Opinions | Border Patrol is the wrong solution for the problems at the border

Via:  Split Personality  •  2 months ago  •  8 comments

By:   Garrett M. Graff (MSN)

Opinions | Border Patrol is the wrong solution for the problems at the border
Treating migrants primarily as national security threats sets the agency up for failure

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Amid all the reforms and bureaucratic recriminations after 9/11, INS was the sole government entity targeted with the “death penalty,” completely disbanded, broken apart and moved to another department. The Bush administration   didn’t even tell   its commissioner ahead of time.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The photos and images from Del Rio, Tex., over the past few weeks where thousands of Haitian migrants fled across the border were nauseating — but the steady stream of excuses that emerged from the Department of Homeland Security turned out to be worse. Facing national outrage, the Border Patrol union argued that technically the horseback-riding agents weren't using "whips," they were using their "reins," and that they weren't hitting the migrants, they were trying to keep them safe from the horses. Meanwhile, the DHS and the Biden administration scrambled to explain how unprepared they were for this most recent surge and to diffuse the potent images that seemed to have come from the darkest Trumpian nightmares of the new president's voters.

e151e5.gif© Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images Border Patrol agents stand on the banks of the Rio Grande near Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, last week.

The scenes crystallized a larger, more fundamental problem: Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, represent the worst impulses and excesses of the post-9/11 era. Border Patrol, as currently constituted, is the wrong blunt instrument for the challenge of the southern border. The agency imagines itself, still, as the counterterrorism force it newly advertised itself to be after 9/11; it outlines its mission, first and foremost, as "keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade." But for the past decade, its heavily armed and kitted-out agents have primarily faced a much different challenge that it's proved itself repeatedly poorly equipped to handle — and not just poorly equipped to handle, but culturally uninterested in tackling.

9/11 didn't change everything. Old fights and illusions still haunted us.

We've spent much of this September already reckoning with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but arguably few of our domestic mistakes have had more lasting damage and more unintended negative consequences to our country than our decision to reframe how we approach immigration — to view it, first and foremost, as a security threat. With hindsight, it's clear why: All 19 of the 9/11 hijackers traveled to the United States on normal visas; amid the panic of the immediate response to the attack, we realized how understaffed Border Patrol was and how broken, overworked and poorly led the Immigration and Naturalization Service had long been. Amid all the reforms and bureaucratic recriminations after 9/11, INS was the sole government entity targeted with the "death penalty," completely disbanded, broken apart and moved to another department. The Bush administration didn't even tell its commissioner ahead of time.

But the cure — to surge new agents and officers of the new CBP, itself part of the newly formed DHS — turned out to be arguably worse than the disease. Border Patrol and CBP suffered bureaucratically from all the worst instincts of the global war on terror; they recruited based on that image that Border Patrol would be an elite counterterrorism force — America's watchers on the wall — and wasted millions (and probably altogether billions) on high-tech, fresh-from-the-battlefield toys like drones. The biggest problem came in hiring: The Bush administration cut corners and surged agents into the field, lowered already low recruiting standards and deployed newly trained agents before it had completed background checks. It rebuilt the agency around a macho, in-your-face culture that enabled racism, sexual assault and dehumanized the very people showing up on America's border and asking for help.

That took an agency founded a century ago to enforce explicitly racist policies, an agency whose nativist and white-supremacist roots trace back to its earliest operations against Mexican farmworkers and Asian immigrants, and managed to make it even more racist. In a Border Patrol of around 20,000 total agents, some 9,500 people, many current and former agents, joined a secret, racist Facebook group where they could trade insults, and sexist and racist memes about immigrants and even members of Congress like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Agents even have an infamous nickname for migrants: "tonks," supposedly after the sound that a migrant's head makes when hit by an agent's heavy flashlight. Tonk.

Due to sharp bureaucratic elbows, CBP wasn't allowed to have "investigative" authority, only "enforcement" authority, meaning that it couldn't police its own ranks with internal affairs investigators, and the corners cut on hiring and training enabled a tsunami of misconduct, crime and corruption.

Biden is continuing the U.S. pattern of saying Haiti's woes aren't our problem

The result was predictable and horrifying: Border Patrol agents allegedly kidnapped and raped migrants, trafficked drugs and humans, sexually abused children and engaged in domestic abuse. One agent is even accused of being a serial killer. (Another agent's drug smuggling operation with the Gulf Cartel was uncovered after one of his smuggling colleagues was decapitated by the cartel.) On duty, its agents reportedly killed with impunity and relied on aggressive use-of-force and pursuit policies far at odds with modern law enforcement. An agent who was indicted on a charge of using his patrol truck to run down and hit a Guatemalan migrant — and then allegedly lied about the incident — repeatedly used racial slurs in text messages and referred in one to migrants as "disgusting," "subhuman" and "unworthy of being kindling for a fire."

