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Bribe culture seeps into South Texas
Houston Chronicle ^ | Dec. 16, 2006 | JAMES PINKERTON

Posted on 12/17/2006 4:35:47 PM PST by SwinneySwitch

19 convicted as Mexican style of corruption moves north of the border

BROWNSVILLE — The bribe has long been a shortcut to wealth and power along the Texas-Mexico border. But these days, it's not just politicians lining their pockets or crooked lawmen taking bags of cash to overlook drug loads.

The culture of bribery is quietly seeping into new realms of government, from school districts to municipal court, experts say.

Proximity to Mexico is at least partly to blame, said Anthony Knopp, a professor who teaches border history at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

"What we're dealing with is a Third World country on the other side of the border where there is a culture of corruption ... corruption will show up here, naturally."

And show up, it has.

Since March 2004, 19 public officials including former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu, a city manager, several county commissioners, a school superintendent and several school trustees have been convicted of taking kickbacks and bribes.

Some pocketed wads of cash. Others accepted new tires for their cars or extensive remodeling jobs on their homes and businesses. Some even partied with prostitutes. In return, some allegedly awarded lucrative contracts to build or furnish new schools and public buildings. Or they looked the other way as traffickers hauled drugs across the border.

"Bribery is happening down here," said Israel Pacheco, a veteran Texas Ranger in McAllen. "To say it's not happening is to bury your head in the sand."

The way things are done

The bribery culture has existed in Mexico for centuries. There, the bribe is known as la mordida — "the bite." Paying mordidas is often the most efficient — or the only — way of getting things done in Mexico.

Federal officials in the Rio Grande Valley say they began seeing rising numbers of bribery cases several years ago, and formed a task force to target corruption and graft.

Bribery "undermines public confidence in government," said Don DeGabrielle, the U.S. attorney for the federal district that stretches from Houston to Laredo and south to Brownsville.

"When a few abuse their offices ... citizens justifiably wonder then who can they trust in the rest of government," said DeGabrielle, a former FBI agent.

He said the federal task force has led to a number of important arrests and hopes that continued prosecutions will discourage others from taking or offering bribes and kickbacks.

But for some, the temptation is too great.

A Brownsville municipal court clerk was recently sentenced to probation for fixing traffic tickets, undeterred by hundreds of police officers around her at the police station. For a "fee," a city code inspector and a permit clerk allegedly let six used-car lot owners operate in Brownsville without passing building inspections.

The culture of bribery "has filtered down to where it's not just law enforcement," a veteran U.S. agent said on condition of anonymity.

Bribery of lawmen remains a problem, he added.

"We're seeing it a lot more ... and it isn't always cash," he said. "It could be bottles of liquor, it could be a car. Sometimes it's hunting trips."

He said the motivation is always the same — greed.

"It's the money," the agent said. "As long as I've been doing this job."

Alleged entrapment

Some in the Valley blame federal authorities.

The government "creates crime" by using "unsavory" informants to entrap otherwise honest people, said Al Alvarez, a McAllen lawyer who has defended a number of public officials.

As the Valley grows and receives larger shares of state and federal funding, more and more locals get involved in government and some don't know the law, Alvarez said.

"People here don't have the experience in management ... mistakes are made, and some are criminal," Alvarez said.

Bribery cases often end in scenes like one in a Brownsville federal courthouse Nov. 10, when Israel Tamez, a tearful ex-county commissioner, stood before a federal judge.

"I know I did wrong, and I have to pay for it," said Tamez, a resident of Willacy County, one of the state's poorest.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced Tamez to six months in jail for taking a $10,000 bribe to award a $14.5 million jail contract.

The fallout from another federal investigation was even more tragic in the case of Ed Aparicio, 46, a popular state judge who killed himself last April on the day he announced his resignation. Although the judge was never charged with a crime, FBI agents had searched his home and courthouse chambers, carting off paintings and other potential evidence in a reported bribery investigation.

TV stations in the Valley routinely feature tales of public officials being caught allegedly pocketing bribes in exchange for a range of illegal favors.

In one case last year, the FBI arrested a trustee for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and a masonry contractor, accusing them of bribery and extortion.

