Biden green-lights deployment to Mexican border

US President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Thursday authorizing Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to deploy active duty reserve troops to the US-Mexican border as needed to fight the illegal drug trade.

“The authorities that have been invoked will ensure the Department of Defense can properly sustain its support of the Department of Homeland Security concerning international drug trafficking along the Southwest Border,” Biden wrote in a message to Congress accompanying the order.

The measure is a response to the White House’s declaration of a national emergency in December 2021 regarding International drug trafficking. The president blamed “drug cartels, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators” for bringing “illicit drugs and precursor chemicals” and “drug-related violence” into American communities and imposed sanctions on senior cartel figures.

A growing number of Republican politicians including former president Donald Trump have called for a military solution to the cartel problem. A group of 20 Republican congressmen last month introduced a bill that would designate the Gulf Cartel, Cartel de Noreste, Cartel de Sinaloa, and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as “foreign terrorist organizations,” echoing a similar bill from the Senate that would label nine such organizations as terrorists and put together a task force dedicated to dismantling them. The attorneys general of 21 US states had previously petitioned the Biden administration to designate cartels as terrorist organizations.

However, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador has argued the fentanyl crisis killing tens of thousands of Americans per year is the result of societal weaknesses north of the border and Chinese fentanyl being shipped to North America. He excoriated the US Drug Enforcement Agency earlier this month for infiltrating the Sinaloa cartel without his government’s knowledge, warning such actions put Mexican and American lives in danger.

Also on Thursday, the State Department unveiled a new migration policy seeking to compensate for the rollback of Section 42, a Trump-era public health order that allowed Customs and Border Patrol to turn back many of the migrants who arrived at the US’ southern border. Already facing a record 2.76 million illegal crossings last year, Customs and Border Patrol fears being overwhelmed by as many as 13,000 crossing attempts per day.

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