Posts Tagged border
SAN DIEGO – The Border Patrol needs your help to track down 12 men wanted here in the United States.
A billboard was posted Tuesday in Tecate showing men wanted in ongoing investigations. The Border Patrol wants these pictures out to the public. The same sign is expected to be posted in San Ysidro on Wednesday.
“I think it’s good because if those guys are here in town, we must see them, we can call,” said Montallano, who travels regularly across the border. He walks back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico border in Tecate nearly every day. On Tuesday he noticed this billboard for the first time, featuring photos of 12 different men all wanted by the Border Patrol…
TIJUANA – For decades, hundreds of people known as pepenadores have earned a living in Tijuana’s oldest municipal dump, picking through tons of trash for recyclable goods.
Now most of the trash is going directly to a newer dump at the city’s eastern perimeter, putting the pepenadores’ future in question, for better or worse.
City officials say the work puts the scavengers’ lives and health at risk, and it won’t be allowed at the new dump.
But some residents worry they won’t be able to find other jobs. The work carries a certain stigma, and many who do it never completed their education.
Guillermo Torres Robles, who has worked for 17 years at the dump, pools his earnings with those of other family members, including his wife and two of their three children.
Last summer, the family earned about $30 a day selling material it salvaged from metal parts, plastic containers, cardboard boxes, spoiling food and other debris, he said.
“Now, some days we make maybe 50 pesos (about $5) between all of us,” Torres said. “Some days we don’t make anything.”
Andrés Puentes Meléndres, director of public services for the city of Tijuana, said the number of pepenadores has dropped from 900 to a couple hundred.
Among those abandoning the work was Torres’ brother-in-law, who recently left the older dump near the Fausto González neighborhood after three decades to become a security guard.
The pepenadores were part of a vast political and economic structure that grew around the profitability of trash in Mexico, but they are slowly disappearing as Mexican dump managers modernize their operations.
Tijuana, a city of at least 1.2 million, produces 2,300 tons of trash a day. About 1,400 of that is collected by the city and an additional 900 tons is collected by Grupo Ecologico del Norte, a private company that manages both dump sites, according to Puentes.
For 35 years the city’s trash went to the Fausto González-area dump, Puentes said.
When the new dump opened in 2003, the distribution of the trash was split between the two facilities as the workers held protests to try and protect their source of income.
In February, the older dump stopped processing trash. It has been a holding site for some of the city’s garbage before being taken to the newer dump.
Most trash is now taken directly to the newer dump, where there are plans to build a factory to separate the recyclables. The amount of city-collected trash taken to the older dump site has declined from 850 tons a day to 100 tons a day, Puentes said.
By the end of the year, the older dump will close entirely, said dump manager Antonio González Flores.
Although the newer dump isn’t supposed to allow pepenadores, some believe workers could pressure the city and dump managers to let them commute to the newer dump, said David Lynch, director of San Ysidro-based Responsibility, a nonprofit organization that runs a kindergarten and computer classes for children of families who work at the trash dump.
With less trash to pick now, workers with basic reading skills are looking for jobs in factories where wages can be about the same as picking trash. If the remaining pepenadores can’t find work at the new dump, they will probably move to other trash dumps in Mexico, said Felipe Quiroz, a teacher at the kindergarten who used to work at the dump.
As the pepenadores face new challenges, Lynch’s group remains committed to the residents of Fausto González, funneling donations toward rebuilding the community’s schools.
“Our idea of educating the people is to get them out of the dump, so maybe this is more of a little bit of a push in the right direction,” Lynch said.
SignOn San Diego’s Yvette De La Garza contributed to this report.
San Diego Union Tribune: ATF, ICE catch heat on gunrunning – Report faults agencies for lack of coordination
A Government Accountability Office report yesterday criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for not working together to stop the flow of guns into Mexico.
In testimony prepared for a House subcommittee hearing, the GAO noted that the two agencies only recently stepped up their coordination with each other and with their Mexican counterparts to stop gunrunning along the border.
Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the subcommittee, said there should have been an anti-gunrunning strategy in place since October 2007, when the United States and Mexico agreed to the joint cartel-fighting Merida Initiative. The Merida Initiative aims to help Mexico acquire equipment for the drug battle and improve its police and judicial institutions.
Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the firearms flowing illegally from the United States into Mexico have made the drug cartels’ jobs easier.
Michael Hoffman, spokesman for the ATF’s Los Angeles field division, which includes the California-Mexico border, said: “We are working on a daily basis with ICE. . . . Not only do we conduct joint investigations, but we share intelligence.”
Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for ICE in San Diego, referred questions about the report to Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington. She said the ATF and ICE have been working together to combat smuggling and violence through the Border Security Task Force.
ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the two agencies pride themselves “on the strength of our relationships with law enforcement partners at every level and throughout the country.”
The GAO report released yesterday cited several examples of miscommunication between ICE and the ATF. The ATF did not tell ICE about a covert operation in which ATF agents delivered weapons across the border in an attempt to ferret out the Mexican organizations receiving illegal arms, the report said.
During another operation, an ICE agent unknowingly kept covert watch on the activities of an undercover ATF agent investigating a suspected trafficker, the report said.
WASHINGTON – A proposal to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to counter drug trafficking has triggered a bureaucratic standoff between the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security over the military’s role in domestic affairs, officials in both departments said.
The debate has engaged a pair of powerful personalities – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Defense Secretary Robert Gates – in what their subordinates describe as a turf fight over who should direct and pay for the use of troops to assist in the fight against Mexican cartels.
At issue is a proposal to send 1,500 additional troops to the border to analyze intelligence and provide air support and technical assistance to border agencies. The governors of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico made the request in January, drawing support from Napolitano but prompting objections from the Pentagon, where officials argue that it could lead to a permanent, expanded mission for the military.
President Barack Obama has signaled that he is open to the idea, asking Congress for $250 million to deploy the National Guard while also saying he was “not interested in militarizing the border.” The issue, which has been stalled before a National Security Council committee, will be decided by the president.
Neither Napolitano nor Gates has made the disagreement personal, although some of their aides have privately expressed exasperation at what one called an interagency “food fight.”
“It should not be that we always rely on the Department of Defense to fulfill some need,” said Gen. Victor Renuart Jr., head of the U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for defending the continental United States.
Border law enforcement agencies should have adequate funds to do their job, Renuart said. If the Guard is tapped, it should be for capabilities “that do not exist elsewhere in government,” he said. “When we send the National Guard, they go with specific missions, with specific purposes. And we put some duration on that so there is an end state.”
Homeland Security officials and governors counter that there is a legitimate need for troops to back up border agencies against the most serious threat to the Southwest and that a deployment would not represent a new military mission. Under a 1989 law, the National Guard already assigns 577 soldiers to help states with anti-drug programs that “can easily expand,” the four governors wrote Congress in April.
Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona prompted President George W. Bush to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, has supported the governors.
The debate goes to the heart of the military’s role, which has expanded since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, with an increasing commitment of troops and resources to homeland defense, particularly to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe. The deployment of new troops to the border would represent a mission the military has not traditionally embraced.
“What we’re seeing here is a move toward reframing where defense begins and ends,” said Bert Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership.
The fight is largely over money. For the past two years, Pentagon budget officials have tried to slash funding for state drug-fighting operations, citing the financial strain of waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And military officials say governors could pay for their own Guard units. But governors contend that securing the border is a federal responsibility and that Washington should cover the cost.
WASHIGNTON POST MEXICO BLOG: Features articles, photos and video content.
MEXICO CITY — The amount of money sent home in April by Mexicans working in the United States fell by almost one-fifth compared with a year earlier, the central bank said Monday, marking the largest decline since the authorities began keeping track of such transfers.
Remittances, as the transfers are known, have been sliding since the end of 2007, when the construction industry in the United States began its sharp decline. Many Mexicans who had found work in building and landscaping during the boom years quickly lost their jobs. Then, as the overall United States economy fell into a recession, Mexicans in other industries, including restaurants and manufacturing, also lost their jobs.
