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Iraqis in Mexico

Posted by Richard on June 30, 2005

Two Iraqis were arrested in Mexico near the U.S. border yesterday. The Washington Times has a long story:

  The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said Samir Yousif Shana and Munir Yousif Shana were taken into custody by Mexican federal agents, along with two suspected alien smugglers, in the Paso del Aguila district of Tecate, some 30 miles east of San Diego.

    Mexican authorities said investigators were told the Iraqis had been advised by an unidentified person in Baghdad that he could arrange for them to be smuggled across the U.S. border once they got to Mexico.
    The Baghdad smuggler demonstrates that the porousness of the U.S.-Mexico border is becoming "common knowledge" on the Arab street, one U.S. law-enforcement official said yesterday.

That’s fairly sobering to those of us who actually worry about terrorism (i.e., don’t live in Howard Dean’s "reality-based" pre-9/11 world). But before you get too worked up about these guys, there’s a detail that neither the rather breathless Washington Times story nor the much shorter AP story (at least as presented here and here) dug up (or bothered to mention). But local reporter Sandra Dibble of the San Diego Union-Tribune thought it was important:

The two Iraqis claim to be members of the Chaldean Christian minority, said Liza Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana. Mexican immigration officials have flown the pair to Mexico City for eventual deportation to Iraq, she said.

Just five years ago, Baja California was a major transit point for Iraqi Chaldeans trying to join their family members across the border. But the once-steady flow has dwindled to a trickle, say U.S. officials and members of the Chaldean community in San Diego.

So, relax for now. As far as anyone can tell, there is no Chaldeafascist terrorist movement.

Nevertheless, there is reason for concern, as The Washington Times documents:

    But Adm. James Loy, former Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in February that "recent information from ongoing investigations, detentions and emerging threat streams strongly suggests that al Qaeda has considered using the southwestern border to infiltrate the United States."
    Adm. Loy testified that al Qaeda operatives believe they can pay to get into the country through Mexico and that entering illegally was "more advantageous than legal entry."
    He also said the international street gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, was an emerging national security threat and suggested that al Qaeda terrorists may have targeted the gang’s illegal-alien smuggling operations to gain entry to this country. 
    In September, The Washington Times reported that a top al Qaeda lieutenant had met with MS-13 to seek help infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities said at the time that Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a key al Qaeda cell leader for whom the U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward, was spotted in July in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with MS-13 leaders.
    MS-13 is thought to have established a major smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, from where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United States. In August, an FBI alert described El Shukrijumah as "armed and dangerous" and a major threat to homeland security.

This is a topic that’s troubling to me as a Libertarian (one of several related to these perilous times and this unconventional war being waged against us). I’m in favor of "open borders" and the right to immigrate — that is, the right to come to the U.S. and live here as a peaceful, productive member of society.

Of course, there is no right to come here and demand that others provide for you. And there’s no right to come here in order to violate the rights of others, i.e., pursue a career as a criminal or terrorist.

Thus, I find myself uncomfortable with the immigrant advocates, who seem most interested in increasing the number of "undocumented workers" who rely on government benefits, not work, and who illegally vote Democratic. And I find myself equally uncomfortable with the nativist, Tancredo-types who seem to want to cut legal immigration to nothing, station soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder along the Mexican border, and deport anyone who isn’t fluent in English.

I’d like to see some kind of rational, reasonable accommodation of the conflicting demands of liberty and security. Given the growing evidence of Islamofascist activity in Latin America, it’s reckless and foolish not to address the illegal crossings of the Mexican border.

How about a serious, highly effective effort to stop the flow of illegals (I’m open to suggestions) coupled with major easing of legal immigration? Make it relatively fast and simple for the kind of people we want (honest, hard-working, productive) to come here (perhaps on condition of no government dependency, i.e., ineligible for welfare, Medicaid, etc.), while making it much more difficult to get here illegally.

If those steps are taken, I think many people will be much more willing to entertain some kind of amnesty / guest worker program for those already here illegally, especially if they must go through the same screening/qualification process to be used for legal immigrants.

Of course, the "I hate furriners" mouth-breathers won’t be satisfied. Nor will the leftists who see dependency as a virtue and sneer at the self-reliant. Good.

If you’re a Libertarian bothered by even my proposed restrictions on the freedom to travel, I understand. But I don’t think you can just wish away the legitimate safety and security concerns in this day and age. I’m not a big fan of the aforementioned Rep. Tancredo, but he made sobering point:

    Mr. Tancredo recently said government reports show a 50 percent increase in the foreign nationals identified as other than Mexican crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. He said some illegals from nations identified as state sponsors of terrorism were paying as much as $50,000 to be smuggled into the United States.
    "They’re not paying that kind of money simply to work at a 7-11," he said.

You also have to wonder who has $50k available — not likely the unemployed Huahacan laborer looking for a job in the lettuce fields.

Update: Submitting this as a supper special at basil’s blog. Check out the other fine fare.

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3 Responses to “Iraqis in Mexico”

  1. VRB said

    If there is a solution, maybe it would also stop the gangs that bring in the dope that bring more terror to some neighborhoods than al Quaeda ever will.

  2. dave meleney said

    beware the amazing ski sale that touts discouts UP TO 90%!!!

    Tancredo has you going to town with just such a claim that illigals are “paying as much as $50,000”

    Of course every poor country has SOME rich folk who can easily pay $50,000… and naturally some of them eventually want to purchase the security and sanity that US residence normally permits…what is so surprising, wouldn’t you do the same?

    As to the job at 7-11… you might be surprised what low-paid jobs they often take when they first arrive.. but if they had the cajones to come up w 50 K to get here they’ll probably be soon owning the 7-11 they work at, or the fleet of taxis or the software company.

    Ahh, but we best not think of these “illegals” in the great traditions of our ancestors who also brought great troves of ambition and entreprenuership… for as Congressman Tom says… they broke the law! Meanwhile Libertarians and Republicans would never do such as that!

  3. Anonymous said

    Unlike Tancredo, I have no problem with the guy or gal who takes the job at the 7-11 — and I hope she or he has ambition and entrepreneurship.

    But MS-13 is an extremely violent gang of the most vicious thugs imaginable. Their spreading presence throughout the U.S. is a serious problem in and of itself (the insane war on drugs is largely to blame for their initial success, but they’ve now grown far beyond drug trafficking). If they’re having meetings with high-level al Qaeda members, that should give any reasonable person pause.

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