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Grijalva seeking new border plans

Citizen Staff Writer



The nation’s strategy at the U.S.-Mexico border needs rethinking if it is to make a dent in escalating drug violence that is leaking into this country, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Friday.

Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the appointment of former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to head the U.S. Homeland Security Department was one step in the right direction.

As a border state governor, Napolitano had ground-level experience with the most pressing issues, Grijalva told the editorial board of the Tucson Citizen on Friday.

“A lot of people have felt for a long time that we were missing the target,” Grijalva said.

While the influx of illegal crossers and workers creates myriad problems for law enforcement, courts and social and health service programs in border states, officials have concentrated efforts too heavily on events such as publicized raids on workplaces to round up illegal workers, Grijalva said.

“Instead of just doing head counts, let’s focus on the real issues out there,” he said.

The drug cartels are experienced and organized criminal enterprises that have easy access to high-powered sophisticated weaponry – some of it apparently from U.S. military stores, he said.

Both nations should turn their full attention to stopping the heads of drug and human smuggling operations, not individuals at the bottom of the ladder, he said.

“People being smuggled don’t organize their own rings,” Grijalva said.

Recent dialogue between the U.S. and Mexico on joint strategies to curtail the violence between rival drug organizations is a positive sign, Grijalva said. “I think they are the biggest threat on the border right now.”.

A possible point of cooperation could be shared intelligence to attack both illegal drug trafficking into this country and gunrunning from here into Mexico, along with better tracking of the illegal proceeds from both crimes, he said.

There are critics of shared intelligence in Congress and in federal agencies charged with border oversight that could make such cooperation difficult, Grijalva noted.

Part of the problem with current border policies is that they have been formulated and executed by government officials with no experience with the border, he said.

Grijalva wants new policies to combat human and drug smuggling at border

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