House Democrats need 27 signatures to force vote on comprehensive immigration reform bill

April 16, 2014

shutterstock_93480406The Washington Post, 5/15/14

House Democrats are renewing their push for a vote on a proposed comprehensive immigration reform package, vowing Tuesday to refocus efforts on pressuring Republicans to sign onto a discharge petition that would force a vote on the legislation.

The immigration reform push is the third recent attempt by Republicans to leverage a discharge petition — a procedural tactic that allows the majority of House members to supersede the will of the House leadership and bring a bill to the floor — in an attempt to force a vote on a piece of legislation that they support.

House Democrats say they currently have 191 signatures — all Democrats — on the petition, and that they will recommit to pressure Republican lawmakers who have said previously that they would support comprehensive immigration reform. The petition must get 218 signatures to force a vote on the legislation.

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Sen. Klobuchar pressing Mexico on heroin cartels and sex rings

April 15, 2014

mexican drugsStar Tribune, 4/15/14

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pressing Mexican law enforcement authorities to acknowledge responsibility for spiking numbers of heroin and sex-trafficking incidents that increasingly are ravaging neighborhoods and families across the United States — including Minnesota.

In a series of meetings in Mexico City, Klobuchar is joining North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Cindy McCain, wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain, in urging the Mexican government to intensify its work on both sex trafficking and the illegal movement of heroin into the United States.

“One of the things we can acknowledge when we’re meeting with them is that we have our own issues on this,” said Klobuchar in an interview from Mexico. “We’re not just telling them, ‘Do this or do that.’ We are saying we have our own issues.”

The domestic heroin crisis is escalating rapidly, particularly in the Midwest. Hospital emergency department visits for heroin in the Twin Cities nearly tripled from 2004 to 2011. The number of heroin deaths in the metro area has tripled since 2011, to 63 last year.

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Mexico’s maquila boom extends across the border

April 15, 2014

iStock_000008876270MediumAlbuquerque Journal, 4/14/14

Mexico’s maquila industry has become a raging bull that’s busting up the competition in China and other Asian nations for the first time in decades. Rapidly rising costs to produce and ship goods from Asia, especially heavy industrial items such as cars and home appliances, are encouraging the world’s major producers to ditch overseas manufacturing and instead set up operations in Mexico, where proximity to U.S. markets helps to lower costs and increase operating efficiencies.

That’s good news for New Mexico, and for all U.S. border states, because the rapid growth of Mexico’s maquilas, or assembly factories, is creating huge business opportunities up and down the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. And that, in turn, is creating new industrial hot spots in places such as southern New Mexico, where companies are flocking to set up new facilities to supply goods and services to the maquila industry.

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Mexico: Homicides Decline Near Border, Report Says

April 15, 2014

m16 gun closeupNY Times, 4/14/14

Murders in Mexico declined in 2013, and they decreased significantly in several cities near the border with the United States, according to a new report from the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego to be released Tuesday. Using preliminary police data, researchers identified a homicide decrease of about 16 percent, with some of the biggest drops in murders in Ciudad Juárez and Monterrey, notoriously dangerous cities that have recently calmed down as the war between criminal gangs and the government has declined in intensity. Still, experts warn, it is not clear whether the decline is attributable to an overall weakening of organized crime: The number of gun-related murders has held steady as other kinds of killing have declined, and homicides have sharply risen in states farther south.

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Hoping for Asylum, Migrants Strain U.S. Border

April 14, 2014

Photo by Flickr user °Florian

NY Times, 4/10/14

After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, including many families with small children and youngsters without their parents, who risk a danger-filled journey across Mexico. Driven out by deepening poverty but also by rampant gang violence, increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify.

The new migrant flow, largely from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, is straining resources and confounding Obama administration security strategies that work effectively in other regions. It is further complicating President Obama’s uphill push on immigration, fueling Republican arguments for more border security before any overhaul.

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Majority of migrants deported from US young Mexican men, figures show

April 11, 2014

mexican immigrantThe Guardian, 04/11/14

Most of the undocumented people deported from the United States last year were young Mexican men, according to a new study. Mexican nationals comprised 65.5% of the 368,644 deportees, and of them the vast majority were men in their twenties and thirties, said the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organisation at Syracuse University. The figure, based on data obtained from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showed a more detailed picture than government numbers and shined a fresh light on the Obama administration’s deportation policies. Almost all of the deportees, 93%, were male. Almost four in five, 279,270, were aged between 20 and 39.

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Illegal immigration: Is Obama ‘deporter in chief’? A rundown of the numbers.

April 7, 2014

us congressChristian Science Monitor, 4/5/14

Not one more deportation. That’s the rallying cry of pro-immigrant groups across the United Stateson Saturday. From Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., these groups are protesting the 2 millionth deportation under President Obama, expected to take place this month. That level represents a record rate among US presidents, according to the count by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Upset about families being split apart, the protesters are demanding that Mr. Obama end deportations until immigration reform gets through Congress. They’ve dubbed the president the “deporter in chief.” Meanwhile, House Republicans, who are stalling on reform, complain that Obama is not enforcing the law – that he’s too weak on deportations. Who is right?

It’s all in the counting. As reported by ICE, the president has indeed deported illegal immigrants at a higher rate than any other president. A new report, by theBipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, backs up the ICE’s claim.

But according to Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that seeks lower immigration, ICE counts deportations differently than did past administrations, adding border crossers to its total.. This is why its numbers look bigger by historical comparison.

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14 die as criminals clash in Mexico border state

April 7, 2014

gun - crime sceneAP, 4/7/14

Tamaulipas authorities say a series of clashes among criminals has left 14 dead in the northeastern Mexico state bordering Texas. The state’s coordinating group of state and federal law enforcement says the confrontations occurred throughout the day Sunday in Madero and Tampico. The statement late Sunday did not name the criminal groups or say if the attacks were related.

Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s most violent states, has been hit by infighting in the once dominant Gulf Cartel, which has also come under attack from its rival, the Zetas.

The statement said four people were killed in separate shootouts in Madero, with two more bodies found separately. Six people died in a shootout in Tampico. Two more were found shot to death in other locations, one inside an ice cream store.

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Yes He Can, on Immigration

April 7, 2014

obamaNY Times, 4/5/14

If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it — soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can’t, because Republicans and the law won’t let me.

Mr. Obama is correct when he complains that long-term immigration repairs have been throttled in Congress. Neo-nativist Republicans fixated on mass deportation have blocked a worthy bipartisan bill. But Mr. Obama has compounded this failure by clinging to a coldblooded strategy of ramped-up enforcement on the same people he has promised to help through legislation that he has failed to achieve.

With nearly two million removals in the last five years, the Obama administration is deporting people at a faster pace than has taken place under any other president. This enormously costly effort was meant to win Republican support for broader reform. But all it has done is add to the burden of fear, family disruption and lack of opportunity faced by 11 million people who cannot get right with the law. Because of Mr. Obama’s enforcement blitz, more than 5,000 children have ended up in foster care.

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Rallies to freeze deportation take place across country as part of ‘Day of Action’

April 7, 2014

IMG_4496NY Daily News, 4/6/14

Immigration advocates and supporters rallied Saturday in cities across the country in a renewed effort to push President Obama to put a freeze on deportations. Organizers of the more than 50 planned “Day of Action” demonstrations said Obama has the executive power to stop deportations that separate immigrants living in the country illegally from their loved ones. In Eloy, Ariz., more than 100 supporters converged in front of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center after journeying more than 60 miles from Phoenix.

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