Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pretend Enforcment on the Border Announced

Today it was announced that the government will do more to increase security on the U.S. Southern border because of the drug wars going on in Mexico. That violence, the kidnappings, the killings and drugs have actually been going on for years, but the public is finally becoming sufficiently aware that the government has to act. Maybe it's because last year there were three times the number of killings on the Mexican border as the number of soldiers lost in Iraq.

Still, this announcement of increased enforcement is an expensive and meaningless gesture at best. You can put 50 million agents on the border and it won't make a difference.

If that seems ludicrous to you, you may not know the names Ignacio Ramos, Jose Compean or Gilmer Hernandez. To be fair there's some controversy on the case of Border Agents Ramos and Compean. Read the details of the case and decide for yourself. What is not controversial is that they were given 10 years too harsh a sentence for their alleged wrongdoing, as the prosecutor applied a federal law meant to curb criminal, not law enforcement, use of firearms. The statute, intended to penalize criminals carrying or using firearms in a crime, could not reasonably be thought to be applicable to law enforcement, who are required to carry firearms as part of their employment. Gilmer Hernandez is not as well known, but there's no controversy in his case. He was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. That's right, prosecutors for the Bush administration were imprisoning Border Patrol agents for doing their jobs if they could find any excuse to do so. The message was clear: you're on the border for show, but don't you dare enforce immigration law, or you'll end up in jail.

Maybe you hadn't heard of Ramos, Compean or Hernandez, but you can be absolutely sure every law enforcement officer going to the border has. Do you think any one of them is going to risk 12 years in Federal prison on trumped up charges to enforce policies lawful Americans (including legal immigrants) want but the government doesn't actually support? Add that to the fact the drug runners are often better armed than our agents and you have a real problem. Any agent wanting to return home to his or her family is going to avoid a confrontation that could kill them or land them in jail. They can't win without real government support, and they know it.

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