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Border Roundup: Immigration the 'story behind the story'

A look at border news around the nation & world

The federal government and the state of Arizona seem headed for a showdown over border security and immigration reform. At the same time, tension continues to rise over the shooting of a Mexican boy at the border in El Paso.

Federal v. state

Gov. Brewer met with representatives of the Obama administration on Monday to discuss border security, reported the Arizona Republic:

Gov. Jan Brewer said she was "disappointed to say the least" by the Obama administration's plans to deploy 524 National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border. She was joined by fellow Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain in calling the response inadequate.

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Brewer said Monday the troops would begin arriving in late August, and their numbers will ramp up until they plateau in Arizona at 524. They will then be deployed on surveillance-related missions for 120 days.

Pres. Obama asked Congress for $600 million to strengthen border security, reported the Los Angeles Times:

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco), President Obama said his request "responds to urgent and essential needs" and asked that it be considered an emergency. "These amendments would support efforts to secure the Southwest border and enhance federal border protection, law enforcement and counter-narcotics activities," Obama wrote.

The money would fund more Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the U.S./Mexico border, reported the Arizona Daily Star:

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The Southwest border would get 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and 160 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers if Congress approves a request by President Obama for an extra $500 million for security.

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Another $100 million, the president said, would come out of the budget for the "virtual fence" project, which has been halted while the Department of Homeland Security determines if it actually could ever work.

The background to Monday's meeting was that the Obama administration is likely to sue the state of Arizona over SB 1070:

Brewer said Monday that the possibility of a suit did not come up during her meeting. In Washington, Obama enlisted activists and labor leaders in a push for comprehensive immigration legislation that will showcase Republican opposition and include a major speech by the president.

The federal lawsuit challenging SB 1070 could be filed as early as next week, reported the Los Angeles Times:

A White House showdown with the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law is likely to unfold next week, when the Obama administration is expected to file a lawsuit aimed at blocking the state's bid to curb illegal immigration on its own, according to people familiar with the administration's plans. Arizona officials are girding for the legal challenge. The state has raised $123,000 in private donations to defend the law, according to Gov. Jan Brewer's office. Money has come in from all 50 states, in donations as little as $1.

Those who are worried that illegal aliens take jobs from American citizens were challenged to take farm jobs by the United Farm Workers. The tongue-in-cheek "Take Our Jobs" campaign will have experienced agriculture workers "ready to train citizens and legal residents who wish to replace immigrants in the fields," reported TucsonSentinel.com.

"Somehow, undocumented workers are getting as much blame for our economic troubles as Wall Street, but missing from the immigration debate is an honest recognition that the food we all eat at home, in restaurants and work-place cafeterias, including those in the Capitol, comes to us from the labor of undocumented workers," said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.

SB 1070 update

The lawsuits filed against SB 1070 will be heard by a single judge, reported the Associated Press:

All five constitutional challenges to Arizona's controversial new immigration enforcement law will be heard by one federal judge in Phoenix. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton already was assigned two of the cases. On Friday, she ordered the other three transferred to her.

The Democrats running for that office told the Star: that SB 1070 will still be enforced even if the next Arizona attorney general is a Democrat:

The three Democrats running for Arizona attorney general said they would enforce the state's new immigration law if it is not struck down by court challenges. David Lujan, Felecia Rotellini and Vince Rabago separately said they do not support the new law and think it won't stand up to court scrutiny, contending it oversteps state authority by enforcing what is a federal law. But all three said they would enforce it if it is deemed constitutional when the courts weigh in.

Tucson Unified School District said it will not join the lawsuits against SB 1070, nor will it enforce the law on school grounds.

"The need to join litigation against SB 1070 has been somewhat negated by the federal government, I believe, wisely moving forward towards litigation against Arizona," board member Adelita Grijalva said. "What I'd like to suggest is moving toward the creation of a policy." The policy is expected to send a clear message that TUSD won't enforce immigration laws, nor will it tolerate staff members asking about the status of students and their families, Grijalva said. "That will send a clear message to our community that we are not supportive of, and will not be enforcing, that kind of discrimination on our campuses," she said.

In other SB 1070 news, day laborers in Nogales, Ariz. are feeling the effects of both SB 1070 and the economic downturn, reported the Nogales International. Mexican nationals are leaving Arizona for Sonora, reported El Imparcial.

Shooting in El Paso

Protestors gathered outside Border Patrol offices in El Paso to demand justice for the recent shooting death of a Mexican boy by a Border Patrol agent, reported the El Paso Times:

About 300 people were marching in front of the Border Patrol offices on Montana Street this afternoon, asking for justice in the shooting death of a Juárez teen. The marchers were holding American flags and protest signs, and chanting, "We want justice."

