The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) is the oldest and second-largest law firm in the world, with offices throughout the United States and overseas. The JAG Corps provides new attorneys with immediate legal experience, leadership responsibility, and exposure to a wide variety of practice areas. From criminal law to environmental and contract law, new attorneys provide counsel and legal assistance to Soldiers, retirees and their families, legal advice to commanders, and argue before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The Army JAG Corps also hires second-year law students each summer to conduct paid legal internships all over the country and overseas. 3Ls and 2Ls who are interested in applying for the Army JAG Corps Active Duty positions or paid summer internships should click here for application instructions and contact Major LaJohnne White prior to the Conference at email@example.com to schedule an interview during the employment expo at the National Latina/o Law Student Association Conference on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at UCLA School of Law. Good luck to all applicants!
Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category
Instructions to Interview with Army JAG on Oct. 6, at the 16th Annual NLLSA Conference at UCLA School of Law
Students and activists gather during a drug protest against Mexico’s drug violence in Mexico City on February 17. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)
Every day we hear, read, and watch that hundreds of people are dying in Mexico due to the war on drugs. We also hear of complaints regarding the current Mexican administration and its law enforcement. What we don’t hear about in the news is what is causing the chaos and madness that is going on in America’s backyard.
Mexico has been the target of negative publicity, which continues every day whether it is regarding the war on drugs or the United States complaining about the immigration problem. What many people do not understand is that there are two sides to every story.
Prior to 9/11 there were discussion of liberalizing the United States’ immigration policy under the Bush administration, but all discussions ended with 9/11. Once 9/11 happened, the focus of the war on terrorism was directed toward securing the borders, specifically the Mexican border. The focus was to keep terrorists from entering the United States through Canada and Mexico. Little effort has been devoted to the security of the Canadian border, however, despite the fact that just a few years ago at least one terrorist sought to enter the United States from the north.
One of the most disastrous projects was the border fence, which failed and has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. During this time, all the energy and negative publicity was focused on the U.S./Mexico border. Stricter enforcement policies and a dramatic increase in deportations and immigration raids have occurred.
Increased border enforcement on the southern border with Mexico obviously has had, and will continue to have, a disproportionate impact on Mexican citizens. Among other effects, enhanced border enforcement tends to exacerbate the problem of human trafficking of migrants – an industry that has grown substantially over the last decade – from Mexico.
There are false contentions that undocumented immigrants are a burden on American society, but it is the American corporations who exploit undocumented workers and who hire them. Law review articles have discussed that the United States does benefit from undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants purchase items, pay property taxes, have insurance, etc. Their contribution to our economy isn’t a large-scale number, but it is still in the millions.
We all agree that there needs to be some type of immigration reform, but not with the measures that Arizona has taken. Arizona’s stance with immigration is conflicted. The whole point of securing our borders was to prevent terrorists from coming in. As my Immigration Professor at Valparaiso said, Mexicans do not fall from the sky or appear mysteriously at the point of entry. When dealing with immigration it is important to note the intent and the history behind such measures. Arizona has failed to do this and our alienating our neighbors that we benefit from. The United States, specifically the border area, depends on the Mexican trade.
II. Mexico’s War on Drugs
In 2006, President Calderon declared a war on drugs. Since then there have been mass graves, dismembered corpses, and entire towns besieged. Rival gangs have escalated their turf battles over smuggling routes and thousands of lives have been lost. The drug criminals have expanded their shadow by intimidating police forces, using kidnapping and extortion, and trafficking migrants.
A Man digs the grave for a funeral of a Mexican policeman murdered in Juarez by members of a drug cartel (Nadav Neuhaus)
I read an article from the Huffington Post by former NLLSA Chair David Perez titled “Mexico’s Last Stand”, which talked about how Mexico’s time is running out because they are at the end of President Calderon’s term. What was interesting was that the article stated that Mexico cannot back out on the war on drugs. It is now or never. What the article failed to state was what the United States is doing to combat the demand of drugs and the supply of arms to Mexico.
People walk past symbolic chalk outlines during an April 6 march in Cuernavaca called out by poet Javier Sicillia after the death of his son, whose body was found along with six other dead inside a car a week ago in Cuernavaca. Nationwide protests against Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s war on drug cartels that has claimed more than 37,000 lives since late 2006 were planned all over Mexico and in cities as far as Bueno Aires, Paris, New York, and Barcelona. (Margarito Perez/Reuters)
What has been the cause of all this? Drugs. The United States demands them and Mexico supplies them. The same goes with weapons. Mexico receives its weapons from the United States. As long as the demand is there the supply will continue to meet this demand and lives will be lost. Back in March of 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington must do more to stop limit the movement of weapons into Mexico and to address the drug demand. Little has been done, however. Drugs continue to be smuggled in and the problem worsens.
