The request comes the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Defense Secretary Robert Gates joined other senior officials in Mexico for a meeting with President Felipe Calderon to discuss a bilateral approach to combatting the cartel war that has left thousands dead in the troubled country.
Cornyn, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee, made the request to Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. in light of the daytime murder of two U.S. citizens from EL Paso in Ciudad Juarez earlier this month.
“The victims, who were affiliated with the American consulate there, appear to have been targeted by violent drug cartels,” wrote Cornyn. “This crime was not an isolated incident. In recent weeks, we have received reports of escalating violence along the border, including some spillover violence in border communities in the United States.”
Last week, members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Border Caucus urged Senate Finance Committee members, of which Cornyn is a part, to confirm President Obama’s nominee, Alan Bersin, as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The agency has been without a permanent director since September 2009.
The senator added that there is also an increased effort by Mexican drug cartels to corrupt U.S. law enforcement officials, and urged a “constructive, bipartisan” approach.
“A hearing would provide an opportunity to assess the Administration’s strategy to address this crisis and whether sufficient resources are being provided to federal, state, and local law enforcement along the border,” added Cornyn.
The request follows the activation by Gov. Rick Perry of the state’s spillover “contingency” plan, put in place much to the chagrin of many border leaders who insisted on more consultation.