy/sad faces; spider webs and the
like, the tattoo that connects them to the gang is the “M S 13.” When
confronted, the gang member may try to say these initials stand for a girl
friend, “Maria Sanchez,” for instance, but only uninformed law enforcement
personnel would accept this.
seeks tie to local gangs
This Florida Department of Highway Safety
and Motor Vehicles flier shows Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a Saudi national who
may be plotting terrorist attacks as part of al-Qaida.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A top al Qaeda lieutenant has met with leaders of a violent Salvadoran
criminal gang with roots in Mexico and the United States — including a
stronghold in the Washington area — in an effort by the terrorist network to
seek help infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border, law enforcement authorities
said. Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a key al Qaeda cell leader for whom the U.S.
government has offered a $5 million reward, was spotted in July in Honduras
meeting with leaders of El Salvador's notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, which
immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South
Americans — mostly gang members — into the United States. Although they are
actively involved in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, Mara Salvatrucha
members in America also have been tied to numerous killings, robberies,
burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults — including
at least seven killings in Virginia and a machete attack on a 16-year-old in
Alexandria that severely mutilated his hands. The Salvadoran gang, known to
law enforcement authorities as MS-13 because many members identify themselves
with tattoos of the number 13, is thought to have established a major
smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, from
where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico
into the United States. Authorities said al Qaeda terrorists hope to take
advantage of a lack of detention space within the Department of Homeland
Security that has forced immigration officials to release non-Mexican illegal
aliens back into the United States, rather than return them to their home
countries. Less than 15 percent of those released appear for immigration
hearings. Nearly 60,000 illegal aliens designated as other-than-Mexican, or
OTMs, were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border. El Shukrijumah,
born in Saudi Arabia but thought to be a Yemen national, was spotted in
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in July, having crossed the border illegally from
Nicaragua after a stay in Panama. U.S. authorities said al Qaeda operatives
have been in Tegucigalpa planning attacks against British, Spanish and U.S.
embassies. Known to carry passports from Saudi Arabia, Trinidad, Guyana and
Canada, El Shukrijumah had sought meetings with the Mara Salvatrucha gang
leaders who control alien-smuggling routes through Mexico and into the United
States. El Shukrijumah, 29, who authorities said was in Canada last year
looking for nuclear material for a so-called "dirty bomb" and reportedly has
family members in Guyana, was named in a March 2003 material-witness arrest
warrant by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia, where U.S. Attorney Paul
J. McNulty said he is sought in connection with potential terrorist threats
against the United States. A former southern Florida resident and pilot
thought to have helped plan the September 11 attacks, El Shukrijumah was among
seven suspected al Qaeda operatives identified in May by Attorney General John
Ashcroft as being involved in plans to strike new targets in the United
States. Citing "credible intelligence from multiple sources," Mr. Ashcroft
said at the time that El Shukrijumah posed "a clear and present danger to
America." In August, an FBI alert described him as "armed and dangerous" and a
major threat to homeland security. Earlier this month, Mr. Ashcroft confirmed
that U.S. border agents and inspectors had ramped up efforts to find El
Shukrijumah amid reports that the al Qaeda leader was thought to be seeking
entry routes into the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mr. Ashcroft
noted that increased enforcement efforts were under way in the wake of a rise
of arrests of border jumpers from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan,
Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Authorities said Mara
Salvatrucha gang members moved into the Los Angeles area in the 1980s and
developed a reputation for being organized and extremely violent. The gang
since has expanded into the Washington area, including Virginia and Maryland,
and into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan,
New York, Georgia and Florida. More than 3,000 Mara Salvatrucha gang members
are thought to be in the Washington area, with a major operation in Northern
Virginia. Other gang centers, authorities said, include Montgomery and Prince
George's counties and the Hispanic neighborhoods of Washington. Mr. McNulty,
whose office has prosecuted Mara Salvatrucha gang members, has described the
organization as the "gang of greatest interest" to law enforcement
authorities. He said gang members are recruited predominantly from Hispanic
communities and typically among juveniles, some as young as 13. Recruits are
"jumped" into the gang by being beaten by members while others count to 13, he
said. Gang rules, he said, are indoctrinated into new recruits and ruthlessly
enforced. Those who cooperate with law enforcement are given the "green
light," he said, meaning that the gang had approved their killing. In March,
the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed an injunction against Mara
Salvatrucha, charging that the gang's criminal activity constituted a "public
nuisance" based on the number of killings, robberies and drug crimes. The
injunction requires gang members, under public nuisance statutes, to follow
curfew rules and regulations and prohibits them from associating, driving or
appearing together in designated areas of the city. washingtontimes.com
Local Gang With Ties to Al Qaeda?
Local Gang With Ties to Al Qaeda?
Mara Salvatrucha 13 has purported ties Al Qaeda
The thirteen is part of its fear factor. Investigators saying gang members try
to commit much of their signature violence on the 13th of the month. They
usually mark their territory with blue spray paint. But local officers and
federal agents say the gang goes far beyond graffiti.
They are bold, brash, and very dangerous. Beatings are used as rituals to see
if the kid getting pummeled is tough enough to be a member of Mara Salvatrucha.
They traffic drugs, guns, illegal aliens and they protect their industry with
the power of violence. The crime scenes they leave behind are said to be worst
A Bristol County House of Corrections inmate was a soldier in the gangs. The
weapon of choice in several cases is the machete. At one crime scene, a victim
was missing three fingers.
In rapes, robberies, they killed three federal agents.
One local concern is recruitment within the prison. He would only shake his
head about whether that's going on here where he was put for stabbing someone
bad enough to leave them in a wheelchair.
With evidence MS 13 is growing and with four known members in his jail the
sheriff says his officers focus on pulling the gangs roots before they grow.
The inmate tells officials he wants out of the gang that he believes they set
him up and then deserted him. But he implies getting out alive may be next to
The sheriff says the gang's violent nature and ability to smuggle guns is
attracting an alliance with al Qaeda. A Texas congressman criticized the feds
for not doing enough. A FBI spokesman says a clear link between the gang and
the terrorists is not established.
Hub ‘should be worried’: U.S. rep: MS-13
gang is true terror threat
By Michele McPhee
Friday, January 7, 2005
A Texas congressman said MS-13 gang members and Middle Eastern aliens are
using the border in his district to sneak into the country - and Boston should
U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), co-chairman of the House Border Caucus,
told the Herald he is ``very concerned'' about al-Qaeda's link to Mara
Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang he described as ``extremely vicious.''
The Herald reported this week that a chapter of MS-13 has taken control of a
swath of East Boston, prompting Boston police to create a task force to take
down the violent, drug-dealing thugs.
Last month, a Muslim man from Bangledesh, Fakhrul Islam, was arrested
alongside a reputed MS-13 gang member and 11 others after the group waded
across the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas.
The alleged MS-13 member, Francky Sanchez-Solorzano, 21, was arrested and
deported back to his native Honduras within days of the Dec. 4 bust, Ortiz
said. Islam's status in the country remained unclear.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has publicly said a high-ranking al-Qaeda
leader, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, has offered top dollar to infiltrate the United
States via the Mexican border.
``Boston should be worried,'' said Ortiz's spokeswoman, Cathy Travis. ``These
terrorists and gang members are getting on a bus here in Texas and heading to
the East Coast.''
FBI officials steadfastly deny any connection between MS-13 - a brutal,
international criminal organization that has thousands of members across the
country - and the terrorist al-Qaeda network.
``The FBI has not established a link between MS-13 and al-Qaeda,'' said Joe
Parris, supervisory special agent in the FBI national press office. ``There is
no link established.''
But Ortiz said the Bush administration is ``in denial'' and should tell the
American people the truth.
``It's established that Mara Salvatrucha and al-Qaeda have had meetings.
Middle Eastern people are willing to pay millions to get into this country,''
Ortiz said yesterday.
Two MS-13 members have been arrested by local cops this week - including a
criminal who had been deported by the Department of Homeland Security's
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, but snuck back into the country.
Elmer ``Tiger'' Tejada, 24, was arrested New Year's Day in Lynn - a year after
he was deported as a criminal. Another gang member who had been deported
remains at large.
Yesterday, a member of the East Boston Loco Salvadorans, a sect of MS-13 that
congregates in Maverick Square, was arraigned on fugitive from justice charges
stemming from the 2002 killing of a Washington, D.C., man.
Melquis Alvarez-Garcia, 21, wearing the gang's trademark blue and white colors
in the form of a Yankees pinstripe baseball jersey, is accused of stabbing his
alleged victim through the heart on April 6, 2002, prosecutors said.
Unholy Border Alliance
By Erick Stakelbeck
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2005
The new intelligence reform bill signed into law by President Bush on December
17 may ultimately end up being remembered more for the provisions it didn't
contain rather than those it did.
After much heated debate, House and Senate negotiators ultimately threw out
proposed provisions to the bill that would have tightened immigration laws.
Although House Speaker Dennis Hastert has promised to bring drivers' license
standards, asylum procedures and other border security provisions back to the
House floor by early 2005, in the meantime, the very real danger that Islamist
terrorists will infiltrate America's porous southern border persists.
Roughly 60,000 illegal immigrants designated as 'other-than-Mexican,' or OTMs,
were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a sizable
number from Arab and Muslim countries. And if recent reports are any
indication, they may be getting some troubling new help in their efforts to
enter the United States.
In a December 4 incident that received scant media attention, a Bangladeshi
Muslim man named Fakhrul Islam was among a group of 13 illegal aliens arrested
near Brownsville, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. Border Patrol
agents have said that one of the men detained along with Islam was a member of
Mara Salvatrucha, a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with more than 300,000
members across Central and North America, including powerful enterprises in
several major U.S. cities.
Mara Salvatrucha, also commonly known as 'MS-13' due to its members'
proclivity for sporting tattoos of the number 13, is involved in a smorgasbord
of illegal activity, including the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people
across the Mexican border. The gang controls many of the smuggling routes from
Mexico into the U.S., a fact that has not escaped Al-Qaeda operatives eager to
carry out attacks on American soil.
In July, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the
most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with
members of MS-13. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that El-Shukrijumah,
who he has described as a 'clear and present danger to America,' is seeking
ways to infiltrate the U.S. via the Mexican border, and is willing to pay top
dollar in order to do so.
