Tag Archives: immigration

Supreme Court Stops Review of Executive Powers over Border Fence

When the Supreme Court refused to stop Secretary of Homeland Security today from ignoring more than 30 mostly environmental laws pertaining to the construction of the border fence with Mexico, the Court, in effect, gave Michael Chertoff’s plenary powers to Chertoff’s ‘waiver authority’ over the border.  By refusing to hear the case on the merits, the Court is also contributing to the Bush Administration’s growing legacy of eviscerating constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law.  In these waning days of the worst presidency ever, this case is yet another example of John Yoo’s failed unitary executive thesis in action

But alas, because the fence deals only with immigration law, long the unwanted stepchild of administrative law; with immigrants the demonized other in american politics since 9/11; and since it deals with only a border fence in a desolate part of Arizona/Senora (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation near Naco), few people will spend much ink condemning this nondecision, but condemnation is what this act today deserves.

But according to Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club spokesperson,

“This decisions leaves one man—the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—with the extraordinary power to ignore any and all of the laws designed to protect the American people, our lands, and our natural resources.” (NYT David Stout)

When any one human power has such power, that person is a sovereign– a monarchical tyrant who stand outside the rule of law. Such exceptions to constitutional norms should not be countenanced by the Court, and certainly not by the American people.  This is some, horrible legacy being left to the Bush successor and to the american people who will be forced to endure exceptions to constitutional norms tucked away in increasing numbers of of laws, regulations and policy.  


Blackwater Opens new Facility at US-Mexico Border

Within view of the Us-Mexico Border Fence in San Diego, Blackwater just opened its latest “training facility,” as per its $400 million government contract.

It’s been a long slog for Blackwater to open shop near the border, having been forced to abandon plans in Potrero, Ca..  As in Potrero, Blackwater is once again fighting local ordinances, activists (Raymond Lutz), congressional opposition (Rep. Bob Filner) and litigation.  Why such perseverance? According to its own PR, even the Navy is no match for its counter terrorism training.  A more rational answer, however, would suggest the federal government remains bent on hollowing out national and homeland security while it still can.

The surreal nature of this spectacle is revealed by seeing that such advanced and ostensibly essential counter terrorism training must rely on existing amusement park ride permits in order to open Its “mock warship area” within the boundaries of existing local ordinances.   Beat that Pentagon!  Hey Border Patrol, your next!

See Truthout for more details


for more info. on Blackwater, see


Blackwaterization of the Border continues under Radar

On March 8, I wrote a post that said that although Blackwater was being pushed out of Potrero, California, by concerned residents, that the Blackwaterization of the border would continue. I didn’t know at the time that Blackwater was already in the process of securing a permit for a training site in Otay Mesa, San Diego County.  The Otay Mesa facility is to be an indoor training center, housed in an industrial park right near the border. It will train about 48 students at a time, as opposed to the 300 in Potrero, which suggests to me that several other secretive sites are probably en route. I say secretive because the process in Otay Mesa was just that.  Blackwater was granted the permit in lieu of public hearings, and the name on the permit application was for a Blackwater subcontractor, Raven Development Group.  San Diego City Council President Scott Peters opposes the permit, saying, “Residents deserve to know when a facility like this is approved.” 

The problems with having Blackwater at the border are legion. Blackwater is the symbol for the privatized component of the war in iraq. Blackwater symbolizes lawlessness and utter contempt for anyone who questions its mission.


For more on Blackwater, see this excellent video w/ Jeremy Scahill interview :

Blackwater in Potrero

The last thing immigration control policy needs at the moment is more lawlessness.


Did Supreme Court “Gin” System for McCain?

Justice Scalia is on record saying he doesn’t want folks to dwell much on the Florida recount and 2000 Bush v Gore decision. Quite the originalist,  and disregard for precedent notwithstanding, the decisions is dead as a doornail just like, Scalia suggests, the constitution itself.

