JANUARY 11, 2011
As Mexican drug violence reaches epic proportions, Homeland Security officials prepare to reopen a remote port of entry—closed years ago for security reasons—as an unmanned border crossing monitored by federal agents hundreds of miles away.Known as the Boquillas crossing, the port of entry is located in southwest Texas’Big Bend National Park, an 800,000-acre oasis known for its diverse terrain of deserts, mountains and rivers. The Boquillas crossing, which links the U.S. to the Mexican town of Boquillas del Carmen across the Rio Grande River, was shut down after the 2001 terrorist attacks because it represented a national security threat.Amid escalating drug cartel crime in Mexico and reports of Middle Eastern terrorists slipping into the U.S. through the southern border, Homeland Security officials will reopen the crossing in 2012. It will be “monitored” by immigration officials hundreds of miles away and those entering the U.S. will submit documents electronically, according to a San Antonio newspaper report.The U.S. government will construct an information center and bathrooms to accommodate border crossers and the area will return to the pre 9/11 “bi-national community” where Americans regularly boated across the Rio Grande and Mexicans came into the U.S. for groceries. Area residents who expressed security concerns were reassured by the head of the Homeland Security agency handling the matter.“People who act criminally will act criminally regardless if there’s a lawful crossing here,” said Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that guards the nation’s borders and safeguards the American homeland. Bersin flew to the area by helicopter to announce the reopening, which is scheduled for next spring.He does admit that Mexico has a “long way to go” in combating organized crime and corruption, but says the country has “acknowledged the problem” and taken “corrective action.” Besides, a legal rowboat crossing on a remote, shallow portion of the Rio Grande won’t affect illegal immigration or contraband, according to Bersin.Just last week, a Dallas newspaper reported that Mexican drug violence hit record levels in scale and brutality in 2010. More than 13,000 people were murdered acrossMexico in disturbing and cruel ways not commonly seen in previous years and the problem is especially critical along the U.S. border. A few months ago a veteran federal agent revealed that Middle Eastern terrorists regularly enter the country through the porous, 2,000-mile Mexican border.
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