NYT Misses the Point Again: Border Crime Impacts Both Sides

Just when I thought Sunday’s The New York Times front page article on border crime was going to finally get it right, it went deadly wrong.  The story by Damien Cave, “In Mexico, A Kidnapping Ignored”, starts out strong, but limps home in the final stretch because border truth is rarely so simple as outsiders would have it.

The residents of Matamoros, Mexico, are indeed the victims of increasing gun violence from the drug cartels.  As two major criminal organizations fight it out on the streets of this border city, directly across from Brownsville, Texas, Mexican citizens who get in the cross-fire are killed and wounded with impunity.  At the same time-and this is the first part of the story the NYT’s reporter completely bungles- the Mexican military assigned to protect the residents are, although far from as violent, increasingly culpable.  Poorly paid and undertrained, Mexico’s own military is at times a blight on its own people.

But this is not where the real story ends.  Although Mr. Cave with great care paints a picture of the Cazares family who have been terriblely victimized in Matamoros, he again lacks a broader overview.  Certainly it is true that increasingly numbers of spin-off crimes have occurred because of the narco-trafficantes and their opportunistic henchmen, and certainly many of these crimes, like the one against the affluent Cazares clan is truly tragic. But any border resident knows what Mr. Cave apparently does not: it is not just the authorities and officials on the south side of the Rio Grande who are inept and corrupt.

While the reporter faithfully runs down the details of the mass kidnappings of the Cazares family, their attempts at paying off the kidnappers, and the family members turning to the corrupt Mexican authorities when they have no other choices left, he makes it sound as if all that is really needed is a boat load of Texas Rangers or FBI agents.  Then said law enforcers, or county sheriff’s deputies, or Texas state police will, one Texas Ranger at a time, find the criminals, save the victims, and still have time to wave at the camera as the television episode concludes.

Unfortunately graft, corruption, and ineptitude in law enforcement do not stop at the Rio Grande River separating Matamoros from Brownsville.  South Texas has more than its fair share of corruption in municipal law enforcement, county Sheriff’s departments, the state police, and the Texas Rangers.  Mr. Cave clearly does not know his regional history.

This same reporter misses a major lesson which could be learned from the tribulations of a cross-border family: since the crimes occurred in Matamoros, the crimes will never be reported in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.  In fact, from the point of view of American law enforcement and the national political dialogue on border crime, these multiple kidnappings of the Cazares family never happened.

Why? Because even though some of the victims had dual citizenship, the crimes occurred in the houses and on the streets of Matamoros.  So once again we can conclude-just look at the statistics collected by the FBI-that the U.S.-Mexico border is a very safe place in which to reside.

Unfortunately the border reality is much more complex than our sound-bite politicians of both parties are ever likely to admit.  So too are the solutions as long as The New York Times botches the story.

Posted in Uncategorized

Que hace Boeing a Wichita, Kansas y no quiere que sepas

(translation of post from 2/15/12)

Recién terminó de crear su propio ley en la Cámara de Representantes (post 9/19/11) precedido por una sugerencia que la Junta de Relaciones de Labor no tenía el derecho a decir a Boeing que no podía construir una fabrica no sindicado en Carolina del Sur como represalia por un sindicato no seguir a las pedidas de Boeing, esa corporación lo hizo otro vez (post 7/31/11).

Recuerda que Boeing es la misma corporación que el 4 de Julio 2011 dijo “Estamos juntos con toda la gente de America en celebrando los principales perdurables en que la nación fue fundaba.”

Y recuerda Boeing es la misma corporación que recibió más que $1 billón en contratas gubernamentales como el SBI-net “Systems Integrator”.  Contribuyentes por los cinco años de trabajo de Boeing obtuvieron exactamente 25 torres de comunicación proveyendo seguridad, mas o menos, para aproximadamente 50 millas de frontera de Arizona.

