Unmarked Border – Dangerous Border?
In the context of border security and the continuing debate over the “wall” (physical or virtual), the following story raises an interesting contrast in the ways in which the U.S. and Mexico protect their national sovereignty. In fact, the dichotomy is striking.
Recently, a California based ecologist inadvertently crossed the boundary between Mexico and the U.S. near El Centro California. How did that happen? There is no fence, and only widely spaced cement markers delineating the unmarked border. While there is no question that the mistaken identity of the ecologist and a fugitive drug runner who had been crisscrossing the border to elude capture played a role in the incident, his first person account is nothing if its not frightening, and certainly shows how the Mexican government protects its borders from encroachment.
When he encountered a Mexican border officer, he faced a vehicle-mounted machine gun and then the officer with a sidearm. According to the ecologist, this is what ensued.
"Do not move," he barked and I knew he was serious, dead serious. In addition to the officer and gunner there were two more soldiers who now followed the officer out of the vehicle. It was these two that opened the door of my SUV and began rifling through my belongings. My knowledge of Spanish is not great but the officer was saying something about my bringing drugs across the border.
Lucky for the ecologist an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had been following him, interceded on his behalf and got him released before he was arrested. It seems that the crisscrossing drug runner and the ecologist had been driving similar looking Jeeps. The DEA agent then told the ecologist just how serious of a problem he had faced.
The DEA agent confirmed my worst fears: that I would have probably lost my vehicle and belongings and been out of contact with my wife and anyone else for an unpleasant amount of time.
The moral of this story is apparent, at least to me. Especially when it comes to drug runners, the Mexican government is very serious about their border (witness the Mexican enforcement of their southern border with Guatemala). There is some data suggesting that the hard enforcement of the Mexican-Guatemala border has actually stemmed the flow of non-Mexican illegal immigrants to the U.S. Additionally, whether physical or virtual, better delineation of our border with Mexico is clearly indicated. The question of American sovereignty and the implications of the continuing “unrest” on the other side of the border remains a serious one.