Where is the United Nations and why aren’t they addressing the flagrant human rights violations due to the mass killings and political assassinations in Mexico? Where is the transitional justice? Countries with similar human rights violations such as South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone have received assistance from the United Nations. There are several different initiatives that countries have adopted as approaches to transitional justice: criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, amnesty, monetary compensation, symbolic compensation, and institutional reform. The mass murders and the political assassinations are violations of international law and the United Nations should have stepped in by now. On October 18, 2010, 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia became the police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, Mexico. She later fled to the United States to seek asylum because she feared for her life and the life of her child. Innocent people are dying in Mexico every day because of the war on drugs. The result: people are fleeing to the United States.
The United States government is ignoring what is going on in Mexico and should be focusing its efforts on the people who are demanding the drugs and supplying the weapons. Instead it is focusing on undocumented immigrants. As long as Mexico is continuing to destabilize, there will be more immigrants trying to enter the United States. The United States’ efforts should be toward helping Mexico combat the war on drugs and taking responsibility for the drug demand. “Ignoring the sending country as an explanatory variable yields a sad sort of policy solipsism.” Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).
Kevin R. Johnson and Bernard Trujillo, 9/11 Five Years On: A Look At the Global Response to Terrorism: Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1369 (2007).
Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).
Priscilla Puente-Chacon is a second-year law student at Valparaiso University School of Law and serves as NLLSA’s Public Relations Director.
As of December of last year, students of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) have protested against an increase in tuition and faced brutality from the local government. Initially, the students demanded to know the reasons for what they saw as an arbitrary tuition hike, but they are still waiting for those reasons, according to several eyewitness accounts. All they received was a declaration capping the increase at $800. Consequently, the highest tribunal of the island issued an order that prohibits demonstrations on the UPR campus. Law enforcement officials got a green light to enter the campus in order to disband the protests, but their effort degenerated into indiscriminate violence against students exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, as well as against thousands of civilians who joined them in support. It has been months since the situation reached a boiling point caused by the police’s violent crackdown. The fundamental freedoms of American citizens, specifically Puerto Ricans of course, are being ignored.
This is old history, however. In the 1970s, after the police entered the UPR’s campus, they killed a female student when suppressing protests. After great public outrage, the government enacted a Non-Confrontation Policy that barred police entry into the campus, designed to prevent future violence from the cops against the civilian population they are supposed to serve and protect.
The student protests of December 2010 are framed by an uproarious context. In the past two years, Puerto Ricans have faced increased unemployment, budget cuts from the government, and protests from public sector workers as well as teacher’s unions demanding better wages and working conditions. UPR protests are not uncommon, since the threat of privatization looms on the horizon, on top of rising tuition.
However, in midst of the recent protests at UPR, the current Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, abandoned the Non-Confrontation Policy. The UPR’s administration shut down the campus in December of 2010 and held its own students captive inside: protesters and non-protesters alike, without food or water, according to one UPR alumn source.
The use of force against one’s own citizens is a classic human rights violation under international law. See the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. For a current example, Libya serves our purposes. What is equally surprising to me is the absence of media coverage about these events, happening inside this country! I suspect that if similar happenings were noticed in the Continental USA, the authorities would have been put in their place long ago. Imagine police violence of this type in the Midwest (Wisconsin sound familiar, anyone? ), where teachers’ unions have protested for wage cuts in the public school system. I wonder of anyone can visualize that happening in 21st Century mainland USA. It appears that Puerto Ricans are treated as second class citizens, akin to our African-American brethren during the 1960s. They similarly faced oppression from governmental authorities (good old boys in the police, judiciary) until the nation took notice of their struggle, and the nation evolved. Through that suffering, this country emerged into a better one.
On March 2, 2011, Congressman Luis Gutierrez declared his indignation at the rampant human rights abuses taking place in Puerto Rico. Mr. Gutierrez described police brutality, racial profiling, silencing protestors, violating the First Amendment’s freedom of expression, and even efforts by the judiciary to silence the local bar association (which was striving to educate its members about the impropriety of covering for the government’s abuses and how to denounce corrupt practitioners) to name a few. The ACLU of Puerto Rico has also taken notice: “Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico: First Amendment Under Siege.”
In essence, I am surprised that this information has not been given proper coverage and importance. I believe the media and the government to be cooperating in dominating (or selecting?) content on the airwaves, the internet, and news networks. What is broadcasted as “news” and is on everyone’s lips is not the ongoing atrocity in Puerto Rico, but distractions like Charlie Sheen’s most recent ramble, or the merits of allowing homosexuals to fight for their country (as if sexual inclination mattered when the enemy is shooting to kill).
At present, classes are ongoing at UPR, but the student protests continue, along with the police oppression. (See more photos here.) I await a peaceful outcome to this mess, and hope that the Federal Government puts Puerto Rico’s caudillos (strongmen) in line. Peace to all. Fight the good fight.
The Arab League announced this week that the third Arab-Latin American summit, which was to be held in Lima, Peru from February 13-16, has been postponed indefinitely due to the unrest in Egypt. This summit, when held, will bring together the leaders of over twenty Arab nations and twelve countries that comprise Latin America to discuss trade and commercial relations.
Similarities between these two areas of the world may not easily come to mind, but in the past few days various articles and blog posts have compared the civil unrest in Egypt and to a lesser extent Tunisia to past uprisings in Latin America and opined about possible future uprisings. Several authors have explained why the present movements advocating for new governments in Africa are not likely to spread to South America. Others, however, have raised the possibility that countries such as Cuba, in certain circumstances, may be vulnerable to mass protest.
Click on the articles and posts below for more information about these comparisons:
Barbara Barreno is a third-year student at Vanderbilt University Law School and Chair of the National Latina/o Law Student Association.
From the Huffington Post:
What War is Mexico Fighting?
While Mexican President Felipe Calderon has received endless plaudits for his strong stance against drug cartels, the United States has been blamed for doing too little to curb the violence, even though it is the biggest market for drugs. As the violence enters its fourth year, many fault American drug users for providing the cash incentive for cartels, and the American gun market for providing the cartels’ firepower. The consensus is that the United States must reform its drug laws and tighten its gun laws for the violence to subside. In fact, Calderon himself recently took the U.S. to task, blaming America for his country’s woes. But Calderon’s much-vaunted crackdown has been terribly misunderstood by both sides… Read More »
Dulce Pinzón just published a great photo essay on ForeignPolicy.com where he pictures migrants from Mexico in superhero costumes. Here’s his explanation:
I saw a Spiderman costume in a store in November 2001, and that’s when everything came together in my head. Comic-book superheroes have an alter ego, and so do immigrants in the United States. They may be insignificant or even invisible to much of society, but they are heroes in their homelands.
For anybody who has lived in Arizona this past decade, these tensions are well known. The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector is heavily trafficked by smugglers of both human and drug cargo. Phoenix is now America’s kidnapping capital—most of which are directly related to Mexican drug cartels.
Given these problems, when a law is presented to the people of Arizona as a tool to combat border crime, it will easily garner public support. As evidenced by its title, “The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”, SB 1070 is being presented as exactly that: a public safety measure. Unsurprisingly, 70% of Arizona voters support the measure, according to a recent Rasmussen poll.
Unfortunately, SB 1070 does not address these problems. Instead, the bill makes two fundamental mistakes. First, it attacks crime in an inefficient and counterproductive way. The belief that state authorities will be able to curtail border related crime via individual traffic stop is untenable. Ultimately, vast amounts of police resources will be devoted to detaining and deporting people who are generally harmless. The Daily Show recently joked that Arizona is “looking for people acting suspiciously, like gardening or burping people’s babies.” As usual, a lot of truth is said in jest.
The fact is, the link between crime and illegal immigration is tenuous at best. American-born males are five times more likely to commit a crime than their foreign born counterparts. There is simply no causation between immigration and crime. Put differently, SB 1070 is completely reactionary, with little foundation in common sense.
Secondly, the bill creates an environment where American-born Latinos are likely to be accosted by police due to their ethnicity and race in order to prove their citizenship. The bill would not only encourage, but require police officers to inquire about a suspect’s legal status upon “reasonable suspicion” that they are here illegally. Despite the promises of the bill’s proponents, there is no way to predict whether somebody may be here illegally without taking their race, language, and general appearance into account. Imagine trying to decipher somebody’s immigration status over the phone, where race and ethnicity is more difficult to discern. Even then, we would be completely dependent on our suspect’s language skills—another prejudicial form of profiling that would lead to civil rights violations.
