Nov 30, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexican Military Using Fliers in Drug War

Whack those moles with paper! One of these fliers and three pesos will get you into a public toilet.

Mexican Military Using Fliers in Drug War - KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS: "REYNOSA, MEXICO - The Mexican military is using a new tactic to stop cartel violence and gain support from people in border towns. They're handing out flyers with a simple message: Don't help the cartels, don't give them places to hide, back the Mexican military and help protect Mexico instead." Nov. 30, 2010, Rio Grande Valley, Texas

Whack-a-mole: WikiLeaks on Latin America: A cache on Mexico

This could be very interesting. We can hardly wait!

WikiLeaks on Latin America: A cache on Mexico | La Plaza | Los Angeles Times: "WikiLeaks has amassed 2,836 classified or secret records relating to Mexico, but the website has made no announcement on when or if any of those records will be released.

The Mexico records were discussed briefly in an online chat on Monday with the editor of the Spanish daily El Pais, which has been publishing some of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables (link in Spanish). The editor, Javier Moreno, says the Mexico records are related to 'the war against drug trafficking.' Moreno defended El Pais' decision to publish leaked U.S. cables, saying his newspaper's job is 'not to protect governments.'" Nov. 30, 2010

Collateral Damage: Cartel violence, kidnapping haunt university in Mexico

More of the price being paid by Mexicans for the war on drugs

Cartel violence, kidnapping haunt university in Mexico - CNN.com: "At the prestigious Tecnológico de Monterrey, the escalating violence has led to an exodus of students. Many of the nation's wealthy send their children to the school. They now fear the cartels and other common street thugs will increasingly prey on their children.

'What comes with drug cartels is a climate of extortion and a climate of danger,' Francesca (mother of a student) says. 'We don't know anymore who the enemy is. We're not sure. It could be my neighbor, it could be a security guard.'" Nov. 30, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexican cult-like drug gang says willing to disband

Does any sane person really think these "moles" have been whacked so badly that they are ready to give up a mult-billion dollar business?

Mexican cult-like drug gang says willing to disband "The brutal cult-like cartel that dominates drug production in Mexico's Michoacan state has made a perplexing call for a truce with the federal government, raising speculation the gang may be losing power.

Early in November, hand-printed banners were strung up in several towns across the western state of Michoacan, including in the state capital Morelia, signed by the cartel known as "La Familia" (The Family), that said the gang would disband if the federal government promised to defend the region from other drug gangs.

In another message released last week, La Familia threatened to suspend all handouts and "charitable activities" during December, unless authorities agreed to talks.

Some analysts think the mysterious messages are a sign Calderon's military crackdown, launched soon after he took office in late 2006, may have crippled La Familia. An alleged member of La Familia arrested this month said the apparent offer to dissolve was authentic, according to a police interrogation video provided to reporters. He also said that the gang was in decline and disorganized.

"Apparently the blows that the Family has suffered have hurt its ability to act," said drug policy expert Jorge Chabat.

Other analysts think the calls for dialogue are a ploy that is part of La Familia's propaganda campaign to maintain support from locals and they doubt that the gang has been seriously disrupted.  'We do not see the government winning that much ground,' said Scott Stewart, an analyst at security consultancy Stratfor. 'What we are seeing is a changing of hands of cartel territory but we are not seeing any real end to cartel activity or the violence.'" Nov. 29, 2010, Reuters

Immigration Legislation: Senator Reid's Push on Immigration Bill Finds Little Republican Support

It isn't looking good for the "Dream."

Senator Reid's Push on Immigration Bill Finds Little Republican Support - Bloomberg: "A drive by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to retool U.S. immigration policy this year is running into resistance from Republicans essential for passage.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said earlier this month he will put before the Senate a stand-alone measure (the DREAM Act) permitting legal status for some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The legislation’s advocates, including Washington- based America’s Voice, say it will likely need the support of a half-dozen Republican senators to pass during the lame-duck session.

Many targeted for support -- including retiring Republicans George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida -- say they won’t go along.

“Granting legal status should only be done as part of comprehensive reform to ensure that we finally address our broken immigration system,” said Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who also is retiring. He opposes voting on the measure “at this time and in this manner.”" Nov. 30, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Washington state won't join U.S. immigration program

Washington State is not signing on to Secure Communities

Washington state won't join U.S. immigration program - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington: "the State Patrol ... has chosen not to sign the agreement to activate Secure Communities here. “We are a state law-enforcement agency, and we don’t want to go down the road of being an immigration agency,” Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said. “The chief and the governor are of the same mind on this.”" Nov. 30, 2010

¡Viva México!: Can't keep tourists away from Mexico

In addition to wonderful climate, Mexico has wonderful people, culture and food. So keep coming!

Can't keep tourists away from Mexico | StarTribune.com: "Mexico's tourism sector is doing rather well. After an appalling 2009, in which the outbreak of swine flu emptied hotels overnight, the number of visitors this year will be close to 2008's record total of 22.6 million. Even excluding 50 million annual day-trippers, Mexico remains the world's tenth most-visited country. The numbers in August were the highest-ever for that month, despite a bomb attack on a U.S. consulate a few months earlier." Nov. 29, 2010, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Whack-a-mole: Expert says Azteca leader's arrest won't end violence

Another expert critic weighs in on the futility of the U.S. and Mexican government strategy of "whack-a-mole." This article also provides a history of the Azteca gang, "said to be one of the most violent of gangs in the U.S. allied with Mexican drug cartels and operate on both sides of the border."

Expert: Azteca leader's arrest won't end violence - El Paso Times:  "It is unlikely the arrest of the suspected leader of the Aztecas gang over the weekend will end the bloodshed in Juárez, said an researcher who studies Mexico. Mexican federal police arrested Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, known as "El Farmero," who allegedly told police he was responsible for 80 percent of the homicides in Juárez since August 2009.

'That sounds like a blue sky figure to me,' said George W. Grayson, a government professor specializing in Latin America at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. 'You know what a blue sky figure is? It's a high figure to make the government look good.'


Grayson is skeptical of the highly publicized arrests regularly presented at Mexican federal police headquarters in Mexico City. "I follow it fairly closely," he said. "When you have the PGR (Mexico attorney general's office) and the public security people, they always announce this is a big leader that has been caught and sometimes it is, but there have been a few (drug) lords that have been caught.

Even if Gallegos is the top gang leader, the violence in Juárez is not likely to end with his arrest, said Grayson, who studies politics and organized crime in Mexico. Grayson said underlings violently jockey for power each time a drug boss is eliminated. "There is a surge of violence after a leader has been captured, and the violence does not seem to abate," Grayson said. "It goes up and down some. Killing kingpins leads to an increase in violence.'" Nov. 2010

Collateral Damage: Four years on, drug war bleeds Mexican heartland

The drug war in the state of Michoacán. This article makes it appear as if the entire state is in flames. The violence is actually concentrated in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, where the methampehtamine ingredients arrive from Asia, and some other cities.  The important, underlying fact - as a Nov. 23 post described - is that Mexican and U.S. efforts to shut down the methampehtamine supply chain have failed.

Four years on, drug war bleeds Mexican heartland | Reuters: "A four-year army crackdown in Mexico's methamphetamine-producing heartland has provoked a dizzying increase in violence, fueling fears that the country is losing its battle against organized crime.

Grisly assassinations and gang extortion are terrifying Mexicans in the western state of Michoacan, where President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drug cartels, sending in about 5,000 soldiers in December 2006 following a narrow election victory.

Despite heavily armed patrols, hundreds of drug lab busts and thousands of arrests, locals say gangs in the president's home state wield huge power, ramping up drug output while using terror and bribes to control towns mired in poverty."Nov. 29, 2010

Nov 29, 2010

Collateral Damage: Female police chief gunned down

Another tragic tale. (and this report comes via a South African news source.)

Female police chief gunned down - World News | South Africa News |IOL.co.za: "A female police chief in northern Mexico - one of just a handful of women to take on the dangerous job amid the country's raging drug wars - was gunned down on Monday, officials here said.

Hermila Garcia Baeza, a trained attorney who had been police chief for only about a month in Meoqui, a town of 21 000 inhabitants, was shot to death on Monday by unknown gunmen, local prosecutors said." Nov. 30, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Thanksgiving-Day Drug Tunnel Signals New Cartel In Town

Damn moles! We keeping wacking them and they just go on digging.

Thanksgiving-Day Drug Tunnel Signals New Cartel In Town : NPR: "Federal investigators believe both underground passageways (the first was discovered Nov. 2) were under the control of the Sinaloa Cartel, which is run by Joaquin 'Chapo' Guzman, the world's most wanted drug lord.

What's important is that the Tijuana smuggling corridor has traditionally been controlled by the Tijuana Cartel, which is run by the Arellano Felix family. The recent tunnel discoveries confirm that the Sinaloans have expanded their turf — by brutality and negotiation — and now have a solid foothold in Tijuana, says David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego.

'The tunnel itself is not demonstrating any new characteristics — it's big, it's loaded with marijuana, and we've seen that before,' Shirk says. 'But what we haven't seen before this close to the Tijuana corridor is a Sinaloa operation of this magnitude.'

'The more we have tried to fortify and beef up border security, the more we have driven cartels underground, or out into the ocean, or more ingenious, clandestine methods of moving products across the border,' says Shirk.

The victory celebration among U.S. cops may be short-lived. If the past is a guide, Mexican drug smugglers will simply start digging new tunnels." Nov. 29, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexican president vows to beat violence, poverty

From China a report on a speech by the President of Mexico in which he proclaims, once again, success on many fronts. Well, the Chinese know a lot about propaganda, and about whacking moles.

Mexican president vows to beat violence, poverty - People's Daily Online: "Mexico can overcome organized crimes and poverty, and the government will do more to that end, President Felipe Calderon said Sunday.

Touting achievements after four years in office during a broadcast speech at the National Auditorium, Calderon said Mexico has cut extreme poverty by 25 percent over the period, boosting citizens' purchasing power and shoring up the economy significantly." Nov. 29, 2010

Globalization: Memphis builds ties with Mexico despite dangers

The growing inter-connectedness of the U.S. and Mexico: here it is Memphis, Tennesee and Monterrey.

Memphis builds ties with Mexico despite dangers » The Commercial Appeal: "Memphis leaders are taking a similar approach. They're deepening ties with Mexico, despite a wave of violence that has seen drug cartels gain power and begin preying on people not involved in the drug trade.

On Wednesday, officials plan a ceremony at City Hall to mark a preliminary agreement between Memphis and Monterrey, Mexico.

Mayor A C Wharton, who traveled to Mexico in June on a trade trip, says he hasn't talked with Mexican counterparts about security.

'I always work on the assumption that the law will prevail and I'm not going to stop doing business or change at all,' Wharton said. 'Once we do that, we've basically surrendered.'" Nov. 29, 2010

FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 22-28

Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 22-28: "Following are selected incidents that took place during the past week in Mexico's escalating war on powerful drug gangs." Nov. 29, 2010

Nov 28, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Arturo Gallegos Castrellón, Los Aztecas Gang Leader, Is Arrested

Again we shall see whether "whacking this mole," to paraphrase the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., leads to fewer moles, or just to new ones. 

Arturo Gallegos Castrellón, Los Aztecas Gang Leader, Is Arrested - NYTimes.com: "A notorious drug gang leader has been captured and has confessed to ordering most killings in the battle-scarred border city of Ciudad Juárez since August 2009, including the drive-by shootings of a United States consular employee and her husband, Mexico’s federal police said Sunday.

Arturo Gallegos Castrellón, 32, leader of the gang Los Aztecas, was arrested along with two other gang leaders in a Juárez neighborhood on Saturday, said Luis Cárdenas Palomino, chief of the regional security division of the federal police." Nov. 28, 2010

Immigration Politics: Latino leaders swirl around idea of Tequila Party

Whether or not this idea will go anywhere, we love the name.

Latino leaders swirl around idea of Tequila Party - Las Vegas Sun: "Latino leaders in Nevada and nationwide are quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group.

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country." Nov. 28, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexican nationals enrich city's culture, economy

The editor of the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News looks at the economic benefits to his city that come from the influx of wealth Mexicans fleeing the "collateral damage" of the drug war. Americans always look at the positive side. 

Mexican nationals enrich city's culture, economy: "For all the debate about Mexican nationals here illegally who take the lowest-paying jobs in the labor market, the more important truth is that the culture and economy of this city benefit enormously from the legal influx of middle-class and wealthy Mexicans — people with the education, drive and resources to replicate the good life enjoyed at home." Nov. 28, 2010

Mexican Politics: Seeing Mexico's Future in its Past

This is a very nice, discursive essay that uses the occasion of Mexico's 100th anniversary celebration of its Revolution to review the historical roots of comtemporary Mexico, the economic, social and political challenges that it faces, and the various approaches advocated by Mexicans to address these challenges. The writer, Kent Patterson, is the editor of Frontera NorteSur, an online publication of New Mexico State University that focuses on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Seeing Mexico's Future in its Past - Energy Publisher: "A century after Mexico rose against the oligarchy overseen by Diaz, pressures for sweeping changes are again boiling to the surface. While the population of the country grew from 97.5 million people in 2000 to an estimated 112.3 million in 2010, the economy sputtered, growing by only 1.7 percent in the years from 2006 to 2010. At least half the population grapples with poverty, and as many as eight million young people-the so-called 'Ninis'-do not have work or ready access to education.

As in 1910, burning questions simmer the political scene. What economic and political direction should Mexico take? How will change be achieved?" Nov. 27, 2010

Nov 27, 2010

Collateral Damage: Close relatives deny release of Diego


The family circle closest to Diego Fernandez de Cevallos denied speculation that the former senator had been freed by his captors. A nephew of the PAN politician maintains the version that 'Boss Diego' is free.

The journalist José Cárdenas, colaborator of this publishing house, put up new information through the social network Twitter. In his account at the microblogging site, Cardenas posted the following message: "Diego continues to be kidnapped ... it has gone on for 196 days. The release was a mega rumor. The family has just denied it ...".
Nov. 27, 2010, El Universal. (translated by Reed Brundage, Americas Mexicoblog)

Immigration Reality: Why Do Mexican Workers Head North

An interview with Timothy A. Wise, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, and leader of its Globalization and Sustainable Development Program. 


He provides a clear analysis of the destructive impact NAFTA had on Mexican family agriculture, which triggered more migration to the U.S. This seasonal migration, which was undocumented but readily tolerated to meet U.S. agricultural labor needs, was then re-defined as an "illegal" threat to the U.S. and met with increasingly punitive responses by the governemt.

Why Do Mexican Workers Head North: "... And in Mexico it of course boggles the mind that trade in everything was liberalized, the flow of goods, the flow of services, the flow of capital, but not the flow of people. It's the only thing that wasn't liberalized. And with the failure of job creation in Mexico, particularly the devastation in agriculture, the flow happened anyway. It happened.

We criminalized it and began to make that a much more--take a much more punitive look at that approach to that on the part of the US government, with huge cost to human life, just the deaths on the border, to breaking up families. It used to be that with a seasonal flow of migrants, family members would come work the fields in California or wherever and go back home. Now families are permanently broken up because it's too risky to go back and forth and back and forth. They come and they stay. It's too risky to bring their family members. So it's devastating to families as well." Nov. 26, 2010

Mexican Politician Released in Mexico

Mexican Politician Released in Mexico - NYTimes.com: "Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a prominent Mexican politician and former presidential candidate who was kidnapped in May, has been released, daily El Universal reported on Saturday.

The newspaper, quoting members of the politician's family, said Fernandez, who belongs to President Felipe Calderon's ruling party, was released on Friday night.

According to the daily, the family paid a ransom of around $20 million. 'Everything is fine, he is OK and everything came out well,' the family was quoted as saying." Nov. 27, 2010

Collateral Damage: Drug violence in Mexico has impact in Chicago

Drug violence in Mexico has impact in Chicago - Chicago Tribune: "Cipriana Jurado still weeps when she thinks of her longtime friend who was gunned down in the violence-plagued region of Ciudad Juarez, just below the Texas- Mexico border.

Now in Chicago, Jurado said she was warned after the January slaying that she could be next if she didn't leave town.

The veteran human-rights activist is part of a steady trickle of Mexican nationals who have been fleeing to Chicago and other U.S. cities amid a Mexican government war against drug cartels in Juarez that has led to 2,850 deaths so far this year, with criminals and authorities alike alleged to have committed atrocities." Nov. 26, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Let's Invade Mexico! by Fred Reed

This is from a website, LewRockwell.com, which describes itself as "anti-state, anti-war, pro-market." We don't hold all the same positions, but we like this writer's take on Gov. Perry's "whack-a-mole" suggestion that the U.S. invade Mexico.

Let's Invade Mexico! by Fred Reed: "Almost forever, the record for stupidity was held by Lumbo, a Cambrian trilobyte born to an early family of retarded trilobites. Lumbo also had Down’s Syndrome. It ws an unbeatable combination. Nobody and nothing was as slow as Lumbo. It was thought that he would hold the record for all time, but then came the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. He thinks it might be a good idea to invade Mexico. Lumbo doesn’t come close.

