The latest shooting involving a border agent demonstrates that even with decreased numbers crossing the border, the danger and chaos on the border are just as big a threat as before the crisis began to lessen slightly. The shooting from over the weekend demonstrates that cartel and smuggling activities still need to be countered, even as the number of Central American family units crossing the border decreases. Trump would be wise to push a funding fight for building the wall and defunding sanctuary cities before he loses this last chance of his first term.
On Saturday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced in a press release that two agents were involved in a shooting in Brackettville, Texas. After the agents stopped a vehicle in an area “frequently used by smugglers to move narcotics and people from the border to San Antonio and other destinations,” a passenger fired at the two agents, wounding one of them. The other agent returned fire and killed the passenger of the vehicle and apprehended the driver.
Thankfully, the agent’s injuries are non-life-threatening, but this is what Border Patrol faces every day. There are so many parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that are confidently controlled by smuggling operations. Not even the record illegal immigration forced policymakers to finally turn their attention to the broader cartel problem.
With the number of Central Americans declining, it would be a mistake for Trump to divert his focus away from the border. Now is the time to double down. The massive numbers seeking quasi-legal or humanitarian status is only half the problem. The other problem is all those we don’t see coming in to do us harm or those with criminal records who don’t want to meet a border agent but would be deterred if we built a wall in more areas along the Rio Grande River and more aggressively deploy the military.
Every day, CR and other outlets report on the endless illegal alien murderers and sex offenders arrested for crimes in our communities. Many of them were previously deported but came in again at an unknown time. Every day, border agents catch some of these people. This year, according to Border Patrol chief Carla Provost, agents caught 4,010 criminal aliens who had prior criminal convictions and 3,842 criminal aliens with outstanding wants or warrants. Just last week, an illegal alien with multiple warrants for murder and rape was arrested in Nogales, Arizona.
But how many are not caught? Remember, the cartels could not make money off human smuggling for those who don’t want to be apprehended if they only had a five percent success rate of evading detection. The reality is that for every criminal alien agents catch, there are likely many others not caught. One estimate from Princeton Policy Advisors, which was published by Breitbart last week, projects that 600,000 illegal aliens will successfully enter the country undetected this year.
It is truly shocking how 18 years after 9/11, we are still tolerating this security problem at our border when we have deployed technology and assets across Afghanistan that we could use here. Why is the military not deployed more aggressively, and why is this not being used to make the case for border funding this week as Congress debates the funding mechanism past October 1? Until now, Congress has only provided funding for the “humanitarian” issue, not for the security problem.
Sadly, The Hill is reporting that Republicans are essentially crowning Democrats king and putting control of the process in their hands. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, warned that “the administration asks for it, but the Democrats don’t have to give it.”
Well, the last time I checked, Trump still has a veto pen and Republicans still control the Senate. Instead of spending time giving excuses, why isn’t Cornyn aggressively discussing the cartel situation in his own state and how Democrats are responsible for the security problems?
Just last Monday, a Border Patrol station in the RGV sent out an “officer safety alert in the area of La Rosita, TX,” warning of “rip crews” in the area. The alert, which was obtained by CR from an agent in the Rio Grande Valley sector who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media, warned agents that “multiple loads have been reported to have been taken by rip crews in the area.” The alert says that opposing smugglers are “arming themselves to protect their loads from the rip crews.” The report warned agents to “identify themselves and ensure they are wearing approved uniform apparel” so that they would not be mistaken for rival rip crews by cartels.
This is all happening on our side of the border, not in Mexico. Yet our government’s response is to act defensively as if our agents are precariously operating deep in Mexico. Why don’t we send in the military to chase these cartels out, stand on the actual border line, and build a wall? Why hasn’t this administration even designated the cartels as terrorists?
The American people are not being told the truth about the extent of the cartel and criminal alien problem at the border. The cartels operate up to 70 miles into our territory in Arizona, according to Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, who warned about the problem of “rip crews” when he was on my podcast in July.
Trump needs to give a speech touting the success of his actions on the mass migration side of the border equation, but then explain very vividly how the cartels and dangerous smugglers still have more operational control of our border than ever before. This has real-life consequences for major cities in all states: more drugs, gangs, and dangerous criminals. His rallying cry for the budget bill should be “fund border security, not lawless sanctuaries” as a push to beef up border funding while cutting off funding to sanctuary cities. This is our own national security at stake.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.