Migrant warfare is fueling the U.S. border crisis, say military experts

Military experts are arguing that the border crisis, characterized by the influx of foreign nationals crossing the southwest and northern borders, is not primarily about immigration but rather the result of Mexican cartels employing “migrant warfare.” This approach, according to these experts, has led to the highest number of illegal entries in U.S. history, including suspected terrorists. National security experts are now warning that a terrorist attack is likely.

According to Jonathan Hullihan, a former active duty Navy JAG, the tactics employed by Mexican cartels and transnational criminal organizations bear a resemblance to the unconventional and hybrid warfare tactics he encountered during his time in Afghanistan. While some individuals may view the issue solely as one of “illegal immigration” and argue against the notion of an invasion, Hullihan points out that insurgents in Afghanistan did not wear official military uniforms and instead engaged in irregular guerrilla warfare, much like the cartels are doing in the United States.

Insurgents have successfully established what they call “territorial insurgency shadow governance regimes” to gain control over local jurisdictions, according to the source. While the United States was focused on building partnerships and countering underground shadow governance, the insurgency forces took advantage of the situation and assumed complete command and control over large areas. They effectively regulated violence and engaged in illicit economic activities under the radar. These insurgents didn’t hesitate to exploit and kill the local population whenever necessary. They also used their power to transport weapons and drugs, expanding their profits and spreading terror wherever they went. Ultimately, after two decades of warfare against the U.S., they managed to seize control of Afghanistan.

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According to Hullihan, the cartels have adopted a similar strategy within the United States. He argues that they employ a counter-lawfare tactic to exploit U.S. laws for their own benefit. They are aware that the only way for undocumented immigrants to seek asylum, even if their claims are invalid, is by going through a port of entry, which the cartels have control over. It is impossible for anyone to cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico without being indebted to the cartels. They have full control over which groups of people are allowed to cross, as well as the timing and location of these crossings.

According to The Center Square, one migrant-warfare strategy is apparent: overwhelming Border Patrol agents in a specific area by flooding it with illegal border crossers. This tactic leaves large sections of the border vulnerable and easily exploited by cartels. Border Patrol agents have explained how cartels take advantage of this weakness to smuggle drugs and people. Texas sheriffs have also reported encountering cartel “scouts” who are scouting for areas to establish control and facilitate the movement of illicit goods such as drugs, weapons, money, and contraband. The Center Square has been informed that cartels are employing guerilla warfare tactics to exert pressure, dominate territory, and establish control in Texas and across the United States, similar to what was seen in Afghanistan.

According to Aaron Petty, a judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and appellate immigration judge, the use of “migrants as a weapons system” is a tactic that is employed globally. In a 2022 article published in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, Petty explains how Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko orchestrated a humanitarian crisis in December 2021 to pressure EU member states into making concessions. Lukashenko openly declared his intention to “flood the EU with migrants and drugs” and subsequently transported individuals from war-torn countries to Minsk. These individuals were then taken by bus to the borders of Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, as a political strategy to compel these countries to accept them.

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In response to Lukashenko’s actions, the President of the European Commission cautioned countries against falling into the trap set by the Belarusian authorities and described it as a “hybrid attack.” Consequently, Lithuania has constructed a fence, Latvia has bolstered border security, and Poland has erected a wall while deploying 10,000 troops at its border.

According to the states suing to halt these actions, the Biden administration has been accused of facilitating illegal entry into the country. Unlike Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, the administration is said to have created a phone app, implemented multiple parole programs, and even flown individuals into the country without properly vetting their identities before releasing them.

A recent analysis by the West Point Modern War Institute has also recognized Lukashenko’s use of a “manufactured migrant crisis” and insurgent tactics as a form of hybrid warfare. As explained in an analysis by Defense One, this tactic is employed to destabilize not only a country but an entire continent.

NATO categorizes hybrid threats as a combination of military and non-military actions that encompass covert and overt operations. These threats utilize tactics such as disinformation and economic pressure to intentionally blur the distinction between war and peace. Their aim is to instill doubt in the minds of targeted populations and disrupt and weaken societies.

According to the European Commission, hybrid threats refer to the coordinated use of tactics by state or non-state actors to achieve specific objectives without engaging in formal warfare. The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies has cautioned that those employing hybrid tactics are quick to adapt and take advantage of innovative strategies, techniques, and procedures that offer significant returns on investment.

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According to Hullihan, Congress should prioritize securing the U.S. border before authorizing additional funding for Ukraine. He argues that the use of migrant warfare has had a destabilizing effect on our borders and has allowed our adversaries to successfully conceal their operations and efforts. Hullihan emphasizes the importance of addressing border security to prevent further loss of lives and to maintain stability.

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