New DHS secretary tours Texas-Mexico border

January 22, 2014

Border fenceThe Washington Times, 01/21/2014

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday on a visit to the Texas-Mexico border that the surge of immigrants from countries other than Mexico crossing the border illegally presents challenges to the department.

“What has been brought home to me today is that we need to continually monitor trends in border crossings,” Johnson said at the Anzalduas International Bridge. “We need to continually try to stay ahead of the game when it comes to trends, emerging trends.”

While arrests of Mexican citizens remained nearly unchanged last year, arrests of immigrants from other countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, increased 55 percent, according to data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday.

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Report: Border security upgrade botched

January 13, 2014

Border fenceUT San Diego, 01/12/2014

The Department of Homeland Security is under fire again for its project management, this time involving a $1.5 billion upgrade of a critical computer system that border law enforcement relies on to screen people entering the country by land, sea and air.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office says that a plan to modernize the computer data system, known as TECS, has been plagued by missed deadlines and poor oversight. The upgrade was supposed to be operating by September 2015, but the report said it’s doubtful that deadline will be me

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McCain slams way border is patrolled

January 9, 2014

Photo by Marcn

The Washington Times, 01/08/2014

Sen. John McCain, one of the chief authors of the Senate immigration bill, said Wednesday that the border is still not secure, and said he thinks U.S. Customs and Border Protection isn’t even patrolling it correctly.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, has been battling with the Obama administration for several years as he tries to force the Homeland Security Department to come up with ways to measure how secure the border is and what needs to be done to get it to 90 percent effectiveness.

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Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back to Living

December 16, 2013

The New York Times, 12/14/2013

cuidad juarezWith violence down to a quarter of its peak, Ciudad Juárez, a perennial symbol of drug war devastation, is experiencing what many here describe as a boom. New restaurants pop up weekly, a few with a hipster groove. Schools and homes in some neighborhoods are gradually filling again, while new nightclubs throb on weekends with wall-to-wall teenagers and 20-somethings who insist on reclaiming the freedom to work and play without being consumed by worry.

Critics here fear that the changes are merely cosmetic, and there is still disagreement over what, exactly, has led to the drastic drop in violence. Some attribute it to an aggressive detention policy by the police; others say the worst killers have died or fled, or that the Sinaloa drug cartel has simply defeated its rivals, leaving a peace of sorts that could quickly be undone.

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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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Audits show border budget blunders

December 9, 2013

120px-Border_Mexico_USAUT San Diego, 12/8/2013

In the past decade, the federal government has showered billions of dollars on border security and enforcement.

The money has purchased everything from a huge increase in border law enforcement workers to new vehicles, miles of fencing and all variety of high-tech surveillance gear.

It’s also bought a lot of nothing.

One example: A program designed to purchase sophisticated radiation detectors for ports of entry to better guard against terrorism attempts was abandoned in 2011 after years of haphazard planning and poor results of the new equipment. Among other things, it sounded false alarms for radiation in such materials as granite and kitty litter, according to a government report.

By the time the program was canceled, the Department of Homeland Security, the Cabinet agency that includes Customs and Border Protection, had sunk more than $200 million into it.

Read more….

Border boost spiked corruption cases

December 9, 2013

Border Fence Arizona and MexicoUT San Diego, 12/8/2013

This past week, a scene that has become all too familiar in federal courts along the southwestern border unfolded in the courtroom of San Diego federal Judge Marilyn Huff when the trial of Lorne Leslie Jones got under way.

Jones is accused of taking bribes for nearly a decade in exchange for allowing drugs and unauthorized immigrants to enter the country. Federal prosecutors say he netted more than $500,000.

Jones, nicknamed “Hammer,” is a veteran Customs and Border Protection officer, one of thousands of law enforcement officers and agents tasked with securing the nation’s border. He’s also the latest to go on trial for betraying that trust.

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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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US-Mexico border no barrier to supply chain links

December 4, 2013

Financial Times, 12/2/2013

Photo by Flikr user Rockin RobinIt would be easy looking at the border between San Diego, in the US state of California, and Tijuana, in the Mexican state of Baja California, to conclude that the formidable fence was a barrier to all cross-border interactions. The fence and other defences against unauthorised border crossings have only grown since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States sharply increased concerns about the US’s border security.

Yet it is a tribute to the power of the North American Free Trade Agreement that companies have continued in the years since 2001 to move goods freely across the heavily policed frontier.

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Mexican shoppers head to Texas to avoid higher tax

December 2, 2013

USA Today, 12/1/2013

woman with shopping bags and credit cardMexican residents typically account for $4.5 billion in retail sales in Texas counties along the border. That number is likely to jump by $225 million due to the tax hike.

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