Pubdate: Mon, 11 Aug 2014
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Authors: James P. Farwell and Darby Arakelian, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Page: A7


Both Topics Are Intertwined and Must Be Addressed Together

The faces of frightened young children huddling together just inside 
our border are heartrending. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has the right 
attitude. Enough talk. Let's act.

Merely deploying National Guard units underscores the pressing need 
for a national dialogue that places immigration into a more sensible 
context. Too many politicians miss the real issues and exploit the 
topic for partisan gain.

Immigration is a symptom. Immigrants have different motives for 
coming here, but a core problem stems from the Mexican drug war that 
has claimed more than 105,000 lives on our doorstep, and threatens 
our families and children in perhaps a thousand U.S. cities.

Cartel activity is a key factor that propels the immigration. If our 
politicians want to complain, they need to address the real problem 
with a realistic strategy to win the drug war. What actions are 
plausible? First, recognize that the drug war is a hemispheric 
challenge, not one just for the U.S. or Mexico.

Second, while illegal drugs challenge law enforcement, recognize the 
true nature of the Mexican drug war and deal with it on that basis. 
It is a low-intensity conflict conducted by criminals who also 
qualify as terrorists and insurgents.

Too many think terrorism is about ideology and seizing power, while 
crime is about greed and illegal profits. Actually, they often overlap.

Mexican cartels have an ideology that gives meaning to the everyday 
lives of impoverished people, offering social mobility, money and a 
definable culture that is far more concrete and meaningful than 
anything alQaida, the Tamil Tigers, Shining Path or other violent 
extremists have offered.

The cartels seek and have seized much power in both Mexico and 
Central America. Indeed, some have estimated that the cartels already 
control between 40 percent and 60 percent of Guatemala's territory.

The U.S. should designate cartels and their leaders as terrorists, 
and devote the resources to defeat them. We won't send in the 
Marines. We can pressure Mexico to forge a force like Italy's 
carabinieri that can take on heavily armed cartels. We can train, 
equip and support a Mexican force.

Third, get Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on board. His 
predecessor Felix Calderon tried to defeat the cartels. Nieto's 
public posture is less clear. We need to get him serious.

We must also provide concrete support for Central American partners 
who feel that, while we'll spend and spend in the Middle East to help 
people who basically dislike us, we treat allies to the south like 
second-class friends.

Why does anyone believe that makes sense?

Fourth, get serious about counterterrorist finance and 
money-laundering. One government agency, according to The Washington 
Post, urged emptying cartel bank accounts. The White House and 
Treasury Department balked at this savvy approach. Let's revisit the idea.

Fifth, as anti-drug expert Sylvia Longmire has observed, dispel the 
illusion that the border "wall" is a viable alternative, and provide 
more border patrol agents and equip them better - and do so now.

Most important, political leaders need to engage U.S. voters in a 
transparent, in-depth dialogue about how much immigration this nation 
will accept, from where, and on what terms. Part of that dialogue 
must include actions around illegal immigrants already embedded in 
our society, as well as recent arrivals. They need to integrate that 
dialogue with one about how we're going to protect our families and 
children against the flow of drugs into our cities and winning the 
drug war. The topics are entwined.

Polarizing voters is easy. Finding real solutions is tough. We need 
leaders who show the moral courage and strength of mind to move 
beyond what to do about the children who have arrived and address the 
issue in a context that enables us to gain control over our borders 
and protect our future.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom