Ron Nixon reports for The New York Times:
John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, said Wednesday that it was doubtful that a wall along the full border with Mexico would ever be built, despite an oft-repeated campaign promise by President Trump.
“It is unlikely that we will build a wall from sea to shining sea,” Mr. Kelly told senators on the Homeland Security Committee.
Instead, Mr. Kelly said, the department will look to build physical barriers — including fencing and concrete walls — in places that make sense. He said that the department was still studying the best places to construct such barriers, and that he could not give an estimate of the cost.
The first bids for prototypes of the border wall were due Tuesday. According to people briefed on the agency’s plan, the first new section of the wall will be built on a short strip of federally owned land in San Diego, where there is already fencing.
Congress has not yet acted on the funding request for the wall, and it faces considerable opposition from Democrats and even some Republicans.
Noah Smith reports for Bloomberg:
[…] Illegal immigration to the U.S. ended a decade ago and, according to the Pew Research Center, has been zero or negative since its peak in 2007.
About a million undocumented immigrants left the country in the Great Recession. But even after the end of the recession, illegal immigration didn’t resume.
Why? One reason might be economic — even after growth resumed, there was no return to the mania of the bubble years. Another reason is that Mexicans — both undocumented and otherwise — are flocking back to Mexico. Despite the country’s drug-related violence, it’s starting to look more attractive as a place to live. The economy has improved, and the fertility rate has fallen a lot, meaning that young Mexicans are needed back in Mexico to take over family businesses and take care of aging parents.
A third reason is increased border enforcement. For years, many Americans demanded that the border with Mexico be secured in order to stem illegal immigration. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did exactly that. Obama, especially, stepped up the pace of deportation.
Even if you think there was an illegal immigration problem in the early 2000s, that issue is greatly diminished. If you’re 45 years old now, net illegal immigration stopped back when you were 35.
Ryan Devereaux reports for The Intercept:
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released a pair of memos laying out how the agency intends to implement President Donald Trump’s executive orders on domestic immigration enforcement. In addition to calling for a massive increase in the number of immigration agents and the deputizing of local and state law enforcement across the country — described in the documents as a “force multiplier”— the memos dramatically expand the range of people who can be deported without seeing a judge.
“I see now what the plan is,” Greg Siskind, a Tennessee-based immigration attorney and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association board of governors, told The Intercept. “Their plan is basically to have everybody thrown out of the country without ever going to court.” Additional immigration attorneys and legal experts who spoke to The Intercept shared Siskind’s concerns, describing various elements of the DHS directives and the executive orders they reflect as “horrifying,” “stunning,” and “inhumane.”
“This is the broadest, most widespread change I have seen in doing this work for more than two decades,” Lee Gelernt, a veteran immigration attorney and deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, told The Intercept. “After 9/11 we saw some extreme policies, but they were largely confined to particular areas around the relationship between immigration and national security. Here what we’re seeing are those types of policies but also much broader policies just dealing with immigration generally.”
“I expected bad based on Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric,” added David Leopold, a Cleveland-based immigration attorney and past president of AILA. “Then when I read the executive order, I expected really bad … but I’m absolutely shocked at the mean-spiritedness of this.”
Azam Ahmed, Gardiner Harris and Ron Nixon report for The New York Times:
[…] Mr. Trump is certainly not the only American president to clamp down on illegal immigration. His predecessor, Barack Obama, deported record numbers of immigrants, including gang members. But Mr. Trump’s actions and disparaging remarks about Mexico have helped push relations between the two countries to their lowest point in decades.
His steady stream of provocative policies and statements has enraged the Mexican public and left their leaders to consider their own leverage in the event of a meltdown in ties between the two countries, whether on trade, migration or security.
On Thursday, the contradictions between the president and his top staff raised a pressing question: Which version of Washington will come to bear on Mexico in the coming months? Will it be the aggressive approach of the president or the more reassuring stance of Mr. Kelly, who will be assigned to oversee some of the proposals likely to antagonize Mexico the most?
