Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More than immigration at stake on border

The same routes and crossing points, the same coyotes and smugglers who manual laborers rely on to enter the United States can also be used by intruders with far less benign objectives. The armed groups that have turned Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, into a war zone — 200 people dead in only one week last month — have distribution networks that crisscross this country. The cartels, their paramilitary enforcers and street gangs move illicit drugs north and cash and guns back south. In the multi-billion-dollar drug trade, the border is irrelevant. And there’s no reason to believe the people doing the beheadings and assassinations will indefinitely be solicitous about keeping violence on one side of an international boundary, as the alleged plot to blow up Falcon Dam suggests. In May, the Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement officials in Texas of the potential illegal entry from Mexico of a suspected member of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia. Why would terrorists from Somalia or anywhere else choose to clandestinely enter the United States from Mexico? Because if millions of Mexican laborers can do it, so can they. That’s the troubling fact at the heart of what the U.S. government calls “special interest aliens” — illegal immigrants from countries that pose a national security threat. Hundreds of them are apprehended in the United States each year. No one knows how many are being missed. A recent report from the U.S. Southern Command obtained by the Washington Examiner raises a warning flag. “Of particular concern is the smuggling of criminal aliens and gang members who pose public safety threats to communities throughout the border region and the country,” it cautions. “These individuals include hundreds of undocumented aliens from special interest countries, primarily China, but also Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.” People who wish to do harm to the United States can and are entering the country undetected. That ought to be the starting point of any national discussion about the border...more

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