The Border Patrol’s New National Strategy: Lipstick on a Javelina

There’s a lot in CBP’s “2012-2016 Border Patrol National Strategy” to digest.  For starters there are two major goals, the first with five objectives, the second with three.  All this is sandwiched between numerous color photographs reminiscent of university textbooks used in courses on Introductory Policing.

But this report seems most adamant in its attempt to reframe the Border Patrol’s own history since 9/11.  The reader is informed that from 2004 to the present, the time period covered by the last Border Patrol “national strategy”, the emphasis has been on “organization and resources”.  In contrast, the new Border Patrol strategy is “a risk-based Border Patrol national strategy” in which the border will be secured by, “…using Information, Integration, and Rapid Response in a risk-based manner”.

Further, “new tools and approaches” will help the Border Patrol “…grow, mature and strengthen.”  Well, I guess we can all agree on that objective.

We also are told that the change from the most recent “national strategy” to the newest “national strategy” “…represents a natural evolution.”  Once this “new national strategy” is in place, “…unprecedented levels of border security are within reach…”.

That’s good to know, too, but totally misleading.  Here’s the major problem with this Border Patrol report: history.

Is the public supposed to forget about the history of the Border Patrol’s various “strategies” along the border, from the bizarre frontal deployment of more than 95% of its resources as initiated by now Congressperson Silvestre Reyes, but then Border Patrol Sector Chief Reyes, to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff’s “one-sized fits all” border fence?  And what about the billions wasted along the way by Boeing, Inc., L-3 Communications, and Raytheon, among others?

Not to mention most recently the tragic case of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas?  Then of course there are the tremendous amounts of illegal drugs smuggled into our country every day, plus guns going south.  In fact, it’s a long list that is verified by that mean old skeptic by the name of history.

Now the report tells us that the public is supposed to trust something called a “risk-based approach”.  Where was this porcine approach after 9/11 and why didn’t we use it?

Here we go again with another silver bullet, this time a shift away from technology (remember the “virtual fence”?) to a trendy management strategy favored by our military.

There is no doubt that the Border Patrol is moving towards becoming a law enforcement agency we can trust and be proud of-and for this it should be commended-but declaring that a “risk management approach” is the new answer to what was once referred to as “gaining operational control” of the border, is a big step in the wrong direction.

What is the right direction and how objectively can we measure the Border Patrols accomplishments including these newest goals and objectives?  Oddly in this Border Patrol report on its “new national strategy” the answers to these vital questions are nowhere to be found.

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