Apr 30, 2011

A Mexican Perspective on US. - Mexico Relations in the Drug War: the U.S. and Mexico Need to Get 'in Tune' - and Quick

U.S. and Mexico Need to Get 'in Tune' - and Quick: La Cronica de Hoy, Mexico: "As Mexico's security crisis intensifies, there is a natural concern in the United States that the violence will spill over the border, bringing the bloody conflicts between organized gangs to the streets of U.S. cities. Which is why it's so disconcerting that the U.S. doesn't take decisive action that would help lower the level of violence, such as halting traffic in high-powered weapons and reducing consumption to shrink the drug market and fight money laundering. They merely criticize us, discredit our military and issue travel advisories for their citizens to think twice before traveling to Mexico."

Immigration Politics: Louisiana faces contentious immigration debate

Daily Journal - La. faces contentious immigration debate, from narrow E-Verify bills to Ariz.-style reform:

"Louisiana lawmakers are bringing the politically divisive immigration debate to Baton Rouge. Several legislators are proposing to toughen state enforcement laws against illegal immigrants.

Proposals range from a narrow measure to prevent illegal immigrants from being hired on public works projects to a broad package, by Belle Chasse Rep. Ernest Wooton, that mimics Arizona's controversial law, creating new crimes and charging local police with enforcing federal immigration law.

Bill sponsors say they expect to run into opposition from the construction industry and the Catholic church.

Immigration Politics: Immigration Opponent John Tanton Withdraws From Group

Immigration Opponent Withdraws From Group - NYTimes.com: "On this much, both sides agree: John Tanton, the provocative architect of a national movement to reduce immigration, has quietly left the board of the group he started and helped guide for 32 years. But when did it happen and what does it mean?

Dr. Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist, has been a magnet for criticism since the 1980s, for writings that appear to disparage minorities and for accepting money from a foundation that promoted theories of white superiority. Hoping to discredit his broader movement, immigrant groups intensified their attacks in recent years, in what Dr. Tanton’s friends call a campaign of vilification.

Yet the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, or FAIR, the influential group he started in 1979, kept him on the board of directors. Two years ago, Dan Stein, the group’s president, hailed him as a “renaissance man.”

On April 17, The New York Times published an article examining Dr. Tanton’s racial views. Soon after, his name disappeared from the list of board members on the FAIR Web site."

Immigration Politics - California: Immigration rights advocates plan Los Angeles May Day march

Immigration rights advocates plan LA May Day march - San Jose Mercury News: "LOS ANGELES—Organizers of this year's May Day immigrants' rights march in downtown Los Angeles claim up to 50,000 people will take part."

Immigration Crackdown & Politics - Utah: Mormon leader’s arrest puts spotlight on immigration stand

This could make for an interesting story. The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) has supported the "Utah Compact," advocating moderation and humanity in immigration law. The Compact, created by a cross section of Utah religious, business and community organizations, was influential in the passage of a mixture of "crackdown" and "amnesty" laws by the state legislature, which are now being touted as a possible model for federal immigration reform. 

Mormon leader’s arrest puts spotlight on immigration stand: "A local Mormon leader is being held in a Utah County jail awaiting deportation after federal authorities arrested him and his family nearly two weeks ago for being in the country illegally.

Felix Callejas, an LDS branch president in Draper, oversaw a congregation of about 100 and was picked up by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) agents April 19 after a failed attempt to obtain legal asylum from his native country of El Salvador.

The arrest, made public Friday, thrust The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the spotlight on an issue that has become controversial for the 14-million member faith headquartered in Salt Lake City."

Immigration Politics: Obama says will keep pushing immigration reform

Obama says will keep pushing immigration reform: "President Barack Obama on Friday vowed to fight for immigration reform, a goal that has eluded him and which matters deeply to Hispanic American voters, whose support he needs for reelection in 2012.

In remarks delivered to several thousand wildly cheering community college students, Obama was also courting support in the vital election battleground state of Florida, which he won in 2008 and wants to keep in his column next year.

"I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system. Fix it so it meets our 21st century economic and security needs," Obama told a Miami Dade College graduation ceremony. The college serves tens of thousands of Hispanic and African-American students."

Immigration Politics - North Carolina: March to protest treatment of immigrant families

 March to protest treatment of immigrant families: "Immigration reform activists are hoping to put a human face to one of the nation's most contentious issues — illegal immigration — during a march Sunday.

Of particular concern to activists are the local deportations that are tearing families apart.

A coalition of community, workers' rights and immigration rights activists are marching on May Day, a traditional day of protest and celebration of workers rights, to call for an end to the arrests and deportations separating immigrant families in Western North Carolina."

Immigration Crackdown: California may let locals opt out of immigration checks

California may let locals opt out of immigration checks: "California lawmakers are the latest to weigh joining efforts in other states to gain control over a controversial national program that automatically checks the immigration status of arrestees.

The Golden State accounts for more than a third of the deportations under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, and some local officials are saying they were misled by the federal government about the program's extent.

Illinois lawmakers are also considering a measure to let communities retreat from the program. Washington state has deferred to local governments on whether they want to join the so-called "Secure Communities" program, which links up the FBI's criminal database and the Department of Homeland Security's records so that every time someone is arrested their immigration status is automatically, electronically checked.

But their efforts could be thwarted as federal officials argue that states have no control over what information is shared among federal agencies."

Immigration Politics: Florida Senate Likely to Consider Immigration Bill on Monday

Florida Senate Likely to Consider Immigration Bill on Monday: "A controversial bill that seeks to crack down on undocumented immigrants in Florida is likely to be presented to the full state Senate on Monday.

The bill drew several protests last week from a variety of groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce and others who warn that it will make the state -- which depends on tourism -- seem inhospitable to foreigners.

Among other things, the bill would require businesses to use E-Verify, a federal database that includes information needed to check a person's eligibility to work in the United States."

Weapons Traffic: NRA's Wayne LaPierre to call for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation

If the NRA (National Rifle Association) succeeds in this, it will get to have its cake while eating the U.S. Attorney General

NRA's Wayne LaPierre to call for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation: "Sources tell CBS News that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is expected to call for Holder's resignation in a speech Saturday morning at the Association's annual meeting in Pittsburgh.

LaPierre has accused Holder of trying to "destroy the Second Amendment" and has been critical of the Department of Justice handling of "Project Gunrunner," a program intended to stop the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

But as CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported last month, ATF agents charge the program actually helped get thousands of guns into the hands of criminals.

"When does it stop being law enforcement and start being a criminal enterprise? Innocent people are dying. It makes no sense at all." LaPierre told CBS News last month."

Whack-a-mole: Medical marijuana: Federal pressure stirs legal confusion

Medical marijuana: Federal pressure stirs legal confusion:"Threatened medical-marijuana crackdowns by federal prosecutors in other states have stoked fears about whether state employees, dispensary owners and others could be punished for operating under Arizona's fledgling law.

Although the Justice Department said in 2009 that it would not prosecute sick people using medical marijuana, U.S. attorneys in California and Washington state have told officials there that they do intend to enforce federal laws that prohibit manufacture and distribution of the drug.

That has led to more confusion as Arizona officials begin implementing a voter-approved law allowing medical-marijuana dispensaries, which took effect April 14."

Whack-a-mole: Mexico extradites drug kingpin to the U.S.

Another mole gets whacked. Does anybody have any idea how many more there are?

Mexico extradites drug kingpin to the U.S.: "Benjamin Arellano Felix, the former leader of one of Mexico's most feared organized crime groups, had been incarcerated since his 2002 arrest. He is flown to San Diego to face racketeering and drug conspiracy charges....

Arellano Felix, who headed the organization known as the Arellano Felix, or Tijuana cartel, was among the first of Mexico's modern organized crime bosses. With connections to Colombia, he and his brothers established a drug pipeline that funneled tons of cocaine and other drugs into California, according to the indictment."

U.S. - Mexico Relations in the Whack-a-mole Drug War: Banning tourist-travel is foolhardy

 Banning tourist-travel is foolhardy: "The border security wars in the southwest have taken a new turn—some private groups are advocating a U.S. travel ban to Mexico because of the increasing violence perpetrated by drug cartels.

Erecting a border fence to keep U.S. travelers out of Mexico would be almost as foolhardy and counterproductive as the recently abandoned efforts to build a high-tech fence keeping Mexicans out of the United States. ...

The State Department’s warnings are quite specific... and pinpoint the areas where drug cartels are the most active. For the most part, the dangerous areas are not those usually frequented by U.S. tourists.

Although any right-minded person would hope for an end to such random violence, it does not appear that travelers from the United States face nearly the same quality or quantity of danger as Mexican citizens who may not have the financial freedom to flee the dangerous areas.

Halting tourism would only feed the cartels..."

