Madam Speaker, I bring you news from the second front. As reported by Sara Carter, the enemy has more than 100,000 foot soldiers. And I'm not talking about al Qaeda and I'm not talking about the Taliban in Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm talking about the drug cartels south of the border in Mexico.
The Mexican army isn't much larger than 100,000; so the drug cartels have almost as many foot soldiers as the Mexican military. And the Mexican military, we understand, has been infiltrated by the drug cartels. And these drug cartels are violent.
There are two major ones. The Sinaloa cartel, also known as the Federation, and the Zetas cartel, which is known in America as the Gulf cartel. And they both operate down Mexico way.
There are four commodities that are being sold and traded across the U.S./Mexico border. Two commodities go north and two of them go south. Going north, operated by the drug cartels, of course, are drugs. Also, the drug cartels working with the coyotes are bringing people into the United States, both illegally done.
Going south are guns that the drug cartels end up using and, of course, that money, that filthy lucre that funds all of this process.
Right here, Madam Speaker, I have a photograph that was taken this past weekend in Juarez, Mexico, right across the border from El Paso, Texas. It's a population of about four times the size of El Paso. And the Mexican government has tried to do something about it. You see here federal police officers, a convoy, that goes for a mile, going into Juarez to try to control the drug cartels. Here you have peace officers or federal peace officers or military with M-16 rifles.
Madam Speaker, it's a war zone. It's a border war. And I commend the President of the Mexico for trying tostop the violence on his side of the border. But we are naive to think it's not going to come to the United States because eventually it will. It is a national security issue, Madam Speaker.
Some say that Mexico will be a failed state because of the drug cartels' influence, and it's certainly a tough situation for Mexican nationals that live along the border. I've been on both sides of the border, and I've seen it's a tough situation for people who live there because they live in fear because the drug cartels are fearless and they would do anything to bring those drugs into the United States.
Our own State Department has issued a spring break advisory: Don't go to Mexico. It's not safe to go down there. There are beheadings of local and law enforcement officers. There are kidnappings of not only Mexican nationals but Americans that are being kidnapped now on our side of the border. It's a violent place, Madam Speaker. The United States now says that only Pakistan and Iran are more of a national security concern than Mexico. That's serious, and we should be concerned about it.
We now understand, of course, about the corruption in the Mexican Government. Even though President Calderon is trying to do what he can, you see, those drug cartels pay their criminals a whole lot more money than these federal peace officers get paid, and they switch sides and some of them even work for the federal government in Mexico. So he's put troops on the border. I'm talking about the President of the Mexico. He's put several thousands of troops on the border. Several thousand went into Juarez to try to stop the drug cartels from operating there.
More importantly, Madam Speaker, this is a national security issue for the United States. Both sides of the border are violent, and we need to do everything we can to deal with this problem.
The first thing we need to do is realize it's going on. In last year's election, neither person running for President ever mentioned the border problem. They didn't want to talk about that. It wasn't politically correct.
We have to deal with this issue. We have to help the Border Patrol. We need to change the rules of engagement. The Border Patrol, right now they can't shoot anybody unless they're shot at. They have got to take the first bullet; so they back off.
We need to help the sheriffs. One of the sheriffs down in Texas told me that the drug cartels outgun them, out-finance them and out-man them. They've got better equipment, more money, and more people. A deputy sheriff in South Texas makes about $12,000 a year. A guy running drugs or guns across the border will make that much in 2 weeks. It's important that we help them.
And, of course, I think that we ought to put our troops on the border. If we put our troops, e National Guard, on the border, people will quit crossing. Mexico is doing what it can with its military, but we won't do that because we might offend somebody.
Down the road the United States has to deal with the real problem, and that's the tremendous addiction Americans have for illicit drugs. We have to deal with that or this is all going to continue. But until we fix that problem, we need to stop the crime from coming into the United States.
It is time, Madam Speaker, that we realize the truth because the first duty of government is not building roads and bridges and sending money to museums and foreign aid. The first duty of government is to protect the people. That's the people of the United States. And our government needs to get with the program and send the National Guard to the border.
And that's just the way it is.