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SaturdayOctober 22, 2011

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Bill Gates Foundation Produces Telenovela to Help Economically Empower Women in Central America

Bill Gates Foundation Produces Telenovela to Help Economically Empower Women in Central America

Photo: Bill Gates Foundation Helps Central Americans

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The Bill Gates Foundation and Women’s World Banking (WWB), a non-profit microfinance organization that works globally to economically empower poor women and their families, are behind a new soap opera that will air in the Dominican Republic on starting on October 24.

The soap, Contracorriente (Against the Current), was filmed in Nicaragua.  The starring role in the show is played by Miriam, (actress Amarilis Soza) and the audience watches her struggles with saving to build a new home. Amarilis is from Nicaragua.

The project includes the creation of this soap opera, along with a media campaign, financial education campaign, and monitoring and evaluation analysis.  Gates Foundation is a full funder of educational campaign and a partial funder of the television show. 

Read more at DR 1 →

DC Mayor “We’re Not Going to be Instruments of Federal Law “on Immigration

DC Mayor “We’re Not Going to be Instruments of Federal Law “on Immigration

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District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray has signed an executive order prohibiting police officers and all city agencies from questioning people about their immigration status and limiting the District’s cooperation with federal officials when it comes to deportation proceedings.

The order signed Wednesday was cheered by advocates for immigrants, but it does not mean illegal immigrants arrested in the District can not be deported.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander said the District is not opting out of a mandatory federal program called Secure Communities

, which directs local agencies to share fingerprints collected from people in local jails with the Department of Homeland Security. The program is expected to be in place nationwide by 2013.

D.C. police currently send all fingerprints of anyone arrested for a serious crime to the FBI. That data is shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and can still lead to deportation.

But now D.C. police will not hold individuals beyond the required 48 hours unless federal law enforcement agencies obtain a court order.

In the past, when federal agencies like ICE requested a detainer for individuals believed to be in the country illegally, D.C. police would hold the suspects for longer than the legally required 48 hour period as a
courtesy. That has now changed.

“The 48-hour rule we will apply strictly,” Quander told WTOP reporters.

Gray says he’s willing to consider opting out of Secure Communities in the future but wanted to send a clear message now that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.

“We’re not going to be instruments of federal law when it comes to immigration status,” Gray said. “If there are steps we need to take beyond this, then we will consider those at that point.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

What is José Alberto Pujols Alcántara Worth?

What is José Alberto Pujols Alcántara Worth?

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José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (born January 16, 1980), better known as Albert Pujols is a Dominican professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently a first baseman, Pujols is considered one of the top players in Major League Baseball.

Jose Alberto Pujols (Prince Albert, Phat Albert or The Machine)
Positions: First Baseman, Leftfielder and Third Baseman
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6’ 3”, Weight: 230 lb.
Born: in Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, D.R. (Age 31)
High School: Fort Osage (Independence, MO)
Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft.
Signed August 17, 1999. (All Transactions)
Debut: April 2, 2001
Team: Cardinals 2001-2011
2012 Contract Status: Free Agent, 8 yrs/$111M (04-11)
Service Time (01/2012): 11.000, Free Agent: 2012 , Agents: Dan Lozano

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Read more by HS News Staff →

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- See Carmela Story (VIDEO)

Carmela partnered with The Allstate Foundation to share her story of domestic violence. The Foundation supports survivors through resources targeted to build financial independence and educates the public on how hard it is for people to leave an abusive relationship without economic resources.

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Sen Menendez on the President’s Announcement of Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

Sen Menendez on the President’s Announcement of Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

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U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement of troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.

“Today’s announcement by President Obama, bringing home American troops from Iraq, is historic. As someone who voted against the war while in the House of Representatives, I believe this was the right decision.  This was a war of choice—not necessity—and it is time to bring home the nearly 40,000 troops to their families.

“Today, we also recognize that more than 4,000 families across our nation will not welcome home their sons and daughters from this war and tens of thousands more troops will return with life-long injuries sustained during their service.  We extend our hand in humble gratitude to these troops and their families for their enduring sacrifices and we must now be ready to ensure that a grateful nation provides the employment opportunities, health care, and benefits that those returning deserve.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

CD Review: ‘Alma Vieja’ by Russ Hewitt (Audio)

CD Review: ‘Alma Vieja’ by Russ Hewitt (Audio)

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Released this year, Russ Hewitt’s Latin American influenced album, Alma Vieja, or “old soul” in English, made my old soul want to crumble- and not in a good way.

