Saturday, July 11, 2009


Deadly gang brawl stuns Santa Barbara
The city is reeling after violence erupts on the streets, leaving one teen killed and another charged with murder.
By Steve Chawkins
Times Staff Writer

March 16, 2007

SANTA BARBARA — Residents and tourists here were stunned Thursday in the wake of a daylight gang brawl that left a 15-year-old boy stabbed to death, a 14-year-old charged with his murder and downtown's main commercial strip shut down for more than eight hours.

"Everyone's saying, 'This isn't supposed to happen in Santa Barbara,' " said Police Chief Cam Sanchez. "Well, it isn't supposed to happen anywhere."

Police wouldn't reveal how the early Wednesday afternoon fight had started, saying it was still under investigation. But they were emphatic that the deadly skirmish, which involved throngs of participants and was witnessed by many bystanders, was a confrontation between two rival gangs.

Killed was 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares, a student at El Puente Community School who was known to his friends as Nacho. Bleeding after being stabbed, he staggered into the parking lot behind Saks Fifth Avenue on State Street before being rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His alleged killer, whose name was not released because of his age, attended Santa Barbara Junior High School. He is being held at Santa Barbara County's juvenile hall, officials said.

Four others — allegedly members of the same gang — were also arrested on a variety of charges. They range in age from 13 to 16.

Santa Barbara students had been let out of school early Wednesday for a "minimum day" to give teachers and administrators time to attend training sessions, said J. Brian Sarvis, superintendent of the city's schools.

"We try to do the releases all at once so schools can coordinate with families that have child-care needs," he said. "Of course, we're rethinking that policy."

With the fight surging across State Street, dozens of police officers and sheriff's deputies converged on the scene from their departments' headquarters just blocks away. As it turned out, the Police Department was in the middle of a training session, so more officers were immediately available than would have been otherwise, officials said.

Behind Saks on Thursday afternoon, friends and classmates of the dead teen came by to pay their respects. Officers had removed the many candles and bouquets that had been left there, saying the boy's family did not want the site to become a flash point for further violence, police said.

With friends, 16-year-old Stephanie Montaldo was collecting donations for the Linares family in a hand-decorated cardboard box.

"I've known him since he was little," she said. "He was always very funny."

Blocks away, on the steps of the Police Department, Chief Sanchez said this was only the second gang-related death he could recall in his six years as head of the agency.

Although gangs have long been part of Santa Barbara's streetscape, Sanchez said he had been disturbed by their increasingly younger membership.

"The gang kids are getting younger and more blatant — more in-your-face with their teachers and even with officers," he said.

Meanwhile, parents, many of whom work multiple jobs to make ends meet, have been clamoring for solutions, he said.

"We have a gang unit, we have the Police Athletic League, we have a lot of things going on," Sanchez said, "but we can't force them into positive activities."

The fact that Wednesday's melee erupted so violently and in broad daylight was upsetting to many residents.

"I think some of these kids are numb to the fact of death," said Vincent Romero, a manager at the Unity Shoppe, a secondhand store on State Street that also provides clothing and groceries to the poor.

"It's video games, it's war, it's movies — it's just the whole package," he said.

Strolling into Saks on Thursday afternoon, Barbara Anderson, a recently retired program manager at UC Santa Barbara, said that, even a day later, the killing seemed incongruous.

"This is a safe town," she said. "When I read about this, my heart just broke."


Downtown drug gang is toppled
LAPD arrests 31 alleged leaders and seizes 45,000 heroin balloons.
By Richard Winton
Times Staff Writer

March 15, 2007

For decades, the 5th and Hill gang allegedly was the biggest drug dealer in downtown Los Angeles.

The leaders lived in the suburbs and other parts of L.A., where they produced thousands of heroin balloons at their homes and then had middlemen deliver them downtown, police said. There, day laborers, homeless people and even some children as young as 12 allegedly helped peddle the heroin.

The LAPD had struggled to destroy the gang, frequently arresting low-level dealers only to see them replaced immediately.

But on Wednesday, police said that after a months-long crackdown, the gang — and with it a main source of heroin in Los Angeles — had been dismantled.

Police said they recovered 45,000 balloons of heroin during the 10-month investigation. They also found 85 pounds of tar heroin, they said, enough when diluted to fill half a million balloons.

Officers arrested 31 people who they alleged were leaders of the gang, as well as scores of alleged street sellers who worked for them.

They reached the kingpins, detectives said, because of video surveillance tapes that tracked the movement of drugs in and out of downtown.

The LAPD's much-touted crackdown on skid row crime has led to 5,400 arrests and a 30% drop in crime since it began in September. But the alleged demise of the 5th and Hill gang offers a glimpse into how drug dealing was able to flourish downtown for decades.

The gang thrived because its leaders stayed far away from the actual drug sales, LAPD Capt. Andrew Smith said.

Authorities believe that the gang got the heroin in bulk from Mexico. The drugs would come to the homes of the gang's leaders in Santa Fe Springs, Fontana and South Gate. There, authorities allege, women meticulously processed and diluted the heroin, packaging it in single-dose "balloons."

Downtown turned out to be an ideal spot to find dealers because of the low-income immigrants and people down on their luck there. Smith said the gang could offer some of them better money than what they could earn doing manual labor.

The gang typically charged $5 to $10 per hit of heroin, with the dealers storing balloons in their mouths to avoid detection. When they made a sale, the dealers would spit out the balloon and give it to the customer, Smith said.

Young teenagers — some related to the dealers, other found on the downtown streets — were used not to sell the drug but to move it among sellers, Smith said. The teenagers were given the risky job of conveying significant quantities of drugs to various street corners.

But 5th and Hill used the couriers' ages to its benefit, police said.

"They took advantage of the fact that they were children and knew we could not bring serious charges against them," Smith said.

The gang got its start in the 1970s as a loose band of thugs who committed street robberies downtown. By the 1980s, the gang had evolved into a huge source of heroin in drug bazaars spread across skid row. By the mid-1990s, the gang controlled many of the key intersections along 5th Street and Broadway, where people from across Southern California came to buy heroin.

Detectives said 5th and Hill's customers were not all from downtown. Many were tracked back to the San Gabriel Valley, Hollywood, South Los Angeles and beyond. An LAPD detective who impersonated a 5th and Hill drug dealer nabbed actor Brad Renfro last year when he tried to buy eight balloons of heroin.

The gang, Smith and others said, was not known for feuding with other gangs, but it did use violence to protect its business.

LAPD Senior Lead Officer Kathy McAnany said 5th and Hill employed "enforcers" who would threaten and beat up rivals as well as their own dealers who got out of line.

"About two years ago I and another officer rolled up on a beating of a homeless guy by one of the gang's enforcers," she said. "He was putting a … whooping on him."

The arrests come as the LAPD enters the seventh month of a major crackdown on drugs, crime and blight in downtown.

It is part of a larger effort by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton to revive the skid row area, which has the largest concentrations of homeless people and drug dealing in the city. More than 20% of all Los Angeles drug arrests occur on skid row. While the crackdown has resulted in a surge of arrests, it has also met with ire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that police are harassing homeless people and unfairly arresting some of them.

The LAPD assigned 50 extra officers to downtown in September, and this deployment helped bolster the attack on 5th and Hill, Smith said.

Police started arresting hundreds more suspects a week. And slowly, Smith said, they got low-level dealers to identify middlemen, who then ultimately connected them to top leaders.

Detectives got lucky thanks to the growing number of downtown surveillance video cameras. Once they got a line on the middlemen who were bringing the drugs downtown, police used two dozen video cameras connected to the Central Division station to find their car license plates and track their movements. This eventually led them to the kingpins, Smith said.

Among those arrested, the LAPD identified Pedro Sanchez-Limon, also known as Hector Rodriguez, as the gang's leader and major supplier. They said Alberto Blanco, also known as "El Moro," was his right-hand man, and Jamie Chacon Diaz, also known as "Archie," was the gang's money collector. Abel Flores, also known as "Barbs," was identified as the gang's chief street enforcer. They face multiple charges of selling drugs and conspiracy.

Sanchez-Limon and Diaz had been deported previously but reentered the U.S. illegally, authorities said, and Blanco had been deported twice. Detectives said the gang leaders have long criminal histories.

Detectives admit that the downtown drug trade continues.

"While we haven't wiped out narcotics sales in the Central [station] area, we have put a major dent in them," said Capt. Jerry Szymanski, head of LAPD Narcotics.

"A lot has been said about us going after those users," he said. "Well, what we haven't been able to say is we have been going after a major supplier."


Guest workers' Gulf Coast dream unmet
Mexican and Indians say housing and pay for post-Katrina labor was not as billed, but employers cite a lack of skills.
By Ann M. Simmons
Times Staff Writer

March 14, 2007

NEW ORLEANS — When Sabulal Vijayan saw the advertisement in a newspaper in his native state of Kerala in southwestern India, he thought he had found the solution to his family's financial problems.

The ad offered laborers job opportunities in the U.S. Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina under a guest worker program.

Vijayan said the ads for Signal International, a marine and fabrication company with shipyards in Texas and Mississippi, promised welders and pipe fitters a 10-month work visa, followed by permanent U.S. residency. Good wages and comfortable accommodations also would be provided, Vijayan remembers the ad saying.

"It was my big dream to come to America," said Vijayan, 39, a pipe fitter.

So he used his life savings and money borrowed from relatives to pay $15,000 to people who identified themselves as Signal's recruiters. He was told this was "the price of coming to the U.S."