Ahora la corporación que apoya “principales perdurables en que la nación fue fundaba” se va una porción de sus fabricas de largo tiempo para pobres climas después de recibir un contrata gubernamental gigante.  Porque paga trabajadores calificados $71.000 o más cada año cuando puedes pagarles mucho menos en otro lugar?  Especialmente cuando tantos americanos no tienen trabajo y están dispuestos a trabajar por los que les ofrecen.  O posiblemente Boeing va a México o más.

Boeing está saliendo de Wichita, donde los acres de hangares que cubren un mano de obra dedicado y hábil han trabajando hasta 1929.  Boeing prometió en un comunicado de prensa que su contrato nuevo de $35 billón a tanques repostajes aéreos beneficiaría directamente los trabajadores de Wichita, un contrato que originalmente fue a una empresa europea que ofreció un precio menor.  Ahora Boeing se esta llevando casi 2.200 trabajos Buenos de Wichita.  Eso después de un anuncio que “ Gano de Tanque Llevaría 7.500 Trabajos, $388 millón a Kansas”.  Solo un año después Boeing dejó las malas noticias, y en el mismo tiempo, defendió su posición cuando dijo que el año pasado gastó $3.2 billón en partes comprado de proveedores de Kansas.

Por supuesto Boeing no está infringiendo la ley.  Hace lo que siempre haben haciendo los corporaciones americanos, a General Motors a empresas muchas más pequeñas. (Y por supuesto Boeing tiene el talento de escribir leyes que le beneficia.)  Sin embargo, distinto de otras corporaciones, en una mano viviendo de contratos gubernamentales pagado directamente de los impuestos, y al mismo tiempo, acerca de pagar trabajadores aviaciones con habilidades especiales mucho menos que en Wichita.

Es un ejemplo del mercado libre de hoy.  Los federales, después de un esfuerzo cabildeo de Boeing, dan Boeing un contrato de millones de dólares.  Después, Boeing alega que se mueva para aprovecharse del sistema del mercado libre.  No tiene razón.  De hecho, tiene el olor de capital de riesgo.

Además, Boeing recién anuncio que vendió Lion Air de Indonesia 230 aviones por $22.4 billón.  Me pregunto si los trabajadores de Wichita van a recibir más que un símbolo de esa cosita.

Los residentes do los comunidades donde Boeing se va a mover, si está adentro de las fronteras de los Estados Unidos, deben tener cuidado de la historia de Boeing y los prometidos falsos.  Y los contribuyentes deben darse nota que aunque Boeing dice que está regulado injustamente por la Junta de Relaciones de Labor, tiene una historia de tirar los recursos financieros y dejar trabajadores leales sin sueldo.

Boeing so sabe nada sobre “los principales perdurables en que la nación fue fundaba”.  Que vergüenza de la autoridad de Boeing y las accionistas.

Posted in En Espanol (Spanish Translations), Uncategorized

Fast and Furious: The AFT Scandal Waltzes towards the November Elections

(Now Posting Every Wednesday!)

The AFT Operation “Fast and Furious” continues to whirl around the floor faster and faster.  But to date this political scandal still retains the stately pace of a controlled waltz rather than slam dancing.  This will not last.

In a recent report by the Democratic Party one side of the aisle lobs a few mortar rounds at their Republican opposition on the other.  The scandal all started several months ago when Republican Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley revealed that AFT agents had been ordered by AFT supervisors in Arizona not to arrest known gun smugglers caught in the act.  In short the gun smugglers were buying large amounts of weapons from local retailers in large quantities, then reselling them to third parties who disappeared with the weapons in tow. AFT agents were ordered, in the name of building a stronger case against criminal higher ups, to let them walk away with the weapons.

Two of these same weapons were found at the scene where CBP agent Brian Terry was killed.  While the numbers seems to range depending on who tells the tale, thousands of automatic weapons are now believed to be in the hands of Mexican narco-trafficantes  and American-based criminals.   So far there have been very limited resignations or firings, but the landings of these ranking officials have been soft; one reassigned while the other quickly found lucrative employment elsewhere.

The Democrats argue that the scandal was limited to the AFT, the Republicans that the culprits are the highest officials in Obama’s Department of Justice.

