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All Quiet on the Southern Front?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON -- According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, everything is hunky-dory on America's southern border. In her public appearances and speeches, Napolitano consistently claims that things along our side of the U.S.-Mexico border are "safer than ever" and that "spillover violence" is simply "a widespread misperception." In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed column she co-authored with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Napolitano claimed, "The Southwest Border Is Open for Business." Unfortunately, too much of the business is in drugs, murder and mayhem -- and business is good.

"Illegal immigration is decreasing. Deportations are increasing. And crime rates have gone down." Those oft-repeated assertions by the Obama administration make a nice sound bite, but like so many other things coming from the O-Team, the facts don't square with the rhetoric. As usual, there's more to the story -- and very little of it is being covered by the so-called mainstream media.

Less than 24 hours after Napolitano and Locke boasted about how "major investments to renovate and expand outdated ports of entry" have improved cross-border trade and "bolstered security," two American citizens were murdered while waiting to come into the U.S. at the San Ysidro port of entry, south of San Diego. The incident was buried by the potentates of the press, but Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse reported the victims were killed by a lone male gunman, who calmly "walked through the lanes of traffic and boldly unloaded five rounds from a 9-mm. handgun." Apparently, the Obama administration's "improvements" on the border do not include long-range, high-resolution cameras capable of identifying a perpetrator just a few yards into Mexico.

In the past four months, two federal law officers have been murdered by heavily armed criminals. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed 13 miles deep in Arizona on the night of Dec. 14-15. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata was assassinated south of Monterrey, Mexico, on Feb. 15. Napolitano offers reassurance by throwing out numbers. She says federal agents "seized 81 percent more currency, 25 percent more drugs and 47 percent more weapons" last year than they did during the final year of the Bush administration. She also contends that apprehensions of illegal aliens "have dropped by 36 percent over the past two years to less than a third of its all-time high."


The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, isn't buying into the numbers game. In a statement posted March 25, the NBPC said: "Mexico is hemorrhaging violence and we are being hit with the splatter. The U.S.-Mexico border is unsafe and to say anything else is not true."

Auditors at the U.S. Government Accountability Office also maintain that Napolitano's numbers don't add up. According to the congressional bean counters, "over the last three years, apprehensions on federal lands (820 miles of the 2,000-mile border) have not kept pace with Border Patrol estimates." The GAO reports the number of "illegal entries" in 2009 was three times higher than the number of apprehensions.

Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, Ariz., agrees. When our Fox News' "War Stories" team interviewed him for a documentary titled "The Third Front," he described the situation along his 82-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico boundary as "under siege." Last week, Dever explained how the Department of Homeland Security cooks the books and why drug, gun and money stats are up while apprehensions are down. He has told his outgunned and outnumbered deputies that the Border Patrol's mission is "not to catch anyone, arrest anyone. Their job was to set up posture, to intimidate people, to get them to go back."

All of this pales in comparison with charges now being investigated by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. They want to know whether the Department of Justice is complicit in illegally exporting thousands of firearms being used to threaten and kill American citizens on both sides of the border. According to congressional sources and court documents, weapons recovered after the murders of federal agents Terry and Zapata are linked to a DOJ-approved undercover operation dubbed "Fast and Furious."


Several current and former federal agents allege that the operation began in 2010 as a way to "take down" a major cartel and that it all went seriously awry. One congressional investigator asserts that the DOJ "all but ordered" licensed firearms dealers to "facilitate" the sale of guns to "known and suspected criminals who were illegally moving the weapons across the border." If these charges are borne out, it was all kept secret from Mexican President Felipe Calderon -- as he wages war against drug lords, who have killed nearly 35,000 of his countrymen.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promises that his inspector general will "fully investigate the matter." And this week in San Fernando, Mexico -- just 50 miles from Texas -- authorities found 59 "freshly buried bodies in mass graves." They were apparently all passengers on a bus that was hijacked March 25. All quiet on our southern front, indeed.

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