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The Migrant Crisis Is About More Than Just Kids


Yesterday on Face the Nation, I responded to questions about the migrant separations from their children under the Trump Administration’s policy announced last month by trying to shift the focus to what drives these migrations in the first place – something that can’t be addressed by a simple band-aid piece of legislation paving the way for more lax border requirements.

Here’s the video, and the transcript.

“I certainly agree with Jeff [Goldberg] when it comes to the ability of the administration to change this. But … the focus on these kids, while I certainly understand it from a media perspective, is ignoring what is really driving these factors.

“Why do we have a 200 percent year over year increase in the number of people coming across? Why do we have the biggest month to month increase between February and March that we’ve seen since 2011?

“And the answer to that is the activity of the Mexican cartels, who use these migrants as essentially a distraction to clog systems so they are able to funnel drugs across the border.

“In the last week, we saw two more political candidates in Mexico murdered in broad daylight. One a mayor running for Congress right across the Rio Grande. Another mayor who, you know, has been a reformer, fighting against the cartels. That brings the total to 113 political candidates in Mexico who have been murdered by the cartels in less than a year.

“Mexico’s political, violent situation is something that is not going to be solved when it comes to driving these types of migrations. And that’s going to require things that I’m not sure the Congress is really willing to grasp – the kind of support and diplomacy and activity to prevent our southern neighbor from becoming a failed state.”

At the break, several people expressed surprise at these numbers – but they are true. Here are just some of the stories. “A candidate for town councilor, Liliana García, was killed and found dead in a creek bed. A candidate for municipal council in Juchitán, Pamela Terán, was killed, along with her father and photographer. A leader for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Guerrero State, Paula Gutiérrez Morales, was shot on a bus in front of passengers. A candidate for local congress in Piedras Negras, Fernando Purón, was shot and killed while taking a selfie. A mayoral candidate, Alejandro Chavez Zavala, was shot and killed last week.”

That brings us to a total of 113 Mexican candidates for office dead since September, most of them murdered with impunity in broad daylight – you can see a screencap of the selfie murder here. It happened right after a debate where the candidate for Congress cited his record as mayor battling the cartels. “We closed the businesses of organized crime and demolished the houses belonging to the Zetas,” Purón, 43, told the audience. “We took back the city from the Zetas, and we returned it, pacified, to the citizens.” Minutes later, he was dead.

The Mexican cartels had to find a new funding source with the legalization of marijuana in the United States. The market for their poor quality pot dried up, and so they turned to human trafficking as an alternative source of funding. They locked down the Rio Grande, to the point that you must pay them to be ferried across or you risk being shot. The cartels use these migrants to flood the zone and clog up Border Patrol resources, functioning as human pawns to distract from their efforts to smuggle opioids and other drugs across.

The cartels don’t just benefit from being paid by these migrant families desperate to get away from the violence in Central America. Every family group the cartels send across ties up the Border Patrol for hours. Back in 2014 when unaccompanied minors were flooding across in large groups, U.S. authorities were well aware that the cartels were taking drugs just a few miles upstream while they dealt with the minors, but there was nothing they could do about it. They were hamstrung by their own humanitarian policies.

There’s something going on here that brings to mind the ignorance of the U.S. military when it came to the early days of ISIS. It’s as if we refuse to acknowledge that the enemy reads the same media we do – that they can’t follow coverage of the issues, and understand how to manipulate the storylines to their advantage. That’s clearly what is going on here, and the Trump administration’s zero tolerance crackdown in response to this increased migration is playing into their hands.