Whack-a-mole: Expert in cartel cult of death trains Arizona officers

Santa Muerte!? Saint Death. Those Mexican moles are really weird. It isn't clear to us how trying to understand their mentality will help eliminate them. 

Expert in cartel violence and cults trains Valley officers: "At the invitation of U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales, Robert Almonte, an expert on narcotics cases tied to religion, led a training class Thursday for 350 officers throughout Maricopa County and northern Arizona at the Mesa Public Safety Training Center.

Almonte, who retired as deputy chief of the El Paso Police Department and now serves as the U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas, travels the country to teach law enforcement officers about looking for indicators of underlying criminal activity through cases he has experienced and helping to identify religious “saints” or icons that might be found at crime scenes where Mexican drug cartels have a presence....

Almonte said, “They use prayer, icons or candles as a tool to facilitate criminal activity such as for drugs, human smuggling and weapons. Officers frequently run into these icons and items of their spiritual underworld and they don’t know what they’re dealing with. We want to make officers aware of these indicators of criminal activity so they can know what to look for that also can lead to other avenues in an investigation.”..

Gonzales believes there will be more drug cartel-related violence north of the border. “Whoever says that Mexican drug cartel violence hasn’t reached the United States is in denial,” Gonzales has said. “This training is advantageous and will provide officers a foundation in knowing what to look for in these kind of cases.”"

Whack-a-mole: US lawmakers urge terrorist label for Mexican cartels

It looks like we could soon have "terrorist moles." More militarization insanity. Anything to avoid putting the option of drug legalization "on the table," to paraphrase Secretary Clinton. 

US lawmakers urge terrorist label for Mexican cartels: "Key US lawmakers urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter released Friday to support labeling Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups and craft a strategy to help Mexico defeat them.

"The Mexican drug cartels present a dangerous threat to the national security of the United States," said the group, led by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, a Republican.

"It is clear violent actions taken by the Mexican drug cartels have evolved and are acts of terrorism. These cartels should be classified as terrorist organizations," they wrote."

Whack-a-mole: Mexican police nab major drug trafficker

What? You mean the moles keep multiplying and replacing themselves? That must be what Darwin meant by survival of the fittest.

Mexican police nab major drug trafficker: "Police arrested a major drug-trafficking suspect who was trying the rebuild the criminal mob of jailed kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, Mexican authorities said Friday.

Miguel Angel Cedillo Gonzalez was arrested Wednesday in Mexico City thanks to "investigative and intelligence work carried out by the Federal Police," the federal Public Safety Secretariat said in a statement.

At the time of his arrest along with two other suspects, Cedillo was seeking the assistance of other drug cartels to reassemble Valdez Villarreal's organization and wage a battle for control of the drug trade in the states of Guerrero and Morelos, the secretariat said."

U.S. - Mexico Relations in the Whack-a-mole Drug War: US to aid Mexican state police in drug war

Oh, yeah, let's throw more money into the black hole of whack-a-mole. 

US to aid Mexican state police in drug war: "Washington on Friday said it would boost its anti-drug aid to Mexico and focus on helping state police in their blood-soaked war on the country's powerful drug cartels.

The $500 million dollar aid increase under the crime-fighting Merida Initiative broadens US anti-drug assistance beyond Mexican federal law enforcement."

Whack-a-mole & U.S. - Mexico Relations: U.S., Mexico Agree on Actions to Curb Cross-border Drug Trade

Groundbreaking news in the war on drugs! The U.S. and Mexico have agreed to "initiate a binational demand reduction study." Actually - and sadly - it is more of the 'same-old same-old.'

U.S., Mexico Agree on Actions to Curb Cross-border Drug Trade: "The United States and Mexico on Friday agreed to boost joint efforts to fight rampant cross- border drug trafficking.

A series of actions were identified for the coming year at the third meeting of the Merida Initiative High-Level Consultative Group, co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa at the U.S. State Department.

The two sides agreed to intensify efforts to more effectively share and employ intelligence to weaken the capacities of transnational criminal organizations, give greater priority to counter illicit financing and weapon trafficking efforts, accelerate and broaden support for state-level administration of justice reforms, continue collaboration on extraditions, make significant progress in upgrading border infrastructure, increase the capacity to prevent and address violence and criminality in the border region, and initiate a binational demand reduction study in the context of the annual U.S.-Mexico Drug Demand Reduction Conference.

"The criminality and violence associated with the actions of transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten the security and prosperity of both our nations, and therefore multi- faceted, cooperative efforts to combat and reduce that violence are a priority for both the U.S. and Mexican governments," the two sides said in a joint statement."

Apr 29, 2011

Mexican Politics: Mexico’s unfinished Congressional business

 Mexico’s unfinished Congressional business: "Mexicans briefly got their hopes —and some their hackles— up this week as Congress debated potentially transformative reforms. The first dealt with national security, designed to strengthen the existing 2005 law and formalize the army’s de facto role in keeping the peace. The reform failed due to concerns over the protection of human rights and civil liberties in the face of broadly (and vaguely) defined internal threats and expanded intelligence gathering tools.

Political reform too made the rounds, also passing the Senate but shut down by the Chamber of Deputies. Fewer criticized this law, which would have allowed independent citizens to run for office and introduced national referendums. Most significantly, it would have allowed reelection in Mexico. ...

With Congress’s regular session ending tomorrow, political reform, labor reform, and tax reform all wait not only until the next September session, but realistically until after the 2012 presidential elections. (An extraordinary session will likely be scheduled for May/June to pass the security reform)."

Immigration Crackdown: The Numbers Game on the Border

The Numbers Game on the Border: "... boastful reports (by the Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security) are never accompanied with explanations of how many of these criminal aliens and immigrant inmates have achieved their new status as a result of DHS policies and operations that criminalize immigrants for illegal entry and other immigration violations.

Nor do the DHS border and immigration agencies bother to explain that many of the newly categorized criminal aliens are being deported for personal drug violations—yet another way the government has found to criminalize immigration and enforce immigration consequences (removal) for even misdemeanor offenses."

Immigration Crackdown:GAO: $1.5B to jail unlawful immigrants

GAO: $1.5B to jail unlawful immigrants: "The federal government is spending more than $1.5 billion each year to jail illegal immigrants throughout the country, according to a new report by the investigative arm of Congress.

The report, issued this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that over the past five fiscal years the number of incarcerated non-U.S. citizens in federal prisons has increased by 4,000, to about 55,000. In state prisons, the criminal alien population has increased by about 75,000 people, for a total of 296,000."

Drug Policy Reform: Children are Harmed, Not Helped, by Unwinnable Drug War

 Children are Harmed, Not Helped, by Unwinnable Drug War: "After forty years and a trillion dollars, supporters of the drug war still claim that any discussion of legalization sends the “wrong message” to children.

The truth, as seen in news from Mexico ever day, is that the drug war itself is killing children. And the message we send by not discussing alternatives is one of cruel indifference."

Whack-a-mole & U.S. - Mexico Relations: Drugs war ignites Mexican fury at U.S. indifference

Drugs war ignites Mexican fury at U.S. indifference: "Mexico's frustration with the priority Washington grants to a shared crackdown on drug gangs has plunged ties between the two allies to their lowest ebb in years. ...

"The Merida Initiative is almost an insult," leading Mexican historian Enrique Krauze told Reuters. "America spends a trillion dollars in Iraq and a hundred million or so on Merida: Beautiful."

"Things aren't moving forward and I have no hope they will. We're looking at ten years of war in Mexico. On our own. The Obama administration has been a huge disappointment for us.""

U.S. - Mexico Relations in the Whack-a-mole Drug War: Hard Times South of the Border

 Hard Times South of the Border: "When they come together in Washington for a summit on Friday, it will have been more than a year since U.S. and Mexican officials reviewed progress and ongoing problems in the so-called Merida Initiative. The United States is giving Mexico $1.5 billion in security and economic assistance to combat violent drug cartels and root out corruption across the border.

And it comes as relations between the two countries are at a low point, punctuated by the resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual. He announced in March he would step down after confidential cables made public by WikiLeaks have him labeling the Mexican government as risk-averse and saying official corruption is widespread.

No imminent replacement may endanger progress, says David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. "The question now is whether Merida is headed in the right direction without a captain,” Shirk said. “It is unlikely, I think, that the United States will be able to appoint and get approval for a new ambassador in the near future. Frankly, it leaves Mexico with no one to talk to.”

“We lost our ambassador because he had the audacity to tell the truth,” said a U.S. government official who asked to not be identified. “I think that everyone here is very, very worried about Mexico and the power of the cartels and the extent to which they have now infiltrated most aspects of Mexican society.”"

Immigration Reality: Coyotes and Resistance on the U.S. Mexico Border

An excellent review of what looks to be an excellent, essential piece of investigative journalism. 

