Violence on the Border: Keeping U.S. Personnel Safe

Hearing Date: September 9, 2015 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Border Violence v2

Embassy Comparison 2

CLICK HERE FOR MATERIALS SHARED AT THE HEARING

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Lawlessness in Mexico and the evolution of massive criminal organizations are a direct result of the drug cartels operating in the country.
  • The State Department could not name one recent example of an embassy or consulate where the estimated cost has come in on time and under budget. Mexico’s new embassy is currently under construction.
  • Cost per desk for new consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros are approximately three times higher than at comparable facilities and are years away from completion.
  • The State Department is cutting danger pay for U.S. personnel stationed in Nuevo Laredo even though the city has no municipal police force and personnel live and work in a restricted travel zone.
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PURPOSE:

  • To examine efforts to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and assets in northern Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexican border.

 BACKGROUND:

  • Improving the security situation in Mexican border cities where U.S. facilities are located is crucial to ensuring the protection of American personnel and citizens who visit U.S. consulates daily. 
  • The risks posed to U.S. personnel and the public by the criminal violence in northern Mexico are numerous including:
  • February 2015: the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros reported 227 separate security incidents in the U.S. border region.
  • May 2015: two government buildings in Matamoros were struck by bomb attacks. 
  • June 2015: a gunman on the Mexican side of the border fired multiple shots at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter. 
  • June 2015: a U.S.-contracted vehicle was hijacked by armed criminals that resulted in the theft of over 11,500 Border Crossing Cards.
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KEY VIDEOS:

Chairman Chaffetz: “Can you name any situation where the (estimated) cost (of a facility) has gone down?”

 

Rep. Will Hurd: “The importance of trade and people, goods and services going back and forth is so critical to this country. What’s good for northern Mexico is good for the southern United States.”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
William H. Moser Deputy Director, Bureau of Overseas Building Operations U.S. Department of State Document
Gregory B. Starr Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security U.S. Department of State Document
Sue Saarnio Deputy Assistant Secretary, Western Hemisphere Affairs U.S. Department of State Document
Robert L. Harris Director, Joint Task Force – West U.S. Customs and Border Protection Document
Brandon Judd President, National Border Patrol Council American Federation of Government Employees Document

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