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We Need More Boots On the Border -- Now!

It was near midnight as American peace keepers were on patrol in a well-known hot zone in a remote area of the desert valley. The men and women that protect us know the dangers they face in the valley of the gun. Yet, they continue to serve; continue to put their lives on the line for our country. But, I am not talking about the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. I am talking about the war at home – the Third Front.

On December 14, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry and members of his team encountered a group of armed gunmen while on patrol in a remote area near the border town of Rio Rico, Arizona. Upon seeing Agent Terry and three other Border Patrol agents, the suspects opened fire with automatic weapons in the darkness of the night. Terry was shot in the back with an AK-47.

Within minutes a helicopter life-flighted him to a nearby hospital. However, Terry died en route. One gunman was wounded in the shootout. Four suspects have been arrested for this deadly crime, but one individual remains on the run.

Justice is needed and well-deserved for these murderers. Agent Brian A. Terry is irreplaceable. Yet another life claimed by the violent border battle on the Third Front. I hope justice is swift, but I also hope that our government takes action and not one more lawman loses his life at the hands of an illegal.

Agent Terry’s fatal shooting is not the first murder of a Border Patrol agent. If our government continues to be blissfully ignorant to the reality of the violence and crime spilling over into our country, I am afraid he won’t be the last.

Violent attacks on border patrol agents also continue to rise. In 2004, there were about 300 assaults on our border agents. Now, there are over 1000 assaults a year. An overwhelming majority of these assaults are committed by people arrogantly crossing the border into the United States illegally and assaulting our Border Patrol agents with rocks.

American citizens are not exempt from the dangers either. Our border jails are over-run with criminal illegals that have committed violent crimes in our country. Earlier this year, American citizen, David Hartley was murdered on Falcon Lake along the Texas-Mexico border by the Zeta Cartel. His death is not uncommon for those who experience the brutal violence on a daily basis. To the protectors on our borders, this is just another day on the Texas-Mexico border.

For some reason, we don't hear much about border violence in the mainstream media. They seem too concerned about letting those illegally here stay, rather than the crimes they commit against Border Patrol agents and American citizens. However, the media has it backwards.

The border is a bloody battlefield set between the law and the outlaws. As a Texas Ranger once told me, Congressman, after dark, it gets western on the border. Our border protectors are out-manned, out-gunned, and out-financed. Until the issue of border security is seriously addressed this pandemonium on the Third Front will only escalate.

Communities on the border, and those sworn to protect them, are under constant assault. They are the iron gatekeepers to a violent battle that reveals each and every day uncontained authority. Many, just like Agent Terry, have sacrificed their lives by putting themselves between the bad guys and us. We need the moral resolve as a nation to secure the dignity of our borders, to protect the lawmen that are down there doing the job that we ask them to do. We cannot continue to ask them to do a job that our government undercuts every chance it gets.

Plain and simple: we need more boots on the border. All the technology in the world is useless without the manpower to enforce it. I filed the National Guard Border Enforcement Act that will require the deployment of 10,000 National Guard troops to the U.S-Mexico border at the request of a border governor. American lives should no longer be sacrificed due to the lack of reinforcement. The absence of troops on the border is robbing American citizens of their safety and their lives.

It is the first duty of government to protect the country and the people that live in it. We owe the men and women who guard the border more than gratitude for the sacrifices they make. We owe them the proper funding, manpower and support not just to guard our border, but to ensure their safety and protection as well.

Border sheriffs and the people of this country have been calling the federal authorities for help for years, but help has not arrived. We protect the borders of other countries every day, there’s no excuse why we can’t protect our own. It is a terrible irony that Agent Terry served in Iraq as a Marine to protect the border of another nation, yet because our government refuses to recognize that we have a war at home, he died protecting our own border – the Third Front.

And, that’s just the way it is.

Republican Rep. Ted Poe represents the 2nd Congressional District of Texas. Rep. Poe recently introduced the National Guard Border Enforcement Act that will authorize the Secretary of Defense to make 10,000 armed National Guard troops available upon request from a U.S. Governor. Rep. Poe serves on the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Border Security; Executive Member of the Immigration Reform Caucus; and recognized nationally as a leading advocate for border security. Prior to serving in Congress, Poe was a prosecutor and judge in Houston, Texas for 30 years.

Republican Ted Poe represents Texas' Second District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade.