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Mexico: Tunnel Wars
   

May 18, 2006: With presidential approval, the United States is increasing its efforts to keep illegal migrants (mostly Mexican, but increasingly non-Mexican) from crossing America's southern borders. Some 6,000 army reservists will assist the border patrol for a year, and new security fences (and other technologies) are being investigated. Much is made of the success of the Israeli security fence. But the major difference is that the Israeli fence is guarded by troops with orders to shoot to kill. Most of the people coming across the Israeli fence are terrorists, while most crossing the U.S. border are looking for jobs. How to stop them? While technology helps, what you really need is more Border Patrol officers. These are difficult to recruit (they must be bi-lingual, and smart and mature enough to handle the job). Currently, only about 1,500 new Border Patrol agents make it through the training course each year. Expanding the training means pulling some of the most experienced agents off the job, to serve as instructors. It will take years to expand the force by 6,000 agents. It's unlikely that laws will be passed making it more difficult for employers to hire illegals. That would require some form of mandatory ID card, which is not politically correct with many on the left and right.

May 17, 2006: PRD (left) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called illegal immigration from Mexico to the US "Mexico's disgrace." He attacked current President Vicente Fox, saying that Fox's policies had weakened Mexico's economy. Lopez Obrador has now fallen behind the PAN (moderate conservative) candidate Felipe Calderon. A poll (dated May 12) gave Calderon 36 percent of the vote and Lopez Obrador 34 percent. In the same poll Roberto Madrazo of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party, the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years) had 26 percent.

May 11, 2006: Left-wing demonstrators outside Mexico City blocked highways into the capital. The protest was supported by Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos. Marcos has resurfaced in Mexican politics. He is supporting the PRD candidate Lopez Obrador. On January 1, 1994, Marcos led a revolt by Mayan Indians in Chiapas.

May 10, 2006: The US is using a new police unit to locate narcotrafficante tunnels along the US border. The Tunnel Task Force is based in San Diego, California. It is a "joint" police force, with personnel from DEA, the Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When authorized, it has also drawn on personnel and assets from US special operations forces. The task force has identified over 40 tunnels running from Mexico into towns in California and Arizona. The unit recently found a long tunnel from Mexico that terminated in a building in Otay Mesa, California. One source reported that the task force's experts have been used to help locate tunnels in Afghanistan. There is a lot of new technology on the market to detect these tunnels. Nearly all of it is Israeli, developed to cope with Palestinian tunnels from Egypt into Gaza, and used to smuggle weapons, drugs and people.