In this newest report the Democrats provide a glimpse of further problems along with information as yet not revealed.  The Dems now report this same operational tactic of letting the criminals at the lowest rung of the ladder go free to build a tough case against the criminals at the top of the heap goes all the back to 2006.  They cite several cases which mimic the tactics of Operation Fast and Furious: designed to catch the drug smugglers at the top of the criminal food chain, AFT agents fail to maintain control over weapons purchased in the U.S.

The Dems suggest, in other words, that the Bush Administration is as equally culpable, if not more so, as the Obama Administration.

There will be rebuttal from the Republicans.  The party of the elephant will respond in an unhurried way, the same way as the party of the mule.   Both parties are in fact dancing to the tune of the primaries and the general election: this is a politicized dance which has already lost sight of some of the more important implications of Operation Fast and Furious.

At this rate we can expect the Fast and Furious waltz to turn into a bloody mosh in the weeks just before voters decide who will be our next President.

Posted in ATF Scandal

Was National Guard Deployment along Border Really Worth It?

Amid much fanfare in 2006 then President George W. Bush deployed several thousand National Guard in order to bring “operational control” to illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and international terrorists. Just as the Congressional elections were ramping up, both Republicans and Democrats were each struggling to outdo each other on national security.  Votes were at stake. The move by President Bush was in reaction to a real shortage of Border Patrol agents, according to the rhetoric; the National Guard would only be in place along the border for a year.

Along with the deployment of National Guard, Congress also passed a series of bills in lieu of a comprehensive immigration policy demanded by border state.  Among these bills was the authority for the Department of Homeland Security to build a border fence, including a high tech, “virtual wall”; Boeing, Inc., won the contract for the virtual wall and eventually was paid more than $1 billion in construction costs for a boondoggle project than never functioned as designed.

Little mention was made at the time of the cost of deployment of the National Guard to the border and few cost accountings have been made public since that time.  President Obama continued the exact same deployment policy initiated by Bush, actually adding National Guard last year to the Nogales, Arizona sector and South Texas.

Now the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that the total check for these deployments is $1.35 billion under Presidents Bush and Obama.  Further, 300 Guardsmen will still be maintained at the Mexican border through 2012.

What is alarming about all this is the lack of fiscal oversight and responsibility.  At the incredible cost of $1.35 billion two presidents stationed a few thousand National Guard at the border when hiring additional Border Patrol agents would have been both less expensive and more effective.  It should be noted that the National Guard are not trained as border guards, they are trained as professional soldiers.  While undoubtedly these members of the National Guard served to the best of their abilities, they had no experience in immigration laws regarding undocumented immigrants, drug interdiction, and community policing, all skills that the Border Patrol agents are required to learn at the Border Patrol academy.  And did all the Guardsmen speak Spanish?

Just what did the National Guardsmen do at the Mexican border?  While certainly these skilled soldiers helped the Border Patrol to the best of their abilities, we have no independent evaluations or reports of their contributions since they were originally deployed in 2006.

The public also has no cost accounting that would compare how much money is required to keep a National Guardsman at the border in comparison to hiring additional Border Patrol agents.

The fact is that the presidential deployment of the National Guard was a poorly planned, stopgap measure that began in 2006 and continues to this day. No one questions the motivation or talents of the National Guard, but their job performance and efficiency are absent from the public record.  So too is a specific accounting of the cost efficiency of this deployment now totaling $1.35 billion according to the GAO.  The bill for 2012 is projected to be another $60 million.

Where is the Congressional oversight of these federal funds and where are the independent evaluations by researchers that would suggest the deployment of the National Guard was anything but political posturing to win votes?  For both parties.


AP, “National Guard Troops At Mexico Border Cut To Fewer Than 300”, AP, 12/20/11.

Homeland Security News Wire, “DHS to Drawdown Troops Along U.S.-Mexico Border”, 12/28/11.