El-Shukrijumah, reportedly last seen in August in northern Mexico knows that
the potential killing of innocent American civilians would certainly not deter
MS-13 from working with Al-Qaeda: the gang is thought to be responsible for
thousands of murders and maimings throughout the Western Hemisphere; and, like
Islamist terrorists, decapitations and home-made bombs are part of its grisly
With a ruthless, money-driven cabal like MS-13 controlling much of the illegal
traffic between the U.S. and Mexico, there's no telling how many Islamist
terrorists have already taken advantage. That someone of Middle Eastern
descent could blend in with a large group of Mexicans with similarly dark
complexions -- thereby escaping closer scrutiny from border patrols -- is all
Then again, an October intelligence report supplied to the Department of
Homeland Security by Russian security services said that a group of 25
backpack-carrying Chechen terrorists -- all white -- illegally entered Arizona
by way of Mexico last summer. Furthermore, in September, Farida Ahmed, a South
African Muslim woman, pleaded guilty in a Texas court to illegal entry, lying
to a federal agent and using an altered passport. Ahmed had been detained by
Border Patrol officers in July as she tried to board a plane for New York out
At the time of her arrest, Ahmed was carrying $7,300 in various currencies as
well as a fake South African passport that was missing pages. She admitted to
entering the U.S. illegally by wading across the Rio Grande, and her travel
itinerary showed that on her way to America, she had stopped in Dubai in the
United Arab Emirates, just as several of the 9/11 hijackers had done.
It was announced last week that Ahmed is due to be deported. But many
non-Mexican illegal aliens like Ahmed are invariably released by immigration
officials who simply don't have the detention space to hold them. Worse, up to
85 percent of them skip their scheduled immigration hearings, only to
disappear into American society.
While entry into the U.S. is their primary goal in establishing a base in
Latin America, Islamist terrorists -- well-aware of the allure Marxism once
held for many south of the border -- also see the region as a potential
breeding ground for Islamic converts due to its poor economic and social
conditions and corrupt governments.
For instance, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah wields a strong presence in
the tri-border region, a lawless, crime-ridden area where Argentina, Brazil
and Paraguay intersect. Both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed are also said to have spent time there, during the 1990's.
It was Mohammed who in 2002 encouraged alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla to
'enter the United States by way of Mexico' in order to carry out attacks on
U.S. targets, according to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Ironically, before converting to Islam and volunteering his services to Al-Qaeda,
Padilla belonged to the Chicago chapter of the Latin Kings -- like MS-13, a
violent Hispanic criminal gang.
Although U.S. agents were able to collar Padilla before he could carry out a
terrorist attack, the U.S. border strategy, as presently construed, may one
day soon yield a much less savory result. Come January, lawmakers should take
Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer at the Investigative Project, a Washington,
D.C.-based counter-terrorism research institute.
Tuesday, January 4, 2005
COMMENTARY: Homeland insecurity: The year in
2004 was a good year for terrorists, violent gang members, law-breakers and
fraud artists seeking safe haven in America. Let's reminisce:
The rise of MS-13. The savage El Salvador-based gang, Mara Salvatrucha
(MS-13), has now penetrated more than a dozen states. In May, a Fairfax, Va.,
teenager had his fingers chopped off in an MS-13 machete attack. In November,
Washington, D.C.-area police received warning that MS-13 is plotting to ambush
and kill them when they respond to service calls. Active in alien, drug and
weapons smuggling, MS-13 members in America have been tied to numerous
killings, robberies, carjackings, extortions and rapes. The gang has also been
linked to efforts to help al Qaeda infiltrate the U.S.-Mexico border.
The path of least resistance. Border Patrol officers and local investigative
journalists in the Southwest reported on increasing numbers of Middle Eastern
males entering illegally from Mexico. Muslim prayer books and Arabic diaries
were discovered on "Terrorist Alley" in southern Arizona. Suspected al Qaeda
operative Adnan Shukrijumah, a fugitive Saudi pilot who reportedly met with
MS-13 earlier this year, is believed to be in Mexico.
In April, a suspected al Qaeda agent arrested in Queens, N.Y., revealed a
scheme to smuggle terrorists across the U.S.-Mexico border. In July, two alert
Border Patrol agents apprehended Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed at McAllen
(Texas) airport. She was carrying an altered South African passport, muddy
jeans and dirty shoes. She confessed to having entered the country illegally
by crossing the Rio Grande River. Court documents showed that she was on a
government watch list and had entered the United States up to 250 times.
Upon news of Ahmed's arrest, intelligence experts reported that suspected
terror agents are acquiring passports from South Africa and other non-suspect
countries; flying to the al Qaeda-coddling "tri-border area" in South America;
learning Spanish; traveling to Mexico; and doing the backstroke into America.
Lawmakers in Texas warned that the feds are arresting and then releasing
thousands of other suspected terrorists classified as "Other Than Mexicans"
because of lack of jail space.
President Bush said "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande." I repeat:
Neither do the Islamofascists.
Bungling Washington bureaucrats. In the skies, federal air marshals continue
to be hampered by director Thomas Quinn's moronic "professional" dress code
(no athletic socks or jeans allowed). Although he no longer oversees
transportation security, underperformin' Norman Mineta remains in charge of
the Department of Transportation, where he maintains an absolutist opposition
to homeland defense profiling. And kowtowing to civil liberties Chicken
Littles and Muslim lobbyists, the Bush administration canceled the Computer
Assisted Passenger Prescreening System out of fear of privacy and
In July, the Department of Homeland Security rebuked Border Patrol agents in
Southern California for conducting interior enforcement sweeps because they
did not bow down to the "sensitivities" of open-borders radicals. In
September, DHS Border Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson stated publicly
that it's "not realistic" for his own officers to try to do their jobs and
Morale among rank-and-file enforcement officers has plummeted.
The botched Bernie Kerik DHS nomination and the refusal of the Bush
administration to support common-sense immigration enforcement and secure
identity measures in the "intelligence reform" bill (which ended up containing
more non-intelligence than intelligence provisions) didn't help.
Amnesty, shamnesty. The year ended as it began, with President Bush dangling
his abominable proposal to grant a mass governmental pardon to millions of
illegal alien workers and their employers. First floated in January, the White
House also pushed through a Social Security "totalization" program with
Mexico, which will dispense billions of dollars to illegal alien workers who
used counterfeit Social Security cards and stolen numbers to secure illegal
Announcement of the Bush plan led to a spike in illegal alien apprehensions at
the border during the first three months of 2004 -- 25 percent higher compared
with last year. Those are just the ones who got caught. T.J. Bonner, president
of the National Border Patrol Council, told the Washington Times in April:
"People were coming up to our agents and saying, 'Where do we sign up for that
guest-worker program, or that amnesty?' Word travels like wildfire down
And around the world. The word is we're open. Wide open. What a way to ring in
the new year.
Is author of "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and
Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores" (Regnery). Her e-mail address is
Feds Probe Al Qaeda Link to Latino Gang
— admin @ 6:55 pm
Federal officials are investigating a violent Central America-based street
gang for ties to Middle Eastern terrorism, an alliance that seems unlikely but
poses a frightening threat to the United States.
MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha, has about 15,000 members in the
United States in cities from Los Angeles to Boston. Some members have been
charged with crimes that include rape, carjacking and drug smuggling.
Place Troops On The Border Now!
By Dave Gibson (10/01/04)
The flood of illegal aliens streaming in from Mexico is placing a tremendous
strain upon the American taxpayer. In the southwestern United States, schools
have become over-crowded and unfairly burdened with the children of illegals
and hospitals have been bankrupted due to illegal women in labor, flooding
into emergency rooms.
I could go on and on listing the problems that are a direct result of our
failure to protect the U.S.-Mexican border. However, there are much more
serious problems than un-documented workers and bricks of marijuana coming
from our neighbor to the south...violence and terrorism.
Recently, al Qaeda lieutenant Adnan El Shukrijumah was seen in Honduras,
meeting with leaders of a notorious Latin American gang known as Mara
Salvatrucha or MS-13. The United States has placed a $5 million bounty upon
the head of El Shukrijumah.
MS-13 which is notorious for smuggling illegal aliens, drugs, and weapons into
the U.S., operates a large smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico. From this
center, they smuggle gang members from Central and South America into the U.S.
over the Mexican border. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this gang
has already began helping Muslim terrorists enter this country.
MS-13 also engages in the typical gang crimes such as robberies, rapes,
killings, carjackings, etc. The Latin American gang earned an extremely
violent reputation in Los Angeles during the 1980's. They now operate in at
least 14 states and the District of Columbia. According to local law
enforcement officials, there are more than 3,000 MS-13 members operating in
the Washington D.C. area. Just outside D.C., a 16 year old Alexandria boy was
attacked by MS-13 members who used a machete to mutilate the boy's hands.
Last year, 60,000 non-Mexican illegals were captured attempting to enter the
U.S. from Mexico.
Since 2000, more than 4,000 people from the countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran,
North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon
were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border. Can you imagine how many we
failed to capture?
The threat of violent gang members and terrorists entering this nation from
our porous, unprotected border with Mexico is real. Though our leaders
(including President Bush) continue to ignore this threat, we cannot. We must
implore our President to place National Guardsmen on the border and put an end
to this absurdity.
If we do not begin to take seriously this threat from Mexico...we can expect a
future for our children which is filled with violence and fear. We can expect
many more days such as September 11, 2001!
After completing two years at Tidewater Community College, Dave Gibson became
a Virginia Beach Deputy Sheriff. He has since left the department and now owns
a small business in the city of Chesapeake, Virginia. An active volunteer in
many animal organizations, he has worked at the Virginia Zoo, the Norfolk SPCA,
and currently works for the K-9 New Life Center based in Virginia Beach.
Central American gang may have presence in EP
The Mara Salvatrucha -- a large, ruthless Central American street gang linked
to a recent bus massacre in Honduras whose members have been popping up along
the Texas-Mexico border -- may be making its way to El Paso. The Maras, which
claim to have 100,000 members in Honduras alone, stretch from impoverished
gang-controlled neighborhoods in El Salvador to suburban Washington, D.C. El
Paso police had their first confirmed encounter with the Mara Salvatrucha on
Aug. 15, when officers responding to an assault call in a Downtown parking lot
discovered a tattooed member of the gang armed with a machete.
Terrorists to the East, Terrorists to the West
By Marty Lich
Feb 1, 2005, 08:08
Where do you all fit in the Big East-West Picture?
I read the following in the Denver Post today: DMV flawed, ex-clerk alleges
Accused worker: Fraud rampant: 'A woman accused of illegally selling Colorado
driver's licenses'' I immediately wrote and asked the two reporters, Michael
Riley (email@example.com ) and
�Do the porous borders concern you all? Yet?' The Denver post is inherently
pro-illegal orientated, so I hope I receive a reply.
Now I will ask the rest of you, do the porous borders concern you? Yet?
