Note: Take a look at this video and then read the piece from
Mcclatchy, which some of us consider a bit suspect as to numbers and
Immigration from Mexico in fast retreat, reports show
Mcclatchy Newspapers | Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:00 am
MEXICO CITY - North of the U.S.-Mexico border, Republican
presidential candidates are talking tough on illegal immigration,
with one proposing - perhaps in jest - an electrified fence to deter
But data from both sides of the border suggest that illegal
immigration from Mexico is already in fast retreat, as U.S. jobs
shortages, tighter border enforcement and the frightening presence of
criminal gangs on the Mexican side dissuade many.
Mexican census figures show that fewer Mexicans are setting out and
many are returning - leaving net migration at close to zero, Mexican
Arrests by the U.S. Border Patrol along the southwestern frontier, a
common gauge of how many people try to cross without papers, tumbled
to 304,755 during the 11 months ending in August, extending a nearly
steady drop since a peak of 1.6 million in 2000.
The scale of the fall has prompted some to suggest that we may be
seeing the end of a decades-long migration boom, even as others argue
that it's just a momentary drop.
"Our country is not experiencing the population loss due to migration
that was seen for nearly 50 years," Rene Zenteno, a deputy interior
secretary for migration matters, has said.
Douglas Massey, an immigration scholar at Princeton University, said
surveys of residents in Mexican migrant towns he has studied for many
years found that the number of people making their first trip north
had dwindled to near zero.
"We are at a new point in the history of migration between Mexico and
the United States," Massey said in a Mexico City news conference in
August hosted by Zenteno.
Experts in Mexico say the trend is primarily economic. Long-standing
back-and-forth migration has been thrown off as the U.S. downturn
dried up jobs - in construction and restaurants, for example - that
once drew legions of Mexican workers.
About 12.5 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States,
slightly more than half without papers, according to the Pew Hispanic
These days, Mexicans in the United States have discouraging words for
loved ones about prospects for work up north.
"What stimulates migration is the need for workers," said Genoveva
Roldan, a scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
"Right now, the migrant networks are functioning to say, 'Don't come
- there's no work.' "
Juan Carlos Calleros, a researcher in Mexico's National Migration
Institute, said the agency's surveys find that a large share of
Mexican migrants coming home on their own or sent back by the Border
Patrol had spent just a month or two on U.S. soil and returned
because they lacked work.
Alongside the bleak jobs picture is a trek that has grown riskier and
expensive because of stepped-up enforcement on the U.S. side, a
crackdown that at the same time has prompted many migrants to stay in
the United States rather than try to cross back and forth. Migrants
also cite an increasingly hostile political climate north of the
border, as expressed in state laws targeting undocumented immigrants.
"It keeps getting harder and harder," said 35-year-old Joel Buzo, who
returned to the central state of Guanajuato after a three-month
search turned up only irregular, poorly paid work tearing up old
railroad tracks in Utah. He lasted six more months before giving up.
On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration issues at
Copyright 2011 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistrib
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/immigration-from-
Deportation focus is now on criminals
by Daniel González - Nov. 18, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The Obama administration has started implementing a controversial new
policy intended to unclog crowded Immigration Courts by focusing only
on cases involving illegal immigrants with criminal records.
On Thursday, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers
nationwide, including those in Arizona, began reviewing all new
immigration cases to identify ones that could essentially be tossed
out because they involve illegal immigrants with no criminal history.
That would allow judges to more quickly process and deport dangerous
illegal immigrants or ones who pose a national-security threat, ICE
officials said in a memo outlining the new policy.
ICE also on Thursday began training immigration prosecutors and
officers on how to apply the policy in the field, giving them more
discretion to decide which cases qualify for consideration to be
halted and which don't.
As of July 31, there were 289,033 immigration cases pending in
Immigration Courts nationwide, according to statistics from the
Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Of those, 11,758 were pending in four Immigration Courts in Arizona,
including 8,996 in the Phoenix court and 1,009 in the Tucson court.
An additional 1,080 cases were pending in the Eloy court and 673 in
the Florence court, the statistics show.
The new policy is based on a memo issued by ICE Director John Morton,
instructing ICE personnel to increase the use of prosecutorial
discretion in cases involving undocumented students who came to this
country at a young age. The June memo also directed that officials
use discretion with cases involving illegal immigrants with no
criminal history who have lived in the United States for years and
have children born in this country.
In August, White House officials further backed the policy and set up
a process for putting it into effect.
The policy means that some low-priority immigration cases will likely
be halted and other cases won't be pursued. That will allow some
illegal immigrants to live in the U.S. indefinitely. Many of them
will be allowed to receive work permits, although they will not have
any sort of legal status. Their deportation cases could be reopened
at any time.
The policy has angered some Republicans, who view it as a de facto
amnesty that circumvents Congress and will lead to illegal immigrants
taking jobs from Americans.
On Dec. 4, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of
Justice will begin reviewing existing Immigration Court cases in
Baltimore and Denver as part of a test program to identify cases
involving immigrants without criminal records that could also be
ended. The goal is to eventually expand the reviews to cases pending
in all Immigration Courts.
David Asser, a Phoenix immigration lawyer, said he has mixed feelings
about the policy.
