Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Diana Washington Valdez


Criminals Add to City's Problems, Ferriz Says

EL PASO -- Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said Tuesday that dumping
thousands of U.S.-jailed criminals from Mexico in his violence-torn
city worsens an already bad situation.

He said the U.S. government empties its jails and deports 7,000
criminals each year to Juarez.

"They need to be sent to Mexico City and distributed back to their
communities," Ferriz said Tuesday at the Border Security Conference at
the University of Texas at El Paso.

He also defended the use of Mexican soldiers to help civilian law
enforcement crack down on drug dealers and other organized criminals.

He said the rise in crimes such as bank robberies, ATM thefts, store
robberies and vehicle thefts showed that Joint Operation Chihuahua has
managed to hurt the drug dealers' cash flow. Drug dealers are turning
to other crimes to make up for the loss in drug proceeds.

Juarez officials said Mexican soldiers are expected to end their
patrols when a new 1,400-member city police force hits the streets
next month, four months ahead of schedule.

"The army had said it would not help with police patrols until the
police force was cleaned up," Ferriz said.

Getting rid of corruption meant firing 300 police officers, and
training recruits to replace them and others who retired early or
failed to show up for the confidence exams others had failed.

About 5,000 soldiers are taking part in Joint Operation Chihuahua in
Juarez as part of Mexico's national war against the drug cartels. The
joint force includes city, state and federal police and the military.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the conference's
keynote speaker, said she is aware the Mexican government is concerned
about the U.S. deportations, which technically are removals.

"We are not going to stop deporting people, let me be clear on that,"
Napolitano said during a news conference at UTEP. "But as to where and
when we deport people, we may make some adjustments to that."

Richard Rocha, spokes man for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in
Washington, said ICE removed 85,425 criminal aliens to Mexico during
fiscal year 2008, which ended Sept. 30.

Of those, ICE removed 6,844 through its El Paso field office. Rocha
did not have an exact breakdown, but speculated that most of the 6,844
people were from Mexico and the rest from other countries. "Criminal
aliens are removed through various of our field offices, not just El
Paso," Rocha said.

Panelists at the conference discussed other issues,

Ferriz and other speakers -- including U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.;
author and UTEP Professor Kathleen Staudt; and Rodger Garner, the
Mexico mission director for the U.S. Agency for International
Development -- recommended investing more into Mexico's socio-economic
infrastructure to increase employment, reduce violence and improve
quality of life.

The Agency for International Development's budget for Mexico for
fiscal year 2008 was $23 million, mostly for health, educational and
judicial reform programs, Garner said.

Other speakers said most U.S. assistance for Mexico was going to
military and law enforcement training and hardware, such as the $1.5
billion Merida Initiative.

Filner said the U.S. government poured millions dollars after World
War II into rebuilding Japan and Germany, which became economic
powerhouses. "Why not help the economy of a friendly nation (Mexico)
and use spending to create jobs?" he asked.

Ferriz said Juarez erred when it invested too much into the 30-year
maquiladora industry's infrastructure and not enough into
strengthening the city's social fabric.

Staudt said a typical salary in Mexican border cities was $4.50 a day,
which fell to $3.70 a day after the recession kicked in.

"We need trade policies that allow people to earn living wages in
their own countries," she said.

About 700 people attended the conference, which ended Tuesday.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake