All the talk about Mexico's rampant drug-related violence bleeding into the U.S., along with the threat of terrorists creeping in from the southern border, is overblown, according to a new study.
The Washington Office on Latin America, which promotes itself as a group focusing on human rights, democracy and social justice (sounds liberal, don't it?), says Mexico's violence is not spilling over the border, and the security policies designed to fight terrorism and drug trafficking are causing a humanitarian crisis that places migrants in the crosshairs of organized crime and abusive authorities.
According to the report, with a link found here, a year-long study found a fivefold increase in the size of the U.S. Border Patrol in the last decade, including "an unusual new role for U.S. soldiers on U.S. soil, drones and other high-tech surveillance, plus hundreds of miles of completed fencing", without a clear impact on America's security.
For example, the study found that more drugs are flowing through the border than ever before, despite the dramatic buildup of security forces.
While Mexico has seen more than 50,000 organized crime-related murders since 2007, with the exception of a "few notorious incidents", the U.S. side of the border region suffers
less violent crime than the U.S. average, or the averages of the four border states, according to the report, which says Ciudad Juárez, one of the most crime-infested places on the
planet, sits across one of the safest cities in America, El Paso, Texas.
Researchers suggest one reason why violence is not spilling over to the U.S. is that Mexican drug traffickers try to avoid incidents on the U.S. side "that might trigger a closure of
official border crossings, through which most drugs pass."
See how thoughtful they are?
The report also shows a striking drop in migrants attempting to cross at the border. Since 2005, the number of migrants caught by the U.S. Border Patrol at the southern border has plummeted by 61 percent, to levels not seen since Richard Nixon was president, according to the report.
"The U.S. security buildup is a factor, but the U.S. economic crisis is at least, if not more
important," researchers said. "Also, the dangerous gauntlet of abuses at the hands of
criminal organizations--and certain Mexican officials--through which migrants must pass
on the way to Mexico's northern border causes some to reconsider the journey."
As many as 20,000 migrants each year, mostly Central Americans, are kidnapped--some of them tortured, raped or murdered--by criminals in Mexican territory, and the crimes are often aided and abetted by corrupt Mexican security and migration officials, according to the report. Researchers said non-governmental groups on the U.S. side have reported thousands of cases of migrant abuse at the hands of American authorities. Migrant deaths due to dehydration and exposure on U.S. soil have spiked in the last decade, the study shows.
As for the threat of terrorism, researchers say to date, no member of a group on the Department of State's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations has been detected attempting to cross the Mexico-U.S. border with intent to do harm.
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In the meantime, the report says, the U.S., after Sept. 11, "has thrown together a confusing edifice of overlapping, poorly coordinated security, law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies. This includes a troubling, though for now circumscribed, domestic role for the U.S. military."
Adam Isacson, WOLA's senior associate for regional security, and one of the study's leading authors, said the study contradicts the hawkish calls for the massive buildup of U.S. border security forces, including the military.
"The whirlwind security buildup should stop now," Isacson said. "The U.S. and Mexican governments need to pause, reconsider, and take steps to make the world's busiest frontier more efficient, lawful, and humane for the rest of the 21st century."