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Border roundup

Supreme Court looks at Az as injured men, explosives found in desert

Politics and policy

Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will enter the debate on whether federal law supersedes state law when it comes to voter registration. The March 18 hearing will address a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which supported federal law over Arizona's Proposition 200, which requires some proof of citizenship including a passport, birth certificate, driver’s license or tribal documents before allowing for voter registration. While a News21 reporting project detected "only seven confirmed cases of voter fraud in Arizona from 2000 through 2011," supporters say the law is "common sense" in protecting against voter fraud. Critics say it leads to disenfranchisement, especially of "Native Americans, Latinos, young and elderly voters" and is designed to help "those currently in political power." Several other states have similar laws passed or under consideration. A brief submitted in support of Arizona was signed by Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Green cards issued on extended family relationships may severely reduced and reserved for immediate family members of U.S. citizens instead, according to one lawmaker working on comprehensive immigration reform. Supporters say the change would "remake the immigration system so it has a much clearer economic focus;" in the current immigration system "[a]bout two-thirds of permanent legal immigration to the U.S. is family-based." Supporter Sen. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wants to eliminate the married children and siblings category all together since "Green cards should be reserved for the nuclear family. Green cards are economic engines for the country." Critics like Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded to Graham saying green cards should simply be made more available and that "What the senator's not taking into account is the social costs for not preserving families in the immigration system, which is not as tangible or measurable as an economic benefit, maybe, but immigrant families do strengthen our social fabric."

Those social costs are the focus of reporting by Susan Ferriss who reviews a study on how the deportation surge has affected mental health in children separated from deportated family members or relocated abroad with them.

Law enforcement

The name and status of a Mexican man found south of Vamori by Casa Grande station Border Patrol agents just after midnight on Tuesday are unknown after law enforcement and medical personnel declined to comment further. The man, who was taken to University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson, was reported to be one of four found along the Mexican-U.S. border, all with their throats slashed and two already dead.

Weapons discovered by hikers on the Great Western Trail off of the Arizona 87 triggered Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies to search of the desert north of Mesa and discover additional explosives and more documentation of other possible caches. The first discoveries, a handgun and a canister of ammunition, were made Sunday by hikers near Milepost 208 on the Arizona 87; the next day they found another canister of grenades and a map indicating 20 more possible locations where explosives and ammunition may be cached. The items, along with explosives and five additional ammunition boxes recovered by the deputies, "appeared to have been buried for some time." Additional searches and ongoing investigations are underway.

A 34-year-old male hiker was airlifted out of the Parker Creek area in Gila County after suffering head injuries and multiple fractures in a fall that triggered a two and a half hour search and a night at the accident scene until conditions were safe enough for transport.

Across the border

Citing concern for the safety of its staff and their families, the northern Mexican newspaper Zocalo said Monday that they will "stop publishing stories about organized crime" after signs and banners threatening them were posted "across the border state." El Manana de Nuevo Laredo, a newspaper in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, made a similar statement last year after its offices were attacked with grenades. The news also follows the recent shooting death of a Mexican journalist in Ojinaga (see the Across the border section of last week's roundup for more on Jaime Guadalupe Gonzalez Dominguez).

A man and a woman were shot in Nogales, Sonora on Monday night. Police officers discovered the couple in a green station wagon and declared the unidentified man dead at the scene from gunshots to his left side. The woman, identified as Maria Luisa Tizoc Moge, 44, died of her injuries at the General Hospital. According to police statements four plastic packages with a white powder, possibly cocaine, were discovered in her underwear.

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Annie Murphy explores why the indigenous Mexican town of Cherán has been successful in addressing drug cartel violence by throwing out the police and running itself, while other areas have had more mixed results from vigilante justice (see the Across the border section of February 9's roundup for more on Acapulco).

A bill put to Congress by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposes reforms to the nation's telecommunication industry including the power to "crack down on monopolies and allow more foreign investment." Similar reforms on foreign investment are also being considered for the nation's oil industry (see the Business and economy section of last week's roundup for more on Petróleos Mexicanos, aka PMEX). Peña Nieto says the telecommunications bill could "free up the sector's potential" in a country where men like Emilio Azcarraga's Televisa company and Carlos Slim's America Movil can control about 60 percent of the country's broadcast market and 70 percent of the country's wireless / 80 percent of the landline market.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales apprehended a male 22-year-old legal permanent resident living in Tucson when additional inspection of his Lincoln SUV triggered a canine alert and revealed 20 packages of methamphetamine (nearly 25.5 pounds, estimated value more than $393,000) in the dashboard area of the vehicle.

Border Patrol Activity

As reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection press releases:

Sunday 10 March

Yuma Sector agents on the Barry M. Goldwater Range apprehended a group of seven Mexican nationals. Records checks showed that one man had a Los Angeles conviction for manslaughter in 2000, leading to seven years in the California Department of Corrections followed by deportation to Mexico in 2006

Yuma Sector agents southwest of Gila Bend apprehended a group of eight Mexican nationals with 340 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $170,000)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales apprehended a legal permanent resident living in Tucson, Jesus Roberto Castro-Lopez , 22, when additional inspection of his Lincoln SUV triggered a canine alert and revealed 20 packages of methamphetamine (nearly 25.5 pounds, estimated value more than $393,000) in the dashboard area of the vehicle

Monday 11 March

Yuma Sector agents on the eastern portion of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge discovered 8 bundles of marijuana (180 pounds) early in the morning

Yuma Sector agents using night vision equipment near mile marker 18 on State route 85 apprehended nine suspects, all male Mexican nationals, carrying a total of 216 pounds of marijuana

Yuma Sector agents tracked and apprehended a group of 11 suspects carrying makeshift backpacks with 463 pounds of marijuana around noon; background checks revealed that 10 of the suspects were Mexican nationals and one a U.S. citizen

Yuma Sector agents following footprints near mile marker 97 on Interstate 8 apprehended two suspects carrying 49 pounds of marijuana

Yuma Sector agents south of Gila Bend apprehended a group of five suspects, all male Mexican nationals, carrying 192 pounds of marijuana

Yuma Sector agents south of Gila Bend apprehended a group of five suspects, all male Mexican nationals, carrying 330 pounds of marijuana

total estimated value of Yuma Sector marijuana seizures for Sunday: $715,000

Tuesday 12 March

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Commercial Facility apprehended a 35-year-old male Mexican national after additional inspection using an x-ray system led to the discovery 280 packages of marijuana (estimated value $1,068,000) was discovered mixed in with a shipment of bell peppers

Wednesday 14 March

Wellston Station agents off Interstate 8, just west of Gila Bend apprehended nine suspects, all Mexican citizens, carrying 525 pounds of marijuana

Yuma Sector agents in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife found 248 pounds of marijuana

Yuma Sector agents three miles south of mile marker 96 on I-8 found 91 pounds of marijuana

total estimated value of Yuma Sector marijuana seizures for Wednesday: 864 pounds of marijuana, estimated value of $432,000

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Commercial Facility apprehended a 33-year-old man after a drug dog alerted to the tractor trailer he was driving and the x-ray system revealed 6,219 pounds of marijuana (estimated value more than $3.1 million) in containers labeled as vaccum pumps and lamp holders

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa Port apprehended Gilberto Vasquez Govea, 31, of Nogales, Sonora after discovering nearly 17 pounds of methamphetamine (estimated value $263,252) under the rear seat of his Chevrolet SUV

Sources

Extra reading