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Border Roundup: SB 1070 ruling; drug violence pushing some north

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Border Roundup: SB 1070 ruling; drug violence pushing some north

  • The border wall in Nogales, photographed in 2006.
    detritus/FlickrThe border wall in Nogales, photographed in 2006.

SB 1070 update

A federal judge blocked several provisions of SB 1070. gave details on the ruling:

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday morning preventing sections of the anti-illegal immigration law from taking effect.

Parts of the law that are blocked:

• The section that requires an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally, and the section requiring that anyone arrested have their immigration status verified.

• The section that creates a state crime of failure to apply for or carry "alien-registration papers."

• The section that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit, apply for or perform work (but not the section on day laborers).

• The section that allows for a warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe they have committed a public offense that makes them removable from the United States.


The judge left other sections of SB 1070 intact because they were not challenged by the feds:

• The section requiring Arizona officials to work with the federal government regarding illegal immigration.

• The section allowing suits against agencies, officials and government bodies for adopting policies that restrict the enforcement of federal immigration statutes "to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.'

Although provisions in SB 1070 that would have enhanced the role of local police in enforcing immigration law have been blocked, police still can aid the federal government through section 287(g). In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Lamar Smith, ranking Republican on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee explained the concept of 287(g):

In fact, paragraph 10 of section 287(g) specifically provides for the type of law that Arizona has enacted. It states: "Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an agreement . . . in order for any officer of a State . . . to communicate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security] regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise to cooperate with the [Secretary] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States."

A piece in the Arizona Republic provided context to SB 1070, including the last two decades of U.S. border policy, the political careers of the architects of the law and recent economic cycles.

SB 1070 appeared to strike Washington and the rest of the country like a thunderbolt when Gov. Jan Brewer signed it on April 23. But in Arizona, it was years in the making, just the latest manifestation of an increasing political antagonism toward illegal immigration. It was spurred by a perception that the federal government wasn't taking action on the issue. That frustration likely was exacerbated, some say, by economic anxiety amid the recession and the still-unsolved March 27 slaying of longtime Cochise County cattleman Robert Krentz near the border.

A Phoenix man who shot and killed his Latino neighbor will be prosecuted for hate crimes, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Reporting from Phoenix — Had Arizona's governor not just signed the toughest law against illegal immigrants in the nation, the killing of Juan Varela probably would have been written off as just a tragic neighborhood dispute.

The 44-year-old U.S. citizen was watering chile plants in his front yard when a neighbor confronted him and shot him to death, according to police documents.

Varela's brother, Antonio, told police that the neighbor, Gary Kelley, who is white, called Juan Varela by an ethnic slur and said he had to "go back to Mexico" now that Gov. Jan Brewer had signed SB 1070. The family campaigned to publicize the death, culminating with the county prosecutor's decision last month to add a hate-crime allegation to the second-degree murder charges filed against Kelley.

But Kelley's Latino tenant and neighbors say he displayed no racial animus and had criticized the new law as unfair. Most immigrant rights activists have shied away from the case, skeptical that the killing was racially motivated.

On the border

Wealthy Sonorans fearing the violence of the drug war in northern Mexico are leaving Sonora for Arizona, reported the Nogales International:

Though he’d never been the victim of violence, or even received a credible threat of violence against him, the prominent Nogales, Sonora, businessman felt increasingly uneasy in his hometown. He’d heard of other local businessmen being targeted for extortion or kidnapping, and wondered if he might be next. And with drug-related violence surging to unprecedented levels in the border city, he worried that his children, who frequent local bars and restaurants, would end up “in the wrong restaurant at the wrong time.”

And so “Juan” – he asked that his real name not be published out of fear of retribution – moved his family across the border to an upscale subdivision of Nogales, Ariz. “They hadn’t pinpointed me yet, but I wanted to move before I became a target,” he said.

According to local Realtors, Juan is not alone. An increasing number of upper-middle class Sonorans are investing in Arizona real estate as they seek a safe haven from the violence of Mexico’s drug war.

Also in the International, a phenomenon heading in the other direction, but suffering from the same malady, is tourism to the border. Tourism to Nogales, Sonora has declined in the last few years because of the drug war, but officials say fear of violence in Nogales is "unfounded.":

Pasaje Morelos – Nogales, Sonora’s once bustling strip of curio shops a few feet south of the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry – has all but withered away in the past three years.

Sonora shop owners say the recurrent headlines of spiked violence spooked most tourists. In response, the city launched – and continues – an expensive, full-fledged image spruce-up in hopes of revitalizing the shriveled number of visitors.


The sister city’s shop owners and law enforcement officials call the tourism plunge unfounded, saying Sonora’s now three-year-long spade of violence rarely – if ever – plagues the city-center.

“People can come here with all the security in the world,” said Ana Luisa Sandoval, who owns Don Quixote Curio Shop in the heart of the city’s tourist district. “Here, you’re not going to see bad things; that’s only in the outskirts.”

