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Border roundup: 1070 in effect, corruption in Mexico

The controversial "papers please" provision of SB 1070 went into effect over the past week, bringing with it more protests and legal battles, while Mexican officials continue to deal with cartels and corruption.

Laws and politics

The Arizona Department of Transportation confirmed to The Arizona Republic that undocumented immigrants will not be issued driver's licenses even if they get work permits under President Barack Obama's deferred-action program. The decision follows an August 15 executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer instructing state agencies not to issue driver's licenses or public benefits to any undocumented immigrants.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard and denied a preliminary request to block SB 1070's Section 2B, the "papers please" provision which went into effect this week and which requires police to check immigration status when they suspect that someone is illegally in the country. High school and college students protested at Sheriff Arpaio's office to coincide with the provision's activation, telling Cronkite News that their goal is to register voters for the upcoming election. The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that the provision must be in effect before its effect on civil rights can be evaluated. The appeal process will move forward, as will the state's appeal of an injunction against another provision making it "unlawful to transport or harbor individuals suspected of being in the country illegally." 

In what may be one of the first cases to test Section 2B, family members of three men stopped by Phoenix Police on Sept. 18 say that racial profiling played a role in stopping the men, who were transferred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody after refusing to answer questions about their immigration status.

Illinois Rep. Luis Guitierrez told The Hill that he believes if Mitt Romney is defeated and President Obama is reelected, the role of Latino voters in the results would force Republicans to compromise on comprehensive immigration reform plans.

Across the border

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged that as much as 90 percent of the pollution in Nogales, Ariz,. comes from its sister city across the border after reviewing three years of air quality and emissions data. Because Nogales exceeds federal air pollution standards, the state is required to submit a report on past, present and future efforts to meet these standards and some of those efforts may include paving dirt roads and speeding border crossings to reduce the amount of time that cars are idling in the area.

Mexican federal forces captured drug lord Ivan Velazquez Caballero, also known as El Taliban and Z-50, and also arrested 35 police officers in Veracruz. All the suspects in both arrests are believed to have ties to the drug cartel known as Los Zetas which, along with having a reputation as one of the more violent cartels, may be undergoing a brutal internal power struggle.

Meanwhile in a move likely made possible by corruption, 132 inmates are believed to have walked out the door of their prison in Piedras Negras, near the Texas border. The jailbreak may be the second-biggest Mexico has ever experienced, as well as the twenty-third mass prison break since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and launched a war on organized crime including drug cartels. The Piedras Negras prison was ranked the worst in the country in a recent Human Rights report.

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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