Mexico’s Southern Border Strategy: Programa Frontera Sur

July 17, 2014

07/11/14 Christopher Wilson, Pedro Valenzuela

chiapasThe most common adjective used to describe Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and Belize is probably ‘porous.’ The large volume of Central American migrants, including many families and unaccompanied minors, crossing the border on their way north to the United States suggests as much. The simultaneous operation of criminal groups involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other sinister pursuits in the region adds several layers to the challenge.

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DHS revises rules for use of deadly force on border

June 9, 2014

06/04/14, Homeland Security News Wire

U.S. Border PatrolmenOn 30 May DHS released new guidelines detailing when the use of force by Border Patrol officials is authorized. The lack of explicit scenarios within the rules, however, has led to questions of when such acts are truly warranted.

On 30 May DHS released new guidelines detailing when the use of force by Border Patrol officials is authorized. The lack of explicit scenarios within the rules, however, has led to questions of when such acts are truly warranted.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, these new revisions arrive amidst increasing criticism of unreasonable use of force and a much publicized, leaked damning internal report — both within the past six months. This documentation reveals some glaring abuses, including the fact “that some border agents stood in front of moving vehicles as a pretext to open fire and that agents could have moved away from rock throwers instead of shooting at them.”

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Spotlight Of Mexican Drug War Focuses On State Along U.S.-Mexico Border

May 1, 2014

drug warFox News Latino, 4/30/14

Once again, the bodies are piling up in this violent U.S.-Mexican border state.

At least 14 people died Tuesday in several firefights between federal forces and gunmen in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. The dead included 10 alleged gunmen, two federal police officers and two bystanders, Tamaulipas state authorities said.

Gunmen blocked some of the industrial city’s main avenues with buses in the afternoon and then ambushed federal police officers on patrol, officials said.

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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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Mexico Finds Skeletal Remains Along US Border

February 11, 2014

Jorge Duenes - ReutersAbc News, 2/11/14

Mexican officials have discovered hundreds of skeletal remains scattered on ranches in a stretch of towns along the U.S.-Mexico border as they carried out a wide search to locate missing people. Coahuila state prosecutors’ spokesman Jesus Carranza said Monday that the remains were burned and extremely hard to identify. News of the grisly finds came at the same time 12 bodies were unearthed from clandestine graves in the southern Mexico state of Guerrero and about two months after 67 bodies were found in western Mexico. Such discoveries remain common despite government claims that the number of killings has gone down in the past year.

 

Police in Coahuila haven’t said whether an organized crime group is suspected in the skeletal remains, but the area is known to be dominated by the violent Zetas drug cartel. Officers have arrested 10 men, including four police officers suspected of aiding a criminal group, the state attorney general’s office said in a press release.

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Mexican national to be sentenced for killing border agent Brian Terry

February 11, 2014

hands in handcuffsLA Times, 2/10/14

A federal judge could sentence a Mexican national Monday to up to 30 years to life in prison for the 2010 killing of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry just south of Tucson, a slaying that led to the unraveling of the failed federal gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pled guilty in October 2012 to first-degree murder. He was part of a group of bandits who engaged in a shootout with Terry and three other Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona.

Terry’s mother, Josephine Terry, is expected to testify before the court, a family spokesperson said in a prepared statement. Terry’s sisters, brother and chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation are also expected to show at the sentencing. In a prepared statement, Terry’s sister Kelly Terry-Willis stressed the importance of border security before consideration of any immigration overhaul.

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Keeping American Border Safe Means Thinking in 4-D

February 5, 2014

drawing bar chartBloomberg, 2/4/14

The Internet, modern transportation systems, supply chains, climate change, and transnational groups from criminal syndicates to nongovernmental organizations all confound boundaries set down on a map. As a result, managing our borders in a way that balances security with commerce, enforcement with freedom of movement, and now the physical with the virtual world has become even more difficult. Unfortunately, much of the U.S. debate about border management still dwells on the southern border and the interdiction of undocumented immigrants and contraband.

That’s important, but the larger and more demanding task the U.S. faces is to build a border management system suited to the complexities of the 21st century. Here are some of the challenges that must be overcome:

A foreign-flagged vessel carrying containers from China to Los Angeles, one of several hundred a day that form a critical link in global supply chains, notifies the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection of its arrival 96 hours in advance. En route, a satellite-based system tracks the ship’s position, course and speed. The vessel’s history, its owner, cargo and other information are vetted against databases for anomalies. If necessary, the vessel is held offshore until it is boarded, or met by inspectors at the dock. Containers are subject to random inspections and detection technologies, but few are actually inspected. In most cases, the analysis of shipping information constitutes the virtual clearance of the cargo into the country — a balance of security and trade that informs a new vision of the border.

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Ryan: Border security No. 1 priority for GOP on immigration

February 3, 2014

barbed wire fenceWashington Post, 2/2/14

Republican leaders said Sunday that their immigration plan centers around tightening border security  before looking at opportunities for legal residency, while the Obama aministration  said it can’t support a plan that doesn’t include a path to citizenship. “We don’t trust the president to enforce the law,” Rep. Paul Ryan , Wisconsin Republican, said Sunday on ABC’s  “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “First, we have to secure the border, have interior enforcement, which is a worker verification system, a visa tracking program. Those things have to be in law, in practice and independently verified before the rest of the law can occur.”

Without Democratic support to secure the border, Mr. Ryan  said getting a bill on the president’s desk this year is “clearly in doubt.” In a brief document circulated at the GOP policy retreat last week in Maryland, Republicans unveiled a plan to move forward on immigration reform, including changing the system to make it more difficult for immigrants to move their families to America, closing the gates to future illegal immigrants and giving young illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens.

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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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Arizona bid to build 1 mile of border fence appears dead; local sheriffs may receive money

November 6, 2013

The Washington Post, 11/6/2013

Border fence by couchlearnerA plan by Arizona lawmakers to build a mile of fencing along the border with Mexico using private money may be declared dead Wednesday, more than three years after border security proponents crafted the proposal.

The Arizona Legislature’s border security advisory committee will take up the issue when it meets for the first time in more than a year. The main backer has given up on the state fencing plan and hopes to transfer the money to border sheriffs, said Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, the co-chair of the committee. Stevens said Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, realizes enough private money to get the job done can’t be raised.

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