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Headline: Immigrant Smuggling Ring Busted

Authorities in Phoenix deployed a series of raids yesterday, arresting the alleged leaders of a ring that helped transport hundreds of people to way stations in Phoenix. The authorities described this ring as one of the more complicated operations that bring thousands of people across the border into Arizona. The state has more illegal crossings than any other. Police said that they regularly find houses with dozens of people being detained by smugglers until they've paid for their passage from Mexico.

In simultaneous operation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, in conjunction with the Maricopa County sheriff, announced the arrests of more than 100 people suspected of being in the country illegally who were also on probation for various crimes. In total, the authorities made 20 arrests, including two Cubans thought to be directing the operation. They also detained 210 illegal immigrants and discovered 13 "drop houses" that serve as way stations for smuggled immigrants. In all, the authorities planned to arrest about 75 people.

What do you think about this? Are Phoenix authorities unfairly targeting illegal immigrants — or are they protecting them from exploitation at the hands of the smugglers? Are raids called for?


Join The Conversation
Jillness Jillness 9 years
ualili, I recommed you check out Obama's immigration plan (it is on his website where he lists his thoughts on "issues".) I say this not only because I support him, but also because his plan sounds a lot like the things you suggested. It is multi-pronged. We can't just address illegal immigration in one way.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
You need to secure the border first, then you deal with who has come in illegally.
blondie01 blondie01 9 years
the last I remember, John Mccain was pushing on the amnesty issue, and thats part of the reason i don't like him all that much. I liked Giuliani's idea for immigration: 1. Identify the 12 million illegal immigrants 2. issue tamper proof identification cards 3. Have them pay taxes and learn english ...then secure the border. It is a complicated situation, and identifying all 12 million illegal immigrants would be far greater than a challenge but I think the U.S. needs to be stricter on illegal immigration...I live in so cal...lots of illegals.
ualili ualili 9 years
I'm from Arizona - southern Arizona in fact. I'm also a Latina, whose family has lived in this area for over five generations. I also work for the owners of one of the largest farms in the area. So believe me when I tell you that immigration and border security is something I deal with every day. As an Independent, I haven't decided who I'm voting for yet but you can be sure that it will be for a candidate who embraces comprehensive immigration reform, which I think needs to include enhanced border security (not just a huge fence for people to climb over), a temporary guest worker program, a reliable and fast employment verification system and some sort of just resolution for the 12 million illegals who already call the good ole USA home. Not popular on all fronts, I know, but something needs to be done because the problem is not going I witness daily.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"Do you want to do the jobs necessary to produce these things? Do you want to live without them? If the answer is no then we have a problem. " But by curbing illegal immigration and curbing people from hiring illegal immigrants, you force these companies to offer a decent pay which presents opportunities to take people off of the welfare system, and in all, helps the economy. We're talking about blue-collar jobs that the pay rate has gone down so low that no legal person in the country could afford to take the work. This is a big process, but it will balance itself if put into motion in the correct manner.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"nor is simply shutting our doors." - (pop this isn't directed at you) - I really hate how some people try to make it seem that if you are against illegal immigration, that means you are against all immigration. That,m for the most part, for most people who are against illegal immigration, couldn't be further from the truth. I am all for keeping immigration,m but it needs to be a controlled process where we know exactly who is coming into the country, what their background is and so on and so forth. With this sort of logic it makes it sound like if you are against people illegally parking cars in no parking zones, that means you don't want people to park their cars anywhere. Ludicrous!
