Anyone who still doubts the need for a wall on our southern border needs to take a long, hard look at the violence raging just a stone’s throw from American border communities.
When nine American citizens — men, women, and children — were massacred by drug cartels just 70 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border this month, it shook our nation’s collective conscience. Our countrymen’s deaths, however, are shocking to us only because we have enjoyed such blissful isolation from the ongoing brutality south of the border.
Violent death in the deserts of Sonora, Chihuahua, and the other vast swaths of Mexican territory plagued by the cartels and their gunmen is not the exception. It is the norm, played out day after day, murder after sickening murder. At Rocky Point, not far from where the American Mormon families were ambushed, investigators are still pulling dozens of bodies from a mass grave, with the families’ search for their loved ones inhibited by the occasional arrival of armed men.
This is the reality of life beyond the protection of American law enforcement and American courts — and it’s getting worse. Based on the number of murder investigations, 2018 was the deadliest year in Mexican history, with 33,341 dead. The figure represents a stunning 15 percent increase compared to 2017, which was previously the worst year on record with 29,000 killings.
Back when I was Governor of Arizona, we were often told that former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s aggressive “drug war” was driving the surge in violence. Since Calderón’s departure in 2012, however, his successors — first Enrique Peña Nieto and now Andrés Manuel López Obrador — have pursued progressively more conciliatory approaches to dealing with transnational drug organizations, yet the situation has continued to deteriorate. Now, Mexican security forces find themselves being beaten in open combat and forced to cede territorial sovereignty to the cartels.
President Trump offered American assistance to help bring the cartels back into check, but President Obrador inexplicably rebuffed him.
There is no easy solution to the violence in Mexico, but Arizonans can be thankful for the skilled professionals of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and effective law enforcement officers who allow us to live in relative safety and comfort. Our security depends on our support for their efforts, especially with the Democrats champing at the bit to effectively end immigration enforcement. It is not for lack of trying that the cartels have failed to establish themselves in America as firmly as they have in Mexico.
Border Patrol agents have made clear time and again that they need a border wall. Physical barriers are a force multiplier for our immigration officials, enabling them to deploy their resources more efficiently. The wall will also allow them to better address the humanitarian crisis on our southern border by removing the incentive for parents to drag children with them through the lawless territory where nine Americans recently met their demise.
Despite years of obstruction from the Democrats, the border wall is already being built. Soon, you’ll even be able to watch via webcam as the new barrier snaps into place.
We should be proud of this accomplishment. Beyond the mere construction of a wall, it represents the nation’s commitment to support the efforts of our law enforcement officers to protect America at all costs.
Jan Brewer is the former Governor of Arizona