Politics & Policy

Bullets across the U.S.–Mexican Border

Illegal immigration affects the entire United States. But the Southwest now has an even more immediate problem: bullets whizzing across the border.

Whether one favors blanket amnesty for undocumented workers, mass deportation of illegal aliens, or something in between, all Americans should worry about what is happening on our southern border. The situation has devolved into bedlam, and grows more lethal daily. Pacifying the frontier has nothing to do with anti-Hispanic racism and everything to do with national security.

‐The U.S media have snored, as if under sombreros, right through the events in El Paso on June 29. At about 4:50 p.m., city workers were performing their duties at El Paso City Hall. Suddenly, a bullet pierced a window and traversed an interior wall before it was stopped by a picture frame. Another bullet smacked an exterior wall but did not penetrate it; the bullet was recovered and proved to be from an AK-47. In total, seven bullets hit El Paso City Hall that day.

Police say these bullets most likely came from across the Rio Grande, echoing Pancho Villa’s cross-border gunfire in the same area in 1919. At the same time that El Paso City Hall came under fire, six Mexican federales were battling a gun-wielding gang outside a Smart Supermarket on Bernardo Norzagaray Boulevard in Juárez, Mexico, about half a mile away. Chihuahua State Police say they found 40 spent shells from an AK-47 and other weapons at that spot. Mexican Federal Police officer Domingo Hernández Espinoza was killed in the confrontation, and two other people were wounded, one fatally. Amid all the crossfire, bullets ignored the border (a common regional attitude) and struck the seat of El Paso’s municipal government.

“Any time somebody takes a shot at City Hall, it’s of great concern to us,” Mayor John Cook told the El Paso Times. “It’s OK if people take political shots at us, but this is unacceptable.”

“Fortunately no one was injured or killed,” Texas attorney general Greg Abbott wrote President Obama on June 30. “But that good fortune was not the result of effective border control — it was mere luck that the bullets struck buildings rather than bodies.” Abbott added: “Luck and good fortune are not effective border enforcement policies. The shocking reality of cross-border gunfire proves the cold reality: American lives are at risk.”

‐Jan Brewer, the Republican governor of Arizona, generated attention with a reelection campaign commercial in which she stands in front of a large sign in southern Arizona. Rather than facing south and urging potential visitors to the U.S. to enter only if they have proper documents, this sign and others posted at intervals on taxpayer-owned federal property face north and warn Americans to avoid the area because it is too hazardous.

“DANGER — PUBLIC WARNING — TRAVEL NOT RECOMMENDED,” the sign screams. After the more specific warnings that we see above, the sign goes on to state that the Bureau of Land Management “Encourages Visitors to Use Public Lands North of Interstate 8.”

American citizens, therefore, are supposed to steer clear of a section of our nation from I-8 to the Mexican border. Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole outlined this area for me on a map. He says it runs from this sign’s location — about 12 miles east of Gila Bend — to Casa Grande, and then due south from both of those points to the frontier. By my calculation, these lines in the sand define a trapezoid that covers roughly 3,600 square miles. In other words, the Obama administration has deemed that a region larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, combined, is too treacherous for Americans to visit.

“Ceding that enormous portion of the United States to the bad guys basically is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t have control of our own territory. You’re on your own. Good luck!’” says Cole. This would be bad enough if the no-go zone were just inside the frontier. In fact, it stretches some 80 miles north of the border, and, as Governor Brewer points out, the area includes “important natural recreational destinations.” She adds: “Signs do not protect our border. Let’s protect Americans, not just warn them.”

‐At the eastern end of the Rio Grande, on the Gulf of Mexico, the University of Texas at Brownsville was closed from September 3 to 6 after bullets flew across the border and struck a parked car and a campus building. The bullets were fired during a shootout in Matamoros, Mexico. As loud explosions erupted, and Mexican Army soldiers exchanged gunfire with unidentified suspects, Cameron County sheriff Omar Lucio scrambled his deputies to border bridges to keep the violence within Mexico.

“We mobilized our manpower just as a precaution,” Sheriff Lucio told the Brownsville Monitor. “The problem is that when a bullet exits the barrel, its direction is anyone’s guess.”

‐On the exact same day that UT Brownsville closed, Sergio Saucedo, 30, was kidnapped from his home in Horizon City, Texas, near El Paso. His wife told police that he was tied up with duct tape, hauled out the back door, and whisked away in a Ford Expedition at about 3:40 p.m.

On September 8, just five days after this abduction in broad daylight, Mexican officials found Saucedo’s mutilated cadaver on their side of the border, near Juárez. Saucedo’s hands had been cut off and laid upon his chest.

‐While arguing that complaints of border-related crime can be exaggerated, the Arizona Republic admitted that “cartel-related home invasions and abductions put Phoenix among the world leaders in kidnappings.” It also recalled that a few years ago, “The Attorney General’s Office exposed a $2 billion human-smuggling business based in metro Phoenix, where criminals often assaulted illegal aliens while holding them for payment of smuggling fees.”

‐“Illegal alien!” rancher Robert Krentz, 58, radioed to his brother while driving his all-terrain vehicle around their family’s 35,000-acre ranch in southeastern Arizona on March 27. Later that night, police found Krentz dead in his ATV, with the engine still running. He seemingly encountered an illegal who fatally shot him. Law-enforcement officials found tracks near the crime scene. They followed those footsteps south 20 miles, across the ranch the Krentzes have operated since 1907, right to the border.

“We are assuming he [the assailant] escaped south into Mexico,” Cochise County sheriff Larry Dever told AP.

“Incidents like this raise the ire of law-abiding people,” Neal Carter, a Queen Creek homeowner, tells me. “Enough is enough. A sheriff was shot in the stomach nearby on Interstate 8 last spring by an undocumented immigrant. People are fed up with this situation.”

‐Carter refers to the April 30 shooting of Pinal County sheriff’s deputy Louie Puroll. Near the junction of I-8 and Arizona Highway 84, Puroll confronted five suspected drug smugglers — Hispanic men who “appear to be undocumented,” according to county lieutenant Tami Villar. The suspected smugglers fired some 30 AK-47-type rounds at Puroll, who responded with his handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. After police helicopters responded to Puroll’s distress call, the suspects futilely opened fire on the choppers. Fortunately, the police rescued Puroll, who survived this attack with a flesh wound just above his kidney.

Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeu complained that he has “called out for help” from federal officials. But so far, he says, with no luck.

‐The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah reported on July 6 that Mexican officials had uprooted a fledgling Hezbollah network in Mexico. Authorities arrested Jameel Nasr, who, they say, often visited Lebanon to receive orders from leaders of the Iranian-controlled terror group. Nasr allegedly had the help of Mexicans with family connections to Lebanon. Until his arrest, Nasr lived in Tijuana, just south of California’s border with Mexico.

“Members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already entered the United States across our southwest border,” concludes A Line in the Sand, a 2006 report by the House Homeland Security Investigations Subcommittee.

In the free-fire zone known as the U.S.-Mexican border, flying bullets now herald the arrival of Islamofascist terrorism as yet another menace on this international frontier. Yet the chief response of the overlawyered Obama administration is to sue Arizona over its recently adopted immigration law.

And so it goes in the Upside-down States of America.

– New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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