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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wants the U.S. to train the Mexican military to combat drug cartels.
The Texas Republican introduced bipartisan legislation, dubbed the PARTNERS Act, Wednesday night that would bring Mexican troops to the United States to receive training to fight against criminal groups. The initiative would create a pilot program by the Department of Defense in close coordination with the Mexican government.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, joined Cornyn in introducing the bill.
“The United States and Mexico must work together to put a stop to the cartel violence and drugs ravaging communities on both sides of our shared border,” Cornyn said in a statement. “This bill would equip Mexican military forces with the training they need to help them confront murderous cartels and keep our countries safe and secure.”
It isn’t the first time Texas Republicans in Congress have explored military options to address criminal organizations along the border.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, introduced legislation earlier this year that would have authorized the use of U.S. military force to combat cartels. Democrats and the Mexican government recoiled at the idea, with Democrats saying it ignored the humanitarian plight of migrants and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calling it an affront to Mexico’s sovereignty and “an offense to the people of Mexico.”
The Houston Republican wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “No one is talking about an invasion or a war with Mexico. We are focused squarely on the cartels and would expect our president to use the AUMF to work alongside Mexico’s military.” House Republican leadership appointed Crenshaw to lead the party’s cartel efforts last month.
Cornyn has had more face time with López Obrador, helping lead a bipartisan delegation to Mexico City in March. The group met with the Mexican president as well as U.S. intelligence and drug enforcement officials, and Cornyn said he was unsatisfied with the amount of collaboration between Mexico and the United States on cross-border issues.
“President López Obrador likes to talk about the sovereignty of Mexico. But as I pointed out to him in a respectful way, I said sovereignty is a two-way street, Mr. President,” Cornyn told reporters shortly after that trip. “And we simply cannot accept the huge volume of migrants that are coming through Mexico into the United States and are creating a border crisis, a humanitarian crisis.”
U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso; and Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, joined Cornyn on the trip.
U.S. House Republicans passed a border security package last month heavily influenced by a Texas Republican border plan released in December. The bill included a number of border-hardening provisions that Democrats and immigrant rights advocates called inhumane. It would resume construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, make asylum-seekers wait out their cases in Mexico and extend expulsion authority for the Border Patrol. The bill has little chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
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