The governor thinks, barely, that such a martial lunge might help rid Mexico of drugs, or do something about immigration. He thinks it should perhaps be done with the permission of the Mexican government. It is my hope that Washington will not adopt the governor’s idea, but, given America’s penchant for lurching into catastriphic wars, perhaps we should examine the notion for advisability.

The governor’s wise plan begins by embodying the mistake the Pentagon always makes when it sets out to lose a war, which seems to be every time it holds a war. He, and it, begin by having no faint grasp of the people to be invaded, or of people at all." Nov. 27, 2010

Whack-a-mole: The El Paso Times says there are limits

Sitting on the border with Mexico, The El Paso Times says Texas Governor Perry's talk of sending troops to Mexico is foolish talk. Apparently there are limits to whacking those moles.

Another Voice: U.S. military intervention in Mexico is unwanted - Houston Chronicle: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry would support sending in U.S. troops to quell violence in Mexico if Mexico asked for a U.S. military presence. ...

Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said, "Mexico has reiterated on repeated occasions that the presence of U.S. troops on Mexican soil is not and will not be an option. ...

From a practical point of view, it's unlikely that U.S. civilian and military leaders would wish to become involved in yet another foreign conflict, even though Mexico is right next door. The U.S. is still involved in Iraq, is heavily engaged in Afghanistan and faces threats in places such as Iran and North Korea. It's not clear that the U.S. military could handle any significant engagement anywhere else, including Mexico, at this time.

... talk of using U.S. troops in Mexico, no matter what the disclaimers, isn't useful and doesn't serve to improve U.S. Mexico relations or further the cause of efforts to quell the violence." Nov. 26, 2010, El Paso Times

Nov 26, 2010

Immigration legislation: Illegal immigrant students tell of lost opportunities

Youth with dreams

Illegal immigrant students tell of lost opportunities - The Boston Globe: "After Sunday services, they trooped upstairs for a talk. In the small crowd was an aspiring medical student from India, a Brazilian youth who dreams of studying physics at MIT, and a budding young businesswoman from the Dominican Republic.

Each is in the United States illegally, and each had come to reveal stories of their immigration status to strangers — and to tell of opportunities cut short by laws that discourage even promising students from advancing to college." Nov. 26, 2010

Immigration Politics - South Carolina Immigration crackdown debated by legislature

Another state, South Carolina, steps into the immigration fray

Immigration crackdown debated | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC: "COLUMBIA -- South Carolina lawmakers are approaching the matter of a further crackdown on illegal immigration from several perspectives.

Take the state budget. Lawmakers face a $1 billion budget shortfall when they return to session in January, but the state continues to pay unknown amounts to house illegal immigrants in prisons and jails, process them through the judicial system and provide social services and schooling to their children.

'It's costing us as a society a significant amount of money for them to be here in an undocumented state,' Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said.

For Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, illegal immigration is a matter of human welfare. With violence in Mexico and some Latin American countries spiking, Ford said illegal immigrants in South Carolina should be given a safe harbor, at least temporarily." Nov. 26, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Federal agents find another border drug tunnel

Gee whiz, we keep finding them, but the moles just won't stop digging more! Does anyone in the U.S. government ask themselves "why?"

Federal agents find another border drug tunnel - CNN.com: "U.S. authorities say they have discovered another extensive drug tunnel that stretches from a home in Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego, California." Nov. 26, 2010

Collateral Damage: Art inspired by Mexico drug war gives new life to old building

Here art speaks the truth of a human tragedy

Art inspired by Mexico drug war gives new life to old building - Houston Chronicle: "BROWNSVILLE — Time has etched history into the bricks of 409 E. 13th; this pre-Civil War building a block from the Rio Grande has withstood the sieges, raids, blockade running, bootlegging and epic storms that have blown through this city at the tip of the Texas borderlands.

That history continues to unfold as the address takes on its latest incarnation as a gallery, workshop and meeting place for artists who find the rattling gunfire and smoke plumes from Matamoros, Mexico, whispered accounts of neighborhood teenagers believed dead after spurts of drug soldier glory and images of destruction and bloodshed coming across their computer screens all translating into a muse they can't ignore." Nov. 25, 2010, San Antonio Express-News

Nov 25, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico's modern city succumbs to drug violence

An overview and background of the deterioration of the City of Monterrey

Mexico's modern city succumbs to drug violence The Associated Press: "... drug violence has painted Monterrey with the look and feel of the gritty border 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the north as two former allies, the Gulf and Zetas gangs, fight for control of Mexico's third-largest — and wealthiest — city.
The deterioration happened nearly overnight, laying bare issues that plague the entire country: a lack of credible policing and the Mexican habit of looking the other way at the drug trade as long as it was orderly and peaceful." Nov. 25, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Dollar vs. Dollar: US Consumers Battle US Taxpayers in Global Drug War

A brilliant way to understand the war on drugs. "The Citizen" is the student paper of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Dollar vs. Dollar: US Consumers Battle US Taxpayers in Global Drug War | The Citizen: "The drug war is best understood as a battle of dollar versus dollar — a bloody war between the dollars of US taxpayers and the dollars of US consumers.
On one side, Americans pay large sums of money to vast networks of people who grow, process, ship, smuggle, defend, and deliver drugs to the US. On the other side, Americans also pay another network of people vast amounts to find, fight, arrest, and kill those whom we hire to provide the drugs to begin with.

... many Latin American nations are becoming less willing to play host to the outsourced drug war between American taxpayers and American consumers. So long as US dollars finance both sides of this bloody international battle, it makes little difference what is done anywhere else." Nov. 25, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexico to send in more troops in drug war

If the effort to whack the moles doesn't work, send in more mole whackers. One definition of insanity is: when what you are doing doesn't work, do it more. 

Mexico to send in more troops in drug war: "Mexico will send more troops and federal police to fight drug violence that has spiraled out of control this year in northeastern Mexico along the U.S. border, the federal government said Wednesday.

The goal of Coordinated Northeast Operation is to reinforce government authority in the two states most heavily affected by fighting set off earlier this year by a split between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, federal police spokesman Alejandro Poire said." Nov. 25, 2010, AP/San Francisco Chronicle

Nov 24, 2010

Collateral Damage: The troubled state of Tamaulipas: 'The narcos rule our lives'

An over-view by the LA Times of recent events - and the paper's coverage of them - in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.

The troubled state of Tamaulipas: 'The narcos rule our lives' | Los Angeles Times: "Tamaulipas, a state in Mexico's northeast across from Texas, is currently the site of some of the most severe clashes in Mexico's drug war. Fierce fighting between drug gangs and the military in the streets of several cities has been reported, and at least one town emptied out in response to the violence, its residents becoming 'refugees' in their own country." Nov. 24, 2010

Collateral Damage: A city fogged in by fear and uncertainty

An LA Times reporter visits Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico

A city fogged in by fear and uncertainty - Los Angeles Times: "A visit to Nuevo Laredo, in the violence-ridden state of Tamaulipas, reveals a city in limbo. Residents try to go about their lives but with one eye out for gunfights and narco roadblocks." Nov. 18, 2010

Collateral Damage: MEXICO: Sexist Violence Invisible in War on Drugs

MEXICO: Sexist Violence Invisible in War on Drugs - IPS ipsnews.net: "The militarisation of the war on drugs has had many impacts on Mexico's population of 108 million.

One very clear effect is 'the invisibility of violence against women,' David Peña of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers told IPS. His organisation brought the case of three young women (the 'Cotton Field case') killed in Ciudad Juárez, on the U.S. border, to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which held the Mexican state responsible for the killings.

'The number of deaths is so great that there is no differentiation between male and female victims. Worse yet, there is no specification of motives in the murders,' he said.

'If a girl is found dead on the street and the body shows signs of violence, whether she has a bullet wound, is tied up, or there is a dead man next to her, her death is recorded in the category of 'organised crime',' Peña said." Nov. 24, 2010

Immigration Reality: We Are America: Immigrant stories

A project of the Center for Community Change, this website presents the personal stories of today's immigrants

We Are America: "We Are America raises the voice of immigrants in the dialogue around our country's broken immigration system. A story bank of video, audio, photo and text stories tell about real people and what they have at stake as new immigrants to the United States."