“Let me be very, very clear,” Mr. Kelly said, assuring Mexicans that the rules for deporting people from the United States had not fundamentally changed — another possible contradiction of his boss. “There will be no, repeat no, mass deportations.”
Amy Goodman speaks to journalist Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, about the cancelled meeting between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and U.S. President Donald Trump and whether both leaders benefit from the distractions surrounding this and Trump’s executive order regarding the building of a wall along the border. (Democracy Now!)
Tanvi Misra reports for City Lab:
Donald Trump keeps talking about the big, beautiful wall he’s going to erect on the U.S.-Mexican border. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton wants to build bridges—metaphorical ones, that is.
Mexican architect Fernando Romero has taken a more literal approach to Clinton’s proposition. He’s long been a proponent of “building bridges,” and believes that boundaries are obsolete. “With technology, those borders are just becoming symbolic limits,” he recently told Dezeen Magazine. “The reality is that there exists a very strong mutual dependency of economies and trades.” That’s why he has now designed a master plan for a walkable, super-connected metropolis straddling the U.S.-Mexico border.
Back in the early 2000s, Romero’s architecture firm conceptualized a tunnel-like “Bridging Museum” in the Rio Grande Valley, which would act as “both a funnel and a window between the borders.” But his vision for a utopian border city, on display at the London Design Biennale, is much more complex and detailed.
Morgue workers lift a dismembered male body dumped on the street of a poor Acapulco neighborhood in broad daylight, then pick up his severed leg and a bag containing his head.
Placing the body parts in the back of a van, they drive away to the Mexican Pacific resort’s only coroner’s office, overflowing with scores of unidentified and unclaimed corpses.
Back inside the morgue’s cold chambers, bodies lie in pairs side by side on shelves meant to hold just one — grim evidence of the drug cartel-related killings swamping the authorities in Mexico’s murder capital.
Officials granted AFP journalists a rare visit last week, when a worker opened a set of refrigerator doors to reveal the bodies inside.
Azam Ahmed and Eric Schmitt report for The New York Times:
In the history of modern war, fighters are much more likely to injure their enemies than kill them.
But in Mexico, the opposite is true.
According to the government’s own figures, Mexico’s armed forces are exceptionally efficient killers — stacking up bodies at extraordinary rates.
The Mexican authorities say the nation’s soldiers are simply better trained and more skilled than the cartels they battle.
But experts who study the issue say Mexico’s kill rate is practically unheard-of, arguing that the numbers reveal something more ominous.
“They are summary executions,” said Paul Chevigny, a retired New York University professor who pioneered the study of lethality among armed forces.
Donald Trump trounced his opponents on Super Tuesday, and that brings his wall proposal closer to a reality test. But what details has he really provided, and are they sound? (The Real News)
David Epstein reports for ProPublica:
[…] The arrest of Javier Arellano Félix, the head of the AFO drug cartel, would be hailed by officials in the States as a decisive victory in what may have been the longest active case in the DEA’s history — a rare triumph in the War on Drugs. “We feel like we’ve taken the head off the snake,” the agency’s chief of operations announced. I can’t believe it actually fucking worked, Herrod recalls thinking.
But did it? Dave Herrod is 50 years old now and nearing the end of his career with the DEA. In the time he spent hunting the Arellanos, his hair and goatee went from black to salt-and-pepper to finally just plain salt. He’s proud of the audacity and perseverance it took to bring down the cartel, and he knows he helped prevent murders and kidnappings. But when he looks back, he doesn’t see the clear-cut triumph portrayed in press releases. Instead, he and other agents who worked the case say the experience left them disillusioned. And far from stopping the flow of drugs, taking out the AFO only cleared territory for Joaquín Guzmán Loera — aka “El Chapo” — and his now nearly unstoppable Sinaloa cartel. Guzmán even lent the DEA a hand.
This is the story of the investigation as the agents saw it, including accounts of alleged crimes that were never adjudicated in court. “Drug enforcement as we know it,” Herrod told me, “is not working.”
Allison Jackson reports for Global Post:
‘Mexico is renowned for being one of the most dangerous countries in the world, so it might sound strange to hear that sugary drinks pose a bigger threat to life here than violent crime.
