Past Features

November 30, 2017

Militarizing Mexico - and the border?

Mexican army units within 100 yards of Arizona/Mexico border --- photos by American Border Patrol
NY Times -- November 29, 2017  
Mexico Bill Cements Military's Crime-Fighting Role. Some Civilians Are Uneasy.   
    Mexican legislators are preparing to write the military's role in the drug war into law, drawing fire from critics who say the legislation will keep soldiers on Mexico's streets indefinitely and lead to the suspension of basic civil rights.
    A vote by the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, could come as early as Thursday before debate moves to the Senate as sponsors seek passage by Dec. 15.
    Supporters say the measure would provide a legal framework for Mexico's armed forces to continue battling organized crime under a presidential declaration. The military has led operations against criminal gangs for more than a decade based on little more than a command from the president and the request of state governors. Over the past year, the defense secretary, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, has pressed for a law to guide deployments.
    But a wide array of critics, including constitutional lawyers and human rights groups, say the legislation will cement the military's leadership in the drug war, putting it beyond civilian oversight and removing any incentive for state and local leaders to build effective police forces.
    "This is the same as militarizing police activities for the foreseeable future, or perhaps forever," said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a lawyer who is on the board of Mexicans United Against Crime. "The exception will become the norm."

Judicial Watch - May 5, 2015
    
....Going back a decade, Judicial Watch has forced both the Bush and Obama administrations to release documents detailing intentional border incursions by Mexican military and other government personnel. DHS records show that Mexican military incursions occur quite often and go unpunished by the U.S. For instance, the DHS documents reveal 226 incursions by Mexican government personnel into the U.S. between 1996 and 2005. In 2007 alone, 25 such incursions occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border involving Mexican military and/or law enforcement. The problem has only gotten worse over the years, according to the records obtained in the course of JW's ongoing investigations. In fact, earlier this year a serious incursion occurred in Arizona. Two heavily armed camouflaged soldiers from Mexico crossed 50 yards over the border into Arizona and held American Border Patrol agents at gunpoint in a tense confrontation.
    According to information obtained by California Congressman Duncan Hunter from the Department of Homeland Security, there have been 300 documented incursions by Mexican military and law enforcement authorities onto U.S. soil since 2004. Hunter reported on June 17, 2014, that, according to the DHS:
     
There have been a total of 300 documented incursions since January 1, 2004;
    
Of the 300 documented incidents, there were 152 incidents involving armed subjects (totaling approximately 525 subjects);
    
Of the 152 incidents involving armed subjects, verbal or physical contact was made with the armed subjects in 81 incidents (approximately 322 armed subjects in total). An encounter with one of these Mexican Government Law Enforcement or Military entities does not always equal a standoff or confrontation. It depends on a case-by-case basis where one would have to read the narrative completed on the Significant Incident Report for the specific incursion;
    
Of the 81 armed encounters, a total of 131 subjects were detained. While the number of unauthorized incursions by Mexican authorities is relatively few, it is imperative for our officer safety to handle each situation assertively but with sensitivity and professionalism.

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