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SAN MIGUEL, MEXICO READERS,WRITERS, DREAMERS MONTH/WEEK/WEEKEND SUNNY & COLORFUL, NEW SPACIOUS 1 BEDROOM HIGH SPEED INTERNET, CABLE 4111,4 3.,Te or [email protected] But perhaps that is asking too much of Nazario. She has already strapped herself onto the death train to bring us the big picture. All we need is to read about the migrant who has tried 27 times to enter the United States. And look closely at Don Bartletti’s photograph of a young migrant, his arms stretched across the back of a freight car. “Santo Antonio Gamay, hoping to make it to Toronto, shows the fatigue and tension from fifteen hours of riding a train. He has been arrested and deported three times before. In minutes, he will jump off to again try to outrun law enforcement officers.” Nrir ,07. Austin’s Largest Selection of international Folk Art, Silver Jewelry and Textiles FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 41209 CONGRESS AVE AUSTIN 512/479-8377 . 1110PEN DAILY 10-6 7s o 4 Hold ’em, continued from page 10 of the 8,785 criminal charges at the federal courthouse in Laredo were immigration-related, the vast majority for illegal entry. In fact, nationwide, immigration has recently surpassed drugs as the No. 1 federally prosecuted crime. Good-bye War on Drugs, hello War on Immigration. As the number of criminal prosecutions increases, the civil immigration courts then receive more noncitizens branded as “criminal aliens!’ “Most federal immigration enforcement crimes also have deportation grounds,” explains Lee Teran, a law professor at St. Mary’s University Law School in San Antonio, which makes it easier for the government attorney, a Homeland Security employee, to secure an order of removal in immigration court. Take, for example, the case of Maria Cardenas, a 27-year-old resident of Laredo. She is a lawful permanent resident who has lived in Texas since she came from Mexico at 15 with her parents. Employed as a truck driver, she was getting ready to make a run from Laredo to San Antonio in her 18-wheeler last July. At a gas station, an undocumented man from Mexico asked her for a ride, telling her he had diabetes and needed to work for his family. Cardenas agreed, later saying she felt sorry for the man. Cardenas knew she was doing something illegal, but her compassion got in the way of sober thinking. At a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 35, agents discovered the man hidden in Cardenas’ truck. She was arrested and taken in front of a magistrate judge in Laredo the next day. She received one year of unsupervised probation and thought the ordeal was over. But then Cardenas was taken into ICE custody and put in an immigrant detention facility run by the GEO Group in San Antonio. Now, she faces deportation to Mexico and a bar on returning for 10 years unless her lawyer can muster a legal defense allowing her to remain. If she were to return, she could face up to 20 years in prison. Winning Cardenas’ case, her attorney says, will not be easy. What will she do if she has to go back to Mexico? “I have a life here,” she says in an interview, beginning to cry. “There’s nothing in Mexico for me. I’ve always worked and paid my taxes. I’ve been a good residents’ For each day of Cardenas’ 10-day stay in detention, she likely fetched between $35 and $65 gross profit \(the going rate in the As Texas moves deeper into the corporate-run detention center business, immigrant advocates worry about how much public scrutiny will be possible. “I think that immigrants are definitely more exploitable than even state or federal prisoners because they often have less access to resources and they are often deported after their detention,” says Libal. “They tend to be a transient population; they tend to have language problems!’ And once new detention centers are built, it is likely that the facilities will be open for business indefinitely, private prison opponents say. “They might pitch [new prisons] as a way to solve some temporary need,” says Libal, “but once they build the prisons, they will always fill the beds, especially with private facilities.” He points out that prison companies usually want to sign contracts with federal agencies that guarantee a minimum number of prisoners per month, legally binding the government to supply the bodies. In Laredo, the superjail has engendered the enthusiastic bidding of five corrections outfits, including CCA and the GEO Group, which are jostling to corner the emerging borderland markets. CCA has offered to pay the $100 million construction cost if it wins the contract, while GEO Group told Webb County that the company would give $1 million to the impoverished county for indigent care if it prevails. So far, the rise in the immigrant detention business has received little attention as the national debate splits the business community and leaves Republican ideologues arguing with pragmatists. But the Office of Detention and Removal is hard at work on what it calls the “Endgame.” For the corporations involved in immigrant detention, the endgame is the beginning of something big. MAY 5, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27