Thursday, July 7

"SLEEPER CELLS" INFILTRATING U.S. ACROSS TEXAS-MEXICO BORDER

An Associated Presns (AP) story by writer Abe Levy, as reprinted in the today's "Houston Chronicle" (registration required), reports on the newly-formed "Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition" -- a group representing "16 counties on or near the Texas-Mexico border" -- and a meeting they're holding in Del Rio, Texas, on their respective communities' vulnerability to "terrorist intrusion."

Not only is the ongoing problem of Mexican emigrants entering Texas and the United States illegally under discussion, but of greater concern to the gatherered law enforcement officials is the geometric increase in non-Mexican illegals entering the country "who hail from nations where al-Qaida and other known terrorist groups are known to exist."

"We're the first line of defense for the country," said Terrell County Sheriff Clint McDonald, whose border with Mexico is 53 miles long. "We'd rather stop it with us than it end up in Dallas."

The number of non-Mexicans entering Texas illegally has reached 96,000 so far this year, versus 34,500 during the same time last year, says the U.S. Border Patrol. Many of the sheriffs are concerned because they say the detainees are given a "notice to appear" in court that they typically ignore on their way to urban centers.

Even more alarming is the following:

The coalition, formed in May, conducted Wednesday's meeting mostly behind closed doors because the sheriffs were discussing sensitive intelligence issues, said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, coalition president.

Gonzalez said sheriffs think Mexican violence has infiltrated Texas through "sleeper cells" entering the United States along porous areas of the border. Several of the sheriffs said fighting the battle has exhausted county budgets of fuel and manpower. They don't think federal agencies on the border are sharing intelligence that could help them.

These sheriffs and their officers witness firsthand daily the porosity of our nation's borders and understand the threat it poses. Their identification of "sleeper cells" should put President Bush and an indifferent Congress on notice that something must be done to strengthen border security! It's ridiculous that Washington has turned a deaf ear to the border states and the deleterious impact illegal immigration is having on them.