On January 26, 2014, a “foreign military incursion” was reported and confirmed just 50 yards past the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona. According to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times [1], two heavily-armed and camouflaged Mexican soldiers crossed the border and engaged in a tense, 35 minutes-long standoff with U.S. Border Patrol agents. Guns were drawn.

Though shots were never fired, the incident – described by U.S. officials as one of the most serious incursions in recent years – narrowly missed becoming a national tragedy. The Mexican soldiers, who misidentified themselves, only retreated back over the border after the U.S. agents called for backup.

According to the Times’ reporting, the incident is only one of nearly two dozen incursions into the U.S. by Mexican soldiers in the last four years. That statistic alone underscores the chaos and violence border patrol agents face when trying to protect American citizens from, among other things, cross-border crime.

It also highlights the tension between Mexican and U.S. officials on border crossings. The Mexican Embassy denied the two men in Arizona were even soldiers until presented with hard evidence that proved their identities.

Too often these days, border violence is left out of the debate when it comes to immigration policy. The need to protect our borders is real. It’s not a hypothetical scenario, as many like to believe.

Some –Mexican officials included – argue that unintended border crossings happen all the time. That may be true, but it stops being unintentional as soon as assault weapons are drawn and identities refused.  At that point, it becomes willful disregard of U.S. sovereignty.

Where is the outrage? Where are Washington’s priorities? Lawmakers consistently put immigration reform ahead of border security. [2] Then, while millions of illegal immigrants are given amnesty or pathways to citizenship, promises to secure the border go unfulfilled.

It’s time for Washington to follow through. Who knows what will happen the next time Mexican soldiers “happen” to wander over the border into the U.S.