Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coming to America?

I wonder what to make of this news, which has been circulating the last few days:

More than 5,300 people were killed in Mexico last year in connection to criminal activity, and some experts predict things will get worse. Along with Pakistan, Mexico was identified in a Department of Defense report last year as a country that could destabilize rapidly.

If that were to happen, officials are concerned that the drug violence could cross the Rio Grande into southern Texas.

Cesinger said the plan currently does not address a potential flood of refugees, though "It may be something that comes into consideration."

"Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere's equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "That would clearly require a military response from the United States."

Carpenter, who recently authored a study entitled "Troubled Neighbor: Mexico's Drug Violence Poses a Threat to the United States," said Mexican government could collapse, although it's unlikely.

"That's still a relative longshot, but it's not out of the question," Carpenter said. "It's obviously prudent for all of the states along the U.S.-Mexican border and the military to consider that possibility and not get blindsided should it happen."

Some lawmakers in Texas have begun questioning how to deal with a potentially massive influx of Mexican citizens.

"Do you strengthen the borders so people cannot get in by the thousands every day, or do you create detention centers where people are held until their status is determined?" asked state Sen. Dan Patrick. "This is a potential refugee problem..."

It's a little unsettling to be a Texas resident and hear that our government is planning what to do in the event that Mexico becomes like Somalia in terms of stability. It's even more unsettling that so few news outlets are talking about this--so far; I have a feeling that there will be a lot of people who have thoughts and ideas about this story once it gets a little more exposure.

The problem of illegal immigration is a complex one, but even more complex is the notion of handling an influx of desperate people fleeing drug violence in our neighbor to the south. Clearly, we would want to provide a safe place for the innocent in such an event; equally clearly, though, we would have to be realistic about what the US could actually do (especially given the billions being thrown at such critical pork projects in a desperate attempt to spend our way out of an economic crisis). And the potential that some of the violent criminals responsible for this turn of events in the first place would use the chaos to enter our country themselves is a rather strong, and unsettling one.

Maybe that border fence should have been built, after all. At least then there'd be a chance that we could keep the instigators of this hypothetical future scenario from posing as innocent refugees desperate for some help from Uncle Sam.


Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Have you heard about what's going on in Juarez? It's utter madness. My dad is working in El Paso and has some friends whose family members are on the police force there. He was telling me the other day that police have standing orders to wait 45 minutes to respond to gunshot calls because when the drug cartels kill someone they kill all the witnesses as well, including police.

He just sent an email saying that there were 130 murders in January. This past Monday there were 15, on Tuesday there were 17. A lot of people think it's only a matter of time until it spills over into Texas. So scary!

Milehimama said...

I'm in Houston, and I heard that Juarez already has 4x the murder rate (over last year). Even some activists in the community won't sleep in town!

Red Cardigan said...

This is truly scary stuff, Jen and Milehimamma. The threat of destabilization seems like a real one.

Marianna said...

The spillover happened just this past week with a killing just over the border in far South Texas...they are now worrying abou the effect on areas as far north as Dallas! Scary indeed.