Coyotes and Resistance on the U.S. Mexico Border: "Coyotes, U.S. authorities assert, are among the principal perpetrators of violence in the U.S. Mexico borderlands. They only care about money, we are told, and have a complete “disregard for human life.” They rob migrants and abandon them to their deaths. They are members of organized crime and drug trafficking networks, and perhaps even terrorist syndicates, so the official story goes.

These claims, repeated constantly by U.S. officials and regurgitated by the media, are rarely questioned, even among progressives. David Spener’s Clandestine Crossings, a highly captivating book of great significance and one of the first comprehensive studies of migrants and their use of coyote networks, however, directly challenges these stereotypes. This “discursive” fable, Spener contends, serves to “incite moral panic,” and thus to legitimate the continual pumping of money into border and immigration enforcement, one increasingly justified in the name of “homeland security.” "

Mexican Politics: Mexico Congress passes tougher monopoly penalties

Mexico Congress passes tougher monopoly penalties: "Mexico's Congress approved tougher penalties Thursday under a new antitrust law, including significant fines for companies and up to 10 years in prison for their executives.

The change to the Federal Law of Economic Competition establish fines of up to 10 percent of a company's annual profit for monopolistic practices. Previously, companies were sanctioned only for engaging in such activities more than once.

The law also establishes prison sentences of between three and 10 years for company officials who approve agreements with competitors to manipulate prices of goods and services.

The Senate approved the law Thursday. The lower house already passed the law, and it now goes to President Felipe Calderon for signing."

Immigration Politics - Minnesota : House panel OKs police immigration enforcement bill

 House panel OKs police immigration enforcement bill: "A House committee approved Thursday a bill that would prohibit cities from having policies that forbid police from routinely asking about immigration status.

The House Public Safety committee approved the bill on a divided voice vote. It would block cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul from having so-called "separation" or "sanctuary" ordinances. ...

Police in Minneapolis and St. Paul testified against the bill. They said current policies don't give criminals sanctuary, but instead allow victims and witnesses in immigrant communities to cooperate with police."

Madness of Immigration Politics: Texas Senate pushes immigration checks by cops

The illogic of this legislation is remarkable. All a state has to do to "require that law enforcement agencies run anyone arrested through" Secure Communities is enroll in the federal program, which Texas has already done. 

 Texas Senate pushes immigration checks by cops: "The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to run anyone arrested through a federal immigration enforcement program.

The Secure Communities program identifies immigrants who could be deported because of their immigration status and is just one of several provisions in the bill approved by the Senate Thursday. The program is already used county jails."

Immigration Politics - Indiana: Compromise emerges on Indiana immigration bill

Compromise emerges on Indiana immigration bill: "The state senator who said Indiana should impose an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration says a compromise includes the potential loss of state tax benefits for businesses hiring illegal immigrants.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel said Thursday the compromise version would also require businesses getting state contracts to use the federal government's employee verification program, E-Verify."

Whack-a-mole: Delta employees arrested, accused of drug smuggling

Dear John, It's sooo hard telling who is a mole. 

Delta employees arrested, accused of drug smuggling: "Federal agents arrested 10 current or former Delta employees Thursday for their alleged involvement in drug trafficking at airports in Detroit and Houston, authorities said. ...

"Today's arrests and charges close a major vulnerability at the airport," Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton said in a statement. "We can't have people working in and around aircraft exploiting their positions for criminal ends.""

Immigration Politics: Latino congressman says Obama administration has failed on immigration

Latino congressman says Obama administration has failed on immigration: "U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., blasted the Obama administration Thursday night for deporting record numbers of people from the country and for breaking promises made to immigrant voters during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"He came to our neighborhoods, he came to our communities, he gave speeches," Gutierrez said, interspersing Spanish and English on a visit to an East Oakland school. ...

Gutierrez, who hails from the president's home city of Chicago, began his speech by quoting directly from Obama's 2008 campaign statements about fixing an unjust immigration system and ending raids that split families apart. Then, Gutierrez explained how he felt those pledges had not been met."

Viva Mexico & Globalization: Mexico’s census - TVs outnumber fridges

Mexico’s census - TVs outnumber fridges: "MEXICO has just pulled off its once-a-decade miracle of quizzing 112m souls about their lives and habits. The census results, presented to journalists today, form a mountain of data that your correspondent will mine for stories over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few findings that jumped out at him, in no particular order.

The Mexican home has been transformed. In 1990, one in five dwellings had a bare-earth floor. Now only 6% do. Virtually all have electricity, whereas 20 years ago one in ten went without. A tenth still lack sewerage, but this is better than the figure of one in three in 1990.

More interesting still is what Mexicans put in those homes. More houses have televisions (93%) than fridges (82%) or showers (65%). In a hot country with dreadful television this is curious. Communications habits are interesting too: despite some of the world’s highest charges, two thirds of Mexicans have a mobile phone—though only four out of ten have a landline."

Drug War Bloodshed: Mexico’s War on Drugs Leads to Violence Against Women

Mexico’s War on Drugs Leads to Violence Against Women: "Marcela Lagarde, a Mexican academic who is considered one of Latin America’s leading feminist activists, said in an interview with Efe that the war on drugs being waged by President Felipe Calderon has led to more violence against women in Mexico.

“Everything that is happening favors violence against women,” Lagarde told Efe Thursday in Madrid, adding that the Mexican leader’s strategy “cultivates a very violent culture” and “establishes an ideology of violence, of defeat, of war. That’s a very macho culture, very misogynist, and we women are left defenseless,” Lagarde said."

Whack-a-mole and then he runs the prison: Self-rule on the rise in Mexico's prisons

Self-rule on the rise in Mexico's prisons: "The Zetas have the run of the prison in this industrial city 190 miles southwest of Lardeo, Texas, in what is known as autogobierno or self-rule. It dates back decades and forms of it exist in correctional facilities the world over.

But self-rule has become more of a problem in Mexico recently as prison populations swell with suspects detained in the ongoing crackdown on organized crime and the country's drug cartels seize power behind bars.

The most recent prison report from the National Human Rights Commission shows self-rule on the rise. Drug cartels and their affiliated gangs are among those increasingly seizing control, say prison observers.

The commission found self-rule practiced in 37% of the country's prisons – an increase from 30% in 2009. The prison report classifies self-rule as inmates being permitted to manage internal functions "such as controlling keys, organizing activities (and) cleaning and overseeing dormitories, among others.""

Apr 28, 2011

Immigration Politics: Black lawmakers fight for immigrant rights

Black lawmakers fight for immigrant rights: "As the Republican extreme right is pushing an anti-immigrant agenda at federal and state levels, African American legislators - most of whom are Democrats - have been increasingly prominent in upholding the rights of immigrants."

Whack-a-mole: U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Pillar IV: Building Strong and Resilient Border Communities

The Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center - paid for, in part, by the U.S. government - continues to whistle in the wind while treating current U.S. whack-a-mole drug war policy as a sane option. Note that the joint U.S.-Mexico strategy to address "underlying structural factors" has a glaring omission: drug legalization. 

U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Pillar IV: Building Strong and Resilient Border Communities: "Underlying structural factors—chronic underemployment, rising drug consumption, and dysfunctional governance—have made some Mexican cities along the border susceptible to organized crime infiltration, fueling the cartel violence that has led to thousands of deaths this decade.

To build resilience against this threat, the U.S. and Mexican governments have designed social programming policies to address root causes, through efforts to prevent youth violence and gangs, engage the private sector to boost jobs, and reactivate local civil society. Grouped under the label Pillar IV, the policies are part of the Beyond Merida security cooperation agenda that includes the dismantling of drug cartels, the reforming of Mexican police and courts, and the modernization of infrastructure and procedures along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Whack-a-mole & Immigration Madness: Lawmakers press for more drones over Texas

We could call them the Three Stooges, but that would be an insult to Moe, Curly and Larry.

 Lawmakers press for more drones over Texas: "A trio of South Texas congressmen were in Corpus Christi on Wednesday urging the Obama administration to use both unmanned aerial vehicle systems budgeted to the Department of Homeland Security along the eastern Texas-Mexico border."

Mexican Politics: Mexican Senate Approves Re-election for Lawmakers

Mexican Senate Approves Re-election for Lawmakers: "Mexico's Senate approved constitutional changes Wednesday that would let lawmakers run for re-election and permit independents to seek office, part of a bid to make the political system more accountable to voters.

The changes, passed by the Senate in a 95-8 vote with eight abstentions, must still be approved by the lower house of Congress, at least 16 of Mexico's 31 state legislatures and the president.

Under Mexico's current system, candidates for all local, state and federal offices must be endorsed by a political party and no publicly elected official at any level can seek re-election. The constitutional proposal would allow independent candidates for any office, but the re-election change would apply only to federal legislators.

