Entries in Mexico (9)


Report: Deaths Increasing at US-Mexico Border

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The number of immigrants who die while attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border saw a large increase in 2012, even though there seem to be far fewer people attempting the crossing.

According to a report released by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigrant deaths at the border rose by 27 percent in 2012. Despite the border patrol have nearly twice as many agents as it did 15 years ago, the number of deaths in crossing has more than doubled.

The 477 immigrants who died trying to cross the border in 2012 is the second highest annual total, behind only 2005.

The border patrol captured more than 350,000 illegal immigrants in 2012, as compared to over 1.5 million in 1999. With a dramatic decrease in the number of people attempting the journey, it is staggering that such a large number of them are dying.

The NFAP says that these numbers suggest that the border is getting more dangerous for would-be crossers. Testimonies from organizations that work along the border seem to confirm this.

Geoff Boyce, a spokesman for an Arizona nonprofit called No More Deaths, told USA Today that immigrants are now crossing the border in more remote areas of the desert comprised of 900 square miles with just two paved roads.

He said the crossing takes three to four days, and is made in temperatures as high as 110 degrees, in the summer, and below freezing in winter time.

"Even the healthiest person is going to have a hard time surviving in those kinds of conditions," Boyce told USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama, Mexican President-Elect Pledge Close Ties in Meeting

Ron Sachs/Pool via Bloomberg(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama welcomed Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto into the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon, pledging close cooperation on issues like trade and immigration reform.

Obama noted the contributions of Mexican Americans to the United States and said that the country has emerged as an influential nation on the global stage, making America's relations with Mexico even more important.

"We meet early with the president of Mexico because it represents the close relationship between the U.S. and Mexico," Obama said.

The president expressed confidence that he could build a strong personal and professional relationship with Peña Nieto and said he looked forward to working on issues like the border, immigration reform, trade and "common security issues."  He called Mexico an important "multilateral and multinational partner."

Obama noted that he was sending Vice President Joe Biden to attend Peña Nieto's inauguration in Mexico City (the vice president is the highest officeholder the U.S. typically sends to inaugurations of foreign leaders).

"We only send the vice president to inaugurations when the country is really at the top of the list," Obama said.  "We look forward to an excellent relationship for years to come."

Peña Nieto congratulated Obama on winning a second term and also spoke about deepening economic cooperation and trade ties, mentioning the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that the U.S., Mexico and other nations are negotiating with Asian countries.

"This is an opportunity for us to have a closer link of brotherhood, and sisterhood, and collaboration," he said through a translator.

The president-elect mentioned his nation's war against drug cartels briefly, only to say that he is putting forth a proposal to reduce violence.

Peña Nieto told Obama his incoming government "support[s] your proposals" on immigration reform.

"We want to contribute to the accomplishment so we can participate in the betterment of millions of people in your country," he said.

Peña Nieto invited Obama to make a state visit to Mexico during his second term and the U.S. president seemed receptive to the idea.

"Any excuse to go to Mexico I'm always game," Obama said.  "In fact, I'm jealous of Joe Biden."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Mexican President Fires Back on Cain's Electric Fence

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hours before the GOP presidential candidates took to the debate stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas, where border security and immigration were expected to be hot-button issues, former Mexican President Vicente Fox scolded two of them for their “stupid” and “confusing” plans to close the porous border.

“This guy who wants to put electric wire on top of the fence at 20 meters high so the migrants die,” Fox said, referring to Herman Cain’s proposal to build an electric border fence, “is incredible, it’s nonsense.”

Fox said the United States might as well “put water with crocodiles” along the border.

Cain tried to play off the comments he made Saturday that the border fence should be “twenty feet high, with barbed wire, electrified. With a sign on the other side that says it can kill you” by saying Monday that they were just a “joke.”

But at the same news conference, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO suggested that he did, in fact, support an electric fence.

“I don’t apologize for using a combination of a fence and it might be electrified,” Cain said. “I’m not walking away from that. I just don’t want to offend anybody.”

Cain was not the only Republican White House hopeful to spark the former Mexican president’s ire. Fox also blasted Texas Gov. Rick Perry for suggesting that the U.S. military should engage in “security operations” in Mexico.

“I would die to prevent that,” Fox said Tuesday after speaking to the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. “No more wars, no more U.S. army in our territory.”

Perry said earlier this month that “it may require our military in Mexico” to fight the Mexican drug cartels.

“Make no mistake about it, what we are seeing south of our border is nothing short of a war being waged by these narcoterrorists,” Perry said in a speech at the socially conservative Values Voter Summit. "To face this threat, we shouldn’t take any options off the table, including security operations in cooperation with the Mexican government as we did with Colombia some years ago.”

In his speech Tuesday, Fox pushed back against Perry, calling Mexican drug violence a “war,” saying that terminology is “taking us nowhere.” He said Perry’s stance on border security is “confusing” because he supports allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Texas public universities, but then takes a militaristic tone toward securing the border.

“I don’t see a clear position,” Fox said. “On one side I hear him with a very great compassion and understanding of the human side of migrants here. He’s willing to open up opportunities for them. On the other hand he’s talking about a very strong enforcement in the border, so I don’t think it’s clear.”

