Aug 26, 2011

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Aug. 19-25, 2011

1. The Drug War

U.S. Widens Role in Mexico’s Fight Against Crime
This second article from the New York Times on U.S.-Mexico cooperation in combating organized crime takes a look at police strikes by Mexican agents staged from U.S. territory. The first article caused quite a stir in Mexico. Congress demanded presentations from Calderon cabinet members for a full accounting of U.S. activities. Aug. 25, "The Obama administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials.

Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the United States, assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the American side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics."

Texas Peace Officers to Train Mexican Law Enforcement
In a series of articles last week, William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics Control and thus, the administrator of the Merida Initiative, announced a shift in the Initiative focus from assisting the Mexican federal government to assisting Mexican state and municipal police departments with training. Among these announcements was one that Texas sheriffs' departments would be contracted to do the training. In this article, the first such memorandum of understanding is announced, with Sheriff Martin Cuellar, brother of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is the ranking Democrat on the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. 

The Texas Tribune: Aug. 19. This week Webb County (Laredo, Texas) Sheriff Martin Cuellar, brother of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Ambassador William Brownfield, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Department of State and the Webb County Sheriff’s Department. It will pave the way for U.S. law enforcement officers to train local and state police officers in Mexico — the latest advancement of the Merida Initiative.

2. Immigration

Who May Qualify to Remain in U.S. Under New Obama Immigration Policy

The Obama administration announced this week that it was going to prioritize deportations and was ordering a review of 300,000 pending cases to consider dropping proceedings against those undocumented immigrants who are not a threat to public security. This article details who will be considered for a reprieve from deportation. 

WSJ: Aug. 19, In deciding who to deport, Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department (announced that it) will apply “common sense guidelines,” Cecilia Munoz, the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote. She links to a June 17, 2011 memo written by John Morton, director of U.S. Custom and Immigration Enforcement, which spells out the sort guidelines that will be used.
In deciding whether to prosecute an individual, Morton writes, immigration officials should consider such factors as: 

  • whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard;
  • the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
  • the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
  • the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
  • whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent;
  • whether the person is the primary caretaker of a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative;
  • whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing.
  • the person’s length of presence in the United States;
  • the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
  • the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution;
Morton cautions that the list of factors he provides is not exhaustive and that no one factor is determinative of whether a person will stay or go.

Not enough to stem the tide

An excellent look at the economic dynamics of migration from Mexico and Central America to the U.S.. While local sustainable development programs give people an option to stay in their communities, they are not economically strong enough to hold the youth. 

National Catholic Reporter: Aug. 23, Swimming against the tide of small farmers who are abandoning their crops in search of a better income in cities or across the border in the United States, the farmers in Acteal (Mexico, who have developed a honey and coffee coop) are struggling to make a decent living off the land, with assistance from Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ aid and development agency.

In various parts of Mexico and Central America, local development projects are trying to boost farmers’ income. But experts say that focusing on rural development in the farmers’ home countries is not enough to stem the tide of northward migration.

3. The Border

Deportees bused afar
A good, detailed look, by a Tucson, Arizona newspaper, at a growing Border Patrol deportation program, the Alien Transfer Exit Program. The reporter also looks at another program, called "Operation Streamline," that brings a criminal conviction and possible jail time to all illegal border crossers caught in a designated zone. This program used to be used only for repeat crossers and those with criminal records.

Arizona Daily Star: Aug. 23, Started in 2008, the Border Patrol program of busing Mexican illegal immigrants caught in Arizona to other border states - officially called the Alien Transfer Exit Program - has increased in importance in the past two years as the agency works to stop the revolving door that defined illegal immigration for the greater part of the 2000s.

... Humanitarian groups say the confusion caused by deporting someone to an unfamiliar part of the border puts illegal crossers at greater risk of falling prey to criminals in Mexican border towns. And immigration analysts say illegal immigrants determined to return to the United States ... won't be swayed by being dropped off in another state.

Union Pacific to spend $50M on Mexico border security

Union Pacific Railroad, the largest trans-shipper from Mexico to the U.S., was recently fined by Customs and Border Protection for a number of drug shipments found on its trains. Now the company has made a deal with CBP to voluntarily fund border security technology in exchange for having the fines reduced. Aug. 23, Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) announced Friday that it signed an agreement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection or CBP that formalizes and enhances their collaborative relationship to help secure the U.S. border against contraband and other security risks and to improve the flow of goods.

Union Pacific said that it will invest $50 million to enhance efforts to help secure the U.S. - Mexico border and improve supply chain security. The funds will be allocated towards technology, infrastructure, and personnel enhancements that CBP and Union Pacific will define in coming months. The company stated that the investments will include enhanced technologies such as intelligent video scanning and developing technologies such as global positioning systems or GPS and radio frequency identification or RFID tracking of rail movements.
4. Mexican Economy

Mexico's young job seekers hit especially hard

The U.S. press has been reporting a great deal on the progress that the Mexican economy is making. This leaves out the reality of Mexico's informal economy, in which workers are self-employed and outside the official employment system. This article focuses on how youth, including college educated ones, end up having to compete in this informal sector. Aug. 21, Competition for low-wage work reflects one of Mexico's biggest problems since the 2008-09 downturn: the inability to generate real jobs. The shortage hits young people hard, with 4 in 10 of Mexico's unemployed in their 20s. Throw in teenagers and the share rises to more than half.

Many find work in a growing informal economy as street vendors, waiters or day laborers. The 13.4 million Mexicans working in that sector don't show up in the official 5.2% jobless rate, masking the country's unemployment problem.

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