Sure, it unconstitutionally imposed George W Bush on the country for the last 7 1/2 years, framing a presidency upon extralegal and unconstitutional moorings. And in this regard, the administration did not disappoint.

And now, scanning the horizon to see how it might affect yet another presidential election, the Court recently focused its attention on the state of Indiana (Crawford v Marion City Election Bd.).  In the wake of this decision, as the NYT reports, Missouri lawmakers are seeking a constitutional amendment that would mandate proof of citizenship to vote.

If a referendum on this matter is held in Missouri in August as currently planned, and it passes, the vote could swing this key swing state to McCain.  If other nativist state legislature get wind of it, the Court’s Indiana Case will then open the door for other states to similarly disenfranchise racial minorities under the auspices of excluding non-citizens.  

At issue is the desire to exclude noncitizens from the polls. Apparently, the fear of an immigrant casting a vote for president is mobilizing nativists and xenophobes to plan a constitutional amendment mandating proof of citizenship to vote. A passport, birth certificate… many folks don’t possess either.  Once again, immigration is being used as the wedge to exclude minorities from the political system.

If McBush wins Missouri this November, chances are it won’t be because of his compelling policy positions. Rather, it is likely to be because 240,000 mostly African American voters will be denied their vote.  


Bush Scraps Anti-Immigrant Border Fence, but Boondoggle to Continue

It was announced yesterday that Bushco is going to scrap the $20 million dollar Project 28 along the Southern arizona border with Mexico because, as the GAO concluded almost two months ago, it “did not fully meet user needs and the project’s design will not be used as the basis for future” developments.

Problem is, future developments likely are going to be more of the same.  The corporatist logic here is obvious. The government is scrapping the project, not the contract.  Bushco no longer care (as if they ever did) about the effectiveness of border enforcement. All they do care about is continuing the neoliberal plan of outsourcing government programs and services related to immigration control, in this case to Boeing.  Boeing’s indefinite use contract with the government allows it to continue creating failed prototypes at taxpayer expense, on and on, and on.

All the while, DHS Secretary Chertoff has fast tracked the construction of the physical fence along the border, part of the same larger Boeing project.  This project will also fast track moneys into boeing coffers regardless of the idiocy of these plans.  At least the virtual fence didn’t imprison Tohono O’odham indians to a netherland between Mexico and the continental United States. This is what the fence is going to do within a 75 mile stretch also along the Arizona border. It will divide Tohono O’odham territory leaving about 1,400 tribespersons south of the fence and separated from 14,000 others as as from medical and health services and jobs.  It will also dive the University of Texas-Brownsville campus that leaves several buildings and agencies in a no man’s land separated from the continental united states.

The physical fence also promises to cut right through 265 year old land grant tracts of land owned by families which received original land grants from Spain and Mexico.  In addition to the symbolic violence of DHS’s decisions to move forward with the physical fence given the resistance of land grant families, it is also doing so in violation of international law, and federal and state statutes related to the the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and about 34 other federal environment protection laws.

Again, the cynicism of the government’s behavior here really cannot be over-emphasized. They know full well tat these projects will fail, and they know full well that people of color along the border are being bulldozed by this extra-legal process of DHS decision making.  And once again, they just don’t care.


McCain to bank on Real ID, a loser in California

Roger Simon writes in Politico that if John McCain wins California in the fall, he wins the presidency, and that he could win California by assuming a strong anti-immigrant stance in the state.  Specifically, Simon focuses on the drivers’ license issue for undocumented workers, which originates in a provision from the 2005 Real ID Act.  

Posturing aside, McCain would still lose California by assuming the tom tancredo/duncan hunter mantle. Here’s why. California no longer opposes drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, as it might have a couple years ago.

Reality has intervened. Governor Schwarzenegger has realized that the Real ID drivers’ license is a stalking horse for a national id card, and that Californians do not want a national id card, which enhances the frequency of identity theft and enables the routine tracking of individuals.  The governor has been made aware of the prospect of incredible bureaucratic nightmares resulting from Real ID, which the state, in large part, will have to pay for. 