Fox publicly praised the Texas governor after he signed the 2001 tuition law for “having taken that step forward” to give Mexican migrants access to Texas universities.

Perry’s fellow GOP candidate Mitt Romney seized on Fox’s comments in a campaign ad released last month attacking Perry for his support of the tuition law. A full 25 seconds of the minute-long ad is a clip of Fox congratulating Perry on the law’s passage.

[Click here to see the Mitt Romney campaign ad on the tuition law]

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann Pledges to Build a Fence Along Mexico's Border by 2013

Stephen Morton/Getty Images(PERRY, Iowa) -- On Saturday, Michele Bachmann became the first major candidate to sign a pledge vowing to construct a fence along the border with Mexico by the end of 2013.

At an event in Perry, Iowa, Bachmann signed the Americans for Securing the Border pledge and lent her support to construction of a “double fence” along the entire southern border of the United States.

“I will secure the border,” Bachmann told a gathering, with the admittedly “tongue-in-cheek” name “Taking it to Perry”—a play on this town’s name and her chief GOP rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

She said the fence will be “job number one” if she were elected. “Every mile, every foot, every inch.”

Bachmann said illegal immigration costs the country $1 billion a year and tied the flow of undocumented immigrants to the unemployment rate and national security.

Despite the event’s name, Bachmann barely brought up Perry, suggesting only that he allowed for a “don’t ask, don’t tell” style policy in Texas in which illegal immigrants are able to receive in-state tuition at Texas universities, despite a federal ban.

Undocumented students in Texas received $44 million in financial aid—money that she said should have gone to legal citizens.

Perry has said in the past that a physical fence along the entire border is impractical.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


AG Holder Under Fire over When He Knew About ‘Fast and Furious’

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Republicans Thursday released additional Justice Department memos to Attorney General Eric Holder about a controversial gun trafficking investigation that they say are evidence Holder misled them. The Justice Department rejected the claims, suggesting congressional Republicans are playing traditional Washington gotcha politics, without the gotcha.

In September 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms launched an investigation targeting some Phoenix-area suspected gun runners who had been supplying weapons to a Mexican cartel. But the ATF decided to employ what would turn out to be a very controversial strategy: federal agents would allow guns to “walk” -- or flow into Mexico -- while the ATF tried to identify and charge upper-level cartel members who were buying the guns. The huge problem: the guns turned up in numerous crime scenes in Mexico, including murders. And at least one of the weapons was recovered at the scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was gunned down.

Attorney General Holder maintained he did not know the specifics of the strategy when pressed at a congressional hearing last spring.

Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., who is spearheading the congressional investigation, asked Holder, “When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious? To the best of your knowledge, what date?”

Holder answered: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

But Thursday, Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released at least five weekly memos to Holder, beginning in July 2010, that provide updates on Operation Fast and Furious.  The memos lay out that ATF and a number of other agencies were investigating Phoenix-area straw buyers who were “responsible for the purchase of 1500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”

Justice Department officials say the memos are only generic updates and offer no detail or specifics of ATF's strategy to allow the guns to pass in large numbers. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler offered an aggressive rebuttal.

“Here they go again. Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley can re-package and re-release the same documents every other day and it won’t change the facts: the Attorney General’s testimony to both the House and Senate committees has been consistent and truthful,” Schmaler said.

“When the Attorney General first learned of these troubling tactics in early 2011, he took swift and substantive action by asking the Inspector General to investigate the matter and making sure agents and prosecutors in field knew that such tactics violated Department policy and would not be tolerated.  If Congress wants to conduct real oversight on behalf of the American people, they should follow the Attorney General’s lead and treat this problem with the seriousness and substance it deserves.”

Thursday, President Obama defended Holder after a question from ABC’s Jake Tapper.

“I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder in how he handles his office,” the president said. “He has been very aggressive in going after gun-running and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels in Mexico…I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if somebody had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Says Drug War ‘May Require Our Military in Mexico’

Tom Williams/Roll Call(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent today campaigning in New Hampshire, hammering away at his message that “over-taxation, over-regulation, and over-litigation” are hurting business and the U.S. economy, but he also advocated for a larger government role in the war on drugs.

At a house party in Manchester, Perry said that ending the drug war in Mexico “may require our military in Mexico.”

“The way that we were able to stop the drug cartels in Colombia was with a coordinated effort,” Perry said. “It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their networks. I don’t know all the scenarios that are out there but I think it is very important that we work with them, to keep that country from failing.”

The comments raise questions about whether the governor would support military action by executive order. Perry has long supported sending U.S. troops to Mexico to help with the drug war.

Over and over Perry said that as president he would be sure to shrink the role of Washington, D.C., in the lives of Americans.

Complete with colorful props, Perry vowed to do away with as much of the health care law passed by Congress — what he referred to as “Obamacare” — as he could. At one stop he pulled out the Sharpie he said he would use to sign it away. At another stop, he pulled out his pocket Constitution, saying that “Obamacare” wasn’t in there.

At every stop, Perry was questioned about the Texas bill giving out-of-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. He said it was a state solution to a state problem and that as president, he would uphold the 10th Amendment. He said that he did not support the Dream Act.

