The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced new rules Friday to limit agents from shooting at moving vehicles or people throwing rocks or other objects at agents, reversing a controversial policy that has led to at least 19 deaths. Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher ordered customs and border agents not to step directly in front of a moving vehicle, or use their body to block it, in order to open fire on the driver. He also barred shooting at vehicles whose occupants are fleeing from agents.
Immigration Reform: Obama Proposes Bed Mandate Reduction, Keeps Program That Deputizes Local And State Law EnforcementMarch 5, 2014
President Barack Obama ultimately wants comprehensive immigration reform, but until there’s congressional action, he will not stop detaining and deporting those who are illegally in the country. Focusing on the quality of enforcement actions, the administration proposes a$38.2 billion budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. Within that is a $2.6 billion allocation for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to use to identify, detain and remove undocumented immigrants from the country.
Some $131.6 million is to go towards the apprehension of immigrant fugitives in the country who are considered public safety risks. Another $322.4 million will be used to remove those who are in federal, state and local prisons. But the policy proposal that continues to anger some advocacy groups is the $24 million funding to retain ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local and state law enforcement officials to take part in the immigration process.
One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border. According to Electronic Intifada report, this is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.
The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.
On a January night in the Arizona desert, a U.S. Border Patrol agent pursued and killed an illegal immigrant named Gabriel Sanchez. The border agency said Mr. Sanchez tried to grab the agent’s gun, prompting him to shoot. The lawyer representing the victim’s family said the circumstances of the shooting remain uncertain. “The only thing we have to speak for the deceased is physical evidence,” said Phoenix attorney Daniel Ortega.
Mr. Sanchez, who has two U.S.-born children, is among at least 22 civilians killed by agents in the field or while in custody since 2010 on the Southwest border, according to immigrant advocacy groups. The majority of those killed have been Latin American immigrants who were unarmed, and a few were U.S. citizens, the groups say. Some victims were throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents, which can prompt a lethal-force response under current policy.
As immigration reform bogs down once again in the nation’s capital, there is at least one area where both sides should be able to come together for some meaningful, near-term action. That is focusing on the untapped potential of the hundreds of thousands of skilled men and women who have already come to the United States — many of them from Asia, particularly China and India — through legal channels.
Unfortunately, this issue has generally been overlooked amid the focus on the flow of unauthorized, low-skilled immigrants into the United States, and the pleas of some high-tech companies for more visas that would allow them to hire additional employees from overseas with specialized skills. The language of immigration today also is increasingly politicized, adding little to a constructive discussion: Illegal vs. undocumented. Amnesty vs. a path to citizenship.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected attempts by towns in Texas and Pennsylvania to revive local laws that cracked down on illegal immigration. The court decided against hearing appeals filed by the towns of Farmers Branch, Texas, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which were seeking to overturn appeals court rulings that said the ordinances were trumped by federal immigration law. In doing so, the court left intact the appeals court rulings and avoided wading into the divisive issue of immigration at a time in which reform efforts have stalled in the U.S. Congress.
Prompted by concerns that the federal government was not adequately enforcing immigration laws, officials in both towns enacted ordinances that, among other things, required tenants to provide identification that could later be verified with immigration authorities and penalized landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. The Hazleton ordinance also penalized employers for knowingly employing unlawful immigrants. Groups of tenants, landlords, employers and workers challenged the laws in court. They won in both cases, prompting the towns to seek Supreme Court review.
Almost as soon as Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, reputedly the head of one of the world’s largest crime syndicates, was captured after a 13-year manhunt, young drug dealers began campaigns to take his place – a sign that the group, responsible for 25 percent of all illegal drugs smuggled into the United States, might not be headless for long.
But even as the internal jockeying intensified, experts predicted that the arrest of the legendary crime boss over the weekend would prove to be a watershed event likely to usher in the breakup of Mexico’s huge crime syndicates.
“The fragmentation we’ve seen here in Colombia will be replicated in Mexico,” said Jeremy McDermott, a former British army officer based in Medellin, Colombia, who’s a co-director of InSightCrime, a research group. “The capture of Chapo will accelerate that process in Mexico of criminal fragmentation. The days of big cartels are gone.”
To have a crack at an international kingpin, undercover officers from Boston and New Hampshire went from the mountains of northern Mexico through the Caribbean to Spain, where they discovered operatives of the powerful Sinaloa cartel setting up new routes and new markets.
When it finally ended last year, Operation Dark Water, as the investigation was known, was heralded as a milestone in the fight against the global drug trade. Police officers seized 750 pounds of cocaine and caught four cartel members, including a first cousin to its infamous kingpin, Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera.
But for the Sinaloa cartel, a criminal multinational corporation handling billions of dollars, the arrests proved only a minor setback, authorities acknowledged. The cartel has established channels of cooperation with so many European criminal groups, including Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and street gangs in Budapest, that business there continues to boom.
Religious leaders who favor an overhaul of immigration laws are stepping up their pressure on House Republicans, aiming to move the stalled legislation and show that the GOP could pay a political penalty for inaction. This weekend, Hispanic evangelical pastors will preach a “call to action,” asking churchgoers to call members of Congress to demand passage of a broad immigration bill.
The program is being organized by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which encouraged its 34,200 member churches, representing 16 million members, to participate. It is unclear how many will do so. On Wednesday, nearly a dozen Catholic bishops and archbishops representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are sending a letter to House members, urging them to move immigration legislation. The letter is also signed by evangelical leaders.
The robots are just the latest tactic in a vexing battle by the federal authorities to try to stem the flow of drugs through the tunnels, considered prime pieces of real estate by the smuggling groups that build and control them. Border Patrol agents have tried dumping concrete inside the tunnels to render them unusable, and installing cameras and motion detectors to alert them of suspicious movement underground. But still the tunnel diggers persist.
Three robots, out of four in use by the agency along the entire southern border, are newly assigned to the Border Patrol station here. The robots, valued for their speed and maneuverability, can serve as the first eyes on places considered too risky for humans to explore.