Mexico warns firms not in their interest to build border wall

3/22/2017 Reuters

GettyImages-624165050Mexico’s government on Tuesday warned Mexican companies that it would not be in their best “interests” to participate in the construction of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, though there will be no legal restrictions or sanctions to stop them if they tried.

While some Mexican companies stand to potentially benefit from the controversial infrastructure project, residents south of the border view the wall and Trump’s repeated calls to have Mexico pay for it as offensive. That is putting public pressure on firms to abstain from participating.

“We’re not going to have laws to restrict (companies), but I believe considering your reputation it would undoubtedly be in your interest to not participate in the construction of the wall,” said Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

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U.S.-Mexican security cooperation is at a historic high. Will that change under Trump?

3/20/2017 The Washington Post

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John Moore/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — Every airplane passenger who arrives in Mexico is vetted against American criminal and national-security databases, a daily dose of intelligence sharing aimed at finding fugitives and suspected terrorists.

In the Mexico City airport, plainclothes U.S. border officers work alongside their Mexican counterparts to investigate suspicious travelers bound for America. In Brownsville, Tex., U.S. customs agents remotely watch X-ray scans of train cargo from the Mexican side of the border.

For much of their history, the United States and Mexico had a wary relationship and security cooperation was limited. It wasn’t until 1996 that Mexico even began extraditing its citizens accused of crimes to the United States. But over the past two decades, as the countries’ economies have become more inter-dependent, they also have developed an extraordinary level of collaboration in addressing terrorist threats and capturing dangerous criminals.

Today, that partnership is facing the most serious risk in decades.

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U.S. Homeland Security seeks proposals for wall with Mexico

3/18/2017 Reuters

500px-US_Department_of_Homeland_Security_Seal.svgThe U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued requests for proposals for prototypes for a wall along the Mexican border, saying ideally it should be 30 feet (9 meters) high and the wall facing the U.S. side should be “aesthetically pleasing in color.”

A wall to stem illegal immigration was one of Donald Trump’s main campaign promises and has been highly controversial. The president has vowed to make Mexico reimburse the United States for its cost but Mexico has repeatedly said it will not do so.

Earlier this week, the White House requested $3 billion more for Homeland Security, with some of that intended for planning and building the border wall.

According to one document posted online by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Friday night, the wall should be 30 feet high, built using concrete, and “physically imposing.” However, it says designs over 18 feet (5.5 meters) high could be acceptable.

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Mexico calls on its builders to boycott Trump’s wall

3/19/2017 Financial Times

theeconomistMexico has called on its national companies to “examine their conscience” and refuse to tender bids to build Donald Trump’s wall as the US gave bidders a week and a half to submit applications to construct a barrier with an “aesthetically pleasing” US side.

Some 700 companies have registered interest for tenders for the 30-foot high structure covering the 3,200km border between the US and Mexico, which would need to prevent would-be immigrants from scaling the top or digging beneath it.

In keeping with Mr Trump’s America First strategy, the tender outlined a “Buy American” preference for construction materials.

Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, urged Mexican companies to think again before bidding and put their country first. Mexico has already ruled out paying for the wall, despite Mr Trump’s demands.

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Mexico presidential hopeful files complaint against Trump wall

3/15/2017 Reuters

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REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Mexican presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned border wall and his administration’s treatment of immigrants.

Lopez Obrador, a fiery leftist who has led recent polls for the 2018 election, said he expects the commission to “speak out in accordance with the law to protect immigrants from the harassment they are suffering since Trump took office.”

Trump has ordered a wall built along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S.-Mexico border, has moved to strip federal funding from “sanctuary” states and cities harboring illegal immigrants, and expanded the force of U.S. immigration agents.

During his election campaign, Trump described Mexican illegal immigrants as rapists and criminals and insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall. That caused simmering diplomatic tension and angered everyday citizens south of the border.

Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor and two-time runner-up for the presidency, said he hoped the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would view Trump’s moves as a “violation of human rights and discriminatory.”

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Small Mexican company wants to light Trump’s border wall

3/14/2017 Reuters

lightAmong the hundreds of companies expressing interest in helping to build U.S. President Donald Trump’s southern border wall, one four-member concern stands out: It is from Mexico.

Ecovelocity, based in the central city of Puebla, is betting it can provide cheap industrial LED lights for the project, which has sparked the ire of Mexicans.

Theodore Atalla, Ecovelocity’s owner, is an Egyptian native of Greek heritage who has made Mexico his home for most of the past two decades. He said his firm looked to undercut competition by providing lighting it imports mostly from China.

“It would only be on the Mexican side because I don’t think we would be allowed to work on the other side,” Atalla said in an interview. “They said they only wanted American products.”

Trump has vowed to start work quickly on the barrier along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing to the north. He has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for it, something the Mexican government has flatly said it will not do.

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Illegal Wildlife Trade Booming Across U.S.-Mexico Border

3/14/2017 National Geographic

parrotTraffickers from Latin America are desperate to get their product into the United States—so desperate they’ll risk the dangers of swimming across the Rio Grande with their contraband. But it’s not meth and it’s not cocaine. In one case, according to a special agent, it was about 25 parrots destined to be sold as pets. Smugglers used tire inner tubes to keep the box of birds afloat during the river crossing.

The southern border of the U.S. is a hot zone for wildlife smuggling, and while President Trump has vowed to stop illegal immigration from Mexico, it’s unclear what he intends to do to thwart the flow of illicit wildlife.

Of the nearly 50,000 illegal shipments of wildlife and wildlife products seized at ports of entry from 2005 through 2014, more than a quarter originated in Latin America, according to a 2016 fact sheet from Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation organization. This included nearly 55,000 live animals and three million pounds of wildlife products.

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