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WednesdaySeptember 26, 2012

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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DREAMers Finding New Confidence Since Obama’s Deferred Action Announcement

DREAMers Finding New Confidence Since Obama’s Deferred Action Announcement

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More and more DREAMers - young undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States - are publicly acknowledging their irregular status without fear of being deported and with the aim of bringing pressure to bear on politicians.

“It was in front of the White House, protesting about thousands of deportations of young people like me, that day I said to myself that I was going to go up to the podium and I was going to speak. I worked up my courage, I took the microphone and, for the first time, I said: ‘My name is Ricardo Campos, I’m a DREAMer and I’m not afraid,’” said one such young man.

They came to the United States as children, brought by their families, and the DREAMers have gone to school here, have worked and now they want the authorities to regularize their status and recognize their contribution.

In light of Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act, which would legalize many undocumented young people, the Obama administration on Aug. 15 implemented a temporary measure, Deferred Action, that allows DREAMers who qualify to postpone their deportation for two years and obtain a temporary work permit.

As journalist Jose Antonio Vargas said in June when he and dozens of other undocumented immigrants appeared on the cover of Time magazine, many of them have opted to “come out of the closet” and that has had an effect on political decision-making.

With that step, young undocumented immigrants are explaining to those around them why they cannot go have a beer after class - they don’t have an identity document that proves their age - and why they cannot take a graduation trip abroad.

Ricardo Campos, 23, recalls clearly the day he “came out” at the rally in front of the White House.

“When I went up on the stage, I carried tons of sadness and anxiety with me, but by speaking in public that weight disappeared,” he told Efe. “I found that one could fight and it was worth it to do so.”

Salvadoran-born Veronica Saravia, 17, says that she took the step five months ago when she began to collaborate with the civil rights organizations CASA of Maryland.

“They taught me that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I began to go to their marches. That showed me that we need to keep on fighting and that we can help a lot of people,” she told Efe.

Veronica was only 10 when she crossed the U.S.-Mexican border with the desire of seeing her parents again, whom she had not seen in five years.

“I remember the sadness and the tears. There were nights when I thought I’d never get to the United States. On the way, I heard stories about people they had killed, there was an emotional pain added to the physical (pain) of walking and not sleeping at night to prevent something from happening to me,” she said.

When she reached the border, she was arrested and, therefore, during her life in the United States she has been under a deportation order.

Thanks to Deferred Action, she said that she is no longer afraid, but she adds that “it’s a step forward achieved with struggle” and it is necessary “to keep fighting.”

“We have Deferred Action thanks to those young people who told their stories, who put their lives on the line and those four youths who walked to the capital in 2010 to say ‘enough’ to the deportation of students,” Campos said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Court Upholds Arrest Warrant for Google Brazil President

Court Upholds Arrest Warrant for Google Brazil President

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An electoral court in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul upheld the detention order for Google’s top executive in the South American country for having disobeyed the order to withdraw videos deemed slanderous.

Judge Flavio Saad Peron on Sept. 20 ordered Fabio Jose Silva Coelho to be arrested for not having removed from YouTube two videos that allegedly slander a candidate for the mayorship of Campo Grande, Alcides Bernal, the official Agencia Estado news service said.

Coelho’s attorneys filed a habeas corpus motion challenging the judge’s order, although the request was denied.

Google declared that it will appeal the court’s decision because, as a Web platform, it is not responsible for content.

This is the second case of this kind against Google in Brazil in the two weeks after on Sept. 14 the electoral court of Paraiba state decreed that another executive be jailed after being accused of disobedience for not removing a video that offended a municipal candidate in that region.

In addition, the firm was fined 1 million reais ($492,000) per day in the state of Parana for making available for viewing three videos against the mayor of the town of Cascavel, Edgar Bueno, who is running for reelection.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Latinos On Fast Track’ Tour Helping Entrepreneurs Become More Efficient With Technology

Verizon Wireless and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced today they have joined forces to host the Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) Small Business Seminar, a series of small business-focused seminars throughout the United States designed to provide Latino entrepreneurs with practical advice from established business owners.

