Headlines were made Tuesday, February 21st when a 48 year old woman pushing her baby's stroller in downtown El Paso, Texas was struck in the leg by a bullet that was apparently fired in Ciudad Juárez, arguably one of the most violent cities in the Western Hemisphere. Some described this random occurrence as the first time violence has flowed across our border.
But this is not the first time a bullet has flown across the border into El Paso. On June 30, 2010 the El Paso Times published a news report that was entitled, “Shots apparently fired from Juárez pelt City Hall, enter office.”
The issue of violence spilling across our nation's borders is far greater than either of these two isolated incidents, however.
In recent years Phoenix, Arizona has witnessed a surge in the number of kidnappings and home invasions, primarily within the immigrant community that have been, for the most part, linked to the Mexican drug trade and to human smuggling. Such crimes prompted state officials to promulgate their own immigration laws, including SB 1070, that resulted in a lawsuit being filed by the United States Department of Justice in an effort to prevent law enforcement officials in Arizona from enforcing immigration laws that the federal government has failed to enforce on the national level.
For years a myth has been propagated that America only has four border states: California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. In fact, during one of the early GOP Presidential debate of the current campaign, former Utah Governor and then candidate Jon Huntsman answered a question about immigration by beginning his response by saying, that as President, he would meet with the governors of the four border states.
What is almost always ignored is that the U.S. shares its northern border with Canada that is nearly twice as long as is our southern border. Additionally, our nation has an estimated 95,000 miles of coastal region with numerous bustling seaports and numerous international airports through which millions of people, including foreign nationals (aliens) enter our country each year, along with a wide variety of cargo from virtually every country on this planet.
Any state that has a seaport or an international airport must be considered a border state.
It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people currently present illegally in the United States who did not run our nation's borders but were admitted into the United States through ports of entry, including international airports, and who have overstayed their authorized period of admission or otherwise violated the terms of their admission into our country. In point of fact, the terrorists who so savagely attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 entered the United States through international airports.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who often repeats the mantra that our borders are secure, was quoted on Tuesday, February 21st as saying that the United States does not suffer from “spillover violence” from Mexico. Yet on previous occasions, she has stated that members of the extremely violent Mexican drug cartels are present in cities across this vast nation, while additional transnational gangs from the four corners of our planet have also established a significant presence.
Many crimes in the United States is directly or indirectly linked to drug trafficking and drug use. Most of the illicit drugs are smuggled into the U.S. Narcotics certainly flow into our country across the Mexican border- but tons of narcotics also enter our nation each and every day on board ships and in the cargo holds of airliners, bringing with it the destruction of the lives of those addicted to those poisons and the destruction of the lives of those who fall victim to the crimes associated with the trafficking and use of those drugs.
I would love to know Ms. Napolitano's definition of the term “Secure!”
In the late 1980's to early 1990's, when I was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the New York Field Office of the DEA in NYC, I conducted an analysis of the individuals who were being arrested by the DEA and the DEA Task Force in NYC and found that some 60% of the defendants who were arrested for drug-related crimes were identified as “foreign born.” For decades, our nation has been suffering from a flood of foreign criminals and narcotics that inundate our nation every day. The proceeds from the drug trade enrich the coffers of drug trafficking organizations and terrorist organizations to the tune of tens of billions of dollars each and every year.
It is extremely fortunate that the woman who was struck by that bullet on Tuesday did not suffer a serious injury- but she was hardly the first person in the United States to suffer from violence in Mexico and tragically, she won't be the last.
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.) Mr. Cutler’s career spanned some 30 years. He provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission and has testified before some 15 Congressional hearings as well as numerous state legislative hearings on the nexus between immigration and national security and other critical challenges confronting our nation.