Mexico’s attorney general escalates fight with U.S. over former minister


Source: Reuters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz said on Tuesday he was considering elevating to international courts a dispute with the United States over Mexico dropping an investigation into a former defense minister.

Gertz said the U.S. Department of Justice had effectively declared ex-defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos innocent when it sent him back to Mexico and dropped U.S. charges against him after he was arrested in California last year.


U.S. Lays Out Case Against Arizona Law

New York Times, 7/22/2010

With just a week remaining before Arizona’s stringent new immigration law is set to take effect, a federal judge in Phoenix heard, for the first time, from Obama administration lawyers urging her to strike down the controversial legislation while dozens of demonstrators argued both sides outside the courthouse.

As protesters blocked traffic, chanted, sang, yelled and banged on bass drums, lawyers from the Justice Department and for the State of Arizona sparred over whether the law, known locally as SB1070, violates the United States Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says federal law generally trumps state law. The federal judge, Susan R. Bolton, asked pointed questions of both sides, but made no ruling from the bench before adjourning at 3 p.m.

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DOJ: Ariz. law Napolitano signed is illegal

Politico, 5/28/2010

The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to strike down a state immigration-enforcement law Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed as governor of Arizona.

In a filing Friday afternoon, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal asked the court to hear a challenge brought by employers and immigrant-rights groups to the employer-sanctions statute Napolitano signed in 2007.

“Those provisions disrupt a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while ensuring that employers not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country,” Katyal and other government attorneys wrote. “There is no reason to believe that Congress intended a result that would subvert the purpose and operation of its general prohibition on state sanctions.”

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Mexico legal system blamed in drug war ahead of US visit

AFP, 5/18/2010

Mexico must shake up a justice system where the conviction rate in drug-trafficking cases is only three percent, a US legal official said Tuesday as the Mexican president was due to arrive in Washington.

Mexico “has to reform its judicial system,” said Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department, underlining a key challenge for President Felipe Calderon in his struggle against his country’s powerful drug gangs.

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Panel: Threat precludes ex-informant’s deportation

Associated Press, 3/24/2010

A Justice Department immigration board has ruled that a former federal drug informant can’t be deported to Mexico because he would be tortured “either directly by government agents or indirectly by government agents turning him over to the cartel.”

Guillermo “Lalo” Ramirez Peyro, a Mexican national who informed on the powerful and violent Juarez cartel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, witnessed and tape-recorded homicides in Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso.

The ruling from the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals concludes Ramirez can’t be deported right now because of pervasive corruption “at all but the highest levels of government” and because he is likely to be tortured and killed if returned to Mexico.

Daniel Kowalski, an Austin, Texas-based immigration lawyer who has reviewed the decision, said the ruling is narrowly focused on Ramirez’s case.

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Immigration Enforcement Fuels Rise in U.S. Cases

The New York Times, 12/21/09

Federal prosecutions reached a record high in the 2009 fiscal year, with the surge driven by a sharp increase in cases filed against immigration violators.

The 169,612 federal prosecutions were a jump of nearly 9 percent from the previous year, according to Department of Justice data analyzed by a research center at Syracuse University in a new report. Immigration prosecutions were up nearly 16 percent, and made up more than half of all criminal cases brought by the federal government, the report said.

Much of the spike, immigration experts say, arises from Bush administration efforts to increase immigration enforcement and to speed prosecutions. The administration greatly increased the number of Border Patrol agents and prosecutors, and also introduced a program known as Operation Streamline that relied on large-scale processing of plea deals in immigrant cases in some parts of the country.

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U.S. Plans Strategy With Mexico to Track Drug Money

Bloomberg, 6/5/2009

Eric Holder
Eric Holder

The U.S. has a new strategy to better coordinate with state, local and Mexican police to track and seize the guns and money that fuel drug-related violence south of the border, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The strategy (National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy) “provides an effective way forward that will crack down on cartels and make our country safer,” Holder said today.

As part of the plan, state and local police in patrol cars will be given access to federal databases so they can check if suspects they pull over are linked to drug cases.

In addition, U.S. authorities and Mexican police will jointly monitor cars carrying weapons or money as they cross the border to deliver their contraband to cartel chiefs.

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