As much as I appreciate culturally influenced works, this anything but bearable album that mixes the sounds of Rhumba with Flamenco and Jazz is not even close to becoming a hit. There are several things I would rather listen to: elevator music, my mother ranting about laundry to do, and a monkey giving birth.

The album is just too clean, too processed. It has an over produced, over edited quality that I cannot find any value in. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the artist was trying to do.

The songs do not speak to me like I think an album should. The songs are very individualistic and I cannot find any theme intertwined in the songs other than the fact that the music is Latin influenced.

Most of the songs remind me of preset jazz ringtones you would find on any standard low-grade cellphone. I expected so much more when listening to this album. Also, have you ever tried to learn an instrument and in the instructional booklets was a CD to play along with? This album sounds exactly like one of those CDs.

If you are entirely curious, give the album a shot. However, I could not stand the elementary feel of the music. Yeah, the composition sounds fine and the guitar skill is amazing, but it’s not music that I can grasp. It could easily be in the background of any department store while the customers look at other CDs to buy.

Stephanie Trottier

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Read more at The Celebrity Cafe →

Fireworks Blasts Kills 16 in Peru

Fireworks Blasts Kills 16 in Peru

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Peruvian authorities say two unrelated explosions involving fireworks have killed at least 16 people.

Police say a vehicle packed with confiscated fireworks exploded in front of a police station in the southern highlands town of Julia, killing four officers and injuring nearly two dozen others Thursday.

In the second incident Thursday, at least 12 people were killed when their bus blew up and caught fire east of Lima, the capital.

Police suspect fireworks on the bus caused the explosion.

Read more at Voice of America →

Obama Signs US/Colombia Trade Agreement- 7 Years in the Making

Obama Signs US/Colombia Trade Agreement- 7 Years in the Making

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President Obama signed a US/Colombia trade agreement on Friday after seven years of legislative effort.

US Ambassador Michael McKinley said that although Obama would sign the bill “there are issues like the protection of intellectual property, customs, arbitration” that could delay the trade pact between seven and 18 months to take effect.

Also, “the concern remains for the rights of unionists,” McKinley said.

Colombia’s ambassador to Washington, Gabriel Silva, told economic newspaper Portafolio that domestic legislative processes will delay the implementation of the FTA, including the approval of pre-requisite laws, decrees, and resolutions.

According to the newspaper’ editorial, “there is still a long road ahead which includes the making adequate of rules of both countries that was approved in the text of the deal, and logically, that the businesses can prepare themselves to make use of the advantages free trade offers.”

The newspaper estimates that the FTA needs at least a year to take effect.

Read more at Merco Press →

ICE deports record 400,000 immigrants

ICE deports record 400,000 immigrants

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This week federal immigration officials announced that it had deported nearly 400,000 people in the last fiscal year, the largest number of deportations in history.

On Tuesday, John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said 55 percent of those deported had felony or misdemeanor convictions, an increase of 89 percent from 2008.

Of the 396,906 people deported, more than 1,000 had been convicted of homicide, 5,800 were sex offenders, and roughly 80,000 people had been convicted of drug-related crimes or driving under the influence.
“We continue to hope for comprehensive immigration reform at a national level, working with the Congress, but in the meantime, we work with the resources we have, under the laws we have,” Morton said.
The increasing number of criminals deported comes as part of President Obama’s immigration strategy in which he focuses primarily on dangerous illegal immigrants rather than law abiding individuals seeking to make a living.

To that end, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has said her agency has allocated more resources to capturing criminals, recent border crossers, fugitives, and those who repeatedly cross the border.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the announcement stating that the statistics were inflated. Smith, a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policies, said the numbers included people who voluntarily left the country without penalties and can eventually sneak back into the United States.

“We could free up millions of jobs for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our immigration laws,” he said.

The National Immigration Forum, a Washington D.C. based immigration advocacy organization,  also criticized the administration.

