Mexico’s Drug War (Video)

drug dog sniffing suitcaseCouncil on Foreign Relations, 2/8/2013

Despite Mexico’s strengthening democracy and booming economy, the country’s security crisis rages on. Fifty thousand people have been killed in the past five years due to drug and organized crime-related violence. “The sense of fear and the sense of helplessness has extended beyond the areas that are mostly affected by the increasing violence,” says Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence officer. “It has changed the national conversation in Mexico, and it has changed the way Mexicans think of their country.”

The crisis has been driven by many factors, experts say, including the Mexican government’s offensive against drug-trafficking organizations, which began in December 2006. And while the country has enjoyed steady economic growth in recent years, economic inequality has left millions of Mexicans on the margins. “Those are the types of populations that the drug cartels or gangs look to and often recruit from,” says Shannon K. O’Neil, CFR’s Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies. Meanwhile, Mexico’s weak security and justice institutions, prone to inefficiency and corruption, have been “quite unable to deal with this level of violence,” argues Hope.

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Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Council on Foreign Relations, September 2012

Latino immigrant entrepreneurs are making important yet largely overlooked contributions to the U.S. economy. With expanding Latino markets at home and abroad, their economic impact is set to grow. But roadblocks stand in the way. Policy changes–including visa reform, improving access to credit, and a more ambitious trade agenda with Latin American countries–would help the United States unlock the full potential of its Latino immigrant entrepreneurs.

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Op-ed: Can 80 Percent of Mexicans be Poor? The Debate over Poverty

Council on Foreign Relations, Shannon K. O’Neil, 4/20/12

A recent study highlighted in La Jornada, a Mexican newspaper, claims that some ninety million Mexicans are poor, roughly 80 percent of the total population. This contrasts drastically with calculations by the OECD (which put the poor closer to twenty-three million) or those by Mexican researchers Luis de la Calle and Luis Rubio (who estimate that 25 percent of Mexicans—approximately twenty-nine million—are poor).

So how should we define who is and isn’t poor? The World Bank includes everyone that earns more than two dollars a day; an expansive view that likely rings false for those scraping by just above this bare minimum. The OECD’s measurement is relative by country, based on the median household income. CONEVAL, a Mexican governmental  organization that conducts the country’s official poverty measurements, takes a multi-dimensional approach, with income considered alongside access to healthcare, education, social security, housing, and food. By this comprehensive measure, some fifty-two million Mexicans are poor.

The study profiled in La Jornada takes these poor, and adds the next CONEVAL category—those vulnerable to becoming poor (nearly another forty million)—to get to the total number of ninety million. Vulnerable, according to CONEVAL, means lacking access to one or more social services or having an income close to the poverty line.

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Myths and Realities of U.S.-Mexico Border Spillover Effects

Shannon K. O’Neill, Latin America’s Moment, Council on Foreign Relations blog, 8/24/11

The U.S. debates over Mexico’s drug war increasingly focus on spillover violence. Border state governors Rick Perry and Jan Brewer insist that Mexican cartels are hitting their states hard, portraying the border as a lawless “war zone” in which the drug cartels and illegal Mexicans incite “terror and mayhem” on a daily basis. In stark contrast, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) Commissioner Alan Bersin and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano contend that the border has never been safer.

The statistics bear out the latter position. A recent study based on FBI figures shows that violent crime in cities within 50 miles of the border is consistently lower than state and national averages. The robbery rate in the Texas border region, for example, remained at least 30 percent lower than the state average for every year in the past decade. The data also show that the number of kidnapping cases in border areas dropped by more than half since 2009.  This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen – they do. But they happen less frequently along the border, on average, than in other parts of the United States. Despite local politicians’ concerns and rhetoric, the border is more secure than in the past, and in fact safer than the rest of the country.

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A Bipartisan Blueprint for Immigration Reform

DHS LOGOLA Times, 7/13/2009

Our immigration system has been broken for too long, and the costs of that failure are growing. Getting immigration policy right is fundamental to our national interests — our economic vitality, our diplomacy and our national security.

In the report of the bipartisan Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy released last week, we lay out what is at stake for the United States.

President Obama has made it clear that reform is one of his top priorities, and that is an encouraging and welcome signal.

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Report: Council On Foreign Relations

CFR, 7/8/2009

The Council On Foreign Relations(CFR) recently published a study which reflects the consensus of leaders in fields of immigration policy, homeland security, education, labor, business, academia and human rights. The group urges Congress and the Obama administration to move ahead with immigration reform legislation.

Link To Full Text Report…

Interview: Despite Recession, Immigration Reforms Essential to Normalize Labor Flows

Interview, Council on Foreign Relations, 3/16/2009

Michael Chertoff
Michael Chertoff

The global economic crisis has triggered calls in some U.S. policy circles for tightening immigration rules to prevent non-Americans from competing for scarce jobs. Yet despite conditions, lawmakers should be preparing changes to immigration policy in anticipation of the country’s economic revival, says former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who had jurisdiction over immigration issues. “We are going to need to have some workers coming from other parts of the world to do the jobs that Americans will not be willing to do,” Chertoff said. In addition, he said, U.S. officials should increase contacts with Mexican authorities to work out a system for rationalizing the legal flow of migrant workers into the United States. He also stressed that tough enforcement of immigration laws, at the workplace and border, must be at the core of comprehensive reforms.

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