Although progress is slowly being made towards securing the southern border attacks against agents of the U.S. Border Patrol and tourists are on the rise.
“This fiscal year 744 incidents of violence have been perpetrated against Border Patrol agents, a 26 percent increase over the same time last year,” reported Department of Homeland Security Secretary Micheal Chertoff in his third “State of Immigration Address” Monday.
He said the border violence is a grim sign of progress. “That's typically what happens as you start to enforce and you make it harder, they start to fight over the shrinking pie, so to speak, and who gets the best opportunity to exploit what additional space is left,” Chertoff said. “So that's, in some sense, a good sign. The bad news is it causes a lot of violence and death and it's created a lot of havoc, particularly in Mexico.”
While DHS has witnessed more attacks on their staff, other government agencies have shown concern about attacks on U.S. tourists traveling in Mexico.
Earlier this year, the State Department issued a travel alert to caution U.S. tourists against increasing violence in Mexico that will be in effect through the summer.
“Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades,” the State Department’s alert said. “Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007. Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles.”
The alert noted “criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles, particularly in border areas Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana.”