Entries in U.S.-Mexico Border (8)


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


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


Rick Perry Hits Bernanke and Fed; Talks Immigration, Border Security

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Perry touched on many of his trouble issues in an interview with CNBC Thursday morning, as he attempted to fine-tune his message on immigration and border security, clarify his stance on Social Security, and explain his views on the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke, who he openly criticized in the first days of his campaign.

In the wide ranging interview, Perry said he would not reappoint Chairman Ben Bernanke, and sent a message to the Fed to stop conducting bad policy. “I think the statements towards Chairman Bernanke need to be very clear to him that making monetary policy to cover up bad fiscal policy is bad public policy, and that’s what we’re seeing a Fed that is getting involved in things that frankly it does not need to be involved with so printing more money doesn’t do anything at this particular juncture but to make the dollars in our pocket worth less money,” Perry said in an interview on Squawk Box.  

In August, Perry exposed his distaste for Bernanke and the Fed’s monetary policy, suggesting that printing more money would be "almost treasonous."

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election,” Perry said at a house party in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in August, “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.  Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous in my opinion.”

The Texas governor offered a tip to the federal government on how to better help governors do their jobs -- strengthen border security.

“One of the things I wish the federal government would do, that a lot of problems that we have to deal with as governors would go away if they would secure the border of this country with Mexico.  We’re having to deal with the results of a federal government that has failed in their duty.”

Perry suggested the federal government is to blame for creating new issues for states to deal with, such as determining whether states should offer in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants, due to poor border security.

“In Texas, and it’s a sovereign state issue, we decided it was better because the federal government forcing us to take care of these individuals and the federal government is who allowed them to come in with their lack of security," he said.  "We have to make decisions on how to deal with that in Texas.  We thought in 2001 it was the best interest of our state to have those young people educated rather than kicking them to the curb and not allowing them to be educated and then having to pay for them in some other form with government programs or what have you.  But how to cure that is for the federal government to secure that border.”

On Social Security, the Texas Governor repeated his assurances that the entitlement program will exist for those nearing retirement age but needs reform for younger generations.  But the Texas governor also went as far as suggesting the current system goes beyond the intent of the Founding Fathers.

“What we talked about in the book [Fed Up!] was that this was one of many places where the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. or Congress or President of the United States went well outside our Founding Fathers,” Perry said.  “But look, Social Security is in place, that program is going to be there, it’s just got to be transformed, and that’s what we’re talking about doing.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ATF Chief Secretly Tells Congress about Controversial Gun Program

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) voluntarily appeared before two congressional oversight committees and revealed that senior Justice Department officials tried to limit his communications with Congress about an investigation into a controversial ATF program known as "Fast and Furious," according to a letter from the heads of two oversight committees.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have been investigating a program where ATF agents recorded and tracked straw purchases of weapons and allowed the guns to "walk" across the U.S. border into Mexico in an effort to locate major weapons traffickers.

Rather than appear with lawyers from the Justice Department and the ATF, Acting Director Ken Melson hired his own private attorney and secretly appeared before congressional investigators on July 4.  According to sources close to the investigation, Melson had previously wanted to testify before the oversight committees but Justice Department officials sought to delay his testimony.

Melson's testimony came weeks after three current ATF agents who were involved with the program testified before Congress about the botched operation and how the ATF failed to stop guns from going to Mexico.

The operation took a tragic turn in December 2010 when two weapons found at the scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered were linked to the ATF program.  According to reports by the ABC News affiliate in Phoenix, other guns from the program have now been linked to additional crimes.

ATF officials say they were trying to build cases that would allow them to target senior drug cartel leaders and key weapons traffickers, not low-level gun runners.

According to a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Grassley, Melson expressed dismay over how the operation was run and that "he was sick to his stomach" when he reviewed internal documents.  The letter also notes that Melson's testimony corroborated information that the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI may have had a role in the operation.

