Sunday, June 18, 2017



Note: It is, as always, about illegal immigration.

SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 2017

Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus to Stand in Solidarity with Texas Latino Community in Wake of SB 4 Legislation at NALEO Annual Conference in Dallas

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Less than seven weeks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law, the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus will join the nation's largest gathering of Latino policymakers for a discussion on next steps during the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials 34th Annual Conference in Dallas.

The three-day event, which will take place June 22-24, 2017, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, will bring together the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus with Texas lawmakers and colleagues from across the country as Latino policymakers join forces to strategize on how best to protect and support the immigrant community in the current political climate.

"In Arizona, we know the fight Texas has on its hands. We have seen similar harmful legislation when Arizona enacted SB 1070, which was one of the most destructive pieces of legislation that oppressed an entire community and which had a devastating economic impact in Arizona," stated Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson (District 19). "The Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus stands in solidarity with those who oppose SB 4 in Texas and look forward to joining colleagues in Texas to discuss a plan of action."

On Saturday, June 24, Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus members will participate in a special plenary session devoted to the newly signed legislation entitled, "Supporting the Lone Star State Post SB 4: How Latino Leaders Can Unite to Combat Anti-Immigrant Laws and Practices." This plenary session will explore how different communities are responding to this new paradigm and how lessons learned from California's Proposition 187 and Arizona's SB 1070 can be applied to best support the immigrant community today and to mobilize toward increased civic participation.

Following the plenary session, Arizona Latino Legislative Latino Caucus members will join Latino policymakers from California, Texas and across the nation for three working group break-out sessions focused on key issues relating to SB 4 and other similar anti-immigration measures. The meetings will focus on policy and legal tools that Latino policymakers can use to support immigrants, strategies for ensuring the immigrant community knows its rights, and an examination of the negative impact these laws have on state and local economies.

A number of Texas Latino elected officials who led the fight against the SB 4 legislation will be in attendance with the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus during the three-day event, including NALEO President and Dallas County Treasurer Pauline Medrano, Texas State Senator and Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus Chair Sylvia R. Garcia, Texas State Representative and Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rafael Anchia, Texas State Representative Cesar Blanco, Texas State Representative Armando Walle, Harris County Sherriff Ed Gonzalez and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

More information on the NALEO 34th Annual Conference can be found at

The bipartisan Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus has 17 members from both the state House and Senate. Members hold strategic leadership positions and promote legislation and policies that directly affect Latinos in Arizona. The caucus also encourages more Latinos to engage in the political process through public policy and community events.



Note: photos at link. "Red Migrante" is Migrant Network.

Comment: "stems from border militarization and immigration policy in the United States, which has created a flow of people attempting to cross the border illegally " Apparently it is the fault of the U.S. for wanting to control it's own border?

Group's report decries impunity for abusers of migrants in Sonora
By Kendal Blust
Nogales International Jun 16, 2017

A panel of leaders from migrant aid organizations in Sonora discuss the report "Y la impunidad continua" during a press conference on Thursday. From left: Rev. Samuel Lozano de los Santos, Alba Gloria Andrade Murieta, Perla Del Angel, Maria Engracia Robles Robles, Rev. Prisciliano Pereza and Bishop José Leopoldo González González.

Sister Maria Engracia Robles Robles of the Kino Border Initiative detailed the Red Migrante Sonora's recommendations to address violence and abuse of migrants in Sonora.

Nogales, Sonora Mayor Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Galindo speaks about the importance of sharing the report with federal authorities.
"Todo pasa y no pasa nada," said Rev. Prisciliano Pereza, using a phrase that roughly translates as "Things happen but nothing gets done" to decry what he and a group of fellow migrant advocates say is near-complete impunity for human rights abuses of migrants in the Mexican state of Sonora.

"(Migrants) won't even report crimes because no one will listen to them, and the last thing they want are more problems," said Pereza, director of a migrant assistance organization in Altar, Sonora, which is part of the Red Migrante Sonora, or the Sonora Migrant Network.

During a press conference Thursday morning at the Nogales, Sonora art museum, the group presented a report called "Y la impunidad continua," or "And the Impunity Continues," which details abuses experienced by migrants and deported people who arrive at shelters in the Sonoran cities of Nogales, Altar, Caborca and Agua Prieta on a daily basis, and the lack of recourse victims have to bring their abusers to justice.

U.S.-bound migrants, who are often fleeing violence, poverty and persecution at home, are vulnerable not only because of their desperation but also because they often have to rely on others to reach and cross the border, a fact that can easily lead to exploitation, said Sister Maria Engracia Robles Robles of the Ambos Nogales-based Kino Border Initiative.

