What the New CBP Reorg Really Means

The new reorg at CBP includes two new departments.  Operations Support and Enterprise Services in theory are intended to make CBP more efficient and generally less prone to internal problems.  This new reorg is most probably another reaction to the unprecedented scandal emerging from the resignation, then forced retirement, of James Tomsheck in the summer of 2014, and the revelations revealed since then about CBP employees and leadership.

But whether the new reorg actually makes any real difference is to a great degree going to be based upon the quality of the new leadership at CBP.  If the leadership culture remains unchanged, then fundamental problems within the agency-including corruption, violence, and graft-will stay the same.

In the meantime, CBP can do much to redeem itself by simply becoming more transparent.  It could start, for example, by openly responding to the recent GAO report substantiating Raytheon’s protest that Elbit should not, for several reasons, have received the CBP bid to build a new border surveillance system. According to testimony, Elbit is already behind schedule.  No one wants to see another failed SBI-net boondoggle, but Elbit already appears to be duplicating Boeing’s previous errors.

The public deserves better.




Posted in Customs and Border Protection

Major Reorg at CBP

As the result of an unprecedented scandal at CBP IA during the summer of 2014, CBP has finally announced a new and major reorganization. Two new offices have been created and two new CBP executive positions have been created to lead these new offices.

CBP appears to still be searching for ways to insure that an in-house agency will never again turn against it. Tomsheck’s special unit at CBP IA, the Integrity Program Division, developed a series of programs while directed by Janine Corrado and Assistant Director Jeffrey Matta, that ran counter to CBP strategic goals and objectives. One result was that hundreds of cases alleging employee abuses languished at the Integrity Program Division and remain in limbo for victims, their families, and the public.

The Integrity Program Division also invented new programs that spied upon their own and other CBP employees. No CBP employees have been held accountable for these and other serious mismanagement issues.

The internal report about the scandal at CBP IA still has not been released.

Posted in Uncategorized

Borkowski’s Plan Is Not Working

In recent testimony to Congress, Mr. Mark Borkowski stated that, “…the plan…is admittedly behind schedule…”.  The plan he refers to is part of the newest version of SBI called the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign.  The plan refers to the attempt to construct surveillance towers along the Arizona border.

Mr. Borkowski is now the assistant commissioner at Customs and Border Protection in the Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition.  Before that he was the leader of SBI, the Secure Border Initiative.

If this at all sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because since 1989 the Border Patrol has rolled out a series of programs that promised to control illegal immigration, illegal drugs, and possible terrorists.  First there was ICAD, ICAD II, and ICAD III.  Then came ISIS, eventually followed by the ASI and finally, in 2006, SBI, SBInet, and its derivatives.

What all of these border surveillance programs have in common is that none of them, not one, worked as promised.  Now we have a new program, but the same old leadership under Mr. Borkowksi.  Borkowski led SBInet from 2006 until its demise in 2011.  SBI cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.

This time around Mr. Borkowski’s explanations for why he is again behind schedule-and why we should ignore a recent GAO report questioning the success to date of the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign-sound very familiar. We’ve heard these excuses many times before.

Two and one-half decades should have been more than enough time for Mr. Borkowski and CBP finally to get it right. Both the public and Congress need to pay close attention or we will again end up spending billions for border surveillance that does not work.

Posted in The Border Fence

Tomsheck’s SAREX

The SAREX program initiated by Mr. James Tomsheck in March 2011, and supervised by Janine Corrado and Jeffrey Matta at the Integrity Program Division, is another example of Customs and Border Patrol Internal Affairs breaking federal law and agency policy in the name of protecting us from alleged criminal behavior by Customs and Border Patrol employees.

SAREX, under the leadership of Mr. James Tomsheck at CBP IA, quickly went out of control, infringing upon the privacy rights of thousands of CBP employees.

As such, SAREX is one more example of Mr. Tomsheck’s poor leadership and data management while he was the senior executive at CBP IA from 2006 to 2104. Mr. Tomsheck apparently felt that his SAREX program was not bound by either federal law or federal policies and procedures.

Posted in CBP Internal Affairs

Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs: Washington, D.C.

While our Border Patrol Agents and Customs Officers continue to risk their lives on a daily basis along the Mexican border, something has long been wrong with CBP IA in Washington. While Congress has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into increasing the number of Agents and Officers to more than 45,000 professional men and women-and CBP IA boasts an annual budget of over $600 million a year-something has long been wrong with CBP IA in Washington.

