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More than 28,000 people have died since Mr. Calderon launched his crackdown in late 2006, and the bloodshed shows no sign of ending. Law enforcement authorities have been warning for more than two years that the dramatic rise in border violence eventually would spread into the U.S.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 17,500 of the Border Patrol’s front-line agents, said areas well north of the border are so overrun by armed criminals that U.S. citizens are being warned to keep out of those locations.

“The federal government’s lack of will to secure our borders is painfully evident when signs are posted well north of the border warning citizens that armed and dangerous criminals are roaming through those areas with impunity,” he said. “Instead of taking the steps necessary to secure our borders, politicians are attempting to convince the public that our borders are more secure now than ever before.

“Fortunately, some responsible civil servants are candidly warning the public about the dangers that exist not just along the border but, in some cases, well beyond,” he said. “This situation should alarm all sensible people, and should spur endless demands that our legislators take whatever actions are necessary to restore law and order to these areas.”

Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican and a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, said the federal government’s new border security plan apparently is to “erect some signs telling you it’s not safe to travel in our own country.”

“If you are planning on loading up the station wagon and taking the kids to Disneyland, the federal government doesn’t advise going through Arizona - it’s too dangerous and they can’t protect you,” said Mr. Poe. “These signs say to American citizens, the federal government has ceded this area to the drug cartels. Don’t come here; we can’t protect you.”

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called the signs “an insult to the citizens of border states.”

“American citizens should not have to be fearful for their lives on U.S. soil,” he said. “If the federal government would do its job of enforcing immigration laws, we could better secure the border and better protect the citizens of border states.”

Michael W. Cutler, a retired 31-year U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) senior criminal investigator and intelligence specialist, said the BLM warning signs suggest the U.S. government is “ceding American territory to armed criminals and smugglers.”

Meanwhile, he said, politicians in Washington, D.C., including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, continue to claim the border is now more secure than ever and, as a result, it is time for comprehensive immigration reform.

“How much more land will our nation cede to drug dealers and terrorists? At what point will the administration understand its obligations to really secure our nation’s borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity?” Mr. Cutler said.

“At the rate we are going, the ‘Red, White and Blue’ of the American flag will be replaced with a flag that is simply white - the flag of surrender.”

Ms. Napolitano said this week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would begin flying a Predator B drone out of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Wednesday, extending the reach of the agency’s unmanned surveillance aircraft across the length of the 1,956-mile border with Mexico.

Last month, Mr. Obama signed a $600 million bill to beef up security along the southwestern border. The bill funds 1,000 more Border Patrol agents, as well as 250 CBP officers and two more unmanned aerial vehicles.

Two years ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of Homeland Security, said in a report that border gangs were becoming increasingly ruthless and had begun targeting not only rivals, but federal, state and local police. ICE said the violence had risen dramatically as part of “an unprecedented surge.”

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