Category Archives: Mexico Border

‘Fence Sitter’ Martha McSally has got to stand for somethin’

Rep. Martha McSally’s short political career has been most notable for her gravity-defying fence sitting, trying to maintain her perch on the fence having it both ways without ever taking a principled stand on anything. She literally stands for nothing.

It’s long past time for you to get off the fence, Martha: “You’ve Got To Stand For Somethin’, or you’re going to fall for anything” (John Mellencamp).


The Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller writes today, McSally’s tentative Trump support galvanizes Dems:

Whichever way U.S. Rep. Martha McSally turns, there’s a trap.

If she supports President Trump’s initiatives, that galvanizes the already-energized Democrats and potentially puts her seat at risk in 2018. If she rejects Trump, she turns off the 44 percent of the Congressional District 2 electorate who voted for Trump, the base of McSally’s GOP.

It’s a trap she’s long tried to avoid in the southeast Arizona district that has gone to both Democratic and Republican candidates. On Aug. 31, the day candidate Trump visited the Mexican president and gave a dark anti-immigration speech in Phoenix, she declined to say whom she would vote for in the presidential election, saying “My vote is between me and God and the ballot box.”

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Economic uncertainty on the Arizona border

According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, Arizona’s exports to world markets totaled $22.7 billion in 2015. The Phoenix region accounted for $13.8 billion of the total, the Tucson area provided $2.5 billion. The number of exporting Arizona firms was 7,566, their export efforts supported 101,579 jobs in the state. At $9.1 billion, Mexico was Arizona’s largest export destination. Though September 2016, Arizona’s exports to Mexico stood at $6.3 billion, somewhat lower than the $7.0 billion recorded for the same period in 2015. Given the growing uncertainty generated by President Trump’s Mexican policy, Arizona’s 2017 exports to Mexico are not expected to set any records for growth.

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Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)

Lettuce in Yuma

Here we can see miles of fields of Romaine lettuce with crews of migrant workers in the distance. In the foreground are 1000s of discarded outer Romaine lettuce leaves. Workers severely trim lettuce heads down, so they can be sold as “Romaine hearts”. The leaves will be plowed back into the ground for nutrients, but still, the waste was surprise to someone like me who heard “waste not want not” many times while growing up.

During our Yuma Legislative Tour in December, we saw miles and miles of lettuce, cotton, broccoli, seed crops, and more. We got muddy and trudged around the Romaine lettuce fields with migrant workers, and we also toured a cotton gin. (More photos are here on my Facebook page.)

After our first day of touring Yuma’s agricultural areas, we heard multiple presentations at a hosted dinner paid for by different growing/ranching industry groups and served up by 4H and JTED youth. The presentation by Paul Brierley, director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, stuck out in my mind. He talked about using engineering technology to help growers in the Yuma area. According to the UA website, “The [Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture], based in Yuma, is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the college and the Arizona and California desert agriculture industry, dedicated to addressing ‘on-the-ground’ industry needs through collaboration and research.” The website continues on to say: “More than two dozen industry partners from Yuma and Salinas, California, have invested in the center, together committing more than $1.1 million over the next three years.”

Brierley is an affable engineer who grew up on a large farm. According to Bierley, the primary problem that industry partners wanted the PPP center to tackle was “productivity”. He talked about different ways to boost productivity by using technology. For example, Brierley said that the date palms needed help with pollination. He showed a photo of a migrant worker pollinating date trees using a machine that looked like a leaf blower strapped on his back. This human-assisted pollination worked, but to improve productivity, the UA and Yuma growers began experimenting with drones. They found that drones to be more efficient pollinators than people. Technology to the rescue: mechanical birds. (For some jobs, this is the future: people being replaced by machines.)

Another problem area that had been identified as a hindrance to productivity was birds.

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Arizona-Mexico border happenings

Mr. Trump’s recent visit to Mexico was immediately followed by the harsh speech on immigration he made in Phoenix. The two political events have generated a wave of resentment in Mexico, the Mexican public views the visit as a humiliation. A recent poll revealed that 85% of Mexicans considered thetrump-mex-v invitation and visit to be a mistake, a very bad idea. As a consequence, Mexico’s finance minister, an economist educated at MIT, has quit the government. The Mexican president’s decision to host Trump backfired badly, creating a major political problem for his administration. If the purpose of the Trump trip was to display the candidate’s savvy diplomatic skills during a visit to a foreign country, it flopped badly.

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Tie vote in SCOTUS leaves stay order of President Obama’s DACA and DAPA immigration orders in place during litigation

ImmigrantsThe “Dreamers” (DACA eligible) and their s (DAPA eligible) have been waiting for years and living with doubt and uncertainty as to whether they will be allowed to stay in the U.S., or will eventually be deported.

In the most anticipated case of the term, U.S. v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court today delivered an anti-climactic per curiam opinion because the Court is tied 4-4. Opinion.  The Court effectively told DACA and DAPA eligible immigrants that they must continue to wait, perhaps for years, while this case works its way through the lower courts back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Screenshot from 2016-06-23 10:45:03

The decision to allow the nationwide stay order of U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen to remain in place, upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, would have been the same were Justice Antonin Scalia still on the court, but a 5-4 decision.

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The trends along Arizona’s border are mixed

The American economy is expected by optimists to grow 2% during 2016 while to the south, Mexico’s economy is projected to grow 2.4%. During the firstAZ Mex Trade quarter of 2016, Arizona’s exporters shipped merchandise valued at $2.04 billion to Mexico. This amount is below the $2.40 billion that went to Mexico during the first quarter of 2015. If the export pace set in the first quarter holds for the entire year of 2016, Arizona’s exports to Mexico will fall far short of the $9.16 billion shipped in 2015.

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