taterstagg taterstagg 9 years
I think the immigration issue has become so bad that we can’t get out from under it. The whole country relies on the work done by Illegal Immigrants. Who do you think cared for picked and delicately arranged those flowers that you gave to your sweetheart yesterday? It was not me and I don’t think that it was anyone reading this. That apple at lunch, the manicured lawn, most if not all of the food you eat in any restaurant probably all done by an immigrant. So why can’t we get out from under it. Do you want to do any of those jobs, do you want to leave your world of safety, in the office that was probably built with immigrants, and go out and do an honest day’s labor. For the rest of the day think about what it takes to create all of the amenities of your daily routine. Do you want to do the jobs necessary to produce these things? Do you want to live without them? If the answer is no then we have a problem. Don’t get me wrong I don’t agree with illegal immigration but at this point I don’t see a solution.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I can't blame people who want to come here and make a better life, nor can I blame the authorities for busting up illegal smuggling rings. This is a difficult situation. But letting everyone in who wants to come in isn't the correct solution, nor is simply shutting our doors. In the case of this article though, it's absurd to imply that the authorities are unfairly targeting illegal immigrants. It's kind of the point for law officials to go after people who are breaking the law. And in one of the most confusing paragraphs ever written: "announced the arrests of more than 100 people" "In total, the authorities made 20 arrests" "In all, the authorities planned to arrest about 75 people." Huh? LOL.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
mymellowman, that is an interesting article. The article doesn't mention it, but I am sure that the housing and construction dive has had a huge effect on immigrants looking for construction work as well. I think that the immigrant connection with our economy shouldn't be ignored, and looking closely at Arizona is a good way to better understand how they are linked. Very informative article!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
As a Native American, I've been trying to get all of you out of my country for the past 500 years.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Hi Jillness! I actually posted this article over at our Conservative Sugar group a couple days ago and I think it fits very well on this topic, so I'll repost it here: (Additionally, the federal government isn't supposed to regulate agriculture, legally speaking, but we can thank FDR for overstepping those bounds and having the fed stick their nose where and doesn't belong.) Arizona Seeing Signs of Flight by Immigrants By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD PHOENIX — The signs of flight among Latino immigrants here are multiple: Families moving out of apartment complexes, schools reporting enrollment drops, business owners complaining about fewer clients. While it is too early to know for certain, a consensus is developing among economists, business people and immigration groups that the weakening economy coupled with recent curbs on illegal immigration are steering Hispanic immigrants out of the state. The Arizona economy, heavily dependent on growth and a Latino work force, has been slowing for months. Meanwhile, the state has enacted one of the country’s toughest laws to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, and the county sheriff here in Phoenix has been enforcing federal immigration laws by rounding up people living here illegally. “It is very difficult to separate the economic reality in Arizona from the effects of the laws because the economy is tanking and construction is drying up,” said Frank Pierson, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network, which advocates for immigrants’ rights and other causes. But the combination of factors creates “ a disincentive to stay in the state.” State Representative Russell K. Pearce, a Republican from Mesa and leading advocate of the crackdown on illegal immigration, takes reports of unauthorized workers leaving as a sign of success. An estimated one in 10 workers in Arizona are Hispanic immigrants, both legal and illegal, twice the national average. “The desired effect was, we don’t have the red carpet out for illegal aliens,” Mr. Pearce said, adding that while “most of these are good people” they are a “tremendous burden” on public services. On Monday, state lawmakers, concerned about shortages of workers and the failed revamping of immigration law in Congress, which was pushed by Senator John McCain of Arizona, pledged action. Bills were announced that would create a state-run temporary worker program, though it would need Congressional authorization. And last week Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, offered to help the United States Labor Department rewrite regulations designed to streamline visas for agricultural workers, who growers say are increasingly hard to find. While data for the last month or so are not available, there were already signs of migration out of Arizona at the end of last year. In the fourth quarter of 2007 the apartment-vacancy rate in metropolitan Phoenix rose to 11.2 percent from 9 percent in the same quarter of 2006, with much higher rates of 15 percent or more in heavily Latino neighborhoods. “You have many people moving out, but they are not all illegal,” said Terry Feinberg, president of the Arizona Multihousing Alliance, a trade group for the apartment and rental housing industry. “A lot of people moving are citizens, or legal, but because someone in their family or social network is not, and they are having a hard time keeping or finding a job, they all move.” Elizabeth Leon, a legal immigrant and day care worker, said the families of two of her charges abruptly left, forcing the state to take custody of the children. Ms. Leon’s brother, a construction worker who is not authorized to be in the country, plans to leave, unable to find steady work; families at the neighborhood school have pulled children out, Ms. Leon said, fearful of sheriff’s deputies. “It is like a panic here,” she said. “This is all having an effect on the community, mostly emotional.” Juan Jose Araujo, 44, is here legally. His wife, however, is not and is pressing for the family to return to Mexico because of the difficulty in finding a job and what the family considers a growing anti-immigrant climate. Although prosecutors in the state do not plan to begin enforcing the sanctions against employers until next month, several employers have reportedly already dismissed workers whose legal authorization to work could not be proved, as required by the law. “We don’t have family or anything in Mexico,” said Mr. Araujo, who has lived in the United States for 24 years. “I wouldn’t have anywhere to go there, but we have to consider it.” Property managers report that families have uprooted overnight, with little or no notice. Carlos Flores Vizcarra, the Mexican consul general in Phoenix, said while he could not tie the phenomenon to a single factor, the consulate had experienced an “unusual” five-fold increase in parents applying for Mexican birth certificates for their children and other documents that often are a prelude to moving. Several school districts in heavily Latino areas have reported sudden drops in enrollment. Official explanations are elusive because school officials have not been able to interview families about why they left, but, anecdotally, people point to the sour economy and the immigration crackdown among other factors. The Cartwright Elementary School District in west Phoenix, for instance, reported a loss of 525 students this school year (dropping the enrollment to 19,845), while in previous years enrollment had grown or remained stable among its 23 schools. Meri Simmons, a spokeswoman for the district, said word of mouth suggested that the economy and sanctions on employers played a role. “We know we have a lot of empty houses,” Ms. Simmons said. Jobs in the construction industry, a major employer of immigrants, are growing scarce, declining 8.6 percent in December compared with the previous year. Juan Leon, a construction subcontractor and the husband of Elizabeth Leon, the day care worker, said illegal immigrants had made it harder for legal residents like him to find work. Companies that employ them can bid much lower on projects than he can because they pay workers much less, Mr. Leon said. “I hate to see families torn apart,” he said of the current flight, “but there is no money to be made sometimes because some contractors who employ illegal workers can do the job dirt cheap.” Dawn McLaren, an economist at Arizona State University in Tempe who studies the state’s economic and migration trends, said it was likely that lack of work is forcing people to move, probably to nearby states. But Ms. McLaren also theorized that the slowing economy had caused a reduction in the flow of new immigrants over the border. Analyzing data back to the early 1990s, she said, a drop in Border Patrol arrests — they have been steadily declining the last couple of years — typically preceded an economic downturn or slowing. “It’s a highly networked community,” she said of border crossers. “It costs a lot to get here, and they generally have a job lined up here. People say, ‘We need people on the crew.’ And they tell friends and relatives to come over.” A persistent decline in the immigrant population could damage the overall Arizona economy, Ms. McLaren said. A study by the Pew Hispanic Center released in January said illegal workers made up close to 11 percent of the state’s work force of 2.9 million people in 2006, double the national estimate. “What it looks like now is that a little bump in the economic road, especially with the sanctions law, is looking like it might last a year or more,” she said. Even as the economy slows and people leave, the matter of the state’s sanctions on employers is not settled. The legal fight over the law, which a federal judge upheld Thursday, is headed for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The law punishes employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants by suspending their business license for 10 days on the first offense and revoking it for a second infraction. Opponents call it an unconstitutional intrusion by the state on federal immigration authority but the federal judge, Neil V. Wake, disagreed. At the same time, signatures are being gathered for two ballot initiatives, one that would toughen the law and another meant to soften it. If both end up on the November ballot, the one with the most votes would prevail. Ms. McLaren, the economist, said that in the end history showed it was difficult to stop illegal immigration so long as jobs paid better in the United States than at home. An economic rebound would probably draw people back here, no matter the laws. “They will find a way to adjust,” she said.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I am agreeing with Cine, tresjolie, mellowman, and piper. Smuggling rings are not good for the immigrants or the American people. I think the employer aspect is so important. Our companies are fueling the illegal immigration surge, and yet it doesn't seem like our government is addressing that enough. I think we need to talk straight to these companies. Do they NEED to have workers without minimim wage and benefits to compete in the global market? If so, we need to work out a special class of worker. Don't we already have exceptions for migrant workers? It is in the best interest of America to be a strong competitor in the global market, but we also need to stop the abuse of people and services that occurs when people are undocumented.
Brittneylb Brittneylb 9 years
""""Police said that they regularly find houses with dozens of people being detained by smugglers until they've paid for their passage from Mexico.""" The passage can cost thousands of dollars-- and meanwhile the illegal immigrants are kept in really inhumane conditions, without food or bathrooms. Illegal immigrants dont endure that treatment because they are too lazy to sign up for citzenship--as some people think--they do it out of desperation. And the smugglers ---as well as US employers looking for cheap labor--exploit that desperation. I still dont understand why so much anger and hatred is targeted toward people who come here illegally out of desperation so that we can buy cheaper tomatoes (or whatever). If you literally lived in a cardboard box, had no food, and could not find a job (because you werent born in a country with an public education system or any of the other public assistance programs we are blessed with), what would you do? Entering illegally into our country does not take a way a person's humanity. Illegal immigrants are just as human as any of us born in the US--or who entered legally-- are. We should be outraged by the smugglers who exploit them, and the AMERICAN CORPORATIONS who exploit their labor for profit.
