Desert Invasion - U.S.


Hurricane damage pushes more toward U.S.

By Alfredo Corchado, Dallas Morning News

...Aid agencies and government officials, including two senior U.S. officials, say that hurricane damage and a growing hunger crisis are sending a surge of migrants to the United States.

Already, U.S. officials are witnessing a dramatic spike in illegal migration from Central America. In the El Paso sector, for example, border patrol agents have detained nearly 800 non-Mexican illegal immigrants, the majority of them from Central America, since Oct. 1, the beginning of the new federal fiscal year. The figure for the same period last year was 319, according to a border patrol spokesman.

Hitting in early October, Hurricane Stan killed more than 1,500 in the Mexican state of Chiapas and in Central America and caused more than a billion dollars in damage....

In Chiapas alone, Mexican officials say, the destruction robbed the country of 10 years of infrastructure improvements, destroyed 70 percent of the coffee crop the state's main crop and more than half of the mangos and bananas, corn, vegetables and beans....

Last week, some 330 Hondurans were deported, according to a spokesman at the Immigration Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

"The current policy is very rigid," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is based on law enforcement, not driven by holistic policy concerns. We must realize we're dealing with nations in a region with no government bailouts and limited job creation. The poverty situation is already dire."...

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, speaking during the launch of the Secure Border Initiative, defended the policy.

"Flagrant violation of our borders undercuts the rule of law, undermines our security and imposes particular economic strains on our border communities," he said....

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