We are quite aware they are of little concern to our president. He seems to
operate under the kind-hearted and false belief that we can secure all
identities and therefore secure America simply by legalizing all illegal
aliens who are breaking the laws of America right now. Why would al- Qaida
cells reveal their true identities to us? Why would we believe they would? Why
would our president think any of us would accept this? Why isn't he worried
about us? Concerned for the innocent families living in the United States? He
I worry, with reason. Do you worry, even without a reason? Here are some
reasons for you to begin worrying. All articles linked below are from this
past spring to date. I have more, many many more, articles and data archived.
Including the employees working at both Denver International Airport and the
Air Force Academy, spring of 2003, who were issued security passes. One was a
pilot. All were identified illegal aliens using stolen or fake documents. Most
fled following the busts and prior to the scheduled immigration hearings. They
are somewhere in the United States of America, just not using security badges
and flying planes in Colorado. At least I don't think they are. Here in
Colorado that is.
Please read on. Education is the key to success. And conversely as Ye Olde
Editor (Ken Anderson) said today, 'It's awfully hard to breathe when your head
is stuck in the sand'
And then ask yourself, where are you? Educated and ready to speak up? Or
suffocating under ignorance?
Non-Mexican illegal aliens a U.S. security
By Alan Elsner
9:12 a.m. February 4, 2005
WASHINGTON – Tens of thousands of people from countries other than Mexico
illegally crossed the Mexican border into the United States last year,
creating a growing security headache for U.S. authorities.
Mexicans caught by U.S. border patrols trying to enter the country illegally
are usually immediately returned to their native land.
But Mexico accepts only Mexicans, so any non-Mexicans are checked against
government watch lists as a potential security or criminal threat. If their
names do not appear, many are released on their own recognizance and told to
appear at a deportation hearing often months in the future. The majority fail
to show up for the hearing and are never seen again.
"The fear is of al Qaeda people sneaking across the Mexican border because
it's become so much harder for them to get into the country by other means,"
said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, referring to the
organization that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
He noted that it took only 19 people to hijack the planes which destroyed the
World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and killed almost 3,000 people.
U.S. authorities have since vastly tightened visa scrutiny and airport checks,
especially for people seeking to enter the United States from the Middle East.
But law enforcement agents across the southwest border are alarmed that the
United States is releasing thousands of non-Mexicans, said Rep. Solomon Ortiz,
a Texas Democrat.
"Those released include individuals from nations the U.S. defines as state
sponsors of potential terrorism or from those nations who have produced a
large number of al Qaeda militants," he said. Experts believe that about 7,000
people who were not from Central America or Mexico were detained on the
U.S.-Mexican border last year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, declined to give a breakdown
of where all detainees were from.
Ortiz and Texas Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla wrote to President Bush and
former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last August protesting what they
termed a "catch and release" policy but received no response.
NOT JUST FROM LATIN AMERICA
U.S. officials last week intercepted a small plane and arrested four illegal
Chinese immigrants it was transporting from the Texas-Mexico border to San
Even those from Central American countries could pose a potential threat,
according to Louis Sadler, an expert on border security with New Mexico State
"Some of these nations like Honduras have considerable Middle Eastern
communities," he said.
Gangs and drug cartels have deeply involved in smuggling aliens across the
border and might be willing to smuggle potential terrorists if the price was
right, Sadler said.
Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
said that anyone caught entering the country who posed a safety or national
security threat was detained pending deportation.
As for others who did not show up in criminal or security data bases, he said:
"If there is not enough bed space in detention centers, they may be issued a
notice to appear in court on a specified day. People from different
geographical regions of the world are not treated differently."
Latest News on Terrorism and National
In The Press -- Border Control
December 13, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Q. Scott, page one of this morning's Washington Times quotes the leader of
the Draft Hillary for President organization as saying, "Bush has done
everything he can to leave the doors wide open for illegal immigration.
Hillary is the only one taking a position on immigration." And in Hillary's
own words, "I do not think we have protected our borders." And my first
question: What is the President's response to this rather serious charge?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me just talk about our record and what we're
pursuing when it comes to enforcing our borders and strengthening our
immigration laws. We have made significant progress to strengthen our
immigration laws and improve border security. There is important legislation
that was just passed, and the President looks forward to signing it this
Friday. It takes a number of steps to build upon that record we have pursued.
We are a society of immigrants, and
the President believes we should be a welcoming society. But we also need to
make sure the people who are coming into this country are coming here for the
right reasons, and that they're coming here legally, through the immigration
process we have in place. And he believes we need to continue to build upon
the steps we've already taken.
Q. Syndicated columnist Phyllis Schafly reports that ... 4,000 illegal
aliens cross the border into Arizona every day. There are reports that 800,000
Californians have left the state, which has to spend $10 billion a year on
schooling, health and incarceration of illegal aliens. And my question: Why
doesn't the President seal our borders with troops and electronic equipment
now, instead of waiting?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a lot of innovative approaches that states have
taken to address some of these issues. I know, speaking from the Texas
perspective, that the President worked on these issues when he was governor.
And there were some innovative ways to try to address some of these issues.
But we're also working closely with our neighbors to the south, and working to
expand trade opportunities so that we can improve the quality of life for
those who are simply coming to the United States seeking a better way of life.
And so they'll be less inclined to want to come to the United States, or
they'll be more inclined to return home to support their families. A lot of
these people are coming here simply to support their families.
What It Will Take To Terror-Proof Border?
By Kris Axtman and Peter Grier, The Christian Science Monitor, Dateline
Houston, December 10, 2004
This front page report discusses the just-passed intelligence bill,
which calls for an additional 2,000 Border Patrol agents and 800 immigration
and customs agents every year for the next five years.
The bill also calls for tests of advanced sensors, videos and unmanned
aircraft surveillance along the U.S.-Canada border and mandates closer
surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border with unmanned aerial vehicles. It
strengthens visa application requirements, and requires states to use a common
electronic format for the strip that stores data on driver's licenses.
According to this article, 1.2 million illegal immigrants were caught
attempting to cross U.S. borders in 2003 -- an estimated 33 percent of total
December 9, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Excerpts of remarks concerning immigration laws/driver's licenses
Q. Senator Robert Byrd said yesterday, "We cannot expect intelligence
reform without closing these gaps in illegal immigration," while The
Washington Times editorial today said, "Three years after September 11th and
still our immigration system is in tatters." And my first question: How many
illegals are in the U.S. and how many are arriving in this country every day
in the Bush administration's estimate?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with the immigration people on the latest
statistics, but I think there have been a number of estimates around the 8
million range of people. But the President, what he is working to do is to
strengthen our border security and to strengthen our controls along the border
to prevent people who should not be entering the country, like terrorists or
criminals, from coming into the country, while also making sure that we remain
a welcoming society. We are a nation of immigrants, and the President believes
in those core principles that we should remain a welcoming society, but we
also need to take steps to strengthen our border enforcement.
And this legislation the President will be signing into law takes a number
of steps to do that, by increasing the number of border control agents,
increasing the number of agents in the immigration and Custom services over
the next five years by a certain amount on each of those. And there's more
that we can do, and the President talked about how he looked forward to
continuing to work with Congress.
The President has also put forward a plan based on some specific principles
for moving forward on a temporary worker program that would address some of
the economic need in this country, while also addressing the issue of people
coming to this country from Mexico and other countries to our south who are
seeking a better way of life. Ultimately, what we need to do is continue to
expand trade opportunities so that we can raise the standard of living in
other countries so that people will be less inclined to want to come here to
seek a better way of life. Many of these people are just coming to the United
States to seek a better way of life....
Q. All right, turning back to immigration. The question, there seems to be
kind of a disconnect between the administration and Chairman Sensenbrenner. At
his press conference yesterday, he said that he's in agreement with the White
House on asylum, but there are disagreements, or he doesn't know the
administration's position on the driver's license issue for illegal
immigrants, or extending the fence along the border. Do you think you can
clear up those two points that Chairman Sensenbrenner raised?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what the President has said, he looks forward to
talking with members early next year about some of the other ideas. Chairman
Sensenbrenner certainly had some ideas. We spelled out some of our views on
those issues in letters that we sent to members of Congress -- one this week
and one back in October, if I remember correctly. And so the President looks
forward to talking with people about those issues.
In terms of driver's license, the President stated that we need to consult
closely with states about the standards that we're talking about setting. So
that's his view there.
December 8, 2004
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
Press Briefing Washington, D.C.
Excerpts of remarks concerning immigration laws/driver's licenses
Q. Scott, on the intelligence bill, some of the things that didn't make it
are the key issues regarding immigration that Mr. Sensenbrenner and others
have raised, including driver's licenses for immigrants. The President has
indicated he will cooperate with an effort to address those issues early on
next year. Does the White House have a position at this point on driver's
licenses? Are there other issues in the immigration area that it thinks need
to be addressed?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the President believes our immigration
laws do need to be strengthened. And this legislation takes several steps
towards that goal. I would point out that this legislation increases the
Border Patrol agents by 2,000 in each of the next five fiscal years. It
increases the Immigration and Customs enforcement agents by 800 in each of the
coming fiscal years. And it increases criminal penalties for illegal -- for
smuggling and harboring of illegal immigrants. And it has some other measures
in there that help us strengthen our immigration laws.
The President did previously, in a letter to Congress, express his views on
some of those other issues, and you mentioned one. I mean, he talked about how
he -- and he talked about in his most recent letter how he looked forward to
talking with Congress early next year to look at ways that we can improve our
asylum laws, as well as improve standards for issuing driver's licenses, and
he felt that that is an issue that needs to be discussed closely with the
states as we move forward....
Arizona Apprehensions Higher Than Other Border States Combined
Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, November 26, 2004
The U.S. Border Patrol released statistics that show more illegal
immigrants were apprehended in Arizona during the fiscal year than in
California, New Mexico and Texas combined.
Since 1994, illegal immigrant apprehensions in Arizona have jumped from
16 percent to 52 percent.
Tougher border controls in other states bordering Mexico have resulted
in declining numbers of apprehensions, signifying, some believe, that fewer
people are attempting to cross the border illegally. According to this
article: "While the Border Patrol says it has taken the same approach in
Arizona as in California and Texas, the results have been markedly different."
U.S. Deported Record Number of Criminal, Illegal Aliens in 2004
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release, November 19, 2004
The United States has removed a record number of 157,281 criminal and
other illegal aliens from the United States in fiscal year 2004, according to
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland
Security's (DHS) largest investigative arm.
the full text.