But when Vijayan arrived in Pascagoula, Miss., in December, the situation was not as advertised.

"We were like pigs in a cage," he said. His living quarters were cramped bunk houses where two dozen laborers shared two bathrooms.

Then the company cut the workers' wages from $1,850 a week to $1,350 or $950, depending on the position, Vijayan said. When he and other workers complained, they were fired without notice.

Vijayan had been issued a H-2B guest worker visa, which allows laborers into the country for certain non-agricultural jobs, typically for a year or less, and only once. An employer must secure the visa, and a laborer may not use it to work for another employer. Unlike the claims Vijayan said he read, workers are not guaranteed permanent residency after the term of their visa.

"I cannot go back to India because I cannot pay my debt," Vijayan said of the money he borrowed to pay recruiters.

He was so distraught that he recently slashed his wrist in a suicide attempt. His left arm is still bandaged.

On Tuesday, Vijayan joined other Indians and Mexicans who are members of the Alliance of Guest Workers for Dignity in a protest outside a U.S. Department of Labor office in New Orleans.

The workers wore enlarged photocopies of H-2B visas around their necks and delivered a letter to the agency demanding that U.S. officials investigate employers who exploit guest workers.

"We are exposing the reality of the H-2B visa," said Saket Soni, who heads the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. "We have people who are tricked and trafficked, and now they are trapped."

Ron Schnoor, Signal's Pascagoula-based senior vice president and general manager, said claims of workplace violations and abuse by his company were "absolutely a fabricated lie," generated by "disgruntled workers."

Schnoor said that at least 10% of the 300 Indian laborers his company hired on H-2B visas did not have the "first class" welding and fitting skills they claimed to have on their applications.

"They falsified their credentials," Schnoor said.

The company had to demote some workers to lower-paying jobs in line with their qualifications, he said, and fire unskilled laborers for whom alternate positions could not be found.

"There is no servitude here, or all the other horse crap that people are asserting," he said.

But advocates said guest workers were routinely unfairly docked wages, forced to live in squalor and denied benefits.

"Guest workers are usually poor people who are lured here by the promise of decent jobs, but all too often their dreams are based on lies," said Mary Bauer, director of the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. The group published a report this week on instances of abuse among the estimated 90,000 workers currently in the country on H-2B visas

"The guest worker program has created a band of quasi-criminal recruiters in Mexico and other countries, and they really wield enormous power over peoples' lives," she said.

Labor Department officials did not return calls seeking comment. But Schnoor said agency investigators last week inspected Signal workers' accommodations in Pascagoula, audited the company's books and checked its work visa compliance.

"We are fully compliant with U.S. law," Schnoor said.

Mexican welder Juan Jose Trejo Hernandez, 33, said he was promised a salary of $18 an hour to work a minimum of 40 hours a week in Westlake, La., for Louisiana Labor, the labor recruitment company that secured his work visa.

But since his arrival in January, Hernandez said, the company, owned by Matt Redd, a real estate entrepreneur in Sulphur, La., had reneged on promises to get the welders certified so they could begin work.

Instead, Hernandez and other Mexican workers said, Redd temporarily confiscated their passports and leased the workers out to other businesses, including a carwash and a garbage company.

The laborers say they were underpaid and fear they will return to Mexico empty-handed at the end of July when their visas expire.

Redd did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Nestor Vallerio, 22, said his hopes of earning enough money to finish college in Mexico and eventually opening an import-export business there had been dashed because the high-paying job he thought he would get with Louisiana Labor did not materialize.

Instead, he said, he was rented out to wash cars, bus restaurant tables and collect garbage — work for which he was never fully paid.


In Los Angeles 1 in 5 births are by ILLEGALS that just crossed the border pregnant to get free medical and then 18 years welfare for her American child.

What if Mexico took some of their DRUG CARTEL MONEY and paid for this welfare?

Can Congress repeal birthright citizenship?
Anti-immigration lawmakers are pushing the idea, but the 14th Amendment may get in their way.
By James C. Ho
JAMES C. HO, an appellate and constitutional litigator, was formerly a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.

March 10, 2007

GENERATIONS OF Americans have understood that children born in the United States are entitled to U.S. citizenship, regardless of the nationality of their parents. When Congress revisits immigration reform this spring, however, legislation to repeal this historic rule is expected to play a central role in the debate.

Many Americans are angry about illegal immigration and believe birthright citizenship encourages it. Unsurprisingly, then, the idea of eliminating automatic citizenship for the children of lawful and unlawful aliens has gained remarkable traction around the country.

A resolution moving through the Georgia Legislature urges Congress to take such action. A coalition of conservative activists has proposed a grand immigration compromise: amnesty for illegal immigrants with relatives here now, but no birthright citizenship in the future. Texas lawmakers are even weighing legislation that would attack birthright citizenship indirectly by denying state and local government services to so-called "anchor babies" — children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants.

In recent years, this effort has been bolstered by court briefs and congressional testimony from legal scholars. Even Richard Posner, the distinguished federal appellate judge, wrote in a judicial opinion that Congress can, and should, repeal birthright citizenship.

The breadth of support is surprising because the proposed legislation is plainly unconstitutional. Birthright citizenship is a constitutional right, no less for the children of undocumented persons than for descendants of passengers of the Mayflower.

The first sentence of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, puts it plainly: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." The primary purpose of this provision was to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to U.S.-born people of African descent. But the amendment was drafted broadly to guarantee citizenship to virtually everyone born in the United States.

California Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) and other proponents of ending birthright citizenship claim that aliens — lawful and unlawful — are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S. because they swear no allegiance to the United States. But neither the text nor the history of the 14th Amendment supports this conclusion.

When a person is "subject to the jurisdiction" of a court of law, that person is required to obey the orders of that court. The meaning of the phrase is simple: One is "subject to the jurisdiction" of another whenever one is obliged to obey the laws of another. The test is obedience, not allegiance.

The "jurisdiction" requirement excludes only those who are not required to obey U.S. law. This concept, like much of early U.S. law, derives from English common law. Under common law, foreign diplomats and enemy soldiers are not legally obliged to obey our law, and thus their offspring are not entitled to citizenship at birth. The 14th Amendment merely codified this common law doctrine.

Members of the 39th Congress debated the wisdom of guaranteeing birthright citizenship — but no one disputed the amendment's meaning. Opponents conceded — indeed, warned — that it would grant citizenship to the children of those who "owe [the U.S.] no allegiance." Amendment supporters agreed that only members of Indian tribes, ambassadors, foreign ministers and others not "subject to our laws" would fall outside the amendment's reach.

The U.S. Supreme Court long has taken the same view. In 1898, the court held in United States vs. Wong Kim Ark that the U.S.-born child of Chinese immigrants was constitutionally entitled to citizenship, noting that the "14th Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory . . . including all children here born of resident aliens."

The court has reiterated this view in subsequent decisions. In Plyler vs. Doe (1982), the majority concluded, and the dissent agreed, that birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment extends to anyone "who is subject to the laws of a state," including the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens. And in INS vs. Rios-Pineda (1985), a unanimous court agreed that a child born to an undocumented immigrant was in fact a citizen of the United States.

Although the Constitution seems clear, Democrats in Congress might nevertheless be persuaded to repeal birthright citizenship as a bipartisan compromise to secure passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill — in the hope that the provision would simply be struck down in court. Perhaps that explains why Senate Democrats quizzed Samuel A. Alito Jr. about the issue during his confirmation hearings. Stay tuned: Dred Scott II could be coming soon to a federal court near you.

Being PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY with Mexican gang criminals

Gang crackdown raises touchy issue
Questioning suspects' immigration status has been taboo for L.A. police. But the results of jail screenings revive calls to relax that policy.
By Patrick McGreevy
Times Staff Writer

March 10, 2007

A spot check by federal agents has identified 59 street gang members in Southern California jails who are illegal immigrants subject to deportation, sparking a debate about the role of border enforcement in the region's battle against violent gangs.

The initial identification of deportable gang members came during a first-of-its-kind screening of a portion of jail inmates last month.

The review will continue, and officials expect during the first year to identify 700 to 800 gang members who are illegal immigrants, according to Jim Hayes, director of the Los Angeles field office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The results so far have some officials convinced that border enforcement needs to be a big part of combating the gang problem.

"We play a vital role with respect to foreign nationals who are in gangs here," Hayes said.

The focus on immigration status comes as the city of Los Angeles is calling on federal agencies to help it crack down in response to last year's 15.7% increase in gang crime.

Some say it also shows the need for agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, to loosen policies that generally prohibit officers from asking about the immigration status of anyone they question.

"It helps to show that cooperation between the LAPD and immigration officials should help reduce gang violence" if a suspect is ultimately deported, said Paul Orfanedes, litigation director for Judicial Watch.

The Washington, D.C.-based group has sued the LAPD to overturn Special Order 40, the rule that prohibits officers from asking about immigration status, arguing that the department is required to enforce all laws.

The policy has been loosened slightly, allowing gang officers to ask about the immigration status of suspects only when they recognize them as having been previously deported.

As recently as last week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rejected the argument that eliminating Special Order 40 would help in the battle against gangs.

"Every police chief since Daryl Gates has supported Special Order 40," Villaraigosa told reporters. "They have because they understand that in a city as under-policed as Los Angeles is, we need to focus on crime. We need to ensure that the victims of crime, the witnesses of crime come forward. We don't want them to believe we're going to report them to ICE when they do come forward and report a crime."

