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Border Roundup: SB 1070 suit not on racial profiling

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Border Roundup: SB 1070 suit not on racial profiling

Border Governors Conference canceled

  • A helicopter patrols the U.S.-Mexico border near Campo, Calif., 2007.
    qbac07/FlickrA helicopter patrols the U.S.-Mexico border near Campo, Calif., 2007.

SB 1070 update

The legal argument of the federal lawsuit against SB 1070 does not focus on racial profiling, reported the New York Times:

In the public outcry that followed passage of Arizona’s new immigration law, President Obama and other critics worried that it would lead to racial profiling. But while that concern has dominated the public debate and inspired a round of boycotts of the state, it played little role in the actual legal challenge the administration filed Tuesday against the law.

The word profiling appears only once, in passing, in the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the law, which allows the police to demand legal papers from those its officers think might be illegal immigrants.

Instead, the lawsuit focuses on the supremacy of federal law over state law:

Dennis Burke, the United States attorney here [Phoenix], said in an interview that focusing the case on “pre-emption,” the legal doctrine based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause that elevates federal law over states’, was the surest route to suspending the law before it goes into effect July 29. The federal government has successfully used the pre-emption argument in several cases, but this would be the biggest test in an immigration case.

“The supremacy clause and a pre-emption argument require no waiting for the law to be actually in implementation,” Mr. Burke said. “It doesn’t allow the defense to say, ‘They are in here too early, judge, this should be allowed to play out for a while.’ “

The federal lawsuit also focuses on practical problems with enforcing SB 1070, reported the Washington Post:

Beyond the legal prose, the government tries to make a practical argument: that the Arizona law would unduly burden federal agencies charged with immigration enforcement. With Arizona referring so many illegal immigrants for deportation, the lawsuit says, federal officials would lose focus on top-priority targets such as immigrants involved in terrorism or other crimes.

The suit also claims that the law would burden local law enforcement officials, three of whom provided declarations in support of the challenge. "To require local police to act as immigration agents . . . is not realistic," wrote Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor.

The federal lawsuit is only the most recent to be brought against SB 1070. The Arizona Republic explained the legal context for the federal lawsuit.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that the federal lawsuit challenging SB 1070 has spurred contributions to Arizona's legal defense fund of the law:

Retirees and other residents from all over the country were among those who donated nearly $500,000 to help Arizona defend its immigration enforcement law, with most chipping in $100 or less, according to an analysis of documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The donations, 88 percent of which came from through the defense fund's website, surged this week after the federal government sued Tuesday to challenge the law. A document from Gov. Jan Brewer's office showed that 7,008 of the 9,057 online contributions submitted by Thursday morning were made in the days following the government's filing.

In Arizona, Nogales police officers are being trained to enforce SB 1070, reported the Nogales International:

As rights advocates cling to hope of a last-minute judicial intervention, law enforcement officials are gearing up to enforce Arizona’s new immigration law when it takes effect July 29.

Nogales Police Chief Jeffrey Kirkham and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Antonio Estrada say although enforcing the law will strain their budgets, they are moving ahead with training, which they plan to make mandatory.

Kirkham said he will require his officers to attend hands-on training sessions held this month by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST).

The new law continues to raise tensions among politicians in Arizona, as Democrats trade shots over SB 1070, reported the Arizona Daily Star:

In the latest rift to open up among Democrats over the immigration issue, Attorney General Terry Goddard is asking Congressman Raúl Grijalva to withdraw his support for an economic boycott.

In a letter to the Congressman, who called for a limited boycott to put pressure on state leaders to retract the new immigration law, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate noted unemployment still hovers at 9.6 percent.

“You have told the media that you would like to change minds here in Arizona through a boycott,” Goddard wrote in the letter. “From what I have seen, the Governor and the Legislature don't seem to care about Arizona's economic life blood. A boycott would only hurt Arizona.”


“By indicating I’m the sole person responsible, kind of leaves the legislative leadership and the governor off the hook,” he said, adding those opposed to the legislation would have sought other venues anyway. And, he added, he's not the one who's hurting tourism by claiming "everyone coming here is a dope fiend or that this state is festering with crime and violence" — a reference to recent assertions by Gov. Jan Brewer that most illegal immigrants are running drugs.

