Monday, June 25, 2007


All politics are local, but there are fewer political deals to be made at the State level. The problems associated with illegal immigrants are at the national level, but the states are being forced to step up to the plate and find solutions.
Federal efforts to tighten the borders and deport illegal immigrants are insufficient to satisfy the states. This has forced the states to take matters into their own hands. While states have no control over the flow of illegal immigrants, they are responsible for integrating immigrants into their communities. While a community may have plenty of jobs for the illegal workers, they do not have the classrooms and the other services to support these immigrants and their families. The costs of education, medical care, and other social services are creating financial burdens that are not being shared or reimbursed by the federal government.

In Yuma, Arizona hundreds of illegal immigrant Mexican school children walk across the border from Mexico every day to attend middle and high schools in Arizona. The Yuma Union High School District was forced to enforce its residency requirement after a bond measure to build a new school was defeated. Parents whose children live outside of the school district are required to pay $5,300.00 per year for their children to attend one of the six Yuma schools. Only one family was found who complied with the requirement. Parents choose to live in Mexico where median home prices are $30,000.00 and send their children across the border for school in Yuma and San Luis, where the median home price is $179,000.00.
A full-time Border Attendance Officer was hired to check the residency of students crossing the border each day. The Attendance Officer was quoted as saying "They want the American services, but they do not want to be a part of the American system".
In nearby Calexico, California taxpayers' complaints about building schools within walking distance of Mexico led the local district to also hire a full-time Border Crossing Watch Officer to check student addresses.
In 1986 when 12-20 million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty, only a few states were being forced to deal with serious immigration problems. Those states were California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, New York and Illinois. Today, immigration issues affect all 50 states. Illegal immigrants are going Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania where the economies are doing much better.
An illegal immigrant is a walking felony in progress. Illegal immigrants are already in violation of federal law. To pardon the felons, even with sanctions, amounts to amnesty. Citizens know that the sanctions will never be enforced. The Federal Government cannot keep track of the aliens that were pardons in 1986 under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Employers were required to verify workers’ documents. Every day illegal immigrants who have overstayed their B1 or B2 visas are being “paroled” back into the society with dates to appear in court to answer the charges of violating the immigration laws. Hardly any ever appear in court on the date assigned. Many of these are among the 12-20 million awaiting the next big grant of amnesty. It is getting to be a once per generation phenomenon. Law breakers are being rewarded, while people who obey the laws are being punished with long waits for their petitions to be granted. It is not fair.
With the prospect of comprehensive immigration reform stalled in Congress, states and local governments are passing laws to deal with the economic and social costs of illegal immigrants. More than 1,200 bills have been passed in all 50 states to deal with this problem on a local level. These laws prohibit landlords from renting or leasing to illegal immigrants, penalize businesses for hiring undocumented workers, and require local law enforcement officials to enforce national immigration laws.

Friday, June 22, 2007



Two US Border Patrol agents began serving 12 and 11 year sentences in February 2007 for the shooting of a Mexican national. Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were charged with first degree murder by US Attorney Johnny Sutton. The President of the US Border Patrol Union, T. J. Bonner said the 11,000 member union has given a “no confidence” vote to border patrol chief David Aguilar.