Officials with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund express similar concern. They say they do not oppose the deportation of convicted criminals by federal authorities but believe rescinding Special Order 40 would be a setback because without it some witnesses to gang crimes who are not legally in the country might be unwilling to cooperate with police.

"We believe on balance it promotes public safety rather than precludes public safety," said Cynthia Valenzuela, national litigation director for MALDEF.

The mayor said it is the federal government's job to enforce immigration laws.

Hayes, the immigration official, agreed that his agency can do more, which is why it has begun determining whether jail inmates red-flagged for immigration violations are gang members.

The Times reported last month that an increase in screeners allowed authorities to question nearly 10,000 of the 170,000 inmates who went through county jails last year about their immigration status.

The number red-flagged — those who face possible deportation once they serve their sentences — went from 3,050 in 2005 to 5,829 last year.

The immigration agency began last month, for the first time, to identify deportable gang members.

For the month of February, 290 inmates at Los Angeles County jails were determined to be in this country illegally, and 24 of those, about 8%, were determined to be associated with street gangs.

A similar survey was done for the 816 inmates red-flagged in jails in the seven Southern California counties served by Hayes' office. That survey, which includes Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, identified 59 gang members, or 7% of those facing deportation.

On any given day, Los Angeles County jails have about 19,500 inmates, including about 4,500 gang members, said Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff's Department spokesman. He said up to 25% of the inmates in the jail are believed to be foreign nationals.

Hayes said those flagged for deportation and identified as gang members may get additional attention to determine whether they had been deported before and returned to the U.S., which could result in federal prosecution and prison time before they are sent out of the country.

Hayes cited as an example the case of Joaquin Gutierrez Payan, a member of the Sureño street gang in Los Angeles.

Payan had been sent to prison for assault with a deadly weapon in a Los Angeles case and was also wanted in Mexico for murder. A native of Juarez, Payan just completed a prison term for the crime here and was turned over to Mexican authorities this week to face allegations that he raped and murdered a cocktail waitress in Juarez more than two years ago.

A check of his immigration status after his conviction for the L.A. crime found that Payan was in the United States after previously being deported to Mexico.


$49 billion is Slim's pickings in Mexico
By Marla Dickerson
Times Staff Writer

March 9, 2007

MEXICO CITY — Telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu has built a corporate empire so vast that it's nearly impossible for most Mexicans to go a day without slipping a few pesos into his pocket.

Those pesos add up. On Thursday, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $49 billion.

That represented a stunning $19-billion increase from 2006, the biggest one-year jump in a decade for anyone on the magazine's annual list of the world's richest people.

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates' $56 billion helped him retain the top spot. Investor Warren Buffett was again runner-up with $52 billion.

But with those tycoon-philanthropists increasingly focused on giving away their fortunes, the 67-year-old Slim appears destined to surpass them both. Although his third-place ranking didn't change from 2006, he increased his wealth by 63%. That's a growth rate of $2.2 million an hour.

When Mexicans talk on the phone or use the Internet, they're almost certainly doing it through a company controlled by Slim, who in 1990 bought control of the old state-owned telephone company Telefonos de Mexico, or Telmex, and turned it into a cash machine. Profits from that near-monopoly have bankrolled Slim's telecom acquisitions around the region, propelling his America Movil wireless spinoff into the largest provider of cellphone service in Latin America.

Mexicans buy cigarettes from Slim's tobacco company, apply for mortgages at his bank and purchase policies at his insurance firm. Shoppers patronize his department stores, eat at his restaurants and browse for CDs at his music outlets.

Travelers fly his discount airline. Industrialists buy his auto parts, electronics, steel and ceramic tile. The government hires his infrastructure firm to build highways, water treatment plants and oil platforms. More than 250,000 Mexican employees draw paychecks from his companies.

"It's virtually cradle to grave. It's Slimlandia," said George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. "You are engulfed by Slim in Mexico."

The portly Slim has more than tripled his fortune since Forbes published its 2004 list, thanks to a string of acquisitions and the ballooning value of his telecom holdings. His current net worth is equivalent to nearly 6% of his nation's gross domestic product, a feat unmatched even by America's robber barons at the height of their influence.

News of the spectacular increase in his wealth elicited cheers and jeers in Mexico, where Slim is a polarizing figure. And it comes at a sensitive time for the nation. President Felipe Calderon is under pressure to confront business oligarchs blamed for squelching competition, exacerbating income inequality and retarding Mexico's economic growth.

"I have tremendous respect and affection for him personally," former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda said of Slim. But Castañeda, who has publicly advocated dismantling Telmex, which controls 94% of Mexico's land lines, added, "The problem is that this is a country where we don't have either the regulatory capacity or the political will to break up monopolies."

To some Mexicans, the son of a Lebanese immigrant shopkeeper represents the triumph of hustle over heredity in a nation where a few dozen families have held sway for generations. Slim isn't flamboyant or ostentatious. He has given foreign competitors fits. His ranking among the world's business elite invokes pride in a country that often suffers from a sense of underachievement.

"I'm rooting for him to take first place" on the Forbes list, said Teresa Sotelo, 50, an accountant in the capital. "He's Mexican. We always have to root for our countrymen."

For others, Slim is the outsider who has become the consummate insider, a prime example of the crony capitalism that has benefited the few at the expanse of the many. Nearly everyone gives Slim credit for being a savvy businessman. He made his first investments as a child and has coolly snapped up assets at bargain prices during periods of economic turmoil.

But critics say his purchase of Telmex was a sweetheart deal that merely replaced a public monopoly with a private one. Studies have shown that Mexicans pay some of the highest telecom rates in the world, which is undermining the nation's competitiveness.

Rivals say Telmex has thrown up numerous roadblocks, including high connection fees that have blocked their market access. Regulators have had little success in leveling the playing field. Slim's companies routinely use Mexico's lumbering court system to stave off authorities' rulings against them for years.

And it's not just telecom that's locked up tight. Of the 10 Mexican billionaires listed on the latest Forbes list, seven made their fortunes in industries where there is little competition in Mexico.

They include broadcasting magnates Ricardo Salinas Pliego (No. 172, $4.6 billion), chairman of TV Azteca, and Emilio Azcarraga Jean (No. 459, $2.1 billion), chairman and chief executive of Grupo Televisa. Their two companies control 94% of the nation's television stations and virtually all of the industry's advertising revenue, making Mexico the most closed TV market in Latin America outside Cuba.

The broadcasters sparked public outrage in the spring by pushing through legislation that critics say gave them free digital spectrum and made it tougher for new players to enter the market.

The companies appeared to preempt another potential competitor in December. TV Azteca and Televisa aired multipart news features criticizing a company owned by Isaac Saba, a Mexican entrepreneur who was seeking permission to start a third television network in partnership with U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.

Critics pounced on the flap as a prime example of why Mexico needs to pry open its television market and other key sectors to competition. Economists, regulators and world development agencies have all weighed in with similar conclusions — that oligopolies are saddling Mexican consumers and businesses with high prices and holding back economic growth. But the conservative, pro-business Calderon has shown little appetite for taking on any of Mexico's entrenched corporate titans.

Still, the drumbeat of criticism may be forcing Mexico's monopolists to try to soften their image. Slim, who has ceded most of the day-to-day control of his empire to his sons, recently said he planned to devote most of his time to philanthropy. In an interview with Business Week magazine this month, Slim said he doubled the endowment of his family's Carso Foundation to $2.5 billion last year. His company's Telmex Foundation has a $1.2-billion endowment.

Although that might be chump change to Gates and Buffett, who have already committed more than $30 billion each, it's a big deal in a nation with a weak tradition of charitable giving among the business elite.

But some experts say a kinder, gentler Slim won't make the job of Mexico's antitrust authorities any easier.

"Carlos Slim may start giving away money hand over fist," said Pamela Starr, Latin America analyst with the Washington-based Eurasia Group. "But that doesn't mean he won't try to protect his monopoly as long as he can."


Mexican president promises to keep Mexicans at home

Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon won't be fighting for migration reform when he meets with President Bush next week. Instead, he will be be spelling out what he intends to do to keep Mexicans at home.

Calderon, who was inaugurated on Dec. 1, has pledged to take 100 actions in his first 100 days in office, many of which represent the first steps toward "curing" Mexico's long tradition of illegal migration to the U.S.

If implemented, his proposals could help transform Mexico from a labor-exporting country with relatively low growth, productivity and wages into an investment-rich, job-producing economy with better living standards for its 107 million people, nearly half of whom still live in poverty.

"We are laying the foundation for a more just, healthy society with better and more equal opportunities for all," he said.

Even a modicum of success for Calderon would improve on the record of his predecessor Vicente Fox, who failed to persuade the United States to accept Mexican guest workers and also could not put in place proposed reforms.

Like Fox, Calderon faces powerful Mexican monopolies and oligopolies, union leaders and old-school politicians who have resisted changes to a system that concentrates power and wealth in a small number of hands and blocks attempts to improve competition, lower consumer prices and open the job market to more people.

Unlike Fox, Calderon has shown he can rally lawmakers and others behind his plans: Congress unanimously passed his 2007 federal budget and he has united state governments behind a nationwide crackdown on drug trafficking.

Among other things, he has proposed labor, energy and judicial reforms to encourage investment, promote competition and create jobs; improved tax collection to generate more revenue to fight poverty and improve education; universal health care and support for small and medium-size businesses.