"The deported and journeying migrant has become a dollar sign, not only taken advantage of by criminals, but by Mexican citizens and some authorities," she said.

Migrants who make their way to northern Sonora are regularly robbed, extorted, kidnapped and tortured, said Perla Del Angel, who works with migrants in Agua Prieta. And the report offers first-hand accounts of migrants who have been beaten, burned, starved and raped by human traffickers, law enforcement officials or gangs.

But while these abuses are commonplace, little is done by federal, state or local governments to address the problem, allowing abusers to go free, while migrants remain an easy target for exploitation, she said.

"They are not even treated as human beings," she said, describing how authorities routinely set aside complaints of abuse or even threaten migrants who dare to come forward.

Part of that problem stems from border militarization and immigration policy in the United States, which has created a flow of people attempting to cross the border illegally and contributing to the costly, dangerous and violent nature of the journey, according to the report. However, Red Migrante Sonora focused on the injustices that not only take place in Sonora, but are perpetuated by local, state and federal authorities who are either complicit in abuse of migrants or do not seriously investigate and prosecute those crimes.

"We excuse ourselves," Pereza said. "But we have also experienced this impunity that's so detrimental to our society."

To address that impunity, the report suggests six steps that can be taken, including honest and vigorous defense for migrants by authorities; the implementation of security measures in areas identified as especially dangerous for migrants; the creation of secure routes for migrants; human rights workshops for law enforcement and social service organizations; and better communication and follow-through from all levels of government in protecting the rights of migrants and prosecuting those who abuse them.

"At the moment, our goal is to make this reality visible," Robles said of the latest report, a follow-up to information the Red Migrante Sonora released in 2015.

And while the number of deportations and migrants crossing the border has decreased in recent years and months, the level of abuse continues to increase, Robles said.

"There hasn't been any improvement. On the contrary, things have gotten worse," she said.
"It's an inverse function ... the fewer the migrants, the greater the exploitation."


Wednesday, June 7, 2017



Fast and Furious hearing rips Holder, DOJ for deception in gun-running scandal
By William La Jeunesse, Andrew O'Reilly
Published June 07, 2017 Fox News

Members of a congressional committee at a public hearing Wednesday blasted former President Barack Obama and his attorney general for allegedly covering up an investigation into the death of a Border Patrol agent killed as a result of a botched government gun-running project known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The House Oversight Committee also Wednesday released a scathing, nearly 300-page report that found Holder's Justice Department tried to hide the facts from the loved ones of slain Border Patrol Brian Terry – seeing his family as more of a "nuisance" than one deserving straight answers – and slamming Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to records pertaining to Fast and Furious.

More on this...
Fast and Furious scandal: Suspected triggerman in border agent's murder arrested
Medellin Cartel Gets Fast and Furious Guns

Former Border agent testifies in case of 2 suspects charged in Fast and Furious slaying
"[Terry's death] happened on Dec. 14, 2010, and we still don't have all the answers," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, committee chairman, said of Terry's death. "Brian Terry's family should not have to wait six years for answers."

Terry died in a gunfight between Border Patrol agents and members of a six-man cartel "rip crew," which regularly patrolled the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border looking for drug dealers to rob. The cartel member suspected of slaying the Border Patrol agent, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, was apprehended in April of this year by a joint U.S.-Mexico law enforcement task force.

Terry's death exposed Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them as they were transported into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry's killing.

Related Image
This undated photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants, the leader of a union representing agents said Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. (AP Photo/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, File)Expand / Collapse

This undated photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants, the leader of a union representing agents said Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. (AP Photo/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, File) (AP Photo/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, File)
"More than five years after Brian's murder, the Terry family still wonders about key details of Operation Fast and Furious," the committee's report states. "The Justice Department's obstruction of Congress's investigation contributed to the Terry family's inability to find answers."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, testified Wednesday in front of the committee, accusing DOJ and ATF officials of obstructing the investigation and working to silence ATF agents who informed the Senate of Fast and Furious.

"The Department of Justice and ATF had no intention of looking for honest answers and being transparent," said Grassley, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staunch supporter of whistleblowers.

"In fact, from the onset, bureaucrats employed shameless delay tactics to obstruct the investigation."

One of those silenced ATF agents, John Dodson, testified Wednesday that he remains "in a state of purgatory" since objecting to Fast and Furious and has been the subject of reprisals and ridicule at the agency.

"That decision, the single act of standing up and saying, 'What we are doing is wrong'… instantly took my standing from being that of an agent of the government – to an enemy of the state," Dodson said. "ATF and DOJ officials implemented an all-out campaign to silence and discredit me… Suffice to say, the last six to seven years at ATF have not been the best for me or my career."