The four-city tour that launches today in Los Angeles and concludes on Oct. 24 in New York City is designed to highlight industry-leading best practices, challenges and opportunities, while helping to support organizational efficiency.

Managing a small business presents both opportunities and challenges. Most small businesses operate with limited budget, staff and resources. That is why operating with the right services and technology will help save time and money, increasing efficiency and productivity. In an effort to showcase ways Latino small business owners and entrepreneurs can equip themselves with the right tools while propelling their business forward, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation LOFT Small Business Seminars, presented by Verizon Wireless, will take place in the following cities:

    Los Angeles   -  September 26   -  Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach
    Miami   -  October 18   -  Hilton Downtown Miami
    Chicago   -  October 11   -  Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture
    New York   -  October 24   -  Viacom

According to the latest Census Bureau findings, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States increased by 43.7 percent to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18.0 percent between 2002 and 2007.

Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales in 2007, up 55.5 percent compared with 2002 and the number of Hispanic-owned businesses with receipts of $1 million or more increased 51.6 percent between 2002 and 2007. Those numbers are projected to grow even more exponentially by the next Census.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Selena Gomez Working Hard to Lose “Disney Girl” Label

Selena Gomez Working Hard to Lose “Disney Girl” Label

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Singer and actress Selena Gomez is distancing herself from her “Disney girl” label and will star in “Hotel Transylvania” in the United States, an animated comedy in which she provides the voice for Count Dracula’s daughter as she becomes a woman and seeks more independence.

In the film, which hits movie theaters on Friday, Dracula (the voice of Adam Sandler) decides to throw a big 18th birthday party for his daughter Mavis (Gomez) at his home.

Invited to the party are Frankenstein’s monster and his girlfriend, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of wolfmen and other horror-genre characters that find themselves threatened by the appearance of a normal young human traveler named Jonathan who falls in love with Mavis, something that Dracula is very much against.

“All fathers are very protective, including Dracula. That always happens,” the actress told Efe. “When you’re a teenager and you’re growing up you aspire to have more freedom and independence.”

Gomez rocketed to fame in the 2007-2012 Disney series “Wizards of Waverly Place” and as the vocalist for Selena Gomez & The Scene.

She has always proudly worn the “Disney girl” label, but little by little she has wanted to jettison it. She will do so definitively next year with “Spring Breakers,” a film in which she will completely shed her longstanding angelic image.

“I was frightened of doing a role like that but I thought that it was the right time. I wanted to do something risky and see where it could lead. I think that it’s the right move for me,” she said.

She is now at work on her fourth album on which she hopes to include a couple of songs in Spanish.

“I’m starting right now, seeing which direction to take,” said Gomez, who - according to media accounts - could enlist her boyfriend Justin Bieber to help with the new album.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuban-American Researcher Cristina Fernandez-Valle Brings Science to Latino Students

Cuban-American Researcher Cristina Fernandez-Valle Brings Science to Latino Students

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Cuban-American scientist Cristina Fernandez-Valle has devoted her life to the study of neurovegetative diseases that mainly affect young people as well as to being a mentor for minority students who want to become scientists.

Dr. Fernandez-Valle is the first minority scientist to join the faculty of the University of Central Florida’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, where she has spent 15 years guiding the careers of hundreds of aspiring physicians and researchers.

“I studied for my doctorate at the University of Miami, where for many years I enjoyed the support of (distinguished neuroscientists) Richard and Mary Bunge with whom I worked and learned how to manage a laboratory and how to help other students,” Fernandez-Valle told Efe.

This weekend, the Hispanic researcher will receive the National Role Model award from Minority Access, an organization that seeks to improve diversity in education, employment and research nationwide.

“When I told my parents that, instead of taking care of patients and writing prescriptions every day what I wanted was to devote myself to neuroscientific research, they didn’t understand and called me a quasi-doctor,” Fernandez-Valle, now 50, remembered.

“I like to understand how the body works and how diseases develop and to try to correct it,” she said.

She is currently trying to discover the causes of Neurofibromatosis Type Two.

