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?