Thursday, January 10, 2008

Invasions, Nothing New

The group Judicial Watch has released a report that they say documents many incursions by Mexican agents into the United States at points in Arizona and Texas. One incident quoted occurred at El Paso;

"[Troopers] attempted to apprehend three vehicles believed to be smuggling contraband on I-10 … As the vehicles approached the border, [troopers] stated that a Mexican Military Humvee armed with a .50 caliber weapon and several soldiers were seen assisting smugglers return to Mexico … Officers then noticed several armed subjects dressed in fatigue type clothing unload the contraband into the Humvee. These subjects set fire to the stalled vehicle before leaving the area."

Make no mistake, Mexican drug cartels and their "soldados" do cross the border and come into the country illegally. Stunningly, the federal government seems to turn a blind eye to this. Our government hardly wants to touch the issue of illegal immigration and illegal incursions from south of the border. I'll let you all speculate on why this is. All I will say is I think it is part of a political strategy by both republicans and democrats in the fight for a voting bloc.

Anyway, I want to remind people about history. Border incursions really are not anything new. In fact, since Texas gained its independence from Mexico it's been an ongoing phenomena. For example, in 1842, twice, Mexican troops crossed into Texas and briefly captured San Antonio. They didn't hold it, they left soon after. That fall, President Sam Houston ordered Alexander Somervell to lead a raid into Mexico in retaliation. This became known as the Sommervell Expedition. The Expedition managed to capture Laredo, and then the Mexican town of Guerreo. Somervell ended it soon after that. However, about 300 Texans felt the desire to keep raiding into Mexico and did so. About ten days later they marched into Mier unopposed at first. However, a fight erupted in which the Texans surrendered. After a disastrous escape incident, Santa Anna ordered a "lottery" to determine which of the Texans were shot. This became known as the infamous "black bean" execution.

Now, let's jump ahead about 30 years and two states over to the west. There is a region in the Peloncillo Mountains called Skeleton Canyon. This straddles the Arizona-Mexico border. In the 1870s, southern Arizona was teaming with silver prospectors. Following them were the outlaw element who found it easier to steal for a living. These outlaws (mostly Texans) were also going into Mexico and stealing cattle from Mexican ranchers. In 1879, Mexican rurales were sent after them. They were ambushed in Skeleton Canyon. The Mexican Government formally protested to the U.S. government who began pressuring the local authorities to reign in the outlaws. Unfortunately many of the local authorities were affiliated with the outlaws so little, if anything was done. In 1881, the outlaws learned that a Mexican caravan carrying gold and silver were to cross through the canyon. The outlaws ambushed, and killed the Mexicans. One month later, Newman "Old Man" Clanton (one of the purported leaders of the outlaws) and four others (including Jim Crane, a stage robber) were ambushed and killed in Guadalupe Canyon reportedly by Mexican rurales in retaliation for the Skeleton Canyon massacre.

In March of 1916, Mexican "general" Pancho Villa ordered a raid of Columbus, New Mexico, to punish the U.S. for what he perceived as supporting his enemy.

Historically speaking, illegal border incursions are nothing new. However, the responses were. Eventually, the federal government exerted more pressure on Arizona authorities to reign in the outlaws. I think they took border incursions more seriously than the government does today. It seems to me the quest for votes takes precendence over national security.

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