Can’t we agree that American citizens should not be subjected to police interrogation because of their race? Is this not repugnant to our values?
I spent one amazing legislative session working at the Arizona State Senate. I still have friends there and still keep in touch. However, nothing coming out of the legislature recently has surprised me. Latinos, American- and foreign-born, have been a favorite target of the legislature for a while. A similar version of SB 1070 was floating around when I was there. Another bill tried to ban “La Raza studies” in high schools because it did not “inculcate American values”. Bills were introduced creating different birth certificates for babies, despite their American citizenship, born to parents who could not provide documentation. Another popular, though fantastical, bill petitioned the federal government to redefine the 14th amendment so that children born to foreigners are not given automatic citizenship.
SB 1070 is symptomatic of a long running trend of ideas and bills that overreach at the expense of all Arizona Latinos. In Arizona, Latinos are almost a third of the population but are only a tenth of the electorate. Consequently, they are underrepresented in government, and when they are represented, they are overwhelmingly opposed to all such measures introduced by the majority. Of the eleven Latinos voting on the measure, ten voted against it. With little voice in the state, and the consequences of an awful bill looming, it is time for those who in power to do what they can to reverse this trend.
Manuel Giner of Phoenix, Arizona, is a student at Yale Law School, where he is the Chairman of the Latino Law Students Association.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at the end of her first major tour through Latin America. Latin America watchers expected the region to be far more receptive to the Obama Administration than it was to the Bush Administration, but so far we’ve only seen mixed results. Given the amount of disagreements, Clinton may have her work cut out for her. Each country poses its own unique challenges to U.S.-Latin American relations.
The fence-mending mission hit a snag, barely six months into the Obama presidency, when in July 2009, Colombia agreed to expand America’s military presence in that country. Latin American leaders assailed the agreement — which gave the United States access to seven bases in Colombia. For its part, however, Colombia welcomed the agreement. Fortunately, President Uribe has since accepted a court ruling barring him from seeking a third presidential term, avoiding an awkward situation where the United States would have had to choose between promoting democracy and supporting one of its few staunch allies in the region.
Surprisingly, Buenos Aires was initially left off Clinton’s itinerary, but was added at the last minute. But even more surprising was Clinton’s unexpected push for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands. Although Secretary Clinton can’t force either party to negotiate, the statement definitely raised eyebrows, in both London and Buenos Aires.
While Clinton originally planned a full-day visit to Chile, where she would have spent the night in Santiago, her trip had to be scaled back due to the earthquake that devastated the country. Clinton decided to press ahead with the visit as a show of solidarity, where she offered technical equipment and search & rescue teams to help the relief effort.
The trip isn’t exclusively goodwill. In perhaps the most important leg of the trip, Clinton visited Brazil to hold talks with President Lula, who has become increasingly important on both the regional and global stage. In particular, Clinton pressed Lula on Iranian nuclear proliferation. President Lula hosted Iran’s president in November, where he publicly supported the regime’s right to nuclear power and expressed his disapproval of sanctions. Lula will return the favor by visiting Tehran in May. As a temporary member of the UN Security Council, Brazil’s cooperation on this issue is absolutely critical. Despite Clinton’s efforts, though, it looks like Brazil rebuffed the Clinton’s overtures.
Maybe Latin America just doesn’t care what we think anymore?
David Perez is a third-year student at Yale Law School.
The terrible earthquake that shattered Haiti’s Port-au-Prince has left tens of thousands dead, and many thousands more in desperate need of food, water, and shelter. Unlike political disasters — i.e., Rwanda or Darfur — where world actors seem paralyzed, sclerotic, and otherwise slow to respond, the global response to Haiti has been inspiring.
Various Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Uruguay, already had peacekeeping commitments in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Those countries are now fully engaged in the rescue and relief effort. In fact, the quickest reactions to the crisis did not come from the OECD countries. According to the International Red Cross, the “lion’s share” of the initial response came from Latin American countries.
The rallying didn’t stop there. Cuba and the United States, bitter enemies for over 50 years, put aside their differences — albeit briefly — to focus on the rescue efforts. In a rare diplomatic breakthrough, Cuba is allowing the U.S. Medical Evacuation flights to use its airspace, cutting 90 minutes off its one-way flight time to and from Haiti.