But the pace of decline in the money transfers gathered speed this year, falling 8.7 percent over the first four months compared with the same period last year, the central bank, the Bank of Mexico, reported. Migrants sent $1.8 billion in April, 18.7 percent less than in April 2008.
There is no single explanation for the sharper drop in April, said Eliseo Díaz González, an economist who studies remittances at the College of the Northern Border outside Tijuana.
Migrants have either lost their jobs or taken jobs with lower pay. At the same time, without good prospects of finding work in the United States, many Mexicans have decided not to risk crossing the border illegally.
“We are seeing the aggravation of all these trends,” Mr. Díaz said. “With opportunities for employment in the United States shutting off, we cannot continue to export labor to the United States anymore. The prize for migrating no longer exists.”
Philip Martin, an expert on migration at the University of California, Davis, said it was too early to say if the sharp drop would be repeated in the statistics for May. “It’s going to be down in 2009,” he said, “but the question is how much.”
Along with the big jump in unemployment in construction and the decline in new arrivals — who tend to send more money — Mr. Martin said a possible factor in the newly released figures was that some illegal immigrants might have paid taxes in April in the hope of an eventual amnesty.
Last year, remittances fell 3.6 percent compared with the previous year, to $25 billion. In a recent report, the Bank of Mexico said Mexicans in the United States were disproportionately employed in sectors of the economy, like construction, that had declined the fastest. In addition, a crackdown on illegal immigration, both along the border and in the workplace, has made it harder for Mexicans to find jobs.
Although remittances are one of Mexico’s largest single sources of foreign exchange, their effect is concentrated in particular states and regions. Remittances have helped to reduce poverty in those areas, but that could be reversed if the steep decline continues, Mr. Díaz said.
April was a particularly difficult month for the Mexican economy. Another source of foreign exchange, the tourism industry, was devastated in April by the outbreak of swine flu.
TIJUANA, Mexico — On a recent weekday morning, Mexican soldiers carrying automatic weapons stood in a thin line along a vehicle checkpoint at the busy border crossing from this Baja California city into Otay Mesa, Calif.
While the military presence partly reflects the highly publicized drug violence in Tijuana and other Mexican border cities, it is commerce and the development of commercial real estate that has become a chief focus for business interests in the southernmost area of California.
In the last year, economic development officials and local elected leaders in San Diego County, Baja cities in Mexico and the sprawling Imperial Valley about 90 miles to the east have used a grant of $220,000 of government and private seed money for an initiative aimed at turning this area into a global powerhouse for commercial growth.
The idea is that a concerted effort will produce more manufacturing in Mexico, more research and development in San Diego and more alternative energy in Imperial County.
The area is formally known as the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region, covering roughly 27,000 square miles. Late last month, Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Mayor Jorge Ramos of Tijuana and economic development leaders from both sides of the border announced a marketing effort that, so far, is aiming to attract companies from China and the Pacific Rim.
Central to the effort is a planned new border crossing, which may be completed as early as 2012, about two miles from the current Otay Mesa port of entry. To be known as Otay Mesa East, it is expected to become the most technologically advanced crossing in the region, with waits for commercial truck traffic of 20 minutes or less, compared with the current three or four hours.
Christina Luhn, director of the Cali Baja initiative for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, was at the border recently to meet representatives of Kyocera Mexicana in Tijuana, a unit of the Japanese company Kyocera, which manufactures solar panels and other clean-tech products that are shipped into the United States through Otay Mesa.
Dr. Luhn says she is hopeful that new cooperation between Mexico and the United States under the Obama administration will help to bring the drug cartels to heel and ease the task of convincing global companies that the region is right for them as a gateway to United States markets. “I tend to be more optimistic about this than I was even six months ago,” Dr. Luhn said.
John V. Bragg, vice president of Kearny Real Estate in the city of Otay Mesa, is also hopeful that development will help address problems that include an aging industrial base, the underuse of strategically located land, and environmental challenges.
His optimism is more than theoretical, he said. His company recently purchased 311 acres of land in the United States near where the new Otay Mesa East crossing is expected to be built.
Besides constructing the new crossing, which is now the subject of environmental impact studies, the California transportation department is preparing to build state highways to accommodate increased truck freight, Mr. Bragg noted.