The McAllen Monitor, applauded the move.

"What's most disturbing isn't the way the two are accused of operating," the paper said in an editorial. "It's that officials at nearly every other school district and municipal government in the Valley conduct business in a similar manner."

In another case, the Cameron County district attorney is investigating how the Brownsville Navigation District spent $21.4 million in taxpayer money during a decade-long, futile effort to build a rail bridge to Mexico.

A private attorney hired by the district concluded $10.5 million was paid to subcontractors in Mexico who did little or no work, including a firm with close ties to Mexican officials.

Elections involved

Bribery has also crept into Valley elections, said Othal Brand Jr., who ran his father's unsuccessful campaign for mayor last year in McAllen.

A political worker offered him "400 votes for $10 apiece, or $4,000," he said.

"It short-circuits the system," Brand said of bribery. "It speeds the process up and cuts red tape. It saves time or money, but without any conscience about the morality, the right or wrong."

Some worry that even more public officials could be compromised as vast amounts of drug money flow across the Texas border.

Laredo police frequently stop cars for speeding as they head through town on their way to Mexico, finding "massive amounts of cash," said Jerry Thompson, a history professor at Texas A&M International University. "One had $400,000 in a bag in the back seat. He didn't even have it in the trunk.

"What scares me is that this drug corruption is going to corrupt the judicial system."

Undeterred, U.S. officials say they're continuing their fight against bribery in the Valley.

"It's not over," said DeGabrielle, the top U.S. prosecutor in Houston. "We are still actively engaged in investigating corruption. ... We haven't washed our hands and declared victory."

james.pinkerton@chron.com


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: aliens; bribery; corruption; crimaliens; diversity; illegals; immigrantlist; immigrants; immigration; lamordida; mexico; multiculturalism; terrorism; texas; valle
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"....the motivation is always the same — greed."
1 posted on 12/17/2006 4:35:51 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
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To: hispanarepublicana; 2dogjoe; radar101; RamingtonStall; engrpat; HamiltonFan; Draco; TexasCajun; ...

La mordida ping!


2 posted on 12/17/2006 4:39:59 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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To: SwinneySwitch; COEXERJ145
Laredo police frequently stop cars for speeding as they head through town on their way to Mexico, finding "massive amounts of cash," said Jerry Thompson, a history professor at Texas A&M International University. "One had $400,000 in a bag in the back seat. He didn't even have it in the trunk.

Question: do you know why it is Texas A&M International University and not Texas A&M at Laredo?

Answer: So the Acronym isn't "TAMALE".

3 posted on 12/17/2006 4:41:35 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Karl Rove isn't magnificent.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Who didn't see this coming? You shift a large population of illegals northward, who are used to socialism, and who tolerate a higher level of government corruption as the norm, and this is what you get.

Just wait until our pols reward illegals with amnesty. The next wave will be 40 million, not 20 million.

Enjoy your country's decline, amigos.

4 posted on 12/17/2006 4:42:12 PM PST by FlyVet
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To: SwinneySwitch

"La Mordida." Tsk Tsk Tsk! "Our Diversity Is Our Strength!"


5 posted on 12/17/2006 4:44:15 PM PST by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: FlyVet

ONE HUNDRED forty million... easy.


6 posted on 12/17/2006 4:44:53 PM PST by TLI (ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA, MMP AZ 2005, TxMMP El Paso Oct+April 2006 TxMMP Laredo - El Paso)
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To: TLI
ONE HUNDRED forty million... easy.

Oh, don't rush things. Let me enjoy my fantasy for awhile.

7 posted on 12/17/2006 4:48:26 PM PST by FlyVet
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To: SwinneySwitch

The government has been pumping billions into the South Texas Valley for years. Mordidas are just a way of life. Ironically, this is the season of giving mordidas as Christmas presents with "meanings". I have seen this for years. Nobody keep it quiet what they are buying their lawyer, banker, etc.


8 posted on 12/17/2006 5:46:16 PM PST by texastoo ("trash the treaties")
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To: FlyVet; gubamyster; All

It all simply boggles the mind.


