US authorities have lost control of the southern border to Mexican drug lords, says Arizona official

‘The cartels are basically running this border’: US authorities have lost control of the southern border to Mexican drug lords who smuggle humans and narcotics and endanger Americans, says local leader

  • Arizona country official warns lack of US border control is helping cartels thrive
  • Border Patrols reported the highest number of migrants crossing north in 2022 
  • Lax controls allow cartels to exploit migrants fleeing violence, kept in servitude

An Arizona county official spoke out on the difficulty of enforcing the southern border shared with Mexico as cartel trafficking operations intensify.

Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines told Fox News: ‘This is not a political discussion. This is a national security issue.’

Mr Lines warned that some migrants, who are often fleeing violence and poverty, remain ‘indebted to the cartel’ when they arrive in the United States when unable to afford the fees demanded for transit.

This comes after President Biden’s meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador during their summit in Mexico last week, after which the President claimed there was ‘no time’ to touch on migration.

More relaxed border policies since the pandemic have inspired cartels to take advantage of migrants seeking relative safety in the United States.

The Mexican drug war, a US-led collaborative effort to dismantle cartels and end the trafficking of people and drugs, is one of the world’s largest conflicts, ongoing since 2006 and responsible for 20,000 casualties last year alone.

Migrants into the United States are processed by Border Patrol in early January 2023

Migrants into the United States are processed by Border Patrol in early January 2023

Mr Biden (L) said there was 'no time' to discuss immigration at his meeting with Obrador (C)

Mr Biden (L) said there was ‘no time’ to discuss immigration at his meeting with Obrador (C)

This follows comments from the Yuma County mayor last week that President Biden’s crackdown on illegal immigration from Mexico would barely ‘move the needle’.

The Republican mayor said it was a step in right direction, but without freeing up agents to properly patrol the frontier it would make little difference.

‘It needs to be more holistic; it needs to be greater,’ he added.

‘And really, until we get down to enforcement, you’re not going to discourage anyone from coming here.’

President Joe Biden visited the Texas border city of El Paso on Sunday 8 January to witness the full-scale of the migrant crisis of the US southern border.

The images, obtained by DailyMail.com, offer a powerful account of how a city on the frontlines is coping with the more than two million people who tried to cross from Mexico into the United States last year. 

The President’s Republican opposition dismissed the visit a ‘photo-op’ without substance.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said he wanted to make sure that President Joe Biden had the full picture of how the border crisis was impacting his city. So, he gave him these pictures

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said he wanted to make sure that President Joe Biden had the full picture of how the border crisis was impacting his city. So, he gave him these pictures

The pictures show a humanitarian crisis unfolding on American soil. Here a man sleeps beneath an American Red Cross blanket at El Paso's airport

The pictures show a humanitarian crisis unfolding on American soil. Here a man sleeps beneath an American Red Cross blanket at El Paso’s airport

Migrants stage a protest outside the US Consulate in Tijuana on 9 January, demanding authorities legislate immigration reform and hear their asylum claims as they flee violence

Migrants stage a protest outside the US Consulate in Tijuana on 9 January, demanding authorities legislate immigration reform and hear their asylum claims as they flee violence

What is Title 42 and how will Biden use it to manage migration?

Title 42 border restrictions are a public health order that enabled U.S. authorities to turn back most migrants, including people seeking asylum from persecution.

The law was used in 1929 and then again in 2020 as a means of keeping  communicable diseases out of the country.

The law gave the United States the ability to process migrants more quickly during the pandemic without having to consider them for asylum.

President Biden sought to repeal the order several times before Christmas, but the US announced on 17 January that the restrictions would be extended.

The number of migrants now attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is at its highest level in two decades – with even larger numbers expected to arrive once the pandemic-era order is lifted.

Many of those were repeat crossers because Title 42 carries no legal or criminal consequences.

As the US looks to open up more legal pathways for crossers, it will use Title 42 to manage the numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.

