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Grijalva: Shift to fight cartels is a good idea

Citizen Staff Writer



President Obama’s planned shifting of border resources away from workplace raids inside the U.S. to fight Mexico drug cartels “is a step in the right direction,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Wednesday.

The president met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the nation’s capital Wednesday to discuss the policy shift to battle the cartels that are increasingly responsible for violence on both sides of the border.

“Right under our noses criminal activity is going on,” Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a telephone interview. “We’ve been missing the target for a long time.”

Efforts to control illegal immigration and drug cartel-related violence will have to come from both governments to be effective, he said.

That could include more shared intelligence between the nations, which the two-term congressman conceded would be opposed by some in law enforcement and Congress.

“It has to be bilateral cooperation,” Grijalva said. “We can’t do it ourselves.”

Arizona has felt the impacts of illegal immigration and drug violence as keenly as any border state. In Phoenix, there have been hundreds of drug-related crimes, including kidnappings, and the crime statistics keep rising, Grijalva said.

He had cautious words about plans to step up U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, where the military is bogged down in fighting the resurgent Taliban.

Military might alone won’t bring victory or even sufficient stabilization to allow troop withdrawals because the root causes of the conflict extend far beyond opposing military forces, he said.

“The breeding ground of extremists is poverty,” Grijalva said.

The country has little modern infrastructure to allow its people to compete in the world marketplace.

“The lack of an adequate transportation grid for healthy trade makes poppy the crop of choice for farmers,” Grijalva said.

It is difficult to get farmers to switch to other crops without safe and reliable market routes and training in modern business strategies, he said.

U.S. policy should encourage the country’s leadership to become more “geographically, economically, tribally and gender diverse,” Grijalva said.

Grijalva: Obama’s shifting of resources will help fight Mexico drug cartels

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