To get a border city's perspective on immigration issues, we spent some time recently in Laredo, Texas, a city of around 200,000 people.
Residents here are concerned about what they say is a porous border with Mexico and an apparent turf war between drug-running gangs. A key drug-smuggling route into the United States runs right through Laredo.
They say a lot of their trouble comes from Nuevo Laredo, a once-popular Mexican tourist town just across the border. This year alone, more than 90 people have been killed in Nuevo Laredo. This includes four Mexican drug agents who were shot dead in broad daylight. A local newspaper was also shot up, an attack newspaper employees interpret as an attempt to muzzle them.
Now, law enforcement officials from Webb County, which encompasses Laredo, say they are seeing an increase in violence on their side of the border.
Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores says his deputies confiscated $17 million worth of narcotics, more than $1 million in cash, and serious firearms, including an AK-47, last year. But Sheriff Flores says his greatest fear is that terrorist groups will infiltrate the drug cartels, and eventually, smuggle weapons into the United States using the cartels' technology and knowledge.
What's the solution to this problem? Sheriff Flores says he needs more men on the ground and better equipment to keep up with the cartels' night vision and GPS technology.
"It's impossible to have people every 10 feet in the border. I'm not asking for that. But it's been long overdue that we get the assistance to have more bodies to be more vigilant," Flores said.
The U.S. Border Patrol says it recognizes it needs more people on the ground to help local law enforcement. It hopes to do more recruiting to increase its numbers by 9 percent this year.
But will that be enough? How concerned do you think we should be about drug cartels crossing our border? And do you really believe terrorists may enter through Mexico?