The Range

Borderfest Bust

A big disappointment awaits the dozen or so readers out there who were eagerly awaiting BorderFest 2005, the anti-illegal-immigration party featuring patriotic bands, fiery speakers and a celebration of right-wing mania. Organizer Steve Aiken had to pull the plug on the illegalpalooza, but promises it will be rescheduled sometime next year. Evidently, some of the speakers who were scheduled to attend got cold feet after learning the event was not just a chance to demagogue the issue of illegal immigration, but also a fundraiser for former state lawmaker Randy Graf, who is once again challenging Congressman Jim Kolbe in next year's GOP primary.

"It is sad when in America, we can not have an American rally and a fundraiser at the same time," Aiken announced on the BorderFest Web site.

Meanwhile, we now have a better understanding of why Congressman J.D. Hayworth laid into Gov. Janet Napolitano over her efforts to get emergency disaster funds to help compensate for the damage caused by illegal immigration. Last week, Hayworth released his own "Enforcement First" immigration-reform bill, which calls for using the U.S. military to guard the border, adding 10,000 new Border Patrol agents and 1,250 new Customs officers. It also includes $2.5 billion for better technology.

"We must send a different message: zero tolerance of illegal immigration," Hayworth said in a prepared statement.

The bill does not include a guest-worker program, but does hammer companies that hire illegal immigrants with $50,000 fines for every undocumented migrant on the payroll, as well as a threat of jail time. Bet that will go over well on K Street!

Up and Down

In other border news: The Pew Research Center reports that illegal immigration is on the rise, with an estimated 1.2 million undocumented migrants entering the country in 2004. While that's the highest number since 2001, it remains below the estimated 1.5 million who crossed in 1999 and 2000.

Meanwhile, the morning daily reports that 1.1 million apprehensions were made in the Tucson Sector in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, which was 2 percent lower than last year. Say, does that mean the Minutemen are making a difference?

Speaking of the Minutemen, they were back on patrol this week in an area they call the "Huachuca Line." Also, they're desperate for your cash donations, judging from the e-mails that keep popping up in our mailbox.

Crime Wave!

Multiple homicides kept the Tucson Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies plenty busy over the last week. On Wednesday, Sept. 28, TPD reported that officers made two arrests in the southside shooting of Christopher D. Decino, 22, who was found dead two days earlier in front of a duplex in the 100 block of West Elvira Road, where officers also discovered a "large amount of marijuana." Maria Cano, 36, and Rosanna Acedo, 35, were both charged with unlawful possession of marijuana for sale and first-degree murder under the state's felony murder law, which allows prosecutors to charge suspects with murder one if the killing occurs during the commission of a felony. The following day, officers arrested Jack Jude Martinez, 31, on charges of first-degree murder, also under the felony-murder rule, and attempted aggravated robbery.

Also on Thursday, Sept. 29, officers shot and killed Miguel A. Kovrig Sr., 40, after responding to a domestic-violence report and finding Kovrig standing in the street in front of his house in the 700 block of West Harlan Street, waving a gun around. Kovrig ignored commands to drop his weapon.

Later that day, a state trooper assigned to the anti-drug task force was conducting undercover surveillance related to a kidnapping near North Silverbell Road and West Sweetwater Drive when Jose Roberto Solano, 22, walked up to his 2003 Ford F-150, placed a gun to the officer's head and pulled the trigger. The pistol evidently jammed, saving the officer's life. A gunfight quickly ensued between the officer and Solano, who fled with an accomplice in the Ford pickup, which was recovered about 10 hours later.

Early Saturday morning, police killed the 22-year-old suspected gunman in a shootout near Swan and Skyline roads. Three other suspects were arrested in the case.

Deep Discounts

In other crime news: Tucson Police Department officers teamed up with the Oro Valley Police Department to bust Paul Francis Birou, 51, on charges that he was switching price tags on products at The Home Depot and then selling the discounted merchandise on eBay. Police said he had received more than $100,000 in payments through PayPal.
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