Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they think the Border Bill that President Obama signed on Friday may start to help the violence-torn and crime-ridden border the United States shares with Mexico, but they say it’s definitely not enough.
McCain and Kyl proposed a 10-point border security plan on April 20, and though they co-sponsored the new Border Bill that will provide for additional border agents, funding and surveillance drones at the Mexican border, they’re still pushing for all 10 points of their plan to get passed.
McCain and Kyl also proposed a $701 million security plan on July 29.
The $600 million plan Obama signed on Friday leaves out some of the Arizona duo’s key security recommendations.
“The bill that just passed is a start and we are pleased it included some of the pieces of our McCain-Kyl 10-point border security plan, including additional unmanned aerial systems and forward operating bases as well as an increase in Border Patrol agents,” McCain and Kyl said in a statement.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, former Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force and Arizona State Narcotics Strike Force member Bill Richardson said he doubts Washington understands the scope of the problem.
“It’s almost as if Mexico is one country, the United States is a second country and the border is another country,” Richardson said. “What really upsets me with the president is that if we’re really going to make an effort to fix this problem, he needs to dedicate the resources necessary to stop the drug trafficking. Their [the drug cartels’] net worth is approaching $1 trillion.”
Sessions, McCain and Kyl recommended the Obama administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid approve additional funding and resources to expand and fully implement Operation Streamline.
Operation Streamline is a program developed under the last Bush administration that acts as a “zero tolerance” deterrent to illegal immigrants. Under the program, illegal immigrants can serve anywhere from six-month to 20-year prison sentences, depending on whether or not they’re repeat offenders, followed by deportation. Sessions, McCain and Kyl have all pushed Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to bolster the program’s resources.
The Obama administration hasn’t responded to those GOP requests, though.
“Senator Sessions has presented a number of serious recommendations to try to secure the border,” said the senator’s spokesperson, Stephen Miller. “So far, the Democratic majority and the Obama administration have not stepped up to the plate.”
Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer said the Border Bill is likely a result of the pressures Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — the contentious Arizona immigration law that is currently held up in federal courts — put on the Obama administration.
“While [Friday’s] action by President Obama is a start, it is not enough, or even tied to a comprehensive strategy to defeat the increasingly violent drug and alien smuggling cartels that operate in Arizona on a daily basis or enforce all immigration laws,” Brewer said in a release. “We need the implementation of a federal plan to achieve victory over these brutal cartels and the dangers of our open border. I repeat my invitation to President Obama to visit the Arizona border and discuss how we can develop and implement such a plan.”
Richardson said that, to secure the border, the federal government has to go after the drug traffickers, not just ordinary illegal immigrants. He said both break the law, but if government officials had to choose which ones to go after, they should fight the cartels.
Also, Richardson said the Mexican drug cartels have steadily been establishing close relationships with various criminal organizations within the United States.
“There are links between the drug trafficking organizations and the Mexican mafia,” he said. “We now see the relationship between organized crime in Mexico and organized crime in the United States.”
Former El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) director Phil Jordan told The Daily Caller he thinks Washington needs to make a concerted, full-scale effort to attack drug cartels.
“Our focus should not change from organized crime to going after illegal bus boys and maids,” Jordan said. “Yes, they are illegal, but the priority should be going after organized crimes.”
Richardson agrees, adding that illegal immigration and drug trafficking is a problem that has spread beyond the border.
“We’re reaching for the low-hanging fruit,” Richardson said. “I think we might feel the effects of these [drug cartel] organizations on our daily lives if we fail.”
SENATE PASSES BORDER BILL