"Curing" migration will take many more than his six years in office, Calderon says. With this in mind, he set the goal of boosting Mexico's per-capita income from the equivalent of about $8,000 today to around $30,000 by 2030.

"It won't be easy. It won't be fast, but yes, it is possible," Calderon said.

Calderon and Bush will meet in Merida, the capital of Yucatan state, on March 13 and 14. Officials have not disclosed in detail the talks' agenda, but in addition to migration, the two are expected to discuss drugs and unresolved trade disputes over trucking rights and agricultural products.

U.S.-bound migrants include not only poor and poorly educated unskilled laborers, but also middle-class entrepreneurs, college graduates and professionals. Many actually have jobs in Mexico, but the salaries don't match their talents and experience, and workplace discrimination is widespread.

"I think he's on the right track, but migration is a long-term problem," said Jorge Chabat, an international affairs expert at Mexico City's Center for Economic Research and Instruction.

Jose Antonio Perez, a 27-year-old college graduate from the oil-rich Gulf coast state of Veracruz, has a degree in mechanical engineering, but no real career prospects in Mexico.

His jobs have included a five-month, unpaid engineering internship at a boat-repair company; a two-year job with a telephone company that offered no benefits and no chance of advancement; and his current teaching job, which requires little of his engineering skills and offers no insurance benefits, vacation, or job security.

Perez works 12 hours a day Monday through Friday teaching high school mathematics and computers - a post that pays $12,000 a year. He supplements his income with odd carpentry and bricklaying jobs, or selling clothing and even cars.

"I sleep four hours a night," he said. "I can't even think of having a family until I get something more secure."

More than a year ago, when several of Perez's friends were working illegally in the United States, they earned as much as $26,300 a year pumping gas or working in carpentry.

The friends have since returned, but their stories have inspired Perez. If his situation doesn't improve in six months, he plans to cross the border as well.

"I could be a carpenter or a locksmith," he said.

Calderon - who often notes that he has relatives in the United States, although he has not revealed their legal status - says he is well aware of the difficulties Mexicans face trying to live and work in their own country.

He recently told the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico: "The ideal situation for Mexico is not to have Mexicans migrate."

Surge in MEXICAN GANG VIOLENCE in Los Angeles

A Friday night on the front lines of L.A.'s gang wars
Los Angeles saw a 14 percent jump in gang-related violent crime last year.
By Daniel B. Wood | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Sgt. Sean Colomey patrols the most gang-ridden neighborhood in the gang capital of America. It is his job to lead 28 specially trained police through an area where assault weapons seem as common as grass, graffiti "tags" define the turf, and 7 of every 100 residents are members of one gang or another.

He is just the man Police Commissioner Anthony Pacheco wants to know.

A wave of gang violence, one that some say is the most vicious in city history, has engulfed Los Angeles, and the city's police are mounting an equally historic response. It is Commissioner Pacheco's job to assess how effectively the LAPD is confronting the gangs – whether it has the tools and personnel it needs, whether police tactics stay within the law. He sees the response as a huge and necessary undertaking. No less than "the future safety of L.A. is at stake," Pacheco says.

So it is that on a recent Friday night Sergeant Colomey, the gang expert, and Pacheco, a civilian appointed to serve as one of five LAPD commissioners, meet in the parking lot of the Southeast Division headquarters at the corner of 108th and Main Streets. Pacheco will ride along on this shift – it's a chance to pick Colomey's brain about gang rivalries, to catch the cop's-eye view of the action. This ride-along, like others he's been on over the past 18 months, will help the commissioner decide for himself whether the police crackdown is having an effect.

It's just one night and just one lens on the gang problem, but Pacheco feels it's a vital perspective to gain.

Colomey slides on a bulletproof vest, and hands one to the commissioner. Velcro closes them tight, but it's small comfort. The vests can stop bullets from handguns, but not from AK47s. A Chinese-made copy of the notorious Russian assault rifle can be had on the streets for about $100.

"It's all over the place," Colomey says of the gun. "It's a military weapon that will send a bullet through you and the next guy and the house next door and keep on going."

* * *

The latest crime report came as something of a shock to many Los Angelenos. Crime rates had dropped citywide for five straight years, mirroring the trend in other major metropolises. But last year L.A. as a whole saw a 14 percent jump in gang-related violent crime. Police say there are 39,000 gang members in Los Angeles – and 15,000 of them are active in the compact area where Colomey and Pacheco will be on patrol.

Colomey, though, was not shocked. His division, which encompasses Watts and South Central L.A., has logged roughly 500 shootings a year for the past few years.

On their ride together through this 9.3-square-mile community – 200,000 people boxed in by four freeways – Pacheco and Colomey are taking a kind of inventory of 65 gangs who police say rule these streets like terrorists. "They do everything that terrorist groups do ... rule by fear and intimidation, the threat of violence and murder in every area of these neighborhoods," says Colomey, a 17-year veteran.

It's the apparent spread of gang violence to additional parts of L.A. that has set in motion a kind of "Marshall Plan" attack on the problem, of which the LAPD response is one part. So far, police department action includes unprecedented collaboration with the feds: the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). It includes injunctions that restrict the activities of certain gang members and nuisance-abatement crackdowns that target gang hangouts. It includes formal lists of "most wanted" members and "most wanted" gangs and better-coordinated ways to track and prosecute them.

But there's also plain old enforcement, meaning a bigger show of force and more arrests. This night would make that clear.

* * *

About half of Colomey's gang enforcement detail is on duty at any given time, so the sergeant is set for a casual tour of "non-frontline" duty with the commissioner.

That plan changes in the first minute of his shift.

They set off first for the scene of an earlier shooting. But the parking lot is still visible in the rearview mirror when Colomey and five other cruisers are summoned for backup in a cocaine bust just blocks in the other direction. That's a sizable backup squad, but Colomey says the extra hands will be needed for crowd control – local residents who often press the perimeter of an arrest scene.

At least 100 locals have gathered in front yards, in fact. Some are taunting the cops and videotaping the onslaught of cruisers. A suspect is already in handcuffs, after an officer felled him with pepper spray. Police say the man is a gang member who was selling rock cocaine in plain view as a cruiser drove by, and that he had ignored police orders to "show your hands." "People from outside the area ask us, is it really that blatant ... the disregard for authority and police?" says Colomey. "I tell them, yes, they are not deterred by us at all."

As Colomey walks between officers at the scene, a woman with a video camera to her eye says, "You don't have no business here. You can't come in here without a warrant. Go ahead, just try to come in here. I've got my eye on you...."

The antagonism is a testament to a long and tense history between the LAPD and Watts, a patchwork neighborhood of single-story, single-family homes, most with manicured front yards but barred windows, too. This is one of the places where riots erupted after police were acquitted in the 1994 Rodney King beating case, and again in 1995 and 1996 after the O.J. Simpson trials.

Now relations are taut again as police try to clamp down on violence they say is rooted in bitter rivalries between black and Hispanic gangs.

"There are four major wars going on right now [within the Southeast Division]," Colomey tells Pacheco, ticking off pairs of combatants.

The Southeast Division is not the only part of Los Angeles that appears to be spiraling closer toward race war. In recent months, altercations between black and Hispanic gang members have spilled from L.A. streets into the county jail and back to the streets, a vicious cycle of revenge and competition that has bred more violence. Even among law-abiding residents here, black-Latino relations have soured, as some feel they are losing out on jobs, affordable housing, and public spaces such as parks.

The result is a thick layer of fear that, some neighborhood activists say, has descended on this city like a pot lid. In all his years of duty, says Colomey, he's never seen the climate so foreboding in so many pockets of L.A., including Watts.

In such a climate, a kind of siege mentality can set in. Driving past a liquor store at 87th Street and Compton Avenue, Colomey points out groups of girls outside and in cars across the street, and he notes that police don't have the luxury of assuming they are as innocent as they look.

"Many, many times we find that it is the women who hold the guns for their gang members, do the shootings, and aid in the escapes," he says.

The shootings, he adds, are always about three things: "drugs, money, guns."

Later, he adds a fourth: respect.

"Some guys might go to a dance and hit on a girl who's a girlfriend of an opposing gang [member], and her boyfriend shoots them. It can be as simple as that," says Colomey. "Then you got a retaliation war going on."

* * *

From behind the wheel, Colomey offers his assessment of how well the LAPD's antigang measures are working. Chief William Bratton's new emphasis on coordinating with the ATF, FBI, and DEA is a dramatic change that is helping to gather evidence and prosecute gang members in ways that were impossible before, says the sergeant. "It used to be .... we didn't play well in the sandbox together. That's all over now."

Increased police backup from nongang units, another new initiative, is also creating a bigger show of force, he says. Several federal operations are in progress – attempts to disrupt and eventually dismantle gangs deemed to be the most troublesome and vicious.

By taking frequent ride-alongs, Pacheco says he can take note of mundane problems such as broken radios, an insufficient number of cruiser-based computers that connect police with databases and precinct dispatchers, and the need for cruiser-mounted video cameras. The videocams were called for after the Rodney King beating, but the LAPD is only now getting around to funding them. The Southeast Division is slated to get its first cruiser cams in coming months.

Another new tack is increased coordination with parole and probation officers. More of them have set up office in district headquarters, and the closer proximity to police is resulting in a better ability to give tipoffs about who is back on the streets from jail or prison.

