Commentary: U.S. not immune from border violence

This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who met with President-elect Barack Obama on Monday, has vowed to put drug gangsters in his country out of business – and he has backed up his words with actions. Mr. Calderon has no other choice if he wants to keep Mexico from turning into a narco-state, but the decision has resulted in a frightening increase in violence, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexican border cities from Matamoros to Tijuana have become battlegrounds for drug gangsters fighting each other and law-enforcement authorities, with the body count rising by the day. In Tijuana alone, the death toll from drug violence in 2008 reached a reported 829. The total number of slayings because of the drug wars in Mexico reached some 5,300 in 2008, more than double the 2,477 reported in 2007.

Frankly, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to perceive that, as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last week, the United States might eventually see a "significant spillover" of violence.

That's why Mr. Chertoff decided to create a "contingency plan" to combat violence along this country's southern border. Once he has become president, Mr. Obama must ensure that his designated Homeland Security director, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, picks up where Mr. Chertoff leaves off, not only in finalizing a plan to coordinate with the Pentagon, but also working with Congress to see that the plan is well funded.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.

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