Two U.S. Border Patrol agents were sentenced to prison terms of 11 years and 12 years for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks as he fled across the U.S.-Mexico border. . Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were charged with first degree murder by US Attorney Johnny Sutton. The President of the US Border Patrol Union, T. J. Bonner said the 11,000 member union has given a “no confidence” vote to border patrol chief David Aguilar.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case, the Washington Times reported.
A federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.
Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.
On Feb. 17, 2005, he responded to a request for back up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso.
Ramos, who headed toward Fabens hoping to cut off the van, soon joined a third agent already in pursuit.
Behind the wheel of the van was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila's van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.
Unable to outrun Ramos and the third agent, Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on the levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler's attempt to get back to Mexico.
"At some point during the time where I'm crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired," Ramos said. "Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler."
At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.
"I shot," Ramos said. "But I didn't think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn't look like he had been hit at all."
More than two weeks after the incident, Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, received a call from a Border Patrol agent in Wilcox, Ariz. The agent's mother-in-law had received a call from Aldrete-Davila's mother in Mexico telling her that her son had been wounded in the buttocks in the shooting.
Sanchez followed up with a call of his own to the smuggler in Mexico.
In a move that still confuses Ramos and Compean, the U.S. government filed charges against them after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.
At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof told the court that the agents had violated an unarmed Aldrete-Davila's civil rights.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot them in the back while fleeing if you don't know who they are and/or if you don't know they have a weapon," said Kanof.
Kanof dismissed Ramos' testimony that he had seen something shiny in the smuggler's hand, saying that the agent couldn't be sure it was a gun he had seen.
Further, Kanof argued, it was a violation of Border Patrol policy for agents to pursue fleeing suspects.
"Agents are not allowed to pursue. In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not," she told the Daily Bulletin.
The Texas jury came back with a guilty verdict. Conviction for discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence has an automatic 10-year sentence. The other counts have varying punishments.
"How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people?" said Ramos, who noted that he only did on that day what he had done for the previous 10 years. "Everybody who's breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?"
"This is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have ever seen," said Andy Ramirez of the nonprofit group Friends of the Border Patrol. "This drug smuggler has fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you."
The El Paso Sheriff's Department increased its patrols around the Ramos home when the family received threats from people they believed were associated with Aldrete-Davila.
Agent Ramos was assaulted one week after entering prison by about five illegal immigrants who were yelling at him in Spanish, 'Maten a la migra' — which means 'kill the Border Patrol agent,'" one family member said, according to, a group that has petitioned President Bush to pardon the two agents and has been working with the agents' families. and Ramos' family dispute the prison report saying he suffered minor injuries. in a press release says Ramos suffered "multiple and severe injuries." The release also said that a family member claims Ramos' attackers beat him with repeated blows and kicks and that he suffered wounds to his back, shoulder, arms and head.
"Our government has betrayed these agents," said Grassfire president Steve Elliott. "And now they have put these men in mortal danger. I am frightened for the lives of these two family men. This is beyond outrage, and I am calling on grassroots Americans to express their outrage directly to the White House — demanding the president pardon agents Ramos and Compean before it's too late."
Bonner said Ramos believes that he was assaulted by four or five people and that his injuries are more than 'minor."
"I believe him more than I believe the Department of Justice and its attempt to minimize this," Bonner said. "After all, this is the same Department of Justice that's tried to cover up the facts surrounding the" case, he added.
The two agents' supporters — which include a slew of lawmakers on Capital Hill — claim the Justice Department and prosecutor Johnny Sutton did not appropriately handle the case.
Ramos and Compean were found guilty by a jury of not only shooting Aldrete-Davila, but also of trying to cover up the incident. Supporters say it was wrong for Sutton to go after the border agents and not the drug dealer who was given immunity for testifying against them, and that the Justice Department has been less than forthcoming about certain facts surrounding the case.
In response to the reports of the prison assault, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote to President Bush requesting an investigation into the incident. The letter also requested that Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin be discharged from his position if it's discovered that the proper precautions were not taken to protect Ramos.
"Placing these two agents in general population, especially when assuring Congress it would not happen, constitutes an enormous dereliction of duty by the Administration and the Bureau of Prisons," said the letter to Bush. "The families of agents Compean and Ramos deserve an immediate response. Further, please ensure that segregation from general population occurs immediately."
Hunter requested that both agents be put in isolation for their own safety. He and others were concerned that if jailed with many of the illegal immigrants and drug runners they helped put away, the safety and well-being of Ramos and Compean would be threatened.
"The assault against agent Ramos clearly demonstrates the severe risk involved with incorporating Border Patrol agents into general prison populations," Hunter said. "An overwhelming number of federal inmates are non U.S. citizens who have been apprehended by the Border Patrol. The danger to agents Compean and Ramos was immediately apparent and the attack against agent Ramos could have been prevented."
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said he spoke to several of Ramos' family members. The Ramos family wasn't aware of the situation, when they called him to wish him well on his 38th birthday. Ramos told his family that he was attacked by five men who beat him severely for being a former law enforcement agent.
Tancredo said one of the assailants has been identified by Ramos and is now being charged with assault.
"The administration has for too long turned their back on law enforcement and left them to fend for themselves," Tancredo said. "These men have been the victims of what the Bush administration’s border enforcement policy has always been. Mr. President, pardon these men now."
Bonner said Ramos likely asked to be put in general population because when in isolation, inmates are only allowed one phone call a month. Isolated prisoners also normally are in lockdown for 23 hours a day and only allowed out for one hour.
"Why they couldn't bend that rule given the fact they have law enforcement agent in custody … you kind of go stir crazy" in isolation, Bonner said.
"I don't blame him [Ramos], I blame the folks in charge for not being reasonable about that. One phone call a month sounds like punishment to me for someone who's been acting up. But here's a guy you're putting in isolation because you need to protect him."
Poe agreed, saying that it's Ramos' choice whether he wants to be put in isolation or general population, but wherever he is, it's the job of the federal government and the prison to ensure his safety.
"It's just another example that the federal government doesn't protect Border Patrol agents on the border and doesn't protect them in prison," Poe said.
"The prison authorities, especially the federal prison system, are experts at protecting inmates from harm from other inmates ... they've been doing this for years. Why aren't they protecting Ramos?"
"We just want him to be safe — that's our main concern right now," Loya said. "Hopefully they'll move him out of there and put him in minimum security."
The Compean family released a statement saying he is in isolation by choice. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Compean is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio, a low-security facility housing male offenders. He was offered a chance to join general population, but he rejected that idea because he feared for his safety, the family said.
"This attack only reinforces why they must be kept isolated from a prison's general population," the family said in the statement.
"Being a law enforcement officer, especially knowing they are Border Patrol agents, only adds to the threat and danger they face while in prison. This is why they cannot be out of isolation. We must all take this threat seriously if we hope to see them leave prison alive."

There is great discontent among Border Patrol agents. Nationwide, attacks against agents since October 2006 have risen 3 percent over the same period a year earlier. In the Yuma Sector of western Arizona attacks have jumped 56 percent. This area is a hot bed of smuggling activity.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Complaints Against Judges Rising In California.

A California state commission that reviews the performance of judges has received an increasing number of complaints about California judges in each of the last three years, the commission's annual report states.

The recently released report also showed that the panel, known as the Commission on Judicial Performance, has closed more complaint cases without taking disciplinary action against judges.

Victoria Henley, the commission's director-chief counsel, said the majority of complaints were closed without disciplinary action because they raised challenges to a judge's legal rulings ---- which are outside of the commission's purview ---- instead of allegations of judicial misconduct.

Misconduct by a judge includes yelling, rudeness, profanity, communicating with only one party in a case, making public comments about a case, and out-of-court behavior such as drunken driving or using court stationery for personal reasons, the commission's report stated.

The increase in the number of complaints comes after six straight years in which the commission received fewer complaints about judges, the report stated.

The commission does not track how many complaints come from each county, Henley said. No San Diego County Superior Court judge has been publicly disciplined since 2000, according to the commission's Web site.

San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge John Einhorn said an increase in the number of complaints should not raise concerns about the judiciary.

"It has no significance because the complaints can be about someone dissatisfied with the results who thinks that by contacting me or the commission, they can change the results," Einhorn said.

The commission is not an "appellate body" and cannot reverse rulings, Henley said.

State and local officials said they did not know of any reason why the number of new complaints statewide had begun to rise.

"It's not apparent to me," Henley said.

Bonnie Russell, a Del Mar resident who runs two Web sites that are highly critical of judges in San Diego County and elsewhere, said she was surprised that people were filing more complaints with the commission because so few result in disciplinary action.
Russell said she had filed two or three complaints with the commission to no avail in connection with a custody battle with her ex-husband.

"I have based my complaints on rulings and an abuse of discretion or power, which I thought was clear," Russell said.

For example, in a 2002 letter to the commission, Russell leveled several allegations, including that a judge had been biased against her, kept her from seeing her daughter for two years, and had owned a building that leased office space to attorneys who appeared before him.Russell said she received responses from the commission indicating that it closed its investigations of her complaints because she had not provided additional information.

Henley said the commission cannot address a judge's legal decisions.

"A lot of people don't really understand what the commission is here for," Henley said. "When a litigant shows nothing more than dissatisfaction with a legal ruling, the case is closed."

The 11-member commission, which has a $3.9 million budget, was formed in 1960 "to receive and investigate complaints of judicial misconduct," its annual report stated.

