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Entries in Immigration (6)

Thursday
May022013

What Obama Can Achieve in Mexico

YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) -- President Barack Obama arrives in Mexico on Thursday afternoon for a 24-hour trip in which he is expected to meet with Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to talk about trade, security and immigration.

The details of what both presidents will discuss have not been laid out to the public. Nor has it been explained why this meeting is important, other than to "reinforce" the relationship between both countries.

But here are some concrete issues that both presidents might end up talking about and why they need to be addressed.

Security
Mexico's president has tried to shift the focus of U.S.-Mexico talks away from security, and to the economy, arguing that the relationship between both countries must expand beyond drug war cooperation. The U.S. seems to be going along with this request based on statements made recently by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But there are changes in Mexico's security policies that directly affect the United States, such as a recent decision by the Mexican government to stop direct communication between Mexican law enforcement agencies and American agencies. From now on, all requests made by the U.S. for intelligence information must be routed through Mexico's Interior Ministry.

This new policy could hamper cooperation between U.S. officers who work for agencies like the DEA and the FBI, with their Mexican counterparts, according to sources consulted by the Los Angeles Times. It will also give Mexico's ministry of the interior more power to decide which sorts of sensitive information can be passed along to U.S. agents.

Obama and his advisers will probably have to ask some questions about how intelligence information will be shared from now on and seek some reassurances that information will still be made available to them. They may also want to ask Mexico what it wants to do with bi-national programs that have come under scrutiny from officials in Mexico's new government.. For example, there was a program through which U.S. agents help to conduct background checks on new Mexican police hires to make sure that they have no connection to drug trafficking groups.

Alex Sanchez, a security analyst at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, believes that intelligence sharing will be a significant issue during the private meetings that will be held on Thursday, even if it has been downplayed by both sides.

He said that intelligence sharing will become more relevant as Mexican cartels increase their presence in the U.S., and also as the U.S. explores new ways to secure the border with drones.

"I think the U.S. government wants to make sure that Peña Nieto is on the same page as Obama, that he wants to pursue the cartels as consistently and aggressively as [former Mexican President] Calderon did during his presidency," Sanchez said.

Trade and North American Integration
Some economists in the U.S. and Mexico have suggested that both countries should work together in order to compete against China's economic power.

This belief that Mexico and the U.S. should be partners and not actually competitors is supported by the fact that both countries already produce many goods together with companies in the U.S. sending raw materials to Mexico, for example, where they are assembled into different sorts of products, and sent back to this country.

James R. Jones, a former U.S. ambassador in Mexico, says that North America has the human capital and energy reserves that could make it into the most competitive region in the world.

At a recent panel at the Americas Society, a Washington D.C. think tank, he suggested that Obama and Peña Nieto try to come up with regulations that make it easier for companies on both sides of the border to work together and export their products to the rest of the world.

"We need to find ways to not diminish the security of the border, but still expand and enable the commercial movement of goods," Jones said.

Another issue that both presidents should take a look at is NAFTA's legacy, says, Raul Gutierrez, a Mexican industrialist who leads the steel products group Deacero.

At the same panel at the Americas Society, Gutierrez mentioned that since this free trade agreement was implemented in 1994, the real minimum wage has fallen in Mexico by 25 percent. Under NAFTA, the number of Mexicans living in poverty has increased by 11 million, and more than 2,000 small exporting companies have closed. Mexican exports meanwhile only contain 30 percent of national content, and exports that come out of the assembly plants along the border, known as Maquiladoras, only average 3 percent of national content.

Gutierrez said that things could've been worse for Mexico, if NAFTA had not been implemented. But he argued that the U.S. and Mexico must find ways to boost Mexico's ailing manufacturing sector in order to create jobs in the country and prosperous conditions that would stop people from entering organized crime networks.

"A strong Mexican economy is in the security interests of the U.S.," Gutierrez said. "The U.S. will do well to think of North American competitiveness and not just its own in confronting the challenges of China," Gutierrez added, arguing that a more prosperous Mexico would also be a good market for U.S. companies.

Immigration
Mexico's president has been rather silent on this issue, saying only that he "fully supports" Obama's push for immigration reform. Back in November when he visited Obama in Washington, Peña Nieto said that rather than making "demands" on the U.S. President and the U.S. Congress, on behalf of the six million undocumented Mexican immigrants who live in the U.S., he wants to "contribute," to Obama's solution.

Peña Nieto may believe that Obama is on the right track, with regards to immigration reform, and that any attempts by his government to get involved in U.S. politics would backfire, and delay Obama's plans.

Alex Sanchez from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, says that Peña Nieto's statements of support, which are likely to be repeated during this visit by Obama, are somewhat helpful. "It's symbolic, of course, and it won't make Republicans back Obama's plan. But it looks good for Obama to get some sort of backing from the country where most immigrants come from," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

UK Immigration Staff Calls off Planned Strike on Eve of Olympics

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Travelers flying into London just in time for the summer Olympic Games will be spared from massive delays at Heathrow Airport on Thursday.

The union representing British border guards on Wednesday called off a planned strike after it made progress in talks with the government over pay and job cuts.

Had the immigration staff walked out on their jobs on the eve of the Olympics, it surely would have caused headaches for the hundreds of tourists flying into Heathrow on what's expected to be one of the airport's busiest days ever.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Mexican President Thanks Obama for Limiting Deportations

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(LOS CABOS, Mexico) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised President Obama today for having the “valor and courage” to stop deporting hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.

“We believe that this is very just,” Calderon told Obama this morning on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. “It’s a humanitarian action.  And it’s an unprecedented action in our opinion.

