Posts Tagged ‘border’

Secretary Clinton Goes to Mexico

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Mexico today to discuss a wide range of issues regarding US-Mexico relations. At the top of this list will be the current border violence caused by drug cartels and arms trafficking into Mexico, but immigration will also be a key point of discussion.

Secretary Clinton will be in Mexico for two days, paving the way for upcoming visits by Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and (in mid-April)President Obama.

As I’ve posted before, let’s hope Secretary Clinton remembers Leoluca Orlando’s model of empowering civil society as the best model for addressing drug cartels and violence.


Obama May Send National Guard to the Border

In enforcement, legislation on March 17, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Last week, President Obama began contemplating sending National Guard troops to the border to help stem drug-related border violence.

In 2008, the death toll along the US-Mexican border due to drug violence was 5,800. This year, 1000 people have already been killed.

Drug-related violence has escalated in recent years due to a rise of drug cartels and a militarized crackdown by the Mexican government. Some of this violence has “spilled over” onto U.S. soil, a fact which is not entirely surprising given that 90% of the cocaine consumed in the United States at some point passes through Mexico and 150,000 people are directly involved in the narcotics trade in order to meet US market demand.

However, from FCNL’s perspective, a further militarization of the border is not the answer to the growing problem of drug-related violence.

There are already over ten thousand Border Patrol agents working along the southern border and–after sending an additional 3,200 soldiers to the border last week–Mexico currently has over 45,000 Mexican soldiers working against the drug cartels.

The increase in military and police troops along the border has so far done little to nothing to stem the violence. In fact, the most recent State Department Human Rights Report cites that there has been an increase in the number of arbitrary civilian killings by the armed forces. A fact which, as the Huffington Post writes, “only adds to the horrors committed by the drug cartels.”

While Obama has specifically stated that he is “not interested in militarizing the border,” sending the National Guard to the border would be exactly that.

We believe that a civilian, not military, response would be the best way to deal with the current violence. And one positive thing is that it seems that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton does too.

She’s heading to Mexico at the end of March to address the issue of drug violence and is carrying with her Leoluca Orlando’s model of empowering civil society to address cartels. As Orlando described it to Hillary when he brought down the mafia, his strategy is like a two-wheel Sicilian cart. One wheel is effective state, police, and judiciary system. The second wheel is civil society.

“If only one wheel rolls, the cart goes around in circles. For the cart to move forward both wheels need to spin at the same pace.”

Militarization has been tried before. More troops won’t bring more peace. We hope Obama will look to alternative approaches like the one that Secretary Clinton is suggesting.

See The Huffington Post’s article “Hillary Clinton and the Drug Cartel Violence in Mexico.”

Keep the border patrol ON THE BORDER

In community impact, enforcement on March 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm

The Port Townsend Peace Movement (which includes many dedicated Quakers and FCNL supporters) has made a documentary about the activities of the Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula. The full documentary is a powerful representation about how immigration enforcement can tear apart and instill fear in our communities.

Check out the trailer:

For more information, see

In particular, if you live on the Olympic Peninsula and have had a direct personal experience with the Border Patrol, Border Patrol Free Zone is collecting information and facts on all Border Patrol activities to document abuse and other civil liberties violations. Please document your story here.

Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Holds Hearing on Border: “Secure Border Initiative–Its Impact and Evolution”

In enforcement, legislation on March 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

“$3.6 billion dollars. ”

That’s how Chairman David Price (NC) began his opening remarks at the hearing I attended to yesterday on the Secure Border Initiative.

“That’s what Congress provided in the past three years to the Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT) account, targeted at securing around 6,000 miles of land border as part of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI)….Today we will take stock of this program. How is it progressing? Is it working? Are we spending enough or too much?”

The subcommittee members and those testifying seemed to measure the notion of progress with very different strides.

Some members, like Ranking Member Rogers, believe there are “unacceptable” delays in development of Border Patrol along both the northern and southern borders. Others–quite shockingly to me–believed we should look to Israel’s development of the Jericho Wall for technology and manning tips.

On the other side of the spectrum, members like Congressman Rotham (NJ) seemed dismayed that the Chief of U.S. Border Patrol could not report whether the border wall actually stemmed or deterred the flow of undocumented migration. The witnesses also could not tell Chairman Price what percentage or to what extent the increase in “effective control” over the last few years has related directly to the building of the border wall and physical barriers vs. increased number of agents, the economy and a downturn in immigration to the United States, etc.

Overall, I felt the hearing ended without any sort of conclusion as to the effectiveness or progress of the Secure Border Initiative. In many ways, I felt the witnesses were trying to defend the use of their increased funding by pointing out that effective enforcement has dramatically risen during this time. However, they were also repeatedly reiterating that the wall itself was not enough, so as to stay off the record as saying the wall was the solution.

The one ray of light in the hearing was when Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (who recently introduced the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act, H.R. 1215) asked a question about what is being done to ensure that children and others are being well treated at the Border Patrol stations. While she did not press the witnesses much on the multiple reports of abuse and human rights violations, it at least placed the issues on Congressional record.

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Paying Taxes, and Fearing Deportation
For years, anti-immigrant activists have claimed that immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden our welfare system. This article, however, examines how immigration enforcement has seized thousands of confidential taxpayers documents in Colorado and is combing through them to find and deport undocumented immigrants in a sting operation called “Operation Number Games.”

SoCal Border Agents Complain of Quotas
The fever of immigration enforcement has grown so much that some Southern California border agents are complaining that they are told to fill a quota of undocumented immigrant arrests each month. If they don’t meet the quota, their scheduled time off is threatened. The agents attest that this is infringing upon the quality of the arrests made, and the ability to uphold humane standards. One agent says he was dismissed for returning detainees to the station because they looked dehydrated rather than staying on the highway to make more arrest.

VIDEO: ICE Raid Targeting Latinos in Maryland

This video clip, taken from surveillance cameras at a 7/11 in Maryland, captures a raid on Latino day laborers waiting for work. As is apparent in the video, the ICE agents round up all persons that appear Latino within the vicinity and ignore any person of other racial and ethnic origins.

Iowa: What Happens When a Town Implodes

Almost eight months after the Agroprocessors raid inPostville, IA, this article tells the story of how the community is still suffering from what leaders call a “humanitarian and economic disaster.” Nearly 400 families are now in need of resources like food stamps, shelters, legal aid, and unemployment benefits.

Another Detention Death, Mounting Questions

Another detainee dies in Piedmont Regional Jail due to denied medical treatment, the second immigrant detainee death at this facility due to substandard conditions since it began accepting immigrant detainees a few years back. This article reports both the details of Mr. Newbrough’s death and the mounting questions developing around ICE’s detention practices.