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BORDER PATROL PRIMER  

By Hugh Holub

According to the United States official Customs and Border Protection website:

 “While the Border Patrol has changed dramatically since its inception over 75 years ago, its primary mission remains unchanged: to detect and prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States.”

The CPB website goes on to explain checkpoints:

“Traffic checks are conducted on major highways leading away from the border to (1) detect and apprehend illegal aliens attempting to travel further into the interior of the United States after evading detection at the border and (2) to detect illegal narcotics.”

 On the same CBP website they add:

“The priority mission of the Border Patrol is preventing terrorists and terrorists weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States . Border Patrol Agents patrol nearly 6,000 miles of international land border with Canada and Mexico and nearly 2,000 miles of coastal border. Undaunted by scorching desert heat or freezing northern winters, they work tirelessly as vigilant protectors of our Nation's borders.”

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/overview.xml

 A war zone has been created along the southern border of the United States .

 The problem is the residents in this war zone don’t know what to do about it.

There is a fundamental conflict between the Border Patrol and its mission, with the people living, working and driving through areas being patrolled by the Border Patrol.

WHAT IS THE BORDER PATROL  

The Border Patrol is s a very limited purpose federal law enforcement agency. It is not a police force in the sense of city police and county sheriff’s deputies. Local police have broad authority to enforce all criminal statutes, and have a sworn duty to protect the health, safety, welfare, lives and property of the people.

Thus local police  have the duty and responsibility protect people from murder, rape, assault, theft, and enforce laws ranging from felony murder to speeding on the highway.

Local law enforcement  people are also (usually) well trained in dealing with the public as public cooperation and trust is absolutely essential for successful law enforcement.

In contrast,  we have the Border Patrol whose missions are (1) preventing illegal entry of people, or catching illegal entrants once they have gotten into the United States , (2) stopping  drugs being smuggled into the country, and (3) since 9/11 the Border Patrol has also become an arm of the war on terrorists.

The Border Patrol has no jurisdiction to enforce state and local criminal laws, however.

Basically the Border Patrol is the federal  trespasser police. Their job is stopping trespassing into the United States .

When drug smugglers start shooting at each other, the “crime” involved is not federal. It involves violation of state law. Thus the burden of dealing with this illegal activity falls on the  local police or sheriff’s deputies depending where the incident occurs.

Already over-burdened local police now have to deal with increasing criminal activity primarily because the Border Patrol has failed to stop the flow of drug smugglers into the United States .

THE THREE MISSIONS  

Illegal Immigration. The Border Patrol’s primary mission is to stop illegal entry into the United States , which has mostly involved people crossing into the US to get jobs.

The Border Patrol basically is an enforcement arm of our immigration laws.

The problem of illegal immigration is caused by the dynamic of a lot of poor people in Mexico with no future, and a lot of jobs in the United States .

No matter how much effort the Border Patrol makes to stop illegal entry for jobs, it seems the flow of people willing to risk their lives in the borderlands never ceases.

It would be a safe guess that everyone seeking to cross our border to get a job succeeds eventually, regardless of the Border Patrol, except those who die in the process of crossing.

How else does one explain a reported 12 million illegal aliens now living in the US ….a number that is simply a guess. Could be 20 million.

For many years the cat and mouse game between the border patrol and illegal entrants was of little consequence to residents in the borderlands, because illegal entrants are peaceful people simply looking to work as maids, gardeners, waiters, construction, or whatever. The Border Patrol was not being shot at.

As the volume of illegal entrants increased in Southern Arizona ’s rural areas, due to successful efforts of the Border Patrol to stop the flow of illegal entry in border cities, the problem began to get ugly. First there was the massive increase in trash left behind by the illegal entrants. The desert of Santa Cruz County glitters with empty plastic water bottles.

Then the fence cutting by illegal entrants peeved the ranchers.

Then the roads the Border Patrol started cutting through the countryside annoyed the environmentalists.

Meanwhile Republican politicians, seeking to hang onto a majority in Congress, tried to make illegal aliens a high priority problem and demanded the US deport the 12 million illegals.

Should Congress ever pass meaningful immigration reform that allows guest workers to be accepted as human beings in this country,  with a sane and not prohibitively impossible ways for them  to become “legal” in the US , the flow of workers and their families over the border is expected to cease.

Drugs.  In a typical “mission creep”, the Border Patrol has become a front line in the war on drugs. Being where they are supposed to be…in the hinterlands near the border, it is obvious they would snatch dope smugglers and a lot of drugs.

