The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 29      August 2, 2010

Immigrant deaths soar
in Arizona desert
(front page)
Just two days after reports that deaths of undocumented workers crossing the Arizona desert are soaring, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano announced the U.S. government is stepping up immigration enforcement along the border.

Bruce Parks, the Pima County Medical Examiner, told the Associated Press July 16 that 40 bodies had been brought to his office since July 1 in the midst of a severe heat wave. Tighter measures at the U.S.-Mexico border have pushed immigrants without papers to attempt crossing in more remote, dangerous areas.

Last year, known deaths of immigrants along the entire U.S.-Mexico border rose to 422, the highest since 492 died in 2005.

In an op-ed piece in the Arizona Republic July 19 Napolitano said that starting August 1, additional National Guard troops would begin their border deployment. At the same time Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is opening a new office in Ajo, Arizona, and a Border Enforcement Security Task Force Jump Team will start working out of Douglas.

Homeland Security is also sending “mobile surveillance systems, thermal-imaging binocular units, and trucks equipped with detection scopes, as well as observation and utility aircraft” to the Tucson area, she said. Earlier in the week, Napolitano awarded $14 million in grants to help the Arizona government pay for its cop actions along the border.

The announcement of the stepped up measures was made on the eve of Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law taking effect.

While Napolitano says that ICE’s priority is going after “criminal aliens,” “felony fugitives,” and “gang members,” in a July 15 interview with Fox News she explained “we will proceed” against anyone “we come across” who is in the country without papers.

Sandra Punin, 22, is an example, of working people they “come across.” She was in a minor fender bender in Long Island, New York, June 14. The cop who wrote Punin a ticket arrested her after finding that she missed an appearance before an immigration judge in 2006, when she was 17. Punin was turned over to ICE and is now in an immigration jail facing deportation proceedings.  
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