Congress Calls For Border Hearing

Sara A. Carter, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Cal.), Jan. 31, 2006

Border law enforcement officials and others were notified this week to appear before a U.S. House committee on Tuesday to give testimony regarding Mexican military incursions into the United States.

Several members of the Committee on Homeland Security will be heading to El Paso, Texas, on Friday as part of a fact-finding mission to collect additional information.

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Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, whose law enforcement officers had an armed standoff with men dressed in Mexican military uniforms last week, said he is pleased congressional leaders are finally calling for an investigation.

West said he has been told to appear before the investigations subcommittee meeting Tuesday.

“There is no doubt in our minds that we confronted Mexican military personnel on the border,” West said. “I’m not gratified that we had to back (the Congress) into a corner and carry video equipment instead of our guns to the operation.”

West, who was at the scene of the Jan. 23 standoff 50 miles east of El Paso, said deputies were in pursuit of three sport utility vehicles scrambling to get back over the Rio Grande into Mexico. West said deputies were in a chase with speeds reaching 110 miles per hour.

Men who had Mexican military uniforms, vehicles and weapons were assisting those in civilian clothes, West added.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered the military,” he said.

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On Friday, members of the committee sent letters to top U.S. and Mexican officials requesting information regarding such incursions. Mexican soldiers have crossed into the United States more than 200 times in the past decade, according to Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by the Daily Bulletin.

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Mexican officials did not comment Monday on the recent call for hearings, but held firm to their original statement that Mexican soldiers are not involved in the incursions. Rather, Mexican officials suggest that drug smugglers or U.S. soldiers working for drug smugglers are to blame.

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