Critics say the current system makes politicians who don't have to worry about seeking a second term less beholden to voters. Instead, officials spend time currying favor with their own parties in a bid to seek nominations for other posts."

Whack-a-mole: Zetas drug gang uses Dallas as hub in growing empire, authorities say

Another look by the Dalllas Morning News at the Zetas.

Zetas drug gang uses Dallas as hub in growing empire, authorities say: "The notoriously brutal group known as the Zetas has used family and personal connections to make the Dallas area into a sophisticated distribution point, moving cocaine, pot and methamphetamine to other U.S. markets and sending weapons, ammunition and millions of dollars in bulk cash back to Mexico, authorities say."

Mexican Politics of Whack-a-mole: Mexico's drug policy not a 'war,' security spokesman says

And meanwhile, the Mexican government is trying to pass a law giving the president extraordinary powers to use the military against any internal political activity that he defines as a "threat to national security."

 Mexico's drug policy not a 'war,' security spokesman says: "A top Mexican official says Mexico's drug policy is not a "war" against drug cartels, but a comprehensive strategy of the federal government to dismantle criminal organizations while at the same time strengthening institutions.

In a blog published by the Office of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, National Security Spokesman Alejandro Poire says the main objectives of the Mexican national security strategy are to strengthen the rule of law and reduce crime.

"This is not 'the government's war against drugs,' but the fight of all Mexicans to build an authentic security, based on the rule of law and justice," Poire said."

Whack-a-mole: Traffic in illegal drugs spawns violence and corruption on path north

A look at the drug trade along the route from South America through Mexico to the U.S. In this article, a DEA operative says, "For too long, Latin America has paid the price in pools of blood for our demand. Vulnerable countries have been ravaged, lives destroyed and democracies maligned. We've made some major improvements, but it remains an uphill battle as long as demand persists." When will the DEA draw the obvious conclusion that its whack-a-mole strategy will never win the "drug war"?

Traffic in illegal drugs spawns violence and corruption on path north: "CUCUTA, COLOMBIA In the pink light of dawn, William Yacia Pineda views the black-market commerce at this busy crossing on Colombia's border with Venezuela. Anything is possible. ...

And at every stop along the way - from Colombia to Central America, into Mexico and on to U.S. markets - the traffic spawns violence and corruption, undermining governments and democratic institutions - all to serve the incessant demand from the north.

...here, where ties between Colombia's powerful cartels and traditional Mexican cartels go back to the 1980s, the Cucuta border crossing represents a special allure for newcomers like the Mexican paramilitary group known as the Zetas.

The hustle and bustle of the wholesale environment and the porous border with Venezuela make this area special for the Zetas, Colombian and other Western intelligence officials say. Past ties, friendships and partnerships take a back seat to cash. The Zetas are the nouveau riche, known as much for their brutality as for their deep pockets and their ability to bend people to their will, the officials say."

Apr 27, 2011

Mexico - U.S. Relations: The Way Mexicans View the World

The Way Mexicans View the World:"Mexico’s Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, or CIDE, released its latest study,“Mexico, the Americas, and the World.” This... provides a fascinating glimpse into Mexicans’ views (both from its leaders and the general population) toward politics, policies, and, in particular, international relations...

On the domestic front, there are strong differences of opinion between elites and the masses. Mexico’s leaders are quite dissatisfied with the progress made in terms of social inclusion, economic development, and peace and security. This negative view confirms what one hears in the halls of congress and reads on the editorial pages of its leading newspapers. In contrast, Mexicans in general are much more positive about their country’s advancements. A fairly strong majority are satisfied with the steps forward in terms of social inclusion and economic development. Just under a majority (compared to one-third of leaders) are satisfied with the progress made regarding peace and security. ...

Overall, Mexicans view globalization increasingly favorably. A relative majority – some 43 percent – believe globalization has been good for Mexico (outweighing the 28 percent that see it as bad). This positive view is up from 34 percent in 2004 – climbing despite the 2008-9 global economic crisis. Mexico’s leaders are way out in front – with nearly three-quarters in favor of globalization. A strong majority of all Mexicans support free trade and foreign direct investment (though not in the state-run oil sector), and believe that trade and investment have brought benefits to their country and to them personally."

Drug War Bloodshed: Mass grave toll climbs; government defends itself

Mexico: Mass grave toll climbs; government defends itself: "The number of bodies pulled from two sets of clandestine graves -- one in the border state of Tamaulipas and the other in Durango state to the southwest -- is climbing toward 300 as violence in Mexico takes an often mind-numbing toll....

The horrific discovery of the mass graves has renewed pressure on the government of President Felipe Calderon, who has been blasted by the public and in the media for failing to stem bloodshed in the ongoing war with drug cartels. Morales, who is new to the job, was joined by Alejandro Poire, the government's main spokesman on security issues, and the two sought to deflect criticisms. Poire asserted that Tamaulipas "is under the control of the Mexican state," a response to the widely held perception that authorities have lost out to vicious drug cartels in the area. "

Movement for Peace with Justice: Javier Sicilia: The Resurrection of the Country is the Goal of Nonviolent Insurrection

Javier Sicilia: The Resurrection of the Country is the Goal of Nonviolent Insurrection: "In the midst of a political climate that is shaping the approval of a federal security law and with it the normalization of a state of exception, social fighters gathered to propose the construction of a social pact to reorganize Mexico and reiterate that society is fed-up with the climate of violence that is pervading the country.

Javier Sicilia—joined (by leaders of other civic society organizations) —made a call for others to join a silent march that will begin May 5 in Cuernavaca and finish May 8 at the zócalo in Mexico City. This demonstration will join contingents from Ciudad Juárez, the state of Mexico, Mexico City, Guerrero, Puebla and Tlaxcala. At the moment there are 38 mobilizations set to take place in different cities throughout the country.

Immigration Politics - Arizona: Legislature loses desire to pursue immigration bills

 Legislature loses desire to pursue immigration bills: "A year after Arizona enacted the nation’s toughest local immigration enforcement law, the Legislature’s appetite for confronting border woes waned considerably as business leaders rallied this year against legislation that they said would hurt the state’s struggling economy.

Many advocates for tougher enforcement thought that the passage of last year’s law gave them momentum to again push the bounds on what communities can do about cracking down on illegal immigration. But the economic boycotts that came after the passage of the enforcement law — which turns 1 year old today — cast a dark cloud over border bills considered by lawmakers this year.

“Do we want to go through another round of boycotts?” said Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix. It was the prevailing sentiment of lawmakers who defeated this year’s state bills that would have challenged automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants and prohibited illegal immigrants from driving in Arizona."

Immigration Politics - Florida: Wrong way on illegal immigration

Editorial from Sarasota, Florida

Wrong way on illegal immigration: "The United States needs sensible, humane, nationwide immigration reform. That's not what CS/HB 7089, proposed in the Florida House, would provide.

The bill is an ill-advised measure that has the potential to increase law enforcement and incarceration costs. It also could have a chilling effect on immigrant families and businesses that rely on them for labor."

Immigration Politics: Obama blasts Ga. bill targeting illegal immigrants

Obama blasts Ga. bill targeting illegal immigrants: "President Barack Obama has waded into the fierce debate over illegal immigration in Georgia, strongly criticizing the state’s Arizona-style legislation on immigration enforcement.

In an interview with WSB-TV this week, Obama said of House Bill 87: “It is a mistake for states to try to do this piecemeal. We can’t have 50 different immigration laws around the country. Arizona tried this, and a federal court already struck them down.”"

Mexican Politics & Whack-a-mole: Mexico’s House of Deputies Likely to Approve Police State Law

 Mexico’s House of Deputies Likely to Approve Police State Law: "Mexico’s House of Deputies has brought the country to the cusp of a police state. The reform to the National Security Law now before the lower house would grant sweeping military powers to the executive and limit congressional oversight of domestic military activity. It would grant President Felipe Calderón the ability to effectively declare states of exception without congressional approval and unilaterally use the military against any group he deems to be a “threat to internal security.”"

Laura's Blog: Obama’s Mexicogate?

Obama’s Mexicogate?: "A secret operation to run guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels — overseen by U.S. government agents — threatens to become a major scandal for the Obama administration.
The operation, called “Fast and Furious,” was run out of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) office in Phoenix, Arizona. ATF sanctioned the purchase of weapons in U.S. gun shops and tracked the smuggling route to the Mexican border. Reportedly, more than 2,500 firearms were sold to straw buyers who then handed off the weapons to gunrunners under the nose of ATF....

The Obama administration faces a tough choice: either orchestrate a cover-up, as the ATF appears to be doing, or open up the case and accept the consequences. The gunwalking case tests the integrity of the Obama government. It also further weakens support for a failing drug war strategy. The administration is currently seeking millions more dollars in security aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative.

