Congress Is Finally Recognizing
Border Violence Needs Attention
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TEXAS), whose district sits along the U.S.-Mexico border and who is on the Homeland Security Committee, has set up committee hearings to address the murders and violence on the U.S. border due to powerful Mexican gangs that traffic in drugs and illegal immigrants.
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took over in 2006, there have been 18,000 murders as a result of his efforts to fight criminal gangs in Mexico. These include the recent shootings of three people tied to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from Texas in Mexico. In that town alone, some 4,500 Mexicans have been killed, according to recent reports.
Specifically, Cuellar wants to look at new ways for the United States to help stop the smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants into the country.
So far, Washington has handed out nearly $2 billion in cash and military supplies directly to Mexico in an effort to bolster Mexican law enforcement. The funds and weapons have largely gone to the 45,000 troops Calderon has deployed to take on the drug cartels.
However, these soldiers have done little to stop the increasing numbers of killings that are taking place in Mexico and have been making their way into the United States. In fact, some experts contend that the Mexican law enforcement and military are so corrupt that they have been using U.S. aid to actually help the gangs.
At this time, Cuellar appears to be only intent on handing over more money and guns to Mexico.
“The Mexican drug cartels are not waiting there and saying, ‘OK, law enforcement guys, we’re going to wait until the Americans give you this or that, so we can be more fair in our fight,’” Cuellar recently told a Capitol Hill newspaper. “They’re not waiting for us.”
Currently, the United States has 300,000 troops stationed in foreign countries and 92,000 naval personal on the high seas helping to protect the borders of far-off places like Iraq and Afghanistan. A mere fraction of those troops, stationed along the 1,950-mile border spanning the United States and Mexico would go a long way to stopping the drug cartels from entering the United States. By cutting off the drug trade, the U.S. military would eliminate the money the drug cartels make from sneaking heroin and cocaine into the United States.
So far in Washington, however, putting troops on the border remains off the table. Officials from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have been begging Washington to send reinforcements to help patrol the border.
Both Republicans and Democrats from those states support positioning troops there. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) advocate beefing up National Guard patrols—at a minimum.
Placing troops on the border is the simplest and most effective way to stop the drug cartels and immigrant smugglers from getting into the United States— and would certainly be more effective than flushing more U.S. taxpayer money down the toilet by handing it out to the corrupt Mexican military and police.
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(Issue # 15 & 16, April 12 & 19, 2010)