Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Local Government Speaks Out Against Permanent Checkpoints

Yesterday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against the Border Patrol's plan to build permanent interior checkpoints in the Tucson sector.

A copy of the Board's resolution can be found here.

However, the most interesting thing that occurred yesterday is when Border Patrol Chief Agent Robert Gilbert came dashing through the door at the last minute indicating that he was not aware of the meeting. Since when does the Border Patrol need a gilded and embossed invitation to a publicly noticed, regularly scheduled public meeting of a local governmental body? Moreover, there was even an article about the meeting in the newspaper on Saturday!!!

Yesterday is further evidence on how out of touch the Border Patrol is with the local governments and residents that suffer the consequence of their misguided permanent checkpoint strategy.

UPDATE: Veteran Channel 13 reporter Bud Foster did a story on the proceedings at the county building yesterday. It can be accessed here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Misleading and Incomplete Stats Department: Record Pot Seizures in the Tucson Sector

The Arizona Daily Star reports this morning reports that agents in the Tucson Border Patrol Sector have seized a record 845,000 tons of marijuana so far this year.

While the Border Patrol attributes this increase to being able to operate the checkpoint in a fixed location, the one thing this statistic does not address is the amount of pot NOT being seized by "flanking" the fixed checkpoint on I-19.

Who is to say that the drug smugglers are viewing that the pot seized at the fixed checkpoint as a cost of doing business. And their profits are the many tons that are getting past the fixed, static checkpoint.

Moreover, the General Accounting Office (GAO) in 2005, clearly stated that using apprehension statistics alone is an inadequate measure of the performance of permanent interior checkpoints. Other factors "such as apprehensions per agent work year and cost per apprehension," etc. must be considered in order to truly evaluate the permanent checkpoints.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blog Update: Contact Your Senator or Representative

In the column on the left, you will notice a box listing Arizona's United States Senators and Congressman/Congresswoman whose Congressional Districts are bounded by the US-Mexico border. Clicking their names will take you directly to their Congressional web-sites where you can leave them a note.

Before you do though, read the previous post. That will give you some thoughts to share with Congress.

Friday, September 7, 2007

GAO: "Modest" Progress on Border Security; Border Patrol: Let's Spend $20-$30 million to Move the Border 30 Miles North

In a "highly critical" report released yesterday by the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Border Patrol is found to be "generally not achieving" 7 out of 12 border security performance expectations. What would any parent do if their child brought home a report card this bad. Unfortunately, the GAO report card is a matter of national security as opposed to penmanship.

The performance expectations in which the GAO identified as "generally not achieved" by the Border Patrol include:
  • Implement a biometric exit system to collect information on border crossers leaving the United States through ports of entry;
  • Implement a strategy to detect and interdict illegal flows of cargo, drugs and other items into the United States;
  • Implement effective security measures in the visa issuance process;
  • Implement initiatives related to the security of certain documents used to enter the United States;
  • Ensure adequate infrastructure and facilities;
  • Leverage technology, personnel, and information to secure the border;
Interestingly, the areas in which Border Patrol "generally achieved" the performance expectations is for developing programs and plans. Where they fall short is implementation.

Concerning the adequate infrastructure performance measure that is not being met, one would think that given the Border Patrol's assertion that interior permanent checkpoints are vital, the GAO would have specifically mentioned this as a reason for not achieving this performance measurement.

Think again.

In fact, GAO does not specifically address interior checkpoints.
Moreover, consistent with its 2005 report on the interior checkpoint, the GAO says that they were "unable to verify implementation" of practices to ensure that capital projects support the agency's strategic goals and identify the mission need and gap between current and required capability.

This GAO finding speaks directly to the need for an independent analysis of whether or not checkpoints are an effective border security tool. The GAO clearly says that the Border Patrol is incapable of making this finding.

Hello Congress?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Wednesday Grab-Bag.....

Lots of stuff on the permanent checkpoint issue. Instead of multiple posts, it is aggregated into one posting.

1) Apparently, the Border Patrol has a redefined mission. According to a recent article in the Laredo (TX) Morning Times, "Border Patrol agents don't have the responsibility of apprehending illegal immigrants, Carlos X. Carrillo, chief patrol agent for the Laredo sector, said at a town hall meeting Wednesday. 'The Border Patrol is not equipped to stop illegal immigrants,' Carrillo said, noting that illegal narcotics are also not on the agents priority list." He went on to say that the focus of that sector is solely terrorism.