The best path forward is to fully investigate the operation and punish those responsible — no matter how high up the blame goes. It is also time to end support for a war on drugs that becomes more entrenched and more violent every day." CIP Americas Program

Collateral Damage: Journalists in Mexico's Drug War

Journalists in Mexico's Drug War: "Numbers never give the whole picture, but do help to get some sense of a situation. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his crusade against the drug cartels four-and-a-half years ago, 30 journalists have been killed or disappeared, turning the country into one of the most dangerous for journalists in the world.

Last year alone, attacks against journalists and media outlets spiked 60 percent over previous years, with 10 assassinations, according to journalists speaking at the recent Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) meeting in San Diego, Calif. So far, they said, no perpetrators have faced trial....

Some journalists frankly admit they are falling into self-censorship, which endangers freedom of the press. By default, it also damages the fragile sense of democracy that began in 2000, when former President Vicente Fox defeated seven decades of continuous government control by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI). "

Legalization: The 'High Times' Presidential Straw Poll

 The 'High Times' Presidential Straw Poll: "Yesterday, Ron Paul joined the Republican presidential field, which means there are now two candidates -- the other being former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson -- outspokenly opposed to the war on drugs and in favor of either decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. Pot smokers heavily favored Barack Obama in the 2008, believing he'd end DEA raids on dispensaries and might legalize medical marijuana. But the action this cycle is all on the Republican side. Will pot smokers switch parties?"

Whack-a-mole: Fighting Drug War Creates Drug War

 Fighting Drug War Creates Drug War: "When the United States starts talking about illicit drugs, why does the word “war” always makes its way into the conversation?"

Apr 26, 2011

Immigration Crackdown: Federal judge faults Arizona sheriff Joe Arpio in immigration raid

Federal judge faults Arizona sheriff in immigration raid:"A federal judge ruled that the office of Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio violated the constitutional rights of an Hispanic father and son who were arrested during an immigration raid in this Arizona metropolis.

"This is a very important decision. The judge said that this detention and the arrest violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States," Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told Efe on Tuesday.

In February 2009, Mexican immigrant Julian Mora, a legal resident of the United States for more than 30 years, was detained along with U.S. born son Julio Mora by MCSO deputies." Fox News Latino

Drug War Bloodshed: 6 More Bodies in Mexican Border Pits; Total at 183

6 More Bodies in Mexican Border Pits; Total at 183: "Security forces have unearthed six more bodies in a northeastern Mexican border state where a drug gang is believed to be kidnapping passengers from buses and hiding their victims in secret graves, authorities said Tuesday. A total of 183 bodies have been discovered in a month in 40 graves." NY Times

Drug War Bloodshed: Four women, teenage girl found stripped with throats slashed in Acapulco beauty parlor

Four women, teenage girl found stripped with throats slashed in Acapulco beauty parlor: ""

Whack-a-mole: Drugs: Fall in Demand Brings Cocaine Back Home

Drugs: Fall in Demand Brings Cocaine Back Home: "“But one of the things about drugs is that the profit margins are extraordinary and the ability of drug trafficking organisations to absorb increased costs is phenomenal,” says Ms Felbab-Brown (Brookings Institute). “Hence the difficulties in trying to use supply-side measures to drive them out of business....

Mexican cartels have responded to the crackdown at home by forging new routes to the US with the youth gangs of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Some 90 per cent of cocaine shipments to the US last year came through Central America, according to the US government”

Whack-a-mole: Is the United States filling the mass graves of Mexico?

Is the United States filling the mass graves of Mexico?: "The American market for drugs, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, coltan, wolframite and other minerals provides the cash that thugs battle over, that fuels brutal states and that pays for terrorism. Clearly, we would do more to bring peace to these countries and to reduce the incentives for and leverage of bad actors by reducing our demand than by any other military or political steps we could take.

But we do nothing. And thus, we are filling mass graves and crushing demonstrators and blowing up our own troops with roadside bombs every bit as much as the animals we rightly condemn. We made them. We are living in a garbage strewn mess and blaming our plight on the rats. "

Apr 25, 2011

Immigration Crackdown: Noncriminals swept up in federal deportation program

Noncriminals swept up in federal deportation program: "More than once, Norma recalls, she yearned to dial 911 when her partner hit her. But the undocumented mother of a U.S.-born toddler was too fearful of police and too broken of spirit to do so.

In October, she finally worked up the courage to call police — and paid a steep price.

Officers who responded found her sobbing, with a swollen lower lip. But a red mark on her alleged abuser's cheek prompted police to book them both into the San Francisco County Jail while investigators sorted out the details.With that, Norma was swept into the wide net of Secure Communities, a federal program launched in 2008 with the stated goal of identifying and deporting more illegal immigrants "convicted of serious crimes.""

Immigration Politics - Florida: Hundreds of immigration bill protesters to rally in Tallahassee

Hundreds of immigration bill protesters to rally in Tallahassee: "With two weeks left in the legislative session, buses packed with Bay area activists headed to Tallahassee early Monday.

The protesters hope to convince lawmakers to vote no on a proposal to bring Arizona-style laws to Florida.Nine buses left Clearwater today with about 600 people aboard. Event organizers said the buses actually left later than planned because of the large number of protesters that showed up."

Immigration Politics: Five years of stalemate in US debate over immigration

Five years of stalemate in US debate over immigration: "After Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law one year ago, the conventional wisdom was that “Arizona copy-cat legislation would move quickly in other states,” Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), told reporters in a phone conference last week.

“The copy-cat wave seems to have fallen,” Murguia contended.Of 31 states which have witnessed attempts at passing SB 1070 clones, 22 have rejected them so far, a new NCLR report notes. "

Immigration Politics - South Carolina: Women lead fight against S.C. immigration bills

Women lead fight against S.C. immigration bills: "As the S.C. General Assembly has considered the bill during the past year, the opposition to it has been steady and strong.

And it has been driven by women. The arguments against the bill have focused on religious values, human rights concerns and civil rights issues — all issues that women are more likely to be involved in, experts say.

Apr 23, 2011

Immigration Politics: Alabama Senate Passes Arizona-Style Immigration Bill

Alabama Senate Passes Arizona-Style Immigration Bill: "The Alabama Senate has passed an Arizona-style immigration bill, but now that measure must be reconciled with the House version. The Senate bill allows police to detain people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants and sets new penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers."

Movement for Peace with Justice: Mexico poet Javier Sicilia leads anger at drug violence

Mexico poet Javier Sicilia leads anger at drug violence: ""Ihave to show my face for my son's dignity, for all the sons who have died in this battle and those who will die in the future," Javier Sicilia says. ...

"What this war has done is allow the corruption of institutions which had been taking place for years to emerge, but leaving those institutions completely defenceless to face organised crime." ...

For Mr Sicilia, the conflict has reached a level that requires a more comprehensive approach to the issue - one which includes the commitment of all Mexicans.

"We need a national pact because this is an emergency, and we have to rebuild the tissue of this nation - if we do not, we are going to enter hell.""

Apr 22, 2011

Whack-a-mole: Do Mexico Cartels Control the US Heroin Trade?

Do Mexico Cartels Control the US Heroin Trade?: "Much of this heroin is sourced directly from the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit, long a center for the opium trade. Poppies are grown and processed there, then smuggled to the border, where a fee is most likely paid to one of the "Big Brother" cartels -- the Sinaloans, the Juarez or Gulf Cartel -- for the right to use the corridor. The Nayarit heroin smugglers likely pay another fee to these cartels, in return for using some of the market space in cities like Columbus, where Sinaloa operatives like Pineda are reportedly deployed to handle the cocaine trade.

But, as noted in a report published last year by the Woodrow Wilson Center, such payments may be the only real connection between some of these heroin distribution cells and monolithic DTOs like the Sinaloa Cartel. And it may have been the tenuousness of these links to larger DTOs that allowed the spread of these smaller, more nimble cells across the U.S."

Whack-a-mole: The Ghost of the Zetas

An up close look at life in Coban,Guatemala.

The Ghost of the Zetas: "Everyone warns that the Zetas have returned. Walking around after eight o'clock at night gives the sensation of visiting a city in a coma: a small group of people eat meat tortillas in the corner of a park. Afterwards, nothing. Silence."

Legalization of Marijuana and Immigrants: Gary Johnson declares for president: Is he the next Ron Paul?

Gary Johnson declares for president: Is he the next Ron Paul?: "Mr. Johnson is not your typical Republican.... He advocates legalizing marijuana, supports gay marriage, and opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also favors a temporary guest-worker program and a process that allows illegal workers to earn legal status....

Johnson is sure to get lots of attention for his stand on legalizing marijuana. He has called the war on drugs “an expensive bust” that drains government resources on police, courts, and prisons. In a December 2010 interview with John McCormack of The Weekly Standard, he acknowledged illegal marijuana use as a painkiller between 2005 and 2008, following a paragliding accident. (Medical marijuana became legal in New Mexico in 2007.)"

