Why do border deaths persist when the number of border crossings is falling?

In July, a sweltering tractor trailer ride in Texas became the latest harrowing example of the perils of crossing the U.S. border illegally. From the hospital, one survivor told authorities that he had paid smugglers to get him across the Rio Grande and then cram him on a northbound truck with what he guessed were nearly 100 people. The survivor managed to keep breathing in the pitch black trailer without food or water. But when the doors were opened in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot, eight migrants were dead, their bodies “lying on the floor like meat,” the truck’s driver subsequently said. Another two expired later.

Colonias on the border struggle with decades-old water issues

YUMA, Ariz. – Nestor Alaniz didn’t get a permit to build a well in his mother’s backyard, and he didn’t get it inspected. In fact, he didn’t even know how to dig a well. He learned by watching tutorials on YouTube while his brother, a construction worker, helped him drill the 25-foot-deep hole. They built the well after the old one dried up for the fourth time.

Border agency set to jumpstart Trump’s wall in a Texas wildlife refuge

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin constructing the first segment of President Trump’s border wall in November through a national wildlife refuge, using money it’s already received from Congress. That’s what a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official recently told a nonprofit group that raises money to support two national wildlife refuges in South Texas, according to the group’s vice president. “I was alarmed,” said Jim Chapman of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. “It was not good news.” For the past six months, CBP has been quietly preparing a site to build a nearly 3-mile border barrier through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Texas Observer.

Preserving DACA proves little relief to NM immigrants

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — It’s been more than a week since President Donald Trump said he won’t seek deportation for the young people known as Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children – but not much has changed to give hope to immigrant families in New Mexico. Trump’s decision to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for some 800,000 applicants is a small relief in light of the 11 million undocumented people still subject to deportation. Micah McCoy, communications director with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said he’s seen the immigration enforcement actions increase since then. “Deportations in general have been ramped up quite a bit,” McCoy said. “And that’s having very serious consequences for families here in New Mexico.”

U.S. Supreme Court tosses cross-border shooting case back to lower court

The nation’s highest court on Monday sent a case involving the cross-border shooting death of a Mexican teenager back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration. 

That leaves the question of whether the teen’s family can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired across the Rio Grande and killed him unanswered.  

The case involves the 2010 death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca during what officials called a “rock-throwing incident.” The teen was shot and killed by agent Jesus Mesa Jr., who was patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso. Hernandez Guereca was on the Mexican side of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, when Mesa fatally shot him from the Texas side. 

The teen’s family initially sued the U.S. government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security and Mesa, alleging the teen’s civil rights had been violated. A district judge dismissed the charges because Hernandez was a Mexican national and was on Mexican soil when the shooting occurred. 

An appellate court ruled in 2014 that Mesa could be sued in his individual capacity although the American agencies could not. Then, in April 2015, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mesa, saying he was entitled to immunity because Hernandez was south of the Rio Grande when the shooting happened.  

The teenager’s family appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in October 2016, the high court agreed to consider the case. On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the 5th Circuit, ordering the court to revisit its previous ruling in light of other court decisions that have happened since.  

“The facts alleged in the complaint depict a disturbing incident resulting in a heartbreaking loss of life,” the court wrote.

Trump invites bids to build wall, cites importance of ‘aesthetics’

President Donald Trump built his campaign on the promise of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a month after his inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to begin construction. And last Friday, the department took a step to make sure it will look good. In a little-noticed update, the department now says it wants a wall that will be “nominally 30 feet tall,” and, importantly, that bids will be judged on “aesthetics,” as well. The new language, perhaps coincidental but likely not, appears to be a bureaucratic translation of Trump’s oft-repeated promise to build a “beautiful” wall from 30 to 55 feet high.

NM cities push back against Trump immigration policies

Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week. The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without. In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.

Reported plan to use National Guard to apprehend immigrants included NM

A draft memo from the White House to deploy National Guard troops in certain states to aid in rounding up those in the country illegally. One of those states is New Mexico. At least two spokesmen have denied the report from the Associated Press. The AP first reported on the existence of the draft memo this morning and said that Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wrote the memo himself. From the AP report:
Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

ICE actions take place in Las Cruces, Chaparral

According to immigration rights advocates, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed they conducted immigration actions in New Mexico. Fernando Garcia, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, told NM Political Report his group was able to confirm that some sort of immigration activity took place in Chaparral and Las Cruces. “We don’t know the extent of the activity,” he said in a brief interview. He said it wasn’t clear if this was only targeted actions at certain individuals, or if they were wider raids, as have been reported in other states. In an email, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to confirm the operation to NM Political Report, saying they “will not confirm an operation prior to its completion, nor will ICE speculate on future operational activities.”

NM Political Report had asked Zamarripa to confirm actions in Las Cruces and also for information about any other recent enforcement in New Mexico.

Former ‘Border Czar’ gives real facts about immigration

It’s hard to find anyone in Washington who knows border issues better than Alan Bersin. His unique perspective combines years of frontline law enforcement experience with academic knowledge and intellectual interest in the historical, economic and social forces that are at work at the borders of the United States, especially the U.S.-Mexico line. Bersin became U.S. attorney in San Diego in 1993 and subsequently spent almost five years as President Clinton’s “border czar,” overseeing a border-wide crackdown on illegal immigration and drug smuggling. During the Obama administration, he served in several key posts in the Department of Homeland Security, including as acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the force of 58,000 employees that includes the U.S. Border Patrol as well as CBP officers guarding air, land and sea ports of entry. He later served as assistant secretary for international affairs and chief diplomatic officer at DHS, a job he left last month.