May 31, 2011

Guatemala: Learning to Walk without a Crutch: The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala

Guatemala, Mexico and the United States are so intertwined.

Learning to Walk without a Crutch: The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala - International Crisis Group: "Since it began operations in September 2007, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG) has brought a degree of hope to a country deeply scarred by post-conflict violence and entrenched impunity. As homicide rates sky-rocketed to rival Mexico’s, and criminals fought for territorial control and dominated or corrupted multiple levels of state agencies, the novel independent investigating entity created by agreement between the government and the UN Secretary-General responded to fear that illegal armed groups had become a threat to the state itself."

Immigration Politics: More Than Immigration at Stake in Historic Effort to Recall AZ's Pearce

More Than Immigration at Stake in Historic Effort to Recall AZ's Pearce - New America Media: "A bipartisan effort to recall conservative state Senator Russell Pearce, known for his tough stance on illegal immigration, could signal a shift in the political climate in Arizona, even if it doesn’t result in Pearce leaving office.

The group, Citizens for a Better Arizona, is hoping to turn in well over the 7,756 signatures needed by Tuesday, May 31, to the Secretary of State. If the required number of signatures is met, Pearce would automatically be recalled and would have to run in a special election to keep his job. That could happen in November."

Immigration Crackdown: You can't rely on E-Verify

The problem with E-Verify is not - as this LA Times editorial says - its unreliability. The problem is that it is part of a systen of immigration laws that ignores the realities of the U.S. labor market´s need for manual labor and that the labor supply comes from Mexico and Latin America. This denial of economic realities forces the creation of "illegal immigrants." The existing system of exclusionary laws then leads to finding "solutions" to the "illegal immigration problem," such as E-Verify, Secure Communities and border walls to keep out the "illegal aliens" which the system has created. The actual solution is creating a system that enables migrants to obtain work legally in the real labor market.

Immigration: You can't rely on E-Verify - Sacramento Living - Sacramento Food and Wine, Home, Health | Sacramento Bee: "The problem with the Arizona statute is not that it penalizes employers who break the law. Businesses that hire undocumented immigrants should face fines or sanctions, as called for under current federal law (although many would disagree with the court's conclusion that states may impose such penalties). The problem is that the law relies on E-Verify, which isn't ready for prime time."

Justice: MEXICO - Citizen's Trial Finds State Guilty in Deaths of 49 Children

MEXICO: Citizen's Trial Finds State Guilty in Deaths of 49 Children - IPS "Xiunelth Emmanuel, was one of the 49 children who died Jun. 5, 2009 in a fire at the public-private ABC daycare centre in the northwestern state of Sonora.

Their parents' battle for justice led to the unprecedented citizen's trial against the Mexican state Sunday May 29 in the Zócalo, the main square in Mexico City.

A former Mexico City ombudsman acted as judge, and a score of renowned academics, human rights defenders and distinguished members of civil society served as the jury and witnesses of honour. A prosecutor and a public defender, both researchers at the National University, together with relatives of the deceased children, took part in the exercise 'based on the power of ethics.'"

Collateral Damage: Teacher leads kindergartners in song through gun battle in Mexico | The Periscope Post

Teacher leads kindergartners in song through gun battle in Mexico | The Periscope Post: "A Monterrey, Mexico kindergartner teacher was hailed as a hero after leading her students in song while a gun battle raged outside. But the incident is adding fuel to the debate: What can Mexico do about its drug war?"

May 30, 2011

Legalization: A 'war' we should fight no longer

Mary Ann Sieghart: A 'war' we should fight no longer - Mary Ann Sieghart, Commentators - The Independent: "Before he was President, Obama called the war on drugs an 'utter failure' and said we should think about decriminalising cannabis. Before he was Prime Minister, Cameron said Britain's drug policy was an 'abject failure' and called for a debate on legalisation of all drugs. Now that they're in power, though, both men have had an utter and abject failure of nerve. ...

They are not just craven but wrong. For, inexorably, the momentum is building for a more rational way of dealing with drugs."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Mexican Authorities Arrest 46 Suspected Drug Gang Members

Mexican Authorities Arrest 46 Suspected Drug Gang Members | "Mexican authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of 46 suspected drug gang members in police operations across the country, with 36 of those arrested accused of being members of La Familia Michoacana and the remaining 10 part of the Zetas gang.

Mexico's Ministry of Public Security reported that the 36 suspected members of La Familia were arrested in the southern Mexican state Jalisco after police intelligence tracked the gang following a brazen attack on a federal police aircraft."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Mexican Cartels Spread Violence To Central America

NPR looks at the drug war in Central America in a three-part series, beginning with Guatemala.

Mexican Cartels Spread Violence To Central America : NPR: "In the capital of the northern Guatemalan Peten region, the bus station is just a small parking lot in the city's main market. Grimy vans and small buses idle by the curb, spewing clouds of powdery, black soot. Several of the drivers have pistols strapped conspicuously to their belts, and they call out the names of Mexican border posts — destinations for migrants, food smugglers and traveling merchants.

This is the Guatemalan equivalent of the Wild West — a remote, sparsely-populated area along Mexico's southern flank.... (Here) over the last three years there's been a new, powerful criminal group offering work — the Zetas.

Earlier this month, dozens of heavily armed gunmen, allegedly from the Zetas, stormed a cattle ranch near here. They tied up the ranch staff, beat them and left 27 people dead. Most were decapitated. ...

President Alvaro Colom said international drug trafficking gangs are the biggest threat facing Guatemala and the region.

"Definitely these groups are very strong financially. They're strong in terms of violence. They're strong in how they manipulate authorities," Colom said. "We are doing what we can against them with our limited resources."

The cartels, with their tens of billions of dollars in revenue each year, have access to machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They use airplanes, speed boats and even submarines to move cocaine from Colombia into the region. Under attack in Mexico, the Zetas have built their own airstrips in the Guatemalan jungle.

Colom said some parts of his country near the Mexican border are currently controlled by the cartels."

Immigration Crackdown in Georgia keeps migrants away

AFP: Crackdown in US state of Georgia keeps migrants away: "Farmers in the US state of Georgia say they are starting to feel the effects of a tough crackdown on illegal immigration -- a sudden dearth of migrant workers needed to bring in their harvests.

Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said the labor pool of produce pickers has shrunk by 30 to 50 percent since passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act on April 20.

He said growers have told him that workers are bypassing Georgia to avoid police harassment and going to North Carolina, which is next in line during the growing season."

Immigration Reality: Once illegal, Houston legislator works to change perceptions

The background story of Texas State Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna

Once illegal, Houston legislator works to change perceptions | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "State Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna stood before the House on the afternoon of May 9, hours after lawmakers passed the controversial 'sanctuary city' bill, and started reading from a prepared statement, her eyes downcast.

'I know House Bill 12 already passed, and in the long run there is nothing that could have been done about its passage,' she said.

But still, she said, she had something to say. And then, in a halting and teary speech, Hernandez Luna, D-Houston, described what life is like as an illegal immigrant.
She knows, she said, because she lived it.

'Immigration and all that it encompasses is very personal for me because I was an undocumented immigrant,' Hernandez Luna said. 'You may prefer to use the word illegal alien, but I'm not an alien. I am not a problem that must be handled. I'm a human — a person standing before you now as a representative for the Texas House.'"

Immigration crackdown: California Assembly votes to opt-out of Secure Communities

Immigration program opt-out OKd by Assembly: "The California Assembly approved a bill Thursday to allow counties to opt out of a federal program (Secure Communities) to combat illegal immigration that opponents say rips families apart, leads to racial profiling and erodes trust between law enforcement and immigrants."

Legalization: Leading world politicians urge 'paradigm shift' on drugs policy

Leading world politicians urge 'paradigm shift' on drugs policy | World news | The Observer: "Former presidents, prime ministers, eminent economists and leading members of the business community will unite behind a call for a shift in global drug policy. The Global Commission on Drug Policy will host a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York to launch a report that describes the drug war as a failure and calls for a 'paradigm shift' in approaching the issue.

The commission will call for drug policy to move from being focused on criminal justice towards a public health approach."

May 29, 2011

Immigration Crackdown: Supreme Court Dives Into Arizona's Immigration Laws

This ariticle explains important differences in legal issues between the Arizona law regarding employee hiring - which the Supreme Court upheld this week - and S.B. 1070, which raises issues of individual rights, equal protection and due process - on which the Court will be ruling.

Supreme Court Dives Into Arizona's Immigration Laws - Andrew Cohen - National - The Atlantic: "Arizona's licensing law is very different in law and fact from those portions of S.B. 1070 which were passed last year by state officials and subsequently blocked by the federal courts. The more recent Arizona provisions, among other things, would require state law enforcement officials to stop and fine people suspected of being unlawful immigrants. They thus implicate significant individual rights and constitutional standards -- of equal protection, of due process, etc. -- which weren't even mentioned, let alone analyzed, by either side in the Whiting case. Thursday's ruling was about statutory construction. The next Supreme Court battle over Arizona's immigration initiatives will be about the Constitution itself."

