How a Game of Tag Turned a Texas Campus Into Immigration’s Ground Zer

November 21, 2013

texasThe Daily Beast, 11/21/2013

A provocative game called ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ turned the University of Texas at Austin into a hotbed of debate this week. Even Ugly Betty joined the fray. The game was canceled, but the protest went on anyway.

By early afternoon on Wednesday, some 500 students had gathered on the steps of the main building of The University of Texas at Austin—chanting, holding signs, and wearing t-shirts with a single word stamped across them: undocumented. As Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera took the stage at 12:30, even the Frisbee-playing students on a nearby lawn joined in. “I am the daughter of immigrants,” Ferrera shouted into a megaphone, and the crowd, some holding fluorescent signs reading “Aliens Live in Space,” erupted into applause.

The rally—the culmination of days of heated campus-wide debate—came in response to a controversial event planned by the college chapter of The Young Conservatives of Texas, or YCT, which describes itself as a non-partisan, conservative youth organization.

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Mexico’s middle class: Too bourgeois to bus tables

June 24, 2013

woman with shopping bags and credit cardThe Economist, 6/24/2013

OUR report this week from the Mexican-American border points out that Mexicans are becoming too bourgeois to cross illegally into the United States. These days they’d rather stay in high school than risk deserts, rattlesnakes, murderous bandidos and La Migra (as the gringo migration authorities are known) just to bus tables north of the border. In fact, according to an exhaustive report in May by North American experts, known as the Regional Migration Study Group, Mexicans are much more likely to have a degree before going north than they were seven years ago, and the number of years of schooling of 15-19-year-olds is now pretty similar to that in United States. If more educated workers emigrate, it raises their earning capacity, which gives them and their families even more chance of rising up the ranks of the middle class when they and the money flow back to Mexico. In which case, even fewer will need to go to el Norte. That is real progress.

In Mexico, however, many are reluctant to admit that the country has become a middle-class nation. This is partly because so much of Mexico’s historical narrative is about poverty; half a century ago, 80% of Mexicans were poor. It is also because, for armchair socialists, the ways of defining the middle class includes access to things that are often considered abhorrently American, such as those sold through chains like Walmart.  To them, it is almost as if those who cannot afford such trappings of middle-class life are somehow more authentically Mexican.

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Op-ed: Cities of God

June 14, 2013

Monterrey-Nathaniel C. SheetzBy Carlos Puig, The New York Times, 6/13/2013

Saturday was a beautiful day in Monterrey, northeastern Mexico, and in the Plaza Zaragoza, just a few meters from City Hall, it was a cheerful one, too. Standing at a clear plexiglass podium, a woman of about 40 is making a speech. Human participation alone, she says, “does not have the ability to reverse the darkness”; only the light from faith in God can. “Which is why we are gathered here today, and I, Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, give Monterrey, Nuevo León, to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established.”

“I open the doors of this municipality to God as the ultimate authority,” she adds. “Lord Jesus Christ, welcome to Monterrey, the house that we have built. This is your home Lord Jesus, Lord of Monterrey.” The people in the square say amen, applaud and cheer. There is just one problem: Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes may be the mayor of Monterrey, but clearly the city — Mexico’s third-largest  and its wealthiest per capita — isn’t hers to give away.

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Senate Digs In for Long Battle on Immigrants

June 10, 2013

Border fence by couchlearnerThe New York Times, 6/9/2013

After seven months of steadily building momentum, the push for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system enters its most crucial phase this week in the Senate, where Republicans remain divided over how much to cooperate with President Obama as they try to repair their party’s standing among Hispanic voters. Republican leaders are betting that passage of an 867-page bipartisan overhaul will halt the embarrassing erosion of support among Latinos last year that helped return Mr. Obama to the Oval Office. But the party’s conservative activists are vowing opposition, dead set against anything linked to Mr. Obama and convinced that the immigration bill is nothing more than amnesty for lawbreakers.

That intraparty clash will play out for the next three weeks on the Senate floor, as Republican supporters of the bill — aided behind the scenes by the Obama administration — seek modest changes that they hope will secure broad support among both parties. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, announced on Sunday that she would support the immigration bill, calling it a “thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem.”

