U.S. officials press Mexico to take more steps to stem migrant surge


ebrard09/10/19 – The Washington Post

By David Nakamura & Nick Miroff

A day after touting a decline in unauthorized immigration, the White House sought to redouble pressure on Mexico to interdict migrants, illustrating the sensitive balance for the administration as President Trump seeks to demonstrate progress on a key campaign promise.

In an afternoon meeting at the White House, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to gain support from Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to take additional steps to stem the record surge of Central American families that led to overcrowded border facilities in the spring. But in a sign that negotiations remain fraught, Ebrard told reporters afterward that he reiterated Mexico’s opposition to the Trump administration demands for a “safe third country” agreement that would require Central Americans to apply for asylum in Mexico.

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Mexico’s president wants to change how the drug war is fought, and he may be heading for a showdown with Trump

5/17/2019 – Business Insider


By Laura Weiss

Mexico’s drug policies could be in for some sweeping changes, and with them the country’s relations with the United States.

Last week, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that his administration would seek to revise the Merida Initiative, the $3 billion US aid package that has largely funded Mexico’s war on drugs. In a press conference May 9, Lopez Obrador, widely known in Mexico as AMLO, said his administration does not “want aid for the use of force, we want aid for development.”

The announcement came shortly after the Mexican government released a National Development Plan for the next five years that proposes decriminalizing all drugs in Mexico. That plan, approved by Mexico’s Senate, also seeks to eradicate corruption and improve the justice system; guarantee jobs and higher education for children; and invest in infrastructure and health services through regional programs and development goals.

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Mexico Proposes Decriminalizing All Drugs, Working With US To Curb Deaths

5/13/2019 – Forbes


By Janet Burns

Last week, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador released a plan calling for significant changes to the country’s drug policy, and inviting the United States to pursue the same.

In his National Development Plan for 2019-2024, President López Obrador (also known as AMLO) outlined the goals of decriminalizing illegal drugs in Mexico and diverting funds used for narcotics enforcement toward “massive, but personalized” treatment programs for drug abusers, CNBC reported.

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Mexico’s president just says no to U.S. cash to fight drug crime

5/10/2019 – The Washington Post

 For 11 years, the United States has tried to help Mexico fight narcotrafficking and other organized crime through a historic, $3 billion plan called the Mérida Initiative. Washington has sent helicopters, trained police and even helped redesign the justice system.

Now Mexico’s new president is saying: Basta.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in December as Mexico’s first democratically elected leftist president, says he’d like to “reorient” the program away from crime-fighting and toward investment in social programs.

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Leader of Armed Border Group to Appear in Court in New Mexico

4/29/2019 – The New York Times

32276408246_bcab90795b_k.jpg(Reuters) – The leader of a paramilitary group that has detained undocumented migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is expected to appear in court in New Mexico on Monday to face federal weapons charges.

Larry Hopkins, commander of the United Constitutional Patriots, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after the FBI said it found guns during a 2017 visit to his home.

Hopkins, 69, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on April 20, days after the American Civil Liberties Union accused the group of illegally detaining migrants and New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said its activities must cease.

He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday for an arraignment and detention hearing.

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Why is Mexico’s most notorious criminal being tried in Brooklyn?

Joaquín Guzmán, the famed Mexican drug lord known as “El Chapo,” has spent the past 22 months in a small, windowless cell in Lower Manhattan awaiting trial. On Tuesday, at a federal district court in Brooklyn, that trial will finally start.

“This is such an important case, because no single individual in Mexico is more responsible for the last decade of violence than Chapo Guzmán,” said David Shirk, a professor at the University of San Diego who focuses on Mexican politics and U.S.-Mexico border issues.

So why is Guzmán standing trial in New York rather than in Mexico?

Mexico has certainly tried to bring Guzmán to justice before, but he has twice escaped from maximum security prisons in his native country. During his imprisonment in 2001, he enlisted the help of the prison guards to sneak him to safety — hiding in a laundry cart, as the legend goes. He famously escaped again in 2015, breaking out of Mexico’s most secure prison via a mile-long tunnel and evading capture for six months.

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U.S. Congress aim to delay border wall funding fight until December

09/14/2018 – Reuters 

barbed-wire-barrier-blur-446464.jpgU.S. Congress negotiators on Thursday moved to put off until after the Nov. 6 elections decisions on future funding for President Donald Trump’s multibillion-dollar southwest border wall, as lawmakers advanced legislation funding many other government programs.

Racing against a Sept. 30 deadline when the current fiscal year ends, Republicans and Democrats were showing unusual cooperation in trying to fund most federal agency functions and avoid an embarrassing government shutdown about a month before congressional elections.

A trio of massive spending bills were making their way through Congress to fund military, energy and a range of other programs that otherwise would run out of money on Oct. 1.

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Mexico ‘Evaluating’ US Offer to Pay for Deporting Migrants

09/14/2018 – The New York Times

arid-daylight-desert-362957.jpgThe Mexican government says it “continues evaluating” a U.S. offer to pay for returning foreign migrants in Mexico to their home countries.

Mexico’s Interior Department says no agreement has been reached on the offer, which apparently would help take mainly Central American migrants back to their homes. Many use Mexico as a base to attempt crossing the U.S. border.

The department did not specify how much the U.S. government has offered. It said only that the government is “evaluating the proposal according to applicable laws, and in accordance with the priorities of Mexico’s own immigration policies.”

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Central American security conference scrapped amid U.S. tensions with Guatemala, El Salvador

9/7/2018 – Washington Post

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, places a sash on Gen. Manuel Pineda Saravia, right, during the 145th anniversary of the military school in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala, on Sept. 1, 2018. Morales says he is shutting down a crusading U.N.-sponsored anti-corruption commission that pressed a number of high-profile graft investigations, including one pending against the president himself over purported illicit campaign financing. (Moises Castillo/AP)

A high-level conference intended to highlight U.S. security cooperation with Mexico and Central America was abruptly called off Friday amid flaring diplomatic tensions with El Salvador and Guatemala, according to two Trump administration officials.

Top diplomats and security officials from the United States, Mexico and Central America were scheduled to meet next week in Washington as a follow-up to the “Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America,” held in Miami last year and attended by then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly and Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state at the time.

The talks scheduled for next week were scrapped after the governments of El Salvador and Guatemala notified U.S. diplomats that their representatives would not travel to Washington, according to the two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made. They said the conference has been “postponed,” though new dates have not been set.

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Mexico Offers $1.6 Million for Information Leading to Drug Lord’s Arrest

08/15/18 New York Times

Photo: Milenio

Mexico is offering a 30 million pesos ($1.56 million) reward for information leading to the arrest of drug lord Nemesio Oseguera whose cartel is blamed for driving heroin shipments to the United States, the attorney general said on Wednesday.

Known as “El Mencho,” Oseguera has risen to become Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord after Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was extradited to the United States last year to face trial.

In March, U.S. agents in Chicago named El Mencho public enemy No. 1 and blamed his gang for using “extreme violence” to expand their share of the heroin trade. The United States is offering $5 million for information leading to his capture.

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