February 26, 2009 / 7:45 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. Senate panel to examine violence on Mexico border

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel said on Thursday it will examine rising violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, days after the U.S. government warned travelers about the growing risks and to take precautions.

The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said it will hold two hearings over the coming weeks on how the two governments were addressing the situation and determine what are the potential implications for increased terrorist activity.

“The recent escalation of violence along the southern border demands our immediate attention,” said Senator Joseph Lieberman, the chairman of the panel. “We must assess border security programs and plans in place and we must review the readiness of federal, state, and local law enforcement.”

The committee will hold one hearing on March 25 in Washington and a second one the following month in Arizona.

The U.S. State Department on February 20 issued an updated travel alert cautioning American citizens traveling to Mexico and citing increased violent activity by drug cartels.

“Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades,” the State Department said.

The department said numerous crimes including homicides and carjackings had increased along the border over the last year.

The Senate committee said it may also look into whether there is merit to deploying National Guard to the border, fencing issues and potential mass migration from Mexico.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by David Wiessler

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