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  • A View from the Border

    How goes the battle for the border?

    Heritage Foundation Latin American specialist Ray Walser and I spent some time on the border at Laredo, Texas, with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Border Patrol. Laredo is America’s largest inland port of entry. Last year, 1.64 million trucks passed through the port, representing about $70 billion in commerce. Also in transit were hidden stacks of cash, guns, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, as well as people illegally trying to enter the United States. The job of CBP and the Border Patrol, both parts of the Department of Homeland Security, is keep as much of the “bad stuff” out as possible and let the “’good stuff” in as fast as they can.

    It’s a 24-7-365 job. No day is dull. During our time in Laredo, CBP seized $300,415 in cash crammed in wads behind a car’s dashboard.

    In addition to worrying about what is crossing the border, Homeland Security worries about what’s happening on the other side of the border in Nuevo Laredo as a vicious turf war between rival transnational cartels rages on. Violence in the city rivals the worst days in Baghdad in 2005. Recently, the beheaded body of Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, a blogger who had been cataloguing cartel activities “had been dumped near a computer keyboard with a note signed by a major drug cartel mocking her pseudonym — ‘Girl From Laredo.’”

    I visited the Laredo sector a few years ago. A lot has changed.

    On the Mexican side, it has gotten worse—a lot worse. The police, thoroughly penetrated by the cartels, has been abolished. Mexico’s Army now patrols the streets.

    On the US side, it is all hustle and bustle with few signs of violence spilling over the border.

    In Laredo, the men and women of CBP and the Border Patrol take their jobs very seriously—and it shows. The facilities, capabilities, and activities of CBP and the Border Patrol have changed as well. The investments made in the Department of Homeland Security over the last decade are clearly paying off. There is more technology, more agents, more innovation, and more cooperation with other federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as strong working relationship with the Mexican military which overwatches efforts on the other side of the border.

    There is particularly, positive news on efforts to facilitate trade. Shortly before our visit, there was a ceremony marking the first Mexican long-haul carrier certified to carry shipments into the U.S. This breakthrough is going to significantly cut down the cost of doing cross-border business and benefit both countries. (Article continued below photo)

    Heritage's Ray Walser meets with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents

    On the security side, illegal traffic of all sorts is finding the Laredo sector a tougher route to follow.

    It is also clear that even the best efforts at the border can only do so much. The U.S. has broadened the battle to control the border beyond the borders. Here the Administration can do much better. On the U.S. side, it is troubling to hear ever increasing reports that Homeland Security is backing away from interior enforcement. On the Mexican side, U.S. efforts to work with Mexico to improve security, open up the economy, and restore civil society continue to lack urgency, focus, and teamwork—and some times common sense. The recent “Fast and Furious” debacle is the poster child for how not to operate across borders.

    Also troubling are the prospects of across the board budget cuts that might cripple the border security efforts that have been built-up over the last decade.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to A View from the Border

    1. Javier Escondido says:

      You lose all credibility when you show CBP Officers in your picture and identify them as Border Patrol Agents.

      • carol,az says:

        Thank you for pointing out this pervasive blunder Javier.
        Cartel terrorism continue to put "prices" on our law enforcers here.
        Since we both know our own Govt is supporting the war on our border, I know you will agree,
        we have some of the finest men and women in America, who have our backs, working to protect all of us.
        I Yahoo:{ Laredo/TX /cartel violence} and got six pages of violent data. Considered the most violence town in America and used as the main point of entry for drugs coming into TX., but I'm certain you know that. Stay safe.

    2. GotFreedom says:

      Might we ask The Foundry to look into our country's northern border and the recent revelations that Border Patrols have been ordered to stop searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs?

      So much time/effort is spent on the US southern border–this edict from the Border Patrol in DC is troubling and should be exposed (even though the order was never made public and only came to light when the union that represents Border Patrol agents planned to issue a news release about the change).

    3. carol,az says:

      RSVP: Got Freedom
      This recent "stand down order" IS in direct violation by the Dept of HLS's that was formatted, after our nations tragedy , 911.
      " all ports of entry," trains, planes, shipping will be searched and…." you can look up the rest".
      To state this order to Federal employee to ignore any actions that will further put us in danger at any port of entry, is in direct violation of Federal law.
      It will end up being another lawsuit filed against our rabid Fed Govt that has cost us, the tax payer millions . Right now the hearings for Fast & Furious is going on its nineth month.
      Please fax, email, and contact your elected Reps in your State to put pressure on them, to intervine.
      Your countries safety and security depends on it.

    4. West Texan says:

      Violent crime knows no boundary. Texas traditionally had an open border policy, treating Mexico like any other state. I’d like to keep it that way.

      • Bobbie says:

        West, I wish I could agree with you. Before it was nationally known, the government kept it quiet while raising taxes creating government resources for people who crossed illegally. Before realizing I thought to myself, who would really care or know if people who came, assimilated? But too many resources to provide to people coming over illegally, isn't used to assimilate and isn't helping our livelihoods at less earned income and because of. Plus, you have people in the world that use this passage way also using government resources while dying to kill us and I believe crime does have boundaries when laws are enforced to the level of deterrence. I wouldn't mind people coming here at whim and in peace but it's been the opposite since the 80's. There's too many accommodations to and too much crime coming from people at whim.

      • carol,az says:

        West TX, we've had a few conversations about this issue before.
        Where my disconnect lies over your support for an open border is- your refusal to discuss the ferocity of what is happening to your great state. _Are you unaware that terrorist are coming through TX? Are you unaware that Laredo is the main conduit for drug transfers into the USA._Are you unaware of the recent death of a rancher in TX? Are you unaware that your border reeks with bribes, rouge law enforcement and every major city in TX is a hub for welfare fraud while your Governor and you look the other way. Or is that how you make your living?

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