Posted in Border Security

Boeing Creates Its Very Own Bill in the House: Is Boeing Now Too Big to Ever Break the Law?

Once again Boeing, Inc., is using its massive lobbying power to get what it wants and does not want from Congress.  What it wants from Congress in a nutshell is its own special Congressional bill that will allow it to override an unfavorable decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

What Boeing does not want from Congress is a special investigation into its recent contract to construct a border virtual wall, a contract worth more than one billion dollars.  For more than one billion dollars the American taxpayer, in spite of a ton of Boeing promises, got just 25 communications towers near Nogales, Arizona, which have never performed as required.  Instead Boeing wants us to forget it wasted one billion dollars in taxpayer money to focus on the mean old union that it claims is pushing Boeing around.  The facts prove otherwise.

Last April the NLRB, after reviewing all the evidence presented to it by both Boeing and the union, declared Boeing could not operate a factory it had built in South Carolina.  According to the NLRB, Boeing built the factory in direct retaliation to its unionized employees who participated in five strikes since 1977.  In effect, the NLRB ruled that Boeing could not penalize its employees’ union for participating in legal walk-outs: Boeing executives specifically stated that the company was going to build a new factory in South Carolina instead of Washington state as punishment for workers going on strike.

Remember that in our democracy the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not allow any corporation to fire workers because of their federally protected rights to be union members and to participate in strikes.  The NLRA also prohibits companies from relocating plants and factories to other states to punish workers who are exercising their legally protected rights.

Boeing did not like the NLRB decision so it lobbied the Republican led House long and hard.  The result of all Boeing’s lobbying dollars is the House bill “Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act” which essentially prohibits the NLRB for any reason from ordering a corporation to relocate a plant.  Just like Boeing in South Carolina.

What makes this House bill, supported by eight Democrats, a particular travesty is that the Boeing case is still pending.  So Boeing is the real bully here, in effect demonstrating that it is too enormous to be every be legally in error: if Boeing loses a decision before a federal agency, it will simply change the law in its favor.

The true irony here is that Boeing, Inc., just recently wasted one billion dollars in failing to construct a virtual border fence.  Again, Boeing acted as if it was above the law, that it was not responsible for completing the work awarded it under contract by the Department of Homeland Security.  Instead Boeing has claimed since 2006-and still does-that the virtual wall was a success in spite of various reports to the contrary by the Government Accountability Office and other federal agencies.

So within less than eight months Boeing earns one billion dollars from the federal government it does not deserve to keep and, at the same time, convinces the House that a union is a wicked bully.

Despite Boeing’s protests to the contrary, there is only one bully here, an American corporation that acts and believes that it is too big to follow the rules everyone else must follow.  Boeing should be held accountable for the missing one billion dollars even as the legal decisions by the National Labor Relations Board should be left standing in regard to Boeing’s charges against the union.

Since when in this country does being a big business never mean being wrong?  And how much effort has Boeing spent keeping Congress from taking a closer look at a wasted one billion dollars?

Selected Reference:

Steven Greenhouse, “In Boeing Case, House Passes Bill Restricting Labor Board”, page B3, The New York Times, 9/16/11.

Posted in Boeing and Raytheon

Bertha Gonzalez’ Story: Despite Recent Outsider Disclaimers, American Border Communities Are Very Dangerous Places

Don’t try telling the six children and more than twenty grandchildren of Berta Gonzalez that American border communities are safe places in which to live.  Just days after articles in “USA Today” and the “New York Times” declared American border residents safe from spill-over drug violence in Mexico, along comes yet another violent event on August 8, 2011, to the border town of Falfurrias, Texas, population 4,821.

Ms. Bertha Gonzalez, age seventy, was asleep in her home some sixty miles from the Mexican border, when a Chevy Suburban driven by a coyote crashed into her bedroom.  Inside the Suburban there was also a “lookout” in the front seat along with six illegal immigrants in the back.  Hours earlier the illegal immigrants crossed the border south of Falfurrias, hopped into waiting transportation for the ride north, then exited the vehicle to escape detection at the Falfurrias Border Patrol check point.

How did they get passed the Border Patrol checkpoint? As many, many do, they simply walked around it, then jumped back into the waiting Suburban at the Falfurrias Sonic Drive In.

Chased by local police, the Suburban loaded with illegal immigrants slammed first into a fence, then an exterior wall of Ms. Gonzalez’s home.  It then rammed through her house, hit Ms. Gonzalez as she slept in her bedroom, and dragged her fifteen feet into her backyard.  Ms. Gonzalez died at the scene.

Romeo Cantu and Marcos Adrian, both American citizens, were arrested by the Falfurrias police and charged with human smuggling.  Other charges are pending against them.

Eden Garcia, the Police Chief in Falfurrias which is in Brooks County, told a reporter, “I’m without words.  Really no one deserves to die that way.  Nobody does.”

Funeral services for Ms. Bertha Gonzalez were held in Falfurrias on Thursday, August 11th.

USA and New York Times reporters who spent little real time in border communities and possess limited cultural knowledge or genuine experience about the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, got their stories about how safe border communities are all wrong.  Not only will border residents, if but asked, recount many instances of unreported crimes of violence that they have personally witnessed, but drug-related crimes instigated by the Mexican drug cartels are not the only kinds of violence they face simply because they live on the border.

Take the death, for instance, of Ms. Bertha Gonzalez on August 8, 2011, in Falfurrias, Texas.  This needless homicide has nothing to do with the spillover of drug violence into American border communities, but has everything to do with the very real problems directly associated with illegal immigration.  Lacking a comprehensive immigration policy mirroring contemporary political, economic, and social realities, American border communities, despite the pontificating of outside reporters, are dangerous places in which to reside.

Selected References:

“Falfurrias Crash Suspects Held Without Bond”, 8/11/11, Corpus Christi, KRIS-TV website @ http://www.kristv.com/full-coverage/falfurrias-woman-killed-during-chase-of-illegal-immigrants/

Lindsay Curtis, “Falfurrias Woman is Killed After Car Crashes Through Bedroom”, KRIS-TV, 8/6/11, @ Lcurtis@kristv.com

“On U.S. Side, Cities Are Havens from Drug Wars”, Alex Gomez, Jack Gillum, and Kevin Johnson, “USA Today”, 7/15/11, page 1A.

Andrew Rice, “Life on the Line”, page 20, “The New York Times Magazine”, 7/31/11.

Posted in Border Security

Un Cuento de una Mujer: Parte Uno de Cinco sobre Los Secretos Turbios de la Patrulla Fronteriza

(Originally posted in English 6/13/11.  Translated into Spanish by Jessie Hollingsworth. NEW POST in English as usual every Monday morning.)

Nora Monoz (no su nombre real), agente del al Patrulla Fronteriza, siempre quería ser cumplimiento de la lay.  Hacia sería niña.  Nora Munoz se casó con policía, empezó a tener hijos, y trabajó el banco local en los suburbios de Tucson.  Después de casi diez años, cuando sus hijos iban bien en los estudios, Nora Munos decidió el tiempo estaba bien para seguir su sueño.

Primero, Nora se presentó para la policía de su ciudad natal y le sorprendió cuando jamás recibió una entrevista.  A pesar de el hecho de hombres con menos educación y experiencia en su ciudad les recibían bien y les daban un trabajo.  Nora estaba forzada a presentarse repetidamente a un trabajo tras otro y nunca tuvo éxito.  Pero Nora nunca perdió la fe.

Nora no era poco perseverante, ella tampoco era una persona que quejarse.  Nora Munoz, en todo, no era una alborotadora; solo quería trabajar en el cumplimiento de la ley.  Políticamente conservadora en muchos temas, ella nunca se consideraba feminista ni interesada en los temas feministas.  Tener una carrera exitosa en el cumplimiento de la ley as todo lo que quería Nora.

