A group run by former Trump officials is proposing a formal U.S. declaration of war on Mexican cartels and a mechanism to shut down legal ports of entry based on estimates of undocumented crossings, reports Axios. The proposal is in a policy paper issued by the Center for Renewing America one month before the midterm elections, as Republicans seek to steer voters' focus from abortion rights to immigration and crime. The proposal follows efforts by Republican governors and candidates to ship migrants to Democratic cities, send the National Guard to the border and a promise to declare an invasion in Arizona. The Biden administration already works with foreign governments including Guatemala and Mexico to crack down on criminal networks, however the U.S. does not have jurisdiction to make arrests in other countries.
The group's leadership includes Russ Vought, Trump's former director of the Office of Management and Budget; Ken Cuccinelli, who held the second-highest position at the Homeland Security Department under Trump; lawyer Mark Paoletta and Kash Patel, a former Pentagon official. The plan calls for a formal declaration of war and coordination with the Mexican government and branches of the U.S. military. It asks Congress to consider shutting down legal ports of entry at the border based on the number of migrants and asylum seekers crossing illegally. It asks the Navy to interdict drug smuggling vessels and the Treasury to sanction specific cartel leaders. "The chaos playing out along the U.S. southern border is almost exclusively driven by the cartels and their sophisticated trafficking of drugs, people, and criminals," Cuccinelli writes. On the other side, Roberta Jacobson, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said that U.S. military will not be able to mobilize to act in Mexico, in the case of declaring war. The same group is responsible for pushing a plan for states to declare an invasion at the border to unlock additional state resources to target criminal networks and drug smuggling. This plan is embraced by GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Arizona.