Setting up road blocks on border highways increased the drug seizures credited to the Border Patrol, which they boast about. In fact, the checkpoints are probably more about interdicting drugs than catching illegal aliens.

On May 14th at a meeting in Green Valley about the proposed permanent checkpoint on I-19,  Tony Coulson, the Assistant Agent  in charge of the area’s federal Drug Enforcement Agency office chirped about how 600,000 pounds of marijuana worth $1.5 billion was seized around here by the Border Patrol.

To measure the true effectiveness of the federal efforts to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the US , newspapers ought to start publishing narcotic prices…like they track gasoline prices.

What does an ounce of marijuana sell for today on the streets of Tucson ? How much has that price increased or decreased over the last week, month, year?

If the war on drugs was really cutting into the supply, then prices ought to be skyrocketing.

Terrorists. The new priority mission of the Border Patrol is stopping terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from crossing our borders.

Since 9/11 everything the federal government does is somehow tied to the threat of terrorists, regardless of how remote the truth may be. And before putting more boots on the ground, the federal government “solves” the terrorist threat by taking more and more civil rights away from Americans.

Why, people ask in the borderlands, would a Saudi terrorist risk his life hiking through the Arizona desert when he can fly into New York on a student visa and take flying lessons to carry out his mission.

THE NEW FACE OF THE WAR  

Recently the countryside south of Tucson has echoed with the staccato report of automatic weapons fire.

We now have three armed groups running around the countryside.

The first group is the Border Patrol itself, armed with M-16s.

The second group are the militias that have formed out of frustration with the Border Patrol, armed with rifles and hand guns.

The third group are armed escorts for people and drug smugglers, and bandits attacking the people and drug smugglers. These guys are armed with AK 47s.

So far, the efforts of the Border Patrol to stop the trespassing of people and drugs into the US has made it a big enough business for coyotes smuggling people and mules smuggling drugs to justify weapons to protect their loads.

Now we have people shooting at each other...drug  and people smugglers versus each other and border bandits.

A common sense view is that anyone crossing the border carrying automatic weapons is a terrorist.

Thus, instead of Islamic terrorist on jihad missions to destroy the US , we have drug cartel goons killing police south of the border and killing each other in our back yards.

It isn’t unrealistic to expect the drug cartel squads to start shooting US cops that get in their way.

John Fitzpatrick, Patrol Agent in Charge of the Nogales Border Patrol office freely admitted at the May 14th meeting in Green Valley that the Border Patrol doesn’t have the manpower to stop illegal aliens and drug smugglers from crossing the border at the border. Their mission is under funded and understaffed. Fitzpatrick noted that New York City has more cops than the BP has for the entire country. There are 2,800 BP agents in the Tucson Sector which covers Arizona from the Yuma Pima County line to the New Mexico state line.

The Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol covers 262 miles of the border, Fitzpatrick estimated it would take 5 agents per one-half mile to man the border 24/7. This translates into 2,620 agents required to blanket the Tucson Sector portion of the border.

Tom Miller, in his book “On the Border” which was published in 1981 notes “the Agency insists that with more personnel—1,800 agents now work the southern frontier—the flow of migrants from Mexico could be reduced considerably.” Millers goes on to add “but even if enough border guards were hired to link arms from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean – 2,551,560 by my calculations – the problem would still not be solved.”

Listening to the Border Patrol explain why they can’t actually prevent illegal entry at the border itself sounds eerily like the explanations why the war in Iraq has gone so badly. Not enough boots on the ground.

Thus the Border Patrol demands a permanent checkpoint on Interstate 19 thirty miles from the border. Residents between the border and the checkpoint feel like the federal government is moving the border thirty miles inland and abandoning them to armed smugglers. There is precedent for this. The US Army pulled out of Southern Arizona during the Civil War, and the Apaches destroyed Tubac.

Santa Cruz County residents are demanding the Border Patrol concentrate their forces down at the border, and the Border Patrol is waging a public relations campaign to put a permanent road block on I-19 north of Tubac.

LIFE IN THE NEW WAR ZONE

 The conflict that is brewing in southern Arizona is over the conduct of the Border Patrol.

 It acts like an occupying army, and treats everyone in the area as potential criminals.

 The following is from http://www.usborderpatrol.com  a site is not officially affiliated with the US government. But it speaks volumes about the attitude of the Border Patrol.

“Federal officers can freely stop vehicles for inspection at these checkpoints without any required level of suspicion or justification. That is the law. Most of these checkpoints have separate areas reserved nearby where a vehicle can then be nearly stripped under what is called "secondary inspection". The referral of a vehicle to "secondary inspection" needs only to be "selective" and does not require any "reasonable suspicion".