“At $23,000 per individual to go through the complete deportation process, immigration enforcement without fixing our broken system is not sustainable,” it said in a statement. “We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars, year after year, while denying we have a more fundamental problem — that our immigration system no longer serves America well.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo elected to Security Council

Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo elected to Security Council

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Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo will serve as non-permanent members of the 15-member Security Council in 2012-13 after winning their seats during elections held Friday at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

UN Member States voted in the General Assembly by secret ballot for five non-permanent seats divided by geographical grouping – three from the Africa and Asia-Pacific grouping, one from Eastern Europe, and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.

To win election, a country must receive a two-thirds majority of those countries present and voting, regardless of whether or not they are the only candidate in their region. Voting continues until the two-thirds threshold is reached for the required number of seats.To win election, a country must receive a two-thirds majority of those countries present and voting, regardless of whether or not they are the only candidate in their region.

Guatemala received 191 votes and was duly elected to the Latin America and Caribbean seat, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser announced after the conclusion of the first round of voting.

Morocco received 151 votes and Pakistan received 129 votes, which means they were elected to two of the three seats allocated this year to Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Morocco has served twice previously on the Council – in 1963-64 and again in 1992-93. Pakistan has served on six previous occasions, most recently in 2003-04.

Togo (119 votes), Mauritania (98), Kyrgyzstan (55) and Fiji (one) did not receive enough votes in the first round, and during a second, restricted round of voting Togo again received 119 votes while Mauritania obtained 72.

But in a third round of voting, Togo obtained 131 votes, above the two-thirds threshold, and was therefore elected. Mauritania received 61 votes. It will be the second time in its history that Togo has served on the Security Council, with the first stint taking place in 1982-83.

In the Eastern European category, Azerbaijan received 74 votes, Slovenia picked up 67, and Hungary received 52 in the first round. In two subsequent rounds of restricted balloting, neither Slovenia nor Azerbaijan received enough votes to meet the two-thirds majority threshold. A fourth rote of voting will take place later today.

Today’s elections are being held to replace the departing members of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

The new members will join Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa, whose terms end on 31 December 2012, and the five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Read more at UN →

Cablevision’s iO TV Launches “Semillitas” Channel for Latino Toddlers and Preschoolers

Cablevision’s iO TV Launches “Semillitas” Channel for Latino Toddlers and Preschoolers

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SOMOSTV today announced the launch of “Semillitas,” a TV channel targeting Latino toddlers and preschoolers from 0-5 years of age with the goal of helping parents preserve their language and cultural roots, on Cablevision’s iO en espanol package. Semillitas offers 24 hour, state-of-the-art animation from Latin America, Spain, the United States and other countries, dubbed in neutral Spanish in a safe, soothing, culturally relevant graphic package.

Semillitas’ programming strategy targets a segment that represents 27 percent of the total 0-5 years of age bracket in the U.S. (as a contrast, Latinos as a whole make up 15 percent of the total U.S. population). According to recent Census results, Latinos have reached the 50 million mark and are responsible for the growth of the country’s population, becoming the first ethnic minority. Latino mothers consider the early ages as a critical time to seed the elements of their heritage, knowing that their children will become mainstream with formal education and other cultural elements and Semillitas’ goal is to contribute in this task with state of the art animation.

“We are very pleased to add Semillitas to Cablevision’s iO en espanol. Our very popular Spanish-language digital cable package with 45 channels has something entertaining and informative for all household members. iO en espanol provides extensive programming from local sports to popular telenovelas, and includes shows for everyone in the house from preschoolers to parents. Semillitas will bring even more value to our viewers,” said Bradley Feldman, Cablevision’s vice president, video product management.

Jose Antonio Espinal, COO of SOMOSTV, said, “We are very pleased to reach a significant number of Latino households hand in hand with a company that has consistently shown a commitment to serve this audience. We are proud to produce a network that has a high number of animation coming from Latin America, packaged in an on air presence that includes our unique in-house productions, celebrating our own multicultural experience together with our traditions. Our inclusion in iO TV’s new iO en espanol package demonstrates Cablevision’s philosophy to provide top quality entertainment for every member of the Latino household.”

iO en espanol’s new package brings customers across Cablevision’s Tri-State service area even more Spanish-language news and entertainment than ever before. The package features a broad spectrum of television programming from the most recognized Spanish-language channels around the world including sports, news, telenovelas, documentaries, movies and entertainment with beloved global celebrities and stars. iO en espanol also includes more than 100 hours per month of On Demand programming at no additional charge, allowing customers to watch a wide variety of popular movies and shows at their convenience.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ten Things to Know About Alabama’s New Immigration Law

