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The White House wants a $1.4 billion stimulus/national security package…for Mexico

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 11, 2008 01:54 PM

A reader asked me to check into information that President Bush was pushing a massive foreign-aid package to Mexico to help them secure their southern border against the flow of illegal aliens from Central America.

“We can’t even get our own border straight, and we are going to provide Mexico with funding so they can solve their problem,” the reader fumed. “I doubt the Central Americans are staying very long in Mexico anyway. We know where they are going!”

Too outrageously outrageous to be true?

Well, I checked it out and it’s even worse than the reader described. Far worse.

The plan is called “The Merida Initiative.” Seems that the White House has had this plan in the works for nearly a year with little congressional input on either side of the border.

We can’t finish our own border fence, properly supply our immigration agents and border patrol with all the equipment and resources they need, or get our house in order. Yet, the Bush administration wants to fork over $1.4 billion to Mexico and Central America–with much of it going into the hands of corrupt law enforcement officials and government bureaucrats who have worked tirelessly to undermine our immigration laws. The funding is tucked into the 2008 supplemental budget.

Naturally, the State Department has taken a lead role. They’ve held meetings in secret and cut out members of Congress from discussion. You’ll love the explanation for the secrecy: Mexico is “sensitive,” you see. Also, according to one expert, “Mexico is very protective of its sovereignty and very worried about any incursion of U.S. security forces or private contractors—like Blackwater—coming in to train Mexicans.” Yeah, they’re worried about incursions and sovereignty.

The State Dept. disclosed the first phase of the Merida Initiative last October, involving some $550 million in aid for inspection scanners, helicopters, surveillance tools, and case management software:

This partnership would support coordinated strategies to:

*Produce a safer and more secure hemisphere where criminal organizations no longer threaten governments and regional security; and
*Prevent the entry and spread of illicit drugs and transnational threats throughout the region and to the United States.

To achieve these goals, President Bush has requested $550 million as part of a multi-year program to provide:

*Non-intrusive inspection equipment, ion scanners, canine units for Mexican customs, for the new federal police and for the military to interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash and persons.
*Technologies to improve and secure communications systems to support collecting information as well as ensuring that vital information is accessible for criminal law enforcement.
*Technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice – vetting for the new police force, case management software to track investigations through the system to trial, new offices of citizen complaints and professional responsibility, and establishing witness protection programs.
*Helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support interdiction activities and rapid operational response of law enforcement agencies in Mexico.
*Initial funding for security cooperation with Central America that responds directly to Central American leaders’ concerns over gangs, drugs, and arms articulated during July SICA meetings and the SICA Security Strategy.
*Includes equipment and assets to support counterpart security agencies inspecting and interdicting drugs, trafficked goods, people and other contraband as well as equipment, training and community action programs in Central American countries to implement anti-gang measures and expand the reach of these measures in the region.

The Brookings Institute issued more details and analysis in November:

For the past six months, without input from respective legislatures, government officials have quietly planned this joint endeavor. The newly elected president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, campaigned on a platform of citizen’s security, committed $3 billion of federal funds to this priority and persuaded the Mexican army and navy to lead the fight against the drug cartels and the criminal networks. The cartels and the networks are distinct, but drug money is the juice that feeds both enterprises: together, they have become an international threat to Mexican national security. In this campaign, President Calderon found a strong ally in President Bush. In March this year, they met in the colonial town of Merida to strategize on combating transnational crime. In the interim, and out of public scrutiny, government officials drew up the technical elements of a plan, known as the Merida Initiative, to avoid any confusion with Plan Colombia.

Under the terms of this Initiative, the United States will commit 41% of the $500 million grant to military equipment, which will include six brand new Bell 412 helicopters and two Casa 245 twin-engine aircraft. Accompanying both is a two year agreement to provide maintenance and spare parts. This represents a significant improvement over the gift of Hueys in the 1990s under the Excess Defense Articles program. Those helicopters soon became inoperable and were cannibalized for spare parts, leaving a bitter taste by the recipients of “hand me downs.” Now, the grant of new equipment, plus the maintenance and spare parts, assures the Mexican armed forces that we take collaboration seriously. However, the planned use of the Casa aircraft needs to be discussed publicly, given its multiple and potential capabilities from medevac to cargo, to intelligence gathering, even to use as a gunship equipped with light cannons.

There is encouraging news in the Initiative that 59% of the grant will be earmarked for civilian agencies responsible for law enforcement. This is much needed, but the number and complexity of Mexico’s security agencies will need more than cash to reform. Multiple Federal agencies have earned a reputation for ineffectiveness and corruption; among them, the Attorney General’s Federal Investigative Agency, the Ministry of Public Security’s Federal Preventive Police Force, the Ministry of Government’s Center for Investigation and National Security and the Ministry of Finance’s Customs Administration. Furthermore, the 32 states within the Mexican Federation hold responsibility for crime control. State security agencies and the courts have not protected the citizenry effectively. According to surveys carried out by Transparencia Mexicana, the police and justice system are perceived as having worse problems of corruption and inefficiency than other public agencies.

If you subsidize it, you’ll get more of it.

Which is exactly what Bush-Calderon Mexican stimulus package will do. Add this to Dick Lamm’s plan to destroy America.

At a little-noticed hearing (finally) on the plan last week, seems there was some opposition.

Rep. Gabrielle Gifford, D-Ariz., questioned whether it was wise to assist Mexico at a time when the U.S. economy appears to be headed toward a recession.

“Unless we have our house in order, putting millions into Central America and Mexico is not the solution,” she said.

But I haven’t read about any opposition from Republicans. Yoo-hoo. Anybody home?

Meantime, Mexico refuses to extradite criminal suspects who’ve fled from the U.S. down to Mexico unless our prosecutors drop death penalty charges against them.

Oh, and just in time to mobilize pro-illegal immigration activists during this heated campaign season, Calderon landed in the U.S. yesterday for a five-day visit:

Officially, the five-day trip is billed as an “encounter” with Mr. Calderón’s compatriots abroad, according to a statement from the president’s office to the Mexican Congress. But the visit could backfire, experts say, by putting the focus back on the hot-potato issue of Mexican migration….The trip allows him to “reach out to Mexican communities in the United States, which he hasn’t been able to do in his first year in office, and support them, and tell them they’re not alone,” said one official speaking on the condition of anonymity. And it will help him to “strengthen the relationship with the U.S. private sector” as he tries to bring more investment to Mexico, the official added.

Mr. Calderón, other officials say, is also trying to reshape the immigration debate in the United States by showcasing the “hard work” and “economic benefits” that his compatriots represent to the U.S. economy and economic integration of the two countries.

“Timing is everything, and the timing of President Calderón’s trip speaks volumes – following Super Tuesday and on the eve of the remaining primaries,” said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, president of Peschard & Associates, an independent consulting firm. “He clearly will capitalize on the timing, plus some of his politically oriented meetings, to make sure he puts Mexico on the next president’s desk and even try to shape the bilateral agenda.”

Among the U.S. politicians Calderon will meet with: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He will also meet with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a prominent Hispanic leader who endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No word on whether John McCain is on the schedule. Perhaps Juan Hernandez will stand in.

I ask: Whose sovereignty is in jeopardy?

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