Military ‘surge’ for US-Mexico border

barbed wire fenceAFP, 6/24/2013

Twenty thousand new border patrol agents, hundreds of miles of fencing, billions of dollars in drones, radar and sensors: US lawmakers are proposing a militaristic remedy to staunch illegal immigrant flow from Mexico. The Senate is expected Monday to green-light the most important amendment yet to the landmark immigration bill, but the measure — designed to placate Republican concerns about security — would ensure that the border region is one of the most highly policed zones in the Western Hemisphere.

Critics call the plan “border security on steroids,” while even the amendment’s Republican author concedes the measures to clamp down on illegal crossings might be “overkill.” With the amendment’s likely approval, the most sweeping immigration reform in nearly three decades is set for Senate passage. It then heads to the House of Representatives where it faces an uncertain fate, although optimists are hoping the bill becomes law this year.

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Shootings by Agents Increase Border Tensions

Border fenceThe New York Times, 6/10/2013

As rocks hurled from Mexico rained down on United States Border Patrol agents one night last October, at least one of the agents drew his gun and fired across the border, striking a teenager 11 times, 7 times in the back. The boy, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, collapsed and died on a cracked sidewalk blocks from his home, under a sign that read “emergencias médicas.” The police in Nogales, Mexico, reported that he had been carrying only a cellphone. The shooting was not an isolated case. He was one of at least 15 people killed by border agents in the Southwest since January 2010, their deaths a jolt to the careful balance of sovereignty and security that underlies a binational debate over immigration reform.

Those shootings — sometimes during confrontations that began with assaults on agents, other times under less clear circumstances — have bolstered criticism of agents and customs officers who operate along the United States-Mexico border. Lawmakers, civil rights advocates and victims’ families in both countries, concerned about what they view as a lack of oversight and accountability, have made angry demands for answers. Of the 15 victims, José Antonio was one of 10 who were Mexican citizens, 6 of whom died in Mexico, felled by bullets fired by agents in the United States. Since January 2010, not a single agent has been criminally charged in cases of lethal use of force, and the agency would not say whether disciplinary action had been taken.

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Cartels dispatch agents deep inside US

drug_war_02Associated Press, 4/1/2013

Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States – an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.

If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.

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