Presidential Campaigns Make U.S./Mexico Benefits Invisible

4/30/2016 The Huffington Post 

us mex flagMuch has been said during the 2016 presidential race about the need for a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, the asserted perils of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the crimes attributed to undocumented immigrants. These opinions are formed primarily by candidates with little personal connection to the U.S./Mexico border. John Kasich, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are all northeasterners (Ohio, New York, and Vermont). Only Ted Cruz from Texas comes from a state on the border.

These distant perspectives make the benefits of the U.S./Mexico relationship essentially invisible to the public because the dialogue has been skewed by politics and limited or erroneous facts, creating a public reaction detrimental to the growing and mutually-beneficial economic ties between the two countries.

Read more…

At one border park, separated immigrant families hug across a steel divide

5/2/16 The Washington Post 

Mexican-American_border_at_NogalesSAN DIEGO — Gabriela Esparza has a standing date on most Saturdays to talk to her mother, on a schedule that never changes. She drives down Interstate 5 and turns off into a sprawling wildlife habitat bounded by the beach and Pacific Ocean and an 18-foot galvanized metal fence that stretches as far as she can see.

She makes her way toward a small yard surrounded by steel mesh and waits until 10 a.m., when a U.S. Border Patrol agent opens a heavy gate. Her mother is on the other side, in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to see her daughter through the checkered grate, perhaps to touch her fingertips. They stay as long as they can, until another family needs a turn or the agent in charge warns, “five more minutes,” and the gate is locked shut at 2 p.m.

This pen is Friendship Park, the only federally established binational meeting place along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. For seven years, this meeting through the mesh was as close as Esparza, 23, could get to her mother and sister.

This weekend was different. Esparza and her 2-year-old son, Leonel, stood in line Saturday with others chosen to participate in a celebration of Children’s Day in Mexico. For only the third time, the emergency door on this portion of the border fence would open, and five families would have three minutes each to embrace.

Read more…

Texas Murder Trial to Shed Light on Mexican Drug Cartels

4/24/2016 The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Guerrero Chapa had just finished shopping for shoes with his wife, but moments later the 43-year-old Mexican lawyer was dead, struck by multiple shots from a 9-millimeter pistol. The gunman and an accomplice drove away, the brief early evening encounter caught on a surveillance camera.

The 2013 slaying stunned this upscale North Texas city of 29,000, which hadn’t seen a murder since 1999. But that wasn’t all: the man killed was allegedly a prominent member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug trafficking organization, according to U.S. federal officials. His assassination brought that country’s drug war to the doorsteps of the serene American neighborhood where the Guerrero Chapas lived.

[…]”Spillover violence…is not widespread,” said Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Based on 2014 FBI crime data, Mr. Wilson calculated that the murder rate in U.S. border states with Mexico was 4.4 per 100,000 residents, less than the national average of 4.5 per 100,000 residents.

Read the full article here.

Immigration Reform 2016: Border Patrol Sees More Undocumented Immigrants Along US Mexico Border In March

4/26/16 International Business Times

Border fenceAfter a dip in the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border over the winter, traffic may be getting busier there. New statistics released by the Border Patrol show a rise in the number of apprehensions in the Southwest last month compared to March 2015.

There were 7,259 more crossings and apprehensions last month compared to February, and 4,452 of the 33,335 apprehensions were members of families crossing together, the agency reported. That rise in crossings, mostly composed of people fleeing Central America via Mexico, follows a controversial push by the administration of President Barack Obama earlier this year in which immigration officials raided homes to deport people living in the country without authorization.

That push did appear to depress migration rates at first, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last month praised the lower February statistics while mentioning the raids explicitly. The Department of Homeland Security released a statement alongside the March statistics, noting that the number is still much lower than March 2014, when there were 49,596 apprehensions.

“The Department of Homeland Security continues to closely monitor current migration trends and is working aggressively to address underlying causes and deter future increases in unauthorized migration, while ensuring that those with legitimate humanitarian claims are afforded the opportunity to seek protection,” a statement read. “We also continue to support broader regional efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Central America.”

Read more…. 

Drug-Smuggling Tunnel, Found in San Diego, Is Longest Yet

4/21/2016 The New York Times

For all the talk about a wall between the United States and Mexico, the problem with border security continues to be as much below ground as above. On Wednesday, officials in San Diego announced the discovery of another cross-border tunnel built by drug smugglers — the longest one found yet, at about half a mile.

The tunnel had rails, lighting, ventilation and even a large elevator leading to a closet in a modest house in Tijuana, United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy said. On the San Diego side, where the tunnel emerged in an industrial park in the Otay Mesa neighborhood, the authorities arrested and charged six people last week and confiscated more than a ton of cocaine and seven tons of marijuana that they said had been smuggled through the passage — the largest drug seizure associated with a tunnel….

[…]“A package of cocaine or heroin is much easier to move and hide than a person, and the profit it represents is far greater,” said Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a policy research group. “Working with terrorists would bring a huge amount heat on the cartels, and that’s bad for business.”

Read more…

The Real Reason Why Mexico Hates Donald Trump

4/19/16 Forbes

Donald_Trump)If you believe the Mexican government and its former president are worried about the plight of their poor workers toiling away on American farms, think again. They are worried about one thing: money.

Say what you will about FORBES’ No. 324, but he scares the Bank of Mexico more than he scares Mexicans.

The Associated Press was the first to point out just how important Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, are to the health of the Mexican economy. Last year, Mexicans in the U.S. wired $24.8 billion to family members. That’s more than Mexico’s economy brought in from oil revenue and is nearly half of what a country the size of Brazil brings in from foreign direct investment (FDI).

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox and current leader Enrique Peña Nieto can shout all they want about Donald Trump’s controversial border fence proposal. But their unvoiced concern is how U.S. immigration policy impacts for their biggest source of foreign capital.

Read more… 

From Obstacle to Asset: Re-envisioning the U.S.-Mexico Border

4/19/2016 Forbes

By Christopher Wilson and Erik Lee

forbesThe U.S.-Mexico border has yet again made an appearance in the political theater of the U.S. presidential campaign, starring in its traditional supporting role as a stock villain character. Though the political dialogue sounds like a re-reading of a script written in the 1990s or early 2000s when Mexican migration peaked, the discussion on the ground in most—but not all—U.S.-Mexico border communities long ago moved on to regional economic development. It is a largely positive discussion that could not be more different than what we are hearing at the national level.

Throughout the border region, local leaders from the public and private sectors are asking themselves how they can form cross-border partnerships to leverage assets in their sister cities and strengthen their local economies. They are looking to create a border that connects the United States to Mexico at least as much as it divides our two nations. A close look at the economic data, however, reveals divergent local economies and major border barriers. In our recent report, Competitive Border Communities: Mapping and Developing U.S.-Mexico Transborder Industries, we found that while advanced manufacturing industries such as  aerospace, automotive and medical devices often predominate in Mexican border communities, RV parks, retail and freight transportation are often the most concentrated (and often low-paying) industries in U.S. border communities.

Read more…