21st Century Border-Weekly Roundup June 16, 2011

On U.S. immigration policy:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had some harsh words to say about current U.S. immigration policy, calling it "national suicide."  He says:

“We will not remain a global superpower if we continue to close our doors to people who want to come here to work hard, start businesses and pursue the American dream,”

An article from Huffington Post here details the reforms that Mayor Bloomberg supports, such as a startup visa provision, a policy that would graduates with advanced degrees in essential fields to obtain green cards, more H1B visas, and immigration reform for agriculture and tourism.  The full text of the speech is here.

It's impossible to talk about immigration issues this past week without mentioning the House Committee on the Judiciary hearing on “E-Verify- Preserving Jobs for American Workers”.  The debate on whether to make it mandatory for all employers, a move that some said would cause about 1 million Americans to lose their jobs and others believe will be a huge step forward in ensuring that job openings only go to legal citizens, was extremely heated.  Video footage of the hearing can be found here.

On the U.S.-Mexico Border:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented a report today outlining recommendations for a 21st century U.S.-Mexico border; namely: focusing on security, facilitating the flow of trade at the border, significantly investing in infrastructure, and pursuing immigration reform.  Some excerpts are below:

...trade facilitation and security should be viewed as mutually conducive. No factor is more fundamental to future investment, economic growth and job creation than security and the rule of law.

Immigration reform could help substantially alleviate the strain on our border, while adding to the economic vitality of our country. History shows an increase in the number of legal immigrants and temporary guest workers means a decrease in illegal immigration.

At a time when tempers are already strained over the flow of weapons and drugs across the border comes the new discovery of over 150 tunnels strewn along the U.S.-Mexico border used to smuggle people and drugs into America.  According to the AFP article some had been operating for as long as two decades and were sophisticated enough to even have internal rail and ventilation systems. According to James Dinkens, a US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official, this discovery is symptomatic of a larger trend:

"Over the past several years, law enforcement has seen a marked increase in the number and sophistication of tunnels," he told a Senate hearing.

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is looking to pass legislation that would elevate the offense of illegal tunnel-making to the level of "conspiracy", calling tunnel-making: "a real serious penetration into the US."

According to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security dozens of U.S. Customs agents have been complicit with Mexican drug cartels, receiving gifts of money or sexual favors in exchange for looking the other way as drugs and people entered the country. The CNN video coverage and article can be found here.

And finally, one thing that you may not have thought about illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border: nearly 200lbs of iguana meat.  Not kidding.  The LA Times story is here.

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