Después de daba muchísimas oportunidades a contratarse, renegó sus atenciones a la Patrulla Fronteriza de los Estados Unidos.  Rellenó la aplicación y esperó a que se tocó.  Podía pasar casi un año antes un aplicante podía entrar en la escuela de la Patrulla Fronteriza.

Uno de los partes más difícil de la escuela era estar lejos de su familia.  Nora no tenía el dinero para visitar su familia durante su queda en la escuela en South Carolina.  Pasó más de cinco meses que no vio a sus niños ni a su esposo, pero preservó con los estudios exigentes sobre leyes de inmigración y español y se graduó de la escuela de la Patrulla Fronteriza.

Lo que hizo más difícil la capatización de ser una agente de la Patrulla Fronteriza fue en esa época en 1997 Nora nunca vio ninguna instructora femenina en las aulas.  Nora se acorda que era posible que estuviera ocho o nueve otras aprendizas en la escuela, por un gran total de cinco por ciento de la clase total.  Pero Nora nunca se quejó sobre la falta de importantes modelas femeninas, ni la falta de agentes feminitas.  Nora nunca era quejumbrosa y sabe cuando guardarse en silencio.

Afortunadamente, cuándo Nora se graduó, apostaba cerca de su casa, por eso, distinto de muchísimos otras familias de la Patrulla Fronteriza, Nora y su esposo no les forzaba moverse a un nuevo lugar desconocido.

En la estación Nora intentó adaptarse, aprender tanto lo posible de ser agente, y guardarse en silencio sobre algo con que discrepó.  Una de las primeras cosa que notó era que estaban pocas otras agentes femeninas trabajando con ella.  De hecho, solo estaban pocas agentes femeninas trabajando con ella.  Las otras agentes casi siempre escogería trabajo de oficina antes que estar en el campo. Sin embargo, el trabajo de oficina no puso a la misma paga de mérito que aumenta.  Nora supo porqué las pocas agentes femeninas de la estación escogieron el trabajo de oficina en vez de patrullar la frontera: estuvieron menos probabilidad estar abrumado si permanecían en los límites de la estación.

Nora consideró su trabajo con la Patrulla Fronteriza la trabajo ideal, como la catapulta a una carrera que le eludó.  Pero Nora Munos podía contra: solo dos por ciento de las agentes en las estación, incluyendo Nora, eran agentes femeninas que patrullaban la frontera.

Así empezó los conflictos.

(A continuar)

Posted in En Espanol (Spanish Translations)

After Nine Decades, New Female Border Patrol Chief at Nogales: Part Six of One of the Border Patrol’s Dirty Little Secrets

It’s always a great day when an experienced law enforcement professional is promoted to a challenging new position.  And it was a great day on Friday when Leslie M. Lawson was formally sworn in as the Patrol Agent in Charge (PAIC) of the Nogales, Arizona, Border Patrol Station.  As the PAIC, Ms. Lawson will head the largest Border Patrol Station in the country, a station that confronts major drug trafficking and significant illegal immigration on a daily basis.

The new Nogales PAIC, who also carries the title of an Associate Chief, has a distinguished career in the Border Patrol that to date spans seventeen years.  This includes a variety of increasing administrative responsibilities like a recent assignment as an attaché at the United States Embassy in Mexico City.  Indeed Ms. Lawson, according to the Border Patrol, was, “…the first female Supervisory Border Patrol Agent and Patrol Agent in Charge assigned to the Ramey Station” in Puerto Rico and also, “…the first female Assistant Chief Patrol Agent at the Swanton Sector” in Vermont.

But the problem on Friday is not that an experienced female agent was assigned to be a PAIC at a very high profile station. The real, unstated problem is that of the 122 Border Patrol stations throughout our nation, the new PAIC at Nogales will become only the fifth woman now holding that position.  Out of 20 Border Patrol sectors, there are only three women who are Sector Chiefs.  And finally, of the approximately 22,000 Border Patrol agents now serving, only 5% are female.

In fact, PAIC Lawson in 2008 and 2009, according to the Border Patrol,  “…co-led a national workgroup examining methods to improve the Border Patrol’s recruitment and retention of women.”

