Vision of Security

In recent years, public security problems, national security threats, and— since the terrorist attacks of 2001—measures adopted as part of U.S. government border policy have beleaguered border states in northern Mexico. The U.S. measures have had particular repercussions for the region since the effects of insecurity in its various dimensions is felt most strongly at the border.

During the past decade, the U.S.-Mexico transborder region has undergone vertiginous changes. To talk about regional insecurity implies talking about a gamut of crimes. They encompass robbery, assault, or kidnapping; crimes affecting national security, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, or other forms of organized crime; border security and control measures arising from terrorist threats; and even problems affecting human security, such as drug addiction.

The target vision of security is one of a transborder region where people can live free of threats of organized and common crime, and where the movement of persons and goods across the border is efficient and safe from the perspective of national security. This vision for a secure and safe transborder region contains several elements.

Sharing information: Authorities in the transborder region will develop the mechanisms and the trust for a swift exchange of information and appropriate police intelligence across the border.

Training and professional standards: The region will develop, maintain and implement training standards and enhance professional practices that are harmonized
across the border.

Technology and resources: Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border will have access to appropriate resources and the best technology to fight crime effectively.

Binational cooperation and coordination: Binational cooperation will be regular and frequent and in matters of emergency response and preparedness, collaboration and coordination protocols and procedures will be set.

Judicial reform and civic engagement: An appropriate and swift application of justice will be ensured for all citizens on both sides of the border.

Prevention and treatment: A wide array of programs will be developed to transform and maintain the region as a drug-free binational community.

Strategies for Security

The specific strategic guidelines identified for the improvement of security in the region are:

Crime prevention and law enforcement

  1. Fight crime under a paradigm of mutual responsibility

Binational cooperation and border security

  1. Enable police agencies to attain international certification through creation of training programs, internal controls, and professional career paths.
  2. Hold frequent meetings between legal practitioners from both countries, including judges, court administrators, social-services workers, interpreters, and lawyers.
  3. Provide opportunities for information sharing where judges, clerks, prosecutors, and others involved in the judicial process can discuss their work.

Fighting drug addictions

  1. Develop strong substance-abuse prevention programs that address drug addiction in addition to drug trafficking.
  2. Develop a long-term model of binational cooperation on ongoing drug treatment programs.

Organized crime

  1. A system for anonymous reporting of suspicious activities at remittance-sending locations could aid U.S. investigations.
  2. Establish a bilingual and binational hotline for anonymous reporting of suspected criminal activity.
  3. Make efforts, in Mexico, to make property records more publicly accessible.
  4. Establish laws against cash purchases of expensive luxury goods, vehicles, and real estate that can reduce money laundering.
  5. Regulate Mexico’s self-policing notary publics, who certify land sales.
  6. Promote greater coordination among federal and state law enforcement agencies to deal with bulk cash shipments from the United States , including task forces that incorporate all relevant agencies.

Arms trafficking

  1. Improve southbound inspections in both countries as effective prophylactic measures to mitigate arms smuggling.
  2. Promote the choosing of appropriate regulations to control illegal trafficking and arms smuggling at the U.S. Border States.
  3. Develop the capacities and technological systems so that Mexican authorities have wide access to gun tracing tools to learn the origin of the weapons that wind up at crime scenes.

Security technology and infrastructure

  1. Accelerate the necessary agreements for the implementation of the medium- and longterm programs for the development of the logistics and transportation corridors in the transborder region.
  2. Modernize transportation infrastructure and ports of entry (POEs).
  3. Address the US$5-billion backlog in POE facility improvements.

Civic engagement for security

  1. Larger U.S. security interests should dovetail when possible with the public safety concerns of local communities.
  2. Install anonymous hotlines for both English and Spanish speakers that could provide a valuable conduit between border residents and local police, while also enabling the sharing of valuable information among local, state, and federal investigators.