Immigration Crackdown: Supreme Court ruling raises employer fears

Immigration law ruling raises employer fears | Business Insurance: "A U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding an Arizona immigration law could result in employers facing a patchwork of onerous anti-immigration laws unless Congress decides to take action, attorneys say.

Furthermore, the court's 5-3 decision last week in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. vs. Michael B. Whiting et al. gives implicit approval to a sometimes unreliable federal immigration verification system, which also can cause problems for employers, observers say....

In ruling on the Arizona law, the high court said the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act expressly pre-empts “any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment unauthorized aliens.”

According to the opinion, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had argued “that the Arizona law's provisions allowing the suspension and revocation of business licenses for employing unauthorized aliens were both expressly and impliedly pre-empted by federal immigration law, and that the mandatory use of E-Verify was impliedly pre-empted.”

But the Supreme Court disagreed. The majority said the Washington-based Chamber of Commerce “and the United States as amicus argue the Arizona law is not a "licensing' law because it operates only to suspend and revoke licenses rather than to grant them.” However, the high court ruled, “this is contrary to the definition that Congress itself has codified....It is also contrary to common sense. There is no basis in law, fact or logic for deeming a law that grants licenses a licensing law, but a law that suspends or revokes those very licenses (is) something else altogether.”

Arizona's procedures “simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed Arizona to pursue through licensing laws,” the majority ruled, saying the state “went the extra mile in ensuring its law closely tracks (the Immigration Reform and Control Act's) provisions in all material definitions....

Observers say one major concern is the ruling's implicit endorsement of E-Verify, which is a voluntary federal system, but mandated by Arizona law. Mississippi, Utah and Virginia also have such a mandate, according to the ruling.

John Doran, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig L.L.P. in Phoenix, said, “The obligations that are required under Arizona law, including a mandatory use of E-Verify, create significant burdens for employers and, frankly, you wonder if all of a sudden, you have a national E-Verify mandate” as a result of the ruling.

Observers say the E-Verify system is flawed and prone to error.”


Globalization: Agriculture, the big trade off for the Korea-Mexico FTA

Agriculture, the big trade off for the Korea-Mexico FTA

"Mexico, like Korea, is a country heavily dependent on exports to sustain its economic growth, but the two countries are currently not seeing eye-to-eye over a possible trade deal.

For both countries, it is not as simple as previous free trade agreements signed with other economies.

Only recently has Korea entered the free trade agreement game while Mexico has signed FTAs with more than 50 countries, including Japan, putting more than 90 percent of its trade under free trade agreements.

“There are some treaties like the one with Japan that we have not been able to profit from. However, we are aware that the real economic potential is in Asia,” said First Vice President of the Mexican Senate Francisco Arroyo.

There are several reasons why the Korea-Mexico FTA has not moved ahead: one is that Korean companies point the finger at Mexico’s manufacturing sector while agriculture remains a hot issue in Korea.

Talks began in 2007 but little progress has been made since then.

“We would like to be able to export everything that has to do with our agroindustry where we have many very good products and of course we can offer very favorable conditions for Korean enterprises to invest in Mexico,” Arroyo told The Korea Herald."

May 28, 2011

Mexican Politics: Presidential election - Campaigning against crime

A comparison of the security records of the two most likely competing candidates in next year's presidential election, the mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, and the governor of the adjoining state of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, .

Mexico's presidential election: Campaigning against crime | The Economist: "The policing of Mexico City will come under particular scrutiny as next year’s presidential election nears. That is because governance of the sprawling capital is split between Marcelo Ebrard, the mayor of the Federal District, which encompasses the heart of the city, and Enrique Peña Nieto, the governor of the surrounding Mexico State, which mops up just over half of the capital’s 20m residents.

Mr Peña is the front-runner for the presidential nomination of the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, whereas Mr Ebrard is vying to carry the flag of the left-of-centre Party of the Democratic Revolution. (His main rival for the nomination, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is himself a former mayor of the capital.)"

Whack-a-mole drug war: California Prison Overcrowding: How’s That ‘War on Drugs’ Working Out?

The logic - or illogic - behind imprisoning drug sellers and buyers and how it led to California's - and the nation's - prison overcrowding and contributes to budget crises.

California Prison Overcrowding: How’s That ‘War on Drugs’ Working Out? - International Business Times: "Gangs exist for one reason: to make money.

In the beginning, they were largely limited to theft. If prostitution was illegal, they were involved in that. When alcohol became illegal in the US, they hit pay-dirt. In fact, alcohol prohibition is by far the biggest factor that gave rise to large-scale organized crime in the US.

When the US started its ‘war on drugs,’ gangs – in the US, Mexico, Colombia, and many other countries – hit the jackpot.

The logic is simple. Because drugs are illegal, they’re a highly desired and 'scarce' -- that is, not easily obtainable through legal means -- and monopolized by criminals. Any business executive will tell you that monopolizing such a product will guarantee the supplier riches and secure funding for expanding operations. "

Mexico migrants: Mexico law aims to reduce risks to migrants passing through

A look at the dynamics, economics and politics of undocumented migration through Mexico to the U.S.

Mexico migrants: Mexico law aims to reduce risks to migrants passing through - "President Felipe Calderon, his administration chastised by foreign governments for how their citizens are treated, this week signed a new immigration law aimed at reducing the risks. The measure decriminalizes the act of entering the country without papers and entitles the undocumented to education and health services. It also promises a major overhaul of the scandal-plagued federal immigration agency....

Calderon, in signing the new law, said he hoped that bringing immigrants out of the shadows of clandestine living would make them less likely to fall victim to the "evil and perverse" trafficking gangs — especially since migration from Mexico to the U.S. is an economic phenomenon that is not going away.

"As long as the United States does not have a legal framework that permits this natural flow and channels it in an orderly way," Calderon added, "migrants will continue to run the risk of becoming part of a market run by unscrupulous criminals. That is the reality.""

Immigration Crackdown: What does the Supreme Court ruling on immigration mean? - Right Turn - The Washington Post

An analysis of the legal arguments in the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's employment law and the possible clues those arguments may give to how the Court may rule on Arizona's SB1070 law calling for police to investigate the immigration status of people they stop.

What does the Supreme Court ruling on immigration mean? - Right Turn - The Washington Post: "'Whiting? (the employer case) suggests Arizona will have a sympathetic majority if the dispute over SB 1070 reaches the Supreme Court. But the only certainty is that the Supreme Court will engage in a painstaking analysis to determine if particular sections of that law run afoul of or go beyond the contours of federal immigration law."

Immigration Politics: Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Law May Spur States

A look at the complex dynamics of state attempts to enact immigration crackdown legislation.

Ruling on Arizona Law May Spur States - News Analysis - "According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state lawmakers set a new record in the first three months of the year, proposing 1,538 bills related to immigration, with 141 measures in 26 states passed into law. While some of those laws extended new opportunities to illegal immigrants, like permitting them to pay lower in-state tuition rates at public colleges, most of the laws imposed restrictions on them.

With its decision on the hiring law that Arizona passed in 2007, the Supreme Court indicated that it would not flat out disallow any action by states on immigration enforcement, even though federal law generally pre-empts state measures in that area. State lawmakers now know for certain that there is some firm legal ground for the recent round of bills that seek to drive illegal immigrants out of the country by preventing them from taking jobs and even living here."

Whack-a-mole drug war: "Successes, Failures and Losses": Daniel Mejía on drug policy

Just the Facts Podcast - "Successes, Failures and Losses": Daniel Mejía on drug policy: ""Just the Facts," a joint project of the Center for International Policy, the Latin America Working Group and the Washington Office on Latin America, talks with Daniel Mejía, an economist from Colombia's Universidad de los Andes, who just co-edited a book, "Éxitos, fracasos y extravíos," which thoroughly critiques, and proposes alternatives to, the U.S.-backed anti-drug policy in Colombia."

Whack-a-mole: Jailers Accused in Escape

Mexico - Jailers Accused in Escape - "The director and 11 officials at a prison in northern Mexico were charged Friday with helping 17 inmates escape through a tunnel in the prison’s laundry room. The federal prosecutor’s office said the prison officials, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, across from Texas, helped inmates escape through a hatch hidden underneath a washing machine. The tunnel emerged outside the prison grounds."

May 27, 2011

Immigration Reality: 75-mile Trek Through Sonoran Desert Brings Attention to Migrant Deaths

75-mile Trek Through Sonoran Desert Brings Attention to Migrant Deaths - Three Sonorans: "On May 30, 2011, a diverse group of more than sixty individuals will begin a 75 mile walk to call attention to the human rights crisis occurring on the southern border.

The eighth annual Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life is a joint endeavor of community groups and individuals from both sides of the border walking in solidarity with migrants to demand an end to the deaths in the desert.

“For the eighth year we stand together in solidarity with migrants and call for an end to the tragic deaths and division of communities along the U.S.-Mexico border,” says Kat Rodriguez of Derechos Humanos."

U.S. - Mexico Relations: Diplomat tapped to be ambassador to Mexico grew up in Concord, California

Diplomat tapped to be ambassador to Mexico grew up in Concord - San Jose Mercury News: "The Obama administration has tapped a career diplomat who grew up in Contra Costa County for one of its most important foreign service posts: ambassador to Mexico.

The White House has not formally nominated Earl Anthony 'Tony' Wayne as the next ambassador, but the administration presented his name late last week to the Mexican foreign ministry, a source in the ministry confirmed. A vetting by the host country is routine protocol in diplomatic appointments.

The 60-year-old Wayne grew up in Concord in the 1950s and 1960s, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1972 and has worked for the State Department for decades. He now serves as deputy ambassador to Afghanistan and was ambassador to Argentina during the Bush administration."

Whack-a-mole drug war - Headless corpses spark worries on Mexico's southern border

A close-up look at the Mexico - Guatemala border -- or lack thereof.

Headless corpses spark worries on Mexico's southern border | McClatchy: "ALONG THE USUMACINTA RIVER, Mexico — If the border that separates the United States and Mexico is fairly easy to penetrate, then Mexico's other border — the southern one, abutting Guatemala — is virtually a sieve.

For a few pesos, boatmen along this jade-hued jungle river will take people or cargo across, no questions asked. On one recent day, rustlers could be seen driving long-horned cattle from trucks at river's edge onto waiting boats.

That's just garden-variety smuggling. Of greater concern are the tons of illicit narcotics that move north, and the drug cartel gunmen who move easily in either direction, committing crimes on one side only to escape to refuge on the other."

Whack-a-mole whacks some mole whackers: Documents detail accusations against Arpaio's employees after sting

Documents detail accusations against Arpaio's employees after sting - "Three Arizona law enforcement officers arrested on suspicion of aiding human traffickers and drug smugglers allegedly had close ties to a member of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel, court documents say, a Mexican narcotics gang that operates along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Immigration Crackdown: Mississippi To Be Testing Ground for New Immigration Status Checks | eWire Informer

We trust that the  American Civil Liberties Union will be keeping its eye on this "experiment."

Mississippi To Be Testing Ground for New Immigration Status Checks | eWire Informer: "E-Verify, a tool designed explicitly for immigration enforcement – which is vulnerable to borrowed, stolen or faked documents – is about ready to gain an additional tool to help with enforcement. The Obama administration indicated that, as early as June 8th, Mississippi driver’s license data will be added to the E-Verify system.

The addition of the data will be a test to see if it will aid the E-Verify system in the identification of people working illegally in the US. ...

The Department of Homeland Security, through its Citizenship and Immigration Services, has attempted to make up for the verification shortcomings of the system by adding photos from such items as green cards, US passports and work permits. The problem with this is that it doesn’t cover all workers, only some of them.

When filling out paperwork to obtain a job, it is estimated that nearly 80% of people present driver’s licenses for the purpose of establishing their identity. The spokesman for CIS, Bill Wright, indicated that this initiative is a huge step in the right direction in allowing the CIS to effectively combat the problems associated with fraud and identity theft in the process of employment verification.

Other states will be keeping an eye on the experiment to see how it will affect privacy issues for American citizens. The announcement of adding this data raised some concerns with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is the largest opponent to E-Verify."

Immigration Crackdown - Georgia: Governor asks state to probe farm labor shortages  |

Great! After he signs a law cracking down on immigrant labor, the governor of Georgia decides to look into the impact on the harvesting of crops now ready in the fields. See companion post: 
Georgia Farmers Blame Immigration Law For Lack Of Workers
Governor asks state to probe farm labor shortages | "State officials confirmed Friday that they have started investigating the scope of Georgia’s agricultural labor shortages following complaints that the state’s new immigration enforcement law is scaring away migrant farmworkers. ...

The labor shortages have sent farmers scrambling to find other workers for their fall harvests. Others are making hard choices about leaving some fruits and vegetables to wilt on their fields...

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has estimated the labor shortages afflicting South Georgia counties could put as much as $300 million in crops at risk. "

Immigration Crackdown: Georgia Farmers Blame Immigration Law For Lack Of Workers

Something is rotting in Georgia. 

Georgia Farmers Blame Immigration Law For Lack Of Workers : NPR: "In Georgia, farmers have almost everything they need for a successful early harvest, as squash, peppers and peaches are ready for market. But one thing's missing: someone to pick them. Fruit and vegetable farmers blame the state's new immigration reform law, saying it's keeping migrant workers away....

Steven Johnson of South Georgia Produce... says his crop is ripe on the ground — but there aren't enough people to pick it:"We're probably at 30 percent of boxes of produce that we would normally get in the spring season," he says. "And it's there in front of you to be got, and the markets are good, and you can't get it. It's very frustrating. "

Johnson says the farmers can't find the labor, as workers who normally come up from Florida are afraid to come across the state line because of the new immigration reform law the governor recently signed."

Immigration Politics - California: Assembly votes against law enforcement information sharing

Looks like the California legislature may have been listening to places like Napa Valley. See our post:
Aware of Its Dependence, Napa Takes Care of Migrant Workers
KYMA News 11... Yuma, AZ/El Centro, CA: "California's Trust Act passed the State Assembly on Thursday and is now off to the State Senate. The bill allows counties to opt out of the Secure Communities. ...

Californai State Senator Juan Vargas (D-40) is skeptical of the program. He says "in areas like San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties, there's obviously a much larger hispanic population. So obviously the whole issue of racial profiling comes up."

...Vargas says "not everything that's legal is a good idea." He thinks Secure Communities is one of them."

Immigration politics: Republican candidates seem to soften

We are not sure that pulling back a little from insanity (if that is actually happening) should be considered "softening." But perhaps it is a slight improvement in reality testing, a basic psychological function. Maybe Republicans who want to run for president are noticing - in a number of states - the reality that their business (including agrculture businsess) supporters who depend on immigrant labor are not so supportive. See post States' immigration efforts fizzle

Immigration: Republican candidates seem to soften - "Contenders for the 2012 presidential campaign are showing more sympathy for illegal immigrants, possibly because the political environment has muted the need for them to talk tough."

Immigration Politics: Will Supreme Court ruling on immigrants pit Big Business against states?

Will Supreme Court ruling on immigrants pit Big Business against states? - "The Supreme Court ruling affirming Arizona's right to yank licenses from firms that employ illegal immigrants may spur similar laws in other states, pitting politicians against their business allies."

Whack-a-mole: Guatemala Warns of Drug Gang Invasion

Yes, the moles are over-running Guatemala, thanks to the U.S. supported mole whacking going on in Mexico.

Guatemala Warns of Drug Gang Invasion: "Guatemala's president has warned that the country is being 'invaded' by drug traffickers, following the arrest of another alleged member of a Mexico-based gang accused of massacring 27 people in the north of the country.

In a press conference, President Alvaro Colom told reporters that Elder Estuardo Morales Madrid was responsible for leading the group that murdered 27 laborers on May 15, reported El Universal. The massacre has been attributed to the Zetas, a Mexican drug gang which has steadily increased its operations in Guatemala in recent years."

Drug culture vs. Whack-a-mole politics: Mexican State Bans Narco-Music

Whacking the music will be about as successful as whacking the drug moles. 

Mexican State Bans Narco-Music: "A Mexican governor announced a prohibition on 'narcocorridos,' songs celebrating drug trafficking, in public venues in his state, turning the fight against organized crime into a debate about free expression amid the rise of narco-culture."

Whack-a.mole drug war: Colombia Unveils Plan to End Conflict by 2014

Gee, and we thought that "Plan Columbia" was a smashingly successful demonstration of mole whacking.

Colombia Unveils Plan to End Conflict by 2014: "Colombia has announced a new security plan which aims to wipe out guerrilla groups and emerging drug gangs by 2014. Despite the fanfare, the plan is more of the same and signals no real change in the government’s security policies."

Whack-a-mole: Jailbreaks Just the Most Obvious Problem of Mexico's Prisons

Once again, the moles are on the outside as well as the inside, so they can "tunnel" either way.

Jailbreaks Just the Most Obvious Problem of Mexico's Prisons: "Seventeen inmates in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas tunneled out of a prison in Reynosa, offering another glimpse of a system that is struggling to keep up with the demands placed upon it by President Felipe Calderon’s aggressive anti-crime strategy."

Whack-a-mole drug war: With Guatemala Massacre, Mexico Drug Gang Rules by Terror

More on "barbarism" as a cartel tactic. See our post on Barbarism & Societal Warfare South of the Border?

With Guatemala Massacre, Mexico Drug Gang Rules by Terror: "In the wake of a massacre in northern Guatemala, observers have been left with the question of why the Zetas drug gang would kill and dismember 27 farm laborers who apparently had no connection with organized crime.

Extreme violence has always been a signature of the Zetas, a Mexican criminal group which has an expanding presence in Central America. ...

As indicated by events like the recent Peten massacre, or the 2008 killing of 17 people at a horse show in Huehuetenango, the Zetas have chosen (instead of competing with existing Guatemala gangs) to establish and maintain their power through extreme force. ...

By indiscriminately targeting civilians, it seems their intention was to spread terror and win the ability to conduct their illicit businesses unopposed."

Economics: Labor Law Reform – A Key Battle for Mexican Unions Today

The Americas Program is pleased to present the second part of a new series by David Bacon, in partnership with the Institute for Transnational Social Change at UCLA. We'll be publishing the report in five parts over the next few weeks. 

Labor Law Reform – A Key Battle for Mexican Unions Today – CIP Americas: "Changing Mexico’s labor law threatens the lives of millions of workers. It would cement the power of a group of industrialists who have been on the political offensive for decades, and who now control Mexico’s presidency and national government. "

Immigration Reality: U.S. Hispanic Country of Origin Counts for Nation, Top 30 Metropolitan Areas

Here are the facts from the 2010 census. Mexicans are, by far, the largest Hispanic group in the U.S.. At 31.8 million, they number nearly seven times more than the second largest group, Puerto Ricans, at 4.6 million.

U.S. Hispanic Country of Origin Counts for Nation, Top 30 Metropolitan Areas - Pew Hispanic Center: "Despite their No. 1 status, Mexicans are not the dominant Hispanic origin group in many of the nation's metropolitan areas. Among the Miami metropolitan area's 1.5 million Hispanics, half are Cuban. In the New York-Northeastern New Jersey metropolitan area, 29.4% of Hispanics are of Puerto Rican origin and 19.7% are of Dominican origin. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Salvadorans are the largest group, comprising one-third of the area's Hispanics.

However, in many metropolitan areas, Mexican origin Hispanics are by far the dominant group among Hispanics. In Chicago, nearly eight-in-ten (79.2%) of the area's Hispanics are of Mexican origin. In the San Antonio, TX metropolitan area, Mexicans make up 91.3% of all Hispanics. And in Atlanta, GA, nearly six-in-ten (58.1%) Hispanics are of Mexican origin."

Globalization: Latin America's Moment - Latin America’s Growing Middle Class

Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Blog Archive » Latin America’s Growing Middle Class: "Two recent studies look at the rise of Latin America’s middle class. The first, by ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), shows that nearly across the board, the share of Latin America’s middle has expanded. ...

Three interesting points come out of these studies. First, it reaffirms Latin America’s increasingly positive economic story. In addition to exports, Latin American countries can increasingly rely on domestic consumption to fuel economic growth and advance well-being.

Second, on these metrics Latin American nations far outpace China and India...

Finally, if the old truism holds, the rising middle class should be good for democracy. Preliminary evidence suggests that this is indeed the case. The expansion of the middle class and of democracy have coincided in most places in the region. But more telling than this correlation, policies favored by the middle – health care, security, education, and general economic openness – are increasingly on the political agenda, suggesting that the votes of this group matter. "

Drug Policy Reform: World Leaders Call for Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy

Transform Drug Policy Foundation Blog: Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland, Prime Minister of Greece, Kofi Annan, George Shultz and Paul Volcker Call for Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy: "The Global Commission on Drug Policy will host a live press conference and teleconference on Thursday, June 2 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City to launch a new report that describes the drug war as a failure and calls for a paradigm shift in global drug policy.

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders who have ever called for such far-reaching changes in the way society deals with illicit drugs – such as decriminalization and urging countries to experiment with legal regulation.

The Executive Director of the global advocacy organization AVAAZ, with its nine million members worldwide, will present a public petition in support of the Global Commission’s recommendations that will be given to the United Nations Secretary General."

Whack-a-mole: U.S., Mexico start joint effort to freeze drug kingpins’ cash

Whack-a-mole? Apparently the U.S. can't even whack a dollar. One dollar for every $20,000 is .005%!

U.S., Mexico start joint effort to freeze drug kingpins’ cash - The Washington Post: "An aggressive U.S.-led effort to pursue money-laundering cases against Mexican cartels is inflicting only fleeting damage on the trafficking organizations, which have grown sensationally rich on drug profits from American consumers.

For the first time, U.S. Treasury agents have begun to share with their Mexican counterparts financial data on drug kingpins that are gleaned from wiretaps, informants and cyberspace probes. The United States has now designated more than 300 people and 180 companies as “significant narcotics traffickers,” which freezes their U.S. assets and bans Americans from doing business with them.

But while President Obama has boasted of “putting unprecedented pressure on cartels and their finances,” the U.S.-Mexican effort has produced little in the way of arrests or seizures. During the past 11 years, only $16 million tied to suspected Mexican traffickers has been blocked in the United States, or one dollar for every $20,000 estimated by the Congressional Research Service to flow southward from the United States to organized-crime groups in Mexico each year." (AMB emphasis)

Mexican Politics: Cordero takes aim at presidency in 2012

Mexico's Cordero takes aim at presidency in 2012 | Reuters: "Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero said on Thursday he wants to run for president in the 2012 race that will revolve around spiraling drug violence and a moribund job market.

The 43-year-old National Action Party (PAN) member said he was not yet resigning his post, which he has held since January last year. ...

A poll in El Universal earlier this month showed Cordero was the least popular among four potential PAN candidates.

PRI state governor Enrique Pena Nieto is seen as the front-runner in the presidential race although the opposition party has not officially picked a candidate yet."

Immigration Reality: Aware of Its Dependence, Napa Takes Care of Migrant Workers

Nappa Valley, California, knows which side its bread is buttered on; actually, who fills its wine kegs.

Aware of Its Dependence, Napa Takes Care of Migrant Workers - "Nearly every drop of Napa County’s world-class wine is produced by migrant labor.

This time of year, that means the workers are suckering vines — pulling off, by hand, tiny sprouts that might hinder the growth of healthy grapes.

Just as painstakingly, civic and business leaders in the county have been working on another key element of the harvest: cultivating their own immigration policy. ...

The effort was born of compassion and practicality. Without migrant labor, most of it from Mexico, the wine producers in Napa would be hard pressed to fill a carafe, much less the valley’s nine million annual cases. ..

Experts estimate that 8,000 to 12,000 illegal migrants reside (often seasonally) in Napa, although the number is impossible to confirm. Ten years ago, they could be found living in the woods in makeshift camps, sleeping on fetid mattresses and drinking from dirty streams. Today they receive subsidized housing, or can reside in three tidy dormitory complexes near St. Helena and Yountville where up to 180 workers pay $12 a day for room and board....

There is no federal financing for thumbing one’s nose at Washington policy, so Napa pays for its own efforts.

Vineyard owners pay an assessment of $10 per acre to help house and feed migrant fieldworkers, a program that costs more than $1 million a year. Financing and donations, including food, also come from county and municipal governments, churches, businesses, charities and concerned citizens — all contributing to a larger safety net that includes health care and job placement."

Immigration Reality: How Immigrants Live, Still

New York Times editorial on the recent book by Harvard professor, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, on the negative consquences to children when their parents cannot gain legal immigrant status in the U.S. See our original post about the findings.

How Immigrants Live, Still - "New immigrants crowd into derelict apartments. Parents toil, children suffer. But while most of the last centuries’ newcomers were Americans in the making, many today have no way to naturalize. They live in the shadows, so their American-born children do, too.

“Immigrants Raising Citizens,” a study by a Harvard education professor, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, followed nearly 400 of these young children in New York City."

Whack-a-mole - or not: Questioning Arizona's Sinaloa Gang Bust

Big moles or little moles? Good question. (See the original AP article about the supposed "success" of Operation Xecellerator)

Questioning Arizona's Sinaloa Gang Bust: "U.S. authorities announced the break up of an Arizona gang said to be working for Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, though how far this will really be a blow for Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman Loera's organization is a matter of debate.

Officials expressed satisfaction at the arrest of 27 members of the Jesus Valencia Rodriguez Organization, capturing more than half the group's known membership.

“This operation has effectively dismantled the Arizona-based transportation and distribution cells of the Jesus Valencia Rodriguez organization,” said Tom Horne, Arizona’s attorney general. ...

