PALOMINAS BORDER NEWS
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These pages will attempt to keep up to date
with the ever changing events along our local border, and issues raised by local
residents. For the information of all residents, it will also post
reported incidents, suspected or confirmed UDA crimes and any reliable
information garnered from the U.S. Border Patrol officers or other law
From the newsletter for Winter 2001:
On Dec. 1, the 24th day of the American controversy, an event took place which was more important for Mexico than the 1876 election was for the U.S., and maybe more important than the 2000 election was for the U.S. (as things turned out). Vicente Fox Quesada became the first opposition person ever to become president of Mexico, without having to overthrow the government in power first. Alvaro Obregon and Francisco Madero were the last two opposition figures to lead Mexico, at the beginning and end of the Mexican Revolution. Both had to overthrow the people already in charge first. Diaz in 1877 overthrew the people there, before getting 'elected' every 4 years, to keep ruling Mexico for 33 years. Even Benito Juarez, Mexico's biggest national hero besides Miguel Hidalgo, did not become the elected president of Mexico until he overthrew the people already in power, in 1858 after a 3-year civil war. The inauguration of Fox was reported little in newspapers and magazines, and on the Internet, outside Mexico.
Fox will have an impact on Mexico and the border during his 6 years in office, but there are so many problems there and here that not everything can be solved, now or by the end of his term. That was clearly shown when a Border Patrol van went northward by here, just over an hour after Fox took office on the morning of Dec. 1. Fox has already done some things that may help along the border, but not for at least the next few months. The first article will be on Fox, and how the border may be now that he is president of Mexico, and Bush will be president of the United States starting January 20. Such is the purpose of this newsletter.
After 71 years of the PRI, Fox and the PAN run Mexico now.
It was about 11:15 in the morning of Friday, December 1, Vicente Fox had just finished his first speech as president, to a joint session of Mexico's Congress of the Union. The first vehicle of the day went by my place, headed north. It was a Border Patrol van.
More illegal crossers had been picked up, maybe where Rough Rider Rd meets the border about 1 1/4 miles from me. I did not see how many there were, but I knew a large number had been caught. The Border Patrol does its routine checks of the area in Ford Explorers. It only sends vans here, when more that 3 or 4 crossers have been stopped, too many for an Explorer to hold. Fox is the first person not from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to run Mexico since 1929, when it was founded by the survivors of the Mexican Revolution. He and those from the National Action Party (PAN) now in the executive have much to do to fix the economy in their 6 years in charge, so Mexicans can stay home and work rather than make the long journey to the border. Here, they hope to make a lot of money for a few months, and hope not to share much with coyotes and bandits, as they go both north and south.
Vicente Fox Quesada is the grandson of an Irishman and his wife from Spain who came to Mexico in 1913. In their initial 2 years near Leon, about 250 miles northwest of Mexico City, they survived both Alvaro Obregon and Pancho Villa, who fought the biggest battles of the Mexican Revolution around them. By 1941, the ranch with its cattle, chickens, and ostriches had become successful enough so that Fox's mother could afford to go to Mexico City and give birth to him there. Fox is very tall - about 6 feet, 6 1/4 inches in height.
After graduating from the Jesuit Inter-American Autonomous University in Mexico City, Fox got an M.B.A. at Harvard near Boston in 1965. He was president of Coca-Cola de Mexico from 1975 to 1979. In 1991, he represented his area in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Mexico's Congress. In 1994, he became governor of Leon's state of Guanajuato, after the winner of the first election there was thrown out because the election was too fraudulent even for the PRI.
Already, Fox has visited the border crossings at Nogales, and at Tijuana and Reynosa. Tijuana is in Baja California across from San Diego, and Reynosa is in Tamaulipas, across the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo in Mexico) from McAllen, Texas. One of the problems crossers have faced when they go back after working north of the border is that Mexican customs officials may do anything possible to help themselves to part of the money the crossers made on the other side. Officially, this practice was supposed to end in 1988 with the "paisano" program. In 1990, border stations put in the fiscal signal, so only 1 out of every 10 non-suspicious crossers were checked closely. The fiscal signal is set to work at random. The benefit to me as an American tourist was that my suitcases were not opened at the border in my trip in late 1990.
Still, tourists and returnees faced being hustled if they were unlucky enough to have the fiscal signal be red for them, or if they had anything to declare, either at the border or an interior customs checkpoint. The hustling has been particularly bad around Christmas, when many persons, both legally and illegally in the United States, return to Mexico. In Nogales on Dec. 7, Fox asked both persons working at the border and returnees if there were any problems. If returnees are no longer hustled at the border, they may feel good enough to believe the government's statements about how things will be better at home, to want to stay there. On the other hand, they may see improved border checking in Mexico as one less obstacle, if they are still deciding whether to go back north in spring. We will know in a few months, maybe as soon as March or even February, which is the case.