Immigration Reality: A Pan-American Nightmare: Rising Violence against Migrants

A Pan-American Nightmare: Rising Violence against Migrants - Latin America Working Group: "This past August, the horrific massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants in northern Mexico brought to the world’s attention the daily violence and exploitation suffered by migrants on their way to the United States. There is no question: migrants in their journey to jobs and loved ones in el norte confront unimaginable dangers and abuses, as chronicled in the recently released documentary The Invisibles." Nov. 23, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Huge amounts of imported medicine, chemicals fuel Mexico's booming meth industry

And the U.S. and Mexican governments continue to pursue the fantasy that they can stop the moles.

Huge amounts of imported medicine, chemicals fuel Mexico's booming meth industry: "Exploiting loopholes in the global economy, Mexican crime syndicates are importing mass quantities of the cold medicines and common chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine - turning Mexico into the No. 1 source for all meth sold in the United States, law enforcement agents say. ...

Cartels have quickly learned to use dummy corporations, false labeling and lax customs enforcement in China, India and Bangladesh to smuggle tons of the pills into Mexico for conversion into methamphetamine. Ordinary cold, flu and allergy medicine used to make methamphetamine - pills banned in Mexico and restricted in the United States - are still widely available in many countries.

In the past 18 months, Mexican armed forces have raided more than 325 sophisticated factories capable of producing a million pounds of potent methamphetamine a year." Nov. 23, 2010, Washington Post

Immigration Legislation: Push in Iowa and California For Arizona-Style Immigration Laws

Note that this report is from Fox News Latino!

Push in Iowa and California For Arizona-Style Immigration Laws - Fox News Latino: "In Iowa and California, ballot initiatives are moving forward on measures that would allow authorities to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally." Nov. 24, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Poll: 49 pct of Mexicans think drug war a failure

The Mexican public on President Calderon's "whack-a-mole" war. This is sounding a lot like some other wars we have known:Vietnam, Iraq.

Poll: 49 pct of Mexicans think drug war a failure: "Nearly half the Mexican public considers President Felipe Calderon's offensive against drug cartels a failure, a poll suggested Tuesday for the first time since the conservative leader launched the deadly crackdown in 2006.

The survey shows 49 percent of respondents consider the crackdown has failed, compared with just 33 percent who think it has succeeded. Last time the Mitofsky polling agency conducted the same survey, in March, the results were almost the opposite, with 47 percent of those polled considering the drug war a success, while 36 percent thought it a failure." Nov. 23, 2010, AP/Washington Post

Nov 23, 2010

Immigration Legislation: Alabama Senator outlines attacks on immigration reform plan with DREAM Act 'white paper'

The battle over the DREAM Act continues. You called it right, Frank Sharry, it's "demagoguery."

Jeff Sessions outlines attacks on immigration reform plan with DREAM Act 'white paper' | al.com:
"U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, is apparently taking a lead dog position for conservatives on the proposed DREAM Act, which proponents say would allow some illegal aliens a path to citizenship through military service but that opponents argue would throw a blanket of amnesty over millions of illegal residents.

A "white paper" analysis of the DREAM Act bears Sessions' signature and letterhead and is being distributed to congressional staffs and people outside Congress who are active or concerned about issues related to illegal immigration...

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said in a prepared statement that Sessions was giving immigrants the 'Sotomayor' treatment, a reference to his opposition to the appointment of the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

'Jeff Sessions is blowing the dog whistle of demagoguery to rally opposition to the DREAM Act,' Sharry said. 'He and his staff are trying to paint young immigrant kids – who grew up in America, did everything asked of them, and want the chance to go to college or serve in the military – as criminals and a drain on society. This is factually inaccurate and morally reprehensible. This type of attack didn’t work for Sharron Angle in Nevada in 2010 and it won’t work for the Republican Party in 2012 or long-term.'" Nov. 23, 2010, Alabama Press-Register

Collateral Damage: Mexico drug war, holiday travel: Mexican government warns visiting expats to travel in convoys

A relatively small but symbolically significant "collateral damage" of the drug war


Mexico drug war, holiday travel: Mexican government warns visiting expats to travel in convoys - latimes.com: "It is an annual ritual, a pilgrimage that Mexicans living in the United States make to visit hometowns and families for the holidays.

But this year, the terrifying drug war violence sweeping parts of Mexico is taking its toll.

The Mexican government is warning travelers driving into Mexico for the holiday season — many from Southern California — to move in convoys and only during daylight hours." Nov. 24, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexican officer's bid to escape drug war, gain asylum to be heard today in Dallas

Mexican officer's bid to escape drug war, gain asylum to be heard today in Dallas | Dallas Morning News: "José Alarcón's high-profile case and the real-time drama of the U.S.-Mexico drug war are expected to be heard today in a Dallas immigration court.

Alarcón said he was persecuted as a policeman who challenged the plot line of plata-o-plomo, a bribe of silver or lead from drug cartels. His case and the exploding violence in Juárez have some questioning the high asylum rejection rates for Mexicans – particularly for those in security roles fighting, in part, to keep cartels from access to the U.S. markets. ...

The Alarcón case is believed to be the first on the crowded court dockets here – and one of the few nationally – involving a Mexican law enforcement officer. Alarcón and his attorney must prove that as a municipal officer, he belonged to a social group that was persecuted and that the government was unable to protect him." Nov. 23, 2010

U.S.-Mexican Relations: Mexican senators object to strings attached to U.S. aid money

We don't know how reliable this source is. We'll keep an eye out for other reports of this story. The '"strings attached" to the Merida Initiative are human rights protections.

Mexican senators object to strings attached to U.S. aid money - Examiner.com: "... some Mexican legislators are demanding revisions to the treaty that permits Mexico and the U.S. to cooperate in the war on violent drug gangs. According to a petition circulating in Mexico City, senators from Mexico’s major political parties are calling on President Felipe Calderon to renegotiate the Merida Initiative, a treaty that was signed by President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox." Nov. 23, 2010

Immigration Politics: 'Birthright citizenship' will be target of House GOP majority

A preview of what is to come in the new Congress

'Birthright citizenship' will be target of House GOP majority - MiamiHerald.com: "As one of its first acts, the new Congress will consider denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States.

Those children, who are now automatically granted citizenship at birth, will be one of the first targets of the Republican-led House when it convenes in January.

GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the incoming chairman of the subcommittee that oversees immigration, is expected to push a bill that would deny 'birthright citizenship' to such children.

The measure, assailed by critics as unconstitutional, is an indication of how the new majority intends to flex its muscles on the volatile issue of illegal immigration." Nov. 18, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Tijuana Police Chief Battles Corruption, Cartels

This cop really whacks those moles!

Tijuana Police Chief Battles Corruption, Cartels : NPR: "In Mexico, Tijuana's police chief is known as an enforcer: In his two years as chief, Lt. Col. Julian Leyzaola has purged his force of corrupt cops and returned a sense of safety to the city.

But human rights groups say he has gone too far — even using torture — in his battle against some of the most powerful criminal syndicates in the world.

Leyzaola is a fit 50-year-old with sinewy forearms and a furrowed brow over an intense gaze. He came up through the ranks of the Mexican military and demands military-style loyalty and discipline from his troops." Nov. 22, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico - Doctor Mistakenly Killed By Police Seeking Assassins - NYTimes.com


Mexico - Doctor Mistakenly Killed By Police Seeking Assassins - NYTimes.com: "An ophthalmologist in the Pacific state of Colima was accidentally shot dead by the police at a roadblock set up as part of the search for the assassins of an ex-governor, Colima’s governor said on Monday. He said officers shot Dr. Mario Eduardo Robles Gil, 56, when the doctor “made suspicious moves” in his S.U.V. at the roadblock near the home of former Gov. Silverio Cavazos Ceballos in the city of Colima. Mr. Cavazos was gunned down earlier Sunday by armed men who wounded the state’s economic development secretary." Nov. 22, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Guatemala: U.S. should look beyond Mexico in fighting drug trade

The "moles" are multiplying and moving out of Mexico. Another demonstration that the war on drugs is a bottomless pit.

Guatemala: U.S. should look beyond Mexico in fighting drug trade - CNN.com: "The United States should provide more money to fight drug trafficking in Central America instead of focusing aid dollars only on neighboring Mexico, a top Guatemalan official said.

Guatemala has seen a significant spike in drug violence, including clashes between authorities and members of the Zetas drug gang, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal told CNN en Español on Monday. And the country needs help combating cartels, which are increasingly carving out new drug transport paths, he said.