In the past, U.S. authorities have played up connections between Americans arrested in drug sweeps and their more notorious suppliers in Mexico, despite a enormous geographical and operational distance between the two. For instance, Otis Rich was arrested in 2009 as a part of Operation Xcellerator, which was hailed as a “crushing blow” against the Sinaloa Cartel, with 761 people arrested across the U.S. ...

As the Associated Press (AP) reported in 2010, when asked about his ostensible backers in the mountains of Mexico, Rich responded, "Sina-who? I don't know anything about them guys."

According to the AP, this was typical. Many of those whose arrests were hailed as an unprecedented strike against Guzman and other Mexican capos were low-level American pushers whose place in the global narcotics supply chain was so far removed from Sinaloa that they had no idea that it even existed."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Malverde, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Saint

Part of an excellent series on the drug war on the U.S. side of the border, by Fronteras, a co-operative news project of a number of public radio stations in the southwest U.S.

The Drug War At Home: Malverde, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Saint | Fronteras: "In the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa in northern Mexico, drug traffickers flock to a small unofficial church, paying homage for their success in the criminal underworld. For Mexico’s drug traffickers, this shrine is a mecca, where a mustachioed saint has become a symbol for the cartel culture."

Whack-a-mole drug war: The Texas Valley Of Corruption | Fronteras

Part of an excellent series on the drug war on the U.S. side of the border, by Fronteras, a co-operative news project of a number of public radio stations in the southwest U.S. 

The Drug War At Home: The Texas Valley Of Corruption | Fronteras: "The southernmost tip of Texas is the 120-mile-wide Rio Grande Valley. This region is home to a string of small towns perched on the edge of Mexican states like Tamaulipas, where drug cartels have taken over entire cities. These cartels are expanding their reach north of the border, trapping many public officials in the United States in its web of corruption."

Whack-a-mole War and the Border: The Spillover Violence Debate At The Border

Part of an excellent series on the drug war on the U.S. side of the border, by Fronteras, a co-operative news project of a number of public radio stations in the southwest U.S. 

The Drug War At Home: The Spillover Violence Debate At The Border | Fronteras: "With every report of drug-related violence in Northern Mexico, comes the fear that the shootouts, the assassinations, and kidnappings will spillover into the United States.

But when does a crime along the border become an example of spillover violence? And when is it just a crime?

It’s all a matter of local interpretation and, sometimes, political manipulation. Even some media hysteria."

Mexican Politcs and the Whack-a-mole drug war: What Mexico Will Look Like in 2012

Sadly,we have to agree that Mexico can do little to end the drug war. The ending is, as most Mexicans know from experience, in the hands of the U.S., which provides the drug market but prohibits it from being legal, thus feeding the cartels billions of dollars. The end of the war will only come when the US legalizes drugs. At present, that is not in the political cards. Just this week, U.S. Senate leadership issued recommendations to increase U.S. support of the present failed Merida Plan strategy. 

But Mexicans, such as those led by Javier Sicilia, must continue to protest this and seek to work with US civic organizations advocating legalization. This collaboration has begun to happen, as evidenced by a joint Mexican-US declaration at the May 8 march and the call for a joint Mexcian and US demonstration on June 10 in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. 

What Mexico Will Look Like in 2012 - New America Media: ". Jorge Ramos, the lead news anchor for Univision, has gone on record as saying, “Calderón’s strategy [against the drug cartels], which has cost more than 34,000 lives in the last four years, has been an utter failure.”

A failure to stem the violence has catapulted public safety to the top of the list of voters’ concerns ahead of next year’s elections in Mexico, trumping even the economy.Calderón will be termed out, but there is mounting pressure for would-be presidential hopefuls to declare that, if elected, they would call off the war on drugs.

But as 2012 nears, does Mexico have a choice?

It does not.

Mexico has the United States as a neighbor – which is both the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, and a militaristic nation that, with impunity, takes actions against nations it deems a national security threat.

Quite simply, regardless of the sentiments of poets and journalists – and everyday citizens who march peacefully through the streets of Mexican cities – the government has no choice in the matter.

There are two fundamental reasons why Mexico’s next president will stay the course.

Foremost is the matter of national sovereignty. It is unthinkable for Mexico to establish a quid pro quo, where the military’s campaign stops and the cartels cease their violence. The idea of having the Mexican state co-exist with nebulous geographic regions under the control of organized criminal syndicates is not in the cards.

Secondly, ....The United States wouldn’t stand for a rogue state to coexist alongside Mexico’s legitimate government. ...

think of the retaliatory actions that the U.S. government would pursue should it conclude that Mexico represents a “national security threat.” In other words, if Mexico’s next president abandons Calderón’s drug war,... then Mexico could easily be declared a “rogue state” that threatens the “national security interests” of the United States, always a precursor to economic and military actions.

In the best-case scenario, Mexico would then be subjected to financial havoc as American authorities move to seize bank accounts used by the drug cartels to launder their money, paralyzing Mexico’s financial system. In a worst-case scenario, Mexico may itself be occupied militarily by the United States....

In the same way that Barack Obama has found it impossible to close down Guantanamo, so will Mexico’s next president find it impossible to end the war on drugs. "

May 26, 2011

Immigration Reality: 2010 Census Shows Nation’s Hispanic Population Grew Four Times Faster Than Total U.S. Population

2010 Census Shows Nation’s Hispanic Population Grew Four Times Faster Than Total U.S. Population | HispanicTips: "2010 Census Shows Nation’s Hispanic Population Grew Four Times Faster Than Total U.S. Population Mexicans are Largest Hispanic Group Nationwide and in 40 States

The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census brief on the nation’s Hispanic population, which shows the Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010 and accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7 percent growth rate.

The Hispanic Population: 2010 brief looks at an important part of our nation’s changing ethnic diversity with a particular focus on Hispanic origin groups, such as Mexican, Dominican and Cuban.

About three-quarters of Hispanics in the United States reported as Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban origin in the 2010 Census. Mexican origin was the largest group, representing 63 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population – up from 58 percent in 2000. This group increased by 54 percent and saw the largest numeric change (11.2 million), growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010. Mexicans accounted for about three-fourths of the 15.2 million increase in the total Hispanic population between 2000 and 2010.

The Mexican origin population represented the largest Hispanic group in 40 states..."

Immigration Crackdown: Driver's data may be used to check workers' status

Driver's data may be used to check workers' status | "The Obama administration is about to add more personal information to E-Verify, an immigration enforcement tool that is vulnerable to fake, stolen or borrowed documents.

The administration has said that it will add driver's license data from the state of Mississippi to E-Verify as early as June 8. The agency will test whether using the data can help E-Verify better identify people working illegally in the U.S. E-Verify checks workers' information against Social Security and immigration records. E-Verify was not designed to check whether a document with valid information belongs to the person who presented it."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Mexico needs more defense spending to fight cartels

Oh, no! More bad news, along with U.S. senators announcing today that we need to beef up the drug war. Here PRI, the party most likely to win the Mexican presidency next year, is talking about incresing military spending to fight the cartels.

Analysis: Mexico needs more defense spending to fight cartels | Reuters: "Mexico's hopes of crushing the country's drug cartels through sheer military force appear doomed unless it ramps up defense spending, currently one of the weakest in Latin America.

"It's a total embarrassment what we're spending on the army with the problems it's got right now," said opposition politician Rogelio Cerda, (member of PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party) who chairs the defense committee in the lower house of Congress.  "The army definitely needs additional resources."

... security analysts say the defense ministry, which did not respond to requests for an interview, must beef up its ability to track and intercept traffickers with helicopters and patrol boats to have any chance of success.

Cerda's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leads the PAN in opinion polls, which also show security is a growing concern in Mexico. The PRI already dominates the lower house, and Cerda said its deputies firmly backed higher spending."

Movement for Peace with Justice: Mexico drug war protest caravan to mobilize nation's opposition, seal peace pact

Mexico drug war protest caravan to mobilize nation's opposition, seal peace pact: "Mexico drug war protest organizer, the preeminent poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, is launching yet another national event to call for reform. The National Citizen's Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, organized by Sicilia and a host of community based organizations, is scheduled to depart Mexico City and Sicilia's hometown of Cuernavaca on June 4, to cross the nation, and to convene a citizen convention in Juarez on June 10. ...

Following up on the international attention and national response, Sicilia's new project will "cross the path of horror" as it traverses the nation. The caravan trip will conclude on June 10 in Ciudad Juarez, the city on the U.S. border that has been most devastated by the Mexico drug war. There, participants will hold meetings and issue a statement formally initiating a national movement, a citizen pact for peace with justice and dignity. A tripline website details a preliminary route and itinerary for the caravan leading up to the Juarez meeting.

Organizers in Mexico are encouraging people from the United States to participate either by joining the Mexican caravan or by organizing a caravan leg from the US side. Such a caravan could conceivably conclude in El Paso, Texas."