The wrong people hired for the wrong reasons combined to create what for nearly 15 years now has been the most corrupt federal law enforcement agency in the nation — even though, in what might pass as good news, the arrests of its personnel have slowed from the nearly decade-long pace in which a CBP officer or Border Patrol agent was arrested almost every single day for corruption or misconduct.

Today, in many ways, Border Patrol seems even more lawless than ever: The agents' union saw its political power swell during the Trump years and its leaders become Fox News regulars, and it felt emboldened and unleashed to mistreat and abuse migrants all but systemically. All of that grew worse amid President Donald Trump's ongoing mismanagement of DHS, which so broke the department and abused the normal functioning of government that for much of his administration's final year, DHS couldn't even convince a federal judge that someone was legally in charge of the nation's third-largest Cabinet department.

The migrant surges across the southern border have gone through multiple phases and chapters — there was the "unaccompanied children" crisis of the Obama administration, the "migrant caravans" of the Trump years, now the Haitian crisis for President Biden. But they all share the same fundamentals: largely peaceful and desperate refugees, driven by violence or economic instability to our borders, seeking to avail themselves of a legal international right to asylum. Yes, there are surely some criminals hidden among the crowds, but these are not populations running across the border en masse today.

The real border problem is the U.S. is trying to stop the wrong kind of migrants

Five years ago, during the height of the crisis of unaccompanied children and as the Republican Party convened to nominate Trump for president, I spent a night driving the border in the Rio Grande Valley with the man Biden appointed this August to head Border Patrol. Back then, Raul Ortiz was the deputy head patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley sector, the center of the migrant surge. As dusk fell, he drove me around the levees and fields that marked the U.S. side of the Mexican border.

In about a half-hour, we found 37 migrants. It was all as routine as a parking ticket; the four groups we found — mostly that night from El Salvador, part of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America that has driven much of the U.S. migration in recent years — all happily sought out our Border Patrol truck, eager to turn themselves in and seek asylum. They didn't need to be met with armed agents; they would have happily surrendered to me, in khakis and a button-down shirt, holding a notebook and pen.

The moment has stuck with me in all the years since, as we've weathered one "border crisis" after another — including the heated episodes of the Trump administration's inhumane child separation policy — because it's clear that Border Patrol is simply the wrong tool.

We've made the same mistake on the border that we made in the war on terror abroad: Just as the U.S. military was a poor match and a blunt instrument when precision was called for — young lieutenants and captains in MRAPs outmatched for the delicate and generation-long project of nation-building and encouraging the growth of civil society — armed law enforcement personnel, trained to confront drug cartels, are spending day in and day out on what has been primarily a humanitarian mission for the past decade.

The images of the horse-mounted, frontier-style Border Patrol cowboys facing down arriving Haitian migrants crystallized the problem. This isn't what those agents signed up for — and they shouldn't be doing it. And they're clearly not happy; CBP remains at the bottom of government-wide morale and satisfaction surveys. The agency's "mission match" between employees and skills ranks 399 out of 411 components in the entire federal government, according to the most recent "Best Places to Work" survey by the Partnership for Public Service.

Trump's border wall belongs to Biden now

The country is a decade overdue building the capacity to respond adequately and competently to border crises — crises that will only get worse as the effects of climate change upend economies, destroy livelihoods and literally flood the world's poorest countries.

Now three administrations have failed to build what we actually need along the border: a well-skilled and robustly staffed agency that can step in to take over the routine processing of asylum-seeking migrants and refugees, one that approaches them not as a security threat but as the international legal responsibility that it actually is — and an agency that views those at the border as suffering humans, not "illegal aliens."

Right now, this role is split between three agencies across two different Cabinet departments, all woefully understaffed and under-resourced: CBP intercepts and detains incoming asylum seekers, who then are handed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention and removal or to the Department of Health and Human Services's Office of Refugee Resettlement. Each agency is critically poor at its role — bureaucratic weaknesses and cultural faults that harm people, traumatize families, prolong misery and, ultimately, fail U.S. taxpayers and the migrants they're working with alike.

A new front-line border refugee and migrant agency, staffed by people trained in trauma care, social services and medical needs, would allow Border Patrol to focus on what its agents want to do: Catch smugglers. There are real threats at our southern and northern borders, and none of them are Haitians seeking asylum. There's no need for CBP to deploy hundreds of armed agents and sworn officers to do what is effectively thousands of interviews and tons of paperwork processing.

