Monday, December 5th, 2016

Defending our border

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If Mexico cannot control it’s side of the border, will it be up to the United States? Increasingly, the US Border Patrol has come under attack from projectiles from the Mexican side of the border, and now the border patrol is retaliating with tear gas.

The Border Patrol says its agents have been attacked nearly 1,000 times during a one-year period.

The agency’s top official in San Diego, Mike Fisher, said agents are taking action because Mexican authorities have been slow to respond. When an attack happens, he said, American authorities often wait hours for them to come, and help usually never arrives.

“We have been taking steps to ensure that our agents are safe,” Fisher said.

Mexico’s acting consul general in San Diego, Ricardo Pineda, has insisted that U.S. authorities stop firing onto Mexican soil. He met with Border Patrol officials last month after the agency fired tear gas into Mexico. The agency defended that counterattack, saying agents were being hit with a hail of ball bearings from slingshots in Mexico.

U.S. officials say the violence indicates that smugglers are growing more desperate as stepped-up security makes it harder to sneak across the border. The assailants try to distract agents long enough to let people dash in the United States.

Unfortunately, innocent people get caught in the middle.

Benito Arias said his 19-year-old sister-in-law fainted during an apparent tear gas attack about two weeks ago. The woman, five months pregnant, was given oxygen at the hospital.

His father, Jose Arias, fled with his wife a few blocks away, where paramedics checked their blood pressure. He said he sympathizes with the Border Patrol because Mexican authorities do nothing to prevent people from hurling rocks over the fence at agents.

“This is a matter between government and government,” said Arias, 75. “They have to work out an agreement. We are innocent. What can we do about it?”

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