Promote Justice for Mexico and the Borderlands

LAWG's Priorities for Policy Towards Mexico and the Borderlands

•    Promote a thoughtful approach to border security that actively engages border communities.  Current border security strategies need an overhaul.  A new approach to the border region should be adopted to ensure just and humane treatment of migrants, in depth consultation with border communities, accountability for law enforcement officials, and protection of borderland wildlife and resources.

•    Embrace immigration reform that recognizes the contributions and aspirations of hard-working individuals and families.  The aggressive tactics of workplace and residential raids along with law enforcement agreements between state and local police have left communities torn apart and neighborhoods in fear.  Create a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals and families and end exploitation and criminalization of undocumented individuals.

•    Encourage Mexico to ensure that human rights are front and center. The United States should collaborate with its southern neighbor to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Mexico, including measures to make certain that human rights violations committed by Mexican security forces are being investigated, prosecuted and sentenced by Mexican judicial authorities

•    Refocus U.S. counternarcotics efforts on more effective and humane approaches:

  • Halt the flow of the “Iron River.”  Many imported firearms are smuggled in bulk from the U.S.  into Mexico where they are used by organized crime, fueling an ever bloodier drug war.
  • “De-militarize” counternarcotics aid:  The use of the military as part of counternarcotics or internal law enforcement efforts has typically been stated as a temporary measure because the police are viewed as weak, corrupt or ineffective.  However, soldiers are not trained for domestic law enforcement and should not take over policing roles, even in cases where, as in Mexico, police are tainted by corruption. Instead, such problems with the police underscore the critical need for substantial police reform and increased accountability, as well as strengthened judicial institutions so they can effectively prosecute organized crime, reduce corruption and impunity.  This is essential to reduce corruption and bring perpetrators of crime to justice. However, any efforts to strengthen police forces must be accompanied by reform to ensure greater accountability for the police.
  • Refocus on drug treatment and prevention programs in the United States: During the Bush administration, we saw a shift of federal funding away from drug treatment and prevention.  Underfunding valuable prevention and treatment programs in the U.S. is short-sighted and undermines the most cost-effective means of weakening the lifeline of drug traffickers – demand. We urge the Obama Administration and 111th Congress to take steps to rebuild these programs.

•    Support rural and alternative development aid:  With approximately 25% of Latin Americans trying to survive on less than $2 a day, it is little wonder that organized crime and drug traffickers find easy prey amongst Latin America’s poor. 

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