Friday, August 02, 2002

Border Patrol Follies

Since September, the federal government has become more efficient at stopping people and material from crossing into the United States... NOT! Well, things will get better when the administration puts its plan for Homeland Security into effect... How? According to

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has viewed the U.S.-Canadian border as vulnerable, so much so that the USA PATRIOT Act calls for tripling the number of agents posted there.

But more than 10 months later, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is still working to fortify the northern border. The plan requires shifting hundreds of Border Patrol agents from the southwestern United States - including Texas - to the north.

As of March, there were 26 times as many Border Patrol agents guarding the southern border than the northern one, according to a report released Monday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

At that time, there were 346 agents posted along the Canadian border, an increase of only 15 agents since Sept. 11. Along the Mexican border, the number of agents increased 33 to 9,094.
So there! With its usual efficiency, the congress has mandated, and the executive has responded, to stem the tide of illegal border crossings. Maybe its just me, but it seems insane to give Bureaucrats more power when they refuse or are unable to follow legal mandates. If they can't even transfer some agents, let alone hire and train them, how will they handle ever more money. The border with Canada is largely unguarded. Just look at these numbers. The longer border has about 4% of the border agents. There are crossings that are not guarded at all. There are farms that lie on both sides of the border. I just returned from a trip to Vancouver, and the Canadians are more thorough than the US. Yet this is the same crossing that Ahmed Ressam used. Former counter-terrorism chief for the CIA Vincent Cannistraro characterized his arrest as "pure luck."

Further, again from
Border Patrol officials say it makes sense to have most of the manpower along the southern front, where there are more apprehensions and more people crossing into the United States.

"The majority of the illegal activity is on the southern border," Villarreal said. "Well over 90 percent of all border-related apprehensions occur along the southwest border."
Doesn't it make just as much sense to say that, since 96% of the border Patrol agents are on the Mexican border, the fact that "over 90%" of apprehensions occur there is merely a government mandated result? Less than 400 agents for over 4000 miles of border leaves a lot of gaps. Is it fair to suggest that if you transfer another 400 agents, you might also double arrests?

It used to be that I felt like almost a lone voice decrying the government's apparent unwillingness to stop wasting time, to get serious. No more. Good sense is breaking out all over. People are starting to see more clearly. Napoleon said something like, never ascribe to evil intent that which can be ascribed to incompetence. I hope and pray that his dictum applies in this case. It is a terrible thought, but I find myself hoping that the border guards are merely incompetent.