This paper outlines the reasons and available mechanisms to treat Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations.

Key points

– The U.S. should designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.

– The Mexican cartels meet the legal definition of terrorism according to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

– Whether it is prudent or desirable for the U.S. to designate the Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations is not merely a legal question: It is primarily a political question and must be addressed at that level.

– U.S. law defines both terrorism and terrorist activity, thereby providing a standard that policymakers can use in determining whether to designate an organization as a terrorist organization.

– Fears that an FTO designation for Mexican cartels would result in a flood of asylum claimants and admittees will likely be unrealized.