Grassley's and Dodson's testimony reinforced findings of the report, which states that the Justice Department knew before Terry's death that the ATF was "walking" firearms to Mexico and knew the day after the agent's death that Fast and Furious guns were involved in the shootout -- despite denying these facts to the media. It goes on to state that the Justice Department's internal investigation focused more on spinning the story to avoid negative media coverage than looking into lapses by either the DOJ or ATF.

Several emails revealed in the report appear to indicate that some Justice Department staffers were working to keep information from political appointees at the department.

"I don't want to jinx it but it really is astounding that the plan worked -- so far," former Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in an email to Holder, according to the report.

The report also says that Holder's Justice Department stonewalled inquiries from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and deceptively told him that the "ATF makes every effort to interdict" firearms purchased by straw buyers. The controversial act of straw purchases – where a person who is prohibited from buying firearms uses another person to buy a gun on his or her behalf – has been a popular method that Mexico's drug cartels use to obtain guns.

"There are important reasons for not giving Grassley everything he is asking for: it would embolden him in future fights and would 'use up' a lot of the material that we will eventually need to release to (California Rep. Darrell) Issa . . . as the oversight struggle continues," the Office of Legislative Affairs Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch said in an email to DOJ colleagues.


Sunday, June 4, 2017



Agreement: Rocky Point to be 'port of Arizona'
By HOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services
Jun 2, 2017 Updated 16 hrs ago (0)

Critics said the port could have a harmful impact on the locals, wildlife, environment and biodiversity in the area.

Rocky Point Cruises
This map shows a number of possible cruise destinations from Puerto Penasco.

But a new agreement signed here Friday at the annual summit of the Arizona-Mexico Commission is designed to pave the way for residents of the region to have easy access to cruises — easier, at least than now having to drive to southern California or Texas.

The deal inked between Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Claudia Pavlovich, his Sonora counterpart, would have Arizona firms service the ships that the Mexican government hopes will soon be docking in Puerto Penasco.

Hector Platt Mazon, Sonora's tourism director, said construction of the necessary pier and terminal, which has been stalled at about 50 percent completion, is now expected to resume.

And Pavlovich told Capitol Media Services that the agreement she signed with Ducey, assuring the cruise companies they will have access to needed services, should help loosen up the federal dollars.
"I think it will make it easier," she said, predicting that the community, known on this side of the border, will become "the port of Arizona."

Platt Mazon said he intends to deliver the signed "memorandum of understanding" to Mexican federal officials on Monday.

Pavlovich said the idea has everything going for it.

She noted that Hermosillo, Sonora's largest city and its capital, is six hours from Puerto Penasco, too far to be a steady source of everything from linens to flowers for cruise ships that routinely need supplies for 3,000 passengers at a pop. By contrast, she said, Phoenix is just half as far away.

And there's something else.
Platt Mazon said he sees it as becoming "the home port of Arizona."
He cited figures that about 1.2 million Arizonans take a cruise each year. Add to that New Mexico, Nevada and California, the potential cruise audience approaches 7 million.
"This is within driving range of Rocky Point," Platt Mazon said. "This causes a very interesting market for it."

He said talks already are underway with Carnival cruise lines which operates ships under several banners. The timing, said Platt Mazon, is excellent because cruise companies are planning voyages that far out.

Platt Mazon said the assurance that goods and services will be available from Arizona is crucial to making the port a success. He said the cruise companies already have relationships with U.S. suppliers.
"So it will be easier for them to continue making business with the ones they already have business," he said.

Still, he acknowledged, there are other potential hurdles. One is the time it can take for people to cross back into the United States.

Platt Mazon said some of that is within the control of Sonora, like widening the road between Puerto Penasco and the border. The rest, however, may require the cooperation of — and funding from — federal governments in both countries.

Ducey said he sees having a cruise port within three hours of the state's largest city as a new — and what might be unexpected — economic benefit.
"We talk about the quality of life here," he told Capitol Media Services. "We think our geographic location to a port like Puerto Penasco ... just provides another tourism opportunity for people in our state."

Ducey called it "a big win" for the state. And even for those who may not be interested in cruises, the promise of improved roads and a better border crossing has benefits.
"As beautiful as it is here in the desert, we need an easy, convenient way to get to the beach," the governor said.

"There's tourism opportunities on both sides of the border," Ducey continued. "And this is one that Angela (his wife) and I and our family will certainly take advantage of."

Still, there is no absolute guarantee that the port, now half built, will happen.
Plans and construction began four years ago, with progress in fits and starts.



Friday, June 2, 2017



New leaders for two Border Patrol stations
Craig Smith
7:50 PM, Jun 1, 2017

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There are two new leaders taking on the challenge of two busy Border Patrol stations.

