U.S.-Mexican border security continues to deteriorate
Tensions between the United States and Mexico have grown in recent weeks with the deaths of two Mexicans at the hands of U.S. Law enforcement agents during violent border encounters.
On May 28, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, 42, died at the San Ysidro, Calif., border crossing after first being tasered by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The man was later found to be intoxicated with methamphetamine and to have suffered from hypertension that contributed to a heart attack. American officials said Hernandez Rojas fought with agents who were trying to return him to Mexico. The man's family said they will sue the U.S. government.
Last week, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca, 15, was fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent. According to witnesses, the group he was with on the Mexican side of the border began throwing rocks at a U.S. agent who was attempting to arrest an illegal immigrant crossing the border at El Paso, Texas. A shot was fired from the United States into Mexico, and the youth was fatally wounded.
After the shooting, Mexico opened a homicide investigation, and the FBI also commenced a probe of the death. Mexican President Felipe Calderone said he was "shocked and outraged" regarding the two deaths, and Mexico's foreign affairs minister said shooting at the teen in El Paso was a "disproportionate use of force."
But for U.S. agents working the border, the deaths illustrate the stark reality of a violent situation that threatens to spin out of control.
"Enough is enough," said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents U.S. agents.
"The Mexican government demanding a full investigation and pretending they have no control or responsibility over what happened is unbelievable," Bonner said. "They openly encourage people to cross. Nobody shows up to stop the rock throwers, smugglers on their side. It's a terrible thing that they are allowing criminals to gather on their side of the border to assault our agents."
The teen who was killed in the Texas border shooting had been a known smuggler since 2009, and his name is listed on a "most wanted" list of juvenile smugglers compiled by authorities in El Paso, officials said.
President Obama agreed last month to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and is seeking an extra $500 million for border enforcement.
But officials said the measures are insufficient to stop wholesale smuggling and growing violence at the border that has strained U.S.-Mexico relations. And some of those charged with keeping the peace put the blame squarely on the Mexican government.
"Mexico keeps grandstanding," said a Border Patrol agent, who asked that his name not be revealed for fear of retribution. "They are hypocrites. We're out there everyday. We put our lives on the line, and we need to do our jobs."
Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officials interviewed by The Washington Examiner say it is Mexico's bad policies that pose a security risk to law enforcement in the field.
"Do you think U.S. Border Patrol agents would allow American teenagers to throw rocks at Mexican police or military from our side of the border into Mexico?" a Department of Homeland Security official said. "It would never happen. But daily, agents and officers are confronted by thugs while Mexican law enforcement rarely lifts a finger and many times are a part of the problem. "
Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officials pointed out Mexico's Grupo Beta, described by Mexican officials as a migrant welfare agency group, for criticism. The group assists 150 to 200 migrants a day who are seeking to enter the United States illegally with water, maps and other services.
The Mexican government's foreign ministry in 2005 issued a 32-page comic book that is still circulating on illegal smuggling routes providing tips on how to enter the United States illegally.
The persistent corruption among Mexican law enforcement agencies complicate the problem with violence on the border, American border agents say. Mexican police who are not corrupt are intimidated by powerful drug trafficking organizations, U.S. agents said.
"It is a storm that's only going to get worse," said a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who has investigated Mexican drug cartels. "Our law enforcement agents are on the front lines of a war that is embedded deeply in Mexico."
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