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Senate begins floor debate on comprehensive immigration reform bill

June 10, 2013

capitolThe Washington Post, 6/7/2013

The Senate opened floor debate Friday on a bipartisan proposal to overhaul immigration laws, kicking off a process that chamber leaders hoped would result in a vote on the comprehensive legislation before July 4. “The vast majority of American people want us to move forward on this,” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said as he made a motion to proceed with the bill.

Referring to opponents of the bill, who have sought to delay deliberations with dozens of amendments, Reid added, “Sometimes in the process we have here, people throw monkey wrenches in, and we can’t move forward as fast as we want.” Leading critics took to the floor to begin making their case against the proposal, which features a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, new visas for high-tech and low-skilled workers, increased border security investments and the elimination of some categories of visas for extended family members.

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Immigration Overhaul Proposal Is Likely to Ignite Fierce Debate

April 16, 2013

barbed wire fenceThe New York Times, 4/16/13

The introduction of sweeping immigration legislation on Tuesday is likely to ignite a months-long battle between those who want citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and opponents who view such an approach as amnesty.

A bipartisan group of eight senators plans to unveil legislation, drafted largely in secret, that would provide a 13-year path to American citizenship for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, but would demand that tougher border controls be in place first. The legislation is certain to unleash a torrent of attacks from Republican opponents on the immigration overhaul, similar to the kind of criticism that killed an effort supported by President George W. Bush in 2007.

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Mexico – Aztec Tiger On The Rise?

March 19, 2013

mexico-flagFronteras Desk, 3/18/2013

There’s a fascinating debate going on in the U.S. media about whether or not Mexico is truly emerging as the next economic powerhouse. Interesting, that this debate seems to coincide with a concerted public relations campaign initiated by the new regime in Mexico City to change the conversation about Mexico. No more drugs and narco-killings; instead, lets talk about education, jobs, and economic development.

Many journalists and commentators have gotten on that compelling bandwagon: from The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman who recently claimed, “In India, people ask you about China, and, in China, people ask you about India: Which country will become the more dominant economic power in the 21st century? I now have the answer: Mexico.” To Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired magazine and current CEO of 3D Robotics, singing the praises of manufacturing across the border in Tijuana in an op-ed titled, “The Tijuana Connection: A Template for Growth.”

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Once a Battlefront, Arizona Border Quiets

March 15, 2013

Border fenceThe New York Times, 3/15/2013

As Congress debates a broad overhaul of the immigration laws, including a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, skeptical lawmakers are asking if the Southwest border is secure enough to withstand any new wave of illegal crossings that might be spurred by a legalization program, or by new growth in the American economy.

Officers who guard the line say the border is more secure in most places than they have ever known it. They say they are in a strong position to hold off an illegal surge, and to show why they point to Arizona, once the busiest and most contentious border battlefront. To the east, in Texas, agents are still struggling to stop persistent migrants in hundreds of miles of varying and penetrable terrain. But in Arizona, every available measure shows steep declines in the number of people making it across, figures that border agents say demonstrate what they can accomplish.

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Watching the Line: Long Border, Endless Struggle

March 4, 2013

Border fenceThe New York Times, 3/2/2013

The border fence behind Manuel Zamora’s home suggests strength and protection, its steel poles perfectly aligned just beyond the winding Rio Grande. But every night, the crossers come. After dark and at sunup, too, dozens of immigrants scale the wall or walk around it, their arrival announced by the angry yelps of backyard dogs.

“Look,” Mr. Zamora said early one recent morning, “here they come now.” He pointed toward his neighbor’s yard, where a young man in a dark sweatshirt and white sneakers sprinted toward the road, his breath visible in the winter dawn. Three others followed, rushing into a white sedan that arrived at the exact moment their feet hit the pavement.

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Mexico Mired in Oil Debates

February 20, 2013

energy- oil pumps 2Inter Press Service, 2/20/2013

Oil, the symbol of modern Mexico, is once again stirring up local political waters, with turbulent debates on the fate of the state-owned oil monopoly and conflicts over the privatisation of key economic and strategic areas. The leading issues of contention revolve around the reform of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos), pitting advocates of full state control, who call for only minor changes in the company’s administration, against proponents of opening the industry up to private capital in prospecting, crude refining, petrochemical and other activities.

“We have to get back to discussing these issues urgently, with a frank and open debate on the need to modernise, backed by solid arguments. Addressing safety, health, environmental and other practices in Pemex is a pressing matter,” Miriam Grunstein, a researcher with the state Economic Research and Teaching Centre, told IPS.

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