The 500 agents at the Nogales Border Patrol station will be led by Sabri Dikman.  

John Scanlon will be commanding about 180 agents at the station in Willcox.

They've both seen a lot of changes in their 19 years as agents.
John Scanlon says drug smuggling used to have more small operations.  Now they're large, criminal networks.

He says, "Now one of the challenges we come across in Willcox is adjusting quickly to changes in smuggling tactics.  So where as maybe ten or fifteen years ago we would see ten or fifteen aliens in a car, now we see one or two aliens in the trunk, vs a more packed car.  As far as narcotics smuggling we get cases like a hearse that has a coffin full of narcotics, that came out in the news so as the smuggling tactics change we need to adjust quickly to adapt to that."

The agents say illegal crossing have been going down but border concerns mean recruitment for new agents is going up.

"It's a phenomenal job, great career and once they are hired and are on duty at the station we set them up with peer mentors to help them assimilate to the local environment."

And the agents hope civilians understand they are your neighbors working to keep the community safe.


Feds don hazmat suits during suspected fentanyl bust in Rio Rico
By Arielle Zionts 
Nogales International 14 hrs ago  (0)

Fentanyl is so dangerous, law enforcement officers use personal protective equipment to handle it, as seen here in a photo taken after a seizure in April at a Nogales port of entry.
A Rio Rico home suspected of housing a dangerous narcotic was searched by federal agents wearing hazmat suits last month while local first responders stood by in case of an emergency.

Ray Sayre, director of emergency management in Santa Cruz County, said in situations like this where the synthetic opioid fentanyl is suspected to be present, it's a "no-brainer."

"We're going to use the highest level of protection that we have," he said.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Hazmat Team – consisting of personal from the Rio Rico, Tubac and Nogales fire districts – was dispatched to the site during the May 8 search in case they needed to decontaminate an agent exposed to the substance, Sayre said. A paramedic team with naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid effects, was also on standby.

Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations executed a federal search warrant for drug possession at the home on Paseo Cieneguita. However, because the warrant is sealed, she could not say if there were any arrests or what substance or scenario (a laboratory, distribution site, etc.) they were looking for.

Sayre said the home was suspected of housing fentanyl, a painkiller 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine that can cause respiratory distress and eventual cardiac arrest. He noted that fentanyl can be used safely and legally when administered by medical professionals.

According to the DEA, fentanyl comes in several forms including powder, blotter paper, tablets and spray. Its dosage amount is a microgram, about the same as a few granules of table salt, and can be deadly even at very low doses.

Sayre said the identity of the substance at the home was not confirmed on site because there is no field test for the drug. In case it was indeed fentanyl, he said, HSI agents wore hazmat suits with self-contained breathing systems because the drug may have been airborne and can be ingested via the mouth and skin.

The DEA has warned law enforcement, public health workers and first responders about the deadly hazards of contact with fentanyl, and two cases last month show the reality of that danger and the growing concern over exposure. In Ohio, a police officer accidentally overdosed when he came into contact with powdered fentanyl while searching a vehicle, and in Manitoba, Canada, a postal worker refused a paramedic's 911 instruction to perform CPR on an unresponsive woman because he feared the woman had overdosed on fentanyl.

Neither Sayre nor Genaro Rivera, assistant fire chief at the Tubac Fire District, who was at the Rio Rico home on May 8, knew how much of the drug was found there or whether it was being manufactured, sold or used for personal consumption.

Sayre said after the HSI agents completed their search, they locked the house and covered it with signs and stickers warning not to enter. If the substance is confirmed to be fentanyl, the homeowner would need to hire a professional decontamination company to clean the property, he said.

Nationwide trend

As a synthetic opiate painkiller, fentanyl is being mixed with heroin to increase its potency, exacerbating the opioid crisis in the United States and Canada. That crisis has largely bypassed Santa Cruz County – overdose deaths were so uncommon in 2014 that the Arizona Department of Health Services could not provide a reliable statistic for the county – but local authorities are concerned that the trend could change.

"If we look at it from a nationwide perspective, it looks like everybody is seeing traces of (fentanyl)," Rivera said, adding: "I think there's more of it to come (in the local area)."

Sayre agreed, saying: "We suspected that we were going to have this issue come forward because it's happening all over the United States and that's what's called the opioid crisis."

He said while fentanyl and similar opioids have been apprehended at the border in Nogales, this was the first time his office responded to an instance where the substance was suspected of being stored in a local home.

In late April, a man was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for smuggling 23 pounds of fentanyl worth $378,000 through the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry. Early that month, CBP officers used protective equipment to remove five pounds of the drug from a woman smuggling the substance in her infant's stroller at the Morley Avenue pedestrian crossing.