Colomey drives Pacheco past three of his roughest neighborhoods: Nickerson Gardens, Imperial Heights, and Jordan Downs – housing projects with numbered buildings and bars on windows. A year ago, video surveillance cameras were installed on streetlight poles at Jordan Downs, enough to cover every inch of a six-block development. Since then, violent crime in the area dropped 41 percent, Colomey says.

"You are looking at what was one of the most violent and dangerous areas for violent crime in the entire US," says Colomey. "We think we are onto something that really works."

Pacheco says he has been distressed, on other ride-alongs, to see young children out and about at 11:30 p.m. or later. To him, it points to a culture of permissiveness, of parental absence and drug use. But it also yields more deaths of innocents, children killed by sprays of gang bullets aimed at someone else.

But this Friday night ride-along will end abruptly, well before 11:30.

* * *

Not long after leaving the cocaine bust, three separate radio frequencies crackle to life. It's bad: Shots have been fired at an officer, and the officer has returned fire. The dispatch continues, adding detail: Two suspects, alleged gang members, are fleeing in a black Thunderbird, apparently after having shot a man on the sidewalk.

Colomey flips on the siren and speeds down back streets, looking for the getaway car. He's on the radio, directing the response. A high-speed chase ensues, ending in a crash between the Thunderbird and another vehicle.

Arriving seconds later at the crash scene, Colomey and Pacheco see an overturned car, its driver lying on the sidewalk, and the Thunderbird, minus its front end ... and its occupants. The "perps," said to be carrying guns, have escaped into the neighborhood.

The next 90 minutes see the arrival of two helicopters, at least a dozen squad cars, three canine units (complete with assault rifles and Belgian dogs), several SWAT units, and three armored vehicles. Because an officer fired his weapon during the incident, and because two perpetrators with guns are at large, the megawatt response also includes the arrivals of Assistant Chief James McDonnell and South Bureau Chief Charlie Beck.

While copters overhead shine spotlights a half-mile from the scene, canine units begin going house to house looking for the suspects, a search that will last until morning.

* * *

Later, Pacheco sums up the Friday-night ride-along, in the context of dozens of others he has made as commissioner. For all the hoopla of the high-speed pursuit, multiple shootings, 'copters and canine units, the evening was also typically revealing in many respects, he says. Foremost, it showed "how thin the 'thin blue line' is," he says, how outgunned law officers are compared with the number of gangs and gang members.

It showed how exposed the police are to danger, leaving their cruisers to cuff gang members in hostile places. It showed, he says, the dedication and continued resolve of veteran officers amid a situation that has gone from bad to worse.

And, Pacheco adds, it underscored the conventional wisdom of those who've watched the gang crisis in L.A. for decades: "You can't arrest your self out of a gang problem."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is in line with that thinking, too. On Monday, he called for a statewide summit to forge a counterattack on street gangs – one that would involve both law-enforcement and gang-prevention measures.

It remains to seen whether L.A.'s extensive plan for facing down gangs – including job and community development, after-school programs, and other investments – can work.

But Pacheco, for one, is determined to see that the gangs' grip on Los Angeles – which he characterizes as "wildly out of control" is diminished. His part of the answer, law enforcement, "is moving forward to confront gangs," he says.

At the same time, he is unwavering that "robust crime suppression must not violate laws." And he has taken a place on the front lines to help make sure that is the case.


Mexican Military Invades Arizona

Reply to:
Date: 2007-02-28, 8:22AM EST

It appears that last weeks attack by Mexican forces that over ran the Arizona National Guard was not a "chance confrontation" with untrained illegal aliens. The coordinated assault was a deliberate "perimeter probe" by uniformed Mexican infantry.

Euphoric Reality site has learned in exclusive interviews with high-ranking sources within both the Arizona National Guard and the U.S. Border Patrol that the incident the mainstream media calls a "standoff" was in reality a military-style operation, carried out by a unit of Mexican troops dressed in military uniforms, flak jackets, and armed with AK-47s in an apparent operation to probe the border defenses and test the limits of the National Guard troops. Using easily recognizable infantry movement tactics (such as arm and hand signals and flanking maneuvers), the Mexican unit deliberately moved in a military formation across the border from Mexico, while under surveillance by the National Guard and Border Patrol.

As the hostile force moved north over several hours, deeper into Arizona, National Guardsmen wearing night vision goggles were able to ascertain that the approaching gunmen were indeed uniformed (including PAGST helmets) and heavily armed. When the Mexican unit came within approximately 100 yards of the Entry Identification Team (EIT), the Guardsmen repositioned themselves in order to maintain surveillance and tactical advantage. They observed the Mexican unit sweep through the EIT site, and then rapidly withdraw back into Mexico. No shots were fired by either the Mexican gunmen or the Guardsmen. Border Patrol was on the scene within minutes of the Mexican unit’s withdrawal.

The Guardsmen, through an Arizona Border Patrol official, confirmed that the incident appeared to be an intelligence-gathering exercise designed to ascertain what the National Guard’s response would be to certain tactics. It is not an isolated incident, and many such probes have been reported by the Guardsmen assigned to the area. Though no shots were fired during this particular incident, shots have been fired near and in the vicinity of the soldiers at the EIT site in other situations, though not at the soldiers themselves. It is not clear from the uniforms if the Mexican soldiers were official Mexican federales or mercenaries hired by the drug cartels.

Since then, follow-on news reports have included statements from the Border Patrol that no shots were fired. This was confirmed today by Major Paul Aguirre, a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the Arizona National Guard. Rumors have circulated that the Guardsmen were not armed, and thus unable to defend themselves - and that is not the case. Both Major Aguirre and Rob Daniels, a Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Arizona Border Patrol, state that all Guardsmen assigned to EITs are armed, specifically with M16s and sometimes a sidearm. As well, there have been some contradictory news reports that stated the gunmen came “within yards” of the Guardsmen, while other reports state that the gunmen were approximately 100 yards away. Mr. Daniels clarified that the gunmen came as close as 100 yards to the Guardsmen. He also stated that the Guardsmen did not “retreat” but tactically repositioned themselves to maintain surveillance of the group of armed men while simultaneously radioing for Border Patrol agents. He asserted that the Guardsmen had followed their protocols perfectly, and that their services were invaluable to the Border Patrol agents.

The Myth of Troops Bringing Law Enforcement to the Border

National Guard soldiers on the border are volunteers deployed by the federal government for Operation Jump Start. They are not mandated to perform law enforcement activities and, in fact, are prohibited from doing so under a misinterpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act while federally deployed. They are assigned to the border mission for the sole purpose of supporting the Border Patrol - mostly performing administrative, engineering, and maintenance duties that free up Border Patrol agents for border enforcement. They are not allowed to engage, but only observe.

The ramifications of this incident hitting the public awareness are significant. There are incidents on the record of specially-trained military commandos attacking Border Patrol agents, and videos in existence of uniformed Mexicans, deep in American territory, and confronting Arizona Minutemen volunteers. Hundreds of armed incursions have been documented by the Border Patrol. In one year, June 2005 until June 2006, over 250 armed assaults have been reported by Border Patrol agents, and several agents have been killed.

Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, has gone
on the record to dismiss reports of armed incursions by a uniformed military force as “navigational mistakes”, claiming that the Mexican soldiers were “lost.” However, Chertoff offered no explanation as to why these “lost troops” fired on American agents. The Mexican government claims that uniformed military soldiers coming from Mexico are actually American soldiers disguised as Mexican soldiers. Furthermore, when confronted with the possibility that Mexican commandos called Los Zetas, trained by U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg to support the Drug War, have defected from the military and now work as mercenaries for the drug cartels, Mexican officials have worked very hard to debunk such evidence. In an official report presented to the U.S. on behalf of the Mexican Office of Inter-Intelligence Affairs, Mexico claimed that “the Zeta army, or syndicate, is no more real than the [mystical] crying lady of Puebla.”

Yet, contrary to Mexican denials, Los Zetas do exist, and the U.S. Border Patrol is very familiar with them. In a June 2006 investigative news piece by News Channel 5 in Texas, Zetas discussed their training and murderous missions. They also issued a warning:

“These two members of the Zeta army also have a warning for American law enforcement: They are here, with cells operating in Roma, Rio Grande City and Mission - and more are coming. ‘It is not a lie,’ Zeta-2 said. ‘They need to check good, because it is true.’”

Los Zetas: Guns Gone Bad

During the 1990s, U.S. Army Special Forces trained a number of Mexican federal agents and army units in special warfare tactics as part of an effort to aid the struggling Mexican government in the Drug War involving the violent drug cartels of northern Mexico. It’s been said that “the training was remedial in nature, and did not exceed international peace time law of NATO forces training foreign combat forces in tactical warfare.” Lest we worry about the operational proficiency of such mercenaries, Wikipedia has this un-attributed entry:

“The training lasted a mere three months in the sweltering North Carolina heat. In total, 300 Mexican agents and army officers participated in the summer long exercise. Years later, unsealed documents revealed that the training proved to be no more than an extended boot camp. “It was more a media and propaganda effort then it was for actual tactical training that could be used in combat,” one of the US Special Forces Officers that participated in the effort stated. “They brought them [sic] boys here, and most of them could fire a gun already, so we just showed them a lot of video of Special Forces training from the early 70’s. We were not about to teach or display tactics that make Special Forces what they are. That’s why when I read that these boys that are ‘Zetas’ were Special Forces trained, I almost wet myself with laughter.’”

What the Zetas may lack in professional specialized training, they make up for in ruthless and savage violence. Last year, Times Magazine exposed much of the brutality in an article called Brutal New Drug Gangs Are Terrorizing The U.S.-Mexico Border, and added further information about the identity of Los Zetas.

“According to Mexican officials, Lazcano was a clean-cut Mexican army recruit from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz when he was picked a decade ago to be part of the highly trained Airborne Special Forces Group. The unit was sent to the eastern border to battle drug trafficking. But in the late 1990s, Lazcano and more than 30 other members of the special forces began working for drug lord Osiel Cardenas, head of the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel, which at the time controlled almost one-third of the Mexican drug trade.”

Official Mexican propaganda notwithstanding, it can be safely assumed that the Zetas are a paramilitary force that has made regular incursions over our border in sometimes heavily-armed assaults. Whether they are actual rogue Mexican federales or uniformed mercenaries in the employ of the drug cartels remains to be seen. Perhaps a small clue to the uniforms is found in last year’s News Channel Five investigative report:

“‘The municipal police, the state police, the ministerial police, the police of the state,’ Zeta-1 said. ‘The soldiers and the federal preventive police. The military on the border. They are bought by the Zetas.’ The Zeta’s tools even include uniforms given by the police themselves.”

Regardless of who the uniformed soldiers are, or who commands them, what is paramount is that our southern border security is breached by foreign troops on an increasingly aggressive basis. While our National Guard troops are effectively hamstrung by political restrictions, foreign military soldiers press the advantage. Border Patrol agents have already given their lives in a heroic effort to guard our border, and it is only a matter of time before we lose American soldiers. Is that what it will take for our government to finally take the matter of border security seriously? This is no longer a matter of local civilian law enforcement; it is a matter of national security. For politicians, no matter their affiliation, to play partisan games with our national safety and security, is a betrayal of their constituents’ trust, and the constitutional duties of their office.

Kit Jarrell also contributed to this report.


Lou Dobbs Tonight
Senator Ted Kennedy kicked off a week of events and meetings focusing on immigration before he introduces legislation promoting amnesty for millions of illegal aliens living in the United States. Today, Kennedy met with Cardinal Roger Mahony, an outspoken and controversial supporter of illegal aliens and Kennedy’s bill. Senators McCain, Kennedy and Representatives
Flake and Gutierrez are expected to unveil their legislation later this month. We’ll have a full report.


Ted Kennedy destroying America for 50 +years

Reply to:
Date: 2007-03-02, 5:10PM EST "A Conservative News Forum"

REVOLUTION IN AMERICA - The Immigration reform act of 1965.

The Immigration Reform Act of 1965.
Revolution in America
by Norman Grigg

There's more behind the immigration problem than illegal aliens

"I am not an American. There is nothing about me that is American. I don't want to be an American, and I have just as much right to be here as any of you." Thus spoke one individual identified as a "Latino activist" during a session of the "National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity," a $4 million project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). NEH Director Sheldon Hackney reacted to this hateful outburst by cooing, "What an American thing to say - squarely in the great tradition of American dissent. He was affirming his American identity even as he was denying it."

"Weak Link"

"Just as the American nation was made with unusual speed," warns immigration reform advocate Peter Brimelow, "so it is perfectly possible that it could be un-made." Indeed, America's enemies understand the revolutionary implications of our suicidal immigration policies. Marxist theoretician Mike Davis, author of the book Prisoners of the American Dream, has written of "a prospective alliance of non-white Americans and Third World revolutionaries, all taking their marching orders from white Leninists." According to Davis, unassimilated immigrants are the "real weak link" in America's political system:

This is a nation within a nation, society within a society, that alone possesses the numerical and positional strength to undermine the American empire from within.... This "nation within a nation" can act to bring "socialism" to North America by virtue of a combined hemispheric process of revolt that overlaps boundaries and interlaces movements.

Davis' prediction is coming to pass in California, where the so-called "Immigrant Rights" movement recruits immigrants - both legal and illegal - into revolutionary politics.

The Privilege of Citizenship

America is not yet entirely "un-made," nor is our national suicide through open borders a preordained fate. To understand how the present state of affairs came about, and how it may be remedied, it is necessary to review America's traditional immigration policy.

Throughout its history, America's philosophy of God-given individual rights and institutions of ordered liberty have attracted immigrants from around the globe. However, from our nation's founding until 1965, American policymakers understood that immigration is a privilege, not an unalienable right - and that this nation, like every sovereign nation, may properly regulate immigration in its own interests. Dr. Charles Rice, a professor of law at Notre Dame University, observes that "with respect to nonresident aliens, their admission to the country is subject to the virtually plenary power of Congress."

This is not to say that Congress may regard aliens as "non-persons"; rather, it is to acknowledge that such people do not possess the procedural rights and immunities which are enjoyed by American citizens, and that their admission to this country is contingent on their qualifications for productive citizenship. In his report on immigration to the First Congress, James Madison urged that America "welcome every person of good fame who really means to incorporate himself into our society, but repel all who will not be a real addition to the wealth and strength of the United States."

America's political system, economy, and cultural institutions are derivative of Anglo-European traditions; accordingly, American immigration policies traditionally favored English-speaking immigrants from Europe who could be readily assimilated into our society. Additionally, during the last "great wave" of immigration (which lasted roughly from 1890 to 1920), the absence of a welfare state made assimilation a necessity. Peter Brimelow estimates, "At the turn of the century, 40 percent of all immigrants went home, basically because they failed in the work force." However, millions of immigrants succeeded in America's economy and embraced American ideals.

Even before the advent of the welfare state, however, social pressures attendant to the "great wave" created support for tighter immigration controls. The Immigration acts of 1921 and 1924 were intended to preserve a stable status quo by imposing a national origins quota system. The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 retained the basic structure of the 1924 measure, while adding important provisions intended to prevent the admission of known subversives to America's shores.

Inverted Priorities

However, the passage of the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 infused an entirely different set of values and priorities into our basic immigration law. Simply put, the effect of the 1965 immigration law was to define American immigration policies by our nation's supposed obligation to the rest of the world, rather than by a sound definition of our own national interest. As Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) stated during the debate over the 1965 law, the measure assumed that "the relevant community is not merely the nation, but all men of goodwill."

One expressed intention of the measure was proportionately to increase immigration from non-Western nations; this was accomplished by abolishing the national origins quota system. Furthermore, although the formal immigration quota was raised only slightly, the measure allowed for theoretically unlimited "non-quota" immigration for refugees, asylum seekers, and relatives of naturalized citizens for purposes of "family reunification" (also known as "chain immigration").

Many critics of the 1965 measure predicted that its passage would result in a torrential surge of unassimilable immigrants, resulting in profound social dislocations. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who served as Senate floor manager for S. 500 (the Senate version of the measure), parried such objections by offering these assurances of what the bill supposedly would not do:

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same.... Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.... Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S. 500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia.... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.

Availing himself of a familiar weapon from the rhetorical arsenal of collectivism, Kennedy accused critics of the 1965 law of acting on bigoted and "un-American" motives: "The charges I have mentioned are highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact. They are out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship. They breed hate of our heritage...."

Had he the capacity for honesty, Senator Kennedy today would admit that critics of the 1965 law have been vindicated in every particular, and that their objections were based on a sound understanding of the measure, rather than on malign motives.

Post-'65 Tidal Wave

As Peter Brimelow observes, "Every one of Senator Kennedy's assurances has proven false. Immigration levels did surge upward. They are now running at around a million a year, not counting illegals. Immigrants do come predominantly from one area - some 85 percent of the the millions of legal immigrants arriving in the United States between 1968 and 2000 came from the Third World.

Taken by itself, such an influx would have enormously unsettling social, cultural, and economic effects. However, when coupled with the welfare state and racial spoils system which presently exist in this country, the post-1965 immigrant wave has proven to be uniquely disruptive. Liberal commentator Michael Lind, who does not reject the welfare/affirmative action state in principle, points out, "As a proportion of the U.S. population, the groups eligible for racial preference benefits are rapidly growing, thanks to mass immigration from Latin America and Asia."

While earlier European immigrants were under the necessity of assimilating quickly, Lind observes that "today's Hispanic and Asian immigrants are tempted by a variety of rewards for retaining their distinctive racial identities, even their different languages":

The moment a Mexican or Chinese immigrant becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States, he can qualify for special consideration in admission to colleges and universities, at the expense of better-qualified white Americans; expect and receive special treatment in employment; apply for minority business subsidies denied to his neighbors; and even demand to have congressional district lines redrawn to maximize the likelihood of electing someone of his race or ethnic group....

Breakdown at the Border

Beyond the problems created by legal immigration are those precipitated by the breakdown of the "thin green line" - the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and its Border Patrol, which are supposed to maintain the integrity of our borders against illegal immigration. "Illegal immigrants come from all over the world, They come in rickety boats. They arrive on jetliners with valid business, student or tourist visas and then ignore the expiration date and stay here illegally. They enter on forged documents or fraudulent employment visas. They contract sham marriages to U.S. citizens." Most illegal immigrants enter the U.S. across our 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

"Undocumented" Criminals

When President Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, he appointed immigrant "rights" activist Leonel J. Castillo to head the INS. Castillo adopted the grotesque euphemism "undocumented workers" as the official INS designation for illegal immigrants. In an address to the Border Patrol Academy in June 1977, Castillo described border guards as "the front-line soldiers in President Carter's war against human rights violators. Possibly no other government agency has a greater opportunity to demonstrate to the world our concern for human rights than those of us in the immigration service."

