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Joint U.S.-Mexican police patrols among proposed fixes for the border

October 14, 2009 | 11:39 am

Mexican and U.S. police patrolling the border together?  

That radical idea is one of the recommendations made by a blue-ribbon panel of scholars, diplomats and other experts that spent most of the year searching for “a new vision” in dealing with cross-border issues as diverse as migration, security and water.  

“It’s time to do something different, even if it is provocative and controversial,” said Andres Rozental, a former deputy foreign minister of Mexico and co-chair of the so-called Binational Task Force on the United States-Mexico Border.

The task force was put together by the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council for International Policy and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations. It presented its findings at a conference in a Mexico City hotel Tuesday night.  

Recommendations included an urgent, comprehensive reform of immigration laws in the U.S.; creation of a binational border-development administration; establishment by Mexico of a federal police force for the border; and the easing of monopolies in Mexico to spur competition and private investment.    

But the point that really got the room buzzing was a recommendation to “cross-deputize” Mexican and U.S. border police for joint operations.  

Rozental and fellow co-chair Robert C. Bonner, former Drug Enforcement Administration chief, were quick to explain that did not mean Mexican police would be enforcing U.S. laws, or vice versa. They would patrol together and share information, Bonner said -- seemingly simple tasks that both sides have traditionally resisted.  

The task force suggested that changes in both nations’ capitals may have opened an opportunity. The Mexican government, it said, has “moved beyond a reflexive preoccupation with sovereignty” that thwarted cooperation on law enforcement, while a new administration in Washington has bluntly acknowledged its shared responsibility for the trafficking of drugs and weapons.  

“Both governments seem ready to replace nationalist finger-pointing with a 21st century approach to border management that benefits both sides,” the group’s report concluded.  

You can read more about the task force and its report here, or in Spanish here.

-- Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City

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