Responding to growing alarm about drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and Deputy Attorney General David Ogden today will lay out how the administration’s “comprehensive response” to the problem.
Recent congressional hearings have called attention to a growing culture of violence among Mexican drug cartels that has spilled into American cities near the border, like Phoenix, Ariz. and El Paso, Texas, while spreading fear as cartels [increasingly reach](They are now present in at least 230 U.S. cities, up from about 50 cities in 2006.” In addition to corrupt law enforcement and an ineffective criminal justice system in Mexico, Durbin and others noted that the United States is, as Mexico’s President Calderón said last week, “the biggest consumer of drugs and the largest supplier of weapons in the world.”) into cities across the United States. U.S. lawmakers say much of the violence is in response to Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s serious attempt to reduce corruption and crack down on the cartels’ operations in Mexico.
That’s put real pressure on the United States, however, and the governors of Texas and Arizona have both asked the federal government to send National Guard troops to help secure the border. That, in turn, has raised fears among some immigrants’ rights groups that the National Guard would be used to crack down not on drugs or violence, but on illegal immigration.
The plan the White House will set forth today includes investing $700 million to collaborate with Mexican law enforcement, increasing the number of federal law enforcement agents along the border, and pledges to increase funds for drug treatment and alternative sentencing to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.
Notably, however, it does not include sending in the National Guard.
Update: At a White House press briefing this morning, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, in response to questions about the Texas governor’s request to send National Guard troops, said she is still considering it, but needs more information about where and how they would be used.
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