Illegal border crossers

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Withhot temperatures here there could be another deadly summer for illegal border crossers

José Cardenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cardenas. Welcome to Horizonte. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security cut Arizona's anti-terrorist funding to half this year. Does this expose our state as a bigger risk for a terror attack or an emergency disaster? We will talk about emergency funding. Also learn about a valley company providing education and training to people in the construction industry. And with hot temperatures here there could be another deadly summer for illegal border crossers. All this coming up next on Horizonte. The Federal Department of Homeland Security announced $1.7 billion in homeland security grants to help states, urban areas and territories prepare and respond to terrorist attacks and other disasters. Arizona is set to receive $20 million this year. In 2005, the state received $41 million. In 2004, $56 million. And back in 2003, $61 million. As you can see the state's homeland security spending has been cut in half. But will this make Arizona vulnerable to terrorist attacks for other disasters? With us tonight is a deputy director for Arizona's Office of Homeland Security, Cam Hunter. Cam, welcome to Horizonte.

Cam Hunter:
Thank you, José.

José Cardenas:
There's a definite trend. 50% this year but also significant reduction from what it was in 2003. What's going on?

Cam Hunter:
Well, we knew the grant actually existed before the September 11 terrorist attacks. After that attack, it grew big and fast and all of the states, all of the local responders had to quickly assess what they had, what they needed, where the gaps were. And so we knew that we were going to get a huge infusion in that after that, we were going to see some drops, which is one of the reasons we continue to press for training, exercises and sustainability of the equipment purchased.

José Cardenas:
I assume some of the drops were because some initial needs remember being met.

Cam Hunter:
Some of the initial needs were being met. The federal, the federal pot for this grant program fell 30% this year, almost 30% this year. Arizona's cut fell 50% this year. So the disparity there is one that we wonder about. We haven't been given a description of the federal government's methodology but we're asking.

José Cardenas:
Were the prior years' differences between what it was the year before and then what you got because you were asking for less or because there were significant cuts even in those years?

Cam Hunter:
You know, in fact, this year was a little bit different. This year the grant was laid out as competitive among states. The federal government asked for quite a bit of data from us to show we did risk vulnerability studies, we showed what our capabilities are. The equipment that we have and then we demonstrated the gaps that exist. And so then you, the other element in there, of course, is the threat and risk. We are -- if we're honest about it and we say this is what we think we need, you know, it was over $150 million. And I'm sure many other states were like that, too. And it's one of the reasons in Arizona we went to regionalization because we knew this pot would not always continue to be there as large as it was. And so we asked our counties and our communities to look across the borders and consider what their neighbors have so that we share our resources.

José Cardenas:
But how did that differ from prior years in terms of the process?

Cam Hunter:
Well, you know, we don't know what the methodology is. Originally, this money was laid out primarily by population. And this year they put a different formula in but I can't speak directly to that because we don't know what the breakdown of the formula was.

José Cardenas:
How much did we ask for this year?

Cam Hunter:
Over $150 million.

José Cardenas:
So we asked for $150 million. We got -- how much did we ask important last year?

Cam Hunter:
I don't know what we asked for last year.

José Cardenas:
Presumably a comfortable amount.

Cam Hunter:
The federal government wasn't asking what we wanted. Before they were allocating based on population.

José Cardenas:
More formulaic on their side.

Cam Hunter:
Absolutely.

José Cardenas:
And then principal function for Arizona was to determine how it was going to use the monies?

Cam Hunter:
Right.

José Cardenas:
There has been, there have been articles about the process being different this year and that, as I understand it, they did both a risk assessment and then an analyze of how the funds were going to be used and you had, not just Arizona, but you had cities like New York City, Washington D.C., areas you would think would be prime targets, at least for terrorist activities, that suffered significant cuts. So should we feel like we are being picked upon or what's the story here?

Cam Hunter:
Well, I think if you were to read articles from across the nation you would find a lot of people who feel like we do, who feel very strongly like New York City does, and then there are going to be some communities that are very happy because their allocations increased significantly.

José Cardenas:
The defense that you get from the department of homeland security is they have taken the politics out of this. Is that your sense or do you think --

Cam Hunter:
Without knowing what the methodology is and there's a close hold on that, there's no way that we can speak to weather it is or isn't in there.

José Cardenas:
What's being done to try and get more monies back into the state in this area?

Cam Hunter:
We can have conversations we don't know if it's going to help. Mayor Gordon has set up a meeting with federal authorities so, you know, as a mayor of a large city, he's attempting to do his part. We're having conversations but the other thing we need to do is move ahead with the allocation that we know we are going to receive and work with our local stakeholders which is really first responders. This is first responder terrorism grant to determine where we are going to put the money that we do have this year.

José Cardenas:
And as between different Arizona cities, how do you decide? Do they make applications directly to your department?

Cam Hunter:
They make applications to the region, sought regional advisory council. We have tried to take the decision process down to the local level as much as we can because those right people who are the first people on the scene of a disaster. They know what they have. They know what they need. You know, I would say across the board in all five of our regions we are trying to build a baseline capability. We purchased, for instance, mobile communications bands that are pre-positioned that can be used not just in terrorism but, for instance, if there's a flood or a fire and we have multi-agency response and these people need to talk, we take those bands in there and that gives us the opportunity for them to talk. Which is a capability that did not exist, for instance, in -- during the September 11 attacks. And many died as a result.

José Cardenas:
What will be the impact of this cut? Do Arizonans need to be fearful the state is not prepared to handle an emergency?

Cam Hunter:
You know, this emergency preparedness has had a life that far -- you know, existed long before this grant came into being. We have a very vibrant emergency planning community. And first responders and that sort of thing. We talk to one another. We collaborate. We are grateful for what we've got and what this grant like this, it's partially helped fund the Arizona counter terrorism information center, some personal protective equipment for first responders. We have some very good product out of this. So we feel like we are on our way.

José Cardenas:
Cam, one last question. When will the money actually arrive in Arizona?

Cam Hunter:
Probably not until late summer.

José Cardenas:
And in the meantime there may be some attempts to get more?

Cam Hunter:
In the meantime more attempts to get money and also to work with our first responders on determining what their needs are.

José Cardenas:
Cam Hunter our, deputy director, Arizona homeland security, thank you for being with us on Horizonte.

Cam Hunter:
Thank you.

José Cardenas:

Triple-digit temperatures have arrived in Arizona. That means the danger increases for those who cross the border illegally. Tony Paniagua reports on attempts to dissuade those who are thinking of crossing the treacherous Sonoran Desert.

Tony Paniagua:
Triple-digit temperatures are part of a seasonal experience in much of Arizona. Something you put up with a few months out of the year. But while most of us can get relief in our air- conditioned houses or vehicles, thousands of others have no such luck.

Jeffrey Bois:
It's remarkable. As soon as the temperature hits 100 degrees we start seeing a lot more people in real crisis out there.

Tony Paniagua:
Jeffrey works for no more deaths, an activist organization that's trying to prevent additional fatalities in the desert. The group is joining others in trying to get the message out about the dangerous environment. They will be working in Arizona and Mexico hoping to dissuade potential crossers.

Jeffrey Bois:
Letting them know the dangers they are in and encouraging them to, to get out of the desert, which for most people means, you know, turning themselves in to the border patrol and going back to Mexico. We are going to be working with migrant shelters in Mexico so they have a place to go once they're back there. And, you know, when people are in medical emergencies, it will also mean getting them to a medical facility for treatment.

Tony Paniagua:
The Mexican consulate in Tucson is also beginning an awareness campaign including television and radio spots as well as information and newspapers and flyers. This one was part of the effort in 2005.

Alejandro Ramos Cardoso:
Here it says, yes, it's true the desert is dangerous. Do not try it. And finally, it says, couldn't allow your loved ones to cross the desert during summertime. Do it for them. Our aim is to send it everywhere possible, not only in the states but also in Mexico. We are going to do this through the different offices of office of foreign affairs in Mexico. We have about 35 offices throughout the whole country. And we're going to ask them to distribute this material in the local media.

Tony Paniagua:
But many people continue to do it, in part because of lack of education or misinformation. Many Mexican migrant migrants live in the southern part of the country where areas for shade or water in the countryside. They are not aware of our extreme conditions and they try to travel with just a few quarts of water.

Jeffrey Bois:
When the temperature hits 110 degrees, it's physically impossible to carry sufficient water with you. There's not water available in the desert. If you were to start out with all the water that you needed you would be watering 50 one-gallon containers of water. You need to replenish your water with a quart of water an hour in the heat of the sump when you are exercising heavily.

Tony Paniagua:
The heat and lack of water are just some of the major problems the immigrants will encounter as they try to make their trek across the desert. Some may find wild animals like rattle snakes while others will be raped, robbed or even abandoned by the very people that are supposed to be guiding them.

Alejandro Ramos Cardoso:
They tend to tell people they are going to work for about six to eight hours, whereas we know they, from the border, they have to walk for about three days to get into to us, for example.

Tony Paniagua:
But even though hundreds have died in recent years, many more people are continuing to take a chance. In fact, the Tucson Consulate has become the busiest in the United States when it comes to death and dying in the desert. Mexico has 46 consulates in this country.