“In this sense, Mr. President, we would like to thank you for the valor and courage that you had in implementing this action.  I am sure that many, many families in the United States of America are thankful to you as well,” Calderon said.

Obama announced Friday that illegal immigrants will no longer face the threat of deportation if they were brought to the United States before age 16 but are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five consecutive years, are in school or have graduated from high school or earned a GED, have no criminal history or have served in the military.

Immigrants who meet the criteria can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on the number of times it can be renewed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

French President Proposes New Immigration Law Ahead of Election

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- If French President Nicolas Sarkozy is reelected in two weeks, he might push for a new law that will make it tougher for immigrants to settle in his country.

Hoping to attract far-right voters who voted for Marine Le Pen in the first round of elections last Sunday, Sarkozy is talking about having immigrants pass a French language exam as a prerequisite for living in France.

Sarkozy told TV station France 2 on Tuesday that the exam would help to limit the number of newcomers to France, saying, “We cannot keep on receiving so many foreign people here."

This hard line approach to France’s immigration problems might be too little, too late for Sarkozy, who is considered the underdog in the upcoming runoff election.  Socialist candidate Francois Hollande barely defeated Sarkozy in the first round vote with eight other challengers on the ballot, but is expected to have an easier time when they meet head-to-head on May 6.

Le Pen finished a strong third last Sunday, but might not endorse either candidate.  While Sarkozy is closer to Le Pen politically, the president is so unpopular that many of LePen’s supporters might decide to sit out the election rather than vote for Sarkozy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Cuban Actors Disappear En Route to New York Film Festival Premiere

UnaNocheFilm(NEW YORK) -- In a case of life imitating art, a pair of young Cuban actors who were expected at the New York premiere of their film about defecting to the U.S. have disappeared after landing in Miami.

The film Una Noche is about three young Cubans who decide to flee the country on a raft after one of them is accused of assault. The film follows the day they attempt to make it 90 miles across the ocean to Florida.

All three of the film's stars -- Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, Javier Nunez Florian and Dariel Arrechaga -- were expected to appear at New York's Tribeca Film Festival for the premiere. But Torre and Florian, both 19, were nowhere to be found the night of the event.

"Only Dariel Arrechada attended the Tribeca Film Festival premiere screening of Una Noche on Thursday, April 19," a spokeswoman for the Tribeca Film Festival said in a statement. "We have not had any contact with Anailin de la Rua de la Torre or with Javier Nunez Florian."

Tammie Rosen, spokeswoman for the festival, confirmed to ABCNews.com that all of the actors were invited to the festival.

"We can't say for sure what the status of these guys are," Katie Tichacek Kaplan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), told ABC News. "There are a number of things they could be thinking. We just don't know what their plans are."

Kaplan said that USCIS could not comment specifically on individual cases, but said that people in similar situations that come to the U.S. for asylum have a year to apply.

A State Department official told ABC News, "We are aware of the reports but we don't have any further information. We have not been in contact with the film festival organizers or the Cuban actors."

On the Facebook pages for the film and the actors, supporters have left messages of encouragement.

"Congratulations on making your dream a reality, wishing you much success in the land of the free," one person wrote.

Another wrote: "I'm glad you were able to get out. May God bless you."

Representatives of the film did not respond to requests for comment, but Lucy Mulloy, the film's writer and director, told The Huffington Post, "I really was thinking that they were going to come here and enjoy the festival, and I thought they would love to participate in it. They made a decision, I guess."

The British-born director recently graduated from New York University's graduate film program, and Una Noche is her first feature film.

She did not anticipate that her stars would not be at the premiere.

"It is surprising," she told the website. "I mean, they had all of their family there and it's surprising. But things can be difficult in Cuba. There's an embargo and so there's a lot of challenges for people living in Cuba."

Arrechada, 21, the one actor who did attend, told reporters he was alone in New York and planned on returning to Cuba as planned since his visa was going to expire.

"That's their choice, you know?" Arrechada said of his co-stars, according to The Huffington Post. "That's their way of thinking. No one is forced to stay. And no one is forced to go back. If you want to stay in the United States, I think, well, stay. If you want to go back, go back. Not all of us have to stay and not all of us have to go back. It's about what you want to do with your life."

He told the website he believed his co-stars would stay in the U.S.

A similar situation occurred in March when Yosmel de Armas, a Cuban soccer player, defected from his national team while in Tennessee for a game. Armas turned up in Miami earlier this month and is seeking asylum with the help of an immigration attorney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Obama: The US Is 'Open to a New Relationship with Cuba'

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Tuesday that the United States is “open to a new relationship with Cuba if the Cuban government starts taking the proper steps to open up its own country.
 
“As long as I’m President I will always be prepared to change our Cuba policy if and when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people,” the president said in a roundtable discussion on Hispanic issues.
 
Obama cited the steps that his administration has taken to “send a signal that we’re prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born,” including changes to remittance laws and laws that relate to educational travel.
 
“What we haven’t seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo,” he said.
 
In order to fully engage, the president stressed that the U.S. needs to “see a signal back from the Cuban government,” such as the release of political prisoners or the ability for people to express their opinions and petition their government.
 
As for U.S. immigration, Obama expressed frustration with the perception that he could be doing more on his own to fix the system, which he reiterated was a top priority.
 
“This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce,” Obama said. “I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true.”
 
The president went on to point a finger at Republicans, saying they have stalled comprehensive immigration reform. “In the past we've seen bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, over the last several years what you’ve seen is the Republican Party move away from support of comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.
 
“We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it. And if all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, then that is going to lead to a constant dead-end. We have to recognize how the system works, and then apply pressure to those places where votes can be gotten and, ultimately, we can get this thing solved.  And nobody will be a stronger advocate for making that happen than me,” the president said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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