Abbott to Biden: It's time to declare drug cartels as terrorist organizations

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The southern border is in crisis, overwhelmed by illegal migrants. Drug cartels are taking advantage of the chaos by increasing their efforts to move drugs and human beings into the United States. The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has a suggestion for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – declare drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

In a letter sent by Abbott to Biden and Harris on Thursday, Abbott wrote that drug cartels bring terror to communities and he explained how they do that. It isn’t just bringing in drugs, it’s also the human trafficking aspect of the operations of the drug cartels that are out of control.

“As Governor of Texas, I urge you to take immediate action to combat the dangerous and deadly Mexican drug cartels,” Abbott wrote. “These cartels bring terror into our communities. They smuggle narcotics and weapons into the United States to fund their illegal enterprises. They force women and children into human and sex trafficking – enriching themselves on the misery and enslavement of immigrants. They murder innocent people, including women and children. These Mexican drug cartels are foreign terrorist organizations, and it is time for the federal government to designate them as such.”

In March, Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in response to the border crisis. The Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) partnered “to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas”. The mission is simple, to increase safety and security along the border. If Biden declares drug cartels as terrorist groups, new resources will open up for the fight, as Abbott points out in the letter. Biden can designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Plus, Abbott reminds Biden that it is the federal government’s responsibility to secure the border.

Drug cartels engage in some classic terrorist activity such as assassinations, kidnapping, and endanger lives with firearms. They hold U.S. citizens hostage and they behead journalists, too. Operation Lone Star has seen some success. Abbott tells Biden that in a little more than a month, 800 arrests have been made and drug seizures are up. More than 3,800 pounds of marijuana have been seized, as well as 19 pounds of cocaine, and 50 firearms. More resources, including longer jail sentences, will be available if Biden declares the cartels as terrorist organizations. Financial institutions can freeze their assets.

Abbott encourages Biden to instruct Secretary of State Tony Blinken to consult with Attorney General Garland and Treasury Secretary Yellen to make the designation.

The letter sent by Abbott Thursday follows up on an op-ed written by Abbott and Arizona Governor Ducey published in the Washington Post on Wednesday. Both Republican governors call on Biden to take a trip to the border. They point out that if such a trip was made by the president, maybe he wouldn’t say such incredibly tone-deaf statements as he did recently when he declared that “The border is secure.”

Unlike President Biden, we’ve both been to the U.S. border in our respective states, Texas and Arizona, and the situation is much different from what Washington politicians and bureaucrats are telling Americans.

The U.S. Border Patrol is overwhelmed. Local law enforcement and mayors are calling out for help. Citizens in border communities are concerned for their safety. And nonprofits, left to pick up the pieces of a broken federal policy, are strained.

In typical Washington fashion, the federal government has thrust this man-made crisis on states. But for the people we represent, this isn’t a political issue — it’s a real-life issue.

The governors go on to point out that the border crisis is not a surprise, given that both Biden and Harris campaigned as other Democrats did on open borders and repudiating all of the border policies of the Trump administration, especially the Remain-in-Mexico agreement with the Mexican government. The solutions offered in the op-ed from the governors begin with reinstating the Remain-in-Mexico policy and include sending a clear message that the border is not open.

To start, the administration needs to immediately reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols, which disincentivize migrants from making the dangerous journey to the border by ending the policy of “catch and release” for those seeking asylum. Law enforcement officials and leaders in border communities are concerned that repeal of these protocols is a major factor behind the surge in illegal border crossings. Reinstating them would go a long way toward alleviating the crisis at the border.

Next, administration officials at all levels should state clearly that our country’s borders are not open and that immigrants seeking a better life or more economic opportunity should not be attempting to utilize the asylum process. The State Department should be heavily engaged in this strategy, as the Mexican president’s continued statements blaming this crisis on Biden are concerning.

This is a common-sense approach to the flood of migrants trying to cross the border. Border officials say that doing away with the Remain-in-Mexico agreement was the biggest mistake the Biden administration made in its early days, as it relates to illegal immigration. The State Department needs to be utilized to deliver the message that the border is not open for a flood of asylum-seekers, most of whom do not have legitimate claims.

The border is not secure, despite Joe Biden saying so. He should admit his mistakes driven by an extreme case of Trump derangement syndrome and reverse course in his border policies. It is Biden’s job to secure the southern border, even for the red states.