November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Excerpts from remarks at the inaugural of the 21st Binational Commission
Mexico City, Mexico
The United States is proud to be a nation of immigrants, but too many of
those immigrants living and working in our country today have no legal status.
Early last year, President Bush proposed a temporary worker program to match
willing foreign workers with U.S. employers and to offer legal status to
immigrants who contribute to our economy as they work to support their
families. But the President remains committed to comprehensive immigration
reform as a high priority in his second term, and we will work closely with
our Congress to achieve this goal. Together, we can work together to make
North America more globally competitive.
How best do we do that? By working cooperatively to improve education so
that our citizens can be successful in a 21st century world by improving the
infrastructure on both sides of the border to meet the needs of people and
commerce while making it easier to start new businesses in both of our
countries. At the same time, we must also be innovative in our efforts to stop
those who abuse the openness of our societies along the border, who would use
this openness to harm our citizens through trafficking in drugs or trafficking
in human beings or by committing acts of terrorism.
November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Excerpts from an interview with Leonardo Valero of Reforma
Mexico City, Mexico
MR. VALERO: Everyone in Mexico hopes that now in Mr. Bush's second term the
immigration reform will be an easy cake. Would it be that easy to get?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it depends on what kind of a cake you're baking.
MR. VALERO: Right. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: Some cakes are easier to bake than other cakes. And the
President has made it clear in the speech he gave on January 7th that he wants
to move forward with the temporary workers program. We have a new Congress
that was just elected. They will come in early January. I told Secretary
Derbez today that we wanted to take this temporary workers program idea,
proposal, and get an assessment with the new Congress as to how hard it would
be or how easy it would be, what kind of cake we could get out of this.
It's important for us to go after that which is doable and not go after
something that we know it is beyond our reach or we don't have a hot enough
oven to bake it in. And so we don't want expectations to be too high, but we
do want to make progress. The President has made clear to me, and he has
certainly shared his view with President Fox, that we want to see progress on
migration. We didn't see the kind of progress we hoped for in his first four
years because of 9/11, because of the difficulties we faced in our Congress,
to be frank.
But 9/11 is behind us now. We want to move forward. The President has a
mandate as a result of the election and he wants to move forward on migration,
and we had a good conversation about that today, President Fox and myself and
Secretary Derbez, and I and Secretary Creel and Secretary Ridge.
Ridge Outlines Progress in Security Cooperation With Mexico
U.S. Department of Homeland Security press release, November 9, 2004
The United States and Mexico are making progress in efforts to secure
their common border and are working together to dismantle terrorist and
criminal networks, according to Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.
Ridge traveled to Mexico to participate in the 21st meeting of the
U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission (BNC) and in a November 9 joint press
conference with Mexican Secretary of the Interior Santiago Creel, he outlined
progress made in securing the two nations. See the
U.S. Cites Immigration Reform with Mexico as a Priority
Fact Sheet, United States-Mexico Binational Commission, November 9, 2004
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom
Ridge announced November 9 that immigration reform with Mexico will be a high
priority during President Bush's second term, according to a U.S. State
Department fact sheet.
The two cabinet secretaries stressed the importance of immigration
reform at the 21st meeting of the United States-Mexico Binational Commission
(BNC) in Mexico City, Mexico.
White House Press Briefing
Excerpts of statements made by White House Spokesman Scott McClellan during a
November 9 press briefing
Q: On immigration?
MR. McCLELLAN: ... the President has put forward a temporary worker program
that he has had some discussions with members of Congress on, and he will
continue to discuss with members of Congress and work to move forward on that
initiative. It is a priority where he believes it's something that will help
meet our -- an economic need, as well as provide a more humane treatment of
those workers who are coming into the United States....
Q: Is the President going to move forward on his immigration plan that he
proposed almost at the beginning of the year and didn't go anywhere, the
three-year plan of legal work and then extend it for another period?
MR. McCLELLAN: He remains committed to that proposal. It's something we
started discussions with members of Congress on previously. And it's something
that he intends to work with members on to get moving again in the second
term. It's something he believes very strongly in. America has always been a
welcoming society, and this is a program that will match willing workers with
willing employers. It will promote compassion for workers who right now have
no protection, and it will protect the homeland by helping to control our
borders better. And it also provides incentives for those temporary workers to
eventually return home to their country of origin.
U.S. Hopes to Move Forward on Migration Accord with Mexico
U.S. Department of State transcript of Secretary Colin Powell's press briefing
aboard a plane en route to Mexico City, Mexico, November 8, 2004
As President Bush looks to his second term, he hopes to move forward on
a migration agreement with Mexico, particularly the temporary workers proposal
he announced in January 2004, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell. En
route to the 21st meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission in Mexico
City, Mexico, Powell outlines the issues he and other members of the U.S.
delegation will discuss with their Mexican counterparts.
President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry
FDCH Political Transcripts
Excerpts from a transcript of the third presidential debate
October 13, 2004
The candidates' answers to a question on U.S. immigration policy
SCHIEFFER (Bob Schieffer of CBS News, moderator): Let's go
to a new question, Mr. President.
I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question. And
it is about immigration.
I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day.
Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's
an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue.
How do you see it? And what do we need to do about it?
BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a
security issue, I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human-rights
We're increasing the border security of the United States. We've got 1,000
more Border Patrol agents on the southern border.
We're using new equipment. We're using unmanned vehicles to spot people
And we'll continue to do so over the next four years. It's a subject I'm
very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.
Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons. They're coming
here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or
make $5 here in America, $5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your
salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families. And that's
And so in order to take pressure off the borders, in order to make the
borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that
allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's
not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to
fulfill the employers' needs.
That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren't breaking the law
as they try to fill their workforce needs. It makes sure that the people
coming across the border are humanely treated, that they're not kept in the
shadows of our society, that they're able to go back and forth to see their
families. See, the card, it'll have a period of time attached to it.
It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody is coming here
to work with a card, it means they're not going to have to sneak across the
border. It means our border patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on
doing their job.
Now, it's very important for our citizens to also know that I don't believe
we ought to have amnesty. I don't think we ought to reward illegal behavior.
There are plenty of people standing in line to become a citizen. And we ought
not to crowd these people ahead of them in line.
If they want to become a citizen, they can stand in line, too.
And here is where my opponent and I differ. In September 2003, he supported
amnesty for illegal aliens.
SCHIEFFER: Time's up.
KERRY: ... Now, with respect to immigration reform, the
president broke his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform it.
Four years later he is now promising another plan.
Here's what I'll do: Number one, the borders are more leaking today than
they were before 9/11. The fact is, we haven't done what we need to do to
toughen up our borders, and I will.
Secondly, we need a guest-worker program, but if it's all we have, it's not
going to solve the problem.
The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against
the law in the United States to hire people illegally, and we ought to be
enforcing that law properly.
And thirdly, we need an earned-legalization program for people who have
been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes,
and their kids are American. We got to start moving them toward full
citizenship, out of the shadows.
SCHIEFFER: Do you want to respond, Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected
as they were prior to September the 11th shows he doesn't know the borders.
They're much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of
We have much more manpower and much more equipment there.
He just doesn't understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that.
That is an outrageous claim.
And we'll continue to protect our borders. We're continuing to increase
manpower and equipment.
KERRY: Four thousand people a day are coming across the
The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming
across the border.
And we're not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have
iris-identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint technology
today. We can know who the people are, that they're really the people they say
they are when they cross the border.
We could speed it up. There are huge delays.
The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I'll
make them secure.
Al Qaeda Seeks Tie to Local Gangs: Salvadoran Group May Aid Entry
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, September 28, 2004
According to this report, al Qaeda may be working with a violent
Salvadoran gang to smuggle terrorists into the United States.
Al Qaeda leader Adnan G. El Shukrijumah reportedly met in July in
Tegucigalpa, Honduras with leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (also known as the
MS-13, because many members identify themselves with tattoos of the number 13)
criminal gang requesting help in infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border.
Seper writes that the MS-13 has established "a major smuggling center
in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, where it has arranged
to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United
States." The Mara Salvatrucha gang, Seper writes, is actively involved in
alien, drug and weapons smuggling and their members in the United States have
been tied to "numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings,
extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults -- including at least seven killings
in Virginia and a machete attack on a 16-year-old in Alexandria (Virginia)
that severely mutilated his hands."
El Shukrijumah, who was born in Saudi Arabia but is thought to be a
Yemen national, is known to carry passports from Saudi Arabia, Trinidad,
Guyana and Canada. He is said to have been in Canada last year looking for
nuclear material for a so-called "dirty bomb." He was named in a March 2003
material-witness arrest warrant by federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia in
connection with potential terrorist threats against the United States.
El Shukrijumah is thought to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and
was among the seven suspected al Qaeda operatives identified in May by
Attorney General John Ashcroft as being involved in new plans to attack the
Special Investigation: America's Border
By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, Time Magazine, September 20, 2004
This long, detailed story is featured on the cover of the September
20th edition of Time magazine. According to this article:
-- In a single day, more than 4,000 illegal immigrants walk into the
United States along the 375-mile border between Arizona and Mexico.
-- According to Time's estimates, some 3 million illegal
immigrants will enter the United States this year.
-- Most of the illegal immigrants entering the United States are
Mexicans. But from October 1, 2003 through August 25, 2004, about 55,890
apprehended illegal immigrants were "other than Mexicans" (OTM). The OTMs who
were apprehended came from Latin America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil,
Nicaragua and Venezuela), Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Egypt, Iran
and Iraq. An estimated 190,000 OTMs entered the United States undetected so
far this year.
-- From October 2003 though August 25, 2004, the U.S. Border Patrol
apprehended nearly 1.1 million illegal immigrants in all its operations around
the United States. But for every one illegal immigrant caught, an estimated
three get into the country undetected.
-- The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the
1,951-mile southern border with Mexico is now more than 9,900; up from 8,600
in the year 2000.
-- Last year, illegal immigrants sent $13 billion in remittances to
their families in Mexico. The money sent back represents the third largest
source of revenue in Mexico's economy, after oil and manufacturing.
-- Of the 400,000 illegal immigrants who have been ordered to be
deported, 80,000 have criminal records.
The article focuses on the impact illegal immigration has had on the
State of Arizona and its citizens. Among the issues:
-- Environment. Illegal immigrants crossing ranches along and near
the border "turn the land into a vast latrine," according to the authors,
"leaving behind revolting mounds of personal refuse and enough discarded
plastic bags to stock a Wal-Mart."
