A recent surge in the number of children who are detained while illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border withouttheir parents is an “urgent humanitarian situation” that has prompted the opening of special facilities to house them in San Antonio and at the naval base in Port Hueneme, the Obama administration said Monday.
About 120 unaccompanied children are arriving each day, officials said.
U.S. Marine and Afghanistan war veteran held in a Mexico prison for nearly two months will make appearance in court Wednesday, his mother told CNN’s “New Day.” Jill Tahmooressi said her son, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, accidentally crossed into Mexico with three personal firearms — all bought legally in the U.S. The 25-year-old had intended to drive to meet friends in San Ysidro, California, on March 31, and was moving from Florida to California in the hope of settling, getting a job and continuing treatment he had just begun for post traumatic stress related to his two combat tours.
The number of undocumented children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by themselves has “increased substantially,” causing the Department of Homeland Security to declare a “crisis” and open a temporary emergency shelter for the youths, a spokeswoman said Monday.
In the past two weeks, more than 1,000 children were apprehended while illegally crossing the border, officials said, straining facilities for Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The majority of the minors were apprehended at the border in South Texas, near McAllen. They primarily traveled from Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to Marsha Catron, a spokeswoman for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Mexico’s government began dispatching federal police and troops on Tuesday to take over the northern border state of Tamaulipas from local forces after a wave of violence between rival drug gangs flared in recent weeks.
The initiative came after dozens of people have been killed across the energy-rich state as rivals from the local Gulf Cartel and Zetas gang fight one another for control of drug-trafficking routes as well as extortion, kidnapping and human-smuggling rackets, officials say. Federal troops in recent weeks have clashed with gang gunmen in the border cities of Reynosa, Matamoros and Tampico.
With both its long coastline and border with Texas that allows access to U.S. markets, Tamaulipas has been a prime drug-trafficking region for decades. It was ground zero to the wave of extreme drug-related violence that engulfed the country over the past seven years, leaving about 100,000 people dead or missing.
“We are going to re-establish the conditions that permit the state’s people to recover the tranquillity they deserve,” Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio-Chong told state and federal officials in Reynosa, in announcing the surge.
Mr. Osorio-Chong said federal forces would set up command in four regions in the state to close off smuggling routes and go after crime bosses. He didn’t specify how many forces were involved, but similar previous operations involved thousands.
A key lawmaker on Monday called on the United States to suspend military aid to Mexico in light of the jailing of a Marine Corps sergeant who mistakenly entered the country with firearms.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a 25-year-old combat veteran, was jailed in late March after he missed a freeway exit near San Ysidro, Calif., and drove into Tijuana, where Mexican authorities discovered he had three guns in his car. Although the guns were legally owned in the United States, and Tahmooressi had no intention of traveling to Mexico, he’s been jailed for more than a month.
On Monday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services committee, asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to suspend military aid to Mexico, including training, intelligence cooperation and equipment transfers.
“You have the authority to suspend cooperation with the Mexican military in a number of areas,” said Hunter, who served two tours as a member of the Marines Corps in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “In light of the Mexican government’s incarceration of Andrew, I urge you to immediately consider suspending training and equipment assistance to Mexico until Andrew’s case is resolved.”
Republicans are close to working out a plan for immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner said Monday. Just don’t expect a vote on it anytime soon. Boehner, who has chided his caucus in recent weeks for their reluctance to pass legislation on the issue, said that many in his party were still too upset with President Obama’s performance in office to take any action at all.
“We’re at a point where my colleagues don’t trust that the president will implement the law the way we would see it passed,” Boehner said at an event hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. “So I’ve put the ball back in the president’s court. He’s going to have to do something to demonstrate some level of trustworthiness.”
Only a handful of House Republicans have been willing to endorse a path to legal status of any kind for undocumented immigrants. Boehner and other House GOP leaders released a set of principles in January that included a legalization program, but it landed with a thud. Days later, Boehner announced that reform was on hold until relations with Obama improved. Despite all this, Boehner insisted that most of his caucus was willing to act this year. If so, they’re keeping awful quiet.
A Mexican man convicted in the 2012 killing of a U.S. Coast Guard officer, the first on-duty death since 1927, was sentenced on Monday to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole, a newspaper reported. A federal jury had convicted 42-year-old Jose Meija-Leyva, of Ensenada, of second-degree murder, among other charges, in the death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in February.
“The defendant had a choice to simply flee and attempt to evade capture, but chose to aggressively attempt to disable the Coast Guard small boat before making his getaway,” prosecutors argued, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
Another man, 44-year-old Manuel Beltran-Higuera was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on lesser charges, the newspaper reported. The U.S. Attorney’s office was not immediately available to confirm the report. Prosecutors sought the life term on the grounds of previous smuggling and drugs-related convictions in the United States and Mexico, the Times said, adding the men were believed to have been supplying gasoline to other smuggling boats.
Overwhelmed by the number of immigrants crossing illegally into in South Texas, the U.S. Border Patrol was scheduled to send a planeload of recent arrivals across the state to El Paso for processing for the first time on Wednesday. Immigrants who cross the Rio Grande and enter the state illegally increasingly find themselves covering great distances to provide their basic information to an agent at a computer.
The flight of more than 100 detainees from Brownsville is the most recent way that the agency is trying to expedite processing under a surge of arrests that has recently averaged 1,000 per day in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, the busiest along the U.S.-Mexico border. The effort began with busing immigrants to less-busy stations within the sector, then expanded to hours-long bus rides to the Laredo and Del Rio Sectors for processing.
“We’re utilizing all of the resources that we have available,” said Border Patrol spokesman Daniel Tirado. “We’re going to take advantage of that and farm out some of those detainees.”
He said it was unclear if the flight would become regular.
A spate of extreme violence in Mexico‘s north-eastern Tamaulipas state has ended the relative calm in the region where the country’s drug wars began.
Officials say about 80 people have been killed in almost daily street battles. This week the state’s top detective, Salvador de Haro Muñoz, was among five people killed in a shootout. Ten police officers have been arrested for allegedly leading him into an ambush. Fourteen people were killed in one day this month in a string of gun battles between federal forces and unidentified gunmen in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
“It’s worse than ever,” said a local woman who saw three shootouts on three consecutive days while visiting relatives in Tampico in early April. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said authorities did nothing to intervene beyond advising people to stay off the streets. “This is a failed state with no law and no authority.”
Tamaulipas has been a focal point in the drug wars as one of the busiest places on the border for northbound drugs and migrants and southbound weapons and cash. But the latest outbreak of bloodletting has prompted fears that the region is set for a return to the worst days of 2010, when entire populations fled towns in the region to escape the violence.
One of the military deserters who helped found the gang that grew into the brutal Zetas cartel was among six people killed during a gunbattle in a border town, a Tamaulipas state security official said Sunday.
The official said authorities confirmed that Galindo Mellado Cruz was one of five gunmen who died Friday in a shootout that also killed a Mexican soldier in Reynosa, which is across from McAllen, Texas. The official was not permitted to be quoted by name for security reasons.
The official said that Mellado Cruz was one of the 30 ex-special forces soldiers who created the Zetas gang to serve as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel before splitting off in a bloody breakup with its former ally. The official said Mellado Cruz no longer held a Zetas command position.