Designating the cartels as terrorist organizations
Image via WikipediaJoan Neuhaus Schaan:
Recent legislation introduced in Congress focuses on the violent criminal organizations operating in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and the porous border through which they travel. A bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, would classify six Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and allow the United States to more harshly punish those who provide the cartels with material support. U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., introduced a bill that prohibits the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands. Together, these two bills are a step in the right direction as the United States deals with the grim realities of an often lawless border region.Both of these new laws would be useful. It is ridiculous to have the Interior and Agriculture departments interfering with with the border protection efforts. In fact is is absurd. We should not even need this law if we had people in charge of these departments who were serious about border protection.
Until now, much of the public debate has focused on whether the problems facing Mexico have spilled over into the United States. The focus of the debate must change. Of course there has been spillover — spillover of criminal organizations, spillover of intimidation and spillover of violence. The Mexican organizations are estimated to be well established in more than 270 American cities.
The greatest impact on the U.S. side of the border, however, has not been publicized drug battles and dead bodies in the streets. It has been coercion, intimidation and plata o plumo, the dreaded choice offered by Mexican drug traffickers - silver or lead, the bribe or the bullet. Some suspect these same factors have kept violence in U.S. border communities from becoming more public.