The Next Debate between Candidates for Vice President

After the farce last week between Trump and Bidden, my hope is that both candidates for the Vice President of their party will abide by the rules and actually debate their policy positions.  There are major differences between both party platforms, so stating what those differences are, then defending them are crucial to the campaign process.  Voters need to hear what the real differences are and how each party intends to govern, differences which extend beyond the political ads dominating the media.  We as voters deserve no less. Since Trump has been hospitalized with the virus, the role of Vice President has become much more of a real issue. Both these two candidates on Wednesday are very capable of presenting their party’s perspectives. Let’s hope they do.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pero, ¿quién está vigilando a la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP)?

Posteado el 20 de Junio de 2020 por Lee Maril

Hace más de dos años atrás, el Presidente Trump envió a la Guardia Nacional hacia nuestra frontera con México (para más información vea mi blog del año 2018 que encontrará abajo). A partir de esa situación, en ese entonces cuestioné, así como lo estoy haciendo ahora, si esa fue una buena decisión estratégica o sólo otro intento de obtener el respaldo público a un muro fronterizo ya existente. Finalmente, como decisión política no logró generar el respaldo público ni del Congreso. Por lo que me pregunté, tal y como lo hago ahora, cómo exactamente los de la Guardia Nacional, quienes están entrenados como soldados, iban a ser utilizados a lo largo de la frontera, ya que, a diferencia de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza -en inglés CBP-, solamente unos pocos hablan español, saben las leyes sobre inmigración, están familiarizados con la cultura de quienes viven en ambos lados de la frontera o saben cómo efectivamente proteger nuestro único límite geográfico con México.

Lo anterior son, en resumen, todas las habilidades y experiencias cotidianas que los agentes de la CBP poseen, diferenciándolos no sólo de la Guardia Nacional, sino que de la mayoría de los demás organismos y programas federales, estatales y locales. Igualmente preocupante es que la CBP posee su propia historia y cultura institucional que sugiere, claramente, que no debe ser enviada para la mayoría de las otras misiones y tareas policiales.

En las últimas semanas, el Presidente Trump convocó a la CBP para proteger Washington, D.C., durante las manifestaciones ciudadanas. Además, un dron de la CBP fue visto y documentado sobre Minneapolis en el transcurso de las protestas por el tiroteo a George Floyd, siendo que el territorio de Minneapolis no está dentro de la jurisdicción de la CBP.

Así como la Guardia Nacional no tiene ni la formación ni la experiencia para apoyar a los agentes de la CBP, los agentes de la CBP no sólo carecen del entrenamiento y la trayectoria que son necesarios para proporcionar apoyo a las fuerzas de seguridad en el control de las protestas de los ciudadanos de EE.UU., sino que también no poseen una historia o cultura que demuestre que son capaces de controlar multitudes de ciudadanos estadounidenses. Si esto no fuese suficiente para cuestionar la decisión del Presidente Trump, está también el hecho de que los agentes de la CBP tienen facultades legales excepcionales en comparación a otras organismos de seguridad.

Si bien estas facultades legales tienen sentido cuando se aplican a las patrullas de la CBP de las zonas fronterizas, no lo tienen cuando son aplicadas a los ciudadanos que protestan ejerciendo sus derechos de la primera y la cuarta enmienda. Entre estas inusuales facultades legales que tienen los agentes de la CBP, como el derecho de detener a una persona, registrarla, confiscar sus objetos personales, incluyendo su teléfono y computadora, también pueden arrestar a los ciudadanos de EE.UU. si las circunstancias cumplen con lo que el agente de la CBP cree que es una sospecha razonable. Esta sospecha razonable tiene un estándar legal mucho más bajo que el estándar legal de causa probable que la policía municipal, por ejemplo, jura defender.

La primera pregunta entonces es, ¿qué tan eficaz fue la CBP, debido a su experiencia en materias de seguridad fronteriza, en la prestación de apoyo a otros agentes del orden y en el control de los manifestantes siguiendo la ley al pie de la letra? Además, ¿las excepcionales facultades legales de la CBP fueron utilizadas contra los protestantes ciudadanos de este país? ¿Por qué la CBP fue llamada desde un principio por la actual administración para controlar las manifestaciones de los ciudadanos de EE.UU.? Y, finalmente, ¿qué organismo federal le pidió a la CBP que proporcionara uno de sus drones para vigilar Minneapolis, el cual es un territorio que no está dentro de la jurisdicción que la CBP tiene asignada a cubrir?

Estas son sólo algunas importantes preguntas que la opinión púbica debería estar haciéndose y la CBP debería responder. Finalmente, ¿por qué la CBP guarda silencio? ¿Por qué la CBP, que fue creada por el Congreso en 1924 con sus especiales competencias y excepcionales facultades legales, debería ser enviada contra las manifestaciones de los ciudadanos de EE.UU.? Este no es un desastre natural como el huracán Katrina, en cuyo caso la CBP proporcionó ayuda y consuelo a quienes lo sufrieron.

¿Quién, por el bien del público, está vigilando a la CBP?