Menocal said Guatemalan authorities have seized $5.8 billion worth of assets from suspected criminal organizations since 2008 -- a quantity equivalent to country's entire budget." Nov. 23, 2010

Whack-a-mole: FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 15-22 | Reuters

FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 15-22 | Reuters: "Following are selected incidents that took place during the past week in Mexico's escalating war on powerful drug gangs." Nov. 23, 2010

Legalization: The War On Drugs - An Australian Interview with Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance


The Australian Broadcasting Company interviews the director of the Drug Policy Alliance

War on drugs:"Trying to create a drug-free society makes no sense. There's never been a drug free society. There's never going to be a drug-free society.

The real challenge for us is not 'How do we keep these drugs at bay? How do we build a moat between these drugs and our children?

The real question is, ‘How do we accept the fact that these drugs are here to stay, and that the real challenge is to learn how to live with them so they cause the least possible harm and in some cases the greatest possible benefits?’" Nov. 23, 2010

Nov 22, 2010

Viva Mexico!: Zapotec Indians Grow Trees, and Jobs, in Oaxaca, Mexico

Some good news from Mexico: community ownership, sustainable forestry and jobs!

Zapotec Indians Grow Trees, and Jobs, in Oaxaca, Mexico - NYTimes.com: "Three decades ago the Zapotec Indians here in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico fought for and won the right to communally manage the forest. Before that, state-owned companies had exploited it as they pleased under federal government concessions.

They slowly built their own lumber business and, at the same time, began studying how to protect the forest. Now, the town’s enterprises employ 300 people who harvest timber, produce wooden furniture and care for the woodlands, and Ixtlán has grown to become the gold standard of community forest ownership and management, international forestry experts say." Nov. 22, 2010

Mexican politics and the Whack-a-mole drug war

This editorial from the Austin (Texas) Statesman tells Texans that they need to pay attention to the politics of the coming 2012 presidential election in Mexico, as it will affect what Texas - and the U.S. - can do about the drug war.

Mexican politics and the drug war: "Texans, take note now: Our approach to border security will have to change after the Mexican presidential elections in 2012.

Texas politicians hopped on the border security bandwagon during the recently concluded campaigns. Enforcement approaches are necessary but might be insufficient to stem either the flow of illegal immigrants or drugs. Texas policymakers should be prepared to adopt a variety of approaches to resolve its border problems." Nov. 22, 2010, Austin Statesman editorial

Collateral Damage: Refugees: no return to town hit by Mexico drug war

An AP reporter goes to take a look at the abandoned Ciudad Mier

The Associated Press: Refugees: no return to town hit by Mexico drug war: "While Mexicans increasingly have fled border towns up and down the Rio Grande Valley, Ciudad Mier is the most dramatic example so far of the increasing ferocity of war between rival drug cartels, and the government's failure to fight back.

The state and federal governments say it's safe to go back and that people are returning. One official even invited tourists to return. The scenes witnessed by The Associated Press say something else." Nov. 22, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexico makes arrest in U.S. consulate shooting deaths

Got another mole, maybe.

Mexico makes arrest in U.S. consulate shooting deaths – CNN.com Blogs: "Mexican federal police have arrested a man who authorities say could have been involved in the March shooting deaths of three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the country's public safety ministry said." Nov. 20, 2010

Immigration Politics: Undocumented Immigration: A Moral Test for the U.S.

We think that a critical comment, posted on the original website in response to this article, points to the fear underlying the process of criminalizing migrants as "illegal aliens."  It is the fear that the U.S. is in decline and the dream of prosperity for all is fading. Quote: "At a time when America is turning into a third world country a la Mexico, I don’t think we can afford to have tens of millions of illegals using what little resources remain. Just look at what is going on in California and Arizona. And until our economy recovers, hostility towards illegals will remain."

Max Benavidez: Undocumented Immigration: A Moral Test for the U.S. | Capitol Hill Blue: "We are at moment in our national history when we — whether liberal, conservative or whatever — have to recognize that our behavior around the issue of undocumented immigration is a more honest reflection of who we are than who we say we are. It’s time to bring the moral equation into the picture. A nation without a moral compass is nothing more than a collection of economic and social relations without a soul. We’re better than that." Nov. 22, 2010, originally in the Huffington Post

Immigration Crackdown: Reversals by immigration officials are sowing mistrust

If the "laws ... are unfair and outdated," why is the administration not just enforcing them, but - as with Secure Communities - pushing their implementation? So we don't buy that explanation. 

Reversals by immigration officials are sowing mistrust: "Advocates on both the right and the left say these and other incidents have created a climate of mistrust in which immigration officials initially tell people want they want to hear, only to antagonize them later when reality kicks in.

Defenders of the administration say the problem is that officials have been placed in the impossible position of enforcing laws that they themselves believe are unfair and outdated." Nov. 22, 2010, Washington Post

Collateral Damage: Gunmen Kill Former Mexico Governor

Gunmen Kill Former Mexico Governor - NYTimes.com: "A former governor of the Pacific state of Colima was shot dead and another state official was wounded on Sunday by a group of armed men, the state attorney general’s office said." Nov.21, 2010

Nov 21, 2010

Immigration Reality: In Denial: the Complexities of "Illegal" Immigration

The Fresno Bee, in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a center of agriculture and "illegal" migrant labor, has done a week-long series on the inconsistencies of U.S. citizens and politicians regarding the realities and policies of the immigration issue.

fresnobee.com - In Denial: "The Fresno Bee spent months interviewing more than a hundred farmers, public officials, experts and illegal immigrants. The goal: to explain how inconsistent laws, policies and attitudes have made illegal immigrants a central — yet hidden — part of the San Joaquin Valley’s economy." Nov. 14 - 20, 2010

Nov 20, 2010

Immigration Reality: Special report on illegal immigration - Entry into U.S. a game of chance for low-skilled workers

A good, rather detailed report, from the Sacremento (California) Bee, on how U.S. visa regulations, for green cards and for temporary work, make legal permanent immigration or legal, temporary migration for seasonal work so difficult that they promote illegal immgration.

Special report on illegal immigration: Entry into U.S. a game of chance for low-skilled workers - Sacramento Bee: "The government offers an unlimited number of one-year and three-year H-2A guest-worker visas for agriculture workers, but those visas must be sponsored by an employer -- and few farmers use them.

Through August of this year, only 34 of the estimated 40,900 full-time farmers and ranchers in California asked for worker visas through the H-2A guest-worker program.

Across the country, about 150,000 H-2A visas were issued last year — but most went to Arizona employers. Only 5,018 visas went to California employers, and fewer than 200 went to employers in the central San Joaquin Valley. By contrast, there are about 650,000 farmworkers in California alone — mostly illegal immigrants.

Many farmers say they don’t apply for the H-2A visas because they come with several strings attached. First, employers must advertise the available jobs to legal U.S. residents and prove that no one here will take them. Then farmers must pay the guest workers a government-regulated wage and provide free housing and transportation.

... For years, the farming lobby has tried unsuccessfully to alter the H-2A program through a bill dubbed AgJOBS. The bill would speed up the process of getting H-2A visas approved, let employers pay a housing allowance in lieu of free housing and loosen the government-regulated wage requirements." Nov. 20, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Squelch any talk of U.S. troops joining Mexico’s drug war

From Youngstown, Ohio, an editorial response to Texas governor Allen's "mole whacking" talk of sending U.S. troops into Mexico.

Squelch any talk of U.S. troops joining Mexico’s drug war-Youngstown (Ohio) News,: "U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in a war with Mexican drug gangs should be off the table. We are trying to extricate our troops from two other fronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress is talking about pulling troops out of strategic outposts in Europe and Asia. This is not the time for the governor of Texas or anyone else to be rattling sabers toward Mexico." 2o, 2010, The Vindicator

Collateral Damage: Northern Mexico's State of Anarchy

This report places the abandonment of Ciudad Mier in the context of the over-all "collateral damage" in Tamaulipas State.

Northern Mexico's State of Anarchy - WSJ.com: "... some parts of Mexico are caught in the grip of violence so profound that government seems almost beside the point. This is especially true in northern places like Ciudad Mier and surrounding Tamaulipas state—a narrow, cleaver-shaped province that snakes along the Texas border and hugs Mexico's Gulf Coast.

"Public space has been taken over by criminals, and Tamaulipas society is at their mercy," says Carlos Flores, a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut who studies the state's crime groups." Nov. 20, 2010

Nov 19, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Lawmakers block Mexico's crucial drug war reforms

Yes, there are politics in Mexico, too, including a 2012 presidential election. It's not the old, one-party rule.

Lawmakers block Mexico's crucial drug war reforms | Reuters: "Mexico's divided Congress is unlikely to pass President Felipe Calderon's pivotal plans to reform the police and combat money laundering, risking a major setback in the war against violent drug cartels.

