The sense of uneasiness among farmers and ranchers in the borderlands is perhaps eclipsed in some Mexican-American communities along the border. People in Fort Hancock, Texas, and other towns along the border are clearly feeling jittery. As Associated Press correspondent Paul Weber reported from Fort Hancock: “When black SUVs trail school buses around here, no one dismisses it as routine traffic. And when three tough-looking Mexican men pace around the high school gym during a basketball game, no one assumes they’re just fans. . . . Mexican families fleeing the violence have moved here or just sent their children, and authorities and residents says gangsters have followed them across the Rio Grande” in a campaign of intimidation.
One high-school student, when picked up for truancy, told a judge he was too scared to go back to class because he had witnessed a murder in Mexico. In Fabens, Texas, fliers were circulated to faculty members asking them to watch for a gunman wanted for four killings in Ciudad Juárez. The suspect was the father of two boys at the Fabens middle school. Texas authorities are increasingly worried that the drug violence will pursue Mexican refugees who have taken up residence in communities along the border. Local police forces have even taken to escorting school buses in some of the high-risk areas.
Mexico’s killing spree has not yet engulfed U.S. communities. Nevertheless, there are some troubling signs. Security worries among ranchers along the border and among Mexican refugees and their relatives in the southwestern United States could be the canary in the coal mine regarding the spillage of Mexico’s problems across the border. Those vulnerable portions of the population would logically be the first to feel the effects. The possibility of spillover can no longer be ignored. The danger needs to be taken seriously.