It is a disease, she said, “that attacks the peripheral nerves and grows very slowly and then becomes evident when the young people are between 15 and 19, when they begin to lose their hearing and their balance, something terrible for a child who is in the prime of life, running, studying for a career.”

“I like to help and I think that understanding how diseases develop is an important step for curing them,” she added.

“I received opportunities from my mentors in the past and they always opened doors for me, and now it’s my job to be a positive influence in the lives of my non-traditional students and help them be successful,” she said.

“Here we call students non-traditional (when they) are minorities, who perhaps have put their career to one side to raise their children and have returned to the university, as is the case with one of my students, Alejandra Petrelli. She is a triple minority - a woman, Hispanic and older - and a great example for her dedication to scientific work,” Fernandez-Valle said.

The professor said Petrelli graduated from medical school in Argentina and returned to college here to devote herself to biomedical sciences after having raised her children. “I like to be a mentor for students like her,” she added.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Anti-immigration Measures Have Negatively Impacted Arizona’s Economy

Anti-immigration Measures Have Negatively Impacted Arizona’s Economy

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The state of Arizona is hurting its own economy by approving harsh measures targeting undocumented immigrants, according to a report by a libertarian think-tank.

After the approval of the state employer sanctions law in 2007, firms have reduced their hiring and are using an “informal” economy to eliminate paperwork when hiring personnel, the Cato Institute said in its analysis entitled “The Economic Case against Arizona’s Immigration Laws.”

The law forces all businesses in Arizona to use the federal E-Verify program to ascertain the immigration status of job applicants.

The report also says that since 2010, when the state enacted SB 1070, the nation’s first law to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants, many such people have been driven out of Arizona.

The departure of the immigrants “lowered the state’s population, hobbled the labor market, accelerated residential property price declines, and exacerbated the Great Recession in Arizona,” Cato said.

The analysis emphasizes that the use of E-verify is one of the main reasons that employment in construction fell in Arizona at a greater rate than in neighboring states that do not require its use.

In 2006, 11.2 percent of Arizona’s population was employed in construction, compared with 22.2 percent of the immigrant community.

Four years later, 8.9 percent of the state’s residents work in construction while among the immigrant community the percentage has fallen to 15.9 percent.

The Cato report says that during the period from July 2007 through September 2011, employment in construction in Arizona declined 50.2 percent, compared with 36.8 percent registered in neighboring California and New Mexico.

The analysis concludes that this kind of legislation resulted in many undocumented immigrants leaving Arizona, and with them went part of the state’s economic growth potential.

“States now considering Arizona-style immigration laws should realize that the laws also cause significant economic harm. States bear much of the cost of unauthorized immigration, but in Arizona’s rush to find a state solution, it damaged its own economy,” Cato said.

Several states, including Alabama and South Carolina, have already adopted legislation modeled on SB 1070.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Guatemalan Officials Fear Increased Violence After Alleged Zetas Schism

Guatemalan Officials Fear Increased Violence After Alleged Zetas Schism

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Guatemalan security officials are on alert for increased violence stemming from an alleged split in the leadership of Mexico’s notorious Los Zetas drug cartel, authorities said.

The country’s security forces have “specific plans amid the possibility of clashes” between the two purported factions, Deputy Interior Minister Julio Rivera told local media.

The official gave no details on the “contingency plan” that Guatemala’s National Police and army have devised to respond to possible clashes, but he said the security presence has been bolstered in border areas and in regions where the Zetas are known to have operated for more than four years.

In remarks to Efe, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said the government fears the alleged split will trigger an increase in violence in Guatemala, but gave no details on the security forces’ plans.

The violent Los Zetas mob has been torn in two by a power struggle pitting top bosses Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” and Miguel Angel Treviño, alias “Z-40,” Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre reported Tuesday.

Clashes between gunmen from the two factions have left more than 100 dead in recent weeks in Mexico, but thus far the fighting has not spilled over into Guatemala, Rivera said.

More than 100 Zetas members have been captured and at least 42 sentenced to prison terms by Guatemalan courts since 2008, when Zetas cells began operating in the Central American country to control drugs routes running from South America to the United States.