The California state constitution specifies that the commission shall be made up of an appeals court justice and two Superior Court judges appointed by the state Supreme Court; two attorneys with more than 10 years' experience in California appointed by the governor; and six citizens who are not judges or attorneys. The governor, state Senate rules committee and state Assembly speaker each appoint two of the private citizen commissioners.

The commission's actions include an initial review of a complaint, which can be closed without disciplining a judge. The commission also can conduct formal hearings and decide to send a judge an advisory letter disapproving of certain conduct, admonish a judge privately or publicly, censure a judge publicly, or remove a judge from office.

In 2001 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick Couwenberg is removed from the bench for falsely claiming to have fought in Vietnam and worked for the CIA. He also made intentionally false statements to an attorneys group that he attended college on the GI Bill and had a shrapnel wound in his groin. Couwenberg blamed the lies on a mental condition called "pseudologia fantastica.''

Superior Court Judge Joan Weber, the supervising judge of the Superior Court's North County branch, said she has read about the commission's formal hearings in newspapers like others do and that the hearings "seem to be very thoroughly presented."

Complaints against judges are not always resolved within the same year that they are received.

In 2004, the commission received 1,114 new complaints, an increase of 10.2 percent from the number it received in 2003 and the third straight annual increase of more than 9.9 percent.

The number of complaints closed without disciplinary action after an initial review has risen more than 9 percent each of the last three years. The number of complaints closed in 2004 after an initial review rose to 993, an increase of 9.6 percent from 2003. Another 60 complaints were closed without any disciplinary action after a preliminary investigation, down from 62 in 2003.

The commission sent 13 advisory letters to judges, privately admonished eight judges, publicly admonished three and completed the removal of one judge from office in 2004. None of the public discipline involved San Diego County judges.

Russell said she believes no private disciplinary measures should be allowed.

"For a body that was formed to protect the public from bad judges, they have way too many private reprovals," she said.

Weber said she has never received private discipline from the commission and could not say how other judges react to it. Weber said she hoped judges would take note of a private admonishment like any other criticism, but that judges are human and react differently.

The commission's report stated that in 2004, the highest percentage of complaints, 44 percent, involved criminal cases, followed by general civil cases at 19 percent, and family law cases at 16 percent. Those percentages have remained generally consistent since 2001, according to commission reports.

Henley said that criminal cases may account for the highest percentage, in part, because prison inmates sometimes send copies of their petitions for a writ of habeas corpus seeking a new trial to the commission. Henley said the commission treats those petitions as complaints to review.

Where to file a complaint against a California judge, see:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Most Dangerous Place To Visit.


The US State Department has issued travel warnings for Tijuana, Mexico, the most dangerous city for Americans to visit close to home. Innocent bystanders are being killed.
Newspaper reporters have disappeared. Middle-class business men and their families are being kidnapped. Innocent tourists are being shaken down for bribes by local police. The U.S. State Department issues regular travel warnings, which are recommendations to avoid certain cities or countries.

Faced with the assassinations of top police officials, beheadings of suspected narco-trafficers, body parts being thrown on the beach at Rosaritos, Baja Calafornia, rolling gun battles on public streets, and a deadly shootout in a hospital in Tijuana in April 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has dispatched over 30,000 federal troops to combat the violence. In Tijuana Federal Troops went from one precinct to another and removed the guns from the local police, because many were suspected of carrying out executions for the drug cartels. It appears that the violence is getting worse. The newly appointed director of the anti-drug intelligence force was shot dead in Mexico City. In the State of Sonora across the Arizona border, a gun battle left 22 people dead and many more wounded.

More than 1,000 people have been killed already in 2007 in drug-related violence, according to the Mexican newspaper El Universal. In 2006 more than 2000 people were killed in drug-related violence. More than 200 police officers have been killed. It is not clear whether the police were killed because of their involvement in fighting the drug trade or because they were a part of it says Jose Arturo Yanez of Mexico City’s Professional Police Training Institute. Mexico has become the second deadliest country for journalists behind Iraq. A survey in March showed that 85 percent of the people believe that President Calderon’s action will only lead to more violence.

A video last month on the website YouTube showed a man being beheaded next to the message “Do something for your country, kill a Zeta”. That was a reference to the hit men for the Gulf cartel that is believed to be warring against the Sinaloa cartel for the lucrative drug routes into the US.

