The escalating drug violence on our Southern Border is a matter of national security on so many levels -- and our response to the situation must be a national priority.
Texas and Mexico share a 1,200 mile border. We are intertwined in many ways--in trade, families and tourism. Drug violence has a profound effect on both sides of the border.
The violence that is jolting Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and other cities along the U.S.-Mexico border is reminiscent of the days of the Colombian Cali and Medellin Drug Cartels. While the violence then was indescribable, it is even worse today. What makes today’s drug cartel violence even more disturbing is that it is happening right on our doorstep.
The Mexican Juarez, Gulf, and Sinaloa Cartels, among others, are operating with impunity across half of Mexico, including along our border. The drug-related violence is responsible for nearly 23,000 deaths in Mexico since 2006. Last year alone, there were nearly 10,000 deaths, and in just the first quarter of this year, there have already been 3,300 killings, including the murders of American embassy employees and their family members. No one is immune from the carnage. We must protect our borders to ensure that our citizens are not caught in the crossfire of the drug wars.
This problem must be addressed at the federal level. Certainly increased resources are needed for state and local law enforcement in our border communities. I have cosponsored legislation with my fellow Texas Senator, John Cornyn, to provide resources to protect our communities from the escalating drug violence.
We are calling on the Administration to immediately formulate an action plan, with long- and short-term measures to deal with the increasing drug-cartel violence south of the border. We should be looking at interim measures like temporarily deploying additional resources to affected regions to better protect communities and minimize disruptions to travel and trade. The different federal agencies need to get out of their bureaucratic silos and operate in a collaborative manner—a lesson we should have learned from 9/11.
Senator Cornyn and I are also pushing for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to patrol our border regions to help law enforcement track these criminal activities. We have been working to resolve jurisdictional issues between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Customs and Border Patrol to get the deployment of additional Predator drone flights up in air as soon as possible. I have received assurances from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that they will work with us to free up airspace to allow these flights.
We are all less secure because of this kind of violence – organized crime is emboldened, lives are being lost, and drug-trafficking organizations are taking root in our communities. Guns, drugs, money, and people are being smuggled. But the issue is not confined to our border communities. Violent crime linked to the Mexican drug cartels are being seen in Dallas and Houston—and in cities throughout the rest of the country as well. This issue impacts the entire nation and must be dealt with as a national security priority.