Border Patrol Agent Terry's Death: Illegal Activity Escalating

By Janice Kephart, December 17, 2010

The murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, a member of the patrol's elite BORTAC squad and veteran of the Iraq war, is not just an unconscionable act, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has described it. Terry's death, the first Border Patrol death in Santa Cruz County, Ariz., since 1998, is another stark reminder that our border is not secure. In the border lands directly southeast and west of Peak Canyon where Terry was killed, there is little to no fencing except near the city of Nogales. Does that mean anything? For those of us who have studied the border, the answer is yes. However, it remains questionable whether Napolitano will ever accept that an escalating problem of violence bleeding over from Mexico and feeding off the illegal activity in the United States requires a real response.

Nothing has seemed to matter to date to change the Obama administration border policies in any real way: not the fact that law enforcement officers in Arizona have been threatened, chased off the highway with their vehicles stolen, been shot, and now killed. Nor does it seem to matter that the cause of the violence is the drug cartels, the alien smugglers, and the bandits like those in custody for killing Agent Terry – bandits who feed off of both trades by robbing both drug mules of their loads and guns and migrants of their cash. Yet here is the kicker: the bandits could not operate if the border was secure. But the border is not secure, and with an administration that has continued to pull back on security measures like fencing, National Guard operations, and technology upgrades, the drug cartels have gotten bolder and with them, in an effort to keep up, so have the bandits. Arizona, lacking fencing, lacking laws that allow Border Patrol equal access as the illegals to wilderness areas, lacking necessary National Guard support, and now facing a federal government suing them instead of supporting them, remains the most vulnerable. This is what the criminals know.

Still, President Obama and Secretary Napolitano refuse to secure the border. I was on Fox Radio affiliates across the country this morning, and the hosts asked me repeatedly if I thought the death of Agent Terry was sufficient to catch interest from the president to secure the border. My answer was no, the death will serve to catapult the issue of insecure borders further into the hearts and minds of Americans, but this administration will remain in the bubble it has created for itself on border issues involving national security, public safety, and sovereignty.

We now not only have a narco-insurgency against America being waged on our southwest border marked by feudal wars amongst entities all trying to outgun each other for money and drugs, but a couple of key deaths – rancher Robert Krentz and now Agent Terry – to remind us that calling the border crisis a national security crisis is really not inflammatory. It is real.