Whack-a-mole Expert: Mexican Drug Cartels Infesting US, Even Our National Parks

Actually, this is not new news, but apparently more people are noticing. 

Expert: Mexican Drug Cartels Infesting US, Even Our National Parks: "Lost in the rhetoric about illegal immigration are new reports that Mexican drug cartels have moved into the United States, gaining a major foothold here that may be the start of a permanent expansion onto this side of the border. They're even growing marijuana in our national parks, one expert says."

Weapons Traffic: Mexico explores lawsuits against U.S. gun makers to stem flow of illegal arms

Mexico explores lawsuits against U.S. gun makers to stem flow of illegal arms: "The Mexican government alleges that widespread killing is being fuelled by a flood of U.S.-made weapons south of the border, and they have retained a high-powered American law firm to explore holding gun manufacturers accountable.

Sources told CBS News that Mexico's frustration with U.S. efforts to stop the flow of weapons 'has pushed them into this novel approach'. The U.S. law firm is reportedly looking at civil charges, including civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations)."

Immigration Politics: Obama administration needs to reform messaging on immigration issue

Obama administration needs to reform messaging on immigration issue: " President Obama's attempt yesterday to send the Latino community the message that immigration reform is still on his agenda needs to stop dwelling on that message and focus on a new one that sells the issue to critics.

The new message has to start changing the tone of the conversation from one of "Immigration reform is nothing more than granting amnesty" to "Immigration reform is an economic necessity to get the United States back on a profitable path."

It's an assertion that economists and financial analysts have repeated when quizzed about the state of the economy, especially in light of Standard & Poor's recent negative rating of the nation's credit credibility.
The fact of the matter is if it were not for the immigrant -- undocumented and legal residents -- this country would have as bad an outlook as some European and Asian countries who can no longer count on a "next" generation."

Immigration Politics: Obama Is Our "Frenemy"—An Open Letter to Latinos

Obama Is Our "Frenemy"—An Open Letter to Latinos: "Failure to bring the Obama administration to some reasonable, concrete relief for DREAMers, or around cooperation agreements between local police and federal immigration authorities, like 287(g) and Secure Communities, will bring the bar of immigrant and Latino respect to even more dangerous lows.

Democratic and Republican politicians and their allies will see that they can get away with continued repression without paying a political price. Such perception will, I fear, result in even more unprecedented terror and devastation of a community perceived to know no lower limits to its self-disrespect when its says "Sí Se Puede" in support of the administration that is breaking records as the most violent and repressive in the history of the immigrant United States."

Whack-a-mole: La Jornada - Mexico Senators and U.S. Drones: What Else are They Hiding?

A Mexican perspective on U.S. involvement in the drug war. 

La Jornada, Mexico: Senators and U.S. Drones: What Else are They Hiding?: ""Now they are flying over our national territory. Obama's CIA has used them with impunity to bomb Pakistan and kill al-Qaeda leaders by remote control (like playing Nintendo!) Could we be next? Is there an agreement in writing with Obama? Does the Senate know about this, or is it a secret? … It's unbelievable: Obama, a former constitutional law professor, has shown less respect for international law than George W. Bush."

Apr 21, 2011

Whack-a-mole: Move and counter-move in DoD’s war on smugglers

Those damn moles certainly are rich!

Move and counter-move in DoD’s war on smugglers "“If you look at the transnational criminal organizations, it’s a well– financed, capable, capacity — an enterprise, if you will,” Air Force Gen. Douglas Frasier, who runs U.S. Southern Command, told reporters at the Pentagon last month. “Our estimates are anywhere from, on an annual basis, on a global basis, the transnational criminal organizations bring in $300 billion to $400 billion a year. That’s a significant number when you put it against the capacities of the [South American] governments that we’re talking about.”"

Drug War Bloodshed: Mexico police find 26 bodies in northern Mexico

Mexico police find 26 bodies in northern Mexico: " Investigators found 26 badly decomposed bodies at a vacant lot in the northern Mexico state of Durango on Wednesday and said they were looking for more.
The grisly Holy Week discovery came just days after police found 10 complete bodies, three headless bodies and four severed heads in a pit in Durango, a state that has become a battleground between the Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels." AP

Whack-a-mole: Some Questions for the War on Drugs Hawks

In this article from the Atlantic magazine, a U.S. District Attorney is quoted as saying, regarding the drug war, "We've been standing at a dam and putting our fingers in the holes."  

Some Questions for the War on Drugs Hawks:

Apr 20, 2011

Immigration Politics: Latinos livid with Obama’s immigration policy, plan push with Emanuel

Latinos livid with Obama’s immigration policy, plan push with Emanuel: "When Chicago immigration activist Emma Lozano talks about the issue, she starts out ordinarily enough. But once she moves from the issue to the stories – the fathers dragged from their homes in their underwear in front of their children – she gets angry.

And she has a message for President Barack Obama: “We’re getting the shit kicked out of us by you and your administration.” ...

She said Obama could lose the Latino vote unless he starts to hold Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accountable."

Immigration Politics: State immigration bills meet mixed fates

So we've noticed. 

State immigration bills meet mixed fates - USATODAY.com: "When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state’s historic immigration law into effect a year ago this week, lawmakers in dozens of states quickly promised a flood of similar legislation. But as states wind down their 2011 legislative sessions, the results appear as muddled as the immigration debate itself."

Whack-a-mole in Indiana: Drug rings broken up

Those moles are pretty smart, but we're smarter. Or are we?

US attorney: Drug rings broken up | The News-Sentinel - Fort Wayne IN: "“These drug organizations are sophisticated with technology,” U.S. District Attorney David Capp said, detailing how cell phones could be used for as little as two weeks before being discarded, making it difficult for law-enforcement agencies to gather information.

The wiretap led to more wiretaps, with law-enforcement agencies piecing together trafficking operations that allegedly had cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana brought into the country from Mexico to California before ending up in Fort Wayne, Capp said."

Whack-a-mole in Ohio: Authorities reveal indictments of 18 men in two major drug rings

Some gringo moles get whacked in Akron, Ohio for selling drugs from Mexico.

Ohio.com - Authorities reveal indictments of 18 men in two major drug rings: "Federal and local law enforcement say they've brought down two major drug rings responsible for bringing cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the Akron area.

The 15-month investigation reaches from the streets of Akron to the U.S. border with Mexico and has ties to Nevada and Arizona traffickers."

Whack-a-mole: Is former Washington State resident now a Mexican drug cartel leader? | Yakima Herald-Republic

More proof that calling it "Mexico's drug war" is a false dichotomy. It is ours.

Is former Tieton resident now a Mexican drug cartel leader? | Yakima Herald-Republic: "YAKIMA, Wash. -- The man who Mexican authorities say is a leader in a violent drug cartel responsible for the deaths of more than 200 people once lived in the Tieton area, friends and acquaintances said Tuesday.

The man, identified as 34-year-old Martin Omar Estrada Luna, was arrested Saturday by the Mexican navy. Several other suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel were also arrested.

Friends and acquaintances in the Yakima Valley say the man paraded before the Mexican media Sunday had plenty of run-ins with authorities here before being deported"

Immigration Reality: The Future of Immigrant Children

The Future of Immigrant Children - Brookings Institution: "Nearly a quarter of schoolchildren in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants. A substantial percentage of these children, especially those from Latin America, are falling behind in school. More than 5 million, for example, struggle with their academic subjects because they are still learning English.

Evidence shows that three policy reforms—increased attendance in quality preschool, improved instruction in English, and increased attendance in postsecondary education—would improve their school achievement, lift their economic well-being as adults, and increase their economic and social contributions to American society."

Immigration Politics: Obama-chosen "stakeholders" in immigration meeting do little to boost Latino confidence in White House

Point very well taken!

Obama-chosen "stakeholders" in immigration meeting do little to boost Latino confidence in White House (Latina Lista): "... in trying to gauge just how serious the administration is in dealing with the issue, it appears to be more telling of just who wasn't invited to this meeting. For example, Rep. Luis Gutierrez who has been stumping around the country challenging Obama to do something to fix the broken immigration system.

If there was true intent to do something, why not invite your most vocal critic?

Also, what about those who work directly on a day-to-day basis with immigrants?"

Immigration Politics - Utah: LDS Church repeats immigration stance amid renewed debate over issue | The Salt Lake Tribune

LDS Church repeats immigration stance amid renewed debate over issue | The Salt Lake Tribune: "The LDS (Latter Day Saints, aka Mormon) Church repeated its support of the Utah Compact Tuesday, and again described the Utah Legislature’s bills about immigration reform as 'a responsible approach.'"

