Saturday, August 20, 2011

Immigration: Obama Changes the Game for Illegal Immigrants

The incalculable suffering that our policies have caused: "The Obama administration has built the fence and has tried the "send 'em all home" route, to the tune of more than three-quarters of a million deportations in 2009-2010." Unbelievably, 300,000 prosecutions are under review, filling up our for-profit prisons and jails. Glad to see that neither our non-criminals or DREAM Act students will likely get deported. We'll see what the DHS and DOJ develop, but all else equal, this is a step in the right direction.


Immigration: Obama Changes the Game for Illegal Immigrants
August 19, 2011 07:25 PM EDT

Obama has pushed immigration change to a "no takers" Congress. On May 10th, in his speech at the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, he accused Republicans of demanding unrealistic crackdowns and refusing to consider policy and legal reform.

"They wanted a fence," the president said of Republicans. "Well, that fence is now basically complete. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat." His intent was obvious... using ridicule of the Republican insistence on physical barriers and their "...send 'em all home" approach to illegal immigration.

The Obama administration has built the fence and has tried the "send 'em all home" route, to the tune of more than three-quarters of a million deportations in 2009-2010. Hispanics who expected Obama to change America's response to illegals have been appalled. They are threatening to abandon him if he can't get a reform package through Congress. In May, he began suggesting he would make immigration reform a campaign issue, and now he has.

Three hundred thousand prosecutions are under review. An interdepartmental group—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ)—will develop criteria for selection of cases to be dropped from prosecution. If there is no history of criminal activity, the person has been in the USA since he or she was a small child, and they are in school (DREAM Act students), they will likely not be prosecuted or deported. Immigrants classified as low-priority cases could receive a stay of deportation and the chance to apply for a work permit.

The president has thrown down the gauntlet, saying in effect, "Fences and barriers don't work. Arrests and deportations don't work. Criminal prosecution just fills up our jails. It's time and past time to do something that will work." He is proposing a program that concentrates on dangerous criminals and people who pose a threat to society. A substantial number of the cases now in court are not criminal cases.

Meanwhile, Border States are trying to create their own control system by building a patchwork of laws aimed at illegal aliens and those who employ them. The federal government has so far been successful in court in asserting that illegal alien control is a national problem and that federal law supersedes State law.

There is some indication that the recession has acted to slow illegal immigration, and may even have caused a substantial mini-exodus of illegal immigrants. However, it's likely that such effects are temporary, lasting only until an upturn is well confirmed, and will have little long-term effect on the issue.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Texans will train Mexicans for the drug war

Aug. 17, 2011

LAREDO — U.S. law enforcement will train local and state police officers from Mexico as part of the next phase of the two countries' joint fight against transnational drug cartels, a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday.

U.S. agencies have been training Mexican federal police on both sides of the border for several years. However, William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said it is clear that local forces face the most concentrated violence, especially in northern Mexico, and are in the most need of training.

"If we do not address these problems cooperatively today, we will be addressing them on our own front doorsteps in five years," Brownfield said.

Brownfield was in the Texas border town of Laredo on Wednesday, signing an agreement outlining how deputies from the Webb County Sheriff's Office could spend periods of three months, six months or more training their counterparts in Mexico.

It was the first such agreement the State Department has signed with a local law enforcement agency anywhere on the U.S.-Mexico border. Brownfield said more trainers are needed and the high rate of bilingual deputies with border experience made Webb County an attractive place to start such a program.

Police training has been a significant part of the Merida Initiative, which outlined the U.S. partnership with Mexico and Central America in the drug war and has committed $1.4 billion since 2008. However, the focus now shifts to historically out-gunned and ill-prepared local forces ducking bullets and facing ominous threats on a daily basis.

Mexico received $327 million for police training in fiscal 2009 from the U.S. State Department through Merida, placing it behind only Afghanistan and Iraq in total funds received for police training from the departments of State or Defense, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office in April.

Details of the proposed training programs have not been worked out, but Brownfield envisions three or four training centers in Mexico. He is holding complementary meetings with Mexican officials on this trip to begin working out the program's shape. He said he spoke with officials in Juarez on Monday and will hold similar meetings in Monterrey Thursday.

Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon states, respectively, have been two of Mexico's hardest hit by drug gang violence.

According to official figures, at least 35,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on organized crime. Other sources, including local media, say the number is closer to 40,000. The federal government has not released an update of its numbers since December.

U.S. involvement in Mexico has drawn attention there recently after Mexico's government confirmed that U.S. intelligence agents operate there, analyzing and exchanging information. The New York Times had reported that CIA agents and former U.S. military personnel are working at a Mexican military base in the fight against drug gangs.

Brownfield stressed that involvement of U.S. trainers will come only with Mexican approval and that the training centers would be under Mexican authority. He also said a longer-term vision could include pairing trainers from an agency such as the Webb County Sheriff's Office with a National Guard deployment from Texas. The National Guard has been active in the drug war on the U.S. side of the border in intelligence analysis.

The agreement signed Wednesday "sets guidelines for the Webb County Sherriff's Office to train, advise and mentor international law enforcement agencies and officers." The sheriff's office will pay the upfront costs and receive reimbursement from the State Department. Its trainers, which it will release on a voluntary basis, will not carry weapons in other countries and will have to be approved in advance by the State Department. The State Department will be responsible for screening any trainees and will give pre-deployment training to trainers.

The agreement leaves open the possibility of training on U.S. soil, but Brownfield said from a cost standpoint it made more sense to send a few trainers to Mexico than bring hundreds of trainees to the U.S.

Brownfield said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo was very active in pushing the venture. Cuellar's brother, Martin Cuellar, is Webb County sheriff.

The congressman said the benefits worked both ways. "When the teacher goes down there, the teacher will learn from the students."