Sugar-sweetened beverages such as Coca-Cola,Gatorade and homemade drinks known as “agua fresca” kill far more people every year in Mexico than criminal gangs.
A study by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts Universityestimates a staggering 24,000 Mexicans die each year from diabetes, cancer and heart disease that are linked to sugary drinks.
Compare that figure to the roughly 15,649 murders officially recorded in 2014 and it’s clear which is the biggest killer in the Latin American country.
Worldwide, the total sugary-drink death toll is estimated at 184,000, with more than 70% of deaths caused by diabetes. The researchers said this was the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages.’
CBS News reports:
‘Critics say new American embassies are getting more expensive.
Cost overruns in Afghanistan are over $150 million, and the new embassy in London could top $1 billion. Nearly a year ago, CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes showed us how glass for the London embassy had to be shipped back and forth across the Atlantic for framing. Now, Cordes reports from Washington on problems with an embassy in the works in Mexico.
It is an embassy that was supposed to cost $577 million to build, but the construction estimate has gone up by one third — and the State Department hasn’t even broken ground yet.
No one disputes that the current U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is crowded, outdated and needs to be replaced. So four years ago the State Department bought a 15 acre plot in a former industrial district for $120 million. But there was a catch: the site had housed a Colgate-Palmolive factory for decades, which left behind hazardous waste. Colgate has been cleaning the site but it’s been three and a half years and it’s still not ready for construction.’
‘An explosive new investigation published today by The Intercept reveals the untold story of how 43 students disappeared in Mexico on the night of September 26, 2014. It is based on more than two dozen interviews with survivors of the attacks and family members of the disappeared, as well as Mexican historians, human rights activists and journalists. The Intercept also reviewed official Mexican state and federal records including communication logs by security forces and sealed testimony from municipal police officers and gang members. The evidence shows repeated inconsistencies and omissions in the government’s account of what happened when the students went missing. We speak with Ryan Devereaux, staff reporter at The Intercept and author of the two-part investigation, “Ghosts of Iguala.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
‘As protesters in Baltimore set fire to buildings and vehicles last Monday to protest the death of Freddie Gray, protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero drove a burning truck into the congressional building in the capital Chilpancingo. The protesters were marking seven months since the disappearance of 43 students. Relatives have continued to question the Mexican government’s claim the students were attacked by local police and turned over to members of a drug gang, who killed and incinerated them. We speak with three relatives of the missing students: María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa; Clemente Rodríguez Moreno, father of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre; and Cruz Bautista Salbador, uncle of Benjamín Ascencio Bautista. The relatives have criticized U.S. support for the drug war, saying Mexico is using the aid to kill innocent people. “If they were really fighting organized crime, as the United States government says, then the crime rates would have gone down,” Bautista Salbador says. “Apparently they are not fighting organized crime; they are fighting organized people.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
Elisabeth Malkin reports for The New York Times:
‘When Carmen Aristegui, Mexico’s most famous radio personality, was abruptly fired this month, nobody expected her to go quietly. But anger over her dismissal has been rising steadily, and it has turned up the heat in this country’s charged political atmosphere.
Conspiracy theories have abounded since a dispute between Ms. Aristegui and her employer, MVS Communications, ended in her departure. She has become an emblem of press freedom under siege, and social media has lighted up with demands for her return to the airwaves.
Even her critics, who point to a lack of reportorial rigor in many of her stories, argue that her dismissal removed one of the few broadcast journalists in Mexico who openly challenge authority. Many journalists contend that Ms. Aristegui’s case is part of a broader attempt by the government to check aggressive news coverage.’
Ryan Grim and Matt Ferner report for The Huffington Post:
‘Former President Bill Clinton apologized to Mexico during a speech there last week for a backfired U.S. war on drugs that has fueled spiraling violence. “I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault,” Clinton told an audience of students and business leaders at the recent Laureate Summit on Youth and Productivity. “Basically, we did too good of a job of taking the transportation out of the air and water, and so we ran it over land. “I apologize for that,” Clinton said.
Clinton was referring to U.S. drug enforcement policy that began under his predecessors, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who invested heavily in shutting down the Caribbean Sea as the favored trafficking route between the U.S. and South America and Central America. That effort pushed smuggling west, over land in Mexico.’
‘Mexico on Sunday called for an overhaul of the United Nations Security Council, envisaging more member countries across a wider geographical swathe, as the government steps up efforts to raise its profile on the global stage.
Tasked with maintaining global peace, the U.N. Security Council meets when war looms and cooperates in efforts to solve international disputes, with measures ranging from sanctions to military action.
The Council has five permanent members – China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States – and 10 temporary members elected by the U.N. General Assembly for two-year terms.
‘Amidst outrage in Mexico over the disappearance of 43 students, we look at the U.S. role in the country’s violence. According to the Center for International Policy, the United States has spent approximately $3 billion to fund the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. Since the war on drugs began under President Felipe Calderón in 2006, more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. That includes $2.4 billion in taxpayer funds through the Merida Initiative, launched as a three-year aid program for Mexican security forces under the administration of George W. Bush. The Obama administration has extended the Merida Initiative “indefinitely.” We are joined by Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, and journalist John Gibler.’ (Democracy Now!)
Deirdre Fulton reported last month for Common Dreams:
‘In the face of a failed War on Drugs, a global commission composed mostly of former world leaders recommended that governments decriminalize and regulate the use of currently illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelics.
“The international drug regime is broken,” reads the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and former high commissioner for human rights at the UN Louise Arbour; and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, as well as the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Portugal. “[O]verwhelming evidence points to not just the failure of the regime to attain its stated goals but also the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies.”
Punitive drug law enforcement has done nothing to decrease global drug use, the Commission says in “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work” (pdf). Instead, such policies have fueled crime, maximized health risks, undermined human rights, and fostered discrimination — all while wasting tens of billions of dollars.’
Laura Carlsen writes for The Guardian:
‘Many countries prohibit deploying their military for domestic law enforcement: it’s a recipe for violent authoritarian abuse.
But the Obama administration’s prohibitionist drug war is funding and encouraging abuse and brutal, corrupt, mass-grave-level murders throughout Mexico and Central America – enough that even drug-war apologists admit that the appalling increase in human-rights abuses are a result of sending the military and police into communities in the name of anti-trafficking.
In just nine years, the drug war waged by the US and Mexico has created a climate of violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives throughout the country, many young people – including two horrific massacres and a mass disappearance in the last six months connected to law enforcement nominally tasked with battling the spread of drugs.’
Kate Kilpatrick reports for Al Jazeera:
‘According to the report, use of torture by Mexican police and military is widespread, with a 600 percent rise in the number of reported cases over the past decade. Yet despite the huge increase in incidents, there is little being done to combat it or, in fact, discourage it.
“Torture is so widespread in Mexico and sort of expected as an investigative technique,” said Maureen Meyer, the Washington Office of Latin America associate for Mexico and Central America.
Meyer authored a 2010 report on human rights violations committed by the military in Mexico, with a focus on Ciudad Juárez, where cartel violence combined with federal militarization made it the deadliest city in the world from 2008 to 2010. “It’s not sanctioned. It’s not necessarily a state policy to torture but in fact it’s very much permissive and the torturers are never investigated,” she said.’
From The Associated Press:
‘The Mexican government say it is increasingly using the army and drones in security patrols, reducing the role of Marine forces. In an annual report on the state of the nation submitted to Congress Monday, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration said army patrols had increased 52.2 percent in the nine months ending in July compared with the same period the year before.
The number of marine patrols decreased 28.3 percent in the same period. The marines have made some of the biggest arrests of major drug lords. The government also gave a detailed accounting of its use of drones, saying it had flown 149 drone missions with over 581 hours of flying time. The report said homicides, especially those relating to organized crime, had dropped over the last year.’
Editor’s Note: Regional and global trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP currently being negotiated are not designed to benefit the populations they affect, they are designed to benefit the biggest corporations. Multinational corporations will move to countries where they can exploit cheap labour, don’t have to fund health care and have less environmental controls in order to enhance their bottom line. They don’t care about the people they leave behind, nor do they care about the people they exploit for low wages in the countries they move to.