Immigration Politics: House leader urges lawsuit on Utah immigration law

House leader urges lawsuit on Utah immigration law: "The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wants the Justice Department to sue Utah over its immigrant guest worker program.

Republican Lamar Smith, of Texas, says in a letter Monday to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that Utah is usurping federal authority to regulate immigration.

The guest worker provisions in Utah's immigration reform package would allow illegal immigrants to live and work in the state. Gov. Gary Herbert signed it in March, but it won't take effect for two years.

Smith says Utah is violating the same constitutional principles that Holder used to justify a lawsuit against an Arizona immigration law last year.

In Utah, spokesman Paul Murphy says state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has been meeting with federal officials to avert a lawsuit while a federal waiver is pursued."

Immigration Politics - Florida: Tallahassee’s harsh immigration bills flunk common-sense test

An editorial from the Miami Herald

Tallahassee’s harsh immigration bills flunk common-sense test - Editorials - MiamiHerald.com: "Some lawmakers in Tallahassee apparently believe that the way to appease the state’s most strident voices on immigration is to adopt an Arizona-style bill, opening the door to a divisive, unneeded and emotionally-charged debate. It’s a huge mistake and a terrible distraction for lawmakers, who should focus on finding solutions for the very real economic problems facing Florida.

There is no convincing evidence that the state needs this legislation or that most voters want it. As so often happens with this topic, the politics of immigration threatens to overwhelm common sense."

Immigration Politics - Georgia: Atlanta asks for reconsideration of immigration bill  

The politics continues in Georgia, even after "the horse is out of the barn."

Atlanta asks for reconsideration of immigration bill | ajc.com: "The Atlanta City Council, fearing a serious financial blow to the city’s multi-billion-dollar tourism and convention business, is calling on Gov. Nathan Deal to not sign controversial House Bill 87, the Arizona-like legislation that targets illegal immigrants by allowing police to investigate documentation status of suspects."

Immigration Politics: Obama plans to 'intensify' immigration debate

Obama plans to 'intensify' immigration debate - The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency: "President Obama told associates Tuesday he will continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, an issue likely to follow him and the Republicans throughout the 2012 election.

'The President noted that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months,' said a White House readout of a meeting between Obama and immigration stakeholders."

¡Viva Mexico!: Mexico rich and poor: In wealthy Mexico city area, hard workers at street level

One of those bittersweet stories so characteristically Mexican. Told well by the Los Angeles Times.

Mexico rich and poor: In wealthy Mexico city area, hard workers at street level - latimes.com: "Of Mexico's many contradictions, one stands out. The richest man on the planet lives in Mexico, as do millions of people existing below the poverty line. Yet rich and poor repeatedly intersect, entangled in a routine of mutual survival, of class-based enabling.

The rich sustain their comfortable lives thanks in part to an endless supply of cheap support staff. That in turn guarantees employment — albeit substandard — for legions of working-class Mexicans."

¡Ya Basta de Sangre!: Northwest Mexican state reports bloody weekend

Northwest Mexican state reports bloody weekend - Fox News Latino: "At least 15 people were murdered last weekend in Sinaloa, a state in northwestern Mexico,"

Apr 19, 2011

Immigration Crackdown: Deporting the Lowest-Level Offenders

Deporting the Lowest-Level Offenders: "Policies like the Criminal Alien Program and Secure Communities gave local and federal officials powers to work together as they never had before. These policies were meant to target undocumented immigrants or potential terrorists who would otherwise slip through the cracks, and immigration officials had a mandate to concentrate on deporting the highest risks to 'national security, public safety and border security.'

Instead, ... newly released internal data from the the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit, or ICE, shows that 60 percent of 'removals' between October 2008 and February 2011 were of individuals who had either no criminal background or were in the lowest priority category for removals -- i.e. individuals ... who had a past violation for an old crime." American Prospect

Legalizing Marijuana: An Exit Strategy from the War on Drugs

Legalizing Marijuana: An Exit Strategy from the War on Drugs / Council on Hemispheric Affairs: "U.S. drug policy needs to be altered; legalization must be subject to serious debate
• Legalization could eliminate illegal demand for Mexican marijuana and curb drug-related violence
• Medical dangers of marijuana may be largely exaggerated
• Economic costs and benefits should be balanced; legalization could reduce financial burden on the U.S."

Immigration Reality: Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too

Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too | Immigration Policy Center: "Tax Day is an appropriate time to underscore the often-overlooked fact that unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. The unauthorized, like everyone else in the United States, pay sales taxes. They also pay property taxes—even if they rent. At least half of unauthorized immigrants pay income taxes.

Add this all up and it amounts to billions in revenue to state and local governments. The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants. These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes"

Immigration Politics: Georgia's famous Vidalia faces threat

Hit 'em where it hurts, in their onions.

Ga.'s famous Vidalia faces threat | Atlanta Business Chronicle: "Opponents of Georgia’s proposed Arizona-style anti-illegal immigration have threatened a boycott of Georgia products, and could target the state’s largest vegetable crop -- the Vidalia onion, which brings in $145 million a year,"

Immigration Politics - Georgia: State Studying Immigration Bill Impact On Farms

State Studying Immigration Bill Impact On Farms - Politics News Story - WSB Atlanta: "The state Department of Agriculture will study the impact of a recently approved immigration reform bill on the Georgia’s multibillion dollar agricultural business. New Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told Channel 2's Richard Elliot his study will be complete and truthful.

After much debate, lawmakers passed sweeping immigration reform last week. Gov. Nathan Deal announced Friday he would sign it into law.

The new law requires employers, including farmers, to use the government's E-Verify system to make sure all their workers are in the country legally.

Some in the agriculture industry balked at the plan, saying farmers use a lot of migrant workers and checking their immigration status would be costly and time consuming, and could scare away even legal workers.

Farmers are concerned it could lead to higher labor costs which, in turn, would translate into higher prices at the supermarket. They also worry the law could lead to a boycott of Georgia agriculture products."

Immigration Politics: Obama revives immigration reform

Obama revives immigration reform - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "President Obama is reviving the issue of immigration reform in the face of mounting political pressure as he readies his bid for reelection.

Obama is holding a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with current and former elected officials along with business and faith groups to discuss the 'importance of fixing our nation's broken immigration system for our 21st-century economic and national security needs,' according to his schedule."

Mexican Economics: Reviving Competition in Mexico’s Economy

Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Blog Archive » Reviving Competition in Mexico’s Economy: "In trying to explain why Mexico isn’t growing quickly, or “why it isn’t rich” as Gordon Hanson puts it in a great paper, there is much talk about economic concentration — the monopolies and oligopolies that dominate the economy.

They spread beyond just telecommunications and media – the most obvious and maligned sectors. In cement, one company alone controls almost 90% of the market. In bread, tortillas, soft drinks, hospitals, and glass production just one company controls at least 70% of the market. This doesn’t even consider those areas still under state control, such as energy and electricity."

Whack-a-mole drug war:Trade-Based Money Laundering in Mexico

Gees! The moles are getting smarter and smarter.

Shannon O'Neil is Douglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Blog Archive » Trade-Based Money Laundering in Mexico: "trade-based money laundering is likely where the real money is. Less understood and perhaps more pernicious, this includes the stereotypical restaurant that never seems to serve any customers, except for a few toughs at the back table, but “rakes in” profits. But it is much more than that. It can involve jewelry stores, textile factories, travel agencies, or car dealerships. Any type of trade across borders is a potential opportunity for nefarious transactions, buried among the billions of legal ones."

Mexican Economics: Taking on Mexico’s Monopolies

Shannon O'Neil is Douglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations
Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Taking on Mexico’s Monopolies: "Last Friday, Mexico’s regulatory agency, the Federal Competition Commission, fined Telcel US$1billion for monopoly practices associated with high interconnection fees on its network. Controlling over 70% of the market, Telcel’s interconnection fees put competitors at a severe disadvantage due to the high costs charged to other fixed and mobile line operators when their subscribers call those on Telcel’s network.

This is the largest fine in Mexico’s history. Though the previous 2007 case against Telcel remains sealed, the maximum first time violation is roughly $8 million – peanuts compared to this ruling. As important as the money, this would be the second strike against Telcel. In contrast to U.S. laws, in Mexico the regulators have to build up a fine-based case for monopolistic behavior. With one more ruling against it, the Mexican government could in theory break up Telcel."

Collateral Damage: Mexico's orphans are casualties of drug wars

AFP: Mexico's orphans are casualties of drug wars: CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico  "With a child's unfettered frankness, six-year old Jorge tells a social worker that he is saving his pesos for the one thing he wants more than anything: an AK-47 automatic rifle.

It will take a weapon at least that deadly, the boy reckons, to visit retribution on the assassins who brutally shot and killed his father.

Jorge is one of 12,000 children orphaned in Mexico's relentless and bloody drug wars. ... "At least 12,000 children have lost one or both of their parents," said Gustavo de la Rosa, an official from Mexico's human rights commission."

¡Ya Basta de Sangre!: Mexico Massacre Question: How Did It Happen Twice?

Mexico Massacre Question: How Did It Happen Twice? - ABC News: "With only odd jobs to support a young wife and 2-year-old son in their concrete hut on a dirt road, Uriel Carvajal decided to seek work in the U.S., heading from central Mexico by bus to the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas.

When he didn't call home, his two brothers went looking for him, also by bus. Now none of the brothers — Uriel, 21, Rene, 28, and Cirilo, 23 — has been heard from.

Nearly a month after Uriel left home, the Carvajal family only knows that his brother Rene's identification card turned up in one of 26 pits found in Tamaulipas, where 145 bodies have been dug up so far. Authorities told the family to take Uriel's toddler, Ariel, to state offices to give a DNA sample."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico judge orders 16 police detained for 40 days

The Associated Press: Mexico judge orders 16 police detained for 40 days: "A Mexican judge ordered 16 police officers to remain detained for 40 days pending an investigation into their alleged involvement with the Zetas drug gang in a region where authorities have found a series of mass graves, prosecutors announced Monday.

The 16 municipal police officer from San Fernando, in the border state of Tamaulipas, are being investigated for organized crime, kidnapping and homicide, federal prosecutors said in a statement."

Laura's Blog: Time to Legalize Drugs: How Ending the Drug War Would Support Human Rights in Mexico

How Ending the Drug War Would Support Human Rights in Mexico – CIP Americas: "Thousands of Mexicans took to the streets last week to protest violence related to drug trafficking and the Mexican government’s inability or unwillingness to prevent it. U.S. and international activists who want to show solidarity with the people of Mexico must recognize that the most effective step we can take is to bring the war on drugs to an end. ...

The U.S. drug war at home is a costly disaster. Rather the solution is to end prohibition, legally regulate drugs, treat drug addiction as a health issue, and remember that successful demand reduction mostly means reducing the demand among the heaviest users, which is best accomplished both by providing effective drug treatment and by allowing drug-addicted people to obtain the drugs they want or need from legal sources.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the failed drug war. It is long past time to find an exit strategy to this unwinnable war. Now is the time to put all options on the table. Too many people have died to wait any longer."

Apr 18, 2011

Mexican Politics: What’s the Matter With Mexico: Drugs, Dinosaurs, Dithering

A critical analysis of the problems in Mexico's political system, by Denise Dresser, award winning columnist for two of Mexico’s leading journals including the Reforma newspaper andProceso weekly magazine, as well as a professor of political science at the ITAM in Mexico City. Presented at the Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center

What’s the Matter With Mexico: Drugs, Dinosaurs, Dithering: "Our task – as analysts and citizens -- is to hold up a mirror so that Mexico can look as itself with the honesty it deserves. Our task is not – as President Calderon has demanded – to speak well of Mexico, but rather to understand that the most important intellectual obligation that we have has is to pay tribute to the country by criticizing its flaws --  because we know and can envision how it can be better."

Mole Whacker gets whacked: Mexico's Tamaulipas police chief sacked after killings

BBC News - Mexico's Tamaulipas police chief sacked after killings: "The Mexican state of Tamaulipas has dismissed its head of security following the discovery of 145 bodies in mass graves earlier this month.

Former army Gen Ubaldo Ayala Tinoco has been replaced by another former soldier, Capt Rafael Lomeli Martinez.

The state governor said the new chief would improve coordination with the army and federal police in the fight against drugs gangs."

Whack-a-mole vs. legalization: Mexico Agonistes

From the National Review, an extensive review of the history and problems of the whack-a-mole drug war, which comes to the conclusion that legalization is the only way out.

Mexico Agonistes - Duncan Currie - National Review Online: "Here’s the painful, inescapable reality: Unless the United States either legalizes drugs or radically reduces its consumption of them, Mexican DTOs will continue to reap gargantuan profits and exercise tremendous power. Whenever one gang is dismantled or pushed out of a given city, other traffickers will immediately seek to grab its former territory and market share."

Whack-a-mole drug war and the rule of law: Mexico's new attorney general has a chance to make a difference - Editorial

Mexico drug war: Mexico's new attorney general has a chance to make a difference - latimes.com: "There is no simple fix to Mexico's bloody drug war. Poverty, corruption and weak rule of law are all part of the problem. But judicial reforms are a good place to start.

The president recently appointed Marisela Morales, the former head of the federal organized crime unit, as the third attorney general in four years. Although her tenure will be short — because Calderon's term ends in a little over a year — she can make real and lasting changes in the attorney general's office."

Apr 17, 2011

Immigrationo Crackdown: Punishment doesn't fit this immigration crime

A good, close look - from Denver, Colorado - at one family dealing with the possible deportation of the husband and father.

Griego: Punishment doesn't fit this immigration crime - The Denver Post: "... in all the years I've been writing about immigration, I have never been in immigration court. I've never been witness to a decision that might separate a father from his children, a wife from her husband. For the life of me, I cannot see what such a thing has to do with justice."

Immigration Politics - Tennessee: bills bring rare spat between GOP, business interests

Another example of business and anti-immigration politics not mixing.

Immigration bills bring rare spat between GOP, business interests | The Tennessean | tennessean.com

Immigration Politics: The Anti-Immigration Crusader

The story of Dr. John Tanton, prime organizer behind major anti-imigration organizations.

The Anti-Immigration Crusader - NYTimes.com: "From the resort town of Petoskey, Mich., Dr. John Tanton helped start all three major national groups fighting to reduce immigration, legal and illegal, and molded one of the most powerful grass-roots forces in politics. The immigration-control movement surged to new influence in last fall’s elections and now holds near veto power over efforts to legalize any of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

One group that Dr. Tanton nurtured, Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush’s legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants.

A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children."

¡Ya Basta de Sangre!Mexicans seek mass grave victims at border morgue

Mexicans seek mass grave victims at border morgue | Reuters: "Ricardo Martinez, 63, is one of many grief-stricken parents who have come to the city of Matamoros on the border with Texas for news of their missing children since soldiers began digging up dozens of bodies from mass graves in nearby San Fernando.

The last time Martinez spoke to his son Elvis was when the 33-year-old called from a pay phone two weeks ago to say he was getting onto a bus so he could sneak into Texas from the border state of Tamaulipas to look for work in Houston.

The next news he got was from coroners informing him his son was one of nearly 150 bodies unearthed since last week in graves that have become a stain on the name of Tamaulipas."

Apr 15, 2011

Weapons Traffic: Border gun scandal - ATF urged concerned dealer to continue gun sales, inquiry finds

Border gun scandal: ATF urged concerned dealer to continue gun sales, inquiry finds - latimes.com: "The investigation into a federal operation that allowed Mexican drug cartels to acquire U.S. weapons escalated Thursday with new revelations that an Arizona gun dealer repeatedly expressed fears that his guns were falling into the 'hands of the bad guys' but was encouraged by federal agents to continue the sales.

A series of emails released by congressional investigators showed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged the gun dealer against his better judgment to sell high-powered weapons to buyers he believed were agents for the drug cartels."

¡Ya Basta de Sangre!: Body count from mass graves reaches 145

Mexico mass graves: Body count from mass graves reaches 145 - latimes.com: "The number of bodies pulled from mass graves in northeastern Mexico has risen to 145, officials said Friday, following the arrest of 16 police officers for allegedly providing cover to drug-cartel gangsters suspected in the grisly slayings."

¡Ya Basta de Sangre!: At Mexico Morgue, Families of Missing Seek Clues

At Mexico Morgue, Families of Missing Seek Clues - NYTimes.com: "For two weeks now, the authorities have been bringing in bodies from mass graves around San Fernando (Tamaulipas), 145 corpses at last count, and with each new grave discovered, another crowd appears, seeking news of missing loved ones, clutching photographs, holding out their arms to give blood for a DNA sample.

They are looking for closure, but as their ad hoc gathering has grown into the hundreds, it has hardened a perception that government authorities have fought desperately to dispel: Parts of northern Mexico, including most of this state, Tamaulipas, have been lost to criminal gangs, and for quite some time."

U.S. - Mexico Relations- a Mexican Viewpoint: The Birthplace of U.S. Interventionism: La Jornada, Mexico

Opinion by Gilberto López y Rivas
La Jornada
translated by 'World Meets Us'

Mexico: The Birthplace of U.S. Interventionism: La Jornada, Mexico: "'Although Mexico shares a history of U.S. invasions, occupations and direct military attacks with Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Granada, and Honduras … our long common border has made our country the iconic case of the U.S.' long-established interventionism throughout the world.'"