Broken Neighbor, Broken Border

Between August 2nd and 6th of this year, a team of investigators working for the House Immigration Reform Caucus examined the border between Texas and Mexico.  They prepared a report for Caucus Chairman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (R-TX).  The report, entitled “Broken Neighbor, Broken Border” has been released to the public today.  It paints an alarming portrait of illegal entries, reduced in number since the passage of reforms in 2005 and 2006, but “increasingly dangerous to the homeland security of our nation, based on the near-collapse of civil authority in the northern states of Mexico.”

The immigration debate is usually focused on American policy, and rarely includes much talk of Mexico.  It seems like common sense to suggest that if Mexico was not a wretched place to live, fewer of its inhabitants would undertake a perilous illegal crossing of the northern border.  About 500 people die during such illegal crossings each year.  Roughly half a million survive to invade the United States.  Contemplate the often squalid lives they lead as lawbreakers in America, and imagine what they must have left behind in Mexico.

As “Broken Neighbor, Broken Border” explains, the invaders are not just “economic” violators.  They include “heavily armed drug cartel members” and “Other Than Mexican illegal aliens from diverse countries, including Middle Eastern nations with terrorist facilities currently at war with U.S. forces.”  This includes Somalis affiliated with al-Qaeda, whose presence “triggered Department of Homeland Security alerts in the Houston area.”

The cartels are bad enough without their new terrorist buddies.  There have been twenty eight thousand murders in Mexico since the current drug wars began in 2006.  Many of these murders are beheadings, or executions by “necklacing,” which involves hanging a flaming tire full of gasoline around the victim’s neck.  Victims have been kidnapped from American soil and transported across the border for torture and murder.  There have been unconfirmed reports from informants that some of the kidnappings lead to organ harvesting and human trafficking.

The cartels are increasingly less concerned with committing their atrocities on Mexican soil.  Their violence is spilling across the border into American towns and cities.  Their troops outnumber American police and Border Patrol agents, and are more heavily armed.  Sometimes the Border Patrol has to back away from engaging them after detection, understandably concerned about starting a bloody battle they can’t win.  Captured cartel members speak of “sleeper agents” planted in U.S. cities for “future combat” against both competitors and law enforcement.  Cartel protection rackets are knocking on the doors of legitimate businesses owned by Mexicans in the United States.

This activity is aided by Mexican corruption.  American aid to fight the drug war vanishes into the hands of corrupt Mexican politicians, and ends up “feeding the drug industry.”  Corruption has all but halted communication between American law enforcement and their Mexican counterparts, and even hindered the sharing of intelligence between the Border Patrol and U.S. sheriffs.  Confidential informants have been exposed and murdered.  The problem extends from “the lowest recruit to the highest ranking officials” in Mexican law enforcement.  The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, nevertheless felt free to trash the state of Arizona for enforcing immigration law before a joint session of Congress last May, to the thunderous applause of congressional Democrats. 

Also applauding was Attorney General Eric Holder, who just managed to convict the confessed terrorist murderer of over 200 people for conspiracy to destroy property.  He won’t be any more effective against the Mexican cartels.  Illegal immigrants are routinely released by U.S. courts, mildly inconveniencing them until they can cross the border again.  There is no official response to the violation of American airspace by Mexican planes, which happened three times in the past year alone.  Improvements were made in the Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, and the Secure Fence Act of 2006, but prosecution against those believed to be “economic” aliens continues to be weak, providing little deterrent to the tsunami of unlawful immigrants… and the even more dangerous assassins, enforcers, and terrorist operatives riding the tide across our southern border.

“Broken Neighbor, Broken Border” includes many interviews with border sheriffs, who agree the most vital resource they need is more manpower.  In addition to beefing up local law enforcement and the Border Patrol, they call for a serious commitment of National Guard troops – not the window-dressing deployment of 1200 Guardsmen that President Obama just concluded, or even the 6000-man deployment ordered by President Bush in 2006, but a force of closer to 25,000. 

Until now, the National Guard has primarily assisted with surveillance, but the next force had better be ready for combat.  A sheriff interviewed by the House Immigration Reform Caucus investigators “expressed fear that a deployment would lead to elevated border violence, as Mexican drug gangs sought revenge for having their drug shipments effectively blocked.” 

The Caucus report also calls for following Arizona’s lead, and giving the states both power and responsibility for securing their border with Mexico.  Another recommendation is blocking the dismissal of illegal immigration charges by the Obama Administration, which is increasingly proving itself a liability to national security, not an asset.

“Broken Neighbor, Broken Border” is a chilling look at a crisis that is not fully appreciated outside the states most directly affected by border incursions.  The Left enjoys using immigration as an ideological football, but the ball is packed with explosives, wired to a digital timer that is rapidly counting down.  There are practical, common-sense steps that can be taken to defuse the situation… which is not going away, since the “broken neighbor” is not likely to improve much in the immediate future.  If these steps are not taken soon, the body count of open-borders ideology will increase, until it can no longer be ignored.



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