TUCSON, Ariz. -- Our "War Stories" team is here to document what's happening on our southern border. Herewith, some observations based on interviews with dozens of local, state and federal officials -- and regular American citizens.
First: It is evident that the tidal wave of illegal activity on America's southern border has created a political schism in America. The rift over what to do about our "southern front" may prove wider and deeper than the one created 4 1/2 decades ago when Lyndon Johnson tried to simultaneously create a "Great Society" and fight the Vietnam War. And it's likely to have profound consequences for today's politicians.
Second: The mess on our southern frontier isn't the exclusive purview of just one party -- and it didn't start last year. For decades, many Republicans turned a blind eye to the mass migration of cheap labor northward. It was supposed to be good for business. Democrats responded with the goal of granting "amnesty" to those already here in hopes of creating an enormous new voting bloc loyal to their party. Whether current officeholders or party leaders accept it or not, both ideas are now dead.
Third: The majority of Americans now believe our government must make securing our borders a higher priority. Despite what "progressive" pundits say, it's not racial, anti-Hispanic bigotry or xenophobia that created this movement. It's fear.
A measure of that trepidation originates with the terror attacks of 9/11. And some of this anxiety is a well-founded, rational response to the extraordinary violence that has killed more than 28,000 people in the past four years south of our border. The call to "secure our borders" has become a rallying cry at political events in states and districts thousands of miles from Mexico. It is one of the pillars of the tea party movement. Those who ignore this anxiety do so at their own peril.
Notably, the present "secure our borders" campaign wasn't precipitated by political leaders here in the U.S. It's actually imported -- from south of the border.
It began with the 2002 election of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia. His father was murdered by members of the FARC -- the Marxist-inspired insurgency that turned to drug running when the Soviet Union collapsed and their money dried up. Uribe pledged "an unrelenting campaign" against the FARC and the remnants of the Cali and Medellin cocaine cartels. He delivered.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.