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Column 081715 Brewer

Monday, August 17, 2015 

Mexico's Version of Border Woes Trumps U.S. Understanding

By Jerry Brewer 

Virtually no one is shocked to hear that U.S. border security is once again a hot topic in partisan politics as the presidential election cycle kicks in anew.

Again, a great wall that would cost multi-billions of dollars across 1,941 miles of the U.S. and Mexico border is the cry of some.  One overly energetic candidate simply believes he can force the Mexican government to fork over the billions for the massive cost of the wall. 

Many give factual reasons as to why a wall would do more to divert the wind than to stop ambitious border crossers from entering the U.S., and those in a hurry to supply a US$80 billion drug demand. Too, southbound felons running the border must get their billions of dollars across, under or over the border.

After all, the massive illicit revenue must move south quickly before more people have to die. Mexico and the northern tier of Central America know that misery well with some of the highest homicide rates in the world. 

We keep hearing opportune, popular and boisterous shouts of “we must secure our border!” The political candidates know this is a popular theme, but several savvy candidates are careful, as are many that have to work enforcement along the border, knowing that a border cannot be fully “sealed or secured.” Many promising to secure the border do a disservice in the true sense of the statement, possibly to pacify those who do not fully understand the true dilemma.

The truth is that walls and fences are needed in manageable sectors of the border where they can be monitored realistically, especially near cities and towns and where heavily transient movement is popular. Yet, even police holding hands from Brownsville, Texas to the Pacific Ocean could not fully “secure” the border. Again, what goes over and under will get through, even if temporarily. 

So what should be done to end the decades of handwringing and frustration? More decades of indecision?

We must all face the historical fact that a little less than 2,000 miles of the U.S. southern border with Mexico has never been secure to begin with! A tough pill to swallow, but healthy to understand what must be done to “manage and control” this border from both sides of the Rio Grande. 

Many realists and those of us who have served in enforcement venues in these border sectors know that this border represents far more than just a dividing line between two neighboring nations.

The complex border security problems require a commonsense approach to manage and control the border, devoid of prejudices, misinformation and partisan politics. Irresponsible or ignorant attacks against, in this case our neighboring country of Mexico, completely distorts the true rationale for effective border security. Moreover, the unfocused urgency to fix with what may be insurmountable expectations does a disservice to all concerned. 

Some of this misinformation and confusion by unscrupulous reporters and pundits is clearly seen in the fact that since 1990, the number of Central American immigrants in the United States has nearly tripled. “This immigrant population grew faster than any other region-of-origin population from Latin America between 2000 and 2010.” Since 1992, “undocumented immigrants from Mexico made up less than half of those apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

The reality is that about 40 percent of those people came in on an airplane, with a legal visa, and just overstayed their visa and have never gone home. 

It is hoped that candidates for the high office of president will stop trying to simply define the problem, and instead know the “who” and the numbers to accurately define the true border issues and the real enemies to the U.S.  This in order to effectively and proactively propose and implement the strategical engagement and interdiction methodologies necessary to better control the border.

Mexico’s dilemma, and admitted weakness, is also with critical problems with its own unsecured southern border of 514 miles with Guatemala. The border with Belize is another 156 miles of concern. Both the U.S. and Mexico must find a coordinated regional strategic plan in the areas of border security, control and development to prevent their borders from sliding further out of control. 

With ideals to be balanced against reality, why may that be more important to Mexican interests than to the United States?

Besides having some of the highest murder rates in the world, a continuing campaign of unspeakable brutality is morphing through Central America’s northern tier of nations. Thusly, estimates are that over 500,000 undocumented Central Americans illegally cross the border annually into Mexico, with the majority traveling through the country en route to the U.S.  And among them are a diverse mix of terrorist-like organized criminals and gang members.

Those borders should be the first line of defense for both Mexico and the U.S. 

Former Mexican "immigration czar" Humberto Mayans said last week that Mexico has allotted US$75.3 million to modernize its southern border, with 187 projects. He added that bringing order to the region “will take around three administrations (18 years) in order to give continuity to the actions of modernization carried out.”

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.

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