STOP. Read the previous paragraph again.

Wow. That's a biggie.

So in light of this new mission, one wonders how this impacts the Tucson sector's plans to build a $20 to $30 million checkpoint at KM 50.

Also, the article goes on to point out that a property owner north of the new "state-of-the-art" permanent checkpoint on I-35 north of the Laredo is seeing "20 to 50 illegal immigrants daily on her property." The new checkpoint seems to be working out well, doesn’t it.

2) Keep those cards and letters coming. Not that letters to editors are necessarily the most accurate indication of the community’s views, but it is interesting nonetheless that according to the Arizona Daily Star, between August 18th and August 24th, 13 letters were received in opposition to the Permanent Checkpoint and 1 in favor.

3) Another voice in the Arizona Daily Star speaking out against permanent checkpoints is Randy Mayer, Pastor of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita. Reverend Mayer, in his op-ed, says that "it is pretty clear that the checkpoint does very little in making our country or community more secure. It just pushes the undocumented immigration and drug-smuggling activity further to the margins, deeper into our neighborhoods and further into the shadows, while it quietly sweeps meaningful immigration reform under the carpet."

Opposition to permanent checkpoints comes from all points across the political AND spiritual spectrum.

4) On its web-site, the Border Patrol Union Local 2544 endorses permanent checkpoints while personally singling out members of the Coalition for a Safe and Secure Border (CSSB.) Similar to the Tucson Sector Chief’s shocking lack of understanding about the Constitution, federal law enforcement agents singling out private citizens for simply expressing their views in a public involvement process is terrifying. This makes one wonder what the Border Patrol is doing with the video footage they took during the public meetings of Congresswoman Giffords' community workgroup.

If Local 2544 would have read the Options Subcommittee report, they would have learned the following -- the CSSB supports improved and upgraded mobile tactical checkpoints, which would certainly have improved amenities for agents over the current checkpoint situation. CSSB also supports giving Border Patrol more tools and more agents, both of which will make them safer as they work to secure the border.

CSSB supports the rank and file agents on the ground. CSSB, however, believes that their leadership has a flawed, antiquated and misguided strategy concerning permanent checkpoints.

Apparently, CSSB agrees with Local 2544 about the Border Patrol’s Washington leadership. On its web-site, Local 2544 says it has no confidence in Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar. CSSB also has no confidence in Chief Aguilar's border security strategy.

[Note: After writing about the Laredo Sector Chief's comments about the Border Patrol's new mission, it was noticed that Local 2544 raised similar questions. Apparently, this is another area in which CSSB and Local 2544 are in agreement.]

5) A pro-permanent checkpoint web-site has just popped up on the internet. Located at, the authors of this web-site amusingly declare that they are "NOT a Coalition." Are they a confederacy, an amalgamation, an alliance, a league....?

Anyway, another interesting nugget from this group is their censorship policy. Apparently, if you don't agree with them, they will block your comments. Conversely, comments from members of the Amalgamation in Support of Permanent Checkpoints (ASPC) are always welcome here and won't be censored.

One final note, a posting on the ASPC web-site says that "Permanent Checkpoints Are the Anchor." CSSB agrees. Permanent checkpoints are a boat anchor preventing the Border Patrol from moving forward with a comprehensive and effective border security strategy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Finally, a journalist doing his/her job....

If you just read the local newspapers, you would have come to the conclusion that both subcommitees of Congresswoman Gifford's Permanent Checkpoint Work Group arrived at the same conclusion. However, Sean Holstege of the Arizona Republic took the bold and dramatic steps of actually reading the subcommittee reports and correctly characterizing the subcommittees diametrically opposing views.

Thanks, Sean.

One detail you missed though. The full work group voted 13-3 in support of the subcommittee's report that strongly opposed permanent checkpoints.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Last night, Congresswoman Gifford's Permanent Checkpoints Work Group voted 13-3 in favor of a comprehensive border security strategy and against permanent checkpoints. That vote was greeted by a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Although you would not have known this information reading the articles in the Daily Star. I am not sure what meeting Portillo and McCombs were at, but they completely missed that somewhat important point in their writings. One explanation could be that the editors at Lee HQ in Davenport, Iowa spiked that important detail from their stories. Competent journalists such as McCombs and Portillo would not normally have overlooked that critical element.