9 posted on 12/17/2006 5:53:13 PM PST by WatchingInAmazement ("Nothing is more expensive than cheap labor," prof. Vernon Briggs, labor economist Cornell Un.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

I notice no party affiliations are mentioned. Must be Dems...


10 posted on 12/17/2006 6:39:04 PM PST by Antoninus II
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
How are we going to explain Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit?

Yep...we've never had a bribe problem in the U.S.

11 posted on 12/17/2006 6:45:12 PM PST by TankerKC (When I think about me, I touch myself.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Travis McGee is a prophet.


12 posted on 12/17/2006 6:47:07 PM PST by Rb ver. 2.0
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To: TankerKC
Question: "How are we going to explain Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit?"

Answer: Q.E.D.

13 posted on 12/17/2006 7:33:27 PM PST by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: SwinneySwitch

This is the culture our own president wants us to adopt.


14 posted on 12/17/2006 8:15:08 PM PST by janetgreen (SAD FOR AMERICA)
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To: 1_Inch_Group; 2sheep; 2Trievers; 3AngelaD; 3pools; 3rdcanyon; 4Freedom; 4ourprogeny; 7.62 x 51mm; ..

ping


15 posted on 12/17/2006 10:50:24 PM PST by gubamyster
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To: janetgreen

Yeah,but this difference between here and Mexico is that in Mexico there wouldn't have BEEN any convictions!


16 posted on 12/17/2006 10:53:23 PM PST by Riverman94610
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To: SwinneySwitch
Mexicans call it la mordida - literally, "the bite." A few stuffed envelopes full of cash under the table can do wonders in getting a lethargic government bureaucracy to move at the speed of light.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." -Manuel II Paleologus

17 posted on 12/17/2006 10:54:36 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Riverman94610
In Mexico, its existed for centuries. Its corrupted even decent people because of the knowledge that if you play by the rules, its going take forever to get anything of consequence done in Mexico. The bureaucracy there is like a sloth. When you offer the right incentives, that seems to spur it to get the job done quickly.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." -Manuel II Paleologus

18 posted on 12/17/2006 11:05:04 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: FlyVet

There are already 40 million here. The next wave will be 100 million!


19 posted on 12/17/2006 11:19:57 PM PST by TheLion (How about "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement," for a change)
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To: janetgreen

Sad but true.


20 posted on 12/17/2006 11:20:53 PM PST by TheLion (How about "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement," for a change)
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To: SwinneySwitch; gubamyster

Anyone who couldn't see this coming must have been just smart enough to campaign for open borders.

Just the tip of the iceberg folks.


21 posted on 12/17/2006 11:23:01 PM PST by TheLion (How about "Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement," for a change)
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To: SwinneySwitch; Liberty Valance
"The culture of bribery is quietly seeping into new realms of government, from school districts to municipal court, experts say."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.... 'Scuse me while I wipe the tears from my my eyes. Ha ha ha ha ha ha....

"Quietly seeping." Ha ha ha ah ha ha....

But I did it for the chilrren!
22 posted on 12/17/2006 11:24:09 PM PST by Brucifer (JF'n Kerry- "That's not just a paper cut, it's a Purple Heart!")
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To: SwinneySwitch

Pathetic and disgusting and so ........ Mexican. Thank you George Bush!!

BTW there are thousands of immigration laws George Bush could enforce right now. But refuses too


23 posted on 12/18/2006 1:40:49 AM PST by dennisw
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To: SwinneySwitch

Charming.


24 posted on 12/18/2006 4:10:41 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: mewzilla
The government "creates crime" by using "unsavory" informants to entrap otherwise honest people, said Al Alvarez, a McAllen lawyer who has defended a number of public officials.

SNORT.

25 posted on 12/18/2006 4:11:16 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: mewzilla
SNORT

Snort, indeed. That sleazy defense attorney has got an excuse for anything his clients may do.

As the Valley grows and receives larger shares of state and federal funding, more and more locals get involved in government and some don't know the law, Alvarez said.

"People here don't have the experience in management ... mistakes are made, and some are criminal," Alvarez said.

26 posted on 12/18/2006 5:47:05 AM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: Congressman Billybob; SwinneySwitch; neverdem; patton

The story itself is troubling, but did you notice the story is written in simple "one-sentence" paragraphs" .....

Shows the level of reading most people in the valley are now getting - if they speak English at all.


27 posted on 12/18/2006 5:51:15 AM PST by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: SwinneySwitch

If we're talking the South (of the US) the bribe culture has always been pretty active down here. I'd say it really only began to change about 30 years ago, with the professionalization of various police and judicial agencies. Of course, it just moved up the line, to people like the esteemed Jefferson, he of the big bucks in the freezer...


28 posted on 12/18/2006 5:54:05 AM PST by livius
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To: DumpsterDiver; SwinneySwitch
On a related note, from AZ....

Recruiters Caught in Drug Probe

Sigh.

29 posted on 12/18/2006 6:58:03 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: mewzilla
Recruiters Caught in Drug Probe

I guess the "bribe culture" is also seeping into Arizona.

From your link:

So far, 69 members of the military, prison guards, law enforcement employees and other public employees have been convicted of accepting bribes to help smuggle cocaine.

30 posted on 12/18/2006 7:26:52 AM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: SwinneySwitch
"Bribe culture seeps into South Texas?"

Seeps? What amateurs. [Chicago native]

31 posted on 12/18/2006 7:28:37 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Brucifer; All
"...bribery is quietly seeping into new realms of government..."

LOL - This could have been written 30 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 10 years ago and (gasp) 10 years from now. You could remove all elected officials from office in the valley now, elect new ones and an article like this would still be written within two years. The more things change...
32 posted on 12/18/2006 7:29:20 AM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: SwinneySwitch

The bribe culture has been in Texas forever. I'm familiar with San Antonio's culture.

There are political street operatives who round up Mexican-American votes for cash. The traditional payment for a vote went from $1.00 in the 1930s-40s to $5.00 by the mid 80s. Don't live there anymore so don't have the market price.

Several city councilmen were recently convicted for being among a long line of politicians in Bexar county who took cash for votes.

Some judges were for sale. I had a young friend who had a drug bust for an ounce of speed--a serious felony offense and he was looking at 10-20 years. I took him to a Dem poltician/lawyer. He came out shaking his head, "I don't understand it," he said. "He told me that if I paid him $1500 this week (while judge so and so was presiding judge), he'd guarantee me immediate Deferred Adjudication, but if I couldn't pay it until next week, it'd only be $500 down, but he couldn't guarantee anything and I might go to jail." I laughed and explained what the lawyer was telling him. Do you smell a $1,000 rat?

Another judge was famous in attorney circles for ruling in favor of attractive ladies in contested divorces over money if they visited him privately in his chambers for sex. The lawyers arranged the trysts.

The corruption went so far that one night as I was standing next to a county judge at a noisy crowded singles bar, I heard him tell a man who claimed to be newly arrived in town who to call to score some cocaine.

Many City and county employees have routinely accepted bribes for various services they do for people.

Viva Mordida! It keeps the wheels of government and justice moving.


33 posted on 12/18/2006 7:30:23 AM PST by wildbill
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To: FlyVet

Europe has a HUGE problem with corruption and not just in the easter ends of the EU. Socialist salaries are a nightmarish low, cash bribes are the only way to make the ends meet.

And in europe, those are the good jobs.


34 posted on 12/18/2006 7:41:36 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: wildbill
I am shocked by your casual attitude. Shocked I tell you.

Thank the Lord that LBJ left the planet before the news of these Texas Scandals hit the news. Imagine that. Corruption in Texas! Just so hard to believe.

What's next? Vote fraud in the Mexican illegal alien community?

35 posted on 12/18/2006 7:48:10 AM PST by Kenny Bunk
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
"Question: "How are we going to explain Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit?"

Answer: Q.E.D."

Sorry, the level of bribery in Miami and along the Texas border is vastly more pervasive.
Why? Because Mexican culture accepts corruption AND Mexicans don't assimilate.

For all practical purposes, once a Mexican, always a Mexican.

The old Jesuit line "Give me the child until the age of six, and after that I will not fear for the soul of the child says much."

