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.

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