DHS plans for ‘surge’ on Mexican border

Is there no problem a surge can’t fix? Michael Chertoff tells the New York Times that the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to build a fence and boost security on the Mexican border aren’t just about immigration, they’re also to keep Mexico’s drug violence on the other side of the border. If it does spill ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
589699_090108_chertoff5.jpg
589699_090108_chertoff5.jpg

Is there no problem a surge can't fix? Michael Chertoff tells the New York Times that the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to build a fence and boost security on the Mexican border aren't just about immigration, they're also to keep Mexico's drug violence on the other side of the border. If it does spill over, they have a plan:

"We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge — if I may use that word — capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with" the Defense Department, Chertoff said in a telephone interview.

Officials of the Homeland Security Department said the plan called for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, with the size of the force depending on the scale of the problem. Military forces would be called upon if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were overwhelmed, but the officials said military involvement was considered unlikely.

Is there no problem a surge can’t fix? Michael Chertoff tells the New York Times that the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to build a fence and boost security on the Mexican border aren’t just about immigration, they’re also to keep Mexico’s drug violence on the other side of the border. If it does spill over, they have a plan:

“We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge — if I may use that word — capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with” the Defense Department, Chertoff said in a telephone interview.

Officials of the Homeland Security Department said the plan called for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, with the size of the force depending on the scale of the problem. Military forces would be called upon if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were overwhelmed, but the officials said military involvement was considered unlikely.

I’m glad that DHS is paying attention to the unfairly overlooked drug violence in Mexico, but I doubt that U.S. military personnel operating in the southern United States would be any more effective at combating drug traffickers than the 45,000 troops that Mexico has deployed in its own territory. Or, for that matter, the Colombian military’s U.S.-funded efforts.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Photo: Mike Lutz/DHS via Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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