...  squabbling in Congress and opposition within his own ruling National Action Party (PAN) are stalling the initiatives Calderon says are crucial to fighting organized crime. Amid jockeying before elections in 2012 and disputes over political alliances, Calderon appears unable to forge enough support and, at best, will see his plans heavily watered down." Nov. 19, 2010

Immigration Reality: Immigration law a threat to Texas competitiveness | Viewpoints

Here, from Texas, is a pro-business, anti-restriction point of view on immigration. 

Immigration law a threat to Texas competitiveness | Viewpoints, Outlook | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "Our immigration system is an outdated bureaucratic nightmare in which officials frequently lose paperwork, fail to issue proper documentation, and delay cases for years. Involving local police in enforcing these laws will only complicate matters more.

Does Texas want to drive away entrepreneurs in a rough economy? If it copies Arizona, that is exactly what will happen. According to the Kauffman Foundation, a leading group on entrepreneurship research, 540 out of every 100,000 immigrants start a new business every month. For Hispanics, the largest immigrant group, the rate is 480. The native-born rate of business creation is 280." Nov. 18, 2010, Hearst News Service

Collateral Damage: Mexico's medical workers on the front lines of drug war

More destruction of Mexican society, so called "collateral damage."

Mexico's medical workers on the front lines of drug war: "With alarming frequency, narcotics violence is spilling into hospitals and clinics across Mexico. Drug traffickers have shot doctors who treated them. They've burst into emergency rooms and executed their enemies on operating tables. They've hijacked ambulances, demanding that paramedics save the lives of wounded gunmen.

'These attacks have not been reported by the press, who fear reprisals,' said Ricardo Monreal, a federal senator and former governor of Zacatecas state. 'Like teachers who are afraid to teach, the doctors do not want to work. This is more collateral damage generated by the fight against organized crime.'

"This is having a significant impact on public health," said human rights activist and university professor Victor Quintana, a former legislator from the border state of Chihuahua. "Organized crime is engaged in kidnappings, constant intimidation and extortion. Many doctors have been forced to emigrate because they had to close their clinics. This is reducing medical services."

"Before, hospitals were respected," said Martin Barron Cruz, a researcher at the National Institute of Criminal Science in Mexico City. "This adds to the psychological war by organized crime, as a show of force that is part of an alarming social deterioration."" Nov. 19, Washington Post 2010

Nov 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: Texas Sen. John Cornyn accuses Democrats of playing politics with immigration policy by forcing vote on DREAM Act

Playing politics? A politician crying "foul"?

Texas Sen. John Cornyn accuses Democrats of playinAmericas MexicoBlogg politics with immigration policy by forcing vote on DREAM Act | Dallas Morning News: "Cornyn has supported the so-called DREAM Act in the past, but Thursday criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to put it to a Senate vote after Thanksgiving – an effort designed in part to put Republicans in a political squeeze.

“It demonstrates, if Sen. Reid chooses to do this, his tin ear when it comes to what the America people are saying concerns them the most about our broken immigration system, and that is the lack of border security,” Cornyn told Texas reporters in a conference call." Nov. 18, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Detainee says Mexico's La Familia gang in decline

A second installment in story of the La Familia letter.  We very much doubt that La Familia moles have been sufficiently whacked to give up a multi-billion dollar-a-year business. 

Detainee says Mexico's La Familia gang in decline: "A captured drug trafficker said Wednesday that the boss of one of Mexico's fiercest cartels is physically and emotionally drained and that the leader's recent offer to disband the gang is real.

Sergio Moreno Godinez, known as 'Yellow,' said La Familia was behind a letter last week that offered to dissolve if the government will protect citizens in the western state of Michoacan, where the cartel is based." Nov. 17, 2010, AP/Washington Post

Immigration Politics: Fox & Friends still cherry-picking crime stats to bash immigrants

More on the U.Va. study of Prince William County and how it is being reported by Fox News.

Fox & Friends still cherry-picking crime stats to bash immigrants | Media Matters for America: "the study itself concluded that 'we find that the policy has not affected most types of crime in Prince William County, in large part because illegal immigrants account for only a small percent of arrests overall and a small to modest share of offenders for most types of crime.' They go on to note that about 70% of 'arrests of illegal immigrants were for just three specific offenses: public drunkenness, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a license.' They also 'caution' that 'some of' the drop in assault rates 'may also have been due to a reduction in reporting of assaults by illegal immigrants (and perhaps legal immigrants as well)." Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Study finds high costs, questionable return for Virginia county’s immigration policy

A somewhat closer look at the U. of Virgina study of Prince William County's anti-immigrant policy, which finds the results to be rather ambiguous.

Study finds high costs, questionable return for Virginia county’s immigration policy « The Washington Independent: "... both sides seem to think the study confirms their beliefs: Advocates of the policy said the study showed it was successful in driving out immigrants, while critics pointed to findings that crime and spending were mostly unchanged by the policy." Nov. 17, 2010

Immigration Politics: AZ boycott over immigration law sees mixed results

AZ boycott over immigration law sees mixed resultThe Associated Press: "Businesses have lost lucrative contracts and conventions have relocated, performers called off concerts, and cities and counties in about a dozen states passed resolutions to avoid doing business with Arizona. A report released Thursday says the boycott has cost the state $141 million in lost meeting and convention business since Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April.

But the state's economy hasn't come to a screeching halt — as some who organized the boycott hoped. In fact, more people went to the Grand Canyon this summer than last year, and more stayed in Arizona's hotels and resorts, according to a review by The Associated Press." Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: California student leader's immigration status leads to DREAM Act rally

Go, Pedro!

California student leader's immigration status leads to DREAM Act rally - MiamiHerald.com: "Pedro Ramirez is best known as Fresno State's student body president. Far less public is his status as an illegal immigrant -- at least, until this week. That's when an anonymous e-mail, sent to The Bee and other media outlets, prompted Ramirez to confirm publicly that fact.

Now he's helping organize an on-campus rally Friday in support of the federal DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. The legislation pending in Congress would allow some longtime residents like him to become legal U.S. residents after spending two years in college or the military." Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: What Democrats owe Latinos: Passing the Dream Act

What Democrats owe Latinos: Passing the Dream Act-Edward Schumacher-Matos: "The Dream Act is motherhood and apple pie. Tacos and salsa. Republicans helped draft the nine-year-old measure. So did the Pentagon, which is relying on it for recruits. We have already invested in educating these young people. Surely the political wizards know how to shame opponents into doing something so obviously good for the country." Nov. 19, 2010, Washington Post column

Immigration Reality: Documentary Spotlights ‘War On The Border’

An NPR interview with the producer of a Current TV series on the border, immigration and the drug war. The series includes a correspodent traveling with a "coyote" to cross the border and another who joins a raid on a marijuana operation.

Immigration Documentary Spotlights ‘War On The Border’ : NPR: "Current TV's documentary 'Vanguard' is a three-part series that focuses on the people who are at the center of the debate over immigration — Mexican migrants looking to cross into the U.S. and the agents looking to take drug traffickers at the border. Host Michel Martin talks with Adam Yamaguchi, executive producer and correspondent for the report 'War on the Border.'" Nov. 17, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Rick Perry Willing To Send U.S. Troops Into Mexico To Fight Drug War (VIDEO)

The mole whacking insanity only grows. At least Gov. Perry says he would ask Mexico's permission. Good thing he is only a governor. But recall, we had a governor of Texas who became president, and he didn't ask permission to invade two countries that he claimed threatened U.S. national security. And the next presidential campaign starts soon. 

Rick Perry Willing To Send U.S. Troops Into Mexico To Fight Drug War (VIDEO): "Texas Gov. Rick Perry, soon to be the leader of the Republican Governors Association, continued his argument Thursday that the federal government needed to halt their intervention in the private sector and refocus their energy toward securing the border -- even if that means sending U.S. troops into Mexico." Nov. 18, 2010, Huffington Post

Immigration Politics: Protestors disrupt Immigration reform press conference

What is here called "immigration reform" legislation in Utah is an anti-immigrant crack-down. It"s supporters include the Minutemen, who called the recently released "Utah Compact," - issued by a broad spectrum of Utah community leaders advocating moderation and compassion - "hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the highest order." 

Protestors disrupt Immigration reform press conference - ABC 4.com - Salt Lake City, Utah News: "Immigration reform (is) still causing controversy in Utah. On Wednesday, groups against the bill protested at the capitol building during representative Steve Sandstorm's speech, who were holding placards.

Sandstorm said the bill is going to be released to prevent illegal aliens from taking advantage of social programs. 'My bill specifically target the criminal elements that are here in the States, the people that are stealing the identity of our children, the people that are taking advantage of our social programs,” said Sandstrom. " Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: Editorial: Patrick's message on immigration - Milford, MA - The Milford Daily News

Hurrah for Gov. Patrick of Massachusetts and for the Milford Daily News!

Editorial: Patrick's message on immigration - Milford, MA - The Milford Daily News: "At a time when America's harsh debate over immigration dismays many Americans and raises concerns overseas, (Gov. Deval) Patrick sounds a different note.

'The spirit of human kindness and compassion will flourish in this commonwealth. We will do what we can,' he said. 'I know that embracing newcomers is out of fashion these days. The concern over illegal immigration has become so shrill that all immigrants get swept up in that emotion. I want you to know that you are welcome here in this commonwealth. 'This is your commonwealth. This is your home.'

That's an important message. Immigrants have been helping build Massachusetts for 390 years. Bay State businesses, from neighborhood restaurants to high-tech giants, rely on immigrant labor. Without immigrants, the state's workforce would have shrunk in recent years. Our universities attract more foreign students than all but three other states. Foreign tourists pour millions of dollars into the state's economy every year.

Whether on trade, tourism or immigration, Massachusetts must be open to the world, and the people of the world must know they are welcome here. In delivering that full-throated message, Patrick is both smart and right." Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: College student body president admits he's an illegal immigrant

These "Dream Act" youth are confronting our country with the complex reality of immigration. They call themselves "Americans without documents." It is an accurate description of their reality. Will the lame duck Congress recognize this truth or punish them with more merciless, self-serving political demogoguery?

College student body president admits he's an illegal immigrant - CNN.com: "Pedro Ramirez is the student body president at Fresno State University in California. He is also an illegal immigrant.
Ramirez moved with his parents from Mexico when he was 3. He has little memory of living anywhere other than Tulare, California, located about 45 miles outside Fresno.
He said he assumed he was a U.S. citizen until his senior year in high school when his parents broke the news to him." Nov. 18, 2010

Immigration Madness: 'Hulk' Actor, 55 Others Join Arizona Sheriff's Illegal Alien Crackdown Posse - FoxNews.com

We recently wrote an editorial about Boys, Toys and the War on Drugs. The same fantasies underlie what this story relates, which we would call: Boys, Toys and the War on Immigrants.

'Hulk' Actor, 55 Others Join Arizona Sheriff's Illegal Alien Crackdown Posse - FoxNews.com: "PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Wednesday swore in 56 members of a new volunteer sheriff's posse group that includes 'The Incredible Hulk' star Lou Ferrigno.

The sheriff says action-film star Steven Seagal and actor Peter Lupus of TV's 'Mission: Impossible' fame also are members of the posse group, though they weren't sworn in at Wednesday's ceremony." Nov. 18, 2010

Nov 17, 2010

Immigration Legislation: Reid to Seek Senate Votes by Year-End on Immigration Law, Military Gay Ban

Reid to Seek Senate Votes by Year-End on Immigration Law, Military Gay Ban - Bloomberg: "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will seek votes by the end of the year on proposals to let some children of illegal immigrants gain legal status and to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military." Nov. 17, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Election 2010 and US Drug Policy in Latin America

An interview with several NGO political analysts about the possible impact of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives on drug policy and related foreign policy. 

Election 2010 and US Drug Policy in Latin America [FEATURE] | StoptheDrugWar.org: "'Nor did Larry Birns, executive director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. look to Tea Party-style incoming Republicans to break with drug war orthodoxy. He cited campaign season attacks from Tea Party candidates that Washington was "soft on drugs" and suggested that despite the occasional articulation of anti-drug war themes from some candidates, "the decision makers in the Tea Party are not going to sanction a softening on drugs in any way." ...

We still don't know much about the Tea Party when it comes to foreign policy,' said Juan Carlos Hidalgo of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. 'Whether these guys will follow their budget-cutting instincts and look to reduce foreign aid and the military presence abroad, or whether they will follow the neoconservative wing of the party that believes in empire and strong defense and pursuing interventionist policies all over the world is the question,' he said." Nov. 17, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Instability in Mexico, Colombia, and the Caribbean: Implications for U.S. National Security

Here is the publication from the Strategic Studies Institute of the US. Army War College

Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Instability in Mexico, Colombia, and the Caribbean: Implications for U.S. National Security Feb. 12, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Mexicans Upset By Report Suggesting Bigger U.S. Military Role in Drug War

Once again, the "whack-a-mole" plot thickens.

Mexicans Upset By Report Suggesting Bigger U.S. Military Role in Drug War | AHN: "Mexican officials are denying this week that drug cartels are making progress in destabilizing the government as their violence intensifies.

The denials were prompted by Mexican news stories of a U.S. military report. The report from the Strategic Studies Institute suggested the U.S. military play a bigger role in Mexico’s war against drug cartels as the government loses control over the violence." Nov. 17, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico City Social Organizations Refute Government Figures on Street Children

On Nov. 13, we posted a link to an NBC video report, Mexico's Lost Generation, which began with a statement that there are 20,000 adolescents living on the streets of Mexico City. No source was cited for this statistic. Today, a reader informed us of this article from La Jornada, a leading Mexican newspaper, which presents both Mexico City government and NGO statistics that are dramatically lower than the figure used by NBC. 

Mexico City Social Organizations Refute Government Figures on Street Children

(Spanish original in La Jornada)
"The president of DIF-DF, (Dept. of Infants and Families- Federal District/Mexico City) Patricia Patiño, said he has information that in Mexico City, only 487 children and adolescents are living on the street, but of that number, 90 percent come from other regions of the Republic or neighboring municipalities.

However, statements by the head of the DIF-DF were refuted by Nasheli Ramirez, of the Social Intervention Ririki organization, who said there are at least 800 street children, in addition to 2 000 children are on the corners with their parents who are subjected to labor exploitation." Nov. 17, 2010, translation by Americas MexicoBlog

Globalization: Mexican Farms Need a Water Revolution

Here is a real problem in Mexico, in part the consequence of global warming: with its long dry season, farmers need efficient irrigation systems to increase production and reduce the CO2 produced by old pumps. The U.S. could better spend its money in Mexico helping with this rather than an endless, destructive war on the drug trade. The article mentions Oxfam, a UK based, international NGO trying to address this problem.

Mexican Farms Need a Water Revolution - IPS ipsnews.net: "Without financing, many Mexican farmers cannot improve their ageing irrigation systems, which are essential if Mexico is to withstand the effects of climate change and reduce its emissions of greenhouse-effect gases." Nov. 17, 2010

Immigration legislatiion: Patrick vows to work to change immigration laws

Go, Massachusetts!

Patrick vows to work to change immigration laws - The Boston Globe: "Governor Deval Patrick, fresh from a bruising campaign in which he was sharply criticized for his positions on immigration, vowed yesterday to spend the next four years pushing for changes for legal and illegal immigrants alike, reigniting a debate that consumed the state only a few months ago.

He said he wants to implement all 131 recommendations contained in an administration report last year, which includes controversial measures such as in-state tuition at public colleges and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants." Nov. 17,2010

Immigration Crackdown: Cautious look at contentious Pr. William policy

Apparently they can be scared away.

Cautious look at contentious Pr. William policy: "Prince William County's controversial immigration policy appears to have had some effect, as the growth of the county's Hispanic population now lags behind that of other jurisdictions, a report from the University of Virginia states." Nov. 17, 2010, Washington Post

Nov 16, 2010

Immigration Legislation: Obama calls for progress on immigration reform in lame-duck session

We are not holding our breath for anything to happen in the lame duck session of Congress. (It is interesting that this report showed up in a Chinese news service, Xinhua.)

Obama calls for progress on immigration reform in lame-duck session: "U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on the Congress to approve a key part of the immigration reform in the lame-duck session.

'The President and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act,' the White House said in a statement after Obama's meeting with the CHC leadership in the Oval office. ...

'The President reiterated his support for fixing the broken immigration system and urged the CHC leaders to work to restore the bipartisan coalition backing comprehensive immigration reform, ' said the statement." Nov. 16, 2010, Xinhua

Collateral Damage: Echoes of Mexico's Drug War

This article reflects on the reverberations in professional class Mexico of the war on drugs.

Echoes of Mexico's Drug War - By Christina Larson | Foreign Policy: "About 90 percent of the violence has taken place in a handful of northern counties, far away from the swimming pools and gated villas of Puebla. Yet, these two Mexicos -- the privileged and the desperate -- are not so far apart as it may seem. ...

