Top U.S. Diplomat, Security Chief to Visit Mexico Wednesday

2/21/2017 New York Times

tillerson-public-domainWASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Mexico this week along with the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to discuss issues including border security with the southern neighbor amid frayed relations under new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Tillerson and Kelly will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other top Mexican officials during the two-day visit on Wednesday and Thursday, the State Department said in a statement.

They will discuss border security, law enforcement and trade, the State Department said.

The Feb. 22-23 visit comes amid tensions between the United States and Mexico since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

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Trump administration drafts plan to raise asylum bar, speed deportations

2/21/2017 Reuters

border patrolThe Department of Homeland Security has prepared new guidance for immigration agents aimed at speeding up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process.

The new guidelines, contained in a draft memo dated February 17 but not yet sent to field offices, directs agents to only pass applicants who have a good chance of ultimately getting asylum, but does not give specific criteria for establishing credible fear of persecution if sent home.

The guidance instructs asylum officers to “elicit all relevant information” in determining whether an applicant has “credible fear” of persecution if returned home, the first obstacle faced by migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border requesting asylum.

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Trump Plan: Deport To Mexico Immigrants Crossing Border Illegally, Regardless Of Nationality

2/20/2017 ProPublica

migrantesBuried deep in the Trump Administration’s plans to round up undocumented immigrants is a provision certain to enrage Mexico — new authority for federal agents to deport immigrants caught crossing the southern border to Mexico, regardless of where they are from.

If present immigration trends continue, that could mean the United States would push hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Brazilians, Ecuadorans, even Haitians into Mexico. Currently, such people are detained in the U.S. and allowed to request asylum.

President Trump wants them to do so from Mexico, communicating via videoconference calls with U.S. immigration officials from facilities that Mexico would presumably be forced to build.

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Medieval-style drugs catapult found on US-Mexico border

2/15/2017 BBC News

border_at_Tijuana Tomas CastelazoUS border patrol agents have found a medieval-style catapult mounted on the border wall with Mexico, designed to launch bundles of drugs into the US.

The device was discovered last week, southeast of Tucson, Arizona, when agents spotted a group of men scattering as they approached.

A closer look turned up two bundles of cannabis weighing a combined 47lb (21kg), which had yet to be launched.

The catapult was dismantled on the Mexican side. No arrests were made.

About 650 miles of the 1,100-mile (1,770km) border is covered by some sort of wall or fence.

Donald Trump has committed himself to building more walls, but drug traffickers have in recent years turned to increasingly creative means of getting their product over, including drones, car ramps, and air cannons.

Traffickers have also made extensive use of tunnels under the border. In March, authorities uncovered a 380m tunnel that ran from a restaurant in Mexico to a house in California.

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Mexico economy minister says doubts U.S. border tax will materialize

2/14/2017 Reuters

Idelfonso-GuajardoMexico Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Tuesday he doubted a proposed border tax on Mexican imports to the United States, which the White House has said could be used to finance President Donald Trump’s border wall, would ever materialize.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Mexico City, Guajardo said he had spoken with several Trump’s advisors and had not found any uniformity in their backing of the border tax.

“I wouldn’t be so certain that it will end up in the proposal,” he told reporters.

Billed as a way to boost U.S. manufacturing and pay for corporate tax cuts, the so-called border adjustment would essentially tax imports but not exports. It is expected to be part of House tax reform legislation that could emerge in March or April.

It is unclear whether the border adjustment proposal has President Donald Trump’s support.

The White House has floated the idea of imposing a 20 percent tax on goods from Mexico to pay for a wall at the southern U.S. border. However, aides later said the tax was simply one of various measures being considered.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to scuttle the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Canada, if he cannot recast it to benefit U.S. interests, raising the risk of a major economic shock for Mexico.

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Ryan to tour US-Mexico border: report

2/14/2017 The Hill

via Flickr – Gage Skidmore

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will tour the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas later this month, The Monitor reported Tuesday.

Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and John Carter (R-Texas) will accompany Ryan on the tour of border town McAllen, Texas. McCaul chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, while Carter chairs the Homeland Security Committee subcommittee.

The tour will take place on Feb. 22 with U.S. Border Patrol.

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Trump’s border wall ignores a long history of U.S. cooperation with Mexico. That’s a problem.

2/14/2017 Washington Post

barbed wire fenceThe weekend’s protests in Mexico City were a reminder that President Trump’s proposed “physical wall on the southern border” has two sides, not one.

In late January, Trump’s executive order on border security called for the construction of the wall, along with increased border patrol activities to control immigration.

The order requests a full review of all “direct or indirect Federal aid or assistance” to Mexico over the past five years — and Trump claimed in a Jan. 25 ABC interview that “we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico.”