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Obama: Keep US Agents Disarmed in Mexico

Obama: Keep US Agents Disarmed in Mexico

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder

Talking Points Memo via YellowBrix

March 04, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – There appears to be some light between President Obama’s position on arming Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while in Mexico and that of Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement official, just three weeks after ICE agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death in northern Mexico with a gun smuggled in from the U.S.

After a White House meeting between Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama seemed to convey a reluctance to arm ICE agents while they are traveling in Mexico.

“Our job is to help with information, equipment, to help with coordination,” Obama told reporters Thursday. “We do not carry out law enforcement activities in Mexico. What we can do is make sure that our cooperation is strengthened and deepened over time and we’re constantly refining how we do that in a way that is respectful of Mexico.”

“I assure you that we will be examining all our options and protocols …,” he continued.

The killing of Zapata emboldened U.S. critics of Mexico’s drug policy and earlier this week seemed to have Obama administration officials considering arming U.S. agents working across the border to ensure their safety.

“We have to make sure that those kinds of incidents are not repeated and to the extent that that involves the potential arming of them, that’s something I think we have to consider,” Holder told a congressional panel this week.

Yet, by Thursday both Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared to play down the prospect of arming ICE agents while traveling in Mexico.

“The issue of agents and arming is something that should be discussed in a more classified setting than a public hearing,” Napolitano said in response to a question from Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX). “It’s an issue that involves not just Mexico but other countries as well.”


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