In Mexico City, I spoke with Gabriella Gomez-Mont, an artist and senior TED fellow, who explained the cultural echoes of drug violence this way: "To see death and violence every day on the TV and newspapers, you think it doesn't affect people? Some people feel directly threatened, but for others it simply opens up an imaginarium of violence. There is a sense of impunity people feel. Even crimes not related to drugs ... are becoming more violent." " Nov. 16, 2010

Immigration Legislation: Pro-immigration reform Democrats to meet with Obama

They seem to be talking about last gasps here.

Pro-immigration reform Democrats to meet with Obama « The Washington Independent: "President Obama will meet with pro-immigration reform Democrats — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) — this afternoon to discuss immigration plans for the lame-duck session. ...

But given the difficulty of rounding up 60 votes for even the DREAM Act, Reid and Pelosi seem unlikely to push for comprehensive immigration reform. The likelihood of passing comprehensive immigration reform during the lame-duck session is very low, and DREAM Act supporters have argued the act should not be held hostage to broader reform efforts if those efforts cannot gain Republican support." Nov. 16, 2010

Legalization: Arizona begins setting up program for medical pot

Ah, Arizona, you are a puzzle! Your voters legalize medical pot even though federal law outlaws it. But your politicians want to make migrants even more illegal than federal law, which arbitrarily created the problem in the first place.

Arizona begins setting up program for medical pot: "With unofficial election results showing that Arizona voters have approved a medical-marijuana program, state health officials said Monday that they will begin implementing the measure and expect the drug to be in use by late summer 2011." Nov. 16, 2010, Arizona Republic

Immigration Legislation: Illegal Immigrants Can Get Reduced Tuition, California Court Rules

Yeah for the rule of law!

Illegal Immigrants Can Get Reduced Tuition, California Court Rules - NYTimes.com: "In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that illegal immigrants can be eligible for the same reduced tuition at public colleges and universities as legal residents of the state.

The ruling is the latest in a series of high-profile battles about state immigration policies." Nov. 15, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 8-15

Reuters' update for the past weeek

Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Mexico, Nov. 8-15: "More than 31,000 people have been killed since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his military campaign on drug cartels when he took office in 2006.
Following are selected incidents that took place during the past week in Mexico's escalating war on powerful drug gangs." Nov. 15, 2010

Nov 15, 2010

Immigration Reality: Why I Smuggled Myself Across the U.S.-Mexico Border

This is a lead-in for a report on Current TV scheduled for Nov. 15.

Christof Putzel: Why I Smuggled Myself Across the U.S.-Mexico Border: "Nearly all of us are descended from immigrants, of course. But in recent years, as living standards have stagnated or declined for all but the wealthiest and most fortunate Americans, the political pressure to choke off illegal migration has exploded. Billions of dollars are spent on higher, stronger fences, sophisticated sensing technology and more border patrol agents.

Tighter security has pushed would-be migrants to try more and more remote and treacherous areas along the nearly 2,000-mile US/Mexico border. Fewer get through. More die on the way. Yet hundreds of thousands try it every year. This year, officials say, more people have died in the desert on American soil than ever before.

To understand what crossers go through for a shot at the American dream, I went to the small Mexican town of Altar, a hotbed of human smuggling, where migrants pay coyotes—smugglers—to take them across. On assignment for Current TV’s documentary series, Vanguard, I found a coyote willing to allow me to accompany him across the border and into southern Arizona desert." Nov. 15, 2010

Collateral Damage: Drug War Forces Residents To Flee Mexican Town

Some first-person inteviews with the people who had to flee their home town of Ciudad Mier.

Drug War Forces Residents To Flee Mexican Town : NPR: "Warring Mexican drug cartels have claimed a new victim along the U.S. southern border: the town of Ciudad Mier. Constant gunfights and spiraling violence between rival drug gangsters have forced the evacuation of the Mexican town.

Refugees from the strife-torn community are huddling in a public shelter in a nearby town. The shelter at the Lions Club in the nearby border town of Miguel Aleman has become, in the words of Mexico's Proceso magazine, the first refugee camp of the Mexican narcotrafficking war." Nov. 15, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Arias: Stopping Drug Trade 'Almost Impossible'

The former Costa Rican president speaks the truth about the drug trade, but evidently side-steps any possible solution, such as legalization.

Arias: Stopping Drug Trade 'Almost Impossible' - cbs4denver.com: "Former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias said Monday that stopping drug trafficking in Mexico and other countries is 'almost impossible.'

Arias said that finding a solution to Mexico's drug war will be difficult given the illicit drug demand in wealthy countries, including the United States. He said Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in a tough, unenviable position.  "There's not much we can do," Arias said." Nov. 15, 2010, AP

Immigration Legislation: Senate Vote on DREAM Act, Immigration in Lame-Duck Congress?

It's going to be a "hot time in the old town" this lame duck session.

Senate Vote on DREAM Act, Immigration in Lame-Duck Congress? - ABC News: "They came through for him during a tight reelection campaign in Nevada. Now Hispanic voters are looking to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to return the favor.

Reid has promised a Senate vote this year on a small piece of immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would give hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants a conditional path to legal residency. "The answer is yes," Reid told Univision host Jorge Ramos in October when pressed about whether there will be a vote. "I have the right to bring that up any time I want."

As Congress reconvenes this week for the final session of the year, Reid now has roughly a month to make good on his promise." Nov. 15, 2010

Immigration Politics: Latino group: Steve King leading on immigration would kill GOP 2012 chances

Latino Republicans add to the heat building up over the likely new chairs of the House Judiciary Committee and its Immigration subcommittee.

Latino group: Steve King leading on immigration would kill GOP 2012 chances | Iowa Independent: "Somos Republicans, a Latino group from the Southwest, wrote an open letter to the future House GOP leadership last week asking it to reconsider putting Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in charge of the House subcommittee on immigration and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in charge of the House Judiciary Committee.

The group argues that King and Smith’s anti-illegal immigration rhetoric and policy ideas, which include a proposal to end birthright citizenship for the American-born children of illegal immigrants, would alienate Latino voters and ruin the Republican party’s chances of defeating President Obama in 2012." Nov. 15, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: New England firms face steep fines for hiring illegal workers

While this aritcle focuses on New England, it provides a good analysis of the nation-wide problems of businesses with the present federal attempts to eliminate the employment of undocumented migrants and what legislative reforms are needed to address these problems.

New England firms face steep fines for hiring illegal workers - The Boston Globe: "Those penalties (fines) are the result of a major shift last year in the Obama administration’s immigration strategy. Instead of the dramatic, large-scale raids that snagged hundreds of illegal immigrants, including at a New Bedford factory three years ago, federal officials say they are focusing more on the businesses that hire them. The aim is to eliminate the job opportunities that attract illegal workers. ...

Federal immigration officials audited more than 2,000 companies nationwide last fiscal year, examining the federal I-9 forms that companies must maintain for employees certifying that they are all eligible to legally work in the United States. Nationwide, federal officials fined noncompliant companies $6.95 million last fiscal year, 10 times the amount two years before. ...

The fines frustrated businesses that said they wished Congress and the president would find a solution to illegal immigration so that they could avoid fines and other trouble. ...

Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, said three pieces must be in place to solve the problem: Illegal workers should be (able to come) here legally to reduce their incentive to get false documents, the government should carry out effective enforcement, and businesses should have access to the workers they need, more in expansive times, and fewer during a recession.

Otherwise, he said, the fake document industry will continue to thrive and sabotage the system. “That’s the real challenge here,’’ said Chishti, who runs the institute’s office at the New York University School of Law. “Unless you get all these three things working together, we won’t have anywhere close to a good, functioning system.’’"

Immigration Crackdown: The business case against E-Verify (and immigration enforcement of employers)

A good description of the problem created if Congress mandates the E-Verify system without addressing normalizing current undocumented migrants.

The business case against E-Verify (and immigration enforcement of employers) « The Washington Independent: "It may be possible to pass a bill requiring businesses to use E-Verify, but Congress is extremely unlikely to pass any measures to change the legal status of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Advocates of visa reform, including agriculture producers, argue the government should give more visas to workers in certain sectors that Americans typically stay out of, such as migrant farm work. Numerous studies have confirmed that illegal immigrants don’t “steal” American jobs — at least broadly — although some may be hired over American workers in certain sectors.

The AgJOBS bill, which would revise the current farm worker visa system and allow some undocumented farm workers to gain legal status, is one proposal to allow current illegal workers to stay in the country if there is demand from employers." Nov. 15, 2010