Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mexican Drug Wars Cross Border to Arizona

The violence of the Mexican drug wars has spilled over the border, shaking Arizona law enforcement and hardening their attitude to undocumented immigrants. The drug cartels have long before had connections to US cities, but the recent crackdown by Mexican authorities has lead them to intensified their networking. Kidnappings, exploitation migrants and even killings are increasing. But the trafficking is not only northward. From the U.S. there's the flood of weapons and cash to furl the wars of Juarez and Tiajuana. Pick up guns, with few restrictions on the caliber, at gun shows in states with a passion for bigger and deadlier "hunting rifles" is ridiculously easy. All that's needed is a "straw purchaser". The weapons find their way south, and soon the drug gang easily outgun the police. Now even gun-loving politicians in borders states are opening up to some restraints. But immigrants sneaking across the border are caught in the middle between the drug lords, who will use them as mules or profit from smuggling them, and hard-line and nativist politicians, who depict them has part of a harden criminal element. (See Arizona Republic or New York Times articles.)

John Morton, a career prosecutor in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, was nominated to head Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During the Bush years he had a hand in formulating immigration enforcement policy. His appointment must be confirmed by the senate, where he'll be quizzed on enforcement policy. But on a more positive note, Homeland Secretary Janel Napolitano has appointed Esther Olivarria to be deputy assistant secretary for policy. She is a more sympathetic voice for immigration reform. (See Washington Post article.)

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