How one is raised does matter.
36 posted on 12/18/2006 8:07:56 AM PST by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon Liberty, it is essential to examine principles, - -)
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To: goldstategop

It's a little like the Soviet Union. You have socializm where nobody makes any money, so the only way to make ends meet is under the table.


37 posted on 12/18/2006 8:20:23 AM PST by ichabod1 (After the attacks of 9/11, profiling Muslims is more like profiling the Klan.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
In the Rio Grande Valley they don’t tolerate corruption…….

They demand it.

38 posted on 12/18/2006 8:25:36 AM PST by usurper (Spelling or grammatical errors in this post can be attributed to the LA City School System)
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To: Kenny Bunk

Texas HAs A Whorehouse In IT!!!!!


39 posted on 12/18/2006 8:28:06 AM PST by ichabod1 (After the attacks of 9/11, profiling Muslims is more like profiling the Klan.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Bookmarked as another side effect of illegal immigration that people are turning a blind eye to.


40 posted on 12/18/2006 8:42:27 AM PST by LowOiL (Paul wrote, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil" (Rom. 12:9))
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To: SwinneySwitch

James Michener predicted this and described it in his 1985 book, Texas.


41 posted on 12/18/2006 9:01:34 AM PST by 3AngelaD (ic.)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

This article was from the Houston Chronicle, not exactly a Valle paper.


42 posted on 12/18/2006 9:03:00 AM PST by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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To: SwinneySwitch; WhyisaTexasgirlinPA; Xenalyte; RikaStrom

Do you think that the majority of Houston ISD readers are getting any better education? 8<)


43 posted on 12/18/2006 9:13:54 AM PST by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Paleo Conservative
Answer: So the Acronym isn't "TAMALE".

LOL. That would be funny if it were.

44 posted on 12/18/2006 9:21:25 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: TankerKC
How are we going to explain Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit? Yep...we've never had a bribe problem in the U.S.

We do indeed have a bribery problem in the U.S. But I feel confident in saying that in Mexico it is systemic, and simply expected. Unlike in the U.S., in Mexico the citizenry has no reasonable expectation of public corruption being pursued and eliminated. Here Americans react with outrage at public corruption; in MExico I think it is considered par for the course.

45 posted on 12/18/2006 9:59:16 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: ichabod1
Texas HAs A Whorehouse In IT!!!!!

"Jeez I hate Port Arthur! Nothing but Whores and Roughnecks."

"Wait a minute. My Momma from Port Arthur."

"Really, who's she drill for?"

46 posted on 12/18/2006 10:03:51 AM PST by Kenny Bunk
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To: FlyVet
Who didn't see this coming? You shift a large population of illegals northward, who are used to socialism, and who tolerate a higher level of government corruption as the norm, and this is what you get

And that is precisely why I have been so vehement about stopping Mexican illegal immigration into the United States on these threads for the last 5 years.

47 posted on 12/18/2006 10:45:16 AM PST by Regulator
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To: Regulator; All

http://www.ojjpac.org/memorial.asp

VICTIMS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS

MEMORIAL

In honor of Americans killed by illegal aliens.

Deaths that could have been prevented if Congress and the President would have secured our borders and enforced US immigration laws.

Each day a victim's name will be added to the memorial.


48 posted on 12/18/2006 10:55:10 AM PST by WatchingInAmazement ("Nothing is more expensive than cheap labor," prof. Vernon Briggs, labor economist Cornell Un.)
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To: WatchingInAmazement
Each day a victim's name will be added to the memorial

You'll probably have to add more than that every day.

Every one of those crimes was a real 'hate crime', unlike the fake ones dreamed up by the dregs of society in the race hustler biz.

The foreign aliens committing these crimes come into this country with contempt for our laws motivated by their hatred for us, blaming us for their own societies' failures.

49 posted on 12/18/2006 11:01:12 AM PST by Regulator
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To: FlyVet

Please click on the link and deport Elvira!!

http://capwiz.com/sicminc/issues/alert/?alertid=9202486


Send an illegal alien home for Christmas!!


50 posted on 12/18/2006 11:24:12 AM PST by chicagolady (Mexican Elite say: EXPORT Poverty Let the American Taxpayer foot the bill !)
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