Some of the other highlights from last night.
  • Over 700 in attendance.
  • During the more than one hour of public comment period, residents from throughout the region echoed the key concerns with permanent interior checkpoints -- namely that they did not seem effective and that they threaten the public safety of surrounding communities. More than one member of the public, as well as members of the Work Group, asked specifically why the Border Patrol felt that they could secure nearly 8,000 sq. miles of U.S. Territory but not fully secure the 261 miles of the Tucson Sector's international border. Chief Gilbert did not have a satisfactory answer to this, particularly regarding the added burden his strategy places on local law enforcement agencies.
  • Work Group members and members of the public expressed disappointment and frustration with the fact that Chief Gilbert was quoted on the front page of the Star as saying he was not interested in hearing about alternatives to a permanent checkpoint and that the work group had been formed only to talk about the specifics of such a checkpoint. Chief Gilbert declared that he stood by all his quotes in the article, but did not agree with the headline. Funny, it seems the headline pretty well summed up his views.
More later....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Its Just the Constitution

It is really scary when a senior leader of a federal law enforcement is so apparently uninformed about the U.S. Constitution.

In today's Arizona Daily Star, the Border Patrol says about the permanent Border Patrol that "it's not a question of — but when, where and how it will be built."

Well Chief Gilbert, an 8th grade civics lesson would appear to be in order. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with the power of the purse. That means that if Congresswoman Giffords or any other member of Congress were able to convince their colleagues that permanent checkpoints were indeed a flawed border security strategy, they would then be able to withhold the funding for a permanent checkpoint.

This is precisely what Congressman Kolbe was able to do until he left office in 2006. Remember?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Timing is Everything Department

The very same day the Nogales City Council passed a resolution endorsing the Border Patrol's plan for a permanent checkpoint, the local newspaper editorialized that they were a bad idea.

The timing of the City Council's action is interesting -- Friday night at 6:00 PM. How many governmental entities conduct important matters of public affairs on a Friday night?

Nonetheless, the Nogales International wrote that those supporting permanent checkpoints should listen to a lawman who has over 40 years working on the border - Sheriff Tony Estrada. As noted here and elsewhere, Sheriff Estrada thinks permanent checkpoints are a bad idea and will threaten the public safety of this region.

Needless to say, CSSB agrees with Sheriff Estrada.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Border Patrol --- "Not Feasible" or "Prudent” to Defend Border

In an article in Saturday's Green Valley News, Assistant Chief John Fitzpatrick said that, "it’s not feasible 'or prudent' to put all the Border Patrol’s assets on the border." Instead he wants to build a fixed $20 million checkpoint 30 miles inland.

Hmmm, not reasonable or prudent. That's interesting, because the Border Patrol was able to effectively defend the Border in both the San Diego and El Paso sectors with Operations Gatekeeper and Hold the Line respectively. Apparently, according to the Border Patrol, the Tucson Sector does not rate a similar level of effort?

Also, in a GAO report, it was pointed out that the Border Patrol's strategy of waiting to apprehend smugglers and illegal immigrants until they have crossed the border was criticized by the Sandia National Laboratory as "inefficient and diminished the Border Patrol ability to control the Border." They recommended that the Border Patrol change its tactics from after the fact apprehension to preventing smuggler and illegal immigrants entering the U.S. in the first place.

That recommendation makes common sense. But instead the Border Patrol would rather keep doing things just because that's the way they have always have done it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Editorial in the Green Valley News, Friday August 3

In the it is better to post later than never category, the Green Valley News editorial in last Friday's issue deserves attention. It made many excellent points, but the next to last paragraph summarized the issue perfectly --- "In our final analysis, the border checkpoints will make the problem worse in our part of the world."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Article in Today's Nogales International about the Tubac Townhall

There is an article in today' s Nogales International describing the CSSB townhall in Tubac. The article said that the meeting, "demonstrated a much stronger advocacy role than seen before and the unveiling of a new 15-minute Power Point and video program that presents a sophisticated argument against the Border Patrol's rationale for the checkpoint."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Feature Added to CSSB Blog -- Subscribe by E-Mail

You will notice in the column on the left hand side of the page, a form had been added for you to subscribe by e-mail. This will enable you to automatically receive in your e-mail inbox new posts to the blog.