Often, the biggest losers in Mexican elections have taken refuge in the United States, and brought a lot of money with them. Formerly, these were usually from the PAN or other opponents of the PRI. Fox has said that nobody under the level of cabinet undersecretary will be removed from government posts. However, the policy of previous administrations has been to run out possible political opponents, even within the ruling party, as soon as they are able even if it takes several months. On Dec. 28, a day before it adjourned, the Chamber of Deputies voted to make 6 billion pesos (about $670 million) available as one-time payments to "retirees". If Fox and others in PAN feel like taking revenge for what the PRI did to them in the past, this is a lot of money for the PRI leaders to have with them, wherever they end up going.
Since Bush from a more conservative party became president of the United States instead of Gore, and the PRI is more liberal than the PAN in Mexico, most of the political exiles from Mexico will associate with the Democrats, who will soon be out of control of the executive branch of the U.S. for at least 4 years, and out of control of Congress for at least 2. Many will get to know the local leaders of Mexican and other Spanish-speaking neighborhoods in the U.S., most of which are Democratic. Mexican exiles will now make their money, and their expertise, available to help Democrats get control over Republicans as soon as possible again. The last elections in both demonstrated that politics in the U.S. and Mexico have become more like each other in the last few years. It should be even easier for Mexican exiles to associate with Democrats now than Republicans before, if that is what they as individuals choose to do.
Fox advocates freer, almost open border crossing, as many local politicians in the United States now do. As the just-resigned governor of Texas, George W. Bush may have some of the same ideas. Fox did not win by a landslide in Mexico, and Bush definitely did not in the U.S. Bush is a rancher, as well as Fox. This will make for a lot of chitchat, as it probably did when they first met in October. They may both say things, but in reality, there is little they will be able to do. Fox did not survive PRI rule by taking it on all the time personally. Politics will prevent Bush from getting much done along the border on the American side. The only hope for the border is that the general philosophies of Fox and Bush will be good influences for those who get to decide what to do along the border for years to come."
Arrests of illegal entrants on Arizona border fall sharply
DOUGLAS - Arrests of illegal entrants have dropped all along the southwestern United States' border with Mexico, especially in Arizona and the nation's one-time leader, Douglas.
The U.S. Border Patrol said that arrests so far this month are 40 percent below those of a year ago throughout the Tucson sector, which covers all of Arizona's border except the corner near Yuma.
For the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, the Arizona arrest figures are off 23 percent compared with a year ago, and in the Douglas-Naco corridor - the top area for such arrests for months - the figures are 40 percent below last year's.
In fact, authorities say, arrests have dropped off from San
Diego to El Paso to Del Rio, Texas.
Augmenting both the human and technological forces arrayed against people smugglers accounts for some of the reduction, immigration officials say.
Warnings about the danger of attempting to cross the Arizona and Southern California deserts are seen as another factor, along with extremely wet weather in Texas. So are harbingers of a U.S. economic slump.
But what may be the biggest factor, some say, are changes in Mexico's political and economic climate that may be encouraging optimism and a wait-and-see attitude.
Francisco Cruz Meza, who heads Mexico's task force for migrant protection, is among those who say the "Fox factor" may be underestimated.
Cruz Meza told the Star he believes Mexicans are optimistic things may improve under Vicente Fox, their first president from the opposition party in 71 years, and that Mexico's relationship with the United States will warm as well.
"There are high hopes in the new administration, and in the upcoming meeting between our two presidents next month," Cruz Meza said. "One of the themes will certainly be immigration and people are very hopeful of a new direction."
Perhaps indicative of such changing direction is a recent developing move by some Texas congressmen toward a new worker entry policy, something some Arizonans have recommended for some time.
Leopoldo Santos Ramirez, a teacher and researcher on U.S.-Mexico relations at Hermosillo's Colegio de Sonora, said it's too early to know whether the apparent change is real "but there are high expectations."
One student of the situation, Demetrios Papademetriou, believes the best explanation may be that far fewer people returned to Mexico for the holidays, so there were far fewer now to return to the United States.
Papademetriou, co-director for international migration policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C., think tank, also believes optimism in new presidents is a big factor.
"I really think there is some hope that these two guys, Fox and (U.S. President) Bush, are going to change some things," Papademetriou said. "Simply talking about a change in the status quo can have its own reward."
Douglas Mayor Ray Borane, one of those who has urged re-establishing some form of a bracero program, said the apparent success in reducing illegal entry is only a shell game.
Beefing up forces at one point merely pushes the illegal immigration problem from one part of the border to another, he said.
Borane noted that the heavy traffic shifted from El Paso and Tijuana to Douglas, then from Douglas to Naco and Sasabe. He also said he isn't convinced the five-year migrant flow actually is slowing at Douglas.
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