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December 2005

Commuter lane set at border crossing
A new commuter fast lane will open tomorrow morning at the Calexico- Mexicali Port of Entry. It is the first SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) lane for commuters crossing the border into Imperial County. Four SENTRI lanes are operating at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and one at Otay Mesa. The lanes provide quick inspection for low-risk frequent border crossers, federal officials said. Users must submit to a background check and pay $129 for two years' use. Those interested in applying can call (619) 690-7600 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment.
– Leslie Berestein

Mass eviction to Mexico in 1930s spurs apology
Sacramento Bee
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Carlos Guerra was only 3 years old when Los Angeles County authorities came to his family's house in Azusa and ordered his mother, a legal United States resident, and her six American-born children to leave the country. It was 1931. The administration of President Herbert Hoover backed a policy that would repatriate hundreds of thousands of Mexican Americans, more than half of them United States citizens. Amid the economic desperation of the Depression, Latino families were viewed as taking jobs and government benefits from "real Americans." In Los Angeles County, a Citizens Committee for Coordination for Unemployment Relief urgently warned of 400,000 "deportable aliens," declaring: "We need their jobs for needy citizens." Up to 2 million people of Mexican ancestry were relocated to Mexico during the 1930s, even though as many as 1.2 million were born in the United States. In California, some 400,000 Latino United States citizens or legal residents were forced to leave. Now California, for its part, wants to say it is sorry. On Sunday, Senate Bill 670 - the so-called "Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program" - becomes official. It acknowledges the suffering of tens of thousands of Latino families unjustly forced out of the Golden State that was their home. "The state of California apologizes . . . for the fundamental violations of their basic civil liberties and constitutional rights during the period of illegal deportation and coerced emigration," the act reads. The words fail Guerra. He is 77 years old now. He is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army in postwar Korea and France. But he can't forgive, forget, or accept an apology. He can't excuse the forced train ride that delivered his family to Guanajuato, Mexico. He can't excuse the decade-plus estrangement that denied him of a relationship with his father, who stayed behind because California needed orange pickers. And he can't excuse being spurned by not just one culture, but two. "What is an apology?" asks Guerra, an artisan who makes embroidered furnishings. "I don't understand it at all." Forced from the United States, Guerra and his American-born siblings had to learn Spanish, adapt to a new culture and endure the poverty of the Mexican countryside for 13 years before his family legally returned to California. "The saddest thing of all," says Guerra, who lives in Carpinteria, "is that I lost my country. This is where I was born. I'm a California native. But it took me years to be able to call myself a so-called 'Americano.'" He didn't fit in either south of the border. "In Mexico, they called us Nortenos. They thought we were completely Anglicized, and they disliked people from the north," he says. California's apology was inspired by the work of California State University, Los Angeles, Chicano studies professor Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez, a history professor emeritus at Long Beach City College. In their book, "Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s," they describe long-term emotional trauma by children, born in the United States, who were forced to grow up in Mexico."For American-born children, trying to adjust to life in Mexico proved to be a very traumatic experience," the authors wrote. "Deep-seated scars of rejections by both cultures would remain embedded in their lives forever." The little-acknowledged history of Mexican Americans repatriated in the 1930s became embedded in the mind of state Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, after he read "Decade of Betrayal" on a flight to Washington. Dunn drafted SB 670 with the help of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly members Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys and Lori Saldana, D-San Diego. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill Oct. 7, but vetoed a companion measure _ Senate Bill 645 _ that would have created a commission to study paying reparations to survivors of the 1930s repatriations. "I believe reparations are due for the remaining survivors," said Dunn, who noted they number between 2,000 to 4,000 in California. "There should be some compensation to acknowledge their suffering." As part of the state's apology, a monument will be erected at a site to be determined in Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles where 50,000 Mexican Americans were placed on trains and repatriated in five months in 1931, hundreds were rounded up in San Fernando and Pacoima on Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holy day, and many Latino barrios simply disappeared. Dunn said he is working with U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, in the hope of enacting a federal companion measure to the California apology. Jose Lopez Sr., was a factory worker at the Ford assembly plant when his family was ordered to Mexico after nearly two decades in the United States. He wound up cutting sugar cane and died in poverty in the Mexican state of Michoacan."I think an apology is the least they can do," said his son, Jose Lopez, 78, a retired autoworker in Detroit who came to testify on behalf of the California bill. (Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, http://www.shns.com.)

Mexico angrily vows to block proposed U.S. border wall
By Mark Stevenson
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government, angered by a U.S. proposal to extend a wall along the border to keep out migrants, pledged Tuesday to block the plan and organize an international campaign against it. Facing a growing tide of anti-immigrant sentiment north of the border, the Mexican government has taken out ads urging Mexican workers to denounce rights violations in the United States. It also is hiring an American public-relations firm to improve its image and counter growing U.S. concerns about immigration. Mexican President Vicente Fox denounced the U.S. measures, passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, as ``shameful'' and his foreign minister, Luis Ernesto Derbez, echoed his complaints on Tuesday. ``Mexico is not going to bear, it is not going to permit, and it will not allow a stupid thing like this wall,'' Derbez said. ``What has to be done is to raise a storm of criticism, as is already happening, against this,'' he said, promising to turn other countries against the plan.
Some stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border are already marked by fences, but in some heavily trafficked sections walls have already been erected by the United States, often using 10-foot-high sections of military surplus steel. Those sections, which typically run several miles, can be found in southern Arizona and California. It's hard to underestimate the ill-feeling the proposal has generated in Mexico, where editorial pages are dominated by cartoons of Uncle Sam putting up walls bearing anti-Mexican messages. Many Mexicans, especially those who have spent time working in the United States, feel the proposal is a slap in the face to those who work hard and contribute to the U.S. economy. Fernando Robledo, 42, of the western state of Zacatecas, says the proposals could stem migration and disrupt families by breaking cross-border ties. ``When people heard this, it worried everybody, because this will affect everybody in some way, and their families,'' Robledo said. ``They were incredulous. How could they do this, propose something like this?'' Robledo, whose son and mother are U.S. citizens, predicted the measure ``would unleash conflict within the United States'' as small businesses fail for lack of workers. He said many Mexicans felt betrayed by the anti-immigrant sentiment. ``We learned to believe in the United States. We have a binational life,'' he said of Zacatecas, a state that has been sending migrants north for more than a century. ``It isn't just a feeling of rejection. It's against what we see as part of our life, our culture, our territory.'' Monday, the Mexican government announced it had hired Allyn & Company, a Dallas-based public-relations company to help improve Mexico's image and stem the immigration backlash. ``If people in the U.S. and Canada had an accurate view of the success of democracy, political stability and economic prosperity in Mexico, it would improve their views on specific bilateral issues like immigration and border security,'' Rob Allyn, president of the PR firm, told the Associated Press on Tuesday. Mexico is also encouraging U.S. church, community and business groups to oppose the proposal.

Smugglers Selling Sick Puppies From Mexico

By ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press Writer

SAN DIEGO Dec 21, 2005 — Smugglers are buying puppies at rock-bottom prices in Mexico and selling them in the United States for up to $1,000, often to owners who later discover the canines are too sick or too young to survive on their own, authorities said. The Border Puppy Task Force a group of 18 animal control and health agencies and animal protection groups said Tuesday a two-week operation at San Diego's two border crossings confirmed what they long suspected: Mexico is a breeding ground for unscrupulous puppy peddlers. "It's a profit-driven practice, it's a disturbing practice," said Capt. Aaron Reyes, director of operations at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Los Angeles County. From Dec. 5 through Sunday, agents at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings ordered vehicles carrying anything with "feathers, fleas, fur or fangs" to a separate area for more thorough inspections, Reyes said. The searches turned up 362 puppies under 3 months old, 155 between 3 and 6 months and 1,061 adult dogs. Canines were found in trunks and under seats. It's unclear exactly how many of those dogs were smuggled it's legal to ferry dogs if they are declared at the border and they have rabies shots and health records but Reyes said the "vast majority" of those under 3 months were probably contraband. About half the puppies between 3 and 6 months old were likely smuggled, he said. The puppies typically small breeds like poodles and Chihuahuas are believed to be purchased in Mexico for between $50 and $150, then sold at street corners, parking lots and flea markets in Southern California for between $300 and $1,000 each. On Nov. 15, federal agents searching a Honda CR-V at the Otay Mesa crossing found 16 undeclared puppies in three cages that were covered by blankets and boxes of laundry detergent. The suspect, a Mexican woman with an animal cruelty record, allegedly told investigators she needed the money and had lots of orders to fill. The Border Puppy Task Force formed last year after a spate of complaints from brokenhearted owners who reported their dogs were turning sick and often dying. They were getting socked with thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills. Common diseases include distemper, rabies, parvovirus and ringworm.

Mexico Income Tax and American residents

Mexico is joining the common practice of taxing all residents on worldwide income. The situation is now like that between the US and Canada in which financial institutions require a US social security number to be given in any financial dealings - such as opening a bank account. Our residents applying for a resident visa (FM-3, FM-2 or FM-1) also now have to provide a copy of their US or foreign passport during the application process. As with Canada, we can now expect that the Mexican and US tax authorities will start to share financial data on residents. Mexico complies with the law for allowing foreign tax credits so that a person or business having financial dealings in both countries will be able to take a credit to offset taxes paid in the other country. Unfortunately, this almost always results in the individual or business paying tax at the higher of the two rates.

(Note: These changes may have a major impact on real estate transactions in the future because of capital gains taxes on the rapidly rising values of property in San Felipe. Be sure that you get official receipts for the actual value of the property when a transfer is made.- ej)

The impact on our snowbird population - people who do NOT own property in the San Felipe region - is likely to be minimal. However, those people who do own houses, condominiums, apartments and property who rent it out when they are not in San Felipe are expected to come under close scrutiny. At present virtually nobody pays taxes on this rental income, and in most cases the transactions are made in cash through a property manager in town, who may take a significant fee to forward the funds to the owner, or through dollar deposits directly in a bank in the US. We expect that the Mexican tax authorities will be making visits to many of the apartments and condominiums in the area starting this winter - possibly even to collect taxes from the visitors who are renting for the weekend.

(Note: renters may wish to get an official receipt showing the tax paid on their rental as a separate line item. -ej)

Of course we applaud this financial information sharing in order to eliminate the laundering of drug money. However, it will increasingly mean that there will be a need to employ the services of accountants and tax attorneys in both jurisdictions. It is rumored that several legal and accounting firms will be establishing offices in the San Felipe area. The huge cash flow through town (estimated to exceed $100 million dollars) already swamps our single bank's (BBV-Bancomer) ability to handle the business. It would not surprise us to see 90% of their present customers switch to another bank to avoid the existing 1-3 hour waits in line to deposit funds.

If changes in the Mexican Constitution are made to allow the establishment of casinos, we will certainly see a significant increase in the oversight of all money transactions because of the opportunities for money laundering in large cash transactions.

Dubious Real Estate sale being investigated in San Felipe.
By Javier Mejia
La Voz de la Frontera
Por Javier MEJIA.
Translation J.C. Tapia

A stretch of beach known as Playa de Oro in San Felipe, is one in a list of real estate properties presumably sold at a lower cost than it’s appraised value.
According to official documents the purchase contract for the estate, an estimated surface of 18,059 square meters was sold for four million 244 thousand pesos to Bruce Camer Parkman as Administrative Manager for Parkstrong Enterprises.
According to the contract, the sales party was the XVII Mexicali City Council represented by Mayor Jaime DÌaz Ochoa and the Council's ex- secretary, Luis Chiang Rodriguez.
So far everything seems regular, but the Baja California Official State News paper on December 31, 2003 in a special number, establishes that "Playa de Oro" is part of the tourist residential developments whose unit price for square meter is $500.00 pesos, consequently the true value for said estate would be over the nine million pesos mark.
Together with "Playa de Oro" seven more lots of residential tourist developments, whose unit values go from one thousand five hundred pesos per square meter -San Felipe Beach Club- to two hundred pesos as is the case of the site called "Las Dunas", are under investigation.

(Note: the land in question at Playa de Oro appears to be plot 15 of the development - the "Donacion Gobierno Municipal" which is required of every land developer. Presumably the developer paid the official price for those areas of the property that are for resale. -ej)



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