Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Arrests of Undocumented Immigrants at Historic Low

Despite the high level of attention that attention the immigration debate is receiving amongst the Republican presidential candidates and the U.S. Congress, the Wall Street Journal reports that the number of arrests of undocumented migrants is at its lowest level in nearly forty years. According to the article:
“The U.S. arrested 340,252 migrants along the Mexico-U.S. border in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30—down 24% from the year before and the lowest level in 39 years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security.  
In the previous fiscal year, agents apprehended 447,731 illegal crossers in the Southwest, compared with 1.6 million in 2000, the peak year. The last time the border was this quiet was 1972, when agents caught 321,326 people.”
The paper credits this reduction in migration to a number of trends: namely an uptick in border security efforts, the surge in drug-related violence in northern Mexico, and a better economic climate in Mexico.” But while it may be true that Mexico’s drug war and stiffer immigration laws such as the “Secure Communities” initiative are contributing to the lack of immigration, an improved economic climate is probably a lesser factor.

According to the latest poverty statistics from the National Social Development Council (CONEVAL), the number of Mexicans living below the poverty line (2,114 pesos or $158 per month in urban areas, 1,329 pesos or $99 per month in rural areas) increased by 3.2 million between 2008 and 2010, and now stands at 52 million. This amounts to more than 46 percent of the Mexico’s 112 million citizens.

Considering this figure, reports which tout a massive economic shift in Mexico as a major contributor to the drop in migration -- such as the WSJ’s and other recent articles in the New York Times and the Sacramento Bee -- are likely exaggerated.

News Briefs:

·         The Mexican government has caught a key figure in the Zetas drug gang. According to Reuters and El Universal, Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, alias “Lucky,” was a founding member of the Zetas, and was responsible for running the group’s operations in the states of Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca.

·         The AP reports that an examination of official telegrams sent between the governments of Brazil and Chile during the early 1970s has cast new light on their level of cooperation. According to an analysis of 266 telegrams conducted by Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo, Augusto Pinochet’s regime received significant financial and diplomatic help from the Brazilian military government.

·         Argentina’s La Nacion features an interview with President Barack Obama on U.S.-Argentina relations. In it, Obama urges Argentina to pay its external debt in order to “send a strong message to the world” that the South American country is interested in attracting foreign investment.

·         The Guatemala Solidarity Network has an informative report on child malnutrition in Guatemala. According to  the UK-based organization, half of the country’s children are malnourished.

·         The BBC claims that former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s throat cancer treatment is going well, and the ex-leader is expected to make a full recovery.

·         The Miami Herald analyzes Cuba’s oil drilling ambitions, which have apparently sparked talks between officials on the island and the U.S. government about emergency oil spill plans.

·         Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will be traveling to Cuba this March, a visit which will be the first time that a pope has come the island since John Paul II 1998 visit. Pope Benedict will also visit Mexico on his journey, in order to “proclaim the word of Christ” Reuters reports that the Cuban Catholic church celebrated the news with a procession devoted to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, in a sign if improving ties between church and state on the island.

·         The BBC and Mercopress have more on Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s cabinet shuffle, which was mentioned in yesterday’s post. Apparently Humala has lost support from former president Alejandro Toledo, whose endorsement was instrumental in securing the election. Toledo’s Peru Posible party will still caucus with Humala’s Nationalist Party, but will not accept any cabinet posts if they are offered due to Humala’s perceived “militarization” of the government.

·         Honduras Culture and Politics takes a look at the United States’ recent delivery of Maule MXT-7-180 aircraft to the Central American country. The blog’s author questions why the aircraft weren’t delivered under the administration of Manuel Zelaya, when they were first requested.

·         Colombia Reports profiles a particularly festive attempt by the Colombian military to encourage guerrilla demobilization during the holiday season.  With the help of British PR firm Lowe and Partners, the army released hundreds of illuminated spheres along remote jungle rivers which bear the message: "Do not miss this Christmas. Colombia and your family are waiting for you. Demobilize At Christmas -- everything is possible." A video of the effort, dubbed “Operation Rivers of Light,” is available here.

·         Human Rights Watch has issued a condemnation of a government proposal in Colombia which would allow military judges to determine whether soldiers should be tried for alleged rights abuses. According to HRW director Jose Miguel Vivanco, the passage of this measure would “dramatically reverse recent progress Colombia has made in providing accountability for military abuses."