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
Hi all, I did add the word "illegal--you all make a fair point--although I think probably a case could be made that immigrants of all kinds might experience increased targeting and scrutiny. But yes, I assumed the "illegal" was implied through the context of the story, and it wasn't. All fixed! Thanks for reading!
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
As Usual I agree with Mymellowman and Piper23! Well said you two! :) This rade was called for and we should be going after ILLEGAL immigrants! We can't just let everyone come in to our country! They need to do it the right and LEGAL way.
peepshow peepshow 9 years
It's a better solution than "build a fence." The only problem I have with this is which jail were they sent to? They should be sent to their country of origin, not US facilities.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
As usual, I agree with 3M and piper. But today I also agree with tresjolie. I can't blame illegal immigrants for wanting to come to a country to earn money to support their families. If we go after the employers, and make it so it is not as enticing and inviting for them economically, then we will see less people coming across our boarders. There are so many things that need to be done when it comes to this topic. And PLEASE Citizen, change it to ILLEGAL immigrants!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that there's a lot of substance to this issue. it's hard enough for the US to maintain certain levels of living and success for citizens that to not target illegal immigrants is a shame. i think that there needs to be a limitation placed on what's allowed and if they don't crack down on people entering the country illegally - then who's to say that our country isn't going to keep going down hill? as for the tratment that they go through from smugglers - i think that it's important that something is done so that they are not harmed by the people helping them get through to the US but they should also understand the risk that's involved with entering the country illegally.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
It's interesting that this is McCain's state, who says we need to close our borders, but he hasn't done such a good job on his own turf. I'm always looking at how well the Presidential candidates governed their previous jobs, especially on the subjects they campaign on. So far not a single person I heard was happy with either Mitt Romney or John McCain in Mass and Arizona. Anyone here from Arizona? As for the smugglers, they don't do this because they care for their "customers", but because they care for making money. They treat the immigrants like dogs, or worse, and human traffickers are the scum of this world. So throw them in jail. Lastly, immigrants wouldn't be able to survive if they weren't hired by American businesses. We need to hold them responsible for breaking the law, and for stimulating illegal immigration. A fence, however large, is not going to keep immigrants away.
piper23 piper23 9 years
That's funny, Mellowman, because as I was reading "Are Phoenix authorities unfairly targeting immigrants", I was thinking that there was a word missing there. And then ding, ding, ding - the word ILLEGAL came to mind. There is a difference between an immigrant and an ILLEGAL immigrant. Just ask the good people at Wikipedia. "Immigration across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country is termed illegal immigration. Under this definition, an illegal immigrant is a foreigner who either illegally crossed an international political border, be it by land, water, or air, or a foreigner who legally entered a country but nevertheless overstays his/her visa in order to live and/or work therein." If I were an immigrant here LEGALLY I would want to see a distinction between the two.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
But congratulations to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Dear lord, why did you have to mention that bastard of a sheriff. :( Hate him.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"What do you think about this?" How do I feel about police doing raids on people who have broken the law? I think it is atrocious that any sort of law enforcement agency would think that it is a good idea to enforce the laws of the town, city, state or country. When will this nonsense stop and we can return to the days of complete lawlessness where anyone can just whatever it is they feel like? "Are Phoenix authorities unfairly targeting immigrants" I think the key word is missing from this sentence is "illegal" immigrants. This is a not a scenario where the authorities are arresting people for coming to this country though legal ways and means, they are going after people who have broken the law to come here. There is nothing unfair about enforcement agencies going after any person who has broken then law. "or are they protecting them from exploitation at the hands of the smugglers? " It is sad that these ring leaders are exploiting people to this degree, but these are not United States Citizens, these are people coming into the country illegally. As such, it is not the responsibility of US Law Enforcement to go after these groups for "exploitation," it is there responsibility to go after them for breaking the laws of coming into the country illegally and smuggling people into the country illegally. "Are raids called for?" Yes.
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