New figures from the Department of Homeland Security show that more than 500 armed Mexican troops or police have crossed the border and entered the U.S. over the past 10 years.
According to the Washington Times, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said that 131 people were detained as a result of the instances, which are reportedly referred to as “incursions.” A total of 81 such incursions involved “verbal or physical contact.”
U.S. Border Patrol’s involvement in each incident is unclear at this time.
In addition to the 500+ armed Mexican authorities crossing into the U.S., an additional 148 came into the country without firearms.
Incursions have become frequent enough that liaison units have been ordered by both countries to “negotiate” the incidents.
Kerlikowske reportedly said, “While the number of unauthorized incursions by Mexican authorities is relatively few, it is imperative for our officer safety to handle each situation assertively but with sensitivity and professionalism.”
California Rep. Duncan Hunter, however, said the incursions are more frequent than Kerlikowske let on.
Hunter told the Washington Times, “DHS states that the number of incursions is ‘relatively few,’ but that is a misrepresentation of the frequency of these occurrences, which Mexico invites through its activities along the international border. Also, there is a clear lack of consistency among DHS in handling these incidents, especially in cases of unauthorized incursions with armed authorities.”
It is notable that hundreds of Mexican authorities crossed the border armed, given that in April, U.S. citizen and Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was imprisoned in Mexico. Tahmooressi made a wrong turn across the border while possessing weapons that are legal in the U.S., but illegal in Mexico.
He has been held in a Tijuana prison for almost three months and faces charges could keep him in Mexico for the next six to 21 years.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.