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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Report: Border patrol medics thought man was ‘faking’ seizure before death

March 18, 2014

Border - MexicoAljazeera, 3/16/14

An American citizen who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody had been left alone in a cell after on-site paramedics reportedly believed he was “faking” a seizure, a medical examiner’s independent report said. The San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office over the weekend released to Al Jazeera the details of its investigation into the death of Steven Keith, 58, at a Southern California checkpoint facility 20 miles from the Mexican border on Dec. 25. U.S. Border Patrol officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.

The report called Keith’s death an “accident” resulting from methamphetamine toxicity. Toxicology reports show that when he was arrested, Keith may have swallowed a packet of drugs that ruptured in his digestive system, the report added.

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US Agent Hit by Rock Kills Man at Mexican Border

February 19, 2014

shutterstock_24590917Abc News, 2/18/14

Investigators say a man who was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent near San Diego threw several large rocks at the agent, including one the size of a basketball. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday that the attacker began throwing fist-sized rocks at the agent from a hillside perch. The rocks got larger, and one of the bigger pieces hit the agent in the head.

The sheriff’s department says the agent fired his gun twice Tuesday, fearing that he might be killed or incapacitated if he was hit again. The agent was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released. The episode has fueled debate about how the Border Patrol should respond to rock attacks.

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Border Patrol Under Fire For Target Practice Pics

February 4, 2014

barbed wire fenceNBC San Diego, 2/3/14

Are Border Patrol agents using migrants as target practice? That is what one group claims happened at a local Border Patrol event. The controversy centers around a series of photos taken last June at the annual San Diego Fallen Agents Memorial 5K Run. The photos show Border Patrol agents supervising as young children hold paintball guns and shoot at human-like targets along the San Ysidro/Tijuana border fence. Immigrant rights activist Pedro Rios calls the activity disturbing.

A U.S. Border Patrol Spokesman with the San Diego sector released the following statement: “The U.S. Border Patrol takes pride in participating in community events to help build awareness about our activities and operations. Displays at the exposition included information about the U.S. Border Patrol’s horse patrol, fire and emergency rescue services, vehicles and other equipment used by Border Patrol agents, and other topics.

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Mexico condemns killing of Mexican migrant by US Border Patrol agent

January 24, 2014

Border patrol agent by Flickr user °FlorianThe Edmonton Journal, 01/24/2014

Mexico’s government says it’s “profoundly worried” by the killing of a Mexican migrant who was shot last week by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The Foreign Relations Department said in a statement Thursday that it has asked for a thorough investigation into the slaying of Gabriel Sanchez Velazquez.

Read more…

Energy Reform Approved, Border Infrastructure Spending, and Biden “Guarantees” Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: December 13

December 13, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week’s news outlets centered in the Energy Reform approved by both the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies. As expected, the law includes measures to open the oil and gas industry to private and foreign investment, through cash, profit-sharing and production contracts. What is new however, as a Forbes article explains, is the legal entity of the “license”. Although the legislation still explicitly prohibits the use of concessions in the hydrocarbons sector, the license will act in a very similar way, with the idea that it will be applied to unconventional projects like shale. The Economist noted that, as a consequence of the Reform, financial markets reacted with a burst of enthusiasm absent for most of the year, although it also claimed that the potential benefit from the reform will depend on the strength of secondary legislation that will specify what contracts will be offered for which type of oil or gas field, and what royalties and taxes the government will take. Finally, The Global Post noted that there were still political hurdles to overcome and that it will take a while before Mexico finally sees the investments and technology it needs to improve capacity and modernize Pemex.

On another topic, several news outlets highlighted stories concerning border issues. KPBS noted that U.S. and Mexico officials joined together on Tuesday in San Diego to signal construction crews to begin work on a $700 million border infrastructure project. The goal of the new freeway, and eventually a new port of entry, is to increase the $54 billion worth of goods that move across the Tijuana – San Diego Region by cutting border wait times that exceed two hours. The New York Times published a story describing how, even when agents do their jobs professionally and well, current immigration policy fosters insanity and menace in the Southern Border. It argues that when migrants have no hope of visas, the Border Patrol’s job is made harder while the drug lords get richer. On another note,  the San Diego Union Tribune published a piece stating that the unprecedented spending of the U.S. government on border security has led to a nearly nonstop stream of reports, audits and studies criticizing how some of that money has been spent. Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged errors but also insists the unprecedented boost in spending has made the border far more secure.

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Borderline Insanity at the Fence in Nogales – Op Ed

December 9, 2013

border_at_Tijuana Tomas CastelazoBy Lawrence Downes, The New York Times, 12/8/2013

The fence that separates Nogales, Ariz., from Nogales, Mexico, is a see-through wall of vertical steel rods 15 to 18 feet high, set four inches apart in a deep bed of concrete. It is a rusty ribbon that runs up and down dusty hills and streets, cutting one city into two and jutting into the desert for a few miles east and west.

An impenetrable barricade it is not. A climber with a rope can hop it in less than half a minute. Smugglers with jackhammers tunnel under it. They throw drugs and rocks over it. The fence is breached not just by sunlight and shadows, but also the hooded gaze of drug-cartel lookouts, and by bullets.

As a monument to futility and legislative malpractice, however, it achieves perfection.

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Mystery surrounds Tijuana border rush

November 27, 2013

San Diego Union Tribune, 11/26/2013

120px-Border_Mexico_USA Video footage, anonymous leaflets, and eyewitness accounts on Tuesday offered some insights into last weekend’s incident that saw more than 100 people rush a heavily patrolled stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in broad daylight.

But the larger questions remained unanswered: Exactly who instigated the mass action on Sunday afternoon one quarter-mile west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry? And for what purpose?

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U.S. Border Patrol agents attacked by unruly crowd from Mexico

November 27, 2013

The Los Angeles Times, 11/26/2013

United_States_Border_Patrol_MexicoMore than 100 people pelted U.S. Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles during a rowdy confrontation Sunday afternoon along the U.S.-Mexico border, federal authorities said.

Nobody was seriously injured and it’s not clear whether the crowd was trying to enter the U.S. illegally or hold a demonstration, but the sight of a large crowd surging beyond the border rattled nerves.

Read more…

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Who Made Alleged Drug Smugglers Eat Pot Will Be Sentenced

November 13, 2013

The Huffington Post, 11/12/2013

Border patrol agent by Flickr user °FlorianTwo U.S. Border Patrol agents  who forced four suspected drug smugglers to chew marijuana and  flee shoeless into the Arizona desert on a chilly November night  are due to be sentenced on Tuesday for violating the men’s civil  rights.

A jury convicted Dario Castillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31,  in April of depriving the Mexican men, all of whom were in the  U.S. illegally, of civil rights in the incident in the  borderland deserts of southern Arizona.



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