Posted in En Espanol (Spanish Translations), Uncategorized

BORTAC Is Not Following the Rules

BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s international swat team, is not following the regulations and standards in Portland which are required by CBP and DHS.  A broad review of CBP and DHS government documents demonstrates that BORTAC, for whatever reasons, has no professional training in crowd control and in the de-escalation of violence by American citizens expressing their First Amendment rights.  As a result, some BORTAC members are acting in the same ways you would expect untrained and inexperienced police would respond.  When it comes to strategies and tactics to control crowds, lessons learned by those with much more experience than BORTAC should be seriously considered.

Posted in Uncategorized

But Who Is Watching CBP?

More than two years ago (see my 2018 blog below) President Trump sent the National Guard to our Mexican border.  I questioned then, as I do now, whether that was a good strategic decision or just another attempt to generate public support to build a border wall already in place.  As a political decision, it failed to generate public or Congressional support.  I questioned then, as I do now, how exactly the National Guard, who are trained as soldiers, were to be used along the border since few, unlike Customs and Border Protection, speak Spanish, know immigration law, are familiar with the culture of those who live on both sides of the border, or know how to effectively guard our unique geographical border with Mexico.

These are, in short, all skills and daily experiences CBP agents alone possess,  differentiating them from not just the National Guard, but most other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and programs.  Of equal concern is that CBP also possesses its own history and agency culture which clearly suggests it should not be deployed for most other law enforcement assignments and tasks.

In recent weeks CBP President Trump called upon CBP to protect Washington, D.C., during the protests.  In addition, a CBP drone was spotted and documented over Minneapolis during protests of the shooting of Mr. George Floyd.  Minneapolis is not within the jurisdiction of CBP.

Just as the National Guard does not have the training or experience to support CBP agents along the border, CBP agents lack the training and experience to provide other law enforcement agencies support for controlling protests by U.S. citizens.  Nor do they possess a history or culture demonstrating they are capable of crowd control of American citizens. If this were not enough to question President Trump’s decision, there is also the fact CBP agents have extraordinary legal powers when compared to other law enforcement agencies.

These legal powers make sense when applied to CBP’s patrolling of actual border areas, but absolutely no sense when applied to citizen protestors exercising their first amendment and fourth amendment rights. Among these unusual legal powers held by CBP agents is the right to stop an individual, search them, confiscate items including their phone and computer, and arrest U.S. citizens if the circumstances meet the level of what CBP agent’s believe to be reasonable suspicion.  Reasonable suspicion is a much lower legal standard than the legal standard of probable cause which municipal police, for example, are sworn to uphold.

The first question then becomes how effective was the CBP, given its expertise in border enforcement, in providing support to other law enforcers and controlling protestors to the letter of the law?  Further, were the extraordinary legal powers of the CBP used against protestors who are citizens of this country?  Why was the CBP called in the first place by the current administration to control protests by U.S. citizens?  And, finally, which federal agency asked the CBP to provide their drone to surveil Minneapolis, which is not within the jurisdiction the CBP is allocated to cover?

These are but some of the important questions the public should be asking and CBP should be answering.  Why is the CBP silent? Why should the CBP with its special skill sets and extraordinary legal powers, as created by Congress in 1924, be deployed against protests by U.S. citizens?  This is not a natural disaster, in which case the CBP after Hurricane Katrina indeed provided aid and comfort to those who suffered.

Who, in the public’s best interest, is watching the CBP?

Read further: But Who Is Watching CBP?

 

Posted in Customs and Border Protection, Uncategorized

Sending National Guard to the Mexican Border Does Not Make Sense

by Lee Maril

President Trump’s recent decision to send the National Guard to the Mexican borderlands does not make good sense.  The National Guard are trained soldiers, but have little training in guarding an international border, speaking Spanish, immigration law, and all the other skills that CBP agents possess.  Furthermore, the cost of sending the National Guard needs to be closely monitored.  Border security would improve if we decreased the time it takes to hire our CBP agents rather than send soldiers to the Mexican border.

For more on this topic, see http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20180417-for-border-security-cbp-agents-are-more-suitable-than-national-guard-soldiers .

For more on comprehensive immigration reform, see https://theglobepost.com/2019/01/25/us-immigration-reform/

Posted in Customs and Border Protection

The Border Patrol Needs to Hire, Retain, Mentor, Promote More Female Agents

In 2016 the percentage of female agents remains at 5% although the Border Patrol continues to attempt to recruit additional women.  Somehow this process just never seems to work very well, neither the recruiting, the retaining, the mentoring, or promoting of female agents. The first female Border Patrol agents who carried firearms were hired in the late 1960s.  Now as we approach fifty years of service to the Border Patrol, it seems beyond belief that female agents still remain a small minority in the Border Patrol, especially when compared to similar federal agencies like the FBI.