Ten Things to Know About Alabama’s New Immigration Law

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On September 28th, 2011, the most sweeping anti-immigration law in the country went into effect in Alabama.  The law, HB 56, has already had harsh and sweeping consequences—hurting not only undocumented immigrants but legal residents, native-born U.S. citizens, and the state’s reputation on the national stage.  HB 56 has created a climate of hostility for Hispanics and immigrants that has caused many of them to flee the state or lock themselves in their houses, while devastating Alabama’s agriculture and construction industries and creating massive bureaucratic hassles for citizens who are just trying to get their vehicle tags renewed. 

While the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Alabama to stop enforcing two provisions of the law on October 14th, the damage they caused may be irreversible—and the rest of the law remains in effect.  What’s truly shocking, though, is that not only have the law’s defenders failed to express concern about its consequences on Alabama families, but they’re proud of them—and say the law is working as intended.

Here are ten things to know about the new Alabama anti-immigration law:

1.    Children are too afraid to risk going to school.  One provision of HB 56 forces teachers and school administrators to check not only the immigration status of all new students, but also the status of their parents.  While the 11th Circuit Court ruled on October 14th that Alabama had to temporarily stop enforcing this provision, it was in full effect for over two weeks of classes and is still a part of Alabama law.  Some schools interrogated previously enrolled students as well; theBirmingham News reported that one school even called Hispanic students into the cafeteria and asked them to publicly disclose the legal status of their parents.

And Hispanic students weren’t the only ones who felt targeted: school counselor Roseann Rodriguez toldHuffington Post that “My sixth graders of African American descent were asking me if they were going to have to go back to Africa.”  As of October 7th, at least 2,300 children were missing from Alabama schools.  All of these children are constitutionally guaranteed a right to an education; many of them are native-born U.S. citizens whose parents happen to be undocumented.

2.    Humble workers and families with strong ties to Alabama are being treated like criminals.  HB 56 forces police officers in Alabama to ask anyone they stop who they think might be undocumented to prove their immigration status.  Furthermore, it nullifies all contracts with undocumented immigrants, and makes it a crime for any branch of state government to do business with them, leading to new verification provisions affecting all Alabama residents.  It has created a climate of fear for Latinos in the state, who feel like “suspects” every time they leave their home.

As Maribel Hastings of America’s Voice Español reported:

One young father from Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico told me, through tears, that his 12-year-old son, who is undocumented, has always been an honor student who recently won a school trip to go to the Space Museum in Huntsville. He didn’t go, because he was afraid the police would detain him.

‘We don’t have much time to think it over … maybe we can get our affairs in order here in two or three weeks and see what our options are, maybe moving to another state, or straight to Mexico,’ the father said.

Some families don’t dare to leave the house, even to get basic items like food.  The church deacon said that he knew people who had gone days without leaving to buy groceries; he had offered to bring them food himself.  Those who do leave the house do so knowing the risk they take.”

One woman interviewed even said that her U.S.-born children had the flu, but she was afraid to take them to the doctor.

3.    Families are being denied access to basic necessities, like water.  The Guardian newspaper reported on a warning posted in the small town of Allgood, Alabama:

“The poster is mildly worded, but carries a very big punch.

‘Attention to all water customers,’ it begins. ‘To be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama driver’s license…’

And then comes the hit:

‘… or you may lose water service.’

The warning, posted in the offices of a public water company in the small town of Allgood in Alabama, is the most graphic illustration yet of the draconian new immigration law coming into effect in the state.”

That’s right, because of the law, families are being denied basic utilities, like water, unless they can show papers.

4.    The climate of hostility is even targeting legal immigrants and Hispanic citizens.  The law is encouraging private citizens to harass people based on the color of their skin, in a chilling repeat of the darkest days of Alabama’s history. The Alabama Press-Register told the story of 18-year-old Jessica Pineda:

“She now rarely leaves home, except to go to work. She stays in Alabama because it’s where her family stays.  ‘I was born in the United States,’ she said. ‘I know I have my American rights.  But if I go outside people are going to think I’m illegal. I get scared because we have the color.’

And NPR interviewed a 16-year-old native-born U.S. citizen who reported getting teased by classmates at school, who jeered, “Are you going back to Mexico, man?”

“It kinda makes me angry,” he told NPR, “but I can’t do anything about it. I can’t help the way I was born, the color skin that I have.”

5.    Police are confused about how to enforce the law, and worried that they will have to divert resources from serious crimes.  Several outlets have reported that there is widespread confusion and uncertainty among police about how to enforce the law.  After the law was supposed to go into effect, Randy Christian, chief deputy of the Jefferson County Sheriff Department, told Reuters that his officers “have to get some answers on how we actually enforce it and how we can do so without involving racial profiling.”

Boaz Police Chief Terry Davis, who heads a group of 365 Alabama police chiefs, told the Associated Press, “We just need to know what to do without getting everyone in trouble. We’re all sort of confused right now.”

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper has been a forceful opponent of the law itself. He expressed concern that training for the law would strain his department’s budget and told a Birmingham TV station, “As chief of Birmingham, illegal immigration is not in my top ten. Homicides, robberies, rapes, burglaries, car theft—those are the sort of things that are in my top ten. Not whether the person who’s over here painting houses is here illegally. But the state has shifted their priorities. That’s one of the concerns I have with the law. Because as the chief police officer for this city, I should set the priorities for this police department.”

6.    The exodus of Hispanics and immigrants is threatening local businesses and destroying the economic base of whole communities.  As reported by the Alabama Press-Register, one Mexican restaurant owner in the small town of Robertsdale estimated that his customer base has shrunk by 75% – from 100 customers a day to 25.  A baker estimated his had shrunk by 90%.  One family told a reporter that they were considering closing their restaurant and moving to Mississippi to find business.

7.    Farmers and construction business owners are already facing disaster.  Business owners are watching their Hispanic and immigrant workforce disappear—not only undocumented immigrants, but legal immigrants as well.

Housing developer Bill Brett told NPR, “We’ve had many employees leave that were legal. Maybe a family member wasn’t legal, or maybe a close friend or relative.  Or maybe they’re just scared of being targeted and they’re just uncomfortable staying in this community and working here.”

The Associated General Contractors of Alabama estimate that about one-fourth of the entire construction work force has already left the state.  The agriculture industry is faring even worse: it’s harvest time, and their crops are rotting in the fields.  One family farmer told CBS News that the labor shortage would cost his family around $150,000 this year.  Shortly after HB 56 went into effect, according to the Associated Press, 50 desperate Alabama farmers met with one of the law’s sponsors to complain; when he dismissed their complaints, and told them “the law will be in effect this entire growing season.” One farmer replied, “There won’t be no next growing season.”

8.    Bureaucracy overrun – Alabamians are waiting in out-the-door lines to get their vehicle tags renewed.  Because of new ID requirements under HB 56, lines for annual vehicle tag renewal are so long that officials at the Birmingham DMV have had to add portable toilets, according to the Associated Press.  The added burden has thrown state employees and citizens so far behind schedule that the state is allowing citizens whose tags expired in September to get a 20-day extension on renewing them.  Even after the extension was granted, NPR reported that visitors to the Birmingham office had to arrive at 4:30 to get in front of the line, while those who arrived after the office had opened had to wait in line for six hours.

9.    African-American and civil rights leaders are outraged that Alabama is repeating a bleak chapter of its history on civil rights and race relations.  U.W. Clemon, the former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and a career civil-rights activist, told Jose Antonio Vargas, “In some very serious ways, [the initial ruling to uphold most of the law] was mistaken.  Ours is a country basically that is based on immigration.  We are a nation of immigrants. Only two categories of Americans don’t fall into the category of immigrants, and that is the Native Americans – the Indians – and the black Americans.  We’re the only ones who didn’t seek to come here.  Everybody else has to look to Europe, or Asia, in terms of their background, in terms of their ancestors coming to America, most of them without having to go through all kinds of hoops to become Americans.  They just showed up, and worked hard…[Under HB 56] the Hispanic man is the new Negro. It’s a sad thing to say, and I think it reflects reality.”

