Roundup: Cross-border agreements, new immigration bills in the works
U.S. and Mexican officials are one significant step closer to updating a 1994 treaty for sharing water from the Colorado River, a project that involves officials from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as well as representatives of Mexico. The update would address water allocation issues during years of drought and years of surplus and includes calls for the U.S. to release water when needed for the river's delta, south of the border, and for Mexico to be able to store water in Lake Mead.
A new agreement will let certain cargo trucks from Mexico bypass long lines at U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry by going through inspections by American officials further south, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, announced at the the NAFTA20 conference in San Antonio. When announced and implemented, the initiative, along with planned new ports of entry, may ease gridlock that slows the more than $1.2 billion in daily trade between the two countries.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spent a day with Nogales, Sonora, Mayor Ramon Guzman Muñoz, touring the Mexican city in which eight Fortune 500 companies now have operations and discussing how the two cities can work together.
Politics and policy
A bill scheduled to be heard in the House next week would "expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S." Named the STEM Jobs Act Bill for science, technology engineering and mathematics, the bill would reduce visas for less-educated foreigners to offset the increased STEM visas - a measure that led to its first defeat in September.
The bill is back in the spotlight after a presidential election that has many Republicans debating how to address Hispanic voters with with some wanting to soften their stances on immigration and others maintaining hard line positions, according to The Economist. One anti-immigration activist told CBS News that "an amnesty bill would split the Republican Party."
Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón stated that "market mechanisms" are the way for countries with drug users to combat organized crime since "ending the consumption and the trafficking of illegal drugs is “impossible.”' Calderón's presidency has been dominated by his battle against Mexico's violent drug cartels.
"Nowhere in the readable parts is rock-throwing mentioned," National Public Radio said of a redacted copy of the Customs and Border Protection's Use of Force Manual they obtained while covering the Department of Homeland Security's investigation into Border Patrol's policy on use of force. The investigation comes after 18 Mexican citizens have been killed by Border Patrol agents, eight in incidents involving rock-throwing including the October death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez in Nogales, Sonora.