The Zetas, a group founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained Mexican special forces unit, started out as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, but those two criminal organizations had a falling out in 2010 and the Zetas went into the drug business on their own account, gaining control of several lucrative territories.

Even in the violent world of Mexican organized crime, the Zetas stand out for their propensity to dismember the bodies of their victims.

The Zetas and Mexico’s other drug cartels have expanded into kidnapping, extortion, piracy and other criminal enterprises in recent years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Paris Hilton Dating Spanish Model River Viiperi

Paris Hilton Dating Spanish Model River Viiperi

Photo: Paris Hilton Dating Spanish Model River Viiperi

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Famous-for-being-famous socialite Paris Hilton reportedly has a new boy toy, 21-year-old Spanish model River Delfin Canomanuel Viiperi.

The Calvin Klein model was recently spotted with Hilton during their trip to Hawaii over the weekend, 31-year-old Hilton even tweeted:

Another day in paradise with @RiverViiperi. #LifeIsBeautiful ☺ <3

The two reportedly met through DT Model Management owner David Todd who took Hilton to a Marlon Gobel show where the two lovebirds met. They have since been spotted hanging out behind the scenes at shows.

Check out some of their tweeted photos below.

Viiperi was born in Ibiza, Spain and has been in a number of advertising campaigns, including Calvin Klein, Armani Exchange, American Eagle, Versace, and H&M.

He was born a Spanish father and Finnish mother, Riitta Viiperi, who was also a model. He keeps a blog titled Never Back Down, which he other discusses and dispels the myths surrounding the male modeling world.

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Authorities Calling Upon Hispanics to Build Immigration Fraud Case Against Utah Man

Authorities Calling Upon Hispanics to Build Immigration Fraud Case Against Utah Man

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Utah judicial authorities have asked for the public’s cooperation in gathering complaints against a man who defrauded dozens of Hispanic families by claiming he was an immigration agent.

Last Friday, agents from the Utah Attorney General’s Office SECURE Strike Force arrested Jose Marcos Gonzalez, who stands accused of communication fraud and theft by deception for promising six people that he would resolve their immigration situations.

After the arrest was announced, more than a dozen other people who were possibly defrauded approached the authorities to present complaints against Gonzalez, SECURE said.

Investigators determined that the amount of the fraud exceeded $100,000 and they said that there are still more victims who have not contacted the authorities.

“They need to come forward,” SECURE agent Leo Lucey said. “They’re victims in the case and they’ll be treated as victims.”

On Tuesday, SECURE confirmed the arrest of Gonzalez’s companion, Marlene Castro Sanchez, who has a criminal record.

Gonzalez had told his victims that he had worked for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that, in exchange for a certain sum of money, usually $5,000, he could get them Green Cards or even citizenship documents.

Lucey told the media that Gonzalez focused on Latino immigrants, that he never worked for ICE and that his own immigration situation is being reviewed.

The investigation into Gonzalez’s actions was begun when one of the victims contacted SECURE and filed a complaint.

Tony Yapias, the president of the Proyecto Latino de Utah, said that “there are people who make others believe that they can get their papers in order if they pay thousands of dollars.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Carlos Martinez-Aguilar Sentenced to 36 Months for Harboring Undocumented

Carlos Martinez-Aguilar Sentenced to 36 Months for Harboring Undocumented

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An illegal alien from Mexico was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months in prison for harboring illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Houston Police Department (HPD).

Carlos Martinez-Aguilar, 44, was sentenced Sept. 25 to three years in prison. Events leading to his arrest began Aug. 19, 2011, when the Houston Emergency Center received a 911 call at its operations facility from a subject who spoke only Spanish. The victim advised he was being held against his will at a house in Houston by alien smugglers who had been hired to smuggle him to an unspecified location in the United States. He claimed another person, later identified as Cesar Avila, 38, an illegal alien from Honduras, was armed with a handgun and had threatened to kill them. The victim indicated that he and others feared for their lives.

The 911 call was traced to a residence located on the 100 block of Jamaica Street in Houston by HPD officers. The building had no windows and the French doors on the north side of the residence had its glass panes covered with aluminum foil. Once inside, several people, later identified as hostages, began covertly pointing to Avila as the hostage taker and smuggler. Officers also discovered a semi-automatic handgun and a ledger detailing payments by the smuggling organization under the mattress where Avila was sitting.

