NEWS AND ANALYSIS JULY 25-31, 2011

1 - OBAMA PLAYS POLITICS WITH IMMIGRATION REFORM
2 - POVERTY INCREASES UNDER CALDERON
3 - GOVERNMENT REDUCES SECURITY AID TO CIUDAD JUAREZ

1 - OBAMA PLAYS POLITICS WITH IMMIGRATION REFORM
President Barack Obama addressed the National Council of La Raza on Monday, promising to keep fighting for immigration reform while blaming Republicans for lack of progress.  Apparently in search of votes for his 2012 campaign, Obama contradicted the political advice of his former Chief of Staff and current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, who worked hard on enhanced border control issues but avoided pro-immigrant measures like the plague.  "We have a system that separates families and punishes innocent young people for their parents' actions by denying them the chance to earn an education," lamented Obama.  It's too bad the President hasn't done anything to rectify this deplorable situation.  Obama won 2/3 of the Latino vote in 2008, and hopes that this fast-growing sector of the electorate will help him to victory in 2012.  He promised comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office but didn't deliver.  Last year he even failed to get the Dream Act passed, a measure with fairly broad public support that would have provided a route to citizenship for the children of undocumented workers who came to the US as minors.  Instead, the Obama administration ramped up deportations, part of a strategy to look for easy scapegoats in the context of high unemployment rates and an unprecedented economic crisis.  In the past two years, the administration deported over a million undocumented workers, the majority with no previous criminal records.

In related news, on Wednesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) was arrested outside the White House protesting the lack of political will in the Obama administration around immigrant rights.  Gutierrez and immigrant rights advocates are calling on Obama to use his administrative authority to stop deportations of youth who would be awarded a path to citizenship under the Dream Act and in cases where families would be divided.

2 - POVERTY INCREASES UNDER CALDERON
Between 2008 and 2010, 3.2 million Mexicans fell below the poverty line, according to a report by the National Council for Evaluation of the Politics of Social Development (Coneval), a government agency.  A total of 52 million (46.2%) people live in poverty, with 11.7 million (10.4%) living in extreme poverty.  Indigenous populations fared the worst, with 40.2% living in poverty, while most of the people who fell into poverty over the past two years were urban dwellers.  The measure of poverty is multi-dimensional, including income levels and nutrition, plus access to health care, social security, education, housing and services.  The minimum salary was calculated at 2,114 pesos per month per person, or about US$180.  A person is considered to live in poverty when s/he earns less than this amount and lacks access to three of the above-mentioned social services.  About 28 million Mexicans lack access to sufficient food, an increase of 4.2 million over the past two years, while 57 million earn less than US$180 per month.  President Calderon found a reason for optimism in the dismal report, noting that his "humanist government" prevented even more people from falling below the poverty line.

3 - GOVERNMENT REDUCES SECURITY AID TO CIUDAD JUAREZ
The Interior Secretary suspended federal security aid to Ciudad Juarez on Friday after city officials missed benchmarks for training and certification of police.  City officials already spent US$2.7 million in federal money this year.  The Calderon administration plans to suspend an additional US$5.2 million.  The decision comes amidst a crisis of confidence in which federal police appear to be involved in a turf war with local law enforcement authorities and politicians.  Earlier this week, Federal Police fired on the car of local Secretary of Public Security, Julian Leyzaola Perez, as he tried to enter a prison where an inmate uprising took the lives of 17 prisoners.  Leyzaola complained publicly and bitterly about the attack, and some commentators see the aid cutoff as a tit-for-tat response by federal authorities who are generally unhappy with the performance of Juarez officials in Calderon's "war on drugs."

Meanwhile, two Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) officers, the rough equivalent FBI agents, helped one of Mexico's most wanted criminals escape from a Mexico City hospital where he was recovering from gunshot wounds suffered during his arrest.  When two AFI agents stationed in an adjacent room entered to check in on Hector Guajardo, aka "El Guicho," it appeared that the two AFI officers assigned to Guajardo's room and Guajardo himself had escaped through the open window with an escape rope of bedsheets. Guajardo, a leader of Chapo Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, was arrested May 9 in Mexicali, then transferred to Mexico City for medical treatment and legal processing.  The Sinaloa Cartel has long been considered a protected favorite of the Calderon Administration.  Guzman himself escaped from a federal high security prison under the Fox administration.

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