Towers and cameras, not a wall, keep migrants from crossing the border into Arizona

04/16/2018 Los Angeles Times

US-Mexico_border_fenceIn the high desert east of this border town, the rolling hills topped with mesquite and paloverde trees are a picture of rugged desolation.

But there are flashes of movement: Darting between bushes are five migrants who just crossed into Arizona, not far from a road where they could hop into a car to continue their journey.

Not one U.S. Border Patrol agent is within sight. But the group is about to be spotted anyway, and their entry thwarted.

From a hilltop tower miles away, a camera scans miles of terrain — providing a clear view for an agent sitting in front of a computer monitor in a darkened control room.

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On the Lower Rio Grande, a Glimpse at the Border Trump Wants

04/14/2018 The New York Times

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ROMA, Texas — Stymied by Congress and the courts, President Donald Trump has struggled to make good on his signature campaign promises to build a wall and stop migrants. But there is at least one place where his vision is becoming reality: the sinuous lower Rio Grande Valley, scene of more unauthorized crossings than any other stretch between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

This week, as Texas National Guard troops were taking up positions on the state’s southern edge at Trump’s request, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told lawmakers that the agency hopes to award contracts by September for border wall construction near where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf. And the U.S. government’s efforts to identify and begin the seizure of private land along the river “are well underway,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told a congressional subcommittee Thursday.

Last month, Congress rejected Trump’s request for up to $25 billion to build the full length of his coveted wall, but he did win funding for 33 miles (53 kilometers) of barriers in the Rio Grande Valley.

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Despite vow to end ‘catch and release,’ Trump has freed 100,000 who illegally crossed the border

04/13/2018 The Washington Post

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The Trump administration has freed about 100,000 immigrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in the 15 months since the president took office, newly released government figures show, despite repeated promises to end President Barack Obama’s “catch and release” policies.

Homeland Security officials say they had to release the migrants — more than 37,500 unaccompanied minors and more than 61,000 family members — because of judges’ rulings and federal laws banning prolonged detentions for children, as well as a lack of detention beds.

The number of people caught crossing the border illegally dropped to a 46-year low after Trump arrived in the White House, prompting then-Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, to declare that “catch and release” had ended.

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Mattis pledges ‘no contact with the migrants’ for troops on Mexico border

04/12/2018 The Washington Post

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to reassure skeptical lawmakers Thursday that National Guard troops deployed to the Mexico border would have a limited mission despite indications from President Trump that military personnel would remain there until he gets the $18 billion wall he wants built.

Mattis deflected questions about whether he planned to keep troops there as political leverage to fulfill Trump’s vision, saying a number of factors could lead to the end of the reinforcement mission. Instead, he described the deployment as an effort to “buy time” for the Department of Homeland Security and improve its enforcement capabilities.

The troops will operate under a policy of “no contact with the migrants,” Mattis said, and will support U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a subagency of DHS, as it heads into the months when migration flows typically increase.

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FBI’s Most Wanted now includes Mexican cartel boss suspected in DEA agent’s slaying

04/12/2018 The Washington Post

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El supuesto ex narco traficante Rafael Caro Quintero durante la entrevista con Proceso FOTO. Miguel Dimayuga

The FBI on Thursday added fugitive Mexican cartel boss Rafael Caro-Quintero to its Most Wanted list, the first time a suspect sought by the Drug Enforcement Administration has been included among its top targets.

Caro-Quintero is a notorious and uniquely reviled figure at the DEA, blamed for the kidnapping and murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camerena, a DEA agent who was tortured to death in 1985 while investigating the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel.

Caro-Quintero was sentenced to 40 years for murder, but a Mexican judge ordered his release in 2013, and he quickly disappeared underground. He has evaded efforts to recapture him by U.S. and Mexican authorities since then.

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Along Arizona Border, National-Guard Role Prompts Mixed Emotions

04/12/2018 The Wall Street Journal

guardARIVACA, Ariz.—At a migrants-assistance office here, a sign declared “Make militarization of the border a thing of the past,” indicating how some view President Donald Trump’s plan to deploy the National Guard to the nearby Mexican border.

A few miles away, amid the scrub brush that dots the arid landscape around the international boundary, the Guard’s call-up couldn’t come soon enough for some longtime cattlemen.

“I am absolutely elated,” Jim Chilton, a 79-year-old fifth-generation Arizonan and cattle rancher. “It’s what’s needed.”

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DHS Secretary: Spike In Illegal Border Crossings Shows More Money Needed For Wall

04/11/2018 NPR

US-Mexico_border_fenceHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called a 200 percent spike in illegal border crossings in March compared with a year ago “a dangerous story” as she pressed lawmakers Wednesday to provide funding for President Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nielsen appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to push for approval of the Trump administration’s $47.5 billion FY 2019 budget request for her department, which includes $18 billion for the border wall.

She said the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border was up over 800 percent in March 2018 compared with 2017, and the number of families apprehended increased more than 680 percent. While the increases are dramatic, they are also not unexpected. The number of illegal border crossings has traditionally increased in the spring, and the total for March of this year remains below peak levels, according to Customs and Border Protection.

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