As President Trump continues to better secure the U.S. southern border with Mexico, the politicization of the issue is working against efforts to safeguard the American people, Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said Tuesday.
At least six children and three women living in a faith-based community of U.S. citizens in Mexico were shot to death Monday in the northern part of the country, and six more children were wounded and one missing after their convoy came under fire during a brazen daylight ambush believed to have been carried out by gunmen affiliated with the cartels.
Alfonso Durazo, Mexico's top security official, confirmed the six deaths, adding that six more children were wounded in the attack, with five transferred to hospitals in Phoenix, Ariz. One child is still missing.
Relatives said the victims live in the La Mora religious community in northern Mexico, a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They said the group was attacked while traveling in a convoy of three SUVs. Durazo said the gunmen may have mistaken the SUV convoy for rival gangs.
The victims were all reportedly dual Mexican and U.S. citizens and were traveling back to the U.S. when they were ambushed, according to Utah's KUTV.
Mexico's federal Department of Security and Citizens' Protection said security forces were reinforced with National Guard, army and state police troops in the area following "the reports about disappearance and aggression against several people." The troops were searching for the missing community members, believed to include 11 children or more.
Appearing on "Fox & Friends" with hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade, Judd said that while the investigation was still ongoing and U.S. law enforcement still doesn't "have a whole lot of information right now," this is "where smuggling takes place," "drugs come into the United States," and "where criminal aliens come into the United States.
"What you have to consider is as we continue to do a better job on the border, we can expect to see more violence," he told the "Friends" hosts.
"It's rare that cartels lash out at American citizens unless we're cutting into their profits, which is what's happening right now with the policies that are taking place. And, with the Mexican government becoming a true border security partner, you can expect to see more violence," he explained.
Judd said his message to politicians is that the Mexican drug cartels are "extremely dangerous" and "don't care about life and they're operating in the United States."
"Largely," he added, "because we have politicized border security instead of standing up and saying 'We need to get this situation under control,' we continue to use it on the left and the right as talking points instead of saying 'We've got to safeguard American citizens here in the United States.'"
Judd said that the United States government should take a similar approach with Mexico as they once did in Colombia.
"We went in there because it was in our best interest," he argued. "It's also in our best interest to give the Mexican government as much support as possible to go after these cartels to stop these drugs flowing into the United States. To quit these opioids [from] going into Suburban America -- that are killing our children -- are coming largely from Mexico."
In two tweets on Tuesday morning, President Trump hit out at the "monsters" who perpetrated the act.
"A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing. If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!"
Judd said: "President Trump has been able to work with the Mexican government to come up with policies that have been very beneficial to both Mexico and to the United States. He is going to get this under control, but we have to have Congress step up to the plate and do their job as well."
Fox News' Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.