-- Property damage. The refuse left by illegals is often ingested by
cattle and horses, which become sick and sometimes die. The illegals cut
fences, allowing livestock to escape into Mexican territory. Cattle from
Mexico wander into the United States, where they are supposed to be in
quarantine for 30 days and tested for disease. However, this seldom happens
because there aren't enough cattle inspectors or holding corrals.
-- Health. The small community hospitals are racking up debt from
emergency care administered to illegal immigrants whom they are required by
law to treat. The illegals frequently suffer from dehydration, auto injuries,
tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis. One small 14-bed hospital, the Copper
Queen in Bisbee, Arizona must deal with some 500 emergency visits each
month; its losses this year are estimated to be $450,000.
-- Crime. Smugglers (also known as "coyotes") frequently steal cars
to transport their clients. Arizona now ranks first in cars stolen per capita;
about 56,000 cars were stolen last year. In addition, the sheer numbers of
illegals in some neighborhoods make the people living there feel unsafe.
Mexico Migrant Smugglers Turning to the Sea
By Will Weissert, Associated Press Online, Dateline Mexico City, September 16,
There appears to be an upswing in the number of small boats, including
pleasure craft, being used by human smugglers, according to this report.
This year, U.S. authorities in San Diego, which is across the border
from Tijuana, have seized 12 boats carrying 48 Mexican and Chinese illegal
immigrants; last year the number was three boats and 20 illegal immigrants.
Derek Benner, group supervisor of the U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement's San Diego Marine Task Force, is quoted as saying that most of
the boats were "throwaways" valued at some $2,000 to $5,000 each. The small
vessels with U.S. registration were steered into crowded beaches and ports in
an attempt to blend in with legitimate boaters and fishermen.
Earlier this year, a French-built yacht C'est La Vie was
seized near the Los Angeles harbor carrying 50 illegal Mexican immigrants who
were picked up at Ensenada.
Although larger U.S. and Mexican ports have tightened security to meet
new international anti-terrorism and security requirements, smuggling gangs
are adapting by picking up illegal immigrants along empty stretches of
Rounding Up All Illegals "Not Realistic": Hutchinson Sees Lack of
"Will To Uproot" Aliens
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, September 10, 2004
During a luncheon meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington
Times, Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, said it is "not realistic" to think that law-enforcement authorities
can arrest or deport the estimated 8 to 12 million illegal aliens thought to
be living in the United States. "I don't think America has the will," he is
quoted as saying.
Seper writes that Hutchinson explained that the goal of his department
is to gain operational control of the U.S. border, to include monitoring ports
of entry and land areas between.
Remarks by Vice President Richard Cheney Regarding Illegal
Delivered at a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa
September 7, 2004
Excerpt from a White House transcript
QUESTION: Illegal immigration, border safety and the President's amnesty
policy, if the government doesn't come down hard on the people who are
employing the illegal immigrants, and what is to prevent them, or what is the
disincentive for them coming here?
R. CHENEY: Well, we've tightened up significantly on the borders since
9/11. We've had to. We've significantly beefed up our border security and so
forth. But it continues to be a problem. Part of the difficulty that we're
faced with, and one of the things that the President talked about with respect
to the immigration policy is that we've got so many people coming across
illegally -- primarily for economic reasons, that want to come to work in the
United States. But we have no idea who is here. We have no idea what they do
once they get here. We have no idea how long they're going to stay, and that
there was a need to try to regularize this process. And what he has suggested
is that we ought to consider the possibility of having what, in effect, would
be a guest worker program so we'd know who was coming in, and that once here,
then, they'd stay for a specific period of time. And they they'd have to go
back home once their period of time was ended. They could not become citizens.
But we would have track of who, in fact, was in the country. That's been
proposed. Now, it's just an idea, a concept.
It hasn't gone anyplace legislatively at this point. And the problem we're
faced with is that we need to find ways going forward to make sure we do, in
fact, have knowledge of who is in the country and whether or not they've
stayed, and how long they've stayed and what they're doing while they're here.
And at present that's a very hard thing to do because of the enormous flow of
people we've got back and forth. We've improved our system with respect to
those that come in legally by visas and so forth. But we still don't have as
good a grip as we need on all of those who come into the United States
illegally, stay for a period of time, and then go back home.
And we need to do a better job than we are to make certain we screen out
terrorists to the maximum extent possible. So it's an attempt to try to
address that problem. It's not clear yet exactly how it ultimately gets sorted
out or gets resolved. But that's at the heart of what is being talked about
Mexican Immigrant Deaths Drop in Arizona Desert
Reuters News, Dateline Nogales, Mexico, September 7, 2004
U.S. Border Patrol officials in Tucson, Arizona say the number deaths
due to exposure among illegal immigrants trying to cross the Arizona desert to
reach the United States from Mexico has dropped sharply.
They credit repatriation flights to Mexico City and Guadalajara for the
70 percent decline in migrant deaths. So far, more than 9,500 illegal
immigrants have been repatriated under this trial program which began on July
Charles Griffin, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, is
quoted as saying: "The aim of the program, which runs until the end of this
month, was to keep migrants from making dangerous and often repeated attempts
to cross the desert, and the numbers speak for themselves."
According to this Reuters report, "the 261-mile (420-km) stretch of
desert frontier covered by the Tucson sector is one of the most frequently
crossed along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S.- Mexico border. It is also one of
the most hazardous, with summer temperatures frequently topping 49 C (120 F)."
Elizabeth Garcia, the head of Grupo Beta in Nogales, a Mexican
government body that gives humanitarian aid to immigrants, is quoted as
saying: "The number of migrants passing though Nogales has decreased very
significantly and the Tucson repatriation program could be a factor."
U.S. Agents To Get Power To Deport Illegal Aliens
By Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times, Dateline Washington,August 12, 2004
The Department of Homeland Security announced its plans to give U.S.
Border Patrol agents the authority to return illegal immigrants to their home
countries without hearings before an immigration court. Illegal immigrants
could be deported quickly -- within eight days of apprehension.
the transcript of the August 10 media roundtable with Asa Hutchinson,
undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
Border Apprehensions Rising in Southwestern Arizona
Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona, August 11, 2004
Apprehensions of illegal immigrants are up 61 percent in fiscal year
2004 in southwestern Arizona. A record 9,856 apprehensions took place in July
Federal authorities say the jump is a result of tougher border
Border Patrol Buys Pepper Ball Guns for Crowd Control
By Chris Roberts, Associated press Newswires, Dateline El Paso, Texas, August
U.S. Border Patrol agents will be equipped with pepper ball guns to
defend themselves in violent confrontations with illegal immigrants.
Since October 1, there have been 11 physical assaults on Border Patrol
officers in the El Paso sector.
The pepper ball guns are non-lethal and use compressed air to shoot
pellets filled with chile-pepper-derived powder. The powder irritates and the
eyes and nose for about 15 seconds and can be removed with waters.
Heightened Border Security in Arizona Has Led to More Violence by
Smugglers, Federal Agents Say
By Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona,
August 4, 2004
Human smugglers are losing revenue because of tighter controls along
the Arizona-Mexico border, and they're responding with more violence.
Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame is quoted as saying: "We're more
forceful along the border than we've ever been, so smugglers are getting
desperate and lashing out against agents."
Virtually every day smugglers and their clients try to fend off Border
Patrol agents by throwing large, heavy rocks at them. Some have attacked
federal agents by trying to run down them down with vehicles.
Officials: Border Drones Producing Good Results
By Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Phoenix, Arizona,
August 3, 2004
A pilot program launched June 25 in Arizona that uses unmanned aerial
drones to spot illegal border crossings is producing good results.
To date, some 248 illegal immigrants have been detected by the two
Hermes 450 drones, which use thermal and night-vision equipment that can
detect movement from 15 miles up, read a license plate, view a vehicle's
occupants and detect weapons. The program is financed by the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security.
Arizona has become the busiest point of entry for illegal immigrants
along the 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico.
Sneaking People into U.S. Tougher; Border Security Tighter, Ottawa
Says Numbers Smuggled into Canada Still High
By Peter Edwards, The Toronto Star, July 29, 2004
Alex Swann, a spokesman for Canada's Public Safety Minister Anne
McLellan, says smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States through
Canada is much tougher today that is was before the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
But according to a 2003 report by the Criminal Intelligence Service of
Canada, a police information service, the number of people smuggled into
Canada remains at the 1998 level.
The report also says Asian-based organized crime groups with
international connections ar particularly active in human smuggling and favor
the St. Clair River in southwester Ontario, the Niagara River and the St.
Lawrence River near Cornwall in Eastern Ontario.
Cheng Chui Peng, the infamous "Mother of All Snakeheads," began her
career as a people smuggler when she herself was an illegal immigrant living
in Toronto. She later moved to New York City's Manhattan Chinatown and
sometimes worked with the Fuk Ching organized crime gang of New York. She was
extradited from Hong Kong last summer to face charges in the United States.
Border Patrol Rescues 30 Illegal Immigrants in Arizona
EFE News Service, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, July 22, 2004
U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued 30 illegal immigrants who became lost
in the Arizona desert.
A local sheriff's office reported the group, which was initially
spotted near the town of Bisbee. Border Patrol agents found the group four
hours later near the Mule Mountains, where they were treated for exhaustion
The Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has rescued 439 illegal
immigrants from the desert since October 2003.
Unmanned Planes, Fingerprint System Helps Border Authorities
Associated Press Newswires, Tucson, Arizona, July 21, 2004
Since its deployment a year ago, a new fingerprint database has proven
to be a valuable tool in helping U.S. Border Patrol agents catch illegal
immigrants with criminal records or who are wanted for crimes.
The fingerprint database has helped authorities in the Tucson sector
catch more than 8,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records. About 2
percent of the nearly 399,000 illegal immigrants caught in this sector from
October 1 to July 15 have criminal records or are criminal suspects.
In their first two months of operation, two unmanned aerial vehicles
have been credited with helping agents catch 22 illegal border crossers.
U.S.-Mexico Agree to Plan for Sending Illegal Immigrants Home
By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Washington, June 29,
The Mexican government has agreed to take part in a program that will
provide free charter flights home for illegal immigrants arrested in Arizona's
The program, which is set to begin July 12, hopes to end the cycle
whereby illegals deported at the border attempt to reenter the United States
through the often deadly Sonora desert region.
The illegal immigrants will be flown from Tucson, Arizona to Mexico
City or Guadalajara. The United States is footing the bill, estimated to cost
some $13 million.
Mexico's Interior Ministry is quoted as saying the program is "part of
the humanitarian efforts by Mexico and the United States to aid and protect
migrants who traverse high-risk zones, to prevent deaths and avoid abuses by
Border Patrol Unit Makes Arrests Inland in California
By Ben Fox, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dateline Ontario, California, June 20,
Roving units of the U.S. Border Patrol have apprehended some 420
suspected illegal immigrants since June 1 -- all in communities 100 miles or
more from the Mexican border.
While the border itself is heavily patrolled, the interior usually is
not. The change in tactics by U.S. authorities, Fox writes, has "spread such
fear that some people have stopped going shopping or attending church.
Immigrant advocates say some are staying home from work, too."
California has more illegal immigrants than any other state -- some 2
Militia Groups Patrol Borders
By Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, Dateline Douglas, Arizona, May
Self-appointed civilian border patrols are proving to be both a help
and a hindrance in keeping any eye out for illegal immigrants trying to get
into the United States from Mexico, according to this article.
Hendricks writes: "Some longtime ranchers in southern Arizona,
frustrated by the steady stream of northbound migrants crossing their lands,
have taken to patrolling their properties and turning over those they catch to
the U.S. Border patrol. But in the past few years, a new phenomenon has
developed: Ideologically motivated -- and well-armed -- militia groups such as
Ranch Rescue have set up shop in border communities from California to Texas
and advertise on the Internet for recruits to come down with firearms and
camping gear to join border protection efforts."
So far, there have been few legal violations by these groups, this
article says. Nonetheless, during the past year, Ranch Rescue along with the
paramilitary groups American Border Patrol and Civil Homeland Defense have had
run-ins with legitimate law enforcement because of their tactics, such as
detaining and handcuffing illegal immigrants.
U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Charles Griffin is quoted as saying:
"Every law enforcement agency appreciates a neighborhood watch. I would
caution them to be very careful not to violate someone's civil liberties."
Plan Seeks "Control" of Border: Targets Alien Smuggling, Terrorism
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, May 20, 2004
This article discusses the Arizona Border Control Initiative -- the
first of its kind -- set to be launched in the Tucson sector of the
The Tucson sector's 260 miles of international border is the busiest in
the country: more than 400,000 illegal aliens were arrested there last year.
The initiative will combine the assets of the Department of Homeland
Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration, the Interior
Department and other federal law-enforcement agencies, including the police at
the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation located on the border. Unmanned aerial
vehicles, helicopters, and new sensor technology will be used in the effort to
dismantle human smuggling networks.
In charge of the new program is David V. Aguilar, chief of the Border
Patrol's Tucson sector.
A similar program launched last year -- "Operation ICE Storm" --
resulted in 2,059 criminal and administrative arrests, 162 indictments, the
seizure of 86 assault weapons and nearly $2.5 million in illicit cash. That
program resulted in a 30 percent drop in homicides in the last quarter of 2003
in Phoenix, were human smuggling activities had been growing especially
-- ICE's March 16 fact sheet:
Arizona Border Control Initiative.
-- ICE's May 18 news release:
Feds Vow To Use "ICE Storm" Tactics in Other Cities as Phoenix Sees Progress
in Human Smuggling Crackdown."
Human Smuggling a Security Risk
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, May 19, 2004
Human smuggling and trafficking into the United States constitute a
"significant risk to national security and public safety," says John P.
Torres, deputy assistant director for smuggling and public safety at the U.S.
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of
In testimony May 18, Torres told the House Judiciary subcommittee on
immigration, border security and claims that well-established routes for
smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States could be exploited by
terrorist and extremist organizations.
See the full text of Torres' testimony:
Smuggling: New Tools an Intelligence Initiatives"
Border Patrol Targets Key Route; $10 Million Dragnet Cracks Down on
By Michael Martinez, Chicago Tribune, Dateline San Miguel, Arizona, May 4,
In an effort to slow down the $2,000-per-person people smuggling
business, the Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative has been put into place.
The effort is bringing together staff, helicopters, and $4 million
worth of unmanned aerial vehicles on what Martinez reports is "the nation's
busiest smuggling corridor.
"About 40 percent of the approximately 900,000 border apprehensions
last fiscal year were in Arizona," Martinez writes.
"The ABC Initiative also allows for increased motor patrols in federal
wildlife refuges and parks across the rugged terrain on both sides of the
border," Martinez writes, noting that many illegal immigrants die trying to
cross the remote Arizona desert.
In addition, the ABC is trying to reduce the violent crime related to
people smuggling. Tom Homan, a federal immigration agent, is quoted as saying:
"You never used to see hostage-taking, raping of women and killing aliens....
This is out of control."
Martinez writes: "That violence prompted the Bureau of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which is part of the Homeland Security
Department, to deploy Operation ICE Storm, employing tactics against smugglers
more typically used on mobsters, such as wiretaps, the monitoring of wire
transfers and the invoking of racketeering laws, said Patricia Schmidt, acting
associate special agent in charge of Phoenix."
Temporary Worker Plan Called Aid in Controlling U.S. Borders
From The Washington File, International Information Programs, U.S. Department
of State, April 5, 2004
President Bush's Temporary Worker Program would allow the United States
to gain greater control over its borders, according to U.S. Customs and Border
Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner.
In April 1 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee's
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Bonner said that
the temporary worker proposal reflects the reality that there are millions of
undocumented aliens in the United States and thousands more attempting to
enter the country to find work.
Bonner noted that the president's proposal would regularize the status
of these individuals and "allow U.S. law enforcement to get a better handle on
who is in our country, and reduce the numbers of people we don't know about
and who could present a terrorist threat."
the full article with transcript.
Slovakia To Earmark 54 Million Euros for Border Protection
CTK (Ceska Tiskova Kancelar) Business News, Dateline Vysne Nemecke, East
Slovakia, April 2, 2004
With its entry into the European Union this May, Slovakia will be
eligible to draw 54 million euros (U.S. $65.2 million) to buy equipment to
improve protection of its eastern border.
Slovakian border police have been successful so far in fighting illegal
immigration and smuggling, according to this article. Police chief Anton
Kulich is quoted as saying: "Last year, 12,493 refugees were detained on the
border with Ukraine and more than 200 people smugglers were arrested. Although
only about one thousand refugees have been detained by the police since the
beginning of this year, charges have been brought against 72 people smugglers,
which is one-third of the number of people smugglers arrested for the entire
Kulich said the point of entry for illegal immigrants seems to have
shifted from the border with Austria and the Czech Republic to the border with
Ukraine. Most of the border crossers were from former Soviet Union countries;
many others came from India, China and Armenia.
People smugglers face five years in prison if they're caught by
Slovakian authorities; the penalty is expected to be increased to eight years
with 15 to 20 year sentences if someone is killed in the process of illegally
crossing the border.
As Border Woes Strain Arizona, U.S. And Mexico Talk
By Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, March 29, 2004
U.S. officials are meeting with their counterparts in Mexico City to
discuss a plan to repatriate Mexican border crossers by sending them deeper
into their home countries and closer to their hometowns. The goals is to break
the "revolving door" of illegal immigrants who, if they get caught unlawfully
entering the United States, just try, try again.
But Lichtblau writes: "The cycle has become so entrenched that some
smugglers, or coyotes, offer migrants three trips across the border for a flat
rate, usually several thousand dollars, if they are caught on their first two
trips, law enforcement officials said.... Nationwide, of those returned to
Mexico, nearly half cross back into the United States only to be caught again,
federal officials say."
A shortage resources, means that most of the illegal border crossers
who are caught are quickly returned without being prosecuted or imprisoned.
With tougher border controls in place in Southern California and Texas,
Arizona has seen a jump of 34 percent in illegal border crossings from Mexico.
Arizona now has 40 percent of all illegal entries. Lichtblau writes: "The
shift to Arizona has brought with it a sharp increase in violent extortions
and drug seizures as well as the deaths of dozens of migrants left in the
desert, law enforcement officials say."
Caught in the middle are the property owners on the American side of
the border between Arizona and Mexico. The surge in illegal border crossings
has created "a climate of fear," according to this report. The illegal's have
allegedly smashed pipes to get water, stolen cars, broken into buildings for
shelter, and accosted strangers for food and money.
U.S. To Launch Operation To Secure Arizona-Mexico Border
Dow Jones International News, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, March 16, 2004
U.S. federal authorities are launching the Arizona Border Control
Initiative -- a major push to secure the Arizona-Mexico border against people
and drug smugglers.
More border patrol agents, helicopters, sensors and other equipment
will be provided for the effort.
The initiative also seeks to reduce the number of deaths among illegal
border crossers -- in fiscal year 2003, 154 people died in the deserts.
According to this report, "the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, which
covers all but about the 50 westernmost miles of the Arizona-Mexico border,
has been the busiest region in trafficking of illegal immigrants for several
See the March 16 Department of Homeland Security press release
Homeland Security Announces Arizona Border Control Initiative.
More Aliens Try To Enter for Amnesty: Bush Plan Spurs Jump in
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, February 20, 2004
President Bush's proposal for a guest-worker program that would give
legal status to millions of illegal immigrants now working in the United
States has caused a surge of new illegal immigrants trying to get enter the
country, according to this article.
The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 9,000
field agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, reports that apprehensions of illegal
immigrants in the San Diego area alone have tripled since President Bush
announced his proposal on January 7 -- and many of those caught acknowledged
that they had come to the United States seeking amnesty.
The Border Patrol had been surveying detained illegal immigrants to
find out if rumors of amnesty had fueled their attempts to get into the United
States. But the survey was dropped after January 27, Seper writes, because it
"had become compromised."
The Bush plan is not yet law and does not grant amnesty.
See the White House fact sheet explaining the Bush administration's
Ex-U.S. Drug Czar: Don't Link Immigration to Terror
Dow Jones International News, Dateline Mexico City, January 28, 2004
Retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, the drug czar under
President Bill Clinton, says that illegal immigration should not be linked to
Speaking to reporters after meeting with private groups and security
company executives in Mexico City, McCaffrey is quoted as saying: "Don't
confuse illegal migration with drugs or terrorism. They are related issues,
but separate problems."
McCaffrey, according to this article, said that terrorism inside Mexico
has not been significant, but threats of terrorism did exist in Colombia and
potential terrorist groups are in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.
Haiti: Deterring Illegal Migration
U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet, December 29, 2003
Illegal migration from Haiti is a threat to U.S. national security and
endangers the Haitians who attempt it, says a fact sheet released December 29
by the U.S. Department of State.
The United States, the fact sheet says, "supports sending a strong
message to all foreign nationals that, consistent with international
obligations and policies, the U.S. will continue to interdict and repatriate
those who attempt illegal entry, absent valid protection claims."
See the full
text of the fact sheet.