That will give rise, he said, to the construction of several million square feet of warehousing and distribution facilities to handle goods made with low-cost labor in Mexico. In turn, retail stores and hotels are expected to be built nearby, as happened near the current Otay Mesa crossing.
“What we want to see now, as a developer and land owner, is infrastructure so that people can move better,” Mr. Bragg said. “We want to see the two countries get together to improve the border crossing and to build then whatever is appropriate.” He added that Kearny hoped to build two million to three million square feet of logistics-related facilities on its newly acquired property.
Mr. Bragg conceded that vacancy rates for existing warehouses in Otay Mesa were 17 to 20 percent, but he said that occupancy would increase as the transportation services are improved and more modern technology was introduced.
Ninety minutes to the east, just over the border from Calexico, Calif., at Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, infrastructure is already in place for the new 10,000-acre Silicon Border Science Park. Silicon Border announced last year that Q-Cells of Germany, a leading maker of solar panels, would build a new manufacturing facility there.
Mike Oliver, executive vice president for business development at Silicon Border, said Phase 1 infrastructure like roads, sewers, water treatment and recycling, lighting and fiber optic cables had been completed, with “tens of millions in initial financing from ING Clarion,” a division of ING, the Dutch bank. “By the time we are finished, we will have had investment of hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We have room for about two dozen Q-Cells type facilities.”
Other new commercial developments are also on the drawing board in Calexico, said Danny Fitzgerald, director of the city’s enterprise zone. Projects under way include Calexico Mega Park, a 157-acre mixed-use retail, business and residential development by Westmount Properties; Calexico 111 Center, with more than 65 acres of commercial and 58 acres of industrial development; and Los Legos, some 500 acres that will include residential and commercial components.
Tim Kelley, president of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, said cooperative work between his organization, the San Diego County Economic Development Corporation and the city of Mexicali on the Silicon Border development helped the Cali Baja initiative.
Despite the economy, Mr. Kelley said, “we’re getting more expressions of interest than we have ever gotten before. The phone is ringing constantly.”
MEXICO’S economy has suffered a series of blows in recent months — drug violence, swine flu and the worldwide economic downturn. Yet some companies on each side of the border with the United States are prospering because they serve the expanding Mexican-American market in the United States.
A new economy is emerging that builds on the economic relationship between the countries. Exports and imports between Mexico and the United States have grown rapidly in the last decade, to close to $400 billion annually. And now trade is taking on new complexity, with operations in Southern California sometimes serving as Mexico’s link to the global economy.
Viz Cattle Corporation, for example, the American division of Mexico’s SuKarne Global, handles exports of Mexican beef to Japan and South Korea, through contracts made in Compton, Calif. The beef originates in SuKarne’s home base in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico. “Japanese and Korean executives buy here, and they go to inspect the ranches in Mexico, too,” said Jesus Tarriba, manager of Viz Cattle’s warehouse operation in Compton, in southeast Los Angeles County. “Last year we sold $40 million of beef to Japan and Korea and $80 million here in the U.S.”
Viz Cattle has grown rapidly, from less than $10 million in revenue five years ago to $120 million in 2008. And it is doing well this year despite the downturn, Mr. Tarriba said. Its main business is importing beef from Mexico for American restaurants and retailers. “We specialize in smaller cuts of rib-eye and strip steaks because Mexican ranches slaughter livestock at younger ages than American ranches,” Mr. Tarriba said. “Restaurants like those cuts.”
Viz Cattle and other food companies on the border have also capitalized on the expanding Latino population across the United States and the changing tastes of the public.
“Chipotle was unknown here five years ago,” Marcelo Sada, president of Source Logistics Center Corporation, said of the smoked jalapeño pepper in many Mexican foods and sauces. Mr. Sada’s company, based in Montebello, Calif., imports bakery and soft drink products from Mexico.
Martinez Brands/Tequila Holdings Inc., from Pasadena, Calif., has also been a beneficiary of the growing American taste for Mexican products. “Tequila is the fastest growing liquor variety in the United States for the last seven years,” said Javier Martinez, president of Martinez Brands. “And why? Because young Americans vacation in Mexico and associate tequila with fun, freedom and friendship.”