In April 1977, President Carter announced that his vision of "human rights" would require some variety of general amnesty for illegal immigrants. In August of that same year he submitted to Congress a framework for immigration reform which included various forms of amnesty for illegal aliens, as well as penalties for employers who knowingly hired illegals and a modest increase in funding for the INS and Border Patrol. When those proposals were rejected by Congress, Carter assembled a commission headed by Reverend Theodore Hesburgh with a mandate to create another framework for immigration reform.

In May 1981, the Hesburgh Commission issued its "findings," which essentially regurgitated the Carter Administration's rejected proposals: A general amnesty for illegal aliens, coupled with employer sanctions and a modest increase in funding for border enforcement. These recommendations were incorporated into the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which was sold to an anxious American public as a definitive "solution" to the crisis of illegal immigration. Alas, like so many other "solutions" urged upon us by the ruling Establishment, the IRCA exacerbated the problem it was supposedly intended to fix.

On May 5, 1987, the INS opened 107 "legalization centers" across the country to begin granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens residing here. Under the provisions of the IRCA, illegal aliens who could demonstrate continuous residence in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 had one year to apply for legal resident status, and were eligible for citizenship within five years. This was an unforgivable affront to law-abiding Americans, including immigrants who had patiently undergone the trying process of acquiring legal citizenship. It was also an act of capitulation which emboldened millions of others to violate our borders in anticipation of similar amnesties in the future.

Among the INS agents who helped implement the IRCA's amnesty provisions was William King, a former chief of the Border Patrol and the first director of the Border Patrol Academy. "IRCA was supposed to be a three-legged stool," King said. "A lot of us who had served in the Border Patrol weren't happy with amnesty, but we thought it might be a good trade-off in exchange for employer sanctions and border enhancement."

However, observes King, the only tangible result of the IRCA has been a pool of "millions of people who have broken our laws who now have green cards and are becoming eligible for citizenship. And once they do, they can begin the process of 'chain immigration' by bringing in their relatives."

Fission, Separatism

Writing in 1782, Thomas Jefferson expressed misgivings about the potential impact of immigration on American society. He was concerned that immigrants would "bring with them the principles of the government they leave" and that "their principles, along with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us in the legislation."

The increasingly visible enclaves of undigested Asian, African, and Latin American immigrants which have sprung up in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, and elsewhere testify of Jefferson's prescience.

Immigration reform advocate Richard Estrada observes that unrestrained immigration is producing "a leveling down of American society, which in turn could be accompanied by an intensification of tribalist politics, ethnic and linguistic separatism, and finally the further debasement of the coin of individual initiative, freedom, and liberty." The fissiparous tendencies which concern Estrada are most pronounced along America's border with Mexico.

According to Henry Cisneros, the Clinton Administration's Secretary of Health and Human Services, the effective breakdown of the border between the U.S. and Mexico is resulting in "the Hispanization of America.... It is already happening and it is inescapable." Less sanguine observers would refer to this development as an invasion. While some might shrink from using the term, "invasion" was the word used to describe the Mexican exodus to the U.S. in a 1982 article published in Excelsior, Mexico's equivalent of the New York Times. In "The Great Invasion: Mexico Recovers Its Own," Excelsior columnist Carlos Loret de Mola examined the cultural and political implications of uncontrolled Mexican immigration to the U.S.:

A peaceful mass of people … carries out slowly and patiently an unstoppable invasion, the most important in human history. You cannot give me a similar example of such a large migratory wave by an ant-like multitude, stubborn, unarmed, and carried on in the face of the most powerful and best-armed nation on earth.... Neither barbed-wire fences, nor aggressive border guards, nor campaigns, nor laws, nor police raids against the undocumented, have stopped this movement of the masses that is unprecedented in any part of the world.

According to Loret, the migrant invasion "seems to be slowly returning [the southwestern United States to the jurisdiction of Mexico without the firing of a single shot, nor requiring the least diplomatic action, by means of a steady, spontaneous, and uninterrupted occupation." The effects of Mexico's immigration invasion were even then visible in Los Angeles, which Loret cheekily referred to as "the second largest Mexican city in the world."

Loret's essay invoked the irredentist fantasy that California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas - the states created in the territory obtained from Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 - compose "Aztlan," the mythical homeland of the Aztec Indians, and that those states must be wrested from the United States in order to create a new Chicano homeland. More than a quarter of a century ago, political analyst Patty Newman warned that "the basic concept of El Plan de Aztlan is endorsed by most of the major Mexican-American organizations on campus and off, liberal and supposedly conservative." Believers in the Aztlan legend insist upon the indivisibility of "la Raza" (the Mexican race) and the need to abolish the border between the U.S. and Mexico; one of their preferred slogans is, "We didn't cross the border - the border crossed us."

The Aztlan cult, which is composed of people who unabashedly hate the United States, is the loudest and most insistent element of the immigrant lobby in California. Inebriated with a sense of righteous victimhood, entranced by fascist myths of a heroic racial past, and equipped with a paramilitary auxiliary, the "Brown Berets de Aztlan," devotees of the Aztlan cult are rapidly extending their influence within California's Hispanic population, particularly among students in the university system.

Mexican Meddling

Although the literature of radical Chicano activists is replete with criticism of the Mexican government and praise for the anti-government Zapatista insurrection, the Mexican establishment is actually pursuing the same ends which define the Chicano movement in the U.S.: The effective eradication of the border and the political consolidation of Mexicans within this country. Mexicans living in the United States have Mexican nationality rights even when they adopt American citizenship."

.Immigration from Mexico is likely to continue regardless of what enthusiasts of free trade, peace in Central America, or the closing of the border may say or do.

In his book Importing Revolution: Open Borders and the Radical Agenda, William Hawkins of the Hamilton Center for National Strategy observes, "Non-citizen voting for local government has already been implemented in the liberal suburban enclave of Tacoma Park, Maryland.... Nearby in Washington, DC, City Councilman Frank Smith has endorsed legislation to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections in the nation's capital." Jamin Raskin, a law professor at American University, has noted, "Increasingly, advocates for immigrants in New York - as in Washington, Los Angeles and several smaller cities across the nation - have begun exploring the sensitive issue of securing voting privileges for immigrants who are not citizens." Raskin insists that "noncitizen voting is the suffrage movement of the decade" and predicts:

If picked up by large cities - like Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Houston - it could strengthen American democracy by including in the crucial processes of local government many hundreds of thousands of people born elsewhere.... There are millions of legal immigrants who are not United States citizens. In number, at least, they represent a potential political force of some diversity and dimension, particularly in such cities as New York.

The enfranchisement of foreigners would lead to the literal "un-making" of America as a sovereign, independent nation. While such a prospect is presently shocking, it is not in principle significantly different from the logic of our post-1965 immigration policy. After all, if everyone has an unconditional "right" to come to America and feast at the welfare trough, why should there be any defining advantages to citizenship? Why not eliminate our borders altogether, and extend all of the rights and privileges of citizenship to anyone who happens to occupy our nation at any given time?

The Targeted Class

Although there are many immigration activists who are motivated by sincere - if often unreliable - humanitarian impulses, there are many others who seek to use unassimilated immigrants, including illegal aliens, as a political resource.

William Hawkins observes, "For the alienated radical, there is only one truth over all time: America is a bad country and its 'conservative' native-born are a defective people; only distant lands are on the road of progress; only other peoples are intimate with social justice."

But the radical left has not created the immigration revolution by itself. Its indispensable ally has been the political Elite, which is variously known as the "Establishment," the "Overclass," or the "New Class." In his book The Revolt of the Elites, the late Christopher Lasch, a widely respected author and social critic, lamented: "Those who control the international flow of money and information, preside over the philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate … have lost faith in the values, or what remains of them, of the West."

Many of the most influential members of the Elite, Lasch observed, "have ceased to think of themselves as Americans in any important sense, implicated in America's destiny for better or for worse"; as a result, they are "deeply indifferent to the prospect of American decline." Like the Marxist radical network referred to by Hawkins, the Establishment heartily reviles "Middle America," a term which "has come to symbolize everything that stands in the way of progress": patriotism, religious devotion, strong family commitments, and conventional morality.

The Establishment is similarly antagonistic to national sovereignty. As Peter Brimelow points out, the Establishment "dislikes the nation-state for exactly the same reason it dislikes the free market: both are machines that run of themselves, with no need for New Class-directed government intervention." "From the point of view of the members of the American New Class," continues Brimelow, "immigration is manna from heaven. It gives them endless excuses to intervene in society." Furthermore, "the self-interest of this New Class is internationalism: cooperation with the New Classes of other countries above the heads of their population."

Defeating the designs of the "New Class" and its radical allies will require that Americans of all ethnic backgrounds who understand our shared heritage - and cherish our free institutions - act with dispatch to restore our borders.



Arrest mars gang success story
Police say they found drugs in the car of Mario Corona -- former gangbanger and rising star among the city's intervention specialists.
By Richard Winton and Amanda Covarrubias
Times Staff Writers

March 6, 2007

Mario Corona was lauded as one of Los Angeles' top gang success stories.

Newspaper articles told of how Corona spent his youth on the streets as a gangster dubbed "Spider" for a Pacoima gang before going straight and rising in the ranks of gang intervention specialists. He spoke on panels and to students.

Along the way, he earned an undergraduate degree from Cal State Northridge and a master's in social work from USC. Last month, he was the keynote speaker at an anti-gang conference in North Carolina.

