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The Mexican Revolution, from 1910 to 1920, engulfed the entire border region, and political turmoil in Mexico precipitated a crime wave in the United States. Thus, current concerns about the growing lawlessness in northern Mexico and its consequences for U.S. national security are not without precedent. Of great concern to the United States is the apparent inability of Mexico to suppress the drug gangs that infest the northern half of the country. The author suggests a number of options to address these concerns. The U.S. could dramatically reduce the Mexican traffickers' profits by treating drug consumption as a social problem and investing more in domestic demand reduction and treatment. It could move to legalize and fully integrate the more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, the majority of whom are from Mexico, and adopt a system of work visas that would take the profit out of human smuggling. If violence reached intolerable levels, the U.S. could gradually seal the border. Finally, the U.S. could offer assistance to Mexico's underfunded law enforcement establishment and could assist Mexican authorities with intelligence to help them operate more effectively against criminal gangs.

Reprinted with permission from Homeland Security Today, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 2009, pp. 26-31. Copyright © 2009 HSToday.

Originally published in: Homeland Security Today, edited by David Silverberg, pp. 26-31, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 2009.

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