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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    National Guard at border ... BORDER.TMP

    National Guard at the border
    Lots of new roads and ditches, but has illegal migration slowed?
    - Eilene Zimmerman, Special to The Chronicle
    Monday, October 23, 2006

    (10-23) 04:00 PDT San Diego -- Along the U.S. border in San Diego known simply as Whiskey 8, Operation Jump Start is in full swing. More than 1,000 National Guard troops stationed on the California-Mexico border are building roads, fences and drainage ditches, installing lights and cameras, flying surveillance helicopters and sitting in trucks looking through telescopes.

    But five months after President Bush said the nation "did not yet have full control of the border" and sent more than 6,000 Guard troops to the border here and across the Southwest, there is debate as to what difference they are making.

    None of the 1,200 National Guard troops stationed on the border is patrolling treacherous mountain terrain, or helping capture coyotes, drug smugglers or illegal migrant workers. The Guard is armed with hard hats, binoculars and sharpened pencils -- but no weapons and no enforcement powers -- and it's unclear whether the mission, costing in excess of $750 million overall, and $27 million so far in California, has made the border any less porous.

    Some Border Patrol personnel, whom the Guard was supposed to assist, are less than impressed. "In reality, it is accomplishing very little," said Rich Pierce, executive vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

    However, while the Department of Homeland Security has yet to issue a full progress report, National Guard officials in San Diego say much is being accomplished.

    They point to engineers who are working on 13 construction projects, including a 17-foot secondary border fence. In the next year, they are scheduled to build 13 drainage structures and 7 miles of all-weather road in the western part of the San Diego border area; 1,000 feet of fence and three gates in the eastern portion; and 6,200 feet of fencing at Campo, about 60 miles east of San Diego.

    In El Centro (Imperial County), the National Guard has enabled 90 percent of Border Patrol vehicles to be put back into operation; before the Guard started performing maintenance, the percentage of operating vehicles was "in the 70s," said a Border Patrol spokesperson.

    In another reported mark of progress, Border Patrol chief David Aguilar said apprehensions were down 45 percent in late July and narcotics seizures up 20 percent. That means fewer people are trying to cross and enforcement is improving, in the view of immigration officials.

    Reasons for decline disputed

    Aguilar credits the apparent success in July to the Guard's presence at the border, although its mission had begun just a few weeks earlier.

    His view is shared by Lloyd Easterling, the supervising Border Patrol agent at Yuma, Ariz., who said apprehensions are down along the Arizona border as well. He described the National Guard as a "tremendous addition." Easterling said the Guard's presence has contributed to "a marked improvement in border enforcement."

    Shawn Moran, a senior Border Patrol agent and vice president of the National Border Patrol Council's Local 1613 in San Diego, agreed that apprehensions were down this summer, but he said that was due mostly to the extreme heat wave in the Southwest, "not because of an operation that is barely visible along the border."

    The Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security say Guard troops have been involved in 500 apprehensions in the San Diego sector and 600 in El Centro.

    In a four-day period this month, according to Randy Noller, spokesman for the National Guard in Arlington, Va., "there were 436 alien apprehensions being credited to the Border Patrol with National Guard support." He also noted that almost 550 pounds of marijuana and almost 100 pounds of cocaine had been seized in the same period, with National Guard help.

    Moran dismissed the numbers as "creative reporting." If a Guard unit has anything to do with an apprehension, he said, the Department of Homeland Security gives them credit. "These apprehensions would have been made anyway."

    The National Guard and Homeland Security have repeatedly said Operation Jump Start is designed to free up border agents involved with nonenforcement activities and get them back in the field where they are needed. Yet despite the deployment of thousands of Guard troops, as of Sept. 15, only 394 agents nationwide have returned to the field, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures.

    "This is not a one-for-one trade," said Pierce. "It's a few hundred agents, that's it."

    Curt Abbott, president of the Local 2595 of the National Border Patrol Council in Yuma, said the Guard there is not providing "the amount of help you would think it would be."

    "Some of these Guard troops tell us there are people coming through the border (during surveillance duties), but we already know this, and we already know where to look for them. We need field personnel. We don't need support personnel. We need people in the field making arrests and armed. "

    Agent Moran was equally skeptical. He said other than manning scope trucks (which use telescopes to watch the border), the Guard is handling things border agents haven't done in years, like road grading or construction projects.

    "The stations in San Diego sector are still critically short of manpower, and management continues to ask more of those few agents. It's becoming a very dangerous situation," he said.

    The most obvious evidence of the Guard's work along the border can be seen in the partially finished construction projects. At Whiskey 8, new metal fencing is being erected so close to the international boundary that Calle Internacional, a Tijuana highway that parallels the border, is just a quick sprint away. Where fence construction stops, a frame has been installed for an enormous remote-controlled vehicle gate. A new all-weather road now runs between fences, and nearby hillsides have been graded.

    Farther east, two Guardsmen are grading a hillside, but otherwise it's eerily quiet, the sounds of children crying and roosters crowing floating across the border. An Army National Guard sergeant who is not permitted to give her name demonstrates the use of a scope truck, a white pickup with a night-vision telescope mounted in the bed and a control console and small television monitor in the cab.

    Monitoring by telescope

    Two-person teams operate the trucks after sunset. The sergeant uses a joystick to move the telescope in different directions, adjusting a green button on the console to focus.

    "There -- you can see that person highlighted," she says, and on the screen appears a yellowish-green figure standing on the roof of his house in Tijuana.

    As soon as an illegal crosser is spotted, the Guard radios the Border Patrol, which handles interdictions. Guard pilots conduct aerial surveillance flights over rugged border landscape, but when they spot people intent on crossing, only Border Patrol agents disembark from the landed helicopter -- a procedure known as an "insertion."

    The sergeant operating the scope often sees large groups trying to cross, even where the border is well monitored. "It was actually surprising how busy it is in this area," she says. "But they try everywhere."

    And that's likely to continue. After months of heated debate about immigration reform, the 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill provides billions of dollars for fencing and additional border agents but, according to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and others, not nearly enough to finish the fencing job.

    Peter Andreas, a political science professor at Brown University and co-author of the book "Policing the Globe," said that without broader reforms, including streamlining immigration procedures and establishing a guest worker program, the National Guard presence is largely symbolic.

    "Sending troops and building fences are high-profile displays that show politicians are 'doing something' about the immigration problem," he said. "Projecting a tough image is more important than whether or not these measures will actually work to deter illegal immigration."

    The appropriations bill also makes no mention of employer sanctions or counterfeit-proof Social Security cards, which Border Patrol agents say are desperately needed.

    'Employer magnet'

    "It would be a tremendous help to turn off the employer magnet on this side of the border," said Abbott, the Border Patrol's union representative in Yuma. "They come here for jobs, and if you don't have that, then they won't come here. It's simple economics, supply and demand. No demand over here and there wouldn't be a supply."

    That view was echoed by Pierce, of the National Border Patrol Council. "If migrants can't get a job here, most of them won't come. Then agents really will be freed up to concentrate on what they should be concentrating on: criminals, terrorists, drug smugglers," he said.

    "Not just workers coming for jobs in a field or factory."
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  2. #2
    Senior Member reptile09's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    El Cajon, Mexifornia
    "It would be a tremendous help to turn off the employer magnet on this side of the border," said Abbott, the Border Patrol's union representative in Yuma. "They come here for jobs, and if you don't have that, then they won't come here. It's simple economics, supply and demand. No demand over here and there wouldn't be a supply."
    Gee, what a concept. Stopping illegals from being able to get jobs, by nailing under the table illegal workers and forcing employers to properly check documents and they won't work here illegally. Things a 5 year old child would understand, but unfortunately we don't have a five year old child in the White House, we have Bush.
    [b][i][size=117]"Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die. Through love of having children, we are going to take over.

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