As politicians from both parties plot strategy for the upcoming "lame duck" session of Congress, there's a reminder of unfinished business from past legislative sessions. We refer to the illegal immigration crisis and its companion issue, the spread of violence and anarchy along our border with Mexico.
Just how bad are things along the border? The University of Texas campus in Brownsville was closed for much of the weekend, due to escalating bloodshed on the Mexican side of the border. UT-Brownsville is within rifle range of Mexican neighborhoods where scores have died in recent days, amid clashes between drug gangs and security forces. While the campus is scheduled to re-open Monday morning, university law enforcement officials are monitoring the situation, and a new spike in violence could prompt another shut-down.
From the Brownsville Herald:
Gunfire continued to be reported in Matamoros Saturday, a day after firefights rocked the city and Mexican authorities announced the death of Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, whom they described as a leader of the Gulf Cartel.
Several people reportedly were killed Saturday in Matamoros, and four others died in Valle Hermoso to the south.
Friday’s exact toll is unknown, but well-placed sources put the number of dead at 55 or more. Official statements from the Mexican government acknowledged 10 deaths, while one law enforcement officer, speaking on condition that his name not be used, told The Brownsville Herald that the two-day toll “easily” passed 100.
The death of Cárdenas Guillén, 48, known as “Tony Tormenta” or “Tony the Storm,” came Friday after hours of armed confrontations throughout Matamoros.
Various eyewitnesses spoke with The Brownsville Herald and described the terror they felt Friday during the gunfire.
A Texas businesswoman, who was in Matamoros running errands, reported being in the downtown area when a shootout erupted just a block away. The woman reported hearing machine guns and over 20 seconds of continuous grenade explosions. She said she didn’t see any bodies.
Another woman said that while she was walking near the Pumarejo General Hospital in Matamoros, she saw a truck with armed gunmen collide with an SUV carrying a family. The woman stated that the impact rolled the SUV on its side. She said at least two gunmen got out of their vehicle and fired on the SUV as well as on a military helicopter that was chasing them. The woman said she was also fired upon as she ran for cover but was not struck.
“You would think we were in Iraq or in a movie,” she said. “Everyone was scared, gunfire everywhere, panic and chaos.”
While most of the victims of the violence have been Mexicans, at least four Americans have been murdered in Mexico over the past week. The decision to close the UT-Brownsville campus reflects growing concerns that the chaos in Mexico will spread to American communities along the border.
Not surprisingly, the MSM--and the political class--have been largely silent on this issue. President Obama telephoned his Mexican counterpart to congratulate him on the elimination of guillen, but there was no talk about strengthening border security. Readers will also note that GOP leaders, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, have been ignoring the problem as well.
Meanwhile, Mexican communities near places like Brownsville and El Paso are in a state of anarchy, and the large-scale gun battles and mass killings will eventually cross the border. Maybe then border security will become a topic for serious discussion. But how many Americans will have to die before that happens? A large-scale National Guard deployment (with proper rules of engagement) would send the right signal, but so far, no one has demonstrated the courage to make that happen. What a surprise.