Customs & Border Commissioner Wants Citizen Patrols


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BenW
May 17, 2005, 09:37 PM
First article I've read in which a member of the Administration clearly states citizen patrols on the border are a good idea. Of course he wants to "harness" them, but this is still more positive than the "vigilante" crack.

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http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0505/051305c1.htm

Border Patrol seeks more personnel, might enlist citizen patrols

By Chris Strohm
cstrohm@govexec.com
The U.S. Border Patrol needs thousands more agents and is considering how to effectively use volunteer citizen patrols, a senior homeland security official told House lawmakers Thursday.

"We need more Border Patrol agents, there's no question about that," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner told members of the House Government Reform Committee. CBP is in charge of the Border Patrol.

Bonner said his team has worked up a proposed increase in agents. He said the number is in the thousands but declined to be more specific, saying he still has to walk the plan through the Homeland Security Department.

He added that the Border Patrol also needs an optimal mix of technology to detect illegal activity. Without new technology, up to 50,000 agents could be needed to guard U.S. borders, Bonner told Government Executive. There now are about 10,800 agents.

The Bush administration's fiscal 2006 budget proposal asks for 210 more agents, an amount critics claim is inadequate. Last December, Congress authorized an increase of 2,000 agents per year for the next five years. Emergency funding approved by Congress last week provides CBP about $177 million to hire, train, equip and support 500 new Border Patrol agents.

Bonner said CBP also is evaluating the effectiveness of using citizen patrols in a more formal way. He referred to the Minuteman Project, which set up citizen camps along a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border in April to observe and report illegal activity.

Minuteman organizers claim their efforts helped the Border Patrol apprehend 335 individuals illegally trying to enter the country, and deterred others who would have tried.

"The actions of the Minutemen were, I believe, well motivated," Bonner said. "There were no incidents, there were no acts of vigilantism, and that's a tribute to the organizers and leaders of the Minuteman Project."

His comments marked some of the highest praise the Minutemen have ever received from the administration.

Bonner said the government historically has relied on citizens to be "the eyes and ears of the Border Patrol along the border."

"We value citizens' help," he said. "The question would be, 'is there a way to ... better and more effectively harness the citizen volunteers?' That is something we are looking at. I don't have the answer. But we want any kind of force multiplier we can get. But if we're going to do it, I think it's important we recognize the border is a dangerous area, and we want to be able to provide at least some insights and possibly even training to any citizens volunteering to go down."

He added: "We think it's worthy of looking into and considering how this might be done."

Chris Simcox, one of the main Minuteman organizers, also testified before the committee Thursday on a separate panel. Simcox said his group, now called the Civil Homeland Defense Minutemen, will set up camps along the borders in California, New Mexico and Texas starting in October.

Simcox told Government Executive that his group is launching a "major operation" this weekend in the Huachucha Mountains outside of Naco, Ariz.

He said citizens will continue volunteer patrols along the southern border until the government deploys the military to the region.

"This is about public safety and our national security, and we're done waiting for the federal government to do its job," he told the committee. "We're basically under attack, and there's an invasion."

He added: "We need static observation posts set up along that 2000-mile sector ... The citizens of this nation give you our permission to spend whatever it takes to man the Border Patrol. What we'd like to see is that immediately done, and that means using military reserves and our National Guard."

Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., noted that the nation relies on volunteer firefighters, who regularly go into dangerous situations.

Davis said many good efforts have been undertaken by CBP and the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, but the government does not have operational control of U.S. borders.

"It does not appear, however, that we have been able to translate the lessons learned into a comprehensive plan that shuts down our borders to illegal traffic," Davis said. "In fact, we currently do not even have complete visibility and awareness. There are many points along our borders where the federal government is effectively blind."

He added: "We need to move beyond broad policy statements and get down to the facts. How will we know when we have achieved operational control of our borders? How many boots on the ground and cameras in the sky will it take to get there? What are the funding requirements going to be?"

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nico
May 17, 2005, 09:45 PM
how much do you want to bet the "civilian patrols" won't be allowed to carry firearms? Kinda like sending a volunteer fireman into a burning building without protective clothing.

Standing Wolf
May 17, 2005, 11:27 PM
"The actions of the Minutemen were, I believe, well motivated," Bonner said. "There were no incidents, there were no acts of vigilantism, and that's a tribute to the organizers and leaders of the Minuteman Project."

Wrong! It's a tribute to the Minutemen themselves.

Government always thinks everything is about leadership. It never is. It's about the people.

stevelyn
May 18, 2005, 01:05 AM
Excuse me while I adjust my tin foil...............

The question would be, 'is there a way to... better and more effectively harness the citizen volunteers?

Translation: We really don't like the idea of the peons running around the desert and holding us accountable to do our jobs. However, they aren't going away and we need to control them somehow without being adversarial. Since they have garnered such favorable publicity we can't outright stop them, so if we bring them in as an auxillary, we can excercise control over them in the guise of being allies for the same cause.

..........The citizens of this nation give you our permission spend whatever it takes to man the Border Patrol. What we would like to see is that immediately done and that means using our military reserves and National Guard.

The gov pukes need to be reminded more often that anything they do is a result of the People giving them their permission to do so.

How will we know when we've achieved operational control of our borders?

When the property of ranchers and property owners is no longer being destroyed by the endless wave of humanity pouring through the borders.

When reports of illegal crossings become isolated incidents rather than routine.

When sanctions are placed on the Mexican govt. by the U.S. govt to control their side of the border, to stop condoning drug traffiking and illegal border crossings, and incursions into US territory by Mexican military personnel.

garyk/nm
May 18, 2005, 08:01 AM
I think Nico nailed it: harnessing= disarming. Simcox made a very salient point, and I hope those listening weren't too dense to pick up on it. We give the Gov permission to do things; we don't need their permission to act if necessary.
MMP coming to New Mexico? Sign me up!

Waitone
May 18, 2005, 08:28 AM
Whiplash sometimes happens outside a vehicle.

Lemme see here. In one short month we go from knuckle-dragging vigilantees condemned by the Official Presidents of the States of Mexico and America United to valued contributors to Homeland Control.

Right in the middle of that month congress goes from "problem? what problem?" to "don't just stand there. do something. We've got a problem here."

Check me off as skeptical and cynical. I smell an attempt by the federales to gain control of a movement long before it gets to be a real problem for the federales. Time will tell.

BenW
May 18, 2005, 09:50 AM
Stevelyn wrote:
Translation: We really don't like the idea of the peons running around the desert and holding us accountable to do our jobs. However, they aren't going away and we need to control them somehow without being adversarial.
If you think that's a tinfoil hat statement, please pass me the Reynolds Wrap, because I'm right there with ya. :)

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