The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed a border surge plan if the drug-fueled violence that plagues Mexico spills over into American border states, reports The New York Times.
DHS officials said the plan called for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, with the size of the force depending on the scale of the problem. Military forces would be called upon if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were overwhelmed, but the officials said military involvement was considered unlikely.
“We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge — if I may use that word — capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with” the Defense Department, said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff in a telephone interview.
There has been more 5,300 deaths due to the drug-addled anarchy of Mexico. Shootouts between rival cartels and law enforcement have become routine, often not far from the U.S. border.
Police Chief Greg Allen of El Paso, Texas, told a local ABC news affiliate that he's comforted that there's a contingency plan in place in case the violence in nearby Juarez does jump the border, but says he has the situation under control.
Other El Paso residents have reservations about the possibility of the military being deployed at the border. "It would be strange, it's not necessary, and I think it's just going to hurt the cross-border economy even more," a local resident said.