Anyone visiting Mexico for more than a quick, one time, sight-seeing visit needs protection says risk consultants such as New York-based Kroll Inc. One of the first things to keep in mind, says Kroll's Senior Vice President Kelly McCann, is that the U.S. government is not going to rescue a civilian in the event of a kidnapping or hijacking overseas. "That is a huge misconception," says McCann. "Overseas, there is no responsibility by the U.S. government or its consulates to save you." "The guiding rule is to ask yourself if you are prepared and informed," says McCann. "You can travel safely in Mexico, but you have to do it right, such as avoiding known drug trafficking areas or red light districts”.

Fear of being kidnapped is prompting some of Tijuana's middle-and upper-class families to move across the border to San Diego County neighborhoods where they feel safer.
A Tijuana businessman said his family paid several hundred thousand dollars for his release after he was kidnapped this year. The family never reported the incident to police, he said. Afterward, he and his family decided to move into San Diego and San Diego county.

Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Tijuana-based Binational Center of Human Rights, said more kidnappings have occurred over the past few years, mainly because drug trafficking groups are finding kidnapping to be a relatively easy way to earn quick cash.
"It's a way to finance their activities," Alfaro said.
In a recent interview with Tijuana's Frontera newspaper, Jaime Valdovino Machado, president of the Tijuana Chamber of Commerce, said the city's business people "don't feel secure" because of crime and kidnapping risks. "It's a binational culture, and the question of living in Tijuana or not has been around for many years," said Daniel Romero Mejía, president of the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial de Tijuana, an umbrella group of business organizations.
Typically, families that make the move have dual citizenship or U.S. residency status through family or marriage.
Nine kidnapping cases were reported to Mexican state authorities in 2005 in Baja California, according to Raúl Gutierrez, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office.
But that number is believed to be low because many cases are not reported to police. Family members often are afraid that it would anger the kidnappers or that local police are in collusion with the kidnappers.
"It's common that one learns when talking with friends of the middle or upper classes that this or that person has been kidnapped, and that's how you usually find out because they aren't usually made public," Clark said. "The statistics don't reflect the reality."
In one of case, he said, the family paid $150,000. In the other case, he said, the family paid $1 million – and then moved north of the border. That person still maintains his business in Tijuana, Clark said.
Most families don't want to talk about the experience. The kidnappers' method typically is to grab people at gunpoint as they are on the way home or headed to work. Most of the victims are men.
The Tijuana businessman who contacted the Union-Tribune shared details of his kidnapping but asked that they not be published out of concern for his safety.
Abraham Cecena, an agent with Prudential California Realty's Chula Vista office, said he is seeing more people from Tijuana moving to places such as Eastlake and Rancho del Rey.
"It's something that is becoming of greater concern to people down there, especially affluent families," he said. "The crime over there is just getting out of hand, from what they are telling me, and they don't feel safe."
The communities that people are moving to are the same places where some members of Mexican drug cartels – who also commit kidnappings and abductions – live for similar security reasons.
In 2004 a man charged with participating in kidnappings for the Arellano Félix drug cartel was linked to a home in Otay Lakes. Others with ties to the cartel, such as money laundering suspect Ivonne Soto Vega, have been found to be living in upscale communities such as Bonita.
U.S. law enforcement officials say they also have noticed that kidnappings have prompted people to move north.
Kroll Inc., an international risk consultant, estimates that 3,000 kidnappings occur in Mexico each year. In Latin America, only Colombia surpasses Mexico, according to the firm.
Those who don't move are taking greater precautions, said Ron Kimball, president of a San Antonio-based company that bullet-proofed 50 cars for Mexican residents last year.
The company, Texas Armoring Corp., equipped six of those for Tijuana families, Kimball said.
"In almost every case, they have told me that they had a family member who has been kidnapped and rescued by ransom," he said. "Normally, it's people involved in major industries like banking or ranching."
Armoring a sport utility vehicle can be done in 90 days and costs about $70,000, Kimball said. The idea is to give the driver enough time to survive an ambush and drive out of danger, he said.
Victor de la Garza, an assistant state attorney who oversees Baja California's organized-crime investigations – including kidnapping cases – didn't return phone calls. If convicted in Baja California, a kidnapper faces 20 to 40 years in prison.
Kidnappings of business people or other residents are typically committed by drug trafficking groups or by rings that specialize in kidnappings.
Those are different from the abductions that drug trafficking groups carry out against rivals, informants or people who owe them money. In those cases a ransom may be collected, but the person is often killed.
Mexican federal authorities often intervene in cases that have a strong drug link. But sometimes residents turn to them to investigate other kinds of kidnappings because they see federal agencies as more trustworthy.
An official with the Mexican attorney general's office in Tijuana said federal agents are investigating three kidnapping cases not connected with drug trafficking groups. The official declined to be named because of the agency's policy against talking with the media.
The rings evade authorities by negotiating on phone lines routed through other cities or countries to make the calls harder to trace. Kidnappers often leave the community once their job is done.
While most kidnappings last a week to a month – enough time for the family to negotiate and sell off assets to pay the ransom – quicker variations have emerged.
"Express kidnappings" take place when a person is targeted for a smaller amount of money – such as $5,000 to $30,000 – and is released within a few days after the family provides the cash.
Other groups have used extortion to commit "virtual kidnappings" in which a caller demands money from people so that they won't be kidnapped. In 2003, 10 members of Tijuana's business community reported such threats, and some ended up placing as much as $40,000 in designated bank accounts.
Romero said ensuring the safety of the city's business class is important for keeping and attracting investment. He said Tijuana's business leaders have been meeting with police.
"We need a greater police presence in the area to prevent these kinds of activities," Romero said.