In light of the economic downturn and budget crises, federal and state grants are paying for local public-safety programs, including  the Border Crimes Unit of the Pima County Sheriff's Department, reported the Arizona Daily Star:

The sheriff's Border Crimes Unit received money from the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission, said Lt. Jeff Palmer, the unit's commander. The unit received $1.3 million in the 2009 fiscal year and $836,000 in 2010, Palmer said. The unit expects to receive about $836,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, in addition to $1.1 million from stimulus money distributed by Gov. Jan Brewer, he said. The Sheriff's Department was expecting about $2.8 million from Brewer.

Palmer's unit is responsible for disrupting the flow of crimes associated with drug smuggling, human trafficking and contraband that crosses the border into Arizona and Mexico, he said. Eighteen deputies are in the unit. Nine officers, including a sergeant, are paid through grants. The money also pays for Palmer's commander position and a civilian analyst, as well as several vehicles and maintenance, and equipment such as night-vision goggles, he said. Although the unit is not in danger of losing any money this year, there's always a possibility of deputies getting pulled from the unit to do patrols, he said. published a report by which said that the car bomb that exploded in Juarez on July 15 was the first of its kind in Mexico:

"The security guards were ordered at gunpoint to open the magazine, and the gunmen made off with a large quantity of Tovex brand explosives and electric detonators," reads a report by the United States Bomb Data Center obtained by GlobalPost. The theft was in February 2009 on a site owned by a Texan company in Mexico. On July 15 this year, the same type of explosives went off in a car in Ciudad Juarez, killing a federal police officer, doctor and civilian. While car bombs have long been used in Iraq and Colombia, this was the first effective use of such a weapon against police in Mexico.

Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border are collaborating to hunt down fugitives that seek refuge across the border, reported the Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Mexicali, Mexico —Jason Harrington, wanted on a battery charge in Alameda County, was caught after a chase across rooftops in the Baja California fishing village of San Felipe. Alleged child molester Father Joseph Briceno of Phoenix was handcuffed amid a crowd of parishioners in Mexicali. Tony "The Big Homie" Rodriguez, a Mexican Mafia boss from Indio, hurled threats after being hauled off a street corner by Mexican police posing as junkyard dealers.

All three fugitives had a similar escape plan: Flee to Baja California and leave their troubles at the border. But they ended up back in U.S. custody, as did hundreds of other fugitives in recent years, after being hunted down by Mexican fugitive-hunting squads.

Three people trying to cross the border into the U.S. were saved from drowning by Border Patrol agents, reported the El Paso Times.  Drug cartels in northern Mexico are "cloning" Border Patrol vehicles, reported El Universal.

National immigration news

The Washington Post broke down the immigration enforcement record of the Obama administration into simple graphs and charts. The New York Times reported that the federal government has created a Web tool to find immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a new study indicates that climate change will lead to greater immigration to the United States:

Climbing temperatures are expected to raise sea levels and increase droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires. Now, scientists are predicting another consequence of climate change: mass migration to the United States. Between 1.4 million and 6.7 million Mexicans could migrate to the U.S. by 2080 as climate change reduces crop yields and agricultural production in Mexico, according to a study published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The number could amount to 10% of the current population of Mexicans ages 15 to 65.

"Assuming that the climate projections are correct, gradually over the next several decades heading toward the end of the century, it becomes one of the more important factors in driving Mexicans across the border, all other things being equal," said study author Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.


Douglas Massey, a sociology professor at Princeton, also agreed that climate change could lead to emigration from Mexico, but much of that will depend on labor demand in the U.S. "Environmental change is not going to produce migrants from Mexico unless there are jobs to go to," he said in an e-mail.

The Washington Post reported that immigrant rights activists are changing their strategy in anticipation of the November elections:

"We are aware that the clock is running out, and there are no guarantees that a Congress that is supportive of immigration reform will be returned in November," said Antonio Gonzales, president of the William C. Velásquez Institute, a Latino public policy group. "We took a deep breath and said, 'Okay, we need a Plan B.' "

That plan centers on lobbying hard for the passage of two bills: AgJobs and the Dream Act. AgJobs is a compromise between farmworker unions and agriculture business groups, which was negotiated more than five years ago and is intended to provide legal farm labor and protect the rights of immigrant workers. The Dream Act would give some undocumented students the ability to apply for permanent residency. Both bills have had Republican support in the past.

International immigration news

The New York Times reported that China is attempting to increase its influence in Tibet through migration and investment. The U.S. State Department placed Guatemala on a list of countries 'under observation' for human trafficking, reported Prensa Libre. A poignant photo essay of the journey of immigrants on their way to the United States was published by Foreign Policy.

Curtis Prendergast also writes for The Sonoran Chronicle.

On the Web

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