In fact, the state of California recently requested an extension from DHS, which the guv carefully suggested did not mean the State would eventually comply with Real ID, which holds the drivers’ license provision in question. In its letter to DHS, the State (DMV) said,

“California, along with forty-five other states, requested an extension of the initial implementation date, which clearly highlights the complexities of the unresolved issues. While we acknowledge that a workable REAL ID program may create positive results, a significant number of outstanding issues need to be addressed before we can make any kind of recommendation to our Administration regarding implementation of REAL ID in California. California?s request for an extension is not a commitment to implement REAL ID, rather it will allow us to fully evaluate the impact of the final regulations and precede with necessary policy deliberations prior to a final decision on compliance.”

 Things– like the reality of governing– have a way of changing superficial posturing.   So let McCain claim the position that Schwarzenegger held two years ago, which is a lifetime in politics.   It’s a bankrupt anti-immigrant/ pro surveillance society posture, a sure loser.

The Bush-Chertoff Coup at the Mexican Border

When Congress enacted the Real ID Act in 2005, few people appreciated just how radical a piece of legislation this was. Yes, it introduced a drivers’ license data base that many folks astutely compare to a national ID card.  It also threatens to create havoc on the roadways by denying undocumented immigrant drivers a chance to get a drivers license and insurance which comes in handy in case of a car wreck.  Real ID also incongruously included provisions that would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over immigration matters, which creates a damning tilt toward unfettered executive powers over immigrants.  

I thought all this qualified Real ID as one whopping, dangerous piece of law.  But just today,  additional horrors of Real ID were revealed: a coup at the border.

It was announced that section 102 of the Real ID Act provides the justification DHS Secry Chertoff says he needs for DHS to waive about 36 existing (mostly environmental and land management) laws enacted by Congress that pertain to DHS efforts to construct a border fence (18 foot steel and concrete) along the US-Mexico border from California to Texas.

As of today, the rule of law, and separation of powers no longer apply to the DHS’s SBInet efforts to construct a border industrial complex.  The rule of law would take too long, Chertoff suggested today,  and would slow efforts to stop “illegal immigration,” an occurrence ongoing since the 1848 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, and regulated since the 1924 creation of the US border patrol.  According to Chertoff, “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”

As reported in the Earth Times, Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife laments:

“Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving west….”Laws ensuring clean water for us and our children — dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance — just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process — gone. Clearly this is out of control.” 

How to make sense of the border coup?  I suggest considering the following: 1) the clock is ticking on an Administration whose border control policies have sucked as much as its other failed neo-con policies . 2) Abiding the rule of law is time consuming.  3) Bush’s unitary executive power theory suggests he need not so limit himself to the rule of law;  4) Bush business cronies at Boeing, the recipient of the $67 million contract to build the failure of a virtual fence project, also provides the steel for the physical fence, and along with several other SBInet firms, Boeing manages, oversees (itself a shameless contradiction) and consults on the construction of the physical border fence and other SBInet activities.  Getting the fence in the ground before the next Administration takes over is the surest way to avoid cancellation of this projected $49 billion fence boondoggle.

Who wins?   Boeing and other Bush corporate cronies (SBInet firms) and remaining neo-cons who still wrongly insist 9/11 hijackers crossed the border. 

Who loses?  all law abiding citizens; all people who believe in the constitution; all border residents, particularly land owners of mostly modest means; all immigrants

In addition to all adherents of the rule of law, the most immediate losers here include all the American people who collectively are proprietors of the national and state park lands, and wildlife preserves (including the San Pedro River in Arizona) that are going to be destroyed by the fence. In addition,  DHS is forcibly removing individual middle class and poor families who own property along the targeted path of the coming fence.  The govt. has already sued more than 50 property owners in South Texas to gain access to the land.  Now, DHS no longer need wait out such nuisances as damage assessments, court hearings and other due process entanglements.