More analysis and the text of Goddard's letter is available at

"I hope Gov. Brewer got a similar letter asking her to tone down her vicious comments. I understand why Mr. Goddard sent this letter, but I’m not the source of his problems," Grijalva responded in a statement released to the press.

In an effort to apply pressure to the state government of Arizona, some sectors of Sonora have boycotted the state. This has led to a 40 percent drop in purchases in some areas of southern Arizona, reported El Universal:

With regard to the economic impact, Camberos Castro indicated that it is estimated that Sonorans make purchases in Arizona valued at $2.8 billion, which is the equivalent to 97 percent of the total purchases realized by those that visit that state of the American Union, meaning that the effects of maintaining a commercial boycott against that entity could be an act of positive pressure that could lead to the loss of more than 30,000 jobs in that region.

Local border news

El Regional de Sonora reported the names of some of those killed in a recent gunfight in Tubutama, Sonora that left 21 people dead.

The Nogales International reported that "unidentified assailants" shot an undocumented immigrant as he walked through southern Arizona:

An undocumented immigrant was shot in the back by unidentified assailants as he was walking through a canyon area west of Rio Rico last Friday, officials said.

 Jose Enedion Acosta-Amaniego, 28, from Culiacan, Sinaloa suffered a non-life threatening wound from a shotgun round and was treated at Carondolet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.


Sheriff's Office spokesman Raoul Rodriguez said Acosta-Amaniego told deputies that he was walking with ten other undocumented immigrants in a canyon west of Exit 22 on Interstate 19 when at around 8 p.m. Friday "they were accosted by an unknown number of assailants who started shooting at the group.”

A man from Wilcox, Ariz. tried to stab a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer as he returned to the United States, reported the Douglas Dispatch.

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever urged the Obama administration to focus on securing the border before comprehensive immigration reform, reported the Dispatch:

The main thrust of the administration, as it should have been for all previous administrations, should be first ensuring the border is secured, Dever said. The issue facing the nation in the immigration realm is somewhat similar to the oil leaking in the Gulf of Mexico, he said. “Like the leak in the Gulf, before you try to clean it up, you got to plug up the hole,” Dever said.  Until the border is secured, illegal immigrants and drugs will flow into the U.S., endangering residents, he said.


Dever said for the president to say things are better now because fewer illegal immigrants are being apprehended means Obama, or his aides, have no sense of what is happening. Using statistics to bolster their views comes from desperation to prove there is some success, the sheriff said. They use the figures “for political advantage” without living the real rural border experience in Arizona and other areas along the border, he said.

Although there are more U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the southern border, Dever said he has been told by some that they are being held back from doing their jobs by upper managers, and to the sheriff, that only means the numbers are skewed in favor of statistical success.

In addition to the people that pass through the border in Nogales, Ariz., this port of entry is also where much of the vegetables eaten in the United States enter the country. In order to deal with the huge volume of vegetables, another port of entry will be opened in 2014, which could lead to more jobs in the city, reported the Nogales International:

The new president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says that even with current customs staffing levels, the 2014 planned opening of the Mariposa Port of Entry could boost local produce jobs by 10 percent to 20 percent. If the ports are adequately staffed, he says, the impact on local jobs could be considerably greater.


So far this year, almost half – 48 percent – of the vegetables entering the United States through Mexico came through Nogales. When the new, 12-lane Mariposa port opens and that number increases, CBP officers “will have more than they know what to do with,” Jungmeyer said.

As Jungmeyer indicated, the large number of vegetables that need to be inspected as they cross the border will put more pressure on customs officials.  Some interested parties are lobbying Congress to send more U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to ports of entry in the Southwest, reported the International:

Port leaders and produce industry advocates in Nogales say they are putting a full-court press on U.S. senators in hopes they’ll pass a House-approved plan to put 500 new Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S ports of entry on the Southwest border.

 The House approved a war-funding bill late Thursday that also earmarked $700 million for border security, including $136 million for 500 CBP positions and $208.4 million to hire 1,200 new Border Patrol agents.


