President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney sparred for the third time in less than a month last night in what was the final debate before we all head to the polls on November 6th.

The final debate was over foreign policy and while Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran, China, Russia, and even the U.S. economy received the attention that they deserved, one issue of national security that was missing was a discussion about the looming threat posed by the Mexican drug cartels’ bloody war.

For those of us far away from the U.S. southern border this threat is somewhat ‘out of sight and out of mind.’ But for the millions of people living in border areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas the failure to secure the border is a clear and present danger. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that clear and present danger does not sit idly along our borders but bleeds directly into the heart of America. Thousands on both side of the border have died already in the bloody feud between the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels who are battling each other to establish ultimate control over the flow of drugs into our country.

Effective border security complete with a fully manned Border Patrol force, backed up by strong interior enforcement policies that discourage people from coming across the borders illegally in the first place is the only thing that will keep this threat from completely spilling over into our border states and into all major U.S. cities. The border fence is a great start, but there needs to be a dedicated presence that will make border crossers (especially the criminal kind) think more than twice before braving passage into the U.S.

Monday night’s debate was a missed opportunity to address this coming crisis. Sheriffs, Border Patrol members, and other law enforcement entities on our borders tell us that good examples of border security south of San Diego and in the Yuma Sector of Arizona could easily be replicated with good success.

There is still time to secure our border and protect us from the potential violence that would ensue. However, doing so requires leadership and commitment from Washington.