As Mexican drug cartels have unleashed a wave of violence in Mexico and on the border, lawmakers must designate them as foreign terrorist organizations, according to new research from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  

The research, “Designating the Mexican Cartels as Terrorist Organizations,” reveals that despite concerns of increased asylum claims, labeling cartels as FTOs is likely to only marginally increase the number of asylum claims granted above an already relatively small number of such grants. Furthermore, the tools made available by labeling cartels as foreign terrorist organizations are essential to stopping the imminent threat presented by Mexican cartels on the U.S. border.  

“Texans who knew Mexico as a friend and a neighbor are distressed at the choices made by the Mexican regime, especially in the past four years. They are choices that have empowered cartels, increased corruption, grievously harmed Mexicans, brought Mexico to the precipice of narco-state status, and directly threatened Texas families and communities,” said TPPF Chief of Intelligence and Research Joshua Treviño. “Those threats apply beyond Texas: every American family and community now experiences the same threat, from the same Mexican state-cartel nexus. 

“The foreign-terror organization (FTO) designation is a tried-and-true mechanism for bringing the full array of American power and justice against terroristic organizations abroad that menace the wellbeing and safety of American homes and communities. Our new research explores whether Mexican cartels, in their partnership with major elements of the Mexican state, meet the criteria for FTO designation — and we find that they do,” Treviño concluded.  

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. 

To read the full research, please click here