Even in the midst of all this carnage, it’s inspiring to see leaders focus on what’s actually important for a change — even if it takes a natural disaster to get them to do it.
To donate to Haiti relief please visit UNICEF’s website, or text “HAITI” to 90999.
The 2008 presidential campaign sparked renewed interest and controversy over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was as if though the American public had forgotten about the “giant sucking sound,” a colorful phrase coined by Ross Perot during the 1992 presidential campaign to depict massive U.S. job loss to Mexico and other negative effects he believed would result from NAFTA. In 2008, candidates from both parties revisited the agreement and again used NAFTA as a political weapon to sway potential voters. With thousands of manufacturing jobs lost in Michigan’s automotive industry, there needed to be a scapegoat, and our neighbor to the south was a good defenseless target. Republicans pointed at NAFTA as the primary culprit for the situation in Detroit, ignoring failures from top executives and other failed policies. Democrats pressured by such attacks from the right and by powerful union leaders, vowed to renegotiate the agreement executed by the Clinton administration fourteen years prior. However, nobody actually addressed the core issues of NAFTA and its effects on the North American economies.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was executed by the United States, Mexico, and Canada on December 17, 1992, and became effective on January 1, 1994. The Agreement was seen as a comprehensive, multi-layered document that would institute numerous structures, guidelines, and rules relative to trade between all three countries. The objectives of NAFTA included the elimination of trade barriers, heightened investment opportunities, and the promotion of fair competition. A utopian image would be a European Union style block in North America. In 2010, it is important to ask, who were the real winners in NAFTA? Who were the losers? And who really cares after the election has been decided?
It is imperative to acknowledge that there have been many positive aspects to NAFTA for all three countries. Trade between the three countries increased significantly. Between 1993 and 2006, trade among NAFTA partners climbed 197%, from $297 billion to $883 billion. Today, Canada and Mexico are the first and third greatest trading partners with the U.S., respectively. According to one study, foreign direct investment induced by NAFTA increased 70% in Mexico in 1994 and was up by 435% a decade later. However, this did not translate into booming economy for Mexico. Rather, Mexico has remained stagnant and its economy has grown relatively slow, even under Mexican standards. It is true that some U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to Mexico; however, it has been a miniscule number and although any job lost is a tragedy, the exaggeration does not merit the level of scrutiny it has received.
The truth of the matter is that Mexico has been the real loser in this agreement. Despite its comparative advantages, such as its proximity to the world’s largest economy, it has not faired as well as other countries such as, China, Brazil, and India who do not participate in NAFTA. Mexico, has been side swiped by China, who has replaced it as the second largest trading partner with the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in Mexico to China especially in Mexico’s maquiladora industry on its northern border. If there is anyone that must be blamed it must be the greedy corporate executives, who have chased cheap labor across the pacific. NAFTA may have worked for Mexico 25 years earlier; however, it came in the era of globalization, which meant greater competition, improved technology, communication, and travel. This has allowed corporate America to exploit cheap labor and increase profits. The dream of integrating the three economies has been forgotten.
Currently, a new debate has surged regarding Mexican trucks and allowing them access to U.S. roads, which was a program stipulated in NAFTA. At present, U.S. truckers have complete access to Mexican highways, but Mexican trucks are confined to a 20-mile zone north of the border. For deliveries beyond that zone, the goods they carry must be transferred to U.S. trucks. Not only is this a double standard, but it violates both the letter and the spirit of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened U.S. borders for motor carrier access. The xenophobic fear of more “illegal aliens” and drugs sneaking into the country has put a halt to following through with certain portions of the agreement. This is just another example of the constant set backs that Mexico has had to deal with because of dependency on the U.S. economy. Many economists believe that Mexico would have faired much better without NAFTA. Mexico could have followed countries such as Brazil, China and India, where the governments have a much greater say in economic policy.
In 2010, many people care and more people need to care about NAFTA. Those who are directly affected are the least vulnerable of society. Mexican farmers and U.S. factory workers care a lot. Mexican farmers have to compete with agricultural imports, while U.S. factory workers fear cheap foreign labor. It is time to revisit NAFTA and analyze it in the globalized context. How can NAFTA work for Mexican as well as for American workers? How can the xenophobic rhetoric be eliminated when dealing with the realities of a global economy? These are the questions that we must ponder in 2010 when thinking of “free trade” agreements.
George Cisneros, NLLSA’s Public Relations Director, is a second-year law student at Columbia Law School.