Alejandro Ramos Cardoso:
We are unfortunately the Consulate that has more deaths of Mexican nationals crossing the border.

Jeffrey Bois:
We are expecting that this year will again break the record for the number of people who die out here. Not only on the border in general, but particularly here in the to us sector. So we are in the midst of a humanitarian, of a human tragedy in a humanitarian crisis here so until there is a comprehensive immigration reform that does provide people legal paths to come to country, legal, safe, and secure, we will continue to see this human crisis.

Tony Paniagua:
But even if the U.S. pass as comprehensive immigration bill that allows more people to come and work here legally it will take months to implement. In the meantime many more migrants will probably lose their lives exposing themselves to the elements in a dangerous journey.

José Cardenas:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry is predicted to add 1 million new jobs by the year 2012. The department also says construction is set to be the economy's top 10 largest sources of job growth. One local company is providing construction education and training online in order to fill the need of skilled construction workers in the industry. Joining us now us Lupe Carbajal, the CEO of Construct Net and Tony Rojas, the manager of construction and engineering services at SRP thanks for joining us on Horizonte. Tony, as I understand it, this project has come about from almost two independent sources, at least moving together and joining together just the right time. Beginning with the council of advisers to the school of construction at ASU. Can you tell us how that got started on that side?

Tony Rojas:
Sure. President Crowe actually put a challenge before the industry advisory committee, executive group, and his challenge was to try to look for opportunities to bring revenue in to the school. Not only to grow the school, but to try to elevate to it a world class program. He felt that was one of the few programs at university that could immediately get elevated from a nationally recognized program to a world-class program. And with that challenge SRP and all the industry advisory council members decided we needed to look for entrepreneurial approaches to bring that revenue into the school. In concert with what

was going on with Monterey Tech in Monterey, Mexico, they were trying to put together some educational programs that would jointly have a master's program with the school.

José Cardenas:
Lupe, tell us a little about the tech.

Lupe Carbajal:
Monterey Tech is Mexico's largest private university. They have over 100,000 students, 33 campuses throughout Mexico, founded I think in 1943.

José Cardenas:
Located in the city of Monterey?

Lupe Carbajal:
Their headquarters. But they have campuses in 33 locations throughout Mexico. And one of the unique things about Monterey, aside from -- and it is considered one of the best engineering schools in the world.

José Cardenas:
Considered often described as the MIT of Mexico.

Lupe Carbajal:

Absolutely. One of the unique things about the university is the virtual university, which is almost like a subsidiary that is in Monterey Tech. Given the disbursement across Mexico, they created a virtual university in 1989 to bring some consistency across those 33 campuses. So that virtual university became -- began as an internal infrastructure. And it has evolved into one of the finest, if not the finest online instructional design groups in the world.

José Cardenas:

They are the world leaders in this.

Lupe Carbajal:
Absolutely.

José Cardenas:
How did you come to be in contact with them?

Lupe Carbajal:
I was at the school of construction as the director of business development and the development officer. By happen stance, as we were talking about the industry about how to generate revenues for the school, discretionary revenues, I was invited to a meeting at which was one of the deans from the virtual university, Dr. Lara Ruiz. And I happened to sit next to Dr. Ruiz and we started to talk. I was talking about construction in the fine products that and how we could commercialize the school of construction courses and she is one of the leaders at the virtual university. And through the course of conversation, it was, why don't we use the virtual university to take and commercialize the school of construction products online? And generate revenue that we can bring back to the school of construction. That's literally, it was almost a happenstance thing.

José Cardenas:
All along the way, as I understand it, business, the council was very actively involve in this process.

Tony Rojas:
Yes. Well, SRP wanted to provide this seed money to try to make this entrepreneurial approach work. However, several members of the industry advisory council went down to Monterey, Mexico, to really introduce themselves and try to work with them to see if this was a possibility to try to develop these courses and bring them to the industry. The benefit to SRP is that we have both water and power and our business, our core businesses depend on the growth of the valley. And with that, the industry, the construction industry provides a lot of jobs and a lot of infrastructure that supports our core business. So we wanted to try to support that. All the construction companies in the valley that are members of the IAC participated in a lot of discussions on how we could start generating support for the Dell Webb School long term and so we happened to be the leader that took the first step to put the seed money out.

José Cardenas:
We are talking about half a million dollars in seed money?

Tony Rojas:
Yes. And it's about $100,000 a year. We did that in order so that we could use discretionary funds to build the courses, as Lupe described, with the virtual university, but also to try to market some of those products so that the Dell Webb school would put their programs online and people would increase their knowledge at the construction industry levels.

José Cardenas:
As I understand it, what we are talking about tonight specifically, Construct Net, is one aspect of this initiative. But tell us how that particular product came about.