If there are 45,000 Agents and Customs Officers, then there is naturally going to be a real need for CBP IA to identify and adjudicate the small minority of dishonest and corrupt men and women among them.  The vast majority of Agents and Officers, however, continue to work their shifts to the best of their abilities and talents. We need a solid and dependable CBP IA.

But exactly what has CBP IA accomplished since Mr. James Tomsheck took over leadership as Assistant Commissioner in 2006?

It is far from a pretty picture. First, there is the case of Lieutenant Commander (retired) John Gregory Richardson. A hard-working CBP IA Senior Analyst who returned from deployment with his Naval unit from East Africa in 2011 with a documented physical disability, Richardson was never provided with the work accommodations he requested so that he could perform his job in a professional manner at CBP IA’s Integrity Programs Division. He was soon forced out of his position by Tomsheck with the help of the IPD Director, Janine Corrado, and Assistant Director, Jeffry Matta.

Then there is the “July Amnesty”, an attempt by Corrado and Matta to rectify 715 cases which included allegations against Agents and Officers. Corrado and Matta order IDP Security Analysts to close all these cases within one month, July, 2011. Some had been languishing in the IPD case data management system for years. Allegations are not convictions, but this sloppy data stewardship and case management at CBP IA cast an unnecessary shadow on all CBP employees striving for integrity and honesty during every shift. There should never have been a need for the “July Amnesty”.

Something has long been wrong with CBP IA in Washington.

Posted in CBP Internal Affairs, Customs and Border Protection

Sentencing of Y-12 Breachers Postponed because of Snow

The three senior citizens convicted of breaching the Y-12 Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on July 28th, 2012, were fined $52,953 in federal district court this morning in Knoxville, Tennessee.  The three, including 83 year old Sister Megan Rice soon to turn 84, were each convicted of two felony charges including sabotage and destruction of federal property in a trial in May, 2013.  Sentencing was supposed to be today, but was postponed because the federal court house was closed in Knoxville due to snow.  Sentencing has been postponed until February 19th.

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Drug Kingpin Hits the Dust

The Associated Press reported today in the New York Times that the brother of drug cartel leaders Miguel Angel and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales is headed for a 20 year prison sentence. Jose Trevino Morales was convicted in Texas of investing $16 million of Mexican drug cartel money in legitimate businesses in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Specializing in the horse racing industry, Jose Trevino Morales used drug money in all aspects of the horse racing industry and fixed certain races.

Once again we should be reminded of two aspects of this case which should be emphasized within the context of our failed War on Drugs. The first is that undoubtedly Jose Trevino Morales will be immediately replaced: our strategy of cutting off the heads of criminal organizations continues to prove relatively useless.

And secondly, drug money continues to flow back into this country where it undermines legitimates business and commerce.

Posted in Drug Cartels, Uncategorized

Upon the Senate Finally Passing Immigration Reform Last Thursday

Simply put, it’s filled with problems and issues but much better than nothing.  This bill is a place to start, where the House, also more than aware that the system is broken, can bring its best ideas to the bill. Comprehensive immigration reform can then presumably go to reconciliation.

Will it happen?  And if it doesn’t, what will our President do to provide the leadership to resolve the complex issues surrounding immigration?

Posted in Immigration, Uncategorized

The Unusual Border Deaths

On October 25th, 2012, two illegal immigrants from Guatemala, Jose Leonardo Coj Cumar and Marco Antonio Castro, died from shots fired by a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper.  Trooper Miguel Avila also wounded a third immigrant. What is “unusual” about this incident is that all three, Cumar, age 32, and Estrada, 29, and a third illegal immigrant who was wounded were all riding in the back of a moving truck.  And Trooper Avila, when he pulled the trigger of his rifle, fired from a hovering Texas DPS helicopter.

The Texas DPS claims that its helicopter sharpshooter was just trying to shoot the tires of the fleeing vehicle.  The truck’s driver, just 14 years of age, had refused to pull over when Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens approached the vehicle.  Game wardens mistakenly believed the truck was full of drugs hidden under the tarp in back when, in fact, it was filled with illegal immigrants.

The second aspect of this incident which is “unusual” is that Texas DPS policy on October 25th, 2012, allowed trained snipers to shoot from helicopters at moving vehicles.  Since that time this policy has been rescinded but, according to the Texas DPS, the change in policy was not the result of the two fatalities and the wounding of a third illegal immigrant.