When you do this, an initial e-mail will be sent to you confirming your subscription by e-mail. Just click on the link.

Easy as 1,2,3:
  1. Put your e-mail in the box on the left hand side of the page.
  2. Confirm your subscription to the blog
  3. Receive via e-mail update postings and keep-up-to-date on happening related to the permanent Border Patrol checkpoints.
Because we respect your privacy (and hate spam), your e-mail address will only be used to send you updates from this blog.

Border Security --- Status Quo (aka Permanent Checkpoints) vs Securing the Border -- Report from the Tubac Townhall

Last night, an overflow crowd of over a 150 packed the Tubac Community Center to hear a presentation from the Citizens for a Safe and Secure Border. The presentation focussed on the impacts of a permanent checkpoint and presented an alternative, comprehensive approach to border security. Today's article in the Green Valley News provides a very good overview of the proceedings.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DON'T FORGET -- Tubac Townhall on Permanent Checkpoints -- TONIGHT, Tues. July 24, 5:30 PM

It is open to the public. Bring your friends and your neighbors.

It will take place at the Tubac Community Center, 50 Bridge Road.

More Gun Play near Tubac --- Smugglers "Flanking" Checkpoint

The Arizona Daily Star reports this morning about a shootout occurring west of Tubac with drug smugglers. The article points out that activity such as this is the result of smugglers "flanking" (going around) the checkpoint at kilometer 42.

If the Border Patrol is successful in building a permanent checkpoint, expect more incidents such as this.

A wise person recently pointed out what Benjamin Franklin said about doing something over and and expecting different results.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

CSSB Blog Mentioned on Arizona Daily Star Website

In his "Working the Line" Border Blog, Arizona Daily Star Reporter Brady McCombs mentioned that the Coalition for a Safe and Secure Border had a blog up and running.

Rep. Grijalva Joins the Chorus of Voices Speaking Out Against Permanent Checkpoint

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), strongly expressed his opposition to permanent checkpoints. He cites the General Accounting Office study indicating that the Border Patrol does not have sufficient data to determine the effectiveness of permanent checkpoints. He also refers to the real and significant impact to public safety that will occur as a result of smugglers going around the permanent checkpoints and through communities and neighborhoods in the region.

Bravo Congressman Grijalva!!! If you support his views on permanent checkpoints, send him a note thanking him. Here is a link where you can send him an e-mail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Secure Border Initiative Public Meeting --- TONIGHT, Tuesday July 17, 7:00 to 10:00 PM

Thanks to a very thorough newspaper reader, we have become aware of a Border Patrol public meeting on SBInet (and I mean thorough newspaper reader -- the public notice was buried in the dogs, cats and fish for sale section of the classified ads.)

One can infer by this apparent minimal public notice effort, the Border Patrol does not want any public participation.

The stated purpose of the meeting is to "identify, rather than debate, significant issues related to" the construction of the Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) a technology-based border security system.

The meeting will take place TONIGHT, Tuesday July 17 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at the Holiday Palo Verde, 4550 S. Palo Verde Rd., Tucson. (Click here for a map)

NEPA scoping meetings are intended to be an opportunity for the public to raise issues they would like to have addressed in the environmental assessment (EA) that will ultimately be undertaken. The Border Patrol will likely provide a brief overview of the SBInet project and then open it up for comments. These comments will become part of the docket for this NEPA process. So speak up.

"Santa Cruz Sheriff against permanent checkpoint " --- KVOA

Channel 4 ran a story last night on the permanent checkpoint issue. Once again, frontline law enforcement officials made the case against a permanent Border Patrol checkpoint. Sheriff Estrada said it will result in an increase in crime around the checkpoint and that smuggling and illegal immigration should be stopped at the border.

Combined with concerns about checkpoint effectiveness in other regions and the public safety implications with a permanent I-19 checkpoint, it is unbelievable that the Border Patrol persists on building a permanent checkpoint.