Several of the aliens held hostage identified Martinez-Aguilar as having come into the building where they were being held, drinking beer with Avila prior to law enforcement arriving, and inquiring about the status of payments of smuggling fees. The victims indicated Martinez-Aguilar was not involved in abusing or threatening them and had provided them food and blankets. Officers discovered Martinez-Aguilar had been living in the larger house in front of the building where the aliens were housed.

Another victim stated that prior to the arrival of the police, he and the others were being held against their will and threatened with death if they did not pay or arrange to have paid another $5,000 to the smugglers.

Martinez-Aguilar pleaded guilty Jan. 31. Avila was convicted by a Houston jury June 6 and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9, at which time he faces up to life in prison.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Father Arrested After Drugs, Alcohol Found in Car With Son, 9

LATINO BLOTTER: Father Arrested After Drugs, Alcohol Found in Car With Son, 9

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Father Arrested After Drugs, Alcohol Found in Car Next to Son, 9

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A New Mexico father has been arrested and charged with drug possession and child abuse after police found him in the car with weapons, drugs, alcohol, and his son.

Ramundo Morales was arrested by Albuquerque, N.M. police after officers found him with drugs and weapons in the car with his 9-year-old son, who was sitting in the passenger seat.

A lapel camera on one of the officers on the scene recorded a video, obtained by KOAT, of the stop, which included the discovery of open beer cans, two loaded hand guns, a knife, cocaine, mushrooms, and pot.

A cocaine pipe was found next to his seat and officers reported it was still warm. When questioned about the pipe, Morales claimed it was warm not because it had been used recently, but because it was warm in the car.

Morales was initially stopped by police when they noticed he was driving with a crack in his windshield and because his license plate number did not come up in their system. He was arrested near Motel Six in Albuquerque where he was living.


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Doritos, Tostitos -Tortilla Chips Make List of Top Snack Brands

Doritos, Tostitos -Tortilla Chips Make List of Top Snack Brands

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According to a study from YouGov BrandIndex, tortilla chip favorites Doritios and Tostitos landed on the list at No. 3 and No. 7.

Also on the list was the Bandito’s favorite, Fritos at No. 4.

Ritz brand took the top spot, followed by Lay’s and Triscuit rounded out the top 10.

All major snack brands were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Impression score, which asks “Do you have a general positive feeling about the brand?” All results are for adults 18+.

Measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

YouGov BrandIndex interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1.5MM individuals.

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Okay, so we know a lot of people found this offensive and did away with this little guy, but you have to admit, the Frito Bandito did have a catchy little song. What do you think? Were you/are you offended by this little diddy? And tell us, what’s your favorite snack, did it make the list?


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60% of Mexican Prisons Under Gang Control: Report

60% of Mexican Prisons Under Gang Control: Report

Photo: 60% of Mexican Prisons Under Gang Control

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After the release of a report from Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) regarding prisons there is little wonder how so many have been able to escape Mexico’s prisons in recent years.

According to the commission, 6 in 10 prisons are “self governed” by gangs who use them as a sort of recruiting grounds and maintain connection to keep their rackets running in the outside world.

Since 2010, 14 incidents have resulting in more than 500 inmates escaping from the country’s 430 prisons or jails, 60 percent of which are believed to be controlled by drug gangs with the help of corrupt prison officials.

“The deterioration of prisons in the last few years is undeniable, as demonstrated by the escapes, fights, self-governing and assaults on prison personnel,” said Raul Plascencia, the head of the CNDH.

On top of corruption in the prison system, there is also the problem of overcrowding and lack of prison guards. According to Reuters, as of July, the Mexican prison system is about 25 percent over capacity.

As president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto prepares to take office, he has to live up to the promises he made to reduce Mexico’s crime and violence rate.