The letter sent to Attorney General Holder notes of Melson's testimony: "He was candid in admitting mistakes that his agency made and described various ways he says that he tried to remedy the problems.  According to Mr. Melson, it was not until after the public controversy that he personally reviewed hundreds of documents relating to the case, including wiretap applications and Reports of Investigation (ROIs).  By his account, he was sick to his stomach when he obtained those documents and learned the full story."

Melson testified that he and top management at ATF moved to reassign supervisors working on Fast and Furious and that officials at the DOJ allegedly tried to prevent ATF from notifying the oversight committees about the full nature of the management moves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: Immigration Reform 'Economic Imperative' Despite GOP Opposition

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(EL PASO, Texas) -- President Obama made his first official visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday, where he challenged Republicans to get serious about immigration reform, saying his administration has met their demands for beefed-up internal enforcement and border security.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters in El Paso, Texas, Obama said the unprecedented number of border agents and technological resources along the border have significantly reduced the illegal flow of drugs, weapons and humans into the United Staes over the past two years.

The president said the progress should sufficiently allay concerns that have hampered congressional efforts to bring about more comprehensive reform, including steps to address the legal status of the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and streamline the legal immigration system.

"We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement," Obama said. "All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we answered these concerns, there are still some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time."

Earlier in the day, Obama toured a cargo screening facility in El Paso, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers screen hundreds of daily shipments to and from Mexico for guns, drugs, money and radiological threats. The president also held conversations with community leaders about the economic implications of reform.

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


Rep. Giffords' Idea: Improve Mobile Communications Near Border

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the request of the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Texas Congressman Ted Poe introduced the “Southern Borderlands Public Safety Communications Act” Thursday, which would provide people in remote areas without cellular service near the border with cell phone service to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Giffords, D-Ariz., was apparently poised to introduce the legislation herself, but then the tragedy in Tucson struck just a few days after the 112th Congress commenced.

According to Poe, the measure would authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to make grants available for public-private partnerships that finance equipment and infrastructure to improve public safety of residents of rural areas of the United States-Mexico border by enhancing access to mobile communications.

Poe went to the House floor Thursday to highlight the need for the legislation and credited Giffords for coming up with the idea after one of her constituents, rancher Rob Krentz, was murdered by Mexican drug smugglers on his rural property where he was unable to call 911 because he was out of reach of cellphone service.

“In this remote area many times cellphones do not work,” Poe, R-Texas, said. “I am filing legislation that is the idea of Ms. Giffords. This bill is in memory of Robert Krentz, the Arizona rancher who was murdered by an illegal on his own property one year ago. Mr. Krentz is a former rancher whose family still lives in Arizona. News reports indicate Mr. Krentz was in a cellphone 'dead zone' when he was murdered, and this bill will provide people in remote areas on the dangerous border area with cellphone service to call for help.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Homeland Security Axes Bush-Era 'Virtual Fence' Project

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security on Friday officially scrapped a Bush-era program designed to use radar technology to detect illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a DHS official and a congressional source.

The project, called "Virtual Fence," was rolled out under the Bush administration in 2006 with much fanfare about how technology could help secure the border. Illegal immigrants crossing the border would be detected by radar and picked up by remote cameras, which were monitored by border patrol agents.

But numerous internal and congressional reviews found consistent performance problems with the project's systems, which only spanned 53 miles of the vast U.S.-Mexico border. The cameras often provided blurry images, the radar system performed poorly in bad weather, and it often displayed false detections that were unable to distinguish between humans, cars and animals.

There were also cost overruns and the primary contractor, Boeing, repeatedly missed deadlines, officials said.

The system is estimated to cost about $1 billion. If the entire project had been accepted and rolled out, its cost would have exceeded $6 billion.

"We know that we cannot continue to put out millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer's money if we're not confident that it's really not going to work,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who ordered a review of the program upon taking office, said in October.

DHS officials say the program will not be a total loss and that Customs and Border Protection officers and border patrol agents will continue to use some of the systems that have been paid for.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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