Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security have sent letters to top Mexican and U.S. officials, requesting information about recent incursions into the United States by members of the Mexican military.
Press reports say heavily armed Mexicans, dressed in military uniforms, have been spotted on the U.S. side of the border—apparently escorting illegal drug convoys.
The U.S. Border Patrol recently warned agents in Arizona about such incursions and potential confrontations.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), along with Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) announced on Friday that they have asked Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Carlos de Icaza to explain what’s going on.
They’ve also written to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, asking them to investigate and report back to Congress.
“This is yet another example of the clear security problems we face along our southwest border,” King said in a press release. “These episodes further illustrate the need for comprehensive border security reform.”
Rep. Rogers said reports of incursions and armed confrontations involving members of the Mexican military “make a mockery of our border security efforts. We need to know why this is happening, and we need to know now.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there have been 231 such incursions since 1996, an average of more than 28 per year, the Republicans said.
“This is an issue that deserves the attention of Secretary Rice and Secretary Chertoff,” King said. “And the Senate needs to follow the House’s lead in passing a border security measure that will help bring episodes such as these to an end.”
U.S. law enforcement officials scoffed Thursday at suggestions made by a Mexican diplomat that U.S. soldiers disguised as Mexican troops helped drug traffickers during a border standoff Monday near Sierra Blanca.
Mexico’s foreign relations secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez’s suggestion of U.S. military involvement came the day after U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza issued a strongly worded statement asking the Mexican government to “fully investigate” Monday’s border incident.
Derbez said his office is sending two diplomatic letters, one asking ambassador Garza to tone down his rhetoric and another to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding that U.S. officials soften their comments on Mexico’s security and immigration problems.
Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West was incredulous when he heard Derbez’s suggestion that U.S. soldiers were involved in the standoff.
“The guy just confirmed that he’s a complete idiot,” West said. “I’m reiterating that it was the Mexican military. There is no doubt about it; it was the Mexican military.”
In El Paso, Derbez’s comments were deemed “the most absolutely ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” by Rick Glancey, interim director of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition.