Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Exaggerated U.S. Border Violence? Hardly

Chuck Norris

After a decade of playing one on television, I, along with my brother Aaron, was blessed a few months ago to become a real Texas Ranger in the presence of Gov. Rick Perry, fellow Texas Rangers and many others.

Perry mentioned at that induction: "As the drug cartels have turned up the heat on the other side of that border over the past few years, we have invested significant state resources to secure our border, looking to local police departments, county sheriffs, game wardens and even Texas Military Forces. However, when it was time to take the fight to the bad guys, there was only one choice to lead our efforts, so we formed our Ranger recon teams. It is reassuring to know that our Rangers are on the job, especially in light of ongoing reports of deteriorating conditions, with kidnappings, assassinations and terroristic acts just miles from Texas communities."

Only weeks later, on Jan. 31, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asked public officials to stop exaggerating claims of violence on the U.S. side of the border and "be honest with the people we serve." She added: "Let's stick with the facts. We need to be upfront and clear about what's really happening along our borders."

The latest statistics show that 34,000 people have been killed in Mexico because of organized crime and drug trafficking during the past five years alone, and officials expect that number to rise. Yet we don't expect that escalating violence to increasingly spill over into the U.S.?

Consider just a few recent tragedies in my own state of Texas:

--In April 2010, on a street in Fort Hancock, Texas, four Hudspeth County employees were working on a remote unpaved road, when an unknown gunman fired from across the Rio Grande. (In a January 2011 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott described the shooting as "yet another incident involving cartel-related gunfire.")

--In June 2010, El Paso's City Hall was struck by at least seven shots fired from across the border in Ciudad Juarez, the epicenter of Mexico's ongoing drug war.

--In August 2010, at least one stray bullet from Mexico hit a building at the University of Texas at El Paso.

--In October 2010, U.S. tourist David Hartley reportedly was shot by a Mexican gunman.

--In November, the University of Texas at Brownsville temporarily canceled classes because of ongoing gunfire across the border in Matamoros, Mexico.

And what about violence in other border states? Exaggerating border violence?

I agree with Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., who said that for cattle ranchers, the daily reality of drug and human smugglers traversing their property is "far more impacting" than Napolitano conveys. Quayle went on to say, "Statistics and averages might mean something to government bureaucrats and analysts in Washington, but try telling the people who deal with these realities every day that the violence along the border has subsided."

Because of the feds' ineptness and passivity, it's no wonder that half the states in our union are taking matters into their own hands regarding border enforcement and immigration. Arizona-style laws have been proposed in approximately 24 other states. A total of 346 laws and resolutions related to immigration were approved by state lawmakers in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 100 immigration-related bills are pending in Texas.

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples just launched, where users can upload pictures and videos about their experiences with suspected drug traffickers at the Mexican border. The goal of the website is to warn the public about not only the dangers to farmers and ranchers but also the potential impacts on the nation's food supply.

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, at the Texan border alone there are:

--Close to 8,200 farms and ranches, covering more than 15 million acres.

--Producers of beef, fruits and vegetables that are essential to the nation's food supply.

--Counties that account for about half the state's fruit and vegetable production and about 4 percent of the state's total agricultural income.

--Farms and ranches that make more than $700 million in agricultural sales every year.

Exaggerating border violence?

The only ones exaggerating are the feds -- under-exaggerating the threat and severity of border violence and over-exaggerating their success of securing the United States' southwestern border.

In fact, this past Thursday, Napolitano continued her same Obama-victorious-song-and-dance act at the U.S.-Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference, boasting of (as summarized by her office) the Obama administration's "unprecedented efforts to strengthen security along the Southwest border, which include increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,700 today."

But while the Obama administration continues to embellish its record, PolitiFact pointed out that it's actually stealing its predecessor's glory: "President George W. Bush was responsible for adding many of the agents on the ground now."

Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., put it well when he said that Napolitano's talking points about security on the border have "more to do with political pivoting for the 2012 elections than (they do) with what is happening on the border."

Ms. Napolitano, the truth is it's you who is misleading the public. Playing down border violence and trumping up Washington's successes may be effective for campaign rhetoric, but it's killing our citizens -- literally. At least I can agree 100 percent with you on this point: As you said back on Jan. 31, let's "be honest with the people we serve. ... Let's stick with the facts. We need to be upfront and clear about what's really happening along our borders."


Are ICE Officials Ignoring Immigration Rules?

