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Border roundup: Immigration and other news in the borderlands

Linda Valdez started a three piece series for The Arizona Republic on Arizona's humanitarian volunteers who walk the desert looking for border crossers who need medical help to prevent deaths. Especially in summer, volunteers, hunters and law enforcement regularly recover remains of border crossers who die trying to cross the desert on foot, including a skull recovered this week near Ruby Road.

Across the border

Mexican federal police arrested another suspect in the December 2010 death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Five men have been charged in the shooting which has also been part of an ongoing investigation into whether federal operations like Fast and Furious let guns be smuggled across the border where the weapons often ended up in cartel hands.

The Mexican navy reportedly captured one of the two top leaders of the Gulf cartel in another early September arrest while American child actor and recovering addict John Whitaker  apologized to Mexican mothers for his role as a consumer in the drug trade. Days later 16 bodies showing signs of torture were dumped in Guerrero.

This week at an event in Peoria, Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said that the U.S. needs to expand its partnerships to avoid being replaced by China as a world superpower and CNN's Ravi Agrawal reported that Mexico currently has the 14th largest economy in the world.

Laws & politics

Efforts to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 federal law "central to the nation's efforts to combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking," have deadlocked over "special visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults and who also assist in investigations or prosecutions." Law enforcement and victims advocates say that the visas increase community safety by encouraging victims to report crimes and want to increase the number available since this is the third consecutive year that the annual 10,000 limit has been reached early.

Meanwhile the "show me your papers" provision of Arizona's SB 1070 that requires law enforcement to validate immigrants' legal status has survived a federal court challenge brought by civil rights groups who say they'll continue to contest the law and demonstrators on both sides of immigration issues, including undocumented supporters of the DREAM Actflocked to Tampa and Charlotte for the national conventions. Pollsters who found that 1 out of 3 Americans believe most Hispanics are undocumented say that widespread exposure to negative stereotypes helps create inaccurate perceptions; estimates put the real percentage of Hispanics who don't have documents at about 18 percent.

This week, the Associated Press reported that in three weeks the government has received roughly 72,000 applications "from young illegal immigrants seeking to avoid deportation and get a work permit" and already begun to approve some of them. The New York Times reports that "friends, siblings and spouses who for years shared the same precarious status find themselves on opposite sides of a divide" as other applicants find out they will not be eligible for the program. With illegal border crossings are at a 40-year low, Homeland Security data published in September show that for 2012 immigration enforcement officials may match 2011's "record numbers" of illegal immigrants that were detained and deported

Youth, family and education

The Maricopa Community Colleges stated this week that they will accept work permits as proof of legal residency in Arizona as they are already on the state approved list of documents accepted by the Arizona Board of Regents, a move that paves the way for work permit holders to get in-state tuition rates. The move comes as separate decisions in New Jersey and Florida have also reduced residency issues faced by immigrants and U.S. born children of immigrants to get instate tuition rates and as Hispanic university and college enrollment rates are increasing.

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U.S.-born children of immigrants also face challenges when one or both parents face deportation and many underage citizens face losing their primary caregivers, advocates and lawmakers say. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "one in five people deported last year — more than 93,000 in all — were parents of U.S. citizens" and when the children are still minors they face difficult choices, sometimes choosing for their children between foster care or relocation to countries where they don't have documents or speak the language.

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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