Penny Starr | Senior Staff Writer | Thursday, May 22, 2008
"The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted," said the State Department alert. "Armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007."
When asked about the alert at the briefing by Cybercast News Service, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said: "I haven't heard about the report specifically, but certainly one of the reasons we are looking at the Merida Initiative is to work with Mexico to have them meet their challenges of the drug traffickers and the violence that takes place along our border. It's in our common interest and obviously this is a challenge of security."
The State Department's alert was posted in April and dated as current as of May 21.
Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) both spoke to Cybercast News Service after the briefing and said they had no knowledge of the travel alert but were aware of the volatility along the U.S. southern border.
"I've read different reports of the violence in Mexico, and I am a strong advocate for cracking down on the violence, and I'm very concerned about the murder of women," Solis said. "But I'm more concerned about people having their civil rights violated here."
"I haven't seen the travel alert, but I'm going to take a look at it," Gutierrez said. "But does it surprise me? It doesn't surprise me."
Gutierrez blamed drug use in the United States for some of the violence.
"We are the consumers," he said. "We are the cause."
Speakers at the briefing said that CNN and Fox News Channel should be held accountable for television personalities who have "played major roles in creating this anti-immigrant hysteria," specifically Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck on CNN and Bill O'Reilly on Fox.
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