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THE BORDER PATROL UNDER SIEGE

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 11, 2006 01:16 PM

***scroll for updates***

The Department of Homeland Security is working overtime to quell citizen outrage over the Border Patrol/Mexico/Minutemen story. The contradictory spin doctors are not doing a very good job. I’ll have more in a moment.

But now is a crucial time to step back and look at this disturbing episode in a larger, informed context– that is, as part of the longstanding battle between DHS management and rank-and-file employees over strict, tough, and unapologetic immigration enforcement. Supervisors in Washington and in major Border Patrol sectors are cowed by ethnic activists, business lobbyists, and meddling Mexican consulates. Field agents are demoralized by top-down efforts–from the White House on down–to undermine their law enforcement duties.

Most news consumers–and politicians and Washington wags–have extremely short-term memories. But people on the ground fighting this battle every day, and those covering it, don’t.

I remind you of the jaw-dropping directive issued in August 2003 by then-San Diego Border Patrol Chief William Veal directing local Border Patrol agents to ignore suspected illegal aliens on city streets and at worksites in San Diego. The order was made in response to–you guessed it–complaints by the Mexican Consulate over Border Patrol arrests of illegal aliens seeking to obtain Mexican identification cards. Deputy Consul General Javier Diaz met with Veal to protest the arrests, while Mexican Consul General Rodulfo Figueroa issued a statement saying he was “astonished by the arrests because of their proximity to his office.” The Bush Treasury Department, ignoring the warnings of seasoned immigration enforcement officers and FBI agents concerned about matricula consular card fraud, approved the use of these illegal alien documents for opening bank accounts–at the behest of, you guessed it, Mexican consular officials and business lobbyists.

Click for full-size images:

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In admonishing his agents to look the other way at lawbreakers Veal wrote: “We have a continuing obligation to prevent any public perception that the Border Patrol may be conducting ‘neighborhood sweeps.'”

A continuing obligation to whom?

After a public outcry over the memo, DHS backed down and rescinded the order. But it did not change the cowardly p.c. culture among higher-ups at the department.

I remind you that just a year later, Border Patrol rank-and-file blew the whistle on Beltway bosses retreating from interior enforcement again. After extensive intelligence-gathering, local agents had conducted effective illegal alien sweeps in July 2004–which sent Mexican officials and the open-borders lobby into full-scale hysteria. Washington bowed to the pressure and ordered the agents to stop enforcing immigration laws. Grilled by KFI’s talk show hosts John and Ken, then-DHS undersecretary Asa Hutchinson–who had badmouthed his own employees and condemned the sweeps–blubbered that DHS would enforce immigration laws “in a reasonable manner and will consider the sensitivities associated with interior enforcement of our immigration laws.”

Sensitivities to whom?

I remind you that the following year, in May 2005, a dozen Border Patrol agents told the Washington Times that they had been instructed to “stand down” from arresting illegal aliens near where Minutemen protestors had patrolled in April. The agents understood that an increase in arrests would prove the effectiveness of extra manpower on the border and would credit the Minutemen’s approach. Several sources, including the President of the National Border Patrol Council, confirmed the newspaper report.

I remind you that a year ago this month, the same DHS that says it now supports what the Minutemen are doing barred the group’s founder from a press conference with Michael Chertoff in Arizona and badmouthed the citizen efforts.

And I remind you of Heather Mac Donald’s exhaustive investigation of the Mexican government’s growing power and influence in working to sabotage immigration enforcement efforts.

I could go on. But having been reminded of the past, recent, and continuing behavior of DHS brass–in opposition to their own rank-and-file employees and in opposition to rigorous law enforcement–you will now hopefully have a deeper appreciation for why the denials and contradictions of DHS officials in Washington about the Border Patrol/Mexico information-sharing story from the Daily Bulletin ring rather hollow.

And square perfectly with the longstanding reality of a Border Patrol under siege and undermined by its own leaders in Washington.

I had a perfectly nice chat last night with DHS spokeswoman Kristi Clemens, who insisted that the Border Patrol does not share information about the Minutemen with the Mexican government–and then confirmed, twice and plainly, that the agency does identify when and where civilian volunteers are involved with illegal alien apprehensions if border-crossers call their neighborhood Mexican consular officials to complain about intimidation or harassment while sneaking into the country. (For the record, her boss told NRO’s Andrew McCarthy the exact opposite! As usual, the spinners in CYA mode can’t get their story straight.)

Clemens stressed several times that DHS believes there is no conceivable reason why the Border Patrol would collaborate with Mexico against the interests of American citizens.

Clearly, they have short memories.

***

The Washington sellout continues.

New Glenn and Helen podcast interview with GOP chair Ken Mehlman–pressed hard on immigration–is up. Tune in!

***

More Mexican meddling:

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas lashed out Tuesday against the Mexican government because its consul general in Phoenix contacted a Los Angeles-based attorney to question Thomas’ policy of charging undocumented immigrants with conspiracy to commit human smuggling.

“You have a foreign government coming in and trying to organize the defense efforts of criminal defendants in an attempt to attack the coyote law, and in fact, attack the right of any state in the nation, effectively, to pass anything meaningful to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “That is an extraordinary act. And I’m not aware of a parallel to this in our history.”

Thomas was so angry that he faxed a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking for her “assistance and that of the U.S. State Department in protesting this extraordinary attempt by a foreign government to deprive Arizona of its ability to defend itself against the tide of illegal immigration fomented by that same government.”

Maricopa County attorney’s press statement here (PDF.)

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