And Congressman John Lewis, a close ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, told a school audience in Georgia,  “Here in Georgia, in my native Alabama, some other parts of the South, you hear this free debate about immigration.  We don’t want to go back.  We wanna go forward as a nation, as a people.  We all came from some other part of the world…so we all are immigrants ourselves.  Dr. King said on one occasion, ‘We should learn to live together as brethren and sisters.’”

10.  … and the law’s champions are delighted. They say everything is going according to plan.  When POLITICO asked Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama about “unintended consequences” of HB 56, like the mass absences of his state’s Hispanic children, Brooks replied: “Those are the intended consequences of Alabama’s legislation with respect to illegal aliens.  We don’t have the money in America to keep paying for the education of everybody else’s children from around the world.”

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, one of the architects of Alabama’s law and Arizona’s SB 1070, told a conference that driving Hispanics out of the state was just an efficient way to enforce the law: “People are picking up and leaving…You’re encouraging people to comply with the law on their own.  Nobody gets arrested.  Nobody spends time in detention.  We don’t expend resources in removal proceedings…I’d say that’s a good thing.” 

And Alabama’s U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions called the exodus of Hispanic families from the state “a rational response” to the law.  When talk radio host Laura Ingraham asked Sessions, “Do you think it’s bad that all these Hispanic kids have disappeared from the schools?”, Sessions replied, “All I would just say to you is that it’s a sad thing that we’ve allowed a situation to occur for decades that large numbers of people are in the country illegal, and it’s going to have unpleasant, unfortunate consequences.”

Read more at Americas Voice →

CELEBRATE this weekend with a Latin American Natural Wonder

CELEBRATE this weekend with a Latin American natural wonder.  Guess What and Where this is?


Juan Laverde, Latin American Natural Wonder


Read more by HS News Staff →

First Mexican Carrier Set to Cross Border

First Mexican Carrier Set to Cross Border

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Transportes Olympic, a Monterrey, Mexico-based carrier, completed a safety audit to become the first Mexican trucking company to receive Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration permission to operate beyond the U.S. commercial border zone on Friday.

As a result, Mexico removed the remaining 50% of its tariffs against U.S.-made products, Mexico’s embassy in Washington announced. Mexico had imposed tariffs of between 5 and 25% to $2.4 billion worth of U.S. goods yearly since March 2009.

The first 50% of the tariffs had been lifted in July after the United States and Mexico signed an agreement on the second cross-border trucking program, allowing carriers from both countries to make deliveries in each other’s country beyond the border zone.

The tariffs applied to a wide range of U.S.-made goods. Mexico imposed them when Congress suddenly eliminated funding for the 2007-09 cross-border trucking pilot project, which was an attempt to meet a requirement of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Another Mexican carrier, Grupo Behr of Baja, CA, has also applied for authority but is under review by regulators due to objections raised against its application.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. and the Teamsters union pointed out that Grupo Behr’s vehicle out-of-service rate and maintenance scores were worse than the U.S. average. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety noted the carrier had 40 vehicle violations in the last two years.

“Based on the information provided by Advocates, OOIDA, and Teamsters, the agency is conducting additional reviews of Grupo Behr’s inspections and vehicles,” the FMCSA said in an Oct. 14 Federal Register notice. “As a result, the agency will not issue long- haul operating authority to Grupo Behr until such time as this review is complete.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., reiterated his concerns for the cross-border trucking program. DeFazio was one of several Congressmen who led the effort to kill the first program.

“As I have said many times, a cross-border trucking program stands to have significant impacts on safety, security and job loss,” DeFazio said in a statement released by his office. “Until these impacts are fully addressed, we should put the brakes on cross-border operations. Unfortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the first permit to launch a new pilot program. Adding insult to injury, the Mexican carriers approved will be outfitted with vital safety equipment (EOBRs) paid for by American taxpayers. It is simply unacceptable that U.S. truckers, through their fuel tax, will subsidize the cost of doing business for these Mexican carriers. I will continue to push my legislation that would forbid this kind of expenditure from the Trust Fund.

“Until that happens, we will remain hostage to provisions that opened the door for this ill-conceived cross-border trucking program, and expose yet another American industry to lost jobs,” the Congressman said.

Transportes Olympic plans to make its first U.S. delivery on Oct. 21 or 22, said Guillermo Perez, the company’s transport manager. The U.S. operation will start small - two trucks and one driver.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SaturdayOctober 22, 2011