Lupe Carbajal:
The Construct Net International? It literally is a spinout of the Dell Webb School of construction at ASU. It was through discussion in the industry advisory council and some of the committees on how to utilize this half a million and we have got these courses, how do we do this? And literally it became an issue of, let's spin out a private company. And that's what we did. It took almost 30 months to do that. But through the auspices of Arizona technology enterprises, we created a private company.

José Cardenas:
ASU entity.

Lupe Carbajal:
They are the technology transfer company for ASU. In fact , s.t. has an equity position in the company. That's their job. If a professor has some intellectual property ASU wants to commercialize , aszt does that. You can think of it as intellectual property. Very unique. There's nothing like this certainly in higher education in the country. And then the uniqueness became even more in the partnership that we formed with the virtual university at Monterey Tech. We used the first $100,000 that SRP sent to ASU and we then contracted for to develop a course that we launched last week. And with the, and to get the company started. Obviously, we needed some seed money. We have only got two employees and we were able to do all of that in the last eight months. With the next round of funding, we anticipate two to three more courses that we will have online. Probably by the end of this year…by December.

José Cardenas:
Describe the three courses you have now.

Lupe Carbajal:
The first is a professional development course. These are all noncredit. It's part of a certificate program that Dell Webb offers on the campus. Very successful. And it's called the construction enterprise avoiding failure. It describes the five most common reasons for a construction company to fail.

José Cardenas:
And the target audience is?

Lupe Carbajal:
The target audience is subcontractors, small companies, start-ups and interestingly enough on campus when we offered this course, attorneys, CPAs, realtors, developers. The peripheral of the construction industry was really interested in this because they wanted to know more about the industry that they are around. You have, for example, controllers and construction companies that are great accountants, great finance guys or women. But don't know much about construction interestingly so they become a target audience. Let's find out about the construction business. That's what this class is about.

José Cardenas:
What kind of demand do you think there is for this kind of a course?

Tony Rojas:
I think that we're projecting that over the next five years that we will probably have about 100,000 people wanting to take these classes. If we make it nationally. Right now we are focused on Arizona.

José Cardenas:
They can do it online.

Tony Rojas:
They can do it online. Don't have to go to the campus. And I think people can do it at their leisure, really, and time is, you know, really critical to people now days with the 80-hour work-weeks because of the demand for construction work force.

José Cardenas:
Lupe, we have a couple of minutes left. I want to talk about the other two courses and some of the unique aspects that are really a result of your partnership with the tech in Monterey.

Lupe Carbajal:
The industry has about 2 million construction workers that are Hispanic and don't speak English. That's nationally. We estimate anecdotally there's about 60,000 in the state of Arizona that don't speak English. And given the fact that we've got an organization in Mexico, premier organization, we are, we've just finished and have online ready to offer an OSHA safety course entirely in Spanish that fulfills the requirements of the 10-hour requirement that OSHA has in the construction industry. We have got that --

José Cardenas:
Targeted more at the entry level?

Lupe Carbajal:
At the entry level but the skilled crafts at the labor level. But, yes, at the lower level.

José Cardenas:
How do you expect that the people at the entry level are going to access the course? Especially presumably if they don't speak English. Some people are it literal in Spanish, too.

Lupe Carjabal:
They have a community learning center system. It's an infrastructure. They have over 1,000 in Mexico. And they have put a system in place that can literally teach illiterates how to use a computer, how to get on the computer, how to manipulate the computer and then by virtue of doing that, they can then learn to read and write. We are taking that model, that infrastructure, and we are putting it in place here. So, for example, the Roosevelt school district has a tremendous technology center. There's 100 computers in that room that the community uses.

José Cardenas:
You get the word out, people go there.

Lupe Carbajal:
They use it. What our job is to get in front of them and hoe them how to use the computer. Ultimately what we would like them to do is buy a computer and put it in their home so they can take these courses in their home.

José Cardenas:
They will be able to take other courses.

Lupe Carbajal:
Absolutely. Monterrey tech has hundreds of courses they offer for free or a slight charge. How to care for your child, how to use a bank? And so let us assume we got a construction worker going in there to take our OSHA course. They literally can bring their family, mother, father, kids, and they can get them there with the computer.

José Cardenas:
A great fascinating program. We have to end it there. I'm sorry. Thank you for joining us on Horizonte to discuss this. Thank you. For information on upcoming shows or shows that have already aired please visit our website at www.azpbs.org and click on Horizonte. That's Horizonte for tonight. We hope you will join us next Thursday. I'm José Cardenas. For all of us here at Horizonte, have a good evening.

Lupe Carbajal: CEO, Construct Net;

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