Read more by HS News Staff →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  $170,000 Worth of Pot and Meth Found in Transmission at Border Stop

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  $170,000 Worth of Pot and Meth Found in Transmission at Border Stop

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Customs and Border Protection officers at Dennis DeConcini Port arrested a male Mexican national living in Tucson for attempting to smuggle more than five pounds of cocaine and eight pounds of methamphetamine into the United States.

Pilar Agustin Gaspar-Corrales, 44, was apprehended after a drug sniffing dog alerted CBP officers to the transmission of his Ford truck containing roughly $170,000 worth of drugs.

Officers seized the vehicle and drugs, and turned Gaspar-Corrales over to the Santa Cruz County Metro Task Force for prosecution.

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REPORT:  Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice

REPORT:  Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice

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Today, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) released Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Along the Northern Border: Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice by Lisa Graybill, Esq.

As the number of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents along the Northern Border has skyrocketed in recent years, advocates have reported a sharp increase in the use of these agents to provide translation and interpretation services for both emergency responders and state and local law enforcement officers. This most often occurs when a police officer encounters an individual who does not speak English and proactively reaches out to USBP for assistance with language interpretation. However, it has also occurred when USBP agents respond to 911 emergency calls, crime scenes, or traffic incidents instead of, or in addition to, local law enforcement officers.

According to IPC rather than simply interpreting, the Border Patrol goes beyond its stated mandate and uses these occasions to enforce immigration law, turning a criminal investigation or an emergency encounter into deportation proceedings. This collaboration between local police and federal immigration enforcement agents threatens community health and safety. Because they fear the Border Patrol, some immigrants in these communities are fearful of calling the police when they witness or are a victim of a crime, or do not call a 911 in case of an emergency.

The report lays out the problems generated when U.S. Border Patrol agents collaborate with local police and emergency responders and serve as interpreters. It contains multiple case studies from across the Northern Border states, discusses the impact on local communities, explains the legal ramifications, and makes recommendations intended to promote maintain the integrity of the USBP mission on the Northern Border, and protect the rights of immigrants and their families who call the Northern Border home.

To view the report click here

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Report: Undocumented Immigrants Are Punished, Held in Solitary at Detention Centers

Report: Undocumented Immigrants Are Punished, Held in Solitary at Detention Centers

Photo: Immigrant detention centers (Jazmine Ulloa)

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Undocumented immigrants in detention are often submitted to punishment and solitary confinement, according to a new report from two human rights organizations.

Researchers with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) studied prison conditions for the undocumented in 13 detention centers and county jails under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The United States is estimated to have 250 facilities for locking up undocumented immigrants.

The report, “Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention,” is the first comprehensive study of the suffering inflicted on the undocumented.

“The point of immigration detention isn’t to punish people,” the PHR’s Mike Corradini, co-author of the report, said. “But we found instances of guards throwing people in solitary for minor infractions, or because they are mentally ill, or for helping other detainees file complaints about conditions.”

“What’s even more disturbing is what we don’t know - how many immigrants are kept in solitary confinement, how long they’re held, and who they are,” he said.

Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the NIJC, said that the investigation delves deeply into the problems of the undocumented caught in the detention system.

“Immigrants who are not dangerous and should not be detained at all are being put in lockdown for 23 hours a day and become invisible as they face egregious human rights violations,” she said.

The organizations demand that ICE make the jails it contracts responsible for their actions and that it put an end to these practices.

Undocumented migrants represent the fast-growing segment of those behind bars in the United States, according to the report.

Though the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country has decreased, the number of those detained and deported has reached record numbers, she said.

ICE “now detains approximately 34,000 immigrants every night and more than 400,000 individuals each year. Since 2005, the immigration detention population has increased by nearly 85 percent,” the study says.

Locked up together in detention centers contracted by ICE are people seeking political asylum, legal permanent residents, those with mental problems, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, elderly immigrants and survivors of human trafficking.

The report’s authors recommend that ICE stop using solitary confinement in detention centers, that it place vulnerable individuals in alternative programs and that instead of jails they choose establishments that put a minimum of restrictions on the undocumented.

“If ICE feels it cannot keep immigration detainees safe without resorting to solitary confinement, then it needs to release those individuals and expand alternatives to detention programs,” NIJC acting director of policy and report co-author Alexis Perlmutter said.