It’s great that the BP leaders finally created this workgroup, but it’s a little late in the game. Since the BP was created by Congress in 1924, it’s about NINE DECADES late.  For many, many years the top male decision-makers at the Border Patrol would not admit there was even a problem.  Now they seem to be stumped: golly, they just cannot seem to find realistic solutions to gender discrimination.  And this institutionalized gender discrimination in the BP is not going to vaporize into thin air  just because PAIC Lawson now runs the Nogales BP station.

So listen up male managers in the Border Patrol: below is the start of a solution to gender discrimination in the BP which does not require a special task force or pretending that by hiring a competent leader like PAIC Lawson the Border Patrol is now free of gender bias:

  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 such as PAIC Lawson 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.

There is no doubt that PAIC Lawson will do an excellent job in Nogales.  But the Border Patrol should stop hiding behind token promotions of females to high profile positions; this BP trick is certainly not the first time the BP has done this. Instead the Border Patrol needs to address fundamental institutional change based upon the requirements, standards, and expectations of existing federal law.  And do so before another NINE DECADES passes by.

(To be continued.)

(Coming soon, posts in Spanish.)

Selected References:

Press Release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, @ http://nogales-riorico.kold.com/news/news/new-nogales-patrol-agent-charge-chosen/50099

Brady McCombs, “New Chief for Border Patrol Office at Nogales”, 7/22/11 @ http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/article_03ad5e08-e843-5b62-951d-61

Robert Lee Maril, “The Fence”, pages 179-197, Texas Tech University Press.

Posted in Customs and Border Protection, Gender Discrimination

American Border Communities Are Very Dangerous Places: USA Today Article Example of Garbage in, Garbage Out

A truism among researchers is that regardless of how sophisticated the statistical analysis, there is no substitute for good data.  If you have bad data, it is still possible to statistically analyze them but the results, regardless of the complexity of the analysis, will rarely reflect real human behavior.  Hence garbage in (bad data), garbage out (a competent analysis premised upon bad data is rarely better than the internal validity of its data garbage.)

One excellent example of this axiom is Friday’s article by three USA Today reporters including a data analysis by a sociologist.  The problem is not the analysis,, it is the data and the reporters reliance on it.  The data source is 1999 to 2009 FBI Uniform Crime Reports on American border cities.  Included are rates of homicide and armed robbery.  Based upon these data, analyzed by the sociologist, the three reporters conclude after interviews with a handful of other “experts” that American border, “…cities are havens from drug wars” in Mexico.

Two recent examples demonstrate that these same FBI data, regardless of  the sociological analysis, are “garbage”.  Last month there was a shootout between federal law enforcement agents  and Mexican drug smugglers on the Rio Grande River in South Texas near the small community of Abram.  According to American authorities, about 300 rounds were exchanged between drug smugglers on the south side of the river and American law enforcement agents on boats in the river and the northern bank.  Initial reports suggest at least one Mexican smuggler was killed and two wounded, although it is possible that the two wounded smugglers were also shot and killed.

The drug smuggler who was killed by shots fired into Mexico by American agents will never be a statistic in the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Reports.  Besides the fact that the alleged suspect was shot by law enforcement officers, the criminal was killed in Mexico and is, therefore, not counted in American crime statistics.

The second example is a small, historically impoverished community not far from Abram where the U.S. Border Patrol and the local police recently erected a substation.  The purpose of the substation is to stem the tide of neighborhood children, some as young as 12, from recruitment by Mexican drug traffickers. Just a hundred feet from the Rio Grande, this American community is the site of very active drug smuggling from south of the Rio Grande to a nearby four lane paved road called Old Military Highway.  The neighborhood children are paid a few hundred dollars by the cartels to drive get-a-way vehicles to certain locations where the vehicles will be used in the smuggling or possibly serve as decoys.  The children are told they are not doing nothing wrong and that they will not be arrested if detected by the Border Patrol or the local cops.