Business is good as well, for Inter-Con Security Systems, a company also based in Pasadena, that protects State Department installations in the United States and abroad as well as private businesses, hospitals and sports arenas, said Carlo Gobelli, who leads Mexican operations. “Security is in very great demand, to guard executives and company operations and also shipments of goods,” Mr. Gobelli said..
Inter-Con employs 6,500 people in Mexico; the company has 30,000 employees over all. “A new concern here,” Mr. Gobelli said, “is that we are getting demands to protect pharmaceutical laboratories against theft of key ingredients that drug gangs can use.”
Still, some companies are seeing a more mixed picture. ICS Group Inc. of Rolling Hills Estates, in southwest Los Angeles County, represents Carlisle Companies’ roofing and building products in Mexico and Latin America. “Right now, American companies are holding back from investing in Mexico and are not sending their personnel because of dangers from the drug wars,” said Mark Aston, the president of ICS.
But he credited business in the Caribbean with helping the company’s annual revenues grow to an estimated $15 million this year from $300,000 in 2004. “Mexican business people and investors are confident that when this recession ends, Mexico will do well again,” he said.
Mr. Gobelli and other Mexican executives generally agreed that the economy’s overall outlook was positive. “The businessmen say, ‘This crisis did not start here in Mexico’ as have so many crises in the past. It started in the U.S. and the world,” Mr. Gobelli said. “Therefore, they say, when the U.S. and the world recover, Mexico will too.”
Meanwhile, the slow American economy and moves to control illegal immigration with increased border patrols and raids on domestic job sites have reduced migration from Mexico. So remittances to families in Mexico from people working in the United States have declined sharply in the last year. But the Latino population in the United States has grown as a result of children born to immigrants in recent decades. That Latino population is 45 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
This has led to more online commerce with Mexico and other shifts in the marketplace, said Hector Orci, co-founder of La Agencia de Orci, an advertising agency in Los Angeles. “For example, Liverpool department stores in Mexico sell online to people here and the goods can be delivered to their mother living in Mexico,” Mr. Orci said.
Spanish-language media is also shifting to more use of English language commercials and programs, he said. So Mr. Orci is building a new division of his agency, called One Plus Two, for the population that speaks English but enjoys Spanish language programming like telenovelas from Mexico.
“Online use is very high among Latinos, maybe 20 million people using broadband Internet,” said Michele Ruiz, a former television anchorwoman who started the Saber Hacer (to know, to do) Web site in 2007. The site offers advice to Latinos on such subjects as parenting, personal finance, health and medicine and college preparation.
Ms. Ruiz said she had raised $700,000 to start the Web site and investors have now put in “several million more.” The site has close to 200,000 visitors, Ms. Ruiz said, and she is looking to private equity funds and other investors to raise an additional $5 million.
She wants to expand the Web site’s reach and content, which includes presentations in English or Spanish on the importance of annual mammograms, on how to write résumés and apply for positions and how to talk to your doctor or your children about sex. “We understand the culture and how people think,” she said.
JIUTEPEC, Mexico (Reuters) —President Felipe Calderón warned governments on Monday not to let the economic crisis derail efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking at a meeting of representatives of the world’s biggest economies on how to tackle climate change, Mr. Calderón said the world was running out of time to take serious action to address global warming.
“The finger-pointing has gone on for more than a decade without humanity taking a single step forward in the fight against climate change,” Mr. Calderón said at the meeting, which was held in the town of Jiutepec in a picturesque valley near Mexico City.
He said the global recession could make talks over emission goals even more complicated. “If it is hard in boom times to agree to steps that have an economic cost, it will be even harder during a recession,” he said.
World leaders are expected to sign a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen in December that will introduce binding emissions targets for fast-growing developing nations, but rich and poor countries disagree on how far to cut emissions.
Mr. Calderón said that failure to reach an agreement would produce a deterioration of the environment that would cost nations more than if they spent now to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“Climate change will cost Mexico more than 6 percent of our gross domestic product, which is many times more than we are investing in the fight against climate change,” he said.