Whack-a-mole: The Monster and Monterrey: The Politics and Cartels of Mexico's Drug War

A well written, in-depth look at the multi-faceted dynamics of the drug war in Monterrey: including between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the politicians and the cartels, the politicians and Mexican army. And last, all of them and the people.

The Monster and Monterrey: The Politics and Cartels of Mexico's Drug War | The Nation: "The narcomantas, as these public communiqués of the cartels are known, presaged a horrific explosion of violence in Monterrey, a city of 4 million people in northeastern Mexico and the country’s financial capital. In the months that followed, students would be gunned down at the gate of the city’s elite university. A mayor would be abducted, tortured and murdered. City squares, police stations and even the US consulate would be attacked with grenades. Blockades controlled by masked gunmen would paralyze the city for days on end. At the root of this violence was a turf war between the authors of the narcomantas, the Zetas, and their former ally the Gulf Cartel."

Whack-a-mole drug war: 'Narco tank' is latest find in cartels' armored vehicles

Now the moles have tanks!

'Narco tank' is latest find in cartels' armored vehicles - "Authorities in the Mexican state of Jalisco have discovered a so-called narco tank, an abandoned armored vehicle believed to have been used by drug cartels. It looks as though it belongs in a 'Terminator' movie."

MexicoBlog Editorial: Failed Whack-a-mole Drug War to Continue: Senators Feinstein, Grassley Release Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Report on Mexico

The just released report, "U.S. AND MEXICAN RESPONSES TO MEXICAN   DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATIONS" by the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, raises absolutely no questions about the U.S. "whack-a-mole" drug strategy. Even though it reports, "According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2009, about 21.8 million Americans aged 12 and older were current (in the past month) illegal drug users, representing 8.7 percent of the population.  This represents the largest proportion in the past decade of people aged 12 and older being identified as current illegal drug users." (AMB emphasis), the Caucus only advocates doing more of the same-old same-old, only better. What is that old saw about insanity being when one keeps repeating what doesn't work? The mole whackers are just going to go on whacking moles. 

Even sadder, the Caucus is chaired by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California. A second Democratic member is Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. So much for liberal senators from liberal states. Our "¡Ya Basta!" petition, linked on this page, is addressed to them and the members of both House and Senate drug contol subcommittees. We urge our readers to sign it.

Feinstein, Grassley Release Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Report on Mexico « Mexico Institute: "U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a report outlining key steps and initiatives to combat Mexico’s brutal drug trafficking organizations and reduce violence in the country.

The report, U.S. and Mexican Responses to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, is endorsed by all seven Members of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and makes several recommendations for the U.S. government. "

¡Viva Mexico!: Chicharito a Hero in Tough Times for Mexico

Chicharito a Hero in Tough Times for Mexico - ABC News: "Look up from an oppressive Mexico City traffic jam and you see the baby face of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez smiling down from a giant billboard. Look ahead and his image beams from an ad on a bakery truck.

Though he lives and plays more than 5,000 miles away for English club Manchester United, the 22-year-old whose nickname means 'Little Pea' is everywhere in his home country at a time when Mexico is in dire need of a hero. ...

For Mexico, Chicharito's success is about much more than football. "He's the only thing Mexicans believe in right now," writer and cultural commentator Guadalupe Loaeza said. "We don't believe the government, the institutions, the political parties. But through months and months of this crisis, Chicharito has brought us good news in front of the whole world.""

Immigration Reality: New U.S. Census figures show Mexican population in N.J. more than doubles in past decade

New U.S. Census figures show Mexican population in N.J. more than doubles in past decade | "Like much of the nation, New Jersey has seen its Hispanic population grow at an amazing rate over the last 10 years. This is nothing new in a state with long-established Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. What’s perhaps most surprising about new U.S. Census demographic figures to be released today, though, is the dramatic jump in the state’s Mexican population — which saw its numbers rise by 115,000 people since 2000.

The city of Passaic accounted for much of that influx, the figures show: Nearly one of every three people living in the city identify themselves as Mexican. 'Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re in the United States. Sometimes you feel like you’re in Mexico,' said Leticia Ortega, who was born in Puebla, Mexico, and moved to Passaic more than a decade ago."

Immigration Crackdown - Georgia: Businesses Vow To Protect Illegal Immigrants

Businesses Vow To Protect Illegal Immigrants - News Story - WSB Atlanta: "Some Georgia businesses are pledging to protect illegal immigrants against a new law that gives police more room to question residents' immigration status.

There are now 16 business and/or churches in the metro Atlanta area calling themselves buy spots and sanctuary zones, including the Charis Bookstore in northeast Atlanta.

'We put our face out there because no one is going to come looking for our papers,' bookstore employee Elizabeth Anderson told Channel 2’s Erica Byfield.

Supporters said buy spots are places illegal immigrants can shop without the fear of having to show papers proving their legal status, and sanctuary zones are places people can gather to plan how to fight the law. Anderson told Byfield if a police officer wants to question someone inside either place they will be asked to provide a warrant."

Immigration Crackdown - California: You pay nearly $1B a year to house illegal immigrant prisoners

You pay nearly $1B a year to house illegal immigrant prisoners | Bakersfield Now - News, Weather and Sports | Investigations: "A staggering number of illegal immigrants are housed in California's prisons and jails, and it's taxpayers who foot the huge bill."

Immigration Crackdown - Colorado: BROKEN LIGHT, BROKEN DREAM: Illegal immigrants in Aurora

Meet a 20 year old "illegal, criminal alien."

BROKEN LIGHT, BROKEN DREAM: Illegal immigrants in Aurora - Aurora Sentinel: News: "A gallon of milk, a burnt out car light, and Aurora will likely have one less illegal immigrant.

Everyday life led to the worst that can happen for Gerardo Noriega, who was living illegally in Aurora when the never-ending fear of being deported became a reality.

Noriega, 20, was driving from his Aurora home to a grocery store in April 2010 when an Arapahoe County Sheriff pulled him over for a broken license plate light. The Mexican-born graduate of Smoky Hill High School was arrested for driving without a license and detained in Aurora’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail for three days."

Immigration Crackdown - Illinois: Illegal immigration program a sham

Perez: Illegal immigration program a sham - "Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said Wednesday a federal program billed as a crackdown on violent illegal immigrants has failed to do anything but harm police work and further burden taxpayers.

Perez participated in an interview with national media Wednesday to decry the Secure Communities program. Illinois dropped its participation in the program earlier this month, but Kane County was one of the first local communities to buy into the program in November 2009. ...

A study by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights showed Perez his experience wasn’t an anomaly. DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties all saw up to 88 percent of the illegal aliens swept up by ICE had initially been picked up on minor offenses."

Immigration Crackdown: Supreme Court upholds Arizona law punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants

This is an earlier Arizona law.

Supreme Court upholds Ariz. law punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants - The Washington Post: "The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters."

Immigration Crackdown - Tennessee: Fewer deportations put 287(g) immigration program at risk

As always, money speaks.

Fewer deportations put 287(g) immigration program at risk | The Tennessean | "The number of immigrants detained in Nashville’s deportation program has been nearly halved. Federal dollars earned by the program have been cut by almost two-thirds.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, whose 287(g) immigration program has been the subject of years of complaints, said its days are numbered if the declines continue.

“If we continue to trend this way… clearly our resources in the Sheriff’s Office could be better used in areas like mental health,”"

Immigration Crackdown - Georgia: Reform could have impact on agriculture

From the "Western Farm Press"

Immigration reform could have impact on agriculture | Government content from Western Farm Press: "Faced with falling tax revenues and the loss of federal stimulus funds, the priority of many state legislatures this year has been simply to balance their budgets, but some laws have been approved and others are pending that could have an impact on farmers.

In Georgia, the ag-related legislation that garnered the most attention this year related to immigration reform. Opposed by the Georgia Farm Bureau and other agriculture and tourism related groups, the new immigration law passed both houses of the state’s General Assembly and has been signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal."

Immigration Politics - Texas: Gov. Perry shores up right flank on immigration

By columnist Ruben Navarrette

Perry shores up right flank on immigration - San Antonio Express-News: "Here we go again. Arizona tried to compel local police to enforce immigration law and wound up losing two rounds in federal court. Yet this hasn't discouraged other states from coming up with nutty proposals of their own.

In most places, the legislation is fueled by fear of changing demographics. Local police are dispatched to sweep up anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant, perhaps using brown skin and Spanish accents as evidence.

In Texas, the legislation was more crafty, but it met determined opposition. It came disguised as a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities.”"

Immigration Reality: More than 100 migrants found in west Phoenix drophouse

Officials: More than 100 found in west Phoenix drophouse: "Federal immigration agents on Wednesday discovered 108 illegal-immigration suspects crammed inside a drophouse in west Phoenix, the largest drophouse bust in more than three years and the second-largest since 2006....

