National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


U.S. - Mexico Border Violence Calls for Measured Intelligent Responses

March 12, 2009


Washington, DC – Today, the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are holding hearings on violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Yesterday, the President answered reporters’ questions related to contingency plans in case border violence escalates, which was covered in the Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Houston Chronicle, and elsewhere.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington.


Violence along the U.S.-Mexico border fueled by smuggling, guns, and drugs is extremely troubling and calls for transnational solutions.  It threatens to make an already chaotic border region even more chaotic, but the U.S. response should be thought through carefully.


As noted by witnesses and Members of Congress in both parties today, any long-term solution to security and anti-smuggling efforts at the U.S. border must include reforming immigration.  Immigration reform would divert economic migrants from the deserts to regulated ports of entry.  It would help cripple the smugglers by taking away much of the lucrative trade in human beings, which has escalated to broader and more violent criminal activity.


The President was measured in his answer to questions yesterday about whether and when to deploy U.S. military assets to the border.  He called for a comprehensive approach to protecting the border and we would add that border communities themselves should be consulted before any drastic preemptive actions are taken.  Secretary Napolitano’s experience on the border will be extremely helpful in crafting appropriate responses.


Border communities from the Pacific to the Gulf are already struggling with changes to U.S. border policy, which include diverting resources from interdicting drugs and violent criminals to intercepting economic migrants, the escalation of personnel and enforcement actions by the Border Patrol agents into U.S. communities, and the construction of walls and barriers.


The opponents of immigration reform have successfully blocked sensible border and enforcement approaches because of their opposition to legal immigration and legal status for immigrants already here.  We cannot let the situation at the border today further delay immigration reform that will regulate immigration and add stability to the U.S.-Mexico border region.


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The U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force report, “Effective Border Policy: Security, Responsibility and Human Rights at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” can be found here and the executive summary here.


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