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Roundup: Cross-border agreements, new immigration bills in the works

Cross-border

U.S. and Mexican officials are one significant step closer to updating a 1994 treaty for sharing water from the Colorado River, a project that involves officials from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as well as representatives of Mexico. The update would address water allocation issues during years of drought and years of surplus and includes calls for the U.S. to release water when needed for the river's delta, south of the border, and for Mexico to be able to store water in Lake Mead.

A new agreement will let certain cargo trucks from Mexico bypass long lines at U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry by going through inspections by American officials further south, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, announced at the the NAFTA20 conference in San Antonio. When announced and implemented, the initiative, along with planned new ports of entry, may ease gridlock that slows the more than $1.2 billion in daily trade between the two countries.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spent a day with Nogales, Sonora, Mayor Ramon Guzman Muñoz, touring the Mexican city in which eight Fortune 500 companies now have operations and discussing how the two cities can work together.

Politics and policy

A bill scheduled to be heard in the House next week would "expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S." Named the STEM Jobs Act Bill for science, technology engineering and mathematics, the bill would reduce visas for less-educated foreigners to offset the increased STEM visas - a measure that led to its first defeat in September.

The bill is back in the spotlight after a presidential election that has many Republicans debating how to address Hispanic voters with with some wanting to soften their stances on immigration and others maintaining hard line positions, according to The Economist. One anti-immigration activist told CBS News that "an amnesty bill would split the Republican Party."

Law enforcement

Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón stated that "market mechanisms" are the way for countries with drug users to combat organized crime since "ending the consumption and the trafficking of illegal drugs is “impossible.”' Calderón's presidency has been dominated by his battle against Mexico's violent drug cartels.

"Nowhere in the readable parts is rock-throwing mentioned," National Public Radio said of a redacted copy of the Customs and Border Protection's Use of Force Manual they obtained while covering the Department of Homeland Security's investigation into Border Patrol's policy on use of force. The investigation comes after 18 Mexican citizens have been killed by Border Patrol agents, eight in incidents involving rock-throwing including the October death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez in Nogales, Sonora.

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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Rebekah Zemansky

Security cameras over look the location where a Nogales, Sonora teenager was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired through the border fence at rock throwers in October.

Border Patrol Activity

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

Friday, Nov. 16
Willcox Station agents arrested a 23-year-old male U.S. citizen from a commercial shuttle at the Highway 80 checkpoint after discovering 4.6 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $2,300)

Saturday, Nov. 17
Willcox Station agents, alerted by a canine agent, arrested a 20-year-old female U.S. citizen at the Highway 80 checkpoint after discovering 8.4 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $4,200) in her 4-year-old daughter's backpack (the child was turned over to family members)

Sunday, Nov. 18
Ajo Station agents with a CBP Air and Marine helicopter crew recovered 1,830 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $915,000) from an abandoned SUV near Guvo

Coming up: Tuesday, Nov. 27

Ajo Station will officially open new facilities including "nearly 54,000 square feet of administrative and detention space to accommodate approximately 500 agents and mission support personnel."

Sources