Bureau of Diplomatic Security Criminal Program Accomplishments for
Fiscal Year 2003
U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet, December 16, 2003
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the State
Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security enhanced its investigative
capabilities especially in the area of issuing passports and visas.
According to this State Department fact sheet, the Bureau of Diplomatic
Security has already deployed 23 agents to high-fraud posts overseas to work
specifically with host government law enforcement in bolstering border
security capabilities and to prevent ineligible persons from entering the U.S.
illegally. More agents are expected to be assigned to two more high-fraud
posts in fiscal year 2004.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security has also strengthened its working
relationship with the Bureau of Consular Affairs "to promote a proactive,
zero-tolerance stance on passport and visa malfeasance."
See the full
text of the fact sheet.
White House Verifies Immigration Review: Amnesty for Illegals Being
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, December 12, 2003
The Bush administration is considering a new immigration policy that
might include amnesty for millions of illegal aliens living and working in the
White House Spokesman McClellan is quoted as saying at a December 11
press briefing: "We've taken steps to improve border security -- significant
steps, I might add; have made great progress there. We've taken steps to
improve the immigration infrastructure. Those are some foundations for moving
forward on a more orderly, safe and human migration policy.
"And this is a matter that really is under review at this point. We
continue to look at it."
When asked to comment on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's
suggestion, made recently to Miami audiences (See below: Ridge Revives
Debate on Immigrant Status) to provide some sort of legal status to
illegal immigrants already living in the United States, McClellan is quoted as
saying: "I think he's been looking at the issue of the large number of illegal
immigrants that we do have in the country and looking at those that could be
threats and those that are here for other reasons.
"And so, he's just talking about the realities that we are facing now."
excerpt from the December 11 White House briefing.
Ridge Revives Debate on Immigrant Status
By Dan Eggen, The Washington Post, December 11, 2003
Ridge Endorses Legalizing Residents But He Says Illegal Immigration
Must be Stopped
By Tanya Weinberg and Christy McKerney, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says the U.S. government should
provide illegal immigrants living in the United States some sort of legal
Ridge is quoted as saying: "As a country we have to come to grips with
the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal
status some way, but also as a country decide what our immigration policy is
and then enforce it.... I'm not saying make them citizens, because they
violated the law to get here. So you don't reward that type of conduct by
turning over a citizenship certificate. You determine how you can legalize
their presence, then, as a country, you make a decision that from this day
forward, from this day forward, this is the process of entry, and if you
violate that process of entry we have the resources to cope with it."
Ridge made his remarks on December 9 at the Miami-Dade Community
College at a town-hall meeting organized by the nonprofit Council for
Excellence in Government. The Council works to develop homeland security
recommendations for various levels of government.
Eggen writes: "Homeland Security officials said yesterday that Ridge's
remarks were not intended as a proposal or a change in government policy but
were meant only to point out an obvious challenge facing the government."
Brian Roehrkasse, Homeland Security spokesman, is quoted as saying:
"The secretary was merely acknowledging a very practical problem that exists.
There are several million people here illegally, and at some point in time it
would be good to have an accounting of these people so we can identify those
that might be a threat to us."
Guarding America's Border: Understaffed Patrol Must Balance Safety,
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times, Dateline Blaine, Washington, December 8,
The 4,121-mile-long U.S.-Canadian border has only recently been getting
the kinds of border security it needs to monitor the yearly crossings of some
80 million people, according to this report, the first of a three-part series.
Among the improvements: The Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System, which
uses gamma rays to inspect the contents of trucks and other vehicles;
radiation detectors to scan vehicles in an effort to detect weapons of mass
destruction; "smart camera" video-surveillance systems; and, the Customs Trade
Partnership Against Terrorism, which now involves more than 4,000 businesses
and requires them to provide information regarding their trucks, drivers,
cargos, suppliers and routes.
Although there are no hard numbers for how many illegal immigrants
enter the United States from Canada, since 1993, about 28 per day are
apprehended. They come from some 60 countries, including China, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Algeria, South Korea, Yemen and Mexico.
According to this article, international terrorists, including al Qaeda
members, have "sleeper cells" throughout Canada.
Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles
International Airport in 2000, entered the United States from Canada, where he
lived for years posing as a refugee.
the full story.
Secretary Tom Ridge Pledges All-Out Federal Effort to Combat Human
Smuggling and Related Violence
Press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, December 3, 2003
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will do "whatever it
takes" to dismantle the criminal organizations behind human smuggling, says
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Speaking December 3 to law enforcement officials in Phoenix, Arizona,
Ridge said that human smuggling and the violence it generates pose a
significant threat to the nation's security, according to a DHS press release.
He highlighted the initial successes of ICE Storm, the multi-agency
operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and applauded
local agencies for their role.
the full text.
Tighter Border Yields Odd Result: More Illegals Stay
By Eduardo Porter, The Wall Street Journal, Dateline Stockton, California,
October 10, 2003
With stricter policing of the U.S. border and higher prices being
demanded by people smugglers, more illegal immigrants from Mexico are choosing
to just stay in the United States.
According to a study done by Douglas Massey, co-director of the
Mexican Migration Project at
the University of Pennsylvania, the average stay of a Mexican illegal
immigrant in the early 1980s was three years; by the late 1990s, it was nine
In the past, Mexicans would enter the United States illegally to take
jobs, make money, and then go home to their families in Mexico. Now they stay
in the United States and pay "coyotes" to bring their families to them.
The illegal immigrants who choose to stay in the United States
permanently are straining the resources of the communities where they live:
Schools are crowded with Spanish-speaking students; local charities face
increasing demands; and, hospitals are financially strained by the increasing
number of uninsured patients.
Ukrainian Police Arrest 81 illegal Immigrants from Asia, Caucasus
Agence France-Presse, September 29, 2003
Over the past weekend, Ukrainian police arrested 81 illegal immigrants;
most were from China, Pakistan, Georgia and Chechnya.
A group of 30 Chinese, who had visas for Russia but not Ukraine, were
found in two vehicles near Sumy, bordering Russia, with their four Ukrainian
Chinese, along with Pakistanis, head the list of the more than 5,000
illegal immigrants who were arrested in Ukraine last year.
According to this article, an estimated 30,000 illegal immigrants cross
into Ukraine each year in an attempt to reach Slovakia, Poland or Hungary.
Those in Distress Seem Happy To Be Caught
By Luke Turf, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, September
When they're lost, exhausted and sick from the heat of Arizona's
deserts, most illegal immigrants are happy to be discovered by BORSTAR -- the
U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue teams.
So far this year, BORSTAR in the Tucson sector of Arizona has rescued
301 people; nationwide these elite rescue teams have rescued at least 959
Ukraine Deports 46 Chinese Clandestine Immigrants
Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2003
Ukrainian border authorities have deported 46 Chinese illegal
immigrants back to Beijing at their families' expense.
The Chinese, who had been trying to reach western Europe, had been
detained in Ukraine for six months. The Chinese embassy in Kiev had contacted
their families and arranged for them to pay the airline fares for their kin to
Another group of 43 Chinese illegal immigrants will be repatriated next
Boris Marchenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian border service, is quoted
as saying more than 400 illegal immigrants are being held in temporary
In 2002, Ukraine authorities apprehended more than 5,000 illegal
immigrants, mostly from China, India and Pakistan. Ukraine -- along with
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- has become a major transit country for Asian
illegal immigrants trying to reach the west.
Mexican ID Card Is Gaining Acceptance in Some U.S. Cities
By Rachel L. Swarns, The New York Times and International Herald Tribune,
Dateline Indianapolis, Indiana, August 26, 2003
The matricula consular -- an identification card issued by the
Mexican government to its citizens -- is increasing being accepted by local
authorities in the United States.
Swarns writes: "In March 2002, only a handful of cities and banks
recognized the matricula consular, Mexican officials say. Today, more
than 100 cities, 900 police departments, 100 financial institutions and 13
states, including Indiana, New Mexico and Utah, accept the cards, which carry
the bearer's photo, name and address and are issued by Mexican consulates....
"Illegal immigrants who carry the matricula consular still
risk deportation and are still barred from working, by federal law. They
cannot use the card to register to vote, change their immigration status or to
obtain Social Security numbers or work permits," Swarns notes.
But in places where the cards are recognized, they ease the way for the
illegal immigrant to obtain a driver's license, permits and various city
Germany To Oversee Future EU Land Border Police Force
Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2003
Germany will supervise a European Union border police force under a
European Union plan to patrol the bloc's land frontiers and halt the influx of
Under "Project Neptune" -- as the immigration surveillance plan has
been dubbed -- Italy would be in charge of immigration through the EU's
airports; Spain and Greece would coordinate two checkpoints at sea.
Amnesty Programs Have No Impact on Illegal Immigration, Study Says
U.S. Newswire, Dateline Dallas, Texas, August 21, 2003
The 1986 passage of the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA),
which granted amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants but increased
penalties and tightened border controls, was only temporarily effective in
reducing illegal immigration, according to a study conducted by economists Pia
Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny.
IRCA did not lead to a surge in illegal immigration, as some critics
have charged, the authors say. But Orrenius is quoted as saying:
"Apprehensions were similar before passage of the amnesty and post-IRCA, even
though some 2 million Mexicans were legalized. This evidence is consistent
with a rise in illegal immigration in the years after the amnesty."
The study appeared in the August issue of Demography, a
peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Association of America.
See the full article
Programs Reduce Undocumented Immigration? Evidence from IRCA."
Rise in Number of Women, Juvenile Illegal Immigrants Reported
By Michelle Rushlo, Associated Press Newswires, August 15, 2003
More women and children are illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border,
according to this report.
In the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector along the border of Arizona
and Mexico, 38,000 women were caught in the first eight months of this fiscal
year, compared to 32,000 during the same time period the year before. For
children, the figure jumped to 8,000 from 7,000.
In the Yuma sector, which covers the southwestern corner of Arizona,
6,500 women were caught from October through July, compared to 5,362 in the
entire previous fiscal year in that sector. Some 4,000 children were caught,
compared to 947 in the last fiscal year.
It is assumed that most of the women are trying to reunite with
husbands who earlier entered the United States. Tougher border security make
it difficult for men who are illegal immigrants to travel back and forth to
visit wives and family outside the United States.
Asian Illegal Immigrants Found in French-Bound Polish Lorry
Agence France-Press, June 23, 2003
Polish customs officers apprehended 33 Asian illegal immigrants -- 17
Chinese, 14 Afghans and two Chechens -- in a truck bound for France. The truck
driver and two suspected Polish traffickers were arrested.
Poland officials often apprehend Asian illegal immigrants bound for
European Union countries, according to this report.
