July 7, 2014
The United States' neglect of its southern border has created a threat that challenges the country's national security, says the general in charge of overseeing the region, and he is concerned that terrorists and others can exploit the vulnerabilities that have been created.
"In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance," Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, told Defense One. "Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree."
Kelly has asked Congress to allocate more money and equipment to help him and his command fight the steady flow of drugs, weapons, and migrants from Central America, but the budget has already been cut when it comes to border security.
More than 100,000 migrants have come from Central America to the U.S. border, mostly children who have traveled thousands of miles from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
But it's not only children coming north. Kelly said that last year, his task force was not able to act on almost 75 percent of illegal trafficking incidents.
"Last year, we had to cancel more than 200 very effective engagement activities and numerous multilateral exercises," Kelly told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, his command's website reports. "I simply sit and watch it go by. And because of service cuts, I don't expect to get any immediate relief, in terms of assets, to work with in this region of the world.”
Kelly told Defense One that the area has turned into a "crime-terror convergence," that is only becoming worse.
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