On August 24, the bodies of 72 Central and South American citizens were found brutally killed in a warehouse in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Reports say that after these immigrants refused to pay and become part of the drug cartel that owned the warehouse, they were killed and then left abandoned in this warehouse, just 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.
Many such organizations have essentially been running the northern Mexican states, one of which is Tamaulipas. The ground cartel war in Mexico has dragged on for several months and has accounted for the death of nearly 28,000 people since President Felipe Calderon took power in 2006.
It is not only the members of the Mexican enforcement agencies who are getting caught in the crossfire, but also the lives of hundreds of immigrants who have traveled thousands of miles to reach the United States.
There was one survivor in this massacre, Luis Fredy Lala Pomavilla, a citizen of Ecuador. An indigenous man from a small town in Ecuador, he sold most of his few belongings (including one of his mother’s cows) to try to make it to the United States. What he found, however, was a deadly encounter with Los Zetas, the cartel believed to be the culprit of this massacre. In one of his interviews, he recounts that the members of Los Zetas would find many of these immigrants on their way to the United States and then give them two choices: make it to the United States and become mules of their operations, or death.
As a Hispanic woman, I am very well aware of the arguments for and against the building of a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.
Many people believe that building a wall is an extreme step taken against honest people who try to make it past the border searching for a better life. However, this is no longer about that dream; this is about national security for both the United States and Mexico. Mexican officials often comment on the fact that the drug cartels are better armed than they are.
Cartels often travel cross the border to obtain illegal weapons that they later use against the Mexican police. As a result, thousands of officials and innocent bystanders have been killed.
Most importantly, however, the case for the border is also about the lives of people who try to cross the border every day, who instead of encountering a better life find themselves face to face with some of the most dangerous organizations in the world. These 72 people killed in this warehouse wanted to cross to the United States for that dream. Let us remind ourselves that they were less than 100 miles from the border.
In the long term, it is important for us to think of better ways for legal immigration into the United States, but for now we must protect our borders, not just to protect ourselves, but also to protect the lives of those wishing to enter the United States.
If we do not protect our border, the drug cartels will become stronger. The war in Mexico will rage on, thousands more people will die, and sadly, the dreams of many immigrants will also be destroyed.