Federal law enforcement officials said that the boy was a smuggler, said the El Paso paper.

In Juárez, family and friends of Hernández grieved at his casket during a memorial in the family's small home. The boy's father had described him as a student, not a troublemaker. But U.S. federal law enforcement officials say Hernández was among youthful guides who help "coyotes," or smugglers, sneak undocumented immigrants across the border. Federal law enforcement officials said Hernández was a known juvenile smuggler listed on records from the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which includes photos and fingerprints. Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because juvenile records are private.

The ACLU and other organizations asked Congress to hold hearings into recent deaths on the border, reported the El Paso Times.

National immigration news

The mayor of New York city has put together a team, which includes Rupert Murdoch, to show the economic benefits of immigration, reported the New York Times:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, making good on an inaugural pledge, has stepped up to help lead the national battle for immigration reform. On Thursday, he announced a partnership of mayors and business leaders to make the economic case for reform, including mayors of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Phoenix, and top executives of companies like Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and the New York Mets. Rupert Murdoch — chairman of the News Corporation, naturalized citizen and member of the coalition — stated its views succinctly: “This country can and must enact new immigration policies that fulfill our employment needs, provide a careful pathway to legal status for undocumented residents, and end illegal immigration.”

The Mexican flag is back on the streets of Los Angeles, but in a new context, reported the Los Angeles Times:

After years of being downplayed at large political rallies that regularly punctuated the L.A. landscape, the World Cup has given the Mexican flag some of its big event presence back. The red, white and green banners hang from cars on the freeway, wave inside countless bars and eateries during games and are even held proudly by cyclists riding through downtown L.A.

In other national immigration news, an aerial drone will be used to monitor the international border in Texas, reported the Washington Post. Maricopa County sheriff's deputies went looking for illegal immigrants accused of identity theft in El Mirage and Youngtown, reported the Arizona Daily Star. In El Paso, a tunnel that led across the border was discovered under the Rio Grande river, reported the El Paso Times. In terms of legal immigrants, California still leads all states, reported the Texas Tribune.

A new state law in Tennessee requires that state jails check the immigration status of inmates, reported the Washington Post. Also in the Post, Tennessee is only the next in a line of states that plan to pass tough immigration laws:

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Five states - South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Michigan - are looking at Arizona-style legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NDN, a Washington think tank and advocacy group, said lawmakers in 17 other states had expressed support for similar measures.

International immigration news

The powerful earthquake that hit northern Mexico in April actually moved the U.S./Mexico border, reported El Universal. As a result, the region around Calexico, Calif. is now about 75 centimeters south of where it used to be. An official at the United Nations said that the U.S. is benefiting from the war among drug cartels in Mexico, with lower rates of addiction, higher prices for drugs and less pure doses, reported El Universal.

Here in the U.S. news about immigration focuses on the southern border with Mexico. Mexico also has issues with illegal immigration crossing its southern border, according to El Universal. In addition to dealing with an unruly southern border, the Mexican government is also struggling for control with drug cartels, or "insurgent mafias." According to a United Nations official there are 982 areas within the territory of Mexico that are not fully under the control of the federal or local government.

A representative to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said that most of the money made in smuggling cocaine to the United States ends up in the hands of people living in this country, said El Imparcial. The number of homicides in Mexico during 2009 rose to nearly 19,000.

The United Kingdom set a temporary limit on how many immigrants from non-European Union countries could enter the country, reported the Guardian.

Should someone fleeing gang violence be considered a refugee? That question is being asked more frequently in immigration courts, reported the New York Times. Also in the Times, a Jamaican immigrant dying in an immigration detention center in Louisiana may appeal to the United Nations

Immigration is often the "story behind the story" in seemingly unrelated issues, said the Times:

Perhaps no force in modern life is as omnipresent yet overlooked as global migration, that vehicle of creative destruction that is reordering ever more of the world. Overlooked? A skeptic may well question the statement, given how often the topic makes news and how divisive the news can be. After all, Arizona’s campaign against illegal immigrants, codified in an April law, set off high-decibel debates from Melbourne to Madrid. But migration also shapes the landscape beneath the seemingly unrelated events of the headlines. It is a story-behind-the-story, a complicating tide, in issues as diverse as school bond fights and efforts to isolate Iran. (Seeking allies in Latin America this month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had to emphasize the dangers of a nuclear-armed Tehran while fending off complaints about the Arizona law.)

Curtis Prendergast also writes for The Sonoran Chronicle.

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A home-made ladder hooked over the border fence, Calexico, 2006.

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