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 www.securecorridor.com, 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."