Based on a "conservative estimate" of $2,000 in smuggling fees for each immigrant, those apprehended on Wednesday were worth $216,000.."

Immigration Crackdown: Los Angeles is urged to back limiting scope of local participation in Secure Communities deportation program

Deportation program: Los Angeles is urged to back limiting scope of local participation in deportation program - "Adding their voices to a growing number of opponents, Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks and Councilwoman Jan Perry have called on the city to support limiting the scope of local participation in a controversial federal deportation program.

The City Council resolution proposed Tuesday on the Secure Communities program comes as San Francisco County prepares to implement a new policy seeking to do the same."

'Narco' Culture Becoming Popular North Of The Border

'Narco' Culture Becoming Popular North Of The Border | "Living it up like a drug trafficker, or “narco”, is no longer the fantasy of some poor barrio kids in Mexico. It’s increasingly becoming a compelling lifestyle to a growing number of youth in the United States."

Drug War in Central America: Guatemala says it is winning the drug war, following decapitation of prosecutor

Guatemala says it is winning the drug war, following decapitation of prosecutor | Spero News: "The dismembered and ravaged body of an assistant prosecuting attorney was found in northern Guatemala on May 24, just one day after he had been abducted. The victim, Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre, is presumed to have been murdered by Los Zetas - a Mexican criminal organization that has become increasingly powerful and violent as it seeks further control of the narcotics trade in Guatemala."

Whack-a-mole: Mexican drug battle leaves 28 dead

Mexican drug battle leaves 28 dead | World news | The Guardian: "Fierce fighting among apparent rival drug gangs in western Mexico has left 28 people dead on a highway, while in a nearby state more than 700 people fled villages that have become battlegrounds.

The violence, which appeared to be unrelated, escalated on Wednesday in the western states of Nayarit and Michoacán, where drug cartels have been warring over territory."

May 25, 2011

Immigration Politics: The Truth About E-Verify

Major problems with the functioning of E-Verify, detailed by Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America's Voice

Frank Sharry: The Truth About E-Verify: "Over the next few weeks and months, we'll hear Republicans claim unequivocally that E-Verify is the next great solution to our immigration problem. It's not; the real solution is comprehensive immigration reform. So, let's look at some key facts about the GOP's next 'great' idea -- mandatory E-Verify for all workers:...

If Democrats proposed legislation that would cause the loss of almost 800,000 jobs, would force 4 million more workers into an administrative quagmire, would cause an undue burden on small businesses, would nearly wipe out the agricultural workforce, would result in the loss of tax revenue -- and had a failure rate of 50%, Republicans would be apoplectic."

Immigration Politics: Activists call on President Obama to stop deportations | 89.3 KPCC

Immigration activists call on President Obama to stop deportations | 89.3 KPCC: "Immigration activists bring their national immigration tour back to Southern California on Saturday. They want the president to order a halt to deportations of undocumented immigrants. ...

"We are here today to speak to the hope that prevails, that President Obama will use the discretionary tools that he has, that actually exist in the immigration law to stop these deportations because of what they are doing to people," says Eshoo. "These are families, they are not criminals.""

Immigration crackdown: Secure Communities program threatens community safety

OpEd on the Secure Communites program debate in Massachusetts, by Eva A. Millona, Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Boston

Immigration program threatens community safety - The Boston Globe: "The federal government claims that Secure Communities is designed to capture criminals. But as any immigration lawyer knows, all the criminal immigrants the program has caught in Massachusetts would have been nabbed by existing programs or standard FBI fingerprint checks anyway.

The program’s real achievement, instead, is a dangerous extension of the reach of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to ICE’s own statistics, 54 percent of those immigrants deported through Secure Communities in Boston since 2008 committed no criminal offense whatsoever. The inevitable perception is that local police are acting as de facto ICE agents — a perception that tears apart the bonds of trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement."

Immigration Crackdown: Lock 'em up

This opinon article details a number of bad aspects of a law proposed by Lamar Smith. 

Immigration: Lock 'em up - "The House of Representatives has been holding hearings on a variety of immigration issues, including farm labor and ramped-up enforcement.

The latest issue to go before the House Immigration subcommittee involves the prolonged detention of immigrants, including asylum-seekers and legal permanent residents who commit crimes and are eligible to be deported."

Immigration Crackdown: Federal Judge Upholds Immigrant's Right to Remain Silent on Status

Yes, all people have rights! When hysteria and government action over-reaches, thank the Constitution and the courts.

Federal Judge Upholds Immigrant's Right to Remain Silent on Status - Fox News Latino: "The immigration agents went to a Kansas apartment looking for a man who had a drug conviction and whom they wanted to deport.

But the agents, without a warrant, also detained another man in the apartment they happened to come across and suspected of being in the country illegally.

On Tuesday, however, a federal judge said that the agent’s actions were unconstitutional and dismissed charges against José Manuel Ortiz-Del Rio. The judge’s ruling upheld the right of immigrants to remain silent under questioning from immigration authorities."

Immigration Politics - Louisiana: Lawmaker withdraws controversial immigration bill

Another small victory for sanity. 

Lawmaker withdraws controversial immigration bill: "A Republican lawmaker has withdrawn his sweeping immigration enforcement proposal from debate this session, in the face of opposition from Catholic church officials, law enforcement officers and advocates for immigrants' rights."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Mexican police chopper forced to land by gunfire

Mexican police chopper forced to land by gunfire - Fox News Latino: " A Federal Police helicopter was forced to land in western Mexico when it was 'attacked with gunfire by suspected members of an organized crime group,' a Public Safety Secretariat spokesman told Efe on Wednesday.

The attack happened in Apatzingan, a city in Michoacan state, but 'the aircraft's stability was never at risk,' the spokesman said."

Collateral Damage: 500 Mexican villagers flee drug cartel violence

The Associated Press: 500 Mexican villagers flee drug cartel violence: "Drug cartel violence has prompted as many as 500 frightened villagers to flee hamlets in the western state of Michoacan and take refuge at a shelter set up at a local swimming park, an official said Wednesday. ...

Michoacan state Civil Defense Director Carlos Mandujano said about 500 people spent Tuesday night at the primitive water park in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan, with most sleeping under open thatched-roof structure.... The fighting is believed to involve rival factions of the Michoacan-based La Familia drug cartel, some of whose members now call themselves "The Knights Templar.... ""

Whack-a-mole: Mexico nabs drug boss tied to murder of poet's son

Mexico nabs drug boss tied to murder of poet's son | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online: "Mexican police have captured a suspected drug enforcer blamed for ordering the murder of the son of a prominent poet, which helped prompt national protests against the government's drug war strategy, authorities said on Wednesday.

Federal police caught Julio de Jesus Radilla, 34, known as 'El Negro' (The Black One), in the oil port of Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico where he was hiding out, regional police chief Luis Cardenas told reporters."

Immigration Reality: U.S. group gives Mexico smugglers GPS emergency beacons

U.S. group gives Mexico smugglers GPS emergency beacons | Reuters: "A humanitarian group said on Tuesday it has given emergency GPS location devices to Mexican human smugglers in a controversial bid to save immigrants' lives as they break into increasingly remote desert stretches of the U.S. border this summer."

Immigration Reality: No More Deaths: The Crisis on the U.S.- Mexico Border in Arizona

Ted Hesson: No More Deaths: The Crisis on the U.S.- Mexico Border in Arizona: "From May 13-16, I accompanied a delegation from Long Island to Tucson, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico, where we learned firsthand about the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the forces that drive people to undertake the journey north.

The reality is stunning in sheer magnitude: Since 1994, there have been more than 6,000 confirmed deaths on the border."

Immigration Crackdown - Indiana: ACLU To File Suit Over Indiana Immigration Laws

ACLU To File Suit Over Indiana Immigration Laws - Indiana News Story - WRTV Indianapolis: "The ACLU of Indiana is filing a lawsuit on behalf of foreign-born people Wednesday over immigration laws Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed."

Immigration Crackdown: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought to screen Bexar County Jail visitors


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought to screen Bexar County Jail visitors - San Antonio Current: "While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have repeatedly said in recent years their aim is to root out and deport criminal aliens above all others, a local ICE official fired off an email in March to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department asking for help setting up a “pilot program” to target undocumented immigrants coming to visit family and friends in Bexar County Jail. ...

In emails obtained by the Current through an open-records request, the ICE official wrote that he and other agents had begun noticing visitors with “non U.S. government issued or foreign ID cards” passing through the jail’s visitors area, and said, “With the approval of your office we would like to interview and possibly take into custody such individuals that are entering and attempting to visit inmates in the Visitor/Lobby area of the Bexar County Jail/Annex.”"

Whack-a-mole: 3 cops under 'America's Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio, busted for role in drug & human smuggling ring

The mole whackers and the moles are in bed with each other. Literally! And all under the nose of the (in)famous sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio

3 cops under 'America's Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio, busted for role in drug & human smuggling ring: "Three Arizona cops smuggled drugs and humans and laundered money for a vast narco-trafficking ring, all under the nose of the self-proclaimed 'America's toughest sheriff,' authorities said.

One of the moles, a female corrections officer, was carrying the love child of a cartel capitán, and all three were accused of leaking sheriff's office tips to help the ring guide smugglers, drugs and cash through the area from Mexico, authorities said."

Immigration Politics: South Carolina House approves immigration crackdown bill

S.C. House approves immigration crackdown bill - Politics Wires - "S.C. House members approved an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigrants by a 69-43 vote. The bill requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they pull over for traffic violations or stop on suspicion of other violations.

After one more perfunctory vote, the bill, which the House amended, heads back to the Senate, which previously approved it."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Calderon’s Churchill Moment?

The chief Mexican mole whacker is getting more and more grandiose. Not a good sign.

Calderon’s Churchill Moment? | Mexico: "In what was one of his longest speeches to date, last Friday Mexican President Felipe Calderón gave a resounding defense of his administration’s battle against organized crime and sought to compare critics of his governments’ security policies to those who doubted of Churchill’s resolve in confronting the Nazis. Calderón went on extend the comparison between himself and Churchill by retelling the wartime PM’s response to his then detractors. ...

What the Churchill parallel now makes overwhelmingly clear is that that the President believes he is fighting a war of necessity where the means justify the ends and monumental losses are to be expected in the country’s long-term struggle for peace and security. With the death toll now over 38,000 and little to no tangible signs of progress, how or when this long-term security will be achieved remains less clear.


Whack-a-mole: 11 Zetas gunmen arrested in southeast Mexico - Fox News Latino

11 Zetas gunmen arrested in southeast Mexico - Fox News Latino: " Eleven men suspected of working as hired guns for Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent drug cartel, were arrested over the weekend in the southeastern state of Tabasco, prosecutors said.

The suspects were detained Sunday in connection with the wave of drug-related violence in Cardenas, a city about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Villahermosa, the capital of Tabasco."

Immigration Reality: People are nervous, people are scared, and people are denying the reality in Mexico” - Latin America Working Group

“People are nervous, people are scared, and people are denying the reality in Mexico” - Latin America Working Group"Migrants’ rights defender Alberto Xicotencatl Carrasco painted this picture of Mexican society’s mixture of terror and denial in the face of grisly crimes and widespread human rights abuses committed against Central American migrants in transit through Mexico. In late March, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund hosted a delegation of five courageous Mexican migrant rights defenders here in Washington to shed light on how policies and conditions on both sides of the border have contributed to a surge in violence against migrants, as well as an uptick in targeted threats and violence against those who promote and protect the rights of migrants. "

May 24, 2011

Drug War Bloodshed!: Retired general who led campaign against drug gangs killed in Mexico

Retired general who led campaign against drug gangs killed in Mexico | La Plaza | Los Angeles Times: "A tough-talking career soldier, retired Gen. Jorge Juarez Loera was in civilian clothes and in a compact civilian vehicle Saturday when he pulled over after being struck from behind in the Ciudad Satelite area of northwest Mexico City, witnesses told reporters. After exiting his vehicle and confronting the other driver, Juarez Loera was shot and killed, reports said."

Immigration Politics: Wisconsin rep proposes Arizona-style immigration bill


Wis. rep proposes Arizona-style immigration bill - "A state Republican legislator has introduced a bill that would mirror some of the tough enforcement measures of Arizona's controversial Immigration bill.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford would force local law enforcement to ask those stopped for civil or criminal violations for proof of citizenship or legal Immigration status. Those who fail to provide proper identification must be handed over to a U.S. Immigration or border patrol agency."

Whack-a-mole drug war: Mexico detains 16 police who protected drug gang

Gee! It's just so hard to tell the moles from the mole whackers.

Mexico detains 16 police who protected drug gang - "Forget 'get out of jail free' cards. Prosecutors said Monday they have detained 16 policemen who allegedly took bribes to protect members of a drug gang who carried specially marked cards to avoid detention.

Authorities said some of the officers from a town on the outskirts of Mexico City were paid to warn members of a gang known as 'The Hand with Eyes' about impending raids by other police forces."


U.S. REQUESTS MEXICO AGREMENT FOR AMBASSADOR WAYNE « Mexico Institute: "The Obama Administration has officially requested the agreement of the Mexican government for Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, current Deputy Ambassador in Kabul,"

Immigration Reality: Smuggling migrants a billion-dollar business

How the immigration crackdown, the whack-a-mole war on drugs and immigration reality intersect. The outcome: more money for the cartels, more suffering for migrants.

Smuggling migrants a billion-dollar business - Washington Times: "The United Nations estimates that smuggling migrants across Mexico’s border with the U.S. alone is a $6.6 billion business annually, compared to an estimated the $10 billion to $29 billion in illegal drug running. ...

Smuggling in decades past was the business of small independent operators who helped migrants cross once they reached the U.S. border. But evading U.S. authorities has become much more difficult with increased border enforcement in recent years.

At the same time, Mexico’s migrant routes have become much more dangerous, controlled by drug gangs that see new moneymaking opportunities in kidnapping and extorting those who cross their territory.

The harder the trip, the higher the price. "

Whack-a-mole: Mexican Troops Find Tunnel Being Constructed Under Border

Those moles never stop digging.

Latin American Herald Tribune - Mexican Troops Find Tunnel Being Constructed Under Border: "Army troops found a tunnel in San Luis Rio Colorado, a city in Mexico’s Sonora state, that was being constructed to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, but no arrests were made, the Defense Secretariat said."

Immigration Politics: Illegal immigrants are nullifying a bad law

From R. Lee Wrights, 52, a libertarian writer and political activist, who is seeking the presidential nomination. He is absolutely right-on about immigration.

Illegal immigrants are nullifying a bad law: "Disobeying unjust law is ingrained in the American consciousness. Thomas Jefferson said that it wasn't just our right, but our duty. He said, 'If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.' Perhaps it was the former president who inspired Dr. Martin Luther King to say, 'There comes a time when a moral man can't obey a law which his conscience tells him is unjust.'

That's what is happening with the so-called 'illegal immigration problem.' We essentially have a black market in labor created because the law is unrealistic, unfair, unjust and unenforceable.

Democrats and Republicans are simply not interested in resolving this issue because it's too valuable for them to exploit it for political purposes. Politicians want you to believe that illegal immigrants come here only to leach off welfare, or that they are a threat to national security, or that they will take jobs away from Americans. As usual, Democrats and Republicans use arguments intended to instill fear, to divide us against another, to curry favor with special interest, ethnic, racial or language groups, and to divert our attention from the truth.

People come to America -- legally or illegally -- for the same reasons they've been coming here for centuries. Immigrants come here looking for freedom, for economic opportunity and to make a better life for themselves and their children. They will continue to come here legally or illegally so long as America holds that promise."

Immigration Crackdown - Georgia: Where illegal immigration, business and the law collide

We have our post today from the fields of Georgia. Now here is one from the kitchen -- an interview with a restaurant owner. 

Where illegal immigration, business and the law collide | Jay Bookman: "“I don’t get it. They talk about jobs jobs jobs. The only two industries generating revenue and jobs for Georgia are hospitality and agriculture. And this is going to ruin them both. And it’s not just my kitchen staff who will lose their jobs. All of my front-of-the house workers [bartenders, waiters, hostesses], they’ll be out of work too. We’ve already lost the construction industry, and now we’re going to lose these too. Nobody I know is considering opening another restaurant in this state. ...

In fact, if the construction industry was still booming as it was a few years ago, he said, there’s no way the Legislature would have passed HB 87. Back then, too many politically connected people were making too much money off illegal workers. And the hospitality and agriculture industries just don’t have the clout that developers once wielded....

“I’m trying to grow my business; I’m trying to help my people grow and build good lives. I don’t think the politicians know what they’re doing. I just don’t think they’ve thought this through.""

Immigration Crackdown: Federal judges OK with en masse guilty pleas for illegal immigrants

Another, very concrete demonstration that our immigration courts are overwhelmed and our immigration system is dysfunctional. 

Federal judges OK with en masse guilty pleas for illegal immigrants - East Valley Tribune: Immigration: "Federal judges on Monday gave their approval to procedures used in courts to speed up the processing of illegal immigrants.

In a unanimous ruling, the judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is nothing inherently wrong about taking guilty pleas from individuals in a large group at a single hearing. More to the point, appellate Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain said nothing in the process used short-circuited the constitutional rights of those involved.

Monday's ruling is a major victory for federal prosecutors who defended the process as a practical way to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants who have to be processed every day. It also comes more than a year after another panel of the same appellate court voided a similar process as unconstitutional."