We are nearly a decade overdue to redeploy our law enforcement resources on doing actual law enforcement — trying to catch the people who don't want to get found by Border Patrol. Dividing our official response between what Border Patrol calls "give-ups" — those who turn themselves in willingly and are coming for what agents see as humanitarian reasons — and "runaways" — the criminals, smugglers or border crossers with more nefarious intent — would help make the situation much more manageable and humane. Because by now, Border Patrol has proved that it's the wrong organization to ask to do the whole job.

Article is LOCKED by moderator [Split Personality]


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Split Personality
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Split Personality    2 months ago

Dedicated to Ronin who might actually agree with many sentiments expressed in the seed.

A new front-line border refugee and migrant agency, staffed by people trained in trauma care, social services and medical needs, would allow Border Patrol to focus on what its agents want to do: Catch smugglers. There are real threats at our southern and northern borders, and none of them are Haitians seeking asylum. There's no need for CBP to deploy hundreds of armed agents and sworn officers to do what is effectively thousands of interviews and tons of paperwork processing.

I agree.

What I disagree with in the seed is a sense that the entire border patrol is corrupt.

I have a Hispanic cousin in CBP who I blocked from FaceBook over his hard line racist views.  But I know him and most of his fellow officers to be honest people in a harsh demanding environment.

There are over 45,000 CBP officers, there will always be a few bad eggs, more along a border where corruption with the cartels

is legendary about border sheriffs and DEA agents gone bad.

The FBI has 22 border corruption task forces and working groups across the country staffed by 39 local, state, and federal partner agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Corruption on the Border — FBI

PhD Quiet
1.1  Ronin2  replied to  Split Personality @1    2 months ago

At least spell my moniker right if you are going to single me out. It is Ronin.

Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Ronin2 @1.1    2 months ago

Sorry, fixed.

Split Personality
PhD Principal
2  seeder  Split Personality    2 months ago

Special thanks to 1st Warrior.

Major acts comprising Title 8

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

See also: Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

The Immigration and Nationality Act is a comprehensive federal immigration law adopted in 1952. Also known as the McCarran–Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 modified the national origins quota system, which had been established under the Immigration Act of 1924. The national origins quota system set limits on the numbers of individuals from any given nation who could immigrate to the United States. The law also codified and compiled existing laws from a variety of sources into a single text. Although the national origins quota system was eliminated by legislation adopted in 1965, the remainder of the law comprises the foundation of Title 8 of the United States Code , the canon of federal law relating to immigration policy. [1]

Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965

See also: Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965

The Immigration and Naturalization Act is a federal immigration law. Also known as the Hart-Celler Act, the law eliminated the national origins quota system , which had set limits on the numbers of individuals from any given nation who could immigrate to the United States. The act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) on October 3, 1965, and took effect on June 30, 1968. [2]

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

See also: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed by Congress in 1986 and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan (R) on November 6, 1986. The law made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire individuals unauthorized to work in the United States and established a system for verifying the legal status of employees. The Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Border Patrol were provided increased funding for the purpose of enforcing immigration law. IRCA also created new, separate visa categories for temporary agricultural work (H-2A) and temporary nonagricultural work (H-2B).

IRCA granted legal status to individuals residing in the United States without legal permission who met certain conditions; this provision of the law applied only to individuals who had entered the country before January 1, 1982. Ultimately, 2.7 million individuals were granted legal status under the law. [3]

Immigration Act of 1990

See also: Immigration Act of 1990

The Immigration Act of 1990 was passed by Congress in 1990 and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush (R) on November 29, 1990. Its stated purpose was to "change the level, and preference system for admission, of immigrants to the United States, and to provide for administrative naturalization ." The law increased annual limits on immigration to the United States, revised visa category limits to increase skilled labor immigration, and expanded and revised the grounds for removal and inadmissability. The law also created the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program as well as four new categories of nonimmigrant (temporary worker) visas.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

See also: Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton (D) on September 30, 1996. The law authorized greater resources for border enforcement, such as the construction of new fencing near the San Diego, California, area, and enacted civil penalties for attempting to cross the border illegally. It amended regulations regarding the removal of individuals residing in the country without legal permission by prohibiting legal reentry for a certain period of time and introducing a process for expedited removal. The law also applied new restrictions to the asylum application process.

So while INA limits green cards to 675,000, 140,000 are reserved for employment applications.

Interesting twist.  Unused family-based "visa numbers" are rolled over to the following years employment pool numbers.

Sounds like an accounting nightmare.

PhD Quiet
3  Ronin2    2 months ago

You wouldn't like my solutions to the immigration crisis. They would make the author of this article find a corner to hide in.