But Corona was arrested last week on suspicion of possessing a pound of methamphetamine, and now could face deportation. His arrest has saddened and shocked people who are involved in gang prevention in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere.

"I am blown away. I didn't see this coming," said Bobby Arias, president of Communities in Schools, where Corona is director of the job development program, which finds jobs for former gang members.

"He was getting ready to go to law school," Arias said. "He wanted to buy a house. I don't know what happened…. He was 110% committed to this population. I'm at a loss for words as to this whole situation. This is a human tragedy."

Arias said Corona trained a group of youths in the program to work as stagehands at the recent Academy Awards show. LAPD Capt. Joe Curreri said that Foothill Division narcotics detectives stopped Corona on Wednesday in Panorama City, and that the drug was found in his car. He said the stop was part of a larger investigation.

Corona's arrest is the third to involve employees of the L.A. Bridges anti-gang program in the last two years, raising questions among some elected officials about giving city taxpayer dollars to former gang members.

"If we investigated others, I think we would probably find more problems," Councilman Dennis Zine said.

Hector Marroquin, a former 18th Street gang member, founded No Guns, which received more than $1.5 million before its L.A. Bridges subcontract was canceled last year. The city funds were cut off after Marroquin was arrested on suspicion of felony gun possession and after he reportedly paid more than $200,000 in salaries to relatives.

But others said that the vast majority of gang-intervention workers don't break the law and that their street experiences are crucial to getting others out of gangs.

Corona was a member of the Pacoima Criminals gang by age 13. But he began his turnaround more than a decade ago when he started taking classes at Pierce College in Woodland Hills.

"It cuts me deep," said Richard McMillan, one of Corona's instructors at Pierce, about the arrest. "He is a shining example. I use him in my lectures. When they say the exam is too tough, I tell them, 'Don't tell me too tough.' Then I bring up Mario Corona's struggle."

McMillan said that when he met Corona in 1996, he had tattoos, a shaved head and sunglasses.

"But he was sharp as a tack," McMillan said.

McMillan said the one time Corona missed class was in 1998 when he was shot twice in the chest after answering a knock on his door. The last time McMillan saw Corona was in September. It was a happy occasion: A faith-based coalition gave him and Communities in Schools founder William "Blinky" Rodriguez awards for mentoring Corona.

"I was proud to call him my student," McMillan said. "I can only hope there is some explanation."

Corona could not be reached for comment Monday.

In a profile that appeared in Tidings, a Los Angeles Archdiocese newspaper, Corona explained why he changed and why others could too.

"As cliché as it sounds, it was a couple of people who invested some time in me," he told the paper. "That's all it was. You know, it's like we're looking for some magic solution to gangs. But it's not complex at all. It's very simple. It's just a matter of implementing it."

Arias, however, said the arrest made him wonder how long Corona might have been involved in drugs — or if he ever really left that world.

"There's something there that I was totally oblivious to," Arias said. "It's just hard to fathom. It just boggles the mind. He was our poster child."

Arias said 35 people work at Communities in Schools in North Hills, and about 10 are former gang members

Still, he added, "there's no question when something like this happens, it can tarnish our efforts. But this movement is bigger than one person."

Los Angeles squanders millions on MEXICAN GANGS - Who pays?

L.A. Bridges anti-gang effort scrutinized
The city spends millions on the program, but critics say there's no way to tell how effective it is.
By Patrick McGreevy and Richard Winton
Times Staff Writers

March 6, 2007

Los Angeles has spent $100 million over the last decade on a gang-prevention program, even though it doesn't track how many youths it keeps out of gangs and has been repeatedly criticized for not adequately coordinating with schools and police.

Unlike anti-gang efforts in other cities that have been held up as models by the federal government, L.A. Bridges lacks a system for determining whether its clients are involved in gangs, so there is no way of knowing whether the program actually works.

The program has come under growing scrutiny at City Hall as Los Angeles and U.S. authorities have launched a new gang crackdown. Critics point out that in 2006, gang crime increased 15.7% over the year before, according to LAPD statistics.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has vowed to increase funding for intervention programs, saying the gang crackdown can't focus solely on law enforcement. But he is limiting funding of L.A. Bridges through September while officials try to assess its effectiveness.

Supporters acknowledge that L.A. Bridges needs to do a better job of working with other agencies, but they maintain it provides a valuable community service and would be more effective if the city expanded it.

The city spends $14 million annually on Bridges, which essentially screens and gives money to community organizations that do the actual intervention. Bridges I is a gang prevention program that provides after-school tutoring, counseling and other services to students from 27 middle schools. Bridges II offers job training to gang members in the hope that employment will get them out of gang life. The contracts range from $227,000 to $1.7 million.

The city funds are provided to the contract agencies by the Community Development Department. John Chavez, the longtime head of L.A. Bridges, was pushed out recently by CDD management.

L.A. Bridges was launched during a crackdown on gang violence in 1997, largely in response to public outrage over the fatal gang shooting of a 3-year-old girl whose family car was ambushed on a street in Cypress Park.

But almost from the beginning, critics have said the program is ineffective. In 2000, the city controller recommended that L.A. Bridges be shut down and redesigned, saying that the contractors lacked the required coordination with other gang programs, the police, schools and community groups.

Then-Controller Rick Tuttle also concluded that Bridges agencies were not required to show what effect the program might be having on gang violence and membership.

The mayor at the time, Richard Riordan, agreed with the findings and announced he was cutting off funding to L.A. Bridges. The City Council unanimously voted to overturn his decision.

"They had money coming into their districts," said Malcolm Klein, a USC scholar on gang programs, regarding the council vote.

The vote occurred after more than 300 backers of L.A. Bridges, including employees of contractors who were receiving millions of dollars from the program, packed City Hall.

It also helped that many of the contractors themselves were influential in city politics, which led to criticism that the program involved political patronage. Six of the contracts are held by current or former appointees to city commissions.

In addition, 172 political contributions were made to city politicians by executives and employees of 20 of the 26 contractors for L.A. Bridges I and II. The contributions totaled $48,500, including $7,200 to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and smaller amounts to council members Wendy Greuel, Janice Hahn, Bill Rosendahl, Jose Huizar, Jan Perry, Ed Reyes and Bernard Parks.

Those who commented about the contributions said they support the program because it helps young people, not because it provides campaign checks. "I think it has done some good," Perry said.

Seven years after Tuttle's scathing audit, a new city report produced by attorney Connie Rice made the same criticisms of L.A. Bridges and other city gang programs.

Both studies urged L.A. Bridges to shift to the type of model used by Chicago, Riverside, Mesa, Ariz., and other cities, which emphasizes close coordination between multiple agencies and measurable results.

Those programs were designed under the stewardship of Irving A. Spergel, a sociologist at the University of Chicago.

"The secret of success," Spergel said, is to have probation officers, community organizations, the police and ex-gang members serving as intervention workers collaborating as teams in gang neighborhoods.

The programs also have to evaluate how many gang members or wannabes are helped out of the gang life. Spergel said that is done by using police records and conducting annual interviews with youths to determine which ones are no longer involved in gang crime.

In his book, "Reducing Youth Gang Crime," Spergel looked at one anti-gang effort in Chicago during a five-year period and found a 60% reduction in serious violence for 200 young people as well as a 25% drop in gang membership.

Bridges officials said they are trying to work more with police.

Still, some contractors are interacting more than others. The head of one group said his intervention workers just started working with police this year and are in touch with them only once a month. The workers go out on their own instead of teaming with police officers.

"We let them do their work, and we do our work," said Mustafa Fletcher, executive director of Unity Two Inc.

Police Chief William J. Bratton said there is inadequate coordination between intervention agencies and the police.

"The gang interventionists will tell you they don't want to be seen as working too closely, being too closely aligned with the police, because they are fearful that gang members won't work with them then," Bratton said. "But I think there can be better working relationships than we have."

State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), who as a city councilman helped launch L.A. Bridges, said the city's gang intervention and prevention programs need to be more comprehensive and better-coordinated.

"I think it makes sense to incorporate it in a more comprehensive system," Ridley-Thomas said. "But the question people should be asking, given what L.A. Bridges has accomplished, is what would the lives of young people who were part of it be like had it not been implemented when it was?"

He said the problem is Bridges' scope, adding that it should be expanded to every middle school in the city.

Supporters note that while L.A. Bridges doesn't track whether its clients join gangs, it does keep other statistics. Bridges I, for example, reports on the number of youths who improve their grades and attendance.

But some of the numbers presented by L.A. Bridges have given City Hall pause. It found that the majority of middle-schoolers in the program failed to boost either their attendance or their grades.

Another issue has been how well contractors screen employees to determine whether they are still in gangs. At least three employees of Bridges contractors have been arrested in the last two years. The latest was Mario Corona, jobs coordinator for Communities In Schools in Pacoima, who was arrested last week by the LAPD on suspicion of possessing a pound of methamphetamine.

In looking at alternatives to Bridges, Villaraigosa said he is especially impressed with Homeboy Industries Inc., which takes a more comprehensive approach to gang members, providing counseling, tattoo removal and real jobs — not just referrals to training programs.

By providing actual jobs, Homeboy is able to track the progress of participants and lay down strict rules about their connections to gangs.

The nonprofit agency, run by Father Gregory Boyle, has accepted only $15,000 out of the $14 million distributed annually by L.A. Bridges.

"We balk at taking part in all that public entity stuff," Boyle said. "They don't know what they are doing."