“It is best if you do not annoy, abuse, alarm, alert, tease, torment, or disturb a Border Patrol Agent at any of these checkpoints.

“Border Patrol Agents cannot and will not take your drivers license away from you. (The federal agent working at a legal Port of Entry can take your driver's license or almost any other documentation away from you.)

“The Border Patrol Agent will engage you in "consensual conversation". "Consensual conversation" is not interrogation. Consensual conversation is ... conversation.

"Good morning, how are you, that's a nice gun you have in your pocket", are all simply one side of a consensual conversation, but in polite society they do require that you make some verbal response.

“While the Agent is having this consensual conversation with you you are -- essentially -- detained. You and your vehicle cannot leave. It is very important that you do not attempt to leave.

“Leaving the Agent without his permission will almost certainly be met with what is called in the vernacular of the profession a "Dynamic Apprehension". We civilians might call it ….. a chase and a tackle.

“The problem with a Dynamic Apprehension is that one or more of you will fall to the ground and or bounce off of various hard objects like walls, cars, the sidewalk or rocks and bushes if perpetrated in more suburban areas.

“This fall almost certainly will be with you -- the illegal / the uncooperative -- on the bottom and with the usually larger more athletically inclined Agent on top. If somehow you wind up on top then things can get very energetic and the mysteries of your life may be found in your autopsy report.”  

 HOW TO DEAL WITH BORDER PATROL CHECKPOINT STOPS

Increasingly Southern Arizona residents will encounter US Border Patrol agents at checkpoints on our freeways.

Middle class white people are very unfamiliar with the rules of being stopped by the cops, thus have great difficulty understanding they are subject to potentially fatal exercise of  police authority.

White males also have serious problems dealing with police stops because they are suddenly experiencing what it is like to be a woman in America .

*  *  *

For the moment, the Border Patrol can stop you and ask you if you are a US citizen and engage in “consensual conversation” meaning they can ask where you are going.

Answer politely. “North” is an example of a polite response.

Smiling at the BP agent is useful…even though few of them smile back. Just plan to be late to wherever you are going and don’t get angry about the delay. This is life  where lettuce pickers are just as frightening to the government as Al Qaeda.

Border Patrol agents assume you are an illegal alien or an armed drug smuggler. Or maybe even one of those Islamic terrorists they are supposed to be stopping.

Citizens of lower income neighborhoods generally are more experienced with dealing with hair trigger police, since they are more likely to be stopped repeatedly. This is not, however called "profiling" by the police, who explain "if 90% of the people in the neighborhood are Black, then 90% of the people we confront are likely to be Black." This does not, however explain the high probability that a Black person will also be accosted in a 99% while neighborhood. "In that event, the person doesn't fit," said one cop.

The more you look like an illegal alien, a drug smuggler or an Islamic terrorist (which is approximately 50% of the population here), the more freaky you can expect a Border Patrol agent to be. Also, there are many “profile” vehicles Arizona that are linked to alien smuggling such as Greyhound buses, white SUVs, 1986 Chevy Astro vans, and any vehicle with tinted windows.

CHECKPOINTS AND DRUGS

Finally, it is obvious that the real purpose of Border Patrol checkpoints are to intercept drugs.

State and local police can set up temporary road blocks to catch drunk drivers, but permanent road blocks are not permitted in this country…except for the Border Patrol.

The immigration laws of the US allow permanent checkpoints to ascertain whether someone is legally in the country, and checkpoints are allowed within 100 airline miles from the border.

Thus, the Border Patrol could, if they thought they could get away with it, put a permanent checkpoint on Interstate 10 north of Tucson . Someday the border may actually end up back at the Gila River where it started in 1853.

One notes that in every presentation justifying permanent checkpoints, the Border Patrol trots out its statistics on how many tons of marijuana and other drugs they have seized at checkpoints.

At the I-19 checkpoint the Border Patrol routinely checks vehicles for drugs with their dogs.

One of the arguments for the permanent checkpoint made at a recent public forum in Green Valley is a permanent checkpoint is better for the dogs because there’s more shade for the dogs.

During a recent passing through the I-19 checkpoint, the Border Patrol was training one of their dogs. The white Crown Victoria in front me set off the dog, and then the trunk popped up and there was a Border Patrol agent inside, dangling dope on a rope.

I asked the agent who was holding me back if they also trained the dogs by putting illegal aliens in the trunks of unmarked cars to see if they could smell them. too.

Final bit of advice…Border Patrol agents have no sense of humor.

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  Copyright 2007 by Hugh Holub