Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Immigrants' Cash Floods Homelands

Inside Mexico

Read more of the article.

Immigrants' Cash Floods Homelands
By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 17, 2004

In tiny ethnic groceries and check-cashing shops, immigrants in the Washington area line up every day to send $200 or $300 to families back home. Now, a detailed study has concluded those payments add up to more than a billion dollars a year that goes to Latin America from workers in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The massive flows are part of an estimated $30 billion annually that Latin American immigrants in the United States convey to their home countries, according to the study, to be released today by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Of that amount, the study estimates, $94 million comes from the District. Immigrants living in Maryland send $500 million, the survey estimates, and those living in Virginia send $586 millon.

Most Latino immigrants in Maryland and Virginia live in the Washington suburbs. The study said the region's immigrants are more likely to send money to Latin American than are immigrants nationwide, and they send money more often.

"It adds up very quickly. If you can imagine $30 billion going south every year, from people who are maids and parking attendants and day laborers, it's a pretty amazing phenomenon," said Sergio Bendixen, whose Florida- based polling firm was commissioned to do the study.

While sending money home is an age-old immigrant tradition, the flows are receiving increasing attention from development experts. Rising immigration to the United States in recent decades has produced a surging tide of cash heading south, which far surpasses official aid.

Bendixen said his survey is the biggest state-by-state sampling of Latin American immigrants who send money home. The results startled even those who work with immigrants.

"Wow! I knew it was an incredible amount, but $94 million from the District alone is enough to blow your mind," said the Rev. Donato Lippert, executive director of the Spanish Catholic Center, which has an office in Columbia Heights that provides services to immigrants.

Bendixen's survey was based on 3,802 telephone interviews this year with Latin American adults in 37 states and the District. The pollsters sought a representative sampling, but because only 100 interviews were done in each state, the individual figures have a high margin of error, nearly 9 percent, Bendixen said.

Is Mexico Thwarting U.S. Immigration Enforcement?
By Fox News, March 18, 2004

Most people know that Usama bin Laden's terror group, AI Qaeda (Arabic for Behind the "the base"), derives its name from the Mujahideen database that bin laden developed through the 1980s and 1990s. Using "the base," bin laden could call on a corps of operatives to carry out missions.

There is growing evidence that the Mexican government, in similar fashion, is working with a group called the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (search) ("Institute of Mexicans Abroad") to use its matricula consular database (search) to deploy illegals to state legislatures and city councils across America. There, the illegal aliens - Mexican, nationals who have been provided a matricula consular card --- pack the gallery and seek to apply pressure against legislators who sponsor or intend to vote for bills that enhance immigration law enforcement.

Not since America's mid-century experience with communism has there been such an organized effort at subverting our country's political institutions. As reported in the Washington Times, local and statewide illegal immigrant advocacy groups and Hispanic groups, whose memberships include illegal immigrants as well as Mexicans who have become legal immigrants or citizens, coordinate with the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior to agitate for access to public services for illegal aliens in the United States.

Where does the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior get its instructions? From Vicente Fox.

The Instituto was created by presidential decree and reports to a group of Mexican government officials who are posted to Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is Mexico's equivalent of our own State Department.

If the number of boisterous illegal aliens packing legislative sessions is any indication, the two main goals of the Instituto's efforts are to defeat efforts to stop adoption of the matricula consular and driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

California Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy recalls the floor debate on a California measure, SB 60, which would have allowed illegal aliens in California to qualify for a state driver's license. Referring to the former name of the territory ceded to the United States by Mexico as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 (search), Mountjoy took the floor and said, "This bill paves the road to Aztlan."

Then everyone in the gallery stood up and applauded," Mountjoy said.

Last summer, a Mexican consulate in Michigan detected that the small city of Holland might adopt the matricula consular as a valid form of identification. Consul General Miguel Antonio Meza Estrada traveled to Holland's city counsel meetings five times, many times with what can only be described as a mob in tow, all of whom Estrada held out to be beneficiaries of the matricula consular. Holland finally postponed a decision on the issue because the meetings had become so contentious.

Mountjoy recently sponsored the Secure and Verifiable ID bill (search) (Calif. AB 2576). The bill follows Colorado's secure identification law, and mandates that when a California state agency issues a license, permit, or other document to a person, it must first obtain from that person a previously issued secure and verifiable identification, document. The bill defines a secure and verifiable identification document as one issued by a state of federal agency, a foreign passport with a valid United States entry stamp, or any other form of identification whose veracity can be verified by law enforcement.

To most, this would seem a modest and common sense legislative proposal aimed at better security, particularly after the events of September 2001. But to Mexican consulates in America, it is an attack on the rights of Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, and grounds for a pitched battle. "It's a bill to make America safer. If we are issuing identification or a benefit to someone, we want to know who they are," says Mountjoy.

But the bill's simplicity couldn't prevent one Mexican consul from running to the newspapers, apparently without any understanding of the measure. 'We have to realize that under international law, Mexican consulates have the right to issue Mexican IDs to their Mexican citizens," said Consul Giralt Cabrales to a Knight-Ridder reporter. Mountjoy responds, "This bill does not prohibit Mexican consulates from issuing whatever ID they choose."

When Mountjoy's secure identification bill comes up for a vote, expect the matricula consular rolls to be pulled out, and the balcony of the California legislature to be filled. As bin Laden has shown, organization makes all the difference.

Matt Hayes began practicing immigration law shortly after graduating from Pace University School of Law in 1994, representing new immigrants in civil and criminal matters. He is the author of The New Immigration Law and Practice, to be published in October.

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