Michael Cutler

A news release was published by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on February 9, 2011. It details how 11 members of the extremely violent transnational gang, MS-13 were indicted for a series of serious crimes- indeed some of the most serious crimes an individual could be charged with. The victims of these crimes were violently attacked. Some were stabbed while others were shot. Some of the victims of these thugs died because of their injuries.

What is beyond my comprehension is how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) could post a news release without making a single reference to the immigration status of any of the 11 alleged members of MS-13 especially when the news release identified MS-13 as being a "transnational gang!"

Not a single word was written about the nationality of any of those who were arrested. Not a single word was written to describe any possible immigration law violations. Not a single word was written to make note as to how any of these "transnational" criminals entered the United States. Here is the paragraph that appears in the news release that describes the transnational nature of MS-13:

"Today's indictment is the product of tremendous cooperation and efforts of HSI special agents and local law enforcement officers. As a result, these violent gang members will now be brought to justice to face very serious federal charges," said Executive Associate Director James Dinkins of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). "HSI is committed to enhancing the public safety of the residents in the national Capitol Region by attacking and dismantling transnational gangs such as MS-13."

As I have previously noted in other commentaries I have written about the long list of failings of the federal government to address the importance of enforcing immigration laws: when the agency that bears the primary responsibility for enforcing our nation's immigration laws ignores those immigration laws, you know our nation is in extreme trouble!

The immigration laws of our nation are intended to prevent the entry of aliens into our country whose presence would be harmful to our nation and our citizens. It is a certainty that the transnational criminals who were discussed in this news report not only represent a threat to the well being of our nation and our citizens is not mere conjecture. The threat they pose has been established by virtue of the nature of the crimes for which they stand accused.

If ICE is ignoring the immigration status of these thugs then it must be presumed that they may not even make the most rudimentary efforts of lodging detainers for those suspected gang members if they are determined to be illegal aliens. No matter the outcome of the criminal proceedings - likely involving trials, they will be removed (deported) from the United States after they complete their jail sentences (presuming that they are found guilty or that they will be removed even if they are found "not guilty" at trial).

Additionally, it is entirely possible that if any of these defendants are illegal aliens that they may have also violated other laws that involve their immigration status. For example, if an illegal alien is found to be in possession of a firearm, such a violation of law can easily be prosecuted on the federal level under the auspices of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(5). The maximum penalty for this crime is ten years in jail.

I made a significant number of arrests when I was a federal agent and the elements of the crime are extremely easy to prove. Other members of transnational gangs may have also been previously deported and then reentered the United States without authority. If such an alien has a prior criminal conviction that resulted in that alien's deportation, then that crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of incarceration. This crime is even easier to prove than the firearms charge I noted previously.

The problem is that if ICE did not even think to discuss the immigration component of these cases, then I have to presume that ICE is ignoring these charges.

Additionally, as I have noted on many previous occasions, when an individual is arrested for any crime, the next issue that has to be addressed is the issue of appropriate bail that should be set. While it is very likely that a murder suspect may be held without bail, others of these criminal suspects may not be charged with crimes of that magnitude. A bail hearing generally only deals with two issues- danger to the community and risk of flight. Danger to the community can be shown by the nature of the crime that the person stands accused of. Risk of flight is often far more nebulous and difficult to demonstrate to a judge or magistrate.

However, information about a defendant's immigration status and relating factors, such as information contained in a defendant's immigration file can very often provide conclusive and compelling evidence of risk of flight. As an INS special agent, I was often called upon to testify at bail hearings. When I was able to provide evidence of previous instances when a defendant was encountered by immigration authorities and provided multiple false names and utterly fictitious addresses, it quickly became evident that the defendant in question presented an extreme risk of flight. This could be bolstered when I was able to provide specific instances when the defendant posted bond in an immigration case and then forfeited the bail and failed to show up for hearing.

The point is that the immigration component of these cases is extremely important and yet, there was no mention in the press release about the citizenship or immigration status of any of the 11 defendants who are accused of belonging to a pernicious transnational gang. Here is how the press release described the gang:

"According to the indictment, MS-13 is a transnational gang with members in most of the states within the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. It is alleged that MS-13 engages in racketeering activity to include murder, narcotics distribution, extortion, robberies, and obstruction of justice, among other crimes."

The most fundamental question that must be asked is why was there not a single mention of immigration in a press release that was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Even if any of the defendants are citizens of the United States, given the fact that the press release noted that MS-13 has members in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico in addition to the United States, then the press release needed to address the issue of citizenship. This failure is unacceptable!

Much more HERE

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