April 21, 2014
Reports on NPR Newsmagazines March 19-28
In an effort to discover how two nations influence each other, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep and a team of NPR journalists traveled the 1,900-mile length of the U.S.-Mexico border to report on the people, goods and culture that cross the heavily-fortified boundary. NPR News presents the dispatches and related coverage as the multipart series “Borderland,” exploring major issues such as immigration, the drug trade, business and cultural change through the personal stories of people who live where the countries meet. “Borderland” begins airing today on Morning Edition,continuing daily until March 28 across the show as well as All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Saturday and Sunday, and are also available online at npr.org/borderland.
“Borderland” humanizes border issues, which are hotly-debated but not always well-illuminated. Inskeep and fellow journalists talk with migrants, refugees and law enforcement officials, and meet with writers, musicians and workers in Mexican factories known as maquiladoras. NPR’s John Burnett, Kelly McEvers, Carrie Kahn and Ted Robbins, as well as Monica Ortiz-Uribe and Jude Joffe-Block of public radio’s Fronteras Desk also offer complementary reports in the series.
March 5, 2014
World Bulletin, 3/2/14
One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border. According to Electronic Intifada report, this is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.
The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.
March 5, 2014
The Wall Street Journal, 3/4/14
On a January night in the Arizona desert, a U.S. Border Patrol agent pursued and killed an illegal immigrant named Gabriel Sanchez. The border agency said Mr. Sanchez tried to grab the agent’s gun, prompting him to shoot. The lawyer representing the victim’s family said the circumstances of the shooting remain uncertain. “The only thing we have to speak for the deceased is physical evidence,” said Phoenix attorney Daniel Ortega.
Mr. Sanchez, who has two U.S.-born children, is among at least 22 civilians killed by agents in the field or while in custody since 2010 on the Southwest border, according to immigrant advocacy groups. The majority of those killed have been Latin American immigrants who were unarmed, and a few were U.S. citizens, the groups say. Some victims were throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents, which can prompt a lethal-force response under current policy.
February 25, 2014
The NY Times, 2/22/14
The robots are just the latest tactic in a vexing battle by the federal authorities to try to stem the flow of drugs through the tunnels, considered prime pieces of real estate by the smuggling groups that build and control them. Border Patrol agents have tried dumping concrete inside the tunnels to render them unusable, and installing cameras and motion detectors to alert them of suspicious movement underground. But still the tunnel diggers persist.
Three robots, out of four in use by the agency along the entire southern border, are newly assigned to the Border Patrol station here. The robots, valued for their speed and maneuverability, can serve as the first eyes on places considered too risky for humans to explore.
February 18, 2014
Fox News, 2/18/14
An Arizona House panel on Monday gave initial approval to a plan to spend $30 million to install 350 miles of “virtual fence” along the state’s southern border with Mexico. The plan approved by the House Government and Environment Committee would place high-technology radar and video sensors on 300 towers along 350 miles of the border to monitor human and drug-smuggling activity. The sensors would send signals to a publically accessible site and could also be monitored by law enforcement agencies.
The proposal from Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, would use radar sensors about the size of a cereal box that could monitor 250 acres each. Mounting the sensors on towers paired with solar power units and a camera would allow Arizona to implement a “trust but verify” policy as to the federal effort to secure the border, Worsley said.
February 12, 2014
Hundreds of skeletal remains have been found scattered around ranches along the U.S.-Mexico border, during a police search for missing people. The remains had been left in the open and burned, making identification difficult for the Mexican authorities. The discovery, announced by Coahuila state prosecutor spokesman Jesus Carranza on Monday, came as 12 bodies were unearthed in southern Mexico, and two months after 67 bodies were found in the west.
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 discovery of 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.
February 5, 2014
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.
December 16, 2013
The New York Times, 12/14/2013
With 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.
October 11, 2013
The Houston Chronicle, 10/10/2013
By Pete Domenici and Jason Grumet
The U.S. debate will appropriately focus on securing our southern border and weighing the economic impacts of various proposals on our still fragile economy. While most analysis concludes that reforming our immigration laws will benefit the U.S. economy, we must also seek opportunities to encourage growth in the Mexican economy if we are to achieve effective and durable immigration reform.
The ability of Mexican citizens to feed and clothe their families and the ability of the Mexican government to care for those who cannot, significantly impacts the pressure exerted on our southern border. During a period when the Mexican economy grew more than half again as quickly as ours, immigration into the U.S. began to fall. Between 2007 and 2012, the population of unauthorized Mexican immigrants declined by 13 percent and apprehensions along our southern border declined by 58 percent. However, in Texas – a state that has continued to enjoy strong economic growth – border apprehensions and the unauthorized immigrant population have increased. While national trends also reflect substantial investments in enhanced border security, our immigration policy must be designed to succeed in the hopeful future when our economy booms once more.
August 7, 2013
By Steven Dudley, 8/7/2013
So-called spillover violence has long been a concern of residents of U.S. communities along the Southwest border, yet spikes in violent crime along the Mexican side of the border rarely impact rates of violence in the United States. InSight Crime’s Steven Dudley exams the forces behind these statistics in Nuevo Laredo and Laredo.
Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, sister cities along the US-Mexico border, are almost the same size. They have very similar economic motors, cultural heritage, populations and socio-economic indicators. Yet, in 2012, Nuevo Laredo had at least 36 times the number of murders. Why?
It is a question that is pondered up and down this 1,951-mile border, especially after the explosions of violence in Tijuana and Juarez during the last decade, places that sit across from San Diego and El Paso respectively, two of the safest cities in the United States.
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