Emissions need to be reduced by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided, according to the United Nations’ Climate Panel.
China, India and other developing countries are calling on industrialized nations to agree to deep cuts of 40 percent or more in their emissions of greenhouse gases, saying that rich countries need to take climate change more seriously before they ask developing and poor nations to shoulder some of the burden.
Mar 19th 2009 | MEXICO CITY
Mexico retaliates against American congressmen who want closed borders
IN JANUARY Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, became the only foreign leader to meet Barack Obama between his election and his inauguration. Their long lunch was a success. Mr Obama said afterwards that he would be “ready on day one to build a stronger relationship with Mexico.” According to one Mexican official present at the talks, the visitors felt reassured that Mr Obama would resist protectionist pressures and that the criticisms of the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) he had expressed during the campaign could be dealt with in a trilateral review, involving all three North American countries, that would seek to improve the agreement rather than unpick it.
Just two months later, the honeymoon has soured somewhat. Mr Calderón has taken to lambasting American officials for allowing the illegal drug trade between the two countries to flourish, and to criticising the American media’s coverage of Mexico’s drug-related violence. Now a provision inserted into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed into law by Mr Obama has scrapped a pilot programme that allowed a small number of Mexican trucking companies to carry cargoes north of the border—as NAFTA requires.
Mexico’s response was swift. On March 18th it imposed tariffs of up to 45% on 90 American agricultural and industrial imports, ranging from strawberries and wine to cordless telephones. The list was carefully chosen to avoid pushing up prices of staples in Mexico while hitting goods that are important exports for a range of American states. That way, it could have maximum political effect north of the border.
Since NAFTA was signed in 1992, trade between Mexico and the United States has boomed. But the issue of road transport has turned into a political battle. Around two-thirds of cross-border trade goes by road. Transport companies from each country were supposed to be able to operate freely in the others by 2000. The Teamsters union, whose members include American truck drivers, has fought a long and largely successful rearguard action against this provision. It argues that Mexican trucks are unsafe and polluting and their drivers insufficiently trained.
An American court rejected these arguments. So did a NAFTA dispute-settlement panel, which ruled in 2001 that the United States was violating the agreement and gave Mexico the right to impose retaliatory tariffs. Mexico chose not to do so, to give the United States a chance to honour its commitment. The Bush administration tried, but was thwarted when Congress approved a measure setting 22 new safety standards for Mexican trucks.
To try to break this stalemate in 2007 the Bush administration set up the pilot programme, under which trucks from 100 transport firms in each country were allowed to cross the border. Opponents in Congress slipped a provision delaying this into an unrelated bill. This was hailed by James P. Hoffa (son of Jimmy), the Teamsters’ president, as a victory in “the battle to keep our borders closed”. But the pilot scheme eventually went ahead.
The Teamsters’ safety argument looks spurious. Mexican transport firms have invested in new trucks and trained their drivers to meet the safety requirements under the pilot scheme. A study commissioned by America’s Department of Transportation, which tracked Mexican trucks operating north of the border in the first year of the programme, found that these trucks clocked up far fewer safety violations than their American counterparts.
The Teamsters’ victory means that most Mexican goods going north will continue to have to be unloaded at the border, reloaded for the short hop across it, then loaded again onto an American truck. This amounts to what Mexicans call a “trucking tax”. And since the short-haul lorries tend to be older gas-guzzlers, it is environmentally unfriendly, points out Barbara Kotschwar, a trade specialist at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. No such restrictions apply to Canadian lorries.
Mexico had the right to impose bigger tariff rises. Its government hopes the dispute can still be settled. The American administration said it would try to come up with a new scheme to meet the “legitimate” concerns of Congress. That will be a job for Ron Kirk, confirmed this week by the Senate as United States Trade Representative. But Mr Obama’s early capitulation to a transparently protectionist lobby sets a worrying precedent. On March 25th Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, will visit Mexico, dispatched by Mr Obama originally to discuss security issues. Her task will now also be to reassure America’s second-biggest trade partner that her country honours its commitments. Perhaps Mexican officials should invite her to make the return journey by truck.