By Doug Porter
A newly released report from the Center for a New Community (CNC) says there is a systemic pattern of behind-the-scenes collusion between officials of unions associated with the Border Patrol and prominent anti-immigrant hate groups.
Last year’s protests in Murrieta, California are cited in “Blurring Borders: Collusion between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents” as an example of Border Patrol agents coordinating with anti-immigrant forces. On July 1st, 2014, anti-immigrant activists used civil disobedience to block federal buses carrying refugee women and children to a Border Patrol processing center.
From the CNC’s Imagine 2050 blog:
A group of about 50 protesters, organized by leaders with ties to white nationalist, and extreme far-right groups, stood in the street waving American flags and chanting phrases such as “Go back home!” and “We don’t want you here!” to immigrants aboard the buses.
But, how exactly did these anti-immigrant activists know where these buses were going?
The answer lies in the long-standing relationships between employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the leaders of the organized anti-immigrant movement. The Murrieta protests are only one ugly example.
From the report:
…agents in the region had begun leaking information and working alongside known anti-immigrant activists. The most public example of such collusion was the virulently anti-immigrant protests at a Border Patrol facility in Murrieta, California during the early summer of 2014. Ahead of these protests, which garnered national media attention, San Diego Minutemen founder Jeff Schwilk told supporters he had received information from “a senior border patrol source in San Diego” regarding the scheduled transportation of migrant families to the Murrieta facility.
Ron Zermeno, health and safety director for the National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, was frequently interviewed by both local and national media during that period. He was also, according to the CNC report, “privately coordinating and assisting far-right, anti-government activists in organizing a nine-day “Border Convoy” event along the U.S.-Mexico border from Murrieta, California to McAllen, Texas.”
Zermeno participated in a 47-minute July 23, 2014 conference call with organizers of the convoy, including Liberty News’ Eric Odom and far-right radio host Pete Santilli. Zermeno told organizers, “[I am] here to help you guys.” He even offered to reach out personally to Border Patrol agents in order to coordinate routes and possibly arrange tours of various portions of the border on behalf of the convoy members. Zermeno also promised to reach out to NBPC’s national leadership, offering to facilitate contact between the convoy and other union representatives and agents. “Tell me what you want, what you want to see, and where you want to see, and I’ll try to make it happen,” Zermeno said.
The report chronicles coordination and cooperation between Border Patrol/ICE union officials with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
In March 2015, NBPC Local 1613, based in Southern California, thanked two of its current agents (and elected union representatives)—Manny Bayon and Chris Bauder—on Twitterfor “showing the truth on the southern border” during a “border tour for CIS (CEnter for Immigration Studies) [sic].” The Center for Immigration Studies, led since 1995 by Mark Krikorian, is the primary research arm of the organized anti-immigrant movement and has an outsized influence on much of the nativist right’s messaging and communications strategy.
- In the summer of 2014, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a documented hate group and flagship organization of the anti-immigrant movement, organized a “fact-finding trip” in July for seven sheriffs from states as far away from the U.S.-Mexico border as Massachusetts and Oregon. Border Patrol officials accommodated FAIR and the sheriffs during their time in McAllen, TX. In a travelogue of sorts published on its official blog, FAIR’s National Field Director Susan Tully wrote, “I am writing from the Border Patrol Station.”
- In July 2014, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight admitted that a recent CIS publication that inspired multiple Congressional inquiries could not have been done “without our ongoing good connections with whistleblowers in agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” And as recently as March 2015, CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan published analysis that she claimed was based on “DHS statistics, which have not been released to the public, but were obtained by the Center [CIS].”
FAIR has been identified by researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as anti-immigrant hate groups. According to People for the American Way, CIS “was founded as a think tank to support the more activist work of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).” The SPLC defines hate groups as those with “… have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
Stephen Steinlight, Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, travels the country cautioning Tea Party activists of the threat immigrants pose. During such events, Steinlight claims increased numbers of immigrant voters will be “a disaster” and bring about “the unmaking of America.” Steinlight has also expressed support for a moratorium on Muslim immigration through legislation like the McCarran Act of the 1950s because, in his words, “Muslims believe in things that are subversive to the Constitution.” In July 2014, Steinlight told a group in Sebring, Florida that he would support the lynching of President Obama. “We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. All right? And I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him.” CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian dismissed Steinlight’s comments as “impolitic” to The Huffington Post and merely put a “reprimand in his personal file.”
FYI-In Case You Missed It Yesterday
Latino and Human Rights activists are returning to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate the anniversary of a historic confrontation that laid bare the racism in Southern California for the world to see.
On Wednesday from 1-4pm prominent immigrant rights and humanitarian activists will speak at a rally in the Town Square Park. (More Information) Organizers say they want to commemorate the compassion and unity in support of the asylum seekers which blossomed as a result of what they viewed as cruel and hateful protests.
Millions Benefit as Overtime Rules Revised
I expect to hear the right wing / chamber of commerce types grousing about how President Obama’s executive order making more people eligible for overtime pay will hurt people the people it’s intended to help, to which I say: “Shame on you.”
For years employers have been getting way with calling lowly paid employees “managers” and then working them to death. Sixty or seventy hours a week for $24,000 a year? Are you kidding me? These “business types” exploiting people this way are lucky they’re not being led off to jail.
Enough of my ranting. Here’s Laura Clawson at Daily Kos with the details:
Since President Obama announced last year that he would be raising the threshold for overtime pay eligibility, the big question has been how high he would raise it. Now we have an answer, and it’s a good one.
Currently, salaried workers making as little as $23,660 a year can be denied overtime no matter how much they work. Early in 2015, the rumor was that the Obama administration would raise the threshold to around $42,000, an amount that would have covered around 35 percent of salaried workers, or an additional 3.5 million. That’s a big boost, but by contrast, in 1975, 65 percent of salaried workers were covered. Progressives hoped for better than $42,000 from this administration … and will get it. The president writes:
This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.
For millions of American workers, this is a huge step forward: either they’ll get more pay, or they’ll get the same pay plus more time away from work to live their lives. Lousy employers won’t be able to hire someone at $24,000 a year, call them a manager, and make them work 60 hours a week, mostly at non-managerial work, without paying them any more.
University of Phoenix “Marketing” Exposed
An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals how the University of Phoenix is evading an executive order by President Barack Obama intended to prevent for-profit colleges from gaining preferential access to the military.
The strategy has included engaging in recruitment drives disguised as résumé workshops, cultivating veterans’ organizations and utilizing military insignias in school marketing without the required permissions. It also has led to hundreds of events on military bases across the country, from rock concerts to Super Bowl parties and father-daughter dances.
A Reveal survey of five large military bases found that the college paid the military nearly $1 million over the past five years sponsoring events there, ranging from briefings for soldiers newly stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado to an Easter egg hunt at Fort Hood in Texas.
Back at Fort Campbell, where Big Smo entertained the troops, the University of Phoenix has paid the military $250,000 to sponsor 89 events over the past three years, including a chocolate festival, a fashion show and “Brunch with Santa.”
The story, published at CIR’s Reveal site, indicates the University of Phoenix collected $345 million in GI Bill funding last year and $1.2 billion since 2009. The school also received $20 million from the Pentagon last year for classes including about 10,000 active duty service members.
Overall enrollment at the university has declined in recent years as word has gotten out about its 7.3% graduation rate and high number of former students unable to pay off loans. Veterans and active duty servicemembers are seen as low-hanging fruit by some.
Zonies Fear California Water Hogs
The ongoing drought has officials in Arizona looking over their shoulders at California, fearful about losing their access to water.
From the Arizona Daily Star:
Of particular concern is a California drought bill that’s been quietly negotiated for months in the U.S. Senate.
“The secrecy generates concern and nervousness. Nobody I know in Arizona knows what’s in this bill at this point,” says Chuck Cullom, who manages Colorado River issues for the Central Arizona Project, the canal system that brings the river water to Phoenix, Tucson, tribes and farms.
The two states have fought over water many times, and any threat from giant California has always been a potent Arizona rallying cry. California, after all, has much more political clout: 53 members in the House of Representatives compared to Arizona’s nine. And California’s water situation is much worse than Arizona’s, which has done far more than its neighbor over the years to conserve water and prepare for shortages.
That’s why Democratic Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton added his voice to the concerns a few days ago, saying in Washington, D.C., that his city must be ready for a fight with California.
I can relate to this paranoia, having just finished reading The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi’s post apocalyptic novel about water wars, mostly set in Phoenix. Maybe they ought to be worrying about Nevada while they’re at it. In any case, add this book by the author of The Windup Girl to your summer reading list. It’s a keeper.
On This Day: 1928 – Alabama outlawed the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state’s total revenue came from this source. 25 percent of all black leased convicts died. 1971 – The Supreme Court ruled that the government could not prevent the Washington Post or the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. 2013 – Nineteen firefighters died as they were overtaken by a wildfire they are battling in a forest northwest of Phoenix, Ariz. It was the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. in at least 30 years.
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