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French Entrepreneur Leonard Simpatico Raffling Off Homes in Spain, Some for $13

French Entrepreneur Leonard Simpatico Raffling Off Homes in Spain, Some for $13

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French entrepreneur Leonard Simpatico will offer in Spain the chance to win a house for the modest price of 10 euros ($13), an original initiative in the midst of the financial and real estate crisis.

Simpatico uses the formula of “collective purchase” and began raffling homes in France a year ago.

“Today we’re opening our office in Madrid and the aim is to raffle the first properties in a couple of weeks,” Simpatico said in an interview with Efe.

“The outlook for Spain is extremely good because, despite the crisis, it’s a very attractive product,” both for Spaniards and for foreigners dreaming of having a second home in the Iberian nation.

Home prices in Spain have fallen 32.4 percent from their December 2007 peak, but sales have not increased because banks are reluctant to write mortgages.

The price drop is occurring above all in big cities and along the Mediterranean coast, where foreign buyers - mainly Britons, the French, Germans and Russians - are focusing their attention.

Simpatico said that currently people from 33 countries are participating in the raffle on his Web site and he added that, after opening offices in France and Spain, he intends to establish operations in Morocco, Romania, China, Britain, Belgium and Greece before the year is out.

The businessman said that his company is not offering online gambling, because participants can recover their money before the raffle.

“This is about collective acquisition. The house is bought by all those who are participating and it remains with the winner,” said Simpatico.

The idea of applying this system to home sales arose from the need to offer an opportunity both to the person who wants to sell his house and is not finding a buyer at a price that suits his needs and also to the buyer who cannot get a mortgage, he added.

“Before, you worked, you went to the bank, it financed you and you bought a house. Now, this process is broken, the banks have failed to fulfill their role and it’s very, very, very difficult to be a property owner,” Simpatico said.

Individuals interested in selling their homes can advertise on the Website - www.simpaticojuegos.es - and it will be the online participants who decide on the houses they want to see raffled off.

Simpatico’s company will buy the selected homes and will raffle them among those people who have bought the corresponding tickets for 10 euros.

Players can purchase a maximum of five tickets a month.

Each property that is raffled will go at a fixed price, so that the raffle for it will not occur until enough tickets are sold to cover that amount, Simpatico said.

Later, a judicial agent will perform the raffle of the tickets sold for each property and the winner will “immediately” become the owner of the house without any additional expense, said Simpatico, whose company charges a commission of 15 percent of the fixed price.

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Chile’s Lithium Reserves to Be Developed by National Firm

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile, already one of the world’s leading lithium producers, won a concession to exploit substantial reserves of the metal in the Andean nation’s northern region, officials said Monday.

For a bid of 19.3 billion pesos ($40.6 million), SQM gets the right to mine the deposits for 20 years.

Posco Consortium, made up of South Korean firms Posco and Daewoo International Corporation, Japan’s Mitsui and Santiago-based Li3 Energy, offered $17.3 million for the concession, and the third entrant, Chilean firm Sociedad Legal Minera NX UNO de Peine, submitted a bid of only $5.8 billion.

SQM will develop the reserves under a Special Lithium Operation Contract, known by the Spanish acronym CEOL.

Chile’s 1973 Mining Code defines lithium as a “strategic” mineral for which regular mining concessions cannot be awarded, but the constitution allows private exploitation of strategic minerals under special contracts.

President Sebastian Piñera’s conservative administration devised the CEOL to avoid violating the Mining Code.

While more than 60 companies initially expressed interest in the lithium concession, only three bids were submitted.

The Chilean government says it expects to collect $350 million via a 7 percent sales royalty on lithium, a key component in batteries for mobile devices and electric/hybrid vehicles.

Global demand for lithium has tripled over the past 10 years, while Chile’s Cochilco state copper commission says the price of lithium carbonate on world markets has risen from $2,000 per ton in 2001 to around $6,000 per ton now.

Chile holds the planet’s second-largest lithium reserves, trailing only neighboring Bolivia.

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WednesdaySeptember 26, 2012