It is laughable and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of our constitution for some to suggest that the I-19 permanent checkpoint is a foregone conclusion. Our current Congressional delegation could easily stop this travesty and force the Border Patrol to examine other options to secure our border. It would require nothing more than Congress exercising their constitutionally mandated power of the purse. That is precisely what former Congressman Kolbe did when he was in office.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Arizona Daily Star Article Underscores Flaws with Border Patrol's Permanent Checkpoint Strategy

The Arizona Daily Star reports today that auto theft in Tucson is increasing contrary to the national trend. The proximity to the border is an obvious reason for this increase.

However, in the article, the reporter Jack Gillum points out that in San Diego the auto theft rate has dropped and, "some partly credit the overall decrease in crime to tightened border security from Operation Gatekeeper, which began in October 1994 and essentially sealed the border."

As part of its justification for permanent checkpoints, the Border Patrol says that it is impossible to "seal the border" in the Tucson Sector. Rather the Border Patrol's response is to retreat 30 to 50 miles north of the Border and cede approximately 7,800 square miles of U.S. territory to the smugglers (261 miles of border in the Tucson sector X 30 miles.) The question remains that if the border can be sealed in both the San Diego and El Paso sectors, why can't it be done in the Tucson sector.

Also, the article points out that the strategies to address this increase in auto theft "includes frequent changes in tactics, such as a new checkpoint set up last week to catch criminal activity heading to and from the border." A fixed, permanent checkpoint clearly precludes "frequent changes on tactics." In order to be effective, tactical checkpoints need to be mobile and able to be relocated based on intelligence.

Op-Ed in Today's Green Valley News

Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim DiGiacomo's has an op-ed in today's Green Valley News. It makes several the key points.

  • Though the workgroup was assured repeatedly by Giffords that “no idea is off the table,” it appears that the Border Patrol is little interested in the community’s input.
  • By the Border Patrol’s own admission, a permanent checkpoint will drive the drug smugglers and human traffickers off the highway and into surrounding communities, with their multi-million- dollar cargos and their automatic weapons.
  • Permanent checkpoints are an archaic strategy. They are fixed landmarks for smugglers to avoid. The Border Patrol’s only apparent rationale for moving forward with this flawed approach is, “we have done it before.”
  • There is a way to secure the border and keep our neighborhoods safe. There is a way for the Border Patrol to become a technologically advanced and agile law enforcement agency, capable of deterring illegal entry into the country and effectively responding to all incursions. Throwing in the towel and setting up shop at a permanent checkpoint - shifting the burden to local law enforcement - is not the answer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Former Congressman Speaks on Permanent Checkpoints

Former Congressman Kolbe was on KUAT's Arizona Illustrated last night and among the topics he addressed was the Border Patrol's ongoing effort to construct a permanent checkpoint. You will find his comments on this topic at approximately 3:39 into the segment.

Former Congressman Kolbe's longstanding opposition to these checkpoints is well known. In fact, he was able to stop the Border Patrol from proceeding with fairly simple legislative language in an appropriations bill. His efforts in this regard completely rebut the notion that a permanent checkpoint on I-19 is a fait accompli.

Congressman Kolbe's opposition joins a long bi-partisan list of former and current members of Congress that have spoken out against permanent Border Patrol checkpoints. This list includes Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), former Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), House Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Represenative John Sweeney (R-NY) and former Representative John McHugh (R-NY).

Welcome to the Citizens for a Safe Secure Border Blog

Welcome to the Coalition for a Safe and Secure Border (CSSB) blog. The purpose of this blog is to share information about the Border Patrol's plans to construct a permanent checkpoint on the I-19 corridor between Nogales and Tucson. Many residents and law enforcement officials are concerned about the impact that this checkpoint will have on their safety. A fixed checkpoint is essentially a monument to over 3 decades of this obviously flawed strategy that will be circumvented by smugglers. This will inevitably result in illegal and violent activities moving into our neighborhoods along the I-19 corridor.

It is also important to note that it is not the intent of the CSSB or this blog to criticize the service of the men and women serving in the Border Patrol. In fact, many residents in this area have been victims of crime perpetrated by smugglers and the Border Patrol has often been the first responders. Rather, we are exercising our right as citizens to ask our government to think "outside of the box" and come up with a solution to border security beyond a strategy that has been in place for three decades with what could be characterized as at best questionable results.

Check back often, we will post information as we get it. If you have information you would like have shared, please let us know.