Bensman: “My first coverage of the border was with the Calderon government, from 2006 to 2009, when that Mexican government went fully kinetic against the cartels, using their marines, their military, attack with guns, bombs, helicopters, the whole thing. And that led to a civil drug war that was incredibly painful for Mexico. I think over 200,000 Mexicans died in those years. I think the current government is maybe holding to a policy that is in reaction to those years. But it has to be said… that there is an argument to be made that the kinetic warfare of those years did not last Long enough.
They didn’t stay the course. They had to go through more pain. Easier said for an American to argue for another country to go to war. But I don’t believe that war lasted long enough. And now the policy is ‘hugs not bullets.’ I’m not making that up. That’s in their campaign sloganeering. Which is music to the ears of all of those cartel people. They’re very happy with that.”
Bensman: “Probably the central issue about mass illegal immigration of the sort we’re suffering now – I’m talking about hundreds of thousands and millions of people just pouring over the southern border, because … we’re letting them in – is that these are strangers. I can go down to the border right now with a grocery bag and fill it up in five minutes with identifications and passports thrown on the ground as their last act before they cross in.
The diversity of people who are entering in through the southern border… 43 percent of everyone reaching the border is not from Mexico or Central America but from 150 countries around the world. I’ve met people of just about every country of Africa coming through there… Mauritanians, Senegalese… Burkina Faso…wherever. I mean, I’ve met them. The issue there is, for example, that we know there are terrible atrocities or wars happening in Congo or Cameroon.
We don’t have any idea if this is the persecuted or the persecutOR when they come through and we’re just waving them through a turnstile, giving them a paper saying, on the honor system, a paper saying, ‘please report in, in a year.’ We have no idea whether the folks coming in from El Salvador or Honduras are full-on gang members. Or we don’t care. Or they slip through. We are seeing people from every nation of the Middle East, places where Islamic terrorist organizations are active.
I’m not sitting here saying, ‘Oh my god, the terrorists are crossing! The terrorists are crossing!’ But in 2022, we had 98 immigrants apprehended who were on the FBI’s terrorism watch list come through, that we caught. Against a backdrop of a million-and-a-half gotaways. That’s always an undercount, the gotaways, who are just in the interior, just running around, doing stuff. Who knows? That’s kind of the issue that I think gets away from a lot of Americans about a mass migration crisis. It’s not just about employment and work and that sort of thing. There are implications beyond those, wages and labor…”
Bensman: “We haven’t in recent decades seen the diplomatic stick come out on Mexico like we did in the four years of the Trump administration. In fact, I don’t remember … We just didn’t do stick with Mexico – until Trump. But what was interesting about when Trump pulled out that stick – and what I mean is the trade tariffs, and I think they took him very seriously about that 28 percent progressive trade tariff, and they knew he wasn’t bluffing.
He made certain demands of them that were necessary for the success of these policy choices that closed the gate. We can’t close the gate at our border unless they agree, and if they don’t agree, then the policy fails. So he used the stick. First time I’ve seen that in I don’t know, maybe ever. What was interesting about the fact that he pulled the stick out and had it like this the whole time was than when the Biden administration came in, he put the stick away immediately – and brought out carrots. We’re going to give you billions of dollars in different kinds of assistance, right? Please do these things for us. And one of the things that Biden asked them to do was hold the line at their southern border with Guatemala on this migration. Slow em down. Block em. Keep your national guard troops at the roadblocks, etc. But there was no stick.
Does anyone remember the Del Rio migrant camp crisis? Let me tell you a quick story about that. I was there the entire time, on the Mexican side, interviewing the Haitians that were coming and going. And what I learned was that those 17,000 Haitians had been blocked up down there on their southern border. They were doing their agreement with Biden. But they were rioting.
They were causing a problem every single day. They were a very violent thousands of people, in Tapachula. And the Mexicans had a major national holiday coming up called El Grito, a week of street parties. And this just was not going to fly for street parties in Mexico. So they wheeled up 400 buses and let them all go. They gave them three days to go, and they all went where? To Del Rio. And THAT is what caused the Del Rio camp crisis. The fact that the federal government of Mexico cleared out all those thousands of Haitians and passed that hot potato to the Biden administration, for some street parties, to me, is the height of disrespect. I’ll stick with disrespect. But that is not the first time they have done that on their agreements. If Trump had been in office and saw those 17,000 released for street parties? That stick would have come down hard, and they knew it.
The post Bensman at the Texas Policy Summit 2023: Mexico- Friend or Foe Panel appeared first on Todd Bensman.
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