MISSION, RGV – They are in the early stages but discussions are taking place about Mexico setting up its own Border Patrol.

Details were revealed by U. S. Rep. Henry Cuellar in an interview with reporters at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce on Monday. Cuellar recently visited Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and top Mexican security officials, and Bogotá to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and top Colombian security officials.

“We want Mexico to have its own version of the Border Patrol so the U.S. and Mexico can coordinate and control the border,” Cuellar said. “I know they are doing that in a pilot program. I want to see that extended up and down the border. I think if we (the U.S. and Mexico) work jointly on border security, through a coordinated approach between two Border Patrols, I think that would be a lot safer.”

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar spoke to reporters about border security at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. He is pictured with U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar spoke to reporters about border security at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. He is pictured with U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold.

Cuellar said his visit to Mexico City was productive.

“When we were in Mexico City we were talking with Mexico about them starting to patrol their southern border with Guatemala. They have a southern border but it is a very porous border. That is why you are seeing so many people through this area that are OTMs (Other Than Mexicans). That is something we are working on. We are hoping to put some assistance in Mexico so they can do a better job of patrolling their southern border,” Cuellar said.

Asked if Mexico has asked for help from the U.S. in patrolling its southern border with Guatemala, Cuellar said “yes.”

Cuellar was asked if the main reason for having a Mexican Border Patrol on the northern border would be to interrupt the flow of illegal cash and weapons going south. “It would be to stop drugs and undocumented persons coming in (to the U.S.) but on the way back to stop cash and arms, which are the two big things Mexico is very concerned about. So, if we can do that by coordinating on both sides I think it will be something that is extremely helpful. As I say, there is a pilot program but we need to do this up and down. We need to get Mexico interested in doing this. We have our own Border Patrol. Now we need Mexico to do their part.”

Asked how long it might take to set up a Border Patrol in Mexico, Cuellar said: “Right now Mexico is in such a difficult situation. They are trying to put out fires throughout the country. What did happen while we were there is that the Mexican officials did tell us they are going to start putting more reinforcements into the state of Tamaulipas, whether it is Matamoros, Reynosa, or Nuevo Laredo. As you know, Tamaulipas has been a very difficult situation. So, for the first time, I hear Mexico say they are going to put more resources in. When they do that and how much, I don’t know but at least they told me they are going to put more resources in Tamaulipas. We are waiting for them to do that.”

Cuellar visited Mexico and Colombia with U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky, and other members of the Appropriations Committee.  This committee approves security funding for U.S. assistance to Mexico and Colombia. This funding helps train and equip Mexican and Colombian security forces. It includes counter-narcotics and law enforcement support through coordination in law enforcement efforts, intelligence-sharing efforts and promotion of rule of law and improvements to the judicial system.

Cuellar said his visit to Colombia was productive.

“Colombia has been a very, very, good partner of the United States. They welcome us. They do not want us to stop the funding. It is a very difficult situation but Colombia is one of those models of success. It was worse than Mexico. They have done a good job in controlling the situation,” Cuellar said.

“Colombia still has issues of cocaine coming into the United States. Unfortunately, as long as there is multi-billion dollar appetite for cocaine in the U.S. we will have a problem. As you know, we send about $25 billion to $30 billion, probably more than that, of profits, of consumption in the U.S., into Mexico because of the cocaine and the drugs coming through Mexico. As long as there is consumption here in the U.S., Colombia is still going to be exporting cocaine to us.”

Cuellar concluded his interview on border security by expressing his pleasure at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s decision to commit more officers to the South Texas region.

“I am excited about the new CPB officers. It is the first time ever we put more money into the men and women in blue. Now we have got to get the officers hired, get them trained. They are starting to officially hire. I got the specific numbers for all the ports in Texas but we have been asked not to talk about those numbers. I will say that from the Laredo area down we are going to do very well.”

On his return from Mexico City and Colombia, Cuellar issued this statement: “Working with our partners in Mexico and Colombia, we can stop the flow of illegal drugs at their source, resulting in huge savings in dollars and human life. As a Member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to advocate for smart spending to stem the flow of illegal drugs and keep our communities in South Texas safe.  We have great partners in the Administrations of Mexico and Colombia and I look forward to continue our important work together.”

Cuellar also penned an op-ed on border security following his visit to Mexico City and Colombia. Click <a href=”http://www.riograndeguardian.com/columns_story.asp?story_no=20″>here</a> to read the op-ed.

Cuellar’s was at the Mission Chamber with U.S. Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, and Roger Williams, R-Austin, to discuss transportation issues.

<I>Editor’s Note: The Guardian will have reports on transportation issues from the Mission event in later posts. </I>