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Border news roundup

Immigration bill released amid security, economic concerns

Politics and policy

The border must be secure before a path to citizenship that includes immigrants currently in the country illegally can be enacted according to the Gang of Eight's 840-page immigration reform bill filed this week.

The outline addressed "billions more for border security, changes in visa laws, stricter enforcement of laws against hiring illegal immigrants and a pathway to lawful residence in 10 years and, later, citizenship." The bill "defines a secure border as one where 90 percent of the people who cross illegally in a high-risk sector – one where more than 30,000 people cross each year – are caught or turned back." It also included a cut off date for immigrants who entered the country illegally - those who arrived after Dec. 31, 2011 will likely be ineligible for the path to citizenship. The path to citizenship will include "$2,000 in fines as well as some fees to embark on a 13-year path to legal citizenship" - on the condition that the border is secure. Applicants, who would have one year to apply, must also pass criminal records check and can not have voted illegally. The bill will also create opportunities for "both low and high skilled workers" and "will pour billions into new border control methods."

Fronteras Desk designed an infographic to outline the bill's possibilities, including visas, naturalization, citizenship and "registered provisional immigrant" status (PRI) for at the least 11 million people currently living in the U.S. "without proper immigration documents" depending on factors like their residency, work history and criminal background. With hearings expected to begin on April 19, Connor Radnovich and Paul Ingram took a look at what members of the bipartisan Gang of Eight have to say about the bill, including U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Religious leaders "especially evangelicals — say personal encounters with the current system have prompted them to advocate for reform" as they see immigrants contribute to their church growth and their congregations "being detained or deported and the effects of those measures on their families."

One man deported to Tijuana talked to reporters about his fight to take care of his young son back in California and how it relates to the "hundreds, if not thousands, of deported parents...trying to reunite with children left behind in the United States." Meanwhile, U.S. kids who've followed deported parents to Mexico face challenges, including educational, language and culture barriers.

Business and economy

The experience of one farmer and his employees showed how immigrant labor impacts the New York dairy industry, where a reliable labor shortage is hindering expansion or even meeting demand.

With an editorial by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, a group of tech industry leaders launched Fwd.us "to advocate immigraiton reform in the United States" last Thursday. Zuckerberg described his family's immigrant experience plus that of children in his workshops and wrote that today's economy "is based primarily on knowledge and ideas - resources that are renewable and available to everyone."

Far from being finite resources like oil that are "zero-sum and controlled by companies," Zuckerberg continued that "the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be." The organization Fwd.us said they want an increase in visas for skilled workers, a path to citizenship and secure borders. It's membership includes Linked In co-founder Reid Hoffman, John Doerr of the venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners and angel investor Ron Conway and is supported by contributers including Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and other CEOs of big-name firms, such as Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Zynga’s Mark Pincus, Path’s Dave Morin, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky.

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A weekly Sunday protest in Juarez revisited worker issues with past and possible future guest worker programs. Braceros workers said they're fighting for the money they earned decades ago to be released from the Mexican savings accounts which they were required to use and which were expected to be paid out as pensions. Protesters described their past work and their present survival challenges while lawmakers debate whether more guest worker plans will be a part of immigration reform.

One Texas county is looking to adapt its highways and regulations to boost their border economy and protect northbound produce to address how different weight regulations for semi trucks tax trade from Mexico to the U.S. .

The trade relationship between Mexico and China may be shifting from competition to collaboration, as shown by recent developments including trade and oil agreements signed during President Enrique Peña Nieto's visit to President Xi Jinping.

Safety and law enforcement

U.S. Marshals announced the arrest of a suspect in a murder case in Guadalajara, Mexico. Pedro Medina-Castillon, 31, faces two counts of homicide in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County for the July 2012 shooting deaths of Pedro and Maribel Jimenez while their three children looked on.

Fronteras Desk explored - and fact checked - how the legal status of the Boston Marathon suspects tie in to the debate on security and immigration reform.

