Dec 23, 2011

Week's Top Articles on Mexico, Dec. 16-22, 2011

Mexico Political news centers on the official filing of candidacies for next July's presidential election. And the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. warns that, with a presidential election season in both countries, "there will be looniness and stupidity and flatulence on both sides of the border."

Drug War news brings more revelations about U.S. involvement in Mexico; this time it is using former Mexican government officials as hired agents. Meanwhile, a poll finds that a majority of Mexicans would accept U.S. agents on their soil, a striking change from opposition to intervention that goes back to the Mexican-American War.

A study on falling crime rates presents an intriguing hypothesis: there is less crime because of lower drug prices and the lower prices are due to a paradoxical effect of the war on drugs: it has made drugs more available by changing market dynamics! Finally, there is a close up and sobering look at how the Zeta drug cartel has shut down all news about themselves in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas, on the Texas border.

Immigration and Border news brings a study in which immigration judges assess that much of the lawyering they have witnessed in their courtrooms is “inadequate.” Another study finds that the U.S. regime of immigration enforcement is the reason why the wages of Mexicans in the U.S. have not risen in real dollars since the 1960s. Increased border enforcement keeps those who are in the U.S. without documents trapped in the country and those who come on work visas are denied labor rights and fair wages.

Meanwhile, the battle between the states and the U.S. government over who is in charge of immigration enforcement continued, with the Justices Department filing suit against Utah, a federal judge enjoining parts of South Carolina's law and Homeland Security shutting down Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's operation. And Alabama seems to have wised up a little more, deciding that a number of citizen transactions at its county courthouses do not, upon second thought, constitute "doing business" that, under its immigrant crackdown law, require proof of legal residency.

At the border, the politics of using unmanned drones heats up.

Mexico Politics and Relations with the U.S.

Mexican Presidental Race Begins in Earnest
Reforma, Dec. 19,  "On the first day of the primaries leading to the election of the Presidency of the Republic next July, the three candidates of PAN (National Action Party) launched their campaigns against the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto (who leads in the polls). translated by MexicoBlog from Reforma, which allows only subscribers to access its website.

Mexico-U.S. relations: beyond 'looniness, stupidity and flatulence'
MinnPost: Dec. 22, ""As in all good families, there will be looniness and stupidity and flatulence on both sides of the border." Mexico's Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan, shared that colorful observation with an appreciative audience (in) Minnesota last week as he warned about political rhetoric during both nations' 2012 presidential elections. read more

Drug War

80 Former Mexican Officials Spying For The U.S.
EFE/Fox News Latino: Dec. 19, "At least 80 former members of the Mexican government are working as spies for U.S. agencies, the La Jornada newspaper reported ... officials ranging from police officers to high-level officials have been detected working for the United States. ... as agents for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, La Jornada said." read more

Majority of Mexicans Would Accept the Sending of U.S. Agents
Translated by MexicoBlog from El Universal: Dec. 19, A survey taken by the Mexican Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) found that 57% of Mexicans would accept help from the U.S. in fighting the drug cartels, including the sending of U.S. personnel into Mexican territory. Spanish original

Reagan's War on Drugs Reduced Crime in an Unexpected Way
The Atlantic Wire: Dec. 21, "... anthropologists at City University of New York floated a theory for the ongoing crime reduction in New York that they extrapolated nationally: Crime is falling because drugs are getting cheaper. ... if drugs are cheaper, users will commit fewer crimes to buy them. ... The paper hangs the decrease in drug prices largely on Ronald Reagan's strict drug policies, ... those policies didn't stem the flow of drugs. Rather, they helped make drugs cheaper, which eventually reduced the need for users to commit so many crimes." read more

The press silenced, Nuevo Laredo tries to find voice
Committee to Protect Journalists: Dec. 22, "... for the most part, there are no stories about what most affects the people in Nuevo Laredo. There are no stories about the war or the Zetas or the army or the police. There are also no stories about the Zetas' businesses of retail drug sales in town or their kidnapping and extortion of residents, according to journalists. ... Since the Zetas don't want anything reported, nothing about them is reported. Not in the papers, or on TV or radio." read more

Immigration and the Border

Judges Give Low Marks to Lawyers in Immigration Cases Dec. 19,  "In a new report ... immigration judges themselves ... offer a scathing assessment of much of the lawyering they have witnessed in their courtrooms. Immigrants received “inadequate” legal assistance in 33 percent of the cases between mid-2010 and mid-2011 and “grossly inadequate” assistance in 14 percent of the cases, the judges said. read more

Why Mexican Immigrants Can't Get Ahead
Miller-McCune: Dec. 22, "A recent report by two researchers at Princeton University reveals that the average wages of Mexican-born immigrants in the U.S., adjusted for inflation, were no higher in 2007... than they were in the early 1960s. ... (The authors) argue that a “new regime of immigration enforcement” is to blame for the stagnant wages of Mexicans in the U.S."  read more

Utah Immigration Laws Should Be Blocked, U.S. Government Argues
Businessweek: Dec. 16, "Utah violated the U.S. Constitution by passing a set of immigration laws the state’s governor has called the “Utah solution,” the federal government argued in a request for a court order blocking the measures.  read more

Judge blocks parts of South Carolina immigration law
Reuters: Dec. 22, "South Carolina is barred from enforcing several key parts of its new law aimed at curbing illegal immigration, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, making the state the latest to see such efforts halted by the courts." read more

Federal agents to screen Maricopa County, Arizona jail inmates Dec. 20, " The Homeland Security Department will use 50 immigration agents to screen jail inmates in Arizona's most populous county after revoking the sheriff's authority to access its systems... The agents will replace county officers who had special training and the authority to perform the task in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lockups." read more

Alabama excludes some transactions from immigration law
CBS News: Dec. 22, "The state Revenue Department has changed its position on parts of Alabama's new immigration law and now says several common transactions at county courthouses are no longer considered "business transactions" where people have to prove their legal residency." read more

More Predator drones fly U.S.-Mexico border
Washington Post: Dec.  21, "There are now eight Predators flying for U.S. Customs and Border Protection — five, and soon to be six, along the southwest border.... Fans of the Predators say the $20 million aircraft are a perfect platform to keep an watchful eye on America’s rugged borders, but critics say the drones are expensive, invasive, finicky toys that have done little ... to stem the flow of illegal crossers, drug smugglers or terrorists." read more

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