It is now June and this incident is indeed becoming very “unusual”.  No grand jury has as yet heard any evidence.  The District Attorney of Hidalgo County, Rene Guerra, blames the New Mexico ballistics lab for not completing forensic tests.  Guerra first announced the grand jury would hear the evidence on the deaths of Cumar and Castro in Febuary, 2013.

District Attorney Rene Guerra is the same official who made very interesting statements last Saturday night on a CNN Anderson Cooper Special  Report “The Beauty and the Priest”.  Guerra, who has been the District Attorney for Hidalgo County for 30 years, firmly believes that there is no sufficient evidence to bring to trial a priest who allegedly raped and killed a parishioner in 1960 despite what Cooper’s report asserted was new evidence.

However, in April Guerra did announce he would prosecute the 14-year-old truck driver as an adult.

Even in south Texas seven months is much too long a time to wait for justice for the two undocumented workers who are dead and the third who is wounded.

Posted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Fundamentals about Immigration We Should Never Forget

There will undoubtedly be colorful debate in the Senate next month as the Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to approve the new immigration policy proposed by the Gang of Eight. The 13 to 5 bipartisan vote was no small political achievement in and of itself given the wide range of opinions on both side of the isle; the Senate committee alone faced 300 amendments to their legislation.

On the other hand, Congress and the President are in agreement that the current immigration policy in place, the 1986 artifact known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), is badly broken and requires serious reform.  So it is timely to recall a few fundamental facts that get lost among all the talk by the immigration “experts”, many of whom appear to suffer from short-term memory loss.  And, as well, I offer three low-cost reforms that will greatly improve national security along our border with Mexico.

Any American historian worth their salt will remind us that we are a nation of immigrants.  Regardless of country of origin, immigrants over the course of the last three centuries have established a legacy of lasting contributions that have allowed the United States to excel on a variety of fronts.  But at the same time human nature, regardless of country of origin, has also repeated itself time and again in the form of blatant discrimination against new immigrants by those who came before them.  The Mayflower clearly must have had to been the size of the Titanic times ten to transport all of those Americans who now claim a heritage dating to Plymouth Rock.

But rarely, in spite of the viciousness of the stereotypes frequently directed at recent immigrants, have we made it so difficult, legally or illegally, for a fair shot at the American Dream. Those in Mexico who cannot qualify for the relatively small number of legal visas, nor bribe their way by way of the mordida, literally the bite, now face 24,000 Border Patrol Agents, drones, a 650 mile long wall that is in many places more than 20 feet high, sophisticated camera and sensor systems, and excruciating death from heat exhaustion.  Last year 463 illegal immigrants died just trying to illegally cross the Mexican border

A good part of this discrimination is the legacy of IRCA and the unwillingness of our national politicians to tackle a massive problem that simply will not go away.  Since President W. Bush was close to a labor management deal just before the events of 9/11, federal immigration initiatives have been few and far between.  One result of this federal lethargy is that state legislatures eventually moved into the political void.  But local politicians’ slew of legal answers to broken federal policy, beginning in Arizona and quickly spreading to both other border and non-border states, did little but further damage our weak economy and generate even more stereotypes about recent immigrants.

It is the so-called Dreamers, the children of illegal immigrants, who best seized the imagination of many Americans by simply revealing the core humanity of their lives in their new country.  Risking immediate deportation by identifying themselves as illegal, these sons and daughters of immigrants-who never themselves chose to immigrate-bravely began telling their individual stories to anyone who would listen.  Frequently crossing the border before they reached the age of ten, these children criminalized worked hard in public school to learn English and get good grades but then, after graduating from high school, ran squarely into a wall as thick as any concrete border buttress.  Coming out of the shadows en masse, all that these children of illegal immigrants asked for was a chance to continue to work hard and to build a secure, safe, and legal life in a place far different than their country of origin.

The story of the Dreamers, and the Obama’s presidential mandate allowing them to legally remain two years within our borders, is a story that most Americans found not just credible but compelling.  Again, unless you are a Native American or brought here as a slave, how could the personal stories of Dreamers not undermine the stereotypical sludge thrown at this generation of new immigrants? Dreamers were able to humanize the impact of bad federal immigration legislation and, in so doing, demonstrate that IRCA excelled at wasting human lives in a country whose history is filled by achievements of immigrants from Albert Einstein to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As a nation of immigrants we should be proud of this legacy of achievements and contributions.  Next month when the Senate debates immigration reform, let us constantly remind our elected politicians of their responsibility to negotiate new immigration laws finally bringing sanity and fairness to all Americans and, as well, to those who would choose to become new Americans.


Posted in Immigration