A review of Mexico's effort to address top level corruption, Operation Cleanup, and what's happeend in cases like those of 25 top level law enforcement official arrests soon after its launch in 2008, revealed collapsing cases like those against former anti-drug czar Noe Ramirez Mandujano and defense ministry general Tomás Ángeles Dauahare, both of whom recently walked free, have collapsed or are in "shambles, yet another example of Mexico's systemic corruption and a weak judiciary unable to fix it."

Concerns grew about vigilante movements in Mexico grow as some patrols join a "radical teachers union that has been wreaking havoc with massive protests, vandalism and violent confrontations with police." One newspaper, Reforma, has identified as many as 27 vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero. The vigilantes face government criticism for taking the law into their own hands but say they fill a void in combating the cartels and spokespersons who announced the alliance with the teacher's union said they share a common cause: fighting injustice.

Climate and environment

Amending the 70-year-old Minute 319 treaty on water rights between Mexico and the U.S. may have major implications for local residents of the Colorado River delta, where inland dolphins are a distant memory in a parched waterway throttled by dams.

The causes behind a record bloom season for Joshua trees are unknown but may include optimal conditions and endangerment from global warming.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the Douglas Port of Entry apprehended a 17-year-old Agua Prieta teenager after a drug dog alerted to his Chrysler van and officers discovered 269 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $134,000).

Border Patrol Activity

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

Saturday 13 April

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port apprehended a 23-year-old Hermosillo, Sonora man, Leonardo Daniel Robles Castro, after officers discovered two packages of counterfeit credit cards (79 total) and a fake driver's licence when he attempted to enter the U.S.

A Casa Grande Station agent near Federal Route 15 spotted a suspicious sedan traveling north and stopped it for questioning. During the vehicle stop, the sedan burst into flames and four suspects attempted to flee the scene. Two were immediately apprehended and a third returned and told agents that there were people locked in the trunk. Agents opened the trunk and discovered one adult and two juveniles, who were suffering from and treated for smoke inhalation. Agents also later apprehended the fourth suspect. All seven people were identified as "Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S." and the driver faces possible prosecution. Tohono O’odham Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire that had also spread into nearby brush.

Sunday 14 April

Yuma Sector agents using night vision equipment south of Gila Bend apprehended five suspects with 209 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $104,500) traveling through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the Douglas Port of Entry apprehended a 17-year-old Agua Prieta teenager after a drug dog alerted to his Chrysler van and officers discovered 269 pounds of marijuana (estimated value $134,000)

Monday 15 April

Yuma Sector agents working near the Granite Mountains on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge apprehended two drug smuggling suspects after tracking footprints to where they were hiding with backpacks with 135 pounds of marijuana

Tuesday 16 April

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port apprehended a 34-year-old Nogales, Sonora man, Cesar Olea Vazquez, after a drug dog alerted to his vehicle and officers discovered stacks of currency ($90,000) under the front seat

A team of Yuma Sector agents using night vision equipment southeast of Gila Bend apprehended seven drug smuggling suspects carrying 296 pounds of marijuana with the help of a CBP Office of Air and Marine helicopter crew, then spotted and apprehended a second group of six smugglers carrying 294 pounds of marijuana for a total of 13 suspects and 590 pounds seized

Yuma Sector agents using night vision equipment southwest of Gila Bend apprehended five drug smuggling suspects with 409 pounds of marijuana after they fled once they realized they'd been seen

Yuma Sector agents near Gila Bend tracked and apprehended five drug smuggling suspects with 409 pounds of marijuana with the help of a canine team

Wednesday 17 April

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the Mariposa Port apprehended a 29-year-old Magdalena, Sonora man, Luis Bernardo Gortari-Contreras, after a drug dog alerted to his Chevy SUV and officers discovered 10 packages of cocaine (estimated value $23,000) inside the vehicle’s headliner

CBP Office of Field Operations officers at the San Luis Port of Entry apprehended a 40-year-old local woman, Norma Bernice Vidal, after a drug dog alerted to her Buick sedan and officers found 13 packages in a side quarter panel of the vehicle (10 containing cocaine, estimated value $231,000, and three containing methamphetamine, estimated value $51,000)


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