Fact Sheet: A Day in the Life of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, June 19, 2003
On average each day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents
apprehend 2,617 people crossing illegally into the United States and rescue 3
people illegally crossing the border in dangerous conditions.
EU Leaders Agree Cash to Combat Illegal Immigrants
By Gareth Jones, Reuters News, Dateline Porto Carras, Greece, June 19, 2003
European Union leaders agreed to spend 140 million Euros (about 164
million U.S. dollars) to tighten border security in an effort to control the
flow of illegal immigrants.
European Commission President Romano Prodi is quoted as saying: "The (EU)
Commission has made an effort to find extra money because our borders are
very, very long and difficult to guard."
With eastern enlargement scheduled for next year, the EU will have
longer borders with the Balkans and countries of the former Soviet Union.
Migrant Smuggling Undeterred; Tighter Borders Since 9/11 Put
Traffickers in Demand
By Alfonso Chardy, The Miami Herald, May 30, 2003
Tighter border controls now make smaller smuggling rings more
attractive for illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States,
according to this article.
Jim Chaparro, acting executive director for interior enforcement for
the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is quoted as saying:
"Fifteen years ago, you did not need smugglers to get across the border
illegally, except maybe a local guide. Now it's a humongous problem."
Federal immigration officials arrested 1,091 smuggling suspects in 2001
(the last year for which figures are available) compared to 350 in 1992. U.S.
authorities apprehended 17,984 smuggled immigrants in 2001, compared to 681 in
Many small smuggling networks focus on a particular ethnic group. Top
source countries for illegal immigrants entering the United States are:
Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and the Dominican Republic and China.
Ridge Says Unmanned Drones Could be Patrolling Borders by End of
By Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Washington, May 22,
Homeland Security Tom Ridge told Congress that unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs) could be patrolling the U.S. border by the end of the year.
In testimony to the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, Ridge
said the remote-controlled aircraft, similar to those used in the war on Iraq,
could help stem illegal immigrants and increase security.
See Ridge's testimony and other information on the website for
Select Committee on Homeland Security.
Ukraine Detains 17 Illegal Chinese Immigrants, Traffickers
Agence France-Presse, May 22, 2003
Ukrainian border guards have caught 17 illegal Chinese immigrants and
arrested an unspecified number of Russian and Ukrainian traffickers near the
border with Belarus.
In the past month, Ukrainian officials have quarantined nearly 700
illegal immigrants, most of them Chinese, for fear of introducing into the
country the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). So far, none have
been found to be infected.
Migrants Put Lives at Risk to Obtain Florida Jobs
By Sandra Hernandez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, May 21, 2003
The routes are getting riskier and the costs higher for illegal
immigrants trying to get into the United States, this article says.
Mario Villarreal, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security's
Bureau of Customs and Border Enforcement, is quoted as saying: "More and more
people are turning to smuggling organizations to cross the border. What you
are seeing are much more organized smuggling rings that use much more
dangerous routes to enter the United States."
Rob Williams, director of Florida's Legal Service's Migrant Workers
Justice Project, is quoted as saying: "The risk factor is measured in terms of
the price." Smugglers charge more to avoid increased border enforcement, he
Hernandez interviewed "Josefina," a 40-year-old Mexican native and
illegal immigrant who has been working in an American nursery for four years.
She is quoted as saying: "I don't know that (if I left the United States) I
could make it (back) again. I remember last time when I got here I was so
scared and tired. My body was covered in scars from the cactus needles and all
my toenails fell off from walking for three nights straight. It was horrible
We could hear the sound of the rattlesnakes in the distance and I just prayed
that I would make it.
"People don't leave here (the United States) because we can't earn
enough to get home. You come here because you think you will make lots of
money, but it's not true. But you only realize this after you have crossed and
nearly died doing it. Now we can't leave."
Limbo of the Migrant Worker
By Jason Song, The Baltimore Sun, Dateline Carlsbad, California, May 14, 2003
Illegal migrant farm workers are increasingly staying in the United
States year round, this report says.
In years past, farm workers from Mexico and Latin American countries
would illegally enter the United States to get jobs harvesting crops. When the
harvest season was over, they would sneak back over the border to go home to
But the tougher border security measures instituted since the 9/11
terrorist attacks have made many illegals afraid to return home for fear they
might be caught by authorities. Or, if they could return home successfully,
they fear they might be caught trying enter the United States the next harvest
season. In addition, human smugglers -- known as "coyotes" -- have raised
their fees because crossing the border illegally has become more difficult.
The result is hundreds of illegal immigrant farm workers sit out the
non-harvest season in abysmal conditions, hiding in shantytowns without
electricity or running water or proper sewage disposal. Some of their
encampments have been torn down by city officials, because human refuse
polluted nearby water supplies.
The farmers who employ the workers part of the year say they are not
responsible for housing the workers.
Letter of Barbara Comstock, Director of Public Affairs, U.S.
Department of Justice, to the editor of Time Magazine
May 13, 2003
Comstock clarifies a number of issues regarding U.S. policy toward
illegal immigrants in this
letter to the
editor released by the Department of Justice May 14, 2003.
U.S. Toughens Immigration Stance
By Eduardo Porter, The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2003
In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, U.S.
authorities have been tracking illegal immigrants more aggressively.
"The new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the
Homeland Security Department, says it is concentrating its resources on
securing potential terrorist targets such as airports, stadiums, nuclear
facilities, and defense plants," Porter writes. "The airport crackdown has
rooted out 4,271 undocumented immigrant workers across the country. The Social
Security Administration blitzed nearly a million employers with 'no match'
letters warning them they had incorrect Social Security numbers on their
payrolls, leading many of the workers to be fired or quit.
"The Internal Revenue Service also is considering tightening
enforcement of long-ignored rules that allowed it to fine businesses who file
employee W2 forms with bad Social Security numbers," Porter says.
Undocumented Immigrant Tally Hits 7 Million
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Chicago Tribune, Dateline Washington, February 1,
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that the
number of illegal immigrants in the United States reached 7 million in 2000.
The net growth of that population may be as much as 350,000 each year.
California has the largest number of illegal immigrants, with an
estimated 2.2 million, followed by Texas, which has some 1 million.
Executive Summary for INS's Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant
Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000 dated January 31,
U.S. Cracks Down On Human Smuggling In Effort To Stop Terrorists
Prepared Statement of Johnny Williams, Executive Associate Commissioner of the
INS, Before the Senate Committee on Finance, January 30, 2003
In January 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began
targeting significant alien-smuggling organizations specializing in the
movement of U.S.-bound aliens from countries that are of interest to the
national security of the United States.
The INS believes that alien-smuggling organizations may wittingly or
unwittingly be utilized to smuggle terrorists around the globe.
Since the inception of this operation, eight significant alien
smugglers have been arrested and charged with alien-smuggling violations, and
significant alien-smuggling pipelines have been severely crippled.
full text of Williams' testimony.
Alien Pipeline to U.S. Exposed
The Australian, Dateline Montreal, January 2, 2003
Canadian police arrested a man suspected of helping five Middle Eastern
suspects sought by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The alleged people smuggler told Montreal police that his organization
was paid handsomely to help 19 people enter the United States illegally from
Pakistan via Britain and Canada.
According to this report, this arrest could be "the first concrete
achievement" obtained by a U.S.-Canadian anti-terrorist unit set up after the
September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
24,000 Turks and Iranians Arrived as Tourists. Only 1,000 Went Home
By David Williams, Daily Mail (London), Dateline Belgrade, November 26, 2002
Organized crime has made the Balkans the gateway to Britain and Western
Europe for tens of thousands of asylum seekers and the biggest new drug route
to the West, according to this article. There are also fears that terrorists
are using the same routes to move operatives and weapons.
"The United Nations International Organisation on Migration has warned
that unless a joint initiative is agreed, Western Europe will be 'overwhelmed
by migrants,'" Williams writes.
In 2001, some 24,000 Iranians and Turks came as tourists to the Bosnian
capital of Sarajevo, but only 1,000 ever went home. The rest were smuggled out
to other countries.
In the last two years, an estimated 50,000 Chinese have crossed from
Serbia into Bosnia, smuggled in through Romania and Bulgaria. Belgrade has a
thriving Chinese community where the illegal Chinese immigrants can await
their chance to move to Western Europe.
Williams writes: "The implications of the crime crisis for the Balkan
countries and their fledgling democracies are massive. Mafia rackets are
costing nations such as Bosnia more than their entire annual budgets. Customs
and tax scams alone are estimated to lose Bosnia at least GBP 400 million
INS Announces Notice Concerning Expedited Removal
Statement, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Fact Sheet, Immigration and Naturalization Service
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) announced that all
individuals who arrive in the United States illegally by sea will be placed in
"expedited removal proceedings," and they will remain in detention at the
discretion of the Justice Department during the period of time it takes U.S.
authorities to review their cases.
INS said the decision is not a change in policy, but the "activation of
America's Southern Border -- Terror War's Maginot Line?
By Peter Benesh, Investor's Business, June 17, 2002
This article examines the possibility that terrorists will use the
services of criminal smuggling groups to enter the United States via its
southern border with Mexico.
Arnaud De Borchgrave of the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, is quoted as saying that organized crime and terrorism are merging.
"Mexico is a transit point for major international smuggling
organizations," Adele Fasano, director for the Immigration and Naturalization
Service in San Diego, is quoted as saying. According to Border Patrol officer
Ron Hunter: "Anyone can connect with a smuggler over there (in Mexico)."
For example, San Ysidro, located at the south end of San Diego, is "the
world's busiest border point," Benesh writes. In May this year, 120,000 people
used San Ysidro each day to enter the United States by vehicle or on
foot. In 2001, the INS there stopped people from 73 countries trying to enter
the United States illegally.
Although U.S. security measures have been strengthened, smugglers are
adapting. Since February, U.S. authorities have found three tunnels in the
wilderness areas east of San Diego. "One was 1,200-feet long. It had a
railway, electricity and ventilation," writes Benesh. "It was built by the
Arellano Felix drug cartel to smuggle drugs and people into the U.S."
U.S. Customs Announces Container Security Initiative
U.S. Customs Fact Sheet, February 22, 2002
The U.S. Customs Service released a fact sheet on February 22
describing an initiative that would tighten security on oceangoing sea
The goal of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) is to pre-screen
cargo containers at ports of origin and transit rather than waiting for them
to arrive at U.S. ports for inspection.
The CSI also calls for using technology to pre-screen high-risk
containers and develop "smart and secure containers."
Created: 19 Jul 2004 Updated: 11 Jan 2005