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Storm clouds gathering along U.S.-Mexico border

By Balzafire, Jul 22, 2010 | |
  1. Balzafire
    In late June, bullets fired during a skirmish in an ongoing and escalating drug war in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, struck El Paso City Hall. Thankfully, no one was injured, but this incident is far from the first time cartel-related violence has impacted communities on the Texas side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

    It’s hard to imagine a clearer sign of what’s in store if our nation’s border security issues are not dealt with conclusively and immediately.

    Protecting the country’s border and ensuring the safety of its citizens are the basic functions of a federal government. Unfortunately, all signs indicate Washington will, once again, fall far short of achieving the task at hand.

    For more than a year and a half, I have called for 1,000 Title 32 National Guard troops to be deployed along the Texas-Mexico border. On Monday, the Obama administration formally announced its plans to send 1,200 National

    Guardsmen to the Southwest Border. As it turns out, only 250 personnel — a scant 20 percent of the troops being deployed — are being sent to help guard the 64 percent of U.S.-Mexico border in the Lone Star State.

    Those familiar with operations of this scope estimate that, due to the time demands involved in ramping up and ramping down, this deployment, which is slated to last no more than a year, will likely be at full strength for only four months or so.

    I’ll be the first to say every little bit helps, and while we’re certainly grateful for these fine Americans and their service in helping secure our border, this is not nearly enough to make the difference we need.

    In addition to this deployment plan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Texas recently to announce $17 million in grant funding to local law enforcement to aid in their efforts to support our Customs and Border Protection partners, who are faced with working too many hours and covering too much territory.

    Secretary Napolitano described administration border efforts as moving with an “unprecedented sense of urgency.” We’ve long been calling for additional federal troops and funding, so “urgency” is not the word that springs to mind.

    Securing our southern border is a federal responsibility, but ultimately Texas’s problem. In the absence of adequate federal resources, Texas has spent more than $230 million to protect our communities and fulfill a responsibility that Washington has largely ignored.

    Texas money is funding additional law enforcement positions and paying overtime to stretch those resources further. We’ve added state-of-the-art aviation assets, including helicopters, along with advanced communications and tactical equipment.

    The state has established Joint Operation and Intelligence Centers in each Border Patrol Sector and created quick-response units — called State Trooper Strike Teams and Texas Ranger Recon Teams — that can effectively counter criminal activity in even the most remote areas of the border region.

    Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Border Patrol, supported by our local sheriffs, local police and state troopers, these initiatives have had a positive impact.

    One look across the border at the gathering storms in cities like Ciudad Juarez, mere miles from El Paso and rapidly devolving into one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and we realize we have a long way to go.

    Americans have already been swept up in the violence. In March, a U.S. Consulate employee and his wife were shot to death after leaving a child’s birthday party. Last year, a 15-year-old El Paso girl was killed by stray gunfire in Ciudad Juarez.

    The criminal activity is not limited to areas south of the border; drug cartels and transnational gangs have infiltrated Texas prisons, communities and schools. They work to recruit young people with the promise of fast money and easy living. Unfortunately, the only promises fulfilled by drug cartels are a lifetime in jail or a fast death.

    A porous border can only lead to more violence. Without border security, there can be no national security.

    As I wrote to President Obama on July 14, the scope and magnitude of the threat our nation faces demands a more serious and robust commitment from this administration.

    In Texas, we will continue to sound the clarion call as we see the drug-fueled violence in Northern Mexico creeping ever closer to our citizens.

    I can only hope President Obama will heed that warning before it’s too late.

    By Texas Gov. Rick Perry - 07/21/10


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