The kidnapping of four US nationals in Mexico this week, which resulted in the deaths of two of them, has refocused attention on the politically delicate topic of southern border security, prompting calls from certain congressmen for the Biden administration to take cartels more seriously.
US and Mexican authorities have been seeking four Americans who were kidnapped last Friday after crossing the border for a trip to get a medical procedure. On Tuesday, two of the Americans were discovered dead. One of the others was hurt, but the fourth is alive.
The two Americans who survived the horrific kidnapping in Mexico have returned to the United States and are being treated in a Texas hospital.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), unidentified assailants opened fire on the four Americans’ vehicle shortly after it crossed into Mexico. Armed men then removed them from the spot. Officials have not stated whether the four Americans were purposefully targeted.
Officials in the Biden administration termed the killings as “unacceptable,” potentially raising tensions around the already tense issues of border security and US-Mexico relations while police investigate the incident.
“Attacks on U.S. citizens are unacceptable no matter where or under what circumstances they occur,” John Kirby, a national security spokesperson for the White House, told reporters Tuesday. “And we’re going to work closely with the Mexican government to make sure justice is done in this case.”
But the rhetoric from the Biden administration seems to be not enough for Republican lawmakers. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham claimed on Fox News on Monday that he was ready to present legislation that would designate certain Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and “set the stage” for the United States to employ military force in Mexico in the aftermath of the kidnappings.
“I would tell the Mexican government if you don’t clean up your act, we’re going to clean it up for you,” Graham said.
Some Republicans, like Texas Rep. Chip Roy, have previously advocated for the designation of drug cartels as terrorist organizations, and the tragic kidnapping just across the border has re-enforced those calls.
Republicans have been arguing for months that the Biden administration has not done enough to stem the flow of migrants and drugs at the southern border, implying that the president’s permissive approach to border security is resulting in violence.
“The cartels couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime than Joe Biden—his weakness allows them to operate unchecked,” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said. “President Biden needs to secure the border and declare war against the cartels to protect Americans from drugs and this bold-faced violence.”
“Four Americans were kidnapped by a Mexican cartel. Two are dead. There’s no chance the cartel would be SO BOLD if America had a president who took border security seriously. We are a laughingstock because of Biden’s weak leadership,” Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee, tweeted Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Florida Rep. Michael Waltz presented a joint resolution empowering US President Joe Biden to use military force to confront the gangs smuggling fentanyl and other hazardous drugs across the border.
Crenshaw, the bill’s architect in the last Congress, told Fox News Digital that the cartels are “responsible for about 360,000 homicides this year in Mexico” and are “militaristic in nature,” replicating “all-out civil war” in many situations.
“What we’ve been dealing with for a while now, and nobody wants to talk about it too much, is a potentially failed narcoterrorist state at our border,” Crenshaw told Fox News Digital. “And when you have 80,000 Americans a year dying from fentanyl overdose, oftentimes not even knowing they were taking fentanyl, that to me is active hostilities against the American people.”
Following the killing of Americans in Mexico, Crenshaw echoed the rhetoric against the neighboring country to the south, calling to “authorize military force against them.”
“Are you listening, [Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador]? We would love for you to be a partner. Help us help you,” Crenshaw tweeted.
Former Texas US Marshal Robert Almonte also stated on Tuesday that the United States should have declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels “a long time ago.”
“We need to get angry and I’m waiting for more people to get angry. I’m waiting for our White House to get angry because the Mexican government has failed its people, it is failing the United States, and our citizens as well. And it’s time for us to do something,” the ex-US marshal said.
Almonte believes it is time for the US to “step up its game” and go after the cartels, “taking them out.” He added that Americans should refrain from traveling to Mexico for whatever reason, in the hope that this will force the Mexican government to “do something.”
“It’s all about money,” he added. “I think it’s time for the American people to put their foot down. And actually, I think it’s time that we have a boycott on travel to Mexico until Mexico gets a handle on the situation.”
On the kidnapping incident, the ex-US marshal offered that it looked like a targeted attack, adding that it may have been unintentional target but “it does not appear that they were caught in the crossfire at all.”
Doing everything possible
Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters on Tuesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the FBI “are doing everything possible to dismantle and disrupt and ultimately prosecute the leaders of the cartels and the entire networks that they depend on.”
The White House also pushed back against claims that Biden’s border policies are to blame for the latest incident of border violence.
Authorities stated that Biden just signed an order providing the Treasury Department new power to sanction cartels, that the Department of Homeland Security screens and vets each individual encountered at the border, and that Biden has supported enhanced border security funds.
Preventing the flow of fentanyl across the border has also been a high focus for Biden, according to sources, who noted that US authorities intercepted twice as many drugs last year as they did in 2020 as part of efforts to crack down on drug traffickers.
In terms of travel, the State Department has issued a travel recommendation for the area where the incident occurred, advising Americans to avoid the area due to the danger of criminality and kidnapping.
In January, Biden visited Mexico to meet with López Obrador on border security and migration issues. During the visit, tensions between the United States and Mexico were on full show, notably when López Obrador urged Biden to abandon his “disdain” for the area.
“This is the moment for us to determine to do away with this abandonment, this disdain, and this forgetfulness for Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.
Information for this briefing was found via The Hill, Fox News, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.