Thursday, June 7, 2007



A troubling indication of a rising tide of intolerance towards Christians in India is a new law enacted in the state of Himachal Pradesh in February of 2007. The new law ostensibly bans all forced religious conversions to Christianity. It is most shocking because the state has so few Christians. Only about one-tenth of one percent of the 6 million inhabitants are Christians. Nationally 82 percent of the inhabitants are Hindus; 13 percent are Muslim. Only about 3 percent of the nation of India is Christian.

Himachal Pradesh has less than 8 thousand Christian, but it is the fifth state to pass such a law. Ironically the new law is entitled “The Freedom of Religion Law”. When Sonia Gandhi, the Congressional leader, stood up and spoke out against the anticonversion laws, she was condemned as Christian, and a foreigner, and someone who should not be running a Hindu country.

Christian missionaries have been reviled as “alleluia wallahs” by Hindu nationalists. They fear that the Christian missionaries are threatening India’s Hindu identity. These concerns have been used to justify a number of violent attacks against missionaries.
The new law requires anyone wishing to change religions to notify the District Magistrate not later than 30 days prior to converting. Failure to do so can result in a fine or imprisonment or both. Confinement for as long as two years is authorized.


The multiplication of these anticonversion laws is causing concern around the world. The US State Department report on human rights practices in March expressed concern over the attempts by sate and local governments to limit religious freedom On May 2nd a pastor in Jaipur, Rajasthan was brutally beaten for converting a Hindu to Christianity. On May 9 the evening TV news broadcast showed a clip of two missionaries being paraded through the streets of Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

The Freedom of Religion Law makes it a crime for anyone to convert another person by force or “inducement” or other fraudulent means. “Inducement” is defined as the offer of any gift or gratification, either in cash or in kind or grant of any benefit either pecuniary or otherwise. Opponents of the law point out that the law is overly broad and can even prohibit the giving of food at a banquet or reception following religious services.

Despite the obvious suppression of religious freedom the new law will have, one cannot overlook the political implications. Political expediency often fills the void left by weak reasoning or lack of evidence. Hindu nationalists are teaching that India is a Hindu nation and that Christians and Muslims are outsiders. This has proved to be a powerful vote-getting platform.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Illegal to Convert to Christianity, says Muslim High Court.

The High Secular Court of Malaysia ruled that a female convert to Christianity from Islam can not be recognized as a Christian. Lina Joy had converted to Christianity and sought to have the word “Islam” removed from her national identity card. She argued that since her conversion to Christianity she was no longer bound by the Islamic sharia law. Her local Imam refused to allow the change. Lina appealed to the highest secular court in Malaysia. On Wednesday 23 May hundreds of Muslims waited outside the High Court to hear the ruling in the well publicized appeal. Many weeped as the court deliberated inside. Many Muslims were praying for a denial of the appeal. There was jubilation and near pandemonium when the High Court rejected the appeal of the Christian convert. The Court ruled that ruled that only the Muslim religious court could decide the issue according to Islamic sharia law.