These children who already have been arrested, and those and who are arrested in 2011, are not involved in homicides or armed robbery, so they will never appear as data in FBI Crime Reports.

FBI Crime Reports focusing on homicides and armed robberies are one, and only one, indicator of community violence.  In addition, FBI Crime Report data are flawed in several other ways including the fact that the majority of criminal-on-criminal crimes, along with criminal-on-illegal immigrant crimes, most often go unreported for obvious reasons.

Using FBI Crime Report data (the “garbage” data) to conclude that American border “…cities are havens from drug wars” is akin in reasoning and analysis to concluding the only impact on American society of our wars in Iraq or Afghanistan is the number of soldiers who are killed while serving  and protecting our country.  But just ask the soldiers who served or are serving in these two theatres of war-along with their families-about the impact of the war beyond this statistic; they will tell you a far different story, a more complete and complicated story, that mere numbers can ever tell.

While there is no borderland drug war on the same scale as Iraq or Afghanistan, residents who live in American border communities are increasingly living in very violent and dangerous places. The three USA Reporters based their conclusions on bad data, then spent their time interviewing the wrong “experts”.

What the U.S.A reporters failed to do was talk to both boots-on-the- ground law enforcers and local residents.  And their children.

Selected References:

“On U.S. side, cities are havens from drug wars”, Alex Gomez, Jack Gillum, and Kevin Johnson, “USA Today”, 7/15/11.

“The Fence”, Lee Maril, Texas Tech University Press, 2011.

Posted in Border Security

Congress Is Not Entitled to Its Own Facts

These days there is much noise in Congress about immigration issues, but little listening to the real problems from informed sources.  For instance, the new chair of the House’s Homeland Security Committee, New York’s Peter King, held hearings last week on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims.  Absent, however, was any substantive testimony to prove such a trend.  Instead what we heard was antedotal bloviating, the kind that wouldn’t pass inspection in a high school research paper.

So who aren’t our politicians listening to?  Number one is our own law enforcement officials, including the Police Executive Research Forum which surveyed top police chiefs and sheriffs from Miami to Salt Lake City.  Police Chief Thomas Manger, like many other administrators at ground zero, realizes that unreported crimes in our communities will increase if local law enforcers are tasked with the work of Border Patrol agents; further, witnesses will not testify in court if immigrants do not trust local police and sheriffs. (Julia Preston, “Police Chiefs Wary of Immigration Role”, The New York Times, March 3, 2011.)

Then there is the growing problem of graft and corruption within law enforcement itself that Congress continues to ignore.  James M. Woolsey, recently fired from his position as assistant director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is, along with several other agents, the subject of an internal investigation.  Mr. Woolsey has been replaced by James M. Chaparro who was himself recently identified as leaking an agency memo in which he outlined a quota strategy after taking over ICE’s detention and removal operations. (Andrew Becker, “Former ICE Intelligence Chief Is among Immigration Agents under Investigation, The Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2011).

This all comes at about the same time as the inspector general for Homeland Security reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has developed a computerized paperwork system that easily can be tampered with by employees from within the organization.  (Aliva Sternstein, “IG: Program to Automate Immigration Processing is Vulnerable to Insider Threats”, 02/25/2011,http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20110225_1584.php) Under the new computer system in place, employees could grant citizenship or legal residency to potential terrorists.

Given this state of affairs, never more timely is Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation that, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” The same applies to Congress. Congressman King should be reminded that repeatedly mouthing personal opinions, and calling selected witnesses who also repeat these same opinions, will never turn these personal opinions into facts.

A Congress driven less by ideology and more by data would not waste its time on so-called radicalized American Muslims, but focus instead upon the wisdom and expertise of police executives throughout the land, real signs of corruption within ICE, and the vulnerability of USCIS computer systems. And let’s not forget Boeing’s corporate greed in constructing the border virtual wall.

Peter King’s committee is wasting its time while legislation to pragmatically resolve our many real immigration issues has not been proposed.  Except, it now appears, in Utah.

Posted in Immigration