He said it will prevent some illegal immigrants "who don't deserve to
be deported" from being removed, but the policy will also leave them
in "legal limbo" indefinitely without the ability to legalize their
"I'm not against it, but it could create more problems than it
solves," he said.
A better solution, he said, would have been to make it easier for
illegal immigrants without criminal records to have their deportation
cases canceled if they could prove in court that their deportation
would create undue hardship on U.S. citizen family members.
Currently, the bar for proving hardship is so high, the immigration
cases drag on for years and few immigrants win, he said.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/
Smugglers used phones to guide migrants, officials say
Nov. 17, 2011 02:37 PM
JACUMBA, Calif. -- Eight men have been charged in an unusual sting
that investigators say highlights a new tactic in which immigrant
smugglers never cross the border from Mexico -- and instead use cell
phones from nearby mountaintops to bark out real-time instructions to
their customers as they navigate each step of the desert trek into
The defendants were part of one of the first immigrant smuggling
rings dismantled on the U.S.-Mexico border that exclusively uses cell
phones, employing none of the foot guides commonly employed to lead
groups across the border, said Derek Benner, U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement's special agent in charge of investigations in
San Diego. The arrests took place Tuesday and Wednesday in the Los
As a general rule, smugglers still employ foot guides but cell phones
are turning up more frequently in areas where Mexican mountaintops
afford sweeping views into the United States. Scouts keep customers
on well-traveled paths and away from Border Patrol agents.
U.S. authorities say they have spotted these new coyotes more often
in the last year or so as cell-phone coverage expands to the
country's most forgotten parts and handsets below $50 have become
"Technology is now the guide, as opposed to an individual that's
going to have to try to make it back to Mexico when the Border Patrol
stops them," Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher said in an interview.
As U.S. authorities try to get a handle on how commonly phones are
used and which smuggling rings embrace them, they face new
challenges. They can no longer pump foot guides for valuable
information, like where they walk, where they hide, how they spot
Border Patrol agents and who they work for in Mexico.
It is also more difficult to prosecute smuggling charges because the
guides are safely out of reach, south of the border.
The probe culminating in the federal complaint unsealed Wednesday
began in Jacumba, a hardscrabble hamlet of about 500 people built
around a three-block main street of abandoned businesses, a general
store and an old motel. The town about 75 miles east of San Diego
became a popular corridor for illegal crossings after a 1990s
crackdown in border cities pushed migrants to remote areas.
Until the 2001 terror attacks, residents could easily walk across the
border from Jacume, a poor Mexican town of around the same size. A
fence of closely-spaced bollards erected a few years ago made
crossing illegally more difficult, but migrants use ladders, even in
In April 2010, the Border Patrol began noticing drivers in rented
cars taking migrants from Jacumba (pronounced hah-KOOM-bah) to the
Los Angeles area. They concluded mountaintop scouts in Mexico were
guiding customers to a white farmhouse on Jacumba's outskirts to wait
for drivers, aided by binoculars and phones.
From barren mountaintops, scouts can see several miles and monitor
every step. It is only about 300 yards from a border fence to the
well-kept sprawl of barns and silos. Scouts utter commands on a walk
that takes only minutes, compared to three or four days sometimes
needed for migrants to reach Interstate 8 in parts of California.
"They say run, sit down, hide in that bush, avoid those rocks," said
Daniel Page, ICE assistant special in charge of investigations in San
Drivers who were arrested and prosecuted led ICE and Border Patrol
investigators to cousins in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Ana who
were suspected of contracting with Mexican smugglers to pick up the
migrants once they entered the United States. They identified them as
longtime illegal immigrants from the Mexican state of Michoacan and
targeted the extended family for immigration violations in Southern
Investigators say the cousins have employed legions of drivers --
dozens, at least -- to navigate California highways. Their recruiting
grounds included nightclubs in Santa Ana and Long Beach.
Drivers were high school students, housewives and various down-on-
their-luck Americans. The main job qualification was U.S. citizenship
or legal residency, an effort to draw less scrutiny at Border Patrol
Cell phones spared smugglers the expense of paying a foot guide about
$50 for each migrant they lead across, investigators said.
Migrants paid $5,000 to cross, on the high end of a typical fee for
being led through California mountains. The costs are small -- $100
to $300 for the American driver, $25 to $200 a day for the operator
of a California holding house, plus rental cars and phones. Smuggling
organizations -- one based in Southern California and the other
Mexico -- split the rest.
Foot guides are also being replaced by phones in other remote border
regions, including the Arizona desert and California's Imperial
Valley, where Mexico's Mount Signal gives commanding views, Border
Patrol officials say. Cell phone coyotes have also positioned
themselves on U.S. soil.
Expanding phone coverage carries consequences not only for smugglers.
Border Patrol agents can now communicate with each other more easily.
Humanitarian groups hoping to lower the toll of migrants who die each
year crossing the border have advocated forcefully for more coverage,
saying it offers a lifeline to call 911 for help.
Investigators estimate the Jacumba smuggling ring was crossing about
10 people a week, a fairly small operation that reflects a steep drop
in illegal crossings from Mexico. Border Patrol apprehensions plunged
by more than half since 2005 to the lowest level in decades.
The smugglers based in Mexico remain elusive.
"We get lots of information from the drivers," Page said. "The people
picking them up here have no connection to the south side."
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/