J.B. Manson, chair of the Greater Nogales-Santa Cruz County Port Authority, called the increased allotment for CBP “great news.”


“It was a great thing for Nogales,” Manson said of the House proposal, “and hopefully out of those 500 (CBP officers), we get 400.”

No Border Governors Conference this year?

The Arizona Republic reported that the annual Border Governor's Conference has been canceled this year:

Gov. Jan Brewer has canceled a long-standing annual conference between the governors of U.S. border states and their counterparts in Mexico, saying the move was unavoidable after the Mexican governors refused to attend because of Arizona's tough new immigration law.


The conference includes 10 governors, including those from Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas, as well as the Mexican states of Baja, Chihuahua, Sonora and Nuevo Leon, among others. Its location rotates depending on the year.

The New York Times reported that Gov. Brewer canceled the meeting after receiving a letter from the Mexican governors saying that they would not attend the meeting in Arizona in protest of SB 1070:

The Mexican governors had written that they would not step foot in Arizona because they considered the law, which Ms. Brewer signed in April and continues to promote, to be “based on ethnic and cultural prejudice contrary to fundamental rights.”


Their position is in line with that of President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, who has denounced the law on several occasions as a recipe for singling out Mexican citizens, lawfully in the United States or not, for harassment. It also coincides with a boycott announced by major civil rights groups in the United States and several cities and towns.

As a result of Gov. Brewer's cancellation, other governors are proposing that the conference proceed in a different location, reported the Arizona Daily Star:

A fight is developing over the unilateral decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to cancel next month's meeting of 10 border governors, which had been scheduled for Arizona.

The governors of two other U.S. states said they want the annual meeting to go on, but not in Arizona. Aides to both Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Bill Richardson said the conferences are too important to be disrupted by political fallout from Arizona's new law aimed at illegal immigrants.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said through a press aide that he would be willing to attend a relocated border governors conference.

National immigration news

Smugglers from Mexico are heading out to sea to avoid detection on land, reported the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. authorities foiled two maritime smuggling attempts Tuesday morning along the northern San Diego County coast, including one at a training facility at the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.


Mexican smuggling groups are increasingly trying to bring in illegal immigrants by sea, and several recent incidents suggest they are aiming to come ashore at beaches farther and farther north of the border.

The New York Times reported that Mexican immigrants are becoming a part of Belmont, a neighborhood in New York city more commonly known as Little Italy:

Today, the accents of Spanish predominate. Mexicans have become a mainstay, toiling in the shops along Arthur Avenue and filling the apartments around the neighborhood’s edge. And in just the last few years, some have opened their own businesses, from restaurants to shops selling clothing, DVDs, Mexican Western wear and soccer equipment.


Mr. Franz, the business leader, who once owned a restaurant and a cigar shop, said he hoped Mexican leaders would emerge to help steer the area’s development. “We’re really trying to incorporate everyone as a neighborhood,” he said.

But he has already seen plenty of evidence that Mexicans are putting down roots in Belmont. Four years ago, he said, after Mexico had been eliminated from the World Cup in an earlier round and Italy had won, Mexicans ran down the streets with an Italian flag, cheering, “We won!”

Old-timers took note, and it helped bond the two populations, Mr. Franz said. “I think the way they see it was, ‘Yeah, we’d like to see Mexico win, but if Mexico can’t win, we’d like to see Italy win, because we’re part of Little Italy,’ ” he said. “They’re here to make it their home as we made it our home.”

Floods on the border

The area along the Texas border is being inundated with rain from Hurricane Alex, leading the International Boundary and Water Commission to divert waters from Mexico into the United States, reported the El Paso Times:

The U.S. and Mexico sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission are playing a key role in flood-control operations along the Texas-Mexico border stemming from Hurricane Alex.


Hurricane conditions have led to massive flooding in Monterrey, Mexico, and other regions in the country's northeastern border.

"In accordance with flood operations guidelines of the (IBWC), diversion of floodwaters into the U.S. interior floodway is likely to begin July 7," IBWC officials said.

Curtis Prendergast also writes for The Sonoran Chronicle.

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