  1. No more illegal entry into this country, period. Anyone caught entering this country illegally is deported back to their country of origin; it doesn't matter where it is or what the conditions currently are.  They are recorded so any future attempts at gaining to admittance to this country (even by legal means) are denied.
  2. US Embassies will have the power- working with a department in the US- to take applications for immigration, this includes amnesty, hardship, or just a wish to become a US citizen. The applicants must stay in the country they apply in. No coming to the US on their own to wait out the process. Special VISAs can be issued for those at high risk from the countries they reside in. But once within the US they must report to an agent assigned to their case on a regular basis. No disappearing acts, failure to report will mean immediate expulsion back to their country of origin. If the situation in their home country changes and it is deemed they are able to safely return they must do so.
  3. Anyone overstaying a VISA of any type will be deported back to country of origin, no matter what. No trial needed. A judge can sign the expulsion order in advance. 
  4. Applying for a VISA extension will be expedited. Unless the US government can provide good reason why a VISA shouldn't be extended (criminal acts, failure to pay taxes, threat to national security, etc) it will be. If a VISA is not extended, then immediate deportation.  No more endless court battles.
  5. ICE will be given real teeth to track down those that overstay VISAs and illegal immigrants. No more amnesty cities. Any city that seeks to grant amnesty to illegals will have it's federal funding cut off. See rule #3 and #1 for what happens to those that they catch.
  6. Companies that hire illegal immigrants will face a fine of $100,000 per occurrence and the owner/CEO/Managers will face 1 year prison time per occurrence. That should stem companies that seek out illegal immigrants. 
  7. Special workers VISAs for migrant workers. These VISAs will be conditional- so long as the migrant worker has a job they will be valid. Once they no longer have a job they will be given a certain amount of time- say 2 months to find new work. If they do then their VISA continues as normal. If not then any aid to them is immediately cut off; and they must leave the country. If they don't then see #3 and follow that up with #1
  8. A VISA verification system will be put in place that all companies must use to make sure their workers are in the country legally. If a VISA expires the company will be informed so the worker is terminated immediately. 
  9. All ports of entry will be monitored by a division of the FBI. They need to keep track of individuals entering and leaving this country anyways- so they might as well run the daily activities at every port of entry.
  10. Border security will be turned over to the US military. Military bases will be built along the southern, and if needed northern, borders of the US. These bases will have the full capabilities of all military assets to secure our borders. Including a virtual wall. Not sure why everyone thinks concrete is the best when a virtual wall with multiple sensors and cameras will work just as well. I don't think drug smuggles, gun runners, or coyotes, or the cartel want to mess with the US military. Nor would illegals seeking entrance away from the legal ports of entry. The military will run all detention centers until the illegals are registered and ready to be deported back to country of origin.

So, I guess I do agree with the author that the CBP would no longer exist; but that is about it. I doubt the author would like seeing the borders militarized forcing everyone coming to this country to use the legal ports of entry. 

Split Personality
PhD Principal
3.1  seeder  Split Personality  replied to  Ronin2 @3    2 months ago

A stunning purist approach?

Professor Guide
4  1stwarrior    2 months ago

What i and many, many others want from the Feds is for them to follow the damn laws/acts as written.  Quit this "special emphasis" crap.

Why tackle the Haitians/Cubans and you don't bother to address the other issues as stated in the thread?  Why are the Haitians/Cubans "fair game" for the "kick'm outta here" group?  How 'bout the Afghans who haven't even been vetted, yet they're allowed to enter the U.S. along with their medical problems, etc..?

All Illegal Aliens should receive the same treatment - you didn't enter legally - get the hell outta Dodge 'til you know and understand how to follow the laws of the country you're trying to "move" too 'cause we don't want you as an Illegal Alien.  Follow the laws/acts, as written - period.

Thanks SP - good thread.

Split Personality
PhD Principal
5  seeder  Split Personality    2 months ago

Unfortunately immigration is needed to maintain the status quo.

The INA alone makes it seem that all of the previous administrations have arrived at a figure of 675,000 visas

minus approximately 140,000 reserved for temporary employment visas made famous by Silicon Valley.

What, if Suddenly, Immigration to the US Stopped? | Catholic Charities of New York (catholiccharitiesny.org)

Here’s what America would be like without immigrants (brookings.edu)

Too many old studies, not much recent stuff.

Tough topic, seeing how 98% of us are immigrants or their descendants.

I would like to see INS brought back to man specific immigration/detention centers so the CBP

can get back to their purpose of stopping drug smuggling and keeping terrorists out.

I don't care if they become the next branch of the military or not; they are already by default.

We have struggled with this border since 1836.

It was 1915 when Woodrow Wilson sent the Army into Brownsville and they killed unarmed children playing along the Rio Grande

and the Texas Rangers wantonly killed many Tejanos as "bandits".

Bad blood and bad policy abounds. 


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