Many seemed satisfied with Perry’s justification for signing the Texas bill. Bill Connors, who first asked the governor about his stance, said he came to the town hall in Hampton sure that he would not be voting for Perry. But based on Perry’s justification, he said he was now “thinking about it.”

When questioned about his stance on global warming, Perry reiterated that he’s a “skeptic.”

“The issue is, are we as Americans going to jeopardize the future of this country economically, by putting into place a program that there are still enough skeptics in my book, to stand with them, and say, you know what, I don’t believe that man-made global warming is settled in science enough for us to justify an economic impact on this country that could be devastating for the future,” he said.

But on the subject of off-shore drilling, he said, “We have to be thoughtful; we use science on how we protect our environment. But we’ve got to get back to drilling.”

Asked about American manufacturing and bringing jobs back to the United States, Perry said it was cap-and-trade policies that were causing companies to go overseas and do business.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Speak on Immigration Reform at US-Mexico Border

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will tout his administration's improvements in border security and renew a commitment to overhauling the nation's immigration system in a speech Tuesday on the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas.

But with key voices on both sides of the debate saying there is little chance Congress will overhaul immigration laws any time soon, Obama's speech is widely seen as a political appeal to Hispanics, who are a key constituency for his 2012 re-election campaign.

Hispanics voted for Obama by a 2-1 margin in 2008.  But many have since become disillusioned, hit hard by the sluggish economic recovery and disappointed by unfulfilled promises to improve policies affecting millions of legal and illegal immigrants and their families, community leaders say.

The White House insists that Obama has always been committed to achieving a comprehensive package of immigration system reforms, and has blamed the shifting political winds in Washington for the delay.

Most Republicans and some moderate Democrats staunchly oppose any legislation that would address the legal status of the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, citing concerns about competition for scarce U.S. jobs and added strain on social welfare programs.

Still, Obama has held three high-profile meetings on immigration in recent weeks, pulling together a diverse mix of stakeholders and lawmakers from across the country to enlist help campaigning for his plan, and adding pressure on Republicans who oppose it.

Obama envisions a sweeping law that would make immigration enforcement programs more strategic, penalize employers who hire illegal workers, streamline the visa process and provide relief to thousands of immigrant families living in the shadows.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Weigh Keeping Troops on US, Mexico Border

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will raise the issue of immigration reform to the fore this week with a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, where he faces a looming decision on whether to keep 1,200 National Guardsmen deployed.

Nearly one year ago, under pressure from congressional Republicans and border state governors to do more to curtail illegal immigration, Obama authorized the use of troops to assist the Border Patrol with immigration enforcement operations in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Funding for the border security mission approved by Congress expires in June.

In a letter to Obama last month, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer urged the administration to extend the Guard deployment, saying she believes it has had a significant impact on reducing smuggling activity and border violence.

Brewer said the guard has been involved in approximately 19,000 surveillance operations, 10,000 apprehensions of illegal migrants and 235 seizures of drug shipments, including over 18 tons of marijuana.

While the guardsmen cannot directly engage in law enforcement on U.S. soil, they have served as criminal analysts and on so-called entry identification teams, which help spot illegal border crossers.

More than 524 troops have been active in Arizona, 250 in Texas, 224 in California and 72 in New Mexico, officials have said.  Over 100 additional troops from the border states serve in command and control positions.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week that the administration is considering extending the mission, but that costs of the deployment remain a concern.

Some Republicans, who have proposed cutting funding for border security in their budget proposals for 2012, also oppose spending millions of dollars more to keep the troops deployed.

Still, advocates on both sides of the immigration debate agree the National Guard mission has been success and should continue at least for the short term.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stand Clear of Michelle and a Tamale, President Says About Wife

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and the first lady welcomed a big crowd to the White House Thursday evening for a Cinco de Mayo reception in the East Room.

Hispanic politicians, Hispanic Americans serving in the Obama administration, and members of a commission on exploring the creatiion of a new national museum of the American Latino were among those in attendance.

"Welcome to the Cinco de Mayo at the White House," Obama told the enthusiastic crowd before promising he wouldn’t speak too long.  "Nothing ruins a good fiesta like a long speech from a politician, so I’m going to keep it short."

The president called Cinco de Mayo a chance to commemorate the shared heritage between Mexicans and Americans.

"It’s a day for remembering that America is a richer, stronger, more vibrant place thanks to the contributions of Mexican Americans to the life of this nation."

The crowd also learned a little tidbit about the first lady, courtesy of her husband.

Said Obama: "I asked Michelle the other day, I said, ‘What’s your favorite food’ -- because we were sitting around with the girls.  She said, ‘Ah, Mexican food.’"

The crowd loved the news.

"You do not want to be between Michelle and a tamale," joked the president.  "It’s true.  It’s true.  But she’s moving, though, so she can afford to have as many tamales as she wants," said Obama in a nod to his wife’s "Let’s Move!" health campaign.

But the night was not without politics.  Obama said that the country needs to fix the "broken" immigration system and address the status of undocumented workers.  He also said he hopes to sign the Dream Act into law one day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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