Mexican federal police officers stand guard on the Mexico side of the border on March 13, 2018, in Tijuana. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
By Nicholas Ballasy
WASHINGTON – Mexican Ambassador to the United States Gerónimo Gutiérrez told PJM that Mexico does not have a “border patrol” along the U.S.-Mexico border but Mexican federal police work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to combat illegal activity.
The ambassador did not have an estimate of how many Mexican law enforcement officials work along the border with the United States. The embassy’s press office could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. currently has more than 16,000 agents stationed along the 2,000-mile southern border.
“We don’t have a border patrol. We work through two agencies. At the points of entry through the SAT [Mexico’s tax agency, Servicio de Administración Tributaria] which is [an] agency within our treasury that are counterparts for CBP, and then we have a federal police,” Gutiérrez said after a discussion at the National Immigration Forum’s spring reception earlier this month.
“I don’t have a number exactly of how many, but it’s the federal police in Mexico that has joint and coordinated patrolling and many other types of operations along the border with CBP and with ICE,” he added.
Gutiérrez was asked if he thinks a border wall system is needed along the U.S.-Mexico line to prevent illegal crossings and drug smuggling.
“We’re working closely with the United States. There were two strategic high-level dialogues last year with different U.S. agencies, their work on security. And what we both agree is that we need to hit the business operations of transnational organized crime organizations and that we need to center on their income, their production, the distribution of their operations, and that’s what we’re doing together,” he said.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto reportedly called off a recently planned visit to the White House to meet with President Trump after a phone conversation about border security. Gutiérrez declined to comment on the situation.
“I think there’s plenty that has been said about that topic already,” he said.
During the on-stage discussion, Gutiérrez said that Mexico takes security along the U.S.-Mexico border “seriously” because terrorists could cross illegally into the United States.
“I think that security is a natural concern nowadays; it’s especially been so since 9/11, but, in fact, having legal, safe, migration helps security, not the other way around, for two reasons. First, very simple, it allows you to know who is in, and, secondly, it provides you the opportunity to devote resources to what are really the true threats of security,” Gutiérrez said during the discussion on “cultural, economic and security anxieties driving the immigration debate in the United States and across the globe.”
Gutiérrez also said that there has not been a “case proven” of a terrorist crossing into the U.S. illegally from Mexico but that it “could happen” in the future.
“There has not been a single case proven in the past 15 years or so that anybody has come through Mexico to harm the United States, meaning, from a terrorist organization or something like that. To be sure, could that happen? Yes, by all means, and that’s why we take very seriously our security cooperation with the United States,” he said.
Gutiérrez argued that the border is “far more secure” than people realize.
“The United States and Mexico, in fact, work side by side, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] officials and Mexican officials making the border security,” he said.