In light of recent legal cases involving crimes against female Border Patrol agents by male Border Patrol agents, for example the case of Armando Gonzalez at the Chula Vista Station, I once again suggest the following:

  1. Treat all agents, regardless of gender, in the same fair and honest ways as determined and defined by existing federal law.
  2. Expose those agents, supervisors, and managers who discriminate against co-workers based upon gender to the full force of the existing federal law.  As federal law enforcement officers, begin to enforce gender laws within your own agency.
  3. Continue to promote competent, professional women to positions of responsibility not because they are women, but because they are the best persons for the job.
  4. Take a hard look at the family-unfriendly and hostile work environments that exist for many female agents at certain BP stations and in certain BP sectors.
  5. Follow the template of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that currently employs definitive methods to recruit, train, and retain female agents.  Fully 20% of all FBI agents are women.

For additional thoughts on this same topic, see:

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20161020-trump-s-union-has-long-history-of-discrimination-against-female-border-patrol-agents

 

Posted in Gender Discrimination

The Business Side of Customs and Border Protection

The business side of what Customs and Border Patrol does and does not do is extremely important. While both political parties debate policy, one unaddressed but fundamental question is this: how efficient is CBP in getting new technologies to its officers and agents so they may better accomplish their daily work?

It now appears that CBP has stumbled repeatedly in contract acquisition and management since the failed SBInet program that ran from 2006-2011 at a cost of more than $1.3 billion. Major CBP programs which promise the delivery of surveillance technologies to the Mexican border are mired in acquisition and managerial problems created and maintained by an inadequate bureaucracy.

CBP badly needs competent and experienced personnel. The most recent example is the CBP’s MVSS program, the Mobile Video Surveillance System.

For a more detailed discussion of this topic: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20160916-cbp-mvss-border-surveillance-system-another-border-program-mired-in-delays

Posted in Customs and Border Protection

Another Big Earthquake Hits Oklahoma

Saturday’s 5.8 earthquake in Oklahoma is a sobering reminder, a cautionary tale, that recent emergency attempts by the Oklahoma legislature, the governor, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to resolve the problem may have failed.

The OCC provided key leadership in attempting to reduce the number and intensity of earthquakes in the state. According to scientists, these earthquakes are the direct result of injection wells that force wastewater back into the ground after the fracking process. Efforts to resolve this growing problem were initiated last fall and at first the data indicated that a reduction of wastewater in key injection wells was directly tied to what appeared to be a decline in the number and intensity of earthquakes.

Then came the 5.6 quake on Saturday, one of the biggest quakes to ever hit the region. Additional actions to resolve this problem have now been taken by the OCC. The real question is whether or not the earthquakes will subside and the surface damage will remain relatively minimal. No one knows at this point if this human made phenomena will become a disaster. Time will tell, but certainly every reasonable effort must continue to be made to avoid further surface damage.

Posted in Cushing Oklahoma

How We Treat Our Returning Disabled Veterans Matters

When our military men and women enlist, they promise to uphold certain obligations that are expected of them. These obligations at a personal level are frequently extremely challenging for them to live up to. In return, our military institutions also sign on to a list of obligations that enlistees expect of them. These institutional and societal obligations are not challenging to live up to.

Among our military and societal obligations to our military is the promise to provide medical care to all serving in our behalf. When our military return from foreign deployments, these men and women should receive the best health care that we as a society can provide. Along with that also goes the legal promise their civilian job will still be waiting for them.

What happened to Lieutenant Commander  J. Gregory Richardson (retired) should never have occurred. When he returned in 2011 from his fifth tour of duty spanning a military career of three decades, neither were his documented medical issues resolved, nor did his employer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs, accommodate his documented medical issues in the work place.

CBP IA Integrity Programs Division did not provide Richardson the opportunity to continue to serve his country; that is our loss. Neither did it show the slightest bit of compassion to this returning disabled veteran who eventually was forced out of his job as a GS-14 Senior Security Analyst.

Said one of Richardson’s co-workers, “All he needed was an once of compassion.” None of his division supervisors or senior leadership at CBP IA, Mr. James Tomsheck, took the time or the effort to help Richardson. Instead they and their agency for years have hidden behind procedures, policies, and bureaucratic paper shuffling.

Our institutional and societal obligations to those in our military are not challenging to live up to.

Posted in CBP Internal Affairs, Customs and Border Protection

Why We Should Keep an Eye on Oklahoma Earthquakes

Two reasons. First, the frequency and intensity of Oklahoma earthquakes have grown dramatically in the last few years. In both the northwest and the central part of the state these increases are directly tied to the injection wells required for fracking. Increasingly damage to both private and public property is a concern.

Second, the frequency and intensity of Oklahoma earthquakes is occurring closer and closer to the Cushing hub. This pipeline node and tank farm on any one day stores more than 50 million barrels of oil. Any damage to the Cushing hub infrastructure could severely impact the petro-chemical plants and refineries that are concentrated along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Alabama. As such, Oklahoma earthquakes are potentially man-made disasters that could have a negative impact on our national security because they potentially threaten our oil-based economy.

In my opinion the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is taking a first step, unprecedented in this state, to attempt to limit earthquakes caused by a by-product of the fracking process. It still remains to be seen, however, whether their efforts will succeed.

For a more detailed discussion of this subject, see http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20160524-update-on-earthquakes-newest-results-from-oklahoma-commission-look-encouraging

Posted in Cushing Oklahoma