Michael Snyder writes for The Economic Collapse:
‘Back in the early 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement was one of the hottest political issues in the country. When he was running for president in 1992, Bill Clinton promised that NAFTA would result in an increase in the number of high quality jobs for Americans that it would reduce illegal immigration. Ross Perot warned that just the opposite would happen. He warned that if NAFTA was implemented there would be a “giant sucking sound” as thousands of businesses and millions of jobs left this country. Most Americans chose to believe Bill Clinton. Well, it is 20 years later and it turns out that Perot was right and Clinton was dead wrong. But now history is repeating itself, and most Americans don’t even realize that it is happening. As you will read about at the end of this article, Barack Obama has been negotiating a secret trade treaty that is being called “NAFTA on steroids”, and if Congress adopts it we could lose millions more good paying jobs.
It amazes me how the American people can fall for the same lies over and over again. The lies that serial liar Barack Obama is telling about “free trade” and the globalization of the economy are the same lies that Bill Clinton was telling back in the early 1990s. The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Paul Craig Roberts…
I remember in the 90′s when former Presidential candidate Ross Perot emphatically stated that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) would create a giant “sucking sound” of jobs being extracted away from the U.S. He did not win the election, and NAFTA was instituted on Jan. 1, 1994. Now, 20 years later, we see the result of all the jobs that have been “sucked away” to other countries.
According to an article by the Economic Policy Institute on 1/3/14:
“Clinton and his collaborators promised that the deal would bring “good-paying American jobs,” a rising trade surplus with Mexico, and a dramatic reduction in illegal immigration. Considering that thousands of kids are pouring over the border as we speak, well, how’d that work out for us?
Many Americans like to remember Bill Clinton as a “great president” for some reason. Well, it turns out that he was completely and totally wrong about NAFTA.’
Emily Pickrell reports for The Christian Science Monitor:
‘One of the startling unknowns in the story of Mexico’s recent wave of violence is just how many people can be counted among its disappeared.
An estimated 14,000 to 45,000 people disappeared in Mexico between 2006 and 2012. That’s a big discrepancy, and depends on whether you’re looking at recently revised government statistics or numbers compiled by human rights groups.
But Mexico’s disappearances – a country that isn’t officially at war or suffering a dictatorship – rival the numbers of missing from notable conflicts around the region. Roughly 30,000 people disappeared under Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and ’80s, and the more recent estimates of 30,000 disappeared in Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.’
Helen Davidson reports for the Guardian:
‘Mexican billionaire tycoon, Carlos Slim, has called for the introduction of a three-day working week, offset by longer hours and a later retirement, as a way to improve people’s quality of life and create a more productive labour force.
Slim made the comments when speaking to a business conference in Paraguay, suggesting that the workforce could be spread over a full week, with employees working up to 10 or 11 hours a day. “With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” the Financial Times reports Slim saying.’
‘Thom Hartmann talks with Dana Frank, History Professor at University of California, Santa Cruz / author of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America / currently writing a book about the AFL-CIO’s cold war intervention in the Honduran labor movement – about a surge of children coming from Hondorus and El Salvador illegally to the United States.’ (Thom Hartmann)
‘Abby Martin speaks with Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor of the magazine Jacobin, going over the last 20 years of Mexico’s Zapatista movement, discussing the recent murder one of the group’s members, and the announcement that movement leader, Subcomandante Marcos, is stepping down.’ (Breaking the Set)
John Burnett reports for NPR:
The Sinaloa Cartel, headquartered on Mexico’s northern Pacific Coast, is constantly exploring new ways to launder its gargantuan profits. The State Department reports that Mexican trafficking organizations earn between $19 and $29 billion every year from selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines on the streets of American cities.
And Sinaloa is reportedly the richest, most powerful of them all, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The capture last month of the Mexican druglord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman has cast a spotlight on the smuggling empire he built.
One key to the Sinaloa Cartel’s success has been to use the global banking system to launder all this cash.