1 year, 8 months ago
From Tucson Sentinel:
EL PASO – Border Patrol agents might soon switch from sitting in trucks along the U.S.-Mexico border to helping traffic move more efficiently on the international bridges in this Texas city.
This scenario comes from the idea of Border Patrol agents collaborating with other government agencies.
Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher in May announced a strategy to fight transnational crimes and drugs, support Homeland Security efforts and aid U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
One possible outcome might be reassigning Border Patrol agents to Customs border crossings to reduce the long wait.
“Currently Customs and Border Protection needs all of the staffing help that they can get – in particular at our ports of entry,” said El Paso City Representative Steve Ortega in an email.
As Border Patrol agents apprehend fewer undocumented people each year, its mission as an agency with resources focused on deterring and apprehending undocumented crossers is being reconsidered.
Currently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel in the El Paso area of responsibility are apprehending and removing more undocumented people through the Secure Communities Program, employment raids and by catching crossers at major ports of entry than the Border Patrol, according to Border Patrol and ICE enforcement and removal figures.
That is why the Border Patrol 2012-2016 Strategic Plan calls for redirecting its agents’ efforts toward relieving congestion and waits at the ports of entry, as well as combating terrorism and transnational crime.
By the close of fiscal year 2011, the typical Border Patrol agent working from Texas to California was apprehending 17.7 undocumented people a year, from a high of 352.2 “illegal alien apprehensions” per agent in 1993. In comparison, the numbers fell even more for agents in the El Paso Sector, from a high of 470 apprehensions per agent in 1993 to only 3.8 apprehensions by 2011.
More agents at entry checkpoints would be a relief for some people of El Paso.
“People would cross to go to work, or to go to restaurants and enjoy the nightlife. They would cross to see family and they would cross to engage in trade. It used to be pretty easy to cross and it’s gotten more and more difficult,” said border journalist Louie Gilot.
Gilot is the publisher of Newspaper Tree, a nonprofit online news organization in El Paso. Previously, she covered immigration issues as a reporter for the El Paso Times.
For those who cross the border back and forth as part of their daily lives, long waits are too time consuming.
“There used to be no lines when you were going on foot and now there is. I have spent an hour on foot,” Gilot said.
Analysis & Commentary
The reason for the decrease in border apprehensions is more complex than simply painting a picture of success. The story being peddled here is that border security is improved to the point that the border patrol can now focus on making cross border traffic even easier and more efficient. The truth is that illegal border traffic is becoming more knowledgeable and efficient, the border patrol (and DHS) is under-reporting “got-aways,” and “soft metrics” are making things look better than they really are.
The U.S. has operational control over only 13% of the Mexican border, regardless of the stories peddled in the media. This change in strategy has nothing whatsoever to do with being able to focus on efficiency because of improved border security. It is part of a larger push for more trans-border traffic which has been in the works for some time.
U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting today as a first effort to decide where new border crossings and connecting roads may be necessary, reports HispanicBusiness.com.
At the first Border Master Plan meeting today at the University of Texas at El Paso, representatives will begin identifying future projects, along with project priorities and timelines.
Objectives will also include increasing understanding of the planning process and designing a process that ensures participation from everyone involved in the port of entry projects.
“All sorts of transportation projects and issues will be discussed,” Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for Texas Department of Transportation, told the website. “It will be a binational, multi-government agency meeting. There will be federal, state and local officials that have responsibilities for transportation. The end result will be a list of transportation infrastructure priorities.”
Representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of El Paso, the Texas Department of Transportation and the New Mexico Department of Transportation will also be present at the meeting, in addition to U.S. and Mexican federal officials.
“The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative,” said Roy Gilyard, El Paso’s MPO executive director. “California has a plan and so does Laredo.”
Just to make sure that you understand what is happening, read that last paragraph again: “The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative.” Nothing is happenstance or happening by accident. It’s all part of a larger plan to make the border less significant, make it easier to cross, and raise cross-border shipments of goods and products, especially with Mexican truck drivers.
But take note that ignoring the border (or pretending that is is secure) has its consequences. The Mexican cartels have the capability to seize control over large geographical areas with great ease. There is the influence of cartel corruption in New Mexico, and Mexican drug gangs control parts of Arizona. The cartels have become adept at extreme brutality, but these organizations [previously] “settled matters with a bullet in the head. Not anymore … Now there is a psychopathology at work. Some of these people obviously enjoy this, and they are teaching their surrogates, teenagers, to enjoy it.”
Due to the facts that there are no arming orders for the National Guard troops on the border (causing the troops simply to perform clerical duties), misapplication of the rule of law to these troops (i.e., Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner), and confusion about the Posse Comitatus Act (i.e., the belief that it applies to border security caused by foreign threats), the law enforcement battle (fought with law enforcement officers, and not enough of them doing the right things) has been substantially lost at the border.
This criminal insurgency crosses the border with as much ease as illegal immigrants, and the lack of border security is as much of a cause of the diminution of U.S. sovereignty and security as it is the increased cost of insurance, health care and other costs associated with illegal immigration and the influx of low skilled workers.
The new strategy at the border isn’t without planning and forethought. It just isn’t the planning and forethought that one might have guessed would attend issues of national security. It has more to do with trade, facilitating transcontinental traffic, and enforcing the idea that the United States is an idea rather than a place.