A few weeks ago, I visited the US-Mexico border. After reading what was going on in Del Rio, Texas (with thousands of Haitians entering our country illegally), I knew I had to see for myself what was going on. I not only visited Del Rio, but went to Mexico to talk to the people there and hear what they had to say.
Everyone told me I was crazy to cross the border without security. However, I’ve always believed that you can’t fix the issues until you first identify them and call them what they are, so I knew I had to be there to better understand the problem. situation.
What I saw at the border confirmed, in a very real way, what I have been saying for months: it is not a “challenge” or even a “crisis”, but an invasion of our country, an overtaking. from our border, quite simply and simple.
The people I met in Del Rio were incredibly angry, understandably, at the federal government for letting the situation get out of hand. They couldn’t understand why our government was encouraging people to come here illegally.
But do you know who else was livid? These people that I met in Acuna, Mexico, who see their small community overwhelmed not only by illegal immigrants from outside Mexico, but also by drug cartels.
When President Trump was in power, they told me, the Mexican government deployed dozens of military officers to control border crossings. Now that President Trump has been removed from office, this military presence is almost non-existent and, as a result, drug trafficking and violence have increased exponentially.
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They admire the fact that President Trump stood up for his country and they took advantage of the Mexican government responding to his demands. Now the drug cartels are running the show.
Taking control of what is happening on our southern border requires strong leadership. It starts with sealing our border with the US military. If we don’t, we will see a total collapse of our southern border and illegal crossings will continue to skyrocket, as has happened over the past nine months in record numbers.
But there is another political step the federal government can take, immediately, to help regain control of the situation: declare the Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). This will allow our government to attack these monsters in the same way we attack terrorists.
Several elected Republicans, including Governor (Greg) Abbott of Texas, have called on our federal government to do so, to no avail. While such efforts have failed in the past, acting now is of crucial importance as the situation has reached unmanageable levels.
President Trump was right when he said that Mexico had “totally lost control of the cartels”. Now is the time to act before the United States loses control over them as well.
Designating the Mexican drug cartels as FTO would give us additional weapons to fight and win this uncontrollable war. For example, it would give federal prosecutors and law enforcement, intelligence, military and national security officers additional statutory powers and resources to prosecute cartel members and those who assist them, even extraterritorial.
It would also expose them to additional criminal liability and more serious consequences for their ruthless actions.
These people are not just drug dealers; they are terrorists carrying out massive criminal operations on both sides of our border, and they must be treated for who they are. They endanger our way of life and we must use all the weapons at our disposal to destroy them.
While some have argued that the FTO designation would not bring us any significant benefit, especially in light of what will certainly be strong opposition from the Mexican government (which would see it as interfering with its sovereignty), such criticism is misplaced. The current situation is totally out of control, so we need all possible levers to fight and win this war.
President Trump’s experience also shows us what happens when a US president toughens up and puts his country first: the Mexican government sees the stakes and reacts accordingly. Leaders respond to strength, not weakness. Now is the time to take strong and decisive action.
Bernie Moreno is a first-generation American businessman and first-time candidate for political office. He is a candidate for the US Senate.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Is the US-Mexico Border Safe From Undocumented Immigrants, Drug Cartels?