Hudspeth County (map, left), one of the largest in Texas, is home to fewer than 4,000 people. Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mike Doyal reported that a crew of four county employees was working there on an unpaved, remote road near the ghost town of Fort Quitman when eight rounds were fired across the Rio Grande River at about 10:30 a.m. He said it was unknown if any of the workers were specific targets, but none was hurt.
Doyal surmised that the shooter may have been trying either to scare workers away from expensive equipment or to distract them while drugs or illegal immigrants were smuggled across elsewhere. He added,
In years past, it has been an area where there have been spots of contention. [It's] probably more drugs than anything else, but there's some human smuggling that goes on there as well.
The road foreman said there had been some vehicles on the Mexican side that had been tagging them all week.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Brooks wrote in an e-mail to FoxNews.com,
Security on the border in the Marfa Sector is about the same now as it was in the spring of 2010. We have been fortunate in avoiding serious incidents in our area. Our investments in personnel, infrastructure and technology are beginning to pay dividends.
But the Border Patrol is not investigating. According to Borderland Beat, Brooks added, "We did respond after we were notified by DPS. There is no beefing up anyway."
But State Representative Francisco Canseco (R-San Antonio), who represents the 23rd district of Texas — one of the eight largest in the country — which encompasses Hudspeth County, observed that the most recent shots from Mexico are proof that the border remains unsecured. He added,
It is completely unacceptable that Americans at work, doing their job in America, come under gunfire from across the border in Mexico. Our border is not secure from violence that threatens American lives. Securing our border against the cartels and their violent threat must be a top priority.
In April of last year Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero in the neighboring El Paso sector warned residents that violence from Mexico could spill over at any time. Two months later, El Paso’s City Hall was struck by bullets fired from Juarez, and in August a stray bullet hit a building at the University of Texas at El Paso. Last November, the University of Texas at Brownsville canceled classes temporarily due to gunfire from across the border in Matamoros.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a Jan. 14 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives' Committees on the Judiciary and Homeland Security, in which he declared that the shooting was "yet another incident involving cartel-related gunfire" along the border. He called upon both committees to hold hearings to review the Obama administration's response to last week's shooting and similar incidents in the past.
In an interview with FoxNews.com on Tuesday, Abbott commented,
... [T]he overall state of security along the border is bad and getting worse, particularly in south and west Texas. Only good fortune has thus far spared American lives.
We have reached out to the Obama administration to take action to protect American lives from bullets flying across the border. They have failed to respond to our call to action, so we are pursuing an alternative track to both investigate what the problems are on the border and to investigate the reason behind the inadequate response by the administration.
It grows worse by the year, almost by the month. A year or two ago, it would've been almost unheard of — unthinkable — that bullets would come from another country onto American soil. And now it's happened on multiple occasions.
Abbott has previously observed, "It is more dangerous to walk the streets of Juarez, a few blocks from El Paso, than it is the streets of Baghdad."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.