Mexico concerned about U.S. bid to beef up border security

Customs_and_Border_Protection_officersReuters, 6/25/2013

The Mexican government on Tuesday voiced concern about U.S. congressional proposals to beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it was divisive and would not solve the problem of illegal immigration. Immigration plays a significant part in the countries’ bilateral relations. Millions of Mexicans live and work on the U.S. side of the border and tens try to enter the United States annually, often at peril to their lives.

“Our country has let the United States government know that measures which affect links between communities depart from the principles of shared responsibility and good neighborliness,” Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said in a televised statement. “We’re convinced that fences do not unite, fences are not the solution to the migration phenomenon and are not in line with a modern, safe border.”

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Immigration reform: deal inches closer as Republicans propose ‘human fence’

border-patrol1The Guardian, 6/21/2013

Conservative efforts to frustrate immigration reform were rebuffed on Thursday, bringing Congress one step closer to legalising the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the US. As the battle to pass legislation proved far tougher than many expected, a new group of moderate Republican senators proposed doubling the number of border guards to 40,000 in a “human fence” to secure the southern border with Mexico.

Their border security amendment goes far further than the original “gang of eight” Republican and Democrat senators who introduced immigration reform in April but is thought crucial in persuading more conservative Republicans to accept the proposed amnesty for existing immigrants. Although passage of the bill through the Senate is not in doubt due to a Democratic majority, the debate is on a knife edge in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after speaker John Boehner insisted he would only allow a vote if a majority of his party caucus were in favour.

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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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Border-crossing point gets put back on the map

shutterstock_24590917My San Antonio, 4/11/13

With little fanfare but much local anticipation, the international crossing at Big Bend National Park was reopened Wednesday — almost 11 years after being shut down as a post-9/11 security measure. With many Boquillas residents still doubtful after so many false rumors, a crowd of local men, some on horseback, gathered at the rocky riverbank and watched silently as the first group of Americans arrived shortly after 9 a.m.

Not waiting for the boat, a cluster of U.S. immigration officials rolled up their pants and waded the shallow Rio Grande for a final meeting on the riverbank with their Mexican counterparts on hours and days of operation, and other technical issues. “It’s a good day. We’ve waited a lot of years for this and now everyone can come over legally,” said Carry Huffman, the deputy chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol in the Big Bend Sector.

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