Some public health experts, democrats and advocates have criticized the use of the order, however. 

Title 42 is one of two major surviving Trump-era policies to deter asylum at the border. 

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While Covid slowed migration north of the border, US Border Patrol encounters with migrants rose along the border from 400,000 in 2020 to 1.6mn in 2021.

Encounters usually result in expulsions, often to the last country of transit, or apprehensions, where migrants are detained in the United States.

Officials warned from 2021 that lax border policies brought in under the Biden administration have incentivized human – as well as drug – trafficking.

Customs and Border Patrol reported the highest ever annual number of migrants crossing the southern United States border in 2022 at 2.37mn.

Mexican drug cartels have thrived, expanding their fentanyl production significantly in 2023. 

In 2019, Mexicans declined to less than half of the United States’ unauthorized immigrant population for the first time, according to research by the Pew Research Centre, as more left than arrived.

American administrations have historically struggled to find a permanent, fair and humane solution to immigration from the southern border. 

The US announced yesterday it would extend the contentious Title 42 order, used by the Trump administration to curtail migration into the country during the pandemic, for temporary alleviation.

The order allows border officials to process migrants more quickly, turning back even those fleeing persecution. 

The last major piece of permanent legislation was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, which penalized businesses that employed immigrants unable to legally work in the US.

But the ambitious goal to ‘establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration’ was not widely popular with politicians.

Migrants arriving illegally into the United States often do so under perilous conditions, paying extortionate fees to cartels to escape violence at home.

The United States cannot return refugees to their country of origin under the United States Refugee Act of 1980, and collaboration with Mexico instead results in Mexico speeding up expulsions to Central America, or the United States deporting Central American migrants to southern Mexico to cross the border into Guatemala.

But the criminal control of regions results in reports of extortion and sexual violence among internally displaced people, according to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency.

BIDEN’S PLAN TO ADDRESS HISTORIC MIGRANT CRISIS  

President Joe Biden last week unveiled plans for dealing with migrants arriving at the border with Mexico

President Joe Biden last week unveiled plans for dealing with migrants arriving at the border with Mexico

  • Accept 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela every month
  • Can come to the U.S. for two years if they are sponsored, have background checks and receive work authorization 
  • Expel migrants from those countries who try to cross the border illegally and impose a five-year ban on reentry
  • Individuals from Mexico and Panama will not be eligible for parole in the U.S.
  • Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 expelled migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela
  • Welcome 20,000 refugees from Latin America and Caribbean nations in 2023 and 2024 
  • Migrants will have to set up an appointment using a cell phone app for appointments at border entry points 
  • U.S. giving $23 million in humanitarian assistance to Mexico and Central America
  • Increasing funding available to border cities and those receiving an influx of migrants 

 

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President Joe Biden meets with members of U.S Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday, January 8, 2023, his first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border since taking office

President Joe Biden meets with members of U.S Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday, January 8, 2023, his first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border since taking office

US President Joe Biden (L), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speak following the 10th North American Leaders Summit

US President Joe Biden (L), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speak following the 10th North American Leaders Summit

The United States remains in a difficult position; lax border policy incentivizes cartels to traffic and enserf migrants, while returning migrants south exposes them to further extortion.

Immigration was deemed a priority issue for President Biden at first, who looked to enact sweeping reforms that would put 11 million people living illegally in the U.S as of 1 January 2021 on an eight-year path to citizenship. 

On 9 January 2023, the President blamed Congress for inaction in reforming naturalization laws.

He said: ‘Until Congress passes […] a comprehensive immigration plan to fix the system completely, my administration is going to work to make things better at the border using the tools that we have available to us now.’

Mexican President Obrador also promised to put an end to the drug war when he was first elected in 2018, but the country has struggled.

This week, Mexico’s ex-crime chief, Genaro García Luna, goes on trial over cartel bribery accusations.

Both the United States and Mexico continue to fight against a vague and well-resourced enemy, enabled in part by demand for drugs and the promise of a better life in the north. 

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