Mexican soldiers on American soil

On June 22, Mexican soldiers clad in full-body armor and armed with AR-15 assault rifles invaded a private home, firing an estimated 100 rounds and killing its occupant. But this didn’t happen in Juarez, where a bloody power struggle between competing drug cartels has now spread to busy downtown streets. It happened in Phoenix.

Police officials initially claimed there was “no credible evidence” that members of the Mexican army were involved. But Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Police Enforcement Association, said officers on the scene reported that at least one suspect admitted “he was Mexican military,” whose “group targets drug dealers and their stash houses,” including the one on Cypress Street in Phoenix.

But this latest armed incursion into the fifth-largest American city was not a benign attempt to help U.S. officials fight the war on drugs. The warring Sinaloa and Gulf cartels are hiring Mexican soldiers to protect their interests — not ours. Spencer said the captured suspect also admitted that “they were planning on ambushing the [Phoenix police] officers following them, but didn’t only because they didn’t have any ammunition left.”

Many high-ranking police officials in Mexico have been killed by drug thugs. In the Mexican village of Villa Ahumada, the mayor and the entire 20-man police force resigned recently after six people — including three officers — were gunned down. U.S. law enforcement officials report that even members of drug cartel families are moving to Arizona to escape the violence, with moonlighting Mexican soldiers in hot pursuit.

In a June 2006 article in The American Spectator, Judd Slivka reported that Mexican troops were crossing the border hundreds of times while escorting drug traffickers, sometimes firing on outgunned local sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents from .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the back of black Humvees. A Fox affiliate in El Paso filmed Mexican soldiers crossing the Rio Grande.

What was the federal government’s latest response to such repeated invasions of U.S. sovereignty? Withdrawal. “Operation Jump Start” — which sent National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol while the “virtual fence” was being built — will end next month, against the strenuous objections of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who correctly point out that the new system won’t be operational until at least 2011.

To date, neither of the two major-party presidential candidates have addressed these incursions. Voters should demand to know what Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain propose to do to stop the incursions and re-establish control of this nation’s borders. Protect the borders first, then talk about immigration reform.

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