Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Southwest Border Is Open for Business

By: Janet Napolitano and Gary Locke
El Paso now has one of the lowest crime rates among big American cities.

Over the last few weeks, mayors, sheriffs, business leaders and citizens have joined together with a simple but powerful message: America's Southwest border communities are open for business. This is a message the American people need to hear.

Unfortunately, there is a widespread misperception that the Southwest is wracked by violence spilling over from Mexico's ongoing drug war. The facts tell a different story. Some of America's safest communities are in the Southwest border region, with crime rates in cities along the border staying steady or dropping over the past decade. For example, the crime rate in Tucson, Ariz., fell 15% between 2008 and 2009 and 21% in Brownsville, Texas, over the same period.

In the last two years, the Obama administration has made historic deployments of manpower, technology and infrastructure to help secure our Southwest border. These efforts—along with the heroic work of our Border Patrol agents—are paying off.

Between fiscal years 2009 and 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 81% more currency, 25% more drugs, and 47% more weapons along the Southwest border than they did between fiscal years 2007 and 2008. Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens—the best indicator of illegal immigration—have dropped by 36% over the past two years to less than a third of its all-time high.

We know these gains are tenuous, which is why we won't let up for a second in our efforts to secure the border and protect communities in the Southwest. In the meantime, the American people and American businesses should know that this region is a vital hub of commerce with room to grow.

From San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas, the hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce crossing through the border region each year support hundreds of thousands of good jobs at the border and throughout the country.

Thanks in part to major investments to renovate and expand outdated ports of entry, we have bolstered security while increasing trade. Last year, U.S. exports of goods to Mexico totaled $163.3 billion, an increase of 27% over 2009. Those exports are tied directly to American jobs.

Yet local leaders in the region tell us that the misinformation about safety and security at the border threatens this progress. It drives potential visitors away, hurts local businesses, and simply does not square with the fact the Southwest border region is one of the safest parts of the country.

That's why the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce joined El Paso Mayor John Cook, as well as the mayors of Nogales and Yuma, Ariz., at the port of entry in El Paso, Texas, last week to call for an end to this type of misinformation and to discuss emerging economic opportunities.

To amplify this message, four gateway states—Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—will be the initial focus of a new export strategy aiming to promote enhanced cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico as part of President Obama's National Export Initiative.

Under the strategy, trade specialists from the Commerce Department and other agencies will work with border communities to address challenges and foster opportunities along the border. The emphasis will be on helping small and medium-sized U.S. businesses tap into new markets.

El Paso provides an example of the economic opportunities that exist in the Southwest border region as a result of increased security. It now has one of the lowest crime rates among big American cities, and the value of U.S. merchandise exports passing through ports in the El Paso district amounted to $29.2 billion last year—48% higher than in 2009.

We are seeing similar increases in trade in other places across the border, including at major ports near San Diego and Nogales.

Make no mistake: We agree that the security challenges we face at the border are real. But to maximize the economic opportunities in the region, we must also acknowledge the progress we've made over the past two years.

Ms. Napolitano is secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Locke is secretary of Commerce.


  1. By: Janet Napolitano and Gary Locke


  2. What is not mentioned is that organized crime in the United States doesn't allow the kind of mayhem that is seen in Mexico. Furthermore, the cartels themselves do not sanction violence to spill over into the U.S. The reason: simple economics, don't ruin the market you depend on. If the cartels start leaving skined heads on U.S. soil, the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Nation, Texas Syndiate and others will feel the effects on their profits and drug access. The cartels will not have a chance of reaping drug profits and all the money will dry up. Without money, the cartels can't pay off Mexican law enforcement and everything comes to an end. The cartels rely on tranquilty of U.S. drug market.

  3. Brownsville and El Paso are not vacation spots so who cares, that's just propaganda to make homeland look like it cares what happens at the border, they don't care but want everyones approval, it'll never happen.

  4. Maybe we should let the Cartels run all of the large cities in the U.S. It keeps El Paso safe. The police in that city are completely passive and do nothing to control crime. The cartels themselves maintain order to ensure that it remains a major hub for trafficking in both directions. The cartels know that the feds can snap their fingers and lock down that port of entry and everything within 20 miles in either direction within hours. Talk about a profit killer. It is pretty freakin obvious what is moving through El Paso considering the sustained levels of violence and turf battles in Juarez. The prize is not what is in Jaurez but what lies on and just across the Rio Grande.
    These deceiving articles also do not mention how many El Paso area residents are dragged/tricked into crossing over to Juarez to be slaughtered. Thankfully most of those "victims" are criminals as well.

  5. for the most part it is safe, safer than new york or l.a. , you people just dont want to admit it. if obama said the sun is hot you would probably disagree. and the reason you dont see severed heads or massacres in arizona or texas is because law enforcement would hunt everyone they suspected or are related to narcos. u.s. law enforcement does not play around.

  6. ´Porno´, this relative quiet in the US is the mere quiet before the arrival of the storm if we allow our government bosses to keep pressing this constant Prohibitionism and war.

  7. @ ardent: you are right about one thing, the so called war on drugs is a waste of time and money and only increases the profits for drug traffickers.

  8. Hmmm....Maybe Napolitano and Locke would like to do a bit of sight-seeing across the border without the benefit of armored vehicles, body guards, etc. This reminds me of the old story that ends with "are you going to believe what you see or what I'm telling you?"

  9. How about that El Paso SAFE,Juarez HELL HOLE, why BECAUSE Juarez is in MEXICO,different cultures,different standard of conduct.


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